Thursday, January 31, 2008

He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State I Am In"

The Resident Offspring is reading Belle and Sebastian: Just a Modern Rock Story, and treating me to little snippets of some of the parts that make her go "awwwww!"

I must get my hands on that book when she is done.

Today is one of those days that I just cannot stop listening to The State I Am In. It blows my mind that this was the first song on their first album, Tigermilk. What a brilliant way to start a music career!

If you've never heard this song, you owe it to yourself to have a listen.

The State I Am In - Belle and Sebastian

I was surprised, I was happy for a day in 1975
I was puzzled by a dream, stayed with me all day in 1995
My brother had confessed that he was gay
It took the heat off me for a while
He stood up with a sailor friend
Made it known upon my sisters wedding day

I got married in a rush to save a kid from being deported
Now she's in love
I was so touched, I was moved to kick the crutches
From my crippled friend
She was not impressed that I cured her on the Sabbath
So I went to confess
When she saw the funny side, we introduced my child bride
To whisky and gin

The priest in the booth had a photographic memory
For all he had heard
He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called
"The State I Am In"
So I gave myself to God
There was a pregnant pause before he said ok
Now I spend my day turning tables round In Marks & Spencer's
They don't seem to mind

I gave myself to sin
I gave myself to Providence
And I've been there and back again
The state that I am in

Oh love of mine, would you condescend to help me
I am stupid and blind
Desperation is the Devil's work, it is the folly of a boy's empty mind
Now I'm feeling dangerous, riding on city buses for a hobby is sad
Lead me to a living end
I promised that I'd entertain my crippled friend
My crippled friend


Speaking of books, guess how many books I just finished reading? Two! I am turning into a reading machine, I tell you. Care to hear my impressions of these books? Well then, head on over to the Winter Reading Challenge where I have posted reviews of:

- Carol Shields' book of short stories, Dressing Up for the Carnival,
- and Minette Walters' novella, Chickenfeed.

What are you reading these days anyway?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

out of my literary mind

With the threat that he would "never read my stinkin' blog ever again" hanging over my head if I did not play along, how could I possibly resist John's invitation to play along with this reading meme? Obviously that threat hits me right where I live, so in the interests of playing nicely with others, here are my stinkin' answers:

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Back when everybody was raving about The DaVinci Code, I found myself resenting being told that I simply must read it, so I never did. Now that the bloom is off the rose, of course, and it's been made into a film starring Tom Hank's mullet, I feel vindicated.

For the record, I have also never watched Titanic.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

The first person I would invite would be Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones' Diary). Who wouldn't want to drink too much red wine with the delightfully cuddly and self-effacing Ms Jones? We might even go lingerie shopping after a we polish off a couple of bottles and are brave enough to think beyond the granny panties.

Next I would insist that Dag from Generation X join us on some adventures, perhaps a little civil disobedience, a bit of tagging or maybe some automobile expressionism. We would then hit a pub and talk about how shitty the world is.

And for the final person to invite along, I am torn between Nomi Nickel (A Complicated Kindness) or Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter). Nomi would be a good fit, being a fellow rebel and she is wicked funny, but we would need to find her some fake ID to get into the bar. Neville, on the other hand, is ever so brave and would protect us from thugs and evil wizards. Plus he rocks the argyle sweater vest. Oh, I guess he would need fake ID as well.

You are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

I am pretty sure I have already read the most boring novel on the planet. Once my neighbour gushingly lent me The Bridges of Madison County,and I actually thought I was going to die of boredom. Or purple prose fever. So I am ready to go whenever the time comes.

Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?

Middlemarch by George Eliot. I know it's cited as one of the most important novels of the Victorian era, and that it has been referenced by the Smiths and everything (in How Soon is Now), but it's too damned long.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?

I realized not long ago that I never in fact actually completed Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, despite listing it as one of my favourite books on my profile. In my defense, I will tell you that I have read 415 of its 478 pages, so I have read more of it than I have not.

You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? (if you feel like you'd have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP.

For this non-reading VIP, I would recommend a book which is a fast and easy read and which would quickly grab his/her attention. Two books which would fit these criteria are Douglas Coupland's Microserfs (which is a seminal slice of pop culture angst) and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (because it is the only book I have ever read told from an autistic's viewpoint, and autism is fascinating).

