Friday, June 30, 2006

We Totally Had Our Hearts Broken

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

The drama teacher made me cry!
And that's not easy to do, because I am a crusty old bird. We showed up at Awards Day at school, because we were told that Eva was getting an award.

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.

I DON'T HAVE TO GO BACK TO WORK TILL JULY 10!!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I am Trying to Break Your Heart*
(when I tell you that I am going to see Wilco tonight!)

(*) 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.

Jerry and I did catch Jeff Tweedy's solo performance at the Folk Festival last summer and we were astounded how one guy with a guitar and harmonica could carry the show like he did. In fact, we had been enjoying a cool one in the beer gardens when he started his set and quickly realised that was not the place to appreciate this man's music. So we headed over to the grass and let Jeff break our hearts as we lounged in the evening shade. Her father likes to remind Eva that she was away at summer camp for that particular moment in history, but she does not appreciate his efforts.
It's supposed to hit 30 degrees today, so it's going to be stinky hot at Mac Hall, but I am willing to shed some sweat for these guys. I imagine they'll be sweating a whole lot more. I really must get rolling on that rock star sweat collection that I've been thinking about starting. I'm thinking I could create a kick-ass musical monster from the combined secretions of the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Bry Webb, Matt Good, Carl Newman, Hawksley Workman, Buck 65. That would be awesome.
*****
In other concert news, we got tickets to Billy Bragg's September show at Knox United Church, and I was a little surprised by how expensive they were. Okay, $35.00 isn't all that much, but when you consider some of the concerts that I've seen lately for under $20.00/ticket, concerts with three bands, it does seem a little out of proportion. After all, he is just one guy. And he's a socialist! What's going on, Billy?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

An Innocent Victim of the Pineal Gland

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

One more week till we go to the lake.
One more exam for Eva.
Two more sleeps till Wilco.
And I forget what else...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Glamourous Life of a Rock Star's Mom
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:

White Collar Cutie-Pie!
Awww, Belle and Sebastian have a new video - for White Collar Boy. Be sure to stick around for the drunk lady singing at the end - she's priceless.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

It Can't Be 5:00 Already!!!
I say that way too much on the weekend.
I say that every weekend.
So I don't have time to tell you all the neat things I found out about Monk and Novillero, about exploding coffee pots, and about my uncanny ability to identify crap bands.
Maybe tomorrow.
But I did write a piece for the Stroumboblog about the direction of the CBC and The Hour, in light of the new senate report recommendations on Canadian media, if you feel like weighing in on the discussion over there.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Really just a walk in the park
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

Another new Radiohead song premiered
last night in Chicago
(Kylie was there - lu-uckkkyyyyy!)
it's called All I Need
If the dude wasn't such a good musician, he could easily have a career as a story-teller or stand-up comic
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (I guess they'd be broken downloads now), you've got a see an artist live to truly appreciate their music. Buck 65 takes live performance light-years beyond the treatment of the music. His performances are as full of his odd and mesmerizing tales as they are of his musical offerings.
Sweet-bone (aka Buck 65) was giving and getting the vibes and the love at the Grand Theatre last night, which by the way is a stylish little venue which hadn't seen a musical performance in several decades.
As it is next to impossible to describe a Buck 65 performance, I'll just leave you with some highlights and a song, and advise you that Mr 65 is giving away free downloads of some new songs on his site.
Ask me sometime, and I'll tell you about:
  • 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]



A tiny bit of clarification here...

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.

  1. 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

Oh it's going to be Wicked and Weird!

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

Homicide By Rib Steak
That's what Jerry asked for as a Father's Day supper - a rib steak large enough to contain a complete bone. So that's what he's getting. Eva and I will eat the little tenderloins.
And I am not fucking driving anyone to Emerge tonight. If he has a heart attack, he's got to take an ambulance.
And there is no prize for finishing the whole thing either.
***
Everything about the day seemed slightly larger than life. I harvested the rhubarb today as well and ended up with 25 cups of rhubarb to add to the several bags I've already got in the freezer from last year.
Anybody want any?
I guess I'll just have to do some baking so that I can put that in the freezer for a year instead.
***
Jer was pretty happy with his Father's Day presents:
* Wilco's Kicking Television (Live in Chicago)
* Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium
We've been giving the Wilco cd(s) quite a few spins already today. Holy damn, do they ever sound good! I am now starting to get really really excited about seeing Wilco at Mac Hall next week. Jeff Tweedy was completely amazing at the Folk Fest last year, and now we get the whole band. Yippee!!
What is it about Jeff Tweedy's voice that is so heartbreaking? And he's not even trying to break your heart! Get it? I am trying to break your heart? Wilco song title?

