Friday, March 30, 2007

He didn't say douche hat, but we all know he meant it

Hey Mel, you were right, there is a clip of Chad VanGaalen's video to SXSW, explaining why he was denied entry to the US. It's taken in his basement and the froggy brain from his cd release party is right behind him.

Matt Tong makes me wish I had rhythm

Recently I've been rediscovering albums that I used to listen to a lot, but then put away for a few months to avoid overuse. The other day it was The Constantines' Tournament of Hearts (which caused some assuredly frightening scenes of blissing out whilst piloting an urban assault vehicle). And this morning, Bloc Party's Silent Alarm was blasting during the commute and we reminisced about what it was that drew us to them in the first place, and how in some ways we still prefer that cd to the new one. We both agreed that the yelping vocals that helped to define them as post-punk and allowed them to avoid an emo label (fairly or not) was a highlight on Silent Alarm, but especially it was the drumming. Always the drumming.

So to start off the playlist this week, I opened with a track randomly selected from Silent Alarm, and it just happens to be one that really showcases Matt Tong's drumming genius. I challenge you to listen to this song and not wish that your mom would let you get a drum kit:

Like Eating Glass- Bloc Party
Excitable boy - Warren Zevon
Cracked - the Jesus and Mary Chain
Saints - the Breeders
This old house - Kris Demeaner
Surfin USA - the Jesus and Mary Chain
Midnight jam - Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
The infanta - the Decemberists
Let's get married - the Proclaimers
Return from planet egalica - Dubblestandart
Well looky here, two JAMC songs. Matt must be a fan too. I wonder if he's as excited about the Coachella reunion as I am?
Big excitement in the Zombie household, as we are going to take in Music for Contortionist tonight, and fully expect to be blown away, as we have been with all of Sage Theatre's productions this year. And we thought they had reached their peak with Trainspotting! We were wrong.
The kid starts spring break at noon today, so I anticipate that there will be a deluge of sleeping in happening around this place next week, by the teenager and cat half of the household anyway.
On one of my days off next week, I am dragging her to the Uptown to watch Radiant City, a new film from Gary Burns and Jim Brown (yes that Jim Brown - host of the Calgary Eye Opener on CBC radio). Check out the trailer on the link.
Whether you are planning to lounge in your uber-cool loft downtown or schlupp around your woefully suburban house like me, have a beautiful weekend. Turn it up and feel the rhythm.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

cruisin the zines for all the crucial stuff

As if anybody would believe that they would actually even consider it for one second. I do get a kick out of the NME, especially when they put these non-stories as their front-page headliners. That seems to be NME's stock-in-trade though, innit, making a big fuss over absolutely nothing. lolz. I'll bet Thom is just seething.

This story is awfully tempting though, and I think that I could pull it off. Hell, I would make the trip to Vancouver for that event and I would dazzle them all with my spoon playing.

And this sounds like reason to celebrate - you know I loves me some Scottish indie bands.

Other than canibalizing the internetz for some stories to recyle, I really have nothing original to regale you with. But on Saturday, I'll have a review of a Music for Contortionist, which we are going to see tomorrow night. That, my friends, is something that I am really pumped for. I hear it's boffo. And Sage Theatre always manages to surprise and delight.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

She fought in a war

It wasn't very long
before I would stand
with another boy in front of me
and a corpse that just fell into me,
with the bullets flying round

- I Fought in a War
- Belle and Sebastian
Poor Eva took a basketball to the face in gym today and now her glasses are all cockeyed (pun only partially intended), including having one of the nosepieces breaking off and imbedding itself into her nose. And Eva was only the first of many of the fallen this fateful day.
The gym teacher, the nice one with the lady abs, declared that she has never seen so many injuries in one gym class in her entire life. Mind you, she is teaching IB gym. Gym class with the gifties is never going to be a very athletic endeavour.

Naturally the warranty on the glasses expired in December.
On Friday the gym class is having a Janet Reno dance party (and social dance evaluation). No more basketball for the gifties. Now they just have to try to refrain from creating weapons of mass destruction out of their dance partners as they steer them around the gym. I love IB kids; they're even more fun than manga geeks.


Our boy Chad VanGaalen was supposed to perform at SXSW this year, but didn't make it there. Instead he sent a video of himself explaining that he was refused entry into the US because he called the border official a "douche hat".

Talented muscian, artist, videographer, and now also world class creative cusser. Gotta love those arty types.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Magnificent Seven - well to me, anyway

Dale was doing it, then Mel, and, you know me, if some of the cool kids are doing it, I'm not far behind. So slow down that bandwagon, I want to jump on.

Seven songs that I'm really into right now:

Deep Hit of Morning Sun - Primal Scream
Primal Scream is one of those bands that when they are good, are really fookin' good, but when they are bad, are awful. There is a very good reason that they received NME's Godlike Genius Award this year, just don't bother buying their new cd, Riot City Blues. But, I love love love Screamadelica and that's the Primal Scream cd I usually end up listening to. Lately, however, I've been really getting more into Evil Heat. This song is one of my favourites off that album. Gimme some of that sweet feedback guitar.

