Sunday, November 30, 2008

OMG you have a remote entry key fob, you are so edgy and desirable!

You hear a car alarm go off and you spring to action, knowing that someone is being attacked as they approach their car and they are signaling for help as they fight off their attacker, right? No, of course not. You know that some lame schlub has accidentally pushed the big red panic button on the fob as they are fumbling with their keys. These panic buttons have never been effective and are now only a meaningless annoyance.

So why are they still manufacturing them?

I once sat helplessly in the car, waiting for the Spousal Unit to come out of the liquor store, as the horn blasted incessantly and people glared at me as they passed. Without a key to put into the ignition, all I could do was shrug and look sheepish, alternating with pretending I was invisible. Meanwhile, the Spousal Unit was in the long pre-Grey Cup game beer-buying lineup, wondering who the hell was making such an ungodly racket on a Sunday afternoon.

And another thing, why the hell do people feel the need to lock their cars so audibly and aggressively? Do they think that I am impressed by the fact that they have a remote entry key fob? Considering that every single fucking person in the world has one, I seriously doubt that the possession of a piece of plastic that will allow you to lock and unlock your car from 25 feet away will make you the object of envy.

Perhaps they keep forgetting to push the lock button on the door handle as they are exiting. I can certainly understand that, I am sure they have a lot on their minds. It's hard to remember to ask for extra foam on your latte this time, when you are also trying to remember to order that second pump of vanilla. Some people have far too much going on in their lives to remember to push a button on a door handle they are hanging on to anyway.

And it's always a good idea to lock your door several times in a row, of course. Just in case it didn't really take the first time. Besides everybody enjoys the sound of your fucking car horn. Trust me, I know, I've seen the looks on people's faces as I've sat in a honking car.

Friday, November 28, 2008

sometimes I wear my Radiohead t-shirt inside-out because I think it makes me look edgy

I've been feeling very 1996 today, immersing myself in The Bends. What a magnificent album, and that was even before OK Computer. It blows my mind how incredibly talented this band was even back when they were just baby Radioheads.

To help my American friends observe Black Friday and to bring you another episode of Top FIve Friday, I'd like to share some vintage videos. For your total visual and auditory enjoyment, I present:

Top Five Videos from The Bends

High and Dry
- Radiohead embroiled in espionage at Denny's (disguised as Dick's)
(ginger Thom!)

Street Spirit (Fade Out)
-arty and slo-mo Radiohead
(black and white Thom!)

-Radiohead being oh so mysterious
(spiky ginger Thom!)

Fake Plastic Trees
- Radiohead wreaking havoc atTesco
(bleached blonde Thom!)

My Iron Lung
- performance video at the Astoria, 1995
(Jonny vs Thom in the battle of the awesome hair!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

so that's how you found me

fart soft

my cat eats Blistex
easy at home lobotomy
why cats puke on clothes
songs that use the word sweater
danny the gote
nancy drew help wallpaper scraper
the first time you show guys your breasts
10 fany things to consider during your Christmas shopping
stopping woodpeckers from eating the house
And that's why I love the keyword activity function on my stat counter.
Found anything good on yours lately?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

things that perplex me

Why is the male equivalent of chick lit called lad lit? Shouldn't it be called dick lit?

Why is passive-aggression so under-rated? It's one of the most effective and satisfying life strategies ever invented.

How did the Resident Offspring get to be so smart?

Okay, that last one was just a lead in for me to brag about how she won TWO awards at school last night. Thus far her winning streak for Film Studies awards remains unbroken and if she takes the grade 12 prize as well, I'm thinking that she is definitely considering the right major for university.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! May your glorious bird be tender and golden, your dinner companions sparkling and urbane, and may someone else insist on cleaning up.

Monday, November 24, 2008

fall off the table, get swept under

Is there anything more sublime than a perfect auditory moment? Those moments in a piece of music that, through a combination of harmonies or a voice filled with passion or a drum beat that gives you the huckabucks or whatever pushes your bliss button, sends you over the edge of reason and turns you into a sweaty and exhausted, but peaceful, animal? You know what I mean.

At Splotchy's invitation to cohost a Green Monkey Music Project, I threw out the challenge, an adventurous and slightly kinky group of music lovers took up the gauntlet, and the clever and capable Splotchy did all the work. He's now got everybody's files available over at I, Splotchy, and all the participants will be discussing their choices and the corresponding
moments of ecstasy on their own blogs.

