Monday, July 30, 2007

The Volunteer Monologues: And then I said to Hawksley Workman "excellent choices, I would highly recommend both of these cds"

A cold front blew through the city early this morning, finally bringing relief from the searing heat and brutally scorching sun through which we have been folk festivalling the last four days. We could have used that cold front a few days ago, but at least it was more comfortable for the crews handling the rest of the tear-down today.

But what a fine festival it was! It you will indulge me, I'd like to share some stories with you over the next few days, tell you about some of the concerts, some of the often strange and always unique musical matchups in the workshops, bombard you with awesome photos by our own resident photographer, let you hear some of the music I brought home, and of course, give you my perspective as a newbie volunteer.

Today's post, however, goes out to all you list junkies out there (and I know I'm not the only one). It's the hotly-debated and much anticipated
Bad Tempered Zombie's Festival Highlights:
Biggest surprise:
- forget Tubthumping; this merry band of anarchists have produced 20 albums over the past 20 years. They wowed me with their achingly beautiful harmonies and their retooled English folk songs. Slyly subversive activism at its finest.
Most regretted missed mainstage concert:
Bettye LaVette
- much as I loved my volunteer gig, it was inevitable that a few shows would be missed, and I understand that the great lady of R&B and soul put on a jaw-dropping show.
Most anticipated wardrobe:
Anne Rust D'Eye (John-Rae and the River)
- from the minute she hit the stage on Friday night in her one-piece spaghetti-strapped denim jumpsuit cinched with a wide red leather belt and accented with a red cowboy scarf artfully draped around her throat, we were mesmerized by her fashion choices. She did not disappoint and daily kept us in awe, not only with her powerful vocals, but with her highly personal style.
Performer whose sessions I attended most:
tied between Final Fantasy and John-Rae and the River, each with three
Best rock star encounter:
Hawksley Workman
- I happened to be in the back area of the record tent when he came in to search for a couple of his own cds to present to a friend. As the others left to find the cds, I found myself alone with him and told him how much I had loved all his concerts. Ever the showman, he responded by pumping his fist in the air with a "yes!" And when he later showed me the 2 cds he had picked out, I even got a laugh from him when I complimented his taste in music.
Best volunteer perk:
chance meetings with performers
- see above
Biggest crisis diverted
reading glasses disaster
- Sharon, the optomological super-star, straightened out the arm on my glasses after I kind of dragged a big pallet of knapsacks over them.
Number of meals consumed which featured tofu:
- it was a folk festival, after all
Most rousing workshop:
"Didn't it Rain", with Jim Byrnes, John-Rae and the River, and Crooked Still
- a Sunday morning gospel session of sin and redemption set in a shady grove. Despite the +30C temperatures, the mix of old gospel songs, new tales of debatchery and Robert Johnson classics gave me the chills, it was that good.
Most covetted fashion accessory that I couldn't find anywhere or I would have bought one:
rice farmer hats
- great design for sun protection if I ever saw it, and esthetically pleasing to boot. These are going to be big
Number of gelatos I consumed:
2 plus a Rollo cone
- not bad, considering how bloody hot it was
Most anticipated performer who lived up to the expectation and more:
John-Rae and the River
- if you have not yet heard these guys with their energetic mix of country-soul mixed liberally with indie sensibilities and boozy rock, blues, gospel, and Motown, do yourself a favour and seek them out. My newest favourite band.
Number of cds I bought:
Way too many. And yet, not nearly enough. Okay, 11, if you must know, but 3 of them were EPs.
Most unique new genre:
country hip-hop
- Ridley Bent evoked images of cowboy-hat wearing gangsters with his stories of bad cops and drug deals.
Best vicarious experience through a conversation in line with a stranger:
Learning that both Neko Case and everybody from John-Rae and the River had been at the same bar as the tall woman with the coffee cup
- she even chatted to Neko, who, when they started playing her music, groaned and exclaimed "I've got to get out of here!"
Most notable how-do-they-do-that moment:
Tuvan throat-singing by Chirgilchin
Best accordion player:
Toss up between Geoff Berner and the guy from Luba Alexandrov and Kabo Horo
- Kabo Horo absolutely smoked the joint when they played the volunteers' after-party on Friday night, but Geoff Berner gets points for his extreme smart-assery, and the fact that he wrote a booklet entitled "How to Play the Accordion" (which I also recommended to Hawksley Workman).
Most regretted missed workshop/short concert:
"Six String Nation", with Steve Dawson, Paul Rigby, Jon Rauhouse, Hawksley Workman, Lubo Alexandrov
Final Fantasy short concert
"Tempo Tantrums", with Hummers, John-Rae and the River, Chris Smither, Paul Ubana Jones
- there really are almost too many to mention, for various reasons - overlapping schedules, volunteer shifts, too much sun, but those would be in the top three.
Best decision of the festival:
Staying at a hotel downtown on Friday night
- schlepping back and forth to the suburbs is increasingly exhausting as the weekend goes on. I was able to attend the volunteers' party on Friday and next year we may look at staying over on Saturday.
Toughest part of the folk festival:
The heat and the unrelenting sun now seem insignificant to the fact that I have to wait 365 days until the next one

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Volunteer Monologues: Calgary Folk Music Festival 2007

Day One - the work shift
My first shift as a newly-minted volunteer at the Calgary Folk Festival has me hooked on doing this for as long as humanly possible. This stuff is more addictive than crack cocaine.

