Sunday, April 30, 2006

Music 2 my ears - Nightmares on Wax

The lastest LP from Nightmares on Wax (In a Space Outta Sound) was released.Coming seven years after the 1999 release 'Carboot Soul', Nightmares On Wax prove they haven't lost any of their chilled out funk with this their fourth album. 'In A Space Outta Sound' sees George Evelyn continue with the obscure soul samples, laidback beats and tripped out sounds that have wowed audiences since 1991's 'A Word Of Science'.

1. Passion
2. Sweetest
3. Flip Ya Lid
4. Pudpots
5. Damm
6. You Wish
7. Deep Down
8. Chime Out
9. Me
10. Look At Me
11. Soul Purpose
12. African Pirates
Review (from Amazon):
Architects of "chill-out" before the term even existed, Nightmares On Wax--the nom de stoned of Leeds-born ex-raver George Evelyn--have ploughed a long and lazy furrow through the genres of reggae, hip-hop, world music and soul in search of the perfect lull. Like the United Kingdom itself, Nightmares’ fifth album In A Space Outta Sound is a composite of diverse, often exotic geography, but importantly never sounds like a work of cultural tourism: on "Damn!", a devious snake charmer’s melody weaves almost subliminally beneath gentle, trippy gospel chorusing, while on "African Pirates", cyclical percussive rhythms meld seamlessly with white-gloves acid blips and honking dub bass.
Woooow indeed.. (5 out of 5 - it's a must)
happy vibing!:)

Match of the Century: "Romanian style" - revisited -

I was right (unfortunately!) in a previous post.
After the match in Bucharest won with 1-0 against the brits from Middlesborough, Steaua went even better with a 2-0 advantage in the first 30 minutes of the game. Everything seemed peachy and the final of Everton was closer and closer to become Romanian land in May.:) However, pigs don't fly...or at least not in the first half of the game. I saw some afterwards..though..:))

The sad closure: they lost by 4-2, which gave an aggregate minimum advantage (4-3) to Boro and send the whole team/TV viewers/country in hell (soccer/footbal in the King in RO). It was impossible to believe that it actually happened.
Sometimes it is called bad luck, some time lack of psychological training, plain stupidity, whatever...Regardless of the name it is a Romanian legacy (I saw this happening a lot) of which I am extremely un-proud of. Maybe it goes back to our Eastern-European roots (hard-times, hard personalities) and in our case to the national fable of "Miorita" in which a sheperd knowningly accepts his death (e.g. death by two other plotting sheperds going for his sheep) without putting a fight. Good for literary purposes, bad for psychic and success in life, maybe a good thing to reform from a curricular perspective.(in most of the countries kids are learning -even though not true most of the time- that their mother country is the best, bravest, etc etc in the world; it would be a good thing to throw some of that in our mix instead of poet self aware shepperds) Maybe we would have more of Boro's winner mentality instead of hard-to-swallow unexplainable failures like this one.

Romanian mobile facelift - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Effectively since this week, the re-branding action of Connex (one of the two major mobile carriers in RO) done by Vodafone has ended. This is sounds very familiar since a couple of years ago Orange did the same with the former Dialog carrier. However there are some differences: at that time Dialog was getting weaker on the market and its target niches were towards low-income people and plans; not much change afterwards, except the aggresiveness of strategies maybe and of course, the orange color/logos and beautiful advertising campaigns. In the case of the other RO giant (Connex) I do not have the same certain feelings that this was appropriate. (but who am I to judge:)?) Where it impacted me: as a Connex plan holder I did get 3 free sms to Romania on a daily basis (+ the rest at 7 cents); now I don't get anything. Somehow I really FAIL to see the big SAVINGS induced by such a "policy" measure (I could recommend some guidelines for Cost-Benefit study:), if needed) from the new read bosses but again, who am I to judge?, no? Anyways, I would at least like to have an option (pay for sms the regular 7c price) but I didn't see anything on the new site. So now I have to appeal to some low-life "substitutes" and crapy free-sms sites full of spyware and adware which I do hate; secondly I really hate the lags between the time you send the message and it is actually arriving at the destination and the "credits" policies of some sites. yeaaks.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Happy Easter ! (Orthodox Communion)

All the best wishes and thoughts towards all my friends and relatives celebrating Easter today!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


-a cultural recap of this past week-
Indeed this Thursday was quite a day:)
After the update on Urban Legends I went to see the fourth ongoing Dance Movies event provided by our university's EMPAC(the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center - is a place and a program, where the arts challenge and alter our technology and technology challenges and alters the arts). So they say - and I believe them since they come up with pretty cool events afterall.DANCE MOVIES 4: Street Wise. "With dancing in the streets, mischief in the deli, and tango in the back alley, these films are shot where street smarts and dancing feet collide."

