Monday, July 31, 2006

Gathering of the Hippies - Day 4 (Weather) Report
Only in Calgary could you be suffering from sun stroke one day and hypothermia the next. Hell, it wasn't even one day to the next, actually. Sunday, the final day of the festival - Matt Good day! - started off brilliantly, promising to be less blazing hot than the day before.

I stopped in at the Emotional Weather Report workshop and was dumbfounded after hearing Great Lake Swimmers for the first time. I knew exactly what Dar Williams was talking about when she asked them, after they finished their first song, "Do you make your mother cry every time you open your mouth?" Tony Dekker has a heartbreakingly beautiful voice, and the songs were so lovely and full of yearning that I just had to rethink my plans to catch Elliott Brood's mini-concert in the Megatunes tent in favour of the Great Lake Swimmers concert which was frustratingly scheduled for the same time.

I still somewhat regret my choice, even though the concert was being recorded by CBC Radio and will be airing on The Circuit this Friday evening. Listen for Eva yelling "wooden stars". In concert, Great Lake Swimmers, although still lovely, were a little too repetitively mournful to carry off an entire set.

Jer and I ran into a colleague who invited us into the beer gardens to cool off. During our drink, the wind suddenly blew up, whirling sand about and then, just as suddenly, switched direction, which is never a good thing when you are talking about wind. And the temperature dropped 15 degrees in 2 minutes. We went back to our tarps to put on sweaters and discovered that a thirty foot tree branch had come down a few feet from us. There had been nobody underneath at the time, but the bike helmet that had been left on the tarp was shattered. We found out later that the winds gusts had been clocked at 87 km/hr.

Eva and I settled in for the Dark Horses workshop, featuring Elliott Brood (that's them in the pic - did I ever mention I love them?), Kris Demeanor and his Crack Band, Kathleen Edwards, and the D Rangers.

We howled at the sight of the little 5 or 6 year old girl in the audience just singing along at the top of her lungs to every word of Kris Demeanor's song Get Down, You Airborne Bastards.

Then, as the sky clouded over, we headed back to our tarp for the start of mainstage. I went on a run to Camper's Village to look for blankets or something warm as we were seriously starting to freeze. Found a couple of tarps which really came in handy after the weather really turned foul.

Eliseo Parra warmed us with his flamenco music, Rachelle Van Zanteen smoked the slide guitar for a short between-set, and then Dar Williams broke our hearts with her lovely voice so sweet and poignant. But then it started to rain. And get colder.

At that point Daby Toure wowed us with his jazz/African/worldbeat uptempo fusion. It was pissing pretty steadily by then, but he assured us "the sun will come out if you want it to". And people started to dance and sing along spontaneously with his call and answer rhythms.

But it kept raining. And when Matt Good took to the stage, the skies just opened up and the winds started blasting the rain against us. It was so cold that I could see my breath.

But hold up, this wasn't meant to become a weather report, nor a complaint about how much I suffered, because I got up from where I was huddled under my dripping tarp and I stood in that driving rain (wearing a raincoat which rolled up smaller than my fist and was the consistency of a sandwich bag) along with the others and I cheered and screamed and shivered and danced my way through his far too brief set.

Matt started off with a new song, If I Was a Tidal Wave, full of classic Good political passion. I confess to not remembering all the songs, as there is no way in hell I could have written the setlist down, and my mind was half frozen by then, but he did play Strange Days (just for me, I'm sure!), It's Been A While Since I Was Your Man, Apparitions, and a lovely duet of Hurt (NIN) with Melissa McClelland, with Luke Doucet backing on guitar.

He apologized for the shit weather, explaining that it was his fault, as he had played in a thunderstorm the night previous. And he brought along his Ann Coulter doll! Matt explained that he had limited time so was unable to read us passages from her book (which he likes to do, along with some of Paris Hilton's literary offerings), but he did pull the Ann doll's string and treated us to her vitriolic right-wing diatribe. The hippies ate it up, as did we Matt Good devotees.

As Ani Defranco, the final act, took to the stage, the rain abated and it warmed up slightly. But it was too little, too late for the Zombie family. Jerry was half-dead from hypothermia and he left to go sit in the car. Eva and I braved a few more songs. We wanted to stay for the whole set, as we had never seen Ani perform before and people so obviously loved her, but in the end our broken bodies won the battle and we paddled off to our warm urban assault vehicle before the end of the show.

It was a great day, though, even though I was stupid not to have booked today off work to recover. Next year!

