Friday, June 30, 2006
Believe it or not, these folks were not the oldest farts at the Wilco concert on Wednesday night. Not by a long shot. I have never seen such a wide range of ages at a concert that wasn't the folk festival, nor have I ever seen so many people packed into Mac Hall. And I have been to approximately 237,588 concerts there. Calgary obviously loves Wilco. This town is still buzzing about the concert days later.
Jeff Tweedy was barely recognisable, chanelling a Sam Roberts persona complete with a shaggy mane and beard, which looked so very odd on his perpetually adolescent face. He also sported a leg cast necessitated by a stress fracture from too much jogging, a further indication that he really is a changed man. He informed us that his wife wanted him to let us know that he is a dumb-ass.
But despite the good natured kibitsing, the newly health-conscious and cleaned up Jeff Tweedy has lost none of his heartbreakingly beautiful edge on his songs. Opening with Jerry's favourite, Handshake Drugs, Wilco launched into a tight experimental set, drawing heavily from my favourite album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
There were many defining moments in the performance - the call and response song in which the audience happily participated, the sharply punctuated highlights of Misunderstood, the exuberance of Heavy Metal Drummer, the mesmerizing draw of Spiders (Kidsmoke) ... far too many moments to name, frankly.
With the packed sold-out house, I couldn't see a damn thing, but it was worth it regardless. I was naively hopeful at first, as the space in front of me starting filling up with short people just prior to the start of Wilco's set, but naturally at the final second, four 9.5 foot guys swooped in and parked directly in front of me. And then a couple of loud mouthed drunk dudes squeezed in almost on top of me and proceeded to tell each other loudly about their new cell phones. By the third song I had enough.
Now Wilco is a pretty loud band, but this was a quiet song so I let loose with a "hey, shut up!" and the one dude turned around and demanded "what did you say?" So I responded "I said 'shut up!'" And then realising I might be getting in over my head, did some back-scrambling by lamely adding "please". What a chicken shit I am! They did shut up though, although buddy did turn to me later with a "you wanna be quiet on your wooting and clapping, we can't hear anything". I took this as a lame attempt at humour and a peace offering and just gave him my patented punk sneer. And then we were all good.
Meanwhile, little did I realise that Jerry was sweating that he might have to fight, not just these two drunk guys, but also their two friends nearby, who were really big and buff. I told him he could have just pretended not to know me.
I think that Wilco knew that they were loved and appreciated by the crowd. We got two solid encores, not bad from a guy with a broken leg (who did the Hummingbird dance, by the way. Badly). And to all those people who left after the first encore ... nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! You are losers!
Actually the second encore was probably my favourite part, because with a quarter of the audience gone, I could actually see something.
Oh, and guess who opened? Elliott Brood! If you were a regular listener to the National Playlist on CBC Radio earlier this year, you will remember their song The Bridge being on the list for quite some time.
This roots rock trio from Windsor, ON, were a perfect matchup for Wilco, I thought. If you like to listen to a little death country every now and then (and really, who doesn't?) you'd probably like Elliott Brood.
Here's a little taste of what we heard - Misunderstood - Wilco and The Bridge - Elliott Brood. Just close your eyes and picture the guy in the leg cast dancing.
Upload music at Bolt.
Upload music at Bolt.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Wouldn't you know that her two favourite teachers, both of whom I absolutely adore, had both nominated her for awards. So she got an Outstanding Commitment medal for Social Studies, even though the evil head of the Social Studies department wouldn't let Eva's real teacher present it to her because he wasn't on the awards committee. But she did let him contribute to some presentation lines and he said that aside from Eva's "astounding knowledge of social studies", he had never had a student challenge him the way she does and that, as a teacher, he has learned so much from her. I was pretty gobsmacked by that statement, actually.
