Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Are you just going to sit there and take that?

A professor at the University of Calgary, who holds the Canada Research Chair in communications, culture and civil society, has just written a book claiming that most bloggers are lonely, isolated, and socially withdrawn. He maintains that bloggers have made no real impact on political change in society, as we use the medium ineffectively, choosing to concentrate upon our relationships with our cats, rather than attempting any real meaningful dialogue.

Ouch! That's harsh, man.

I would have to take issue with Professor Keren on this theories, as I personally have seen a great deal of impact through blogging.

I admit that there have been no overthrows of the government that have been blog-based, but I just have to think back to the time last year when Matthew Good received a note on his blog (which is one of the best geopolitical blogs I have ever read, take that Professor Keren) from a US soldier who was planning to take his life while listening to Matt's music, which had always meant so much to him. Working through other bloggers in the military, Matt was able to locate this man and ultimately save his life.

And on a far less dramatic scale, I can't forget the huge amount of support that I received from everyone on the blogs during my fight to the death with Office Depot. It was through this support that I was able to maintain my resolve and get all my money back. Okay, not earth-shattering, I know, and perhaps I am playing right into his assertions with that example, but I think that even small changes are important. Baby steps, man, baby steps.

First we take Office Depot, then we take Berlin.

And just to show that blogging serves a vital public service: did you know that if you go to the recycling depot during a snowstorm, you'll likely have the whole place to yourself?

That was my earth-shattering discovery today. Halt the presses!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You sure know how to party, Bruno!

Before
After


If I didn't know better, I would swear you were having way too much fun in the hospital, Bruno! Must be those stylish and breezy pyjamas with the built-in fart flaps.
*^*^*^*^*
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRUNO!
*~*~*~*~*
Jamie sent me this video clip today, Bruno, and I couldn't help thinking of you.
You do, after all, have three cats in the house.
And three toilets.


Monday, January 29, 2007

I was driving home today when I noticed the van in front of me had this bumper sticker taped across the back window. As I eased in behind the van at the red light, I looked at the sticker and read:

Have you fingered your Grandma or Grandpa today?
.
I was disgusted! What kind of sick fuck would put that on a bumper sticker?
But the font was really weird and the sticker was this odd colour, so I took another look, squinting my eyes slightly differently, and then I realized it actually said:
.
Have you hugged your Grandma or Grandpa today?
.
I'm starting to think I should give up driving.
But it could be worse. I could be in a cab with Jarvis Cocker:


Sunday, January 28, 2007

It is exhausting being a lady who lunches

- painting by Beryl Cook -
Mind you, the real ladies who lunch likely do not have to take the crowded C-train home after their day spent lunching, book store browsing, and museum-shlepping, so they don't have to shuffle their sore feet while clutching onto a ceiling strap for dear life, while some kid with white ear-buds keeps lurching into them. But it was still so worth it.

Eva had last week off school (those kids never go to school!), so we decided on the days I was home from work we would do some fun shit.

On Wednesday, we decided to see the exhibit on Egyptian and Greco-Roman art at the museum. That place is pretty much dead midweek. You can take all the photos you like and make immature jokes about sarcophagi to your heart's delight.

I found this great book at McNally-Robinson, which I sent to Bruno. I figured if he's just going to lounging around the hospital, he might as well be doing something productive, like learning how to protect his family from a zombie invasion. It's got chapters on weaponry and hand-to-hand combat techniques, and even demonstrates how to fortify your home. Critical information.

We met the most charming panhandler to whom we gave a few bucks for tap-dancing lessons, and he gave us a big smile and a wave when we saw him again a couple of hours later, passing on the other side of the street. I find that most of the folks whom I have met downtown, who ask for change, generally have the most compelling stories to tell and are often really helpful. I think it's a bit of give and take - they tell you the idiosyncracies of that parking ticket machine, you give them a few bucks. Karma works it all out in the end.

I reserve the right to avoid obviously impaired panhandlers, but I always give some money to buskers, no matter what they sound like. You never know when the next Chad VanGaalen will come along.

The highlight of the day was sitting outside on a bench on Stephen Avenue, drinking a coffee. At the end of January. In Calgary. With no mitts on.

---
If you have been avoiding seeing A Scanner Darkly because Keanu Reeves is in it, fear not. It's really good! And the character that he plays is very confused, which is perfect for him. Robert Downie Jr is sooooo good in this film! And the animation makes it feel like you are watching a graphic novel come to life. It's the perfect treatment for this quite faithful adaptation of the Philip K Dick novel.