There There (The Boney King of Nowhere) - Radiohead
I was almost afraid to mention this for fear of being labelled Radiohead-obsessed, especially since I have to admit that there are actually a couple of songs from Hail to the Thief that are rocking my world right now (Backdrifts is the other), but I guess you already know that about me. The rhythms in this song are absolutely irresistible and don't even get me started on Thom's vocals, or you'll be here all day.

Objects Of My Affection - Peter Bjorn and John
Part of the current wave of the Swedish invasion, these dudes make music that is so infectious, it's criminal. Thanks, Allison, for turning me onto Peter Bjorn and John. This song will burrow its way deep into your head and make you insane. Every now and then on their album Writer's Block, their cute little Swedish accents come through.

Everything's Alright When You're Down - the Jesus and Mary Chain
Back to Scotland for more feedback guitars! The JAMC are always somewhere on my playlist, but recently Fearless' discussion of b-sides led me to rediscover Barbed Wire Kisses, a JAMC b-sides collection. This song starts out with that distorted Beach Boys feel (which is the only way that the Beach Boys should be heard, in my opinion) and quickly degenerates into a beautiful wall of noise. Awesome shit.

Ring the Bells -James
I know I recently talked about James and this song in particular, but it still gets to me. Every time I hear those opening notes, my heart soars and I have to smile -that's the effect this song has on me. Ring the Bells is on the album Seven (coincidence or cosmic design?) which is an absolutely boffo offering. I could have chosen half a dozen songs from this album, but ultimately this one has healing qualities.

The Soldiering Life - the Decemberists
I was introduced to the Decemberists just as they were releasing Picaresque, and then of course you may recall that I was completely immersed in The Crane Wife for a long time when it was released last fall. So it was really only fairly recently that I have come back to their older albums (I am still looking for a copy of Castaways and Cutouts, if anyone can direct me where to find one), and Her Majesty has some great stuff. While tracks like The Chimbley Sweep grabbed me immediately, others, like The Soldiering Life, took their time getting under my skin. Now I am hooked on it.

The Model - Belle and Sebastian
Belle and Sebastian are a staple in my musical diet. However, of their ten albums, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant is not one that gets that much play, compared with, say, If You're Feeling Sinister or The Boy With the Arab Strap. Lately though, this track has been creeping into my consciousness. I like the juxtaposition between Stuart Murdoch's angelic voice and Stevie Jackson's earthier tones, and of course, as always when you are talking about B&S, it is impossible to resist the combination of the twee and the perverse.

I just noticed that I have no Canadian songs on this list. I am a bad Canadian! I will say, though, that I really wanted to put Chad VanGaalen's After the Afterlife on here, but some bean counter decided that the list should be limited to seven.

I may just have to do an All-Canadian Magnificent Seven list. That won't be hard. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the other stuff that's been bouncing around between my eardrums. There's a lot of empty space in there - makes for good acoustics.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Subverting the Wiggles Generation

I have turned into one of those annoying people who buy noisy toys for other people's kids. Hey, I warned them! I told her mother if she didn't give me some idea about what her daughter would like for her 1st birthday, then I would buy her a drum kit.

Actually, I think we went one better than that.
Is this guitar ever fun to play with! We really didn't want to give it to her after all. (But the birthday girl was just so darned cute, we had to let go of it in the end.)

And the trip to Toys Backward R Us was a blast in itself. We haven't been there in a gazillion years, and we laughed scornfully at all the Dora the Explorer paraphernalia, as I am told by the newly-minted Spanish expert in the house, that the Spanish used is grammatically incorrect and besides, no Spanish-speaking person would ever name their child Dora. So we felt quite smug and intellectually superior to the hordes of mouth-breathers we were rubbing elbows with. We then proceeded to knock a few notches off our maturity levels by turning on all the noisy toys and then escaping to the next aisle, where we giggled and high-fived each other. And we are the most pathetic high-fivers; we always sort of miss.
In an example of life imitating art (or more likely, life imitating pointless rambling), mere days after I ranted about the perfume-abusing woman at work, what should I see on the front page of the Calgary Herald (slow news day much?), but the story of a woman who was refused admittance onto a city transit bus because she was wearing too much perfume!

