Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Brunch: Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Cookies are fine to eat for breakfast if you put oats and bananas in them, right? Right?


2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Oats
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp Oil
1/2 cup Soy Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Egg Replacer
1 ripe Banana
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Vegan Chocolate Chips
1/2-1 cup Dried Cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mash banana with fork and mix in oil, soy milk, egg replacer and vanilla. Mix in wet ingredients with the dry; add the craisins and chocolate chips at the same time to mix in well.

When mixed, scoop small amounts onto a greased pan and flatten to 1/2 inch or so (will rise in oven); cook 10-12 minutes until lightly golden on top.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Record A Week: Bach: The Goldberg Variations (Glenn Gould)

Okay, so I definitely could have filed this under G I suppose, but it says BACH in big letters, so it's under B.

Bach: Goldberg Variations as done by Glenn Gould

SIDE 1. - Variations 1 Through 16

Variation 1 a 1 Clav.
Variation 2 a 1 Clav.
Variation 3 a 1 Clav. Canone All'Unisuono
Variation 4 a 1 Clav.
Variation 5 a 1 Ovvero 2 Clav.
Variation 6 a 1 Clav. Canone Alla Seconda
Variation 7 a 1 Ovvero 2 Clav.
Variation 8 a 2 Clav.
Variation 9 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Terza
Variation 10 a 1 Clav. Fughetta
Variation 11 a 2 Clav.
Variation 12 Canone Alla Quarta
Variation 13 a 2 Clav.
Variation 14 a 2 Clav.
Variation 15 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Quinta. Andante
Variation 16 Ouverture a 1 Clav.

SIDE 2. - Variations Nos. 17 Through 30
Variation 17 a 2 Clav.
Variation 18 Canone Alla Sesta a 1 Clav.
Variation 19 a 1 Clav.
Variation 20 a 2 Clav.
Variation 21 Canone Alla Settima
Variation 22 Alla Breve a 1 Clav.
Variation 23 a 2 Clav.
Variation 24 Canone All'Ottava a 1 Clav.
Variation 25 a 2 Clav.
Variation 26 a 2 Clav.
Variation 27 Canone Alla Nona
Variation 28 a 2 Clav.
Variation 29 a 1 Ovvero 2 Clav.
Variation 30 a 1 Clav. Quodlibet
Aria da Capo

Glenn Gould was as much of a musical prodigy as you can get. He hummed instead of crying as a baby and was playing music before he could read words. Throughout his life, he wrote, composed, arranged and conducted music, as well as being a radio announcer later on.

He did some of his own composition, but when it came to performing classical pieces, Bach was his main squeeze. He dabbled in other composers as well, but they were never with the same amount of focus. His playing on this record shows his intimate knowledge of classical music. He didn't just play it, he felt it and understood it completely. When classical piano is played well, it feels as if the fingers of the player are moving automatically and freely across the keyboard.

I am always on the hunt for classical music that I can tolerate listening to and this record gives me hope. At times it does sort of sound like the soundtrack to the parts of a black and white film where the person is skipping along; before they run into the villain and the minor chords kick in. Overall I enjoyed this record and am proud to have Glenn Gould in the musical heritage of Canada.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Murphy's Law Part 1. - Ohio Bus Trip

You know those moments in life where you say "I can't believe this is happening right now!"? Well, if you know me, then you are well aware that when they happen to me, the more common reaction is "hahaha, of course this happened!"

Now, I'm not saying that I am unlucky or accident prone (although I am a bit, perhaps), but I certainly have had my fair share of occurances that make me say "really?" Some are caused by blatant wrong choices, some by minor missteps and others are just fate. They tend to occur when I am either on my way somewhere important, or when I have left myself very little time for errors.

When I was about 19, I was about halfway through college and on a weekend near the end of one semester, I decided to go down to Cleveland for Clevelandfest. Now, I was between cars and although both of my parents loved me very much, they had no desire to loan me their car to drive to Cleveland. So I decided to take a ride on the Greyhound. Luckily, I was able to convince my good friend Ben to come along for the trip. We got up super early in the morning, loaded up with coffee and caught the 6:30am bus (the 6am bus met up with the same connection bus, so we opted for the extra sleep (mistake #1)). Off we headed towards Buffalo (connection city from Toronto) and all appeared well. When we got to about St. Catherines the highway was closed and as a result, we headed off on a detour. Now, you trust your bus driver to know the way around so you don't really question it when you end up on curvy residential roads and start feeling like you are getting a bit far from the highway and start feeling that maybe soon the road will get narrower and become a dirt path and you'll end up on the news but not in a good way. Then the bus did a 3-point turn on one of the residential streets and I knew something was wrong. Turns out the bus driver was unaware of the detour and either the signage was not good or he didn't know how to follow it properly. EVENTUALLY we made it back on the highway and got to the border. We crossed the border with only a slight hiccup (one of us only had no photo ID) and rolled into the Greyhound station. As we were pulling in, we saw a bus leaving the station and I said, "Wouldn't it be funny if that was our bus?"

