Thursday, November 30, 2006

For all you wussies who couldn't handle a few green finger photos,
meet Richard ...

Richard was born at the Calgary Zoo on November 15. He was 6'4" at birth and his mom, Mardi, is really proud of him.
There are more photos of him right here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Psssttt ... wanna see something really gross?

Do you remember my finger? The one with the suspected case of necrotizing fasciitis? Well, it's the coolest thing: the inflammation has localized over to one side and the other day started turning green. I was showing everyone at work and they all asked me why I didn't pop it, but there was nothing to pop; there was no head. Today, however it finally ripened to a head and I am pretty excited about it.
These pictures actually illustrate my abysmal photography skills more than they do my amazing abscess, but I never claimed to be a good one-handed photographer. Blurriness aside, it's actually considerably greener than shown. Objects in the mirror may be greener than they appear.
I had to go grocery shopping on the way home and I was so concerned that I was going to bang my finger on a sack of potatoes and pop the damn thing before I got photographic evidence, but I managed to deliver my little friend home unscathed.
Isn't it glorious in all its pussiness? And it has gotten even bigger since I took these photos! This is physiology in action, folks! T cells are so cool. Macrophages are pretty neat too.
I should entertain wagers on when this thing is going to blow.
Update Update: Sorry, it appears there will be no film footage of the blessed event. I had just finished cleaning up after supper and I asked Eva if she was ready to film because the green finger was all softened up from the hot water, when I looked down at the finger - premature ejaculation.
I feel like the cameraman working on the Ten Commandments film who missed the crucial one-time shot (with a cast of thousands) of the parting of the Red Sea.
"How did the shot go?"
"Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille!"


It's warming up! It's only about -20C and all the ice is starting to melt off the windows. Good thing I'm home today to do the towel thing or there'd be puddles all over the floor, because those were some solidly frozen windows. Sputnik is also helping, of course. She thinks the water flowing down the windows is solely for her entertainment.

So in honour of the return of the sun, here are a couple of Belle and Sebastian songs that always make me feel cozy. Because Scotland is such a tropical country, you know.

I Know Where the Summer Goes and the song that Eva and I were bellowing along with in the car this morning, Lazy Line Painter Jane

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Still have my tongue!
I know you are all very concerned whether I could resist the temptation to lick a lamp post today, but I am happy to report that my tongue is neither fused to a metal pole nor missing the top layer of skin to said pole. In fact, it feels way warmer today than yesterday!
Well, this morning was still turd of a commute as all the roadways had been nicely polished to a high sheen, but most people were quite considerate and cautious, considering that nobody had any clue where the lanes were supposed to be, as all the markings were buried under 6 inches of packed ice. Well except that one knob who mounted the sidewalk and drove down the entire length of it in a school zone when the kids were all walking to school rather than wait in line, but that was the only assholery I saw.
High today = -23C,
windchill = -36C
but it was sunny!
I am such a bad Stroumbi. I keep forgetting to tell you that our blog made it through the first round of voting in the Canadian Blog Awards. So major jagunda thank yous to everyone who took the time to vote.
Actually, (she shamefacedly admitted) the second round of voting started on Saturday and you are allowed to vote once per day per ip address, so if you are still so inclined you may still vote for us.
This is who I've been voting for in round two:
Debacherous and Dishevelled for Best Blog and Best Personal Blog - she's got a down to earth sense of hunour that greatly appeals to me
Matthew Good - Best Progressive Blog (self explanatory really)
Rick Mercer's Blog - Best Humour Blog (again no explanation needed)
Inside the CBC - Best Media Blog (it's our buddy Tod Maffin)
and of course,
The Stroumboulopouli - Best Group Blog

Voting closes on Friday if you'd like to take part. Please click below.

Canadian Blog Awards


I've been hearing chatter on the radio recently about the next edition of Canada Reads, and I am getting pretty excited. I haven't read any of the nominated books, but I plan to start very soon. I want to start with Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill.

It's being championed by my homey John K Samson of the Weakerthans who was, you may remember, the advocate of last year's winning novel, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews.

All the advocates this year were previously successful in championing their past choices.

It's going to be a dog fight.

You can check out all five nominees and the books they are pimping right here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

These are not pictures of me.

These are pictures of my spoiled rotten cat.

When it's the fourth day of a cold snap, with an expected high of -24C and a windchill of -38C, it's only the stupid humans who get up and go to work.

Cats, being the true rulers of the world, know enough to stay under the covers ...

... and catch a few more hours of quality time.

And when that gets boring, there's always the toy box ...

... which needs a thorough investigation.

