Wednesday, April 29, 2009

let me squeeze your plump aubergine flesh

Oh my god, I am some kind of genius. I just recreated the eggplant curry dish that I drool over in my favourite Indian restaurant.

I love the look of eggplants, they have got to be among the most beautiful vegetables in existence, but my only attempt at cooking them close to 20 years ago was an unmitigated disaster. However, they had the most stunningly gorgeous eggplants in the grocery store this week and I simply had to buy a couple, although I didn't have a clue what to do with them.

So I scoured the internet and discovered that some people say you must peel them, some people say you mustn't, and still others suggest that you peel stripes off them to make them look edgy. I opted for the third suggestion, as I like my vegetables with a bit of edge to them.

Here's what I did:
- sliced 1 onion

- chopped about 6 or 7 cloves garlic
- added to a hot frying pan with a generous spash of oil, added a sliced tomato, some ginger, cumin, and a bit of dry mustard, and browned everything up a bit
- added a couple of healthy spoonfuls of Patak's hot curry paste and Patak's hot lime pickle, and a wee bit of powdered chicken bouillon.
- did the fancy striped peeling thing on the eggplants, quartered lengthwise and scooped out
the seediest part (I don't know if this part was necessary, but it seemed like a good idea at the time)
- sliced into 1/4 inch chunks and mixed into the onion/curry mixture
_ covered and cooked for about 10 minutes until the eggplant was soft and translucent, adding a bit of water if it started to stick.

I just served this as a side vegetable dish, with chicken breasts and whatever, but with a bit of naan and maybe some aloo gobi, you could sure build a meal around this.

This could not have been easier, and I will never be afraid of eggplant again.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

three bands, no love

Oh Susanna, the Constantines, the Weakerthans
MacEwan Hall, Calgary - April 25/09


If you were on BLIP.FM this morning, you would know what I and some of my fellow Calgary blippers thought of the Weakerthans/Constantines concert at Mac Hall last night. Here's a sample of some of the exchanges:

Me: to my boyfriends the Cons - sorry the audience was so lame last night - I love you
Also me: to my boyfriends the Weakerthans - great show, sorry about the lame crowd
Mandaleah: doesn't calgary have like the worse crowds... this city is full of douchery
Me: yes, Calgary is full of assholes who show the Constantines no love at all at concerts wtf
Fated: But on the bright side I now have wicked commie themed constantines hoodie

This is the fifth time I have seen both the Constantines and the Weakerthans in concert, and the second time I have seen them perform on the same bill. This first time was at a much smaller venue, where the audience was so engaged that I witnessed tears as people sang lustily along. That night was magical.

Last night was sort of sad. The show opened with a short set by Oh Susanna, who was accompanied by Chantal Vitalis (she of Kris Demeanor and his Crack Band fame). It was a decent set, very heartfelt singer-songwriterly stuff in which all the songs were very personal and earnest, but definitely stuck to a theme.
The crowd was politer than one usually sees for a first opener, but unfortunately, never really got past that polite but reserved stance all night.

I'm not really sure what the problem was. Maybe what the Resident Offspring said is true and
Weakerthans fans are actually bigger assholes than one would expect. She did hear a couple of Neanderthals scoff when Steve Lambke was singing, and question his sexual orientation. That's certainly not the Weakerthans' fan way.

Admittedly, the Constantines did play quite a few of their more reserved songs, and I wish they had let rip with National Hum, but still it wasn't until Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright), which was about 7 or 8 songs into the set, that there was any sustained clapping along. And I didn't see any fist pumping until the final song. There were only a handful of us who raised arms in respect.

There did appear to be a tiny enclave of Constantines' fans way on the other side of the hall, and I should have made my way over there to lend solidarity. I could have stood beside the dude who yelled out "I like your shirt, Bry", because I had just finished asking the Spousal Unit "does Bry Webb even own a shirt that isn't plaid?" We could have exchanged notes.

Sweet moment: John K Samson joining the Constantines to sing Little Instruments. Sadly, the Constantines did not return the favour to join the Weakerthans on stage for an encore, as they did so magnificently when I first saw them share a bill, or as they did at other shows on this tour. The Spousal Unit saw JKS trying to encourage them to come back onstage and evidently they declined. I don't blame them one bit though.

