Sunday, September 30, 2007

"fuck the scene, everybody dies"

And with those words, we bid a tearful and fond farewell to another Calgary International Film Festival. This weekend, the resident offspring and I took in our final two film festival offerings. And when all the popcorn had been crammed into our gullets and the lights came back up for the last time, we voted for our favourites of the festival. the RI chose Bomb It as her ultimate favourite, and while I loved it and thought it was excellent, I had to go with the film we saw today - Monster Camp.

But I am getting ahead of myself. You might want to hear about both films we saw this weekend:

Murder Party

A group of artists lure unsuspecting victims to a Hallowe'en party at an abandoned warehouse where they plan to murder them to stage the ultimate installation art. But all goes very very wrong, as these deranged artists prove to be very dumb criminals indeed.

Murder Party screened at the old Plaza Theatre in Kensington, which is the type of theatre that holds midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings. I love this theatre; the popcorn is still served in buckets, there are no cupholders at the seats, and it is a real retro film experience that you so rarely see anymore. Plus the producer and star of the film was in the audience and he gave a little intro and fielded questions after the screening.

I fully expected Murder Party to be to be a humorous flick, but I didn't expect it to be as silly as it was. And I mean that in a good way. It was hilarious; I expected it to be rather more precious than it was. It was a low budget but high quality production with tonnes of blood, just not necessarily where or from whom you would expect it.

Monster Camp
I've never had the inclination to participate in Live Action Role-Playing and I still don't after seeing Monster Camp, but now I do understand what drives people to spend their weekends dressing in medieval costume, assuming elaborate roles and participating in long exhausting hours playing an uber-complicated game that follows a 200-page rulebook.

Monster Camp is a documentary that tells the story of the Seattle chapter of NERO players, who meet regularly at a 15 acre camp to spend the weekend trying not to get killed permanently. While it would have been so easy to scoff at these LARPers, Monster Camp is never condescending. In fact I came away with real affection for these people who spend most of their lives gaming.

This is a truly fascinating look at the highly regulated and almost painfully elaborate fantasy world of people for whom playing World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons is no longer a sufficient escape from reality. Ironically, staging these Monster Camp weekends is a huge undertaking in reality, from writing the ever-evolving plots, to organizing and assigning the roles, to providing the costumes to the non-character players whose roles constantly rotate, to refereeing the squabbles and conflicts that occur over the course of 48 hours.

I loved this film!

Monster Camp has already won some Audience Favourite awards at the 2007 Film Festival rounds. It's not hard to see why.

If you think this trailer looks fun, head to the website where you can determine what role you would play at Monster Camp (I'm some sort of pompous Scholarly Elf apparently - what about you?):

Saturday, September 29, 2007

music secrets

Sometimes when I am exercising, this song comes on, and I get all distracted and start pretending I'm one of the back-up singers. Except I've got way better moves, if I do say so myself. None of this swaying and clapping sedately; I'm more into twitching around like Bobby Gillespie there, minus the scissor kicks. Less hand clapping as well, because I am too busy doing my patented rave moves.

And now you know.

I think Thom has been watching too much Dr. Who. For crying out loud, somebody help him out of the tardis so we can have supper.

Friday, September 28, 2007

meeting of the minds

Have you met Tanya Espanya? You should. I did today and it was beyond awesome. She is even funnier and cuter in person than she is online and don't even get me started on that wunderkind, baby Alexander. Which is kind sort of like a Brandy Alexander, but sweeter and not as boozy. Not at 9:00 am anyway.

I had a moment of apprehension when I pulled into the driveway of the several million dollar house at which Tanya and family were staying during their trip to Calgary. "These people are way out of my league", I remember thinking to myself. But I needn't have worried, for as I walked in, there was Tanya clipping Alexander's toenails on the kitchen table. I knew right away that these were my kind of people.

I'm not sure where the morning went, it was swallowed up in swapping tales and cracking jokes, snuggling babies and quaffing copious quantities of caffeine after finally scoring the best seats at Starbucks.

If you haven't already been over to Tanya's to say hi, please do, she's got some fabulous stories and she's a total doll. Tell her I said smootchy bootchy.

But even though I did have to cut our coffee-fueled love-in short to go for a facial, I wasn't a complete lady who lunches today, because we all know how exhausting that is. I did actually finally write a review for the second completed book on my Fall Reading Challenge list (well, first real book if you want to get all semanticy about it). Please head over here if you simply have to know what I thought about Ruth Rendell's The Speaker of Mandarin.