Oddly enough, Primal Scream's "A Skanner Darkly" mp3 was not used in this film. But Thom Yorke's "Black Swan" mp3 was, which is even better.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's of vital importance to my research

I know that I've shown you this Weakerthans video before, but it's one of my all-time favourites. And besides they played Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961) on Definitely Not The Opera today and it made me all happy. Now the Weakerthans just need to work on getting some new material on disc. Do you hear me, John K Samson? Or at least bring your lovely selves back to Calgary again.

Actually, DNTO had a lot of great music today. Check out Mika, who wants to be like Grace Kelly, but sounds more like Freddy Mercury. Fabulous.

PLUS, the third hour of DNTO featured a Hidden Cameras concert. Yowza!

And if one Weakerthans video is good, two are better, so here's the video for The Reasons as well. Enjoy, my pretties!



Friday, January 26, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen - Jarvis Cocker!

Please join me over at the Record Room today, where I will tell you exactly what I thought of Jarvis Cocker's solo album, which the world (or the Brit-pop affectionados, anyway) has been awaiting for 5 years.
And there's video!
(Jarvis dancing - come on, you know you want to see that)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Message from Bruno

I talked to Bruno tonight and he sounds so much better than he did on Monday night (before he was admitted) when he was struggling for air between sentences. Looks like he may still be in hospital for his birthday though, which is on Tuesday.

Wonder if I should get a strip-a-gram delivered to his room or something?

Bruno was all verklempft when he read this blog and all your kind comments, and you know that we Germans do not klempf easily. So thank you from Bruno for all your kind thoughts. It really meant so much to him.

We were much closer to losing him than we realised. He had been struggling with chest pain and lack of oxygen for two weeks before he was diagnosed, and apparently most fatalities from blood clots in the lungs occur within one hour. It's a testiment to his extreme level of fitness that he survived. They are rewriting all the medical books and naming the new wing in the hospital after him.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Get well, Bruno

I can't believe that the fittest guy I know, the guy who has to eat twice his body weight every day just to maintain his metabolism, the guy who cannot sit still for more than three minutes, is laid up in the hospital with a double pulmonary embolism.

You better get well really soon, big brother, because I'm still expecting you to come out for a visit on Groundhog Day. Hey, if you didn't want to come, you could have just said so.

But please please get back to health. I've even forgiven you for tying me up under the back porch all afternoon when I was in grade 2. We were playing prisoner of war, after all. So no hard feelings.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's amazing how many things you can encase in jello

I'm still in awe about the sheer number and complexity of pranks that get pulled in the Dunder-Mifflin office (the finctional paper supply company in the US version of The Office).

And because I am being a lazy blogger today, I've lifted this list of Jim's pranks from Wikipedia. Even if you haven't seen the particular episode, the beauty of the prank is still evident.
-
Jim's Pranks

- Encased Dwight's stapler in Jell-O.
- Encased Michael's 'World's Best Boss' coffee mug in Jell-O.

- Changed Dwight's assigned "race" from "ASIAN" to "DWIGHT" in a game created by Michael where employees wore a card on their head with differing races, and each had to try to guess their own race by the way their co-workers treated them.
- Assisted Pam in preparing a list of absurdly fake ailments during Dwight's dictatorial reign over the office's health care plan.
- Agreed to participate in an "alliance" with Dwight, which resulted with Dwight being voluntarily packaged in a box in the warehouse.
- Convinced Dwight to dye his hair blond in order to spy on the Stamford branch.
- Convinced Dwight to purchase a purse from a vendor, and then made fun of him for having it.
- Found Dwight's wallet in the parking lot, and decided, on Pam's suggestion, to give the wallet back to Dwight intact and unchanged. Dwight suspiciously cancelled all his credit cards.

- Posted Dwight's resume online and impersonated Michael Scott when a prospective employer called for a reference.
- Relocated Dwight's desk to the men's restroom.

- Popped Dwight's fitness orb.
- Convinced Dwight a Thursday was a Friday, leading to Dwight's tardiness on the following day.
- Placed Dwight's wallet and desk items in the company vending machine, which he had to buy back with a bag of nickels.
- Convinced Dwight to give a "Salesman of the Year" award speech patterned after a speech by Benito Mussilini.
The prank backfired; the speech was a success.
- Paid coworkers five dollars to call Dwight "Dwayne" for an entire day.

- Convinced Dwight an abandoned infant was in the women's restroom, causing him to walk in on Meredith "on the can."
- Created a macro
causing Dwight's name to read "diapers" when input on Dwight's own PC.
- Convinced Dwight that 'Ms. Dwight' calls him every week to check in on his attendance at work and general behaviour
- Replaced Dwight's writing instruments with crayons.
- Incrementally increased the weight of Dwight's telephone handset using nickels, then abruptly decreased the weight, causing Dwight to smack himself in the face with the phone.
- Placed a bloody glove in Dwight's desk and attempted to convince him that he had committed murder.
- Labeled Dwight a security threat on an oversized identification badge and typed "Fart" as his middle name.
- Moved Dwight's desk two feet closer to the copier by moving it about an inch every time Dwight went to the bathroom.

