Sunday, April 22, 2007

A New Yoga Review

It has been a looong time since I have posted, but I am back, and with a new development:

Yoga in Lotus Land



Monday, November 06, 2006

New York Adventures with Bobby McFerrin

What I haven't really touched in this blog is some of my own musical path as a DJ and vocalist. I would particularly like to share one of my voice training experiences of a lifetime. In June 2004 I flew to NY for the first vocal workshop of its kind given by none other than vocal shaman, Bobby McFerrin. I learned more about improvisation and vocalization in those five days than in years combined previously. The suprisingly low cost of attending was worth more than its weight in gold.

The workshop was held on the lovely Omega Institute campus, where in between voice training you can take a stroll through the woods to the lake, lounge in the grass while classmates sing and play drums, take dance, movement and spiritual classes. Meditate...

The Omega Sanctuary--click for their website

Unfortunately, all too often, when I mention my experience with Bobby McFerrin to people who aren't in music they either don't know who Bobby is (gasp!) or respond with "Oh! He's that 'Don't Worry Be Happy guy isn't he?" (groan...) Even more sadly, the young people I know usually draw a complete blank.

Here is a video of the maestro himself.

If you like what you hear and would like to go out and purchase a Bobby McFerrin CD, I would personally recommend his release, Beyond Words. The beginning of his first song, Invocation, would certainly be one of my own desert island picks. I do prefer the beginning of the song to the more jazzy later part of the song though.

More About the Voice Workshop
I'll get right to it. I'm not sure what it has been like in more recent years, but I had a few chances to sing one-on-one and also chat informally with Bobby at the Omega workshop. Forget about his great personality on stage. As a human being, offstage, he was one of the most down-to-earth, accessible and warm people I've ever met. Real. The only time I saw him start to look frustrated was when people, like crazed fans, started to delve into him instead of the music.

I've heard of other vocalists who give similar improv workshops where the atmosphere is much more clinical and competitive, but working with Bobby absolutely brought out the best in everyone there. Many friendships were forged that week. I met so many wonderful people myself with whom I shared some unforgettable times...

Here is a shot of me and one of the most inspiring instructors, and an amazing vocalist in his own right Joey Blake, who has recently struck out a more solo career. Joey normally works in the San Fran Bay area.

But for me the hightlight of the Workshop was a chance to improvise with Bobby himself...

Pied Piper Davis

I think I’ve caught a member of the wee faerie folk, and I’m not letting go until I get the secret directions to the promised land. So far I’ve discovered that the faerie grotto ain’t what it used to be and that jazz, industrial and funk can be transmuted into gold.

I hang on tight, slip on my headphones, crank up the volume, and put on my visionary goggles. A few beats in I start to see...

To the east a shining citadel. To the north miles upon miles of undisturbed forest. I find myself turning to the west and hear…

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep.You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep.
- Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi (1207-1273CE)

Into tantra? Technological revolutions? Ancient Sufi mystical secrets? How about springing your life force into action to a bass beat driver from the depths of digital machinations? From Mexican machiadoras, to Tunguskan factories clearing out cobwebs that have been gathering dust for decades, factory workers, commission slaves and overtime managers with bent backs take notice.

The Lotus Land diva of emancipation is here.

Piper Davis is one of the people at the doorsill. She’s just arrived from the bus stop, having returned bearing songs from some strange industrial Shangri-La. Wont you let her in? Even the mica-like dust from the road on her shoes has stories to tell. She weaves some of her mantras with rudimentary technologies, but they still spring to life with the uncanny magic of a troubadour.

From minimal lyrics that later blossom to realizations in your mind, to churning and snappy beats that knead and pop your base chakra open, it is evident that Sarasvati has sailed down upon her hamsa and blessed this woman-child with the mind of a composer AND galvanized Pipes, capital P. Don’t get me wrong. You are not going to find traditional bells and gongs with Piper. No new age la la la. No no no. As revealed in her pieces like “Bus Stop” this is absolutely, and even icily (between steamy grooves), modern. Industrial meets prana meets sugar popping candy. Yet somehow, her self produced iron-toed boot walking beats have evidently traveled.