Of course, it's also time for the Friday Random Playlist. You do know that Just A Cool Cat has graciously taken over hosting responsibilities for this, don't you? He would love to hear what's been randomly assaulting your ears today.

Here's what was pounding my Eustachian tubes today:

Natural's not in it - Gang of Four
In place of you - Ron Sexsmith
Postcard blues - Cowboy Junkies
Providence - Sonic Youth
Long winter - Cuff the Duke
O thou that tellest good tidings - Handel
Broken face - Pixies
Favourite - Neko Case
Should I stay or should I go - the Clash
Flower like years - Great Aunt Ida
The week is done, get out there and get your groove thang on.
Go fuck yourself, San Diego

Thursday, September 27, 2007

99% of Matt Good is not failure

Matthew Good is a moody bastard.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who is at all familiar with his music or with the man himself. At Tuesday night's appearance at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, he channeled that moodiness in a powerful, if somewhat sombre, performance.

In the last few years, Good's music has been decidedly more introspective and sombre. Starting with the acoustic reworking of many of his hits on 2005's In a Coma, and culminating with the dark and intensely personal recent release, Hospital Music, Matt Good has been increasingly moving away from his rock hits of the past and into the dark recesses of his mind.

Many of the songs on Hospital Music were born during the several months he spent on a psychiatric ward, dealing with bipolar disorder, the breakup of his marriage, and his own subsequent breakdown. They are scathing and dark and highly personal, and they form the basis for Good's current tour.

The night opened with an upbeat set by Dala, a girl and guitar duo from Ontario. They had a wonderful stage patter, lively and funny banter, and lovely harmonies. They ended their set with an a capella rendering of Fever/Hit the Road Jack, while the rest of their set was original offerings. Think Canadian hetero Indigo Girls, and you get the idea.

Matt made a typically low-key but dramatic entrance, performing the opening song stock still on a darkened stage under a low blue light. He launched into a series of songs, mostly from the new albums, without any audience interaction, but then after about the third song, paused, had a casual sip of wine, and started chatting. Matt Good is, of course, famous, for his intelligence, his political savvy, his quick and sardonic humour, and his unwillingness to suffer fools. Amazing songs aside, righteous indignation has always been a high point of his concerts. When he rips into political systems, regimes, high-powered individuals, the audience eats it up.

There was really far too little of that on Tuesday night. There was a nice moment when he chastised some in the audience for the "fucking Alberta rivalry" being displayed, and questioned why people weren't instead pissed off at the provincial government. That was pretty great, vintage Good fare, culminating with "so don't waste your time booing Edmonton", followed by the perfectly comedically timed "unless of course there's a hockey game going on somewhere". And that launched into a gloriously hilarious rant about Vancouver Canuck uniforms, which somehow morphed into the speculation that eventually one Calgary Flames fan, wearing a flammable jersey, would be sacrificed each game (referring to the Flames' tradition of igniting a giant flame in the arena with each goal scored).

And then, it was as though a switch were turned off. The banter ended and the rest of the evening was heavily immersed in the intensity and at times gloominess of an acoustic set. Matt sounded wonderful, his voice as strong as it has ever been, his songs wonderfully wrought, but the bitterness and the intensely personal nature of the material made for a very moving and at times difficult show.

But no one, least of all Matthew Good, ever said it would be easy.
Apparitions.mp3 (underdogs)
Metal Airplanes.mp3 (hospital music)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's never too early for Hallowe'en

The Green Monkey has been at it again, this time gathering songs loosely associated with Hallowe’en. Naturally I jumped all over that. You can get all those deliciously creepy songs over at Splotchy’s place. It’s a full house over there, man! Bring a shopping cart.

These are the songs that I brought to the snack table:

Furnace Room Lullaby – Neko Case
The title track from this deliciously country noir album, Furnace Room Lullaby brings to mind Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Telltale Heart”. Neko gives me goosebumps with her powerful and mournful wail, singing her strange tale of basements and demons and audible hearts. And her final drawn out cry “at night all I hear is your heart” chills me right to the bone.

Bonus points for the fact that Neko Case looks dead on the album cover.

Country Death Song – Violent Femmes
Who doesn’t love a song where a man tells about how he murdered his kids? It’s practically a how to book, “Infanticide for Dummies”. You know, useful stuff.

Graveyard – Chad VanGaalen
This is a sweet and simple invitation to a ghost to wander through the graveyard after awakening in its coffin to look for a lost lover, and it’s a reminder to the ghost to return: “you'll be called back to your coffin in the ground yeah by the sound of your lover who's been buried right beside you in the ground.