- Verbally made a complaint in front of the office to Michael by saying that "Dwight tried to kiss me".

- Encircled Dwight's desk in police tape, then arranged for Dwight's phone to ring, leaving Dwight unable to answer the phone because it would require him to cross the police tape.
- With the help of Pam, convinced Dwight that he (Jim) had telekinetic
powers.
- Held Dwight's bobblehead doll for $5 ransom.
- Encased Andy's calculator in Jell-O.
This prank backfired because Andy reacted violently.
- Convinced Dwight (and Michael) that gaydar was a genuine device and ultimately sent a hand-held metal detector decorated with "gaydar" branding, causing Dwight to panic when the "gaydar" went off as he inadvertently scanned himself.
- Gained access to Dwight's hotel room at a paper convention in Philadelphia. While walking into his room though, he caught a glimpse of what he thought was a hooker.
- Made high-pitched noises with Pam hoping Dwight would schedule an appointment with an ear doctor. Pam called it "Pretendinitis."

- Sent faxes signed "Future Dwight" on Dwight's own stationery, such as one warning that the coffee is poisoned, causing Dwight to run and "save" Stanley from drinking the coffee.
- Stared at Dwight's forehead, causing Dwight to think something was on his forehead.
- Gave Andy wildly incorrect "tips" on winning Pam's affections.
- Told Dwight the CIA wanted him to go on a secret mission, getting him to wait on the roof for a helicopter and destroy his cell phone
- Told Dwight that their waitress suffered from narcolepsy and couldn't remember how to butcher a goose. Dwight then graphically explained the procedure, to her shock

- While Dwight tape recorded a meeting for Michael, Jim said out loud that Dwight was completely nude, save for a baby bonnet and an Animal (from the Muppet Babies) tattoo on his stomach, holding a plastic knife to Stanley's neck.
- Glued Dwight's desk drawers together.

- Changed Dwight's voicemail so his voice sounded like a chipmunk.

- Told Dwight they had a meeting at 4am, and he was the only one that showed up.
- Shipped Dwight's desk by mail to Roswell, New Mexico, where Dwight was vacationing.
- Stole Andy's cell phone and hid it in the ceiling above his desk, and then, along with Pam, called it repeatedly.
---
Whew, I'm exhausted just reading about those! I alternate being really wanting to work at Dunder-Mifflin and really hating the thought of working there.
---
Also, I've been pretty hard on The Hour lately, but after the lovely and talented Jen sent me their webclip on the Henry Rollins interview, they are once again in my good graces.
I wrote a little kiss and make up piece on the Stroumboulopouli, which has a link to the interview clip.
Because Henry Rollins is completely hardcore!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I don't know if I am choosing my heroes wisely

One of Eva's pet peeves is the existence of the sub-genre of film known as the animal sports hero flick. It's become standing joke with us.

Today at the video store she claimed extreme disappointment that some kid got the last copy of Soccer Dog before she could get her hands on it. And then as we were standing in line, we started chortling at a kid who was trying to convince his mom to buy him a Sponge Bob Squarepants cookie. Eva then demonstrated a much more effective technique, approaching Cartmanesque, but focusing more on the educational value of purchasing said cookie. She could be my latex salesman any day.

The topic of Soccer Dog arose again in the car, and Eva rightfully complained that the standards of the animal sports hero flick were being severely compromised with titles like that. "They're not even trying anymore!" she lamented.
So I broke into a chorus of:
.
Soccer dog, soccer dog
he's a dog and he plays soccer
even though he's just a dog
.
And that's when Eva observed that I had just had a very Michael Scott moment.
And I was inordinately and inexplicably proud.

Friday, January 19, 2007

We'll fill our mouths with cinnamon now

What a sweet Friday Random Playlist my computer shuffled for me today. You just know when things start out with the Decemberists, that all is right with the world.

1. Sons and daughters - the Decemberists

2. Higher than the sun - Primal Scream

3. Less than you think - Wilco

4. Oh Marie - Louis Prima

5. London - the Smiths

6. Almost gold - the Jesus and Mary Chain

7. There is power in a union - Billy Bragg

8. Changes are no good - the Stills

9. Sleep the clock around - Belle and Sebastian

10. Ignite - the Damned

Hear all the bombs, they fade away

+

And in a blatant display of shameless self-promotion, I would like to invite you to visit the always scintillating Record Room, where I have just posted a review of:

Skelliconnection - Chad VanGaalen

- there are mps and a super-awesome video -

Thursday, January 18, 2007

hang on, hang on, let me get that fish hook out

At the hubby's place of employment, they were all issued new laptops this week. The new laptops are all outfitted with fingerprint recognition technology. This week everyone was scheduled to have all their data migrated from their old machines to their new ones.