And then her drama teacher spoke about the Personal Achievement Award that he was presenting and how the person receiving it was the most amazing person he had ever met and consistently challenged herself throughout Junior High despite great personal difficulties, how she showed such resilience when those attempts sometimes failed, and at how in grade nine was truly evaluating who she was, which was something most adults do not do. He spoke of how proud he was to have known someone like her and then he called my baby's name to receive the plaque. And he spoke to her alone afterward and told her he meant every word.
Oh shit, it's making me weepy again just thinking about it.
These men both personify what a great teacher should be. They are kind-hearted and accepting and challenging, and I am so grateful that Eva benefited from having them in her life. I am really going to miss them. Not as much as Eva will, though.
If you were hoping for a Wilco concert review, I'll write it tomorrow, as it been a long long crazy week and I am so fucking tired.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
(*) Damn, that's a handy song title - good for almost any occasion. That and Karma Police.
There hasn't been such a buzz of excitement around the Zombie household for an upcoming concert since the Constantines' show. We may all have different ideas for the essential Wilco album, with Eva firmly behind the ground-breaking Being There, Jerry loving the crunchy guitar on A Ghost is Born, and Bad-Tempered drooling over the experimental sound of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but as we all agree that Kicking Television: Live in Chicago is bloody brilliant, we are completely stoked for tonight's show. Calgary is the first stop in Wilco's North American tour, and we're told to expect 4 or 5 new songs. Oh bliss! The weird thing is, there has been no mention of an opener, so maybe it will be an all Wilco night? I don't think they need any warming up to, after all.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
My work schedule is all off this week and I'm having a tougher time dealing with it than I thought I would.
Eva's got exams and they start at 10:00 rather than 7:58 or whatever weird time they usually start school. Being rather paranoid, I shifted my work schedule to ensure that she actually gets to school for her exams: " Get up NOW!"
So I'm starting and finishing work a couple of hours later than normal. I thought I would have a hard time with the finishing late part (and dealing with that aspect of rush hour traffic) but it's the start of the day that's really throwing me off.
I don't sleep in the summer anyway - loud-mouthed birds, no darkness, stifling heat, etc etc, so I'm up at 5:45 as per usual. I thought I would use that morning time productively (I am a morning person after all - love the fresh sweet air and the promise that the day holds), but instead I am finding myself pacing around like a caged tiger, waiting to go to work. How stupid and counter-productive is that?
In my mind, I'm already at work, trying to figure out which bandages I should use today to attempt to patch up the sinking ship. And yesterday, traffic was just as bad as it is earlier in the morning, although today I will try a different route. What really threw me off was arriving at work yesterday. It wasn't that I had to park way at the far end of the parking lot (it's summer - no big deal to walk a few extra minutes), but that the light was all wrong. It was midmorning. I'm used to being one of the first people in to work and now everybody was already at work, had been for hours, and I had all this catching up to do.
I know I have no reason to gripe when lots of people work weird shifts as a matter of course, and believe me, my heart goes out to them. As a teenager, I worked an 11:30pm -7:30am shift (alone, I might add) for part of a summer and I had absolutely no social life. I would get home, bury myself in the basement, and try to sleep and then I would spend the evening knowing that I had to go to work. It sucked donkey balls.
But I can't complain too much, as I'm just doing this for a few days, and I know that some of you have really weird and often inconsistent work schedules to deal on a daily basis. How do you cope with it? When do you do your best work? What's harder - working straight evenings or nights or shifting around all the time?
Monday, June 26, 2006
Sunday, June 25, 2006
I wonder if Jimi's mom had to sit through guitar recitals in a stifling church on a Sunday afternoon in June.
The nice thing was that hardly anybody showed up so we were out of there in record time, and besides it will be Eva's last one for a while as she's taking a break from guitar lessons next year. Andrew, who's been her teacher for the last two years, is starting university next year and getting the hell out of Dodge.
Good luck, Andrew - have a blast!
