Saturday, July 30, 2005

You mean you don't believe Welsh people exist?

I love the U.K. Where else would you find such a mix of great music (Bloc Party, The Smiths, etc), sassy tv, and world-class comedians?

But the British tv shows had better watch it, as their dominance is being eroded by some upstart wannabe comedian-musicians. In the hayday of Monty Python, there were no Liam and Noel Gallagher or Peter Doherty trying to usurp Mr Clease and crew.

Example: arguably the best show on TV is Bromwell High. In one of my favourite episodes, the slutty teacher (forget her name) says that there will be no prize for the upcoming tolerance contest because she doesn't believe in prizes, to which Keisha (all hail the mighty Keisha!) replies: "You mean don't believe prizes exist?"

Okay, backtrack to British musicians overlapping as comedians: The Gallaghers have long held dominance here. Just read the NME for such gems as "I was chased by a giraffe at one of them zoos, so I just fookin' told him 'Ay, wotch it!'"

But, look out Gallaghers, because Pete Doherty is now combatting for (unintentionally) Funniest British Musician. Example: we've already discussed "she is my rock, but not my rock of crack" in an earlier post, but the hilarity continues.

Pete has now found God. (Thank you, Eva, for that gem.) Of course I immediately had to ask "Where? And what happens when he misplaces him, perhaps accidently leaves him on the tube?"

Pete has also recently quit Babyshambles. Allegedly, Kate told him he was "too good for Babyshambles". To quote Eva again" "Does this remind anyone else of someone saying 'my mom says I'm special'?".

And to top it off, my crack team of music geekdom (Eva again) has now heard that Pete claims he doesn't believe that there are really such things as Welsh people.

I think Mr Doherty has been watching too much Bromwell High! Keisha said it first and she said it better but still, Bromwell High had better fookin' wotch it if they are going to maintain comedic dominance. Come on, Keisha, don't let that little upstart ruin your reputation. Say something outrageous, girl!

Update: Yikes, I just googled Browmwell High to give you the link and found out that it is actually a Canadian, not a British, show. Well, on the one hand, there goes the whole premise for this post; on the other hand, Damn, that makes me proud to be Canadian!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Things to Discover While Waiting for a Root Canal

Quote of the day:
"She's my rock, but not my rock of crack"
- Pete Doherty, about Kate Moss
(thanks to Eva for this)
At a later date, I will explore why Pete Doherty continues to be such a fascinating train wreck, but today I want to tell you about my visit to the dentist (kinda).
So, I'm in the waiting room, flipping through the magazines (and he actually has a lot of them). First I picked up that American women's magazine that you always see at the grocery checkout. I forget the name, but you know the one - there's always a woman on the front who has lost 100+ pounds and she's usually posing inside a pair of her old humungous pants, swimming in them, and right next to her is a picture of a really decadent-looking cake. Both the diet and the recipe are promised inside. It was my first trip past the front cover of that magazine and the contents are just as stupid and offensive as the cover.
Then I picked up a copy of Discover, to wash the taste of stupidity out of my mouth, and began to read an article about a woman called Temple Grandin, who is an Associate Professor of Animal Science. My undergraduate degree is in Animal Science, so this caught my attention. Turns out Dr. Grandin is autistic and her extreme sensitivity to touch, sound, and other sensations has given her a heightened empathy for farm animals and their reaction to their housing environments. She is well-known for having designed vastly improved animal housing and, in particular, transport chutes to make the trip to the final destination less stressful for the animal.
I've always been interested in animal housing. It's a real concern, particularly among species such as pigs, who are highly intelligent and responsive animals. Flooring is a big issue in pig barns. Floors need to be designed to allow waste to fall through the grates, while still allowing a safe and comfortable footing for the piggies' little hoofs. And farrowing crates have to allow the mom to nurse and be in contact with her piglets, which need to be kept warm with heating lamps (not much hair on those babes), while protecting the babes from being rolled upon by the sow. Pigs also need an environment enriched with toys to keep them entertained and to keep them from chewing each others tails for fun.
Back to Temple Grandin and how she turned her autism into a tool for her life's work. There has been a lot of public interest in autism the last few years. It's become quite a sexy condition. "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" was a murder-mystery (of sorts) that explored the world from the perspective of an autistic teenager. It was compelling reading, and touched upon the viewpoint of the appeal of some neurological conditions which usually impart certain characteristics or, perhaps gifts, upon those afflicted. Tourette's Syndrome is another of those. Many who have the disorder view certain aspects of it as integral to their personality and, given the choice, would not chose to give up the condition for fear of losing the perspectives that they hold.
Unfortunately, I had really just started reading the article before I was called in for the fun part of the visit (being stood upon my head for an hour and a half while power tools rattled inside my mouth). I have to go back in a few weeks to get the crown put on, so hope to finish reading it then.
If you want to check it out, it was in the May 2005 edition of Discover. Let me know what you think. Also, what do you think of the idea of our personalities being controlled by medical conditions? Are we really just a sack of hormones and neurotransmitters?
Cheers to you all. Long weekend coming up - stay safe.

Monday, July 25, 2005

No Musicians were Harmed in the Making of this Post

Pouring rain on the last day of the Folk Festival, but boy did we get a good parking spot. And with only us (now) diehard folkies in attendance, until the sun came out and dragged with it the hipsters, we were up close and drooling on our favourites.

