Entries from December 2005

Pimp my Nikon D50

Nikon D50I just picked up an early Christmas present for myself. I bought a new camera: the Nikon D50.

I thought long and hard about this decision. I’m no great photographer by any stretch, and I’d like to improve my skills and develop photography into more than the occasional habit that it is right now for me. In my mind a big part of this means learning how to actually control the light that enters the camera. This means moving past the digital point-and-shoots that I’ve relied on for the past few years and buying a true SLR camera.

» Pimp my Nikon D50 continues...

G4-optimized Firefox 1.5 released

Firefox G4For those of you with G4 processors and feeling left out of the G5-optimized Firefox build goodliness, I now have a G4-optimized Firefox 1.5 build just for you.

If you’re not sure what kind of processor you have in your mac (and really, who keeps track of these things? Well, besides me, that is), chances are if you bought your mac in mid- to late 2001 or later you’re golden. To confirm for sure, check out this handy guide. If your processor is a G4 and the version number is 7450 or higher, you can run this build.

(Edited: As far as I know these builds will work as expected with nearly any G4 processor. Only the earliest processors (the first run of G4-enabled PowerBooks and PowerMacs, I think) may not work. But give it a try anyway as I haven’t heard of any issues yet.)

(Note: If you’re using a machine with a G5 processor, you’ll want to check out the G5-optimized Firefox build instead.)

Download link removed - there is a newer release available

As usual, this build comes with a slightly different icon and Philippe Wittenberg’s “pretty” form widgets. To answer the #1 question I keep receiving about this builds: the reason the application is called “DeerPark” and the icon is different than the official Firefox release is because both the Firefox name and icon are restricted to just official releases.

If you’re looking for Firefox 1.5-compatible extensions, I have a small list of extensions that I’ve tweaked to work with the new release.


Update (Dec. 4th, 1:30 EST): I just built a new version of Firefox 1.5 with support for <canvas> as requested by quite a few people. I’m not doing requests here, but this should have been turned on when I originally ran the build, but I forgot. If you pull down a new copy from the link above you’ll get the new version.

In case you didn’t know about it, there’s also an RSS feed specifically for Mozilla / Firefox posts that includes these builds, in case you wanted to know when new builds and such are posted.

Comment subscriptions now available

Due to huge requests (okay, you can stop emailing me now) I have now set up a comment subscription system. You can now receive notifications via email whenever someone posts a new comment to an entry you’ve subscribed to. This is mostly for the benefit of anyone participating in one of the optimized Firefox comment threads, but it’s set up anywhere comments are turned on.

I’ve never used this plugin before, but I believe it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you get sick of receiving notifications you can unsubscribe and never receive another goddamn email from this site again. Ain’t technology grand?

Please let me know if this new feature is acting strange, rash, or in a self-destructive, unhelpful manner and I’ll be sure to give it a good talking to and send it to its room without any pudding.

Show off your high school hairdo


Yup, here is my 80’s hair in all of its splendour, vainglory, and majesty. Them’s some pretty choice folicles, I must say. I came across this photo on my old high school’s web site (brought to you by the wonders of FrontPage) and figured it was time to share.

Let’s dig those skeletons out of our closets and display them proudly! I don’t care if you had tresses that cascaded over your shoulders like Peter Frampton, a saucy Simon Le Bon whippet, or a egomaniacal Bono mullet, show your high school hair and show it with pride!

Show us your high school hairdo! You know you’ve been dying to.

Words and phrases possibly used by local weathermen while describing the effects of the first major winter storm on Toronto

  1. “slammed”
  2. “blanketed”
  3. “pummelled”
  4. “dropped the weather bomb on”
  5. “slapped silly”
  6. “body slammed like a little baby”
  7. “took out back to the shed and made a woman out of”
  8. “beat the pretension out of”
  9. “squatted over and squeezed a load on top of”
  10. “turned grown adults into whiny little children”
  11. “converted normally bad drivers into barrelling lethal weapons”

Guess which ones are real and which ones are made up. The answers may (or may not) surprise you.

beautiful moments, not to be forgotten


It’s that time of year again where every magazine, newspaper, weblogger, and opinionated man-about-town weighs in with their best of 2005 lists. I don’t have anything against such retrospection, but once you’ve read one, you’ve probably read them all. I mean unless it’s something incredibly unusual like Top Ten Songs Playing While My Neighbour Had Furtive, Ultimately Unsatisfying Sex With His Girlfriend or Top Six Actors Who Make Me Think Of Tapioca chances are it’s all stuff you’ve seem already.

