Archive for July, 2009

Bon Anniversaire!

July 29, 2009

Tractor Cake“Gee what is this Peter, you have exams so you bribe us with a picture of a tractor cake?” Why yes that is the case. I was at a birthday party this weekend, and as is my family custom I provided a delicious and creative after party snack.  This is the tractor cake before I added headlights, a candle for a smoke stack, and some chocolate logs. It’s Allis-Chalmers orange because that is apparently important to the recepient, a 65 year old farmer.  If you want to know how I did all this drop me a line and I’ll go into detail.

If You Don’t Know, Electric Co.

July 24, 2009

If you’ve stumbled here looking for info on The Alder Fork, check out the post before this one. If you’d like to read more of my ramblings, keep going. This is the choose your own adventure blog entry, or so it seems.

While it is possible to list dozens of reasons why someone might choose a particular career path in their life, most people would likely answer that they stumbled upon their current job as a by product of circumstance, chance, and opportunity.  The U2 quote that adorns this post can be taken completely out of context as a delightful job advertisement. If you don’t know, Electric Co.! Now Hiring!  There is a group of fortunate people who chose a career between the ages of 7 and 17, figured out how to get there, and now work away at it.  For everyone, either they found their real dreams elusive, or simply couldn’t decide between options A-Z.  The latter camp are the ones who often accidentally become the thing they are most adept at.

As a young person I never imagined that I would complete a Master’s degree, let alone one focused on spirituality and eating disorders.  Even as an undergraduate I had know idea where I’d head next.  Choosing to apply to university was the first difficult choice, followed by deciding which one to go to, followed by choosing a major, followed by establishing a post-undergrad plan, followed by a post-masters plan, followed by a second post-masters plan, followed by…you get the point.  Sometimes living as a life drifter leaves my head all spun around.  The Graduate, a classic movie starring Dustin Hoffman, addresses this particular problem. I used to think I loved it for the Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack. Now it’s clear I identified with young Benjamin in his quest for a meaningful existence, first in sex, then in love, and ultimately it seems in the ordinary life of marriage.  For him, those things were never really the answer. He hungered for an explicable element of existence that is almost unreachable. Ben never finds that something in his time on screen.  Hopefully, I will fair better.

The Review Is In

July 24, 2009

Jade Sperry, a photographer and blogger of note, was kind enough to review my album.  She sums it up quite nicely by saying, “Overall, I found this CD to be powerful, haunting, visionary and imaginative from The Alder Fork and comes highly recommended from this writer.” You can read this review in a few place depending on your fancy:

NXEW Blog (poke around this one for awhile)

Jade Sperry Photography

Jade’s MySpace Page

If you have arrived here thanks to that review you can find all kinds of info about the band, including how to buy the album, here.

When Love Comes To Town

July 21, 2009

Around once a year I get nostalgic for 80’s era U2 and pull out Rattle and Hum.  The fairly bizarre account of U2′s Joshua Tree Tour is always a fascinating watch.  Among the more intriguing parts is BB King’s assertion that “I’m awful at chords.”  That one of the most legendary blues guitarists of all time would be so open about this is surprising.  I know that King is best known for his powerful vocals and lead guitar work, but don’t we expect a little more out of our professional musicians? Perhaps not.  I don’t mean to belittle King’s body of work, which is astonishing.  It is odd, however, that he wasn’t concerned about appearing on film in this light.  Certainly it didn’t affect his career or his status as a Hall of Fame musician, but it did lead to a lot of jokes around my circle of friends (and likely others).

As for the film, which I have now seen about 30 times.  If you like older U2 music, it is highly enjoyable.  Some critics took issue with U2’s apparent desire to place themselves among the legends of American music.  Considering what they have become in the last 30 years, they weren’t far off the mark.  There is just somethign about watching a 27 year old Bono (incidentally the age I’m at) strutting around as a rock star on top of the world.  No one could reach a higher point of bravado and self confidence.

Confused? Answers here!

July 14, 2009

Those who are familiar with this blog know that I have two other ones floating around.  The more important of these two is  If you stumbled in here looking for information about the band, or The Alder Fork Festival, that is the place to go. The site is updated with up to the moment information about both.