The beats of this diva also talk about once meeting Silvia Plath’s daddy, and falling down hard. But then, it's right back up again, taking the boots back, and marching out in search of swallows, butterflies and men who make you moan in a different kind of way… And whoa, has she ever found one (i.e. in “Nothing at all”)! This is Björk after rehab.

I have had the good fortune of Piper sending me a demo with a couple of new pieces, “The decades” and “You wouldn’t surprise me”, that sound like they were mastered with crisper engineering than her tunes up on MySpace. All I can say is, “Oh, soooo nice," as I float to the floor. SNAP! Crackle! Plug me in for more.

Please click on Piper's MySpace page for more information and to hear and download songs.

Please let us know what you think of her music below under comments.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Secret Slug Video

This video was stollen from secret slug files and reveals them cavorting in their natural environment. This includes never before seen footage of ways that they use their antennae, previously unknown to science.

If you don't get the video, click on this link.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Five Alarm Funk and Hey Ocean!--Double Header R on R Show

I've been putting off writing this review.

I have to admit it's because I really don't feel like writing it any more. The only reason I'm dragging my fingers to the keyboard is because I said I would. And, being a lass of my word, here I am.

Why? Is it because the concert stank and I don't know how to tactfully place my words so as to not offend? Is it because it was just lame and I don't want to bother?

Far from. It's because it was so amazingly good. Point final.

So, feeling kind of greedy about it, I don't want to spread the word, let alone on the Internet, because, well, then others (including reps, agents etc.) could learn more about them, which might mean that Vancouver would, yet again, lose some of its best talent, but then again, if I don't, others will rave anyway, so here it goes:

Hey Ocean!

Take an adorable girl, Ashleigh Ball, give her some incredible vocal talent and spunk, put her in an even more adorable bumblebee outfit with little bouncy antennae and surround her with some hot musicians decked out in bee keeper outfits. Add in some awesome guitar riffs, good sound (except for some of the early feedback), fine lyrics and catchy melodies and you've got Hey Ocean Friday October 20th.
During Hey Ocean's set the audience pretty much stood mesmerized most of the time.

Where's the pirate Waldo and the pirate captain? Can you spot them in the page? Can you say "Yarrr matey!"?

I have to say that I've been a fan of Hey Ocean since I discovered them on MySpace a while back. They give me the same kind of bells going off sensation as I felt when I first saw Diana Krall years before she went big. I will never forget seeing her play her piano tunes and feeling like she had a little something something to make that mass appeal. Only, take that something something and multiply it a few times to fill up a few sea basins, because that's the oceanic size I feel in the potential of this band.

You'll have to check them out for yourself to see that I tell no lies. Remember No Doubt before they got big? No, not ska, talking authenticity. Remember what it feels like after you've been out in the cold and come home to someone wonderful who makes it all better again? Or the feeling of taking a dip after a day working in the hot sun? How truly...


That's the kind of addictively nutritious quality Hey Ocean possess. All they have to do is keep up what they are doing, watch out for egos and agents, and there is no doubt in my mind that wonderful things will manifest for this crew...

Five Alarm Funk

Well, if it sounds like I'm gushing over Hey Ocean, you are right, but as if the evening wasn't good enough, the big FAT cherry on the top of the night was Five Alarm Funk.

(Clickable infrared photo by Berman.)

We're talking a cherry the size of James and the Giant Peach here. Something you can climb right inside of, groove in and chew on. A cherry also big enough to fit a crowd that would pack R on R's to beyond capacity, seeing as the line up on the 20th literally went around the block and I know a few disgruntled folk who did not get in. Keep this in mind: when you want to see these guys, buy advanced tickets!

