Friday, February 29, 2008

we are accidents waiting waiting to happen

This is almost exactly what it looked like to us when we were involved in a police takedown the other day. Well except for the guns. But I still felt like Starsky and Hutch, and that's pretty bad ass for a Wednesday afternoon.

We were driving home from school, stopped first in line in the far right lane at a red light on a major thoroughfare, when out of the blue three cops cars pulled into the intersection, facing us at an angle, lights flashing. I started to put the urban assault vehicle into reverse so that I could get closer to the curb to give them room, when one of the baby-faced cops came over and told me to leave my vehicle where it was as there was a takedown about to happen and they wanted to use the traffic to block the bad guy.

While I felt like a pawn in a giant cosmic chess game, it was pretty cool and I was pissed that once again I left the camera at home.

I was getting all pumped and planning my escape route (with the best possible view of the action) in case some bad shit starting going down, when it just all fizzled to a close. One of the cops listened into his shoulder walkie-talkie, said "okay, we're done", and they got into their vehicles and drove off.

I can't speak for my fellow pawns commuters, but I felt a little like I had been wined and dined and bedded, only to have my partner leave the room to go watch hockey before we really got started. Certainly less exciting than what I had been led to expect.

But what I am excited about and which I expect will be utterly fullfilling:

- this weekend with the Marthas, starting tonight

- getting Hedwigged at Sage Theatre, also tonight

- election day in Alberta - will Monday be the day we kick out the Conservatives after almost 40 years? I am voting strategically in the hopes of doing just that.

- Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanimo Bay - I've been waiting for this since the brilliant and stupid H&K Go to White Castle. And Neil Patrick Harris is back.

- Eastern Promises nominated for 12 Genie awards

- filmaker and CBC Radio Calgary's very own Jim Brown nominated for a Genie (along with film-making partner, Gary Burns) for their documentary on urban sprawl, Radiant City ("if you looked through that window of that guy's house and if he had his front door open, I think you could see the mountains")

- more Radiohead announcements - San Francisco's Outside Lands Festival on Aug 22-24 - perhaps we should postpone our San Francisco trip a few months.

And how the mighty have fallen. After bragging that I have picked the Canada Reads champion two year running, plus correctly identifying the first book voted off this year, all my predictions have since gone south.

My predictions (in order of dismissal):
From the Fifteenth District
King Leary
Brown Girl in the Ring
with the winner being Not Wanted on the Voyage

The reality:
From the Fifteenth District
Brown Girl in the Ring
Not Wanted on the Voyage
with the winner of course being King Leary

Congratulations to Paul Quarrington. I'll need to add your prize winning book to my reading lists.
I will be incommunicado all weekend, being held entirely against my will by a gaggle of sassy Marthas, so play nicely this weekend, I don't want to hear that anybody has been picking on anybody else. Ta ta for now!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Oh hai, happy birfday to mah kitteh

My pretty girl turned 10 today
and even though she is thoroughly sick of winter

and would love for us to throw her a birthday party,

we just can't forget the last party, where she got all stupid

But she will get some nice presents for her birthday

because she is so smart

and so playful

but mostly because she is so fierce

Soon it will be summer, Sputnik, I promise!

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I trust I can rely on your discretion

I almost didn't tell you about this development, in the hopes of scoring the most supa-fantastic seats, but that whiny little white-robed jerk who hangs out on my right shoulder has shamed me into it. Besides I can't imagine I am the only person who regularly reads ChartAttack or Pitchfork.

Like 90% of North America, I am still anxiously awaiting the Vancouver and Seattle dates, but there's a very good chance that I will be panting to get to the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on August 15.

Poor Steve Lamke, guitarist of the Constantines, has broken his hand, causing the band to withdraw as the special surprise act for Chart's Canadian Music Week gig. I'm sending bone-healing vibes your way, Steve. Here's hoping you will be all better for the Cons' SXSW gig in mid-March.

Also in Canadian music news, Born Ruffians have released their first full length album. This is great news for anyone who is a fan of their frenetic, yelpy, howly offerings, and if you like your music more varied, I understand they mellow things out a bit more on the album.

I am smoking hot on predicting the direction of Canada Reads. Yet again. This morning at breakfast I told the Resident Offspring that Mavis Gallant's From the Fifteenth District would be the first book voted off. Just ask her if you think I'm greening you.

