Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is it just me, or does anybody else think it would be preferable to gouge their own eyes out with a spoon rather than try to upload pictures to Blogger lately?
The Zombie Family Album will have to wait for another day, I guess.
I didn't see another adult in costume until noon today, and although my goal for the day was to accept candy every time it was offered, no candy was to be found. I even went up to the library to visit Annley and to show her my costume and she didn't even have any in her little candy bowl. And Annley always has candy!
But we did have a kick-ass potluck lunch with food from all over the world. Just one of the joys of working in a multicultural institution. And George was dressed as a marshmallow.
Happy Hallowe'en
(that's webding for Happy Hallowe'en)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Just in time for Hallowe'en - Calgary's most fabulous beautiful weirdo

He recorded his first album, Infiniheart, in his bedroom, where he not only played all the instruments, but made most of them himself. It took him six years.
This August he released his second album, Skelliconnection, which he recorded this time in his basement.
Chad Vangaalen is an odd and lovely musician. His music is full of sound bits and strange instrumentation and his distinctive voice is a quavering soaring falsetto, often reminiscent of Neil Young, but much, much weirder.
I first became really aware of his music when he toured with the Constantines this spring. He was irreverent and strange, telling poop stories and weaving disturbing and beautiful worlds with his unusual songs and unique vocals.
He's a graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design, where he once, on a dare, pooped into a hot dog bun, decorated it with plastic eyeballs, encased it in a plastic box and displayed it in a gallery. He was quite disturbed when it was eventually stolen. Chad says, "who knows where it is now? It's probably on eBay now. Where are you little guy?"
His art leans toward the eyeballs on tentacles school, and his videos are a strange ride featuring his animated artwork morphing from one weird world to another.
I thought that the Hallowe'en season would be the perfect time to showcase this unusual and talented local boy, who plans to build a skateboard park in the backyard of his newly purchased Calgary bungalow.
This first song, Graveyard, is from Skelliconnection, his new cd, and is a classic, sad and lovely ghost story. The second song, Blood Machine, from his debut Infiniheart, is not so much what you would consider to be a Hallowe'en song, but I find it much more terrifiying, the beautiful and mournful tale of an underground society held slave by a giant machine.
Enjoy, my little goblins.

Get music codes at Bolt.

Get music codes at Bolt.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I know you might roll your eyes at
this, but I'm so glad that you exist
- The Reasons
- the Weakerthans
The end of the month is fast approaching. It's time to take stock of what's been happening during October and, shamelessly ripping off Chart Magazine's Grist 13 and Shitty 7, present what has been stellar and less than stellar this month.
May I present the monthly Shit and Shine List:
snow. This is what we woke up to this mornng and it's been snowing all damn day. I am getting too old for this shit; snow no longer holds any charm for me whatsoever.
My daily commute has just automatically gone from 1.5 hours to 2 hours and then I've gotta shovel the shit whenI get home.
Now I can appreciate why old Canadians move to BC, Florida and Arizona.
stretch limousines. Who thought it was a good idea to design these monstrosities anyway?
Did someone really think that these looked attractive or dignified? All I see when I look at one of these, besides conspicuous consumption and unnecessary gas-guzzling, is powder blue rented tuxedos and bad perms.
And on the topic of cars, why am I suddenly seeing pumpkin-coloured cars everywhere? At firstI thought they were unique and cute, but now they just freak me out.
switch from daylight savings time. There are aproximately 234,876 clocks in our house that need changing twice a year.
people talking about Christmas before Hallowe'en. Just stop that!
Jared Leto. 30 Seconds to Mars is a crap band and Jared Leto still thought it was okay to call my niece and her friends bitches when they asked for his autograph. Jared, you're a knob and your band sucks.
I hear that Mr Leto will be on The Hour this week. I hope George calls him Jordan Catalano, because I understand that really pisses him off now that he's a fancy frontman. Throw spitballs at your TV!
that extra hour of sleep with the switch from daylight savings time. More than makes up for all the clocks that need changing.
neighbours who shovel your sidewalk before you have a chance to. It's always a race to see who can get the sidewalk cleared first in front of their house and the neighbour on either side. That is civilization, my friend.
the Decemberists make me glad to be alive. As long as people can make music like that, the world is still a beautiful place.
carpooling conversations with Eva. You know it's going to be a good day when you can discuss, among other things, Thom Yorke as an old man, Beck's unfortunate facial furniture, and imagining if Morrissey decided to return the favour and record an album called Morrissey Sings Colin Meloy (for sure he would cover On the Bus Mall).
Hallowe'en candy. When I was a kid we got Hallowe'en Kisses and horrid crap like that. Now it's all chocolate bars!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Time for a Makeover

