Wednesday, December 31, 2008

kicking this year to the curb

Blogger Non-Virtual Secret Santa struck yesterday. My gift arrived anonymously, but by process of elimination I was able to determine that it was sent by the splendid Bridget Jones. This is one of the perks of being one of the organizers.

Although the musical figurine looks a little too perfect to be handcrafted (or perhaps Bridget Jones is a figurine-making genius), it looks quite lovely tucked up amongst the seasonal greenery on my mantel, don't you think?


In other news, I have been scrambling to deal with some shamefully neglected items on the blogging to-do list. But I am pleased to announce that I will finish the year all caught up on my book reviews. Please head over to the Bookworm Collective if you are interested in reading my review of:

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
(damn you, Tanya Espanya!)
*
The Retreat by David Bergen
(not quite Giller, better luck next time)
*
The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters
(rollicking good Brit thriller, gov'ner)

***

I hope you all have a splendid evening of celebrating, or hibernating, or list-making.

At Casa Zombie, we will indulge in our annual year-end blow out of gorging ourselves on King Crab legs until the melted butter runs down our chins and we lapse into unconsciousness. There'll be plenty of time for restraint tomorrow.

And lists, there will be plenty of lists tomorrow too.

I have to admit that I am a little disappointed that Radiohead have not made an annual event of last year's New Year's Eve broadcast, but then they have had a rather busy year, so they are forgiven for wanting to hang out with their families.

Have fun and stay safe tonight, go out and grab the world by the balls tomorrow.
Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

falling down on the job

For someone who is now a big swinging dick of a so-called rock journalist, I sure don't know much. This post was supposed to list BTZ's favourite 8 albums of 08. Then I thought I should add a disclaimer about the albums that may very well have made the list, if I had listened to more of them, and to my chagrin, I realised that the list was at least as long as the best-of list.

Shameful, really.

Obviously one of my resolutions (provided I actually made resolutions, that is) should be to listen to more music.

Here then, is the
Zombie list of albums that may very well be contenders for album of the year except I haven't really listened to them properly yet:

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Rock Fantasy - the Wet Secrets
Skeletal Lamping - Of Montreal
Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords
Rook - Shearwater
Los Manlicious
- Hawksley Workman

Slimming Mirrors, Flattering Lights
- the Awkward Stage

Chances
- Jill Barber

Superioryouareinferior
-
Rae Spoon

In my defense, I will say that I have been looking for the Wet Secrets' album for a very long time. HMV don't know its ass from a hole in the ground.

Coming up, the actual BTZ's favourite albums the year list, with no apologies and no excuses.

Have you got any lists left in you?
Any recommendations for albums which I absolutely must buy?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I like to watch

It's becoming increasingly evident that 2008 is going to be remembered as The Christmas of The Sloth, as I have been doing pretty much nothing but sit on my ever-expanding arse, shovelling subversive shortbread into my mouth, and watching dvds. For breaks, I sit on my ever-expanding arse in movie theatres and shovel popcorn into my mouth.

It's sort of like a repeat of last Christmas in terms of activity level, only without the excuse of a back injury.

But I have to admit that it's been fun. We finished watching season three of Slings and Arrows, and while I howled with laughter throughout all the episodes, I will admit I got a little teary at the end of the final one. Very satisfying ending it was though, and if you ever get a catch to watch Slings and Arrows, DO!


The Resident Offspring and I each got the other the Twitch City box set for Christmas (it was a bit of a Don McKellar Christmas around the Zombie house), which is a little bit scary. A television series about an agoraphobe who watches television can strike a little close to home when you have been nurturing your inner agoraphobe for the past week.

So out we went, first to the cheap seats for some escapism with Mamma Mia. It is cheesy and ludicrous and Pierce Brosnan cannot and should not sing. But by god, Queen Meryl actually can! And the scenery of the Greek islands is spectacular and just what you need to forget that you have at least another five months of winter to get through.

Yesterday, we girded our loins (and do you know how hard it is to find a loin-girder these days?) and headed to the most insane mall in the city (on the Saturday after Christmas, yet) to watch Milk. We actually timed everything exquisitely, as not only was it the first day that the temperature had climbed above freezing, thus allowing me to put the urban assault vehicle into two-wheel drive for the first time in two weeks, we also hit the early matinée so were able to score one of the last parking spots in existence.