I figured the audience was saving up their love and their energy for the Weakerthans, and the hall certainly became packed for their set. I spent most of the time glaring at the back of the tall woman with the freakishly big head who parked herself directly in front of me. I'm sure she and her gentleman friend, who talked the whole set, were not intentionally trying to piss me off, but when they would suck on each other's faces every two minutes, thereby effectively blocking any chance of my seeing the stage, I found it hard not to take it personally.

The audience were certainly much louder for the Weakerthans' set, but I saw hardly any dancing. I think I was just in the company of a bunch of toadstools last night. Or perhaps mashed potatoes without gravy.

The Weakerthans though did seem to enjoy themselves. The band were exceedingly tight, and the grin never left JKS' face. And even though the Resident Offspring claims he looks more and more like a junior high social teacher every year, he is still bad-ass.

It should have been such a magnificent concert. But every live performance depends on some give and take between the performers and the audience. And last night, the audience phoned in their part.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

that's not what I said

Do you think I am being needlessly proprietary here?

I received a copy of the April issue of BC Musician Magazine yesterday, which contained my article on DIY methods of music promotion. I had been asked to cut the number of words, which was fine, I understand having a space issue, and then the editor cut another 85 words from the final version. Again, that's fine with me. I recognize that brevity is not my strength. Hell, I am just getting started at 800 words.

But then, they changed my title.

For me this is the deal breaker. I don't mind you cutting my words, but do not change them. Especially when you change it to something lamer than the original.

I had called the article "Indie kids are doing it for themselves". Okay, admittedly not the most brilliant title in the history of titles, but one that has a pop culture reference going for it at the very least. It was renamed "Do it yourself ... indie style".

What the hell is that? Answer: lame.

So just to be bloody-minded, I have put up a link to the article on my sidebar, reverting to the original (far superior) title. If the sidebar is too far to walk, but you would like to read the article, you can also download it here.

I'm still rather pissed, though. As my mother in law would say, as she points her finger into my face, "am I wrong?"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I haz a bucket!

Calgary is finally getting curbside recycling.

In fact we got our massive blue buckets this week and pick up will start in about a month, presumably to give people time to figure out what recycling is. Okay, I am being unfairly cynical, there are always loads of people at the recycling depot whenever I am there.

I don't mind taking my recyclables to the depot, although I suspect that it is more fuel efficient to have one truck picking up everybody's recyclables rather than having everybody take their individual cars to the depot and then STILL need to have a truck come and pick it all up.

But what always grinds my gears is that up till now, we have never been able to recycle plastics, with the exception of milk jugs. We've been in Calgary for 11 years now. That's 11 years worth of plastic that I have been needlessly throwing in the landfill; even though I try to buy as little as possible, it still mounts up. Multiply that by a population of 1 million plus, and that's a pretty big stupid number, if you ask me. So I have been saving up all our plastic for the past few months with which to christen our fancy new bucket.

Even though the idiots at city hall voted down curbside composting because it would cost a couple of extra bucks a year,
I still luv mah new bucket!

It started snowing here about seven hours ago, pretty hard at times, and still hasn't really stopped. I was driving through white-out conditions when I went to pick the Resident Offspring up after school.

I blame all the neighbours who mowed their lawns yesterday. Never trust spring in Alberta. Mother Nature gonna pop an apple in yo ass, yeah.

Happy Earth Day, you beautiful and crazy earthlings!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

don't shoot till you see the red of their eyes

I'll never figure out that Splotchy character. Now he's tagging people to post a close-up of their eyes. I think he's some kind of serial killer or something.

But since you are already here and everything, how about if I implore you to head over to The Bookworm Collective to read my latest review, of James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century.
It's a laugh riot, I tell you!

Oh, and you are tagged.
Show me yer eyes.


Monday, April 20, 2009

coming up for air

whew

I just submitted an article that turned out to be twice as long as I originally told the editor I expected it to be. And it was a pretty weighty topic. I feel like I just finished writing the final exam in Oil Sands 101. Go ahead, ask me anything.

I did take the day off on Saturday to partake of Record Store Day, though, and to attend a screening of some really dark and twisted shorts at the Calgary Underground Film Festival.