I'm sticking with my prediction that Not Wanted on the Voyage will be the ultimate winner, but I am also starting to get rather curious about Brown Girl in the Ring. Apparently it features zombies.

Here's the layout so far:

Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay (Bad Tempered's predicted winner)
Brown Girl in the Ring - Nalo Hopkinson (BTZ's predicted runner-up)
Icefields - Thomas Wharton
King Leary -Paul Quarrington
From the Fifteenth District - Mavis Gallant

Stayed tuned for daily developments.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

there will be snacks, and giggling

The Marthas are breaking with tradition this weekend.

We've come to our senses and realized that an annual Womanly Weekend is not sufficient to nourish our souls. One weekend per year of busting our bad selves out to terrorize the town and then retiring to a hotel room for noshing and quaffing and soul baring merely starts to chip away at the crust of responsibility that the world has slathered upon us.

And this weekend, world, I am giving you fair warning - the Marthas are coming to town.

On the agenda:

Friday night - Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Sage Theatre
The Resident Offspring has graciously agreed to share play night with a gaggle of Marthas. I think she secretly enjoys being an honourary Martha; she is after all, the first minor to break into the sacred inner sanctum.
Should we dress up, do you think? Suggestions for outfits to wear to a production of Hedwig?

Saturday afternoon - playing with clay
I think we are just painting pre-made bits, not actually getting our hands dirty, but it's still immensely satisfying.
This is a plate that I painted a few years ago on a Martha weekend and it still hangs on my kitchen wall, where it continues to please me. We've been spending the last few Womanly Weekends schlepping about town and shopping and personally I am looking forward to the change.

Saturday night - dinner and karaoke
This is not written in stone, but much interest has been expressed, to the point where I sussed out karaoke bars in the vicinity of our hotel. I rather expect that my first choices in karaoke songs, Fairytale of New York and Two-Headed Boy, will not be available, but I am willing to dig deep and belt out some standards, like Mac the Knife or Beyond the Sea. Or anything by ABBA, of course. I would rather scoop my eyeballs out with a rusty melon baller than warble along to the Eagles or anything from Grease, though.

later Saturday night through to Sunday morning - pyjamas, food, wine, board games, girl stuff

Sunday afternoon - undetermined
No doubt this will involved some shopping, we are talking about the Marthas after all, and I am a bit of a black sheep with my non-shopping gene. It will be well worth it, provided Sandra starts cackling like only she knows how (and you know she will).

Sunday supper time - teary goodbyes
We'll head home, exhausted but with rejuvenated souls. The Marthas will have saved the universe once again.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Our aspirations are wrapped up in books, our inclinations are hidden in looks

According to the Global Language Monitor, the English language will reach its one millionth word sometime this year. By comparison, Spanish has 275,000 words, while French has 100,000. We are a loquacious lot, I guess.

With such an plethora of words available for me to use, I wonder why I overuse actually and awesome so often. Laziness, I guess. This must stop.

Here are a few favourite words which I don't use near often enough. The next time I feel the need to use
awesome or actually, I shall just substitute one of the following instead:







or my new favourite newly minted word:

Do you have any favourite words?

In book news, Canada Reads begins tomorrow. Sadly neither John K Samson nor John Mutford are on the panel this year, but even in the absence of these venerable bookies, it should still be a great battle. The books being fought over this year are:

Brown Girl in the Ring - Nalo Hopkinson
From the Fifteenth District
Mavis Gallant
Thomas Wharton
King Leary
Paul Quarrington
Not Wanted on the Voyage
Timothy Findlay

I've only read From the Fifteenth District and Not Wanted on the Voyage, but at this point my money is on the latter. For the record, I have picked the winning book two years running, so there.
And now we head back once again to the shameless self-promotion department, where my lovely assistant will tell you that I have now posted my reading list for the Spring Reading Challenge. Eight books are being attempted by yours truly in this challenge. I may have bitten off a tad more than I can chew.

What are you reading?

Friday, February 22, 2008

what about the optics, won't somebody please think of the optics?

Does anybody else see something wrong with these snapshots from my day?

1. I pulled into the recycing depot and spotted two massive recycling trucks parked there, both with motors idling, with the operators chatting in front of the bins. They were still there when I left. Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time separating the need to recycle from the need to stop idle idling.