By the time Five Alarm came on later in the evening people had had a few, and were keyed up for action, and it's a good thing because they needed that energy. If you haven't seen Five Alarm Funk in concert, and you plan to, make sure that you get plenty of rest the night before, drink fluids the day of, and do a bit of stretching before the show, because even if you don't like dancing, somehow, some way, you'll probably end up getting your freak on at least at some point during the night (unless you have a bad case of stick-up-your tooty-Vancouveritis). In that vein, here is a shot proving that I can get funky on the dance floor as well as on the key pad:

This is the second time I've seen FAF live. The first was a sold out show at the Commodore, which blew me away. I didn't think it could get much better Friday, but it did. If any of you Five Alarm boys are reading, you pushed the bar there, but now it's that much higher...

Friday at Richards was even better than their 'regular act' as we were treated to not only a musical barage of chakra cleaning and cresting grooves, but a visual Halloween spirit montage as well. Most of the fellas sported some sort of kooky costume which made them come off like the offspring of The Village People on speed. There was a horned devil, a chivalrous knight, and even a gorilla on bongos who kept his fat furry costume on the WHOLE set.

The whole set!

Whether it's because having twelve young men on stage fills up the room with some flaming pheromones, or because their tunes pummel away any sense of care about maintaining a neat image in favour of bouncing around like a maniac is up to debate. However, whichever way you look at it, Five Alarm Funk is one of the funnest, funkyest live acts on the continent.

Click on here for Hey Ocean's MySpace page with links to their website, photos, downloadable music and upcoming gig information.

Click on here for Five Alarm Funk's MySpace page that has music samples, photos, gigs, and links to their main website.

Thank-you to Nuria P. for camera usage and some photos.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Three More Reasons Why Banana Slugs are COOL

This is Part II in the Banana Slug chronicles, after Part I.

Reason Number 1

Hedgehogs are so yesterday. For those who are hard to buy gifts for, presenting banana slug designer chocolate!! Mmmmmm... Bet you just can't stop at one...

Reason Number 2

Banana slug felt stuffies! Yes, this is real, and part of the latest underground felt stuffy craze. Click on the image to go the Fishcakes Store where you can see this and other neat items (and in time for Christmas too). Yes, this is the "must have" item of the day, and I know you are going to want one, but be forewarned that they might be sold out...

Reason Number 3 (For mature audiences only)

Banana slugs can live up to 7 years and grow up to 10 inches long!

"Ok...that's kind of cool," you say. "But so what?"

Well, what’s even more remarkable is with regards to their phalluses—after which a certain subspecies has taken its scientific name, Ariolimax dolichophallus, which means "giant phallus".

Do I have your attention now? Why would a creature be named after their male sex organ? Well...drum roll please...these creatures have boy parts that can grow to be almost as long as their bodies!


Yes! As loooong as their bodies!

And, considering that banana slugs grow to be 7-10" long, well... ahem... guys, although you are much larger in total size, the slugs kind of have you there not only proportionally but in acutal measures! There is no denying it. The facts are facts.

Before any of you alpha males that may be reading start to get jealous, however, there is still something for you to be smug about and the slugs to be in fear of...
While their penile length IS a remarkable macho feat for a “primitive” creature, these critters are prone to a malady called gigantism (which is actually studied by some biologists...yes, look it up!). Gigantism is about the downside of, well, slugs having gigantic wee wees.

What's the problem? Well, when these hermaphroditic creatures copulate they circle each other for a loooong time. While this may seem like an erotic dance, it also has a very practical application. If a slug overestimates its potential mate's size, it may later regret it immensely. Being hermaphroditic, both slugs have penises AND orifices, and they insert their penises into the other's orifice during copulation.

Well, if a slug miscalculates its mate's size its penis can become stuck in the other slug's orifice! This may seem tantric but it can soon turn gory. What happens when a slug becomes thusly stuck? Well, its mate will then proceed to slowly and systematically chew off its phallus in order to disengage. OUCH!! That's good grounds for the follow up horror movie to Snakes on a Plane if you ask me...

Slugs in the Dirt!

(Although the horror would have to be more slug paced, kind of like Snakes on a Plane meets Lost in Translation.)