Although one independent record store in town apparently had cupcakes on hand, I didn't hear about that little detail until it was too late. We went to Sloth Records, where everything was on sale, but there were no festivities going on, unless you count the perma-stoned guys who take ten minutes to ring up your purchase. Seriously. That store is aptly named.

They were funny though. The really skinny heavily tattooed one kept trying to pawn his ska cd off on customers, doing a little who-will-buy-this-ska-cd dance periodically as we waited in line for the dude working the cash to find the cds that went with the cases. I bought a Sigur Ros cd and the new Deep Dark Woods.

The shorts program we saw at the film festival was called Dark, Daring and a Little Disturbing. It too was aptly named. I voted for the six minute short entitled The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow as my pick for best. It was really imaginative - a single photograph circa 1930, through which the details of a kidnapping and murder are revealed simply by the camera moving around and into the details of the photo. Quite unlike anything I have ever seen.

So anyway, I've met my publication deadline and have time for a little bit of catch-up before I start on the next article. Anybody want to meet me for coffee?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

like monkey to your ears

The lure of the green monkey music project pulled me into the undertow yet again recently, this time asking for six songs (as representative of six albums) from within the past five years that one simply must have in their collection.

I guess I sort of missed the criteria about them needing to be songs/albums that people would be unfamiliar with, as I surely could have picked more obscure must-haves, had I put my mind to it. But I did decide to go with
exclusively Canadian music, so that should help ratchet up the obscurity factor a wee bit. And I stand by my assertion that you must have these albums in your collection or you will lead a sad meaningless existence.

There are some pretty great songs on the master list that Splotchy and his talented guest host, Allen Lulu, have compiled with a little help from their bloggy friends. I urge you to go here to to download all the unheard goodness. And while you are scooping up some great new songs, allow me to tell you exactly why you need to shop Canadian. It is International Record Store Day today, after all:

Chad VanGaalen - Cries of the Dead [album: Soft Airplane, 2008]
This homeboy just keeps getting better and better. He makes his own instruments, from which he wrestles a wonderfully unique sound. His last album was shortlisted for a Polaris Prize and it wasn't half as good as this one (although still damn fine). I'm going out on a limb here and saying if Soft Airplane does not at least get short-listed this year, I will have lost all faith in the taste of music pundits in this country.


the Constantines - Hotline Operator [album: Tournament of Hearts, 2005]

With this album, the hardest working band in Canada has softened their hard-driving sound just a little, and allowed a little more complexity into the music, which works oh so nicely with that driving beat. Fantastic band to see play live, you will get rock god sweat on you.


Brian Borcherdt - Means of Escape [album: Coyotes, 2008]
You think you know Brian Borcherdt? Sure he's a member of the insanely good electronica band Holy Fuck, but he also has an incredible new solo EP which is the polar opposite - very moody, filled with fractured fragile beauty. In this clip, he's going to play you a little music as well as take you record shopping.


Final Fantasy - This is the Dream of Win and Regine [album: Has a Good Home, 2005]
Owen Pallett (aka Final Fantasy) is one of the most consistently creative musicians in this country. His album, He Poos Clouds, won the inaugural Polaris Prize, and it's grand too, but this earlier album has my heart. He is simply an incredible talent, very sassy, and so pretty.


Jon-Rae & the River - Just One More [album: Knows What You Need, 2006]
Sadly, this band is no longer together. They won my Best New Discovery of the Fest award at the 2007 Calgary Folk Festival, and were renowned for their rollicking shows, filled with rock, soul, country, motown, gospel. Former frontman, Jon-Rae Fletcher now has a solo album, Oh Maria, which I am going to try to find for IRS day, and I actually wrote a profile on him for BC Musician Magazine a couple of months ago. You can read it here, if you are interested. This clip is actually for the song Roll, but it's a helluva good 'un, too.


Elliott Brood - Fingers & Tongues [album: Mountain Meadows, 2008]

These purveyors of death country are my all-time favourite festival band. They'll frequently go out and dance among the audience or invite people onstage to sing and dance. And they are totally nice dudes who graciously answer their own emails. Had it not been for the religious experience of seeing Radiohead last year, the Elliott Brood concert at the Warehouse would easily have won my Concert of the Year nod.

Enjoy some fine new tunes, and support your local independent record store today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

preparing to kick some yellow pages ass

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive about this, but I have had it with getting 6 or more fucking phone books every year.