My favourite songs of 2005 aren’t relegated to just albums that were released this year (though most of them were). These are just songs that struck a nerve, got stuck in my ear, had me quaking in my dancing shoes, or stabbed me in my wimpy little heart and made me bleed a little.

Here’s the list:

  1. John Cale - A Child’s Christmas in Wales (1919)
  2. Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline) (Broken Social Scene)
  3. Novillero - The Hypothesist (Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives)
  4. A Girl Called Eddy - The Long Goodbye (A Girl Called Eddy)
  5. The National - All the Wine (Alligator)
  6. Rogue Wave - California (Descended Like Vultures)
  7. Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day (Illinois)
  8. Josh Rouse - Streetlights (Nashville)
  9. Sigur Rós - Hoppípolla (Takk)
  10. The Decemberists - We Both Go Down Together (Picaresque)
  11. Spoon - The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentin (Gimme Fiction)
  12. Pernice Brothers - Amazing Glow (Discover A Lovelier You)
  13. Calexico / Iron & Wine - He Lays in the Reins (In The Reins)
  14. Howie Beck - Alice (Howie Beck)
  15. The Cardigans - I Need Some Fine Wine (and You Need to be Nicer) (Super Extra Gravity)
  16. The Go! Team - Junior Kickstart (Thunder Lightning Strike)
  17. The Quantic Soul Orchestra - Pushin’ On (Featuring Alice Russell) (Pushin On)
  18. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Nature Boy (Abbatoir Blues)
  19. Stars - Ageless Beauty (Set Yourself on Fire)
  20. Archer Prewitt - O, Ky (Wilderness)
  21. Max Richter - Organum (The Blue Notebooks)

And as a special gift to you all, here’s my first BeatnikPad radio mix featuring these songs. It’s 80 minutes of pure love and it’s my thanks to you for visiting, commenting, emailing, and generally being swell human beings. I’ll probably leave this up for a few weeks as the bandwidth usage might get a bit nutty (it’s 110mbs, after all), but please download it, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Over the next week I’m going to start going into more detail on why I chose each of these songs. Hopefully it’ll be interesting enough for you to come back, visit, and add your own favourite tracks of 2005.

(Update: Part one is now up.)

Happy holidays to everyone!

Favourites of 2005, Part 1

This is a track-by-track overview of the songs that I picked as some of my favourites of 2005. For the full track list see beautiful moments, not to be forgotten.

1. John Cale - A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Paris 1919

Every music fan has these gaps in their musical knowledge that they keep meaning to fill in but never get around to. John Cale is one of these gaps for me. This is a bit strange, especially because I used to be a huge Velvet Underground fan, and also because I’ve lived with a number of people who were big Cale fans. But besides owning a few Yo La Tengo covers of his work (like their cover of Hanky Panky Nohow) I’ve never been that familiar with his work.

A couple of months ago my friend Dan loaned me a couple of his albums (1973’s Paris 1919 and the ‘74 follow-up Fear) and that got my interest piqued. A few weeks later, as luck would have it, Cale played a three night stand at a small latin club near my place, and I got a chance to see one of the shows.

Besides being a fitting track for the time of year, this song also represents how 2005 was the year that I was finally exposed to Cale’s work. I liked what I’ve heard a lot.

2. Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline)

Broken Social Scene

They’re Canadian, it’s in 7/4 but still grooves like butter, it has a drum beat that injects a serious case of ants in my pants, and it has a glorious fist-raised-to-the-heavens vibe that makes me want to roll around, break shit, and kiss and make up after it’s all over and done with.

3. Novillero - The Hypothesist

Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives

Novillero hail from my home town of Winnipeg. This fact alone would normally put their latest record (Aim Right for the Holes In Their Lives) on my radar, but this is a bit more special than that. What makes the success of this album all the more cooler for me is just before I moved to Toronto I played in a band for over three years (and lived with) Novillero’s drummer, Dave. So it’s very cool and even a little bit heart-warming to see some acquaintances and friends finally get their long overdue props.

