ChrisKalyta.ca

Adventure Stories for Adults

Music

October 1st, 2023

Music

So, everyone likes music? Right? Well, not quite. My father has never been that interested in music of any type and he grew up in the golden age of rock and roll. My son seems to have very little interest in music, though he’s just beginning his teenage years so that could change. I’ve known others who seemed to have little interest in music. I, personally, have no talent whatsoever in making music – not a farting joke.

I was thinking about music interest recently because of my sudden fascination with a band during the COVID lockdown. I won’t say the band’s name quite yet. Instead I’d like to discuss the history of my musical interests, first.

In my pre-teen years I was subjected to a lot of CHUM AM radio station. They were primarily a pop station, though they played quite a bit of rock and roll and even ventured into funk, blues and disco. In those days you had to listen to whatever music your parents played and my mom had the radio set to CHUM almost constantly. The odd times she didn’t, she had LPs on and we ended up listening to Elvis, the Beatles, Chubby Checker, Simon and Garfunkel, and you can guess at the other artists. Fortunately, I think this exposure to music only improved my musical tastes as I grew older.

When the time came for me to have enough money to buy my own records I went out and purchased an album by a band called Diesel. I was obsessed with the guitar on Sausalito Summernights. As time passed my tastes drifted into more stereotypical tastes for a white teenage boy in Toronto in the 1980s. Rock music became my focus, though I always had an appreciation for some more classical music. ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Yes, April Wine, Lighthouse, The Guess Who, Queen, Styx, Bryan Adams and their like were on one side, while I still enjoyed Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Mozart, David Bowie, The Moody Blues and many others. Though CHUM AM radio was poison to me. Instead I found their FM version, and when it became too pop-oriented I started listening to Q107.

It was in grade twelve or thirteen that I started listening to Rush, around the same time I became aware of heavy metal and (metal) hair bands. My musical interests broadened as I matured and as friends came and went in my life, but Rush was destined to stay as my primary musical interest for a long time. I enjoyed their first few albums, hard rock to heavy metal that upset your parents but where the lyrics often had deeper underlying meanings that you could discuss with your pals. A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres fit into this category, with the art-rock musical experimentation and lyrics that spoke of deeper philosophical topics.

Of course, like many other young listeners of Rush, I was upset at the band’s selling out with Signals and later albums. It was only when I fully matured that I recognized the gradual transition of musical styles the band had undergone from album to album, forming a continuum of musical styles and themes that wasn’t a sellout. It was, in fact, a maturing. They could still belt out hard rock songs, but their own musical interest had grown and their fans were left to follow suit or label them sellouts.

However, I’ve only found the odd new band of interest since that period. The Travelling Willburys caught my interest. I really enjoyed one of Garbarge’s albums. Nirvana and then the Foo Fighters were quite enjoyable. The Tragically Hip is a group whose music I love. And there were others that came out of nowhere and I considered worthy enough to spend money on an LP, then later a CD. For the most part though, since the end of my twenties I haven’t found many new bands or artists that caught my attention.

The internet age changed little. Yes, artists could upload their new music to Youtube for everyone to access for free, but there wasn’t much there that I considered worth spending money on. Everyone’s tastes are different, though.

Over the last dozen years I have gone through Youtube looking for new musicians that I might like enough to purchase their music and there have been very few. It’s not that they’re all unskilled. The songs just don’t grab me. Music isn’t worse than it once was – a mere generational prejudice. There are bad new songs and artists, but there are a lot more good ones. In fact, I would venture to say that are far more highly-skilled musical artists now than there were in my youth.

There was one “new band” that caught my attention. Band Maid.

At first, I saw the video thumbnail and thought: “ah, typical attempt to sell music by putting some young ladies in sexy attire”. In fact, I passed by a lot of their videos without a second thought. Then I started reading comments on other musical videos. People were mentioning Band Maid as a good rock band. I gave them a shot, watched a video (it might have been Domination) and was astonished. Then, I watched another and another. These ladies were not a fake band, nor a flash in the pan. They were a group of talented rock musicians who form a very cohesive unit.