I worked set up in the record tent on Thursday morning, so this was hours before the festival actually opens and the excitement and the can-do attitude in the park was palpable. It was a gorgeous summer morning as I strode onto Prince's Island, which was already a hive of activity, people hanging signs, golf carts transporting equipment, trucks unloading ATMs, and the crackle of two-way radios setting the background music. At 10:45 am, the die-hard tarpies were already lined up along the fence awaiting the 4:30 pm Running of the Folkies, that highly-competitive, yet somehow good-natured, rush for the best tarp location at the mainstage.
We worked pretty hard all day, and it was physical work - hauling and unpacking boxes of cds, hanging signs (which included the added challenge of hanging said signs from the side of a tent), moving panels, setting up a merch table, erecting a bag-check tent, plus we had to remember our alphabet as we set out the cds (which involved quite a lot more shuffling around than you would first imagine). All the while I completely enjoyed the comradery of the nicest bunch of people I could ever hope to be thrown in with.

A few of the perks included having lunch by the river with some of the crew, listening to Rufus Wainwright's soundcheck (and Hilary's shift ended in time for her to actually be one of the three people at the soundcheck itself - lucky girl), and the exclusive use of the still virginal port-a-potties. The aromas of the curry place just around the corner did manage to drive us bonkers, but in a good way.

I'm really looking forward to working my next shift on Saturday with my new best friend, Kris. I was all prepared to hate Kris; also a newbie volunteer, Kris had taken the initiative to design a spreadsheet of a complete back catalogue for all the artists at the festival, chronologically and with notes on each cd - extremely useful for the record tent staff. I figured someone that keen was bound to be a self-important blowhard, but he turned out to be the nicest person you could hope to meet, and a lot of fun to boot. Damn you anyway, Kris!

Day One - the show
Lubo Alexandrov
Clinton St John
The Sadies
Mary Flower
City and Colour
Rufus Wainwright
Our tarp was on the south side of the mainstage area and we had a problem hearing the musicians. I understand that the residents in the neighbourhood just south of the river had asked that the volume be turned down, so I am assuming that this was the reason. Whilst wandering, we did notice that the sound was much better elsewhere, so I assume it was being directed more northeastward. For the remainder of the weekend we'll just park ourselves on the other side. We'll be in the trees near the back on the north side, if you want to drop by.
Jerry is pretty sure he spotted Neko Case coming out of the beer gardens, and now has an even bigger crush on her than previously.
The show itself was pretty sublime. Lubo Alexandrov opened the evening with a tantalizing gypsy jazz set. The Sadies put on a lively show of rollicking blue-grassy, quick picking, punk-laced goodness. Mary Flower is an extraordinary guitarist, but I think it would be better to see her perform in a more intimate workshop setting. I am rather neutral about City and Colour, but was pleasantly surprised by his set, a nice acousticky offering that showed more range than I had realized. Nathan showcased their lovely sweeping harmonies and intimate stories and demonstrated once again why Winnipeg is such a hotbed of astonishing musicians.
And then there was Rufus Wainwright. Looking resplendantly fey in his fedex shorts with knee-high white socks, Rufus owned the stage with his drama and his wonderfully soaring voice, head thrown back as he poured out his soul at the piano. This is when I really found myself wishing that I could hear better, as many of his more introspective songs were almost inaudible from our vantage point. And forget about hearing any of the between songs banter.
But when Rufus encored with Hallelujah, all these trivial annoyances were forgotten, and we all stood and listened with our hands on our hearts. Figuratively, at least.
Day Two
I have no volunteer shift today, so I will be free to take in all the shows.
Tonight's line up:
Jim Byrnes
Crooked Jades
Los Munequitos de Matanzos
Adrienne Young
Squirrel Nuts Zippers
Hawksley Workman
Eleni Mandell
Neko Case
I will be skipping the first part of the mainstage in favour of heading over to my favourite sidestage, the Sunterra stage, where an evening show will feature:
Jon-Rae and the River
Final Fantasy
Jamaica to Toronto
I love the Sunterra stage. It's set in a beautiful little natural amphitheatre, well-treed so that it is deliciously cool on the most scorching day, and it offers that wonderful intimacy of the small stage. And as I have been panting to see Jon-Rae and the River and Final Fantasy for a long time, this will be a highlight of the festival.
Tonight the family is treating itself and we are staying at a hotel just steps away from the folk festival, so I'm going to head to the volunteers' after party and see if I can arm wrestle a few musicians.
Saturday and Sunday will be full days of workshops and volunteering and mainstage concerts. I learned my lesson last year and am wisely taking Monday off work, which is when I will report back with the rest of the highlights and some fabulous photos by the resident offspring photographer.
Till then, have a wonderful weekend, you gorgeous creatures!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And so it begins

It's here! It's Folk Festival!

Eva took this picture at last year's folk fest. Isn't it a lovely setting? And some of the locations for stages are even nicer.

I went to a record tent meeting on the festival grounds tonight, met a few nice people, learned that it gets to be about 45C in the tent at times, and that I am really glad I am going to be doing setup tomorrow morning and working the floor the rest of the weekend and not cashiering. That shit is scary, man.

Probably the most important thing I learned at the meeting tonight was "Code 8". That's the code you use over the radio when you need someone to come and buy you an ice cream. I plan to use that one a lot. I may even need a larger festival shirt by the end of the weekend.

So I won't have be home a whole lot of the next few days and I apologize for not visiting, but I will return and I will bring reports from the festival with me, this year from a newbie volunteer's perspective. Look for the first installment on Friday morning.

It's just as well that I won't be home much, as my laptop is spending some time in the shop, having an enema or whatever it is they do to get rid of the virus or whatever that it picked up. For an extra hundred or so bucks they promised to save all my data. Sure am glad I have that extended warranty. Too bad it doesn't cover virus removal.