One fellow was out of the office most of the week, just coming in for the first time today, so naturally Jerry hatched a prank against him. Under the pretext of warning him of the frustrations that were inherant in the migration process (and there actually were numerous problems and glitches), Jerry sent him an email (backed up by the director) alerting him that the new series of laptops received after Tuesday, were actually installed not with fingeprint recognition but with an upgraded technology.

Iris identification.

This fellow was then instructed to make sure that he remove his glasses or contacts and make sure that he got right up to the sensor on his laptop with his right eye in order that the security system was imbedded properly.

Jerry was all pumped to see this prank played out today, but it turns out this guy has been working with Jerry for too long and smelled his fingerprints all over this one. He didn't fall for it.

But, as the initial email made the rounds, several other people were taken in by it, and were all caught redfaced as they attempted to get their iris recognition security system to work and, failing at it, called IT to complain.

They have way too much fun at work, I think.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How long does it take to eat a papaya anyway?

I've been working on this thing for close to a week now.

I like papayas (don't love them, like them) but nobody else in the family cares for them, so I hardly ever buy them. The thought of eating one of those behemoths by myself is too daunting. So if I do buy them, I usually only buy a half one, which are always priced way higher than the whole ones.

But last weekend they had whole ones on sale for a really good price and there was one relatively small one that I grabbed, which was roughly only the size of a football, instead of a small car.

The first bowl was very tasty, the second bowl pretty damn good, the third bowl quite nice, the fourth bowl not bad. But I'm starting to get mighty tired of choking down a bowl of papaya every damn morning. I want my grapefruit back! Or even a banana.

I'm starting to understand what Jerry's mom meant when she would declare at every turkey dinner she hosted: "everybody take-it some white meat, or I be eating white meat all week long!"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesday is for random crap

There's a weird, slightly creepy professor whose office is just down the hall from our lab who wears a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flop sandals (without socks) to work every single day, regardless of season. We have been in our new location for one year now and I have never seen him differ from that uniform once. And I see him every day that I am at work.

And these aren't tailored walking shorts, I'm talking about either, but battered crappy old running shorts. Short running shorts.

And now he's growing a semi-santa beard. It looks as though he has dipped the bottom half of his chin in a sink full of bleach.

Have you seen Children of Men yet? Have you read the book? The book was superb! PD James is a well known crime writer and I have always enjoyed her books but Children of Men was quite literally in another league. And I understand they didn't muck up the film version at all.

In addition to Children of Men, there are a couple of films coming soon to a theatre near you that I am all pumped to see. The ever vigilant Karen not only alerted me to this, but she also has some absolutely delicious trailers on her site. Go check them out!

Hot Fuzz
- from the team who made Shaun of the Dead
- this is a dream come true and it looks totally boffo!
.
Black Sheep
- mutant sheep on a murderous rampage
- one of the tag lines is ":violence of the lambs" and I was so disappointed when I found out that wasn't the actual title.
- still looks like a must see

Monday, January 15, 2007

I'll bet they are ever so fluffy and soft on your nose.
Just don't let PETA find out.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want ...

Top three bands I want to see before I die:
.
1. Radiohead

2. Belle and Sebastian

3. the Decemberists


.

Hairstyle I most want to see make a comeback:

Jesus and Mary Chain hair

Plus I would like there to be another band about whom I could say I don't care if many of their lyrics are lame, they are still seeewww guud!

.

Band who really needs to release a new album before I explode:

the Weakerthans

Reconstruction Site was a damn fine album, but 2003 was a lifetime ago.

The Reasons [mp3]

Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call [mp3]

I also want to lose that feeling of impending dread when I see albums like the Crane Wife being sold in Starbucks. That's just possessiveness on my part. I want the bands I love to do well and I love telling people about them, so why do I feel oodgy when I see their albums being sold like that? Or when I hear their music on tv shows?

Both the Decemberists and the Weakerthans have now had songs on Scrubs, and I am simultaneously thrilled and frightened. At least it wasn't the O.C.

Album releases I am most anticipating:

Radiohead

the Constantines

Bloc Party

Matthew Good (I can't believe I almost forgot - please forgive me Matt)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

yes, I love technology
but not as much as you, you see
but I STILL love technology
always and forever
always and forever

- Kip to Lafawnduh, Napoleon Dynamite

Yesterday at this time I had 5000+ songs on itunes. Now I have ONE. Apparently I broke itunes.

After publishing a post, I always check my links to make sure that they are working properly, which I guess says something about what a control-freak perfectionist I really am. Sadly, I don't have the technical savvy to be a perfectionist when it comes to computer shit. But that doesn't stop me from trying, although it should.