I had a flashback to grade 1 today, as I was leaving work, head bowed against the north wind for the trek across the three million acre parking lot. I passed a lamp pole and had an almost uncontrollable urge to stick my tongue on it to see if it would freeze onto the metal.
Now I can understand why Shirley Boulege got her tongue frozen to the top rail of the shoe scraper right after the teacher told us not to do that.
Because people are dumb-asses.
Here's something that will warm the cockles of your heart during this frigid weather, though. It's our friend Ruhee, who is not only an Adorable (Henry Faberge and the Adorables, that is), but a solo artist in her own right. Check out her rendition of Moxy Fruvous' King of Spain, in which she does all the a cappella parts. It's pretty amazing and just as cute as she is.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

For the story of two brothers consumed by debris, The Dazzle is a surprisingly clever and delightful play

In March 1947, police entered the Harlem mansion of Homer and Langley Collyer to investigate reports of a dead body in the home. What they found was the accumulated detritus of decades of compulsive hoarding, a decaying house rigged with a series of booby traps, and the body of Homer Collyer, apparently dead of starvation. It took two weeks and the removal of 136 tonnes of junk to uncover the body of his brother, Langley, who had been asphyxiated when one of his own booby traps had crushed him.

This fascinating story provides the foundation for Sage Theatre’s current production of The Dazzle by Richard Greenberg. In The Dazzle, the younger brother, Langley (Frank Zotter), is a concert pianist afflicted with autism and deeply consumed by compulsive behaviour, while Homer (Duval Lang) is a retired admiralty lawyer, now preoccupied with the responsibilities of caring for his increasingly self-absorbed brother. “I am my brother’s accountant” he explains to Milly (Chantal Perron), the socialite and hanger-on who has romantic designs on Langley. And indeed he does play the role of accountant to Langley, not merely in matters financial, but more importantly in matters of social contact.

You are drawn into the world of the Collyers immediately upon entering the intimate theatre. You walk past walls festooned in old newspapers before you enter and cross the stage to your seat, a stage which is dominated by a series of towering bookshelves filled with wheels and cogs and brick-a-brac, all uniformly grey. A pair of tattered armchairs composes the remainder of the furniture. The set suggests a faded aristocracy, and foreshadows the increasingly claustrophobic environment which presages the fated tragedy.

The Dazzle is ultimately a tragedy, in which the tragedy lays not so much in the inevitable demise of the brothers, as it does in the heartbreaking realization that the Collyers were not as content to be insulated from the world as they appeared, that they, in their way, craved social contact which they were never quite able to fulfill. But far from being melancholy, The Dazzle is actually a witty, sparkling, and quite delightful drawing room piece. The clever repartee among Homer, Langley and Milly is sharp and effervescent. These are people who delight in wordplay, who appreciate and relish the clever twisting of a phrase, who excel at linguistic sparring.

In the first act of The Dazzle, Langley is an eccentric but supremely talented pianist, much sought by society. He is completely incapable of understanding the intricacies of social convention and human emotion. At one point he tells Homer “I really must remember to tell you that I love you”. A textbook autistic, he understands the concept that others have emotions, but as the actuality of emotion is utterly foreign to him, he dismisses it as an oddity of others that he must grudgingly consider. Instead, he is acutely hypersensitive to all senses, and is drawn into obsessive fascination with objects, his “duffle”, which, aside from his music, provides his only meaning in life.

Homer, whom we initially see as a brittle controller, gradually reveals himself as the truly tragic figure, the man who has given up his career to care for his brother and who craves life, any sort of life. He is resigned to the role of voyeur, but his need for human interaction is so great that he invents an elaborate pretext to bring excitement into the Collyer house. Milly is the catalyst for these machinations; she provides the sparkling glimpse of the life that Homer so desperately craves, and she is the window to the world that eludes these brothers. Ultimately though, the brothers’ dependence upon each other proves more powerful than any lure the outside world can offer.