If you can handle one more post about the never-ending folk festival, I've got some of Eva's photos to post tomorrow (Teddy's got some great photos too), along with some highlights and oddities. And some music! So please come back; I promise I will be brief.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Calgary Folk Festival - Day Three - Quick and Dirty Update
We made our exit early today, foregoing mainstage performers such as Kris Kristopherson, because (a) tomorrow is going to be a trying day, physically, and we want to be at the top of our game - and we are not 25 - well, some of us aren't, and (b) after the first two days of festival being cloudy, we had a day of 29C and blazing sunshine. During the workshops, that was fine - they are all in amongst the trees and I was extremely comfy and happy, but once the workshops were done and the mainstage took over at 5:30, there we were with our tarp and chairs in the middle of a blazing west-facing field, with no possibility of shade for another 4 hours.
I don't mind the heat, but can't handle the sun and after an hour and a half, I started to feel quite ill. But by then it was our planned departure and we escaped home to rinse off in the shower and sit on the couch for a couple of hours.
I have a few misleading statements to correct:
1. It looks as though Elliott Brood will escape my stalking this year after all - I kept missing their workshops today, for one reason or another. I do plan to make it to one tomorrow, but nonetheless, it looks like they've escaped my fanaticism this festival. I did buy t-shirts and cds, though.
2. Lorrie Matheson definitely does talk. And passionately and cuttingly. He's like a Calgarian Matthew Good! My favourite line of his today: "Ralph Klein is a dropfuck" (referring to premier Ralph Klein being a high school dropout as the reason why he won't increase school funding in Alberta). Lorrie Matheson is great, his music is great, his politics are worn on his sleeve and echo mine, and the next time I see him at Hot Wax, I'm going to talk to him about stuff.
Today's highlights:
- Tanya Tagaq was awesome! I'm going to see her again tomorrow. She is an Inuit throat singer with a difference. Traditional throat singing is created by two women face-to-face. Tanya sings solo, so she multitracks herself and incorporates electronica into the music. It will floor you to hear it and to see her perform it. She must lose a gallon of sweat at each performance. Tanya Tagaq has appeared prominently in a couple of Bjork's albums.
- Luke Doucet brought his 10 year old daughter, Chloe, onstage during the Kids are Alright workshop with himself, Melissa McClelland, Feist, and Dubblestandart to help him on a song. She started to sing and there was a collective gasp from the audience at the power and the beauty of this girl's voice and then we all started to cheer. It was a really wonderfully spontaneous, heartfelt moment. And she just wanted to meet Feist.
- Dubblestandart were so cool and so very un-Austrian. Eva bought their cd. I'll have to steal it and play you some of their great dub music.
- The Mod Cons workshop with Dan Berg, Dar Williams, Kris Demeaner, Stew, and Lorrie Matheson was very left wing (so wonderful to see in Alberta) and hilarious. More details later.
I have to go to bed now.

Tomorrow's mainstage lineup:
Eliseo Parra
Rachelle Van Zanten
Dar Williams
Melissa McClelland
Daby Toure
Tanya Tagaq
Matthew Good
Ani Defranco

And that's not even counting the workshops! Plus we have to get there early to find a spot that will have some afternoon/evening shade. So much to do!
Do you see why it's essential that I get my sleep?
Gathering of the Hippies - Day 3
Although I've been sitting on my thumbs since 7:30 this morning, the rest of the Zombie household is just starting to roll out of bed. I must start cracking the whip as we've got a full day to take in today.
Now comes my favourite part of the folk festival - the workshops. There are six small stages scattered throughout the island all hosting workshops today and tomorrow. They are all in lovely settings - treed, some with natural amphitheatres, all intimate and cosy. Last year I spent the entire Sunday morning an arm's reach from my heroes, the Weakerthans. And as you know, Elliott Brood have been singled out as my follow-around group this weekend.
Last night's main stage show was pleasant, but not spectacular. Bedouin Soundclash, from whom I expected perhaps too much, were simply so-so, although Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards did surprise and delight me. I'm not a huge jazz fan, but they did rock the place, particularly the woman whose name I didn't catch, who brought the house down with her larger-than-the-great-outdoors voice and her amazing presence.
And you know what I thought of Elliott Brood (but they were on the secondary stage).
Eva was gobsmacked by Ari Up Vs Dubblestandart - a dub act which followed Elliott Brood on the Twilight stage. I missed them, as I wanted to take Jerry his present which I bought him - his very own festival chair. God bless Camper's Village. But I plan to catch them in some workshops. How often do you get to see the former lead vocalist of the Slits plus an Austrian (yes, you read that correctly) dub band?
Today, I am also planning to take in workshops featuring Feist, Melissa
McClelland (who opened for Matt Good on his recent acoustic tour), Luke Doucet (Melissa's new hubby), Tanya Tagaq (Inuit throat singer), Dar Williams, Lorrie Matheson (Calgary boy), Jay Crocker and his Electric Apes, Niyaz, and more.