It wasn't.

There were no more Buffalo-Cleveland buses for a few hours and they couldn't (or wouldn't) call the one that had left less than 10 minutes earlier to hold up while we took a cab to meet it. We loaded up on quarters and watched some 10" black and white tv-in-the-chair in the station. Luckily there was a Fresh Prince marathon on to keep us occupied for at least a little bit. If you've ever been to the Greyhound station in Buffalo, you'll know there is nothing to do within walking distance. Finally, the other bus came and picked us up (by which time the festival had started...we were supposed to get there 3 hours early). The bus driver had a serious case of pump-the-pedal style of driving, causing us to feel like we were in a wave pool for the remainder of the 3.5 hour trip. In addition to this, the movie was Ernest goes to camp, which I would normally force myself to get immersed in to pass time, but a malfunction in the system caused it to repeatedly play for 15 minutes, get fuzzy, kick back in and then restart.

We arrived at the festival minutes after one of the bands we most wanted to see had finished, around 5pm, 6 hours after it had started. The normally 5 or so hour trip had taken us almost 12 hours. In good news, the rest of the evening was great and I saw what became one of my favourite live bands for the first time.

We stayed over at a B&B that my mom had reserved for us. It was a nice alternative to a hotel, especially after our long excursion the previous day. While we were eating breakfast, though, one of us picked up a newspaper on the coffee table to check it out and noticed a small pile of white powder. I said immediately "OH MAN IT'S COCAINE!" to which Ben replied "it's probably just sugar from somebody's coffee". So, naturally, I dipped my finger in it and gave a taste. It definitely wasn't sweet, salty or soapy; and my tongue did go numb, but we decided to give the B&B the benefit of the doubt and go with it being laundry soap.

We departed for the second day of the festival on foot. We couldn't remember the exact roads we took to get home the night before and weren't familiar with the area, since we were left with no time to explore. We looked at all the options and trusted our instincts as far as what direction to head off in. As the map shows, we went the right direction, but took the wrong roads (mistake #2).

One Wrong Turn Can Change a Lot

As we headed through what one might describe as the "rougher part of town", some guys on a porch yelled out "Hey, give me a smoke" (we weren't smoking), to which we replied "we don't have any". They decided that we had answered the question improperly and thus, should be subjected to a beat-down. They came up between us and kicked Ben and clocked me in the face. I moved back after that and sort of scurried away. Ben tried fighting back, which they didn't like, so they hit him more. We got away with only a few bruises, I had a big bump on my face, but I am fairly sure Ben's torso got the worst of it. They didn't steal anything (and we had all of our stuff to catch the bus home after the show), so it's safe to say they were just assholes.

We made it to the show and enjoyed the second day, met lots of people and I think we may have got in free (because the promoter felt bad for us). A couple of the dudes we met were nice enough to drive us to the Greyhound station. We caught the bus home and things were generally incident-free. The border people were so interested in our story of being jumped that they didn't even care about the lack of photo ID.

Coming soon, in no particular order: Rear-ended on the way to my mom's funeral; blown tire on the way to the corn roast; how my van got ants; the year my sister cursed my car; when CAA wouldn't let me into the van; and more!


Ironically, during the course of writing this post on occurances and accidents, I got my finger caught in a wire machine at work.

Accident Scene

Which created:
Gross Finger

Anyhow, that plus being away for the weekend meant no Record a Week or Sunday Brunch this week, but I should be able to get back to them this weekend.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday Brunch: Spiced Blueberry-Banana Bread

Banana Bread

I adapted this recipe from How it all Vegan's banana bread.