A Boy and His Machine Gun – Matthew Good Band
Nothing says Hallowe’en like spending a little quality time with an insane serial killer in a psyche ward. This song contains so many of my favourite lyrics: the creepy “the voices say hello”, the disturbing “you look sane, motionless like that”, and the always snappy “it’s amazing what velocity can do when human beings are in season”.

Matt Good nails the psyche of the murdering psychopath just a little too closely for my comfort, frankly.

I Will Kill Again – Jarvis Cocker
Oh, Jarvis. He lulls us into a false sense of warmth and security, with that soothing baritone and that picture of domestic bliss (raising rabbits, even!). Sure he gets a little discomforting when he talks about downloading porn, but nothing too sinister about that. Besides people tell him what a real nice guy he is. But holy fuck, it turns out that the nice guy next door will kill again, given half the chance.
Naturally, I had to leave a lot of really excellent Hallowe’en-appropriate songs off my list, but as we draw closer to the blessed day, I’ll share those with you as well.

In the meantime, please head over to Splotchy’s to check out the smorgasbord he has laid out for us.

Monday, September 24, 2007

brown is a flavour now, apparently

I can't believe I actually fed my family store-bought brown the other day

but I more than made up for it with the butter art yesterday

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If sanctuary still exists, it's among the shaking fists

- Sub Domestic - the Constantines

There are a number of reasons why you've gotta love film festivals.
You get to see films you would never see at the Super-Mega-Walmart-Time-Disney Cineplex Dome, you get to hang out with the cool people downtown and deconstruct films like an auteur, and the independent theatres hosting the films always have the best popcorn in town.

We took in two films at the Calgary International Film Festival this weekend, and we are watching another two next weekend.

Last night we watched It's Gonna Get Worse, which is a look at the Czech youth counterculture during the communist era. Olin is a young man who evades military service by cutting his wrists and serving time in an insane asylum, thereby having himself declared unfit for the military. He and the like-minded disenfranchised youth of his town spend their days and nights drinking, screwing, organizing illegal soccer matches, and dreaming of escaping the Iron Curtain.

A black and white film, based on an underground cult novel, which was banned during the Czech communist era, It's Gonna Get Worse is a raw portrayal of a generation who do not so much fight the political system they are living under, as ignore it with utter disdain.

It is a film not without its problems, but also not without its power and charms.

Today we took in a film that I was really very excited to see, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. Bomb It is a documentary about the history and cultural variations of graffiti. Bomb It traces the roots of graffiti from the first cave drawings through the exploration of the pyramids and up into its place as subversive and surprisingly life-affirming guerrilla art-form of today.

Through interviews with graffiti artists, graffiti writers, muralists, and taggers in five continents, the film is a fascinating examination of the compulsion which drives people to make their mark in public spaces. And while most of the artists began their craft with the simple desire to leave their name as proof of their existence, the artists interviewed were surprisingly thoughtful in their awareness of the impact of their actions upon their environs. Most saw themselves as attempting to beautify an otherwise soul-destroying environment, and viewed graffiti as an attempt to reclaim public spaces from the marketing blitzkrieg they have become.

And the arguments against graffiti as a means of artistic expressions were not suppressed in this film. Community activists, police forces, government officials, citizens were all given, if not equal time with the graffiti artists, then at least ample time to explain the basis for their objections. What struck me most though, was the moral code by which these artists lived, only using public spaces, never tagging schools, churches or homes.

Bomb It is a fascinating documentary to see if you have any interest at all in this art-form.

SUB-DOMESTIC - the Constantines
Put this confession in your sensitive files. Here’s some kindling for the schizophrenics. The new sick sleepless ex-patriot congress is living sub sub sub-domestic. If sanctuary still exists, it's among the shaking fists, seeking out a living free of the postures of politics. Plant a paintbomb in the market. Sing it to the whispering bats. Beneath the poison traffic, caught up in the wires. Echolocation. Call your targets out by name. Spraycans and stencils, moonrats and flowerpot snakes. Reconstructive scavengers, termite sympathizers, all sick and sleepless, caught up in the wires.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bands who deserve to be stinking rich (an occasional series): Stiff Little Fingers

It was only when Just A Cool Cat was asking about Stiff Little Fingers yesterday that I realized I haven't been living up to my mandate of periodically featuring bands who should have been way more famous than they were. That oversight has got to stop right now and if there is any band who deserves the limelight, it is Stiff Little Fingers.

Stiff Little Fingers were arguably one of the angriest bands formed during one of the angriest periods of Northern Ireland's history. Formed in 1977, they were originally a cover band known as Highway Star, but upon discovering punk they began writing original material and realized they needed a more punky name. They took the name Stiff Little Fingers from a Vibrators' song.

