Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Interview with a zombie

What is the best Hallowe'en candy?
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Crispy Crunch, and Sweet Tarts

That's three.

Okay. Brains.
How many juicy little kids have come to your house looking for treats so far tonight?
About 30-35. I lost track after I ate my fill.
You ate their brains?
No, I ate their candy. I have to watch my cholesterol.

You are often depicted in movies. In which film do you think your true nature is most accurately portrayed?
The Matrix.

The Matrix? There weren't any zombie characters in that!

Oh, characters! I thought you were talking about actors. You know, Keanu Reeves.

Touche. Who knew that zombies were such stand-ups?

Oh yes, we many of us are regular Jerry Seinfelds. Okay then, Shaun of the Dead. I fancy myself to be a Canadian female version of Ed actually. Lovable slob, that's me.

You've been running a regular feature during October - the Zombie Files. Is that still continuing?
Tonight is the final night, actually. I'm going to do a recap of the entire series in case you missed any of the freebies we were offering up.

The Green Monkey Music Project Can't Wait for Hallowe'en edition was the impetus that started the Zombie Files, of course.

My choices for that mix were:
Furnace Room Lullaby - Neko Case
Country Death Song - the Violent Femmes
Graveyard - Chad VanGaalen
A Boy and His Machine Gun - Matthew Good Band
I Will Kill Again - Jarvis Cocker

- those songs, and the rest of that great Hallowe'en mix are still available over at Splotchy's.

The songs from the Zombie Files are still available as well, if you still want to pick them up:

- the From the Grave edition (October 3):
Leslie Ann Levine - the Decemberists
Ghost - Neutral Milk Hotel

- the Bloodsucker edition (October 10):
We Suck Young Blood (Your Time's Up) - Radiohead
Ghostsong - John Rae & the River

- the Don't Go Down into the Basement edition (October 17):
Turkish Song of the Damned - the Pogues
Over at the Frankenstein Place - Rocky Horror Picture Show

To wrap up the Zombie Files , we bring you the All Hallowed Eve edition:

Do They Know It's Hallowe'en? - North American Hallowe'en Prevention Initiative
- I had planned to offer up this song tonight, but the lovely Beth beat me to it the other day, and she gave such a great write up as well, so please head over there for the song and how it came to be. She has a lot of other awesome songs on her Hallowe'en list as well.

The Father Who Must Be Killed.mp3 - Morrissey
- after all, what's Hallowe'en without a little paternicide?

Okay, I've eaten all the candy now, and I'm starting to eye up your well-shaped skull. Maybe it's time to turn out the porch light.

Happy Hallowe'en, you delicious creatures!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

46 hours of Martha

Not only is it a raucous giggle-fest when I get together with the Marthas, as I did for our annual (soon to be bi-annual, I hope) Womanly Weekend recently, it's a highly-educational experience as well.

This is what I learned this year:

- a stove is a poor replacement for a fold-out couch.

- 3 of the Marthas can spend an hour choosing which ring to buy, whilst the 4th can spend an hour buying used cds.

  1. - murder mystery dinner theatre is only theatre in the loosest sense of the word. Dinner as well. Example: Martha, trying to choose a wine: "what is being served tonight?" Waitress: "meat."

- Eliz is the best Martha with whom to share a bed (since the fold-out couch turned out to be a stove), as she tosses about and snores the least.

- drunks who make pteradactyl noises in the parking lot at 3:00 am make me long for laxer gun laws in this country.

- Marthas will always bring far too much food and drink to any gathering but will usually forget something like pyjamas.

- watching My Fair Lady on tv affects different Marthas differently. One will sing loudly, one will wax on about the superiority of old films, one will point out the crappiness of old films and fall promptly asleep, and one will watch demurely.

- antique stores are largely full of crap, but are a great place from which to escape a sudden snowstorm when you are wearing a t-shirt and no sweater.

- insane cackling and out-of-control giggling is good for the soul.

- we need to book our next Womanly Weekend right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

how I like to torment my cat:

1. make the bed over top of her so that she has to wiggle out from under the blankets on her elbows. She looks like a spice worm.

2. make that kissy noise with my lips that means "I have something delicious for you" and then when she comes running, deny I ever did such a thing.

3. set the alarm clock to buzzer, so that she goes from deep sleep to airborne in 1.5 seconds, which is pretty impressive at 6:00 am.

4. laugh at her when she gets her head stuck in the yogurt container, or when Eva drops ice cream on her, or when she misses the counter when she tries to jump up on it.

Besides being an evil pet owner, I have also finally posted my book review for Summer of My Amazing Luck by Miriam Toews over on the Fall Reading Challenge blog. If you would like to read about this book, feel free to head over there.

By the way, have you been to the Fall Reading Challenge blog lately? Holy crap, are there a lot of book reviews already posted over there! Billions and billions. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but
there are a lot of fine reviews in many different genres, so if you are looking for reading list ideas, that's not a bad place to start.

