Archive for the ‘Music Sites’ Category

Amoeba! Amoeba! Amoeba!

April 26, 2009
Amoeba Records in Hollywood

Amoeba Records in Hollywood

There was a time, back when I had a mostly disposable income, that I would make bi-monthly trips to Sam The Record Man and other Toronto music stores and load up on CDs, usually four or five at a time.  As I’ve moved into adulthood and life as a homeowner, I’ve come to realize that a heavy sense of responsibility weighs on my conscience when it comes to buying music.  I still support musicians with any chance I get, but I rarely allow myself to buy impulsively anymore.

Two or three years ago, when Cari and I first visited L.A. together and stayed with her brother, Dan took us by Amoeba Records in Hollywood.  I had never heard of Amoeba before, but Dan promised I would love it.  I did, though I was so overwhelmed by the size, selection and prices of used CDs the store carried, that I felt faint and overstimulated.  When we returned on our last visit in June 2008, I still felt like a kid returning to his favourite candy store, but I had equipped myself with a list of items to look for.  This made it a lot less nerve-wracking though equally hyperactive.

We knew Amoeba had to be a part of this visit, and yesterday morning was my chance to go nuts.  Before we left, Cari handed me an envelope with an early birthday present: $100 to spend at Amoeba.  Huzzah!

Everybody has their own strategy when confounded with thousands of used CDs.  Mine was to grab a basket and load anything that looked remotely interesting into the basket and ultimately narrow down my choices to a number that fit my budget.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but ultimately I ended up with:

  • American Recordings, Johnny Cash
  • The Complete Goldwax Records Singles, James Carr
  • Live at the Apollo, James Brown
  • Duet for Guitars #2, M. Ward
  • Moon Pix, Cat Power
  • Lost In Space, Aimee Mann
  • Bone Machine, Tom Waits
  • Back To The Egg, Paul McCartney & Wings
  • Either/Or, Elliott Smith
  • Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, Neko Case
  • Everybody’s In Showbiz, The Kinks

Once that was all done, Cari convinced me I should pick up an Amoeba t-shirt, which I did.  Then Dan handed me Writer’s Block by Peter, Bjorn & John and a reusable Amoeba tote bag.  Thanks, Dan & Cari!

My Amoeba Haul!

My Amoeba Haul!

A Night At The Opera

February 13, 2009

Both the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Opera Company offer heavily discounted tickets to people under 30.  Cari and I have been to the TSO a few times, but recently decided to give opera a chance.

Obviously, we have both heard opera before – but neither of us were really sure how we’d fare during a 3 hour performance.  Thankfully, we picked Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak, which takes the familiar tale of The Little Mermaid (initially a Czech fairy tale whcih was later adapted by a number of authors including Hans Christian Andersen) and adds some operatic twists.

I never thought our first opera would be in Czech.  And frankly we went into the performance not sure whether we would like it or not.  But the performances won us over.  The melodies were beautiful, the story easy to follow, and the sets were simple but effective (they actually managed to put a pool of water on the stage for the water gnomes and nymphs to play around in).  They also cleverly adapted two characters from the original opera – initially servants at the Prince’s palace – into theatre patrons eager to criticize the storyline.  We weren’t expecting that kind of comedy in the midst of a dramatic piece.

Our seats, however, were another story altogether.  We were seated in the fifth balcony, about as close to the right edge of the stage as you could get.  And our seats weren’t all that different from the ones you find at fast food restaurants, bolted into the ground that swivel.  As a result, you couldn’t see the action on the right of the stage – and looking directly down gave us both a little bit of vertigo.  Yikes!

Opera For A New Age tickets are just $20; a bargain when you consider the astronomical price of normal tickets (as much as $300 for some performances!).  But I think if we were to do this again (and we definitely hope to), we’d either invest in better seats, or make sure that the $20 tickets we end up with are at least a little bit better situated than these seats were.

If you’re up for something different to do with yourself in an evening, we’d definitely encourage you check out the opera.  Limited tickets are available for the remaining performances of Rusalka, and if you’re thinking of checking out something else, let us know and we might join in.  Rusalka and Beethoven’s Fidelio are playing throughout the rest of February, before the Company takes a break until April, when it premieres Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and Puccini’s La Boheme.

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