Saturday, September 30, 2006

Almost Gold / Mostly Shit
Guess where I am sitting right now. Out in my backyard on the most glorious fall day in the history of glorious fall days.
I love fall. I love the smell of decomposing leaves, I love the crispness of the good apples, I love the urge to cook heartier foods. I really love the clouds of autumn. The key to the season lies in the clouds, in the way they hold the memory of summer and the promise of winter within them simultaneously.
I find that I really miss living in Ontario come fall, because although it's nice in Alberta in the fall, you don't have the glorious colours - strictly yellows and oranges - no reds, hardly any purples, and of course the season is only about two weeks long here.
But although I am spectacularly satisfied with my life right now, I don't want to get all Pollyana on you. After all, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I don't want to be all thankfulled out by the time the turkey starts roasting. Apologies to my American friends for rubbing that in yet again. Hey, what about the UK? Do you guys even do Thanksgiving there?
But in the interests of keeping it real and to honour of the final day of September, here is a list of things that pissed me off this month:
1. word verification
I understand the concept and I accept the need for it, but it really brings out the dyslexic in me. And it always take me 2 or 3 tries to guess the stupid letters. Have you noticed that if you get the string of letters wrong the first time, the next one that pops up has a font that is slightly more readable by the human eye. My question is, why the fuck don't they just make it readable the first time around and save me from wanting to punch someone in the throat?
2. Office Depot
No explanation needed here, if you have been reading this blog at all in the past month. Keep watching for weekly updates on my dealings with those fuckers.
3. People who cut out into the lane that disappears and race up to the front of the line of cars which are inching along and then expect to be let back in.
It's not going to happen on my watch, asshole! I saw you leave the lineup and try to cut back in. Did you think I was going to give you a medal for being inventive? You can bloody well wait like the rest of us; our time is important as well.
And who the fuck thought it was a good idea to design those roads like that in the first place? Some sicko who gets off on hearing about road rage.
4. Dome shows
Overcrowded, terrible sound, huge fucking lineups, smoky, stinky, sticky with spilled beer - never again (unless we get the company seats and it's someone I really really want to see).
5. Matt Good's soon to be ex-wife
Took the money and fucked off, the gold digger.
I'm sure there's more, but unfortunately I am in too good a mood to get a good rage happening. I have my rageoholism under control today.
Whoa hoho!!! Hold the presses! Trust good old blogger to slip me a #6 at the last minute!
6. Blogger not letting me post pictures.
There, now my life/list is complete.

What's pissing you off lately?

Friday, September 29, 2006

"Don't worry, Bill - nobody is there to hear you sing anyway"
While that is not strictly true, there is some validity to those words uttered by Billy Bragg's wife. His on-stage chatter is as much a critical factor in Billy Bragg's concerts as are his songs. In fact there were times during the concert at the lovely Knox United Church when I thought I was at open mike night at the comedy club, or at a rally at the labour union hall. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard during a concert in my life. Okay I almost peed my pants during the Arrogant Worms' set at the folk festival last year, but that was just a short set; this was an entire evening.

And of course it didn't help that Geoff Berner was the stand-in opener either. He took to the stage with nothing but an accordian and a mischievous smirk. Eva commented "Uncle Hank should have stuck with the accordian - he could have been a big star". I don't think Uncle Hank quite has the sass or the humour to pull that off though. Berner's signature song is called "I'm a Lucky God Damned Jew". I think you can imagine the set on the basis of that information.

Rather than try to recite the set list of songs that Billy Bragg performed, I'd rather give you the set list to some of the stories he told:

- watching animal videos on YouTube, particularly the one with Muffy the cat who plays with the cord from the rotating ceiling fan

- the other wonders of the internet, including blogging about the tour and reviewing the audience, "especially that lady with her feet on the chair"

- heckling Morrissey at South By Southwest with shouts of "take off your trousers, Morrissey!"

- going into his "Johnny Clash" persona and regaling us with Pin Ball Wizard done to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues

- and of course, in amongst all the humour (of which the above is but a small sampling), there was the politics, the passion, the rants. Which brings us back to the songs.

Here is There is Power in a Union.


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Thursday, September 28, 2006

You know that game that Ben suggested to Mellowlee as a writer's block breaker, where you have eight categories of people and you can only choose one from three different categories to invite for a dinner party?
I would totally invite Billy Bragg.

Details tomorrow, after I get some sleep.
I just can't do a full day of work on 4 1/2 hours sleep anymore, even without grey hair.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I can think of worse mottos by which to live your life

I got all the grey dyed out of my hair today and while I look like hot stuff now, I think I'm about to die of chemical poisoning. And I'm pretty sure my eyeballs have been seared beyond repair.

So I'm just putting in time until turkey eating day, because a monster turkey feed makes everything better.

Oh, and we're going to see Billy Bragg tonight! Yay!
We shall overcome!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Delivering Winning Solutions That Inspire Worklife™

I know I promised/threatened to give an update on the Office Depot fiasco today, but to be honest I am getting really sick of it right now. which I guess is exactly what they are hoping will happen.
I did mean to contact our Director of Materials Management today, but I didn't have time, so I'll do that on Thursday. Then I plan to write back to Office Assholes, let them know what I have done, and give them a deadline before I contact the media.
A really positive note, though; Karen not only got a response from McEvils on her complaint letter, but a token gesture as well. Check out her story.
Power to the people etc.

