Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lost - The newest TV addiction

I always avoided watching Lost on TV (ABC) since I never caught the first season and I had this obsession of "doing things properly". However, things have changed and I found myself watching it on DVD. I have to say it is an intriguing, Jules Vernian type of action that has always fascinated me and yes, the series are exactly as I expected (goood!!). Hopefully, it will get even better. Currently, I am stuck at disk3 Season 2 and I am going to stick with the DVDs until I catch-up. Also, a big thumbs up for the pilot...intense and real as it can possibly get without actually smelling the kerosen and burned bodies from the plain crash.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Big Apple revisited

Again in New York City, this time on official business. I had to apply for a visa to Japan for this Spring and for this I got the chance to walk through Manhattan once again. Although is always exciting to go back, two things are obvious: I am really starting to dislike NYC more and more over time (just huge prices, crowding, rip-offs and rudeness in general) and secondly, the timing was quite bad (so, so, cold & windy). I regret that I didn't visit a Museum at least, but I opted to go for a bit of site-seing over in Brooklyn, Central Park and the far away and deserted Coney Island, where I always wanted to go, for some reason.

The one day unlimited metro pass proved to be an excellent aquision allowing me to rest my feet from all that Manhattan strolling action for hours while reaching isolated places like Coney Is. A quick stop in China town and their new Year's customs there made me regret that I wasn't there a week before. The Statue of Liberty looked impressive in the sunny waters from a Brooklyn bridge perspective, especially since the wind ceased then for a brief moment. Overall, regardless of the wind and cold, it was a good way to re-charge my batteries in an active way.
I decided to go by bus roundtrip (cheaper and easier access than Amtrak) which proved to be a rather risky move at the end of the weekend (huge migration aparently from/to Albany area) but in the end I made it.

Panasonic FZ7K

K as in black. There is a silver version which looks pretty cool too...but I was attracted from the start by the black one since it looks more professional and perhaps, more resistant. Yep, I finally got to change my digicamera. Until now, I took all my beautiful pictures with a 3.2 mb Pentax Optio 30 camera, which I must say, did a lot of things in a great manner. Also had a lot of features and settings that were way over the similar competitors' cameras in the same class. The heir is a Panasonic FZ7. Why? three things: lens & zoom, OIS and price. You cannot go wrong with Leica DC Vario Elmarit especially when you have the OIS image stabilizer from Panasonic. ALL this for under $300. Isn't neat?

Among strenghts:
- high-quality Leica DC VARIO-ELMARIT 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 35mm to 430mm on a 35mm film camera)
- Panasonic's MEGA Optical Image Stabilizer
- Mega Burst continuous capture 14 images @ 3 frames per second
- It is a true optical system; the image is not electronically processed so there is minimal degradation and exceptional picture quality
- both automatic and manual controls
- Panasonic LSI Venus Engine II
- a large 710 mAh battery to help extend the amount of pictures taken on one charge; and it last incredibly long time. I don't think I'll buy a spare
- 16 scene modes; 4x digital zoom; color viewfinder; 2.5-inch LCD monitor
- normal 4:3 (640 x 480) and 16:9 wide (848 x 480) VGA motion image recording

Weaknesses so far I haven't found obvious ones, especially since I am still trying to learn what the camera can do.

Beware of ButerflyPhoto

It seems that I was quite lucky so far on my online purchases since I didn't experience anything bad so far (except a few things on Ebay but nothing out of the normal probabilistic tail of events). Until these guys came. I tried to buy a Panasonic Lumix FZ7 black a couple of weeks ago and got a tampered package missing the SD card and having a blank CD from Staple, probably burned with a crappy writer, since I wasn't even able to read anything of it. Again, naturally, nobody cares about a ridiculously (included) 16 mb card or the CDROM from Panasonic (which has decent free software from ArcSoft) when you're using CS2...BUT...the principle still stands. Why we should allow tampered packages for the sake of such retailers/ or better said, costumer representatives (mine was called Chris!!) who have stripped my package?? Thus, I decided to return it, even if it was at my own expense. Moreover, I paid for it $280 at BPhoto while at the same thing + a 512SD card from Panasonic was only $266. Now I am waiting for the refund and it has been more than a week since they got the package. terrible indeed... Power to the consumer!!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Departed

A double game of cat and mouse in an intriguing classical ganster movie directed in a pure Corsese manner. Brilliant performances by DiCaprio, Damon, Walhberg along Nicholson's good side. A bit long, but still the best piece of cinema I've seen in a while: 8 out of 10. Bring the statues already!