The band caught the ear of BBC Radio One DJ (and musical visionary) John Peel when a friend sent him a limited pressing of "Suspect Device" and "Wasted Life". Peel played those songs nightly, and the exposure allowed the band to score a distribution deal in England.

Stiff Little Fingers have been accused of having pro-IRA sentiments, but if you listen to the lyrics, you quickly realize that nothing could be further from the truth. With their highly political and highly charged lyrics, Stiff Little Fingers have also faced accusations of exploiting the Troubles, but essentially they wrote about the reality in Belfast at the time. As frontman Jake Burns put it, they couldn't very well write songs about American highways when they lived in Northern Ireland.

Stiff Little Fingers broke up in 1982 and reformed in 1987. They have been through a series of personnel changes and Burns remains the only consistent member of the band.

Take a listen to some of their songs and tell me they didn't deserve to be stinking rich:
Wasted Life.mp3
Suspect Device.mp3
Alternative Ulster.mp3
"If it wasn't for your stiff little fingers
nobody would know you were dead."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hey how's that 5:30 am workout coming along, lardass?

I'm glad you asked. If you had asked me last week, you would have gotten a different answer, but after a little tweaking I think I've found something workable.

Frankly, last week I thought I was going to die. I used to run in the mornings when I was in grad school, but I was a lot more limber at the crack of dawn 100 years ago than I am now. Jesus Christ on a cracker was I ever stiff, and my feet hurt and I was pretty sure I was going to have a heart attack. Suffice it to say that I did not set any land speed records.

And then a (admittedly dim and dusty) light bulb went off in my noggin and I realized that it is much less of a shock to go from a lying to a sitting position, so this week I did my sessions on the bike instead of the elliptical. Big difference! Still no speed records, but I actually felt pretty good whilst peddling away in the dark. And since the bike is a far less intense workout than the elliptical, I think I may even add on a few minutes.

I forgot to wish Jarvis Cocker happy birthday this week.
44 years old and still the coolest kid around!
Happy belated, my poppet.

This week's Friday Random Playlist is satisfyingly symmetrical, in that it starts and ends with a Pixies' song. This appeals to my sense of aesthetics and pleases me more than it probably should:

Nimrod's son - Pixies
The courtesan has sung - Sunset Rubdown
Kiss me on the bus - the Replacements
These things take time - the Smiths
Sunshine - the Decemberists
Preparing to fly - the Waterboys
Quiet as a mouse - Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
Space oddity - David Bowie
Fee fie - the Hidden Cameras
Planet of sound - Pixies
The Calgary International Film Festival started last night.
We're taking in 4 films over the next week:
- It's Gonna Get Worse (Czech Republic)
- Bomb It (USA)
- Murder Party (USA)
- Monster Camp (USA)
- escapes from insane asylums, history of graffiti, murder for the sake of art, and live action D&D players - oh it's going to be glorious.
May your weekend be even more glorious. Stay cool and beautiful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the monkey speaks

The caped crusader of the primate community, the big banana himself, Dr Monkey von Monkerstein, consented to answer a few of my probing hard-hitting journalist-type questions the other day. And he was all nice and complimentary and stuff, so you really should head over to his most excellent blog and take a look-see.
Next week the second annual Polaris Prize will be awarded. You may recall that Final
Fantasy won the inaugural prize for his groundbreaking album "He Poos Clouds".

If you aren't familiar with the Polaris Prize yet, it's sort of the Canadian equivalent of Britain's Mercury Prize, which celebrates the most creative and artistic Canadian album of the year, regardless of genre or record sales.

Here is the shortlist of this year's nominees

Pretty awesome list this year, wouldn't you agree?

I love a bunch of these albums (and these artists), but my heart and my vote (if I had one) is with my homeboy, Chad VanGaalen. He is quite simply, a genius.

Although I have seen him in concert a number of times, I was still really really bummed to find out that we are going to be in Ontario the weekend that he will be playing the Grand Theatre. One of my favourite musicians at my favourite venue and I am out of the province.

Chad, you really should have checked with me first, dude.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I don't like the cut of your jib

My gas company tried to pull a sneak attack on me last week by sending out some university student trying to make a buck to go house to house, telling everybody that natural gas would no longer be subsidized by the government (sort of true, but not really) and that we were all going to be paying much higher gas bills from now until eternity. Therefore, we had better sign up for a 5 year flat-rate contract with said gas company. Oh and by the way, you need to do that right now, right here on your front porch. Quick, there’s no time to think.