There is very little English in most of their songs. However, you can find English versions of their lyrics online, and sometimes in the Youtube videos. Their lyrics are rich and cover a broad range of topics, and that’s the English translation! What must they be like in the original Japanese? Their music varies broadly on every album that I’ve yet listened to (I’ve bought five of their albums so far). I’ve checked out some of the other, similar bands and just not been as impressed.

If you’re into rock music, or we share similar general musical tastes, then it would be worth your while to give these ladies a chance. I find some of their songs remind me of Rush, and some remind me of other musicians of rock from decades gone by. However, the music is intricate, busy, it flows, is played with skill, and somehow seems to match the lyrics or lyrical theme of the song. I find when I listen to western rock music (post Band Maid) that I often encounter situations where songs I really enjoy seem a little simplistic.

Chris Kalyta

It has been a while!

September 1st, 2023

Whew!

It’s been an interesting couple of years, hasn’t it! Political Issues in our neighbours to the south (United States of America) seemed to get even worse than usual. COVID spread across the world and some people claimed it wasn’t real – that did little to help those who got COVID and survived, the millions worldwide who died, or any of the loved ones. Russia’s government decided to attack Ukraine. India has become the fourth nation to successfully send a lander to the Moon, and China has one on the Lunar far side (or dark side if you’re a Pink Floyd fan).

Despite politics, COVID and war, the news hasn’t been all bad. I mentioned India’s momentous achievement. New scientific discoveries have been made. I believe the COVID lockdown showed many of us exactly how precious every human life is; we need to be reminded of that every once in a while. James Webb telescope is in position and taking amazing images of the universe. There are so many things to mention…

And I won’t. I’ll stick to my own personal universe. You see, I’ve been very busy – too busy for writing – until very recently. Now that retirement is looming I’m starting to make sure I take a few minutes and enjoy myself and my family more. Of course, with my kids being teenagers they are generally resistant to spending time with their parents but what can you do about that?

I still take them out for the occasional movie. Honor Among Thieves and Into the Spider-verse were two recent and enjoyable events. We started watching some streaming services during the lockdown and there have been many amazing things on Disney+ (Loki, Werewolf by Night, etc.), Crunchyroll (Spy X Family, Attack on Titan, etc.) and Netflix (Stranger Things, etc.). I am so glad we’re no longer restricted to shows like My Little Pony and Rescue Bots! Anyway, we’re not binge watchers. We make our way through a series one, two or three episodes an evening, and then go on to do other things.

As for writing, I’ve had to look over where I left off. I have two Minx stories to work on, about a half-dozen stories that were started and dropped when I became too busy to write in 2018/2019, and over a hundred assorted plots to re-examine for potential. The Minx stories will go on Literotica (this year and next). There’s an ancient Egypt story that will likely become an ebook (2024?). And who knows what comes after that?

On top of that, I have to find some time to lose some weight…put on a few pounds in the last few years, and that’s not good. My daughter and I went to Fanexpo in Toronto and several hours of walking and standing was hard on the hips and legs. I’m assuming that’s because I’m a little overweight, although it could be just my age catching up with me.

We did have fun at Fanexpo. There was a lot to look at and as it was our first visit we missed a lot. Next time my daughter has specified exactly what she wants to see and do first, so it should be a little smoother. She’s even said she might wear a costume.

Funny story about Fanexpo, though. We took the train to Union Station (in Toronto) and were supposed to meet my youngest brother at the station. Several e-mails went back and forth before we agreed to meet in a specific location. My daughter and I arrived roughly on time, went to the rendezvous site and waited for forty minutes. My brother – who had been working nights – was planning to be there early and would be waiting for us. We did not see him anywhere. Turns out he went to a completely different spot in Union Station planning to spot us when we came down the stairs from one of the train platforms. He waited and waited, then eventually went to the Fanexpo by himself, stuck around for an hour or so and then left.

This isn’t the first time he’s gone to the wrong meeting place. It’s happened many times before. My wife had asked about contingency plans – being fully aware of my brother’s limitations in keeping to an agreed meeting place – and I had told her we’d wait a while then leave if we didn’t see him.

