Tag Archives: 2016

Auditory Flashbacks: Icon of Coil, VNV Nation

I’ve been busy as of late, albeit occu­pied with a lot of things IRL and not online as much. I real­ize it’s been a while since my last arti­cle here, so in the spir­it of keep­ing the beat going, here’s a music post.

Tonight we have select songs from Icon of Coil and VNV Nation. Crank that vol­ume knob way up high, and enjoy …

Regret // lyrics here.

Every­thing // lyrics here.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Auditory Flashbacks: Sea Songs and More

When I began going through my posts as part of back-end main­te­nance the oth­er day, I real­ized I haven’t done an arti­cle on sea songs yet. Con­sid­er­ing how deeply that genre runs in my heart and my con­nec­tions with the sea, I feel a bit sil­ly at not doing it soon­er.

So here’s a smat­ter­ing of old favourites. I’ve searched a while for spe­cial ver­sions of some of these songs, which you’ll notice below:

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Auditory Flashbacks: Die Laughing

Tonight’s post isn’t a review so much as a hand­ful of snip­pets from the tal­ent­ed UK goth group Die Laugh­ing. Hav­ing been active from 1986 to 1999, they dis­solved the sum­mer before Y2K and even­tu­al­ly re-formed in 2012 with a new sin­gle, “Tan­gled,” and news that they’re work­ing on mate­r­i­al for a new album.

See­ing as their inter­na­tion­al fol­low­ing nev­er real­ly stopped (due in equal parts to the Inter­net and the peri­od­ic releas­es of their work on oth­er com­pi­la­tion albums) it’s refresh­ing to hear they’re intent on adding more works to their reper­toire.

Enjoy …

Auditory Flashbacks: Blutengel

Tonight’s post isn’t a music review (for now, any­way). I just want­ed to share this very beau­ti­ful song off of Blutengel’s 2011 album Trä­nen­herz:

Tea Time: Meßmer’s Rosehip and Hibiscus

I’m WAY over­due on post­ing this review, con­sid­er­ing I’ve been drink­ing this stuff for a long time.

Meet Meßmer’s Rose­hip and Hibis­cus:

Meßmer Rosehip and Hibiscus Tea Meßmer's Rosehip and Hibiscus Tea

It comes pre-pack­aged in indi­vid­ual paper wrapped tea bags (I’m not aware of there being any loose leaf vari­ants). The ingre­di­ents list notes only three items are used to make it: rose­hips, hibis­cus, and sweet black­ber­ry leaves. There is no caf­feine con­tent.

This tea is best served hot or cold. While it’s a great way to warm up on a winter’s night, it also makes some of the best iced tea, if you pre­fer it that way. The flavour is strong yet sub­tle, full-bod­ied with slight­ly earthy tones, and slight but notice­able sour and tangy notes.

The infu­sion is a char­ac­ter­is­tic blood-red hue, which makes for fun con­ver­sa­tion and inter­est­ing spec­u­la­tion about what one is drink­ing.

While this prod­uct tastes great on its own, there have been plen­ty of times I’ve paired it with a sweet­en­er in mak­ing iced tea to share with fam­i­ly and friends. For this, I’ve found hon­ey gives the best results as its flavour spec­trum runs com­ple­men­tary to the tangy and sour notes of the tea, and high­lights the earthy tones per­fect­ly with­out being over­pow­er­ing. The result is an iced tea that tastes excep­tion­al­ly smooth, which both adults and chil­dren love.

Much like good music, this tea is an export of Ger­many and comes to British Colum­bia as some­what of a niche prod­uct. Not many peo­ple know it exists, and few­er still have had a chance to try it. This has unfor­tu­nate­ly been borne out in the way retail­ers treat it, too: since 2005, I’ve seen both Wal­mart and Cana­di­an Super­store briefly car­ry and then dis­con­tin­ue the Meßmer prod­uct line.

More recent­ly, my girl­friend total­ly lucked out and found some at a down­town Lon­don Drugs here in Vic­to­ria (and on manager’s spe­cial, no less!) so need­less to say, I’m stoked at hav­ing it again. Hope­ful­ly they’ll keep stock­ing it!

Last but not least, I cre­at­ed a Food and Drink sec­tion to cat­e­go­rize this post, and it got me think­ing: this is not the usu­al con­tent I share here, but con­sid­er­ing how much kitchen­ware I own and how much cre­ative stuff we do each year in the kitchen, I think I’ve been hold­ing back. Per­haps in the future, I’ll post an occa­sion­al fam­i­ly recipe or rec­om­men­da­tion … there are just too many good things out there, and not shar­ing them would be wrong.