From: Barbara
Cc: ; ; ; ;
Sent: Friday, September 22, 2006 11:48 AM
Subject: Re: Your Concerns with Office Depot
Dear Casey Ahlbum,

Thank you for your response to my concerns. As you have noted, I have been in contact with Tim Collins, District Manager, regarding a full refund for my purchase of a faulty wireless router and adapter, which both I and the computer service company I then hired were unable to install, because of the problems with which the router and adapter were fraught.

My initial email to Customer Care at Office Depot on September 1, 2006 was met with the response that I would be contacted directly by a Senior Case Manager within five business days. You should know that when I had received no contact from Office Depot a full 17 days later, I then expressed my concerns to David Fannin, Robert Brewer, Ray Tharpe, Office Depot Media Relations, and Office Depot Community Relations.

As you may be aware, Mr Collins has offered me a store certificate for the amount of your cost on these items ($150.00 CAD), in return for these items. I must insist, however, that I be refunded my full purchase price of $235.38 CAD. I have expressed this to Mr Collins.

As I purchased this equipment in good faith, under the reasonable assumption that it was non-defective, I am in no way responsible for assuming any of the cost of equipment which is faulty and inoperable. It is irrelevant that this purchase was made more than 14 days prior to my attempt to exchange this. This was not a matter of the technology being outdated; this was a matter of the equipment being inoperable from the initial installation attempt.

While I appreciate the gesture made by Mr Collins, I must reiterate that this is not a satisfactory response to this issue, and I must insist that my case be treated fairly, and hope that we can resolve this issue immediately.


Barbara Bruederlin

----- Original Message -----

From: Casey-Ahlbum
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 8:20 PM
Subject: Your Concerns with Office Depot

Dear Ms. Breuderlin, <--- spelled my name wrong!

Thank you for your email, it has been forwarded to my attention. I am sorry to learn that you are dissatisfied with Office Depot.

In reviewing your concerns I have noticed that your request to return the wireless router was made well outside of the period of time that Office Depot allows our customers to return products. Office Depot is a low cost provider and we strive to maintain our every day low prices. For this reason we typically allow our customers to return or exchange products for a period of thirty days from the date of purchase. Technology changes very quickly however, for this reason we provide a period of fourteen days from the date of purchase for any returns or exchanges to occur.

In reading your candid comments, I want to apologize for the poor service that you have described. Although unable to meet the request that you had made, your email indicates that our Store Manager should have been able to handle the situation in a much more effective manner. We should have provided you with the contact information for the manufacturer in order to provide you with assistance under the terms of the product's warranty. Additionally, the entire visit should have been handled in a polite, professional, and empathetic manner and I regret that this was not the level of service that you received.

I know that you have spoke with Tim Collins, our District Manager. I have forwarded your latest email to Mr. Collins and have asked him to contact you directly. Although he may not be able to return the product I am confident that he will take appropriate measures to ensure that the poor service experience that you described is addressed in an appropriate manner.

We appreciate your business.


Casey J. Ahlbum
Sr. Customer Relations Manager
Executive Customer Relations
Office Depot, Inc.
2200 Old Germantown Road
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Mail Code CDBU
P: 561-218-4713
F: 561-438-7476
Delivering Winning Solutions That Inspire Worklife™

If you made it all the way through that dreck, you deserve something a little more positive.
How about this?
Mine are:
OK Computer - Radiohead
The Messiah - Georg Frederich Handel
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
Beautiful Midnight - Matthew Good Band
If You're Feeling Sinister - Belle and Sebastian

Monday, September 25, 2006

My Preciouses!
Ooooh la la, check out the great cds I scored this weekend. I'm pretty excited about them:
Lupe Fiasco - Food and Liquor
Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection
MSTRKRFT - The Looks
(and I've even figured out that it's pronounced "mastercraft", not "muskrat", but it took a while).
They are all really really good and I'll be hosting some selections soon. In fact, I am long overdue to write an entire article on Calgary's favourite beautiful weirdo, Chad VanGaalen, so stayed tuned for that coming up soon.
And in the "they call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad" category, tune in tomorrow for an update on the latest comedic stylings of those zany funsters - Office Depot.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

John Prine at the Jubilee

I never really imagined that I would ever get the opportunity to see the legendary John Prine in concert, the original singer-songwriter who work has spanned almost four decades, but last night in the fabulously refurbished Jubilee Auditorium, I finally fulfilled that dream.

I must tell you that, as someone who is used to regularly being one of the oldest people at concerts, I was a little freaked out to be ranked as one of the younger ones in this sold-out crowd of 2,500. I haven't seen that much grey hair and high-waisted denim since ... well, forever. Naturally I ended up seated beside the biggest bloody biker I have ever laid eyes upon, who did his utmost to contain his +450 lbs to his own seat, but despite his best efforts, he did overtake about a third of my seat and my left arm is still sore from propping up his girth all evening.