2. We were told by the medical specialist that we need to see our own physician this week or early next week. However, the earliest appointment we can get is May 30. This has forced me to use the option of going to her website and paying $52.50 to ask her a question online. This is the second time I have had to use this option.

This is not universal health care in my opinion. I can afford to pay this if needed, but many people cannot. So they wait, and get sicker. The last time I checked we still live in Canada, so why is our health care system starting to look more and more privatized?

Okay, enough righteous indignation for one day. It is a Friday, after all, and a spectacularly gorgeous one here to boot, the kind of day where you take the liner out of your coat, leave the gloves in the front hall closet, and just prance about in your little loafers.

And with any luck, your Friday evening will take a page from the playbook suggested by my Friday Random Ten - ease into things with a couple of beautiful and gentle songs, get a little sassy, do some headbanging, get funky, indulge in a little angstiness, snap out of it with something weird, get smooth and mellow, get live and dirty, and finish up with some groove moves.

Have a beautiful night. Time for a glass of wine, I think.

Random Ten
1. moving pictures silent films - Great Lake Swimmers
2. grace cathedral hill - the Decemberists
3. such a twat - the Streets
4. cemetery - the Headstones
5. terrorists and inhalers - Dubblestandart
6. something in the way - Nirvana
7. junk man - the Fall
8. the rollercoaster ride - Belle and Sebastian
9. vamos - Pixies
10. bamboo banga - M.I.A

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Put the book back on the shelf - so say Belle and Sebastian

After months of somehow dodging and weaving this book meme, I have been sidelined by a tag from Jas. And since she asked so nicely, how could I refuse?

Grab the nearest book:

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales - Oliver Sacks

Post the fifth sentence on page 123:

Either seizure-activity or a frontal-lobe disinhibition determine the horrifying 'reminiscence' of 'Murder' (Chapter Nineteen).

Post the next three sentences:
The theme of this section is the power of imagery and memory to 'transport' a person as a result of abnormal stimulation of the temporal lobes and limbic system of the brain. This may even teach us something of the cerebral basis of certain visions and dreams, and of how the brain (which Sherrington called 'an enchanted loom') may weave a magic carpet to transport us.

Mrs. O'C was somewhat deaf, but otherwise in good health.

Well, that's that, then.

I'm not quite sure what to do now, but I can tell you that I have heard the distinguished neurologist and celebrity rock-star author, Dr. Oliver Sacks, deliver the keynote speech at our program's annual lecture series a few years ago. He was quite a compelling story teller, but as I understand it, also a real prima donna and a bit of an arsehole with his excessive demands.

I'm not tagging anyone, but if you would like to do this meme, knock yourself out.


And in the shameless self promotion department, I should alert you to the fact that I have posted my almost certain to be final book review for the Winter Reading Challenge. Did you even know that Hard Core Logo was first a book? I didn't.

And yes folks, there will be a Spring Reading Challenge. I shall post my choices for that in the next few days, but a few spritely folks already have theirs posted.

And if you want in on the challenge, I'm pretty sure that our new lovely host, Dr Monkey von Monkerstein, is still welcoming participants. Check it out, reader dude.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I really need this today

- baby Radiohead -

- May 27, 1994 at the Astoria in London -

- Thom's got the blonde mop, Phil's got hair, Colin's got the long ponytail, Ed's got the Morrissey quiff, and Jonny has more hair than I have ever seen on one person -

- and I was making a Bugs Bunny cake for a three-year old's birthday party -

- life was simple then -

- that was good, but I need one more -

- be sweet to each other today -

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hey Kosovo!

Look at you - all grown up, with your very own flag and that new country smell - welcome to the world! Sorry about Canada dragging its heels to officially recognize your national status, but we've got this niggling sovereignty thing going on over here, you see, so we can't be seen to be too excited about a newly independent nation. Quebec might get a little too excited. Nothing personal. But very soon, I am sure, Canada will deem that sufficient time has elapsed to welcome you fully. And then we'll send you a nice sandstone Inuit carving or something.

All this talk of nations transforming themselves has reminded me of a wonderful film I watched this weekend. I know many of you bloggies have already seen Good Bye Lenin! because you recommended it during our discussions about The Edukators.