Sage Theatre is quickly becoming synonymous with intimate theatre that is provocative and not easily dismissed. While the previous production of Trainspotting was gritty and raw and addressed the addictions of a subculture of society, The Dazzle takes the premise of desperate and stifling interdependence and narrows the focus to the minutiae of two of the most constrained lives imaginable. But even after the world quite literally collapses around them, you will not easily forget the lives of Homer and Langley Collyer.
The Dazzle plays at Sage Theatre until December 2, 2006.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I love you guys!!!!
(said in my best Cartman voice of course)
Can you believe what was in my mailbox today? Not one, but two, packages from my buds. And those packages contained a couple of cds that were extremely sweet to my ears: Grrlz Who Rawk from the vivacious Mellowlee and scenesterius torontoiae from the adorable Ruhee.
My ears are very happy. Thanks so much guys! And good job Canada Post, making this delivery on a Friday!
And speaking of Friday, here's what my computer generated for a Random 10 Playlist this week. I didn't use my laptop today and I did notice a slight difference in musical tastes between the two computers. But they still get along.
I thinl JACC is taking today off to eat turkey and homemade apple pie, but Dale and American Idle are still playing.
1. Me and Giuliani down by the schoolyard - !!!
2. Girl afraid - the Smiths
3. Cross-eyed and painless - Talking Heads
4. Wild world - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
5. Young lust - Pink Floyd
6. The old main drag - the Pogues'
7. On your own - Blur
8. I will see you in far off places - Morrissey
9. The other man - Sloan
10. Our time is now - Mudhoney
Every Christmas I buy a new board game as a gift for the entire family and then I torture them by making them play games with me all Christmas holiday. The dining room (well it's a multi-purpose room and it's not even a room) table is used for eating only at supper on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and the rest of the time it is set up with games in various states of progression.
Do you have any suggestions for a good board game for this Christmas?
It has to be something that you can play with only 2-3 people.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I have extreme turkey envy
I sincerely wish all my American friends a most happy Thanksgiving, and a glorious four-day weekend in which to gobble turkey (or vegan substitute, if you swing that way), watch football, and take license to legitimately tackle some all-out, no-holds-barred Christmas shopping (again, if you swing that way).
I am jealous beyond belief. Well, for the four-day weekend and the turkey part anyway. The football and the Christmas shopping, I rank up there with having a boil lanced (which I may yet end up doing to my grapefruit finger, by the way).
While we are on the topic of jealousy, I was totally bitch-smacked by the green-eyed monster today when I read these reviews in ChartAttack and Pitchfork.
This description alone from the closing of the Decemberists' November 6 concert at Cool Haus in Toronto is enough to make me simultaneously groan with frustration (why no Calgary concert?), sigh with wonder at the very idea of ever participating in something so wonderous, and have a mini-orgasm:
The curtain was drawn with The Crane Wife's closer, "Sons And Daughters," where a lengthy singalong was conducted in a "Give Peace A Chance"-esque moment that saw the entire venue singing, "Hear all the bombs fade away."
But rather than dwell on how unfortunate I am, I would like to extend a small gift to my American friends as they partake of their holiday, and to all my other friends as well. It's a little game that all the cool kids are playing, called Marry, Shag, or Cliff.
It's really very simple; someone gives you the names of three people and you have to decide which one to marry, which one to shag, and which one to throw off a cliff. The marriage will be forever - no divorce and no killing of your spouse; the shagging will ocur only once, and then you will never see that person again; and the fall off the cliff is always fatal - no exceptions.
It can be rather difficult to decide sometimes, but hearing people's rationales for their decisions is always entertaining. Try it at Thanksgiving dinner or your next gathering. Fun for the whole family!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Proof positive that culture is alive and well in Calgary and being driven by cool people

The other day the hip folks at Flemish Eye Records sent me this link to photos from Chad VanGaalen's cd release party at the Uptown theatre last week. Now how sweet is that?
This first photo gives you a glimpse of some of the animation loop that was playing in the background, along with an introduction to the frog who was wearing a hoodie (not to be confused with the frog huddled over the buman brain, of course).
And of course we finally all get to view the splendid bright fuchsia shirt which we all so greatly admired.
There are more photos from the concert over at Flemish Eye's flickr link so please check them out if you are so inclined.
Flemish Eye is a tiny Canadian record label who represent musicians like Chad VanGaalen and the Cape May. I love the fact that they are a local Calgary company who seem to be doing some pretty amazing things. And you know me, I'm all about supporting the indie labels. So buy some stuff from the musicians they represent, in order that they can keep bringing us great music.

The other cultural landmark that has me excited is the opening of Sage Theatre's new production of The Dazzle this week.
You might remember Sage Theatre as the Calgary theatre company who produced the absolutely jaw-dropping production of Trainspotting recently.
After I reviewed Trainspotting, I was asked by the Artistic Director if I would be interested in reviewing this production. Well of course I am interested!
I realise that this will be a completely different theatrical experience from Trainspotting, but Sage Theatre has a mandate to produce evocative theatre and reputation for delivering edgy and thought-provoking productions. I love the tiny intimate theatre and can't wait to see what this troupe does with The Dazzle.
Here's how they describe the play:
Hoarding. Brothers. Life.
Homer and Langley Collyer. One a lawyer, one a concert pianist - both living the upper middle class lifestyle in New York City. They have it all or do they? There is an emptiness, a void in their lives that they cannot fill. Of course they try. They fill and fill with lots of junk - until their junk has filled their house and blocked them from the outside world. But still it is not enough.
The Hermits of Harlem. An unbelievable story. Easy to pass off as imaginative whimsy, except for one thing: the Collyer brothers were real.
We'll be going on Friday if anybody wants to join us.
The Dazzle is running November 23 - December 2

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

He's Your Man
Ah, the moon's too bright
The chain's too tight
The beast won't go to sleep
I've been running through these promises to you
That I made and I could not keep
Ah but a man never got a woman back
Not by begging on his knees
Or I'd crawl to you baby
And I'd fall at your feet
And I'd howl at your beauty
Like a dog in heat
And I'd claw at your heart
And I'd tear at your sheet
I'd say please, please
I'm your man

I am so glad that they didn't wait until Leonard Cohen was dead before they made Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, the loving tribute to the great Canadian poet, novelist, musician, and icon. Too often tributes to the deserving are not voiced until that person is gone.

