Monday, September 29, 2008


My mom passed away yesterday.

She would have turned 87 in a couple of weeks, but in her own quietly determined way, she must have decided it was time for her to go, and she stopped eating and drinking a week ago. She passed peacefully, with my brother and his family by her side.

We are driving to Manitoba in the morning and will be gone the rest of
the week, to say our goodbyes to this unassuming but strong woman, who raised four kids to be decent people.

Even toward the end, when she spent more time in her dreams than in the waking world, she had the most incredible memory for stories from her early life, and was our conduit into a world that we never knew.

Good-bye mom. I love you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the good, the bad, and the tragically cliched

We tackled the Calgary International Film Festival with a vengeance yesterday, taking in three films in six hours. Our bums are not in the least bit numb and there is still some popcorn left, proving that we are indeed vikings amongst film viewers.

Almost eclipsing the screen drama was the real-life drama that occurred as we were preparing
to enter the theatre for the final film. We were on the second storey of the mall housing the theatre when the Resident Film Student inadvertently dropped her ticket over the edge of a railing. While she shrieked and went racing down the stairs to retrieve it, I looked over the railing to see if I could spot it and shoo people away from it, if need be. I couldn't see if anywhere on the floor below, so I looked a little higher and spotted it perched on a beam above a store that was closed for the evening. The beam was about two inches wide and the ticket was draped perfectly perpendicularly upon it, not going anywhere, not even slightly within reach.

The nice film festival people still let the RFS in, but only after they all came out to gaze at this feat of engineering and listen to the story of how we pulled that one off.

Some films were rather more impressive than others:

Film # 1: The 27 Club - a tragic tortured artist travels across America to his hometown
following the overdose death of his bandmate. The Kurt Cobain-alike tragic tortured artist spends the film alternating between looking tragically haggard and being tragically angry at his friend for leaving him. Sample monologue, shouted at the corpse and later at the night sky - "we had a deal!".

Don't waste your time on this film. It uses
every conceivable cliche ever used in film, including the uber-annoying "listen to this song, it will change your life" scene and far too many tragic childhood flashbacks. The best thing about The 27 Club was the sweet and naive Mormon lad whom the tragic tortured artist hires to drive him across America, presumably so that he can sit in the backseat and tragically take drugs.

I agree with the Resident Film Student that this film could actually be very good if told from the point of view of the naive Mormon kid, and if it had better writers.

Film #2: Full Battle Rattle - documentary about the simulated Iraqi village built in the Mojave desert as a training exercise for US troops about to be deployed to Iraq. The village is populated with Iraqi-American civilians who play the roles of long-running characters in the village, complete with elaborate backstories. Scenarios are written to test the troops' abilities to deal with challenging situations that they are liable to run into while in theatre. Some American soldiers play insurgents who launch random attacks on both the Iraqi villagers and the American forces.

This is an excellent film. Not only does it portray the playing out of a fascinating social experiment of sorts, but it allows the personalities of the players, in all their complexity, to shine. The American soldiers are surprisingly forthcoming in their motivations for choosing military life and in their sometimes ambivalent approach toward the Iraqi people with whom they will soon be interacting. The real-life histories of the Iraqi-
American actors who portray Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish villagers are told with sensitivity and compassion, and quite often mirror the elaborate back stories of the characters they portray.

Full Battle Rattle is surprisingly non-partisan in its portrayal of the American presence in Iraq. Instead it is non-judgmental of its representation of all sides, by weaving together the realities of the diverse factions of humanity in Iraq.
This is an intriguing and forthright look at the intricacies of a complex environment, pretending to be another complex environment.

FIlm #3: The End - documentary about a close-knit group of Cockney gangsters. Through a
series of interviews with her father and his friends, the film-maker explores the post-war environment of East End London that fostered this alarmingly unapologetic, yet surprisingly sympathetic, group of violent criminals.

Filmed in grainy and overshot black and white, this is a gritty and honest overview of the brutality by which these men lived their lives and by which they followed their own
particular code of honour.