And what a fine recommendation that was! Good Bye Lenin! is such a sweet and poignant film. Weeks before the fall of the Berlin wall, an East Berlin woman suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma for 8 months. When she awakens, Germany has unified and the socialist government is no more. Because the doctors have warned her family that her heart is still very frail and that she must avoid all excitement, and because she is such a staunch party supporter, her family creates the illusion that they are still living in the DDR.

From transferring her food into jars with the old labels she is used to seeing, to falsifying news report to explain some of the changes that their mother has inadvertently spotted from her bedroom window, the family's attempts at deception keep getting more and more elaborate.

Katrin Saß is wonderful as the fragile and bewildered mother, while Daniel Brühl, who is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors, is mesmerizing as Alex, the son who cares so much for his mother's well-being that he is willing to go to extreme lengths to maintain the illusion.

Given the zombie chomp of approval, Good Bye Lenin! is a must see if you like German films with a little sweetness, a healthy dose of humour, and a lot of heart.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

my phone's on vibrate for you ...

... and I don't know how to switch it to ring.

It's true, I am a complete techno dweeb when it comes to cell phone use and maybe that's why I never carry one and why I despise them so. They know they've got the upper hand.

To continue yesterday's tale of venturing into the city's busiest mall on a Saturday (can you tell this is still causing me mental trauma?), my lovely niece asked for my cell number so that she could find me if we had trouble locating each other in the mall from hell. So I dragged the phone out of the junk drawer, found the number and relayed it to her, recharged it and put some money on the account, and we
headed off for the lunch date.

We knew we were in trouble as we approached the mall, by the
numbers of cars driving around in circles, looking for that non-existent parking spot. So naturally we joined in the parade, and I have to say it was one of the most futile exercises in mindless carbon usage, senseless exhaust spewing, and pilgrimages to the altar of conspicuous consumption that I have ever participated in. I am ashamed to tell you that I drove around that stupid parking lot for at least 20 minutes before I came to my senses and listened to the Resident Offspring's suggestion that we head several blocks away and park on the street, so we could walk to our lunch date.

But as we were driving over there, I realized that we were quite late and that K might be trying to find us, so as we were stopped at the light I reached into my purse and pulled out the accursed phone, intending to give it to the Resident Offspring to see if we had missed any calls because of the blasting tunes, since I can never see what the hell is written on those minuscule screens. But when I opened my purse the damn thing almost jumped out. It was on vibrate and dancing around with joy that somebody was actually phoning it (a first, I think).

To make a long story only slightly longer, we did manage to find my niece amongst the 765,874,743 mall zombies who were milling about taking up my oxygen, something I am almost sure we would not have done without her phoning to tell us where she was.

But it is disturbing to me that we all seem to be so dependent upon this cursed technology for completing the simplest tasks anymore. Generally I quite like not being in touch for a few hours when I go about my chores. And there is a price to pay for this technology. I mean, how often do people upgrade their phones and what do you think happens to the discarded ones that aren't quite cool enough anymore? Not to mention that tower going up in your neighbourhood which you aren't too thrilled about. And although the jury is still out on the health implications of cell phone radiation, intuition tells me that less is better.

But maybe I am just being an old Luddite because I can't figure out how to turn the damned vibrate off the phone. Seriously, I can't.

What sort of relationship do you have with cell phones?

Vibrate - Rufus Wainwright

Saturday, February 16, 2008

socializing of deluvian proportions

Why is it that my socializing follows the same pattern as my concert going? Do you have the same issues - 765,743 commitments in a week and a half and then ... nothing ... for months? This week I have hosted two dinner parties. Which is actually pretty clever, if I do say so myself, because one massive cleanup with a secondary touch-up covers both events. And I am all for keeping the toilet scrubbing sessions to a minimum.

In a few minutes, the Resident Offspring and I are leaving to meet my niece, who is on a roadtrip for reading week, for lunch at the busiest mall in the city. On a Saturday. I must be out of my fucking mind. I won't go there at 10:00 am on a Tuesday. She's lucky I love her.

I got to thinking that perhaps I should try to pull off something like this today, but I don't think it will have the same impact with one person as it did with 207.

Still, it's pretty cool.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

my muscular organ in my thoracic cavity which pumps blood will go on

I do love chocolate, but when it comes to lovey crap, this is more my kind of valentine:

Sometimes - My Bloody Valentine

I did, however, love finding a real live postcard from the fabulous Allison in my mailbox today. From Scotland, nonetheless!