The first kid to play in our session was a drummer and damn he was good. He wailed on that thing, and I forgot where I was for a second and gave him a "wooo" when he finished. Is it illegal to woot in church? I don't know the etiquette.
And then when Eva went up to the front to play her pieces, I realised that I had let her wear her New Pornographers t-shirt into church. I am such a bad mother. I can only hope that everybody knew they are a band, but somehow I doubt it.
I may be a shitty, sacrilegious mom, but I can pick a crap band out with both hands tied behind my back. I bought a new NME on Friday and damn if it didn't have a free cd attached - NME Presents Festivals. Whoever usually rips those free cds off the magazines must have been away this week.
So I gave it a listen blind and was able to identify Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs - not all that hard - and had varied opinions on the other songs, but did immediately pick out two songs that absolutely reeked of garbage. Sure enough, when I checked the list later, guess who they were?
You got it - Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy. Well, at least they are consistent and so well branded that they are instantly recognisable.
But I did hear some good new songs. Here's a band that I don't know but I picked as one of the best new ones from the cd. This is Howling Bells playing Low Happening:
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
We live two blocks from Fish Creek Provincial Park. It's one of the largest urban parks in North America, and stretches across the width of Calgary at the south end of town. It's a protected area and has limited access points, resulting in major traffic chaos at times for those commuters south of the park. (we live just north of it hehe)
Our Nissan dealer is south of the park.
My vehicle was in for servicing the other day and when they called that it was ready, I decided that I would walk there, through the park. I figured it would take about an hour.
Now you have to remember that this is truly a wilderness park. There are a series of paved and gravel pathways, and a handful of interpretive centres/washrooms, but other than that, it is left completely wild. It's down in a valley, and you often run into deer and coyotes, and there are the occasional bear and cougar sightings.
As I wasn't exactly sure of the route I needed to take, I decided to take the phone with me, just in case. I'm not entirely sure whom I would have called had I ... I dunno ... encountered a cougar or something. "Hello, could I have the number for Fish and Wildlife, please. I'm somewhere in the bowels of Fish Creek Park and I am being eviscerated by a mean bastard of a cougar. Please hurry!"
So I'm walking along, wishing I had brought a camera with me, because I have never seen the creek quite so high and so fast, and marvelling at the sinkholes that have developed along the pathway beside said creek, when I looked up and thought "hey, I don't remember the creek branching like that!"
And of course, as I got closer, I realised that this new branch of the creek was actually where the pathway used to be - the pathway that I needed to take. That's a picture of it up above. Imagine that with a three-foot wide speedily-flowing stream coursing along it.
I ran into a dude with a dog at the stream/path. His legs were about 7 feet long and he leaped over it no problem, and told me what detour I needed to take to get where I was heading. "You can't get there from here"
So I mustered up memories of track and field day, drawing upon my experiences in the long jump pit, made a couple of false starts, and leapt. And I cleared the bastard!
I was strutting around pretty proudly, when a senior citizen came along on his bike. I helped him pass his bike over the water and held on it while he attempted to forge the stream. This fellow had 25 to 30 years on me, and I just made it over the water, so I figured he was going to wade through it. And damn it, if he didn't jump the creek and made it, no problem. Kind of took the wind out of my sails, I'll tell you. But in my defence, I will say he was a very fit senior citizen.
Still though, I probably shouldn't have told you about this because now I just know I'm going to get picked last for the Blogger baseball team.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
- the Hey Jude story
- the crazy-assed version of Wicked and Weird, which could only be described as watching an actioneer on speed
- the even crazier-assed new song - "it's impossible to sing this song because I realized I didn't leave room to breathe, but we're in Calgary, where nothing is impossible"
- the "fuck off Satan, get the fuck out of here Satan" sing-along
And then, of course, there was the opener, Kinnie Starr. Watching her perform her set with confidence and joy, I realised that Kinnie Starr is who Nelly Furtado is trying to be right now. Sorry Nelly, it's just not working for you. On the other hand, Kinney, you've got it working in spades, baby.