Amazing Stories, Well Not Really

July 11, 2009

Blogging is an interesting medium.  I have been extremely distracted the last few days, preparing my music for live performance, recruiting musicians, dealing with some release related issues, on top of my usual school work and other responsibilities.  Thus the blog has been deadly silent.  Yet thanks to the many, many posts I have done, people have continued to visit.  Rest assured the blog has not “died” in any way.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Canadian short stories.  This particular collection is organized thematically, and the editor has been quite clever in his selections.  The section entitled “violence” the stories range from murder to a crop destroying hail storm.  The loss of their entire wheat crop devastates the family in that latter story.  It’s hard to fully grasp the precariousness of life in the past and in places where subsistence agriculture is the norm. Over time people all over the world have become disconnected from their food, and their food security has increased.  In southern Ontario there is an ongoing battle over the conversion of agricultural land into suburbia.  The various governments claim to be clamping down on sprawl.  So far that seems to be the case, and it bodes well for the future of agriculture in this province.

A great deal has been written on this idea, and the story I’m refering to is Sinclair Ross’s A Field of Wheat.

We’re Done Done Done With All The…

July 7, 2009

This is an opinion piece about opinion pieces.  A great deal of media discourse comes in the form of opinion and speculation.  The 24 hours news cycle is filled with experts and commentators giving their perspective on issues.  Often these people lack evidence for what they are saying, and indeed at times they contradict reality.  Yet under the guise of journalism they pass off information that may or may not be true. This situation has been criticized before, particularly in response to the rampant speculation that appears when a big news event occurs, like the death of Michael Jackson. Facts easily outdo speculation, but require more patience.

In reading an older text on the state of Canada’s poor, I came across a number of columnists claiming that Canada was the most overtaxed country in the world, along side evidence proving this was not the case.  I was inclined to believe that iff you asked Canadians if they were overtaxed, you’d probably find more people believe in the columnists than the facts. But I decided to do some research and discovered that in a 2002 survey, most Canadians asked said they were willing to pay higher taxes to improve or sustain public health care and other social services.  So maybe the majority in this country recognize the value in funding social programs.

Morning on the Train

July 3, 2009

With a final submission of paperwork, I have completed my Master’s degree.  It’s a very satisfying feeling, even though I was technically finished months ago. Having it all submitted before my 27th birthday feels very nice.  Wandering from Union Station to the University of Toronto I am always astonished by the sheer number of people heading into work in the morning.  There are a great many office towers along Bay and University, and they fill up quickly between 7:30 and 9 am.  Many of them traveled with me from Hamilton this morning, and will head back via train or bus at the end of the day.  I appreciate the compromised insanity of the commute having once done so myself. I left home each morning and rode the bus to Toronto for classes, sometimes getting home well after 11pm, only to return the next day.  For me, it was a small price to pay for the financial savings, and the ability to stay in Pinstripe Mystery.  Others must find comfort in the familiarity of home, the less daunting profile of smaller cities, and the obvious discounts on living arrangements.

There is currently a motor oil commercial that describes the “worst commute in America.”  A man drives two and a half hours each way for work, through congested freeways.  I have heard stories of people traveling from Hamilton to Oshawa for work, a trip that can take 4 hours at rush hour.  Some friends live in the city they work in, but still drive 30+ minutes to work.  What a contrast to the past. For instance, at Whitehern museum in Hamilton there is a rug that depicts the QEW when it first opened. Thomas McQuesten, one of the inhabitants of the house, was instrumental in the construction of that highway.  The rug show a 4 lane street lined with trees and homes, not unlike many rural highways today.  Today, it is a 6 lane (sometimes more) road that is often crammed with traffic.

One of my grandfathers walked to work from his home in the north end of Hamilton.  The other did the same for a time before moving onto the mountain, quite a bit further from the police station he worked at.  It was a sign of the changing world.  People think it is strange when I walk from my home down into the city, or when I ignore the subway and hike from Union to St. Michael’s.  I much prefer the exercise and the fresh air, even in winter.  The new urban plan for the City of Hamilton calls for less sprawl and more intensification. I hope this means more people can walk to work, they’d be doing themselves, and all of us, a favour.