I have only finished three books myself. And one of them was only 40 pages long. And I am still trying to get around to reading Friday's newspaper. I am unworthy.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I wear green on the outside because green is how I feel on the inside

Today we bury the monkey.

The Green Monkey Music Project is no more, but I was fortunate enough to sneak into this final edition - the Battle of the Sexes version (chosen by the always stylish and rarely confrontational, Beckeye). Five of us provided five songs with girl names in the title, while five of us coughed up five boy name songs. I went with the boys, as I find boys utterly fascinating.

You can get all the songs over at Splotchy's and there are some dandies over there, believe me. Here are my choices for boy songs:

Can't Con an Honest John - the Streets

Mike Skinner (aka the Streets) is a hell of a story teller. The first time I heard the Streets' song When You Wasn't Famous, I knew I needed to listen to more of this mockney UK garage stuff, so I headed to the store and bought all the Streets cds in one fell swoop, which impressed the hell out of the sales boys. I'm so grime.

I have never entirely figured out all the details of the con that Mike Skinner describes how to pull off in Can't Con an Honest John, but that's half the fun, innit?

Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner - Warren Zevon
Another great story told in song.
Mercenaries, political intrigue, geopolitics, murder, and vengeful ghosts (with guns). What's not to love? This song should be a mandatory part of all high school history curricula. This is classic Warren Zevon storytelling, along the lines of Excitable Boy, Carmelita, and Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Donald in the Bushes with a Bag of Glue - Ballboy
Ballboy deserve to be far better known than they are. Besides boasting the best song titles in the history of best song titles, this fabulous Scottish band is heavy on infectious and often breakneck rhythms, handclaps, and tales of oddities and outcasts. And Gordon McIntyre's beautiful brogue comes through strong and lovely.

Donald's transition from lying in the bushes with a bag of glue to baking cakes for middle-aged ladies is perhaps more complex than it appears at first glance, even if he is now married to a good-looking girl who gets on well with his family.

William, It was Really Nothing - the Smiths
Every now and then you just need to get out the comb and the hairspray, fix your hair into a cocky quiff, and wallow in your angstiness whilst howling along with the Smiths.

Poor William, first he gets Morrissey trying to lay a guilt trip on him and then Morrissey calls his wife fat. You are better off out of that humdrum town, WIlliam.

Still, there is a great deal of therapy in howling out a Smith's song, and the louder and more dramatically you howl, the better.

Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961) - the Weakerthans

If you don't know the Weakerthans, then you owe it to yourself to seek out this great Canadian band. Their highly literary and wonderfully poetic songs, and the tightness of their music which combines a poetic sensibility with a punk history, makes them one of the country's finest musical ambassadors. In Our Retired Explorer, all these elements combine to tell an infectious and poignant story of a befuddled retired Antarctic explorer trying to drum up support for a final mission.

You really should head over to Splotchy's to check out all 50 songs in the Battle of the Sexes version and very last ever Green Monkey Music Project. It'll be your last chance to partake of these diverse and kick-ass lists. Get your songs while you can.

Go! Go!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Should I stay or should I go - the finale

I'm staying.

I have pondered and listened to (and read) some really great advice, which has forced me to honestly evaluate
what really matters to my life and what exactly I want from a job .

I also dug out my calculator, which it turns out I should have done earlier. It seems that I am actually currently earning closer to 3X the amount that the offered job pays. I
never really thought that money was that important, but I guess at some point it does become so. I can work far less hours at my current job and still come out ahead, so that's what I am going to do. I can put those hours to good use, mainly spend them with my family.

And all this soul-searching has actually given me a renewed appreciation for my job. I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for: a good salary, a great deal of autonomy, flexibility, and colleagues whom I care about. And I am damned good at my job.

I plan to tackle the issues of commuter-fatigue and reduced workload (which has been a cause of boredom) by reducing my work week from 3 days to 2, perhaps beginning as early as December. This actually fits in really well with some budgetary changes that I have had to make to accommodate the expedition of a contract recently. So I will save us some money by reducing my salary, I will still be making twice the amount I would at the new job, I would have enough work to keep me interested and motivated, AND I would only have to do the commute twice a week.

Allison asked me recently,
"why not take the time to search out something you truly love." And she was so right, if the folk festival or the CBC or a music promoter or a magazine were to offer me a job, I would leap at that opportunity, regardless of salary. Cheese is great, but ultimately it's not my passion.
It's been far too long since I last played along with the Friday Random Playlist. I'm ready to take my skipping rope and head over the the playground to see if the cool kids (or cool cats) will still let me play or if they have a new best friend now and will laugh at my moose sweater, causing me to run home sobbing.

This is what I am bringing as a peace offering. Wish me luck.