This is the picture that Blogger wouldn't let me post yesterday, when I wanted to use it to illustrate the Crane Wife. Isn't it a stunning picture?
I'm not hugely fond of birds, but that painting is so well done, you can see every detail of each feather and reed.
That is now my new wallpaper on my laptop, and I'm pretty well chuffed about it.
I changed the wallpaper on my work computer last week too. For about a year, I had this picture of George Stroumboulongname and I sharing a hug. Awww! (Look how grey my hair is there!). However now that I can no longer watch The Hour , looking at that picture just pisses me off and makes me sad, so I changed it to something that currently makes me deliriously happy.
Ooooh, one good thing that has come out of The Hour scheduling change is that it frees me up to watch My Name is Earl and The Office on Thursday nights. I saw them for the first time this season last week and almost required defibrillation. God, those are wickedly funny shows!
This is what is now currently on my wallpaper at work - the Decemberists. How can anyone not love them? Look at those faces!
On the home computer, we have a very funny photoshopped picture that Eva found called "do not taunt happy fun possum". If she ever finds the file again, I will show you.
I'm going to switch up my wallpaper more often now. Life is too short to be stuck staring at the same picture all the time.
What's on your wallpaper on your computer? How often do you change it? Is it even important to you?
I should revamp my blog too, but I'm too much of a chicken-shit to try. I should just break down and hire somebody. I'd love to have more versatility with the sidebars and sometimes all that green just oppresses me.
I'm off to bake Allison's pumpkin cake now!

Friday, October 27, 2006

How do they do that?
I suppose it's because the only instrument that I can play with any degree of confidence is the spoons, which I smash together on my knee and call music, and perhaps it's also an offshoot of the hybrid lyrics a few of us have been playing with the last couple of days, but lately I've been trying to figure out how people make music.
I have been listening to the Decemberists a lot lately, and in particular I have been fascinated by one song, The Crane Wife Pt1, which to me is so perfect that it's almost painful to listen to. And because I have only a rudimentary knowledge of how music is made, I am feeling a lot like Salieri lately, watching Mozart breeze so effortlessly through his brilliant compositions while Salieri himself slaves and sweats over inferior work. I don't have the jealousy and the hatin' , though, only admiration and awe.
I had it blasting as I was driving home yesterday, and I'm sure I was a danger to the other drivers as my mind was occupied with trying to figure out how this song managed to make me simultaneously melancholy and almost overwhelmed with sheer joy. Please indulge me while I now attempt to deconstruct this song to try to pinpoint its brilliance, surely exposing my ignorance in the process, but here goes:
It's a deceptively simple song, with a line repetition that's reminiscent of traditional folk songs (much as the Decemberists use the round singing technique in Sons and Daughters). The song starts quietly and slowly, with a simple strummy, plucky guitar accompanying Meloy's voice. The cadence is measured and restrained; there is nothing rushed about the way this song builds.
In the second verse, a melancholy horn is added, with the drums coming in softly at the first chorus and building up to a crescendo with the second chorus, which is when the organ breaks in as well. Somewhere in there, I hear a glockenspiel as well, I swear. The final lines usher in a chorus of voices la da daing. (At this point, the song morphs into Pt 2, but that's a different song entirely)
This song knows how to push all my buttons.

It was a cold night and the snow lay 'round
I pulled my coat tight against the falling down
and the sun was all
the sun was all down
and the sun was all
the sun was all down
I am a poor man, I haven't wealth nor fame
I have my two hands and a house to my name
and the winter's so
the winter's so long
and the winter's so
the winter's so long
And all the stars were crashing 'round
as I laid eyes on what I'd found
It was a white crane, it was a helpless thing
on a red stain with an arrow in its wing
and it called and cried
it called and cried so
and it called and cried
it called and cried so
But all the stars were crashing 'round
as I laid eyes on what I'd found
my crane wife my crane wife
my crane wife my crane wife
And how I helped her and how I dressed her wounds
and how I held her beneath the rising moon
'til she stood to fly
she stood to fly away
'til she stood to fly
she stood to fly away
And all the stars were crashing 'round
as I laid eyes on what I'd found
my crane wife my crane wife
my crane wife my crane wife
But how do people know how to do this? (I don't even have the language to describe what I mean here.) How does one know enough to say, "hey maybe we should add a glockenspiel here, and let's have you guys sing along just these words, and at this point the drums should just let loose"?
Obviously you have to know how to play music and I guess experience plays a huge part. I think being able to produce a song like the Crane Wife Pt 1 is a sign of the maturity and cohesiveness of a band.
Sorry for blathering on like this, but I really want to understand how some people can accomplish something like this. I feel like I'm missing a chromosome or something. I guess I'll just have to appreciate and enjoy their efforts, because I could never in a million lifetimes do anything like this.