This documentary, which we watched over the weekend, was considerably more compelling that I expected it to be. The tribute concert was filmed at the Sydney Opera House in 2005, and featured performances by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Beth Orton, Antony (Antony and the Johnsons), Bono, the Edge, Teddy Thompson, the Handsome Family and some hippie chicks whose names I have forgotten.
Kees, you in particular, would have loved Nick Cave's pseudo lounge-lizard act. It was pretty splendid.
Conversations with Nick Cave, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Bono, etc, provided charming and, at times, quite touching personal glimpses into the influence that Cohen has had upon these musicians. The concert footage and celebrity bits were interspersed with conversations with Leonard Cohen himself, conversations which revealed such tidbits of information such as who Suzanne really was and how Cohen came to be an ordaned Zen monk.
Leonard Cohen, recipient of the Order of Canada, has really come into his own in his seventies. He is as articulate and as precise and measured in his speech as though he were speaking in poetry.
And physically, he is one of those rare and fortunate people who actually look better as they age. Cohen still has style and charisma and is still a snappy dresser. I think he has never looked better.

Critics of the film may say that the concert footage was a little top-heavy on songs performed by Rufus Wainwright, but really that's only suitable. Because honestly now, is there a bigger Cohen-whore in all the world than Rufus Wainwright? And it is undeniable that nobody sings Leonard Cohen quite like Rufus Wainwright does. He
has done many wonderful Cohen covers, including, in my humble opinion, the best version of Hallelujah. And even if Leonard Cohen does now profess to regretting that he once publicly admitted it was written about Janis Joplin, for my money, I'll take Rufus Wainwright singing Chelsea Hotel.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Who Doesn't Love Lego?
When I first discovered I was pregnant about 16 years ago, the first thing I did was buy myself some Lego. Finally I had an excuse! We still have a whole bunch of it in the basement. Nobody ever plays with it, but it's comforting to know that it's there if anybody ever needs to make something out of Lego.
<--- Like these Decemberists!
Beth had a great link to this site featuring all these musicians made out of Lego, including this one, which I am sending out to Will and Hillary.

<--- hahaha! It's Flava Flav!!!!
This is as good as the Fight Club in Lego site, which Michelle posted once upon a time.

edit note: Karen posted the Village People lego on her site hours before I did, so she wins at the internet!

I'm pretty sureI have necrotizing fasciitis.
The FU! finger on my left hand started swelling up this afternoon. It feels like there's a small grapefruit inside the tip right now.
I went for a short workout on the elliptical when I got home from work and everytime I swung my arm, it felt like my finger had been slammed in the door. And then, as I was finishing my workout, some new program came on TLC, which I had on for visuals, entitled something like "Texas Cheer Moms" and it was about ... wait for it ... cheerleaders' moms. If the throbbing finger wasn't enough to induce naseau, this did the trick.
I didn't realise how much I use this finger to type.
If I start seeing red streaks travelling up my arm, I'm going to Emerg quick snap.

Tomorrow the votes close for the 2006 Canadian Blogger Awards
So you have a final chance to vote for the Stroumboulopouli for Best Group Blog and earn the admiration and eternal gratitude of my colleagues and I.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

"Terraforming Mars won't be easy..."

