Monday, September 24, 2018

Palm, Recipes & Art Spin

Weekly Update 2018-38: Experimental math rock from Palm busts through the speakers alongside deciphering an internet of recipes and a truly inspirational bike ride around Toronto Island as summer winds down.

Music: Palm
This Philadelphia-based art rock four-piece is a band that demands your attention. With unorthodox changes in time signature and unexpected bursts of guitar noise, I really never know what is going to happen in a Palm song. That's not something that can be said of a lot of music I hear today. Their music feels like a playful experiment in heavy math rock that continues to build upon itself.

I really enjoyed 2015's Trading Basics, an erratic conversation between two guitars that takes the listener on a journey of epic proportions.

Catch Palm at The Baby G on Tuesday September 24 - hey, that's tomorrow!

Last Saturday I had the immense pleasure of attending the 3rd annual Kensington Market Jazz Festival with some friends. I was honestly blown away by the festival as a whole, immediately regretting that I hadn't attended before. While Kensington is arguably always a street party, it was still energizing to see people performing and dancing in the streets, spilling from patios and restaurants that had been makeshifted to include stages for this special weekend.

I had discovered the existence of this young Jazz Fest through a special Saturday event - the first ever live performance of the original soundtrack for the video game Cuphead. Composed by the amazingly talented Kristofer Maddigan, a 15+ piece brass band graced a temporary stage in the laneway behind El Gordo Empanadas to belt out one of my favourite video game soundtracks of all time. The show was amazing, AND I got to meet Kristofer as well as Tina, one of the original artists for the game.

After Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) always follows the most challenging holiday of the year...Yom Kippur. Yes, I did manage to fast a whole day (which really isn't a long time in the scope of things). And while I did this, I found nothing better to do with my time but do an extreme cleaning of my apartment. Yes, now that Erika has flown the coop, I figured it might be time to clean pretty much every surface. I've also managed to get rid of a bunch of stuff so that I was able to use one of my many closets as a walk-in pantry. It left some room in my kitchen to display some lovely plants under the skylight. Things are looking pretty good!

I haven't decided what to do with Flanders...though his current position doesn't make a lot of sense anymore. TBD.

And, best of all, my Sukkot Snapchat Geofilter goes live this week! I've sent it off to Snapchat which was a pretty cool process - if anyone needs a custom filter, just let me know!

Yes, this weekend marks a very special one: our family garage sale! It was a great excuse to get a bunch of random stuff out of my apartment so that we could sell it for dirt cheap on our driveway in the sun - together as a family! I am looking forward to divesting of a bunch of stuff, and also spending time with my family all together again.

Random Thought: Online Recipes
There's no doubt that online recipes have surely overtaken the physical cookbook. I honestly consider cookbooks a waste of space and paper for most people (some truly do enjoy them and that's fine). But anything you want to cook, you can easily and quickly find on the internet. If you've ever carried out such a search, you'll know that most recipe blogs do require you to scroll down past all the incessant storytelling and a million photos of the finished product before you can see the method or ingredients. As a little tip, I like to use my browser's search function to locate all instances of the word "ingredients" to quickly jump down to the recipe - usually, the only instance is at the bottom - the recipe itself.

What still annoys me, though, is the uncalculated preparation time involved in many recipes. When an ingredient list calls for "4 medium onions, diced", how exactly did those onions become diced? As far as I know, you can't buy them that way, so most likely you'll be doing the dicing yourself. If so, why shouldn't the dicing be added to the prep time and as a step in the recipe itself?

The occasional recipe is written in such a way that it allows for time for chopping things while other things simmer or bake. I absolutely love those recipes, because they respect the sous time involved. Since I am definitely my own sous chef, that part of my cooking role becomes much more enjoyable.

This isn't even the longest one!

Regardless, it seems like every recipe takes on a new formatting style, and there isn't much in the way of a set recipe format for everyone to follow. Which is why I usually copy a recipe into my master google doc of recipes, and edit it into my own formatting to allow time for chopping and dicing. All my notes are inline in the steps because you need that note information when you're completing a step, not after the cooking has been completed. It just makes more sense to me that way.

After so many millions of years since cavemen mastered fire and the first recipe was born, I can't believe that we haven't developed the recipe format into the best possible user experience. What a shame.

Inspiration: Art Spin
As September rolls around, I always try to squeeze out as much from the last days of summer as I can. My one venture to Toronto Island so far sadly ended in a downpour, so I was eager to check out the annual Art Spin: a bike tour/art installation/giant party on the island.

I have been so lucky to finally find others in Toronto who share my bike-related values, and this tour was simply an extension of that. Over 200 cyclists showed up to Ward's Island to experience six performance art pieces all around the island in secret nooks and crannies. We cycled as a big bike rave to each of the locations, accompanied by DJ General Eclectic on his speaker-bike.

Over 200 cyclists showed up for this bike ride!

All of the performance pieces worked beautifully with their surroundings, interacting with the water in different ways. The one that struck me the most was an amazing performance piece in a huge pirate ship. A dancer moved gracefully around the deck of the ship while it also moved back and forth, the water a stage in front of us on dry land. As he danced and moved, he pulled water into the boat with a bucket on a string, only to have it pour back into the stream again. It was so extremely mesmerizing, with live percussion music performed from the upper deck of the boat. I don't think I will ever experience anything like it again, it was so beautiful and moving to me.

After the bike tour, we ended with a party at Artscape Gibraltor Point (which I have blogged about before). We were treated to performances by Brazilian dancer/musician Bruno Capinan and Toronto indie darlings Ice Cream. 

And as a special bonus treat, we were allowed to tour the Island Lighthouse - Toronto's second oldest building. I was told they don't open it for tours very often, so I felt honoured. Even this was an art installation, with a violinist playing a very sad song at the top. You can't hear it at the bottom, but as you climb the many, many stairs up to the top, you begin to hear it gradually. A really cool effect.

There is truly nothing I love more than good live music, biking, nature and art. All rolled into one, this was surely one of the highlights of my summer.

Shoutout to Flakah and Leon for sharing the day with me!

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