"Mythology" inspired concert

After quite a long wait, this was my first concert this year. With Giorgio Aristo (tenor) backed-up by the Choir of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church. In the program two world premiers: Panagiotis Liaropoulos: Ode for Orchestra, Moments in the Life of Orpheus (World Premiere),Kostis Kritsotakis: The Voyage of Odysseus (World Premiere), Songs of Theodorakis and Hadzidakis and Beethoven- Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral.
As we journey to this beautiful and historic country with some of Greece’s most exciting composers in works inspired by mythology. A new work by Athenian composer, Kostis Kritsotakis,taken from the journeys of Odysseus, features the Choir of St. Sophia Church. Also on the program, young Greek composer, Panos Liaropoulos’ The Song of Orpheus, and works by Greece’s two most famous composers, Theodorakis and Hadzidakis. To conclude the program, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Andreas Ammer

I have been listening to about five of his releases (Bugs&beats&beasts; The official Olympics Bootleg; Heimat&Technik&Das Heidegger;Radio Inferno; Crashing Aeroplanes) ranging from 1993 to 2001 and although it's not something you wish for everyday, it sure is something different. Stories through dialogues and interviews, while electronic music and beats are humming in the background. Very interesting and quite OK for background music. I was working on a paper of mine, so, it worked like a charm for me. :)

Here is another one that I have found just now: and which sounds pretty intriguing.
You should try some of this.

Michael Banabila - The voiz Noiz series

The art of beautiful noise. Rotterdam based musician with a special interest in electronic manipulations of the human voice and for composing / re-arranging sound layers with the use of sampled textual fragments. Besides acoustic instruments , Banabila uses found objects, electronics, field recordings, shortwave /tv/ film recordings, and self made instruments. Banabila's recordings can often be described as 'cinematic' and 'atmospheric'. Composed music for films, documentaries, video-art, theater and dance productions and choreographies (Ben van Lieshout, VPRO, Orkater, Angelika Oei, Marije Meerman, Claudia Hauri.)

When Jazz meets Tango

or SCHIFRIN meets PIAZZOLLA is a great live concert in Teatro Gran Rex (Buenos Aires) and another successful release of the two South American prolific performers. The latter is most widely known as the creator of the soundtracks for the Mission impossible series. Enjoy.
Live in Concert at Teatro Gran Rex; Buenos Aires: September 11, 1996
Jon Faddis, Roberto "Fats" Fernandez (tp); Nestor Marconi (bandoneon); Lalo Schifrin (p,cond); Rufus Reid (b); Grady Tate (d) with the National Symphony Orchestra.
a. Adios Nonino
b. Brush Strokes (Lalo Schifrin)
c. Birdland
d. Tres tangos for Bandoneon y Orquesta (Lalo Schifrin)
e. Blues in the Bassment
f. Begin the Beguine
g. Portrait of Louis Armstrong
h. Mission: Impossible (Lalo Schifrin)

Friday, February 16, 2007

The big white

It seems that whenever I decide to wrote something about the weather it's got to be bad. I miss the good old days without snow and with decent Spring-ish temperatures or at least we should have a Winter but in December, not close to March. The main problem nowadays seems to be the pedestrian movement heavily impeded by the half a meter snow and the cold, our good old buddy. I am tired of it and these lake effects bringing winds and other heavy snows on their way. At least in Europe seems to be better, but with the changes undergoing globally, nothing is for sure anymore.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Valentine's Day winter storm

It is not a classical move yet but it easily could become one in the future. The whole US Northeast is facing a pretty powerful winter storm that ranges from Ohio Valley all to upstate NY. After such a major mild winter, who would expect this in the middle of February. Myself, for once, I can't wait to be over. It is far too cold and nasty out there to be a pedestrian. Well Happy Valentines, then@

Monday, February 05, 2007

Amon Tobin - Foley Room

One of the best electro guys out there. Ninja Tunist. aka Cujo. the guy really knows its stuff. Born in Brazil (bet you didn't know that)..Rio actually.:). His come in March 2007 is called Foley Room. 12 tracks as follows: with a special mention for tracks #: 1,4,9,10 and 14 which I enjoyed most.

