Posts filed under ‘Music’

A Great Day

Tuesday, April 17, 2007.

What a day. In the morning I worked on some photos that I had set aside and around noon I went over to Alexandra’s archives so we could go for lunch. Alex wanted to go to a place with a terrace that was across from Parc de le Ciutadella. We had a great lunch outside. The park trees have their new growth of green and it was really spring like (at a temperature of 24 + it was more like summer). After we ate, Alex went back to work and I went off to the park to lay around in the grass. I found a great place in the shade of a palm tree so I pulled out my ipod, set up my knapsack as a pillow and lay down on the grass. Lot’s of people all around me doing the same thing, just relaxing.

I don’t know how long I lay there but a group of swedish girls sat down close by to sunbathe. One of them, Erika, started chatting, really friendly and bubbly (almost too bubbly). She was here in Barcelona for a month. It turns out she comes here every year for a month and has been doing so for the past six years. She tells me that she has made friends from all over the world and has kept in touch with most of them. We hung about for most of the afternoon and when she left I went to a new spot by the big fountain. I looked out over the scene in front of me and couldn’t beleive it. This was more like dreamland than reality.

I think the thing that really clinched it all was when this guy cycles in and stops by one of the palm trees. He was carrying all kinds of things, 2 guitars, a drum and a big bag full of other stuff. He parks his bike and begins to unpack. Next thing I know, he’s pacing off the distance between the palm trees. I was really curious so I watched what he was up to. Turns out he was stringing up a strap between the two trees. A bunch of his friends arrive and they all settle in. They just radiated a joie de vie that made me slightly envious. It was really amazing. Anyhow, the strap was for walking on. Some were tightrope walking, others sitting around dinking matté and others making music. I loved it and thought about all the young people over in Canada who should make it a point of coming to Barcelona. It’s a paradise or maybe it’s mine. who knows.

Anyhow, for the past few weeks I have been playing around with a game on internet called Second Life. It’s like a chat room but you have animated characters that represent you and there is a virtual world to explore. It’s quite the place with buildings and roads and averything else a person can think of. I usually go to this specific spot and just watch the interaction of the animated characters. All kinds of outfits and animations that I could never describe in words. My point is that watching people in the park was so similar to watching the fantasies in Second Life that I immediatly fell in love with Barcelona all over again. It’s not the place for everyone but for me, it is amazing. Some compare it to Paris in the beginning of the last century.

I’ll miss this place.

April 19, 2007 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

Two Weeks

Well, it’s been a very busy two weeks. Last week we went out for beers with Keiko, Sarah, Francesca and Matt. Keiko is going back to Japan after being away for over 8 years.

She left on Feb 9 and we all had to say our goodbyes. She’ll be living with her mom just outside of Osaka. We’re all going to miss her. Francesca is heading out to Bilbao and then back to Florence until about mid March so it was kind of an adios for her too.

Sarah is friends of all of us. She was our profesora in Spanish school and we all keep in touch.

And here are the three togather. I call them “las tres chica teeras”. They are great people and I’ll miss Keiko.

After we got home from that little soiree, I received an email from a friend in Toronto. William is teaching classical guitar at York and he had a student, Jordan, who was coming to Barcelona for spring break and he wanted to buy a guitar. I bought mine here and I thought the luthier where I bought was a special place. I sent an email to Jordan and agreed to meet him when he arrived on Feb 10. We actually met up on Feb 11 in Bari Gotic. He was here with his dad, Ron for a few days of relaxation. We hit it off like old friends and ended up showing them the sites for their entire stay. We brought Jordan to the guitar store on Monday and he tried out quite a few instruments.

He found one he really liked, an Alhambra and that was that. We spent the next few days touring and dining and chatting.

For their last night here, we took them to our favaorite restaurant in Barcelona, Wushu’s. During our brief time together Ron and I discovered a link we had from way back. When I was around three or four we lived in Ottawa, just off Island Park Drive. Our backyard bordered with another house that was owned by a fellow named Joe Feller. Well, it turns out that Ron know’s Joe Feller’s son and had actually been inside that house. We had been chatting about links in life and that started me thinking about some other events that happened and put me into a particular space. One that came to mind immediately was the writing of the previous post, Tribute to Our Frineds (Ron and Jordan are part of that group now).