You know when you hear songs with opening lyrics like those, that you are not listening to a musician who follows a formula. And you know when you see Chad VanGaalen perform that you will experience a weird and wonderful blend of music and art and odd stories. But when you attend a Chad VanGaalen cd release party in the hometown you share, you are intimately drawn into the strange and quirky world that must exist inside this multi-faceted artist/musician's head.
Thursday's sold-out cd release party at the old Uptown Theatre was exactly that, an intimate evening of music and stories and an art amongst family and friends and fans. We were expecting a standing-only show, and were a little surprised to be ushered into the actual theatre itself. And did we ever score ourselves some sweet seats! Not quite central, but three rows back and in the first row of the elevated section, so we had lots of leg room and a place to drape our coats. (Hey these things are important in Calgary in the winter.)
The stage was festooned with 6 foot tall cutouts of an elephant, a husky, a couple of frogs (one huddled over a brain), and some kind of gopher or badger ("is that a marmot?" somebody called out later in the evening. "No, but I'm glad you're thinking in that direction," was the response, "I was afraid someone would think it was polar bear.") Turns out they were all created by the musician specifically for the concert, and if we are to believe him, he plans to turn them into a nativity scene along his fence. Unless he can quickly create about 40 more elephants, in which case he will attach those in a line along his fence to make an elephant parade.
We had no idea who was going to open and we tremendously pleased to find out that it was the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, a motley bearded and be-touqued quartet whom I had heard once before featured on CBC.. They played a mix of gospel-inspired blues and some of the noisiest, stomping, growling, howling Delta blues I have ever heard. They were glorious.
In a few weeks I will let you hear some of their music, but right now I can't even tell you why I can't share it with you at this time, that's how much mystery we still maintain in our relationship.
And then Chad took the stage, resplendent in a bright fucschia shirt draped on his lanky 6'7" frame. He folded himself into a chair, huddled himself over his guitar and started in on the first song, only to almost immediately interupt himself with a story about going to Devonian Gardens after supper and having the bass player spit at the security guard. And then that story was interupted when Chad remembered that he had 13 Big Mac certificates in his pocket (which he proceeded to fan out on his little beat box) which his girlfriend's brother had given him and which he was going to give away in a contest later. "But there's one condition, you have to buy them all at the same time. And that guy over there in the white shirt? He's got about 20 more, you can have those too".
It was like watching an over-grown 8-year-old boy who had way too many exciting things on his mind that he was dying to tell you about.
We heard about how the dog cutout was a representation of his dog: "well, not my dog, my girlfriend's and my dog, well no, she's not anybody's dog, she's just Lila".
We heard about a trip to an aquarium where he accidentally dropped his ring inside a sea anemone and had to fish it back out ("those things are about 50 times bigger on the inside than they are on the outside!"), which morphed into a fantastical tale about his finger being then fitted for a tuxedo and that finger visiting the lost-and-found booth inside the anemone. You can almost picture how his strange art, which is featured on all his videos, comes to life.
After a solo set, featuring some of his homemade instruments, some beats that he recorded "down in my basment - that's how pathetic my life is", and a lovely guitar piece played over a recording of a couple of 12-year-old girls viciously dissing their friend Natalie, his band joined him onstage and rocked the rest of the night away.
At that point, Chad remembered that he had some of his art videos on a loop that he had meant to project at the back of the stage. However the bass player became so totally immersed in these fantastical drawings that he faced the back of the stage the whole time, which of course reminded me of Allison's comment about the spaced out look that bass players always seem to sport. He was a perfect example and it made me giggle to think of what Allison would have to say if she was there. Of couse we all giggled when the tooth guy started humping the toothbrush, causing Chad to groan "I knew this was going to happen, I would be playing some really introspective piece and the tooth man would start having sex with the toothbrush".
But despite the multimedia aspect of the evening, the music of course was what really shone. We heard old stuff, stuff from the new cd, brand new stuff, even a Sonic Youth cover ("but I've forgotten how to do the Kim Gordon part").
Chad VanGaalen's unusual and tender voice, at times reminiscent of Neil Young, his beautiful and often disturbing songs, his unwavering determination to play his unique music in his own unique style, make him a treasure that I am proud to call a local gem.
Here are a few samples:

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nothing says Christmas like a giant plastic walrus

I took Eva to Zeller's after school today, and that particular mall, which is decidedly less upscale than some of the others around here, was all decked out in its mismatched Christmas finery. We've always admired the nativity scene they put up each year, in which the donkeys are about 7 times larger than the humans, but this year they had the addition of a rather glorious giant plastic walrus. Made me feel all Christmasy, it did.
Less so the tumour-inducing Christmas music they had blaring over the loudspeakers in the underwear department of Zellers. When they started playing Jingle Bell Rock, I knew if I didn't get out of there I was going to be forced to choke a bitch.
I used an old workout cd today, and was immediately snapped back to Ben's recent post on the Record Room, in which he asked about great first-line lyrics in songs. Check out these opening lyrics:
Today I'm leaving this bullshit one-horse town for the cowboys and indians
who only have balls when there's a camera around
- Matthew Good's Long Way Down
Had one of those days when you want to try heroin,
drunk driving, some form of soft suicide
- the Weakerthans' Leash
Who says you have to end your workout with smiley happy tunes all the time?
I still can't figure out how to change the clock in my car. Ever since the switch from daylight savings time, I randomly press buttons and fiddle with switches whenever I'm at a red light, but all I've managed to do was mess up all the preset radio buttons. And I changed the time in the spring! I'm going to have to haul out that 780 page manual over the weekend.
Speaking of random, have you done a random shuffle Friday playlist? Here's mine:
The lord is my shotgun - Primal Scream
Come crash - AC Newman
Glad tidings - Van Morrison
National hum - the Constantines
Armada - Public Image Ltd
Me in honey - REM
Know your rights - the Clash
Slip inside this house - Primal Scream
For you - Tracy Chapman
The first song - Band of Horses
I see my laptop loves Primal Scream. I always knew it had exquisite taste.
Don't forget to post yours over at Just a Cool Cat's place.
Coming up tomorrow - my review of the Chad VanGaalen's cd release party which took place last night. I promise!
Was it great or awful? Did Chad tell any poop stories? Who was the surprise opener? What was the Uptown Theatre like as a musical venue?
If you don't come back, you will never know.
Hope your Friday night rawks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Canadian Blog Awards