~ The Eternal - Joy Division
~ Tragedy and Farce (Karaoke) - Momus
~ Oxytocin - Arab Strap
~ Water - Holly McNarland
~ Mon Legionnaire - Serge Gainsbourg
~ Black Star - Radiohead
~ G.P.T. - Martha Wainwright
~ Blackout - Sloan
~ Electioneering - Radiohead
~ In the Future When All's Well - Morrissey

I sure hope those kids at the playground like Radiohead, or I'm euchred.
Have yourselves a great weekend, my little lolcats, and play nicely.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I love snow clouds, but I hate snow
(cozy dreams/brutal reality)

The price of oil is increasing, but the price of gasoline is decreasing

(thank you strong Canadian dollar in a North American market)
I wore a tank top all yesterday afternoon and woke up to the ground covered in snow this morning.

Tonight I closed the curtains for the first time this season.

Do you do the same thing? Open the curtains during the day in the winter and close them at night, but open them at night during the summer and close them during the day? Who needs air conditioning when you can run around adjusting curtains all summer long?




Thanks again (and again and again) for all the thoughtful advice you have given me on my job offer dilemma. Everything that you said gave me a fresh perspective and helped me determine what things are really important to me.

It's amazing how long I can go without any introspection, if not pushed.

I believe I have made a decision. I'm going to have a pow wow with the family tomorrow after Jerry gets home from his week in America.

I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Should I stay or should I go?

I had a job offer this morning.

I am seriously thinking of saying yes, but of course I am torn, having been at my current job for almost nine years. You feel a considerable bit of loyalty toward people with whom you have worked for that long.

I know you have been listening to me qvetch about my job for a long time now, how the commute has become insane, how I don't love it anymore as there is nothing left for me to do blah blah blah. But for some reason those festival promoters have yet to throw bags of money at me to help them lure musicians to town and raise excitement levels amongst the populace, so I stay. But I was curious enough about the offered job to apply, obviously, and now I must decide.

So I'm doing a survey. I am forever advising people to develop pro and con lists to help them make decisions, so I guess it's time I take my own advice.

  1. daily commute will be reduced from 1.5-2 hours down to 14-16 minutes
  2. my current position has essentially run its course and there is not much left there for me to do
  3. parking fees would decrease by $1,500.00/year
  4. I want to try something new and different and cheese is always fun
  5. I really like this shop, I like the seminars and the tastings they hold, and their philosophy
  6. this job would be relatively stress-free
  7. quitting a job is always fun
  1. big salary reduction (less than half of my current salary)
  2. increased likelihood of working evenings and weekends
  3. harder to schedule events in the long-term because of possibility of shift-work
  4. I will miss the satisfaction of completing big projects
  5. won't get to play on the computer at work
  6. change is always stressful

What would you do?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Final Fantasy Has a Good Home in Calgary

The sensible way to prepare for a sure-to-be-exhausting weekend away with the Marthas would be to stay home and pack, or at least get some sleep, but no, I chose to go to the Final Fantasy concert at the Warehouse on Thursday night instead.
Best irrational decision I ever made.
As we shuffled into the deliciously rough and slightly grubby Warehouse, we were delighted to see Owen Pallett (aka Final Fantasy) manning his own merchandise table. How can you not love a headliner who sells his own merch, especially when he is one of the most interesting and unique musicians in the country? To be honest, his little gentleman friend was doing the actual selling; whilst O Palz appeared to be playing on his laptop, but he very graciously posed for photos and even drew a lovely little cartoon with xo's on the back of the shirt Eva bought.
Eva still laughs at me for my reaction to seeing Owen Pallett in
person for the first time at the folk festival this summer, when I blurted out "He's twelve!" Now having seen him up close and personal, I have to admit he looks closer to 17. And now I feel like less of a pedophile when I say that he is a stunningly beautiful boy.
But that's not relevant. What counts, of course, is the stunning show he put on. There were two openers, the first a highly experimental looping and sampling free-style set by a fellow who's name I forget, but could be Nifty. I was quite pleased to see Owen slip into the crowd and stand just a little in front of me, grooving to the sound and sipping on a Red Bull. I do love when musicians take the time to listen to the people who are supporting them.
The second opener, Basia Bulat, had the shiniest silver-blonde hair I have ever seen on a person, and an impressive voice that at times recalled Tracy Chapman. She and her bandmates played a countryish folky set.
By the time Final Fantasy took the stage, the room was stinking hot and packed, but nobody seemed to care about that. Actually the Warehouse kept supplying free pitchers of water all night, which was really pretty decent of them.
The Final Fantasy set was a feast for the senses. Owen Pallet was playful and open, joyfully declaring "Hey, this is fun!" at one point, and we all agreed. He even told us he will write a song about Calgary to make up for all the songs about central Canada that he was playing that night. "I actually came up with a song title today as we were driving around - 'Outta the Way, Bitch'. Would that be okay?" And after we roared our approval, he told us that when the song is released in a couple of albums, "you'll know what it's about."
He really is a musical wunderkind, having gone far beyond using the violin and piano in their standard formats, which of course was recognized last year when he won the inaugural Polaris Prize for his album He Poos Clouds. His stage shows are a tanatlizing blend of him sampling his violin and shouting into it, using it as a drum, and accompanying himself on played-back loops. This night, the performance was highly visual as well, with a delightful paper and lantern show of old world looking illustrations being projected onto the back wall by an assistant. It was utterly charming.
The audience was pretty charming as well. I was expecting a lot of scenesters, but no. They were all really sweet and polite kids from next door. Except for the big doofus who stood two inches away from me, directly in front of me toward the end of the show, but that was minor.
Final Fantasy has now taken the crown away from Tokyo Police Club for the shortest duration betwixt show and encore ever. After the final song, he walked to the edge of the stage, stopped, turned around and came back and declared, "you know what, I don't have any place to go (he really didn't, it was all one big room), so I'll play a couple more songs and then I'd like to go for a drink. Okay?"
And even though he did not honour Eva's shouted out request for Please Please Please (his response: "No, no, no. No.") or for Arctic Circle ("No, that one is really hard. No seriously, it's really hard!"), we loved every minute.
Why don't you take a few minutes to enjoy some Final Fantasy now? You deserve it:
This Is the Dream of Win and Regine.mp3