Yet, again attesting to their evolved superiority in many ways, once a slug has its phallus chomped off in this manner, all is certainly not lost. If it can get over the initial shock and fluid loss, our bobbitted friend could simply shimmy off and carry on its previously placid life.... as a girl. No operations necessary and no questions asked.

This only goes to prove that, just like time in Einstein's theory of relativity, evolution is a relative phenomenon.

What do you think about banana slugs? Friend or foe? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Doug is a serious genius scientist, but we wouldn't know it to look at him on stage, where his and our underbellies are exposed with relish. Welcome to the theatrical production, SPANK!, a futuristic world of entheogen eye drops and dangerous laughter, where the key to enlightenment is hidden in our junk DNA, picking one's nose provides access to system control, and "thought is a measurable value" to be manipulated and commoditized as part of a giant addictive role playing game. Brainchild of playwright and director, Andy Thompson, himself a professed recovering online video game addict, SPANK! is much more than a foray into the world of addictive gaming. There is something tasty in this production for everyone.

With recognizable elements of Terry Gilliam's Brazil (with shiny ducts and revolutionaries akin to H. Tuttle), The Matrix (trapped in the machine), and Vanilla Sky (will he really die if he jumps off that ledge?), mixed in with genetic biology, burlesque, and comic existentialism (such as antagonist characters eerily reminiscent of Teletubbies gone bad with Dr. Seuss flair), SPANK! is a menagerie of modernity, with existential angst well mixed into the abusurdly hilarious. Philosophy aside, I want to know where I can get one of those pleather suits with the removable headgear in time for Halloween!

I wasn't sure what to expect when I was invited to this theatrical production, touted as the "first ever play to be custom-created for The Virtual Stage", a real multimedia menagerie. I suppose I was expecting a high brow avante garde production with its head stuck up somewhere I didn't care to go, but I was absolutely wrong. SPANK! is refreshing in plot and characterization in spite of borrowed themes. From Doug, our lonely hero, Isadora, our flaming haired rebel, Flower Vines, our virtual girlfriend to rotund but feisty tech support and a dominating red-faced beaurocrat, the cast of SPANK! shines and coordiates swimmingly with the prerecorded video and sound installations. With such theatrical elements, film and sound seamlessly interwoven, this production is indeed a multimedia one-of-a-kind experience that I would like to see more of. For instance, how many times do you get to see a computer generated virtual blonde gyspy schoolgirl in lilac lingerie actually crawl off of the screen and onto the floor?

The debut audience shared my enthusiasm for SPANK!, judging by the volume of laughs throughout and the applause at the end. More than "multimedia theatre", this is theatre for those who hate theatre, film for those who hate film, existentialism for those who love to navel gaze and fun for those who love fun. Attending is worth it at the very least to see hot bodies in skanky outfits with red knobs in questionable places, see the main character learn to fly and talk to "god", figure out why so many of the characters seem to have multiple personality disorders, and to laugh at the extreme closeups of the villains, whose power relies on maintaining their "administrative privileges".

Why not give SPANK! a try? You never know, you just might become addicted yourself.

SPANK! runs at the Roundhouse Performance Center in Yaletown from Oct 7-20, 2006.
Ticket Cost: $22.50-$26.50

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Unabashedly breaking blog rules

I have come to realize that my blog breaks two fundamental blogging rules:

Rule 1: Keep it pithy

I do not. Well sometimes, like today, I do.

Rule 2: Write about a narrow topic

Hmm. I do. My perpective on whatever eclectic thing grabs me.

Oh well, rules were made to be....well, you know;
unless you're up to some sort of naughtiness!

(and we wouldn't do that now would we after all that education on
peace and reciprocal civil liberty on my last blog entry).

Education = Peace

...continued from previous post...
For this September 21, International Peace Day...
and of course, the fall equinox,
if you are too busy to read this blog, then you may just want to get out your wine and fine Swiss cheese and click
Then click on the song "Liquid Surfaces", from the hip-hop (yes hip hop for peace, straight, they represent)/electro group, Reverse Engineering. Unlike anything you've heard and
à propos for peace.
[Warning: may cause addictive behaviour, especially with the use of head gear.]