Did I call that one? I feel like a futurist or something. Buy shares in pet cemetaries, laser eye clinics, and water rights, that's all I'm going to say on this matter.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The ABC's of a Bad Tempered Zombie

Allison tagged me on this ABC list, so here it is, more than anyone could ever possibly want to know about me:

A- Available or Single: No (sorry, boys)
B- Best Friends: Eva (how sad is that?)
C- Cake or Pie: Cake, but if you put fake whipped cream on it, I'll kill you
D - Drink of Choice: water, followed by red wine
E- Essential Item: laptop, predictably enough, besides it contains all my music
F- Favourite Colour: that changes on a daily basis. Today - grey.
G- Gummi Bears or Worms: I rarely bother if it's not chocolate, but will go with worms - you can whip people with them
H- Hometown: assuming this means where I (mostly) grew up - Winnipeg
I- Indulgence: a morning in my favourite chair with a cup of coffee, my laptop, a stack of newspapers and music magazines and the stereo blasting

J- January or February - February, it's shorter and there is chocolate
K- Kids - One - Eva
L- Life is incomplete without: friends - real-life, on-line, passing, imaginary, they're all good
M - Marriage Date: I actually had to go look this up, as it's been about 120 years - October 7, 1988
N- Number of Siblings: 2 sisters, one brother, and I am the baby, which is why I am so spoiled
O- Oranges or Apples: Oranges
P- Phobias/Fears: Blindness
Q- Favourite Quote: can I have more than one?
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" - George Santayana
"Music is the new pornography" - Jimmy Swaggart (I think)
"It's not the band I hate, it's their fans" - Sloan
R- Reasons to smile: summer mornings, clever wit, a song that gives you the chills
S- Season: summer and fall
T- Tag 3 People: ummm, Karen, Dale, Just A Cool Cat
U- Unknown Fact About Me: In university I sold a short story to Prairie Fire magazine for $35; Carole Shields was also published in the same edition. Sadly, that was the peak of my writing career.
V- Vegetable You Hate: Creamed corn, but it's really not the corn's fault
W- Worst Habit: zoning out when someone is talking
X- X-rays You've Had: teeth, finger, ankle, breasts
Y- Your Favourite Foods: I love everything; but curry, garlic, cheese, spinach and grapefruit are right up top
Z- Zodiac: Libra

Okay, enough about me. Now it's time for us to celebrate how very clever you are. As usual, this week there were some wickedly clever and funny labels, but for this week's Labia Award, I was particularly taken with a very inventive and creative use of labels by:

Just A Cool Cat

for his Friday, March 23 post entitled
"Friday random ten - Play it a bit later Sam remix"

which was labelled:

"secret message in plain view, the passport arrived"

This was very gratifying for a label scrutinizer like myself as I felt I had received privileged information that label non-readers missed.

Oh you are a clever one, Just A.
And for that we salute you.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bloody Sunday: Tales from the Saville Inquiry

On Friday night, Eva and I went to the Liffey Player's production of Bloody Sunday: Tales from the Saville Inquiry at Pumphouse Theatre. Here's the review I posted at Calgary Arts Development:

The Liffey Players tackled an astonishingly ambitious project when they took it upon themselves to produce Bloody Sunday: Tales from the Saville Inquiry. The playwright, Richard Norton-Taylor gathered testimony from over 1000 inquiry witnesses, which he condensed into this courtroom drama.

This could not have been an easy play to produce and it is certainly not an easy play to watch. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, this is not fiction. Bloody Sunday is the dramatization of a four-year long inquiry into the events of the 1972 shootings of 26 Irish civilians by British troops. One cannot help but realize the enormity of the impact that this event had upon Irish history and upon the lives of individuals. At times during the play, photographs are projected to highlight points made in the statements being reviewed. These are graphic photos of bloodshed; they are real and they are disturbing.

Secondly, this is a courtroom drama in the strictest sense. The dramatic possibilities are all contained only within the words of the testimonies by the witnesses. This could actually have been produced as a radio play, as the entire production is essentially talking heads. This has both the power of bringing the words of the witnesses to the forefront (and they are very powerful words), but also has the shortcoming of offering nothing in the way of relief from the onslaught of those words.

At times I was confused by the testimony which described where witnesses were geographically in relation to the troops and to city landmarks. A blueprint of the Bogside area where the event occurred would have been enormously helpful in understanding the implications of some of the testimonies. This could have been quite easily done, as sections of statements were already routinely projected on the backstage during the play.

Lastly, the play runs two and a half hours long. For most theatre-goers, myself included, this is simply too long to endure. I understand that two and a half hours is a mere fraction of the 4 years that the actual inquiry spanned, and I admire how Norton-Taylor was able to glean what were presumably the most dramatic moments from those four years, but I believe that this play could have done with still more judicious editing.

The Liffey Players really did quite a remarkable job in producing this play, and it must have been an onerous undertaking, but I think that most of the audience became very restless partway through the second act. I drifted off a few times, and my daughter claims to have heard somebody behind her snoring at one point.

The Liffey Players are obviously very committed to bringing the full story of Bloody Sunday to the world, and for this they are to be commended. Ultimately though, the play was simply too long.

An additional note strictly for the pleasure of readers of Bad Tempered Zombie - Eva says that even when she was zoned out during the tedious parts of the play, she was afraid not to pay attention or her old math teacher would surely kick her ass. Though she was aware that the actor playing the main lawyer was not her math teacher, the similarities were too creepy to ignore.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Getting pumped for Friday night (is there a prize for lamest title?)