But I am not here to gripe; I am here to celebrate the enduring legacy of John Prine and the magic he still weaves to this day. John Prine turns 60 on October 10 (we share a birthday!) and he survived throat cancer in 1998, but he still, after 15 months of touring his new cd Fair and Square, played for two solid hours last night.

John Prine has an almost unbelievable catalogue of work, and has been covered by a huge range of artists. One of his first celebrity endorsements came, when in his early twenties, using a borrowed guitar, he was introduced by Kris Kristopherson with the words "nobody this young can be writing so heavy. John Prine is so good we may have to break his thumbs".

Prine's songs are the hallmark of great writing, in my opinion. He tells a story with such attention to small details that they become intensely personal and immediate. And he has a wry sense of humour that shines in songs which simultaneously make you giggle and ache.

And hasn't lost any of his storytelling magic, for which he is so famous. He peppers his songs with anecdotes, sometimes weaving a little tale into the middle of a song. Last night, for instance, whilst singing "your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore, they're already overcrowded from your dirty little war", he paused to tell us how he had written that song in 1968, retired it in 1975, but that two years ago when "that beady-eyed little president from Texas decided to start his own war in Iraq", he thought it was time to dust if off and sing it again. You can imagine the reaction that got from the largely old-hippy and biker crowd, even if this was Calgary.

This will be a concert I will long remember. Unlike some rock and roll dinosaurs of the same vintage as John Prine (*cough* Rolling Stones *cough*), John Prine is still relevant and important and one of the people. His songs still resonate because they have meaning and validity and a down to earth quality that touches me.

Here are a couple of prime Prine songs you may enjoy - the first one, he did not play last night, the second one (which has been widely covered, including a gorgeous heartbreaking rendition by Joan Baez), he did.

Illegal Smile - John Prine

Hello in There - John Prine

Get music codes at Bolt.

Get music codes at Bolt.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Barbara needs a good swift k@#$”

I'm way behind in posting this, but life and shit sometimes gets in the way of our best intentions, doesn't it? Anyhooo, the beautiful and talented Michelle posted a really fun meme the other day. Google "your name + needs" and list the 10 best answers that pop up.
I tried Barbara first and kept running into stuff that the town of Santa Barbara needs. While I am in total agreement that I do need a decent Thai restaurant (as does Santa Barbara apparently), I am less certain that I actually need a lot of munipical policy changes.
Here are a few other things that Barbara needs:
- Barbara needs to blog (not true, I can quit any time)
- Barbara needs to lose weight to avoid potential cardiovascular (have you been watching me get naked?)
- Barbara needs a screen, projector and cart for a PowerPoint presentation. (who doesn't?)
- Barbara needs real training in dealing with Black women (as opposed to artificial training in dealing with Black women)
and finally, my personal favourite, aside from the title of this post -
- So what if she is a lezbo, Barbara doesn't have to bring it up on TV... That just wasn't cool! Barbara needs to retire... She's a crazy old hag!!!!
So then, tiring of hearing about Santa Barbara's neediness, I googled Barb.
Here are my 10 favourites things that Barb needs:
- to drive to your event (couldn't I just walk there?)
- a record contract … now (that's what I've been saying!)
- to collect membership fees (I thought you were going to do that)
- torch and annihilus and 9 war cry gc or 9 masteries (I have no idea what this means, but it's getting me all hot)
- to be kept in groups of five or more (well, naturally)
- to be eliminated (that's a little harsh)
- to be fed a variety of foods including vegetables as well as meaty foods (yes, yes, and chocolate!)
- a family that appreciates her endearing and happy personality (finally, someone who understands)
- to come home, the city is but an empty shell without her (awwwww, I missed you too!)
- to mail a letter. She has accumulated a rather unusual supply of stamps (and most of them are 1 cent stamps)

What do you need?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ralph Klein actually got around to announcing his retirement the other day, ending months of speculation as to whether he would actually ever resign or if we were doomed to his "leadership" until we are all rotting in our graves.
For those of you fortunate enough to have never heard of the man, he has been the premier of Alberta for 14 years. He has blown up hospitals, and closed schools, and he has wined and dined the oil and gas industry, and thrown coins at people in homeless shelters while drunk.
But he was strangely always a very popular premier. Maybe because he blamed the "eastern creeps and bums" for Calgary's rising crime rates back in 1982. Maybe because he sent every Albertan a cheque for $400.00 last winter. (Can you spell "vote buying"?) Maybe because every time he opens his mouth, you know something outrageous is going to come out.
I think that last one is the only reason that I will in fact, do I dare admit this, miss him just the tiniest little bit. He is a bully, he is a redneck, he is infuriating. But goddamnit, he's funny.

Lorrie Matheson, a Calgary musician, well-known for his anti-Klein views, wrote a song about him which was played on the local CBC home show yesterday. I think it was called something like "The King is Dead". I thought it was brilliant. In it, Lorrie mentions the getting drunk and harassing people at a homeless shelter incident, he tells Ralph that "that $400.00 didn't buy my vote" (nor mine, Lorrie!) and he reminds us that Klein has been cutting health care and education funding for years.

I couldn't find a copy of it anywhere, and I don't even own any Lorrie Matheson cds. I know! Shocking, isn't it? And I call myself a non-redneck Albertan! Bad Barbara! (I promise to fix that oversight, post-haste).