<--- Melissa McClelland

<--- Lorrie Matheson. He also works at Hox Wax, a used record store we sometimes frequent. Eva has pinned the name Mumbly Joe on him, because he never really speaks. He sings though!
Tonight's mainstage lineup:
  • The Roches
  • Kathleen Edwards
  • Dave Alvin
  • Little Axe
  • Son Volt
  • Kris Kristopherson
Best non-musical moment: Finding a festival chair for Jerry. I am a hero.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Elliott Brood, man!!!!
(Quick day two Folk Fest report)

Even better than they were opening for Wilco. They smoked the Twilight Stage! At one point, the bass player ran into the crowd and started dancing with a group of grooving girls from Lethbridge near the back, patting Eva's friend Sean on the head as he scooted past. And then after the set they made their escape to the beer gardens in a golf cart.

I am stalking them for the rest of the weekend, as they shall take over from John K Samson as my Folk Festival victims this year. And I am making them my newest pet project to promote. God damn they are good!!!
More details about more acts tomorrow. Promise.

OH. MY. GAWD. I love my festival chair!
(Gathering of the Hippies - Day Two)

If I am ever blessed with grandchildren, I shall insist that the first born be named "Canadian Tire Festival Chair Zombie" - that's how much I love my festival chair.

Now Jerry wants one. Good luck with that. I got the last one at Canadian Tire on Wednesday and I just struck out at three stores this afternoon. I shall have to fiercely protect my precious for the next three days.

We arrived at Prince's Island Park about 6:00 last night. The show started at 5:30 and we thought we would casually meander in, fashionably late, but it appeared about 275,00 other people had the same idea. The entrance line stretched through the park and almost over to the other side of the bridge in Kensington. I thought Jerry was going to become apoplexic. But I reminded him that it was a folk festival and the line actually moved pretty quickly. And we made some new friends.

We arrived in time to hear Niyaz, an Iranian/Indian group who came thisclose to stealing the entire show. They are a wonderful looking group; the front Azam Ali is stunningly beautiful with black curly hair that cascades down to her bum and a sublime voice that blends so magically with the traditional Persian music which they morph with contemporary electronic beats. Haunting.

After a decidedly unfunny comic who was emceeing, Feist then took to the stage. She was obviously thrilled to be playing to a hometown crowd, taking the time to videotape the audience, telling stories about her band in high school and her old friends.

She really has a unique voice, playful and acrobatic, smoky and sweet. She wowed the crowd and played a well received encore.

And then Broken Social Scene took to the stage for the final performance of the night. I've always been fair to middling about BSS, but then, I had never seen them perform live before. Last night changed everything. And I'm not just saying that because they slid into a rendition of Nightime/Anytime, It's Alright (and you know, anybody who invokes the Constantines automatically has my undying love forever).

Broken Social Scene were so joyful and that joy was so infectious, that they had the majority of the audience standing and dancing for the final 40 minutes of the set. Feist came back to join her old bandmates for the final half dozen or so songs, and it just became a great big party on that stage - a party which nobody wanted to end, least of all the hosts.

I guess BSS has a reputation for playing as long as they are allowed to, which somebody forgot to tell my husband. After the encore, Mr. Rammy Ramjet had all the stuff packed and scooped up and was barking "okay, let's go!" and started walking. Not wanting to get left behind, the stragglers in the family reluctantly followed. And then of course, the band launched into another song. We could still hear them playing as we exited the park. They're probably still playing.

My favourite non-musical part of the festival on Day One - the aroma of curry everywhere all night

Tonight's lineup is:

  • Savoy Doucet Cajun Band
  • Aurelio Martinez
  • Robbie Fulks
  • Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards
  • Bedouin Soundclash
  • Macy Gray

But I'm going to sneak off the see Elliott Brood playing at the Twilight Stage at 6:30.

And then Saturday and Sunday are all day affairs, so further reports may be sporadic. Matt Good on Sunday night! Wooohooo!


Last night I dreamt I was touring with the Constantines and they were baking and selling bread as a side gig. And it was really good bread too!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Gathering of the Hippies - Day One
Although the gates open at 4:30 this afternoon, apparently people have been lined up, waiting for the running of the tarps, since 8:00 this morning. We, however, are not going to rush down to Prince's Island Park tonight. Rather, we are going to meander casually down there when we are good and ready, as I don't need to get up right in front of the stage. Unless you are within 15 rows of tarps to the stage, there's no difference anyway. I'd rather find a nice shady spot. And besides, there are huge video screens all over the place.
I am totally psyched about my festival chair! This is going to keep me out of a wheelchair this weekend, as it will keep my tarp-sitting down to a manageable level.
I plan to scout out all the best vendors tonight, planning my attack on the curry places, the gelato places, and the vendors who sell those edible fruit bowls and the cowboy kettle corn. And that means no cooking for four days!!! Woo-hoo! That's worth the price of admission right there!