Lame to some, cool to others, I guess interesting was the common argument. Although I didn't enjoy the "classic" early 80s creation (You Little Wild Heart by Marta Renzi) the current stuff (all others) were quite good. A special bonus for "Dispersion" (2006) which praises the "art of movement" (based on fearlessness, fluidity and efficiency) 'founded' by David Belle. Apparently this is an urban phenomenon mostly in European countries and google-ing the net yields a lot of movies of traceurs from all over the old continent. *interesting stuff*:)
Next, on Friday I got the chance to test two "World premieres" concertos: Adirondack Voices by Peter Child (pretty good) and Flight by Dorothy Chang (hmmm...strange and with a struggle flute sound..) performed by the Albany Symphony Orchestra here in Troy. Brahms sealed the success of the performance with its Concerto no.2 for Piano; otherwise I am not sure if it would have been a smart choice.
Finally, today I watched an "orchestra of voices" (aka a chorus of twelve men) under the name of Chanticleer from San Francisco ( with a selection entitled Earth Songs. Grammy winners themselves the guys did a swell job in interpreting a wide range of vocal literature from Renaissance to traditional (english, scotttish or japanes) and current themes. I really liked the contemporary piece by Chen Yi, Wild Grass, which is amazing in the way that surprises the atmosphere in a Chinese village (birds, creek's sound, noises, people etc) in a vivid manner; You can actually think that you are there and that is a pretty amazing thing to reproduce using human voices.

420 - American Urban Legends

You live, you learn. At least I did that today.:)
Saw a pretty big crowd outside our school and pass it without wasting even a breath to guess a reason for it; usual assumption did just fine: college people in the North East like to stay in the sun after such long Winters.:) Smoke:yep and plenty and some funny smellin'. Even so, I was concentrating on my paper to present for Econometrics but suddenly I remeber .. Amsterdam. It cannot be possible I said!!?; it's illegal and in plain site?? hmmmm..probably my mind is playing tricks on me (maybe it is a cigar or something)and since I quit smoking cigarettes last September (and I plan to stay that way) and I rushed through. Only when my office mate ask me what was happening outside, I started to think about it. He suggested that it's a Smoking holiday. I was intrigued by two facts: how can it be a smoke day in the US?? In Europe I would understand but here seems rather impossible. Secondly, the previously experienced smell was still intriguing me. Thus, instead of Jeeves I asked our good friend Google and got the answer that I was suspecting:
20 April is the National pot smoking day, apparently. :))
From here you get a series of possible origins (in the order of plausibility):
1. In the early 1970s, a group of teenagers at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California used to meet every day after school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana at the water tower.
2. Marijuana grew wild on or near Highway 420 in Ontario in the 1960s. Whether or not this is true, Highway 420 is the location for an annual legalization protest every April 20th.
3.The term could have possibly come from H. P. Lovecraft's Within The Walls of Eryx which contains the line "My route must have been far from straight, for it seemed hours before I was free of the mirage-plant's pervasive influence... When I did get wholly clear I looked at my watch and was astonished to find that the time was only 4:20". This theory for the origin of 4:20 was first postulated on the official website for the rock band Tool.
4. An ounce of marijuana going for $300, sold gram by gram (@ $15), equals $420.
(source: Wikipedia)
On this page there are also some "refuted urban myths" on the same page which can prove to be interesting for those in the mood.
The whole fact puzzled me still since in such a puritan country that you are not allow to sip a beer in a public place without a (famous) brown paper bag, people dare to do this. My amazedness ceased an hour later,when two or three white&blue striped cars stopped in a hurry and dispersed the students.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Summer? Finally?