In the meanwhile, here's why I chose the songs I did.

It all started with Radiohead.

"Of course", I hear you mutter, as you roll your eyes and nudge each other knowingly. But l did not include on my list the Radiohead song that kick-started the whole concept of the eargasm song for me - Let Down. And that's because I already used this song in Splotchy's very first Green Monkey Music Project, as an example of a total absorption song - the type of song where under no circumstances do you allow anyone to interrupt your listening

But in case, for some inconceivable reason, you are not intimately familiar with every nuance of Let Down, allow me to offer it up for your listening pleasure. And I'll tell you why it's so magnificent. The moment of glory comes in at 4:18, where Thom is singing harmony against himself. Kid A is singing "you know where you ARE",while Kid B sings "hysterical and LET
DOWN", and the two vocal loops meet in such a sublime and painfully perfect moment, that I definitely need a cigarette and a nap when the song ends shortly after that. If you know what I'm saying.

But if Let Down was the song that got me all hot and bothered with that
deliciously torturous jolt of bliss, it wasn't difficult to find other songs that also had those perfect little aaaaaaahhhh moments:

Exit Music for a Film - Radiohead (moment of glory = 3:24)
Such a seemingly simple song, starting with Thom's voice up close against a strumming guitar, quiet and restrained, waking Juliet up for the escape. But then the band takes a determined step forward and Thom's singing becomes more desperate, leading up to the ultimate moment, "now we are one in ever-lasting peace ..." What a way to die.

O Mio Babbino Caro - Puccini (moment of glory = 0:21, 0:54, 1:00, 1:18, 1:54, etc etc)
There's something about those high Cs. Actually I have no idea if they are Cs, but they sure are high and they are glorious. There are so many glorious soprano moments in this operatic
aria, and you know that operas are sexy.

Old Bloody Orange
- Hawskley Workman
(moment of glory = 3:24)
I get caught up in the heated religious fervour of this song. It's not actually a religious song, and it's about sex, but you have to admit that there appears to be a fine line between religious ecstasy and that other kind of ecstasy. At least I figure there must be a connection otherwise why would people bother going to church? Anyway, when the choir joins Hawksley on "held down from the heavens by the virtues of their bodies", I want to stand up in the aisles and sway, with my eyes closed and my arms above my head.

Bones - Radiohead (moment of glory = 0:57)
A break in the voice always gets to me, not the painful squeaking and cracking that plagues
the adolescent boy, but the temporary loss of composure that indicates desperation (and I like to think, passion). Right near the beginning of Bones, Thom's voice breaks as he pleads "crawling on all FOURS". And of course I then picture Thom crawling on all fours, and pleading, and whew, I have to sit down for a while.

Bleeding Heart Show - the New Pornographers (moment of glory = 2:40)

Not all moments of pleasure are about sex, you know. Sometimes the pure joy of joining in with a campfire singalong give you such a squiggy feeling of wellbeing that all you need is your friends, a bonfire and a bag of marshmallows. When all the Pornos kick in with the "hey la" chorus, I just have to sing lustfully along.

Buona Sera - Louis Prima (moment of glory = 0:58)
I love the little moment of surprise in this old classic. Louis Prima's smooth Italian love song shifts from an evening stroll through the streets of Naples to a rollicking, finger-snapping jazz number, when he launches into a glorious little scat riff. It makes me smile, big time.

I'm exhausted now.

I'm going to roll over and have a little nap, so I would suggest that you head over to Splotchy's to check out all the other downloads plus the links to the other participants discussing their personal eargasm moments. Cause that Splotchy, he's da man.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I may not be rich, but at least I'm a snob

Further evidence that money cannot buy taste.

There is now a show on tv called How the Lottery Changed My Life or something like that. Why would coming into millions of dollars make you decide that having a bowling alley in your house is a good way to show off your nouveau riche status? Wasn't the room dedicated to Elvis Presley memorabilia enough? And what's with all those damn Tiffany lamps? I wanted to look away, I really did, but I was hypnotized by all the turrets and six car garages.

Do you think that everybody who suddenly becomes wealthy beyond their wildest dreams suddenly feels the need to be as ostentatious as possible? Is this a valid reason for me to continue my vow to never buy a lottery ticket in my life?

And if you did suddenly come into millions and millions, and decided you needed some new digs, what would you look for?

