May 28, 2010

Marketing is Important

Category: Humour — Cranky @

I spend a lot of time watching videos on TED.com. For those who have never heard of TED conferences, they are a chance to hear inspiring talks on hundreds of subjects. Some talks clock in at 6 minutes, some up to 22, and they are rigidly timed. You can get lost on that web site for days.

You can hear talks about new technology, new ideas, atrocities in other countries, climate change… there are even some very funny comedic entries. But the one I want to discuss is this one: Weekday Veg.

Now Graham Hill has a really good idea. Basically, go without meat during the week, and do what you like on the weekend. But Mr. Hill can never be in marketing. “Weekday Veg”? Just typing it feels douchey.

It’s week, unfulfilling pansy language that any meat-eating, manly man will instantly disdain.  “Veg” is one letter away from “Vag”. Why, oh why would he use that frilly set of words when right there – RIGHT THERE – is the answer? Half a step away…

“Weekend Carnivore.”

Seriously, he’s smart enough to be invited to speak at a TED conference, but too dumb to come up with a tagline that’s inviting?

 Cranky

May 23, 2010

To New Discoveries!

Category: Life — Cranky @

Yesterday was a very cool day. In the afternoon I set out to find a deli that I had been to once before. The problem was that I didn’t know the name of it – I just knew it was on 118th avenue. For those not from Edmonton, when I say 118th avenue you might not get the picture. 118th is what one could generously call “in need of revitalization” – which it’s currently receiving, in the form of a $10 million facelift. Transients are everywhere, and the buildings all need work. It has a distinctively seedy feel to it.

Why, then, would I want to go to a deli situated in such a place? Because it’s a hungarian deli, and it’s “real”. The coils of sausage aren’t tightly sealed in plastic wrap – they’re hanging loose up on the wall behind the counter. They were smoked right on the premises. The environment isn’t sterile, but the food is spectacular.

After driving up and down that street for 20 minutes I was beginning to give up hope. Then I saw a sign – “Kasoa Tropical Food Market.” Didn’t look right, but hey – what do I know? I parked and went to check it out. The moment I stepped inside I had my answer.

This wasn’t it.

I was in a small market with a bunch of people who all stopped and looked at me. They were black. Now, I’m not talking North American-style “yeah they’re black but really they’re brown” black – they were black black. And while I don’t have a racist bone in my body I had one hell of a “fish out of water” moment. I wasn’t leaving, though, because the music had hooked me.

The stereo was playing this African-style upbeat music. It was a style just a bit different from any I had heard before, and I knew I had to find out what it was. So I continued inside and went to the shelves to see what was what. They were stocked with a variety of African products, and the coolers had lots of seafood. I picked up a new jerk sauce, some hot montego curry, and a few other items. I then proceeded to the checkout where a young woman started to tally up my purchases. I asked about the music.

She pointed to rack on the wall, but I couldn’t see any CD’s on it – just African movies. She laughed and called out, “He’s asking about the music!” Then I noticed that behind the rack was a man sitting on a chair. I went around the back and asked him, “What’s this music?” He replied, “That’s Nigerian church gospel. It’s played during services.” I asked him if I could buy it, and he held up a CD in a plain wrapper. He looked at me and said, “$10.” I could probably have paid half the price if I’d have haggled, but the music was good, so I just paid him the asking price.

The woman at the counter thanked me for coming, and off I went.

Bolstered by my happy discovery I took a close look at the rest of 118th avenue, and I saw it differently. Yes, the buildings were still in bad shape, and the transients hadn’t magically turned into happy hobos, but all over the place I saw ethnic businesses. Portuguese, Ukrainian, Jewish, Italian… I had no idea that 118th avenue was quite possibly the most diverse street in the city. There was even a run-down little shack that I just KNOW I’ll be visiting at some point – the sign said, “Jerk Chicken – Take-out”.

Coming back home I chose a route that put 118th in perspective. The east end of 111th is not in need of revitalization – it’s in need of bulldozing. The buildings are falling down, and whereas 118th was a busy strip, this place was just dead. There’s not one reason to stop in the area. You only go through it. 118th feels seedy – 111th feels dangerous.

I never did find that deli. I suspect they’ve gone out of business. Today I’m going to go to another section of the city I had no idea existed – there’s a “Little India” in an industrial section of the south side.

Cranky

May 15, 2010

Something a Bit Different

Category: Music — Cranky @

I’ve been working on different musical styles lately, and my writing has taken a bit of a classical turn. By no means am I claiming to be a classical composer – I’m just tinkering. I do believe that if you make the same kind of music all your life you might as well have stopped after a couple of years.

So this is a piece that’s been knocking around in my brain for a while. I call it “Gentle Rush” because it doesn’t have any sharp edges or harshness, but it does move along at a brisk little pace. It clocks in under two minutes and three pages of notation – three generous pages, since I also included the tab-style finger notation us guitarists cheat with.

Without further ado, and recorded in a single imperfect take with no metronome, musical warts and all:

Gentle Rush

…and for those who care… the sheet music.

Cranky