I love everything about going to the Pumphouse Theatre. I love the setting, a former pumphouse nestled amongst the trees along the Bow River, which admittedly, if you are first approaching it in the dark, is a trifle disconcerting, lying as it does on the edge of an industrial area that feels distinctly abandoned and sinister on a winter night. But the parking is easy and ample and right on the doorsteps of the Pumphouse Theatre itself.

The theatres themselves (there are two at the Pumphouse) are the type of intimate space that I gravitate toward. There is a vast difference between watching a play at a luxe, but cavernous, auditorium and being immersed in the drama unfolding quite literally at your feet in a close and personal space.

That’s one of the reasons that I am so excited to be spending a bit of time at the Pumphouse Theatre in the upcoming weekends. That, and the excitement over the plays themselves.

Tonight, I see Bloody Sunday: Scenes from the Saville Enquiry. This is a courtroom drama, presented by the Liffey Players, about the aftermath of the1972 Bloody Sunday shootings, in which 26 Irish civil rights protesters were shot by British forces, 14 of them fatally. This of course is generally seen as the incident which cemented support for the Irish Republican Army, and touched off the subsequent decades of turmoil within Ireland. It should be a fascinating play.

Next weekend, I am thrilled to be once again attending a production by Sage Theatre. Each time I see one of Sage Theatre’s plays, I ask myself how they can possibly surpass it, what they can conceivably offer for their next production. This of course, is the theatre group who started off this season with their stunning production of Trainspotting. But they are a clever bunch, and rather than try to reproduce the experience with their next production, the troupe instead completely reinvented themselves with The Dazzle, the heartbreaking and fascinating true story of two brothers who barricaded themselves in their house for decades.

The only similarity between The Dazzle and the current production of Music for Contortionist seems to be the fact that they are both based on the lives of actual people. While The Dazzle was largely a drawing room piece, Music for Contortionist would appear to be distinctly burlesque. It is based on the cabaret performances of Valeska Gert, an avant-garde dancer from the Weimar-era scene. Gert appears to have been the original performance artist, incorporating social satire and the breakdown of artistic norms in new and often grotesquely different forms. Her dances took on popular dance and cultural entertainment of the day and exaggerated their focal points to extreme and bizarre measures.

I can’t wait to see how Sage Theatre handles this one.

(the above is reprinted from a post I just wrote for the Calgary Arts Development site, because I am a lazy arse that way.)


And this being Friday and all, it's random playlist time. As is becoming quite comon around here, it's not entirely random, as I intentionally began with a song that had been rocking my brain all morning and I went from there. RIP, Ian Curtis.

I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere, so it started there. (sorry, Pulp)

Love will tear us apart - Joy Division
Colour me impressed - the Replacements
The boy with the thorn in his side - the Smiths
Turkish song of the damned - the Pogues
Neighbourhood # 1 (tunnels) - Arcade Fire
Today your love, tomorrow the world - the Ramones
Truth be told - Joel Plaskett
Turn the page - the Streets
Walt Whitman's niece - Billy Bragg and Wilco
Sympathy for the Devil - the Rolling Stones

Have a beautiful evening, you unbearably gorgeous creatures.
You are the Brett Anderson of our generation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

You'd think someone who manhandled your boobs would remember you for five minutes

I was having a lovely time at my mammography yesterday. I was in a great mood, having crossed about 765,743 things off my to-do list that day. I was flying.

The radiology technician was really friendly and answered all my goofy questions like, how do women with implants have mammograms. (answer: they take 6 rather than 4 x-rays, so they don't have to flatten the breast down to the thickness of a slice of toast) She even thanked me for "brightening up" her day by making her laugh so much. I figured we were besty friends.

And then she led me back to the little room where my clothes were and told me not to put my shirt back on and she would be back in about 5 minutes. I wasn't concerned when she didn't return in five minutes as everybody says they will be back in five minutes, don't they? And nobody ever is.

After 10 minutes, I was starting to think that I was going to get called back for an additional x-ray, like I did last year.

After 15 minutes I was starting to get a little worried; what if the radiologist had found some enormous mass on my x-ray and was trying to work up the nerve to tell me.

I drifted off to sleep after about 20 minutes, because it was starting to get really stuffy and hot in my little confessional booth, despite my wearing only a paper shirt that didn't close all the way.

After 25 minutes, I had enough. I was starting to suspect that my new best friend had forgotten about me. D'uh, I catch on quickly, don't I?

So I burst out of the changing room, still clad in paper, stomped around a bit till I found another radiology technician and asked if I could go. She checked my name and assured me that I could. I couldn't very well yell at her because it wasn't her fault, but as a sign of my extreme displeasure, I left my lovely paper shirt in a crumpled pile on the floor.