The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead.mp3

Please Please Please.mp3

This Lamb Sells Condos.mp3

Friday, October 19, 2007

I am outta here!

You won't be seeing my ugly mug around here this weekend. I am off for my annual Womanly Weekend with the Marthas.

On the agenda:
- Murder Mystery dinner theatre
- watching in admiration (but not actually participating in) Calgary's third annual Zombie Walk
- making our own waffles (badly) at the continental breakfast
- hanging about downtown, perhaps taking in an art house flick
- fine dining
- even finer snacking
- way too much giggling
- not enough sleep
When I get back I will fill you in on all the debauchery.
I will also let you know all about the Final Fantasy concert at the Warehouse last night.
Expect way too much gushing! And a Final Fantasy song about Calgary in a couple of albums, entitled "Outta the Way, Bitch".

Give me an F, give me a G ...

The Green Monkey has been running amuck again, this time challenging us to chose our assignments on the basis of a coloured shape. Perfect for those of us who are occasionally off-kilter at processing what we read. This is how it worked.

I chose the green triangle (of awesomeness) and was assigned the letters F-J, with which I had to come up with an alphabetized playlist. Here are my choices:
Fee Fie - the Hidden Cameras
This song is actually somewhat of a departure for this band. It's a little less rousing gay choir service full of holy rolling and hand claps and masked dancing boys, and more of a gay choir boy settles back, lights a cigarette and contemplates his life.

Go To Sleep - Radiohead
Amazingly this is my fourth foray into the green monkey music arena and only my second Radiohead offering. (I've been holding back). This song has some classic Radiohead lyrics, of course (we don't want the loonies taking over), but I particularly love Jonny Greenwood's guitar genius toward the end of this song. He uses some sort of digital patch over a random sequence of notes to produce that great video game sound. He really blows me away with this version performed on Live ... With Jools Holland.

Hyper-Ballad - Bjork
Arguably her magnum opus, Hyper-Ballad is vintage Bjork - poetic, mystical, odd. I love the juxtiposition of steadiness of the lyrical signature against the ever-building and ever-quickening musical backdrop, and then how it all drops back again, like a slowly building and then receding ocean wave.

I Fought in a War - Belle and Sebastian
I often find myself holding my breath during the opening of this song, so as to not miss a single note of Stuart Murdoch's pure and angelic voice, unaccompanied by instrumentation. In true B&S fashion, the most heavenly music tells the darkest tale.

Just One More - John-Rae and the River
This band was one of my most anticipated new bands at the Calary Folk Festival this summer, and boy did they deliver! This song is a great melange of indie, Motown, soul, and boy-girl harmonies in a drinking song. It's glorious.

To check out all the songs in the alphabet, including a surprising assortment of Z songs, courtesy of the newest Green Monkey Master - Beth - please head over to the domain of the Grand Master Monkey, Spotchy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Too scary for daytime viewing

Is it just me, or does she have a perfect face for Hallowe'en?

Scares the crap out of me, and that's on mute, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We're going to be just like Virgins

Calgary is getting another big-assed music festival.

Sir Richard Branson swooped into town yesterday to announce that the Virgin Festival will be held here this June, I believe the week before the Sled Island Music Festival.

Yowza, I'm thinking of initiating hibernation this winter to prepare these old bones for all the debauchery come spring. Pass the melatonin please.

Virgin is inviting suggestions for bands which we would like to see at the festival. Here's the list that I just sent them:

Radiohead (yeah, and pigs can fly, but it would be a hell of a coup, wouldn't it?)
Belle and Sebastian
the Decemberists
Gogol Bordello
Jarvis Cocker
Bloc Party
the Jesus and Mary Chain (are they still reunited?)