Get music codes at Bolt.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

time and time again, by the cemetery gates, a wolf was at the door with a hummingbird, dreaming western dreamz of skindiving, while Belle and Sebastian, who claimed that B is for “butcher”, pleaded “please, please, please, let me get what I want”, but it was all fool’s gold

I think it was Mellowlee’s friend, Just a Cool Cat, who first got us started on it, with his Friday Random 10 Playlist. It was cool seeing what came up randomly on other people’s music files.

Then Allison, thinking outside the box, took it one step further by, not only moving it to a Tuesday (a day in desperate need of a random playlist), but making a new song by taking some lyrics from each of the songs.

Well, that was too much fun to pass up. Here is my copycat effort:

Cemetery Gates – the Smiths
Time and Time Again – Counting Crows
Hummingbird – Wilco
A Wolf at the Door – Radiohead
Western Dreamz – Thrush Hermit
Skindiving – James
Belle and Sebastian – Belle and Sebastian
B is for Butcher – the Hives
Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want – the Smiths
Fool’s Gold – the Stone Roses

hybrid lyrics:

It seems so unfair. I wanted to see you walking backwards to get the sensation of you coming home. Remember to remember me standing still in your past.
Take it with a pinch of salt. Nothing’s ever good enough, good enough for me. Going down, I’m growing wings; hope I can fly before I hit the ground.
You better take a weight right off your mind and listen to what other people say, cause things are going wrong. You keep trying and end up in the middle.
For once in my life, let me get what I want; lord knows it would be the first time. I don’t need you to tell me what’s going down.

Well. That turned out to be a rather self-centered and angsty song, didn’t it? But I guess that’s not too surprising with two Smiths’ songs in the mix.
Victory cds are now burned and I'm pretty pumped about the playlist! It's not too late to give me a shout if you want one.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Just call me Siskel and Ebert
Remember when I went to see Trainspotting at the Sage Theatre recently?
I was contacted by the Artistic Director today, who apparently liked my write-up and he asked if I would like to review their next production of The Dazzle.
Like, yeah!
(I'm so eloquent)


I don't normally listen to songs on repeat, but I must have listened to The Crane Wife Pt 3 at least 15 times in a row today. It is such a powerful and beautiful song and I don't ever remember Colin Meloy's voice sounding so mesmerizing.
I'm falling a little bit in love with him, and not just because he's so sweet and bookish and slightly pudgy either.
Colin Meloy as a sex symbol? Stranger things have happened.


Allison and I both really like the Futurehead's cover of Hounds of Love, but lately I've been thinking about the original and how I haven't heard it in forever.

Does anybody have the Kate Bush song that perhaps they might like to post sometime?

I'd love to hear it again and you would be my BFF.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I do a lot of bitching and whining
But tonight I'm doing my bitching and whining over here.
Thom Yorke says that How to Disappear Completely is his favourite Radiohead song.

Get music codes at Bolt.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Postcards from my happy place
Spotted on a t-shirt:
You've! Never Been to a Disco
The Constantines are making music all over the place.
Will Kidman, performing under the name Woolly Leaves, has a solo album out called "Quiet Waters", while Steve Lambke, going by the handle Baby Eagle, has just recorded a solo album as well.
The story of how the Baby Eagle recording session came about is kinda cool and very sweet. Apparently Steve was talking to Christine Fellows in a bar late one night when she offered to record his album at the home she shares in Winnipeg with her husband John K Samson of the Weakerthans. Steve dismissed this as drunk talk until he passed through Winnipeg a few months later and Christine pulled out her calendar and started making plans for Steve to come to their house to record.
You gotta love the Canadian music scene!
And the best news of all? The Constantines are getting ready to work on their next album!!!!!!!!
(and you thought I was excited before!)
Novillero to appear on Monk
posted by novillero Aug 17, ‘06

Winnipeg, Canada’s mod soul power explosion, Novillero, is set to appear on USA Network’s hit TV series, Monk (starring Tony Shalhoub) on August 25 (Canadian air date tba). Two original Novillero songs are performed and lines are spoken, but will Mr. Monk solve the crime?

This June, Mint Records act Novillero spent three days in Los Angeles on the set of Monk, playing themselves, as headliners of an outdoor rock festival. Tony Shaloub’s detective, Monk, jumps up on stage interrupting their performance. While Monk stands centre stage, trying to get the audience to co-operate in his investigation, Novillero yell out, “Forget this guy”, and crash into their song again.