As far as props go, Novillero got a lot of attention this year, including big hosannas from The Globe and Mail as well a groundswell of international acclaim.

This track is a good overview of their sound: driving rhythms, percussive keyboards and horns, a Paul Weller-tinged lead vocalist chock full of passion accompanied by well-placed dollops of ooo-ooo background vocals, and hooks a-plenty. A worthy addition to the Parthenon of great Canadian bands that have achieved success in the past year or so.

4. A Girl Called Eddy - The Long Goodbye

Girl Called Eddy

Erin Moran has one of those torch song voices that makes me want to walk around in the rain in a strange city by myself, with her voice whispering in my ears and an ache in my heart. I discovered this album while doing a cursory glance at the highest rated albums at Metacritic and I’m ironically happier for finding it.

That said, this track is imbued with sadness, but it also has a strength and anger that wells up and pushes back with a ferocity that’s almost unexpected. This song sounds like it was recording in a deep, dark cavern and the sound is absolutely huge. It’s as if the song’s protagonist is rising up against her ex-lover and spitting her tears in his face. Brilliant.

Favourites of 2005, Part 2

This is a track-by-track overview of the songs that I picked as some of my favourites of 2005. For the full track list see beautiful moments, not to be forgotten. Check out previous parts of this overview: Part One.

5. The National - All The Wine

The National - Alligator

There’s something about Matt Berninger’s voice and The National’s music that invokes scenes of smoky bars, nearly deserted parkways, and their lonely inhabitants, desperate for connection but too proud to seek it out. The National remind me a bit of The Tindersticks but with a much more dynamic, expansive sound; both bands tap into a vein of emotions that is as complex as it is raw.

All the Wine is a song I listened to a lot this year, and its swaggering, confident protagonist (“I’m a perfect piece of ass”) was the perfect counterpoint to many nights spent working into the wee hours.

6. Rogue Wave - California

Descended Like Vultures

This is one of those songs that immediately appealed to me. It has all of the building blocks for a song I might like: it’s based mostly around an acoustic guitar, with bittersweet lyrics, a beautiful melody, and beguiling simplicity. Add in a tinge of melancholy to keep everything coloured a weaker shade of blue and chances are I’ll like it.

This album (Descended From Vultures) received generally mixed reviews. While I think it’s terrific, I can see where some people could find fault with it. There’s something about the enjoyment of this record that seems fleeting to me. Though great, there isn’t a sense of timelessness to most of the songs; they seem rooted to the time and place that they were released.

Still, this particular track has a resonance with me that I think will endure. When Zach Rogue sings, “so screw California / and friends that are never there” it’s a moment that seems as memorable to me as any.

7. Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day


Speaking of timelessness, this is one for the ages. I’m not sure if there’s much I can add to the volume of accolades Sufjan Stevens received in 2005, so I’ll leave it at this: listen to this entire record in a quiet room with your headphones on. If I had to choose one album as the best of the year, Illinois would be it.

Choosing a single track off of this record was difficult, so I relied on iTunes to tell me which track was played the most this year, and Casimir Pulaski Day was the winner. But the entire album is stunning.

8. Josh Rouse - Streetlights


I’ve been a big fan of Josh Rouse ever since I first heard his first album Dressed up Like Nebraska back in 1998, and this year’s release of Nashville didn’t disappoint. In my opinion this is his most consistently solid release yet.

Rouse is one of the rare performers that manages to skirt the edge of the dreaded mainstream AOR sound without falling prey to its banality (*cough*JohnMayer*cough*), and Nashville is another affirmation of his agile songwriting skills.

So it was with much anticipation that I went to see him play at Lee’s Palace this year. Unfortunately, I found his live show to be solid but uninspired. There’s something about seeing an live show that basically serves up the recorded material with no surprises that kind of annoys me.

This was complicated further by Rouse’s stage presence, which was relegated to mostly closed eye crooning while swaying ever-so-slightly in one spot. I don’t expect bands to deviate wildly from their recorded material, but I do expect live shows to be more than just human jukeboxes replaying songs as perfect note-for-note renditions.

All of this said, it doesn’t take away from the greatness that is Nashville. This is one of those records that’s perfect for almost any mood, and as such I found myself playing it a lot this year.

ISSN 1499-7894
Contact Archives Web Love Writing Photos FAQs Home