Ha! Take that, you fair-weather besty friend, you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

You are the Brett Anderson of our generation

Some days you just really need to listen to a good sleazy band like Suede. Or better still, watch Brett Anderson slither around in a video.
- Suede: the Drowners -

There's a woman, who works in a lab down the hall, who really stinks. And she does it on purpose.
I think she aspires to be a fashion model. She's a young attractive woman with really good posture, who always wears fashion boots with impossibly high, impossibly narrow heels, and she struts down the hall like she's owning the catwalk. She favours tight jeans and turtlenecks and often has a scarf artfully draped around her neck. I can't understand the wisdom of wearing a scarf whilst working in a lab, and I'm pretty certain it circumvents WHMIS regulations, but if she can pull it off, she is certainly a better woman than I am. Hell, who am I trying to kid? I couldn't convincingly wear a scarf to save my life. I'd always be yanking at it like Rodney Dangerfield.
She's quite exotic really, this woman. From somewhere in eastern Europe. But she must absolutely douse herself in perfume every fifteen minutes. She wears some kind of really heavy cloying smell that has an exceptional half-life; she can walk down the hall and five to six minutes later you can still smell her. I'll bet she bought this perfume in Chernobyl or something.
Why do people do stuff like that? Do you think maybe she has no sense of smell? But then why would you take a chance and wear any perfume at all? Maybe she has an impaired sense of smell.

All I know is that I have continued on down the hall to the other bathroom when I have seen her heading into the one I was aiming for, because I do not want to spend any time in a confined space with her. I'm sure I would break out in hives. I'd sooner take my chances in the other bathroom that has an entirely different odour problem.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lazy blogger is lazy

You let it all out, sister!

Can I get an Amen?
- return to real words and sentences and such tomorrow -

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Damn, you clever and creative people are making this difficult

This is not getting any easier, people! You folks keep upping the ante with the witty and evocative labels, and boy howdy it's tough to choose sometimes.
And it doesn't help that, in finest soccer mom fashion, I want everybody to win something. Except, of course, if I am part of the competition, then I'm brutal. Believe me, you don't want to play a board game with me, because I can get mighty obnoxious.
However, we do have a winner for the Labia Award this week:
for his March 14th post entitled
"Reader's Diary #241- Nancy Tafuri: You Are Special Little One"
for which the winning label was:
Walt Disney Killed My Mom
John, being a highly literary sort, has been quite involved in the annual Canada Reads competitions, ensuring that he critically reads each book prior to the competition and then follows the week-long contest very closely, discussing events as they unfold on his own blog, as well as becoming involved in discussions on the Canada Reads site.
Why am I telling you this?
Because the minds behind Canada Reads are asking for our input about what books and what panelists we would like to see on Canada Reads next year. Some of us believe that it is time to get a civilian on the panel, albeit a well-spoken and well-read civilian with a killer sense of humour. Some of us think that John would make a good panelist.
If you would like to recommend John Mutford to be a 2008 panelist for Canada Reads, please drop a note here.
Need a movie recommendation (besides Fido, that is)?
Half Nelson is really very good. It's not the type of film I normally gravitate toward, but this one stands out. Ryan Gosling, of course, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, and he was really fine, no question, but I thought that it was Shareeka Epps, who plays his 13-year-old student who knows about his (increasingly less) secret crack addiction, who really shines.
Check it out if you are looking for something that is not exactly uplifting, but does have an element of hopefulness.
Have a stellar week, you fabulous folks.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Green beer is for chumps

Regardless of how you feel about St. Patrick and the whole bringing Christianity to Ireland bidness, or conversely quaffing enormous quantities of green beer till you're stupid drunk and blaming it on the Irish, there is no ignoring the fact that it is St. Patrick's day.

So to honour the Irish, here are a few of my favourite things to come from the Emerald Isle:

The Pogues - and because St. Patrick's Day is a much bigger deal in America than it is in Ireland, here's a Pogues song about emigrating to America.
Roddy Doyle - he wrote The Committments, the Snapper, the Van, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, and the fabulous two-parter A Star Called Henry and Oh, Play That Thing, among others.
Kilkenny beer - we weren't able to get any today, so we enjoyed a couple of Guinnesses instead. Two eggs and a baby in every bottle.
Breakfast on Pluto - written by that other Irish bard who isn't Brendan Behan, Patrick McCabe, it was made into a fabulous film by Neil (Crying Game) Jordan. In the film, Cillian Murphy is gorgeous as the heartbreakingly sweet transvestite, Kitten. Murphy also stars in one of my favourite zombie films of all times, 28 Days Later.
Stiff Little Fingers - highly charged, extremely political and very angry punk band. Their music is still so strong to this day. Here they are performing Alternative Ulster in 1979:

Friday, March 16, 2007

If you can't steal from your friends, what good are they anyway?

I had so much fun playing with Allison's widget (which isn't actually as pervy as it sounds) that I just had to show you mine. They sure had me pegged with the dreamer and escape artist labels. Next time I won't be so forthcoming.

Guess you guys are stuck with me for a while longer, as I don't appear to have any fatal heart condition after all. Apparently during the EKG I had recently, my heart rate was lower than normal. Average is 60-100 beats/minute and mine was 50. Lower than 45, they put in a pace maker. But when the physician checked it today it was 60, so the doctor thinks it's just that I am athletic. HA! Which really made me LOL because that is exactly what I am not! I am a fatty! Have you ever seen pictures of me? And I'm sucking in my gut in those pictures too.