She brings in elements of M.I.A., Buffy St. Marie (but for the 2st century) and maybe a touch of Sonic Youth and Ani DiFranco, but it's so much more than that, and it really can only be described as Kinnie Starr. I'm going to be listening for more of her.
Here's some Buck 65 for you: Rough House Blues [Secret House Against the World]
If you are not entirely sick of hearing about me yet (I think I sort of am, actually), I should let you know that the CBC Radio piece actually aired yesterday and it is quite different from the one that was originally on the website.
- There are a few embellishments that I feel I need to correct, however:
1. I am not the most popular blogger on Blogger. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
2. I do not have several hundred readers per day. Not by a long shot.
3. I have never stayed up all night writing posts. Usually it's birds that keep me awake all night.
And contrary to the impression that I got, I do actually work for a living. Maybe not very hard, but technically I do work.
Next week, the Eccentricity segment will be about a woman who has fought Mattel and won the right to use the name Barbie Shop for her sex toys store. I am honoured to be in such esteemed (and interesting) company.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Did I mention that I am going to see Buck 65 tomorrow night? Yes sirree, the pride of Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia, will once again be gracing the Calgary stage with his unique brand of hip-hop, delivered in that drawling baritone. The spiritual love-child of Tom Waits and John Prine, he spins a yarn like nobody's business. Intelligent lyrics, stylish delivery, and the odd tale about baseball make this performer ever fascinating to watch.
Mr. 65 was recently presented the keys to the community in his hometown, where he was referred to as a pest by his old high school gym teacher. (Aren't they just the same the whole world over?) This is despite the fact that Buck (real name Rich Terfry) is an accomplished baseball player - almost went to the big leagues. Last night his video, Devil's Eyes, won the Best Cinematography award at the Much Music Video awards. At least they got something right.
Buck 65 is touring with Kinnie Starr.
Thanks to Will for pointing out that the link to the CBC Arts site had dropped my interview. Oh the pain!
But tonight at supper, I heard a promo for it to be aired tomorrow afternoon.
So here's what I think happened (because frankly I didn't hear it on the radio last Tuesday either): the brass at the mother corp must obviously have decided that it was way too huge of a story to bury in the same week as the opening of the World Cup, so rather than have something this ground-breaking be overshadowed by footy, they decided to hold off until this week, where it could get the attention it deserved.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Eva says there is an inherent sadness to his voice, and that could be it. There's definitely something about the timbre of it that is very compelling.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
For the past two weeks, I've had to daily change my perception of whether or not I will be gainfully employed come July, I'm not even kidding. The details are too sensitive, drawn-out, and boring to get into here, but trust me when I say there was drama and intrigue and a hint of sabotage. But mostly there was bureaucracy and PeopleSoft.
Earlier this week, I thought I had everything figured out and that we could continue to function, even in light of the delay in implementing the contract that we had negotiated with the pharma company. You may recall that during this time, I was also without internet access at work for almost two weeks, so I couldn't access any financial records. Imagine my surprise when I finally accessed financial reporting to find that we had almost $20,000 less than I had anticipated. That's a pretty substantial shortfall for us! Enough to halt our research. Oh yeah, and put me out of a job. Yet again.
I am not an accountant - never taken an accounting course in my life. But presumably the people who maintain the financial reporting system have. So after telling Jerry that, once again, there is no way I will have a job at the end of the month, and we'd better start tightening our belts, I decided to get out my little calculator I brought from home and do some checking. It just did not look right.
Financial Reporting is months behind in posting salary expenditures, as there is also a new payroll system being implemented, so once I floundered my way through actual expenditures and encumbrances, and all kinds of other two dollar accounting terms, I found it. I found $15,000.
And guess where it had erroneously been listed as an expenditure? My salary. Sadly, it was never actually deposited into my bank account. Don't worry, I checked.