Milk was really good, very well done, and Sean Penn really does disappear inside the character. It was not a perfect film, and the Resident Auteur Offspring has some very valid suggestions for Mr Van Sant on how he could improve the ending, but it was very powerful and well worth the Oscar buzz that it is generating.

I always love seeing places that I know in film, and during the scenes that depicted the Castro, I kept looking for the restaurant where we met Will and Hillary for supper.

But today it's snowing like a sonofabitch yet again, so I am very glad that Ruh will be coming over this afternoon during her visit home, to do a little tea partying with us. She's offered to regale us with some Weakerthans' songs on guitar and I may just hold her to that. Mamma needs to be entertained!

How have you been entertaining yourself this festive season?

Friday, December 26, 2008

or as I like to call it We Have So Much Bloody Food Make Your Own Damn Supper Day

Seriously, if you can't find something to eat in our poor overworked fridge, you are not looking very hard.

It was a grand Christmas at the Zombie place. Cabin fever seems to be settling in a little early, though, as we have already moved on a rigorous regimen of board games, something which we don't generally resort to until closer to New Year's. The Kerplunk game which I bought the family this year was fun and satisfyingly
mindless, a departure from the Scrabble which we later pulled out in order to give ourselves headaches from using brains that had been pummeled into submission by vast quantities of shortbread, turkey, and wine.

We appear to have missed the boat on taking advantage of our brief one-day warm spell where the temperature soared all the way up to -7C. Although it is a deceptively brilliant day today, we are once again approaching deep-freeze. Since I would rather scoop out my own eyeballs with a rusty spoon than get anywhere near the fall out zone of a mall today, I may have to suck it up and head down into Fish Creek Park for a bit of a brisk stroll, hopefully without getting lost yet again.

And yes, I know that I am horribly horribly behind on my annual lists. So before I head down into the basement to confront the elliptical which has been glaring at me balefully as I have been studiously ignoring it for the past couple of days on the way to the freezer (yet again), please allow me to present the first of this year's Zombie Lists.

Bad Tempered Zombie's 8 Most Memorable Concerts of 08

8. Chad VanGaalen w/ Portico, Young and Sexy, Octoberman
Sled Island Festival @ Calgary Science Centre

Because I generally see a few Chad VanGaalen concerts a year, it's dangerously easy to take them for granted. But even when those concerts are fraught with technical difficulties and when Chad is having a tough night, as was the case at this concert, a Chad VanGaalen concert is always a wondrous experience - intimate and funny and peppered with gobsmacking visuals amongst the incredible music and Chad's signature voice. And I cannot think of a better place
than the ceiling of the Planetarium upon which to project those amazing stoner videos. We were instantly transported to a crazy parallel universe.

A great bonus to this concert was seeing those fine wordsmiths, Portico, who so graciously agreed to be the subject of my first article in BC Musician Magazine.

7. Great Lake Swimmers
Calgary Folk Festival @ Prince's Island Park


Lying back on the cool grass as the evening sun sends long fingers of shadows across the assembled crowd, while listening to Tony Dekker's achingly beautiful voice float out over us
and ascend to the treetops is about as close to heaven as one can ever get.

6.
Grizzly Bear w/ Kris Ellestad, Woodpigeon
Sled Island Festival @ Central United Church


Concerts in churches are highly underrated. Sure the seats are made for the hard-assed faithful, but the acoustics are amazing, and you are generally within a few feet of the stage. We were right in the front row and could catch every subtle nuance of Grizzly Bear's perfect delivery. A sublime night.


5. Gogol Bordello w/ Rum Runner
MacEwan Hall


Quite simply, the most colourful, sweatiest, and most high octane melange of vaudeville and punk show I have ever encountered. I get exhausted just thinking about this show.


4. Josh Ritter
Calgary Folk Festival @ Prince's Island Park


I stood in a torrential downpour, after I gave up trying to find the Zombie family amongst the sea of identical blue tarps beneath which people were huddled, and I watched Josh Ritter's rollicking and heartfelt set.
As I ate the meal I had carried back from the volunteer tent, water dripping from the end of my nose onto my falafels, I was so glad I had not taken the safe route and stayed warm and dry in the tent when the storm clouds began to assemble. And then, as if on cue from Josh's brilliant smile which never once flagged, the sun broke through the rain and the most amazing rainbow lit up the sky. It was magical.