Most of the band had never watched Monk until a few days before the shoot, except for Rod, who’s been a huge Tony Shaloub fan since his “Wings” days, but they were all very excited about the opportunity. “We arrived on set at 6:45 a.m. and there were about 250 extras already there, many of whom were wearing Novillero t-shirts. I didn’t really realize until then that we were the “headliners” of the fake festival. As if! ”

The band were asked to do the show after a music supervisor caught their SXSW set, noting The Flaming Lips were originally tapped to appear but had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict. A true SXSW success story!
Novillero’s Sean, Grant and Rod had the grand opportunity of ‘having lunch’ with Monk co-star Ted Levine (known to many as the serial killer “Buffalo Bill’ in Silence of the Lambs). Ted opened up to the boys, sharing his thoughts on one of his latest movies “The Hills Have Eyes” (‘a little too bloody’) and his favourite music (‘David Bowie’s”Heroes”’ is the tops) among other things. In return Novillero shared some of the Great White North’s secrets, for example why cars have to be plugged in during Winnipeg winters.

The world of TV seems to be catching up with them, as crowd sizes continue to build for Novillero from their intense live shows and busy schedule. A fall tour with The New Pornographers in Canada and their own string of dates in the USA is in the works to help celebrate this great opportunity for the band and a chance for audiences to see the dynamic live show in person.

“Embracing power pop harmonies, sunshine pop horn arrangements, and Krautrock-inspired synths, [a] near-perfect debut” - All Music Guide
Plus, Novillero's video "The Hypothesist" has been nominated for a Western Canada Music Award.
I couldn't find a copy of it, but here's another the video for "The Art of Carrying On", which I think you will enjoy. It features the delicate art of driving in Winnipeg in the winter, while playing drums in the back seat. And it's got Tambourine Guy!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Close Encounters with Office Depot: the Final Chapter

It's a done deal, folks. All that's left to do is the celebrating.
Yesterday I went down to Office Depot to do the deal, to make the switch. You may remember that I was told I would be getting a full refund in the form of a store merchandise card. I was asked which store I wanted to deal with, and while I waffled for a while as to whether I would rather gloat while waggling my refund in the face of the manager who started the whole fiasco, or alternatively never set foot in that particular store again, eventually I decided to deal with a different store.
This store is not that much further from my place and it's way bigger than the nasty store. Not that bigger is necessarily better (usually it's not), but it this case it sure is.
To make a long story short, I was treated very well, by very pleasant and efficient people, and not only was I given the full refund, I was refunded on my credit card, so I got a cash refund instead of a store credit!
I was so pleased by this that, even though I was no longer committed to spending that money at Office Depot, I ended up doing some shopping there anyway. Admittedly I was in the mindset to go shopping anyway, but I also wanted to reward these particular people for the fair way they treated me. See? If you treat me nicely, I will respond in kind. I'm rather Pavlovian that way.
I got a big stack of blank cds, some cd covers, some mailers (do you see where this is leading?), as well as a while bunch of really cool paper in some great colours.
Now I get to have fun. I shall start putting together the Victory cd this weekend to send out to everyone who wants one.
Here's my list so far:
- Alana
-Michelle and GOB
If you want a copy, just let me know, and if I don't have your mailing address, shoot me an email.
In entertainment news, my kid has once again won some CeeBeeCee swag from Definitely Not the Opera, this time for identifying Bloc Party's Banquet on the "what's on Sook-Yin's ipod?" contest. She phoned in her answer and sang it to them, hopefully scoring some Brownie points for the effort, and she made sure to give them her t-shirt size as well, even though they didn't ask for it.
But I guess you have to shoot for the stars sometimes, as last time the swag was admittedly pretty crappy.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Carl Newman could totally fix the ass out of that garage door

But I'm glad he didn't.
The night before the New Pornographers concert this week, I dreamt that Carl Newman was staying at our house (all the bands seem to stay at our house when they play Calgary). In the dream, our garage door was broken, and Carl whipped out a big old toolbox and started to work on it. At sound check, he was still working on it and told us to go ahead to the concert without him; he was going to miss it in order to get the door finished.
I don't know what kind of subliminal meaning there was in that dream, but I was relieved to see him take the stage on Wednesday night. I would rather see him play any day, especially since there's nothing wrong with our garage door, but I did keep saying to Eva, "just look at him, he could totally fix that door".

low point of the evening: Somebody had some homework to finish first, so we got a late start. I wasn't too concerned as I assumed Immaculate Machine would play first, and while we always make it a point to see the opener (you never know when you are going to hear the next Radiohead), as long as we got to see the New Pornos, and especially Novillero, we were happy.
Imagine our shock when we entered the hall just in time to hear Novillero announce "this is going to be our last song". NOOOOOO!!!!!