I do love postcards. You get pictures of places you have only dreamed of, you get those crazy foreign stamps, and because the message is open to scrutiny from the entire world, you usually get some pithy and succinct message from your pal. What's not to love?

Thanks Al, you da bomb!

And in the you guys are faaaassssttt category - all the pre-sale Radiohead tickets that went on sale this morning for the 8 southern USA dates were sold out by the time I got home from work today. Don't fear though, you can still get your groove on watching the lads do their groove thing, because the general ticket sales don't start till Saturday. I wouldn't doddle though.

I've gotta go canoodle me some chocolate now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I've no idea what I am talking about

If you live anywhere in the southern USA, you might want to get your computer fired up early on February 14, with your credit card at the ready. Those of us in the rest of North America still have to wait, but keep your calendar open during late July, early August.

Speaking of bands, wouldn't Hugo and the Chavistas be a killer band name? Their first single would likely be called "Jou Are a Donkey".

The song that most makes me feel like I need a smoke when it finishes (if you know what I mean) is Radiohead's Let Down.

Monday, February 11, 2008

hysterical and useless

I was actually pretty calm about the whole thing, but I do admit that I felt pretty useless when I was at home being one of the 75,000 people in south Calgary who were without power for a couple of hours. And naturally, we have a guest coming for dinner, whom I have never met, and for whom I decided to go all out - home-made pie and slow roasted short ribs - not exactly the sorts of things you can quickly zap in the microwave during the brief moments of power.

There's nothing like a series of rolling outages to make you appreciate just how much you rely upon having reliable power. The first one hit at 7:30 when it was still dark. I rummaged through the basket of dead flashlights until I found one with a bit of juice in it and then fretted that I would be able to get the garage door open to get the Resident Offspring to school. The power came back before we left, but with a number of traffic lights dead, the 20 minute trip took 45 minutes. Apparently the RO was the first one to arrive to class, including the teacher who did get trapped in her garage.

The next outage hit just as I was ready to put the pie in the oven. This one lasted for an hour and I was starting to get pretty chilly by the end. Happily we were past the deep freeze we were experiencing over the weekend, but I felt at quite a loss, not being able to do the baking and cooking I had planned, no internet, no phone, not even any coffee. Had enough light to clean the bathrooms though. Damn.

The third outage was mercifully brief, but by this time I didn't trust anything anymore, and kept expecting the oven to crap out now that the pie was baking.

Why am I telling you all this? Well I realized just how unprepared I am for being without power for days, if that were ever to happen. Sure we have lots of blankets, and there is a 4 litre jug of water in the basement, but three dead flashlights won't get us too far. And we would be pretty sick of beans after a while. And that's not the source of natural gas that one needs at a time like that.

How prepared are you for an extended power outage?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

damn it feels good to be a gangsta

Yesterday I:

- stabbed myself in the throat with a french fry. From the inside. I'm pretty sure I have a giant lesion in my throat wall now.

- watched a really sweet, charming, and funny film, Rocket Science. How can you not root for the shy kid who stutters but wants to win the state debating championship (and thereby win the heart of/revenge upon the girl)? This film is stuffed full of quirky and hilarious characters, and the best use of a cello to make a statement I have ever witnessed.

- found the personalized Chinese calligraphy card that I bought at the Chinese Cultural Centre a few months ago. I have adopted "Banb" as my gangsta name. I also quite liked the "Sturt" card, but since I don't personally know any Sturts, I did not buy that one.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!

- nurtured my inner political junkie. Not only do we have the ever-fascinating (and perplexing) American primaries to follow, we now have a provincial election coming up in a few weeks (with the first real possibility in 37 years that we will not end up with another majority Conservative government), PLUS there could very well be a confidence vote in the senate over the Tory's proposed crime bill (or over rather the time limitations that Harper has forced upon the senate to make the vote). So it is shaping up to be an interesting winter after all. Which of course brings to mind the ancient Chinese curse:

"may you live in interesting times"

Friday, February 08, 2008

we're not as polite as everybody thinks we are

There must be some degree of cut-throatery coursing through Canadian veins after all.

How else to explain the fact that there are over 100 Canadian acts playing at the South by Southwest festival this year? And since the fun doesn't get started at SXSW until mid-March, we could very well see an increase in the number of musically minded Canucks who are set to swamp Austin.

