Saturday, February 10, 2018

Daniele Luppi, Skating & Nelson

Weekly Update 2018-06: The amazing musical collectives created by Italian composer Daniele Luppi, braving the winter cold and my fear of ice skating, and having 100% control over your Spotify playlists.

Music: Daniele Luppi
It's no secret that I am a big fan of mashups. The intersection of genres and musicians that one normally may not find together, is such a platform for creativity that you'll always find something new. Italian composer Daniele Luppi has recruited two of my favourite musical pieces: Parquet Courts and Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead singer Karen O. In a wonderful album released in 2017 called Milano, the three pay tribute to the Italian city’s hedonistic 1980s heyday.

What arises is an amazing musical piece, reminiscent of Luppi's 2011 Rome collaboration with Danger Mouse, Jack White and Norah Jones. If not for any reason than to bring unexpected musical pairings together, I think Luppi is a genius.

Favourite tracks include Talisa, Flush and Pretty Prizes.

And as a “bonus track” to my selection, let me tell you that the Spotify radio for this album is probably the best I have heard in a long time. Due to the varied genres of these three musicians, the radio is also varied and really good. 

This past weekend, I attended the Richmond Hill Winter Carnival for the first time in my conscious history! It was really cool, with an area for War of 1812 re-enactors (firing off muskets every hour on the hour) and an area for Vikings re-enactors. Not to mention the Beaver Tails, chocolate covered bacon on a stick, skating, rides, live music, and so much more. It was so much to take in.

Myself and my friend Emilia posing in front of some amazing wood carvings.

I didn't get to do any skating at the Winter Carnival, but I did manage to go to the Bentway Skate Trail under the Gardiner, and boy was that ever a levelling up in skating. This was me pushing myself to do something that really scared me, to be perfectly honest. Not only is the loop quite long and narrow (which makes for quite a sharp turn at each end), but the whole thing is a giant wind tunnel that pushed me pretty far out of my comfort zone. I could pretty much glide down a whole side of the trail without having to push my feet. Which I did because I don't really know how to stop yet!

I promise it was as fun as it was cold that night.

Next skating adventure, I'd like to try the Christie Pits rink...

Speaking of Christie Pits, I finally went tobogganing this weekend. Yep, after three winters of living near the park, I finally got to sled down a few different hills around the park. I'd say it's one of the choice places to toboggan, and certainly the closest option to my house - the sunken-in park makes for great hills on all four sides.

On top of that, I made a small personal victory at work this week. I'd say only a small fraction of people in my office make a point of eating their lunch in the lunch room, opting instead to eat at their desk as they work. Of course this is their prerogative, but I am a big proponent of eating lunch away from one's desk to (1) take a breather in the middle of the day to recharge a little and (2) to spend a bit of time bonding with coworkers. It's nice to have friends/people you like at work. And so, I thought that perhaps bringing up a round of Sporcle quizzes on the big TV in the kitchen might do the trick, and indeed it did.

Long story short, we had about 12 people all gathered around a big screen, singing songs and shouting band names at the screen as we tried to match famous 90's songs to their singers. We did pretty well in the end:

I also had the honour of taking (part of) my team for pizza on Friday as part of National Pizza day!

Finally, to round out the week, I hit 300 five-star reviews on Bunz the other day! I've had more trades than that, but it's lovely to hit such a large and displayable milestone. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bunz has really changed my life.

My parents always seem to have some fish in their freezer leftover from my dad's fishing trips. I thought I might try a healthier/possibly tastier way to cook it as an alternative to the two ways my dad knows (deep frying or baking in cream and gruyere). There is a specific style of cooking it that I tried at a Nicaraguan restaurant, but with a little digging it seems like the recipe is actually Italian. More on that as it develops.

I'd also like to start using Twitter more. It feels like an untapped resource for good content I would actually consider enriching (unlike Facebook that sometimes feels like an echo chamber). So I think I will start by turning on notifications on my phone, and following some Portland design firms. Baby steps!

Random Thought:
Random thoughts are one of my favourite things to write about because of the sheer unexpected nature by which they enter into my brain. This one comes to you from my bathroom mirror, while examining my eyeliner application technique. I close one eye and use the other to see what I'm doing. Seems simple enough, but what if you only have one working eye? How do you apply eyeliner to the working eye? I suppose you could apply it with your eye open, but I just don't think it would be the same.

Inspiration: Nelson
I am continually impressed with Spotify's algorithm. I use it to help me to find new music and make amazing playlists with very little effort (as mentioned above in the music section). But for those times when you want to get reeeeeally specific about your algorithmic playlists, why not use this amazing little Spotify API-based fan-made app called Nelson? Created by Arielle Vaniderstine, it includes modifiers that I consider to be on the same control level as iTunes (or possibly even more extreme?) that you can poke and prod until you get a playlist that perfectly matches your musical needs.

You can read about the settings and their meanings on the Spotify developers blog, but I particularly enjoy this one:
Valence - A measure from 0.0 to 1.0 describing the musical positiveness conveyed by a track. Tracks with high valence sound more positive (e.g. happy, cheerful, euphoric), while tracks with low valence sound more negative (e.g. sad, depressed, angry).
Valence reminds me of how I generally classify happy, upbeat and usually high-toned vocals as “twee”, such as Matt & Kim, or most pop music. It can be appropriate at times, but I find I much prefer sadder, minor music lately. It's not a reflection of my mood, but it might have something to do with the weather.

I made a playlist based on a some fun genres like psych rock and , and with the valence meter turned down to match my emotional mood of course. So far, not bad!


Make your own playlist based on anything from Detroit Techno to Honky Tonk to Metalcore here.

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