Listen to this, it’s so strange. The reason that post is there is because a female French journalist, dropped a copy of “The Little Prince” in the Sahara desert, during the Paris / Dahkar rally. I won’t go into the sequence of events that led up to the post but I will relate the last piece. We went to see Moussa (see Alex’s blog for more info) and his words really brought the value of things to the forefront. He was the catalyst that caused me to write something I only would think about. I’m sure there are many more I could find out about. Anyhow, that one was cool.

Jordan and Ron have left now but we, both Alex and I, feel our lives are richer for having met them. I must thank William.

February 14, 2007 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

It’s not Sunday, It’s Photoday

You know, photography, in a sense, is a little like golf. To me, playing golf is an excuse to go for a walk in beautiful surroundings while photography is an excuse to go exploring in ways and places we normally wouldn’t consider. I think it’s the way you look at your surroundings when you have a camera in your hand. It’s just different, like you’re exploring.

Today, Alex and I grabbed our cameras and headed off to San Pere, an area in the Born. It’s streets are very narrow and sometimes surprise you by leading you into a wonderful secluded plaça.

The buildings are also very old and as a result the only colour you see has been put there by someone, either flowers or fabric.

Some little plaças invitie you to just sit and watch the world go by.

But even where there are many inviting places there are always the uninviting. I’ve never seen a dog that I didn’t want to be friends with but these two made me want to flee. I didn’t even want them to notice me taking their picture so I was VERY careful to keep well out of their reach. Thank god for zoom lenses.

There were also places that screamed KEEP OUT. I wonder what is behind this door that has this much security on it.

Near the end of our little excursion, we happened upon a blues jam session. These musicians were top notch.

They were playing blues. The drummer and bassist would set up a beat

and the guitarist would jam with that beat. He was really good at improvising. It’s exactly what I’d like to master.

Even the graffiti seemed to be watching them.

The sound man was kept busy but he did an amazing job too. There was no feedback at all and the sound, for an outdoor venue was very clean.

Well, the end of another weekend. Tonight we’ll be going to our cafe down the street to watch the football (soccer) game. It’s between Barcelona and Madrid and represents powerful rivalries.

Tomorrow, we’ll be heading back to the gym to re-establish our workout habits (groan). It’s going to be a tough week.

October 22, 2006 at 4:46 pm 1 comment

Today’s Music

Alex’s parents and brother are on their way home so today I listened to some music and practised guitar. Here are some of the songs that played…..Am I bored or what?????

Sometimes it’s difficult to find someone who can come out and play, especially when they all work.

Anyhow, next week I’ll get back into my normal routines so here’s the list………

Dido – Sand In My Shoes (A&B UV Mix; Mixmag Edit)  , 16:11
Morozov – Fly Guitar (Astero Breaks Mix)  , 16:06
One At Last – Hamana Nale (Lotus Mix)  , 15:03
Tau – Touche’ (Sutra Edit)  , 14:58
hands upon black earth – Bajya Sahita  , 14:52
Tini Tun – Over It  , 14:49
Honeymoon Suite – Burning in Love  , 14:35
Fleetwood Mac – Although the Sun Is Shining  , 14:32
Budgie – Who Do You Want for Your Love?  , 14:26
Fleetwood Mac – Oh Well – Part 1  , 14:23
Rose Melberg – Take Some Time  , 14:18
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  , 14:16
Delerium – Silence (Above & Beyond’s 21st Century Mix; Mixmag Edit)  , 14:14
Los Lonely Boys – My Loneliness  , 14:09
Bad Company – Rock Steady  , 14:05
Lostep – Theme from a Fairytale  , 13:54
The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done  , 13:49
Motörhead – You Better Run  , 13:45
Fleetwood Mac – Rattlesnake Shake  , 13:37
Govi – High Spirits  , 13:33
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Long as I Can See the Light  , 13:29
Ashtrax – Symmetry 1  , 13:27
Eagles – Hotel California  , 13:20
Eric Clapton – Layla  , 13:15
Dark Dreams – Project 7  , 13:11
Tini Tun – Over It  , 13:07
Naked Eyes – Always Something There to Remind Me  , 12:45
Ozzy Osbourne – I Don’t Know  , 12:40

October 20, 2006 at 4:25 pm 2 comments

Montserrat, Some Background

Just a note before you read this post. Much of the material was copied from many different sites and slightly modified to flow. I do not claim authorship to any of it. The Benedictines have a very informative website here. Enjoy………..