Lock up your indie kids, Texas, the Canadians are storming the border.

Check out the superbad list of confirmed Canadian acts:
(* bands whom I have had the privilege of seeing perform)

  • The Acorn (Ottawa)
  • Alex Cuba (Smithers, BC)
  • Attack In Black (Welland, ON)
  • Jill Barber (Halifax)
  • Matt Barber (Toronto)
  • Laura Barrett (Toronto)*
  • Beasts And Superbeasts (Victoria)
  • Bella (Vancouver)
  • Birds Of Wales (Toronto)
  • Black Mountain (Vancouver)
  • The Blood Lines (Saskatoon)
  • Blue Rodeo (Toronto)
  • Born Ruffians (Midland, ON)*
  • Elliott Brood (Toronto)*
  • Basia Bulat (Toronto)*
  • Cadence Weapon (Edmonton)
  • The Cansecos (Toronto)
  • Cassius Khan (Edmonton)
  • The Choir Practice (Vancouver)
  • City And Colour (St. Catharines, ON)*
  • The Cliks (Toronto)
  • The Coast (Toronto)
  • Jason Collett (Toronto)
  • Comeback Kid (Winnipeg)
  • Constantines (Toronto)*
  • CPC Gangbangs (Montreal)
  • Creature (Montreal)
  • Crystal Castles (Toronto)
  • Demon's Claws (Montreal)
  • Destroyer (Vancouver)*
  • The Details (Winnipeg)*
  • The Diableros (Toronto)
  • Luke Doucet (Toronto)*
  • Duchess Says (Montreal)
  • Jeremy Fisher (Vancouver)
  • The Flatliners (Richmond Hill, ON)
  • Kim Fontaine (Saskatoon)
  • Fucked Up (Toronto)
  • Galaxie (Montreal)
  • Geronimo (Regina)*
  • Ghislain Poirier (Montreal)
  • The Golden Dogs (Toronto)
  • Matthew Good (Burnaby, BC)*
  • Grand Analog (Winnipeg)
  • Jenn Grant (Halifax)
  • Grimskunk (Montreal)
  • Handsome Furs (Montreal)
  • Rebekah Higgs (Halifax)
  • Hollerado (Montreal)
  • Holy Fuck (Toronto)
  • Hot Springs (Montreal)
  • Hungry Hill (Yukon Territory)
  • Inward Eye (Winnipeg)
  • Lindsay Jane (Winnipeg)
  • Caroline Keating (Montreal)
  • Krief (Montreal)
  • Land Of Talk (Montreal)
  • Jen Lane (Saskatoon)
  • Daniel Lanois (Toronto)
  • Let's Go To War (Toronto)
  • Catherine MacLellan (Halifax)
  • Dan Mangan (Vancouver)
  • Marianas Trench (Vancouver)
  • Carolyn Mark (Victoria)
  • Lorrie Matheson (Calgary)*
  • The Midway State (Toronto)
  • Katie Moore (Montreal)
  • The Most Serene Republic (Milton, ON)
  • MSTRKRFT (Toronto)
  • Nadja (Toronto)
  • No Kids (Vancouver)
  • Justin Nozuka (Toronto)
  • NQ Arbuckle (Toronto)*
  • The Nymphets (Montreal)
  • Oh Susanna (Toronto)*
  • The Pack A.D. (Vancouver)
  • Parkas (Toronto)
  • Peer Pressure (Montreal)
  • The Perpetrators (Winnipeg)
  • Plants And Animals (Montreal)
  • Joel Plaskett (Halifax)*
  • Pride Tiger (Vancouver)
  • Put The Rifle Down (Toronto)
  • The Russian Futurists (Toronto)
  • Justin Rutledge (Toronto)*
  • The Sadies (Toronto)*
  • Shout Out Out Out Out (Edmonton)
  • Simply Saucer (Hamilton)
  • Skratch Bastid (Montreal)
  • Smalltown DJs (Calgary)
  • Meaghan Smith (Halifax)
  • Socalled (Montreal)
  • Spiral Beach (Toronto)
  • The Stills (Montreal)
  • Sylvie (Regina)
  • Tanya Tagaq (Cambridge Bay, NWT)*
  • Think About Life (Montreal)
  • Tokyo Police Club (Toronto)*
  • Torngat (Montreal)
  • Twin Crystals (Vancouver)
  • Ultimate Power Duo (Saskatoon)
  • United Steel Workers Of Montreal (Montreal)
  • Vancougar (New Westminster, BC)
  • Martha Wainwright (Montreal)
  • The Weakerthans (Winnipeg)*
  • Woodhands (Toronto)
  • Woodpigeon (Calgary)*
  • Hawksley Workman (Huntsville, ON)*
  • Your Favorite Enemies (Montreal)
If I can give you some unsolicited advice here, I would strongly suggest that if you have any inclination to attend SXSW, that you do it this year. Two of my favourite ever bands to see perform live, the Weakerthans and the Constantines, will be gracing the streets and the stages of Austin, and trust me when I tell you that you do not want to miss that.