Anyhoo, wish me luck hustling cds, and I will try my best to visit you all and to bring you the highlights.

well since you asked so nicely

The fabulous Beth has tagged me with 5 random questions, just the sort of questions that find their way into any great conversation.

And here they are:

1. Who was your Tiger Beat crush? Do you still find him cute?

Oh dear, I’m off to a bad start here, as I never read Tiger Beat. I was your more pretentious type, making sure I always had a copy of Albert Camus or Ayn Rand tucked under my arm. Existentialists do not read Tiger Beat; it’s in the rule book. Some of my friends had things for David Cassidy and Donnie Osmond, but I thought they were being idiots.

2. You’re the new hot voice out there, and everyone wants to play with you. Who do you pick to play in your backup band?

Now you’re talking! Warning: this is going to be one big band.

My drummer will be Matt Tong (Bloc Party), my guitarist shall be Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), I’ll be singing duets with Stuart Murdoch (Belle and Sebastian) on the lovely twee songs and with Bry Webb (the Constantines) on the hard driving kick-ass songs. When my voice gets tired, Neko Case will fill in for me.

Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, and Michael Stipe (REM) shall all be my dancing boys, and of course they will all be sharing singing duties as well. Gordon McIntyre (Ballboy) will do any speaky bits in the songs because he has the best accent.

John K Samson (the Weakerthans) will be the lyricist, and Colin Meloy (the Decemberists) will be the historian on those sweeping epic songs, and also in case we need someone who sounds smart and kinda dorky.

Chad VanGaalen will make and play all the weird sounding instruments, although Jonny will certainly offer some input on the designs. Bobbie Gillespie (Primal Scream) will provide the handclaps, Laura Barrett (sometimes of the Hidden Cameras) could handle glockenspiel with her good-humoured panache, while Wayne Petti (Cuff the Duke, Hylozoists) could do the honours on piano.

Jim and William Reid (the Jesus and Mary Chain) will style our hair, and Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello) will be our translator. Shane McGowan (The Pogues) can defend our honour in the bar, and John Lydon (the Sex Pistols, PIL) will negotiate our contract. Our record label will of course be New and Used Records.

And of course I will welcome any of you to join in with your triangles, recorders, tambourines, and Tiny Tyke guitars.

3. What’s your favorite curse word? When do you use it?

While I use “fuck” whenever possible (as it is such a great all-purpose word), I do tend to favour the German curse phrases that my father used. Great phrases like:

- Scheiße in der Hose
(shit in the pants):
good for when you bang your thumb or drop your keys

- Arschloch mit den Ohren
(asshole with ears):
excellent for dismissing idiots

- gekrümmt gebohrtes Arschloch
(crookedly drilled asshole):
see above

4. What’s your guilty pleasure TV show, the one you’re almost embarrassed to admit you watch?

I am using the word “pleasure” very loosely here, because I actually hate it with a passion I can’t even begin to describe, and the few times I have viewed it, I spent the whole time spitting vehemently “how can they take a 10 minute show and stretch it into an hour? Those people are all idiots!” So, I don’t know how got talked into watching Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? as many times as I did.

I do watch Survivor of my own volition, however, and I am cringing slightly as I admit that.

5. Which is your very favorite bauble?

Bauble meaning jewelry? I actually don’t wear jewelry, with the exception of a plain gold wedding band indicating that boys cannot have me and my watch telling me I am late once again. I’m pretty low maintenance in my girliness.

But if I can extend bauble to mean things made of glass, I have a large, low, slightly opaque blue glass bowl on the coffee table that fills me with joy whenever I see it.

And now five questions for you:

1. You are on death row and about to order your final meal. What will it be?
2. Have you ever named your car? What kind of car and what did you name it?

3. What are your top five desert island movies?

4. Who would win in a fight to the death, Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins?

5. What is your stripper name? (The name of your first pet as your first name [plus the name of the first street you ever lived on as your last name)

I'm going to tag these five bloggers. And because we are all about randomness today, their names were drawn from a hat:
Have at it, folks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

oh shit

I'm not saying it was the last person who used the laptop,it could have been anybody. But the laptop now gives me a big juicy system error when I try to open it. And after talking to the $70.00/hour troubleshooters that Toshiba sent me to, it would appear that it has a worm or virus.

We have to wipe everything out. So now I have to find my Windows disc and call him back, but I'm going to wait till morning. Fuck it. I'm going to watch tv or something.

Monday, July 23, 2007

No spoilers allowed

Last week our local newspaper vowed not to print any Harry Potter spoilers, but I notice they have since rescinded on that promise. Big spoiler alerts covered the front page of the Sunday book section, although to give them credit they did print the spoiler article upside down, making it more difficult to inadvertently discover something you would rather not know just yet.

Because I like the anticipation. And I don't peek at my Christmas presents either.

Not like my mother-in-law.

We have had to adopt a just-in-time shipment policy when sending her gifts, because she will rip them open the second they fall in to her hands. And then, when we call her on her birthday, Christmas, Mother's Day, Easter (insert other appropriate gifting occasions here) she will be all depressed because she has no gifts to open that day.

She is the exact opposite of my mother, who will not even unpack the lovingly wrapped parcels from the big ugly Canada Post box, but instead will display that proudly until forced to open her gifts. I can hardly wait to drive Eva's future mate nuts when I get old(er) and crotchety(er).

I remember the first Christmas I spent with Jerry's family. I watched in stunned disbelief as everybody tore into that pile of presents like a pack of starving wolves, ripping and tearing and shredding with abandon. I sat there in amazement, my first present still only partially opened on my lap. In our family, we had always been leisurely about our gift opening, one person at a time unwrapping a gift, while the others make appropriate noises of approval.