Yesterday, whilst checking my song links on the Shatner post, a window popped up saying that in order to play the song I had to open a new library. Stupidly I clicked okay. And that's now the only song that's left on itunes.

Allison, who is infinitely wiser about these matters than I will ever be, informed me that once you fuck up on itunes (I'm paraphrasing here) the changes are irreversible.

All my music files on my hard drive are still intact and of course I do still have good old reliable Media Player (never thought I'd ever be using those particular words), so later I will import all my music into itunes again. Allison already warned me to watch out in case I was instructed to replace my library, because that's bad, m'kay. That will wipe out the source files (at least on ipod).

If worst come to worst, I shall just stick to Media Player and only use itunes to download podcasts.

Wish me luck, burn a little incense and perhaps sacrifice a goat or a virgin (or a virgin goat) on my behalf, and feel free to offer any advice.

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Like this video for Bastards of Young by the Replacements.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Nobody Outshats the Shat!


I have actually been planning to write about the genius of one of my favourite Canadians for some time now, but when Dale had the audacity to post a piece featuring Leonard Nimoy singing The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins, I knew I had to take action post-haste. (Actually it was pretty funny.)

William Shatner is a true rennaisence man. He has reinvented himself so successfully so many times over the decades and has marketed his personal brand so brilliantly that it makes Madonna look like a chump. Have you ever wikkied William Shatner? The list of his work just keeps scrolling and scrolling.

And when he put out the album, Has Been, in 2005, he slyly capitalized on his notoriety for butchering a song, and for leaving piles of chewed up scenery in his wake. But then a really strange thing happened. Has Been turned out to be a surprisingly decent album. Mind you, when you team up with people like Ben Folds and Henry Rollins, your chances of producing something non-horrible increase immeasurably.

My favourite cover song of all-time is on this album. To hear William Shatner's version of Pulp's CommonPeople [mp3] is to witness a spectacle in the truest sense of the word. Bill's scenery chewing gusto is modified somewhat by Ben's actual singing ability, but there are some wonderfully odd moments (as one would expect). Halfway through the song, there's a random British guy singing for a few lines, either that or Ben Folds is channeling Jarvis Cocker, but he does come back to his senses for the remainder of the song. And then, of course, the big choir kicks in for the big finish.


It sounds like it should be a big mess, and it is, but it is an absolutely GLORIOUS mess. It is brilliant in its insanity and it makes me smile every time I hear it.

And if you are an old hack specializing in butchering spoken word pieces, is it not a stroke of genius to team up with the Henry Rollins to produce a ripping spoken word rant? "I Can't Get Behind That" [mp3]

There's even a bit of pathos on mending estranged father-daughter relationships in That's Me Trying [mp3].

Today on the Friday Random Playlist, I thought in honour of his genius, I would let Captain James Tiberius Kirk pick the playlist, by begining with his cover of Common People and seeing to where he would boldly lead us (where no man has gone before):

The SHAT Friday Random Playlist

1. Common People - William Shatner and Ben Folds

2. Everything is Automatic - Matthew Good Band

3. London Calling - the Clash

4. Love Cats - OK Go cover

5. Young Offenders - the Constantines

6. How Soon is Now? - the Smiths

7. Paper Shoes - Hawksley Workman

8. Sub-Domestic - the Constantines

9. I Hurt You - the Pretenders

10. Melody Lee - the Damned

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pick your favourite spot to puke, I guess

Sputnik only likes to puke on the carpet. Today she deposited a pile only two feet away from the tile floor. Damn!
A couple of weeks ago I caught her horking in the living room and I dragged her out onto the tile floor in the kitchen, but she resisted and dragged herself back to the living room carpet, heaving all the while. I won that time, but it made me wonder, why carpet?
I put the question to Eva and she figured it's because cats are mentally deranged. That's a given, but there must be more.
Is it because carpet is more absorbent and the chunks don't bounce as much as they would on a harder surface? Maybe because the liquid faction makes a louder splash on the tile - maybe that bugs cats.
Or ... maybe it's a friction thing! Cats exert quite a bit of back pressure when heaving, I'll bet they slide on tile, but not on carpet.
Your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Scratching my head, checking my wallet ...


I'm not quite sure what I think of this bit of news, but it does give one reason to ponder.

I do know that I am sorely disappointed to see Calgary missing from this list. Still though, Vancouver is not all that far away.

And finally, CBC Radio 3 has a session with Elliott Brood. Oh yeah, that glorious death country. You KNOW you want to hear it!

http://radio3.cbc.ca/blogs/2007/01/Elliot-Brood-In-Session


Monday, January 08, 2007

Not so devasting after all ...

