Pictures from Home

Deep Purple in concert. Rapture Of The Deep – North America 2007. Montreal, Saturday night – 8 PM – Bell Centre. Seating: reds, section 119, row G, seats 18 and 19 – about 13 rows up from the floor, amphitheater setup (half open).

Well, I really didn’t know what to expect from this DP show but I thought it would be great to see these legends of rock live – while they are still alive and well. So how did these aging rockers do?

The first word that comes to mind is Energy – with a capital E – or maybe it should be ENERGY. This band makes the Energizer Bunny look like a ground sloth hopped up on ‘ludes.

OMFG – these guys can rock beyond belief. You expect them to be tight after all these years and they are – what a show, what a pace – easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. I’m damn tempted to call in sick and follow them to Quebec City and Boston instead of going to work (those are the 2 next stops on the 2007 North American Tour).

DP Fans, if you’re still interested in this review: Continue reading.

Hush!

Deep Purple concert in Montreal tonight. Sil got me the tickets, but she’s off to see Harry Potter with Anita, so Zad is coming with me instead – a boys night out.

Of course the great Ritchie Blackmore (DP, Rainbow, Blackmore’s Night) sadly isn’t part of the band – the current members being: Ian Gillan (vocals), Ian Paice (percussion/drums), Don Airey (keyboards), Steve Morse (guitar), and Roger Glover (bass).

Should be a blast. Review later tonight or tomorrow morning.

I got a certain little girl she’s on my mind
No doubt about it she looks so fine
She’s the best girl that I ever had
Sometimes she’s gonna make me feel so bad

Hush, hush
Thought I heard her calling my name now
Hush, hush
She took my heart but I love her just the same now
Hush, hush
Thought I heard her calling my name now
Hush, hush
I need your love and I’m not to blame now

trivia: Deep Purple’s classic, Hush, is actually a cover of Joe South’s original (the same dude who did The Games People Play).

City of Lights

A few more from Paris (June/July 2007). From left to right, Cupola of the Institut de France as seen from the pont des Arts (near the Louvre), Louvre Pyramid, view of the Eiffel Tower from the Seine with Le Pont du Carrousel between le quai des Tuileries and le quai Voltaire.

Nikon does Wolves…


…… a disfavour.

Yesterday I came across the advert below while rifling through the pages of the August 2007 issue of Popular Photography & Imaging. We all know I shoot wolves (duh) and I shoot them using Nikon – only Nikon – so this spread naturally caught my attention.

My first thoughts were “here we go again folks” – another tasteless moment depicting the false and negative stereotype of the big bad wolf – black, ugly, baring its hateful fangs in a venomous fury directed at man – well actually at the Nikon Pro.

Unfortunately this time the perpetrator of the myth was my favorite camera company, Nikon!

My next thoughts were about the ad’s photography. A close look will reveal this is not even a photograph, it’s actually a poorly executed photomontage – a composite of several pictures assembled in a computer with digital glue and fake fog. Why not use a clean, non-manipulated photo? After all, this is a promotion for the new flagship Nikon D2Xs – not for Adobe Photoshop CS3.

I find the artistic concept itself pretty much flawed. The wolf in the foreground is the supposedly fear-inspiring beast (complete with artificially elongated fangs) – at least it looks the part. A second wolf however, added in the background by an “artist”, is standing watch looking totally inoffensive, almost docile for that matter.

Tiny print running vertically down the right side of the spread assures the viewer that no animal was harmed during production. Thank god for that, but in passing, where did they get that black wolf? Looks more like a werewolf with those ultra long canine teeth.

In conclusion, Shame on You Nikon! Bad Nikon! Those reprimands are for reinforcing the BBW (Big Bad Wolf) image. Please show some environmental conscience next time.

Ok, I’m calm now. Will I continue to love Nikon? Yeah, I guess so – now how in the hell do I scrounge up the necessary cash to buy that D2Xs??

Happy Birthday SW

Sleeping Wolves is officially 1 year old today (I guess).

The domain name was registered on June 10th, 2006 and some of the posts were backdated to coincide with the Italy 2006 mega-trip, but I guess today is the Birthday for this site!

Birth posting from last year.

Cheers SW

Wild World

Coming back from Europe sensitizes you to how good we have it in Canada.

We can walk the streets without any fear of being blown to bits by flying nails from car bombs.

The recent events in London and the almost military state feel of some areas of Paris also make you realize what a sick world we now live in thanks to a militant minority who are hell bent on destroying us.

It’s a shame to awake in a world of pain
What does it mean when a war has taken over

It’s the same everyday in a hell manmade
What can be saved, and who will be left to hold her?

The whole world…world over.
It’s a worldwide suicide.
– Pearl Jam

All in all however, I really enjoyed my trip – both the business and personal aspects.