One stinker out of the four films we have seen so far is not at all bad, as far as I am concerned. Final film tomorrow. At the theatre with the best popcorn in the city.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

makes you wanna blow the stars from the sky

Monday night, 8:00 EST - write it on your hand, or set the alarm in your cell or whatever it is that kids do these days - is when the winner of the 2008 Polaris Prize will be announced. CBC Radio 3 will be the covering the gala event, and with Grant Lawrence as the host you can expect some entertaining tomfoolery or at least a healthy dose of irreverence. And there will be performances by the nominees.

Nominated albums for the $20,000 prize are:

* Black Mountain - In the Future
* Basia Bulat - Oh My Darling
* Caribou - Andorra
* Kathleen Edwards - Asking for Flowers
* Holy Fuck - LP
* Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue
* Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
* Shad - the Old Prince
* Two Hours Traffic - Little Jabs
* the Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

Past winners were Patrick Watson (Close to Paradise) in 2007 and Final Fantasy (He Poos
Clouds) in 2006, the Polaris' inaugural year.

I can't decide among Basia Bulat, Holy Fuck, and the Weakerthans.

Who are you rooting for?

In other news, a big box set of Jesus and Mary Chain rarities is set to be released September 30. Appropriately entitled The Power of Negative Thinking, this massive boxset features, in addition to covers, b-sides and rarities, some rare photos and a history chart outlining just what the hell the Reids have been up to for the past decade.

Apparently after last year's reunion at Coachella, the brothers Reid kicked around a few other performances in Europe and then, in a move that very few JAMC fans ever dared to entertain as possible after their vicious breakup in 1999, began writing new material together. Soon we will live in a world that has new Jesus and Mary Chain songs.

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

As much as I am skeptical about the wisdom or even the appeal of band reunions, this idea has me salivating. I mean, it's the JAMC! But please sweet jeebus, don't let them allow Scarlett Johansson to sing.

Radiohead are off to Japan, where they will play six October dates, two in Osaka and four in Tokyo. Those lucky Japanese!

If you happen to be at the October 7th show in Tokyo, don't forget to sing Happy Birthday to Thom. And sing loudly, he'll be 40.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

not a fart in a bag: Soft Airplane - Chad VanGaalen

My only excuse for waiting so long to review Chad VanGaalen's brilliant new release, Soft Airplane, is that I have been too busy listening to it. Over and over and over.

You've no doubt been hearing a lot of buzz about this album, been hearing phrases like contender for album of the year, one of the best releases of 2008, tossed about in conversation. And there's good reason for the hype. This truly is a splendid album.

I'll admit that from my perspective, Chad VanGaalen is approaching the status of one of those artists who could fart in a bag and call it an album and I would still give it an 8/10. But Soft Airplane is no fart in a bag. It is a diverse and mature album that still manages to maintain the abundance of childlike enthusiasm that permeates all of Chad VanGaalen's music. You can hear it in the joy of discovery of new sounds like the drum machine robot on Cries of the Dead or the train clacks recorded underneath a railroad track on Rabid Bits of Time. You are never quite sure what you are going to hear being used as a musical instrument on a Chad VanGaalen piece, and it is that strangeness that keeps his music so fresh and so compelling after repeated plays.

The Resident Offspring pointed out that when you see Chad perform live, you always get the impression that he is just making up the songs as he goes along. It's not until you hear them actually committed to vinyl that you realise that he has, in fact, written this stuff down.

There's an organic quality to his songs that do feel as though they have just escaped from the overloaded brain of a mad genius. Sometimes this results in lyrics which should cause me to shake my head, but they don't; instead I find their unpretentiousness to be
charming. Not many people can get away with lyrics like you went to the mountains true and painted what you saw/you came back late and hid the painting underneath our couch/and I wasn't there when you made it/but I feel like I'm there when I'm looking at it (Cries of Dead) and still maintain their credibility as one of the best musicians of the day. Somehow Chad VanGaalen makes it all work, gloriously.