And, back to the blog.

"Education is favourable to liberty. Freedom can only exist in a society of knowledge. Without knowledge, men are incapable of knowing their rights; and, where learning is confined to a few people liberty can neither be equal nor universal."

--Dr. Benjamin Rush, 1786
(from Video 2, Section 2 below)

In situations when peace is appropriated in a nation or system, one of the first things to go is education. Bye bye teachers. Bye bye freedom to learn.

So, in honour of all the libraries, books and schools that have ever been burned or bombed, and the teachers who have ever had to go in to exile (or worse), for International Peace Day, I have links to
three online educational references for exploration at one's leisure. Each successive link leads to a more complex and involved place to peruse. To balance all the oppression in the world, the first two links are libertarian (not necessarily reflecting the views of this author).

And, come to think of it, speaking of liberty, many people forget that freedom, like yang, also has a corresponding yin. Responsibility.

My most memorable meme from Law class at McGill:

Liberty consists of freedom to and it equally consists of freedom from.
Freedom to do what you choose, and freedom from others doing to you what you do not choose, and they also have the same freedom.

And hence the tango of life.

And finally, to provide an ivy league university to anyone with time to kill, the third reference below is one of MIT's masterpieces in open coursewear.

1. The Philosophy of Liberty Flash Presentation

This flash presention is presented by the International Society for Individual Liberty. I do not myself belong to or represent this organization and only came upon this video from an indirect link, but I have to admit I was glued to the screen from start 'til end.

Regardless of whether you agree with all, or part, or none, the flow is hypnotic and gives me utopian (with a bit of a Brave New Worldesque lining) visions of what future school presentations might look like! Like political pokyman, as long as it's in good hands...

2) Constitution Class and the Philosophy of Liberty

This segment links to a real class given by none other than a previous US presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik.

From the introductory webpage (brackets mine):

"Does it surprise you to discover that the United States is NOT a democracy? ( Have you ever wondered why people have to get a concealed carry permit to exercise their right to "keep and bear arms"? ( I'd rather send the guns back to the dwarves in the mines under Valhalla thanks) Would you like to know - once and for all - what the "electoral college" is, and why we have it? (the what?) And, do you understand how all of your rights derive from the right to private property? (

Michael's Introduction to the Constitution class has been "Lighting the Fires of Liberty" and earning enthusiastic support across the country. This class will "rattle your cage" and challenge what you think you know about the constitution". Consider it everyones duty to watch this! (even, and especially, Canadians, who don't care for police states)"

Yes, I know we are inundated with stars and stripes all the time, but not this kind of inundation. And I admit to being pretty provincial in my understanding of the political machine. Yay again for MySpace where I found this link, something you wont find on CNN, on none other than a rap artist's page too mind you. So, for all those of you who think rappers are nothing but gangsta punks, there be some serious processing going on in the dissident ranks.

This course is presented in 7 video clips, all provided from the above link. This is more than one cup of coffee's worth of viewing time pilgrim (a la John Wayne accent).

3) MIT Open Courseware

If you think Wikipedia is neat, you'll love this site. You may start to have faith in the world again after visiting it. From Aerospace Engineering to Women's Studies, if you have time to kill, or are a making time guru, you could spend much of it here.

But watch out that you don't read too much and turn into Don Quixote who went mad from too much reading. And remember, the best way to attack a windmill is with a pen, or a paintbrush...

Illustration: Gustave Doré

So that brings me to the end of this long peace day post, but before I go, a Gaelic blessing.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat.
Go raibh an chóir ghaoithe i gcónaí leat.
Go dtaitní an ghrian go bog bláth ar do chlár éadain,
go gcuire an bháisteach go bog mín ar do ghoirt.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rain fall soft upon your fields.

Discussion welcome via comments below.

Why little is more

Get your good headphones.

Click here.

When you reach Michal David Little's page, click on "Instrumental".