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.
Check out: Hell is Chrome - Wilco (Kicking Television)



Saturday, June 17, 2006

And that's when my head exploded ...
I listen to Quirks and Quarks on CBC on Saturdays while eating lunch. The host, Bob MacDonald, always makes me feel so smart because I can understand when he talks about subjects which my feeble little mammal brain cannot normally grasp. And then I realise that all the credit belongs to him and his ability to explain complex subjects to laypeople like me.
And I love it when he discusses quantum physics because as he is explaining things like current research into allowing larger and larger quantum particles to be isolated from other particles, thereby potentially allowing these quantum particles to capitalise on their ability to be two places at the same time, it all makes sense. We'll be teleporting before you know it!
And then the show ends and I am once again as dumb as a post.
****
A Happy Father's Day tomorrow to all the dads in the world. I hope you enjoy that big-assed steak or that fishing rod or crappy tie or whatever other token of gratitude you receive from your family.
You deserve it!

Friday, June 16, 2006

All the News That's Fit to Rip Off
By now I'm sure you've heard the big story. Because everybody is talking about it, baby!
The Hour is being added to the CBC main network in the fall, in addition to being on CBC Newsworld. Plus there will be a format change to more of a talk show structure, rather than a news-based one. It could make for some interesting debates, both within the confines of the show when it returns in the fall and on the blogs right now.
***
How cool will this be? Thom Yorke on the Henry Rollins show!
Are you reading this, Jen?
Two of the coolest guys on the planet. I sure wish we got the Independent Film Channel (July 15/06). Hmmm, I shall have to call the cable company...
source: Pitchforkmedia
***
The NME has something new and noteworthy, which I am positive I will be using a great deal - a Morrissey quote generator.
Here's an example:
"All I said was 'bring me the head of Elton John' which would be one instance when meat would not be murder, if it were on a plate."
Oh Morrissey!!!! You bring the LOL into the world!
source: NME
***
The Tokyo Police Club seem to be all over the place these days. Both ChartAttack and Cokemachine Glow are featuring them. I've actually only heard one song, but I've been looking for their EP, A Lesson in Crime, all over the place. Eva's friend's brother is the drummer, which is why I'm following these guys.
***
Apparently, Pete Doherty has run into Jesus during his stay at a Rehab clinic in Portugal. According to Petah, Jesus told him to "sort yourself out, mate". Sounds like something Jesus would say.
source: all over the internet
If this is Friday, that must mean ... I'm staying!

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

The Jury is In:
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

I LOVE ...
Because tomorrow I get to listen to myself yammer on about myself on Eccentricity!
If you feel like listening, it you can hear it in real time at 4:15 pm MT (and again on Sunday at 8:50 am MT) right here. You have to click onto the Calgary link.

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.
I'll put up a permanent link on the sidebar.
I hope I don't sound like too much of a dork.
And because the host of Eccentricity!, the wise and sassy John Spittal, is such a huge Joy Division fan, I pose this question to you all:
Is it okay for Joy Division fans to like Editors? Or Interpol, for that matter?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

That feels sooo much better...
Yesterday I started to get a gimpy leg. The whole back of my right leg from ass to heel was in some serious pain. Sciatic nerve, I think, although I have no idea why or how this happened.
So this morning I thought I had better get back to exercising, as it's been neglected for several days and the fat cells were starting to plan a coup. I opted for the elliptical machine over the bike, as it hurt less to stand than it did to sit.
Grimacing, I started to sweat it out on the machine. And then the Constantines started in on Hotline Operator. I lost myself in the groove and by the time the song had finished, so had the pain. I tell you, those guys have the power to heal! Seriously, can't you just see Bry Webb as an old-time fire-and-brimstone preacher? I would buy a bottle of elixir of that dude in a heartbeat. I mean, he fixed my gimpy leg and he wasn't even in the same room.
***
In keeping with our recent theme of rewatching old favourite films, we watched Fight Club again last night. I hadn't seen it for years and I didn't even realise that it ended off with the Pixies Where Is My Mind. How fucking perfect is that? I really need to read that book.
***
If you feel like weighing in on a discussion of how long new stories maintain their shelf-life and the rapidly decreasing collective attention span of our culture, please check out the piece I wrote for the Stroumboulopouli. I'd love to hear your opinion.
***
Here then, for your listening pleasure and for the good of your soul, is the music that healed me this morning.
Hotline Operator - the Constantines (from Tournament of Hearts)



Saturday, June 10, 2006

"Everyone is expected to volunteer for this"
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.