It would be a mistake not to buy this album. In fact, I would recommend that you buy two copies because you are going to wear that first one out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

zombie toys that lurk in my closet

I was noodling about in the spare room closet today, when I inadvertently knocked over a shoe box that resided on the top shelf. As I reached up to gather up the spilled contents, I could hear someone talking to me from deep within the closet.

Closer inspection revealed that it was a Furby, hidden there several years earlier by the Resident Offspring in an attempt to kill off its evil spirit.

It was creepy enough that this thing was still mobile after several years in the back of the spare room closet, and more than a little disturbing that it kept saying "ooohhmm, me hunnnngryyy", but what really freaked me out was the fact that it contained no batteries!

It's still up there, talking. I'm staying out of that room until it's dead for real.

Monday, September 22, 2008

nothing but popcorn for a week

We currently immersed in offerings from the Calgary International Film Festival, but with 150 films being shown in 10 days, our heads would explode if we attempted to see more than even a fraction of them. Fortunately, the Resident Film Student put her considerable cognitive abilities to work and narrowed our list down to 5 films that we are obviously interested to see and are not likely to ever see anywhere else.

The Resident Film Student prepared for this film immersion week by working as an extra on Saturday. The board of education was filming at her school and all the film studies students were hired on to pretend they were students. They were fed tuna sandwiches and spent the day hanging around in the cafeteria between takes. The RFS did get a supporting actor role as chemistry student #2, but aside from that was bored to death, spending a beautiful Saturday
inside at school for fifty bucks. Ricky Gervais did not make an appearance.

But yesterday, being cool and rainy, was a perfect day on which to huddle in a dark art house theatre to watch a foreign film. Mexico's Partes Usadas (Used Parts) is the tale of Ivan, a 14-year-old car parts thief. This film crept up on me, in that I started out with mild interest in Ivan, his friend Efrain, and his car parts dealing uncle Jamie, mostly feeling astonishment at how hard they actually worked at their trade. But about halfway through the film, I realised that I cared greatly what happened to these boys and their dreams of a better life in America. So it was that I was watched in trepidation as they took greater and more dangerous risks in their attempts to save enough money to pay a human trafficker to take them to Chicago. Things, as I feared, did not end well.

Friday is going to be our marathon day at the Film Festival, with THREE films on tap:
The 27 Club (USA) - road film about a musician dealing with the death of his partner. This one is at the Plaza, who have the best popcorn and it's served in buckets. A small popcorn will be consumed here, we must pace ourselves.
Full Battle Rattle (USA) - the story of the virtual Iraq built in the Mojave desert to aid in urban warfare training. The next two films are at Eau Claire theatre, and I'm thinking coffee and maybe some chocolate for this one - the sweet break between the buttery popcorns.
The End (UK) - black and white British gangsta film. Definitely time for some more popcorn; they use lots of butter at Eau Claire, so that will make for an excellent and nutritious supper.

And on Sunday, we will usher out the Film Festival with XXY (Argentina) - a coming of age story of a teenage hermaphrodite. Needless to say this should be an eye-opener. Definitely calls for a culinary blowout with which to close out the festival - popcorn and chocolate.

How about you? Have you seen any good foreign films lately?
Do you like dubbing or subtitles?
(I'm a subtitle fan myself, always hoping to learn another language through osmosis.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Elliott Brood sure throw one shit-kicker of a party

the Warehouse - September 18/08
lineup: Beija Flor, NQ Arbuckle, Elliott Brood

Simply put, Elliott Brood is a party band. But it's a party celebrating the dark underbelly of history, told with brutally flogged guitars and hollers and suitcase drum kits. Every time I have seen Elliott Brood perform, they have blown me away with their sheer exuberance and high energy thrashing. And last night at the Warehouse, Elliott Brood somehow managed to outdo even themselves. Even though I only got four hours of sleep because they didn't stop playing until 1:15, I have been secretly entertaining the thought of taking them up on their invitation to drive two hours tonight to party with them at the Canmore Hotel.

Part of power of last night's show had to do with the intimacy of the venue. The Warehouse is a small club, slightly seedy, with booths along one side, a bar at the back, and a stage at the front that is perhaps only a foot and a half higher than the dance floor. It's laid-back and accessible and it has precisely the sort of atmosphere in which a highly interactive band like Elliott Brood thrives.