David and the Citizens
Franz Ferdinand
Patrick Wolf
Manic Street Preachers
Lily Allen
the Hives
the Flaming Lips

Who would you like to see come to your town?

Today be Wednesday.

Time for the third installment of the Zombie files, those lovely little ditties which scare up warm fuzzy images of severed limbs and ghouls. This week, let me lull you into a false sense of security with:

Turkish Song of the Damned.mp3 - the Pogues
Over at the Frankenstein Place.mp3 - the Rocky Horror Picture Show

- don't go down into the basement -

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I understand he dies in the end

I want to see this film so badly, it's killing me.

I think Sam Riley looks brilliantly like Ian Curtis. According to the IMDB, Sam Riley previously played Mark E Smith (frontman of The Fall) in 24 Hour Party People.

Not quite from the separated-at-birth files, I would say.

I guess that's why those theatre makeup people get paid the big bucks.
Although Control is ultimately a tragedy, of course, it appears to have spots of insider humour (which, next to the larfs afforded by Schadenfreude, is the best sort there is). After Ian Curtis has an epileptic seizure on-stage, Rob Gretton tells him things could be worse, he could be the singer in The Fall.
Allison (who knows her films, by god) has gone on record as saying that the cinematography is gorgeous. The trailer sure looks stunning to me. It certainly has real Atmosphere.mp3.

And really what more is there left to say, other than She's Lost Control.mp3.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Finally, a day that really suits me

Today is National Grouch Day. And I say it's about bloody time. I am thrilled to have a day in which I can openly embrace my inner curmudgeon (even more than I normally do).

So in honour of the day, here is what's currently pissing me off:

1. The fact that my entire annual social life is
happening in the span of three weeks.
I'm now in week three of going out every other night, and this weekend I will top it off with my annual weekend away with the Marthas. Now, I love being with the Marthas, but I hope I have some energy left to keep up with them this weekend . I've been reining myself in the last couple if weeks in order to save a little energy for the next thing, so I don't feel like I am getting full value from anything. It sucks donkey balls.

No doubt this time next week I will be complaining that I have no life.

2. the incredibly stupid movie I recently saw - Number 23.
This was my review, which I didn't bother posting at the time: "well that was certainly retarded".

3. the Aryan Nation protest rally that we passed whilst downtown yesterday afternoon.
They claimed to be protesting the proposal that women in burkas not be required to show their faces while voting. Why do I get the feeling that their professed concern for public safety is a big fat red herring?

4. voter apathy.
We are having a municipal election today.

Our last municipal election had a 19% voter turnout, and I was going to start sounding off about how democracy is dying a death of indifference, and how we deserve to be oppressed under a totalitarian state if we can't even be bothered to get off our fat asses and elect a fucking mayor. And then when I walked down to the polling station after supper tonight, I found that it was packed.

And while it heartens me that people are taking responsibility for the running of their city, it also deflates my balloon. I had a really great rant all cued up and these responsible citizens have just harshed my buzz.

How did you celebrate National Grouch Day?
Come on, something must have pissed you off.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It hung in air like a school cheer: the New Pornographers ramp things up

There may be only seven New Pornographers sheepishly hiding their eyes in this picture, but this weekend at Mac Ballroom, all eight new Pornos (including the apparently camera-shy Dan Bejar) were on stage. It was the first time I had seen the full lineup, and I must say that the addition of Neko Case, with her powerhouse vocals and gorgeous cascading red hair, and Dan Bejar, with his incredibly unique voice and awesome crazy-assed hair, really made a world of difference.

Don't get me wrong, Kathryn Caldor has a really lovely voice and Carl Newman, well he sort of is the New Pornos, isn't he, but the full compliment was something extra special.

The night opened with a happy chatty set from Emma Pollack (formerly of the Delgados), a lovely Scot with a good loud four-piece band. Her songs were fine, but it was her chatter that I loved to hear. She was sweet and funny and told us things like "We got daisperately daisperately droonk last naight" in her awesome brogue. And she kept taking pictures of us, which was really kind of sweet.

The New Pornographers have a fancy new lighted sign which graced the back of the stage and when it finally started flashing, everybody got pretty excited. And it was a rollicking good show. I had seen the New Pornographers in concert a couple of times before, but never featuring the complete band, and I remember thinking on those other occasions that a couple of songs really needed Neko Case's input to hits those heights. Thankfully we got that on Friday night. And since the new album, the Challengers, also features quite a number of Dan Bejar songs, I was really thankful that he was in attendance as well. Nobody sings a Dan Bejar song like Dan Bejar. In fact ever since seeing him at the Sled Island Music Festival (as Destroyer but without the rest of Destroyer) I have been itching to see him perform again.