BUT, please do check out the website of Calgary's premier curmudgeon, until I can lay some Matheson tunes on you.

Perhaps not surprisingly, according to the CBC, the response from local listeners to this song was overwhelmingly negative. Hmmm, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

This is Calgary, after all.

And where was my camera when I needed it?
I saw this sign on the back of a truck this morning:
Koharski Plumbing
the Polish Prince of Plugged Pipe's
- yes, you read that correctly - "pipes" was possessive.
I'm not even sure what Koharski Plumbing was trying to say there!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

He Really Does Poo Clouds
Okay I admit that I am on record as saying that Final Fantasy's cd, He Poos Clouds, is weird. And I certainly don't take that back. It is bloody weird! But as Hilary has already posted, it was the winner of the inaugural Polaris Prize yesterday. And even though I probably would have personally ranked it at number 7 of the 10 nominees, I still applaud awarding this prize to this particular cd and this particular musician.
Final Fantasy (which is the one-man band that is Owen Pallett) had an initial idea for this cd which began with this list:
1. A set of songs that attempt to modernize each of the eight D&D schools of magic
(I admit that I know nothing about Dungeons and Dragons, so I couldn't say if he accomplished this)
2. Every song will be written for string quartet and voice
(yes that apppears to be happening)
3. Nobody who listens to it will ever again entertain thoughts of suicide
(I'm not so sure - a couple of songs made me feel like slitting my wrists initially, but they have grown on me)
And then he made the cd for $8,000.
I really have to admire Pallett's stated plans for the $20,000 prize. He wants to assist other, even more obscure, musicians in getting their music produced. Awww, he's so Canadian! He has got to be the most adorable son of two entomologists,video game-obsessed, violin-playing wee oddball you could encounter. Bless his funny little heart.
I spent quite a lot of time listening to He Poos Clouds today, and the odd beauty of it is starting to become apparent to me. Awarding the Polaris prize to this unusual effort is actually of particular importance in demonstrating that the concept behind this prize - awarding the best, not the best-seller - is being honoured. It is significant that an experimental work like He Poos Clouds can garner this prize, and it makes me hopeful for the future of Canadian indie music.
This is my favourite song so far - This Lamb Sells Condos (except I first read it as This Lamb Sells Condoms haha). What do you think of it?

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Stop me, oh, stop me,
stop me if you think that you've heard this one before
Seriously, if you are getting sick of hearing about my Office Depot battles, just tell me to STFU already. But if not, here's the update.
After leaving two voicemail message for Tim Collins, who is the manager of the District 73 regional office and supervisor of the infamous Pete Burns, and receiving no reply, I indicated that I would be taking further action.
So today I sent off an email to:
-David Fannin, Executive Vice President and General Council
-Robert Brewer, Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer
-Ray Tharpe, Investor Relations
-Media Relations
-Community Relations
- cc'd the nice fellow at Customer Care, who actually answered me on September 1
Here's a bit of what I said:

I would like to bring to your attention the fact that I have experienced a serious breech of customer service from Office Depot and unfortunately, despite repeated efforts on my part to bring closure to this situation, I have yet to receive satisfaction.

I have detailed my experiences below, and I will say that I did receive a prompt response from Anthony Thomas at E-Commerce Technical Support, as well as a phone call the following day from Tim Collins at the District 73 Regional Office, which were greatly appreciated and gave me false hope for a timely and satisfactory conclusion. However, since my initial contact with Tim Collins on September 2, 2006, I have received no further action from anyone at Office Depot, despite repeated messages left for Mr Collins.

The unfortunate fact remains that I have spent $235.38 for a wireless router and USB adapter which are unusable (and thereby faulty) and have been forced to make all subsequent office purchases (an estimated $2400 for personal use alone) from other companies.

I am distressed by the bad business practices demonstrated by Office Depot, who seem to be taking an adversarial approach toward the merchant/customer relationship, and feel that unless I receive satisfaction in the form of a full refund for this merchandise, I will be obligated to contact, among others, the Director of Materials Management at the University of Calgary, where I am employed. Since I have made numerous purchases from Office Depot in the past on behalf of the University of Calgary, it will be my duty to ensure that, as Calgary's fourth largest employer, they are aware of the failure of customer service that can be expected when dealing with Office Depot, that they may instruct their employees to conduct their business elsewhere. The University of Calgary takes very seriously the quality of customer service they receive and continuously monitor and evaluate business practices of companies with whom the Department of Materials Management or any employees may deal, in order to identify problems.

I look forward to being contacted very shortly by a representative of Office Depot and to a full refund of my purchase.
I'll give them a few days to respond and then make good on my promise.
After that ... the media.
I've got to give a big shout out to my buddy, GOB, the Jim Rockford of the corporate culture / internet-searching world.
GOB, thanks for all the great info - you da MAN!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I don't care how red hot the chili peppers are, I am never going to another show at the Saddledome in my life

First, I have to admit that I am not as fond of the Red Hot Chili Peppers as I used to be. I'm not sure why. I still think Californication and Blood Sugar Sex Magik are great albums, and I liked By the Way, but somehow I just could not get into Stadium Arcadium. I tried listening a few times, but ... nothing. Maybe it's too long, or something.

