Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Matt's is a classy but hip space overlooking the Pike Place Market with a menu that is equal parts innovative and delectable. Whether it's sea scallops, duck, lamb, salmon or one of the many other selections on offer, Matt's serves up a very memorable palate of flavors you'll be talking about long afterwards. The other "new" discovery worth writing about is Senor Moose. Billed as "Mexican Mexican Food," I can't disagree that the chef's approach is much more true to what you'd get in a restaurant frequented by locals in Mexico than the upscale and revisionist Mexican on offer in other places in Ballard and nationally. The Moose is a small, friendly and homey place with a friendly manager/bartender, amble seating at the counter and a huge menu offering exquisite flavors and spices that will have you coming back. No reservations, and sometimes you have to wait...but have one of their delicious margaritas while doing so to take the edge off and begin to ponder the menu for what you'll order when your time comes. Check this place out.
My new iMac. I hesitated to put this one on the list as it may come off as a bit materialistic..."I got a new iMac." But, I decided to include it because it has been a springboard for me doing a lot of new things this year that I really, really enjoy. In particular, using the great tools and features of the Mac and related software for the Mac, I've started this blog, scanned and cataloged my old film negatives into high resolution digital files and created my Flickr Photostream...which in turn has resulted in getting a couple of my pictures published. Each year, I try to do new things. You know, broaden my horizons or do something I've wanted to for a long time. The iMac has been key to this in 2008, so at the risk of sounding like a shill for Apple...getting their computer is in fact a highlight of my year.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
A new group started by Mick Jones - the guitarist in The Clash who wrote and sang some of their great songs such as Train In Vain and Should I Stay or Should I Go. He also was the main force behind 80s and 90s dance/rock band Big Audio Dynamite. Anyway, starting a year or two ago, he and old buddy Tony James (founding member of punk band Generation X and also Sique, Sique Sputnik) got together and started Carbon/Silicon to record and tour. The band is basically a straight ahead rock band, but one with Mick-freaking-Jones as the guitarist and singer. This ensures intelligent lyrics, great guitar and a quality band. (Photo below from the Virgin Music Web site.)
(Picture at left from a post by Shewritesrock at the She Writes Rock blog.)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
- Careful What You Wish For. Starting with the sound of whipping winter winds, this short song quickly moves into a longing, lamenting and beautiful refrain about how the holidays can be a lonely time. While short, this song serves as a good first track for this set musically and, mostly, lyrically.
- Fuck You, It's Over. Ah yes, that old traditional Christmas time chestnut "Fuck You, It's Over." Great for singing with the family on Christmas Eve. Actually, when you think about it, what could be worse than breaking up with your lover during the holiday season. And, thinking for it a moment longer, who among us hasn't spent at least one holiday season feeling the sting or remorse over a breakup. And then, for a moment further, who hasn't felt like saying to the that former girlfriend or boyfriend...regardless of time of year..."Fuck you, it's over." This song brings all this Yuletide angst together in one tidy, concise and cathartic song. Wallow in it. Love it.
- Cruel Moon. This is an incredibly moving and heart wrenching song about being homeless at Christmas, and how - in these trying times - how any one of us is only a few days or weeks away from being in the same predicament next holiday season. "Walk on by and I'll be fine, this cardboard cover keeps away the ghouls of the night...I shared the same dreams as you yesterday and you think this is a world away? Beware of darkness for this could be you someday...under a cruel moon." Very moving stuff intensified with piano and strings that gives one pause to think about ones one fortune and consider compassion for others at this time of year.
- Please Come Back Home. This is the most traditional holiday song on the EP with the subject centered on a person missing his girlfriend during the holiday season. But with lines like "Our living room's a deadroom without you here" and others it just seems far more honest, real and emotional than most similarly themed songs.
- A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss). This is a song about a person feeling down during the holiday times and "a future that's going nowhere," but his/her outlook is suddenly restored when a snowflake falls and hits like a loving kiss with all the "ringing of the bells screaming out love." All will be OK we are told and, based on the passion and honesty that this song is delivered we believe in the power of a communal holiday love to restore the human spirit. Moving stuff.
- Silent Night. This is a pretty much straight forward version of the classic. The first part of the song is just the singer with a echoey piano for a very solitary feeling. After the first refrain, the song transitions into a choir backed section sung in the local language of Transylvania. But you already know the words, so the foreign dialect only adds to the endearing warmth of the song. Only a constant echoing, chilly winter-drenched tone in the background reminds you that this is a song produced in the 21st century.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Here's the picture they'll use:
(Photo: Marc Osborn)
For those interested in seeing more pictures I've taken in the last couple years, the link to a set of "selects" from my Flickr Photostream is here.
My full Photostream is accessible here.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
However, prior to 2006 I used my Nikon film SLR camera, leaving me with great prints but no quality digital versions. This has meant no easy way to share, publish or even create photo books or big prints from our trips to places like India, Spain, Africa, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and other lands.
Until now that is.
This past weekend, for my birthday, my wife bought me a high resolutions scanner capable of scanning photo negatives.
So, I'm now in the process scanning in my negatives to share them and create some new prints. First up, our trip to Africa. Should be fun.
Click here for a teaser picture - one I took of a charging elephant while in Tanzania.
I'll try and have more up on the Photostream before the holiday break at the end of this month.
Monday, December 1, 2008
- It doesn't take an "elite" to make change happen - Milk was a everyday guy, with a regular education, with a regular job and went through the same ups and downs in relationships and with family as most people. However, he had the backbone to do something when he saw wrong happening in his neighborhood, his city and his nation. That "wrong" was the way gay Americans are treated by their fellow citizens and by the government - denying them the same basic rights against discrimination among other things.
- The right thing to do for one group is the right thing to do for everyone - Milk's message became broad. While he plainly said his political efforts were primarily focused on gay rights, he also acknowledged that it became more than that. Society has discriminated and dis-empowered gays, but it has also done so to minorities, the unemployed, the poor, seniors and others. In the end, Milk was carrying the banner for these other under-represented groups and said so. To me, this was very appealing aspect of his character and how his political ideas evolved.
- Relevance - Broadly speaking, important change takes time and typically involves struggles requiring inspiring leaders. The issue of gay rights, and human rights really, has just as much relevance today across the country as they did in the 1970s. Think of all the state initiatives to ban equal rights (employment, housing, benefits, military service, etc.) for gays or to establish them, to ban marriage for gays or to recognize, that come up every election cycle. And, think about how much debate, heat, hate and love those contests bring to the surface...including the best recent example of Prop 8 in California. So, Milk's fight goes on today.
Sadly, Harvey Milk is no longer with us. For those of you who have not seen the movie or heard of Milk before, I won't spoil why that is for you because I think learning this fact on your own is important...offering up further evidence of how difficult it can be to make change in the U.S.A. and the lengths some will go to try and stop it.