3. Of Montreal, Wire, Jonathan Richman, Gutter Twins, the Dodos, Still Flyin', Hot Little Rocket, Drive By Truckers, Jane Vain & the Dark Matter, etc.
Sled Island Festival @ Mewata Armouries


Despite it being an oppressively hot day with a brutal sun baking down upon a field that offered absolutely no shade, the lineup for this full day of concerts was unbelievable. And that's all without considering all the amazing musicians that we actually missed - Women, Jose Gonzalez, the Secret Machines, and Mogwai! It was totally worth the heat stroke to see Of Montreal's glitter guns, Jonathan Richman's fancy dancing, Wire's once in a lifetime offering,
and Still Flyin's insanely high energy jumping jacks. I still can't quite believe what my own eyes actually saw that crazy day in June.

2. Elliott Brood w/ NQ Arbuckle, Beja Flor
The Warehouse


This concert actually wins the most flat-out fun concert of the year award. Starting with Beja Flor's surprisingly varied and polished opening, through NQ Arbuckle's mesmerizing and punchy set, right through to the wildest party I have ever encountered at a concert, (I was dancing on the table, fer cryin out loud), this concert would surely have won top spot this year, were it
not for the pilgrimage that went with the top-ranking concert.

Elliott Brood have always put on the most rollicking, flat out playing their hearts out concerts I have ever attended, and they always engage the audience directly - getting out in the crowd and dancing with people, inviting folks on stage to sing and dance along. That night at the Warehouse, where the drinks flowed freely, we felt like we had somehow stumbled upon exclusive invitations to a
bacchanalian orgy.

1. Radiohead w/ Liars
White RIver Amphitheatre @ Auburn, WA


Is anyone really surprised by this choice? Although the concert was absolutely amazing on all accounts, from the ecologically responsible but mind-boggling lighting, to the fact that the women's washrooms had considerably shorter lineups than the men's (you just know that Thom arranged that for me somehow), to the people grooving in the cold driving rain on the lawn who refused to leave until the last note had been played, and of course always remembering the greatest music on earth, this concert will forever hold a top spot in my heart. It was more
than just a concert, after all, it was a pilgrimage, and I have at last worshipped at the Radiohead altar. When you touch the sleeve of greatness in this way, it changes you forever
.


What was your most memorable concert of 2008?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

nothing says insurgence like a little butter and icing sugar

Annual Zombie Showcase of Subversive Shortbread

Oh it all started out normally enough, but you know the proper little Christmas trees and snowmen will soon give way to baser instincts.


The Jackson Pollack reminiscent efforts were actually quite lovely and while they were on the experimental side, they were still well within the bounds of propriety.


Even the Jimi Hendrix retrospective maintained its tastefulness.

But then the disemboweling began and the zombie cookies started to amass an assault.


Eugene Hutz cookie was actually very cool and he even wore the green-striped trousers of which we are so fond.
(an explanatory note: due to a restricted colour palette, it was decreed that purple is now the new brown.)


Thom Yorke showed up with Bjork on his arm, both beautiful freaks sporting signature outfits, red trousers and white frilly shirt on him, swan dress with white swan egg ankle bracelet on her. Charming couple, aren't they?


And then all Radiohead made an appearance:
L-R: Thom, future Jonny (hence the white hair), Ed, Colin, and Phil.
You will notice that poor Colin's head has exploded. We are uncertain if this is because he has just learned that Kraftwerk will be opening for Radiohead in Mexico and South America, or if there was a family spat and Jonny is now mournfully singing, I cut my brother's head in half.

But oh dear, then things just got out of control and somebody leaped in and exposed Colin Meloy's privates! Just as I was putting a lovely argyle sweater vest on him too. Poor sweet Colin, who never did any harm to anybody, forced to spend eternity with his wee pink wiener dangling. Oh the shame!

Monday, December 22, 2008

it's virtually Christmas!

Once again Dr M is hosting a blogger virtual secret Santa, and this year I had the pleasure of drawing the name of Lisa S, the super-mom from Minnesota who writes the sassy blog, Mommy's Nest.

It appears that Lisa like to golf, and since the poor woman lives in Minnesota (which is a very lovely place, but face it, it sucks to be anywhere in the northern half of North America right now), I thought she might like to get away from all that snow and windchill for a while, and get out on the links for a couple of weeks.