I think I would go for an oceanside condo in Seattle and one of these sweet Frank Lloyd Wright houses.

There's a massive batch of five alarm chili bubbling away on the stove and the Grey Cup is about to kick off. I still wish it would have been Edmonton vs Calgary because how often do you see two teams from the same province in this east vs west final? Weird and wonderful it would have been.

Go Stamps!

Because I have not shamelessly promoted myself for a few days now, I urge you to head over to The Bookworm Collective , where I have posted another book review. And it's actually a Canadian book, too, so I am finally on the scoreboard in John's Canadian Book Challenge side project. But I've got a pile of catching up to do.

Friday, November 21, 2008

blue lights all around

Those reports of a brilliant meteorite that was seen across three provinces last night will prove to be false, mark my words.

Because I know what it really was. It was my computer.

The blue light on the front of the tower started flashing rapidly last night and since we can no longer turn the computer off on account of the button being broken, I kept waking up from the mad strobe light effects that were lighting up the entire second floor of the house. I'm pretty certain they could see it from Winnipeg.

Today the computer store guru told me that there must have been some major action going on in the drive last night, so I did a big virus scan and came up with one itty-bitty cookie fragment, rated low risk. But getting rid of it made the flashing stop. Does this make any sense?

I'm taking the computer into the shop on Monday and they are going to remove the power button altogether and that will allow us to turn the computer back on with the point of a pencil.

The all-night disco is over, baby. You can take your bots and go home.

I haven't played along with Just A Cool Cat's Friday Random Ten for eons, so it's time to get random. Head over to his place and lay your list down on him; show a brah some love.

Here's my Blue Lights all Around Special:
1. Drink to me then, babe - AC Newman
2. Odyssey - Falconhawk
3. Tennessee plates - John Hiatt
4. The turn - M.I.A.
5. Endless night - Graham Parker
6. Manifest - the Weakerthans
7. Working for the man - PJ Harvey
8. Thank you boys - Jane's Addiction
9. En berne - Les Cowboys Fringants
10. Mayfly - Belle and Sebastian

May your weekend be filled with heavenly bodies, as precious as Martian springtime. What's orbiting around your ears?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

frankly, the thought of ten lords a leaping scares the hell out of me

I may have mentioned this in previous years, but it continues to flummox me. Every year for the past six years we have received a mystery parcel on our doorstep a few weeks before Christmas. Sometimes it is postmarked, sometimes it is not. Once the return address was Edmonton, once it was somewhere out east, and once it was Chicago. This year it was postmarked, but had no return address and we couldn't tell where the post stamp had originated.

This year, I expect it will be six geese a laying. It's always a very well-crafted largish ornament depicting one of the Days of Christmas. There is always a kidnapper style note saying simply "on the __ day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ___". We have queried family and friends and neighbours and they all disavow any knowledge, and quite convincingly too. Convincingly enough to pass my bullshit detector anyway.

This year's parcel arrived a couple of days ago, and sits, unwrapped, as it will remain until Christmas Eve, driving me mad that I can't figure it out. Somebody is sure in this for the long haul.

And of course, we are launching our own Secret Santa this year, the First Annual All-Blogger Non-Virtual Secret Santa Exchange, and it promises to be mysterious and titillating and creative and highly satisfying. We have a lovely little group of brave bloggers signed on so far, but there is still room for more, and there is still time too. Deadline to sign on is next Thursday, November 27.

What could be more fun than bamboozling a blogger? Drop Sean
(sean dot thisispop at gmail dot com) or me (bbruederlin at shaw dot ca) an email with your mailing address and get ready to freak someone out.

All the cool kids are doing it, you know.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

three Fine girls indeed

The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls is the current offering at Sage Theatre. Terrible title, wonderful play.

It's an odd sort of play for Sage Theatre to be producing, and that is evident in the way the room is set up when you enter - a very conventional layout with rows of seats on risers at one end, the stage at the other. And you know Sage does not do conventional, so your suspicions are immediately aroused.

And it's an unusual play in the way in which it was written - by committee. Jennifer Bewin, Leah Cherniak, Anne-Marie MacDonald, Alisa Palmer, and Martha Ross teamed up to pen this tale of three sisters, long estranged but once very close, who meet at the family home for their father's funeral. How one writes a play with four others is completely beyond my comprehension, but these playwrights have pulled it off quite brilliantly.