She seemed quite shocked when I explained for the third time that I was not signing anything without looking through it first, to leave the contract and supporting information with me and we would read through it and make a decision.

- But you have to sign up now and then you have 10 days to change your mind.
- Well, I won’t sign now, but leave it with me, I will read through it and if I agree, I will sign within 10 days.
- But that price is only guaranteed until Sunday.
- Fine, leave it here and I will decide before Sunday.

The energy company is going to be charging $8.99/GJ as the flat rate for the next 5 years. They included a lovely graph in the brochure, which showed gas prices over the past 5 years, with some fluctuations, but averaging out for the entire year at close to $11.00/GJ. And for the benefit of the mathematically challenged among us, they had drawn a bold line across the graph at the $8.99 level.

So I decided to check our old gas bills. Not even close.

The most we ever paid was $15.59/GJ last January, and according to my old gas bills, winter rates are traditionally $7.00 to $9.00/GJ, while summer rates are about $4.50/GJ.. I did not sign the contract.

And then I heard on the radio this morning, how over a dozen complaints have been lodged locally against the energy company for their misleading representation of historical gas prices.

Interestingly, the gas company, Direct Energy, is well known for its coercion tactics and misleading sales pitches. So I’m really glad I didn’t sign with the devil gas company.

Otherwise I would end up having to go all Office Depot on their ass. And that would have been a bun fight.

Take My Money And Run - Cuff the Duke

Sunday, September 16, 2007

my boyfriends, let me show you them

We rented Hot Fuzz last night. I'm still recovering and I had seen it before. But if there is one film that's even more fun the second time around, it's this one. And if you've only ever seen it in theatre before (as I had) you really must watch it on dvd, if only for the outtakes.

When I originally saw Hot Fuzz, I went into it already a convert, having been absolutely enamoured of Shaun of the Dead, and I couldn't wait to see what Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick
Frost were going to come up with. And where Shaun of the Dead was groundbreaking in establishing the genre of romantic comedy ... with zombies, Hot Fuzz is a very loving and rather authentic homage to the buddy cop film.

Hot Fuzz could easily have been a spoof of buddy cop films, poking fun at how ludicrous they are, but instead it celebrates the genre. It uses every cliche ever abused, but it does so knowingly, by making Danny Butterman, Nick Frost's character, a true buddy flick aficionado. The fact that Nicholas Angel, Simon Pegg's character, is a real life over-the-top overachieving cop, whom Danny adulates, authenticates the use of these cliches.

Pegg and Frost play up, ever so subtly, the homoerotic undertones that underlie most buddy cop flicks, and in the outtakes they have way too much fun with the concept. Last night I laughed so hard during the outtakes, particularly during the fork-in-the-eye ketchup packet takes, that I had a coughing fit and had to leave the room.

Now I really need to watch Shaun of the Dead again, too. I miss my boyfriends.

We've been quoting snippets from Hot Fuzz at each other all day long. Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled, 'Aaaaaaah?'
But now it's time to award this week's Labia Award to the label that best exemplifies the standards that we work so tirelessly to uphold.
This week's Labia is proudly offered to:
for his offering
"you can vote for Beckeye, Barbara or Splotchy but I wouldn't"
That's the spirit, Dale!
Way to keep pimping your blog on the bloginterviewer contest long after the rest of us have given up.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

touched by a monkey

I ran into everybody's favourite primate, Dr Monkey von Monkerstein, down by the waterhole the other day. I thought he was going try to rip off my bananas but it turns out he just wanted to pick a few nits out of my hair. I don't mind a good nitpicking session every now and then, and when he smiled at me like that, well how could I refuse?

Here are the lice that Dr M found in my scalp:

1. Are the winters really as bad as I've heard they are in Calgary?

Oh, you wanted me to elaborate, did you?

Okay, there's one word you have to know to understand Calgary's winters - chinooks. Without going all Environment Canada on your ass, chinooks are warm winds that come eastward over the Rockie Mountains. They can quite literally raise the temperature 20C in one hour. The snow all melts, water is running all over the place, everybody starts walking around in short sleeves in January and forgets that we ever get winter. The chinooks also cause migraines and dry the hell out everything, which is one reason this area is naturally a bald-ass prairie. The trees are only here because we baby the hell out of them.

Then, the chinook passes after a few days, it snows again and it takes 2 hours to get to work because of all the collisions, since everybody has forgotten how to drive in snow. Unlike the cities around the Great Lakes, we actually don't get a lot of snow (we are a semi-desert after all), and we don't really get all that cold either (unlike Winnipeg, which is a craphole of a deep-freeze all winter).