And then Jerry's mom piped in with a complaint: "What is this? What am I supposed to do with this?", and held up something that clearly was not intended for a 75-year-old woman. I was sitting next to her and was the only person who could hear her over the snarling of the pack, so I asked her who it was from. "I don't know, I can't read this" was her peeved response. So I took the decimated box out of her hands and peered at the partially ripped tag hanging off it.

It read "TO BARB".

I have two questions for you today:
Do you read spoilers?
Do you peak at your presents?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

hey hey let's go kenka suru

One of my all-time favourite South Park episodes, Good Times with Weapons, was on tv the other night.

And I've had that damned song stuck in my head ever since.

Curse you, Trey and Matt! You are evil geniuses! (genii?)

Everybody join in: "Subarashii chin chin mono, kintama no kame aru ..."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

How a Friday random playlist become a Saturday one instead, but it was all worth it

photos by Resident Offspring
Girls' Day.

Jerry is away fishing for the weekend, so Eva and I set off on an urban adventure yesterday, in search of the fabled Recordland of Inglewood.
We had only been through Inglewood once before and that was because we took the wrong turnoff. We must come back to the magical place, we said. Naturally when we intentionally tried to go there, we couldn't find it, but after a few aborted turnoffs into Ogden and the Sam Livingstone Fish Hatchery, we arrived.
Recordland is unbelievable. It is ramshackle warren of little rooms, each quite literally stacked from floor to ceiling with used cds. A few rooms contain vinyl, there's a room of singles, and even a shelf of 8-tracks for the affectionado trying to recreate those magical years of 1972-1975.
Almost immediately upon entering, Eva spotted The Correct Use of Soap and Real Life, two Magazine cds she's been looking for for a long time, and I noticed the Cramps' Bad Music for Bad People.
My major find was a Shoulder cd; Shoulder was the punk band that Bry Webb fronted before joining the Constantines, while still in London, ON. I'm listening to it right now and it it pretty damned decent. I'll play you some stuff later. Eva also found some Sparks, Bjork, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Primal Scream, and got into a debate with the clerk about Magazine's influence on post-punk (and won). That's my girl!
We putskied around Inglewood for a couple of hours, popping into consignment stores, a crazy-assed costume store, and an art supply store where the clerk was wearing a really nice Sonic Youth tee. The first cafe we stopped by was closed for a wedding, so we ended up having an iced coffee in a lovely little house converted into a cafe. It was all cute little vibrantly painted rooms, each with 2 -3 tables, and we chose the lower level backroom which looks out onto the back garden.
And then, because we had no urgency to get home for supper, we decided to head to Mission instead and try out the new sushi restaurant we had spotted on our last visit. Naturally we got lost and somehow ended up at the Stampede grounds (a couple of times) but eventually found ourselves in Mission, albeit approaching it from a completely different direction than we had anticipated.
We had salads and a few pieces of sushi on the patio where a little scavenger bird kept us company, but rejected the lettuce I offered, followed that with coffee and lemon squares and nanaimo bars on the patio of our favourite coffee shop, the Purple Perk, and took home some curry pastes, homemade pickled beets, and a big tin of cappucino cream wafers from the organic meat market beside the used book store.
Unfortunately we arrived home to discover that nobody had snuck into our yard to mow the lawn whilst we were away, so I had to do that with a achingly-full gut and sore feet, and the cat yelled at us for being away so long, but it was an altogether glorious day.
Here then, is the much delayed Friday Saturday random playlist:
the Lovecats - the Cure
Welcome to Paradise - Green Day
Good-bye - Mary Gauthier
No No No - the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
the Body Says No - the New Pornographers
Girlfriend is Better - Talking Heads
Louie Louie - Kingsman
Terrorists and Inhalers - Dubblestandart
Un Poison Violent, C'est Ca L'amour - Jean-Claude Brialy and Serge Gainsbourg
I'm the Man Who Loves You - Wilco
Have a glorious weekend, you people of the sun.
Don't give away any Harry Potter spoilers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Not only did they not muck it up, they made it brilliant

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix may not have been my favourite book in the series (although it was pretty good), but it sure has been the best film so far, even if they did kill off Sid Vicious Gary Oldman. We watched it this afternoon, and I swear to god that I would sit down and watch it again tonight, it's that brilliant.

Of all the Potter films, it has the best sense of place - the sets are absolutely perfect. They are so rich in detail and texture, I just found myself trying to absorb as many visuals as I could in each scene. And some of the fight scenes have gobsmacking cinematography. Check out the overhead shots of the stacked shelves upon shelves of crystal balls in the Ministry of Magic and watch as they start to collapse.

But perhaps some of the most pleasant surprises came from the way
some of the more minor characters all but stole the show. Neville Longbottom, who now bears a rather disturbing resemblance to Eddie Argos from Art Brut, really came into his own, displaying previously unseen pools of strength and totally rocking the sweater vest. And Luna Lovegood, who is prettier in the movie than I imagined her to be, is wonderfully off-kilter yet sweet,and displays a real wisdom behind all her odd ideas and mannerisms, despite the fact that people keep stealing her shoes.

And more good news: David Yates, who directed, will also direct Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which will be released next fall.

Now I am all pumped for the book release this weekend!
What two main characters do you think will die?