In fact, the Constantines have a new album dropping soon (April 15), and I have it on very good authority that it is gorgeous! Kensington Heights, it's called, and while it has some really pretty heartfelt songs on it, it still rocks as hard as the Cons know how. Here are some notes from their studio diary, about the sort of things they have been saying during the mixing stage:

"that guitar should sound more like a bear wrestling a rabid mongoose, and less like sleeping at your grandmother's house"

Who wouldn't want to hear music like that?

And since we are talking about music, and since this post is not nearly long enough, here are the Friday Random Ten that my laptop assaulted me with this morning. We start with the Constantines and the Weakerthans and I did not cheat one iota. My laptop simply knows what I need.

Arizona - the Constantines
(Manifest) - the Weakerthans
Going for a walk with a line - Momus
When something stands for nothing - the Headstones
I'm just a killer for your love - Blur
Inner flight - Primal Scream
The magic position - Patrick Wolf
Caribou - Pixies
Club foot - Kasabian
I don't mind if you forget me - Morrissey

Unlike Morrissey, however, I do mind if you forget me. So please, tell me your grand plans. You know that I live through you.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

the boxes you brought here and never unpacked are still patiently waiting to go

We moved here ten years ago.

We still have boxes in our (very small) basement which have never been unpacked. I have a sneaking suspicion we don't need whatever is in those boxes.

Being a wannabe minimalist at heart, I promised myself that this would be the winter I get rid of that crappy old couch with the hole in seat through which you can stick your entire leg to touch the floor, those boxes of what I believe are opened 10+ year old tubes of caulking, and all those cases of empty wine and beer bottles from when we used to make our own, back in the old house. I am fully immersed in Getting Rid of Shit mode.

Anybody want an aquarium, a deep-fryer, several bags of wallpaper ends that were in the house when we bought it but we no longer have the wallpaper up, or a huge bag of cds which we are now ashamed we ever bought?

Just say the word.

Now that my back is once again functional (over 4 days since my last dosage of painkiller - woot!), the clutter in the basement is starting to call to me to put it out of its misery. This morning I made a run to the bottle depot where I received $13.50 for several boxes of wine bottles. And there's lots more where that came from.

It's nice to have a feeling of control over my health and my body again, and now I am taking control of my surroundings. There may be casualties along the way, but ultimately the liberation of the basement from a place where crap goes to die, into a functional space, will be worth any collateral damage.

A New Name for Everything - the Weakerthans

What sort of relationship do you have with the detritus in your life?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

we've been talking about Jackson ever since the fire went out

For some reason I thought that decades ago someone had recorded a response to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's song Jackson, but as I cannot find any evidence of this, maybe I just dreamed it. Or maybe I am thinking of the song itself, you know how June gives snarky responses to Johnny's statements.

Whatever the case, it got me to thinking about songs that do have sequels/responses to them. Songs like Lynard Skynard's Sweet Home Alabama as a response to Neil Young's Southern Man. They are fun to look for and compare. Here are some of my favourite examples, do give them a listen and compare:

from Belle and Sebastian:

My Wandering Days Are Over (Tigermilk - 1996)
- written when Stuart Murdoch fell in love with band-mate, Isobel Campbell
key lyrics:
now the centre of my so called being / is the space between your bed and wardrobe with the louvre doors

I'm Waking Up to Us (Push Barman to Open Old Wounds - 2005)
- written when Isobel dumps Stuart and leaves the band. Ouch. The pain in Stuart's voice is palpable.
key lyrics: you're going to walk away intact / I think you never liked me anyway / you like yourself and you like men to kiss your ass / expensive clothes /please stop me there

verdict: Hell hath no fury like a songwriter scorned. Isobel, you never should have slept with that guy from Arab Strap.