more than made up for it moment: The guys from Novillero were so sweet and friendly and happy to chat while working the merch table. "I told you we should have gone last" Sean exclaimed when Eva told him that they were her main reason for coming and that we only caught their last song. After a lengthy chat, they promised they would be coming back soon and we bought a couple of sweet t-shirts - Eva's has a bullfighter, mine has a deep-sea diver.

best indie kid ever: The sweet bespectacled lad with the hand-knitted green striped mitts and matching scarf near the front of the stage. Those mitts saw air all night long! Every time I looked over, those mitts were way up in the air, clapping, thrusting to the ceiling, just givin' 'er. And not just during the New Pornos either; those mitts worked each song of every band. Kathryn Calder, who had just done double duty with Immaculate Machine, even commented on how great this kid was as the Pornos took the stage.
I ran into him as we were leaving, and I couldn't help blurting out "dude, you're awesome!". He looked puzzled for a split second, then glanced down at his mittened hands, and a big grin split his face as he gave me a thumbs up. Well, thumbs up to you too, indie boy! Keep on being fabulous!
best dance move of the night: That would have to go out to my very own indie kid, for her "Happy Hands" interperative dance moves. Shades of the best parts of Napolean Dynamite.
overall: great night, despite that fact that there weren't that many people there. In fact, there was not an eight-foot guy in sight and I had the best view of the stage I have ever had at Mac Hall. The New Pornos were tight, as always, Novillero were awesome, and Immaculate Machine were a good new addition to my musical experience. In fact, I'm gaining more and more admiration for Kathryn Calder all the time. She may not have the lungs of Neko Case, but she has a lovely voice and is an awesome keyboardist.
Oddly, the last songs which both Novillero and the New Pornographers played were among my favourites.
Here are:
Aptitude - Novillero
the Slow Descent into Alcoholism - the New Pornographers

Get music codes at Bolt.

Get music codes at Bolt.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

You've not truly experienced Trainspotting until a naked emaciated addict lies at your feet and injects heroin into his penis
The Sage Theatre production of Trainspotting is not for the sqeamish nor the prudish. As one would expect from the subject matter, it is a gritty and brutal portrayal of the lives and relationships of a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh. But it is also filled with dark humour and the cutting witticisms of the lead character, Mark Renton, as he narrates the ensuing struggles to survive, to score smack,and to stay on the dole.
The invitation on the playbill is to "get closer" and upon entering the Joyce Doolittle Theatre, the intent behind these words is immediately evident. The theatre is tiny, holding perhaps 65 chairs, in a room of exposed brick walls and black floor. The Clash was playing over the sound system as we chose our seats, followed by Joy Division, the Buzzcocks, and Magazine - very fitting music for establishing the setting. No Iggy Pop, though.
The thrust staging of this play allows no separation between audience and actor; the play juts into the your face, bringing you intimately into this coarse and disturbing environment. There is no escaping the brutish behaviour unfolding on the playing space. Buttons fly into the audience as a shirt is ripped open, disgusting toilet water from the "filthiest toilet in Scotland" sprays into the air after Renton triumphantly retrieves the heroin suppositories that he has inadvertently shat out, fake blood scatters dangerously close to your coat when a brute punches his girl friend in the face.
But this production is not simply about shock value. There is tenderness here as well, there is insight into political and economic systems coming from a man who has never held down a job, and there is glorious, riotous humour.
The play makeup, not something I would normally comment on, is exceedingly well done. All the actors, who appear so hale and hearty in their publicity photos, are emaciated, drawn, bruised and marked with needle tracks. And the actors must have suffered for their craft, as they all looked considerably thinner than they appear in their publicity photos. Especially the naked guy.
I was completely drawn into this production. It was raw and funny and shocking and oddly uplifting.
I think I am becoming addicted to live theatre again. Just when I thought I was clean.
Tonight, though, I indulge my other addiction. Off to see the New Pornographers, Novillero, and the Immaculate Machine.
I know it's a bit of a cliche, but it's still a great song from the film Trainspotting.
Here is Iggy Pop - Lust for Life

Get music codes at Bolt.
85, and still sassy!

