Rickys Random Articles

Show Review: San Bushmen, Somewhere in Botswana, Oct 9

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Day 7: Ghanzi

Sometimes you go to a concert, sometimes the concert comes to you.

Throughout my journey to Africa, I experienced many new and wondrous things. On this particular day, I found myself on the edge of the Kalahari desert in Botswana. The Kalahari desert is home of the San people, an indigenous group of people who have been living in this part of Africa long before it was colonized by Europeans. Ignoring all aspects of modernization that most of the world has experienced, the San people have chosen to keep it real, by eschewing modern technologies and relying on old tried and true methods of hunter-gathering. You can call them the originators of eating local, if you will.

On this particular day (and probably every other day), the San people came to our camp site to show us the ways of their culture and also, to perform traditional singing and dancing. It seemed somewhat exploitative for a group of mostly white people to sit around a circle and watch indigenous people perform, but if you don’t feel quite exploitative visiting Africa on vacation, then you probably are not getting the whole experience anyway (for better or for worse).

Since I review shows for a living (not really), it would be an injustice to not review the show I watched this particular night. Taking place immediately after dinner, the setup had a nice visual effect as two large fires were setup on the “stage”. As we were near a desert, the heat had left us quite early on and the warmth from the fire provided a nice element to the venue. The San people performing consisted of seven members, four elder female members and three younger male counter parts, kind of like S Club 7. The group wore traditional San Bushmen clothing, which amounted to not much (also, kind of like S Club 7). The three males wore additional items on their legs which they would use to generate percussive sounds during their dancing.

Sitting in a semi-circle by the fire, the four women provided much of the vocals throughout the set. The three males mostly provided the dancing and percussion via dancing and stomps, including some impressive stomps of bare feet into the fire for dramatic effects. With songs about Zebras, Orixes and other animals, it was refreshing to hear a group sing about topics other then love, lost and politics. I didn’t understand any of the lyrics, not having learned the local dialect but there was a translator on hand to explain each track before it was performed.

Despite the group’s enthusiasm throughout the set, I couldn’t help but feel most of the music sounded samey. The ladies gang vocal style was impressive at first, but it was a key component of every track and also, there was not much harmonizing and so it did sound mostly chaotic for much of the set. This might be because I don’t understand the language of it. The dancing, however was quite unique and the visual flare of the two fires combined with the stomping and the uniform made for a rather interesting experience.

All in all a unique show that most people don’t get to see, the group didn’t come out for an encore despite rapturous cheers from the crowd and promptly left in a pickup truck after.

Travel Review: Peru

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What an exhausting two weeks. Most of my vacations consist of traveling to some world class city, gorging on their gastronomical delights and taking in the various shops and clubs that the place has to offer.

Not this trip.

As I wrote in my preview, this vacation was more of an outdoor adventure kind of trip. Having survived two weeks, here are some thoughts about my trip.

Firsts:

- First time sleeping in a mosquito net. Sleeping in a bed that was surrounded by a mosquito net, I felt a bit like a prisoner. It only takes one stroll through the Amazon at night to realize that the alternative is a lot worse.

- First time not taking a swimming opportunity. If you know me, you will know that I love to swim. The guides in the Amazon said we would be able to swim in a designated area in Lake Sandoval if we wanted but had to sign a waiver because of the poisonous sting rays, piranhas and caiman that inhabit the same lake. No thanks.

- First time I wore a sun hat or bandana. The sun was so intense sometimes in the Andes that I got a sunburn on a cloudy, rainy day

- First time I ever hitch hiked: while in the Cordillera Blanca (aka the home of the highest tropical peaks on Earth), we had to hitch hike from locals to various drop off points for hiking.. which led to:

- First time I sat in the trunk of a hatchback. After a particularly exhausting hike to Lake 69 (altitude 4600m, picture above) we were desperate to hitch a ride back to the area our lodge was. Fortunately, these Dutch teachers had extra spots in their taxi for us. Sadly, it was in the trunk part of the hatchback. A 40 minute ride on a gravel road going down a mountain is not pleasant when folded up like accordion. I took a pretty average video of the experience:

- First time in an overnight bus. Peru has overnight buses covered. They are amazing. Super comfortable, goes back all the way to 170 degrees, foot rest and a server on the bus who gives you food and coffee. All for 30 bucks or something. Why don’t they have these to New York city?

Machu Picchu: What can you say? It’s an astonishing sight to see this ancient Incan city at the Sun Gate after a grueling four day hike that involved some crazy up and downhill hikes. Doing it any other way would be cheating, in my mind. Pretty good weight loss program too. No picture can really describe it’s magnificence, which I guess is why I hiked there in the first place.

Amazon Rainforest: Amazing. five minutes into our hike to reach our lodge, we encountered one of many monkeys living in the area. Tarantulas were everywhere, as were all kinds of birds (including parrots) and various other animals. Even the flora in the Amazon were interesting. it’s a shame it’s all getting destroyed.

All in all, Peru is an amazing place that I would highly recommend to anyone. The natural diversity the country has to offered is unparalleled for the countries’ size and I honestly felt two weeks isn’t enough.

Lyrical Analysis: Our Lady Peace – Superman’s Dead

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Toronto – Everyone who grew up as a teenager or a preteen in the 90s had Our Lady Peace‘s second record, Clumsy (except Paul, apparently). Nevermind the fact that the band has spent the past decade trying to be Canada’s crappier version of U2 (and abandoning the older fans in the process), this album was pretty damn good in it’s hey day.

If you are like me, you were probably always wondering – what in the holy hell was Superman’s Dead about?

Lets take a look at the lyrics:

do you worry that you’re not liked
how long till you break
you’re happy cause you smile
but how much can you fake
an ordinary boy an ordinary name
but ordinary’s just not good enough today

Chorus:
alone I’m thinking
why is superman dead
is it in my head
we’ll just laugh instead
you worry about the weather and
whether or not you should hate

are you worried about your faith
kneel down and obey
you’re happy you’re in love
you need someone to hate
an ordinary girl an ordinary waist
but ordinary’s just not good enough today

Chorus

doesn’t anybody ever know
that the world’s a subway…

Going to the always accurate SongMeanings.net, the general consensus is that the song is about bullying because the word “superman’s dead” implies that there is no one to rescue the said person. Maybe it’s about expectations or female imagery in the media, as the line “an ordinary girl an ordinary waist, but ordinary’s just not good enough today”. Maybe Raine Maida was just really high. Maybe OLP was just trying to be very topical, since it was around the time when DC killed off Superman and returned with those five different guys. I really don’t know.

What does the line “the world’s a subway” mean?

- moves very fast?
– you can get on and off?
– every year, gets more expensive?
– not available to third world countries?

Maybe it’s referring to the restaurant chain, and the world is about how you have limited selections?

Some of these mysteries will never be solved, but it’s still good to think about occasionally, what’s your take?