Thursday, 31 December 2009

Farm Fotos

Interesting Stuff from a holiday stop in Madoc

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Disclaimer Time

Every now and then, I'd like to restate that this is a personal blog and that the views contained herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

[Not] Silent Night: Clay's Christmas Music Preferences

There are some I know who relish the chance to bathe in Yuletide tunes 24/7 come 1 December, but I am not one of them.

Sometimes I feel bad that I'm not more excited about Christmas Music. Perhaps it's because, having been accused of harboring tendencies toward music snobbery, I can't get past the fact that most Christmas Music - or, more specifically, most treatments of Christmas music - are really really bad. The Onion's AV Club had this debate a while back, which made me feel much better about my reluctance to turn up the volume every time a new version of Jingle Bells or Rudolph comes over the radio. They also provide a list of some not-so-treacly TV specials and music here.

So, in an effort to clear the air and dispel any notions that I am The Grinch reincarnate, I provide, in no particular order, my favorite Christmas music and criteria for music that could become my favorite Christmas music in the future.

Clay's Christmas Faves:

  1. Feasts and Spirits: Finest Kind with John Huston. All kinds of amazing. Lesser-known carols sung in close harmony, interspersed with a reading of the Dickens classic. Their annual concert at the Black Sheep is now an essential part of my holiday season. Their version of Please to see the King cuts through the treacle like nothing else can.

  2. The Mystery of Christmas, by The Elora Festival Singers. Neatly combines traditional carols with lesser known songs and The Huron Carol, one of the first from the New World. Equally reverent as hushed and spooky.

  3. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Guaraldi Trio. Not entirely surprising, except perhaps for my preference for the more melancholy "Christmastime is Here." Guaraldi died at age 47 in between sets at a gig, which also adds something.

  4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Again, not a surprise. But a great story well-told. I've always found the title odd, as he really doesn't steal christmas. But Max looks like my dog Findley, so it balances out. The less said about the Jim Carrey version - one of Ron Howard's many cinematic sins for which he's yet to atone - the better.

  5. The Ventures' Christmas Album: A revelation courtesy of Derek S., you haven't heard Frosty the Snowman until you've heard it mashed up with Tequila. I manage to sneak this one into the CD player when the gifts are being opened.

Clay's Christmas Music Criteria:
  1. In no circumstances must it involve Kenny G, Michael Bolton or any combination thereof.

  2. It must have a discernable melody. No time of the year says "singalong time" better than Christmas, and, conveniently, most Holiday Favorites are the most tuneful I know. Yet, perhaps in an attempt to be different, many contemporary "interpretations" feature tempos so slow that you'll be breaking out the New Year's champagne before they're over.

  3. It must be simply adorned. A corollary to point 2, most modern interpretations fill in the spaces where the melody used to be with strings, backup vocals, bells and other fussiness. The power of the Christmas story is in its simplicity. Why all the gilt?

  4. If possible, I'd prefer it not be Silent Night. I just don't like the tune.

  5. See number 1.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Olympic Elaine

Most of you in my immediate orbit have probably already seen this, but I'm posting it here for posterity and for the world. Last Saturday, my friend Elaine carried the Olympic torch through a stretch of Gatineau, located across the river from Ottawa. Quite the posse turned out to cheer her on, touch the torch and be part of the moment.

Here's a shot of her starting the run. The rest are on Flickr. Enjoy!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Delaney Turner Collection, Item #45

Tobacco Tins, Provenance & Era Unknown

Two more entries in the "Smoking Paraphenalia" category, most likely purchased at the same time as Item 7, or else purchased at an antiques place on Highway 55 near Niagara-on-the-Lake. Though no longer available, the Hickory blend produced a "pleasant" room note and was "somewhat recommended" by Tobacco Reviews. Walnut, apparently still available though not in such a cool container, creates a "pleasant to tolerable" room note and is "recommended" over its budget bretheren in the red tin. Having never smoked either and in it purely for the aesthetics, the owner will have to take their word for it.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Delaney Turner Collection, Item #7

Bishop's Move Tobacco Tin, Circa 1910

Were the owner still 20 and into getting high, this would no doubt make a perfect stash. Cheerfully blasphemous and, according to the vendor, at least 100 years old, this tin was purchased during a trip to London's Portobello Road Market. Though it was at the time the only one of its kind the owner had ever seen, he has since discovered many other examples available on eBay for about 15 bucks. Though his friend attempted to discourage the visit because, sigh, "only tourists go to Portobello Road," the owner enjoyed himself immensely and found a stroll down the street a perfect way to fight off jet lag. During the visit he also saw American actor Aaron Eckhart shooting pictures of people on the street, evidently taking advantage of some down time while shooting The Dark Knight. Later, the owner saw some of Eckhart's photos in magazine, but not of the people he was shooting that day.

The Delaney Turner Collection, Item #97

Prince Albert (in a) Can, Provenance and Circa Unknown

Acquired (most likely) during a trip to Portobello Road Market in London, this rusted yet still recognizable tobacco can is a further example of the owner's infatuation with smoking stuff. Having discovered it and, subsequently understanding the punchline to a very tired joke, the owner had no choice but to pick it up. Though this particular brand of tobacco is named after Queen Victoria's long-time paramour, it was actually a product of the RJ Reynolds company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Writing on the side reads "For Pipe and Cigarette Smokers."