Still, Jerry was really keen to go, so we got tickets - way the hell up in the nosebleeds (section 307 to be exact). I have never been that high up in the Saddledome before and hope never to be again.

We took the train, as the lot where we used to park is now a construction site. It was a bloody cold and windy day yesterday, but I only wore a light sweater because I thought I would rather freeze at the station for 10 minutes, than schlep a coat around all night. Mistake!

The doors which we normally access through a covered walkway were blocked off and we had to go down the stairs, back outside, and down the street about 2 miles to the end of the lineup, which was the result of people attempting to enter through a grand total of 8 doors. A huge sign warned us that cameras and video equipment were forbidden, as were "studded belts, jewellery, chains and backpacks". What?

We stood outside in that line for almost 40 minutes, then were patted down and had our bags searched. By the time we got inside the building, the Mars Volta were already half-way through their set. We tried to get to our seats, realized that we would be climbing about a mile up some incredibly steep, beer-drenched steps in the complete darkness and said, fuck that, we'll listen in the concourse and get to our seats between sets. And I never miss the opening act!

It was actually really scary in those seats, we were so high up. Of course we couldn't see anything as everyone in front of us was standing, but we were in mortal fear of going ass over teacup with one wrong move and plummeting 3000 feet to the stadium floor below.

The Saddledome was built for hockey games, not concerts, and the acoustics are terrible, especially way up at ceiling level - the sound just ricochets around endlessly.

But the clincher was the smoke. TOBACCO smoke! Now I don't mind pot smoke at a concert; I expect it, and I don't mind the smell as much as tobacco smoke and it doesn't bother my lungs and eyes as much. But for a non-smoking building, there sure were a tonne of people smoking cigarettes and of course all the smoke accumulated at the ceiling.

We didn't stay to the end. Once our lungs started filling with edema, we said what's the point and made our escape. Should have gone to Lorrie Matheson's birthday concert instead.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sometimes you just need to scream (in a primal fashion, that is)
Some days nothing but a little Primal Scream will do.
I don't know why I was feeling in a bit of a funk today. I mean I did just get my pretty new laptop, so I shouldn't be such an ungrateful wretch.
Maybe because it was cold and has been raining for three days. But I like rain, especially when it's cold.
But then I listened to Movin' On Up, one of my all time favourite Primal Scream songs and my spirits were just lifted.
So if you are feeling less than fabulous, and even if you are already feeling fabulous, I guarantee this song will make you feel better.
Never underestimate the power of a great song.

Upload music at Bolt.

Isn't It a Beauty?
I'm so excited about my new toy - a Toshiba P100, with a 17 inch screen! This takes care of my birthday/anniversary present. Jerry actually wanted me to buy myself a new fall coat, but I don't care about clothes.
I have to leave it plugged in for the first 3 days, to charge up the battery properly, but after that I will be wandering around the house continuously, with my new baby cradled in my arms.
In the meanwhile, I have a lot of music to load up and a pile of files to transfer, and I still have to figure out how to set up my email.
This is perfect timing for the planned assault on Office Depot. Yes, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the store, I am pleased to announce I will be escalating action against that company, as I think I have shown considerable patience in waiting for them to make things right with me. The last message I left with the regional manager today was that I would wait until Monday to hear back from him (he phoned me back on September 2, and since then, not a word from anyone at the company) and at that point I will be forced to take accelerated action, starting with senior management at Office Depot, notification of their policy to the Senior Manager of Materials Management at the University of Calgary, plus a concentrated contacting of the media, including CBC television, which is launching a program called Underdogs. Underdogs will be hosted by Marketplace's Wendy Mesley, and the producers are calling for people to contribute their stories of their battles with companies about products or service.
Is that perfect timing or what?
Oh. It's on!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Time for happy news
Our friend Ruhee was offered the opportunity to play with the Toronto band Henri Faberge and the Adorables, very quickly after starting at York University this fall.

Which is exciting enough. But now the ante has been upped even more and her new band will featured on MTV Live tomorrow (that's Thursday, September 14) on the MTV Canada channel. The band will be appearing around 7:00pm ET.
I'll be watching! Go Ruhee!!!
Oh fuck, I just heard there has been a shooting at Dawson College, a cegep in Montreal.

At this point (about 1.5 hours after it began) there are unconfirmed reports of 16 injuries, and also of 4 fatalities. There may be 2 shooters dead. There are still students in the building, and police think there may also be more shooters in the building.

The college is right next door to a shopping mall and there is fear that some shooters may have gone into the mall. The Metro has been shut down and others cegeps in the area are in lock-down.

What the fuck is going on?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Oh yes they did!

Elliott Brood have finished a new video. I got a note from Aaron, who is part of the team of animators who developed this hella cool video for that great song about the intrigue and underhanded dealings behind the opening of the Ambassador bridge in southern Ontario. It's full of back-stabbing and nefarious characters, and is highly entertaining. Oh yeah, and the song is pretty god-damned great as well! It's called the Bridge.