We were able to grab one of the booths, and it was quite sublime, really, sitting in a
high-backed leather booth with a perfect view of the stage maybe 20 feet away, a little table in front of us to hold our drinks. I guess there is something to be said for 18+ shows after all.

Local band Beija Flor established the tone with a set that was both muscular and playful. For a band with a violinist, they played surprisingly hard-driving, but never straight ahead, rock. With songs that shifted momentum from guitar rock into lovely five-part harmonies and then into more experimental sounds, Beija Flor's set was deservedly well received. Think Woodpigeon on steroids.

Considering that Beija Flor didn't start playing until 9:30 (kids these days, they can sure stay up late), I knew we were going to be in for a late night when,
as they were leaving the stage, they called out to us to enjoy the rest of the bands. And did we ever.

A short time later, four guys took the stage, one of them a plaid-shirted dude who asked that the lights be turned down and then declared to us, "NOW I can see you motherfuckers!", in a disarmingly friendly way. Another couple was sharing the booth with us at the time, and the woman and I looked at each other asked simultaneously do you know who that is? We were suitably intrigued.

Turns out that NQ Arbuckle is the band fronted by the hugely charismatic Neville Quinlan. They play a gritty but powerful brand of folk rock, dark Canadian poetry with plenty of muscle. We thought they were fucking awesome, and I predict that you will soon be hearing plenty of buzz about them. After their set, I went to the merch table where two of their cds were displayed. I bought their new cd because when I asked Neville for a recommendation he declared that that was the one with no spelling mistakes, which was good enough for me. He
autographed it with a heart and a star and everything.

And then the roof was blown off the room.

When Elliott Brood finally took the stage, it was to thunderous and by now well-lubricated applause. The news of this band's incredible performances has obviously spread madly since I last saw them perform a couple of years ago, as not only was the club completely packed, but it was packed with sweaty happy people jumping up and down and ready to dance. As there were now several 8 feet tall people between us and the stage, I ended up standing on a table for the rest of the night to watch the show. Many other people were doing the same thing, and that's cool at the Warehouse apparently.

Contrary to the length of this review, words actually fail me when I attempt to convey Elliott
Brood's performance and the atmosphere in the club that night. I recall people dancing on the stage, and Casey Laforet - the astonishing guitarist who sometimes plays keyboard with his feet - inviting more people to come up ("there's lots more room"). I remember a cable breaking and while they were replacing it, Casey making up a little song about making small talk, that's what you do when things break down and this somehow transforming into an all-out audience singalong. I recall stories - lots of stories - about the tour, interspersed amongst the most rollicking high energy death country you could ever hope to encounter and live to tell the tale.

We believed them when they told us that they were having the time of their lives that night.
And while they may tell every audience that they completely knock the socks off the audience from the night before, somehow when they compared us favourably to Edmonton, we believed them.

Elliott Brood are a highly interactive band, and that is part of their tremendous charm. They
constantly engage the audience, asking questions and actually listening to the answers, offering the microphone out for singalongs, and happily accepting drinks that people buy for them. I have seen Casey bound offstage at the folk festival and start dancing with the audience. Throughout this giant party, they throw themselves exuberantly into their music, Mark Sasso attacking the banjo and singing himself hoarse, Casey Laforet thrashing manically at his guitar and flinging his body madly about - while seated on a chair, and Stephen Pitkin pounding out a relentless rhythm and never once losing his natty hat.

This was without question one of the best concerts I have been to this year, and this was in a year in which I also saw Radiohead. But while the Radiohead concert was an amazing experience, it was also a pilgrimage of sorts. This Elliott Brood concert was simply unadulterated fun! If you have never been to an Elliott Brood concert, I would urge you do so at the next opportunity. Before they get too big and you can't get up on stage and dance with them anymore.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

do you want to know what I think?