The Attic, the Pearl and Three Fine Girls
is a fast-paced, hilarious romp. Again, hilarious is not a term that you normally associate with a Sage Theatre production. Biting wit, certainly. Dark humour, absolutely. But hilarity is not an attribute I expect from a Sage play. There are weightier themes that are explored as Jelly, Jayne, and Jojo Fine rekindle their connections and reopen old wounds, but the clever repartee is never allowed to lapse for very long. Many kudos to Ava Jane Markus, Nicola Elson, and Elinor Holt for the high-energy performances in these
verbally and physically demanding roles. There's even a slo-mo fight scene, complete with laser sword, wonderfully wrought.

The majority of the play takes place within the confines of a party, a dying wish of their father, held a week after his death, The party gets wilder and more out of control as Jayne gets drunk and confronts her secrets, Jojo has a break with reality, and Jelly tries to hold everything together. The Fine girls mingle with the audience during the party, offering crackers and lap dances, much to everyone's delight.

Interspersed throughout the production are flashback scenes to the Fine girls' childhoods, where they would invent elaborate games of make-believe in the attic, complete with the torture dress that allowed the wearer to dominate the others. The relationship dynamics that were developed during those games form the basis for the dysfunction that continues to stalk the sisters. The performances during the flashback scenes are quite astounding in their very real capture of the body language and the power struggles that are inherent when siblings play.

The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls is an immensely enjoyable production, and a very welcome addition to Sage Theatre's strong season of plays. It runs until November 22.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

self-inflicted carpal tunnel syndrome

I don't know if I should blame Rahm Emanuel or Casey Affleck.

In yet another ill-considered commuting game of the kind that takes place all too often in the urban assault vehicle, I injured myself trying to flip off the Resident Offspring while pretending that my fuck-you finger was amputated at the knuckle. She had been telling me how Rahm
Emanuel had special powers on account of his middle finger having been amputated in an Arby's accident, and how he used to flip off Barack Obama with the amputated finger.

And this reminded me of the film we watched on the weekend - the appropriately named The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Like Snakes on a Plane, the entire plot is revealed in the title. And the only thing longer than the title is the film itself.

But I digress. In TAOJJBTCRF, Casey Affleck is all besmitten by Jesse James and wants to be
him, right down to practicing his mannerisms in front of the mirror, including pretending that his middle finger is also cut off at the knuckle.

Somehow in my distracted state, a side effect of actually paying attention to the road, I got the two finger amputations confused and attempted to flip the bird while pretending the business finger was chopped off. Only I got the other fingers reversed and tried to keep them straight, and when my ring finger wouldn't stay straight, I pushed it back upright. Only to have pain shoot immediately through my hand and up my wrist to the elbow.

And it hurt all evening. Either Rahm Emanuel or Casey Affleck is going to pay, goddamn.

In other news, Happy 40th birthday to my beloved As It Happens.

I grew up listening to this incredible show, which despite it's amazingly simple premise - phoning up people to interview them - has become the flagship show of the CBC, and rightly so. It's intelligent and ground-breaking, indepth and measured, sassy and irreverent.

And it doesn't hurt that the current As It Happens ladies are the sassiest beings to ever walk the earth and my personal heroes. Long may you rule the airwaves, As It Happens.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh the WHO-manity!

(The First Annual All-Blogger Non-Virtual Secret Santa Exchange)

Now that the Hallowe’en candies have all been eaten, it’s time to concentrate on the next big holiday that is not Grey Cup or American Thanksgiving. Try to deny it all you like, but you know Christmas is fast approaching. So before you start getting dragged off to mind-numbingly boring office parties or over to your next door neighbour’s place where you will be forced to make small talk in a living room that smells of hamster bedding while you participate in your block’s annual burnt cookie exchange, we’d like to invite you to observe the season with something that’s actually fun.

Sean of Everything is Pop and Barbara of Bad Tempered Zombie have been musing lately about the delightful and clever bloggers that we have been fortunate enough to become friends with over the years, and how much fun it would be to hang out with everybody over the holidays. But since our table-top cloning machines are currently in for repairs, showing up at everybody’s house with a couple of bottles of wine and a sleeping bag is not an option.

But we can invite you to participate in a Secret Santa exchange.