***
You really should watch Will's new podcast. It's a fine piece of work, featuring a really hopping band and the founder of the label that represents them. I'm telling you, get in on the ground floor here. Will's going places and you want to be able to say you knew him when.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Where the daughter has Grad and the mother acts like a bitch...

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

This is a test of the National Emergency Warning System
- not really, I've just always wanted to say that
- this is actually a test of my ability to post music via Bolt.com
This song is After the Afterlife by Chad Vangaalen, from his kick-ass cd Infiniheart.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A job that slowly kills you*
It's now been one week since I last had internet access at work. So I've have to deal with all my emails once I get home and since all the materials management and financial stuff is now done exclusively on-line, that shit is just not getting done. Even though I phone IT every 2 hours, they still can't seem to figure out why there is no more wireless access in that room.
I didn't even fucking want to get wireless, but after I was turfed out of my office into this space, I was given the option of either spending $100 for a wireless adapter or $1200-$1500 to have cable installed. I don't have that kind of money in my budget.
I'm also starting to realise that I don't have the sophistication to deal with the increased level of politics that is now being played. Well, it's probably always been played, I've just never had to actually take to the field before. I'm starting to strongly suspect that there is a conspiracy to clear the path of all remaining employees of a particular individual. I am one of the last remaining ties to this person. Oh now, that kind of paranoia will get you in the looooony bin!*
Now that I have breached my oath not to discuss work, time for some levity.
I heard a promo for myself on CBC today! And did they ever butcher my last name! Barbara Bedouin, I was called. harhar And according to the promo, I am "the most popular blogger in Calgary". Well, not me, actually; Barbara Bedouin is.
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* No Surprises - Radiohead
* Can't Con an Honest John - the Streets

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Girl Knows Parties

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.


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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:
"There is 6 bathrooms 5 have been up-dated."

Sunday, June 04, 2006



NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is what I found on the Calgary Folk Festival website today:
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Neko Case
(USA)
Alt-Country, Rock, Roots, Singer-Songwriter
http://www.nekocase.com/
Cancelled due to a scheduling conflict
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Neko, why do you hate us so? Not touring with the New Pornographers was understandable, not coming to Calgary on your North American tour was ... a little hurtful, but many musicians skip Calgary.
But we were so happy when you were booked for the Folk Festival this summer. We went out and bought a four-day pass for everybody in the family. And those aren't cheap. But it would have been so worth it.
I am utterly bummed out about this.
I hope to hell Matt Good stays healthy.

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 ...


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Did you miss me? Because I sure as hell missed you!
And to make it worse, my wireless was all cockeyed at work today - no internet ALL DAY - so I couldn't even sneak in and say hi at lunch. Oh yeah, I couldn't get a lot of work done either.
But we've got some semblance of normality returning to the Zombie household after a nutty-as-hell week. Oh don't get me wrong, it was great to see old friends again and go see Eva's play and celebrate her birthday and launch the new blog, and have the CBC van park in front of my house so all the neighbours could see it, but fer cryin' in the corn, all in the same week? Still though, I made it through without succumbing to that H5N1 that the family's been battling for the last month or so. Watch, the Karma Police will now strike me down with Ebola or something.
*****
Being interviewed by John Spittal, the Arts Reporter for CBC Calgary, was an absolute blast! What a cool guy he is. Besides blogging, we talked a lot about music - the Buzzcocks, the Constantines, Joy Division. He's a big Joy Division fan and quite taken with the hobo sign I have on my front porch, the one that supposedly means "mean-tempered owner lives here" as it reminded him of the FIVE Joy Division t-shirts he owns with the mountain range thingy on them.
And being the shameless self-promoter that I am, I even managed a parting shot of "tell them to give me a call!" when the subject of the CBC's need to hire some more Arts Reporters came up.
The interview will air on CBC Radio One (Calgary) - 1010 on your AM dial - on Tuesday, June 13 at 4:15 pm MT, and again on Sunday, June 18 (nice Father's Day present!) at 8:50 am MT. You can listen on-line here in real time or you can listen to a permanent post here on the Eccentricity! segment of the CBC website for the next year or so.
The segment is going to run about five minutes. If you get a chance to listen, let me know how dorky I sound. But be kind please.
*****
The notpaidbythehour gang also launched our new joint blog yesterday. Through the machinations of some brilliant minds in our little group and the near-simultaneous suggestion by the The Hour's website producer that we start a blog dedicated to The Hour, we pushed and grunted and swore and we birthed that sucker. It's a thing of beauty - looks a lot like its dad. Drop by the Stroumboulopouli when you get a chance and say hi. Barbara W might let you use one her Hour coffee mugs.