So what’s new? In summary:

The Paris photos, in an album called France 2007, didn’t come out too bad, but the London shoot was badly limited by both time and weather. I didn’t bother to crop or adjust for perspective though – can’t be bothered right now. More photos will go up later.

The Paris 2007 and 3 part London 2007 journals are complete – so now I can take the rest of the day off – after I cleanup my emails from work!

Greets go out to: Riët and Richard, two wonderful colleagues from the Netherlands. Thank you for your company, hope you had a safe trip home.

Wimbledon

             
Part 3: Conclusion of London 2007
(For Part 1 – Click Here)
Wednesday July 4th: Happy Independence Day to my Yank colleagues.

Meetings are still on track. Our hosts take us out for supper at a local restaurant in Reigate on High Street.

Brasserie Chez Gérard menu draws on French influences from around the globe from Morocco, Montreal, Italy (particularly the borders that touch France!) to New Orleans utilizing spices and flavours, blending them to create a contemporary, lighter, more diverse menu.

I have no idea where the Montreal connection at Chez Gérard came from – I only noticed it on the web afterwards, oh well.

To get back to London, we take a long pleasant cab ride. The driver goes through country and secondary roads instead of the more direct highway route – I don’t ask why, as I’m too busy enjoying the journey.

We pass by Wimbledon where the famous Grand Slam Tennis tournament is underway, albeit with many rain delays – but we can’t see the stadium due to security restrictions. (Roger Federer will go on to win, beating Rafael Nadal in 5 sets).

I ask our driver if we can go by Harrods and he obliges – the famous department store takes up a whole block and is brightly lit.

We go through the Sloane shopping area of London which has a huge Burberrys as well as a full complement of Dior, Fendi, Armani, Cartier, Rolex, etc. They call the women shoppers the Sloane Rangers or Sloanies – young British aristocrats who love to buy their clothing for the “season.”

We also drive by the Thames and the beautifully illuminated Albert Bridge – “Genius!” as the Brits are fond of saying.

Shortly after that, our driver tells us we are going to pass by the restaurant of one of the most famous chefs in the UK. Before he can tell us who, I guess correctly – Gordon Ramsay – the man who put the “F-word” into cooking. Unfortunately I don’t know which of his restaurants. It was pretty small – from the outside, apparently it is new and located in the Sloane area.

Because of the rain I’ve only taken about 4 photos in London – all of them this morning.

Thursday July 5th: After work, my colleagues all want to see Mama Mia based on ABBA’s music but I would prefer to visit London since the rain has finally stopped. Had it been based on classic Hard Rock, not Swedish Pop, I might have reconsidered.

On our return to London, rather than cab it to the Radisson Mayfair Hotel from Victoria Station, we decide to go on foot. This will be my only chance to take photos – the sky is dark and overcast, the lighting is pathetic, but this is it – what a shame.

We pass Buckingham Palace and through Green Park where 3 workers clad in bright orange graciously allow me to photograph them, striking a great pose in the process.

As it turns out, only our 2 Dutch friends go to the show. The rest of us go for Italian – at Prezzo, close to the Spanish El Pirata where we had dined the first evening.

After a good meal, two colleagues retire to the Hotel, leaving two of us to enjoy the night life. We visit Piccadilly and then Trafalgar Square where they are preparing for some show – then past the Canadian House. It is a beautiful rain free evening, mild temperature, very lively, the streets are packed with both locals and tourists even though it is late at night.

The Brits are truly resilient – refusing to give in to terror. They certainly have had lots of experience – a legacy going back the merciless daily bombings of WWII followed by the random acts of IRA violence. Now this fundamentalist bullshit. My hat goes off to all the Londoners.

Friday July 6th: Back to Heathrow. Time to go home, of course now that we are leaving it is truly sunny for the first time this week.

At security, one of our colleagues is subjected to the rubber glove treatment – a strip search – the price he pays for trying to bring his umbrella on the flight – he is not a happy camper calling it one of the most humiliating moments of his life. Ok, I’m embellishing the story just a little, no cavity search.

Inside the airport I spot a tiny food concession called the Caffe Italia – very good Pizza Margarita which I bring to the Air Canada Lounge for consumption. I’ve noticed that they use the expression take away in Paris and London while North Americans tend to use take out.

Tidbit: when we ate Italian at Prezzo the staff were Polish and/or Russian. At the Irish Pub I think the waitress was Spanish, and at the French Restaurant they were probably from Croatia – but here at the Caffe (that’s how it’s spelled) the staff are real Italians. I say “grazie” and they respond correctly with “prego”.

On board our plane, we try to convince one of our colleagues that it would be quite funny if he would run around the cabin screaming. Wisely for all of us he does not agree.

The flight goes smoothly, I watch the movie Frequency (the third time I see it) and we land on time.

