Category: Art

January 7, 2021 Off

Martial Arts Shoes

By Tammy Schneider

When beginning any martial arts training, you need to discuss with your teacher on the right type of martial arts shoes you will be needing for the future. The right footwear is essential for any trainee, especially during practice without a mat, or when performing strong kicks to an opponent. Without the proper shoes, you can cause serious damage to your fellow student and not really mean it.

The most recognizable martial arts shoes are the soft cotton and rubber soles that are modeled after common Chinese shoes. They are great for Tai Chi Chuan and the more “calming” self defense techniques. They can also be used during throwing and upper body practice in other martial arts.

Serious Martial Arts Shoes For Serious Kickers!

If you are concentrating on kicks in class, or have a special need to protect the feet from constant blows, you may want to look into special sparring gear for the feet. These padded “booties” velcro over the feet to protect both your opponent as well as your own feet from harm. Other shoes, called Wushu Shoes, are slim, usually made of leather, and provide protection as well as flexibility for the movement of the foot.

Whatever need you have for shoes, most of the martial arts shoes out there are made with comfort in mind, but are easy to buy online. Because of their simple design, the length and width of your foot is all the information you need to purchase them through an online martial arts supply store. Take this information down and you too can get the shoes you need for your special level of training.…

August 28, 2019 Off

The Killers: Day & Age Album Review: Brandon Flowers’ Hit 4th Album

By Tammy Schneider

The Killers: Day & Age Album Review: Brandon Flowers’ Hit 4th Album

Thankfully, The Killers are back. After the ambitious but awkward foray into experimentation and taking themselves too seriously that was Sam’s Town, Day & Age blasts like a rocket through its hazy leftovers into star-studded clarity and brilliance.

Maybe that was the intention, because there’s definitely a running metaphor itching to be described here. With track names like ‘Human’, ‘Spaceman’ and ‘The World We Live In’, this record swiftly announces that it’s here to self-observe humanity like a curious, rock music loving ET. It gives it a peculiar extra-terrestrial feel that allows it to soar to its pop synth melodic heights without falling foul of its self-conscious 80s roots.

And whats more, it’s fun. With wry, ridiculous peacock strutting bravado, silly glam trousers and heavily spangled arrangements, Brandon Flowers and Co are pure indie rock bling.

Pet Shop Boys, New Order and 80s Roots

‘Losing Touch’ sees Brandon’s lazy, wistful vocal harmonised over a moderately synthed arrangement with a repeatedly building percussive line, anthemic rock guitars and an injection of bold brass. The melody flicks between strains like a switch, nodding first to Pet Shop Boys 80s pop style origins, then to good old-fashioned rock. Like an overture, the atmosphere is set.

Next, lead single ‘Human’ takes the Pet Shop Boys and New Order influences, and runs with them, sailing straight past good grammar, but waving at Hunter S. Thompson (Are we human? / Or are we dancer? – supposedly a reference to Thompson’s comment that America was “raising a generation of dancers’), and finally arriving like a post-punk John Travolta on an emotional dancefloor.


The surreal ‘Spaceman’, about Flowers’ imagined abduction by aliens, has a mosh-pit-rousing chorus, heavily synthed with some vintage Killers guitars driving a rushing pace.

Bowie Funk and Swaggering Orchestra

‘Joyride’ is an interesting expedition into funk territory. Flowers’ tremulous Bowie-style vocals preside over a funkier rhythm spritzed with saxophone. Hell, there’s even a little bit of Abba in there, though there’s still a big synth + guitar Killers signature scrawled neatly and plausibly all over the track.

‘A Dustland Fairytale’ has an orchestral quality, with subtle strings and bold timpani complementing an unusual and swift percussive line. It has an arrogant swagger to it, beginning from a simple melody but growing into a thrashing epic where a white trash love story turns into castles in the clouds.

World Music Influences

And that’s where the band launches a global assault. ‘This is Your Life’ has a military style, snare drum beat introduced by an African inspired chant. Meanwhile, close your eyes on ‘I Can’t Stay’ and you can feel the vibes of a tropical island, complete with steel drums, coconuts and chicks/guys (delete as appropriate) in grass skirts. All these global influences are firmly grounded in the album through that classic Killers tone, and anchored by inspiring and melodic songwriting.

‘Neon Tiger’ starts as a belting 80s inspired power track, with lyrics that are almost as indie glam rock as Flowers himself. ‘The World We Live In’ meanwhile, sees a loop round back to vintage Killers.