Montserrat has an interesting beginning that reaches back to Paleolithic times. The most important prehistory vestiges in Montserrat have been found in the “Cova Gran” and the “Cova Freda.” Pottery dating back to early Neolithic times was found for the first time in Catalonia in these caves. This pottery was often decorated with patterns made with shells. This Montserrat pottery is known as “Cardial” Pottery.

Somewhere around 880 AD, some shepherd children had a vision of the Virgin Mary. The visions occurred over the next few weeks in the same location, near a cave on Montserrat Mountain. The village priest and others witnessed them. When the religious elders of the community explored this cave they found an image of the Virgin Mary.

According to legend, the image was carved by St. Luke and brought to Spain by St. Peter. During the Moorish occupation, the image was hidden in a cave near Montserrat and was rediscovered by the elders. From that moment on the cave became a holy sanctuary for the Virgin of Montserrat and one of the most popular religious sites in Spain.

Religious activity increased significantly and by the end of the 9th century, four chapels had been built in the mountain: St. Mary’s, St. Acisclo’s, St. Peter’s and St. Martin’s. Nowadays, only St. Acisclo’s remains and it is situated in the garden of the Monastery. Legend has it that the mountain, also called Monsalvat, was also thought to have been the site of the castle of the Holy Grail.

In 1125, Oliba, Abbot of Ripoll and Bishop of Vic, founded the Montserrat Monastery next to St. Mary’s chapel, which was to soon become a Romanic style sanctuary. The Benedictine monastery has become one of the greatest religious shrines of Spain. Through songs, Alfonso X, popularized the appearances of the Virgin and numerous pilgrims begin to arrive. The followers of the Virgin of Montserrat, popularly known as “La Moreneta” because of the dark material of which she is sculpted, is the most popular following in Catalunya. Towards the end of the century a new image of the Holy Mother of God was sculpted: it is one of the jewels of Catalan Romanic and is visited by thousands. In addition, Bernat Boïl, a former Montserrat hermit, went with Christopher Columbus to America marking the start of the cult of the Virgin of Montserrat in America.

The abbey has also become world famous for its boy’s choir and school of music and hails back to 1223 making the school the oldest in Europe.

In 1522, Saint Ignatius of Loyola offered his knight’s sword to the image of the Virgin of Montserrat, gave up his militaristic life and dressed in sackcloth like any other pilgrim.

The present church of Montserrat was consecrated in 1592 by the Bishop of Vic, Pedro Jaime, on the 2nd of February, in the presence of the Bishops of Urgell, Girona and Elna.

Napoleon’s army destroyed Montserrat in 1811. The monks hid the image of the Virgin, saving it from being destroyed.

Montserrat is also a very powerful symbol for the Catalan people and was notorious during the Franco regime for being a stronghold of Catalan culture and language. In direct defiance of Franco’s anti-Catalan laws, the monks of Montserrat continued celebrating marriages and baptisms in Catalan after the Civil War. The monastery became a refuge for the many Catalan nationalists that remained underground until Franco’s death in 1975.

The abbey can be reached by road, by cable car, or by the Montserrat Rack Railway from Monistrol in the valley below, which in turn can be reached by Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya train from Barcelona’s Plaça d’Espanya station. From the abbey a funicular railway goes up to the top of the mountain, where there are various abandoned hovels in the cliff faces that were previously the abodes of reclusive monks.

September 10, 2006 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

Montserrat at Last

I think Alex and I deserve a pat on the back. We have been planning to visit Montserrat since the beginning of the summer and we finally made it. It’s only a 1 hour train ride from Barcelona so there is no problem getting there we just got sidetracked every time we’d plan the trip. We caught the train at the station in Placa Espanya and got off at Monistrol. In the station at Placa Espanya, you can buy all types of tickets to Montserrat. Various options include access to museums, the funiculars, and the train from Monistrol, even the metro in Barcelona. We purchased the 18 Euro one but prices are a low as 6 or 7 Euros. When we arrived at Monistrol, the train to take us up the mountain was waiting for us. It appears that the two trains are synchronized for minimum connection times. Even the return journey was synchronized.

Montserrat is very impressive as you approach Monistrol. The peaks and rock formations are very unique and can be seen from a fair distance away. The main attraction of Montserrat however, is not the mountain itself but the Benedictine abbey that is built there. The original abbey and surrounding buildings were mostly destroyed by Napoleon in 1811. It was restored in the 19th and 20th century but I’ll use another post to elaborate the interesting history of Montserrat.