(And if you are interested on reading about my ideas on the connection between the September 11 anniversary and the Wayne Coyne (the Flaming Lips) interview that aired last season on The Hour, please check out the piece I wrote on the Stroumboulopouli blog.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Today I remember the people who died in the attacks and think of their families who are left behind to grieve.
Today I think of the Canadian soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan as a direct result of the ensuing "war on terror".
Today I think of people whose names I have never heard, in countries whose locations I barely know, who have been suffering and dying in endless wars long before September 11, 2001.
This did not begin on September 11, 2001 and it did not end on September 11, 2001.
I do not accept war.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

All the women wanted to know who the guy in the kilt was, and the bride wore crocs

It wasn't Ewan McGregor, but we couldn't take our eyes off him regardless. Is there anything lovelier than a man in a kilt?

He was all the buzz amongst the x-chromosomes at the wedding yesterday. I couldn't even tell you if he was particularly good looking, but he did cut a magnificent figure in a gorgeous soft-green and grey tartan kilt with cream-coloured knee-high stockings. And his sporran was enormous.

Perhaps if he had been wearing a suit, we wouldn't even have noticed him, although he did have a lovely shaved head and that would have caught my attention. All I know is that kilt raised some blood pressures at our table.

He sat behind us at the church so I didn't even notice him until we stood up to watch the newly-minted couple leave, but during the ceremony I was mesmerized by the lady in front of us. She had the most amazing hair!

The fellow from whom we have been renting a cottage the past few summers has similar hair; it's very curly but it's always dead flat in the back. We refer to this as Roland hair. Well, this lady didn't just have Roland hair. Her hair wasn't just flat at the back, but she actually had a big divot scooped out of the back of her hair . I could not take my eyes off it.

And then my prayers were answered when she was seated at out table at the reception! She turned out to be a lovely woman who was married to the best man. She had their little son with her at the ceremony and her adolescent daughter was also in the wedding party, so I think she did not have a lot of time to spend on herself. I will always remember her hair very fondly, though.

I have always considered the bride to be a very clever, very sassy individual, but my admiration for her skyrocketed when she showed me her footwear at the reception. She was wearing a regular bride uniform, you know, strapless white gown with buttons down the back and that train thingy dragging across the floor behind her, but when she lifted the hem of her dress slightly to show me her shoes, she was wearing a pair of white crocs! None of this "oh my feet are killing me" bridal woes for her!

Hats off to you, Jamie! You are a truly unique person and I think you have found someone who shares your wicked sense of humour.

Bless you, Jamie and Jim. May you have many years ahead of you of perpetrating pranks and snickering about them over dinner.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Polaris Prize to be awarded September 18

The Polaris prize award will be hosted by none other than Jian Ghomeshi, but I have not heard if the event will be televised.

This will be the first annual awarding of this music prize, based solely upon artistic merit, not album sales, and is fashioned after the Mercury Prize in the UK.

Criteria are that albums must be Canadian, released between June 1/05 and May 31/06 and be original material - not covers or re-releases.

The nominees are:
Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
Cadence Weapon - Breaking Kayfabe
The Deadly Snakes - Porcella
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Sarah Harmer - I'm A Mountain
K'Naan - The Dusty Foot Philosopher
Malajube - Trompe l'oeil
Metric - Live it Out
The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary

Shamefacedly I admit that I have only 6 of these 10 cds. I am a bad Canadian. And I call myself a music fan...

Who would you vote for? Who do you think was left off the list?

Friday, September 08, 2006

This Zombie is a cross-blogging whore
Please check out my post on the Stroumboulopouli , entitled More Music to Wait For The Hour By, about music that has been in the news this past year.
I am far too lazy to write anything more today.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

55 Tracks - My Must-Have Songs
Remember long, long ago, way back last week, when Sounds Like Canada in the Summer was still on CBC and Jian Ghomeshi shared his Must-Have Song of the Day. Karen wasn't too impressed with Jian's choices, and she asked if I would want to post a list of my choices.
Shit, that's like asking a masochist if they want their bum spanked! Yeah, I want to make my own list of must-have songs! What a blast this will be, I thought.
So Jian listed 55 songs altogether and I will do the same, but you know what? It is incredibly hard to stop at 55. I had to limit myself to one song per artist. And do you know how hard it is to choose one Belle and Sebastian song? Or one Smiths song? Or one Clash song? Or, sweet baby Jesus, one Matthew Good song, or one Weakerthans song, or one Constantines song? Damn near impossible, I tell you. I did allow two Radiohead songs, though, even at having to leave off the Flaming Lips and the Libertines, because after all Radiohead is the most important band in the world. And that's only fair.
This is a strictly personal list - I'm not judging the merits of these songs against any others. They are either all-time favourites of mine, or else songs I'm grooving on right now. Chances are in a couple of months, this list will look quite different. And I would probably insist it be called 75 Tracks.
So, Karen, even though you might find my musical taste is disturbingly similar to Jian's, I still hope you enjoy the list, and I hope the rest of you do, too. And I'd love to hear your lists.
55 tracks