And since we are both a little music-obsessed and abhor going into stores at the best of times, let alone during the nutty season, we’d like to put two conditions on this exchange. Gifts must be music-themed and they must be handcrafted. How that manifests itself is completely dependent on how Santa interprets it.

For example, your gift could certainly be a mix cd or dvd, but it could also be a song written for the giftee, or a painting, or a story, or a collection of poems. You might put together a collage of photos of your giftee’s favourite band, or even build them a musical instrument. The possibilities are endless. Just be creative! At the end of this we’ll throw a blog on the virtual fire and marvel at one another’s clever handiwork. (Do feel free to include some delicious bonbons to round out your special package as well as most of our Hallowe’en supplies have long since been picked over.)

If you would like to join us, just email us your mailing addresses before midnight on Thursday, November 27/08. We will randomly match up the participants and send you the particulars that weekend. You have to promise to send your parcels out in a timely fashion, though, so that they will arrive during the holiday season, not mid February or something lame like that.

You don’t want to miss out on this, and you only have ten days to get in on the action, so send your mailing address to either:

Sean (sean dot thisispop at gmail dot com)


Barbara (bbruederlin at shaw dot ca)

We hope you’ll join us. It won’t be any fun without you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

three things I learned recently in the urban assault vehicle:

1. You can keep your driving gloves in the glove compartment. Glove ... Compartment. It all makes sense now, and it only took me three years of driving this thing to figure it out.

2. The Resident Offspring's new driving mix, Leonard Cohen Dance Party, is surprisingly good for driving. I suspect less good for actual dancing.

3. Rahm Emanuel is a great new addition to our commuting game of Who Would Win in a Fight. I mean, he was in the Israeli army or something wasn't he? He's some kinda bad-ass and he can kick your ass. Poor Don McKellar no longer stands a chance.

How do you improve your mind during your commute?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

throw your keys into the bowl

Now that Splotchy has resurrected the immensely popular Green Monkey Music Project, I have the great honour of guest-hosting the next installment. It's going to be way more fun than your last neighbourhood key party, trust me, and with better-looking people. So slip on something silky, and come on over to strut your stuff.

I'm calling this edition of the GMMP, The Eargasm Mix.

I'm looking for songs that have those perfect little auditory moments, those all too brief seconds that give you a thrill and transport you somewhere utterly sublime. I'm sure you must have a few.

Here's how it will work:
Think of six songs that give you that delicious little jolt, and send me your playlist. After Splotchy works his magic and lays out the full audio smorgasboard, post your choices on your blog - explaining why each song does what it does for you. And if it's possible to pinpoint the magic moment, give us the exact timing of that aaaaahhhhh moment for each song (for example, 4:18 into Radiohead's Let Down, I need a cigarette). Then we can all sit around in a circle with you and get our jollies together. Or at least watch you getting yours.

Who wants to play? The first six people to leave a comment, saying that they are coming over and bringing a bottle of virtual scotch, are in the circle.

We have our participants!
Westcoast Walker
Bloody Awful Poetry
Imaginary Reviewer
Bad Tempered Zombie

Please, participating folks, post your choices here in the comments by November 21. Ta!

I am quivering with anticipation at the thought of the mind-blowing offerings that people are going to be throwing into the bowl.
Promise you will come back to grab some goodies.
It's going to be such a sexy party!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

getting right with Lucinda

Lucinda Williams
- Jack Singer Concert Hall,
- November 10/08

I am admittedly less familiar with Lucinda Williams' music than I should be. I mean she is an icon, after all, and any music lover worth their salt should be intimately familiar with the works of icons, but while the Spousal Unit immediately fell in love with her sound and quickly gravitated to her vast back catalogue, I just sort of flirted around the edges of her fandom.

So I wasn't entirely sure what to expect on Monday night, as we sashayed into the Jack Singer concert hall. I was fully expecting the audience to be largely skewed toward the older demographic and that was certainly the case, although there were surprising more younger people in attendance than I had anticipated. Definitely not the hipster indie kid crowd, though.

It was rather nice to be seated in the luxe environs of the Jack Singer for a change, instead of plopping my bum on the floor against the wall at Mac Hall for a change. And what awesome seats we scored too - fifth row, right in the middle. Very tony, and perfectly situated to fully appreciate the fantastic acoustics of the hall as well.