:)

Tools for Audio Geeks: Spek, a Free Spectrum Analyzer

Tonight, I’d like to give a major shout-out to the cre­ators of Spek, a free spec­trum ana­lyz­er I dis­cov­ered recent­ly, which has been extreme­ly use­ful in the course of pro­cess­ing my music col­lec­tion.

Why use a spec­trum ana­lyz­er at all? Glad you asked.

The main ben­e­fit is you can phys­i­cal­ly see how the encode turned out — peaks, fre­quen­cy cut­offs, bit rates, and oth­er details can be checked with this tool. It can be some­what neb­u­lous on the details if you used VBR, but I gen­er­al­ly find that’s not much of an issue con­sid­er­ing being able to see a track’s audio spec­trum pro­vides a bet­ter look at the file any­way.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Slam Poetry: “Hi, I’m a Slut”

Back in my uni­ver­si­ty days, I jumped at the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be a vol­un­teer for our show­ing of The Vagi­na Mono­logues. I loved the for­mat of that per­for­mance and the way it engaged the audi­ence, and I’ve been on the hunt ever since for sim­i­lar­ly off-beat, hard-hit­ting con­tent that gets dia­logue start­ed about impor­tant issues.

So, when I found this video by Savan­nah Brown in a friend’s FB feed today, I couldn’t resist post­ing it here. Her unpre­ten­tious, cut-to-the-bone style makes lin­ger­ing points and delves deeply into our col­lec­tive mem­o­ry on the patho­log­i­cal sex­u­al­iza­tion, ram­pant objec­ti­fi­ca­tion, and vic­tim-blam­ing that goes on all too often as a fea­ture of the social fab­ric in North Amer­i­ca.

I’m also throw­ing in an old­er video she made called, “What Guys Look For In Girls.” The mes­sage, again, is too impor­tant to leave out:

First Photo Trip of 2016

I’m not sure how the rest of my read­ers have been far­ing, but here in my city we’re ful­ly into spring, and there are lots of beau­ti­ful places to vis­it as the lands (and their inhab­i­tants) wake from sea­son­al slum­ber.

This Tues­day I went for an after­noon bike ride around the city, even­tu­al­ly mak­ing my way through Ross Bay Ceme­tery and Bea­con Hill Park. I fig­ured I’d post a few of the high­lights here. Please excuse the crap­tas­tic mobile phone image qual­i­ty, I’ll have to make it a point some­time this year to get a prop­er cam­era and do these right.  ;)

More to come as the weath­er warms up!

Spring blossoms! Also, the back end of a bee. Spring blossoms. Of endless seas, and boundless skies ... Shoreline view taken from the Beacon Hill waterfront trail. A long abandoned, undisturbed gave in Ross Bay Cemetery.

Also, I updat­ed the lay­out con­fig­u­ra­tion files for this site ear­li­er in the week. I don’t think there will be any glitch­es as a result of this, but in the off chance my read­ers see any­thing weird hap­pen, I’d wel­come a bug report via the con­tact page.

Build­ing a web­site is a learn­ing expe­ri­ence, and an ever-expand­ing con­struc­tion project, and I’m plan­ning to become much more involved with it this year.

Auditory Flashbacks: Helalyn Flowers, Asperger Synthdrome

While brows­ing the BC goth feeds on Face­book this morn­ing, I found a link to “Hybrid Moments” by Hela­lyn Flow­ers. This love­ly Ital­ian band is a bit of an unknown for me, so I took a moment to lis­ten, then, very con­tent with the melodies of their colour­ful sound­scapes, I prompt­ly went look­ing for more.

It turns out they have a nice body of work in cir­cu­la­tion, sit­ting in the shad­ows wait­ing for lis­ten­ers like us to dig a bit more deeply. So let’s break out the shov­els, nein?

Next up is a video I’ve been want­i­ng to post for ages, some­how it got lost in the shuf­fle a while back. That’s espe­cial­ly unfor­tu­nate since I’m a fan of Ado­ra Bat­Brat, and I LOVE hear­ing her sing.

Actu­al­ly, it’s Ado­ra and her sis­ter that both head up their band, Asperg­er Syn­th­drome. At a grace­ful 44 (sur­prised?) Adora’s vein of tal­ent and abil­i­ty to con­stant­ly shake things up and rein­vent her­self makes me see par­al­lels with Madon­na. I mean this as a com­pli­ment — it takes a lot of ener­gy (and an exact­ing eye) to bal­ance ongo­ing fash­ion design, aggres­sive self-pro­mo­tion, and the kind of mar­ket­ing genius that Adora’s put into her work.