I thought the sound was a little off on Friday night, a trifle muddy. Perhaps Mac Ballroom is too small a venue for the likes of a huge band with a huge sound like the New Pornographers. But when they played songs like The Bleeding Heart Show, which always makes me die a little with happiness, especially with Neko to sing those big parts that really need someone with her pipes, well, it was fucking exquisite.

Nobody does a big bold pop song with building intensities, boy-girl harmonies, and call and response catharsis quite like the New Pornographers. I know that some of you are going to be seeing the New Pornos in the next couple of weeks, and let me just say that you are in for a treat.

Dance your fool heads off for me.

The Bleeding Heart Show.mp3 (the hey la hey las just kill me)
Myriad Harbour.mp3 (Dan Bejar's quirky voice at its finest)
Mass Romantic.mp3 (the song that started it all)

Favourite indie kid: the 9 foot tall lad who hopped up and down all night long, pumping his fist into the air a little bit every time he got really excited. That's the way to enjoy a concert. Rock on, indie boy!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

the zombie sleeps tonight

Is it sad that I am so glad to be staying home tonight?

I guess that's one of the perks of having been married for 300 or so years, you don't feel the obligation to always be out socializing. Unlike when I was in university, when I thought that if I didn't have anything to do on a Friday or Saturday night that I was a loser. I know, I was really pathetic and insecure. Mind you, I was also really poor and didn't even have a tv or anything decent to eat, so staying in was pretty boring and frankly, a little depressing. (Somehow I still always managed to have money to go drinking though, hmmmm)

Maybe I was just a late bloomer, that's sort of more high school mentality, don't you think? You would think by university I would have had a little more self-confidence, but no. I was reminded of all this as I was listening to Definitely Not the Opera today, where the theme was high school. They delved into all the insecurities and the cliques and those dreams about being naked in high school looking for your locker.

One thing which was mentioned that I found interesting was that people never stop thinking about their high school days, no matter how old they are. Hence, the popularity of John Hughes movies and 80s nostalgia. Apparently your high school experience is what defines you, as it is a microcosm of adult society and people will always look back to their high school days for a guideline in their lives.

Which made me realize that I never think about high school. Ever. Couldn't give a shit about it. I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. It wasn't bad, but I wanted to get on with my life.

I'm not really sure what that says about me. Probably just that I am doing too much navel gazing today.

But I am curious about your high school days and how you think back on them. Were they the defining days of your formation? Do you have those high school anxiety nightmares? Am I just a maladjusted freak?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Just one more drink and then I should be on my way home: Tuesday night with the Weakerthans

I have got to stop telling people about the Weakerthans.

Mac Ballroom was absolutely jam-packed for Tuesday night's concert. Tuesday night! Traditionally the worst possible night to hold a concert. It seems the Weakerthans are no longer Canada's best kept rock secret.

In fact, at first it seemed as though I was not going to be able to see
a bloody thing, what with the 8-foot woman standing directly in front of me. She was one of those annoying concert goers who are not only way too tall, but also never stop moving around, so you can never quite find that little peephole to peer through the heads. But she did have the most gloriously ugly hair I have ever seen. I spent the entire opener set, gazing in admiration at her huge straw mullet. But then she and her gentleman friend moved elsewhere and I was able to see the rest of the concert really well, once again proving my theory that you should never move from your chosen spot at a concert.

The evening started rather late, possibly to allow for the insane security crackdown that for some unknown reason was in place at the doors. I'm old, I'm not used to being patted down and having the contents of my purse thoroughly scrutinized when I go to a show. But The Last Town Chorus, the opener, was worth the wait. They sure made a lot of music for two people on guitars. The frontwoman played a steel lap guitar, an instrument that I generally associate with country music, but there was nothing country about the other worldly sounds that she coaxed out of that thing. The Last Town Chorus was well received, and she kept telling us that we were the politest college students she had ever played for.

But if the Last Town Chorus got a warm reception from the crowd, the Weakerthans were jumped upon, knocked down, and had their faces slobberingly licked by a packed house of adoring fans.

I am happy to report that frontman John K Samson has let his hair grow back into a spiky quiff with lovely wee sideburns and once again looks like a proper rock star, instead of sporting the English professor image he has been fostering lately. But enough about image, we're talking the Weakerthans here, the only image that matters is the imagery that you will find in their highly literary songs, songs that musically run the gamut from their early punk-charged blasts through to the much more diverse offerings of their newer work.

The Weakerthans always put on a rousing show and this one was no exception; they were tight, energetic and seemed to be feeding off the love. They didn't spend a lot of time on chatter, opting instead to go from one crowd favourite to the next, but their songs are such perfectly told vignettes that you come away feeling as though you have had a satisfying conversation, a conversation told entirely in song. The set list was a nice mix of portraits of Canadiana from their new album, Reunion Tour, and all the must-plays from their previous albums.