Good to be home again, good to take a shower with adequate pressure and a real bar of soap, not a dispenser.

London Calling

             

Part 2 of London 2007
Monday July 2nd: Our first day of the meeting goes off well. Luc and I pay a belated tribute to Canada Day by standing up and singing our national anthem (I download the mp3 and play it at full volume). Our hosts have no idea if we’re serious or kidding – they don’t know how to react to this spontaneous idiocy but they stand up with us out of respect – too funny.

At around 6 PM we take the train back to Victoria Station. We agree to meet in the hotel lobby 30 minutes later to find a restaurant. The weather? Rain, we are going to get very wet – for sure.

Not far from the hotel, we stumble upon the El Pirata of Mayfair (5-6 Down Street) where we enjoy Spanish Tapas shared with our colleagues from the Netherlands. I have my first Damm bear (from Barcelona). Very good supper – lots of samplers ranging from chicken with rice to lamb chops. Most importantly we were in excellent company, what else can you ask for? Well how about some sunshine for starters.

Tuesday July 3rd: Leaving the office we are subjected to torrential rain and, surprisingly, a bombardment of hail. I don’t believe in umbrellas – they’re for wimps – so I’m soaked to the bone, even my passport is drenched.

On the train, going through Clapham (no relation to legendary guitarist Eric), we notice what seems to be accumulated snow on the ground and roofs – in July?? Actually it’s hail, but it looks like snow and as a Canuck I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to identifying snow. You don’t believe me? Google “Clapham hail”. And yes…I know.. it’s Eric Clapton.

Later that evening we walk for hours in the Piccadilly area to find a restaurant. We can’t seem to reach any consensus as to what to eat and where to dine. At one point we stop at an Irish Pub for drinks but the place is dirty (sticky beer residue on the tables) so we pass on any idea of eating there (except for some chips and finger foods).

Eventually we come across a restaurant that appeals to everyone. Little do we know that it is considered one of London’s finest (read expensive).

The Wolseley is a café-restaurant in the grand European tradition located in St James’ on London’s most famous of boulevards, Piccadilly. 160 Piccadilly is a Grade II Listed Building. In 1921, Wolseley Motors Limited commissioned the architect, William Curtis Green, to design a prestigious car showroom in London’s West End. He drew on Venetian and Florentine influences and made the interior very atmospheric with its grand pillars, arches and stairways. The Wolseley cars were displayed on the marble floor and cost between £225-£1300. Unfortunately, the cars did not sell well enough and by 1926 the Company was bankrupt.

So we enjoy another excellent meal in a lovely ambience. Who says the food sucks in London?

At the Wolseley, we are informed we can’t take photos inside – the celebrities there want their privacy – but I don’t notice anyone famous except for Prince Charles and he doesn’t seem to mind when I take his photo.

Our waiter reminds me of the effeminate snobbish character Serge in the movie 48 Hours (played by Bronson Pinchot). I offer to steal some of the bone china to offset the cost of this meal but the rest of the group don’t feel it’s such a good idea.

Still interested? Read on here.

London 2007

             

London: July 1st-July 6th, 2007.

Part 1: After a short stay in Paris and Versailles, it was off to London. The landing at Heathrow on the Sunday evening was most memorable – in a most unpleasant way. It took over an hour and a half to get through British customs.

This wasn’t due to the security problems – nope this had nothing to do with our friends at al-Qaeda – no this was due to the fact that only 4 custom agents were on duty to greet what must have been 200 – 300 incoming passengers. As you would expect from government employees, two of the agents left (evening tea break?) during the ordeal and, incredibly, at one point only 1 agent was present.

The frustrating part is that the EU people could just breeze through their reserved queue while the “Others” were herded like cattle – and because I had flown coach between Paris and London there was no fast tracking to relieve the pain – I was just another of the peasants.

All I can say is the situation wasn’t amusing in the least. I wonder if Ben from Lost must go through this “Others” line when he flies Oceanic. (In all fairness though, the agent I ended up with was quite polite and even apologized for the delay).

To add insult to injury, when I got to the baggage carousel my suitcase was conspicuously absent. I watched as other bags went round and round and even considered taking somebody else’s luggage (I’m kidding).

After about 20 minutes of this nonsense I started to search around to see if someone had inadvertently or maliciously hauled my suitcase off and left it to rot on the floor – still nothing.

Thankfully, a few minutes later an attractive young lady I had been chatting with in the customs line advised me that our flight’s baggage was on another carousel – yes, there were two carousels at two different locations from the same flight!

But the story just keeps getting better – I swear that at the very instant I finally picked up my baggage some bloke with an English accent (which makes sense since I was in the UK) blurted out something to this effect on the Public Address: “Please note that due to a recent security incident all roads leading in and out of Heathrow are badly congested, bloody ‘ell..blah, blah, blah.”