I think that Jamie and Adam from Mythbusters should switch names. Adam is a serious name, while Jamie is a more frivolous one. It would be helpful to me if they switched so that their names better suit their personalities.

I think that if you see someone idling their urban assault vehicle for ten minutes, especially on a beautiful mild day, you should have free license to slash their tires.

I think that when there are three shootings within 14 hours in this city, one of which left an innocent passerby - a newly arrived foreign student - permanently blind, and another which occurred within walking distance of my house, that we have a problem.

I think it's ridiculous that Employment Insurance deducts any vacation pay you received (before deductions) from any benefits you receive, so that you end up being ineligible for benefits until mid-January. And by you, I mean me.

I think that I am going to enjoy the Elliott Brood concert at the Warehouse tonight. It's been way too long since I have seen those lads play. Details tomorrow, pinky swear.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

are demons really that stupid?

We were indulging in one of our guilty pleasures the other night, numbing our minds with a couple of episodes of Paranormal State, and at one client's house they used this super-duper voice enhancer thingy that takes the electrical vibrations from ectoplasm or some such thing (didn't really catch the science on it) and transmits it into a human voice. I believe they are selling them at Canadian Tire now.

During the show's highlight, Dead Time, the bad-ass spirit that was haunting this house started thumping and banging around, so the paranormal researchers turned on the voice enhancer gadget and started asking it questions. And the stupid spirit ended up spilling the beans that he was a demon and that he was worried they were going to bring a priest to the house and exorcise him! Which is exactly what they did. Duh! Tell you what, a demon that dumb doesn't deserve to live.

I received the most awesomely spectacular care package from the fabulous Phlegmfatale on
Sunday. It was so special that Canada Post obviously felt that it deserved a weekend delivery, which is odd because we generally don't even get mail on a Friday. (I am sure you are all admiring how deftly I sneaked a Radiohead reference in there)

It was chocka block, I tell you. So if you see me swanning around town in a graffiti artist t-shirt accessorized by a piece of custom jewelry, wearing bacon bandages and zit tattoos whilst reading Unlovable books and listening to an Emma Pollock cd, you'll know I have been dipping into my Texas care package. I'm sure you are all insanely jealous of me right now; I know I would be.

The urban assault vehicle has been rocking to the sounds of Soft Airplane all week. Official zombie review of Chad VanGaalen's hot new cd coming up.

Monday, September 15, 2008

when they pull the 50/50 and I've lost again

It is with alarming regularity that we are attending 50th birthday parties these days. The one on Saturday night had a lovely nostalgic twist to it though, at least to those of us who grew up in Manitoba, and believe me, we ex-pat Manitobans were well represented that evening.

The birthday boy had requested a Manitoba social (known in Manitoba simply as a social), which I think was an inspired idea. I haven't been to a social in decades, but they formed a huge part of my social life as a teenager. They were also probably responsible for enabling the vast majority of underage drinking in the province, and thus served a valuable societal function.

Socials were generally held as fundraisers for a couple about to get married. A hall or the local legion would be booked, admission tickets sold by the couple's friends and family, and everybody who knew the couple or who knew somebody who knew the couple would show up. There was always a cash bar with pretty cheap drinks and no real policing of who was consuming said drinks. There was a DJ who would inevitably play the Chicken Dance at some point in the night, and a mixture of newer pop songs ("for the kids") and some oldies to get the seniors up on the dance floor, and would usually end the night with Stairway to Heaven.

At midnight, a buffet lunch of garlic sausage, cheese, pickles and rye bread would be served, and throughout the night, someone would go table to table selling 50/50 tickets for a draw for a Texas mickey of rye.

Most every social I attended (and they would number in the dozens upon dozens) had the same format, and yet, they never got boring somehow. It's just what you did on a Friday or Saturday night, and not just in small towns either. Even in the sprawling metropolis of Winnipeg where I grew up, socials held their own against all other forms of entertainment.

It was pretty great to go to a social again this weekend, even if it was held in a suburban home instead of a legion or a church hall. And even if I didn't win the damned 50/50. Again.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I just don't get boys and their beards

I blame Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers.