And that, I think, is a sufficiently Canadian answer about weather.

2. I know you love music and go to many many concerts so please tell us what was the
first concert, the best concert, and the worst concert you ever saw.

First: Gordon Lightfoot
Thankfully I saw him in concert a few times while in high school, or I might have been forced to tell you about the time April Wine played at our high school dance instead and that would ruin any indie cred I might have. Sure am glad I never told you about that.

Worst: Red Hot Chili Peppers

The fault lay more with the venue than the band, although I was not crazy about the album they were touring (Stadium Arcadium). With the extreme security checks we missed most of the Mars Volta's opener waiting in line, the sound was so terrible in the dome and we were in
such a scary nosebleed section that we were afraid for our lives. We left after half an hour. And that cemented my resolve to never again attend another dome show.

Did you really think I could pick one? Tell you what, I'll narrow it down to three.

1) the Constantines / Chad VanGaalen - May 2006
The Constantines are consistently the most hard-working live act you'll ever see. This was the second time I had seen them in concert so I was really pumped for the show. But it was the first time I had ever seen Chad VanGaalen and he completely stole my heart with his amazing music and his poop stories.
2) Wilco / Elliott Brood - June 2006
This was the first time I had seen Wilco and they blew the roof off the place and the top off my head, even though I almost got beaten up by those 8 foot guys. We had no idea that Elliott Brood was opening for them, so that was an awesome surprise. A few weeks later, Elliott Brood put on one of the best outdoor shows I have ever seen, whilst playing the folk festival.

3) Billy Bragg /Geoff Berner - September 2006
Billy Bragg could have gone the whole night without singing one song and we would have still be highly entertained. He has the best on-stage patter you'll ever hear and he is dead funny.
Geoff Berner was unknown to me at the time, but he pretty much blew me away with his highly irreverent drunk accordion player schtick. And the best part was, this all took place in a church.
4) Chad VanGaalen cd release party - November 2006 (obviously I can't count)
This was in a cozy old theatre downtown where there are no bad seats. The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir opened and stomped and howled their way through a crazy set of dirty gospel blues. Many of them are puppeteers by the way.

And Chad had made huge cardboard cutouts for the stage and projected some of his animation on the back wall, and he told amazing stories and had prize giveaways. It was a beautiful evening.
3. If the Reich wingers steal the next Presidential election here in the USA then I'm
moving to Canada. I've been to Windsor and to Niagara Falls, so tell me why I should move out to the prairie or to western Canada if and when I come.

On the one hand, there's no way the Reich will remain in power, but on the other hand, we would gain some much needed monkey power up here. And where do we need the monkey power the most? Right here in western Canada. Those central Canadian bastards have the automotive industry and Dale, we'll have oil and Dr M. It'll be a bun fight.
4. The thought of riding in a hot air balloon scares the crap out of me, I hate heights and flying devices that one can't steer, how do you feel about them?

I'll bet you're loads on fun on a plane! When I think hot air balloon, I get this romantic notion of wafting gently over the countryside on a crisp fall morning with a flask of mimosas and a lovingly packed picnic basket for noshing. But the reality would probably see me huddled petrified at the bottom of the basket, eyes and nose running in the cutting wind, praying for a quick death.
5. Tell me five things you can't live without.
1) Water - and not in the obvious nobody can survive without water sense. I mean I really love water. I drink gallons of it - tap water, not this mambly pambly bottled stuff which it turns out is actually only tap water.

Also bodies of water, which is why I live in an area bereft of lakes, I guess. Although we do have a beautiful man-made lake in our neighbourhood and even though I don't go there much anymore since I don't have a little kid to take to the beach, I am still comforted knowing I can go anytime to sit under a tree and listen to the lake noises.
2) Laptop - I know it's mundane and obvious but it feeds my two biggest addictions, blogging and music. And my pictures are on there too!
3) My ticketmaster account - I wish I had just married that ticketmaster guy already, the amount of money I spend on him. Maybe I should look into that possibility for my next marriage.
4) My library card - I'm too cheap to buy all my books and besides my library has a kickass cd lending section.
5) My kid - this is going to embarrass the hell out of her, but I really can't imagine life without her sassy remarks and her biting wit. She is my rock, but not my rock of crack (to quote ever so eloquent Pete Doherty).

Well that was fun! For me anyway; I'm sure that rest of you are not quite so thrilled that you caught me on a motormouth day. But that's what happens when you start picking at the nits. Sometimes you find an infestation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

the truth in one free afternoon

Mydatabus is broken. I'm pretty sure it's my fault, because almost immediately after I upgraded to a paid account, the site went kaput. I figure they must have taken my $10 and headed to Mexico.

