Monthly Digest #3: May 2017

Again, too many weeks have passed between two posts. Not that anyone is demanding any, but still. Life’s just been too busy to sit down for more than 10 minutes to write for this website. The little spare time that was left here and there, had to be spent on other things instead.

The way things are going at the moment, and I have actually contemplated that, I might as well turn this website into a monthly newsletter, but, some time this year, I hope to pick up publishing speed again.

On top of all of that, I feel I don’t have much to say at the moment and those few things that are in the works simply need more time dedicated to them to get them into any sort of publishable format.

So, without further ado, let me tell you what has been keeping me so busy this month.

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V-Drums Restoration Project

As I wrote elsewhere, this project is a major one, especially since when I began taking things apart and putting them back together again, I noticed that time had taken more of a toll than I had thought. When reassembled, tom pads failed (they need new foam trigger cones), my headphone amp suddenly died on me, I need to read up on lots of trigger basics again because I cannot remember how the myriad of settings work together, etc. At the moment, after a sh*tload of work, I have one decent drum kit set up correctly, but until I fix the snare pad and a couple of other things, playing is limited to an hour here or there (with a couple of nuisances that get in the way more often than not).

Final Exams

At school, we’re going to be finished earlier this year than the many previous years and the school year itself was one of the shortest we have ever had. That also meant a lot of last-minute rush jobs for everyone, final exams, tons of corrections, updating lists, etc. Things have been tough for everyone and we’re not done yet. The hottest phase, final grades, is just around the corner and nobody is really looking forward to all the administrative work that entails.

On top of that, we’ had our first major 50th anniversary event and that was smack-dab in the middle of all the other work that needed to be done. Still, one cannot choose one’s own birthday and our school’s 50th was on the 30th of May.

The Annual “Wine Tour”

As is customary at least once a year (usually twice a year), we embarked upon our first major wine tour two weeks ago and managed to find and buy some excellent wines from our region, mainly for the summer. It’s always a pleasure to visit our favorite vineyards because the people there take their time, let us try whatever we’d like to check out and are always very forthcoming. And, if you happen to drop by on a Saturday afternoon, a day with 30+ degrees outside, you might not have to share the owner’s attention with anyone else. That’s why we got the grand tour at our favorite vineyard and learned quite a bit about this year’s and next year’s vintage.

Although the upcoming vintage might prove to be both limited and more expensive because of the weather the vineyards had to live with this year, the 2016 wines managed to exceed our expectations yet again. We visited our two favorite vineyards, Hörner and Borell Diehl, the former being our absolute favorite and the latter being the one supplying us with both the day-to-day beverages and our favorite sparkling wines (of course, I couldn’t help myself and also bought into a couple of bottles of local snaps which have an excellent price-quality ratio).

We could very well be covered until the end of this year and decided not to stock up further. The vineyards aren’t going anywhere and being a regular customer helps if one happens to yearn for rarer wines that are sold out for most others.

For lunch, we visited “Zum Logel“, a wonderfully rustic restaurant in Hainfeld, the place surrounded by some of the best vineyards in the state. The food was excellent!

I cannot state it often enough … in regard to living quality, I live right in the middle of one of Germany’s very best wine regions, which also happens to offer excellent food everywhere, a stunning landscape and, on top of all of that, a whole range of historically important sites. If you are at all interested, have a look at the following somewhat random links:

  1. German Wine Route
  2. Rhineland-Palatinate Travel Guide
  3. 1832! Hammbacher Schloss
  4. Rhineland-Palatinate: Climate

Going Minimal. An update of sorts.

Not really, but following thoughts I expressed a while back, the rest of the time was spent downsizing what I have.

Actually, a more apt way of putting it would be that I spent too much time planning the downsizing of what I have. If you are faced with the number of possessions I call my own, many of which are taking up space needlessly, a whole lot of planning is required. So, whenever I had an hour to spare, I crawled into every nook and cranny and ended up with Version 1.0 of my inventory list that will form the basis of re-staging “Everything Must Go” (2010) in a few weeks.

Step one was getting rid of two (actually quite expensive) tables that I had standing around here, both of which were bought at an auction 35 years ago. Instead of hawking them on eBay, I gave them to my best friend who had use for both of them. In return, I got 10 days in his summer house in the south of France at a time of my choosing. A wonderful trade!

