Friday, March 29, 2013

Franz Nicolay, Morning Glory and Me As Well @Attack! 28Mar2013

After a bit of concert-going silence that I spent growling in discontent and could not be bothered to leave my habitat Yesterday came bearing gift of interesting listening prospects at Attack! so I made truce with The World and went to The Gig.

It was freaking cold but I craved for a beer after my evening 2,5 km run so I welcomed a beverage and took heed of first act for the night: Me As Well...

... A band from Karlovac with 3 guys and a girl on bass who also shares vocalist duties with first guitar. They were sadly terrible, but the kind that can be forgiven. They seemed overwhelmed, underpracticed and sorely young. Every so often vocals would just "have to much on their mind" to stay within the rythm while singing and could not keep up. First guitarist continued to nag audience with less than humorous remarks and although the crowd was friendly it felt forced even to clap. They also are not HC Punk, as the announcement made us believe but more of melodic/light punkrock with heavymetal tendencies. In more metal-sounding songs they were much more synched than in punky ones because there was no singing/playing overlap so those were noticably better performed. I'd like to hear them again after they had more practice and maybe on a bit smaller system because the loudness ate whatever good was left.

Light was terrible and all my photos are too dark, but Franz Nicolay was magnificent!

If you like his music at all this incarnation was most perfect of miracles and if you don't care much for his music he was so great a performer, comedian, magician, star and co-sufferer in this rediculous walley of tears and laughter that it was a pleasure and privilege to be there with him.

He told stories. Introduced himself. Opened with The Hearts of Boston. He talked and told more stories in between songs. He played pretty much whole Do The Struggle album, some Bad Advice and more. And more. Somewhere in there he told story of expectations:

"I play all around the world and go to many places that are far away from home. Going to that far away places I always think that nobody will know my songs and nobody will come. Last week I played in Russia and before I played in a club there I thought that nobody will come. And there will be just me and the bartender. And halfway during my set bartender will go outside to have a smoke and there would be only me. With my songs:

"Hey Franz! Well done Franz!"
" Well, thank you Franz - so nice of you to notice!"

But you know what? People came. People always come. And, there is one great thing with having low expectations:

You can always be pleasantly surprised when your low expectations are met and exceeded. And that brings happiness."

I laughed and I cried and I danced and it was magnifficent.

And at one other moment he played I Had A Good Time Tonight and as he started singing the chorus:

"I had a good time tonight
But it would’ve been better if I could’ve danced with my wife."

... and his wedding ring glistened in the semidarkness and the song felt so real and full of longing and there, in front of me, in front of us all stood a person, not just performer but the whole nine yards.

And when he played I could truly say:

"No. It did not."

Magnificent. Overflowingly magnificent.

Go see his homepage and buy some of his stuff.

Last ones up were Morning Glory.

They were talkative, friendly and funny ("We had to cross Yugoslavian border and it was terrible. Only other border I can think of that is so terrible is probably Canadian border.") and they played as seasoned professionals; confidently, effortlessly, vibrant and joyfull... but I was already very tired and my feet were frozen and my eyes stung from the smoke in the den so I went home carrying that elating ska rythm in my ears.

Great concert night.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Music Thursday - Where Are We Coming From?

Music is one important catalyst.

I suppose all of us have, at one time or the other, felt their relationships with the world helped or hindered by music. Usually that goes through cues of belonging to a particular musical tribe: jazzers, post-rockers, indies, hipsters, punks, folk listening folk,... and as this information, visibly displayed, means that you will be instantly acknowledged and supported by members of your group even when no affiliation of other kind exists it also means that this visual cues will make you easier to be indentified so you could be shunned or downright abused by other tribes.

Tricky business.

I consider myself musical nomad of  sort. I go where I please and raise tent where I see fit. And I do not do this ignoring the fact that this makes me vulnerable - I do this with full knowledge of things that may happen and with preparedness to defend my position from everything that may happen.

But how did this came about, my nomadic trait? Obviously there should be mechanisms that prevent that kind of behavior if music is so important social indentifier. There are such mechanisms; people pick partners from their own musical tribe, raise their children in its spirit (just like with religious practices), encourage and reward listening behaviors to form appropriate listening habits. There's even social contract considering appropriateness of event-going in relation to event-goer age ("My god, I was the oldest one there!").

