The Log for Friday September 30, 2016

Categories: 2016, Daily Log, and Personal.

What Did I Eat? Breakfast: Way more than one serving of Harvest Crunch (8g of fat and 31g of carbs in one serving) in a large pool of 1% milk; a glass of tea Morning: two glasses of tea and a macintosh Lunch: Triple decker white bread sandwich featuring the usual salami, old cheddar, mayo and mustard Dinner: Chicken curry with basmati rice and a raita and a ginger ale (I was out) A hot toddy   What I Did For Exercise Rode the exercise bike for an actual 20 minutes Walked to Donlands station, walked down the stairs; walked Read More

The Log for Thursday September 29, 2016

Categories: 2016, Daily Log, and Personal.

What I ate: Breakfast: Way more than one serving of Harvest Crunch (8g of fat and 31g of carbs in one serving) in a large pool of 1% milk; a glass of tea Morning: two glasses of tea and a macintosh Lunch: two sandwiches consisting of white bread (bad!), salami, mayo (bad!), old cheddar and a macintosh Dinner: homemade lasagna consisting of white pasta (bad!), ground beef (but not a lot of beef), tomato sauce, 3 zucchinis, a bunch of mushrooms, a whole tub of ricotta (but it didn’t even cover the pasta it was on), and some old cheddar Read More

The Log

Categories: 2016, Daily Log, and Personal.

I have been gaining weight recently. Ever since my ex-girlfriend and I broke up a couple of years ago, I have been gaining weight. And ever since I gave up swimming about six months after that, I have been gaining fat instead of muscle. I am now close to the weight I was in university which is, in my mind, not a good thing. I want to do something about it. I want to get back to the weight I was when I lived in Hamilton and climbed 15 flights of stairs multiple times a day. I want to get Read More

Elgar: Violin Concerto; Introduction and Allegro (1984, 2006)

Categories: 1984, 2006, and Music.

This disc is a reissue of a famous performance of the Elgar violin concerto with his Introduction and Allegro, presumably recorded at the same time. (I say presumably because it was not on the initial LP and I am listening to it from the library’s stream, and so I don’t have the liner notes to confirm if it was recorded at the same time. But it’s the same personnel.) I have heard the concerto before, but never the Introduction and Allegro. Read More

Kagel: String Quartet No. 4; Keuris: String Quartet No. 1 (2009) by Lagos Ensemble

Categories: 1963, 1993, and 2009.

This disc collects Kagel’s final quartet and the first quartet by Tristan Keuris, a Dutch composer I have never hear of before. The works were composed 30 years apart. Kagel’s fourth and final quartet is similar to his third in that it contains more radical elements, but these elements are incorporated into more traditional and recognizable forms (even if the quartet is two movements of 8 or so passages each, which is very much not traditional). It’s perhaps the most conservative of his string quartets, but don’t let that trick you into thinking this is a particularly conservative piece of Read More

Blancanieves (2012, Pablo Berger)

Categories: 2012 and Movies.

This Spanish, silent (i.e. no dialogue) version of “Snow White” ingeniously moves the story to 20s Spain and the bullfighters of the era. It’s both a pretty great tribute to silent cinema (and I would assume Spanish silent cinema, though I have seen none of it) and a great reworking of an over-told story. It’s pretty to look at and it’s it’s not so tied to tradition that it looks old. For anyone who is scared by the lack of dialogue, it’s paced well enough that you won’t be bored. It’s worth your time. 8/10 Read More

The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011) by Steven Pinker

Categories: 2011, Books, and Non-Fiction.