My predictions:
- Voldemort and McGonagall
- or Voldemort and Hagrid
or (and I think this would provide the most drama) - Voldemort and Harry will kill each other.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

God's Boat - the Passionistas

The Passionistas are not a band you have ever heard before. I say that not merely because they are a very young band with a debut album released on a very new label, but more importantly because they have a sound that you have truly never heard before. God’s Boat was released in early June on our friend Will’s label, New and Used Records, and has since been creating quite a stir amongst the bloggers and the media keeping an eye on the San Francisco music scene.

God’s Boat is not an album which will appeal to everyone, but I think that is one of its greatest strengths; this is not music for the masses, nor is it music which will ever find its way onto elevators and across the airwaves at Safeway. The album hits you hard with a rough-around-the-edges mix of garage rock sensibilities and low-fi mumblings, churned in liberally with yelps and squeals and group shouts.

Perhaps one of the more immediately conventional songs on the album is Going Gay, which has a sort of 50’s rockabilly feel to its song structure, but with lyrics and emotions which you would never ever find in a rockabilly tune. One Foot on a Banana Peel has more of a pop sound as well, but here again, a quick listen to the words quickly removes any mistaken assumption that you are listening to a conventional song. The remainder of the 15 songs on the album take themselves off on a variety of tangents, from the very whale-song sounding (and aptly named) American Whale, to the caveman meets military band drumming on the title song, to the disturbing drama that unfolds in No No No, to the nose-thumbing smart-assery of Y2K (why do we have to die cause someone missed a zero), to the 8-year-old girl playground squeals (or perhaps those are seagulls) on So Rock N Roll.

There are some aspects of the Passionistas which do put me in mind of some other bands at times, the yodelling of Born Ruffians, or the brevity and stripped-down sound of Tokyo Police Club, but ultimately the Passionistas have their very own, incredibly unique sound. One might go so far as to call them revolutionary.

To take a listen, head over to the Passionistas' Myspace, or visit New and Used Records to get the full story.

Monday, July 16, 2007

we lost one but we're still kicking

I was really saddened to hear about the death of Bluma Appel last night. She was such a colourful character (I mean, look at that hat) and she worked tirelessly to promote the arts in Canada. She became an Officer of the Order of Canada, and I'm glad she had recognition for all the advocacy she tirelessly pursued and all the philanthropy that she spearheaded, but I get the feeling she just did it for the sheer joy of it all.

She will be my mentor,even though I don't have either her money, nor her boundless energy. You did good, Bluma.

And waiting in the wings to spearhead Canada's arts community, is none other than our own little Jen, it would appear. Turns out that Jen's muse is the god damned heat. Now we're all tired of the heat too (although there's a lovely cool breeze blowing here right now), but as of yet I have not been inspired to write a song about it. Not like Jen has. It's so beautiful, I swear it will bring tears to the eyes of even the most hardened sun abuser.
- Jen C

its too hot
im too fat
the sun is the devil
i wear too many clothes
to protect the fragile of heart
from my mammoth self
its too hot to live
its too hot to live
yeah baby
fuck the sun
bring on the rain
and wind
and S.A.D. weather
so i may flourish
its too hot
yeah baby
rock on

the end
Stand up and take a bow, Jen!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

input exceeds output

It's been far too hot to blog this weekend. I even had to change the font so that the letters are spaced further apart. Every little bit helps.

But I have been putting the time away from you, my lovelies, to good use, putting giant dents in two of the books on my summer reading list. I will finish reading Blindness today and it is everything that John said it was.

It is the fascinating story of an epidemic of blindness which sweeps the population. With the resulting panic and incarceration of the blind into an abandoned mental hospital, and the formation of societies within that setting, it is indeed an allegorical tale. The unique structure of the novel, with none of the characters having a name other than descriptions such as the doctor's wife or the old man with the black eyepatch, with the dialogue written without quotation marks and only separated by commas, one truly gets a sense of blindness. It sounds as though the format should make a difficult read, but it is surprisingly easy. That Nobel Prize for Literature was well deserved. I recommend this book very highly: Blindness by Jose Saramago.

I have reached the point in Trainspotting where I no longer have to read aloud or mouth the words in order to understand the thick Scottish brogue. It is written phoenetically after all and while it does slow you down initially, it really does immmerse you in the language. Like the lack of quotation marks in Blindness, the accents and the gritty language in Trainspotting transform you from an observer to a participant. Try it:

Ah sais nae mair. Wihn ye feel like he did, ye dinnae want tae talk or be talked at. Ye dinnae want any fuckin fuss at aw. Ah dinnae either. Sometime ah think that people become junkies just because they subconsciously crave a wee bit ay silence.

Fresca has become my offical drink of the summer since I rediscovered it last week. I like the sugar-free original (grapefruit) flavour. Yesterday I abandoned my tank and capris in favour of my beach cover-up dress, which is just like wearing a nightie/towel. It's fire engine red and has a little curtain ring cutout thing between the boobs so now I look like a high class trailer park soccer mom.
And I'm hoping it's just the heat talking, but if that kid next door doesn't stop its incessant screaming, I'm going to give it something to scream about. There are two peak periods when its screaming really sets me off: 6 am (which is fine on a work day but pisses me off no end on the weekend), and just as we are settling down to a nice supper al fresco. The rest of the time I can ignore it, and the sounds of kids yelling actually doesn't bother me at all. Hell, the people on the other side of us have a trampouline upon which all 75 kids in the neighbour regularly bounce around. But this kid's screaming just pushes my button. Aggravating the sitation is the fact that the kids in that house have taken to strewing their crap all over my yard.

I think I need to up my shower intake.
the New Pornographers' Mass Romantic always feels like summer to me.

Maybe it's the Beach Boys-like "do do do - do dodododo" or maybe the boy-girl harmonies that remind me of beach parties (well the beach parties of my imagination anyway, none that I have been to have ever involved singing).