1. Planet Claire – the B-52’s
2. Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying – Belle and Sebastian
3. Like Eating Glass – Bloc Party
4. Blood of a Young Wolf – Buck 65
5. Ever Fallen in Love – Buzzcocks
6. Hold On, Hold On – Neko Case
7. Clampdown – the Clash
8. Young Lions – the Constantines
9. Belgium or Peru – Cuff the Duke
10. On the Bus Mall – the Decemberists
-Christine Fellows
11. Blood – Editors
12. Edge of Town – Elliott Brood
13. Migrations – Christine Fellows
14. The Fallen – Franz Ferdinand
15. At Home He’s a Tourist – Gang of Four
16. Long Way to Fall – Mary Gauthier
17. Strange Days – Matthew Good
18. The Ring – Sarah Harmer
19. The Pearl – Emmylou Harris
20. Sit Down – James
- Ian Curtis (Joy Division)

21. Happy When It Rains – Jesus and Mary Chain
22. Transmission – Joy Division
23. Live It Out – Metric
24. Galang – M.I.A.
25. King of Carrot Flowers Part I – Neutral Milk Hotel
26. The Cloud Prayer – AC Newman
27. Temptation – New Order
28. Bleeding Heart Show – New Pornographers
29. The Art of Carrying On – Novillero
30. Wave of Mutilation – the Pixies
31. Fairytale of New York – the Pogues and Kirsty MacCall
32. Buona Sera – Louis Prima
33. Movin’ On Up – Primal Scream
34. Exit Music (for a Film) – Radiohead
35. Idioteque – Radiohead
36. Bastards of Young – the Replacements
37. Words We Never Use – Ron Sexsmith
38. Common People – William Shatner and Ben Folds cover
39. I am the Cancer – Sloan
40. A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours – the Smiths
41. Can’t Con an Honest John – the Streets
42. Get Down Moses – Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
43. Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
44. Speak Slow – Tegan and Sara
45. Feeling Oblivion – Turin Brakes
- Chad Vangaalen
46. Blood Machine – Chad Vangaalen
47. Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
48. Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole – Martha Wainwright
49. Chelsea Hotel # 2 – Rufus Wainwright cover
50. Left and Leaving – the Weakerthans
- Thom Yorke
51. I am Trying to Break Your Heart – Wilco
52. Tarantulove – Hawksley Workman
53. Germ-free Adolescents – X-Ray Specs
54. Atoms for Peace – Thom Yorke
55. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner – Warren Zevon

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

... because we're sew guud ...
Thom Yorke got ripped off for the Mercury Prize this year, but he shouldn't feel too badly, because these guys never even got nominated for one.
I present this little slice of rock history - an interview with the Jesus and Mary Chain, back when they were the baby Jesus and Mary Chain. Gawd they were wasters, but who knew that Bobbie Gillespie (with the mushroom fringe) was once so adorable. Check him out pleading for people to "not come to our gigs to faight".
Is your favourie colour gold?
(thanks to Eva - web surfer extraordinaire - for this gem)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Happy New Year, Kiddies!
At the risk of revealing my true inner nerd, I have to confess that part of me always looked forward to the return to school every September. There were the cute new shoes to show off, and all those lovely pencils that didn't have the shit chewed out of them, not even one tiny nibble. And I also think I was a sucker for the catalogues that came out, which depicted all those sassy new outfits being modelled by flawless kids, strolling carefree down leafy streets. No doubt they had homemade cookies in their Nancy Drew lunchboxes.
Of course the reality proved to be rather more harsh than the Leave it to Beaver world of the Eaton's catalogues, but I still do enjoy the fresh beginning that September promises. I crave the structure of the school year after a couple of months of hedonism. Even though I work through my summers these days, the structure is still quite different than it is the rest of the year.

And now my baby is at her first day of high school (which starts at grade 10 in Alberta).
There is no high school in our area, so even if she was going to her designated school, she would still need to take the bus. And there is no school bus for high school students - they take the regular transit system.
$47.00 per month!
We apparently get a rebate of $15.00 per month, but we still have to fork that money out at the beginning of each month.

No wonder the province of Alberta is so fucking wealthy. We pay for everything - school transportation, health care premiums, automobile registration, even bloody library cards. Other provinces in which I have lived have always provided those things. I guess that's why Ralph sent us those "prosperity" cheques last winter.

And naturally the bus schedules all changed at the end of August, so that my carefully crafted itinerary is no longer valid. Today I was scrambling trying to figure out how Eva will get to school on time tomorrow when I return to work (and I hate being unprepared). It looks as though it will take her an hour to get there. She has the option of 2 buses and a train, with a short walk from our house to a bus shelter, or 2 buses with a long walk from our house to a bus stop with no shelter. I think she really wants to take the train option, but not because of the shelter, which would be important to me, but rather because she likes taking the train. I think she likes to pretend that she does not live in the suburbs.

Reading Allison's excitement about her thesis project got me all hankering to go back to school again. I loved going to university, which is part of the reason I went for 8 years (that, and too much partying), and have worked in a university setting for almost 10 years. I'm sure that hankering will pass though when I am free to do what I want with my spare time and others are doing homework. I have to grow up sometime, after all.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I'm It!

Mellowlee tagged me. I won't be tagging anybody else, because I know that some people love these things and some people hate them, but if you want to join in, please do. Let me know if you do so I can come read up all about you.

