30.6.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 22


"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

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Current Musical Gold: Installment 22 (in no particular order)
2. May Angels Lead You In – Jimmy Eat World
3. Glory Bound – Wailin' Jennys
4. Un Canadien Errant – Luke Doucet
5. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes 
6. Cobbled From Dust – The Acorn
7. The Long Journey Home – Aaron Lee Martin
8. Upward Over The Mountain – Iron and Wine
9. Ocean And A Rock – Lisa Hannigan
10. Dors Dans Mon Sang – Karkwa

It’s been a very folky week, clearly.

29.6.11

The parable of the apple, the banana, and the grapefruit

Suppose you are an apple and want your friend, a banana, to be friends with your friend the grapefruit because said grapefruit is one of the gnarliest fruits around and you think banana would benefit greatly from a friendship with grapefruit.  You introduce the two and constantly hound banana about whether or not he has befriended grapefruit yet and when he says no, you get all whiny and go, "Awwww man, but grapefruit is the gnarliest fruit around!" and then banana just gets super weirded out by you and thinks that grapefruit is probably a freak.  And then grapefruit is sad because he really wanted to be friends with banana and was making good progress until you got your stupid apple self in the way and made a big mess of things.

The moral of the story is, you can never make two people become friends.  You can only introduce them and hope that genuine connection occurs, because when it comes down to it, friendship is between two people, and that is that.

I think I'm starting to get why Jesus is so constantly fed up with me.

28.6.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 7

So because Muftaw's show was taken off the air for a bit, Leah and I worked this past Tuesday to Friday and as such, ended up with a four-day weekend.  We decided to take full advantage by heading up north a few hours to Nkoranza, a small town that was of interest to us for two reasons.

The first was Operation Hand in Hand, a children's home for mentally handicapped kids who are abandoned by their parents.  The home also doubles as a guesthouse, and sits on a gorgeous plot of land lush with grass and trees and chickens and donkeys.  First thing Leah and I remarked: the calm.  It was definitely nice to get away from city noise, if only for a night.  We had an early night as the sun went down in the span of thirty minutes, but it paved the way for an early morning that was spent touring Operation Hand in Hand's grounds, seeing the children in the bead workshop, and getting some great interviews for a jhr piece.


The second reason for visiting Nkoranza was its proximity to the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary.  Now, let me make it clear that I love animals.  So much so that I even took a first-year bio course in third-year as my one elective (not the only reason... it also boosted my GPA at the cost of watching two review lecture videos.  Total bird course, no pun intended.)  There is little wildlife in and around the city centres, which is where we've spent most of our time while in Ghana.  However, out in the rural areas there is still an abundance of living and breathing critters, and the monkeys of Fiema, considered sacred to the locals, were no exception.  They were funny and not at all scared of us, which made for some sweet shots.


Remember to keep checking www.jhr.ca/blog for official updates on the stories we're covering!

peace fam

ATTENTION

Yo, so this is mostly just for my brother, but for those who aren't aware, I am keeping TWO blogs this summer. One is this one, which is for personal perspectives, thoughts, and the same refreshing honesty that keeps you kids coming back (riiiiiight?)

THE OTHER BLOG is my PROFESSIONAL blog (because I'm graduated and doing crazy things like WORKING now) and it's got my PROFESSIONAL perspectives, thoughts, and refreshing honesty (so long as it in no way incriminates jhr) on it. You can find that blog at:

http://www.jhr.ca/blog/author/ctse/

That is all.

15.6.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 21 (Ghanaian Edition!)

So this is a special edition of CMG, coming to you from Kumasi, Ghana. It features all of the music that blesses the radio waves here. Enjoy.

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"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 21 (in no particular order)
1. Hold You - Gyptian
2. I Love My Life - Demarco

Seriously, that's all that plays on the radio. Ghana DJs are of the infamous two-track variety.

12.6.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 6

It's been raining like mad for the past few days, which is REALLY REALLY nice because it keeps things relatively cool. Plus, Ghanaian thunderstorms are wicked awesome. I'm officially a fan.

This past weekend there was a "prayer camp" (also known as a church retreat) that happened on the Presby Guesthouse grounds (our front yard.) There were about two or three hundred people gathered for the weekend in our humble little abode, and things got cramped. As in, I couldn't get out of my door because people had stacked their bags there. As in, we couldn't walk down the hallways without having to navigate our way past dozens of sleeping bodies on pull-out mattresses. It was somewhat of a gongshow, but definitely an experience. What wasn't an experience (or a good one, at least,) was the hours these prayer campers kept - try 5am to 1am. Yeah, if you're counting, that's 20 HOURS of straight singing, praying, exorcising, miracle-working, preaching, dancing, crying, and screaming. Also consider that Leah, Lin, and I enjoy sleeping at regular hours. So yes, it was an interesting weekend. When I went to pay rent today, the woman told me to come see the manager tomorrow about potentially getting some money back for the weekend (I think they felt pretty bad for throwing that situation onto us. Really. We got home from work to find 300 Ghanaians worshiping in our front yard.) So maybe tomorrow, we can get some money back. We'll see.