So Lisa, throw some shorts into a bag and head to the airport, because you are booked for a two-week stay at this course-side suite in Hawaii:


Naturally there will be an unlimited supply of your favourite wine chilling for you in one of these adorable little wine caddies:It's a big golf course, so you are going to need a means of transport around the links. You're going to turn some heads when you race up to the green in one of these little babies:



Especially since you will be escorted around the course by an attentive caddy, who will anticipate your every need and not only hand you the right iron, but he'll be wearing his authentic Scottish golf outfit too:

So enjoy your vacation, Lisa S. And don't worry about a thing back home, they'll be fine without you for a couple of weeks. Besides, I understand that Angus gives great massages.

~*~
Subversive Shortbread photos were delayed to bring you this very important gift exchange, but will be available for your viewing pleasure tomorrow, pinky swear.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

approximating hibernation

There is absolutely no point to my bitching about the weather here, as it appears that pretty much all of North America is socked in by the same system. Suffice it to say that after 10 days of continuous deep freeze, the cat is alternating between sleeping 23.5 hours per day and lashing out with claws extended when the cabin fever gets to her. The rest of us in the house are actually faring somewhat better.

After the horrendous week of white-knuckling along the black ice where there used to be roads, I am more than content to lay low and and to keep all my ventures strictly local. In fact, instead of putting in an appearance at two Christmas parties last night, we decided to forgo the party on the other side of the city, and to bundle ourselves up and walk the few blocks over to Urban Blonde's place, where she and her adorable family bludgeoned us senseless with libations and sparkling conversations and more food than I have ever seen before in one place, all of it incredible. I am still stuffed, and just a wee bit hungover.


And today, after a week of studiously ignoring the pound of butter sitting on the counter, waiting patiently to be transformed into shortbread, I finally donned my 50's housewife apron and pressed the family into service producing our annual batch of Subversive Shortbread.

Suffice it to say that there were a number of rock stars represented in butter and icing sugar, along with some impressive Jackson Pollack-like works of cookie art and a Jimi Hendrix repertoire.
Pictures will be forthcoming tomorrow.

Also coming up will be those year-end best-of lists that I am way behind everybody else in the blogosphere in compiling. I am a poor excuse for a list junkie after all, evidently.

~*~
But Zombie, I hear you all gasping, why has there been no shameless self-promotion lately for us to enjoy?

Fear not, my lovelies, if you cast your eyes asunder to yon sidebar, you will notice that I have started putting links to the articles which I recently published. The most recent one, Jon-Rae Fletcher: he's got some folks out on the coast, was published in the December issue of BC Musician, back when they were going through restructuring so the pdf isn't available on their website at this point. I've just hosted the pages of my own article, but even so it seems to eat up a lot of my bandwidth, so if
it's currently unavailable when you try to download it and for some incomprehensible reason you really want to read it, you can always drop me a line and I can send it to you.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

in the city of the future, it is difficult to concentrate

It's been a really interesting week for driving.

The combination of the never-ending snow and the mercury consistently hovering between -20 and -30C, with a nasty windchill thrown in for good measure, have meant that the roads have been permanently stuck in what is known as "winter driving conditions". Add to that the approximately 370 million cars that are on Calgary roads at any given time, futilely spinning their tires at intersections, and you end up with a road system comprised entirely of perfectly polished black ice.

Here is what a week of commuting (or as I like to call it, confronting my own mortality) on this highway of ice have taught me:

1. How to count backwards. Counting down the numbers of times left in the week that I have to either drive the Resident Offspring to school or pick her up has kept my countdown skills sharp.
2. If they tell you it's going to take twice as long to get where you are going, assume it will be three times as long.
3. If the road conditions dictate that I should be driving 45 km/hr in a 60 zone, I will fucking drive 45 km/hr. I don't care that you would rather go racing past me, fish-tailing out of control on the ice. Do that in your own lane.
4. The Resident Offspring has a freakishly high vapour content in her breath. Whenever she is in the vehicle, the back windows frost completely over, despite the fan and the heat blasting on maximum in both the front and the back. And yes, the A/C is on.
5. If you mention your Winnipeg winter driving training, all of a sudden everybody in the room is from Winnipeg. And we all puff out our chests and brag about our ability to maneuver our urban assault vehicles nimbly along two narrow strips of black ice, just wide enough to hold the tires in between packed snow that all but scrapes the bottom of the car. A common phrase is they don't even know what square tires are in Calgary, said with a derisive snort.