Here's some highlights from both days we attended (in no particular order):

- Buck 65's natty yachting outfit
- Hawksley Workman, minus shirt, wailing on the drums
- Those throat singers from Denmark
- Jeff Tweedy bringing us out of the beer gardens, back to the lawn
- Seeing the Weakerthans, Christine Fellows, Jackie Leven workshop from one arm's length away from the stage
- Having John K Samson return my wave with a smile (love that smile) and a wave
- Talking to John K Samson
- Getting John K Samson's autograph
- Eva getting lots of snaps of John K Samson
- Eva playing "Scenester Bingo"
- Spotting John K Samson everwhere all afternoon
- How Christine Fellows kept forgetting the names of her songs
- How The Arrogant Worms almost made me pee my pants
- 11 different Arrogant Worms' songs named Jesus' Brother Bob
- Rippy the Gator
- The Weakerthans inviting us all to dance during Pleas From A Cat Named Virtute
- Smelling the chicken curry all afternoon throughout the park
- Eva stalking Jackson the Bounding Emo Puppy
- Spotting hetero couples (to counteract Jerry's spotting gay couples)
- Incredi-Bowls
- Steve Earle announcing his engagement to Allison Moorer (aww)
- Overhearing one of the festival organizers describe the lovely Weakerthans as "the best band here"

Now, don't you wish you had been there?

Disclaimer: When I said that John K Samson and Christine Fellows were so darned adorable that I just wanted to stuff them and put them on our mantle, I meant that in the nicest possible way. I wouldn't harm a hair on their cute little heads.

Friday, July 22, 2005

How I Gained Fame and Adoration in One Easy Step

Bow to me, minions, for I am a Grand Prize winner. And welcome to my first-ever blog post.
(Be kind to me; I'm a blog-virgin.)

I have just returned from a night at the fanciest, schmanciest Hotel suite I have ever been in, topped up by free Folk Festival tickets, some swanky restaurant certificates and a boatload of free CDs. And all I had to do was send in a playlist of songs I wanted to hear. How self-indulgent and totally fun is that?

I'm still too gobsmacked, exhausted and, frankly, a tiny bit hungover to go into detail at this juncture, so I'll just post the winning playlist and you can tell me if you think I'm full of shit or not. (Actually, I sent in two playlists, one specifically for the Calgary Folk Festival, featuring only this year's performers, and the other a playlist of some of the songs that I currently need to hear.) Tell me what you think.

List One - 2005 Calgary Folk Festival Performers
1. Confessions of a Futon-Revolutionist - Weakerthans (Fallow)
2. Words We Never Use - Ron Sexsmith (S/T)
3. Eat More Crayfish - CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisianna Band (Alligator)
4. Migrations - Christine Fellows (Paper Anniversary)
5. Smoke Baby - Hawksley Workman (Lover/Fighter)
6. Ashes to Ashes - Steve Earle (Jerusalem)
7. Come All You Sailors - Wailin' Jennys (Cara Luft)
8. Our Retired Explorer (Dines With Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961) - Weakerthans

(Reconstruction Site)
9. What's Hardcore - K'Naan (The Dusty Foot Philosopher)
10. Basement Apartment - Sarah Harmer (You Were Here)
11. Wicked and Weird - Buck 65 (Talkin' Honky Blues)
12. Vertebrae - Christine Fellows (Paper Anniversary)
13. I am Cow - Arrogant Worms (Dirt!)
14. Wild Goose - Kate and Anna McGarrigle (can't remember the album name)

List Two - Songs We Crave
Track and reason I need to hear it
1. Luno (Silent Alarm)
Bloc Party

(because this song makes me want to be a drummer)
2. Transmission (Substance)
Joy Division

(because Joy Division started it all)
3. Reconstruction Site
(Reconstruction Site)
(because sometimes a word is worth a thousand pictures)
4. 21st Century Living (Avalanche)
Matthew Good

(because this is Matt in all his glorious indignation)
5. Girlfriend in a Coma
(Strangeways Here We Come)
The Smiths

(because Douglas Coupland stole the title for his novel)
6. Get Free (Highly Evolved)
The Vines

(because this song makes me want to play pinball)
7. Under the Bridge
(Blood Sugar Sex Magik)
Red Hot Chili Peppers

(because these guys don't even own shirts)
8. Here Comes Your Man
(Death to the Pixies)
The Pixies
(because it’s the Pixies)
9. One Great City!
(Reconstruction Site)
(because that’s one great tag-line )
10. Coma Girl (Streetcore)
Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros

(because it was Joe Strummer’s last album)
11. Strange Days (Beautiful Midnight)
Matthew Good Band

(because it’s from one of the best albums ever written)
12. Migration (Paper Anniversary)
Christine Fellows

(because she’s married to John K Samson, and she’s amazing)
13. The Dark of the Matinee (S/T)
Franz Ferdinand

(because Alex Kapranos is such a sassy Brit)
14. Thrice All American (Furnace Room Lullaby)

Neko Case
(because her voice gives me chills [in a good way])
15. Temptation (Trainspotting)
New Order
(because it’s trance-like and hypnotic; plus, it’s New Order)
16. Running Out of Time (Elevator)
Hot Hot Heat

(because howling Steve Bays has really big hair)
17. Rebellion (Lies) (Funeral)

The Arcade Fire
(because it’s good Canadian shoe-gazer(ish) music)
18. A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours
(Strangeways Here We Come)
The Smiths

(because Morrissey is so over-the-top and angsty)
19. Fallow (Fallow)

(because this song makes me want to weep)
20. Gigantic (Death to the Pixies)

The Pixies
(because Kim Deal takes centre stage)

Go out and listen to some of these fine songs (or any other songs you find worthy). Just keep the music flowing. More Folk Fest details after I go again on Sunday. Promise.

Best to you all.