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

My first choice would have been one of the languages of India, (with the bonus prize being able to understand all those Bollywood epics) until I realized that there are about a gazillion official languages in India. So I'll go with Japanese. But I still won't read any manga.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

I already do this to a certain degree, reading the first paragraph of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House every Hallowe'en and the chapter about Geoffrey and Una Alconbury's New Year's Turkey Curry Buffet in Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones' Diary every Christmas. I see no reason why I should not expand this practice to include an entire book once per year. Perhaps I will reread Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting every Robbie Burns Day.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

Besides confirming that I am likely the world's pokiest reader, I now have a new appreciation for and curiosity about graphic novels, which is something I never thought I would ever say. I've also branched out beyond my usual steady diet of novels into more works of non-fiction.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

I have long fantasized about having an actual library in the house, with floor to ceiling bookshelves - sturdy shelves that don't sag beneath the weight of all those books - and a sliding ladder that runs around the perimeter of the room. The room would of course also house a couple of deep leather club chairs and a fireplace.


So now it's your turn. In keeping in line with John's fine example, I am going to tag Karen, Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein, Beth, and Phlegmfatale. But if you don't play along, unlike John, I will continue to read your stinkin' blogs. It's just that every time I do, I will shake my head sadly and mutter that I am not mad, just disappointed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

all the brass monkeys I know are gingerly cupping their nether regions

When I left the house at 8:00 this morning, CBC radio was reporting the current temperature as -32C (-26F) with a windchill of -49C (-56F).

However, since I was raised in Winnipeg, which has the dubious honour of being the coldest city with a population of over 600,000, I merely scoffed, donned my serious business winter coat with the massive hood that makes me look like a bison (and scaring the hell out of the cat in the process), and trudged out to the urban assault vehicle.

I wasn't too concerned about driving on the frozen streets, as I had
plenty of practice yesterday when I foolishly suggested to the Resident Offspring that we take in a matinée of The Orphanage on what was sure to be the final weekend of its run at the Uptown, a great little art house theatre downtown.

It was well worth braving the snow-blown streets and the wind tunnels created by the office towers, which gave us instant freeze-dried lobotomies, as The Orphanage is easily one of the creepiest, most stylish horror movies I have seen in a very long time. It steers clear of the ever so tedious gore factor that predominates Hollywood productions and instead delivers an increasing sense of unease and anxiety, with well placed startling moments that made me gasp audibly (just ask the Offspring).

Best ghost story since The Others. Better, actually.

After a cautious,but reasonable commute this morning, I was thrilled to discover that the parking lot was only half full, so I was able to park several rows closer to the building than I normally do. I made sure I faced the urban assault vehicle in a southerly direction to negate the wind factor
, plugged in the block heater (which I haven't done for several years), and thanked my stars that I replaced the ailing battery last week. How's that for fortuitous timing?

when I got into the office, I discovered that I was the only person who had not hit the curb with my front end that day. Not only do I not need a wheel alignment, I now have bragging rights as the best driver in the lab.

I pretty much ruled today.

How was your Monday?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

now THAT'S what I call bat shit crazy

- a 535 m track of ice, with a 56 m rise, built with hairpin turns and blind corners, moguls and jumps and a sheer drop cliff near the end of the run

- oh, and you race a bunch of other guys to the bottom

- on skates, at 50 km/hr

The Red Bull Crashed Ice Championship is touted as being a combination of speed skating, downhill ski racing, and boardercross, and it's pretty much the craziest thing I have ever seen. Apparently this was the third year it's been held, but I hadn't heard of it until a few days ago. We made sure to watch the finals last night, and they proved to be a how-to guide in extreme sports.

The track is built in front of the lovely Château Frontenac in Quebec City, and the races are held at night, with flashing lights and pounding music and cheering crowds. It looks to be a real testosterone-fest, but lots of fun to watch from the comfort of your own couch.

The races are run in heats of 4, and the really crazy thing is that a camera operator with helmet cam follows each group down the ice. The only way you would get me on that track would be on a big old tractor inner tube.

Here's a taste from last year's championship.

Meanwhile back here in Saneville, I have now mailed out the Making Zombie Noises mixed cds to everyone who requested a copy, so start looking for them in a week or so. If you missed out on the offers, shame on you. No, you still have one more chance to get in on the action. Just let me know. I'll take requests until Tuesday.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ah thenk it's taime we both gote draissed

Is there anything nicer than the whole family having Robbie Burns day off? I didn't think so either.

The spousal unit went off to the fly fishing expo with one of his man friends, and I, meanwhile, wanted to acknowledge the resident offspring's scoring 98% in Film Studies, 86% in Spanish, and 83% in Social (Art mark yet to be determined), so we took ourselves off to poke around some of our favourite haunts - Inglewood (home of Recordland) and 17th Avenue (home of Megatunes).