Hope today’s post brings a smile to your face! Sure is nice, being able to share this with my read­ers.

Star­ry tides and fair winds,
~ crim­son

Reading 2.0 and the Ultimate E-Book Toolkit (Calibre)

As a child of the orig­i­nal ‘Inter­net gen­er­a­tion,’ I’ve long felt blessed and grate­ful for the trans­for­ma­tions that have come about in the wake of the per­son­al com­put­ing rev­o­lu­tion. It’s changed the way we com­mu­ni­cate, the way we share infor­ma­tion, the way we store our things, and the way we think.

There’s always been some­thing very beau­ti­ful about the inti­mate enmesh­ment of phys­i­cal essence and tech­nol­o­gy. The tighter that bond becomes, the more we become able to tran­scend our own nat­ur­al lim­its. If not also in name and appear­ance by this time, I’d argue we are at least the first cyborgs in spir­it, aug­ment­ing our liv­ing bod­ies with tire­less elec­tron­ics and high-pow­ered micro­proces­sors, hold­ing a uni­verse-with­in-a-uni­verse between our quiv­er­ing fin­ger­tips.

Back in the day, a lot of peo­ple used to talk about device con­ver­gence, a point at which all (or most) user needs could be met by the capa­bil­i­ties of a sin­gle mul­ti-pur­pose plat­form. There were numer­ous exper­i­ments tried and failed over the years to find that ide­al­ized, com­fort­able sense of mass appeal, rang­ing from the launch of WebTV to installing hard disks into game con­soles, but despite all of this, the true killer app came only when the com­put­ing indus­try final­ly set its sights on the ordi­nary mobile cel­lu­lar phone and said, “Let’s make this bet­ter.”

Ka-boom.

And so the sec­ond rev­o­lu­tion of our gen­er­a­tion began.

Nowa­days, it’s almost abnor­mal to meet any­one on the streets who isn’t cart­ing around a three-by-sev­en-inch smart­phone (or tablet) with pow­er and endurance rival­ing that of many net­books and low­er-end lap­tops. With boosts in porta­bil­i­ty and bat­tery life, more stor­age, mul­ti-core pro­cess­ing, wide­spread open-source devel­op­ment, and easy cloud inte­gra­tion, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. Much like the change in our own des­tiny, aug­men­ta­tion of our phones has hit a point where it’s trans­formed them into some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent, and made them part of a greater force in the realm of cul­tur­al design and social func­tion.

And while we use these devices for a mul­ti­tude of every­day tasks, one of the more sub­tle ones that’s tak­en hold is read­ing for busi­ness and plea­sure. It’s long been obvi­ous, ever since cyber­space gained mass appeal, that one of the more hot­ly debat­ed issues would remain the divide between read­ing from phys­i­cal media ver­sus read­ing from dig­i­tal. The e-book trend is in an upward swing, a lot of read­ers have trad­ed in their cum­ber­some dead-tree-for­mat for some­thing that slips more eas­i­ly into a data card, and these changes have many more ques­tion­ing the direc­tion in which these changes might take us.

First off, I don’t care much for the pol­i­tics, and I’m not here to preach. The views on elec­tron­ic read­ing are as var­ied and numer­ous as there are peo­ple who read. Some like to keep their dis­tance and feel that e-read­ers are infe­ri­or and a betray­al of a whole­some pas­time. Oth­ers strike vary­ing shades of bal­ance between the use of dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal for­mats. Still oth­ers are at a point where they’ve either swung firm­ly toward car­ry­ing out an even­tu­al migra­tion to dig­i­tal or have already arrived there.

Per­son­al­ly, I’m flex­i­ble when it comes to my books. I have a lot of paper, in spite of every­thing else in my life being almost entire­ly dig­i­tal. I also have a lot of books in dig­i­tal for­mat. So, when­ev­er I want to indulge in a sto­ry, I go with what’s con­ve­nient and feels good that day.

The take-home les­son here is, “you do you.” Work with what makes you hap­py. Work with what you feel works best for the cir­cum­stances. The ONLY thing you need to care about at the end of the day is that what you’re doing keeps you read­ing and keeps you feel­ing joy from your pas­time.

Books are a price­less tool to hone the intel­lect and give wings to our imag­i­na­tions. There’s a lot we could do that’s far worse than con­sum­ing them reg­u­lar­ly (and eager­ly) in dig­i­tal form.