We ex-pat Winnipegers are inexplicably proud of coming from a place that tries its darndest to kill you for at least seven months of the year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

it's Matt Good's fault

After 1,000 posts, there is bound to be some shameless self-promotion. After all, that's what this blog was built on. And if I have overused this blog as a vehicle for pimping myself, I apologize. I hope you have found moments of enjoyment amongst the self-aggrandizing.

A lot has changed since I started blogging about 3.5 years ago. At the time, I was spending a fair bit of time reading Matthew Good's blog, getting into some pretty intense discussions with like-minded people, and I found I really liked the sense of community that I found within the confines of blogging. And because I really didn't want to keep clogging up the poor man's blog with my verbal diarrhea, I figured it was time to start my own, a place for my mundane ruminations, my occasional rants, and my incessant list-making. Thus Bad Tempered Zombie was born.

Over the years, you have honoured me by sharing my pain and my joy, my tragedies and my triumphs. I have been so blessed that I have been able to meet many of you in person over the years, and you didn't even turn out to be axe-murderers or anything. I love the sense of give and take in the blogging community. And you guys are all so damn witty.

Blogging has exposed me to all kinds of new music, has provided me with an arena in which to practice my writing, and has allowed me to receive your feedback on things like reviews that I found I loved writing. And were it not for the support you have given this blog, I would never have found the stones to make the leap from dissatisfied and underemployed lab manager to highly satisfied and busy, if poor, freelance writer. I've received two paycheques from my articles to date and even though I can barely pay for a sack of groceries with each one, the satisfaction of doing something that I really love is,
to steal shamelessly from a tv advert, priceless.

So thank you for being my blog buddy through 1,000 posts. You have been both a shoulder to lean on and an instrument of change.

Monday, December 15, 2008

it would have been perfect for my 999th post

There I was, living in my own private Radiohead, producing my own video for 15 Step. I felt so accomplished, as if some of that immense Radiohead talent was rubbing off on me.

I even got a widget from Wowow and everything.




But alas, due to my non-existent skills in navigating Japanese websites, I can't show you my awesome video, but you can go here if you want, mix your own video, and become part of the rainbow. Sean produced his first and although you can't view his either, you can go to his place to weigh in on the flame war surrounding The State of the Red Pants. The latest scandal has Sean proclaiming that Paul Westerberg (the Replacements) gets the credit/blame for the fashion statement of the year.

Santa Thom is nonchalant about the whole matter, because he knows he rocks his red trousers. And he just wants to bring you a sackful of goodies.

Update: We should have known it was Loverboy all along.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I've got this rig that runs on memories

It took 55 minutes to drive home from the Resident Offspring's school yesterday, normally a 15 minute trip. We're in the grips of an Arctic storm; we got a huge dump of snow and the temperature has plummeted. When the winds pick up, as they are expected to do this afternoon, the windchill will be flirting around the -40 (and that's the same in Celsius and American, folks) mark.

We're going to blow off the dinner reservations we had for tonight, as I filled the pantry yesterday and I think I'll bake shortbread cookies instead. Somehow the cookie decorating always manages to degenerate into an assembly line production of blasphemous poopy pants
Santas and benippled folk singers (resulting in said folk singer leaving comments on this blog, which was equal parts cool and weird).

I've already done the shovelling, so am feeling all holy and am lingering over another cup of coffee instead of heading down into the basement for my workout. The neighbours and I always do each others' city sidewalks and as I got first crack, it's their turn to do ours once the wind blows all the damn snow back in. And even though we never did receive our newspaper today, I am enjoying this more than I should be.

Seeing as my life has now been forced into the slow lane, I thought this would be a good time to catch up on some memes that I have been tagged with long ago in a galaxy far far away.


Urban Blonde challenged me to share five of my addictions. And I think that it is still close enough to Friday to turn this into a
Friday Favourite Five .

Bad Tempered Zombie's Top Five Addictions

1. Blistex
So what if the eucalyptus will give me lip cancer eventually? I cannot give up that healing rush that makes my lips tingle and then turn so incredibly kissably soft. It is mistletoe season, after all.

2. Lists
I write lists every day. I cannot function without lists. I think in lists. And if I see a list posted somewhere, I must read it. And since this is the high holy season for list junkies everywhere, I am packing for my annual pilgrimage to the holy land, the annual Best-Of Lists. O tidings of comfort and joy.

