Monday, June 23, 2008

Musical journeys

When hearing musical journeys y’all probably think I’m gonna go all Césaria Évora or Maria de Barros on you. Nah, not this time. That would be way too easy. Though I admit to being a huge fan of Cape Verdean music, and I wish I could be in Mindelo for the Baia das Gatas festival in August, there’s more to Anna’s musical travels than São Vicente.

Actually, I’d much rather be in Canada on July 1st to see Daniel Lanois play at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Now, I’m not a fan of jazz - too noisy for my taste. But I do like Montreal, and oddly enough, have never been there during summer.

Daniel Lanois is a whole ‘nuther thing altogether. I bought “Acadie” way back when at a garage sale simply because I thought he looked cute in the cover photo. It was only 2 bucks and fortunately, the music turned out to be nice. Very nice, actually. A nice blend of something very listenable. I’m clueless when it comes to music and normally divide it into the kind I like and the rest. “Acadie” I liked. Which was odd, because to this day I’m not a fan of artists Lanois produced. Including U2. And even weirder, the only U2 album I do like – "Zooropa", he didn’t produce.

Acadie”, however, was impossible NOT to like. That the sexy voice occasionally sung in French helped, too. The following album “For The Beauty of Wynona” made me want to chew my leg off and bleed to death. And that was it.

I went about my happy life and listened to “Acadie” every now and then. For the past 15 years, or so…

Then sometime this April I turned on the TV and saw some ugly old fart talking at me about the new U2 album. I’ll be damned. Lanois was still alive. And on Swedish TV. He even had a record out of his own. And a documentary film. And probably a few other things as well.
I diligently trolled the internet to get the feel for his new album and decided I quite liked it. (Don’t worry, I didn’t deprive a rich guy of his royalties, I only listened to the free samples.)

Turned out Mr. Lanois has quite a following in Sweden, complete with hysterical fan girls fainting at the very mention of his name (not bad for an man, wouldn’t you say?). And it was one of those fan girls who told me about her planned trip to the Montreal Jazz Festival. 
And here I thought I was bad for flying down to Stockholm to see Crowded House last year! Ha! That’s nothing compared with a trek from Sweden to Canada. Well, at least Neil Finn being still somewhat vaguely good-looking wasn’t an assault on the eyes. But Daniel Lanois? Man! That guy has AGED!

However, if I didn’t have to look at Mr. Lanois up close, I quite would like to hear him play live, I admit. At least he still has his sexy voice. But maybe next time… So don’t die on me, old man! At least not before you play “Still Waters” for me live, OK?

And this is the song that has been the soundtrack to my travels for the past 15 years. A curious choice for a non-believer like me.

And here's a great site dedicated to Mr. Lanois put together by some guy on squidoo.

PS. I still can't over the fact that the old man has screaming fan girls who follow him around the world.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ten airlines with decent ECONOMY class food

Articles like this one make me laugh. Golly gee whiz! So the airlines still serve gourmet meals in first/premium/business/or whatever it’s called these days class? And how exactly is that newsworthy?

Unfortunately, whenever we hear about improvements in the on-board chow, it’s always for the folks sitting in the front of the bus. For the cattle class economy, the reality is starkly different.

I bet if Ms. Heger was to write about outstanding food served in the poor people class, she wouldn’t have all that much to say. And why should she? It’s so much easier to blab on about the fabulous first class cuisine in first class on Singapore Airlines. And because I fly economy, stories like hers are about as useful to me as two tits on a bull.

A real achievement would be listing those airlines that still feed decent food to the cheap hordes flying in seats that don’t recline into lie-flat beds. Do such airlines even still exist?

Yep, and here’s a few:

1. Kingfisher. I dunno how they do it, but somehow they do it. They manage not to poison you with their meals. The food is always tasty, fresh and served with a smile.
I love Vijay Mallya, I love Kingfisher and can’t wait until they start flying internationally. Kingfisher is India’s first and only 5-star airline and it shows. Even in economy.

The rest is listed in no particular order.

2. Asiana. Even on short haul routes between Korea and Japan you get a nice, edible, pretty looking meal.

3. Japan Airlines. Not bad for economy class. But on shorter flights all you get is a drink. Bummer…

4. Korean Air. If you go for the Korean style meal, you will do just fine.

5. Singapore Airlines. I think this is one airline where you just can’t go wrong, be it in business or economy. They’ll feed you good.

6. Qatar Airways. I was duly impressed with the chow in the back of the bus. Nice and filling. And pretty looking, too. And I’m even more impressed now that Qatar flies to Stockholm.

7. El Al. This might be the only airline where the food in economy gets better marks than in business class. And I’m saying this even though I can’t stand hummus.

8. Emirates. Well, this is a toss up. Last time I flew with them, the food was only OK. But it seems that on flights to Japan, the food is much better than on those to India. Hmmm... Interesting...

9. Thai Airways. Personally I can’t stand this airline, but their economy food is good. Much better than Malaysia Air.

10. EVA Air. I somehow always end up with the Asian style meal on their flights but can’t complain. As most Asia based airlines, they take care of their passengers and don’t make them gag.

See, it wasn’t impossible! Ten airlines that don’t poison you in economy, at least not according to my taste. True, my taste has been known to be somewhat perverted, but I'm not dead yet (which incidentally, almost happened after consuming the suspicious goo served by Finnair on a flight to Narita.)

For more on airline meals go to this site. These people are hardcore and even take photos. Now, how’s that for dedication, huh?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In Pictures - Bhutan

I’m down with a vicious case of summer flu (or whatever it is that sits in my throat, nose and head) and that makes me a very cranky person. On a day like today, I just wish I were somewhere else. So to facilitate my escapism, I’m going to sort through some pretty photos.
(Because there's no Calgon where I live.)

Thimphu at night

On the way to Haa


Panoramic Paro


Seen in Thimphu