We've been nominated for a Canadian Blog Award
The Stroumboulopouli has been nominated in the Best Group Blog category, and if you are so inclined you can click on the button and vote for us.
We would reciprocate, of course, by naming our first grandchild after you.
Chad VanGaalen cd release party tomorrow night!
It's going to be great. I hope he tells some new poop stories.
I wonder if Chad VanGaalen Fan Boy will bring his mom again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


(^ it's a .gif - click on it to see the show^)

I love the IM N UR cats.
That phrase has insinuated itself into our lexicon in a big way, here in the Zombie household.
Good for any occasion.
Know any good IM N URs?
Passive aggressiveness has been given an unjust bad rap, as far as I'm concerned.
It can be a very effective tool, if used properly.
I excel at it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

That's the noise I made when I heard the Hidden Cameras' new cd. It's also the name of the cd, which I borrowed from the library yesterday, but I am definitely buying this one.
I'm also pretty excited to learn that the Hidden Cameras will bring their spectacularly flamboyant show to our town in early December. I understand they have somewhat toned down the emphasis on boy dancers clad only in ski masks and underwear (damn!), but with the emphasis removed somewhat from the theatrics, the music is taking more of a centre stage and they still rock out just as hard with their self-described "gay church folk music".
The Hidden Cameras first caught my attention with their single Mississauga Goddam a couple of years ago, and then I started hearing tales of their wild shows. Naturally, as straight girl who is inextricably drawn to gay boys, I was intrigued.
In true Canadian indie band fashion, the band are often joined onstage by the likes of fellow musicians such as Owen Pallett and Maggie MacDonald. More musicians for your concert dollar, folks!
This year, the Hidden Cameras are also featured on the soundtrack of the controversial John Cameron Mitchell film, Shortbus. NME has called them more subversive than Marilyn Manson; I call them a band I want to listen to.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

He Played a Pixies Set!
The last thing I expected from Frank Black was that he would play any Pixies songs, but he started out his concert on Friday night with an entire set of them. It was fantastic.
After a truly horrible opener by a dude called the Kentucky Preacher, Frank Black, looking rather fitter than I have seen him in most photos, took the stage to a roar of approval. He immediately started into the first chords of Where is my Mind and the crowd went wild, at which point, Frank stopped, snapped, "I'm not playing any fucking Pixies' songs" and launched back into the song. He then proceeded to play, not only Where is my Mind, but also Nimrod's Son, Wave of Mutilation, and two or three others which escape me right now. We were ecstatic of course, and all sang along joyfully.
Then his band joined him, a tight-sounding crack band, who kept it tight through the most intense, non-stop set I have ever witnessed. One song morphed right into the next, with no pause, no banter, no sips of water. It was exhausting just to watch.
I'm not really very well versed on Frank Black's solo work, so I can't tell you what he played, but he must have played about 187 songs that night. And he sounded really good.
The crowd was surprisingly (or perhaps not) shy of scenesters. In fact there were a lot of old people in attendance. I found myself glaring at them thinking, "hey what are all these old guys doing here, cutting in on our action", and then I realised they were my age.
But here I have a shameful confession to make; those old people lasted longer than we did. By midnight, Frank Black was showing no signs of letting up his brutal pace, and frankly, he proved to be a better man than we were. Shamefully, we left before the concert was done.
But it was a hell of a show.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We pause to remember those who did not grow old
And every year there are fewer and fewer of the aging veterans whom we can thank and pay respect to for their sacrifices in the wars. Today there are only three Canadian veterans still living who served in WW1.
But sadly, there is an entirely new generation of soldiers losing their lives in war. And regardless of our feelings about this war, we must respect their sacifices and honour their memory, and pay tribute to the comrades who served with them.
War,being a universally divisive subject, has spawned a great number of moving and thought-provoking songs.
This version of The Band Played Waltzing Mathilda by the Pogues breaks my heart.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Doing the Friday Shuffle
I have no time to think of anything vaguely original today, so here's the random Friday playlist:
1. Like Soldiers Do - Billy Bragg
2. Carmelina - Matthew Good
3. Shipbuilding - Elvis Costello
4. Nimrod's Son - Pixies
5. Asleep on a Sunbeam - Belle and Sebastian
6. Man on the Moon - REM
7. Auf Achse - Franz Ferdinand
8. 4st 7lb - Manic Street Preachers
9. Fine - James
10. You Tear Me Up - Buzzcocks
Off to see Frank Black tonight. I'm not sure what to expect, as I am not too familiar with his solo work, and from what I understand he could very well tell us, after two songs, "I hate you all, I'm going home".
I hear rumours that Hot Little Rocket will open. They're a fun lively local band.
We'll see!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Chris from Family Guy was right;
there is an evil monkey in my closet!