3. Reading in Bed
I cannot fall asleep without reading in bed. Even if I have been nodding off on the chesterfield for the past 2 hours, once I get into bed, I need to see words in front of my face. Sometimes I don't get past two sentences and I have to read those sentences over again the next night, but by god I am going to read them.

Even if one day I find myself camped out on the summit of Everest, with a snowstorm howling around and yetis prowling about trying to kill me, I will find a way to rig up a bedside lamp and read those two sentences that I forgot I read last night.

4. Coffee
I don't drink tonnes of it, but since I do get a headache if I try to forgo coffee for the day, I would suggest that ranks as addiction.

5. Blogging
I am sniffing around my 1000th post and I still haven't run out of things to say. And I guess that suggests another addiction that I seem to have - the need to make sure that everybody knows my opinions about just about everything.

**

I'm out of coffee, and since I am all about blowing things off today, I am going to blow off tagging anybody. But the first five people to tag themselves and do this meme will get a special treat from me.

GO!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

another Canadian musician you should know

One of the great things about this internetz thingy is that people can find you. Granted, that can also be one of the ungreat things about the internetz, but the following is an example of it being used for the purposes of good rather than evil.

Recently I was contacted by Dean Marino, a producer/engineer and self-described studiohead who has done a lot of work with bands like Tokyo Police Club, Born Ruffians, Ruby Coast, C'MON, Amy Milan and such. He also writes and performs his own music under the name EX~PO and has a new album out, called Central Meaner Street, that he thought I might like to hear.

Naturally I agreed. Too much good Canadian music goes virtually unheard, and anyone with a hands-on attitude like Dean, who takes the effort to send out his music into the ether, deserves a listen.


And I'm glad that I did. Central Meaner Street is a good solid album, featuring a really nice mixture of sunny tunes with a slightly Belle and Sebastianesque feel offset by rather more experimental offerings rich with mixed up beats and fuzzy guitars.

The appeal of the catchy tunes on this album grows with repeated listens, and I am happy to share one of them with you. Constant Commuter.mp3 has a delightfully fuzzy and hypnotic feel to it. Think a rather more accessible My Bloody Valentine.

Ruh over at Vintage has also reviewed Central Meaner Street. As an accomplished musician herself, she gives a more knowledgeable and indepth assessment of the album than I ever could. Plus she offers up the song Burn, Burn, Burn, which has a tasty slightly reggae feel to it, for your listening pleasure. Check it out yo.

further info at:
EX~PO MySpace
Film House Recordings

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

my main man

You make them laugh,
you make them think,
you make them take notice.


Everybody knows you,
likes you,
respects you,
admires you.

But only some of us have any inkling of how special you truly are.

Happy Birthday, Jerry!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

one's a metaphor, the other's bonkers

It's tree decorating day at the Zombie estate, and we are having the first real snow we've had this winter. It's coming down like fine powdered sugar, but is rapidly accumulating. Everything from sky to sidewalk is that lovely uniform shade of whitish-gray. The colour that goes well with a sip of sherry, the aroma of Nuts and Bolts baking, and the sight of this year's Charlie Brown tree getting all pimped out in cheesy ornaments.

I was in a camera store on Friday, asking the clerk for some information, when I heard Bjork being played over their sound system. I commented that one doesn't often hear Bjork being played in stores these days, and the clerk looked puzzled for a second, listened a bit harder, and then exclaimed "Oh, BJork!" (Okay, I just realised that story does not lend itself well to non-verbal telling, but she pronounced it "ba-jork".)

She does have a lovely bizarre video that you might like to see. It's all colourful and weird, and it's pretty much the exact opposite of the Constantine's new video. Voila.

the Constantines - Credit River



Bjork - Wanderlust





We're been watching the the first season of Slings and Arrows this weekend, which the Resident Offspring found at the library. It is hilarious and delightful.

It is the story of the insane goings-on within a Shakespearean theatre festival, obviously fashioned after the Stratford Theatre in Ontario. With Don McKellar as a pretentious director (how against type!), Paul Gross as a sanity-challenged artistic director, The Kids in the Halls' Mark McKinney as the evil bean-counter, and Rachel McAdams as the fresh young thing, I don't know why this series was not better known and why it only lasted three seasons. Well worth searching for at your local video shop or library.

