Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This seems to be just about the only kind of posting I'm doing here lately. The usual: music, books and shows I've encountered over the last couple of weeks, with a random selection of recent photos I've taken.

Listening To:
  • Victoria-based singer-songwriter Aidan Knight was mentioned on CBC's North By Northwest a couple of weeks ago and I checked out his new album -- fantastic.
  • What I've heard from the new Arcade Fire album seems a bit mixed to me, but maybe it's a good sign that I didn't immediately listen too much and burn out on it. A few songs sound great, and even the ones I didn't much like were at least interesting.

  • East Coasters Wintersleep also have a new album out, and I was a bit lukewarm on it at first. The single didn't grab me, but Mirror Matters and Mausoleum stood out as strong tracks. Now the whole thing has been growing on me after multiple listens.
  • I found a pile of Bach's violin concertos with Itzhak Perlman as the soloist, and they're incredible. Many of the melodies were familiar, although I wouldn't have known they were Bach.
  • Mendelssohn's violin concerto and octet for strings, both brilliant.

  • I greatly enjoyed two memoirs published by my mom -- her Uncle Henry and Aunt Hilda each wrote one in 2006 and gave them to their kids and grand-kids as gifts. And what a gift, especially since Uncle Henry passed away. I found their stories very compelling.
  • The Art of Choosing -- this one had to go back to the library before I finished it, but I'll get it again. Some fascinating ideas about why we always assume that more choice would be better, when it's not always the case.
  • My friend and riding buddy Richard wrote a novel years ago called Holistic Motors, loosely based on his experience working as a mechanic in a local VW repair shop. I had started reading it a while back, but misplaced my copy...a couple of weeks ago he gave me another one and I finished it the next day. Trippy and fun, weird and reflective -- and very cool that he wrote it.
  • Empress of Asia by local Penticton author Adam Lewis Schroeder, a sweeping tale ranging all over the planet, but rooted in the Okanagan. It's odd to read entirely in the first-person, but the writing is snappy and intense. He's getting some buzz on his latest novel, which I've ordered.

  • I love Miyazaki and really looked forward to Ponyo, but what a piece of junk. Some beautiful scenes couldn't help salvage a stupid plot.
  • I had lower expectations for 9 after cousin J's non-recommendation, but I actually enjoyed it way more -- incredible visual style and character design. Unfortunately, the original short film was better, not so bogged down in the effort to thrill non-stop for an hour and half.
  • Andrew and I did an all day seminar about documentary film-making that was really engaging, and gave us the opportunity to sample all kinds of documentaries. It got me excited to see more films this winter, and maybe even to attempt making some simple shorts of my own.




Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'm nearly a month late, but thought I should commemorate the fact that our eldest is nine years old. She had a wonderful wizard-themed birthday party with two close friends (and potions!) and several secondary celebrations (multiple cakes!) with family and other friends. Here's a quick video of some of the party stuff:

What to say about this complex, intense, cerebral nine-year-old? I'd need to write a book about her. We love her so much, and hope this year is her best ever.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

World Famous

The other morning I watched Ezra waking up, which is almost always cute. On that particular day, he had barely opened his eyes when he started talking, and the first words out of his mouth added up to this rather bold statement:
"Daddy, when I'm five, I'm going to be the most famous cooker in the world."

All right, then. Better get him started in the kitchen if he's going to go global within two years.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Journal of My Mental Environment

Pretentious title ripped off from Adbusters, to head up the usual (and infrequent) record of what I'm filling my brain with these days.

Listening To:

  • Despite the hideous title, NurtureShock is an amazing book about how kids develop, and how parents mess that development up (ok, also what we're doing right). The premise is that there's specific research out there that contradicts "common wisdom" about parenting, and that if we applied more of it, we'd be more successful at raising well adjusted, creative kids. Very smart and practical stuff -- I'll be re-reading this one.
  • Okanagan Odyssey -- I'm a big fan of local writer Don Gayton. My mom and I went to the book launch in Summerland, enjoying the author's mellow charm and wit. These insightful, humorous stories and chunks of analysis of Okanagan lives and landscapes feel just right to me. I suspect the warmth and depth of this writing would make it compelling and interesting enough for an "outsider", but for those of us living here, it's a real treasure.
  • Still Alice -- More Alzheimer's reading, this time a novel that feels like very personal, powerful non-fiction. I had some quiet time alone when Tannis took the girls to Nakusp and used a few hours to finish it. It had a disquieting effect on me -- not depressing as much as just feeling off-balance and afraid. Several of my own recent memory troubles popped up, matching scenarios in the book where Alice is recognizing her early-onset Alzheimer's. Might be just normal things that everyone messes up sometimes...I hope. I was also thinking of Grandpa again, of course, and feeling discouraged about the lack of progress in potential treatments.
  • We're starting at the beginning of the Harry Potter series as bed-time reading for the girls, after being in the doldrums since finishing our LOTR marathon, not finding anything else as compelling or entertaining. Although the girls have already read it repeatedly on their own, we're really enjoying Book 1 together. The series should take us into autumn if we stick with it.

  • Prom Night in Mississippi, an excellent documentary about a little town attempting to have its first integrated (whites and blacks) high school prom. Very intense and well done.
  • Kung-Fu Panda has been a bit of a hit at our house.
  • Continuing my fascination with music composition, I've been watching Classical European Composers on DVD, so far covering Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Vivaldi. I can't say the series itself is very good, but it's better than nothing.





Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Today's Forecast

This is the kind of forecast I like in July, especially when the spring has been wetter and cooler than usual. Of course we'll get get tired of the heat eventually, but for now...bring on the beach.

July 11 Update: Glorious week -- at Powell or Sunoka beach every afternoon and evening, usually with friends and a picnic. Bill and Sam joined us for the last few sessions, and tonight we converged with the Vandersluys and Hildebrand clans as well. Kids running wild, delicious potluck, buckets of cherries, warm swims...good livin'. Tannis left a bit early tonight to pick at least 20 liters of strawberries, some of which went straight into the freezer. This in addition to the 25-ish pounds of cherries I swiped off the Vandersluys tree in the morning -- 'tis the season.