What's your ultimate summer song?

Friday, July 13, 2007

remember when we were I was complaining about the snow?

By the Billy bejeezuz, it's been hot. So naturally, the resident offspring is spending the day down at the Stampede grounds in amongst the concrete and the harsh prairie sun glinting off the monstrous metal death contraptions, where they takes your money and you takes your chances. She's staying for the free Sloan concert, so I expect a call around midnight to go fetch her from the train station. I inquired during her check-in phone call, but alas, she had not sampled the deep-fried cheesecake. I was really hoping somebody would.

But this is how smart I was today. I've been finding myself with a little spare time on my hands this last week which would normally be devoted to exercising, so today I did some weather appropriate house cleaning. I cleaned out the fridge. Standing in the blazing kitchen with my head in the deep inside the fridge was actually pretty sweet. I had no idea we had so many bottles of peanut sauce.

Here's the sweltering and it's only going to get hotter Friday Random Playlist:
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah - the Pogues
sunndal song - Apples in Stereo
looking at you - the Damned
soul suckin' jerk - Beck
I wanted everything - the Ramones
I missed the point - Neko Case
I want it all - Queen
so like candy - Elvis Costello
devil's eyes - Buck 65
head smashed in buffalo jump - Cuff the Duke

I'm going to a pickup party tomorrow afternoon, which probably won't be as titillating as it sounds - it's where we pick up our volunteer t-shirts, festival passes, and badges for the folk festival. I hope my t-shirt fits, since I've done nothing much more strenuous than eat ice cream all week.

And I hope that wherever you spend the weekend, the sun will be pleasant but not glaring, the breezes refreshing but not gale-force, and any rain will be gentle and not turn into hail.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

if you fry it, they will come

- deep-fried coke
- beef shake
- picklesicle
- deep-fried cheesecake
- taco in a bag
- porksicle
- pretzel dog
- spudsicle

Stampede is apparently not just about mini doughnuts and giant beehives of cotton candy anymore.

Oh the things you can eat, if you have a mind to. Thank god I am not attending.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things that are great about the Calgary Stampede (I'm just not one for soul-crushing crowds shuffling their way across midway grounds consisting of pavement and huge metal death machines, all glistening in the unrelenting sun and 45C heat). But one aspect of the Calgary Stampede that I have always admired greatly has been the sense of comradery and openness and the all-encompassing welcome of events such as the Stampede breakfasts. Any day during the ten days of Stampede you can partake of at least two dozen completely free pancake breakfasts every single day, many of them featuring entertainment or pony rides for the kids, and always damned good food.

Before the company that Jerry works for moved into the downtown core, they used to host a splendid Stampede breakfast every year, which they held in their parking lot. They would hire a professional chuckwagon breakfast company (I kid you not) and set up hay bales in the parking lot and feed anybody who wanted to drop by. They always made sure to invite all the other tenants of their office building, because that was the courteous thing to do, and that's how you behave during Stampede.

And then they moved to the downtown core to share a floor in a highrise office tower with another division of their company. This was ostensibly to foster closer relations between the divisions, but I suspect it's not really working out. Here's an email that the people in Jerry's division received from the other division today:

Good Morning Everyone,

There are leftovers from Company X's Stampede Breakfast in the kitchen here by reception. Please come and help yourselves to the pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, fruit and juice, but please do so quietly as there is a meeting going on in the boardroom.

Boy howdy, isn't that just so welcoming? You are not good enough to come eat with us, but you can help yourself to the leavings. As long as you don't disturb us.

And yet they could have walked across the street and been welcomed at any of a handful of breakfasts that some of the oil companies were hosting.


Monday, July 09, 2007

not at all bad for a Monday

Look what was waiting in my mailbox! A 30 Seconds Bunny fridge magnet from Karen! Have you ever laid eyes on anything more awesome? Karen, you are officially in my will. And that bunny and I rather share a similar physique, I think.

In other news, not two days after posting about how grateful I was to have miraculously maintained my mobility despite my parking lot shenanigans, I am already griping about how tired I am since my little sprain. I napped over the weekend! That word is simply not part of my lexicon, as I inevitably wake up groggy and disoriented. And yet I was surprisingly refreshed from my nap. What's going on?

I did go into work today, but left an hour early, not so much from foot pain, although I did want to make sure that I could still drive home before it ballooned up to zeppelin proportions, but because I was so frickin tired. I took all my stuff home with me and am officially working at home tomorrow. (yes, I am spoiled, no need to point that out)

But I plan to start work early, in my jammies, and by the time Eva gets rolling out of bed at the crack of noon, I will have put in enough hours that we can go out to a movie later in the afternoon.

Any suggestions for a good Tuesday afternoon flick?

Another thing that I haven't done, because I have been too busy being slothful, is review the Passionistas' debut release God's Boat. The Passionistas, if you are not familiar with them, are the highly original San Francisco band recently signed to our friend Will's shiny new record label, New and Used Records. Come back soon and I will tell you more. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.

Now I'm going to watch a repeat of the Office and take my big old foot to bed.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

so who's rockin now?

Recently, well not really all that recently actually much to my chagrin, the always stylish Beckeye tagged me with a Rockin' Girl Blogger award, and this was despite my Canadianity, so I am doubly honoured. I'd like to thank my choreographer, my stylist, my fabulous publicist (not the one whom I sued, the other one), and of course, my lawyers. You are all my besty friends and without you I would be just another gorgeous, wealthy, multi-talented Girl Blogger with millions upon millions of non-readers (a phrase shamelessly stolen from Just A Cool Cat, but don't tell him). But now, I am a Rockin' Girl Blogger.