Friday, December 05, 2008

kids these days ...

They're way too smart and talented.

Branching out beyond your standard local theatrical troupe offerings, I present an exclusive review of the drama production at the Resident Offspring's high school - Les Miserable.

Damn they did a great job. And the production values were really impressive. Of course, nowadays they've got real drama studios in the high schools with lighting and stuff, so no longer do they set up a stage under the basketball hoop in the gym. The seats were still damned uncomfortable, but the acting was believable, the blocking was well staged, and the costumes were impressive. Except for the sideburns on the police dude.

I am still thankful that it was a non-musical version, though.


And now, because all this talk of high school made me all nostalgic for the way things never were, I'd like to leave you with a Friday Top Five that just oozes retro sensibilities:

top five phrases from my childhood that you just don't hear anymore:

~ chesterfield
~ whore (pronounced hooer)
~ soft drink

~ the strap
~ banana seat

I have to admit, I kinda miss the word chesterfield.

Bring back the chesterfield, I say! No longer will we park our asses on those fancy American style sofas and couches! We'll sit on our chesterfields and we will get up and walk all the way over to the tv to change the channel too.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I know she's married, but she can sing too

Martha Wainwright
w/ Brian Borcherdt
Grand Theatre - November 30/08

Martha has gone blonde now, but I'm pretty sure she was wearing the exact same boots when she rocked the stage at the Grand on Sunday night.

Boots, hair colour. Not something I would normally comment upon in a concert review, especially when you are talking about somebody who's got the pipes that Martha Wainwright has, but she is just such a striking and a physical presence, that her appearance really is a large part of her show. Besides, she's the one who started talking about the revealing shirt she was wearing, even though the rest of us spent the evening in mortal fear of an impending wardrobe malfunction. Damn, she is hot, though. Martha Wainwright is now encroaching upon Neko Case's exalted status of Woman I Would Do If I Ever Decided To Go Gay.

Musically, it's hard to find a peer to Martha's unique voice. She descends from rock royalty, of course, and she knows how to use her voice like a weapon - tortured and layered and so powerful that her voice is just shy of intimidating. And yet, Martha Wainwright comes across so natural and intimate on stage, like she and her band just happened to be passing by your neighbourhood and thought they would drop by. Since they had the set list made up and everything.

Some of that atmosphere at Sunday's concert had to do with the venue itself. Even though they had the seats set up at the Grand, there was no raised stage, just a designated stage area on the floor, and since we scored seats in the front row, we were pretty much eyeball to eyeball for the entire show.

The evening actually started with Brian Borcherdt from Holy Fuck opening with some of his highly personal brand of singer-songwriter offerings. Although he has a strong voice, it has a fragile quality to it that draws you into his world of lonely nights on the road. The songs he played us were a world removed from the experimental electronica of Holy Fuck, and while I was surprised by the vast difference, I was also charmed by their fractured beauty.

I realized during his set that Brian Borcherdt was precisely the sort of musician whom I wanted to interview for my upcoming article on Polaris prize nominees, and when I cornered him at the merch table after the show, he was extremely gracious to agree to an impromptu interview. And then I completely forgot to buy his cd (which I had fully intended to do!) and consequently I feel like a total schmuck. Brian Borcherdt, I owe you one.

Martha Wainwright's show was a nicely balanced mix of songs from her new album, along with those incredible ones from her debut recording. Tossed in were also some old standards (Stormy Weather) and a particularly lovely rendering of Leonard Cohen's The Traitor, where each band member took a turn at a verse.

It was a rather delightful show. Martha was chatty and
playful, talking to us in both English and French (which is a pretty ambitious thing to do in Calgary), kibitzing with her band, and poking fun at her bassist husband. And somehow, despite the dramatic throwing back of her head to hit those powerful notes and the stomping of those killer boots, she was able to elude a wardrobe malfunction. Well done, Martha.

Monday, December 01, 2008

she has not been able to sleep since the days of Trudeau

I know, I know. The stock market hates uncertainty. But god damn, there are some exciting things going on in Canadian politics.

I, for one, would be thrilled beyond belief if the government does fall to a non-confidence vote. Bring on the coalition, I say.

In your face, Stephen Harper!

*****

Coming up, a review of the Martha Wainwright concert at the Grand on Sunday night.

Plus a really sweet and cool indie music god encounter.

I'm late, gotta run. Smell ya later.