I wish I could be there to have some of your cake today, and to hear some of your always entertaining stories, but instead I'll talk to you tonight.
I hope to see you soon.
Thank you for everything you've taught me and all that you have shown me.
I love you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Check out the luscious new blog by Mellowlee, Kees, Allison, Alana, Deb, and Barb.
It's called Food Porn and it will tempt you and tease you.
So come up and see us sometime.
And bring your appetite.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Farewell to Lister Sinclair
Back when I was a starving student and didn't own a tv, I counted on CBC radio to be my television set. I used to listen to Ideas a lot in the evening, which was hosted by the venerable Lister Sinclair, with his posh accent and dulcet tones. He and Peter Gzowsky were largely responsible for fostering my lifelong devotion to CBC radio.
Lister Sinclair passed away this morning, at the age of 85. There will never be another like him.
I was highly entertained today to read on Tod Maffin's blog that throughout Sinclair's years of hosting Ideas, many listeners were under the assumption that he introduced the show with "I'm Mister Sinclair and this is Ideas". Oddly, I had a friend in grad school who thought the same thing, and she couldn't stand him on account of that misunderstanding. She thought he was putting on airs. I had no idea there were others who heard the same thing, although I don't know if they hated him or not.
One of the best bits of good news I have heard this week has been the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus, the economics professor who is the founder of the Grameen Bank. The mandate of the Grameen Bank, which Yunus founded 30 years ago, is to provide very small loans to the world's poorest people, without collateral. This concept of microcredit has been heralded as a sustainable method for providing large population groups with the means to break out of the poverty cycle, and has developed into a multi-million dollar microcredit industry, in which the impoverished people it supports become the bank's shareholders. World leaders are now attempting to replicate the success of the Grameen Bank.
Heartfelt congratulations to you, Professor Yunus.


I'm pretty pumped that I am going to see the play Trainspotting at the Sage
Theatre tomorrow night.

There have been rumours that people have fainted and vomited at productions of this play and I, for one, could not be more excited. Sounds like going to a reading of a Chuck Palahniuk novel, although I don't imagine there will be plastic human limbs tossed out into the audience.
I still think that the film Trainspotting was Ewan MacGregor's finest effort, and I can't wait to see what the Sage Theatre production makes of Irvine Welsh's novel. They did after all produce Drinking in America a couple of seasons ago.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Will a major label agreement kill the charm of the Decemberists?

I think many Decemberists fans were wondering that when it was announced that the charming folksy Oregon band were signing with a major label for the release of their new cd, The Crane Wife.

The strength of the Decemberists has always been found in Colin Meloy's ability to translate historical references into compelling stories, stories filled with rogues and rascals, pirates and prostitutes, mariners and marauders.

And while the Crane Wife, the Decemberists' major label debut, is a departure from their traditionally guitar-based songs, the sly subversion of this crafty gathering of book nerds is not missing from this latest offering. The first track on the cd is entitled the Crane Wife, Part 3, while the Crane Wife, Pts 1 & 2 is actually a single entity (albeit 11 minutes long) and it features much later on the cd. Oh those sneaky Decemberists! To add to the subversion of the natural order of things, the Perfect Crime #2 is in fact the only crime on the cd, in that there is no Perfect Crime #1. (Actually I'm also referring to the fact the this particular track is probably the least successful on the cd, but more on that later.)

The Crane Wife moves into new musical areas for the Decemberists, bringing in a more exerimental sound in many of the tracks. The lush grandiose opuses are still there in all their glory, with not one, but two of the songs clocking in at over 11 minutes. The Island: Come and See - The Landlord's Daughter - You'll Not Feel the Drowning is a song cycle of sorts, three distinct songs melded into one piece.

As Rewriteable Content so aptly stated in their review of this cd, the Crane Wife has the potential to alienate a lot of die-hard Decemberists' fans, those who only want to hear the Mariner's Revenge Song again. This cd delves into more exploratory music and while that may seem like sacrilege to those who only want to hear another sea shanty, I say let's embrace a band's desire to explore and to push their musical boundaries.

Hell, even Belle and Sebastian dipped into electronica with Electronic Renaissance.

That said, I have to say that the Perfect Crime #2 does not really work for me. Something about Colin Meloy's voice does not lend itself very kindly to reverb and the overlong denouement of "it was the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect crime" seems forced, to say the least.

That said, I have fallen completely in love with several of the songs and, in typical deviant Decemberists' fashion, I can feel the others starting to wrap a tentacle firmly around my heart.

The Crane Wife will be spending a lot of time on my playlist.

Have a listen to: The Crane Wife, Pt 3, Sons and Daughters

Get music codes at Bolt.

Get music codes at Bolt.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Some Days I'm Just Happy to Make It Home Alive

To the woman driving the Toyota Tercel, license plate YXM801, northbound on 14 Street SW yesterday around 8:15 am, those of us who share the road with you, would appreciate if you could put down your god damned cell phone for a moment and stop reading those papers while you are driving. I think the people in the lane next to you, whom you repeatedly almost swerved into as you leaned over the passenger seat to shuffle pages (with the cell phone still firmly attached to the side of your head), would particularly appreciate if you could pull the fuck over to conduct your business. Personally I am glad I was behind you, not beside you.