The Spousal Unit was suitably impressed when the opening band began within five minutes of scheduled show time, as he abhors being kept waiting indefinitely, as generally happens. We weren't aware at the time that Buick 6 are actually Lucinda Williams' backing band, but we were really happy to see them on stage as both the openers and backing Ms Williams. Because what incredible musicians they are.

The set that Buick 6 played as openers was largely instrumental - a tasty melange of sweeping soundscapes incorporating a vaguely surf sound (referred to by the Spousal Unit as Quinton Tarantino music), blues, Led Zeppelin covers, all played on a dizzying assortment of instruments - more guitars than I have ever seen in one place, duplicate drum kits, table steel guitars, and one enormous standup bass.

The overwhelming musicality and corresponding change of instruments continued when Lucinda Williams took the stage. A crew of three guitar techs swept onto the stage after each song to switch guitars. These are people who obviously take their instruments very seriously.

And serious was what I was expecting from Lucinda Williams herself, given the heartache and raw pain that is so prevalent in so much of her music, but while she did seem perhaps a little shy, slightly awkward when she wasn't holding a guitar, she was surprisingly upbeat and seemed genuinely happy to be performing that night. Most telling was the positively brilliant smile that she would flash after each song. She's really got to turn that smile on more often; she is absolutely charming when she does and it makes her look a good ten years younger.

Lucinda Williams chose songs that nicely reflected the diversity of her music. Yes, there were the songs about drunken bastards who broke her heart, about suicide and despair, but there were also bluesy numbers, some she said had been christened "hip-billy" and a little AC/DC for good measure.

The audience was highly appreciative, and I think genuinely touched when she came back for an encore with a cover of Ian Tyson's Four Strong Winds. I'm sure that was chosen specifically for an Alberta audience and doesn't get played simply as a matter of course. Evidently the woman two rows in front of us, who was headbanging during the entire show, enjoyed it immensely as well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

you only have to look at old pictures and see how they smiled

On Remembrance Day, I always feel, not exactly conflicted, but perhaps ambivalent. I guess that is not entirely unexpected when your father was a teenaged soldier in the German army during the second world war and then a career soldier in the Canadian army.

I always thought it was terribly sad that every year the veterans were older and frailer and fewer in number. The last remaining Canadian veteran from world war one is 108 years old.

But what I find infinitely sadder is that there is now a new generation of veterans. Because there is never any shortage of war.

These are the three most poignant war songs that I know. They all make my heart ache, but the final one, which I heard for the first time at an NQ Arbuckle concert recently, affected me even more so, by introducing me to this powerful poem by Alden Nowlan.

Ypres 1915 - by Alden Nowlan

The age of trumpets is passed, the banners hang
like dead crows, battered and black,
rotting into nothingness on cathedral wall.
In the crypt of St. Paul’s I had all the wrong thoughts,
wondered if there was anything left of Nelson
or Wellington, and even wished
I could pry open their tombs and look,
then was ashamed
of such morbid childishness, and almost afraid.

I know the picture is as much a forgery
as the Protocols of Zion, yet it outdistances
more plausible fictions: newsreels, regimental histories,
biographies of Earl Haig.

It is always morning
and the sky somehow manages to be red
though the picture is in black and white.
There is a long road over flat country,
shell holes, the debris of houses,
a gun carriage overturned in a field,
the bodies of men and horses,
but only a few of them and those
always neat and distant.

The Moors are running
down the right side of the road.
The Moors are running
in their baggy pants and Santa Claus caps.
The Moors are running.

And their officers,
Frenchmen who remember
Alsace and Lorraine,
are running backwards in front of them,
waving their swords, trying to drive them back,
at the dishonour of it all.
The Moors are running.

And on the left side of the same road,
the Canadians are marching in the opposite direction.

The Canadians are marching
in English uniforms behind
a piper playing ‘Scotland the Brave.’

The Canadians are marching
in impeccable formation,
every man in step.

The Canadians are marching.

And I know this belongs
with Lord Kitchener’s mustache
and old movies in which the Kaiser and his general staff
seem to run like Keystone Cops.

That old man on television last night,
a farmer or fisherman by the sound of him,
revisiting Vimy Ridge, and they asked him
what it was like, and he said,
There was water up to our middles, yes
and there was rats, and yes
there was water up to our middles
and rats, all right enough,
and to tell you the truth
after the first three or four days
I started to get a little disgusted.

Oh, I know they were mercenaries
in a war that hardly concerned us.
I know all that.