Being Robbie Burns day and all, the resident offspring made us a perfect mini roadtrip cd, featuring Scottish artists exclusively - Belle and Sebastian, Ballboy, the Jesus and Mary
Chain, Primal Scream, the Wedding Present, Arab Strap, Orange Juice, etc etc. 'Twas glorious. And naturally, from the moment we lifted our tousled heads from our rumpled beds, we conversed in our finest Scotch accents.

We are scoring a perfect 100 at getting lost whenever we try to go to Inglewood and always end up driving through yet another part of town that we have never set foot in before. And then somehow we always stumble upon our desired destination, more through luck than any planning.

We forgot that we were talking in our accents as we poked in and out of stores, but didn't get too many weird looks. Maybe it was the RI's newly red hair that made us look authentically celtic. RI took some photos in this junky old store, crammed with military artifacts, which absolutely reeked of tobacco smoke, and aroused the suspicion of the proprietor who couldn't understand of what and why we wanted to take photos when we asked permission.

We came home with some cds (more details and some samples tomorrow), some art supplies and a belly full of
apple-rhubarb-cranberry slice. And didn't pay a penny for parking at either destination. Bonus day!

For the Robbie Burns edition of the Friday Random Ten, I cheated somewhat and used Scotch bands only. Robbie would be proud:

1. Stink - Arab Strap
2. Autobahn 66 - Primal Scream
3. Higher than the sun (higher than the orb extended extended mix) - Primal Scream
4. The art of kissing - Ballboy
5. Something wrong - the Jesus and Mary Chain
6. Blues from a gun - the Jesus and Mary Chain
7. The model - Belle and Sebastian
8. (If there's) no hope for us - Arab Strap
9. Hunted by a freak - Mogwai
10. Dark of the matinee - Franz Ferdinand

Although the our little local brew pub was not serving haggis tonight, so I felt a little ripped off and had to make do with a tasty reuben sandwich and some lovely beef and mushroom soup (which quite honestly would have gone from delicious to sublime with the addition of some barley), I had an utterly grand Robbie Burns day.

Ciamar a tha thu?

Monday, January 21, 2008

le pastie de la bourgeoisie

Oh my, I have been tagged by the lovely and ever-so-talented Allison to bore you to tears with 100 things about myself. I am rather disturbed by how easy it was to come up with 100 things. I thought I only had about 25 or so things in me. I guess I am much deeper than I thought. Ha!

1. I often count my steps when I walk
2. my favourite time of day is around 8:00 or 9:00 am
I learned to drive on a standard transmission
4. I want to be buried in a burlap sack under a tree

5. I couldn't ride a bike until grade 3
6. my favourite number has always been 6
7. I entertained thoughts of being a long-distance trucker when I was young. Also an artist
8. I cannot read music. They tried to teach me but it didn't take
9. I came to this country on a boat
10. I have had two broken bones - baby finger on right hand and left ankle
I had math phobia from grade 3 right through into grad school
creamed corn strikes me as useless
13. sometimes the Resident Offspring and I conduct our entire commuting conversation in Scottish accents
14. I have difficulty not dismantling styrofoam cups
15. I use the words astounding and amazing far too much

16. I like gospelly sounding songs but would not be caught dead in a church
17. Ever since my brother told me he has a hard time distinguishing the word musician from magician, I have a moment of doubt if I am using the right word

18. I once labelled several cases of homemade rhubarb wine and spelled it "rubarb" on each bottle
19. I was in university for eight years
20. the green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, is responsible for my (barely) passing grade in Zoology.
21. I received 25 stitches to my fingers when a pop bottle exploded in my hands. And I was on crutches at the time
22. my current favourite word is flummoxed
23. I love soup but hardly ever eat it
24. I was in labour for 42 hours
25. I was in grad school before I used a computer

26. when I used to figure skate, I did jumps in one direction and spins in the opposite direction
27. I was addicted to those little Ritz cheese sandwich crackers one summer; now I can't see what I saw in them
28. I often feel like there is a movie being filmed about me as I go about my day
29. my first memory is watching my mother hang clothes on the line at age three or four
30. I used to get wicked poison ivy every summer when I was a kid and my dad used to put gasoline on the sores to dry them up - leaded gasoline
31. I love when somebody else makes a salad for me