To the woman who was behind me in the lane reversal stretch of Memorial Drive yesterday afternoon, you are clearly fucking insane.

For those of you who weren't there, allow me to elucidate. Firstly I should explain that the City of Calgary, in all their wisdom, decided to help the westbound flow of traffic in the evening, by imposing a lane reversal along Memorial Drive. Between 3:30 and 6:00pm, there are now three lanes flowing west and one lane creeping east. Guess which direction I drive during that time?

The problem of course, starts quite a ways before we actually go down to one lane, as many people whip out into the left (disappearing lane) rather than wait in the right (good guys') lane, so that they can cut in at the point ot cutoff. This will always happen everytime you have a disappearing lane (of which we are blessed with several) because essentially people are arseholes. So those of us creeping along in the good guys' lane keep a very short distance between us and the car in front so that those ignorant bastards can't cut in, because after half a year of this nonsense, we are tired of it.

Yesterday I heard somebody honking while we were creeping along and I thought to myself, why would someone be honking, we're not even moving? After a bit, I noticed the vehicle behind me was really really close to my bumper (like, a hair away) and then the honking started up again, and it was the car behind me. By this time we had passed the cutoff point, so we were now down to one lane of traffic.

And that's when the driver behind me really started to go nuts. She laid on the horn continuously, while weaving her SUV from side to side, all the while within inches of my bumper. I started to believe that she must have been having a medical emergency and was honking for assistance, and was ready to go check on her, but then we stopped at the red light and I caught a glimpse of her face in the side mirror and she looked fine, just really pissed off, and I thought there's no way I'm getting out of this vehicle.
I really am puzzled by what she thought she could accomplish. Even if she was having some kind of crisis, there was nowhere for her (or the rest of us to go). To our right was a sidewalk, to our left was oncoming traffic. Did she expect me to go up on the sidewalk to allow her to pass? And if so, what about the other 45 cars in line in front of me? What the hell was she thinking?
If you are amazed by the increasing amount of assholery you are witnessing on the road, here is a nice mellow driving song for you. It's by Novillero, who are generally really energetic and whose live show is really very lively indeed, thanks in no small part to the wild enthusiasm of their slightly pudgy tambourine player.
I'm going to see them again next week, when they play with the New Pornographers. Yay!
Let's Pull Over Here - Novillero

Get music codes at Bolt.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fiddy's been done, and so has Diddy, as has JRoc and KFed, so what are we going to call Will?

Let me first say that I have a tremendous degree of respect for Will in his capacity as a music critic and film-maker and someone who has his thumb firmly on the pulse of what is about to go down in pop culture. But never did I dream that our friend Will, proprietor of New & Used Records, was also a rap master extraordinaire.

But it's true, my friends. And through some great turn of fortune, I have been blessed recently with not one, but two, Will Benham original compositions in my honour. I can't tell you how thrilled I am. But I sure can share them with you.

Somebody give the man a beat fer Christ's sake:
office depot you was whack/
messed with the zombie and you got smacked/
best fire that manager whose like ricky gervais/
at least give him a lesson in customer service/
it was a trying time, took a couple a months/
but eventually, btz had you for lunch/
now i'm still wary of office depot/
cuz if my shit don't work, don't wanna deal with a creep-o/
but now you made it possible for barbara to buy some blank cd's/
to which i say, can i get a copy of the victory mix please/
now in conclusion, i gotta spread it around/
don't fuck with the zombie, cuz she will throw you down/
because you're not only dealing with her/
you're dealing with an army in the blogosphere

And if that doesn't get your bling jingling and your gold teeth flashing, how about this one:

go barbara
it's your birthday
gonna party like it's your birthday
gonna eat salmon and pizza like it's your birthday
and you don't give a fuck cuz it's your birthday

hope you don't have to work
office depot's still a jerk
a new decemberists cd would make me go bezerk
you got some mix cd's from some offspring
and hopefully there's no songs from the offspring

Oh yeah! Now that's what I'm talking about!

The only thing is, "Will Benham" just is not going to cut it as a hip-hop moniker. If Will is serious about promoting his obvious rapping talents, he's going to have to get his bad self a bad-ass name. A yellow PVC suit wouldn't hurt either.