Gothic Disappointment, Brave Ending and Sell Out Tour 2009

Is the album perfect? Well, no. Closing track ‘Goodnight, Travel Well’ is dire, put simply. It’s pointlessly heavy, dull, droning and repetitive. It aims for a dark, moody, almost gothic vibe, which just makes you want to shake it until it begrudgingly returns blinking into the radiance of the rest of the album. Talk about ending on a bum note.

Good job then, that there’s an attitude filled, stomping bonus track to finish things off properly. ‘A Crippling Blow’ has a total melodic shift between its racing angry fire-fuelled verses and its sweetly playful chorus, giving the unnervingly brilliant sensation of musical manic depressiveness. It’s edgy, and brave. That’s more like it…

This album needs no further comment. It’s unusual, ambitious, and deserves a close encounter…

Day & Age has made it onto a number of 2008’s ‘best’ lists, ahead of the band’s eagerly awaited sell out UK tour in February 2009. The album is out now.…

March 22, 2019 Off

How to Conduct a Course Walk: Walking Courses at Jumping Shows

By Tammy Schneider

A rider can choose to conduct a course walk himself or ask an instructor or trainer to join them. Either way, jumping shows run much more smoothly when riders are prepared for every fence. Courses open for fifteen minutes or so between every class so riders can spend time in the arena on foot.

There are several things riders need to look for when walking courses at jumping shows:

  • Memorizing the course
  • Counting strides between jumps
  • Identifying tight turns
  • Calculating approaches

There is no rush to walk the course at a certain pace, and riders can feel free to walk it multiple times if it will help them gain confidence. This is why it pays to have an instructor along for the ride; trainers are more experienced and can point out things their students miss.

Spend More Time at Combinations

Combinations are the trickiest parts of jumping shows, so most of the rider's time should be spent calculating approaches and counting strides. A two-stride combination, for example, allows two strides between two fences. If a combination occurs right after a turn, riders need to concentrate on maintaining balance and gaining sufficient momentum to make it through the combination.

Make Note of Decorations

Some horses and ponies are more spooky at jumping shows than others, and loud, colorful or unusual decorations can result in spooks and refusals during competition. Riders should make note of these decorations and decide in advance how to handle them.

Show jumping fences with flowers, brush or simulated water tend to be the scariest. Some horses dislike solid fences, such as roll tops, while others are more intimidated by open, airy verticals. It is important for competitors to know the horses before they attempt course walks.

Consider Options Carefully

At some competitions, riders have options in show jumping fences, which means that they can choose between two obstacles. One is usually higher, wider or otherwise more difficult; it might be a skinny or it might create a tighter turn.

It is never a good idea to dismiss options in show jumping out of hand because there are usually advantages to them. For example, taking an option might require a tighter turn, but it might also shave precious seconds from the overall time.

Count Strides for the Individual Horse

Counting strides might seem unnecessary; after all, the course designer counted them, and he or she must be correct. However, it is important to remember that courses are built based on the average horse's stride. If a horse's stride is shorter or longer than average, counting strides matters.

For example, to count strides in a combination, a rider should stand at the center of the first jump with his back to the top rail, facing the next jump in the combination. Then he counts steps up to the next jump and makes calculations depending on his particular horse.

Look at the Course Diagram

At most jumping shows, a course diagram is displayed outside the arena. This shows where each jump is located in relation to all the others, and every obstacle is numbered in the sequential order in which it is taken.

Walking courses is important, but the course diagram serves its purpose. Riders should look at the diagram and find each obstacle in the arena. Course diagrams can also be used after the course walk is over, especially if the rider is far down on the list of competitors.

Walking Unusual Courses

A course walk is important not only in traditional stadium jumping, but also in other competitions. For example, in eventing, the show jumping course is often set up on grass, which presents its own set of obstacles. In this case, riders need to watch out for changes in elevation of the land and any muddy or uneven areas.

Course walks are also essential in cross-country jumping. It is often a good idea to walk the course the day before the competition so riders can take their time and ask plenty of questions.…

September 11, 2018 Off

Duke Spirit rouse the Bowery Ballroom. British Invaders win new fans opening for Eagles of Death Metal.

By Tammy Schneider

A few audience members were previous fans of the band and thus visibly excited, but to begin with, the majority of the audience were as enthused for this group as for any other opening band. However, by the end of their set, the Duke Spirit showed off how regularly they’ve paid their rock dues.

Duke Spirit History

The band came together in 2002 in London, England, pairing school mates and roommates. In the six years the band has been together, they've produced two albums. A more apparent fan following occurred with their 2008 recording, Neptune, and their single, The Step and The Walk. Their sounds incorporates a bit of punk, a few pop influences, and even resembles some of their British forefathers.