Sometimes I’m not even sure that I have a country.

But I know that they stood there at Ypres
the first time the Germans used gas,
that they were almost the only troops
in that section of the front
who did not break and run,
who held the line.

Perhaps they were too scared to run.
Perhaps they didn’t know any better
– that is possible, they were so innocent,
those farmboys and mechanics, you only have to look
at old pictures and see how they smiled.

Perhaps they were too shy
to walk out on anybody, even Death.
Perhaps their only motivation
was a stubborn disinclination.

Private McNally thinking:
You squareheaded sons of bitches,
you want this God damn trench
you’re going to have to take it away
from Billy McNally
of the South End of Saint John, New Brunswick.

And that’s ridiculous, too, and nothing on which to found a country.
It makes me feel good, knowing
that in some obscure, conclusive way
they were connected with me
and me with them.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

rest assured that I insisted that everyone admire the clean ceiling

"Shut up! You did not just drive 12 hours to come to the party, did you?"

Check out that spider web-free ceiling.

My sibs! I think I'll keep them.

Sure there's room, everybody get in the picture.

Even friends from my old job showed up.

And the Marthas sent a representative.

They even named a beer after me!

Eventually everybody ends up in the kitchen.

Sometimes dancing breaks out.

But usually just a whole lot of leaning happens.

A more sedate post IKEA supper the next day.

But I've still got some custom-labelled beer.

What a fun party (and weekend visit) that was!
I sure hope you make it to the next party. I can't guarantee that there won't be spider webs on the ceiling, but there will be plenty of room for you to crash.

I haven't promoted myself shamelessly for a couple of days. What is wrong with me? Please check out the first in my series of long-overdue book reviews at the Bookworm Collective.

Friday, November 07, 2008

finally, proof that I haven't just been lounging about eating bonbons

File this under shameless self-promotion.

Here's the link to the November issue of BC Musician Magazine. You can read my story on page 4, while Jen's column (Jen hooked me up with this magazine - thanks babe!) is on page 18.

They spelled my name wrong in the table of contents! I am so famous.

Read em and weep, kids!

Does anybody else get Monday AND Tuesday off next week? We're going to be sleeping in like pigs for the next several days! Oink! Oink!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

beautiful freak to beautiful freak

Hands up everybody who remembers the Green Monkey Music Project.

Remember? They were those awesome interactive playlists that Splotchy used to mastermind? I believe I even reached the exalted level of GMMP Master, which is sort of like being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, only cooler.

Well, they are being resurrected. Beth and Splotchy have teamed up to host the first new GMMP in some time, the Six Musical Degrees edition. Beth developed the rules (connect six musicians, or songs or covers) and Splotchy collected all the songs from all the participants and made one mother of a playlist, available for your listening pleasure. You can download all the songs here.

Mine is called From Bjork to Yorke. It's no secret that I love both of these awesome freaks, and that they have mutual admiration for each other. They have worked together in the past, many years ago on the Dancer in the Dark soundtrack and again recently on Nattura, for which Thom sang backup from a hotel room in Germany while Bjork recorded the rest of the song from her hotel room in (I think) Japan. Proceeds from the song will help the Nattura organization provide seed money to environmentally sound Icelandic companies as alternatives to planned aluminum factories.

Of course one degree of removal does not a list make, so in a more circuitous route to connect the awesomeness of Bjork to the awesomeness of Thom Yorke, here are Bad Tempered Zombie's Six Degrees of Bjork to Yorke:

1. Human Behaviour - Bjork
- one of my favourite Bjork offerings, and certainly among her more accessible songs, this features some incredible rhythms and that wonderfully other-worldly voice.
"There's definitely definitely definitely no logic to human behaviour"

2. Human Behaviour - the Decemberists
- I have to thank my friend, the lovely and talented John Mutford, for not only alerting me to the existence of this cover, but for delivering it to my grateful ears. Colin Meloy sings Bjork -
how perfectly surreal is that?

3. National Hum - the Constantines
- Canada's hardest working and hardest rocking band (cliched, but true) played the Sasquatch Festival in beautiful Washington state (one of my favourite places) on the same bill as the Decemberists in 2006.

4. Chorus of Wolves - Woodpigeon
- in an inspired billing of opposites complementing each other, local heroes Woodpigeon, with their swooningly gorgeous orchestral harmonies, shared the stage with the Constantines at the inaugural Sled Island Festival in 2007. And Sled Island instantly cemented its reputation as the indie festival we have all been waiting for.

