Shoegaze music became a shadow or back seat genre of the grunge scene during the 90s. Typically played in the minor keys, the name came from lead guitarists’ fixation on their feet due to the operation of numerous effect pedals daisy chained on stage. Thanks to KEXP radio, I discovered Slowdive which may be the preeminent band associated with the genre. To the band’s surprise upon reuniting in 2014 after a long hiatus due partly to unflattering reviews, audiences hailed them dearly in London and Barcelona. Their return has been invigorated with a hot new album self titled “Slowdive”.
My characterization of the music is “sombre mood”. If you’re willing to go into the darkness, you’ll shimmy in calm. Just make certain you come out while not over cooking your playlist with it. While the distinction of chord movement is oftentimes muddled given the heavy use of reverb, the unrushed melodies can be impactful and pointed.
Much of my attraction to Slowdive is the modest stage presence and obvious band cohesiveness lead by lead song writer and front man Neal Halstead. What his childhood chum Rachel Goswell lacks in vocal range – she makes up for in musicality on guitar and keyboard. Her voice tonality is actually fitting to the eclectic ambience illuminating live performances. Critical to the sensitive nature of the genre, the rhythm section has a strong feel for dynamics with Simon Scott intuitively in sync with bassist Nick Chaplin. Christian Savill rounds out the troupe on rhythm guitar.
It was a show in tribute to jazz icon Bill Withers last night at the Jack Singer. As you can see, I had a choice seat. I got to say that one of my highlights was witnessing the pure joy of an audience in awe of this rising star, Jose James. One particular young woman simply beamed in delight and in fact one memorable moment was our eyes colliding upon intercepting witty stage talk. Tracks “Who Is He”, and “Ain’t No Sunshine” particularly stood out along with the groovy closer which turned a classy looking opera hall into a speakeasy lookalike. This fellow, James, possesses a stage charm inviting onlookers into his act from the outset. His voice is stellar with a wide range and particularly appealing in tenor like phrasing.
The band was strong with frequent solos from lead man Brad Allen Williams. The only pedal featured that I could see from my quaint corner spot during the evening was a wah brandished in “Grandma’s Hands”. All members had their solo spots. James’ admiration for Bill Withers was genuine and lucky for us all in the end, James encored with one of his own.
The Challenger Tour’s inaugural stop in Calgary has culminated with a compliment from winner Ivo Karlovic. The 39 year old has become the oldest player in history to win a title on the Challenger Tour and in so doing has remarked that the Acadia Tennis Centre in Calgary is “unbelievable”. Calgary should take great pride in this feedback given the number of establishments this man would have played in during his lengthy career.
I had attended early round matches this past week and can attest that the organization was excellent in the context of this being the first major event run from this facility. The quality of play was outstanding but attendance was lacklustre. Canadian top ranked players Filip Peliwo and Brayden Schnur graced the courts making an impact on the draw with early round wins. The 2016 junior player of the year, Casper Ruud, stood out magnificently with consistency and power from the ground. Borna Gojo may have surprised himself with a spot in the semis having come from qualifying. For those fans looking for free pro tennis, qualifying rounds served up incredible value.
Next year I anticipate sponsors to follow up on their financial commitment by filling their boxes and showcasing the event. Local tennis enthusiasts who this year witnessed jaw dropping racquet skill and athleticism will next year undoubtedly share the merits of a ticket.
I know, your broker is telling you not to worry, but had you purchased put options on any one of U.S. home builder stocks Pulegroup (PHM), D.R. Horton (DHI), Lennar Corp. (LEN), Toll Bros (TOL) or KB Homes (KBH), back in the summer, your trades would have experienced three figure percentage gains (yes, options give you this kind of leverage). This is not the high flying darling sector of tech stocks but was one which has experienced particularly high volatility with guidance from the U.S Federal Reserve of rising interest rates. We all knew that higher rates were coming down the pipe. This trade was not on the radar of your banker overseeing your portfolio.
When you head over and review that charts on these stocks, perhaps you’ll be thinking twice regarding the counsel from your banker and those lowly performing mutual funds in your portfolio.
The securities industry does not think that you have the sophistication required for trading in options. They may be right but with education and a desire to achieve a higher rate of net worth growth, you can acquire that education and discover those unique trades specific to any economic condition. You are responsible for your net worth growth. What are you doing about it other than showing up for work?