But now we can keep working and I can pay myself. Because I wasn't all that interested in working for free.
How was your week?
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Joy Division fans, it's okay to like Editors.
I have had to revise my narrow-minded opinion on Editors recently. I had always written them off as a Joy Division wanna-be band. I always thought that if you wanted to listen to a band that sounded like Joy Division, why not just listen to Joy Division?
But of course there will never be any new Joy Division songs. New Order, although formed from the ashes of Joy Division, is not Joy Division. (Some would say that New Order is no longer New Order, but that is an argument for another day.)
So I started listening to Editors a little more closely. Their new cd The Back Room is actually very good. Of course the influence is undeniable, but they are in fact, their own band with their own sound.
And in a poll conducted on this site (accurate 19 times out of 10, 79% of the time), the support for bands like Editors to have the freedom to embrace their obvious influences was unanimous. Will put it quite succinctly when he stated "I think it is ok to like music that draws heavily from another, but it is always important to understand the history. A well-crafted song is a well-crafted song in my opinion."
And that I think is the key factor - the ability to understand the history. Music builds on what has gone before; sometimes that means carrying a song through the generations, sometimes it means staging a revolt against your parents' music, sometimes it means morphing a sound into something new. Still though, there's nothing more frustrating than a whole generation of people who assume that Van Halen wrote Just a Gigolo and have never heard of Louis Prima.
That said, I now accept that Editors are musicians in their own right; they are crafting their own sound even though they are heavily influenced by Joy Division (but then, aren't we all?). The jury's still out on Interpol, however.
Please take this taste test:
Transmission by Joy Division on top, Blood by Editors on the bottom.
How do they compare?
Monday, June 12, 2006
But you can also listen at your leisure on CBC Arts Calgary website for the next several months by clicking right here sometime after the broadcast tomorrow evening.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Saturday, June 10, 2006
In the end, I'm glad I did volunteer for the Stroke Survivors' Reunion today. When you work in pre-clinical research, you don't usually get to meet with the patients who have been helped by new therapies.
Today we celebrated ten years since the first stroke patient in Calgary was treated with tissue plasminogen activator (clot buster). For a decade it was the only therapy available with which to treat stroke. And only a small percentage of patients were eligible for this therapy. Now there are also new treatments available for hemorrhagic, in addition to ischemic, stroke. By the time I have a stroke, I hope there are lots more.
And people really seemed to appreciate the effort to recognise their struggles and the chance to tell their stories. It really helped to put the work I do into perspective.
But I really could have lived without the overly-long performance by the relentlessly cheerful, to the point of annoying, Sweet Adelaides choir, though. I know the old folks often like that kind of music, but it gave me a tooth-ache.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Grad ceremony at the Junior High last night, followed by a dinner and dance for the kiddies. The glory of it all is captured in this fine photo to your right. You can be forgiven for assuming it is some sort of spectral presence captured at a seance, but it is really just bad photography.
When all the grads filed into the gym, some people started giving them a standing ovation, gradually at first, and then eventually you had to stand in order to see anything at all, whether or not you believe that passing grade 9 actually merits a standing ovation. As I pointed out (probably more loudly than I should have), it's grade 9, for Christ's sake - you are expected to be able to pass grade 9!
They will all be going to a new school next year, so some sort of ceremony is required, but let's keep things in perspective, people. Give your kids a little more credit than that.
After the speeches, we were doing the lock-kneed shuffle down the hall and out of the school, and who did I find myself next to but the most pretentious phoney in Lake Bonavista, mother of one of the ringleaders of the popular mean girls. So naturally I pretended not to notice her, but eventually she spotted me and said hi.
Phoney: "So what school is Eva going to next year?"
Bitch: "Henry Wise Wood"
Phoney: "Oh? Wise Wood? Well that's a good school. Why is she going there?"