I always knew monkeys were nasty evil creatures. I could never understand why anyone would want one for a pet. Those Barenaked Ladies guys are idiots. No, I haven't always wanted a monkey.

So I felt quite validated to read these newspaper headlines today:

Delhi suffering monkey mayhem

The story goes on to explain how the city of Delhi has been suffering from problems with increasingly unruly monkeys over the last couple of years. Authorities have been shipping large numbers of monkeys to other states, but lately those shipments have been refused. So now the estimated 5,000 monkeys in Delhi are running rampant, "mobbing government buildings, stealing food from children, and even on one occasion threatening national security ... (by breaking into the Ministry of Defense and tearing up secret documents)."

If I wasn't laughing so hard, I'd be saying I told you so!


I worked from home today! There was freezing rain happening this morning and I was hearing about 12 car pile-ups here and 5 car pile-ups there and how people were having to stop their cars to get out and scrape their windshields because their wipers couldn't handle the slush sticking to them. And I have a 30 km one-way commute and I have to drive over two bridge decks.

I had everything I needed with me to work from home, Eva had an assembly all afternoon, so I made the executive decision not to go in. Eva went back to bed till noon (don't tell her teachers), I actually got a pile of work done, and then because I didn't have to commute back home again, I had time to bake Berni's world famous Orange and Cranberry muffins.

Oh my god they are so good, they taste like cake, even with me replacing the white flour with whole wheat. I think I will post the recipe over on the Food Porn blog this weekend, so you should come over, say hi, and check out the recipe. The house of the Food Porn blog is, after all, the only house that Ben Heller has ever wanted to marry. And that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

But sometimes it's fun when the Jehovah's Witnesses knock on the door...
Like today, one of them came by - only one, it was very odd. I think they must have been in a hurry and the other one was doing the other side of the street, because she didn't even want to talk to me about how to not go to hell or anything. She just shoved a Watchtower at me and took off.
So naturally I taped it to Eva's bedroom door, so that she can learn how to tell false religions from true religions. Because they just don't teach you that shit in high school anymore.
She hasn't found it yet, but when she does, I have a feeling that it will launch another battle along the lines of the Blunt-attack wars.
I don't really feel that it's my place to interfere in the politics of another nation, but I am so heartened by the sea change in the land to the south the last couple of days. Well done, my American neighbours!
In other world news, oh Petah, what have you done now?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What Your Bathroom Habits Say About You

You are very independent and self-centered. You don't solve other people's problems - and you don't expect them to solve yours.

Your idea of fashion is jeans and a t-shirt. Clean, if you're lucky.

You have the perfect blend of confidence and class. You're proud of who you are - but you don't broadcast it.

In relationships, you are practical and realistic. You have a romantic side, but you only let it out when it's appropriate.

... my bathroom knows me far too well...

I never go for very long without listening to Belle and Sebastian, but the other day, Serah was asking what what cd or artist we haven't listened to recently that we really should, and I realized that it has been far too long since I listened to my absolutely favourite Belle & Sebastian album, If You're Feeling Sinister.
Thanks for the reminder, Serah. I remedied that today and feel much better now.
Here's a sample:

Monday, November 06, 2006

I've gone on record as saying that electronica sounds really great on a foggy day, but this sounds pretty fine too...
I saw the Ladies and Gentlemen perform a couple of years ago when they opened for Matt Good and I thought they were okay, and I listened to the cd a few times and it was okay, but today - another fine foggy grey day - it sounded just perfect.
Thom D'Arcy's breathy socco voce, the lightly electronic music, the well-placed harmonies - yeah!
Oddly, earlier this year, the Ladies and Gentlemen signed with Astralwerks and changed their name to Small Sins (which also happens to be the name of this album). I'm so confused.

Bolt doesn't seem to be imbedding, so please click below to listen to:

Stay - the Ladies and Gentlemen

Note to Allison: check out the "oh please stay" line. I think you'll like it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

That is some bad ink
(and by bad, I mean not good)

It's seeing stuff like this that prevents me from getting a tattoo.

Although I do have to admit that it is rather glorious in all its hideousness.
And it is responsible for spawning one of my favourite Eva quotes recently:

"If you have to get a second tattoo to explain the first one, then the first one probably wasn't all that good".