I guess it's safe now to proclaim Summer; although the Winter was pretty much inexistent this year (at least on the American continent; let's not forget the two-weeks "Siberian cold wave" experienced by Europe in January or so)it is always a relief to see that the cold is definitely over and you can refer to Tshorts and sandals (flip-flops, whatever). So, let the Sunshine into your heart. Ibiza, here I come!:)))
I wish...:)))

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Eastern despondency

The major holidays always provoke me some sort of melancholyc mix od feelings since afterall most of the human joy of them resides in being among family and friends. Since I crossed "the pond" I never had a real holiday. Surrogates are OK and afterall I am a dynamic guy who never sits down during these days; however I find myself thinking "what if I were there..". Today I almost feel like working on some papers but I have to restrain myself to sit around the house cause afterall it's Eastern!
So, Happy Eastern and Happy Palm Sunday (orthodox) !!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My kind of computing power

Finally, I have something to look forward to buy. And that is a new Mac.The marriage between Mac and Intel yielded the new types of MACMINIs and POWERBOOKs all powered by Intel Core processors. What that says to me is: I can finally run Windows on the Macs and that is awesome because I believe in the architectural superiority of the latter but you need WIN (although definetely not a fan of it) for the myriad of applications which I am used to have on my station all the time. Probably I am going to purchase an Apple (maybe a MacMini)in the next couple of months; the downside of it seems the limited ability to upgrade it afterwards but I am confident that for my graduate needs it will be just fine. TO BE CONTINUED ... (once I get it)


Two events attended last week contribute towards enhancing my formal levels of "culture" and therefore should be included in this tiny post. First, last Tue I watched the finest comic opera existent, Rossini's BARBER OF SEVILLE, a performance by Teatro Lirico D'Europa at Proctor's in Schenectady. Great performers, most of them Eastern Europeans too (either Russian or Bulgarian) and I think a perfect occasion for one to start his/her journey into opera. Sunday the 9th I also catch about half an hour of Lionheart's performance at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. This was quite interesting: vocal chamber music chorus ranging from medieval, Renaissance or Gregorian a capella music to contemporary works. nice!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Something special...

Considering today's special nature, I decided in addition to the usual stuff to do something different. For that I purchased tickets for an aerial tour of RPI and downtown Albany. Although not cheap:)) it was worthy both the thrills and scenic provided and like other many "experience goods" (in the economic language) you take the risk of trying it. The airplane: Cessna Skyhawk (the most common single-engine aircraft, I guess) capable of carrying 4 people. Pilot: provided by RPI RAF(Rensselaer Aeronautical Federation. Perks: pilot also born on the 9th of April:)) Small world after all. Length: approx.45 minutes. Weather: excellent for flight; low winds, perfect visibility. Thrill level: pretty good. I flew small commercial airplanes before in RO and US with 30-40 seats and I liked it but for this I would have to fly it myself in order to enjoy it. You feel so hopeless and small in this tight box with wings and a growling engine. We circled around Troy (mostly RPI's campus) and then hang-out above downtown Albany. It is funny to see the Egg and all those Empire Plaza skyscrapers from this buzzing circling tiny aircraft. You are never feeling sure about the stability of the plane:))) least I wasn't and by the tightness of the grip that my girl had I guess she was even more doubtful:)))..and she had reasons to. I am just grateful that the pilot was excellent, which counts a lot in this cases.:)
Below: some photos from today's sky trip (trimmed down to 800x600,as always; not to overstress the blogg:))..)

Myself, on the track

The nose of a Cessna

Up in the Air

RPI campus

Albany- Empire State Plaza


The Horizon

The Birthday of an ol' man!

I just turned 28, which sounds both surprising and worriyng in a way. I do not feel at all 28 but I guess nobody does until they actually realize it. Moreover, the old age of thirty seems (thought to be so so far away) is almost knocking here; I can here it:))). shhh...where did all those years go to? I guess that some have kids in primary school by this age but I plan to take it really slow and do it my way. I was just google-ing about people born in the same date (9april) and came out with some funny heterogeneous results but I guess they all are kind of "crazy" in their own unique way.