32. I took a welding course in university and I was pretty good at it
33. if I was to come back to life as an animal, I would want to be either an otter or a cat
34. I once got to take the controls in a 4-seater plane for a few minutes during flight
35. I ran away from home in grade 2, taking only my Saint bubble gum cards and nobody noticed I was gone, as I discovered when I got bored and returned home
36. in junior high I once started changing my clothes in front of my hallway locker without realizing what I was doing
37. pomegranates are a pain in the ass, but I love their taste
38. in university I sold a short story to a literary magazine for $35.00
39. I started going grey at 19
40. my feet grew two shoe sizes after I had a baby
41. I despise Sylvester Stallone, for no good reason
42. I cannot stand to watch someone use a metal nail file, but emery boards are fine
43. as a child I hated mushrooms
44. my favourite part of Paris was the tour of the sewers
45. I used to love rye and water and now cannot stand the thought of drinking hard liquor, except for the odd gin and tonic
46. I think flavoured toothpaste is an abomination
47. I have twice been under general anaesthesia
48. I can raise my right eyebrow independently of my left, but not vice versa
49. there is always at least one song going through my head
50. I rarely put furniture against the wall
51. in a waiting room, I need to pull the chair an inch or two from the wall before I sit down
I have had two miscarriages
53. I have only water-skied once (badly) but am pretty decent at windsurfing
54. it bothers me if the balance of a room is off
55. I prefer limes to lemons, except for lemon squares, which top all
56. excessive packaging is something I think should be punishable by drawing and quartering
57. it drives me to distraction when pictures are hung crookedly. Also towels
58. I prefer brown rice to white
59. I never tuck in my shirts

60. I love elections, love all the analysis and debate and postering and speculation. The US electoral process is like Disneyland to me
61. I am not very fond of baking but I make a really great pie crust

62. sometimes I think I drink too much water
63. the Michaelangelo museum was closed the only time I was in Milan
64. although I love getting out of the city occasionally, I could never live anywhere but a city
65. pecans and cashews are tied for my favourite nut, but I am fast learning to love almonds
66. I can control my blood pressure with deep breathing
67. I use far too many superlatives

68. seeing the Mona Lisa is very underwhelming
69. I have swum in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, but never in the Pacific or the North Atlantic ocean
70. I have puked in somebody else's sleeping bag
71. I think train travel is the preferred way to see anything
72. I don't like margarine
73. I have never been sky-diving or in a hot air balloon
74. every time I sit on our couch, I say "damn that's a comfy couch"

75. I don't like mountains, which is met with great disbelief among fellow Calgarians
76. I grin like a fool as the plane lifts off
have a slight intolerance to eggs
78. I once had my palm read by a psychic who told me I am an alien. Her exact words were "you are not of this world", so what would you call that?

79. I have never met a cheese I didn't like
80. I am always struck by how much more sensible and mature my kid is than I was at her age. Smarter too
81. I am the most unromantic person I know, besides my husband
82. We buried our old cat, Pook, in our back yard. Our old backyard holds a snail, a butterfly, and assorted gold fish

83. I blame the evil high school guidance counselor for steering me in the wrong direction in life, with his "if you don't study sciences, you will live in a cardboard box under a bridge" speech
84. I have cataracts
85. I am terrible at laundry, everything goes into one big load
86. I refuse to be held hostage by the laundering demands of my clothing
87. I now realize that a passing interest in cool medical terms is not the best basis for a career choice
88. I kept my own name when I married
89. I wish I was about 3 or 4 inches taller

90. We kept our dead cat in the freezer for several months before burying him, which was a great cause for concern amongst our dinner guests
91. I once broke a board in half with a karate chop
92. I enjoy torturing my cat, particularly spice worming her (making the bed tightly over top of her)
93. I do some of my best music listening and analysis in the car
94. I am a bit of a grammar Nazi, with quotation mark
abuse in particular being on my shit list
95. I once ate what I was told were calf brains, although in retrospect I am pretty sure it was scrambled eggs

96. I have been a CBC radio junkie since I was 19
97. I was thoroughly frisked at the Zürich airport (when I was 12)
98. I have never eaten haggis, although I would like to, because the addition of oatmeal to anything automatically makes it delicious
99. I have a weakness for cute little paper bags with handles and have a collection from various shops, collected in my travels, pinned to a wall in the office
100. I once went grocery shopping with a grocery list which read only "supper x 2"

You now know more about me than CSIS does, I think. That kind of information is like gold.

And provided that you have not yet resorted to gouging out your eyes with a spoon, I'm going to turn it over to you. Al tagged four people so I will follow her lead. And since I can't remember who hates tags and who loves them, I am going to go out on a limb here, reach into my random blogger generator, and tag Toccata, Gifted Typist, Bubs, and Deb, who are all free to tell me to go straight to hell, of course.

Have at it!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

that kid of mine knows how to pick films

The Resident Offspring has awfully fine taste in films and she picked an excellent one for us this weekend.

Die Fetten Jahre sind Vorbei (The Fat Years are Over), entitled The Edukators for world release, is the story of young German revolutionaries, who work surreptitiously to install unease in the hearts of the uber-wealthy in an attempt to educate and to exact change in the system. They break into the homes of the wealthy, not to steal, but to artfully rearrange the furniture, and leave a message declaring that the days of plenty are numbered.