The thing I like about Martin is his dispassionate analysis of economic events possibly learned through experience documented in the movie, “The Forecaster”. Although he provides a political backdrop in identifying the climate inherent to his analysis of international capital flows, he does so with an emotional indifference even tinged with sarcasm suggesting a deeper sense of abomination for the mismanagement of global monetary policy.
In contrast to other contemporaries of Austrian economic theory, Armstrong does not foresee an imminent collapse in the equity markets, nor a short term devaluation of the U.S. dollar. Armstrong sees the rising interest rate environment and cracks in the European bond markets as potential sources of support for the U.S. dollar over the short term given that big money will have few places other than U.S. equities to turn.
Armstrong also differs from his peers in referencing a direct correlation between rising rates and rising equities in the current environment. He cites problems with European bond yields as reason to flee for quality in U.S. equities.
Over the long term however, Armstrong sees the monetary system start to unravel come 2021 once emerging markets come to the realization that debt repayment in lofty valued U.S. dollars will become untenable. Alas, Armstrong falls in line with others espousing ultimate trouble for markets of all sorts other that real estate, precious metals and other tangible assets.
On the contrary, P.H.D. of statistics Jim Willie, suggests that contagion associated with European banking default could become the prime driver of economic chaos. My sense is that Willie’s time frame is shorter than that of Armstrong’s. Both gentlemen see problems such as hyper inflation, unemployment, and corruption in under developed nations masked from media view as seeds adjunct for the culmination an economic reset.
Yes they do. Are there consequences to never ending increases in government debt? Yes there are. Do we care like we should? No, we don’t? The Olympics are coming and the Canadian Press has indicated that governments will be on hook for three billion dollars associated with the endeavour. Your governments mean you.
Gary Mason from the Globe and Mail has pointed out that when the Notley government took control, the Alberta debt was a manageable $11.9 billion. Given the unwillingness of this government to shave expenses during the collapse of oil royalty revenue, the debt is now projected to balloon to $71 billion dollars by 2020. Think about that for a minute….11.9 versus 71. Yup, it’s a 6 fold increase and the mayor of Calgary is worried about who leaked a report regarding Olympics planning.
Greece in 2015 came to learn about what it means to spend beyond its means. Banks went on holidays and bank machines got turned off. The health care system in Greece went on hiatus and austerity measures went into full effect. If creditors to a governmental jurisdiction come to learn that their investment is in jeopardy, terms will change to the detriment of debtors. You are your government. Your government will ask you to come to their aid in the event of hardship in making payments.
Your country also continues to spend like drunken sailors. Politicians love to match debt to GDP as if they can rationalize their continued increases in spending. The fact is that your country’s debt increases at a rate of $50 million per day. The taxes you send to Ottawa help cover the interest on this ever increasing debt. Take $660 billion in federal debt while compounding a daily growth of 50 million per day and then factor in an increasing interest rate environment. Now, think again if the Olympics are worth the risk to you the taxpayer.
As a preface, I write this not as an “accomplished guitarist” worthy of offering tips, but one who has embarked on a learning journey over the past 20 months. Hopefully, the following will aid anyone in taking up the instrument.
You know someone who knows someone that simply picks up an instrument and they can play naturally “by ear”. I say “good for them” and this is certainly not I and will not be the majority of aspiring players. In fact, even for those who are gifted with musical intuition, there will be short cuts they will encounter in orchestrating melody, resolving a phrase, or identifying an appropriate chord should they obtain some kind of training.
The sixth and fifth strings as bass notes, interval distances between notes and between strings, higher and lower octave notes as designed on the fret board through pattern, the CAGED system utilization as a means of deploying different chord voicings, basic open chords, barred chord structures, and scales up and down the neck are all guitar elements that very few will be able deploy without becoming versant through some training.
I suggest that the most enjoyment will come from applying mechanical fret board principles with some music theory and one’s inner sense of discovery. However; relying on the inner sense alone will simply lead to unnecessary barriers given the intricacies of the instrument.
The good news is that the task is not ominous. There will be some memorization which is absolutely tenable. There will be some frustration in getting the fingers to go where they need to go. However; with practice, the neural system establishes the pathways. There will be a question regarding the time commitment to improve. You’ll conclude that part of your spiritual sustenance flows from a pursuit distinct from family and career. You’ll be wondering where to turn for your next nugget of fret board magic culminating in the arrival of new like-minded friends. You’ll also become fascinated by the equipment and accessories which produce varying sounds from the same notes.