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Oh Alberta, don't hate Saskatchewan,
never meant no harm to anyone

- Oh Alberta, Elliott Brood

Gopher-gate has been all the talk around the water coolers here the last few days. Tomorrow is the Western Conference semi-final game in the CFL (Canadian Football League, for the uninitiated), in which the winner of the game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, played in Calgary, will advance. The Stampeders always travel with a horse and whenever they score a touchdown, the horse takes a victory lap around the field. The Roughriders have a similar creature called Gainer the Gopher, who, in a move that shocked the world and threatened the very stability of our nation, has been refused admittance to the field at McMahon stadium tomorrow.

Now you have to understand that Roughrider fans are among the most zealous you will ever encounter, and because Saskatchewan is traditionally a province of out-migration, Rider fans are located throughout the country and they never, ever lose their enthusiasm. So you can imagine the controversy this pronouncement caused. It even went to the level of provincial premiers, with Ralph Klein of Alberta stating that Alberta works hard to maintain its rat-free status and that vermin such as gophers are not welcome either, and with Lorne Calvert of Saskatchewan countering that on the very rare occasion that the Stampeders score a touchdown, they are not prevented from having their horse go around the football field, even though that can be quite a mess to clean up.

Oh it's a dog fight!

The Grey Cup game will be held in Winnipeg this year on November 19, and if you have ever been to Winnipeg in mid-November, you will know that it is not the most hospitable place in the world to sit outside to watch a football game. People are going to be pissed on brandy and bundled up in snowmobile suits. Sort of like when my brother went to the Grey Cup last time it was held in Winnipeg, but that, my friends, is a whole other story.

Now, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, having grown up in Winnipeg, and I am hoping that Winnipeg will win the Eastern Conference. I know, you are saying, "wait a minute, Winnipeg is in the east?", but you have to understand that you have more fingers than the poor struggling CFL has teams, so Winnipeg gets to be an eastern team just to even the sides out. I am hoping really hard that the Grey Cup will be a matchup between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers - two teams which have a brutal historical rivalry - in Winnipeg. It will be the best thing in the history of best things.

My mom, who does not understand how the game of hockey (the simplest most straightforward game in existence) works, always used to listen to the Bomber games on the radio. I can barely grasp the intricacies of football while watching the game, and yet she used to listen to the games and enjoy them. But she doesn't get hockey.

So tomorrow, my loyalties will lie firmly with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and I'm hoping that Gainer the Gopher disguises himself with a Groucho Marx moustache or something and sneaks his way onto the field, or that all the Saskatchewan fans who have poured into the city all wear Gainer the Gopher costumes and totally subvert the game.

Go Gainer, go little guy!


I have no socks.

Every morning this week I opened my sock drawer and pulled out a pair and one of them would have a hole in the bottom. Now I'm down to the horrible ones that I never wear because they are too loose or too tight or are made of yucky slippery material or they bunch up inside my shoes. I wish it was summer so I didn't have to wear socks, but I guess I'm going to have to suck it up and make a trip to the evil Wal*Mart because it is also the only place I know that has a sewing section and I also have no buttons left on any of my winter coats.

God I hate wearing clothes!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Thank you Pitchfork!
Colin Meloy talks to Pitchfork and answers all my questions about how the Decemberists make that amazing music, discusses their relationship with Capitol Records, listening to Britpop and Lily Allen, Japanese versus Greek mythology, fatherhood, and how the Crane Wife is not a concept album.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I don't want to be the grown-up anymore...

I wasn't feeling all that great as I was driving home from work today. My throat was a bit sore and my ear ached; nothing serious but enough to make me really look forward to getting home. It was a grey day, the sort of day where evening comes on fast, and as I pulled into our neighbourhood, the lights were already starting to come on in our little local mall, smoke was curling out of chimneys as people battled another day of -10, and the snow still lay all around from Sunday's storm.

I was suddenly struck with the joyful and comforting premonition that I would arrive home to find all the lights blazing welcomingly in the house, a fire crackling, and my mom in my kitchen, cooking rouladen and spaetzle, with the tantalizing aroma of slow-cooked beef and homemade noodles striking me as I opened the door.

I was well aware that my mom was not at my house, that her rouladen and spaetzle cooking days were long over by the time we moved into this house, but the vision was so intense and seemed so real and so certain that I felt all nostalgic, nostalgic for something that never was.

I remember feeling that way whenever I looked at a traditional German advent calendar we had when I was young. It was a shop-filled street in a town somewhere. It was a night scene and all the shop windows were lit up and filled with delightful looking toys that I longed for. Saint Nicholas - the rather stern-looking German one, not the jiggly Coca Cola Santa Claus - was riding in a carriage down the street in this town with children runnng to catch up to him. I remember that advent calendar filling me with the same longing for a past I have never known, feeling that same sense of deja vu for something that never was.

What causes a person to feel something like that? Is it just wishful thinking caused by a weak moment (like when we are tired of being the mom and we want our mom to take over again), is it our subconscience tapping into a collective tribal memory, is it our weary brains escaping into a place of comfort for a short while?

Maybe it's a tumour..