When Peter's debt-ridden girlfriend, Jule, moves in with him and Jan, the dynamics of the relationship of the trio take a decided shift, resulting in an impetuous action which detracts from their normally careful and measured attacks.

And then all hell breaks loose. A botched break in, a desperate kidnapping, and an uneasy love triangle, threaten their relationship, their ideologies, and their very freedom.

I guess it's probably evident that I loved this film. It is smart, compelling, and tackles revolutionary theory engagingly without resorting to preachiness or to formula. The three actors who play Jan, Jule, and Peter are all beautiful to watch and are utterly convincing as idealistic young people trapped in a consumerist society. Yet, the director was clever enough to allow the development of their increasingly sympathetic characters to unfold slowly and realistically. I cared greatly about all four major characters in this film (including the conservative industrialist kidnap victim), and was left with a feeling of joy and well-being at the end of The Edukators. It's a warm, funny, and at times highly suspenseful treatise on the nature of love, ideology, and responsibility.

I can't wait to watch it again.

(gossip: there have been rumours of a Hollywood interest in remaking this film, setting it in the US instead of Germany, causing Daniel
Brühl, who plays Jan, to declare (I assume ironically) that he hopes the part of Jan is played by either Jake Gyllenhaal or Eddie Murphy.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

affordable hands-free technology

One advantage to these back woes is that one is forced to have a wee lie-down every 5 or 6 hours, hence affording lots of quality time to spend with a book.

Yes, my friends, I am proud to announce that I have completed another book. Now I know how impressed you must be by this shocking revelation, especially those of you who read in excess of 30 books a week. And I have to admit, for someone who generally only leaves herself enough time to read in bed at night (translation: two entire sentences read before I'm dead to the world), this is an amazing feat. I am inordinately proud of this newfound blistering pace.

Please head over to the Winter Reading Challenge blog if you would like to catch my review of Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life.

And since that book is heavy on list-making, I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to once again rejoin the ranks of those tech savvy hauteurs who post the Friday Random Ten. Here's mine:

1. Winterlovers - Manic Street Preachers
2. Magpie - Patrick Wolf
3. Superior - Elliott Brood
4. Subculture - New Order
5. Hanging on the Telephone - Blondie
6. Midnight - Red Hot Chili Peppers
7. Hit - the Jesus and Mary Chain
8. Gene by Gene - Blur
9. San Jacinto - Peter Gabriel
10. Girls' Night Out - the Knife

What are you listening to this fine Friday night? I hope it makes you shake your groove thang. With great abandon.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

lists don't need more than one item

Most disconcerting thing I saw today:
- a presentation on Atrial Fibrillation, Hypertension and Sleep Apnea using the most universally despised font in the world, Comic Sans

Best Pixies' song to sing along to:
- Caribou

Top band that other people cite as highly influential but I hate:

- the Beach Boys

Most disconcerting thing I felt today (that had nothing to do with my back):
- anti-lock brakes kicking in when braking at 10 km/hr

Currently running film I most want to see:
- The Orphanage

Person with the most annoying voice on television besides the TV-tropolis lady:
- Dr G Medical Examiner

Number of times I listened to 4 Minute Warning on repeat today:
- five nine

Funniest thing I saw on tv last night:

- Dr G Medical Examiner's fanny pack

Show that I am most excited is coming to a tv station that I get:

- Extras (with Ricky Gervais!)

Britpop band briefly managed by Ricky Gervais:
- Suede
(the story has it that Gervais quit as manager after Brett Anderson, during a press conference, donned a paper bag on his head and demanded "bring me a nine-year-old!")

Book review I am going to write tomorrow:
Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life by John Sellars

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

return to Happy Place

I was driving to go pick up the Resident Offspring from school this afternoon, blasting the Weakerthans' album Reconstruction Site, when suddenly I felt a long forgotten, but not entirely unfamiliar sensation in my chest. I realized, as I braked for the red light, that what I was feeling was something that I used to feel most of the time, that I had almost come to take as a given, but that I hadn't experienced in close to a month. It was joy.

Now that I am feeling so much better and that the pain is lessening every day, I have regained my appetite for living fully. I am not generally one to contemplate the meaning of my life. Usually I figure that if you make more people happy than you piss off, you win in the end, but now I'm not sure that I can ever again take for granted the freedom that a healthy body allows you. Mostly it frees your mind.