Yesterday we stripped the Christmas tree of ornaments and the mantel of cedar, fur, and spruce boughs, thus returning it to its usual mimimalist pallette of rocks and pottery. Very grey and brownish. And today was my first day back at work in two weeks.
You would think that all those factors would combine to create the perfect storm of depression, but you know it wasn't actually all that bad.
I think I will make it to Groundhog Day after all.
We always used to drop our tree off for recycling at a firehall a few blocks from here, but a couple of years they moved the dropoff location a few blocks further down. As Jerry drove past the firehall to the tree dropoff location yesterday, he noticed that three trees had been dumped in front of the old firehall location, and on the way back he saw another four cars there dropping off their trees too. hahaha they'll be dumping them off at the firehall for the next ten years!
Just as well - gives those firefighters something useful to do. Right, Kelly?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Can we please not discuss your relationships problems while you are holding those scissors in your hand?


My hairdresser terrifies me sometimes.

When we first moved here, she was recommended to me by a friend whose whole family has their hair cut by her, so I felt quite secure in trusting my crowning glory to her care. And generally she does a wonderful job.

However one day, a few years ago, my friend's husband showed up at our house with the oddest haircut. Rick normally has a full thick beautiful head of hair, but this day the whole front part of his hair was shorn right down to nothing, while the back part looked normal.

And then he told us that, in the process of making idle chit-chat during his haircut, he made the mistake of asking Gail about her husband. Turns out that she was in the process of splitting up with him. Being reminded of it made her so distraght that she completely butchered Rick's once-lovely hair and he was too frightened to say anything thing to her at the time.

Over the years, Gail found another man, whom she is also in business with, and all seemed stable, but we still joke about never asking her about her relationships while she is holding something sharp.

Last week I went in to have my colour touched up, and as I was sitting there captive in a hairdresser gown with evil smelly vile goop smeared on my head, we naturally started chatting. She asked me what I was having for supper and I told her, and she responded that she didn't know what she was going to cook. And then she said words that made my blood run cold "now that I am only cooking for myself".

Oh no, I thought, she's split up with her partner again and here I am being held prisoner. And I started praying to tiny infant baby Jesus, watching baby Einstein videos and learning about shapes and colours, please get me out of this unscathed. For, although I wasn't getting my hair cut that particular day (thank you tiny baby Jesus, doesn't know a word yet, but still omnipotent), that nasty hair dye could still do serious damage. I could come away blinded or suffering serious deformities.

I ever so smoothly switched the topic of conversation and managed to escape without having my skin or eyeballs seared away by toxic chemicals.

I'm pretty certain that Stuart Murdoch must cut his own hair. Or perhaps his mother cuts it.

"We all know you're soft cause we've all seen you dancing, we all know you're hard cause we've all seen you drinking from noon until noon again, you're the boy with the filthy laugh, you're "The Boy With the Arab Strap" [mp3]

And this one goes out to be little baby Jesus, 6 lbs 7 oz, in your golden fleece diaper: "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" [mp3]

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Separated at birth?

- there's no denying it, in my humble opinion -

*

Somehow the day ran out of time far too quickly today, but I did have a chance to post my first ever album review for The Record Room. Please click over there if you would like a review of Kinnie Starr's album Anything (plus mp3's!) or if you would like to check out the consistently fine discussions of music, new or old or full of gossip.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century...


I made the switch to itunes. I believe I was one of 6 people in the known universe who had not switched over, and now only a handful are left, a dying breed of once-proud dinosaurs. I feel like I have betrayed my people.

But really, if you are going to be listening to podcasts, which I am doing with increasing regularity, itunes is the easiest way to go.

Here then, is the inaugural itunes-generated Friday Random Shuffle Playlist:
1. New York - the Sex Pistols
2. Us and Them - Pink Floyd
3. Circus Envy - R.E.M.
4. Manifest - the Weakerthans
5. How to Disappear Completely - Radiohead
6. Dirty Blvd - Lou Reed
7. Double Takes - Christine Fellows
8. Comfort Ye, My People - Handel
9. I Held Her in My Arms - the Violent Femmes
10. Furnace Room Lullaby - Neko Case
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And now that I have become such an overnight technophile, I am also test-driving mydatabus (thanks Allison). May I present the beautiful, mood-filled and ambient-like music of Great Lake Swimmers. Frontman Tony Dekker was asked at the Calgary Folk Festival this summer whether he made his mother cry every time he opened his mouth to sing. I believe he does.

