A Visit to California and New Material from Laini Colman and From Apes to Angels…

Wow! I just noticed that my last blog post was on June 6. Where does the time go? In my case, some of it went to California for a while…

I also did a bit of traveling more locally and worked on some music. At the moment, I’m having visions of a concept album about a robot who learns to play the (virtual) flute after humanity has been wiped from the face of the planet. The music has a bit of a mechanized Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’66 feel to it.

And speaking of music and robots (or other-worldly beings of one sort or another), Laini Colman has a new track out — a hypnotic cover of Bjork’s “Human Behaviour.” Though Colman freely admits that Bjork is an acquired taste, her cover of the song has convinced me that it’s a taste worth acquiring. With a drum track reminiscent of Tears for Fears and a lead vocal that calls to mind high art rock of the 80s a la Laurie Anderson, it’s definitely the kind of thing I aspire to in my music.

Also in the realm of otherworldly music, another favorite of mine, From Apes to Angels has released their new EP, New Skin.

As with Colman’s cover of “Human Behaviour,” the 80s vibe is what does if for me on these tracks. I especially love the chunky synths and the crunchy white-noise sound of the snare on the title track, and as (I think) I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, the vocals make me think of some of my favorite female-fronted bands of the 80s like Bananarama, the Go-Gos, and ‘Til Tuesday.

Awesome stuff all around! And, with any luck, I’ll be adding my own voice to the otherworldly* realm in the near future.

*Side note: Is “otherworldly” a genre? If not, can we make it one?

Canada Highlights, Part One

A few photos from my recent trip to Canada. These are from Quebec City, which my fellow blogger Fransi Weinstein promised would be a magical city, and it was!

This photo of a deer-crossing sign was taken on the way to Quebec City. Those more familiar with the US version of this sign will note that the Canadian version is more dynamic. This reflects the fact that while US deer are content to leap across roads in front of oncoming traffic, Canadian deer prefer to leap toward the traffic. A subtle yet important distinction.

This photo of a deer-crossing sign was taken on the way to Quebec City. Those more familiar with the US version of this sign will note that the Canadian version is more dynamic. This reflects the fact that while US deer are content to leap across roads in front of oncoming traffic, Canadian deer prefer to leap toward the traffic. A subtle yet important distinction.

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A US deer-crossing sign. Notice that the deer is jumping perpendicular to the road rather than at oncoming traffic.

Poutine is a popular snack in Quebec. I understand it consists of French Fries, Gravy, and Cheese Curds. As appealing as this combination may sound, I (sadly) did not get to sample any poutine on my trip. But there's always next time!

Poutine is a popular snack in Quebec. I understand it consists of French Fries, Gravy, and Cheese Curds. As appealing as this combination may sound, I (sadly) did not get to sample any poutine on my trip. But there’s always next time!

As noted in a previous post, I met a large pigeon in Quebec City.

As noted in a previous post, I met a large pigeon in Quebec City.

In ancient times, camera-toting travelers inserted "film" (or, in French, "les pellicules") into their cameras in order to take pictures. This gift shop in Old Quebec pays tribute to that bygone custom.

In ancient times, camera-toting travelers inserted “film” (or, in French, “les pellicules”) into their cameras in order to take pictures. This gift shop in Old Quebec pays tribute to that bygone custom.

This mural in Old Quebec depicts life through the ages in that most magical of cities. Can you spot the tourist?

This mural in Old Quebec depicts life through the ages in that most magical of cities. Can you spot the tourist?

It rained a lot during our trip, but there was always a doorway to duck into and a hot cup of coffee nearby.

It rained a lot during our trip, but there was always a doorway to duck into and a hot cup of coffee nearby.

I'm not sure what's going on with my hair in this picture. I think it was intimidated by the size of the Chateau Frontenac, which is visible in the background, and tried to compensate. The Chateau Frontenac, by the way, is visible from every point in Quebec City.

I’m not sure what’s going on with my hair in this picture. I think it was intimidated by the size of the Chateau Frontenac, which is visible in the background, and tried to compensate. The Chateau Frontenac, by the way, is visible from every point in Quebec City.

I love modern art, and I was very happy to visit the Musee National des Beaux Arts in Quebec. This photograph depicts a work of art that was on display. Basically, it's a rotating speaker pulling strings from spools mounted on a pair of racks. The speaker is playing music composed by the artist, Jocelyn Robert.

I love modern art, and I was very happy to visit the Musee National des Beaux Arts in Quebec. This photograph depicts a work of art that was on display. Basically, it’s a rotating speaker pulling strings from spools mounted on a pair of racks. The speaker is playing music composed by the artist, Patrick Bernatchez. You can get more info about this piece by clicking on the image.

Of course, you don't need to visit a museum to see some interesting art... There's plenty of street art to capture the eye in Quebec as well. I spotted this curious piece on the bass of a lamp post in Old Quebec.

Of course, you don’t need to visit a museum to see some interesting art… There’s plenty of street art to capture the eye in Quebec as well. I spotted this curious piece on the bass of a lamp post in Old Quebec.

My French is a little rusty, so I may have gotten this wrong, but one passing gentleman explained to me that it's a custom to ride bikes made of candy on the streets of Old Quebec. Either that, or someone working in a candy shop had some time on his hands...

My French is a little rusty, so I may have gotten this wrong, but one passing gentleman explained to me that it’s a custom to ride bikes made of candy on the streets of Old Quebec. Either that, or someone working in a candy shop had some time on his hands…

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Fortunately, my visit to Quebec would be followed by a visit to Montreal. What adventures would it bring? Visit my blog tomorrow (or maybe the next day) to find out!

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Fortunately, my visit to Quebec would be followed by a visit to Montreal. What adventures would it bring? Visit my blog tomorrow (or maybe the next day) to find out!

 

The Greatest Loo in the Galaxy

To say I’m a Doctor Who fan is a bit of an understatement, as anyone who’s read my first book, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: The Discerning Fan’s Guide to Doctor Who, can tell you. So I was rendered somewhat dumbstruck when my wife surprised me with a visit to Brooklyn’s The Way Station. The main reason for my dumbstruckness (dumbstrickenness?) was that I had no idea the place existed or why it was so cool until we walked through the door and I spotted a police box parked at the far end of the bar — this despite the fact that my sister-in-law had mentioned the place in a fairly lengthy email outlining all of the attractions we might visit on our weekend visit to her neighborhood. And while the fact that I was so surprised might also suggest that I don’t always read lengthy documents that I claim to have read, it also underscores the value in not reading such documents. After all, had I read my sister-in-law’s email, I would not have had the pleasant surprise of discovering what I can only describe as The Greatest Loo in the Galaxy.