Release Notes: (credit goes to the authors)
Genius of noise manipulation and uncompromising musical auteur, Amon Tobin is set to release, "Foley Room", his most conceptually satisfying and beautiful album to date. After finishing work on his soundtrack to the video game "Splinter Cell" Tobin decided it as time to re-think his compositional processes. Having made several albums from reconstructed vinyl sources it was time to look at whatelse could be pulled apart and reconfigured. Amon had been told about the work of foley artists and this served as an inspiration. A foley room is where the sound effects are recorded for films.
Foley artists use their imagination and ingenuity to make the right noise for the situation they are presented with. With this in mind, Amon and a team of assistants headed out into the streets with high sensitivity microphones and recorded found sounds from tigers roaring to cats eating rats, from wasps to falling chickpeas, kitchen utensils to motorbikes to water dripping from a tap. Added to this were the sounds of musicians like the Kronos Quartet, Stefan Schneider and Sarah PagĂ©, Tobin travelling from foley rooms in Montreal to San Francisco to Seattle and back as he collected them (the CD release will be accompanied by a short DVD, "Foley Room: Found Footage", documenting the recording process). He then took this wealth of source material and twisted it round into the haunting, muscular music you can hear throughout this remarkable album. If a theme runs through "Foley Room" it is what Amon describes as "the pairing of sounds that share a sonic quality despite being otherwise unrelated". And beyond this, of course, his belief that source material is just that – a source, something to be processed, warped and manipulated until it runs beyond itself. This isn't an avant garde or deliberately obtuse record, rather a way for Tobin to freshen up his approach to music whilst tipping his cap to the musique-concrete and found sound pioneers of the past. The results are immediately apparent.
There seems to be a new aural depth to the sound of the record, a living looseness despite the almost forensic way in which the music has been pieced together. In many ways it's as musical and melodic as anything he has produced. And, as ever with Tobin, there are moments of spectral oddness as well as those of sheer exhilaration. Most of all, though, there is a consistency of vision as you are dragged backward through moods and sensations which encourages you to see the record not as a collection of "tracks" but as a whole piece. Unique and compelling, "Foley Room" is set to stand out even amongst the consistently high quality of Tobin's other output.

In addition to such a comprehensive presentation, I can only add this:
THIS is the best stuff that I have heard from Amos Tobin so far; great for listening and incredibly vivid.
DEFINITELY A MUST for whoever is getting it.
AND in the meanwhile, the first single is oficially out.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

De nuevo en Troy

In the end,I finally got through the journey back which usually proves to be a killer. As always I managed to surpass the critical 24hrs total travel time and successfully added a 31, which again is not a record,just a commonality.
I took the Amtrak back to Albany from NYC but it was worthwhile; got the chance to watch a movie. "Watch" is the closest thing to it; I was barely able to keep my head straight and so tired that I was seeing it through the drops of fades. Missed also my ride from Albany, thus a rip-off cab was needed. Well, I was so tired by then, that I really didn't care. Long story short, the whole trip was awful: delays, stress and its good ol' pal, the lack of sleep.
Things are not peachy right now either. I am getting back into it..hopefully it will get better.
And for God's sake, when is the cold going away? I guess I got use by now not to have a "serious" winter.

Big Bill in Romania

The Microsoft guru Bill Gates has arrived in Romania for a short visit meant to show both the success of the Romanian subsidiary and to launch the new Vista and 2007 Server on the Romanian market. Discreet in appearances but vivid in its interviews, hopefully will have the vision to develop some more in Romania. After all, it is said to be the second language within Microsoft (debatable?) and moreover we definitely have plenty of talent laying around.