Here is "I Could Be Nothing"

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Be gentle with each other this weekend, kiddies. It's going to be a long winter.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

"We recognize that we need to do more on the environment" - Prime Minister Stephen Harper
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Stephen Harper has finally come to the realization that his government has underestimated the importance of the environment to Canadians. So in today's not-unexpected cabinet shuffle, he removed Rona Ambrose as environment minister. John Baird, a more experienced cabinet minister, is her replacement.
Ambrose has been deservedly maligned for her cavalier attitude toward the Kyota accord and for her lack of performance in implementing the new government's clean air act. She may have been inexperienced in the environment portfolio, but that does not excuse her ridiculing attempts to slow climate change.
South Calgary's (the riding in which the Zombies live) very own Jason Kenney has been appointed secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity. You all remember Jason Kenney? He's the intellectual ninja who stated during the same sex marriage debates that gay people should be allowed to legally marry, but only to heterosexuals.
Bring on the clowns.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Zombie Lists, Part IV

We are getting far beyond the point in the new year where one can still decently post a Best Of list, but I'm not quite done yet. The Zombie household took in a record number of concerts this year, and here are some of our favourites, in no particular order:
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Top 06 Concerts of 06
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Wilco / Elliott Brood
- there was Jeff Tweedy on crutches, sporting a scruffy beard on that baby face, but despite the lameness and the facial furniture, Wilco rocked Mac Hall down to the bricks. And I almost got into a fight with a couple of 8-foot guys who wouldn't shut up about how great their cell phones were.
We had no idea who was opening and were super pleased to discover it was none other than the glorious death-country trio out of Ontario - Elliott Brood.
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the Constantines / Chad VanGaalen / Blood Meridian
- this was my first real exposure to the strange and beautiful local multi-media wunderkind, Chad VanGaalen as he opened for the hardest working band in Canada. The Cons, as totally expected, blew us all out of the water with their glorious hard rocking stage show. And in true Canadian indie comradery fashion, Bry Webb of the Cons played bass for Chad, while Chad returned the favour for the Cons later.
The presence of Blood Meridian added a strange hippie/trucker mix to the largely indie kid audience, but nothing could surpass the dedication of the fan-boy who brought Chad a pair of sunglasses and then introduced him to his mom.
*
Billy Bragg
- I kept forgetting whether I was at a musical concert or a standup comedy show. Aside from the impassioned and timeless music, Billy Bragg has hands down, the best on-stage patter. And the man is dead funny. Panties were in serious danger of being peed.
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Chad VanGaalen / Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir
- Chad VanGaalen's album release party at an old downtown theatre was a truly multi-media celebration befitting this multi-facetted artist. The large elephant and frog cutouts decorating the stage, the screening of the musician's original artwork and animations projected at the back of the stage, the stories that this gentle giant had us in absolute stitches over almost, but not quite, surpassed the strange beauty of his music.
And to have the whole evening start off with some of the growliest, dirtiest, stompiest blues from the scruffy bearded faces of the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, well that was sublime.
*
Matthew Good / Melissa McClelland
- in a huge departure from his rocking shows of the past, but in keeping with the stripped down acoustic reworkings offered on the In a Coma double cd/dvd set (of which I have an autographed copy), Matthew Good took his guitar and hit the road without a band. The table seating at the concert added an intimacy that suited the intimate presentation of the music so beautifully, and really showcased Matt's amazing voice.
The eight-song encore sort of made us suspect that Matt didn't want us to go home at all, and the opening act by Melissa McClelland was quite lovely.
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The Calgary Folk Festival
- This really needs a category all its own, as it is actually 4 days of music, featuring dozens of musicians from around the world, all within the setting of the beautiful and intimate Prince's Island Park. The highlights for me are always the workshops where you can see the most imaginative and creative combinations of musicians jamming away in a shaded glen.
But even if you only take in the evening concerts and a few workshops, this year you would have still seen Broken Social Scene, Feist, Macy Gray, Kris Kristopherson, Matt Good, Ani DiFranco, Bedouin Soundclash, Elliott Brood, Great Lake Swimmers, Lorrie Matheson, Dubblestandart, Jeff Healey, Elaine McIlwaine, the Roches, Tanya Tagaq, Rachelle van Zanten, Dar Williams, and so many more ...
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It was a very good year ...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Well, did they or didn't they?

Mere hours after we were delighting in the news that Petah and Kate had exchanged nuptials, we now hear their handlers denying the rumours. Oh how cruel! We are being denied a much needed fairytale wedding. And after we all spent so much time speculating what it would be like to be invited to that wedding reception.

We have also been hearing rumours that Graham Coxon has finally rejoined Blur, but sadly after our hearts stopped fluttering madly and we went searching for substantiation of that news, we found no confirmation. It appears too good to be true. Unless you are a diehard Oasis fan, that is.
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To drown my sorrows, I then went cd shopping.
Did I mention that for Christmas I received Neko Case's early cd, The Virginian, and Melissa McClelland's newest cd, Thumbelina's One Night Stand? I haven't given the latter much of a listen yet, but I am quite thrilled with The Virginian. It is deeply immersed in country music and Neko just bellows out the songs, but oh my it sounds fine. I love her cover of Bowling Green.

