Monday, August 25, 2014

Music Monday: Enemies

I don't have any enemies, do I?

I hope not.

I'm sure I've pissed off a few people in my life (I know I have), but I don't mean to. And I'm sorry.

Maybe one or more of my posts has pissed off a person or two, but I have to try to be true to myself: if I try to live up to other people's standards, I won't be able to make everyone happy anyway; least of all, myself.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with today's music, except for its title, Enemies, by BC singer-songwriter, Hannah Georgas.

This song has a good beat and great vocals, and the video is well-shot. The main character, played by actor John Ennis, gives a convincing performance on a down-on-his-luck guy who enters his dog in a race and bets everything on it.

Though I hate dogs (yes, I guess we're enemies), I like the story. And I love the song.

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Music Monday: Weapon

I know: I play a lot of Matthew Good.

But when I try to think of the best song by this incredibly talented Canadian artist, I can't pick just one song. I won't promise this will be the last time that I share his music with you.

When Matt Good performed at Bluesfest last summer, I had to go at all cost. I had missed him so many times in the past because I couldn't get my wife to come (she isn't a fan) and none of my friends were available. So I went alone.

Although Matt's solo career is just as strong as it was with his band, I always love to hear the old stuff (yet, I have an equal mix on my smartphone).

At Bluesfest, Matt sang many songs from his years in the Matthew Good Band, and I blissfully sang along. But the high point came at the end of the show, when he sang one of my all-time favourite of his songs, Weapon.

From 2003 (before I even got into the band), it's a powerful song with soft acoustic guitar mixed with ear-splitting guitar and heart-pounding percussion. It starts slow, explodes, and then relaxes. And then it explodes again, and calms right down for a finish that make you want to start up again.

At the concert, the crowd went wild, and I was right there, singing and swaying along.

I was going to share the video for this song, but changed my mind after watching it. I find the commentary that flashes on the screen to be a bit distracting—although, at times, amusing—but worst of all, it's a shorter version of the song, more than two minutes shorter.

And you need to hear all of it. So, I've included a SoundCloud widget. You can simply scroll to the song, click it, and it will start.

I recommend that you plug in your headphones, close your eyes, and enjoy.

Plus, you can also listen to other Matt Good songs at your leisure. (I guess I worked more songs in, didn't I?)

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Photo Friday: Best-Laid Plans at the Louvre

I wanted an evening shot.
One of those nights when the fountains are stilled and the pools become mirrors. I wanted the pyramid reflected in such a way that it becomes a cube. I wanted a golden glow, with the palace facade of the Louvre standing in the background.
I planned the shot for after our second tour of the day, when we hoped the crowds had thinned, that we could see the Mona Lisa without obstruction.
But as we approached the entrance to the museum, a different light caught my attention, and we delayed our entrance for about a half an hour. When we saw Da Vinci's masterpiece, it paled by comparison.
When we left the Louvre, I had forgotten about my imagined photo, the one I wanted before we arrived. I got what I didn't know I wanted.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Of Sailors and Strippers, Friends and Loved Ones

What I have written here may get me into trouble with some of my family members and dear friends. It's a topic on which I've had an opinion for several years but one that I have spoken about with only a few in my closest circle.

Picture this: a brand-new, state-of-the-art structure, steel and glass glimmering in a sun-soaked sky. A thing of beauty, from which one can hardly look away.

And on its unveiling, it's opening day, the architect takes several cans of multi-coloured spray paint, and adds a heart to its unblemished side. Or a Celtic cross. Or an inspirational quote from a popular piece of literature.

The vandalism seems out of place with the clean lines, the perfect curves of this structure, has nothing to do with the architecture. But there it is, in plain sight, for all to see.

I don't like tattoos.

I have never understood the thinking behind the desire to take ink and inject it under the skin, to have something so permanent take up such a valuable space.


The first tattoo I ever saw adorned the bicep of a neighbour. He was mowing his lawn, dressed in shorts and a white, sleeveless undershirt. It was a monotone blue, the ink no different looking than if the person had drawn it on with a Bic pen and it had only started to fade. A ship's anchor, unremarkable except for a mermaid coiled around the shank, her arms spread wide, supporting herself by the stock, as though she was on a crucifix. Her gravity-defying breasts and blue nipples revealed for all to see. (When he was without a proper shirt, that is.)

My neighbour was retired but had served in the Navy. The tattoo seemed a rite of passage, was probably applied as some sort of hazing ritual or on a drunken furlough in some seaside port.

For me, being so young at the time, knowing my neighbour, it seemed natural. And although it took up a considerable amount of fleshy real estate, it didn't draw attention to itself. It was simply there.

I'm not going to lie: I've been to peeler pubs. I have gathered with my male friends, either for a stag night, for a guy's night out, or even because a strip club was the only bar in a friend's neighbourhood and the beer was really cheap.

A lot of dancers have tattoos that seem to spread over their bodies like vines (and there are lots of those inked on their skin). Roses and Asian letters, emblems on the small of their backs--the so-called tramp stamp.

While I can watch the stripper dance on stage and admire her body, I can't help but look at the tattoos and think: Ick.

Last year, in my photography group, I attended a nude model shoot. We used a simple set, a white backdrop and then a black one. The model was pretty and nice to work with, but she had the outline of a vine tattoo that wrapped around her legs and torso. The work was unfinished and I had no idea where it was going to stop, as though she were Daphne, pursued by Apollo, transforming into a tree.

I wished I had known in advance that she was a tattooed model. Had I known, I would not have signed up for the event. In post production, I took the time to remove the ink from her skin. Where the effort to remove the mark was too great, I moved the photo to a folder of so-called rejected images: ones I would keep but never use.

I would never tell someone what to do with his or her body, never berate someone for getting a tattoo. It's his or her body to do with as he or she pleases.

But I can't help but wonder at what that flower is going to look like over time, how fierce that tiger will be when the flesh loses its firmness, when it starts to wrinkle and sag. When the colours fade with the memory of why that patterned was etched in such a permanent way.

To me, a body is a beautiful structure that carries a person's being. It's like that shining, new skyscraper, there for all to behold. A tattoo is that bit of graffiti that is painted on, that detracts from the natural beauty.

But, unlike spray paint on a building, a tattoo can't easily be cleaned off. It can be masked with more ink or it might even be removed by lasers, but not without leaving a permanent scar. Removing graffiti from architecture is a simpler task that removing a tattoo from a body.

If that adage that your body is a temple is true, then why would you want to deface it? Wouldn't that be a form of sacrilege?

The other week, my youngest daughter came home with a tattoo. It was a henna tattoo, on her hand. The detail and pattern were beautiful, and I was eased in the knowledge that in two or three weeks, those marks would be gone.

I never have to worry about my eldest daughter: the thought of a vaccination shot puts her into a state of distress. The notion of countless injections from an ink gun would give her nightmares.

I don't like tattoos. Seeing young folks with their entire arms covered in these ink sleeves is a turnoff. When I attend a special occasion, like a formal dinner or a wedding, and I see beautiful women in stunning dresses with tattoos, I think, what a way to ruin the look.

I know: it's my problem. I have no right to judge a person's decision to do what he or she does. But I never want to hear that person complain when they have tired with the pattern or how that eagle has sagged to a pathetic pigeon.

When the "art" they have placed on themselves looks as worn and dated as that sailor's tattoo that I first saw.

I love my friends and family, and will support them, no matter what. But when I see a tattoo on their beautiful bodies, I can't help but think...

... ick.