Here's tonight's line-up:
Dan Bern
Broken Social Scene
Pretty sweet, eh? Friday and Saturday night there will be a secondary stage for the evening performances and tomorrow I plan to head to the Twilight stage to catch Elliott Brood, who opened for Wilco a few weeks ago. I'd like to see them again.
I'm still sussing out whom I want to see in the workshops on Saturday and Sunday. So much prep work to do!
I'm hoping for 25-26C and clouds over the weekend, but you can't count on clouds in Calgary, unfortunately. I don't mind the heat so much, but the sun is brutally intense here (probably the altitude) and I actually get a rash from it. I may therefore need to spend a bit of time in the beer gardens, as it is set in a deliciously shady wooded area. Jerry, you may have to drive home! Except knowing Jer, he'll be in there several hours before me. Eva, time for you to get your driver's license! You slacker.
Hahaha look what I just found! The Folk Festival people told me that they wanted to use part of my letter in their promos, but I didn't think that they actually had.
I had sent a thank you letter to the Folk Festival promoters, in appreciation of the mega-huge prize package I had won last year. I won't go into detail, as a lot of you have heard it all a million times before, but here are some previous posts, in which I spout on and on ad nauseum, if you are so inclined:
Highlights of tonight's show will be presented tomorrow, as well as the Zombie family plan of attack for Friday's concerts.

Sputnik's dental adventure went surprisingly well, although she was one stoned kitty last night. We were supposed to offer her soft cat food after 8:00pm, at which she sniffed derisively and fixed me with a "what the fuck are you thinking?" look. And then ate her hard old crunchy food.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Time to Right an Oversight ...
For a year now, I've been thinking I really should do a profile on Christine Fellows, and then something else comes up and ... well, here it is, a year after I saw her at the Calgary Folk Festival and I still haven't told you about this original and wonderfully idiosyncratic musician.
I still remember when I first heard her music. It was actually her third album, Paper Anniversary. I was immediately floored by her pure and unpretentious voice and by her very unique brand of lush orchestral chamber pop meets delicate homespun poetry.
Around about that time, Matthew Good was collecting urls of Canadian musicians. He was posting a list on his blog so that people could access musicians they might not otherwise be familiar with.
So I sent Christine's url to Matt and he replied in an email stating simply:
"god damn that's good!"
He quickly published a post on his blog about Christine Fellows, urging everyone to listen to her, that's how good she is! And I, of course, went around telling everyone that I was Matt Good's music advisor.

The story of the recording of Paper Anniversary is vintage Fellows. It was recorded and produced in Winnipeg, at the home she shares with her husband, the lovely and talented John K Samson of the Weakerthans, with friends and family lending their talents, visiting from Texas and Montreal, or recording their parts in Vancouver and Toronto.

If you have the inclination to visit her website, you can see the video for Migrations, from which this still is taken. It's one of the most original videos I've seen in a while. It's very stylish - a performance video, but set against the backdrop of the audience being shown, via an old-fashioned lantern and paper show, the story behind the song. It's utterly charming, as is her music, which is filled with intricate details interspersed with soundscapes and made lush with cello and other orchestral instruments.
You owe it to yourself to listen to Christine Fellows, and if you get a chance to see her perform as she tours with John K Samson this summer, DO IT.
In the meantime, please enjoy these songs:
Phantom Pains

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

That big red S on my chest? It stands for "SUCKER"

Guess where I'm taking the cat tomorrow?
The dentist.
For a mere $400, you too can have your cat's teeth cleaned.
They saw me coming from a mile away.

But I'm also in the market for my first ever festival lawn chair - you know, with the sawed off legs? No tarp for me this year. I'd be in a wheelchair by Monday, for sure.
Getting seriously pumped about hanging with the hippies this weekend.
oh yeah

Monday, July 24, 2006

Did you see Going Coastal last night?
It was the best thing in the history of best things.
Chris Nelson interviewed Bry Webb (yes MY Bry Webb, of the Constantines!) in a bathroom, which was a little odd, but Chris seems to have a thing for luring musicians into bathrooms.
Bry talked about his love for Neil Young. I always find it so simultaneously astounding and heartening when I hear that people whom I admire have their own heroes. It's the whole circle of life crap.
The Cons are finally putting out a second video - for Working Full Time. I wonder if they'll use the racoons again. I hope not.

We went through rolling blackouts during evening rush hour today, which was really weird as I don't ever remember that happening in Calgary before. Oh I know you folks in California and in southern Ontario are used to it, have been living with them for years, but somehow it made me feel so ... cosmopolitan.