Today I scored Great Lake Swimmers' Bodies and Minds (which I really should have picked up at the Folk Festival this summer) along with Jarvis Cocker's new solo cd, Jarvis. I'm listening to that one right now, and while I admit that I am not the world's biggest Pulp fan (don't tell Eva - she'll be so disappointed), Jarvis' solo work is gooo-oood!

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Zombie Lists, Part III

Best is such a subjective word. Sure there are certain criteria that we can all agree upon which denote quality, but so many other factors determine our emotional response to things. So the following is not a list of the Best 20 albums of 2006, but it is:

Bad Tempered Zombie's Favourite 20 Albums of 2006

20. Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds

19. Sarah Harmer - I am a Mountain

18. Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson in Crime

17. the Oohlas - Best Stop Pop

16. Margot and the Nuclear So and So's - Dust of Retreat



15. MSTRKRFT - The Looks

14. Hylozoists - La Fin du Monde

13. Hawksley Workman - Treeful of Starling

12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones

11. Editors - The Back Room (ed note - oops this was released in 05)

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10. the Flaming Lips - At War With the Mystics

9. the Streets - The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living

8. Kinnie Starr - Anything

7. Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection

6. Morrissey - Ringleader of the Tormentors

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5. Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

- Although Stuart Murdoch slips into his old habit of writing about schoolboy days, he can be forgiven for forgetting that he is decades out of high school by the sheer strength of the music - a tantalizing mix of 70's pop, Thin Lizzy-inspired glam rock, and those slyly subversive tales filled with characters whom you will not easily forget.

listen to: Dress Up in You

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4. the Hidden Cameras - Awoo


- "gay church folk music" has been used to describe the sound of the Hidden Cameras, and while their stage shows are certainly spectacularly flamboyant, the songs on Awoo do not shy away from issues of gay relationships. But it is the sheer exuberance of the music that makes Awoo such a joyous celebration.


listen to: Death of a Tune

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3. Thom Yorke - the Eraser

- In making The Eraser, Thom Yorke has fulfilled a personal need to explore his own interest in electronica and to let that interest lead him to new sounds. The result is a disturbingly beautiful album that is simultaneously spare and filled with soaring ethereal vocals. And it is intentionally minimalist; it's Thom playing with the very thing of his nightmares - computers and percussions and the stripped-down coldness of an alien existence. But with the strange off-kilter beats as a backdrop, Thom's voice soars like it never has before. One becomes utterly lost in this album. It is a compelling marriage of detached computer-generated rhythms and agonizing humanity.

listen to: Atoms for Peace

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2. Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

- In Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case has moved so far beyond her past offerings as an alt-country torch singer with the huge voice and has matured so astoundingly that one wonders how she can possibly top this. She has learned to modulate her insanely powerful voice, one of the fiercest forces in the Western Hemisphere, to produce songs that defy the usual choices between immediately catchy and grow-on-you-slowly to produce a hybrid known as instant classic.

listen to: Margaret vs Pauline

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1. the Decemberists - the Crane Wife

- I won't even pretend to be unbiased about the Decemberists. I adore their music and I am enamoured of the literary references and the tales of murderers and rascals and rogues. But I was concerned when I heard that they were going to a major label to produce The Crane Wife. I was afraid that this would mean the compromise of their ideals and the forcing of the songs into a more marketable format.

I was silly to have worried. If anything, the move gave them the freedom to spend the time that they needed to make The Crane Wife the perfect gem that it is. The Decemberists explore a variety of musical genres here, from their more familiar traditional tales to a prog rock-like opus in The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel the Drowning to the Talking Heads-reminiscent The Perfect Crime No 2 to a return to a traditional round-song in Sons and Daughters. There are spaces within the songs that allow the music to breathe and to grow at the natural pace which the songs require. Nothing is rushed, nothing is forced. The Crane Wife is utterly beautiful.

listen to: The Crane Wife, Pts 1 & 2

Sons and Daughters

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
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This is how lame we are - look at the date on the box of hats and noise-makers.
We've been using the same box for 7 years!
But the cat was getting right funky.
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To start the year off right, I am thrilled to announce that I will be joining the writing team at the Record Room.
Through the tireless efforts of the editors, Will and Ben, the Record Room boasts a rock-solid reputation as a premier source of music reviews.
Please drop by over the next while to check out the contributions from the new crack team of writers.
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coming up:
- photos of the Alaskan King Crab New Year's blow-out, along with the officious devouring of the Momus cookie
- lots and lots of lists