Today's cardiology lecture:

Bradycadia can be a result of a high level of fitness, but it can also be caused by a problem with the electrical function of the heart, either as a result of sinus node (the heart's pacemaker) dysfunction, or a result of blockage of electrical signals from theA-V node. Hypothyroidism can also result in bradycardia.

The physician declared herself to be happy with my health, but I actually want to check into a few things on my own. But at least I'm not dead yet, and don't plan to be anytime soon.


The Friday random playlist is very odd today. Starts off with a couple of covers, proceeds through a bunch of songs I have never played, and finishes up with some more familiar tunes.
Luno - Death from Above 1979 cover
Gonna Love You Too - Blondie cover
Merry Go Round - the Replacements
Half a World Away - REM
I See a Darkness - Bonnie Prince Billy
Cactus Man - Kris Demeanor
Middle of the Road - the Pretenders
Rusholme Ruffians - the Smiths
Ana - Pixies
Two-Headed Boy Pt 2 - Neutral Milk Hotel
This playlist is dedicated to Ruhee.
Happy Birthday, Ruhee!
I'm still not sure if the world is ready for you.
Especially now that you have performed with Sloan.
You rock, girl!
(actually you all do, go ahead and have that extra glass of wine tonight, you deserve it)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Happy Pi Day!
It's the only day of the year that math teachers get any respect.
I don't know any good pi stories but I do know a few good binary jokes (which is about as math nerdy as I get). Here's one of my favourites:
There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who get binary and those who don't.
Whew that's a knee-slapper, isn't it?
I was considering actually making a pie for the family today. Although I rarely make them, I do make a damned fine pie crust, if I do say so myself.
And then I got a call from the doctor's office which made me decide against baking any kind of fruit-filled confection wrapped in flour and lard. Remember when I had to have an EKG last week as part of my annual physical exam? Well, my physician wants to "discuss" it with me. Fuck!
Of course I immediately started imagining that I was having chest pain and then I got all worried about going for a workout. I was alone in the house and if I had the big one it would be several hours till they found me, my cold dead fingers clutching my chest. But I was also afraid not to go for a workout. In the end I compromised with a whimpy and unsatisfying (but safe) bike ride.
Mind you last year, he found some anomaly with my bloodwork that he wanted to discuss, which got me all worked up and imagining diabetes, but after redoing the tests, it turned out to be a one-off and everything was fine. I'm sure it will be the same case with the EKG.
However tonight I learned that a friend of ours, who is actually a few years younger than me, had a heart attack a few days ago. He's okay, but had to have an artery stented as it is 85% occuded. Again, fuck!
Shoulda baked that pie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This anger's deeper than sleep

I don't want to hear any gushing about tulips blooming in anyone's yard or grass starting to green up in the park, because here it rained last night which then turned to snow and this morning everything was a sheet of ice covered in sticky slop. I saw a dude travelling sideways for a few blocks as I was starting my 30 km commute this morning. That made me sit up and take notice, I'll tell you that right now.

And the worst part? I got to work and congratulated myself for making it in only 1 hour and 10 minutes. That sort of commute time is becoming entirely too routine and that shit has got to stop. Some days I feel like I deserve a medal just for making it into work

Okay, on to better things.

Wayne Petti (of Cuff the Duke) is releasing a solo cd today, City Lights Align. And Mother's Day is coming up.

The Calgary Folk Festival does not yet have this on their leak of the week page, but on Owen Pallett's site, he says he will be coming to the folk fest this summer. 'tchya! I'm considering volunteering at the Folk Fest this year. Apparently about 3/4 of the population of the city wants to do just that every year, so we'll see how much I feel like sharpening my elbows.

And this is the best new I have heard all day.
I don't think that James ever got anywhere near the recognition they deserved, certainly not outside of the UK. I may have to write about them someday. But then again Wikipedia does a bang-up job on covering their troubled and complex history. Why reinvent the wheel? Damn, they were a good band. Tim Booth once required neck surgery for an injury he sustained from the wild dancing he used to do whilst performing. And you know I'm a sucker for the wild dancing.

This is a video for Ring the Bells - a James song that somehow always makes me feel all peaceful and hopeful. Sadly the whirling dervish dancing is only glimpsed a bit at the end:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mondays are made for cute-as-hell creatures

Is there anything cuter than a hedgehog? Seriously.

I wish we had hedgehogs in Canada. We probably have some kicking around somewhere, but it's not like in Europe where they seem to be under every toadstool. Or are those toads I'm thinking of? Hedgehogs would be under hedgerows, I guess.

When we were growing up, my Oma and Opa used to send each of us kids a book from Germany each Christmas. As I was the youngest I always got the cutest books. I could never really read them all that well, but it didn't matter because no matter what the subject matter, I knew I could always count on them being good for a hedgehog or two.

Hey, do you know how to say "hedgehog" in Estonian"? "Siil"
How about in Japanese? "Hari-Nezumi"

Go here and you too can be a cunning linguist, at least in hedgehogese.