Could this be a sign that Calgary truly is replacing Toronto as the centre of the known universe? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Most disturbing thing I heard today:

gift registries for kids' birthday parties

I have never fully reconciled myself to wedding gift registries, so to me this is an utter abomination. The little monsters should be happy with whatever they receive. And if you are trying to avoid an "awkward moment" when your kid tosses aside a present s/he doesn't like and hurts the giver's feelings, think twice. Shouldn't you use that opportunity to teach the little shit some manners instead?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Armpits should not smell like cherry Kool-Aid

"pure rain"
What sort of olfactory image do you get from those words? A fresh clean, non-smell, right? A hint of water and maybe just a touch of newly mowed lawn. At least that was the image I received when I trying to find a suitable deodorant replacement, since non-scented was not available.
So how come it smells like cherry Kool-Aid? Do you know how disconcerting that is? I find myself sneaking sniffs at my pits now to see if the smell has dissipated. What the hell were they thinking? Pure rain is the last thing I would call this pit juice. Why didn't they just call it fake cherry sugar laden drink and be done with it? If I get attacked by crazed wasps, I'm suing.
It's too bad that Blogger doesn't have a scratch-and-sniff option. NO, not so you can smell my cherry pits ... oh haha cherry pits, get it? But you really should get a whiff of the phlox that is blooming under the kitchen window right now.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Load the kids into the car and come on over!
It's my
and you are all invited to join in the festivities!

One year and 322 posts later and I still can't shake this monkey off my back.
Actually I rather like it there.
Don't forget to bring a stick for roasting weenies and marshmallows with.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I fought the pain. I fought the pain.
I fought the pain, but the pain won
(with apologies to Metric)

Right now I probably have more in common with the lads to the left, the talented and wasted Monsieurs Doherty, McGowan, and Gillespie, than I do with Emily Haines anyway.
I called in sick today for the first time in four and half years. My bravado has come back to bite me in the ass big time. When I pulled my back a week ago I was bragging that I would be doing back flips by the end of the week, but alas I appeared to have fuckered something up instead. Instead of continuing to improve, I took a turn for the worse and when I couldn't eat enough handfuls of Advil, I decided it was time to get some help. Instead I got some serious drugs - muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories - and an x-ray.
It seriously sucks! I don't know how I'm going to go Folk Festivaling for 4 days next weekend if I can't sit, stand or lie down. I'll tell you right now, I'd rather gouge my eyes out with a spoon than attempt to sit on a tarp on the ground for several hours.
But maybe if I remain stoned to the eyeballs like I am right now for the next week, it will be doable. Should be an interesting week at work too hahaha!
The library is right next to the Radiology joint, so I stopped in, as I figured I would have plenty of time for book reading over the next while. Hey, the doctor said NO HOUSEWORK! (not that I ever do any anyway...)
I couldn't find the Burroughs and Gibson books that Will had recommended, nor the Nancy Cartwright autobiography/behind the scenes at the Simpsons book which John made sound so appealing, but I did find the new Chuck Palahniuk book Haunted. Oh yeah, now that's what I'm talking about!
Plus I borrowed M.I.A.'s cd, Arular. It grooves.
Did you know that Neil is back in the blogosphere?
He's too modest to tell you himself, so go say hi.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"although I can imagine, if Thom Yorke made an album of patriotic country tunes, I would love that as well"
- the fabulous Will Benham
As I am in complete agreement with Will, I think you can probably imagine what I have to say about Thom Yorke's new cd, The Eraser. And since everybody in the music business has already reviewed this highly anticipated cd, I won't give you a proper review. I'll simply gush about what it means to me and how Thom Yorke is one of the most important musical geniuses of our time.
The reviews of The Eraser have actually been all over the place, with many critics lamenting the lack of contribution of the rest of Radiohead, complaining that the cd sounds half-realised.
I disagree.
I do agree that Radiohead as a cohesive unit are incredibly gifted and capable of almost unimaginable feats of musicality. Personally, I believe that Jonny Greenwood is a genius in his own right, not only from a guitarist's standpoint, but in his ability to make his own instruments to produce the sound that he is seeking.
In making The Eraser, Thom Yorke has fulfilled a personal need to explore his own interest in electronica and to let that interest lead him to new sounds. It is supposed to sound minimalist; it's Thom playing with the very thing of his nightmares - computers and percussions and the stripped-down coldness of an alien existence. But with the strange off-kilter beats as a backdrop, Thom's voice soars like it never has before. You just can't help getting utterly lost in it, if you allow yourself to. And if Thom Yorke is brave enough to explore those dark and broody recesses, we should be willing to join him.
Here is Atoms for Peace - Thom Yorke