Music

A few new additions to the collection are noteworthy:

Mike Zito‘s 2016 release, “Make Blues Not War” (a title I find a bit strange), has been a mainstay on my stereo for the last couple of weeks. Track 2, “Wasted Time“, is a particular favorite.

If you happen to be interested in 20th century (classical) music, which can – at times – be a bit strenuous – Hungaroton’s 2000 “Bartók: Complete Edition” is a real gem.  I had some of the age-old LPs this boxed set incorporates and the sound isn’t always the best for the modern digital generation, but what a treasure trove this boxed set is. It might very well be one of the very few “desert island discs” I have in my collection.

Despite the audiophools over on the stevehoffman.tv forums having repeated hernias (188 pages of posts and counting), I really liked the Beatles’ 50th “Sgt. Pepper’s” remix. It’s been updated for the modern (digital) age and despite its somewhat louder sound, it’s fabulous! Check it out!

Kraftwerk re-recorded a lot of their material and released it on an 8-CD “3D – The Catalog” boxed set and it helped me get into a band that I had never been able to get into. Surround sound, spacious headphone mixes … these guys were a lot better than I had previously experienced.

Oliver Nelson’s “Blues and the Abstract Truth“, a seminal 1961 recording, re-entered my collection in form of the 2011 Japanese SHM-SACD. This album has always been a cornerstone of my jazz experience and I’m still surprised at myself. When I was 14 or 15, it was this recording’s modern and bopish reimagining of “Hoe-Down” that really started to pull me back into jazz when my life and listening habits had turned elsewhere. I love that tune as much today as I did way back when (end 70s/beginning 80s)!

Oh, yes, I also stocked up on Kool & The Gang‘s early releases which were so funky in a way that funk hasn’t been since the late 60s/early 70s. Kool and the Gang (1970), Good Times (1972) and Wild and Peaceful (1973) should be valued as the classics they have been since their release. I often get the impression that the band is reduced to its later hit material today, but when they hit the circuit with these albums, they made a splash whose ripples still have an effect on me today, in 2017.

Films

Logan? Uhm, no. Everyone was ranting and raving about this senior citizen superhero movie, but all I saw were writers and actors trying to scream “Look! We made art!” into my face. I thought it sucked!

I know that most of you will probably hate “Free Fire“, but when I first saw it, it was the one film that made me laugh harder than just about any film I had seen in recent years. People get shot, constantly. They get burned, their heads are flattened by car tires, seriously funny one-liners are delivered one per minute and if you think someone is going to be offed, … yep … and all of that while all the participants are crawling around a dilapidated building that probably has more germs in it than an inner city rat’s ass. I guess you have to be me, eternal cynic and proprietor of bad taste, to really get into this one, but to me, the term “cult classic” is not too far off. Sharlto Copley is again his brilliant self, a quirky-looking Jack Reynor and a fabulously distinguished-looking Armie Hammer elevate this one to the quirky classic it might very well be one day.

Moonlight“, Academy Award winner after some confusion, had excellent acting and a subject that interested me about as much as an old and seriously-worn shoe. Meh.

John Wick: Chapter 2? Uhm, uh, yeah, but utterly forgettable. Killed by sequelitis, an all too common disease nowadays.

I also got myself the “remastered” (why does everything need to be remastered nowadays?) version of Clint Eastwood’s absolutely stellar performance in “Unforgiven” (1992), a fabulously gritty film that has been one of my favorites since its release. Ever since that day, calculating studio execs have tried to put out “late” or “anti”  or “different” or whatever westerns … this one is probably the only one that really delivered. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but if you haven’t, do!

Yes, I did think “La La Land” was a good film. I had my doubts, and the story itself is quite predictable if one happens to be a movie buff, but the way this particular film was pulled off demands some serious “Kudos!” I won’t rewatch it, but it was an excellent film, albeit a bit too calculating.

I’m not a whiny hipster, so “Manchester by the Sea” didn’t do it for me. I’d rather golf, to be perfectly honest.

Alien: Covenant” was a complete fuck up (notice I left out the politically correct “star” in f*ck) and Ridley Scott needs to be publicly punished (drawn and quartered) for this abomination. The biggest disappointment in years. It’s not like I didn’t expect him to screw this one up, being the cynic I am, but still … he has turned screwing-up into a real art form. What an utter shit show.

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Some random photos to go along with all of this …

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And that was May …

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P.S.: Dedicated to G.K. Nelson, who thought I had gone AWOL (I did contemplate doing so) or b) had drowned in assorted liquids (yep, that as well).

 

 

 

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

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