Archive for rant

Sometimes Less is More – Dynamical music and coffee

Posted in Coffee, connoisseur, music, percussion, rant, unique with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2008 by howsoonis08

Just recently I acquired the opportunity to take part in breaking in a new espresso machine! The parents of one of my friends decided to indulge their inner-kid and buy themselves a late Christmas present. Knowing that I would be very interested, my friend invited me over for the virgin voyage of the machine. What really interested me in this instance was that fact that the machine was a super automatic espresso machine; something I had never seen in action, nor tasted the coffee it produced.

Because this machine was new to them, I wanted to make sure that they had good beans to test the machine. They took my advice and chose to go with Cupper’s Espresso Zilla espresso blend (this is an amazing coffee shop in Lethbridge, and we are very privileged to have the opportunity to access such high quality coffee and high quality knowledge from owner and staff. Please visit their site!), what this also provided me was a good background for how the coffee should taste. I’ve been running Cupper’s coffee for a long time, experimented with different blends, done tastings with the owners, so I know how the coffee should turn out.

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When the time came down to tasting the coffee (something I will be mentioning in a later post), the shot just was not up to par… We did a number of runs with the machine (we had to! they just got it! it’s exciting!), adjusted the grind settings, and we got it to produce a reallly good shot, but still fell short. The shot was bitter, and a bit weak… I thought that it was due to a build up of excess coffee left in the machine between the shots (I’ve read about things like that happening before).

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that sometimes less is more. Having the ability to change little variables such as the tamp pressure, amount of coffee in the portafilter, warming the system, and really nailing down the grind for the roast can add such a difference in the espresso shot. Of course, you must take into consideration that economically the super automatic is fantastic! and produces a very substantial shot of espresso! This is perfect for many individuals, but for the purpose of linking this to music, I’m going to maintain my point by elaborating on the fact that less is more.

Being a percussionist, and constantly listening and applauding/criticizing others work, a pretty hard thing to not notice is the fact that a lot of the time…less is definitely more. A local jazz musician, and a very good friend, would always emphasis the dynamics of music and notion of musical time by saying “it’s not always the notes themselves that count, but the spaces in between the notes that you have to pay attention to.” I’ve always took this to heart, and after you take the time to consider it, and reeaaally start to pay attention to it, it’s a very powerful idea. I’ve listened to many drum solo’s, and I find myself noticing more and more that the ones that I really enjoy, ones that make you smile, are the ones where the drummer has total control over every dynamic point during the solo. I’ll post some good examples, and I hope you’ll enjoy them!

This guys got the best facial expressions ever!

So ‘in the pocket’ it’s not even funny!

Dave Weckl looks like a dink. But fabulous dynamics!

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Misconstrued Perception

Posted in Coffee, Commercialism, connoisseur, Consumerism, fashion, Indie rock, music, rant, Symbolic interactionism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2008 by howsoonis08

Is consumerism and commercialism altering perceptions on the art of coffee and music? In my opinion…without a doubt.

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What is “indie”, or “indie rock” for that matter? I used to think that I knew. I used to think that indie music was short-form for independent music. The genre of indie rock is now more of a fashion for consumer culture and another way for capitalists to turn music into a commercialized product. They play with the label of indie rock, attributing it to underground culture and counterculture. Just another way to falsely assure the masses that they are “individual”, “unique”, and part of a countermovement to mainstream culture. It is used now to incorrectly describe the bands sound in affiliation with their independent label, or means of production. It’s a blanket term that covers many artists, grouping them into a category that appeals to a society who is constantly looking to rid themselves of characteristics of the collective; conforming to a symbol of individualism, despite the fact they are doing the exact opposite. Indie has been appropriated by commercialism to mean something that was originally not intended; it has new meaning now. It was only a matter of time before someone was smart enough to see that they could market this idea.