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Are you a folder or a crumpler?
If you've read JPod, you would have a ready answer to that. And the conversation sparked by that question is vintage Douglas Coupland, the kind of mundane, yet so relevant in a purely pop culture context, observation that made me love Generation X and Microserfs so much.
In JPod, Coupland has once again honed in on the pulse of society as he did so brilliantly in both of those books, and in a sense revisits the denizens of Microserfs, only this time around they are techies toiling away in a computer game company in Vancouver, instead of on the campus of Microsoft.
And JPod is certainly does succeed in capturing the zeitgeist, in its references to mothers with grow-ops, ballroom-dancing fathers, people smuggling, the emergence of China as a global giant, a cartoon turtle based on Jeff Probst, and Ronald MacDonald as a psycho killer. It's fun, it's clever, it's hip. The fact that Douglas Coupland is a character who features quite prominently in the novel, a character who is essentially thought of as an asshole by the protagonist Ethan, gives the story a surreal and very post-modern slant.
But somehow it lacked the heart of either Microserfs or Generation X. Perhaps this was intentional, perhaps this was meant to signify the soullessness of the post tech-bubble reality, but I found myself missing Dag, Andy, and Claire. They were seriously flawed, but they had lots of humanity.
But the crumpler versus folder question? It's a moment in the book which brought me pure joy, the joy that only a Douglas Coupland observation can bring me. It's one of those moments which pinpoint a truism, which may or may not be true, I don't know, but it feels so real.
Here's an excerpt:
John Doe asked, "What's a folder or a crumpler?"
"Both are technical terms used by the pulp and paper industry," said Kaitlin.
"Toilet tissue manufacturers divide end users into two categories: people who crumple their paper and people who fold it. Each is fifty percent of the market."
Mark said, "What about you, Bree - crumpler? Folder?"
Bree said, "This is like the black vs. white 'Spy vs. Spy' thing."
"You're changing the subject."
"I'm a folder ... obviously."
"No! I would have had you down as a crumpler."
"Do geeks skew in any particular direction?" I asked.
Kaitlin said, "I suspect they're more likely to be folders."
A quick and highly viral email campaign throughout the building revealed that game builders are eighty percent folders, but the few crumplers took pride in their stance. ...

So, what category do you fall into?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I Guess That Makes Me a Trailer Park Mom...

On Friday, Eva and her friend went to the Stampede. The plan was that we would pick up her friend and I would drive them to the C-train station where they would ride the train to the Stampede grounds. H's step-dad, a strange angry little man, was home and he informed us that her mom would pick them up in the evening. "From the C-train station?" Eva, quite appropriately, asked.
I thought he was going to blow a gasket. "There's no way that H will be taking a train home from the Stampede!" he sputtered. "Things happen on the train!"

Okay, so I let that go. And then as H proceeded to get ready to go, he kept at her, snarking about how she was doing this wrong or her attitude was poor, and then looking at me, as if for approval. I said nothing, although perhaps I should have (although it certainly wouldn't have been what he expected). In his defence, I guess he has only been a dad for a couple of years and didn't have the experience of growing into fatherhood with her, but he didn't need to make up for lost opportunities to assert his authority. It certainly didn't impress me at all.

Eva arrived home at 5:30 pm - hours sooner than I expected - as H had spent all her money on games and snowcones and had gotten bored. Eva had already gone earlier that week with some other friends so she said meh let's just go home then.

It turns out H's mom had picked them up from the train station and apparently received a reaming out from her husband because she had let the girls (14 and 15 years old) ride the train by themselves at 5:00pm. Unbeknownst to me, when we picked H up in the morning, he had assumed that I was riding with them on the train down to the Stampede at 11:00am and escorting them to the gates. The girls wisely didn't tune him in as to what really happened.

Am I totally out of line here? Eva has been taking the train by herself for a year or two now, and I think these short trips are an excellent way to get to know the city, to gain some independence and to demonstrate her responsibility.

I think he was a complete shite about this. And I'm sure he thinks I'm a crack dealer mom now.

My back is starting to feel a lot better! By the end of the week I expect to be doing back flips. Well at least exercising again.

You know, I originally thought that I pulled something while exercising, but then I remembered I also cleaned the house on Friday, so that must have been what did it. Because I exercise pretty much every day and I've always been fine, but house cleaning, now that's another story.

That shit'll kill you.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Either the persistent nagging finally paid off, or perhaps it was the fact that the evil Telecom rep has now gone on holiday till August (the bastard) and left a much more sympathetic dude looking after his service calls, or maybe it was the fact that I was in supreme pain and almost in tears when I talked to holiday relief guy and he felt sorry for me, but the most amazing thing happened at work today.
I now kinda sorta have internet connectivity again, a mere six weeks after it went down. It keeps cutting out every couple of minutes and Telecom claims it is now the responsibility of IT, but at least I can get spurts of work done. There's no way I would try to do any financial or materials management stuff because Peoplesoft is fucked up enough without an intermittent connection, and I hate to see what manner of hell it can put me through under the current conditions, but it's a start.

