Youth Lagoon, Polanyi and seeing the forest and the trees

When I first started listening to Youth Lagoon‘s Montana I didn’t think too much of it. The opening is simple, and I was working on something else. I’d mostly stopped paying attention moments after it started. It built itself slowly, though, and completely  caught me off guard. Suddenly I wasn’t writing at all but staring out the window completely absorbed in the song. Continue reading “Youth Lagoon, Polanyi and seeing the forest and the trees”

Don’t count the feathers: Dan Mangan, nature study and a surprise Charley Harper reference

The title alone of Dan Mangan‘s “About as Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All”, from his 2011 album Oh Fortune, seems to be crying out for a comparison to graduate school experiences but that’s not nearly the most interesting thing about this song. Let me take you through my thought process on this one. Continue reading “Don’t count the feathers: Dan Mangan, nature study and a surprise Charley Harper reference”

Avoiding the same old song: Spider Baby Jesus

It’s short and sweet with simple lyrics and a straight forward structure. Like all the best punk, though, Duffy and the Doubters’ Spider Baby Jesus is great not because it’s catchy but because there’s something true about it. It’s the kind of song that works because it leaves you knowing that something, anything, somehow makes more sense than it did before. This time around, Vancouver music mainstay Duffy Driediger reminds us of the pitfalls of relying on the same tired narratives. When we tell the same stories, the ending is always the same. There’s always a boring subject and there’s always someone else to blame. It may be inescapable. It’s always the same old song.

Continue reading “Avoiding the same old song: Spider Baby Jesus”

The blink comparator and The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Barnes’ Yard

With rich dark wooden curio cabinets and a narrow book-filled balcony accessed by a steep staircase, the Rotunda at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff feels like a natural home for the distinguished gentleman scientist (including this female one). Feeling the warm glow of scientific discoveries past, there was one thing in the room I couldn’t take my eyes off: the glass plates and elegant brass eyepiece of the blink comparator used to discover Pluto. Continue reading “The blink comparator and The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Barnes’ Yard”

Stargazing to Randy Described Eternity

Emerging out the door of the pub on winter night, you bow your head and tighten your shoulders to keep the chill at bay. A few lilting steps might catch a dusting of snow. It takes a minute or so before the stars on the horizon catch your eye. It’s a crisp clear night. Swinging your head quickly upwards the stars take your breath away. The Milky Way is massive and scrawled across the sky. Continue reading “Stargazing to Randy Described Eternity”