And this guy may not be a hedgehog, but I challenge you not to be singing along all day.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Where do we go from here, the words are coming out all weird (but we are still grateful for our iron lung)

We wrap up this series of Radiohead Week where we began, on the cusp of the release of the magnificent OK Computer.

The Bends is often cited by people as their favourite Radiohead album and with good reason. This sophomore album was a perfect transition between the pop-rock of Pablo Honey and the critical excellence of OK Computer, and contains a couple of Radiohead's most accessible pop songs (Fake Plastic Trees & High and Dry). While The Bends is generally seen as being less commercial than Pablo Honey, it did manage to garner the band five top 30 hits.

At the same time, the song My Iron Lung appears to be a response to the double-edged sword that had come with the success of the single Creep, a song which was simultaneously their "life support" (their iron lung) for which they were grateful and "a total waste of time".

If you have enjoyed any of this week-long series and would like more information, please visit Green Plastic Radiohead. This is a great site, which I used extensively throughout the week, and features complete song lyrics, song information, photos, news releases, as well as tabs for all the songs. And not just guitar tabs either, but also piano and even xylophone tabs. I didn't even know there were such things as xylophone tabs, but there you go.

This video for Just features some lovely performance snippets, including the patented Thom Yorke dance and some beautiful shredding by Jonny Greenwood. It also remains one of the most enigmatic videos you will see.


Finally, the moment you have been anxiously awaiting all week - the presentation of the highly covetted Labia Award for best label of the week.

The competition was fierce this week, and, being a fence-sitter from way back, I was waffling amongst three excellent candidates. Eventually I called in a family member to make the final call. This week's award goes to:


for her label entitled "this is a double fuck sundae with a turd on top" for her untitled post of March 9.

Congratulations on a most evocative label there, Deb!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

These people aren't your friends, they're paid to kiss your feet

It all began with Pablo Honey.

Radiohead's debut album launched them into the public eye, particularly with the unexpected success in the US of the single Creep. Ironically, Radio 1 initially found the song too depressing for air play and pulled it from rotation after only a couple of airings. The American release of Pablo Honey contains a clean version of Creep as a bonus track, in which the phrase "you're so fucking special" is replaced with "you're so very special" for radio edit, which seems so trivial now.

While Creep was responsible for Radiohead capturing the world's attention, it also earned them the unwarrented label of complaint rockers and one-hit wonders who were capitalizing on the loser/slacker chic ushered in by grunge. The band, Thom in particular, were so heartily sick of the song and the expectations that they play it at every concert, that they did not play it live from 1998 till 2001.

Pablo Honey is heavily guitar-driven and pop-rock oriented, and considerably removed from the band's current sound and emphasis on experimentation. You can, however, still hear the beginnings of some of their signature sounds, in particular Thom's impassioned vocals, often in falsetto.


To me, the sign of a good film is when I turn to my companions while the closing credits are rolling and say "I want to see that again". Brothers of the Head not only drew that reaction from all of us last weekend, but we decided that rather than returning it to the video store, we would keep it for another week and watch it again tonight. That's how guuuud it is.

It is without question one of the most unconventional and provocative films I have seen in a long time. Brothers of the Head is a faux documentary (not to be confused with a mockumentary, because this is not a satire). The premise of the film is that it is the making of a documentary film about the making of an art film, which was based upon a book about the story of conjoined twins who briefly became rock stars. Confused yet? It's actually not as confusing as it sounds.

In Brothers of the Head, conjoined twins Tom and Barry Howe are taken from their isolated childhood home in mid 70s Britain and groomed by a music promoter to be a rock and roll act, guaranteed to draw crowds simply on the basis of their freak appeal. The fact that they become accomplished musicians with credible talent, musicians who are brightly burning flames in the proto-punk movement, only lends pathos to the story of their destruction. (I'm not giving away any spoilers; their fate is evident very early on in the film).

To me the truly astounding part, aside from the highly unusual structure of this film, is the real musical talent displayed. Harry and Luke Treadaway, who portray the twins, actually perform the music live. (The soundboom man for the film apparently dressed in period clothes during filming so as not to distract from the performances.) The music is highly authentic sounding and very raw pre-punk. I am going to buy this soundtrack, no question.

Here's the trailer for Brothers of the Head:

Friday, March 09, 2007

Just because you feel it doesn't mean it's there

Hail to the Thief was the fifth straight Radiohead album to be nominated for a Grammy - Best Alternative Album. (Why do they continue to call it "alternative" when it's pretty much all I listen to?) Lame as the Grammy's may be, you know you are making an impact when you are hailed as an indie savour, while simultaneously being recognized by mainstream awards like the Grammy's.

But I'm afraid Hail to the Thief, Radiohead's most recent studio album, is going to be shortchanged by me today, as the day somehow
got away from me, as Fridays often will.

So I will let the songs speak for themselves. I must first tip my hat, though, to the video game noises on Sit Down. Stand Up and the slow dirge-like hand claps on We Suck Young Blood.