He seems to have started most recent wave of perfectly normal looking men who suddenly decide that they need to cover up their perfectly normal faces with scruffy facial hair. So suddenly, that becomes this:

And then the madness spreads, and before you know it, you've got Thom Yorke looking like a dishevelled pixie. And that would be fine if the craziness stopped there, because in all honesty, the slightly mad dishevelled pixie look sort of suits Thom. But this wave of hirsutism amongst musicians shows no sign of abating. It's gone viral.

Exhibit A, spotted at the Seattle Radiohead concert - Jonny Greenwood displaying distinct evidence of facial furniture. Suddenly he is transformed from a shy and fragile musical genius into someone who looks as though he has just buried his family in the basement.

Exhibit B - Owen Pallett, transformed from cover boy to stevedore. I submit that if you have a perfectly beautiful face that legions of indie boys and girls swoon over, and you allow it to be hidden behind a beardy thing, you are bordering on criminal activity.

The previous photos should have helped prepare you for the shock of our final case, but it is nevertheless still a disturbing sight. Dear sweet bookish Colin Meloy, a man who should run screaming from the notion of facial hair, is inexplicably sporting a beard (and are those muttonchops?) which would be better suited to an afternoon spent in the clock tower with a deer rifle than amongst the stacks in the library. I would not open the door to this man.

I suppose that now we can also look forward to the sight of even more neck beards among the indie boys in the audience. Oh joy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

television that doesn't suck

You know I have officially stooped to a new low when I start waxing on about television commercials, but I challenge you not to be immediately charmed by this Discovery Channel commercial. We actually get the Canadian version on our Discovery Channel, and while both versions are equally heart-warming, ours is slightly more bad-ass because it's got Jay Ingram. Sing-talking.

Stick around and tomorrow I may just tell you all about the paper towels I use. I tell you, some days it's so exciting to be me, I cannot stand it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

sweater songs

Summer's done. Time to start listening to the Jesus and Mary Chain again.

That's the thought that popped into my head this morning when the furnace kicked in for the first time this season. Although to be truthful, it should have been running for the past week, except that the batteries needed replacing in the thermostat and I didn't realize it right away. I just kept wondering why I was so freakin' cold in the mornings.

I made myself a new workout cd this morning - heavy on the JAMC and dipping back into the archives for some other vintage tunes guaranteed to increase your heart rate. When I emerged
from the basement, red-faced and dripping after the inaugural run of said workout cd, the light smattering of frost had melted away, the sun was brilliant in a cloudless sky, and people were shucking off their sweaters.

I still feel like listening to the JAMC though.

Head On is a textbook example of what happens when you take a fantastic song and make a ridiculously bad video out of it. Although Jim was awfully cute.

Do you crave different music for different times of year?
Have you switched modes yet?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

afternoon of the living dead

Urban Blonde finally made the trek over to my house for coffee this afternoon. Not only did she grace my house with her fabulous presence and provide witty banter, she brought gifts and petted my cat and complimented my quirky decor and everything.

I know how jealous you all are right now.

The only dark stain upon an otherwise perfect afternoon was that I cleaned all the bathrooms and then she didn't even pee. Ungrateful wench.

When are you coming to visit?

Monday, September 08, 2008

things to remember on October 14

- Stephen Harper campaigned to legislate fixed election dates as one of his primary mandates during the last election, a move intended to stop prime ministers from calling snap elections whenever the political tide was in their favour. Yet he has now ignored his own legislation and is calling an election one full year early.

- Stephen Harper swore not to touch income trusts during his 2006 election campaign. Yet it only took a few months until that all changed, and billions of dollars of investments were wiped out by new regulations.

- Anybody want to discuss cuts to Arts funding?

- Stephen Harper may not, in fact, eat kittens as we originally suspected, but he sure does want to be George Bush.

Okay, I made that last one up, but for a minority government leader, Stephen Harper sure has broken a lot of campaign promises. Here's someone who is keeping tabs.