I’m not judging anything about the music itself. There are many artists coming out with the label of “indie” that are wonderful to listen to, and by no means should artists be judged by their label. Also, I’m not saying that there are not truly independent bands emerging from various music genres. I just wish that truly independent musicians wouldn’t get tagged under the genre of “indie”. Am I symbolically representing myself through the music I listen to? Most likely… but I would say that their is very few that could get away with saying no. Do I mean to? Not necessarily… I did for a long time, and now realize there are definitely more important things in life than defining yourself by symbolic culture. Althought I’ll never get away from it.

Now what about coffee? How have peoples perception of coffee changed? There are about 13, 000 Starbucks around the world, and in multiple countries; opening Starbucks every 6 minutes… About 44 million people a week go to Starbucks. Starbucks coffee is the most caffeinated coffee on the market. So what am I trying to get at? I want to argue the fact that Starbucks is altering people’s perception of coffee from something that is a taste sensation, to something to feed an addiction. Among other things that I think is horrible about Starbucks, this is what I’m going to try to argue. Usually when I talked to people about coffee, the response is usually something like this: “I really needed a coffee this morning, I had a horrible hangover and needed to get picked up.” Where is the enjoyment in that? Doesn’t it seem as if people are using coffee strictly for the caffeine, as a means for energy? I’m sure that symbolic imagery also has some sort of ties, but my opinion leans more towards coffee as a means of caffeine. It really is a shame that more people don’t take the time to appreciate all things that go into coffee and all aspects that change the qualities of coffee. We need to remember that we are trying to make something consistently that naturally doesn’t want to be consistent. Starbucks and other coffee chains have constrained coffee to something that can be repeated over and over again with very little frequencies of variability. So what Starbucks is doing is dealing caffeine legally and consistently. Of course this is just my opinion, and I would love to hear discussions!!

And for some neat indie rock picks, check out: Pavement, Guided by Voices, Built to Spill, Jesus and Mary Chain, Polvo, and solid old Sonic Youth

(Am I secretly representing myself symbolically through these bands?? Fuck… This just gets confusing.)

Blowing off steam…

Posted in abnormal, fashion, psychology, rant, Symbolic interactionism with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2008 by howsoonis08

This entry is a little off topic… but I thought that it would be perfect for a quick little discussion starter!

Earlier today in my abnormal psychology class we were discussing mental status examinations. We went over the criteria described in these simple exams (Appearance and Behavior, Thought Process, Mood and Affect, Intellectual Functioning, and Sensorium), and for the remainder of the class we were to watch the introduction to the movie Stay. Early in the movie you are introduced to a psychiatric patient by the name of Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling), and our task was to use the mental status exam criteria to analyze the patient. This was all fine and dandy… until that is… until our professor paused the movie and had us report back to him what we had gathered thus far.

The first thing we went over was appearance and behavior. Everyone seemed to be giving reasonable answers: lack of facial expressions, no eye contact, reserved, tired, etc… Until someone in the front said:

” Well he looks kinda umm emo, so he might be depressed?”

Holy fuck! Are you serious! This is a third year course, and that response was totally ridiculous! Number one, for someone who dresses “emo” it is a fucking fashion!! Not something that shows mental signs of depression! You don’t wake up one day feeling sad and say “shit… I’m reaaally depressed… I’m going to go out and by new clothes… most likely black ones…. with a new hair swoop…. and buy a Dashboard Confessional CD…..” (I’m sorry for being stereotypical. It’s mainly for emphasis. I don’t like it when others do this either. Furthermore, the fashion trend I am referring to has just been popularized in 2000. Before, “Emo” was a music movement from Washington and Chicago areas and was very respectable) Also, this is as shitty as diagnosing someone with a lack of concentration by saying, wow that guy is really dressed like a raver… he must not be able to concentrate at work because he is constantly thinking about raving. Secondly, being so-called “emo” has nothing to do with someones mental health status… although I sometimes wonder.

Fashion is part of symbolic interactionism, and is part of how someone presents and constructs ones self; constructing “identity.” If you want to place a status of mental unstableness on people who dress with “emo” style, you can turn around and do that to any other consumer!