So how did I get to be a nomad?

I was born and raised in a family with wide music tastes; everyone held their own little space of the palette and I got to be raised in the spirit of all their shit. My mum loves Bosnian folk music (Ne klepeći nanulama), my father is old-school rocker with ear for classical music (Creedence meet Beethoven), grandpa was stylish military guy that learned how to ride in Vienese Spanish Riding School and held a special place in his heart for marches and my nana, who did not speak a word of French, fell in love with Salvatore Adamo and knew all his songs by heart...

And none of them imposed restrictions to music of the other one.

I never heard in my house that any song or musical genre is better or worse than the others, only that one is personally preferred over the other. I've seen my military grandpa hum to all kinds of music as he went on with his haberdashery business and I treasured the story of my father conquering my mother's heart by playing Angie (Rolling Stones) to her.

We listened (and still do) to radio a lot and frequently engage in "Name the song in" game just for the fun of it.

This is where I'm coming from.

How about you?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Music Thursday - Reclaiming Lost Songs

I often hear and read about "lost songs", songs people loved but which in one way or the other got attached to particular events or people and that caused their relationship with the song to become tainted with bad feelings and loss of enjoyment in hearing that song.

Lost songs are not songs we heard so many times that we hyposensitised ourselves to them nor they are songs that we have outgrown. There has to be some component of genuine loss, of wishing we could hear them again as we once did, and to de-entangle them from unpleasant or hurtful experiences that made us lose beauty of enjoying them.

It could be break-up, cheating ex-partner, falling out with a friend, death of someone we were close to or some other similar trauma that cause the rift and that rift should be something we wish we could overcome but ... we can't.

I myself have some casualties in that department and I've given it quite a bit of thought so I thought to share one I miss the most with you.

 Fallout 2. Intro. Song.

I am very passionate about my gaming history and consider myself gamer albeit I have tiniest amount of time to devote to gaming being working single mom. And in my gaming history Fallout 2 holds a special place of being my favorite game, one I think of most fondly and sometimes return to to play through it a bit more. It holds kind of warm, intimate sentimentality that word "nostalgia" does not quite cover, as traveling through wasteland and conversing with NPCs has weight of spending time "back home" with old friends. Yet, there is something I lost.

I lost Kiss To Build a Dream On.

Kiss To Build a Dream On was my wedding song, the song me and my ex-husband danced to on the evening of our marriage celebration.

As you know, that marriage has bitterly ended long time ago but I have no beef with that at this time. It was justified decision to share the song I loved the most with person I loved the most and it was beautiful and romantic and it kinda showcased all the magnificence of Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby and Oscar Hammerstein II's song perfectly sung and played by Louis Armstrong.

"Give me a kiss to build a dream on
And my imagination will thrive upon that kiss
Sweetheart, I ask no more than this
A kiss to build a dream on"

We danced, and we kissed, surrounded by our family and friends - all the people in the world who were closest and dearest to me and at that moment I expected to build my whole (dream)world on that fateful kiss.

The moment ended quickly and all that was left were some colorful and not overly pleasant memories. And lost song. Dead song.

Explanations and understanding does not make for any comfort. Knowing I shared it with the person I loved at that time does not make it zen somehow. It does not bring peace and harmony with the universe. I can forgive myself for my choices and I can, both rationally and emotionally, accept that the value of my leap of faith in entering that marriage trumps forever my being poor judge of character - but that does not make it any easier for my Kiss To Build A Dream On.

I'd like it reclaimed and I'd like it alive.

And I think my reclaiming the song will take me letting go of the past and re-entering the wasteland.

G.E.C.K. will be mine.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Music Thursday - Soundscape

People who get to spend some time with me say I am very quiet, that I can hide at plain sight and that I breathe so quietly they sometimes start suspecting I don't breathe at all.

That is on purpose.

I love sounds and I practiced for a long time to make my breathing mindful and controllable so it doesn't interfere with listening.

I love sounds. I'm in awe with sounds.

Scrapings, blinks and boinks. Gusting, squeaks and oinks.

Ambient noise. Radiator bubbling and refrigerator singing. Whiplash of breaking static charge with my fingers. Heart beating. Peristalsis.

When I'm watching new anime for the first time I close my eyes and hold my breath and guess seiyu performing in the anime. Even my daughter (8) exclaims victoriously: "We know this voice!" when somebody who we already know speaks.