Here they are:
Charles Baudelaire. 1821
Francis Bacon, 1904
J. William Fullbright, 1905
Hugh Hefner, 1926
Jean Paul Belmondo, 1933
Dennis Quaid, 1954
Jenna Jameson, 1974
:))) I was just thinking that it will be tremendously hard to find any other common points among them besides the one mentioned above.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Match of the century (Romanian style)

Although announced as the "game of the century" (in a country where soccer rulez by far) the clash between two Romanian top teams in the quarter finals of UEFA cup it is hardly deserving this title. First of all, it is just a match between club teams while the national one is "resting" in $$-driven tournaments and missing the latest final World Cups. Secondly, let's hope we will have next year or in the closer future a clash in the superior phases of the Champions League, for example. And then you can actually name it this way. Don't get me wrong: it is an achievement and a pretty good one too if you consider that Romania is the only country in UEFA with two teams left in the quarterfinals (not even Germany, UK, ITA,etc). However, this kind of self-praising balcanic practice just make an event look "exquisite"(e.g. Catalin Radu Tanase "spectacular" inflating style) out of every success should be definetely dropped or at least be considered as basis for future accomplishements rather than auto-content. Till then, hopefully they will make it pass Middlesbrough into the finals and who knows, maybe even they get the tin, after 20 years since they won the Champions Cup in Seville.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mixing music and film

UNKLE - Edit Music For A Film
Label: Mo Wax

An excellent(most of the time) mix by UNKLE. Although some of the choices have been unavoidable (voice of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey) for much of the dance-electro pieces from all the time, other tracks from Dune, Kill Bill, A Clockwork Orange,Reservoir Dogs, Training Day etc etc) make up for an exciting mix that leaves the guessing up to you. Musically, fat break beats, downtempo, electro house and drumm&bass. It is a must and also a good way to start an UNKLE experience (if you don't have any).This 2CD set seamlessly mixes together some of the biggest tracks from the dancefloor with movie dialogue and well known film music. Features tracks and collaborations from Roots Manuva & Richard Ashcroft alongside original UNKLE compositions. Conclusion: (5 out of 5)- another essential collection from the group.


FLAC or the Free Lossless Audio Codec is just something that I have come across these days when I was trying to listen an audio track encoded using this codec. Flac is better than MP3 thus the name (lossless) but so far it doesn'thave as extensive usage as the latter. But if you take a look at their official website ( it seems that we are getting there pretty soon.. For my stuff it didn't seem to do much. Anyways I just transform the stream back into a wav file for audio which sounded ok but not amaizing. Again, maybe the quality of the rip wasn't much or whatever but it looks like a good alternative to mp3s and between them and the wavs size-wise.


A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. And that became TAXes this week..
Although I postponed it as far as I could (is not that I don't need the money though) the mid-april deadline is alomost here thus I'd better finish it. I have a problem with a missing form and an online tax program that doesn't quite do the job (in my humble opinion-but again, who am I to know better? I didn't read the instructions,etc. just by "common sense" it did strike me as "wrong"). These factors, along with the purely human desire not-to-fill these bureaucratic stuffs made me postpone it 'til now. Last year it was the same: I send it on the 15th. Yes, but at least I got back most of it (all state, 75% fed); now it seems that I will get about half, which is definetely better in absolute terms but fails to please me on conceptual ones:))..but I am just glad to get it done. Hopefully that missing form will find its way to me because it sure makes a difference in how you declare it. Cheers!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My latest playlists

Although with little time on my hands lately, I did use it wisely also in my music choices looking for energy and motivation in what I have listen to. This is just a short & dirty a summary of some of those LPs.

Aphex Twin - Selected ambiental works (1985-1992)
A collection of psychedelic wisdom from Richard D. James. Easy to listen to; cool tracks flowing continuosly. Overall: 4 out of 5.

BONOBO - Dial M for Monkey (4 out of 5)
Downtempo stuff...the one that I enjoy the most nowdays; very melodic and natural.'Simon Green aka Bonobo is back with nine perfectly formed tracks on a perfectly formed album. No huge, bloated, over-conceptualised rottage for the monkey man. He gets in, does what he has to do, gets out.There is real development, the building of moods and feelings, a genuine attempt to make great music which is incidentally computer music.' (press release)

BONOBO-Solid Steel MIx- It came from Sea (5 out of 5)
Sticking to Bonobo, the mix for Solid Steel is excellent and touches many styles of music in a fluent way. His track "Reccuring" is my personal fav. Check it out! 'He set about building his DJ style in the same way, refusing to conform to the preconceived ideas of a laid back style, and aiming headlong for the dancefloor, with a heavy mixture of hip hop, weighty jazz, broken beats, Latin, funk, and soul, with the occasional cheeky bit of psyche rock and drum and bass thrown in. Just to keep you on yer toes right? Now a DJ of international repute, Bonobo has played all over the world, including playing to huge audiences in the USA and Canada with Amon Tobin, a progress culminating in Ninja Tune asking him to put together a Solid Steel mix album. Bugger the lounge, lets dance.'(Ninja tune-his label)

Various Artists- Cafe Jamaica (2.5 out of 5)
I was expecting more dubb on this one. Classical reggae sounds. Roots Rum and Reggae as the title says. Allright but not quite my style.