The biggest take away….you’ll learn humility if to date it’s been elusive!
I grew up on the sport field playing baseball. My dad taught me sportsmanship and he coached his fifth son part time whenever he was home early enough from the mine. The lesson was always simple….do your best, play by the rules, and bestow respect to your opponent and elders. In spite of your best, you will lose. Losses will inspire you to improve.
Oftentimes, I reference a simple decision to terminate my cable television. This act has become so metaphoric in more ways than one. Thankfully, I did not witness the unfortunate turn of events at the women’s final of the U.S. Open today. The award ceremony and write up was enough. The charade unfortunately reminds me of the unfortunate past of John McEnroe and his childishness of yesteryear.
Elite athletes train throughout their youth to reach the pinnacle of their sport. Today, a new champion emerged but the euphoric sentiment of her biggest sporting achievement ever was simply hijacked from her today in the face of unsportsmanlike conduct of Serena Williams and the classless behaviour of New York spectators. To add insult to injury, Williams decided to become the protagonist in defeat by placating the crowd having sensed the void of joy in the hapless victor Naomi Osaka.
U.S. Open officials just couldn’t hold back by releasing a statement in the conclusion of the match referencing racquet smashing insult wielding Williams with the remarks “Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud”.
Unfortunately, when the athletic arena is represented by narcissistic whining brats in addition to society’s other classless acts from which we’ve grown accustomed (I know who you’re thinking of), it’s disheartening. You simply hope to find virtue in sport.
How are you staying inspired? Who has the best staying power? It’s those who complement their training with influences of those who have achieved. It takes a continual dose and then an expanded repertoire of sources. You know why? It’s because you’ll get stuck. You’ll hit a plateau. Your mind will wander off. Hence; if you’re committed to continual improvement, you can schedule in your exposure to influence. You can make it a priority.
I had no clue what I was getting into upon stepping into a musical journey with the purchase of an electric guitar having experienced an introduction to music theory through piano. I sensed that those rock icons were high school dropouts with some finger dexterity learned through rudimentary practice. Well, I was delightfully short sighted. It’s true that rock guitarists may spend much of their soloing time in the pentatonic scale with fundamental chords derived from the Circle of Fifths. However; many other accomplished guitarists are in fact versed in music theory with ear training to facilitate improvisation. The instrument itself has the potential to extend into all genres of music.
Then there’s the concept of “what to practice.” There’s a propensity toward practicing what you know instead of building, switching, alternating, completing, stretching, expanding, and redirecting. I’m thinking that my guitar journey’s pathway to development is no different than any other pursuit in developing competence leading to mastery. What if we document practice sessions for planned later date reinforcement? What if we engage interpersonally with those who can supplement ideas? What if we intertwine the learning experience from our hobbyist pursuit with other facets of existence? Staying inspired inherently means not only the act of interpreting a production which compels but also looking deeper into the person behind the piece.
First of all, are you spending the time? Secondly, are you spending it the right way? Thirdly, are you manifesting enjoyment of your pursuit through applied education? If you don’t have the time now, will you be sufficiently inspired at ground zero with the onset of retirement?
Should Canadian farmers be selling wheat and barley to Saudi Arabia when Saudi Arabia has historically oppressed women and still does to this day? Does a country conducting international trade compromise its values if profiting from a country from which values conflict? Should politicians in high office frustrated by diplomatic overtures abroad turn to twitter to voice grievance? Should a Canadian confident in his /her position that we have a weak Prime Minister contend that all policy initiatives by the federal government will commensurately be weak? Is it fair to impact the livelihood of commercial operators because of international political grievance?
The above questions arise in the context of a spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada over this past week. It’s frankly unsettling to witness such weakness. My position is that Canada has been compromising its values over time with respect to trade and shouldn’t be surprised that a peculiar twitter remark should be received with outrage from an internet platform limiting in its communicative power from a nation bereft of bestowing respect upon women. What’s even more surprising is that Ms. Freedland seems like an intelligent woman who should have known better. She should have know that the incarceration of women’s rights advocate is a sensitive matter and that a frustrating social media appeal could actually undermine diplomatic efforts to liberate the woman.
Our country, Canada, has some soul searching to do with respect to trade policy in the context its values and protectionist sentiment arising from the U.S. New alliances are forming and Canada has a place at the tables but must affirm its position with clarity complemented with trade deals rooted in the fabric of cooperation with partners of whom it can look dead straight in the eye.