Weakerthans fans are hard-core. You know how at every concert, whenever a song is performed that sort of has a false ending, there are always a number of people who are caught off-guard and start clapping at the wrong place? Not on Tuesday night, and quite a few of the songs performed had false endings. But Weakerthans fans know. And they love their Weakerthans.

So should you.

Here's a song that always makes me tear up, and it brings me right back to the day I loaded up all my earthly belongings in my old Chevy Nova and drove out of Winnipeg forever - Left and Leaving.mp3

And this one is off the new album. In fine Canadian fashion, it's about curling - Tournament of Hearts.mp3

And lastly, although some of you who have been coming by here for a while have probably seen this one, here is one of my favourite videos of all time. It never gets old.

Have a great Friday night, you great explorers. We're off to see the New Pornographers tonight! Details tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

rainbows and zombies are besty friends

Damn! I so didn't get to blog till my fingers bled today despite not having any appointments or urgent trips to the recycling depot to attend to. What genius decided that a day should only have 24 measly hours in it anyway?

But before this day is dead and buried, I shall fulfill my vow to bring you The Zombie Files, as well as swoon and drool just a little more than I already have over the new Radiohead release, In Rainbows.

First, my boyfriends.

I've only listened to In Rainbows 7 or 8 (possibly 9) times since downloading it late last night, so I can't really comment on it in too much detail. I haven't really paid too much attention to the words so far, I have just been letting the sound wash over me.

And it made me cry.

Okay, I am probably a little high up on the emotional scale today, but regardless, this is a damned fine album. In Rainbows is very lush, probably the most orchestral sound I have ever heard from Radiohead, and it's a much more mature sound than any of the past albums. I have heard most of these songs before as concert recordings, but the studio recordings are far removed from those earlier versions.

And this is the song that made me cry - House Of Cards.MP3

And if today is Wednesday, that means it's time for the second installment of The Zombie Files, those Hallowe'en related songs that could not squeeze into my contributions to the Green Monkey Music Project. Since it is also Radiohead appreciation day (more so than usual), we would be remiss if we did not include one of their songs, to say "I love you guys!"

It's only fair.

We Suck Young Blood (Your Time's Up).mp3 - Radiohead

Ghostsong.mp3 - John-Rae and the River

ooooooh, scary, kiddies!

October 10th To-Do List

1. get older

2. ignore self-imposed rule about only blogging one post per day and blog until fingers bleed. After all, that's why I have my laptop sitting beside my pc today, isn't it?

3. at some point, have big workout, as the fat-gathering years are now upon us like never before.

4. burn copy of new Radiohead cd, In Rainbows. After all, it's a little hard to hug a digital file.

5. be thankful that I live in a world that now has new Radiohead music.

6. try not to cry when listening to House of Cards or Reckoner or Nude.

7 pick Eva up after school, go for coffee, and continue this conversation from the morning commute: "Patrick Wolf fans are so lolz, it's like if a hipster had babies with a unicorn."

8. admit to putting The Magic Position.mp3 on repeat a number of times on the way home.

9. tell everybody about the Weakerthans concert last night.

10. catch up on a few days worth of neglected newspapers.

11. maybe go for bike ride, as I haven't had the bike out of the garage all summer. Or maybe not.

12. go to Co-op to pick up sushi for supper. After all, when you think sushi, you automatically think Co-op, don't you?

13. open those tantalizing presents lying the kitchen table, which are both suspiciously cd-shaped and I'm hoping/expecting one to be the new Weakerthans cd, Reunion Tour, but have no idea about the other.

14. get the best spot on the couch and watch some mindless tv with my family. The only thing that would make a better end to the day would be if The Office was on.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Lion in the Streets will rip your soul to shreds

This past Friday we took in the first offering of Sage Theatre’s 10th season. The company has elected to restage for their 10th anniversary, the inaugural play with which Sage Theatre was launched, Judith Thompson’s The Lion in the Streets.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the Pumphouse Theatre on a drizzly evening as the dark was settling in, I noticed that the heavy black shutters, which had always covered the windows of the small brick building nestled amongst the trees, had been opened. Once inside, I was floored by the dramatic structural changes that had taken place inside the tiny theatre. Gone was a stage wall, exposing a stairwell open to the basement of the building and the fire doors leading out to the grounds. The stage, such as it was, featured dustbins, assembled around the stairwell, piled with an old bicycle and assorted rubble, a small raised platform littered with newspapers at the opposite end of the room, and an open stretch with some rough-hewn wooden boxes occupying the spaces between the two tiers of seats which lined the walls and faced each other.

In the background we could hear the creaking and low mechanical squealing of a subway train. It was a bleak setting for what proved to be a very difficult play to watch.