THE THIEVERY CORPORATION - The Mirror Conspiracy (5 out of 5)
2000. Downtempo at its best. Not to be missing from anyone's lounge music collection.2000 release for the extremely talented and unsung DJ duo. An amalgamation of reggae dubplates, lounge muzak, breaks, beats and bossanova. Review:The Mirror Conspiracy is quite a musical travelogue, starting in Jamaica with "Treasures." This dubby opening track, which features vocalist Brother Jack, is quite reminiscent of the start of Swayzak's Himawari. Next up is "Le Monde," a quiet, wah-wah-inflected song featuring a chanteuse named Lou Lou. She reappears later on the somewhat more uptempo "Shadows of Ourselves," which, despite the title, is also sung in French. "The Hong Kong Triad" sounds like a tip of the hat to Shaft-styled soundtrack music. Elsewhere, it's off to India for two sitar-flavored tracks with a similarly laidback groove that gets a bit closer to techno, one of which, "Lebanese Blonde" (hash? a woman?), has been released as a single. Brazil gets its due on the densely percussive "Air Batucada," the more bossa nova-like "So Com Voce," and an instrumental titled "Samba Tranquille." Fans of this style are sure to be pleased. --Bob Bannister

SCIENTIST - Dub in Roots Tradition (3 out of 5)
Early dub music from the late 70s without today's technological tweaks and peaks. Worth following for cultural purposes the very least. Enjoyable but ending up to be borring.

FAITHLESS - No Roots (4 out of 5)
Head-phone friendly stuff as I have noticed getting back from NYC..Polished and fluent tunes are all grouped into common themes and gives you the most and best of faithless. Personal Fav: Mass Destruction, Miss u less,see you more, What about love. Overall another very good release from F.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Gamblers' World

This was my first time in an US Casino. For that I wanted to try Vegas from a long time ago. Distance, time and money, they all kind of factor it out as time went by. I still want to go there but I will probably only during the Winter when it makes more sense. From Phila it's about an hour to Atlantic City, the Eastern Coast's Las I decided to go and see what's it like.

The Hound (grey one) gives you a very sweet deal and makes it almost a free ride (2$ roundtrip) probably stimulated heavily by the local "industry". Afterall, if you go there you gonna spend at least 20$ even if you decide not to play in the casinos (which I said); you have to eat, drink something plus other "shopping" experiences that are all over the place. So, it makes sense to support it.

I counted about 12 Casinos around the shore of Atlantic. I don't know how many of those are owned by Donald Trump but it is safe to believe at least "enough".:)
I loved Bailley's and the Taj Mahal; the rest (Caesar's, Trump, Hilton etc) seemed OK but not my personal favs. Anyways, for a gambling man, the slot machines, tables and games are the same. I would just like to know some insides about how and why to choose casinos.

My friend did try the poker machines and managed to prove me that loosing 10$ in 1 minute is not at all problematic.:)). After this, he was sold. I just tried to dunk some cents and quarters in a "fountain of luck" where a talking guy dodging his hat and a restless donkey where making the atmosphere in the exit lobby at Bailey's.

Spring time in Phila

After the days spent in New York City I left for Philadelphia for a couple of days and meet my old college roomate who lives there. The weather was a whole lot better thus I was able to move more around the city and see some new sites that I haven't been before. The Ben Franklin & Independence City, as it presents itself through endless places, streets, museums etc that have some of that into their names, looked a lot nicer in late March than during the Winter:))

Ceteris Paribus, good times/weather and a much needed relaxation period away from the university and all its related issues.

Lots of Guinness.5 am sanwiches.Late night bus schedules. Just like good ol'days in college:)) Just the "forget about everything" kind of break needed.

An always funny and full of options downtown on a Saturday night.