Hearing new piece of music I rarely think genre. I think components, clarity, extraneous noise, fingers scratching guitar wires, voices, words, appropriateness.

As I see it is a pyramid with sound in base, voice-emotion-semantic in the middle and music on top. Music is also very catholic (look into dictionary to find that catholic = universal in extent, broad and wide-ranging in tastes) so anyone can perceive it and enjoy it with or without any appreciation on their part, but I like appreciating it, understanding it, analyzing, dosing and celebrating it.

I love sounds and and I admire sound design and this is the best small treasure of sound design introduction and explanation that I know of and adore.

Photo by Deborah Coleman, ©Disney/PIXAR

Ben Burtt, the guy that won Oskar for sound effects in Star Wars(!), talking about his work and sound design for Wall-e.

And second part:

I love how it ends with Andrew Stanton and Ben Burtt assigning credits for job well done. Those are the traits of true geniuses.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wiener slices with spaghetti hair garnished with spicy chickpeas

Few days ago my friend showed me a photo of cooking idea I instantly loved and, having a kid that loves fun food and surprises, I decided to give it a go.

First you slice Wieners across so slices are about 2cm/1inch thick and you thread spaghetti halves through it. It can be done with long spaghetti but it is a pain to cook them like that and it is awkward to eat them after because nothing is "bite size appropriate".

Prepared slices just add to pot of boling salt water and cook 5-10 minutes, until spahgetti are nice and cooked through (al dente). Drain. If you want you can eat them just as they are, or add a splash of good olive oil or some grated cheese.

I wanted a splash more of color so I made garnish with one sliced small onion cooked on diced small slice of bacon in wok pan until light brown and caramelized. I added half tbsp red paprika and half tsp pepper (plus salt if needed), stired until it was nice and fragnant and then added some cooked chickpeas (I had leftovers, but one small drained can will be ok) and some water, just to cover, and I left it to simmer when spaghetti were boiling. I mixed drained spaghetti wieners into it...

 ... and served it with some grated hard goat cheese on top.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Basic Socks

Since last bout of crazy gift knitting around Christmas ended I was in a bit of a standstill with new projects. I did make some hats, some swatches did unexpectedly turn into scarves and baby clothes, some yoga-socks were cranked out and sent off but I felt kinda: "Meh", "Knitting-schmitting,... meh."

Until last week when I had an overwhelming urge to treat myself with "real socks", immediately!

So first one was made after a bit of tinkering with technique.

Needles: 4 steel DPNs size 2 mm
Yarn: discontinued Pazinka sock weight yarn, leftovers from yarn cone
Size: I wear shoes size 38-39 and these fit snugly
Type: simple, toe-up

Using Judy's Magic Cast-on cast on 10 stiches to each needle (20 total) and work in rounds adding 4 stitches per row at the ends every second row (I used kfb but m1 is ok) until total of 52 stitches is reached. Divide stitches on 3 needles so that sole 26 stitches are on first needle and upper-foot 26 stitches are divided 13-13 on two remaining neeedles.

Knit in rounds for about 42 rows (more for longer foot) and then add for arch 2 stitches (m1) every 7th row 5 times on lateral ends of upper-foot - that means that first time adding you will make sole 26 st., knit one from upper foot and m1 and knit to the end of the needle (having 14 total on that needle), knit 12, m1, knit 1 (having 14 total on this needle also). After kniting 6 more rows repeat addition row (ending with 26+15+15 stitches) and do this until you have 26+18+18 st on needles. Knit 6 more rows (or more for longer foot) and work short-row heel and after that join to work in the round again taking care not to leave gapping holes between sole and arch stitches. I usually pick one stitch from row below last at the place where sole and arch join (not making one new stitch, just picking the one already made in row below) and knit this one with adjacent one on sole part of the sock - k2tog on the right side and SSK on left side.

Now you're left with 26+18+18=62 stitches. Work in the round until prefered sock height is reached and then decrease 2 (62-2=60 stitches) so you can work 2x2 rib next 20 or so rows.

End with Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind-off.

I fell so absolutely in love with this sock when I finished it I immediately casted on for second sock and two days later I'm proudly sporting this pair through a spring morning.

 Look at these lovely heels. <3 enamored <3