The Lion in the Streets is not a linear tale. Rather, it is a series of vignettes often featuring recurring characters and loosely linked by the character of Isobel. Isobel is a scared and disheveled, but feisty young Portuguese girl, whom we first see being tormented by a group of bullies, who burst up out of the basement, race loudly up the stairs and crash through the fire doors into the grounds, where through the unshuttered windows we see them chase one another wildly before returning into the theatre proper. It is one of the more unique play openings that I have seen.

Jennie Esdale’s Isobel is sweet and confused, as she addresses the audience pleadingly, looking for a helping hand to help her find her way home. When she comes to the realization, quite early on in the play, that she is in fact dead, was murdered 17 years earlier, she is heartbreaking in her desperation and fear and confusion. And yet, she is the bright light amongst the damaged individuals that populate this often brutal existence.

The Lion in the Streets is very discomforting to watch, with its scenes of humiliation and brutality and oppression. The desperate public strip-tease performed by a woman trying to lure back home her cheating husband, the brutalization of a wheel-chair bound woman, a gut-wrenching admission about the pleasure of a rape which a man forces out of his fiancé, are all very difficult to endure, and you can only imagine the toll those performances must have taken upon the actors. But amongst the raw brutality and darkness, there shine little glimpses of humanity and hope – words of forgiveness to a guilt-ridden priest, hard-nosed but loving advice to a dying woman, and always, Isobel.

The Lion in the Streets is at times quite frightening, and at other times very distressing, and it is not a play that one walks away from with a light heart, but with its glimpses of humanity amongst the rubble, it is unforgettable.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bad Temper's Big Braggy News, part 1

After months of grueling training and having finally proven myself worthy through a demonstration of my prowess at musical sanshou, I am pleased to announce that you are looking at the newest Green Monkey Master in Splotchy's entourage.

I wear the crown proudly (and it's so much easier now that we have fastened it with bobby pins) and vow to bring honour to this auspicious position. With great power comes greater responsibility etc etc.

The project theme this time was Speed It Up, and it was a challenging, but really fun, distraction from the mindless and soul-destroying boredom at work. So double thanks for keeping me from going postal at the office, Splotchy! The idea was simple in its eloquence: List 5 - 8 songs, each faster than the last. You can listen to everybody's mixes over at Splotchy's. Here's my list:

Saint You - the Constantines
This song is a bit of a departure for the hard rocking Constantines. Bry Webb really reigns in that amazing powerhouse voice of his on this simple acoustic tune. One time at a Cons' concert, as the band stood there drenched in sweat after a breakneck hard-driving set, somebody called out for this song, and Bry groaned at the thought. Those guys just can't slow down, which is what makes this song a rare and wonderful thing.

Drink to Me Then Babe - AC Newman
Carl Newman is better known as the frontman of the New Pornographers, of course, but he also put out a great solo album, The Slow Wonder, a few years ago. The man writes a mean pop song, and how can you resist a song that features whistling? I mean, seriously, it's right up there with hand claps and cowbells.

Chorus of Wolves - Wood Pigeon

Wood Pigeon is one of those large loosely rotating bands, whose members show up doing double duty with other bands from time to time. They are an odd and fun band to watch live, featuring piles of people on stage, ranging in looks from A Prairie Home Companion to scary dominatrix. And this song has such pretty harmonies.

Belgium or Peru - Cuff the Duke
It's a little hard to include a Cuff the Duke song in a speed it up mix, as many of their songs do keep building on themselves, and even though this is one of those that do speed up considerably toward the end, I think it still fits into this spot in the list. A lot of the members of Cuff the Duke also play in the Hylozoists, which is a largely instrumental band. You can detect some hints of the musicality in Belgium or Peru that you would hear in a Hylozoists song .

Speak Slow - Teagan and Sara
Now we are starting to get into exercise mix speed; the rest of the songs are actually featured on some of my exercise mixes. Teagan and Sara are finally starting to get past being labelled as a "twin sister lesbian band" and are being recognised for their music. After all, when The White Stripes cover your song Walking With a Ghost, you should start getting some recognition, don't you think?

Private Idaho - the B-52's
The B-52's always bring me back to the crazy carefree days of university. They have yet to be matched for sheer poppy campy fun. A little Rocky Horror Picture Show for daytime. Private Idaho would also fit into a mix featuring songs which were used in movie titles.

Cheer It On - Tokyo Police Club
There is no excess fat in a Tokyo Police Club song. They are stripped down, raw, brief and so damned good. TPC are also a really fun band to watch, extremely energetic, interactive, and absolutely not precious in any way. They returned to the stage for an encore after less than a minute of listening to the adoring cheers. Gotta love a band that respects its audience like that.

Suspect Device - Stiff Little Fingers
A powerfully angry punk song (is there any other kind?) that perfectly captures the sense of growing up in one of the most violent periods in recent history. Whether you view it as a historical piece or just a damned good song, Suspect Device will always be relevant.

Since today is Canadian Thanksgiving, let's test your knowledge of Canadianity:
which are the Canadian bands on this list?
(bonus points if you are not a Canadian)