And then to make everything more perfect than it should have any right to be, when I got home, I found that Radiohead was putting on a free concert in London and that they were webcasting it live. They had just posted the news this morning and I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to catch it, as they were delayed when the police made them change venues from a small record store to a larger place down the street.

I caught the last 25 minutes of the show and it was glorious. I can't remember what all they played, but they just smoked when they played The National Anthem. God I hope they play that when I finally get to see them.

Toward the end, Thom was saying to the crowd, "thank you guys for coming out", and, as one, they interrupted him with "No! Thank you!" And then Thom bowed deeply to them, and Ed shook hands with a bunch of people. It was a beautiful moment.

Radiohead, I love you guys!

You too, Weakerthans!

This is the song that was playing when I returned to joy:

Psalm for the Elks' Lodge Last Call - the Weakerthans

- enjoy-

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

things to do in Calgary when Nigel's dead

I went to work yesterday and lasted three hours. But I got some crucial items looked after and then I actually had a pretty good evening and was thinking that I had turned the corner but today I'm not so sure. I guess I'm still up and down. I am going back to the doctor tomorrow though, and that always makes me feel better. It's sort of a reverse white-coat syndrome, I guess.

There are so many things that I have been putting off on account of Nigel, and since I didn't
have a chance to indulge in as many end of the year lists as I wanted, here's what I plan to do when I am myself again:

1. Make those year end cds I've promised you. They were supposed to be a New Year's thing, and now I see I have even missed Eastern Orthodox New Years. Maybe I'll try for Chinese New Years instead. Gung Hey Fat Choy!

In case you missed out on the initial offer, it's not too late to get in on the action. I am mixing some cds of a zombie's year in music, available to anybody who asks. Just give me a shout and if I don't already have a mailing address for you, shoot me an email. At the rate I am going, these may not be made till Ground Hog Day, but we will get there.

2. Shave my legs.

3. Replace that storm window which blew off and smashed in the windstorm last night. That was fun picking shards of glass out of the snowbank this morning. (Nigel was rubbing his hands together in glee) Pffftt, "storm window" my ass!

4. Recycle those 500 pounds of newspapers which have piled up. Thank god they weren't the pre-Christmas ones with the 75 flyers in each paper.

5. Get my hair dyed so that I don't get asked if I want the senior's discount.

6. Replace the lamp over the dining room table which threatened to come crashing down on our heads New Years Eve, and is now being held in place by four rivets and a bundle of wire.

7. Find an electrician who can replace above death trap lamp.

8. Figure out where and when I will see Radiohead either this spring or late summer/early fall. I swear on Nigel's soon to be dug grave that this will happen.

9. Plan a family trip to California for spring break to make up for the shitty Christmas I put them through.

10. Decide whether or not to start drinking coffee again.

What have you been putting off for a sunnier day?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

how to lose five pounds in one week without even exercising

It's easy. Simply get yourself a debilitating back injury and watch the pounds just fall off. Of course they will start creeping back on once you start eating again, so I guess I don't really recommend it.

It's our three-week anniversary today, my back injury and I. We've been together for so long now that I feel I am really getting to know it. I think I'll call it Nigel.

Some other things I have learned about back injuries and pain in general from my three weeks with Nigel are:

- Pain seems to wreak havoc on your hypothalamus. Or maybe it's all the drugs. I used to be someone who was quite comfortable in a sweater during the winter even though we keep our house quite cool. Not anymore! I wear at least four, sometimes five, layers all the time now. I am rocking the bag lady look, I tell you.

- You can be comfortable or you can be awake. You can't be both.

- Therapeutic massages hurt like hell the next day. People tell me that they are worth it and they really do help to strip away the scar tissue, but I sure dread them.

- All drugs stop working after a while, and there is nothing scarier than when your drugs stop working on a weekend or a holiday and you have to wait a few days to see your doctor.

- Pain is a major depressant.

- I used to prefer cloudy days to sunny ones, but right now I cannot tolerate them, as they depress the hell out of me. Thank god it's way too sunny in this damn place.

- Once the really debilitating pain has passed into aching or stabbing pain, you learn to appreciate the subtleties of pain. It really is quite a fascinating phenomenon, with so many levels and so many degrees. No wonder pain control is a multi-billion dollar industry.

I am going back to work tomorrow.

I'm a little terrified, but anxious to break out of this cycle of taking pills and sleeping. I may only be at work for an hour or two, but at least I can get my files together and bring them home, so that I can deal with those crucial items while still getting my naps in.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I shot the wad over there

I have used all of today's allotment of pain-free time and energy to post a review of Doris Lessing's 1985 book, The Good Terrorist over on the Winter Reading Challenge blog.