But I screwed up my back somehow on the weekend. I don't know what the hell I did. Maybe it was new stuff I was trying when I was doing shoulders on Friday. I've never had back pain before (not really) and I can't believe how limiting it is. Did you know that everything is connected to your back? Sure feels like it anyway. Surprisingly enough the thing that really throws a hot poker through me is driving the car, especially backing up, or god forbid, hitting a pothole.
And sleeping, or rather not sleeping. Tonight I'm drugging myself up completely before going to bed, so I don't have to haul myself up by pulling on the headboard every time I want to turn over.
Enough bitching - Eva's off to camp till Saturday and I miss the saucy little wench already. But the computer is mine, all mine, mwahaha! Too bad I have to work every day this week.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Never Buy Pink Sheets

That's my advice to you today.

If your kid goes through a pink-loving phase, don't give in and buy pink sheets. Eva's pink-loving phase last about 15 minutes when she was 4, during which time I succumbed to the pressure, and now I am stuck with these butt-ugly pink bedsheets that are in perfect condition. So whenever we have overnight guests, I am stuck with the dilemma of do I use these pukey, but quality, sheets in the guest room? And if I do, do I risk making my guest ill or worse think that I have a pink fetish.

My oldest sister is coming for an overnight visit today and she gets the pink sheets. My oldest sister, the complainer. I love her dearly and she has a wonderful and kind heart, but my fuck, she complains constantly. It's actually gotten to the point where I keep track of how many complaints can get squeezed into a 15 minute phone conversation, because I know when I get off the line, my snarky family is bound to ask.

I've been listening to far too much Jesus and Mary Chain lately. Actually, no I haven't been, because who am I harming anyway? I missed out on the JAMC when they were still a band and am simply making up for lost time.

I was musing the other day, as to whatever happened to William and Jim Reid (after the mental breakdowns and the run for Scottish parliament), and found the answers on the fansite April Skies.

Bobby Gillespie, of course, went on to front Primal Scream and looks surprisingly good for someone in their 40s who has ingested as many toxins as he has over his lifetime.

Eva is a wealth of information about JAMC, as she is about most things musical, and she has agreed to guest post a JAMC segment, as some of you have said you would be interested in that. It will make up for the pink sheets.

Here's a sweet song haha from the JAMC - Just Like Honey

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Friday, July 14, 2006

I love computer geeks!

Thanks to the lovely and talented guys at Bonavista Computers (let's hear it for the little guy!), my sound device is working perfectly again.

Just in time to listen to my new cds that I blew all my money on today (along with tickets to the Billy Bragg and John Prine concerts).

I did my patriotic duty and picked up Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary, not necessarily because it was nominated for a Polaris Prize, but because I've been wanting it for a while. All the Polaris chatter on Sounds Like Canada recently simply reminded me.

I also indulged in the new Flaming Lips, and Tokyo Police Club's debut cd, A Lesson in Crime. I had to get that one because Eva's friend's brother is the drummer. And you gotta support up-and-comers. There's been quite a buzz about them lately, as they tour with Magneta Lane.

But the prize score today had to be The Eraser. I mean come on!, it's Thom Yorke! How can you not buy it?

At first listen I didn't care for the first song, The Eraser, nor Skip Divided, but now after two listens, The Eraser has already grown on me.
Love Black Swan, Atoms for Peace, And It Rained All Night, Harrowdown Hill, and Cymbal Rush - haha I guess that's pretty much the rest of the cd, oh except for The Clock, which I'm neutral about.

Thom's going to be performing on the Henry Rollins show which is supposedly airing tomorrow night on the Independent Film Channel (which we now get) at 10:00pm ET. There is no sign of it on the digital cable listings, so I may just have to stay home all day, curled up on the couch in my jammies tuned in to IFC, just so as not to miss it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ahhhhh ... dirt therapy

Sometimes all you really need after a crappy day is go out into the garden with a helpful cat.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What's Happening
Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd has passed away (source: NME). He was 60.
That may seem pretty ancient to some of you, but it's actually not all that old.
Rock stars of course are not noted for their longevity. Pete Doherty, for example, is 27. Will he make it to next year, one wonders, or will he become the newest member of the 27 Club?
Wow, that's ironic and weird - my music program, which is on random, just started playing Warren Zevon's Mr. Bad Example. Huh.
In jollier news, did you know that the members of the kick-ass Winnipeg band, Novillero, are huge fans of the show Monk? So is Alice Cooper, apparently.
And who isn't, really? Adrian Monk is so adorable with all his foibles and eccentricities. Anyhoo, Novillero are heading down to America to be on the show. I'm not sure what parts they will be playing, but I sure hope that the madly enthusiastic tambourine playing guy (who is their manager apparently) gets a nice role. Enthusiastic guy like that deserves it.
If you ever get a chance to see Novillero perform, do it! They opened for the New Pornos recently and almost stole the show.
What is it about Winnipeg that produces such awesome musicians and artists? Maybe it's the fact that you can't ever go outside, because of the mosquitoes in the summer and the -40C temperatures with a steady wind from the north in the winter. So you have to make your own fun.
Just throwing it out there...
Oh here they are now!
Novillero performing The Art of Carrying On [Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives]