1. things that scare me
- blindness, Alzheimer's, tornados

2. people who make me laugh
- you guys, the team of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Steven Colbert

3. things I hate the most
- bigots, people who park like assholes, clutter

4. things I don't understand
- calculus, how time speeds up as I age, why I can never remember where I left my reading glasses

5. things I'm doing right now
- listening to the Jesus and Mary Chain, laundry, admiring my new office/spare room from the comfort of my BONNY chair in front of my JERKER desk

6. things I want to do before I die
- publish a wildly successful and incredibly sassy magazine in which I can write whatever I want, learn to take decent photos, spend summers in a cottage in Muskoka

7. things I can do
- bake bread, write, drive a tractor

8. ways to describe my personality
- amiable, curious, opinionated

9. things I can't do
- cartwheels, drink hard liquor, make decisions

10. things I think you should listen to
- Canadian bands, your conscience, rain on the roof on a cold night

11. things you should never listen to
- religious fanatics, infomercials, bigots

12. things I'd like to learn
-architecture, web design, how to run my own business

13. favourite foods
- curry, anything containing oats, grapefruit

14. beverages I drink regularly
- water, coffee, red wine

15. shows I watched as a kid
-Star Trek, Bonanza, Hawaii 5-0

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Yeah, what she said ...

We watched V for Vendetta last night and while I found it to be a little uber-melodramatic at times, for the most part it was intriguing. I think Eva nailed it with her critique, which I offer to you now:
After the first half hour I dismissed V for Vendetta as 1984 for theatre geeks, but after watching it in its entirety, I have come to the conclusion that is beyond that. It is most definitely a homage to 1984, and the theatre comes into play mainly because the movie is based on a comic book, and relied on the flamboyancy of both the media of theatre and comics.

Almost instantaneously, we encounter the same motifs; a repressive government, anonymity of this government’s threats, interpersonal relationships forged through a shared disdain for the current system and tested by different ideals of its correction. We even encounter some of the same visuals, large central networks on huge television screens in every home and every town-square, all broadcasting propaganda.

The main difference between this movie and 1984 was not the medium in which it was distributed, nor the different media used to spread revolution (which in 1984 was much quieter.) The main difference is the era in which it was written.

Orwell was a socialist who became disillusioned with the movement from what he saw being done under its name in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The writers of the original graphic novel V for Vendetta were Brits, disillusioned not only with their government but that of the United States, which it closely mirrored. At least in name, these governments professing socialism were left wing, and this is one of the key differences between the two. In V for Vendetta the government is quite right wing, abhorring Islam and homosexuality, whereas in 1984, sexuality and religion as wholes were punished, leaving everyone equal in risk of persecution.

Another difference was the length of time between the publishing dates and the setting of the dystopian fiction. 1984 took place over 40 years after its publication, whereas Vendetta gave about 30 years in the graphic novel and less than 20 in the film. Vendetta shows a more eminent future, not only in the timeline but because of the issues at the centre of the plots. Communism was not terribly widespread. With except of Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland and East Germany, it was fairly contained to the USSR, China and Cuba. However, the right wing Judaeo-Christian ideologies as exemplified by some lobbyists and politicians in the United States and factions of Great Britain are being used to “rebuild” the Middle-East, potentially leading to the wider spread of these ideologies as practices.

buttz, lolz

One day you'll wake up and there'll be advertising on police cars

I always saw Matt Good as a visionary and this clinches it. We really did see advertising on police cars the other day. Okay, it was actually a police SUV, but same diff ...

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

What a difference a day makes

For three incredible hours, Eva was enrolled in full IB.

And she just about crapped her pants, because the first thing she noticed when she went to pick up her schedule from her new high school was that she was enrolled in IB Math. And she was less than stellar in math last year. And then to her horror, she noticed that all her courses were IB, not just the English, Social Studies, and Visual Arts that she had been accepted to. They even gave her IB Phys Ed! And if you know Eva, you know that's just wrong wrong wrong!

IB, by the way, stands for International Baccalaureate, which is a world-wide program of advanced high school courses. At graduation from high school, the student should have credit for several university courses.

Now English, Social Studies, and Visual Arts I can certainly see Eva accelerating in, but Math? Science? not going to happen, my friend.

But after driving back and forth from the school 175 times very very slowly because 14th Street was closed down because somebody had plowed into the overpass and it was crumbling, so everybody took Elbow Drive instead, in addition to initially forgetting our fees forms and cheques at home which we didn't notice till we got to the school, and it was raining so we got wet when we ditched the car a few blocks from the school because traffic wasn't moving and we were late for the appointment we had to make with the guidance office that afternoon to get the schedule fixed and besides Eva was already late because the doctor kept us waiting for her doctor's appointment... where was I going with this?... oh yeah, everything worked out okay.

So yesterday, we treated ourselves very nicely and listened to the final edition of Sounds Like Canada in the summer, where the daily correspondents (or as Sabrina Jalees, the Monday youthish correspondant called them - correspondencers) received their Jianee awards, and then headed to the mall to pick up our tickets for the New Pornographers /Novillero and the Frank Black concerts, plus a new NME, and we listened to Neutral Milk Hotel in the car where we howled along with Jeff Mangum at the top of our lungs.

Feel free to howl along to Two-Headed Boy, if you feel like it. Nobody is listening.

(apologies for the stream of consciousness post; that's just what it is like inside my head some days)

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