I knew that I wanted to read another Lessing novel after she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature last year, and have been wanting to reread The Good Terrorist for some time now. I originally read it about 15 years ago.

Is this tale of Thatcher-era British communists/revolutionaries still relevant today with Gordon What's His Name at the helm? Does this book hold up to a rereading?

Please head over to the Winter Reading Challenge to find out. And while you are there, you can, if you wish, check out the scads of other book reviews which people who are much more voracious readers than I have posted.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Se7en things which will change your life

I have been tagged by the fabulous Beth, she of the colour coordinated reading glasses and the most amazing stories of personal brushes with music celebs. Dear Beth wanted me to spill seven facts not previously divulged about me. Which is more challenging than it seems, seeing as most of you already know everything about me, right down to the fact that I have a pair of snowflake undies. But I am ready for a challenge.

1. I used to be terrified of wasps, but am not anymore. I'm not sure when my attitude changed, but I think it was right around the time the Resident Offspring was a wee thing, enjoying lunch outside whilst trapped in her high chair. Suddenly her hard-boiled egg, cottage cheese and grapes were crawling with wasps, and since I was the adult in the scenario, I had no choice but to go on the attack. I believe I dispatched 25+ wasps that day. Killing is empowering.

2. The first language I spoke was German. I didn't start speaking English until I was about four. Sometimes it shows.

3. I don't have a favourite colour, although colour is intensively important to me. If a room is painted the wrong colour, it will bother me enormously. Trying to pick a favourite colour is like trying to choose your favourite offspring. Although lately grey has been getting the nod a lot.

On the other hand, my favourite number has always been 6.

4. I cannot nap. I feel all disoriented and grouchy if I sleep during the day, so I don't bother. However, since my back injury, I have been managing to log at least one (
sometimes two) 2-3 hours naps per day. I hope this does not become a habit.

5. I have a scar under my chin from fainting during physiology class, watching open heart surgery on a sheep. And yet, my degrees are in physiology.

6. I backpacked around Europe for two months when I was 17.

7. I can smell asparagus pee. This is a party trick, which only about 40% of the population have the genes to pull off.

Are you an asparagus pee smeller?

And now I believe I have told absolutely everything there is to know about me (I'm not too complex). And since I can never remember who hates being tagged with a meme and who loves it, I will not tag anyone specifically. If you love doing these memes, please consider yourself tagged, if you hate doing them, you can thank me now.

Monday, January 07, 2008

the Zombie lists come limping back

You can't keep a zombie down for long.

I would like to celebrate my return to the land of the living with a much belated Best Of list. Hell, it's only one week into 08, the Russian Orthodox are just having their Christmas today, we've got loads of time!

With the usual disclaimer that this is a strictly personnel list of my favourite album releases of 07 and with the open admission that I have overlooked so many acclaimed albums just because I haven't really listened to them all, here be my personal picks for the Top 07 Zombie Approved Albums of 07:

07. Ongiara - Great Lake Swimmers

- more stunningly beautiful music from this Ontario indie folk-rock group. Ongiara was recorded primarily in Aeolian Hall in London, Ontario, a venue that is renowned for its astounding acoustic qualities. The feeling of space that this gives the songs matches the solemn beauty of Tony Dekker's voice.

06. Hospital Music - Matthew Good

- an intensely personnel album which rose from the demise of Good's marriage, his diagnosis with bipolar disorder, and his resultant hospitalization. Though the themes of many of these songs are almost painfully bleak or bitter, the music is still glorious and a real tribute to this astounding musician.

05. A Weekend in the City - Bloc Party

- the long-awaited sophomore album. Although lacking in the righteous spontaneity of their debut album, A Weekend in the City scores points for its maturity of sound and for its continued political approach.

04. the Challengers - the New Pornographers

- another power pop-filled offering from this sprawling collection of musicians. The Challengers has all the elements which make the New Pornos so much fun - boy-girl harmonies, building anthems and Dan Bejar. Although Neko Case's powerhouse voice is more reigned in than in the past, she still brings it.

03. Reunion Tour - the Weakerthans

- far too long in coming, this slice of Canadiana was a true high point of the year. The Weakerthans are renowned for their highly literary and poetic songs, covering the span from punk to country-tinged. Reunion Tour is a perfect vignette of little stories of the everyman, bus drivers, curlers, wandering cats, medical oddities, hockey heroes. The Weakerthans' sound has never been tighter and their imagery has never been more seductive.

02. In Rainbows - Radiohead

- without question, the most newsworthy and most important album of the year in terms of cultural and music industry impact. But setting aside the
question of the impact of In Rainbow's release and listening strictly to the music contained in this album, one is struck once again by the direction which Radiohead has chosen to take their music.