“Great”, I thought. How the bloody ‘ell do I get out of here mate…. by train, crikey? At that point the lyrics from the Foo Fighter’s classic Learn to Fly came to mind:

Run and tell all of the angels
This could take all night
Think I need a devil to help me
Get things right

Although my flight landed at 8 PM it was past 11PM when I made it to the Mayfair Hotel on Stratton street in London – and the cost of the cab ride gave me heartburn. Seems every time I go to London trouble is brewing – oh well, at least I made it safely.

Read the rest of this London Journal.

Paris 2007

             

Paris: June 29th-July 1st, 2007.

This SW trip was very similar to the one back in September of 2006 – a 3 day extended weekend in Paris to be followed by a business meeting in London.

Friday June 29th: The AC flight to London Heathrow on the Thursday night was uneventful but boring (7 hours duration). At least on arrival you are conveniently, “fast tracked” through customs / passport control as a business class passenger.

After a 4 hour layover, I caught an Air France flight into Paris where I was picked up at Charles de Gaulle airport. The traffic was heavy for this time of day, with quite a few “bouchons” or congested areas on “le Périph” or le Périphérique – the motorway that circles around Paris – so it took us longer than usual to make our way to the apartment.

On the way we once more passed the unimpressive tunnel where Lady Di met her sad demise.

I never sleep well on planes so I arrived fairly tired and the jet lag obviously didn’t help. So I had my customary “chill out” recovery period. Not to mention that Paris was cold and damp – good weather to stay inside and watch a DVD.

Apparently the previous week had been warm and sunny but I evidently didn’t luck out on this trip – on the contrary the weather could not have been much worse – certainly from the perspective of a photographer.

Later in the evening we watched the news and found out about the first terror attack, or attempt, in London:

Two unexploded car bombs were discovered in London. The first device was found in a car parked near the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Haymarket and two large gas canisters and a large number of nails were found in the car. The second device was left in a blue Mercedes-Benz saloon in nearby Cockspur Street, but was not discovered until after the car had been towed away as it was found to be illegally parked


             

Saturday June 30th: The morning was spent taking photos around St. Cyr – a small town on the outskirts of Versailles. St. Cyr is known for its military school. We drove into Versailles in the afternoon to stroll the magnificent grounds – taking in the beauty of the gardens, statues, and fountains.

I saw the wonderful Bosquet des Bains d’Apollon for the first time. This part of the gardens is not well known to tourists, but I had the good fortune to be accompanied by two wonderful lady guides. On my past visit the bains (baths) had been closed to the public, but thankfully not this time – although the fountains were off at that time, apparently to conserve water pressure.

Later that evening, we learned about the botched up terror attack in Scotland:

A dark green Jeep Cherokee rigged as a car bomb was driven into the glass doors of the main terminal of Glasgow International Airport, and burst into flames


Sunday July 1st: Happy Canada Day. Today we visited Paris – We started at the Louvre, viewing the atrocious pyramid (Da Vinci Code) from inside and out. This was followed by a brief stroll down the Quais de la Seine. Finally, we then parked near the Arc de Triomphe and walked the Champs Elysees – stopping for croissants at Paul’s.

The return trip was through the Bois-de-Boulogne (also referenced in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci code).

More photos can be seen in this gallery.

In the evening I left for London, expecting the worst at Heathrow given the Terror Alert had now been set to critical. At this point I had no idea if my meeting was canceled or still on – but I didn’t really care – it was time to go.

Read about the London Leg of this trip.

Gimme Shelter

Critical Terror Alert in London. It takes more than a few attempted amateurish car bombings in London and one totally botched up suicide mission in Scotland to stop SW from taking photos – but continuous rain is another story – it’s pretty hard to deal with.

All that to say that while the terrorists didn’t bother me the weather made it almost impossible to get any decent photos – the lighting could not have been worse – but hey, what the hell, there’s always next time – September??

Some photos, more to come in a new gallery. Left: parking challenges and high petrol prices lead to small cars (with the classic London phone booth). Middle: workers in Green Park outside Buckingham Palace graciously agree to pose. Right: London Cabs outside the Mayfair area.

Read the London 2007 Journal

Oh, a storm is threatning
My very life today
If I dont get some shelter
Oh yeah, Im gonna fade away
– The Rolling Stones

Smoke on the Water

Deep Purple will be in Montreal on July 28th and SW will be there – no doubt about it.

Picked up the classic Machine Head and Very Best of Deep Purple CDs today – had the MP3s but not all the songs.

Everyone knows the song Smoke on the Water – but very few know the story behind it – how it recounts the making of the Machine Head album in Switzerland despite a fire caused by some moron.

The lyrics say it all “But some stupid with a flare gun Burned the place to the ground”

Looking forward to it – myself and Zad (although he is definitely into Nice Inch Nails, Muse, etc.)