3 very ripe large bananas (4 smaller)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
1/3 cup oil (it calls for 1/2 cup, but try upping the quantity of bananas to work with less oil)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, mash bananas with oil and sugar until smooth. Pour wet mixture into dry and add the chocolate chips and blueberries. Mix all together until just mixed and pour into a lightly greased loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes (or until you can put a fork in and it comes out clean)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Record A Week: Always Outnumbered - When Potential Outweighs Ability

I threw this record on while I was playing Mario Galaxy, because I knew I'd be away this weekend and probably not have time other than that.

Always Outnumbered



Well, if this doesn't take me back, I'm not sure what would.

Always Outnumbered hailed from Burlington, Ontario, where I attended high school with a few of the members. In fact, you could say this band had its roots in my garage and basement. Prior to forming the Punk/Rock/Emo/Pop sound and hitching on drummer Ian Blackwood, the members were in a punk band called the Urinal Mints. The direction they were taking was above my talent level and they chose to regroup and form Always Outnumbered. I even remember a couple of these songs being in the works while I was still playing with them, though they took on a distinctly different feel.

The record has a distinct Burlington feel to it. If you take any specific time period, the bands from Burlington (or anywhere really), all have a similar sound. When I first started going to shows, ska was a big thing, then it was skate punk, which slowly started progressing to 'emo' (not in the traditional sense), then on to hardcore and whatever it is now. This record marks a transition from skate punk. With influences like Hot Water Music and Jimmy Eat World, as well as locals Grade, Jersey and Outspan.

Listening to this record left me feeling a little nostalgic a little old, and happy to have moved on from Burlington to a more expansive musical area. It was nice to have Burlington music scene as a starting place, but moreso experiencing everything I did after leaving.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Record a Week: The Best of Mark-Almond

The Best of Mark Almond



Musicians Jon Mark and Johnny Almond are the main forces behind Mark-Almond (aka Mark Almond or the Mark Almond Band). The pair began playing music together in the late 60s and gained most of their popularity through the early 70s.

When I first turned this record on, it sounded very reminiscent of The Moody Blues. The first song "The City" is an 11 minute jazz-rock anthem. The album flows through styles of space rock, lounge jazz, fusion and avant-garde.

I really enjoyed this album as a whole. I didn't love all of it, but "The City"really got me interested and although my interest dropped a bit in the second song, "One Way Sunday" got me back. After a slow-ish start on the second side, things branch off into the artsy jazz realm. There was one song that had a terrific group vocal part, but I couldn't discern whether it was "Song For You" or "Solitude". It sounds like a mash-up of jazz-rock, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, the out-there sounds you hear coming from the Rex at 1:30 in the morning and some version of Jazz you would hear on your local EZ rock station. I know that covers a lot of different areas, but for the time period they were playing, it kind of makes sense.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Men Don't Know How Bald We Are

Some men go bald. Some do not. I, myself am heading that way and have been for some time. I wasn't always okay with it, but I have certainly come to terms with it. First you get the tell-tale widow's peak, or you notice the sun on the top of your head a bit more on hot days, or when you are frustrated, you run your fingers through your hair and it is much easier than it was earlier in your life. Notice any of these signs and you are probably going bald, too.

I noticed it happening to me while my hair was long and have been progressively cutting my hair shorter until I finally gave in fully re-embraced the buzz cut.

However, it wasn't until I was looking at pictures that I noticed the full extent of the baldness.

Bald Spot

I was looking in the mirror, which of course isn't magical and only reflects that which is directly in front of it. Well, the angle doesn't quite get all the way back to that spot I circled in the picture above.

Man in the Mirror
(My widow's peak is higher on one side than the other for whatever reason. Baldness doesn't care about symmetry.)

Then I got to thinking "how long has it been like this?" So I did some asking around and the general answer was "I thought you knew" and besides, nobody wants to really be like "hey you're getting real bald there dude" anyway, so even if they thought I didn't know, they probably wouldn't have told me.

How many countless others has this happened to? Is there an epidemic of people who have a higher percentage of baldness than they think? It can lead to some nasty situations.

What he Doesn't Know

Notice the woman's hesitation, because she sees this:

Rear View V1

And then 8-10 months later:

False Contentment

When really:

Reality Strikes in

I don't really know what the solution is, to be honest. Perhaps we can all stop those who have the spot at the back and say "excuse me, but were you aware that you have a bald spot appearing on a part of your head you might not be able to see in a regular mirror?"; or maybe those of us who notice that we are starting to go a little thin can put mirrors on the wall opposite the mirrors we look in to keep tabs on things back there.