The Spousal Unit noticed the latest one lying on the front porch when he came home today and tried to sneak into the house without me noticing it and transferring my rage to him.

He needn't have worried. I'm saving my outrage for where it will be the most satisfying. I'm planning my next move right now.

Should I:
a) Package up each phone book, address them to the phone book company sans return address and postage, and drop into a mailbox,
b) Drive all the phone books to the phone book company office and leave them in front of their door,
c) take the non-psychotic route, and phone them to complain and tell them I don't want any more phone books delivered here?

The last one would likely be the most productive choice, but also the least fun.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I did like the little girl with the green poo

I believe my social networking world is now complete, so I don't need any more hints about joining Twitter or Facebook. And here's why.

I will always be a fan of blogger; I am sneaking up on 4 years of blogging on a pretty regular basis. I can blather on as much as I like and am only limited by keeping in mind that nobody wants to read posts that are waaay too long. I can steal pictures from the internet and display them proudly and I can link and share and embed -
it's a full meal deal. Even better, I can read all the profound thoughts of my bloggy friends and admire the pictures they are stealing off the internet.

But sometimes you want something snappy and immediate, like Twitter only better. Enter BLIP.fm, where you get to play DJ and send little 150 character messages to people with each song. And to make it even more highly addictive, you can get your ego stroked when people give you props for your song choices and start adding you as a favourite DJ. Perfect for the music snobs among us.

So what I am saying is that I now have my bases covered, and am pretty much ensured that I will get no more work done for the rest of my life.

If I were on Twitter, however, this is how I would review the two movies we watched this weekend - Synechdode New York, Scynecdoche, Synecdocke, that Philip Seymour Hoffman vehicle, and Choke, respectively:

"everybody dies, remain perplexing while doing so"
"the six foreskins of Jesus flummox historical theme park worker sex addict"

Hey, what did you do this weekend?

Friday, April 10, 2009

and that's why I will never join facebook

The universe craves randomness, apparently. That must explain why I can only think in 10 5 seconds bursts of concentration/creativity today.

That article that I was going to bang off with no problems? Not happening. I have learned from hard-earned experience that it's best to cut your losses in those situations and leave it for a day.

So I'll pour a glass of wine instead and submit to that wave of random thinking that has been pulling at my pant leg all day. It is Friday after all, there have got to be at least five thoughts rattling around in my skull.

Bad Tempered Zombie's Top Five Random Brains Farts of the Day

1. I have become sort of addicted to blip.fm. I did not expect this.

2. the Resident Offspring is volunteering with the Folk Festival this year. Huzzah! We're gonna be folkie volunteer twins!

3. nothing kills a morphine buzz like your in-laws bursting into your hospital room with a plate of pork chops and potatoes.

4. now that we have managed to wrestle the reindeer out of the permafrost, I feel less like trailer trash.

5. Happy Birthday, Berni! I am so glad we are sisters; you are totally adorable.

~*~ Now lets all get ourselves some chocolate to practice up for the big day ~*~


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

confusing the deities

The cat just came in from snoozing outside the back door and she smells like sunshine. I think we may yet get spring and with Easter coming up this weekend, the weather shift could not come at a better time.

But Easter, that's where I am running into a problem.

We still have piles of snow in our yard, especially in the north-facing front yard. And Norman still has his little metal feet firmly frozen into the ground. In fact, three of them are encased in snow and ice. So it appears that we are going to have a wire reindeer gracing our yard for Easter this year. How is zombie Jesus going to know where to leave the chocolate eggs?

I think that I am going to have to give Norman a make-over to make him more Easterly. I'm considering bunny ears.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

bad tempered zombie's 10 step plan for surviving the post-oil apocalypse

1. get a really comfy bike seat and a proper carrier basket
2. ditch the suburban house while there is still a suburban housing market
3. move to a small city with a temperate climate or possibly beside a farmer's market
4. make friends with some Amish people, learn how to grow other food besides cherry tomatoes and rhubarb
5. learn how to make candles (again from the friendly Amish neighbours)
6. invest in a donkey or a really big strong dog, also a wagon
7. stock up on firewood
8. buy fishing hooks with barbs on them
9. learn how to kill and prepare small animals or become a vegetarian, possibly find some good grasshopper recipes
10. sharpen up any half-forgotten useful skills that I may still possess to ingratiate myself with the others, everybody appreciates a loaf of homemade bread

Did I miss anything?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

excuse me, we're pimping here

May I direct your attention over to the Bookworm Collective, please? That's where I just finished posting a review of the most startling, revealing, and quite possibly most important book I have read in a very long time. I urge you, please, when you have a moment to head over and check out my blatherings about Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.