The ride up the mountain is quite something. The train itself uses a special geared rail in the centre of the tracks because of the steep angles it climbs. I would guess that this train is climbing near 30 degrees (it’s a guess) at some points. We arrived at the monastery and Alex headed off to the info booth to get some maps and then we headed to the cafeteria to eat. I was quite surprised at the prices. Lunch was not that expensive considering the amount of tourists that come to this site.

After lunch we took the funicular de Sant Joan to the top of the mountain. It’s an impressive view from there and it seemed to be the starting point for a lot of hiking trails. There are hundreds of hiking trails up here, all connecting and crossing and go for hundreds of kilometers. We had come to Montserrat on a discovery mission. We wanted to check it out so we could pick a nice trail in the future and spend a day walking in the mountains but we HAD to try at least one trail. We had a choice, one trail led up to the Sant Joan retreat and the other led back to the abbey. This is the trail that leads to Sant Joan.

We chose the one that led back to the abbey. It’s timed at 55 minutes and we stopped so often to check things out that I think the 55-minute time is VERY conservative. The trail is almost all downhill so not much effort is required.

We saw some interesting shapes in the deadwood along the trail.

When we arrived back at the abbey, Alex wanted to visit the basilica.

We actually went into the sanctuary where the Virgin of Montserrat is hosted. It’s an eerie feeling being there. There was a lineup but I don’t think it was even close to the normal line of pilgrims who visit this site.

Afterwards we walked around the abbey, went into the stores to see the tourists shop and went through an audio-visual display about the site. My camera battery died and that was it for photos (did I hear a big sigh of relief). This last photo was a corner of the original Cloisters. The only part that was left after Napoleon.

The trip home was as easy as going and on the train we met a really nice couple from Toronto. They were on a tour and had come on their own to see Montserrat for themselves. We had an interesting conversation with them and it seemed the trip home took far less time than going.

All in all a great day and I look foreword to going back and doing some trekking.

September 10, 2006 at 11:12 am 2 comments

Mac Pro – A Dream

The new Mac Pro quad Xeon 64-bit worksation is out and I want one. I can dream can’t I ????? It was less than a year ago when I switched from a pretty powerful Dell and Windows XP to my current Mac PowerBook G4. It’s not that I was fed up with Microsoft or Windows XP. I used to do music on my Dell and had no problems at all. I used Cubase and had all kinds of controllers hooked up and I never had a problem. I was going to Barcelona with Alex and I needed a machine more for my digital photography than for anything else plus it had to be a laptop for portability. I’d heard that Mac’s were the machines to own if you were doing anything with graphics or music. I wasn’t happy with the laptop choices and since Alex already owned a Mac I thought I’d give Mac a try. Besides, I was already attracted to them because of their design and packaging. I know, I know, packaging doesn’t add to the computer in any way but I thought that if they spend that amount of time and effort in the packaging and seeing the PowerBook’s simplicity and design, well, the combination sold me. I really love my laptop. I’m not in the business of high powered database design or business modelling anymore (I think I’d use Microsoft if I was) so the Mac is just what the artist ordered.

Now they have come up with the Mac Pro.

The design of this machine is amazing. You can go to the Arts Technica site for a complete review. I just wanted to dream here and show just a few of the features of this machine, like the insides…

Those 4 hard drive bays are drawers and all you have to do is drop a hard drive into them, close the drawer and it’s done. No cables. It takes a pro only 30 seconds to install one. You can install 4 500 GB drives. I couldn’t fill those in a lifetime.

Of course, to display all this power I’d have to have the Apple cinema display, the 30 inch HD display. It’s awesome to see.

Feast your eyes on more than four million pixels in the first high-resolution 30-inch flat-panel display designed for a personal computer.

Then, to top all of this off and provide a beautiful interface to Adobe Photoshop CS, I would add an Intuos Cintiq 21UX tablet. This input device is amazing, go see it at Wacom’s site.

So, if I could, this is what I would order…..

The Mac Pro with Both Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and AirPort Extreme
A 500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s, one 16x SuperDrive Accessory kit, two 3GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors, this is extreme but 16GB (8 x 2GB) of memory, Mac OS X and an ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI) graphics card. The 30 inch Apple Cinema HD display and the Wacom Intuos Cintiq.

All I can say is Wow ………………..

August 21, 2006 at 3:16 pm


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