What should Will's hip-hop alias be?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You'll never be young again...
- Art of Kissing
- Ballboy
That is so true. But a lot of people helped make that a little less painful today. I woke up to some lovely ecards that made me all verklempft, particularly as I didn't even realize that Michelle and GOB knew it was my birthday. There were some lovely new cds waiting on the kitchen table - the new Decemberists (yay!) from Jerry which he had to run all around town for, as all the stores were sold out. And my darling daughter had made me, not one, but two great mixes and, demonstrating that she had been paying attention to my broad hints, put lots of Ballboy songs on them, as well as some great tracks from the Moldy Peaches, Momus, Magazine, Luxembourg, the Magnetic Fields, oh lots of great stuff.
Jas brought in a fabulous chocolate trufle cake at work and I ate a slice before eating my lunch. I figured if I was going to drop dead of old age, at least I've had dessert.
My sweetheart niece Beth sent me a nice chatty email and I got three phone calls from family during supper, goddamnit. Okay that part, not so good. Well the calls were nice, but my supper sure got cold.
How is it possible that I am 48 years old and yet I still channel my inner 8-year old boy? All the time. Can that be healthy? What kind of role model does that make me for my daughter?
Oh well, fuck it, it's my birthday, I can be as immature as I need to be.
Art of Kissing - Ballboy

Get music codes at Bolt.

Monday, October 09, 2006

We are the champions, my friends!!!
We won! Office Depot has caved and offered me a full refund, albeit for a merchandise card, but I can live with that. (cue the Rocky theme music)
I can't tell you how much your support has meant to me during this skirmish. There have been times when I wanted to forget the whole thing, but knowing that you were backing me kept me motivated. I sincerely mean it when I say I could not have done this wthout you. Gotta love the power of the internetz (and more importantly, the wonderful caring people in front of those computers)
I had a disturbing dream last night, though, in which Charles E Brown, the global president of Office Depot, committed suicide. In the dream I was saddened of course at the loss of life and horrified at the possibility that my actions may in some small way have had some bearing on this. But on the other hand, part of me also felt omnipotent. I awoke feeling like Mecha Barbara Streisand. Do your dreams ever make you feel guilty?
So it looks like I'm going shopping. Anybody need anything from Office Depot?
And that raises another question - what am I going to buy? Obviously I will steer well clear of any kind of technology or anything that has the possibility of defects, as I am not going through another return procedure. At first I thought I'd just get blank cds and paper and stuff, but that's a pile of cds and paper, so I started looking at some things I do want to get eventually: a chair, lamps, or a laptop carrying case. (sorry no pics - Blogger don't allow today)
I should make some Victory cds and send them to those of you who are interested in getting one, as a small token of my thanks for your support. Yeah, I will. Shoot me an email if you'd like to get one.
What would you buy from an office supply store for $235.38?

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, October 08, 2006 8:24 PM
Subject: RE: Your Concerns with Office Depot
Dear Ms. Bruederlin,

In response to your email I would like to point out that the Office Depot return policy is clearly disclosed on the back of our sales receipt at the time of purchase. Mr. Collins' offer was made in the spirit of good faith in what he believed to be his best effort to work with you. I am sorry that you have not found our efforts to be satisfactory.

In our investigation of this matter it has been brought to our attention that the unit was not only returned outside of the period of time that we allow, but that it also appeared to our employees that it was not in resellable condition. With that being said, the behavior that you described our employee as having engaged in at that point does not represent the way in which Office Depot desires to treat our customers and for that I am truly sorry.

Office Depot's believes that our policies are extremely fair in light of our position in the marketplace as a low cost provider of goods and services. In order to maintain our every day low prices it is necessary to limit the period of time that we allow product to be returned, even with a receipt. However, we recognize that rules and policies should never stand in the way of taking care of a customer. Therefore, in the spirit of goodwill, I would be happy to extend an offer to return the product in exchange for an Office Depot Merchandise Card equal to the purchase price of the product. We believe that this offer is extremely fair, reasonable, and within the spirit of customer service. If you wish to accept this offer please let me know and I will ask Mr. Tim Collins to contact you directly to finalize the arrangements.


Casey J. Ahlbum
Sr. Customer Relations Manager
Executive Customer Relations
Office Depot, Inc.

----- Response -----
Dear Casey Ahlbum,

Thank you for your email and for your offer of an Office Depot Merchandise Card equal to the purchase price which I paid for the products in question. I am happy to be able to accept this offer and to accept the spirit in which it is made.

I should state that at all times I felt that Mr. Collins was sincere in his efforts to bring closure to this situation, and that he made his best attempt to work with the resources he had available at the time. I do appreciate his efforts and I appreciate the sensitivity with which he treated this situation. I also appreciate your fair offer of a full refund in return for the goods in question, as well as your apology for the past behaviour of an Office Depot employee, and I am happy to make this exchange.

I look forward to finalizing these arrangements with Mr. Collins.


Barbara Bruederlin

Here is Sarah Harmer's lovely song, The Ring, which goes a long way toward expressing my gratitude toward you all: