Thursday, March 31, 2011

New music warning

Went through new album by PJ Harvey

Sorry to report this is not the same level of musical experience she got me used to coming from her. I can tell the workshop is awesome, quality-wise its very nice. But musically... disappointment. Just to make sure I listened to it for a couple of days, had it on like 7-8 times. With breaks. You know - sometimes music needs to grow on you... Sorry, not this time. Which is kind of funny, for all her previous albums just rock, including White Chalk. Oh well, maybe she lost it...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There Be Dragons...

One day I am starting grill to destroy some fish and I see some doodoo on the wall. Small, high up there... I almost ignored it, we get to see some strange insects every day here... But there was something odd about its shape that inspired me to take a closer look. And then I shouted Alison, Alison, we have a baby dragon!
She came from kitchen and gave the look you usually give to very damaged people... I pointed at the thingie, Alison climbed the table to take a closer look... OMG, it does look like baby dragon...
I had the wrong lens on the camera so picture does not do it justice...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Chopin

See, I grew up in country that - at the time that I was growing up - had almost nothing to boast about (at least not legally). And one of those few things people were allowed to enjoy was Chopin's music. And it was everywhere - radio, TV, newspapers, tuna sandwiches - everywhere... OK, in those days few knew what tuna tastes like ;-) And canned tuna has exactly nothing to do with the taste of tuna, no matter what your cats tell you.

But to the point - since Chopin was everywhere, I kinda was growing up unwittingly being exposed to it. Constantly. Perhaps this is the reason why after I started shaping my music taste I - sort of - neglected his works. I have well over a hundred of classical music albums bunkered somewhere in a safe place and only two of those are Chopin music.

Now, in remote corner of Africa I am cut off from all means of legally enjoying anything. Well, except wine, free sex, Cuban cigars, marihuana (if you are into such things), food, etc. But anything we (Europeans) would call culture is non existent here. There virtually is no theatre (just cheap, stupid and not-so funny comedies for the crowds), very few concerts of classical music, many concerts of jazz and r&b (but all African-flavoured - not digestible for anyone who has any kind of taste), no good movies (by good I mean something outside the stream of crap coming out of Hollywood), there is nothing here! So what I did - I obtained a lot of this music that I grew up listening to. I was just a kid then when my father exposed me to Pink Floyd or Alan Parsons or Van Halen. So now, after I grew up (musically) and entrenched myself within several carefully selected music trends, I decided it is time to face all those artists I am haunted by in my childhood dreams.

The first one to tackle is the big one - Fryderyk Chopin himself. I had high expectation, especially that I love good piano (Petrucciani, Jarrett, Możdżer). So I just finished going through Rubinstein Plays Chopin - eleven CD set.
I like it. There are some very nice pieces there. Generally it's slow, peaceful and melancholic (I'd rather avoid word boring), but several of pieces are just amazing. Make no mistake - this is eleven fucking hours of piano, all in very similar style ;-)

Next thing I will do I will go through Deutsche Grammophon Chopin Complete Edition. Yes, yellow covers rulez!

Monday, March 28, 2011

On Robbie Williams

Whoa... Long, long time ago I watched Robin Williams on Broadway from 2002. Now I found his stand-up from 2010. Amazing, 8 years later this guy is still super-energetic. Even more energetic than before. Seriously recommended (if you're into this kind of things).

On why sometimes you have to hate Google

See, most people do not know the answer to the question: what does Google make money on? Google has gazillion services (I am using many, many of them - GMail, GCal, GTalk, Picasa, Blogger, etc, etc, etc), but these services do not bring revenue. What Google makes money on is... ads.

I hate ads. One of the reason I do not watch TV and do not listen to radio is those annoying ads. Now, the dudes at Google are pros, they know their stuff. And one of the inventions straight from Pandora's Box is targeted ads. I have heard about it for quite a while but it is only now that I see it in practice... Yes, it has reached me here - in equatorial Africa...

I like canoeing. Back home (in Europe) practically every year since I joined University I would go for at least a week of canoeing... And I have been thinking of buying a canoe for last 5 years. And one of those days (like a month ago) sitting at the computer in the middle of the night I made a mistake of asking my dear friend Google about canoe producers and prices. Admittedly I got the answer I was looking for. But...