And if you are deriving any enjoyment out of this Radiohead week series at all, then I urge you to visit Fearless, who is offering some very fine Radiohead b-sides. Fearless' theory (and I believe he is absolutely right) is that you know a band is great when their b-sides would be anybody else's a-sides. That is certainly true of Radiohead. Please go listen to the song Fog, if nothing else. You won't regret it.

We haven't really watched any Radiohead concert footage yet (with the exception of that Thom Yorke dancing clip), and this footage of the performance of There There is exceptional. Not only is it a beautiful song, but it clearly highlights all the band members performing their magic. Too often concert footage of Radiohead concentrates solely on Thom, and while he is mesmerizing and imminently watchable, Jonny, Ed, Colin, and Phil are all amazing musicians and performers in their own right and deserve to be showcased as well. This performance has some fabulous moments when the entire band except Thom is on drums. Marvelous stuff.

Today's Friday Random Playlist is not entirely random, as I began it with a random pick from Hail to the Thief naturally, in honour of Radiohead week:

Myxomatosis - Radiohead
Birds and Stars - Natalie Merchant with Billy Bragg & Wilco
Bastards of Young - the Replacements
Brave New World - Public Image Ltd
the Beat - Elvis Costello
Funky Monks - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Time's Arrow - the Weakerthans
Our Lady of the Shooting Stars - Mary Gauthier
a Summer Wasting - Belle and Sebastian
the Boy in the Bubble - Paul Simon
Finally, I apologize for hogging your blogging time, but it is shameless self-promotion time again.

Have you heard the new Bloc Party album, A Weekend in the City? Did you think it lived up to expectations after their debut Silent Alarm took the world by storm?

Do you care what I thought?

Please drop by the Record Room for my review of A Weekend in the City. Once again I will attempt to lure you into a dark alley with mp3s. And maybe I will open my trenchcoat.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I'm a reasonable man, get off my case, get off my case

Recorded simultaneously with Kid A and released 6 months later, Amnesiac continued Radiohead's trend toward more avante garde music. Increasingly experimental production techniques were engaged - melodies recorded backward and then played forward, electronic distortions, sped-up tracks, and an increasing emphasis on looping and layering of samples. Many of the tracks feature a considerable jazz influence, most notably Pyramid Song and Life in a Glass House which features some great New Orleans style trumpet.

I'll admit that prior to Radiohead week, I didn't listen to Amnesiac very many times. I have been finding out the last day or so (as I immersed myself in it), that this was an oversight. Much of Amnesiac is steeped in a very moody atmosphere. You and Whose Army is a world-weary final feeble kick at authority, while Pyramid Song is an ethereal piano-driven piece which builds into a symphony. Conversely, tracks like Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box, Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors, and Hunting Bears (instrumental) are highly percussive, but in radically differing ways. Maybe that's what prompted Thom Yorke to state that Amnesiac was for people who wanted to shag at 80 beats per minute.

and the video for Pyramid Song:

So says Bobby Gillespie, frontman of Primal Scream, and once upon a time Jesus and Mary Chain drummer. And some sites are reporting that he actually will be joining them for their Coachella reunion next month.
WIll, you have got to go to Coachella! And bring all your camera equipment
You remember that prank you used to pull back in university or whenever, where you would stretch Saran wrap over the toilet seat, causing the victim to pee all over the place? Well, I just did that to myself today. Not the toilet seat, but I tried pouring some stuff into a bowl without first removing the plastic wrap. What a moron. I'm just glad it wasn't urine I was pouring.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We're not scaremongering, this is really happening

How do you follow up an album like OK Computer? Why, with an album like Kid A, of course.
After the critical acclaim of OK Computer and the subsequent world tour, the members of Radiohead were close to burnout. They spent the next year resting, recuperating and dealing with the pressures of their new status as critical darlings. And then, without any real time constraints or pressure from their label, they set about to work on material for their next two albums.
One could have expected them to create a sequel to OK Computer, but that is precisely what they did not do, which shocked and alienated some people. Says Jonny Greenwood, "
I think a lot of writers expected us to come back with a combination of OK Computer and The Bends. The fact that we didn't do that means people who got their guitars out have had to put them back into the wardrobe".

Instead, Radiohead surprised the world with Kid A, an even more experimental work than its predecessor. Kid A turns the focus away from guitar-based rock and turns toward electronica and experimental jazz, including the use of various horns on The National Anthem. The increasing interest in computer-generated sound becomes evident with an addictive use of clicks, blips and beeps in Everything in Its Right Place and Kid A, for example. You can hear the early influences which would eventually lead to Thom Yorke's releasing The Eraser last year.

Today I finally had the lab work done which I was supposed to do right after my physical exam a few weeks ago. I was expecting the blood work and the urinalysis, but not the EKG!

Apparently when you get to my advanced age, you get to do fun things like this on a regular basis. I now know how a car battery feels while it is being jump-started.

howdy, it's great getting old. It seems every year they invent a new activity designed to keep us doddering old fucks from getting bored.