Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Welcome Warmth

I think it's probably an annual tradition for me to post the first really nice weather forecast of the year. Last year's was more of a lament, with a lonely sunny day with a high of 21 standing out among cool, wet days. It was well into July before we really felt summer kicking in. This year so far has been the usual mixed bag. My only complaint with the weekend forecast is that Larry and Pearl will just be leaving as it gets really nice. C'est la vie...

Monday, May 07, 2012

reading listening watching

These posts are too unruly if I let them stew too long, and I forget too much of the stuff I've encountered, so maybe every month or so would work better. Here's what has been filling my brain these last four weeks, decorated with random photos taken roughly over the same time period.  

  • A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink -- Darcy lent me this one with a tentative recommendation, and I was glad to have read it over a few evenings. I should be happy to agree with the author's theory that creative, unconventional thinkers will be in great demand, but I didn't really buy it. The unbounded pre-crash economic optimism (written in 2005) looks a little silly now, and although his journalistic style is zippy and fun, the "evidence" for the prognostications seem like a bit of a joke. This seemed to be aimed at a lightweight business-book audience, perhaps trying to get the suits to lighten up. Meanwhile, the demand for creative types stays the same, while the supply keeps growing -- not a recipe for increasing value. Mostly wishful thinking, methinks.
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  • The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins wasn't exactly hard-hitting sociology either, but I couldn't put it down. She borrows from The Breakfast Club when she typecasts and follows a half dozen teens through several months, digging into the social hierarchies of their high school lives. It's a bit shocking and discouraging to realize that the bullies and populars still rule schools with iron fists, but on the other hand, I was encouraged to read about fringe kids who find their way without playing the popularity game. Highly recommended, especially for anyone in education.
  • New Hope for People With Bipolar Disorder

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  • The Magic Half by Annie Barrows -- our current bedtime reading with the girls, and definitely showing promise after a magical twist throws the main character back in time.
  • Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi -- I found the writing really clunky in the first few chapters; almost comically bad. But the art (as always) is so good, and the writing seemed to even out as it progressed. Ivy had already read (and loved) it, but she was strongly in favour of making this our bedtime reading, and Ella and I were totally hooked. Looking forward to the sequel in the next few weeks.
  • Winnie at Her Best -- more bedtime reading, pretty light and reasonably fun.
  • With Ezra, we've really been digging into the short chapter books. The latest obsession has been the Nate the Great series, which has been a lot of fun -- they're perfect for him right now, and we've got lots of books to finish. He loved Corby Flood, as expected, although not quite as much as Fergus Crane.
  • Sail by AWOLNATION -- big hit around here these days.
  • Ane Brun, especially her cover of the Arcade Fire's Neighbourhood #1, but I keep running into other songs of hers that really grab me. Not my usual style.
  • Winnipegger Keri Latimer is streaming her new album -- very mellow and cool, and channeling a bit of her old magic from Nathan.
  • Hi-fi audio of prairie dogs in Grasslands National Park that gives me prairie longings, best listened to while checking out amazing photos from the park (taken by one of my favourite photographers, James Page).
  • Nothing is Anything Without You by my fave Maritime band, Wintersleep -- great song; looking forward to hearing this whole album next month...disappointed that they won't be stopping in the Okanagan.
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  • Farewell to Philosophy composed by Gavin Bryars -- amazing classical/instrumental CD with three main pieces of music: a cello concerto, three tracks for percussion ensemble, and three tracks for solo double bass accompanied by bass clarinet, percussion and strings. I had never heard of this composer before picking this at random from the library, but this is top-notch stuff.
  • You Roll and Kick Your Bucket Billy by The Yokel -- odd French duo with a neat folky sound.
  • Cottonwood Moon by The Rakish Angles, a nice recommendation from Tanya -- a bluegrassy band from the Sunshine Coast that she saw in Penticton.
  • The Constantines, especially Trans Canada and Our Age (video below), both of which should be considered classics of Canadian music, despite having only been out for four years or so...wishing they'd release something new again.

  • Totoro -- if you assumed that I watch the same kids' movies over and over, you would be correct.
  • Star Wars Episode 4 -- classic.
  • Where the Wild Things Are -- not classic, although the music was ok, and some of the scenes were visually cool. Terrible, terrible script, so badly executed.
  • Andrew Bird's Sounds From a Room -- Thanks to Andrew for unearthing this gem, which really shows off Bird's incredible skills in composing, playing, singing, whistling and looping.
  • I loved this performance and interview with cellist Zoe Keating -- crazy song skills, beautiful sounds and I was fascinated by what she says about the overlap between information architecture (my job) and composing (my fun).