Stephen Harper scares the crap out of me, and one of my biggest fears is waking up to a conservative majority government on October 15. I am tempted to urge everybody who is able, entitled and capable to vote Anybody But Conservative, but obviously we need a more concerted approach or we're just going to scatter our votes.

I'm open to suggestions. Who should we support? I will gladly go with the majority opinion in order to topple this government.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

you turn me on, I'm a radio

I've been finding myself deeply immersed in on-line radio this weekend.

My fascination with radio actually hearkens back to my early university days, when, working for an agricultural chemical company for the summer, I would perplex my coworkers by tuning into CBC radio in the old Suburban that we drove around to get to our field studies. They didn't quite know what to make of a 19-year-old who didn't listen to top 40 rock or country.

The latest incarnation of my radio love affair actually began when the Spousal Unit bought a new truck recently which had an XM satellite subscription in the selling features. We've since installed XM Radio into our computers. It's a nice break from itunes. I love that you can glance at the presets list to see what is playing, or better yet, to see what else is playing.

My newest infatuation is NPR, who will be streaming the audio for the Radiohead Santa Barbara concert at noon on Monday and then will be archiving it. And that's pretty awesome, but that's just the beginning of the goodies that NPR has to offer I have discovered. Why did nobody ever tell me that NPR is such a goldmine? My favourite discovery so far is All Songs Considered, where musicians guest DJ, chat with the host, and share some of their favourite music. Thus far I have listened to both Thom Yorke and Colin Meloy act as guest DJs, and plan to listen to sessions with Portishead, Ray Davies, Lily Allen, and Tom Verlaine.

I've also heard a really frank interview with a chatty and witty Thom Yorke (?), and the US premier of Jonny Greenwood's BBC-commissioned Popcorn Superhet Receiver concert. Right now I am listening to a new Silver Jews song. You should definitely check out

Of course this also reminded me that I haven't been listening to CBC Radio 3 lately, so I popped over there and discovered a new Grant Lawrence podcast, with fresh music from Vancougar, Mother Mother, Final Fantasy, and Chad VanGaalen, among others.

With the belt-tightening efforts that I am attempting these days, I'll be curtailing my concert tickets and cd purchases somewhat, so
I am definitely going to be spending more time with my ear to the speakers.

In the shameless self-promotion category, I urge you to head over to the
Bookworm Collective blog, where I have just posted my book review of Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother.

Now I'm heading to the library to pick out a new book to accompany all this radio listening. Any suggestions?

Friday, September 05, 2008

light this pile of trash inside my head

I awoke this morning feeling a little out of sorts, something to do with a dream about a phone call from my old boss. I guess I am just now starting to fully realize that I no longer have a job. Evidently I am a slow learner.

But even though I am still having fleeting feelings of being socially isolated, for the most part these were banished by the miraculous news I read in the paper this morning - that Chad VanGaalen has had a daughter.

It's no secret that we love Chad VanGaalen here at Zombie Central. Popular opinion is that he is one of the best things about this sometimes infuriating city. And we have had numerous discussions about what an insane world it would be if this musical and artistic genius ever procreated. We never thought it would ever happen, truth be told, as he seems too much of a man-child to be spawning, but now that the unimaginable has actually happened, we are all atwitter at the prospect of perhaps spotting him wandering around downtown with a baby strapped to his chest.

And of course, Chad Van Gaalen also has a new album, Soft Airplane, coming out this week. One of the songs that he has been trying out at concerts for some time now - Willow Tree - has made it onto the album and it sounds pretty wonderful. I cannot wait to hear the others. I strongly encourage you to buy this album as soon as it drops.

In the Lazy Unemployed Bastard files, I have finished compiling my master list of things to accomplish whilst having no purpose in life, and it is alarmingly long. I have, however, managed to scratch a few things off already, and that helps me feel a little less like a boil on the ass of society. I have now also developed a mini list - a mantra of sorts, a

Top Five List of Things I Must Do Daily:
- clean something
- organize something
- exercise
- learn something
- advance my career

Haha, notice how the job item is last.

Do you have a Favourite FIve list of daily activites? How about weekly? Or are you more the go with the flow type?

