Sunday, December 27, 2009

happy new year + a few highlights

I hope my family reads this blog. I hope they realise that a) the reason I didn't write half as many blog posts this year is b) the same reason Meg and I haven't sent out our New Year's cards yet. I work in retail... it would appear that the economy is in some state of recovery.

In any case, between the heavy weather that nailed the East Coast and a couple of seven-day weeks, it's been difficult to keep up with the training routine that I had almost established with the boys. And so what happens when you take our two boys out for the first time in two weeks? Lots of imperfect, a few shades of ugly, falling in love all over again, and some nice omens for the future.

With Momo, it drives me nuts that he does the 'difficult' things (like the honor and the retrieve) well, but still insists on catwalking now and again. With Jozsi, however, I realise that all his extra-stepping isn't cockiness but uncertainty. I don't know where this comes from, but I know that if I walk up on him and his tail is rock-solid, he can see the bird as well as smell it. He just needs more birds and more reassurance.

While both boys popped a bird or two (and a bird that flushes because they took an extra step is an even better teaching tool than me nicking either one with the e-collar), they both showed why we love them dearly. Momo has a great nose, a great retrieve, and needs little to no work on his honor and he loves to hunt with you. Jozsi, on the other hand, only knows how to hunt really, really hard -- he was running hedgerow covers like a crazy man, handling at complete ease at 300 yds -- and today also showed some inkling that he knows what an honor is. And so, here's to our boys...


This is also the time to acknowledge a few great musical highlights of 2009.

Khaled: Liberté: I was so relieved to hear this album. I can carry grudges for a long period of time, and somehow his US agent convinced him to release a 'friends' album five years ago that was, to my mind, an abomination against God. I don't care how great Carlos Santana is, but I can never hear him play guitar without hearing Rob Thomas. And I loath Rob Thomas. In contrast to several of his previous albums which were hampered by too many synthesized sounds and over-production, this is stripped down -- and leaves with you with a much greater appreciation for Khaled's talent and for Algerian music, both modern and traditional.

Buika, El Ultimo Trago: last year's album Niña de Fuego was great. With the addition of Cuban
piano player, Chucho Valdes, the arrangements are a little richer -- but nothing eclipses Buika's smokey voice.

Rosalia de Souza, D'Improviso: I know only a little bit about Brazilian music and it seems like a fair amount of it is produced for export -- a little too sweet, a little too cheesey. This is a great mixture of upbeat and downbeat, crisp, clean, and I'm still listening to it every day. And here's one of my favorite tracks:

There are also some interesting Top-10 lists at NPR's All Songs Considered -- and Scampwalker at Eight More Miles has a bunch of picks I have never heard of either.


Rod Michaelson said...

Happy New Year. May 2010 bring many birds to your dogs and ribbons to the handler. So much for my dog and I to learn, but the training has had so many rewards, that the journey is as much the prize as the destination.

Dale Hernden said...

Happy New Year. I took the girls for a run the other day just to let them burn off some excess energy. Its tough this time of year!