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Dramarama makes the world go round
There were no empty shelves in
the drama section of your local supermarket today.
Check out the Stroumboulopouli for the big shocking (to some of us anyway) news of the day. Personally, it makes me want to smack myself in the face repeatedly with a shovel, but maybe that's just me.
First day back at work after a week off, and guess what, still no wireless in my office. (This has been a problem on and off for over a month now)
Welcome back - you've got 375,475 tonnes of work to catch up on and no way to accomplish that!
I called Telecom and tore a strip off them and then waited for them to arrive in the morning, as they promised. Finally I left at 3:15 to do work at home. Bastards.
So when I got home, rather than take my vacation notification off my work email, I just changed it to read:
Subject: expect a delayed response
I apologize for any delays in responding to your email. Due to an ongoing problem with internet availability in my office at the University of Calgary, I am unable to access emails on-site.
I will be attempting to answer emails from my home in the evenings, however if you need to contact me during the workday, please call me at blah blah blah.
I was going to add:
"Feel free to call Telecom frequently to expedite the resolution of this situation",
but I didn't have the dude's phone number available. Maybe I'll add it yet.
Good idea or bad?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Yer Calgary Stampede Primer
Having grown up in Western Canada, I just assumed that everybody knew about the Calgary Stampede, but after a conversation with Mint Sharpie and Barbara W on, I realised that wasn't the case. And as we are now in the third day of ten days of debauchery and yahooing known as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, I thought I'd better give a little lesson.
Prior to moving here, I used to roll my eyes at the idea of the Stampede. I mean, come on, cowboy culture, and worse - people pretending to be cowboys for 10 days - is just so cornball and tacky. But I have to admit I have been won over by the spirit of Stampede. Yes, of course there is an emormous midway, and free concerts and million dollar rodeo and chuckwagon races, but the Stampede spirit takes over the entire city, not just the Stampede grounds.
Any morning during Stampede, you can wander down to one of dozens of street corners or parking lots and partake of a free chuckwagon breakfast - eggs, pancake, sausages, the works. Yesterday Chinook Centre mall hosted a breakfast for 50,000 people. Not my style! Waaaaaay too many people, but there are also dozens of much smaller ones to enjoy. You can eat for free for 10 days if you don't mind pancakes every day.
People play hard during Stampede. The journalist Catherine Ford once described Stampede as the time when you are expected to drink before 8 in the morning and still put in a full day's work. And you do.
The Calgary Stampede has a long and illustrious history. It was established in 1912 and shows no sign of retiring. In fact this year the rodeo prize was increased to a million dollars. And yes there are a lot of wannabe cowboys slouching around town, but there are also lots of real cowboys. This part of the country is, after all, ranch land. It is neither cornball nor fake to celebrate that fact.
Despite the fact that I've stayed away from the Stampede grounds for the past couple of years, I've developed a respect and a fondness for this venerable institution.
Yes, the bands at the Coca Cola stage suck this year (more on this another day), and yes, one gets tired of seeing cowboy couture, but my god, those Chuckwagon races! They are possibly the most exciting sport you will ever witness. They are intricate and lightning fast and complicated and the polar opposite of soccer. If you ever get a chance to go to Stampede, you have to see the chucks. You will never be the same again.
But here's my favourite Stampede story:

Every year the whole thing kicks off with a parade, which I never attend, as I hate parades. This year there were estimated to be 300,000 people in attendance at the parade. Again I cry "waaaaaaay too many people".
But I digress. Every year some person in the news is chosen to be the parade marshall. In the past, they've had Pierre Trudeau, Marc Garneau (astronaut), Christopher Reeves, Catrina Lemay Doane (gold medal Olympian). Who do you suppose were the parade marshalls this year?
Sara Renner and Bjornar Hakensmoen.
Who, you ask?

Sara Renner was the Canadian Olympian who won a silver medal in the cross country relay in this year's Olympic games, and Bjornar Hakensmoen was the Norwegian coach who raced onto the track to hand Renner a ski pole after hers broke, allowing her to finish silver and pushing the Norwegian team back to fourth place.
That, in my opinion, sums up the heart of Stampede spirit. It's not about the flashiest or the biggest or the loudest (although there is plenty of that); it's about the people and events that capture our imaginations and our hearts.