The motherfucker remembers I asked him about kayaks and canoes. And now Google tries to target at me the ads of kayaks, canoes, etc. So every page, every service which has advertising contract with Google pushes these canoe ads to my screen. Many different US canoe producers, UK kayak producers, Scandinavian sea kayak producers, various distributors, sport and camping stores, practically every Internet page I visit now has some kayaks or canoes to offer. Enough! I am sick of kayak and canoe ads. Enough! Please do not make me hate canoeing, for if it goes like this I will. Damn, it's like in the old joke - I am afraid to open tuna can...

BTW - I want this one ;-)

Dear Google - please gimme a break. Please advertise something else... like fake Rolexes, penis enlargement services, wonderbra, baby powder, Viagra, Russian wife candidates, Nigerian banks, real estate in Buenos Aires... Please, advertise anything but kayaks...

Monday, March 21, 2011

On proudly kenyan...

Yeah, you might have noticed that I like bitching about this country. There is a reason for that, it's more than the grass is greener on the other side attitude.
So today I went to the music store (the only one I know here) to buy wah-wah pedal... And of course they did not have any Cry Baby, in the whole shop they had only one from some shady manufacturer. So I asked the clerk how much it was and she would slowly stroll around the shop to find out the price from someone else... after the 20 minutes I just got tired of waiting and left without getting to know the price.
This reminds a bit of '80s in Poland when you go to the post office and the lady behind the desk says Don't you see I am having my coffee now? How rude of you to request some service when you can see I am busy...
Unfortunately here this attitude is everywhere, this was not isolated case...

Friday, March 18, 2011

On hair

Nope, not the Hair. On my hair ;-) I always wanted to be lean, mean fighting machine. And that involved either crew-cut or being bald. But then... Just out of sheer curiosity I grew my hair to shoulder-length. I think it was about 2006... A sample is here

Yup, it's me having Piotr Masztalerz at spoon point...

And just then, for some odd reason I allowed myself (admittedly - quite consciously) to be manipulated into position where I had to shave my head and waste all that effort... I have regretted it ever since. I have tried to grow it back a couple if times since then, but always unsuccessfully. You see - these transition phases are what is disturbing. Not only it looks bad (I couldn't care less), but it is annoying. Too long to try to control it with some hair gel but too short for hair pin or band...

Now I think I have a chance, even though I just got to another one of those annoying points. But I see it will be another 3 - 6 months before I am able to use hairband. Still - it's furthest on the hair quest that I ever got since 2006. Please keep your fingers crossed ;-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On movie comics

In case you developed liking for comic-style movies I want you to salivate in expectation of new film by Zack Snyder Sucker Punch. Click poster below for a trailer.

On Battle: Los Angeles

Yup, seen it.
It is beautiful. Lots of shooting (where can I get my hands on those never-ending Hollywood mags?), helicopters, tough soldiers dying here and there, some stupid civilians who turn heroes, aliens... everything is there (except - surprisingly - boobs). And graphically it is truly awesome.

I seem to remember it has been advertised in some places as Black Hawk Down only with aliens. Well... unfortunately it is BHD with aliens. The movie suffers from being exactly like the 2001 Mogadishu flick. There are scenes just copied-pasted there. Not similar but truly copied. And this is such a shame... The idea, execution, performance of actors, all of these things are fine. But is it really impossible to make a different end? Do you have to have exactly the same scenes (like scene pictured above vs. Delta and Rangers flying into action in BHD)?

The other issue I have with B:LA is that the conflict was solved by brave Marines far too easy. Look into War of the Worlds (any of the different iterations including Independence Day)... Same stuff here. All too easy...

Do not get me wrong - it is beautiful. But it is beautiful blonde you happily make out with in a bar (next to condom dispenser), but you do not want to take her home... She's boring.

...20 minutes later

Now that you come to think of it - there have been very few really original sci-fi movies. There always are obvious... lets call them - inspirations ;-) But in B:LA these go far beyond there. Ridley Scott with his BHD did not avoid some obvious American heroes are dying pathos, but besides that his work was fresh, perhaps even standard-setting (I've kinda liked that dude since Blade Runner). Here? Same pathos, same scenes... Nothing new. Old, good, dependable, boring Hollywood pre-digested pulp. Beautifully wrapped and packaged, but... no substance inside.

But just for its visuals - worth seeing...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Signum temporis

Read this.

Just in case you think grass is greener on the other side... Yes, babe, it's a war out here.