What about your 10 most played songs this week?

You should join me in heading over to John's new blog where we will all fess up to our sometimes questionable listening habits. I'm heading over there right after I take the Resident Offspring shopping for supplies for Art class. You know, those ones that aren't covered by the $65.00 art supply fee.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

the future according to itunes

Never having been someone to let absolute ignorance of a subject stop me from expounding endlessly upon it, I was intrigued when I saw that my friend GOB had developed a fortune-telling meme based upon the marriage of the Celtic Cross spread of the Tarot with the random spewing of itunes shuffle. Random shuffles I get, Tarot I know diddley squat about, but that won't stop me from gleefully playing along. I'll just pretend I understand, just like I always do.

Here's what itunes and those crazy Celtic card throwers have in store for me:

Basis of the matter, or that which brought you to now:

High and Dry - Radiohead

(are we talking about my career here? because I get that impression)


Where you are now:

Nothing Lasts Forever - Echo and the Bunnymen

(I do hope we are still discussing my career here)


Hopes and fears:

Till the Rising Sun - John-Rae and the River

(I'm assuming a job offer will be forthcoming tomorrow, then)


Present and passing:

Supply and Demand - the Hives

(it always boils down to basic macro economics)


Forces for or against you:

Let's Get Known - the Unicorns

(the desire for fame - a double-edged sword)


The near future:

Used to be a Sweet Boy - Morrissey

(now I am confused. let's keep our tenses consistent, shall we?)


How the near future will evolve:

Accelerator - Primal Scream

(will I need to know physics formulae in the near future?)


New turn of events and/or the effects of others on you:

Thing (Summer in 6/4 Time) - the Cape May

(the song mentions crows going murderous. should I be afraid?)


You in the environment of the future:

Should've Been in Love - Wilco

(again with the mixed up tenses)


Outcome or summation:

Illuminator - Gogol Bordello

(ultimately that is all we can hope for in the end - going back to the mother ship)


See? I told you I don't know anything about Tarot. Somehow I get the impression that I am mixing it up with Scientology.

Feel like playing? I'd love to glimpse into your crystal ball, big guy. Consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I am an eight-year-old boy apparently

Did you know that the skin covering your elbow is called a weenis?

I was delighted to be told this today, even though the Resident Offspring scoffed at my ignorance and claims that she talked about little else in grade 8. Evidently she was talking to someone other than me that year.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

this time I will try not to press that button which deletes everything

In honour of the new year, I have just converted my music to itunes. Again. I tried once before, a year or so ago, but it didn't take. This time I will stay away from any buttons which look suspect. Nineteen hours it took to convert all my music over from WMA to MP3.

The first song I chose for the inaugural listen was Radiohead's Gagging Order, and then itunes randomly chose a Thom Yorke song for the next one. I think we are going to get along just fine.

Although yesterday was my first official day of being a lazy unemployed bastard, today it actually feels real, with the Spousal Unit heading back to work and the Resident Offspring to school. It feels pretty great, to be honest. I got a big grocery shop done and those idiots mislabeled the big slabs of salmon as pork shoulder, so I scooped up a beautiful salmon half for six bucks. No I don't feel guilty; I spend enough damn money in that place.

I am devoting this morning to finalizing the Lazy Unemployed Bastard List, that document that divulges all that I intend to accomplish during this period of having no real purpose in life. Some of the jobs are mundane and involve much sorting through of cupboards and closets and turfing crap found mouldering therein, while others are long overdue and involve finally doing something about that pile of crap in the basement that I started sorting through last winter.

Some of the chores are scary and may unearth larger issues (ie determining why the bathtub is leaking), while others should be really fun (ie replacing the ceiling lamp in the dining room). Between cleaning out my email inbox, revamping the home filing system, teaching myself guitar, and breaking into the freelance writing market, not to mention upping my daily exercise, I am going to be so fit, fabulous, organized, and famous, you won't be able to stand me.

Lazy Unemployed Bastard files trivia item - the soundtrack in Taxi Driver is offputting and detracts from the film. Yes or no?