It now falls to me to exercise my supreme powers and bestow this award upon five other girl bloggers what rock. This responsibility is not to be taken lightly, and was a matter for much soul-searching and sleepless nights (or was that the sprained foot thing?).

My first inclination was to award this to the rockingest girl I know, my very own resident offspring, but alas she shuns the Blogger format in favour of other cooler social networks. "I read it on my mother's blog" are not just misheard Tokyo Police Club lyrics any longer.

So I am instead humbled to touch the sword to the shoulder of the following girl bloggers who display supreme rockism:

Allison: always on the cutting edge, an unerring ear for an insanely catchy tune and a good handclap, and well versed in Brit slang to boot.

Phlegmfatale: cut her teeth on all the classic underground greats, and now supports those subverting the
current music scene (ie the divine Leslie and the Lys), always on the ready with a good yarn, and a trained opera singer on top of it all.

Toccata: a multi-talented classical musician herself, she has been keeping me enthralled with her adventures in art and music live from Montreal this summer. She is forgiven for not loving Radiohead by virtue of her love for Great Lake Swimmers and Jarvis Cocker.

Mellowlee: covers all the bases in music, from the blues classics through to the today's tattooed and beehived torch singers, and makes the most amazing punk Christmas cds you will ever hear.

Deb: the queen of classic grunge, and a contender for the Matthew Good supporter of the year award.

You Girl Bloggers are all ROCKIN' (and there are so many others
as well, who are equally deserving whom I was not allowed to acknowledge). The task falls to you now, to go forth and honour five other Girl Bloggers what ROCK. Use your powers wisely and for good, not evil.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

and the pain was enough to make a shy bald buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder

Today I consider myself to be the luckiest person alive. I am not spending the entire summer with my leg in a cast, as I thought I would be doing. I don't know whether I should thank the goddesses or that grey-haired old man in the sky or Vishnu or my own awesome cells and lymphocytes for doing such an amazing job, but I am very grateful.

It was a grocery shopping injury and we all know how deadly those can be. One bloody hole in the entire Safeway parking lot and I stepped in it. If I hadn't been hanging ont
o a shopping cart at the time, I would have gone down like a tonne of bricks. And then I could have added bloody knees and shattered elbows to the mix.

As it was, my resulting limp evolved into a ballooning foot and within a few hours I could no longer bear any weight on it. I've had a broken ankle before and the sensation was disturbingly familiar. So Jerry dug up my old crutches out of the basement and I headed to bed with the painkillers that were left over from a back injury last summer, anticipating a day spent waiting in Emerg today.

And there, as I carefully tossed and turned throughout the night, trying to find some comfortable position without jarring my foot, I thought about the implications of spending the next six weeks in a cast. Since the injury was to my driving foot, it was going to be really difficult to drive the 60 kms to and from work each day, especially at 100km/hour on the Deerfoot. And then it's a 10 minute walk from the parking lot to my building. And I suck at crutches. But I figured I could somehow get to work once and then take stuff home with me. Work was the least of my concerns.

What really killed me was the realization that I would have to miss the folk festival, including volunteering at the record tent. The locale has some pretty rough terrain, a lot of the stages are in amongst trees and it's quite hilly. I would end up with two broken ankles by the end of it.

Plus our planned trip to Manitoba would be in jeopardy as well, as that would be right about when I would get the cast off.

Throughout the long miserable night, I progressed through all the stages of grief:
denial - "I did not park in that spot, I did not wear those shoes",
anger - "how could I have been so stupid?",
bargaining - "just give me this one day to do over again",
depression - "what's the point, I'll just lie here for six weeks and get fat(ter)",
and finally, acceptance - "it is what it is, I will get a lot of reading done, maybe learn to play guitar and I'll be able to spend more time with Eva".

I finally fell aseep and then this morning, I lay in bed, thinking that the pain was not so bad. I cautiously moved my toes and felt no bolts of lightning shooting up my leg. Finally, I sat up, swung my legs over the side of the bed, and pulled myself up with the crutches. And then I very carefully placed my foot on the floor. And I did not die!

My foot is not broken after all! I am using crutches, but only so I don't put my entire massive weight on my foot,and I figure I should be off them in a few days. And I didn't have to go to Emerg.

My life is perfect. I will not take mobility for granted ever again. I have seen the light.

What kind of reprieves have you unexpectedly received? Did they change you?

Friday, July 06, 2007

come on in

... it's far too hot out front here; let's get a cold drink and head to the back where it's shady.

I've got some cold salads and some lovely cherries in the fridge. We can have supper out here, in the fresh air. In a month or so, the wasps will be too troublesome to let us eat in peace.
There's an extra bottle of wine on the counter; there's no need to rush our meal.

Once the sun swings around, though, about seven o'clock, it's going to burn right through that hole in the treeline from where the neighbours took down their mayday tree. We can move to the far back, into the deep shade. That bush is just blooming and the smell of those blossoms is intoxicating.

And when the sun drops and pulls the temperature down with it, as it will do in the high plains, we can move around to the front where it's still a bit warmer and catch the last rays of the day.
And we can listen to the Friday Random Playlist:
Salvation - Cranberries
Run Run Run - the Velvet Underground
Hotel - Broken Social Scene
What's Happened to You, My Dearest Friend? - Another Sunny Day
Teenage Kicks - the Undertones
I'm So Bored With the USA - the Clash
L'anamour - Serge Gainsbourg
The Pines - Hefner
Single Girl - Lush
Symbol of Mordgan - the Fall

Thursday, July 05, 2007

the countdown begins: coming up to the high holy days of summer

Three weeks till the Calgary Folk Festival.