If you watch the news today, you will be told the world is awful. Even if, like me, you do not have cable, you can still get enough news of the awfulness of the world from your antenna or the internet. The news is an endless barrage of controversy and tragedy; controversy over the supposedly awful things that people do to each other, and the tragedy of yet another series of deaths, caused by human beings or natural disasters. Even if you’re a bit of an optimist, as I am, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that the world is Read More

Ant-Man (2015, Peyton Reed)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

This is a reasonably enjoyable “goofy” Marvel movie, of the kind that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And it has to be, since the whole idea of Ant-Man seems kind of ridiculous. There are some rather massive plot issues that would drive me insane if it wasn’t amusing. It’s not so amusing that I really enjoyed it, but it’s amusing enough (especially some of the site gags in the climax) that I really could forgive some of the really silly plot holes. But this is just another moderately amusing Marvel film. There are so many films in this universe now Read More

Mauricio Kagel (2003) by Alexandre Tharaud

Categories: 1969, 1972, 1976, 1982, 1984, 2003, and Music.

This collection is a little confusing in part because of the confusing nature of Rrrrrrr…, which can apparently be performed independently. The disc appears to be a compilation of his piano-based music. Calling “piano music” would be a misnomer, as there are lots of other instruments on a number of the pieces. The pieces from Rrrrrrr… are all over the place in terms of style, starting with ragtime and running the gamut of styles, through pretty traditional to really avant garde stuff (a prepared piano, a “raga”). I like how Kagel turns music on its here but here I have Read More

Vox Humana? / Finale / Fürst Igor Strawinsky (1991) by Mauricio Kagel, performed by Ensemble 2e2m, Lyon National Opera Chorus conducted by Paul Méfano

Categories: 1979, 1981, 1982, and Music.

This record collects three of Kagel’s longish “choral” pieces. Kagel was a weirdo is the best ways. Listening to Kagel’s work, rather than watching it, is a bit of a problem, because Kagel’s work is often “theatrical” not just in the sense of being influenced by the theatre, but of having the musicians act out parts. Listening to the music online you miss that aspect. (Something big definitely happens 10 minutes in, when there is a giant scream.) That being said… This piece sure reminds me of Berio at his most theatrical (in a good way). It is about a Read More

Black Sunday aka The Mask of Satan (1960, Mario Bava)

Categories: 1960 and Movies.

I’m sad to say I saw the American version of this, which was cut of its most extreme horror, apparently. Even so, it’s still got some pretty gruesome effects for 1960 (to my knowledge) and that’s the attraction here. The story itself is pretty rote – doctors stumble upon a creepy, cursed castle – and though everything is pretty strongly gothic, I feel like the Corman Poe films of the era handled this stuff a little better. But it’s atmospheric and even the tamer American version is relatively daring, so that’s something. 6/10 Read More

Black Moon (1975, Louis Malle)

Categories: 1975 and Movies.

This is a bizarre, barely plotted, surrealistic fantasy/sci-fi French film that tests one’s patience with its attempts to say things as obtusely as possible and with its attempts to be shocking. It’s part of a grand tradition of obscure French science fiction/fantasy films about post-apocalyptic worlds (where the world-building the English-language world loves so much is barely a consideration) but takes a wild digression into adult Alice in Wonderland territory not long into the film. It’s one of those movies where there are memorable moments (as well as moments that are probably meant to be memorable but aren’t) but you’re Read More

TIFF 2016

Categories: 2016, Movies, and Personal.

With the decision not to see the People’s Choice Award today (a musical), I ended up seeing 11 movies this year, a little bit lower than my average. As usual, I saw more good films than bad ones. Somewhat surprising was that there was no clear “great” film – I usually see at least one film that I will consider, in hindsight, to be one of the best movies of a given calendar year. Not this year (I don’t think). Anyway, without further delay, here is what I saw this year: Read More

Mascots (2016, Christopher Guest)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

The decision to see Christopher Guest’s latest at TIFF was one made in ignorance that this is a Netflix film, which will soon be available for streaming. Alas. It’s an amusing film that, as Jenn put it, has no dead air. It’s certainly not Guest’s best – it’s quite slight and the targets of the film are, well, easy – but it’s close to laugh-a-minute and it fulfills most of what we want from a Guest film – quirky, awkward people doing what they love most, in this case, being mascots for very small sports teams. I’d say it’s probably Read More