from Radiohead:

Creep (Pablo Honey - 1993)
- their first single and one of the bands biggest hits
key lyrics: what the hell am I doing here / I don't belong here

My Iron Lung (The Bends - 1995)
- written as a reaction to the success of Creep, it refers to how the song simultaneously sustained and constricted the band
key lyrics:
this is our new song / just like the last one / a total waste of time / my iron lung

: While you should never bite the hand that feeds you, sometimes it pays off to spit on it.

from The Weakerthans:

Plea from a Cat Named Virtute (Reconstruction Site - 2003)

- Virtute tries to talk sense into her owner to stop his self-destructive ways and to believe that he is strong
Key lyrics: I swear I'm going to bit you hard and taste your tinny blood / if you don't stop the self-defeating lies you've been
repeating since the day you brought me home

Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure (Reunion Tour - 2007)
- self-explanatory title, really, Virtute explains what finally drove her to leave home
key lyrics: it had something to do with the rain / leeching loamy dirt / and the way the back-lane came alive / the half-moon whispered go

verdict: You can't blame the poor cat, the dude was just impossible to live with.

I know that I must have missed a lot of good songs and responses to them. Do fill me in. Do you have any favourites?

Or on the other hand, are there any songs that you think need a response song?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

premium dancing alert

Radiohead helped celebrate the 200th episode of Later ... with Jools Holland (as well as Jools' 50th birthday) on Friday by performing several songs from In Rainbows on the show. You can enjoy video clips of Bodysnatchers, 15 Step, Weird Fishes/Arppegi and House of Cards here. In addition to the expected head swiveling and premium dancing, you can check out some hip swiveling action on 15 Step.

Thom appears to have given up his attempts at the Grizzly Old Man of the Mountain look and has hacked his facial furniture down to a more ambivalent I took the week off to finish building my garage and haven't had time to shave image.
Ed, on the other hand, appears to be totally committed to his facial hair, and has it neatly trimmed into a full but tidy growth.

And huge props to Jonny for a BAFTA nomination for his soundtrack to There Will Be Blood!

I have a sneaking suspicion these Radiohead lads are no flash in the pan.

ideal love a new purchase, a market of the senses

Okay I'm not going to turn into one of those freaks who actually cares about laundry, but holy crap am I ever impressed with the new washing machine.

The old one crapped out two weeks ago, and after waiting ten days for a repair guy to charge us $100 to tell us it can't be fixed, I donned my consumer researcher cape and went shopping.

How did we ever decide what to buy in pre-internet days? I guess the decision took longer than two days back when you had to phone everybody you knew to ask their opinion.

In the end, I got a different model than the one I had in mind and I think I made the right choice.

And the delivery guys! Holy crap, what a lesson in efficiency they were! Not only did they come exactly when they said they would, they had the old machine out and the new one in place in three minutes, including the time it took to remove the laundry room door from its hinges and replace it again. And there were two flights of stairs involved here. Plus they took their shoes off.

I've never really paid attention to what my clothes look like when they come out of the laundry,
and don't worry I'm not going to go all laundry-obsessed and start ironing or anything like that, but what a difference the new machine makes on the clothes - no white laundry detergent patches on my black clothes, no pilling, no hairs baked on the shirts. My clothes look sort of new.

I might even try the handwash cycle today to launder some delicates. But yes, I am still going to put that navy blue sweater in with my white bras. I'm such a rebel.

I trust everybody had a fabulous Groundhog Day. All three of the major Canadian prognosticating rodents called for an early spring, including our local Balzac Billy.

Actually I think we are getting that early spring right now. It went all the way up to -8C (17.6F)
yesterday and is expected to do so again today. It's nice to be able to see out the windows once again. Return to the deep freeze tomorrow though. Stupid Balzac Billy doesn't know what he's talking about.

I sure wish we got Animal Planet in our cable package so that we could watch Puppy Bowl IV today. There's even a Kitty Half-time Show! Instead we'll have to pretend to watch NFL in order to justify eating chili and wings. And we don't even get the great commercials you Americans get. Maybe I'll take my bowl of five-alarm chili and sit in front of the washing machine instead.