And you might be thinking: why didn’t you just call him, or vice versa? I don’t have a cell phone. Neither does my brother. For me it’s not critical; if I absolutely need a phone when I go out I just borrow the home phone. It usually stays at home, though. As for my brother…he has no cell phone, and you cannot leave messages on his home phone because of some problem he has with Bell. It’s all very mysterious and it makes him almost impossible to reach by phone at the best of times. I like to imagine he has some secret and deadly conflict with that communications corporation and that if they ever acquire his location – through his use of a phone – an “operator” will take him out. It might just be he doesn’t want to talk to anyone on the phone…

Chris Kalyta

Spider-man, Into the Spider-Verse

January 22, 2019

So, I took my kids to see Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse a couple weeks ago.

The movie was actually quite good. Both kids liked it. There was a fair amount of drama, comedy and action. The animation was a little different at times, but that’s okay. I’m from the generation that watched The Hobbit and Heavy Metal, so different styles of animation usually don’t shock me.

From Beauty and the Beast, to Wall-E, to Studio Ghibli…differences in styles can often enhance the story telling process.

Disney tends to have very similar styles from film to film. Consider Mauna versus Frozen…and then compare them to more traditional Disney animation. The shapes of characters, whether in 2-D or CGI are very similar in their disproportionate builds and movements. There are songs. The only real Disney films that I think stand out as different in style are Wall-E and some of the Phantasia offerings. Even then, Wall-E only stands out because most of the characters are robots and the people have evolved into semi-walking marshmallows – if you haven’t seen it yet then you really should!
Continue reading

The Creative Process

December 16, 2018

It’s been a busy several weeks for me so I’m just getting to this update now, but here goes.

So, I was wondering what to write about here and my lovely daughter suggested I do a piece on how I come up with my ideas for a story. I’ve thought about it for a few days while busy with other things and I think I’m now ready to describe the process.

In the beginning, an idea simply pops into my head. Recently I was driving the family into Toronto and I had the thought that 3D printers were a cool invention. Well, what will they be eventually applied to? Could a person be rendered into digital code and then printed off? We are just a collection of chemicals after all.

I asked my wife to remind me of the idea once we returned home – not having any place to jot that notion down – and we continued on our day.
A few days later I’ve thought about it some more and come up with some extrapolations.

The plot idea is obviously a science fiction plot. The story could take place in the present, near-future or far future. The present wouldn’t really allow me to explore some of the more outlandish ideas connected to this plot, whereas a story set in the far future would.
Continue reading

Flat Earth Conspiracy Theory

November 3, 2018

There are a lot of crazy ideas out there in the world, and let’s face it: we’re a generally crazy species.

Why do we even have money? Why do we need money? Sure, there are practical reasons for money, but why can’t our species just accept trade and only take just what we need? Does this seem all ‘pie in the sky’ to you? Yes, some people lie, cheat, steal, and try to take and acquire as much as they can in a vain quest to possess and control as much of the universe as they can. Some call this greedy while others say it’s just being practical.

In this crazy world there are a lot of crazy ideas and one of them is that the world is flat. A few videos on Youtube caught my eye and I had about an hour to spare so I watched them. Hilarious!

Now, I know it seems an easy task to shoot down flat earthers and show their idealogy exactly for what it is. However, how do you know the world isn’t flat? For that matter, can you prove the world is round? Many people are afraid of science and are content to accept the world is round, but how do they really know? This question extends to other areas of pseudoscience and conspiracies. What about climate change? What about spending money preparing to destroy asteroids that might collide with the Earth?
Continue reading

Comic Books and the Internet

October 19, 2018

So, I have a pre-teen daughter and she is just beginning to get into comic books. And, that was somewhat predictable as I collected comic books from around 1975 until about 1984, and I continued reading them for several years after that and just recently got back into it.

Let me tell you, comic books are quite different now than they were a few decades ago. X-men was huge when I first started reading and collecting. Wolverine was the mysterious Canadian superhero. Hulk and Captain America were super boring. DC was a joke, and their stories tended to be quite predictable.

Things are very different now. There is swearing in comic books. There is blood and guts in comic books. There are a lot of mature comics out there right now, and there were very few while I was collecting. In fact, it seems as if the ratio of mature to child-friendly comic books has reversed.
Continue reading

© 2024 ChrisKalyta.ca

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