Bitch: "Oh she's taking IB"
Phoney: "IB? So she likes to study, does she?" (implying but not saying, 'she's a loser with no social life')
Bitch: "Not particularly, no." (implying but not saying, 'she's really smart and doesn't need to study')
And then after Bitch remembers Phoney's daughter's name, she asks: "And where will A. be going?"
Phoney: "Oh, A. chose EP Scarlett."
And in her head, Bitch is screaming : "she didn't choose Scarlett! It's the designated school in this area, you phoney!"
And then Bitch saw an opening in the crowd ahead of her, said nice to talk to you again, and caught up with her long-suffering husband.
But the kids had a great time at the dinner and dance and that's the most important thing. It was actually pissing rain as they were boarding the bus to go to the dance, and still being in full-blown bitch overload I looked upon the monsoon as a great equalizer between those girls who had skipped school that afternoon to get their hair done and those who scrunched theirs up and spritzed a little hair spray into it and called it done. Because they all looked the same after that rain.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Monday, June 05, 2006
When Eva was wee, I used to throw the most over-the-top birthday parties for her. I would work on them for about a month. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time with too much imagination and not enough money.
I used to make cakes shaped like Bugs Bunny and Sylvester and The Animaniacs, and one year I spent about three nights making a Magic School Bus birthday card and sent it in to YTV so that Patty and Joe could show it on the air and wish Eva a happy birthday. And they did too!
I held elaborate treasure hunts with little plastic dinosaurs buried in the sandbox, and I would get books out of the library to look up party games. That’s how insane I was.
Then over the years, that fell by the wayside. In fact, the first time I used a cake mix Jerry told me that I never have to bake a cake from scratch again. So I never did. Haha I showed him! Now I just get an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.
Lately, Eva’s birthdays have been pretty low key. This year, she took over - invited a handful of friends over for pizza and cake. Well, okay I ordered the cake and the pizza and made her agree to balloons (which EVERYBODY played with, thank you mom), but it was her show.
Speaking of the cake, when I went to pick it up on Saturday, it was just hopping at DQ. The young feller behind the counter asked me what was written on the cake, so he could locate it and I had to sheepishly tell him: ”Fear the Wrath of Xoltaar!!!!!” He just got the hugest shit-eating grin on his face when he heard that. I think it kinda made his day.
So after lounging about the living room, rolling around in chips crumbs and entertaining Jer and I with stories of the evil gym teacher, these great huge 14 and 15 year olds – all of them smarter and wittier and hipper than I could ever hope to be – started playing Hide-and-Go-Seek. It was such an endearing sight to see these six-foot man-boys trying to stuff themselves into closets, giggling. And then they all went to the playground.
What a great bunch of kids and what a fun party. And they thought up their own games. Go figure.
I've got a question for you. If you were a real estate agent with 30 years of experience, and you were trying to sell a house listed at $2,690,000.00, don't you think you would take 5 minutes to proof-read the flyer so that you don't write things like:
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Alt-Country, Rock, Roots, Singer-Songwriter
Cancelled due to a scheduling conflict
Saturday, June 03, 2006
In the event of decapitation, call 911
It was pretty warm the other night, so I had the ceiling fan on high as I was reading in bed. It started making quite a racket and I looked up to see that it had a distinctly elliptical rotation and a disturbing wobble.
It reminded me of the series of fiction that Matt Good was writing on his blog about a year ago. One piece started with the tale of a man who was killed instantly when a ceiling fan crashed down on his head.
This got me checking out the angles and trajectory possibilities of the wonky fan directly over my bed. I found temporary peace in the fact that it was not actually right above my head, more above my knees, until I realised that, upon crashing into my kneecaps, the still rapidly rotating fan blades would be poised at an ideal angle and distance to slice through my throat. With any luck at all, it would actually slice my head right off.
And then I thought, "meh. Que sera sera" and I went to sleep.
What about at your place? What kind of walking time bombs do you live with every day? Because I know you've got some ...