Anyway, that is that. Finally went to the club that we've been invited to go to every weekened since we got to Kumasi. That was yesterday. More on that later.

For now, here's a picture of some kids from Mufty's neighbourhood. They're gems.

bless up

7.6.11

Pain gives way to perfection

Some thoughts I wrote on the plane ride from Paris back to Accra.

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The sting of defeat is not an easy pill to swallow. This I know. It becomes even more painful when the defeat comes in an arena in which one has a history of victory. What can you say to the mirror in an attempt at self-consolation when you have just failed on the biggest stage of your life? Do you take pride in the fact that it was a rare loss and you are blessed to experience the success that you have? Or do you lament the fact that when push came to shove, you were unable to perform in the manner that has so convincingly pushed you to achieve new heights in the past?

There are those who tell me that I’m young, I’m ambitious, and I will have a crack at this again. I realize all three of these things. But this realization does little to dull the pain of knowledge. Knowledge that I will never be what he was, that I will never do what he did. But is that my goal? When I pause and reflect, I realize that I don’t know why I hold myself to the standards he has set. Is he God? No. Is he a god? Well, some might call him one in moments of awe-inspired hyperbole (at least in the realm of spoken word poetry,) but when all gold, be it in the form of lavish earrings fit for royalty or conversely, the simplest of wedding bands, is melted down, it becomes the same: a mass of yellow liquid. I am not a lavish earring; that much is certain. But he might be. And to compare myself to such grandeur does nothing for my soul, though it may humble my ego.

Ultimately, however, I think I’ve come to understand this – gold is gold. All that glitters is not gold. God knows that much glitters in this world, hoping to pass itself off as gold. But the true gold is tricky. It is boastful at times, lavish and grandiose and extravagant almost to a fault, though one can never fault it because, well, gold is lavish and grandiose and extravagant. But it can also be painfully shy sometimes, subtle and unassuming to the point where those around can barely recognize its value before it decides to shine. Sometimes, this gold wishes to be more extravagant. “I wish to be more extravagant,” it thinks, observing lavish gold from afar. “I want people to see me as they see lavish gold, as something worthy of praise and honour.” Meanwhile, simple gold continues to toil on in relative obscurity, always thinking to itself that lavish gold holds a superior position and hoping it could attain the same status, but not realizing that there are just as many people who appreciate a simple gold band all the same, and perhaps even prefer it to extravagant gold earrings.

Perhaps this analogy only makes sense in my head. Actually, I’m SURE it only makes sense in my head. Sorry, my head can be an awfully convoluted place sometimes. What I’m trying to say is this – I’ve spent so long in an imaginary shadow cast by others who do what I do and do it well, that I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way I can measure up is to follow suit. To some measure, I’ve succeeded. There aren’t many people who have achieved what I have in the arena in which we choose to compete; in fact, there is only one. He whose footsteps cast gigantic waves of doubt across my mind every time I step up to the mic and see potential greatness, but also potential wasted. So often I’ll beat myself up over missed lines or jumbled rhythms, even as I pocket the prize money and head home. To what standard of perfection do I hold myself, that even in victory, I am defeated? The answer, in truth, is that I don’t desire to be perfect. I just want to be known as the greatest. Call it the most contrived ego trip known to mankind, but I believe every man, or at least the everyman, considers greatness as an attainable goal at some point in their life. It’s the disillusioned ones like I who never give up on the dream, if only to prove something to themselves. But what have I to prove? When it comes down to it, I know I am a winner. I know that I win. I know this. And yet, it is not enough. I want to be in a position where my name becomes synonymous with success, and considering the occurrences of the past few days – I’ve royally screwed it up. Missed my proverbial boat, so to speak. See, success is defined not by achievement, but by the totality of said achievement. Derrick Rose and Steve Nash can each score 25 points any given night. The difference is that it takes Rose 23 shots to get there and Nash, maybe 15. The totality of the latter’s achievement rings so much clearer than the former’s, because it is in its totality that the standard of perfection becomes apparent. Even if I one day return to achieve what I could not yesterday, it doesn’t change the fact that at one point, I could not achieve it. And that is a shadow that will cast a heavy pall on my shoulders, whenever I choose to carry some measure of responsibility on them. Responsibility for our scene, for what we do, and for the pride of those who do it.

I have returned a failure. Grant me this one, however, because I promise it will not happen again.

6.6.11

Defeat

For all those people who have ever told you to be proud of yourself because you did awesome and deserved the victory and are a winner in their hearts - tell them to shut up. Second is just first in a long line of people who lost.

Perhaps the good that comes of this is that I'm now hungrier than I was before. The chip on my shoulder has suddenly become a tree (or a potato, depending on which context of chip on the shoulder you are more partial to.)

Let's get to work.

3.6.11

Poetry Slam World Cup

This ish is too dope. #wordappp