I have received my work schedule for my volunteer stint in the record tent, and it is pretty sweet. I am able to put in 6 of the 16 hours before the festival even begins which leaves me with more time to take in the concerts and - my personal favourites - the workshops. There is nothing quite like sitting in the dappled shade on a hot summer afternoon, luxuriating in the comfort of that festival chair that you so cleverly purchased last year, and absorbing the sounds and the sights of an often very diverse mix of musicians coming together onstage to make music as it's never been heard before and never will again.

And to celebrate the impending arrival of these magical days, I would like to periodically offer up a look at some of the 60+ musicians who will be gracing the stages of Prince's Island Park this summer. And not just the big names either, but some of the up and comers and some of the ones that I have been struck by while checking out their music in preparation for my record tent gig.

I'd like to start off this series with a Calgary band, who are making steadily increasing waves with their dark and dreamy atmospheric sound. Listening to these beautifully building songs (and you know that I am a sucker for a song that builds), I am reminded at times of the vocal qualities of the Twilight Singers with perhaps a touch of Wayne Coyne at 4:00am, while the musicality of the songs is a trifle reminiscent of Hylozoists in the way the melodies climb to a crescendo. But none of these comparisons are really that apt, ultimately, as this band definitely has their own unique sound. And hey, they are on Flemish Eye Records, the same record label as everybody's homeboy, and local wunderkind, Chad VanGaalen.

-and the name of this band -
The Cape May

Listen to some of their songs at or

And now I'm going to let Ian Russell of Flemish Eye Records tell you more about the Cape May:
About the band:

In 2005, The Cape May released their debut album Central City May Rise Again, which brought them attention across Canada. That year they won the Calgary Folk Fest songwriter competition, winning a spot on stage at the festival. They followed up with Glass Mountain Roads; recorded by acclaimed engineer Steve Albini (Smog, Low, Pixies) and layered with strings, keys, Theremin and accordion, the album breathes with Albini’s trademark earthy approach.
In fall 2006 they were invited on tour with celebrated New York songstress Nina Nastasia, performing both as opener and as her backing band across the United States & Europe, playing to sold out crowds and building a fanbase across Europe on CODA's "Twisted Folk" tour. They have shared the stage with Grizzly Bear, The Weakerthans, Chad VanGaalen, Magnolia Electric Co, The Constantines & Jeffery Lewis, recorded a March 2007 CBC Session and played a showcase at SXSW 2007.
Glass Mountain Roads comes out in the US in August of this year. The band has been busy recording a follow-up - a record combining their mighty talents with that of Victoria, BC's Run Chico Run, recorded and written over the course of two weeks in the studio. The band will be on tour in the US and Canada in the fall.
The Cape May have played across Canada, the US and Europe in support of Nina Nastasia, and this month will share the stage with more acclaimed indie musicians at this year's Calgary Folk Festival - including a workshop with 2006 Polaris Prize Winner Final Fantasy and Eleni Mandell, which should be pretty incredible.
In addition to their multiple workshop shows and Sunday afternoon concert, frontman and principal songwriter Clinton St. John will be playing a couple of songs before The Sadies on the Main Stage! Bring your lawn chairs & binoculars early for that one. See the full Cape May schedule below.
Clinton St. John
Thurs 6:15 – 6:25 pm @ Main Stage
( before The Sadies )
“dreamscapes” sessions
Sat 3:35 – 4:35 pm @ Conoco Stage 2
with: Final Fantasy & Eleni Mandell
“Long Story Short” session
Sun 11:25 am – 12:30 pm @ Conoco Stage 2
with: Adrienne Young & Little Sadie, William Eliott Whitmore & Brett Dennen
“Talkin’ Bout…” session
Sun 12:50 – 1:55 pm @ Mercury Stage 4
with: Sadies, PF Sloan, Oh Susanna
Sun 3:25 – 4:05 pm @ Sunterra Stage 5
Acclaim for Glass Mountain Roads
"people who take the time will not be disappointed ... (Glass Mountain Roads) is a band realizing it’s true musical might."
-Sound The Sirens
"the Cape May could be not just Calgary's next big thing, but Canada's as well."
- NOW Magazine
"Filled with haunting arrangements and songs so epic they border on the mythological, Glass Mountain Roads is gorgeous in its stark simplicity."
- Jason Lewis, FFWD
"Glass Mountain Roads demonstrates the skills of a beautifully entangled group of musicians, with thoughtful vocal melodies floating about over carefully constructed polyrhythmic post-rock jams (mix a dash of Bonnie Prince with the moodier side of Pinback and you're kind of in the ballpark)."
- Neil Havert, VIEW Magazine
"Glass Mountain Roads" is the type of album that you just can't seem to take out of your CD player. ... listen to it under headphones from beginning to end you will not be disappointed."
- Paul Borchert, MOTE Magazine
"Channelling angst, sensitivity and artistic acumen into their latest record, Calgary's the Cape May are sure-footed on Glass Mountain Roads."
- Vish Khann of Exclaim!
"an energetic and evocative experience which leaves the listener level to the clouds."
- Marc Boudigno of Chart Magazine
"This band's peculiar, unorthodox progressive pop flows like ocean waves...constantly evolving and reinventing itself in the process."
"Glass Mountain Roads is a dark and ethereal unsettling dream. Too beautiful to be a nightmare, but too sinister to be a 'fantasy.'”
Press requests:
Ian Russell, Flemish Eye Records
t: 403-969-3253