The Limehouse Golem (2016, Juan Carlos Medina)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This is an atmospheric and entertaining period mystery/horror film that struggles with both telling and tone but which is mostly entertaining. My biggest issues were with the time-hoping – there are flashbacks throughout the film and flashbacks within flashbacks, a particular pet peeve of mine – as well as with the tone of the very serious, very procedural mystery versus the campy/darkly comic imaginings of the crimes. They were enjoyable, but they often felt out of place with the rest of the film. SPOILERS Read More

Okafor’s Law (2016, Omoni Oboli)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

For the first two thirds of this film, it is a reasonably amusing Romantic Comedy – not my thing but effective and, for someone like me not familiar with Nollywood, a decent spin on the formula, despite a few sound issues. But the wheels come off in the third act, with not only a few major tonal shifts (and some violence!) but an ending that makes zero sense. Minor SPOILERS! Read More

Schmilco (2016) by Wilco

Categories: 2016 and Music.

Star Wars made me so happy that I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that this record does not make me that happy. Whereas Star Wars felt tossed off in a good way, this record feels like the toss offs of the toss offs; I can’t help but have the word “slight” pop into my mind every time I listen to it. For a band as adventurous and as large as Wilco, not only is this record not particularly adventurous (there is one song, I think, that lives up to their usual standard of incorporating weird ideas into straight-ahead songs) but Read More

Moby Dick (1851) by Herman Mellville

Categories: 1851, Books, and Fiction.

I discovered there was a free audio version of Moby Dick online, as a podcast, so I started listening to it. However, 3/4s through it, the site went down. So I resumed with an audio book from the library. I think listening to it was a mistake. I distracted myself too many times and missed a lot of stuff over the course of the months I listened to it. I think I will have to read the novel. The good news is that now I am committed to reading it at some point. What I did get from it is Read More

ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail (2016, Steve James)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This film is about the only bank – the only bank! – to be indicted for mortgage fraud in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. It tells the story of a bank in New York City’s Chinatown which detected loan fraud, fired the employee responsible, reported the fraud to their regulator, fired additional employees when more fraud was discovered, and then was prosecuted by the District Attorney of New York City, because some of the fraudulent loans were sold to Fannie Mae, where they made money. Read More

13 Point Program to Destroy American (1991) by Nation of Ulysses

Categories: 1991 and Music.

Nation of Ulysses takes post hardcore and imbues it with art, humour, other genres of music and even more passion than other post hardcore bands of their era (and some terrible brass!). This is one of those records that is everything I wanted it to be. And I’d rather listen to this – where there is more imagination – than a lot of other post hardcore, a genre I quite like. Pretty great stuff. Also, that’s a fantastic title. 9/10 Read More

Steady Diet of Nothing (1991) by Fugazi

Categories: 1991 and Music.

It has been literally ages (a decade or more) since I heard Repeater but, from my poor memory, I think this is musically much more interesting. (Who knows if that’s true.) I can’t help but liking later records more, though; to my ears they hadn’t quite found that thing, whatever it is, that made them great. Most of the elements are here, but something is missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. That’s not to say it’s just okay – it’s quite good and relatively diverse for the genre. I just feel like they improved later, in Read More

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (1991) by Mudhoney

Categories: 1991 and Music.

This is a strong, particularly grungy grunge record, with a bit more of a roots feel than some of the other grunge records from the period. I really like the aesthetic – especially because it is a little more musically diverse than I was expecting – but I find the songs not quite up to par compared to some of the other major grunge bands. (For example, Ten has way better songs but has dated horribly compared to this record.) Maybe I’ll come to like the songs more in time, but I still like the record a lot and I Read More

Signals, Calls, and Marches (1981) by Mission of Burma

Categories: 1981 and Music.

The missing link between post punk and alternative rock. I don’t say that lightly. When I first heard their debut album, I was underwhelmed – too much hype. But this EP (along with their debut single, included here) is pretty much the blueprint for a lot of American alternative rock in the ’80s (minus the roots element). I hear echoes of so many later bands in this music.But it still retains enough of what you might call “American post punk” that it is still recognizable as post punk. I need to listen to their debut album again. 10/10 Read More