At once more lush and more mature with swooping strings and piano lounge crooning, In Rainbows also incorporates both the electronica and the guitar rock elements at which Radiohead excel. Bringing Thom Yorke's voice to the forefront adds a layer of intimacy to this album, with this being evident most clearly on the track 4 Minute Warning, (available only on the b-side disc of the discbox). In Rainbows shows Radiohead as a band which has matured together, raised families together and approached 40 together. And in this case, that is a very good thing.

01. Kala - M.I.A.

-a glorious sophomore album, jam-packed with so many elements that it should be a mess, but somehow it all works. M.I.A. shows no sign of relinquishing her exuberant approach to music. Kala haphazardly throws together bits of bhangra, hiphop, street sounds, machine guns and cash register noises, as well as clear nods to Pixies. Kala is a bombastic, defiant, highly varied offering of pop fun and political awareness.

If anyone hasn't yet listed their favourites, (perhaps some of you, like me, are still working on finishing off last year), I'd love to hear all about what you were grooving to in 07.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

I am still alive. Contrary to how I sometimes feel, my back is slowly improving.

Things started to turn around when I got in to see my own doctor (as opposed to the walk-in clinic guy), and he gave me really explicit directions on exactly how I should be looking after my healing. Plus better drugs. And it turns out I was doing everything all wrong.

I actually started to feel hourly improvement yesterday and my mood lifted. I had therapeutic massage last evening and felt pretty great for the rest of the evening, but was warned that today I would be stiff, with a big improvement happening tomorrow. I'm not sure I would call this stiff - world of pain is more accurate. I think massage buddy may have gone a little too deep. And I didn't even get a happy ending.

But, I am booked for more massage, I am excused from work next week, and I am hopeful.

But most importantly, I am so sorry that I haven't been around to visit you all. I miss you terribly, all the clever and witty things you write so eloquently about. I shall be back as soon as I can. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

things can only go up from here

I'm beginning to suspect that I have done something to piss off the universe, as my back appears to be euchred again.

I had 3 good days, where I drove around, went to a movie (Walk Hard - funny as hell, go see it), did a bit of grocery shopping, celebrated the birth of a new year. Hell, yesterday I was even
talking about starting up my exercise regime again today. Which is likely what did it, I think the gods want me to die of a heart attack and this is their way of ensuring that happens. Well fuck them anyway! I spent the morning crying and being generally miserable, and then my sweetie bought me a heated electric pad, so I've got the thing wrapped around me and fully expect that shortly I will be doing backflips like that guy in the commercial.

But I wanted to alert you to two excellent Canadian films that I saw in the past few days.

I wasn't even sure that I wanted to see Eastern Promises, as I wasn't all that fond of A History of Violence, and I assumed that Eastern Promises would be more of the same, you know, David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen, lots of mayhem and violence. But no, it is a really well done, very engrossing tale of the Russian mafia in London. Oh sure, there's tonnes of violence and the nude bathhouse fight is a scene which will go down in cinematic history, but it's a compelling story, very well told, extremely well researched, and very nicely acted by some highly competent actors. If you don't mind some gratuitous violence, do see this.

But the real surprise was Wilby Wonderful. I had never heard of this film, which was released in 2004 and reads like a veritable who's who of Canadian cinema. Sandra Oh plays a driven real estate agent married to the scruffy town cop (played by Paul Gross), who is carrying on with Rebecca Jenkins, newly returned to the small island town of WIlby, determined to make a go of things this time, with her teenaged daughter (played by Canada's newest it girl, Ellen Page). The imminently watchable Callum Keith Rennie is Duck, the dyslexic sign painter who appears in the opening scene to thwart the suicide attempt of the sorrowful Dan Jarvis (James Allodi). With Maury Chaykin as the slippery mayor and the writer/director, Daniel MacIvor, doing triple duty as the bumbling copy who is in his pocket, the cast shines in this day in the life tale of the odd assortment of characters who populate this tiny town, a town which carries a few secrets.

I actually shed a few tears at the end of Wilby Wonderful and I never cry at films. It's at once thought-provoking and uplifting, but not in a sentimental way, and it leaves one with a sense of hope. Look for this film!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

no need to change out of your pyjamas

Current tv is broadcasting a taping of Radiohead's Scotch Mist right here, which is a filming of the new year's eve performance of songs from In Rainbows. And it's in a much bigger format than that which I watched last night, so you'll be able to catch every nuance of Thom's head swiveling and all of Jonny's myspace angles.

I can think of far worse ways to start off the new year than enjoying a Radiohead mini-concert.

You didn't really want to clean up all those bottles right now
anyway, did you?