On that note, I’m going to share one more tool that might be of inter­est to any­one who’s dip­ping their toes into the e-read­ing pool. Cal­i­bre is an e-book sys­tem that’s total­ly free, has no ads or spy­ware, and pret­ty much does every­thing you could ever ask for in an e-book soft­ware pack­age. I’ve been using mine to con­vert between EPUB and PDF for­mats; as long as a user under­stands basic typog­ra­phy, this pro­gram is a dream to work with. Cal­i­bre makes it ridicu­lous­ly easy to cre­ate out­put files that are re-flowed and set for the screen size of one’s read­er.

Also, huge kudos go to Mor­ri for gift­ing me with the old Black­ber­ry Play­book that became my mobile library. I love so much of what we share, inter­est-wise and oth­er­wise … and this BB made for such an awe­some DIY hack, and even more fun after the fact. I can slip this thing into a purse or coat pock­et and just run out the door, and not have to wor­ry about cart­ing around 50 pounds of books. (I know I’ve already thanked you pro­fuse­ly IRL, but cred­it is due in cyber­space too!)

So long sto­ry short … if you’re an avid read­er, check out Cal­i­bre, it’s one of the few appli­ca­tions I’ve encoun­tered that’s prob­a­bly worth your time.

Now … pick up a book and read, dammit!  :)

<3

Auditory Flashbacks: Cauda Pavonis, Adversus, Flesh Field, Aesthetic Perfection, Aïboforcen, Aeon Sable, The Birthday Massacre, Battery, and Qntal

After more than ten hours of hard work, the Links page is final­ly up to date, along with a slew of new addi­tions to the music sec­tion. Artists begin­ning with let­ters A through F are com­plete, with each entry researched pri­or to list­ing in order to make the most use­ful resources avail­able to read­ers who are inter­est­ed in explor­ing fur­ther. In cas­es where an artist has retired or gone on hia­tus, I’ve tried to link to resources that offer the most com­plete overview of their musi­cal works.

Now that that’s fin­ished, ON TO THE MUSIC!

Start­ing off tonight’s round of offer­ings is the awe­some, dri­ving sound of the one and only Cau­da Pavo­nis:

Next up, we have the ulti­mate grave­yard ser­e­nade: Adver­sus’ See­len­win­ter. The song is an old favourite of mine, and see­ing the video hits even hard­er than any­thing before.

Those voic­es, those melodies … they’re eight bliss­ful, soar­ing min­utes of pure lovelorn flight. I adore every part of it. Stu­dio ver­sion here. Frankly, though, I think this one works much bet­ter live.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Victoria Times Colonist to Remove Online Commenting

This week, our local news­pa­per announced it was remov­ing the com­ment sec­tion in future posts. This comes in the wake of a fair­ly well-estab­lished trend of promi­nent media out­lets, includ­ing Pop­u­lar Sci­ence, decid­ing to do the same in order to bring the empha­sis back to the con­tent, and curb wide­spread abuse of writ­ers and their audi­ences by unpleas­ant dri­ve-by com­menters.

And tru­ly, noth­ing of val­ue was lost.

First, what many major out­lets have real­ized by now, many of them through rather hard lessons, is that jour­nal­ism isn’t just a busi­ness, it’s a del­i­cate bal­ance, a deep search for the truth. By its very nature, this demands well-devel­oped com­mu­ni­ca­tions skills and keen social com­pe­tence on the part of its researchers and pre­sen­ters, and a care­ful­ly craft­ed envi­ron­ment in which to con­vey the infor­ma­tion to the audi­ence.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Auditory Flashbacks: the Music of Ost+Front, Megaherz, and Lord of the Lost

Some­where along the way, my lis­ten­ing list got so large it hit that mag­i­cal tip­ping point where it became its own nov­el. By the end of this post, it will offi­cial­ly be 442 artists. Even the fair­ly robust Word­Press Edi­tor was hav­ing issues last time I tried to add more band links. I’ve post­ed *maybe* a quar­ter of them here on my site by now, but made full-fledged dis­cus­sion posts for far too few.

That’s going to change this year, as I’ll even­tu­al­ly get around to revamp­ing my con­tent a bit, along with a few changes to update fre­quen­cy and post for­mat.

But for now … LET’S DISCOVER SOME MUSIC!

Today’s theme is Neue Deutsche Härte, and to that end, I have three sub­mis­sions for your lis­ten­ing plea­sure.

First, there’s Ost+Front. What can I real­ly say here? Their stage pres­ence is the result of some­one sneak­ing into a genet­ic engi­neer­ing lab to com­bine Rammstein’s DNA with the entire cast of Dead Snow. Nazi zom­bies with awe­some voic­es? You’d bet­ter believe it.