5. While You Wait for the Others - Grizzly Bear
- year two of the Sled Island festival boasted musical pairings just as inspired as in the inaugural year. In 2008, both Grizzly Bear and Woodpigeon crammed the tiny stage at Central United church for a night that was so sublime it was almost spiritual. I'd start going to church if it was always like this.

6. Talk Show Host - Radiohead
- in the initial North American leg of 2008's concert tour of the year, Grizzly Bear opened for Radiohead. We saw Liars as openers, and they were really enjoyable, but Grizzly Bear would have added a completely different flavour to the evening.

- I have been asked about my favourite Radiohead song before, and I cannot give a definitive answer. Come on, people, that's like asking me to name my favourite child! Okay, that would actually be easy, since I have but one. But Talk Show Host has been falling into favourite territory for quite a while now, and shows no signs of loosening its grip on my heart.
"You want me, fucking come on and break the door down".

I would urge you to not only pick up some great new songs over at Splotchy's, but also to check out the Six Degrees rationale of the other participants. They are much more imaginative than my "I saw this band play with this other band" strictly linear approach.

I never said I was an abstract thinker.

Monday, November 03, 2008

following the asphault path will not lead you back home

I am so tired that I have lost my blink reflex. But damn, it was a good weekend.

I still cannot believe that my sister, brother, and brother-in-law drove 12 hours from Manitoba to surprise me at our party. And then turned around and drove back home again 36 hours later. They are poster children for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Hopefully I made it up to them in some small way by taking them to IKEA yesterday, IKEA being the Swedish word for "store in which every Canadian ever born spends Sunday afternoon shuffling through in search of semi-disposable furniture".

It was a really fun party. I wish you could have been there too. We still have so much wine that we haven't even drank yet. Of course, one of the drawbacks to this turning 50 business is
that you no longer have the capacity to drink wine till 3:00am, not gracefully anyway and not without suffering for days afterward. But I shall definitely throw another big party like this when I turn 100 and we celebrate our 70th anniversary. We may need to smuggle our wine in sippy cups and we will doubtless be congratulating ourselves for staying up till 9:00pm, but other than that, I expect an exact repeat of this Saturday.

And aside from the insane over-the-top surprise visits from family, the Spousal Unit also arranged for a little surprise for me. He found a picture of me, age 17, quaffing a massive stein of beer at Oktoberfest during my European travels. He arranged with our neighbour, who works for a brewery, to have a batch of beer bottles labelled with my picture and stuck the batch in the fridge.

Can you imagine the shock of opening the fridge door to be confronted by a dozen pictures of
your teenage self grinning her fool head off at a 3 litre glass of beer? It was surpassed only by the shock of opening the door to admit more party guests and instead finding your sibs grinning at you while your brother-in-law snaps a picture of your jaw dropping open to your knees.

I will post pictures once I find the camera.

This morning I had to drop the urban assault vehicle at the dealership to have it serviced. I knew that I would not work up the energy to have a real workout today, so decided to walk home through Fish Creek Park - an hour trip, I figured.

The last time I tried this, I learned that floods will change the course of creeks, destroy
pathways, and create blind alleys down which you will be attacked by red-winged black birds. Best stick to the asphault path this time, I thought. Except that you can't get there from here. By the time I noticed that I was in completely unfamiliar territory and the sun was in the wrong place in the sky, I had long overshot my destination.

And I really had to pee.

So I headed back to where I had seen a shale path that looked to be heading in the right direction but had avoided because I had seen "path closed" barricades in the distance, and tried my luck.

As luck would have it, I spotted a runner heading down the pathway in the direction I thought I should be heading so I followed him. Naturally he was long gone by the time I reached the place where the pathway was washed out. There was a skinny little board which spanned the rather too wide and too deep cliff where the creek had forged itself a new path, which the tall, skinny runner had obviously bounded gleefully over, but I am not a tall, skinny runner and besides, I really needed to pee.

So I backtracked. Again. And stumbled, more by blind luck than by any real sense of survival, upon the path that eventually led me out of the park. Climbing that final hill,
straight upward for 150 steps, out of the park was considerably less onerous than I would have expected with a full-to-bursting bladder. I think possibly your bladder sensors are over-ruled when your ass muscle sensors are firing.