And it's a real shame because I've been listening to the new New Pornographers' cd, The Challengers, a lot lately, and it is so tasty that I wanted to share some samples with you. But they are coming soon to a town near you and they are bringing the entire band with them this time, so you should grab some tickets and go see them live. Carl Newman has a beard now and looks kinda scary, but it'll be great to see Neko Case, Dan Bejar, and Kathryn Calder again. I am rapidly become enamoured of Kathryn's voice, and she and Dan sing some of my favourites on this album.

The New Pornographers is a great band name, isn't it? It's sly, subversive, and certainly gets your attention. And I sometimes wonder if Radiohead would be as cool as they are if they still called themselves On a Friday. Today that got me to thinking about the coolness factor of band names.

Without taking into consideration the actual music, what are some of the coolest band names?

Here are some of my favourites:

- the New Pornographers (see above)

- Pixies (for the irony)

- Gang of Four (for the historical reference)

- Fall Out Boy (I was almost afraid to mention them because of all the hits I will now no doubt be getting looking for pictures of Pete Wentz' penis. And the band is crap of course.)

- Great Lake Swimmers (it leaves you with a beautiful visual image and it's so Canadian, eh?)

- Primal Scream

- Arab Strap (for obvious reasons)

- the Decemberists (also for the historical reference)

- Joy Division (for both the subversiveness and the historical reference)

- Radiohead (Of course. The name conjures up a cerebral, post-modern experimental band. Sort of like ... well ... like Radiohead!)

What cool band names did I miss?
And since I love to list and since it is Friday and I also love Fridays, here's is this week's edition of

the Friday Random Playlist

Something changed - Pulp
Falling into the sky - Great Lake Swimmers
I'm comin' down - Primal Scream
Nina and Albert - Joel Plaskett
Rude boy gone jail - the Specials
Sail to the moon - Radiohead
Personality crisis - New York Dolls
Armalite rifle - Gang of Four
97 lovers - Pulp
The bends - Radiohead

Hey, look at all the bands with cool names who made the list! Serendipity.
The weekend's here - go out and do something cool tonight. Or better yet, stay home and make curry. Oh wait, that's me.
Tomorrow I will field Dr Monkey von Monkerstein's questions. I admit I'm a little apprehensive. You know those monkeys, they love to fling poo. They may be cute, but they're filthy creatures.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

how to eat a live frog

The resident offspring’s school is making me fat(ter).

I have to drive her to school, as it would take her almost an hour to get there by public transit and she is not a morning person. The school keeps moving back the starting time each year though, and that affects what time I start, and consequently finish, work.

I used to get home with enough time to have a quick workout before starting in on my second job cooking supper, but now can barely walk through the door and people are already perishing from hunger (including yours truly, admittedly). And this lazy zombie is not about to get off her ass after supper.

My once Rubinesque figure is becoming distinctly Santa-esque.

I was once told that if you were required to eat a live frog every day, the best approach was to swallow that amphibian first thing in the morning, or you would spend your whole day thinking about having to eat that live frog. On weekends I have always used the same philosophy toward exercising. After a few cups of java and a bit of internetzing, of course.

Now I am going to try this approach on the days that I work. The marital unit gets up before 5:00 anyway, and I am the lightest sleeper since the princess and her damned pea, so I keep drifting in and out of sleep until 6:00 anyway.

I am going to start getting up at 5:30, blast off a quick 25 minute run on the elliptical before I fully wake up - no weights - have a quick stretch, and that slimy frog will have been swallowed for the day. It sounds so simple, how can I fail?

I am telling you all this so that you can prod me periodically with a “hey, how’s that 5:30 workout coming along, lardass?” and I’ll either be shamed into continuing with the plan or I’ll simply stop blogging.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I'm only doing this till my prince shows up

Is there anybody in the world who is actually doing what they thought they wanted to be doing when they grew up? Anybody at all?

And I don't mean the astronaut veterinarian superhero artist job that you thought would be pretty cool when you were five. I mean when your high school English teacher kept giving you extra books to read because he was considering using them in the curriculum next year and he wanted your opinion on them, but then that evil bastard guidance counselor told you that if you didn't go
into Sciences that you would end up living in a cardboard box under a bridge, and you believed him. And now you are wondering if it really would have been so bad to spend a few years writing haikus in ketchup on quarter pounders for a living while you crafted your skills.