BUT WHERE’S THE FIRE? In the lyrics, of course …

Con­tin­ue read­ing

On the Death of David Bowie

There’s “pass­ing away with style,” and then there’s “I’m going for one more encore, and I’m not just going to love this, I’m gonna strike the bold­est dot imag­in­able on the excla­ma­tion point that is my life.”

When I heard about David Bowie’s death, I part­ly expect­ed to hear about him doing some­thing notable or dra­mat­ic on the way out — ain’t that just like him.

The end is near, the odds are tan­gi­bly impos­si­ble, and even as the world comes crash­ing down around his ears, here he is on set cast­ing a music video, singing with that same sweet, sil­very pas­sion that’s defined so many of his life’s oth­er accom­plish­ments.

Not florid prose nor mourn­ful dis­course nor sim­ple won­der can prop­er­ly describe the inspi­ra­tion and beau­ty in such a ges­ture. Lyrics here. Links to the Cana­di­an and Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­eties as well, because why not con­tribute?

Now, if you haven’t clicked PLAY on the above video, you’d bet­ter turn off every­thing else around you right now, and load it up.

And don’t for­get the encore …

May you be well remem­bered, and remem­bered well in all the ages to come.

With Liberty and Firearms for All

One of the issues that’s come up repeat­ed­ly in con­tem­po­rary US pol­i­tics is the idea that the 2nd Amend­ment con­veys an individual’s right to obtain, pos­sess, and open­ly car­ry firearms.

The realm of law and order is not unlike the fash­ion world in that over time, new trends emerge and fresh items of inter­est arise, while estab­lished trends can be played down or may fall out of favour entire­ly. Inter­pre­ta­tion mat­ters most, and that inter­pre­ta­tion is gen­er­al­ly sub­ject to the lin­guis­tic evo­lu­tion and soci­etal atti­tudes of the peri­od. In the case of the 2nd Amend­ment, the leg­is­la­tion has been furi­ous­ly debat­ed in a mod­ern set­ting as to the mer­its of its gram­mat­i­cal struc­ture and mean­ing, oth­er his­tor­i­cal prece­dents, and dif­fer­ences between the orig­i­nal and rat­i­fied ver­sions.

The recent push for wide­spread ‘free­dom’ enshrined in law as per­mit­ting indi­vid­ual gun own­er­ship wasn’t always so. Up to the turn of the 21st cen­tu­ry, it was wide­ly accept­ed by many (even con­ser­v­a­tive Chief Jus­tice War­ren Berg­er) that an indi­vid­ual right to bear arms wasn’t a thing. Many con­ser­v­a­tives at the time car­ried the same torch and stood in oppo­si­tion to what they believed was a sil­ly, if not fair­ly haz­ardous, idea.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Anti-Intellectualism and Politics

Dur­ing 2015, Cana­da took a con­scious, intro­spec­tive turn toward a more pro­gres­sive jour­ney as vot­ers elect­ed Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau. Since then, we’ve been mak­ing inroads on a sig­nif­i­cant depar­ture from the atti­tudes of the pri­or admin­is­tra­tion and stay­ing most­ly true to this. While there remains a lot of heavy lift­ing to do in cor­rect­ing the anti-progress lega­cy of Stephen Harp­er, we’re on the road to recov­ery. There remains a cer­tain faith in gov­ern­ment, such that we’ve sig­nif­i­cant­ly boost­ed vot­er turnout. That in itself speaks vol­umes.

The change of admin­is­tra­tion brought with it some very pub­lic moments, like the new equal­i­ty cab­i­net, the rise of an abo­rig­i­nal chief as Jus­tice Min­is­ter, and the appoint­ment of an inter­na­tion­al­ly respect­ed war hero as Defense Min­is­ter.

While these changes are in all respects wel­come, and in most cas­es long past due, it’s the sub­tle stuff we don’t see going on behind the scenes day-to-day which con­tributes just as much if not more to the shap­ing of our char­ac­ter as a cul­ture of many dif­fer­ent cul­tures. The way our politi­cians behave toward one anoth­er, their inter­ac­tion with the peo­ple, their will­ing­ness to cham­pi­on progress and edu­ca­tion, their atti­tudes toward strangers, and their com­pas­sion towards the ‘oth­er’ — all of these are the mea­sure of a politi­cian whether that indi­vid­ual is with­in view of the press or not. One thing I found reas­sur­ing about this past elec­tion was the con­scious rejec­tion of divi­sive pol­i­tics by the Cana­di­an peo­ple. What we have right now is not per­fect by any mea­sure, but it’s a lot bet­ter than the alter­na­tive might have been.

Con­tin­ue read­ing