Working the Bowery Ballroom Crowd

As a quintet, each member brought something different and equally imperative to the stage. Working together as a cohesive unit, the band seemed both gracious and ready to prove they were no ordinary opening act.

Clad in a black outfit of stockings, high-heeled boots, and a jumpsuit with feathers, lead singer Leila Moss brought to mind comparisons of Deborah Harry of Blondie, Maja Ivarsson of The Sounds, and even Wendy Williams. Armed with various additional percussive instruments, she leaned over the monitors onstage and kicked wildly. Strutting and shimmying, from stage left to stage right and back, Moss played the role of front woman to the hilt.

Drummer Olly Betts, in contrast, was dressed in a suit without jacket, with hair perfectly coifed. Looking flawlessly put together seemed easy for this hard-hitting man of many beats. Besides plainly keeping time to structure the music, Betts incorporated precision and exact timing, with full force intensity, to present a powerhouse of percussion.

Luke Ford and Dan Higgins often dueled and echoed one another, with their melodies, on rhythm and lead guitar. Ford, dressed in all black and looking reminiscent of Joy Division, swung his guitar back and forth in place, while Higgins played a bit more aggressively, in a full suit.

Winning over Eagles of Death Metal fans

By show’s end, it seemed the audience was not only moved by the music, but moving to the music, and well into the groove to welcome Eagles of Death Metal. The Duke Spirit, having performed their job, thanked the crowd and played one last tune before exiting the stage for the night.…

August 23, 2018 Off

Pig: Nature's Perfect Food

By Tammy Schneider

Pork roast, bacon, cheek, chops, ribs, cutlet, ham, pieds de cochon, hocks… the list is near endless and all of it is tasty. Some cuts are lean (loin), some heart-stoppingly fatty (pork belly) but with the proper cooking techniques can result in culinary treats.

Cooks delight in finding new uses for the various cuts. A beautiful leek and goat cheese tenderloin roulade, sous vide and roasted pork belly with Moroccan spices, a nicely grilled pork chop with apple chutney. Exploring the uses is half the fun.

Less Used Cuts, More Flavour

More and more the rarer cuts are showing up on the shelves of local markets normally at prices far below the ‘choice’ cuts most are used to. The humble hock, slowly braised then basted with Korean flavours and grilled is a taste sensation which can be pulled apart and chopped and added to noodle dishes, soups or tossed in a stir fry.

The shoulder (oddly referred to as ‘butt’) makes for excellent sausages. A classic saucisse (Toulouse sausage), can be as simple as ground butt, side pork for extra fat and some salt and pepper. Making it with natural pork casings (pig intestinal linings), and uses even more of the animal.

Some unpasteurised cheese, a hunk of fresh bread and paper-thin slices of Iberco ham washed down with a nice wine can make a lovely summer day just that much better though covering one’s self to the elbows in barbeque sauce while digging into a pile of back ribs proves just as delightful.

The Pig is a Noble Animal

The noble pig deserves our respect and adulation. Discovering just one more use for one of its many tasty bits is one of life’s little pleasures.

Roast Pork Recipe with Leek and Demi-Glace Sauce

  • 5 lbs trimmed pork loin
  • 1 white of leek, cut in very thin rings
  • 1 cup demi-glace
  • 2 cup pork stock
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • parsley, fresh
  • thyme, fresh
  • 4-6 cups mirepoix, roughly chopped
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil


  1. Brine the pork in an 8% salt brine (80g of salt for every litre of water), for 2-4 hours.
  2. Remove the roast from the brine, rinse and pat dry.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  4. Rub the pork with olive oil and liberally season with salt and pepper.
  5. Brown all sides of the roast in a hot roasting pan. Remove the pork, add the mirepoix, parsley stems and thyme stalks. Place the pork on top of the mirepoix, cover the pan with tin foil and place in the oven on the centre rack.
  6. Cook for 1 hour, remove the tin foil and cook for a further 45-60 minutes, until the internal temperature hits 135F.
  7. Remove from oven, set pork aside and cover, place roasting pan on stove across two burners on high. Deglaze the pan with the wine, using the pieces of vegetable to loosen any goodness.
  8. Reduce by half, add stock and demi-glace, reduce by half again.
  9. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve in a sauce pan and add the leek rings. Reduce until it coats the back of a spoon and the leeks are cooked through.
  10. Slice the rested pork into 1/2 “ slices. Sauce. Serve. Enjoy.