It doesn't seem like anybody is doing what they wanted to do. Turns out Dale is just using his office job as a forum to think up decent blog posts, while BeckEye readily admits that her professional life is boring. A colleague that I had a discussion with at work today blames his brother for leading him into science, and realizes now that he would have been much happier as an auto mechanic.

So who's got all our dream jobs anyway, those jobs that should by all rights be ours? And what if those people are dissatisfied? What if they have always wanted to be doing our jobs instead? Don't you think we should arrange a giant job swap or something? We could all just post our job descriptions, locations and salaries on a big message board and we could all do tradesies.

There are a couple of things I would miss about my job: the fact that my salary provider lives across the Atlantic, which gives me a fair degree of autonomy, the fact that my hours can be as flexible as I need them to be, and that fact that sometimes things like this happen:

I was going downstairs to buy a cup of coffee this morning, taking the stairs as I always do. The door to the stairwell, although clearly marked as "stairs" is a solid door with no window and it opens directly onto a hallway. So I always open the door a little slowly and carefully so as not to take out anybody's face. It's a wide hallway, but still.

This morning, however, as I pushed the door open I heard a big kerfuffle on the other side and I stepped out to see coffee all over the place. Three guys were apparently walking abreast down the hallway and the guy closest to the wall was really close to the wall. He was just passing in front of the stairwell door when I opened it.

And here's the best part. He was obviously just taking a sip of his coffee when I opened the door into his face, because there was coffee dripping from his glasses!

I was all apologetic and concerned of course, but God I wish I had a camera.

And then as I was driving home tonight, I remembered the expression on that guy's face as he stood there with coffee running down his lenses and dripping off his chin. Which is not a smart thing to do when you are steering an urban assault vehicle about, because I started howling so uncontrollably that I'm pretty sure all the other drivers thought I was having a Grand Mal seizure.

Now I feel great.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

it's going to be a smackdown!

Enjoy bloodsports? Like seeing guys bash each other over the head with folding chairs?

Of course you do.

That's why this blogger vs blogger death match is going to be so much fun. A while ago I got an email from Mike over at bloginterviewer inviting me to tell them about my bad self. Folks visiting their site can vote on the blog that most tickles their fancy and the top three each month take home sacks and sacks of money ($25, $15, and $10).

After much procrastinating, I finally submitted said interview and it is now up on their site. You can go here to check out my stab at shameless self-promotion, look around at some of the other blogs, and then vote for the one you love best.

Here's the best part: I am being pitted against Splotchy in this contest. That mofo is going down! I'ma cut him up so bad, he's gonna wish I never cut him up so bad!

I admit I am a little perplexed by the odd random links that have been imbedded in my interview. My favourite is the one that has been linked to my line about posting pictures of my cat; it's for Texas tourism. That appeals to my sense of absurdity.

- * -

And since we are all about the maiming and the gouging and the drawing of blood today, what better time to admit that summer is over and get back down to the businesss of celebrating the beauty of the tagline?

Yes kiddies, I'm bringing sexy The Labia Awards back.

The award for best label of the week goes to:
for her tag
"the top o' my avatared head"
Step on up and accept your well-deserved Labia, Beth. It's lovely to see such eloquent use of the word "avatared".

And thank God you have shortened that word "of". I don't know how many times I have said to myself I wish I didn't have to type that muthafuckin "f" every time I type the word "of". Beth, you have done the world a great service.

Friday, September 07, 2007

This one really is for the freaks

I never quite know what to make of the conversations I overhear at my hairdresser's. They seem to discuss salad quite a lot.

And it drives me crazy when my hairdresser pulls out the blowdryer and insists upon blow-drying my hair and playing with it for another 20 minutes after she has finished cutting it. I just have to wet it and start all over again when I get home because it has turned into a giant fro with weirdly straightened bangs plastered onto my forehead.

Today I stopped her as she picked up the blowdryer and insisted she let me go home with wet hair. I saved myself a good hour.

However, despite her odd hairdresserisms, when that woman gives my head and the back of my neck a deep massage for 10 minutes as she is putting conditioner into my hair, I fall head over heels in love with her.

Does that make me a hypocrite?

Here's this Friday's random playlist, dedicated to the freak in all of us:

Underdogs - Manic Street Preachers
Sweet and tender hooligan - the Smiths
Eleanor put your boots on - Franz Ferdinand
Sub-domestic - the Constantines
Sympathy for teen spirit - DJ Moule mashup
Living in the future - John Prine
Luno - Bloc Party
The reasons - the Weakerthans
Barbed wire love - Stiff Little Fingers
Oh, MJ! - the Little Ones

Get out there and strut your crazy stuff this weekend, you gorgeous freaks. Don't make me come over there and massage your head.