I actually was driven to read this book as research into an article that I am
writing for Gonzo Magazine. Yes, that Gonzo Magazine, the one that Jen writes a regular column for. Apparently I am addicted to following the poor girl around from magazine to magazine, but so far she hasn't taken out a restraining order against me, so. Anyway, when the editor of Gonzo asked me if I wanted to write this article, I realised I was pretty keen to branch out from music a bit more. And the reality of peak oil was something that had been weighing on my mind for some time anyway.

The article will be coming out in the May issue of Gonzo and I'll put up a link.

Meanwhile, my May article for BC Musician Magazine will feature a little chat with someone whom many of you know well, but that's all I am going to tell you for now. Stay tuned.

And finally, something that is not about me. You may or may not know that Bubs' daughter, the one who makes horror films bless her heart, is in the running to be the Fangoria Horror Spooksmodel. She's made the final cut and is currently in third place, so could really use your vote to bring this baby home.

Please go to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror Spooksmodel Contest, scroll down to find Nora O'Sullivan in her evil nurse outfit and vote. At this point, it's kind of a rigamerole, in that you have to put in your email address and then they send you an email where you confirm your vote. Damn those bots, ruining it for us honest folks. But apparently Bubs is buying everybody who votes for Nora
a drink, and if you have ever seen photos and recipes for some of the amazing looking drinks that Bubs and Mizbubs make, you would be galloping to get in on that.

So vote. And read Tar Sands: dirty oil and the future of a continent by Andrew Nikiforuk. Trust me, I know what's good for you.

Friday, April 03, 2009

he would just be wondering what that screaming noise was

The parking lot of the Coop, where I stopped by to grab a few supplies, was curiously full of very badly parked cars this morning. Inside the store the congestion continued, and I believe it must have been seniors' discount day, judging by how obscenely youthful I suddenly felt.

But these were not your new-age seniors jamming the grocery aisles, those that take salsa lessons at the Chinese Cultural Centre, play basketball, and still care about personal hygiene. No, no, these were most definitely old school seniors. I saw more than one slo-mo mid-aisle shopping cart head-on collision, which went a long way toward explaining the chaos in the parking lot.

When I got back to the urban assault vehicle, I found a big boat of a senior-mobile had parked behind me. Well, sort of behind me; it was straddling sections of three parking spots, but the business end was definitely pointing at the back of my car. And just as I approached, an octogenenarian reached the senior-mobile and clamoured into the driver's seat.

I have never loaded groceries into the back of the urban assault vehicle so fast in my life, convinced that any second the engine of that big boat parked a few inches behind me would roar to life, and the driver would throw the transmission into drive and pin it. Because I had looked into his eyes, and I am pretty sure that he would have no idea why his car wasn't going anywhere as he crushed my lifeless body between his hood and my bumper.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

what day did you say it was?

I don't know which was the better April Fool's joke that I woke up to this morning - the snow or the head cold.

On the one hand, the snow was nowhere near what we got dumped with on Sunday. Really just enough to create some nice sheets of black ice at intersections. And you know how much fun it is to practice your defensive driving first thing in the morning, making sure that you swerve a bit as you slow down for the red light, partly because you start to slide as you hit the brakes and partly to send a message to the guy bearing down upon you: hey buddy, it's sheer ice, slow the fuck down!

On the other hand, I was actually kinda relieved to wake up with a full blown head cold. I've been fighting some kind of weird throat thing for weeks, which would sometimes go into my ears and sometimes block a tear duct and for a couple of days I had a rash on my eyelids. All symptoms stopped while we were travelling and returned on the way home. I was starting to suspect that I was either allergic to this place or I had some form of weird lymphatic cancer or something.

A head cold I can handle! At least nobody painted my bathroom floor while I was sleeping.

*
I can take an April Fool's joke as well as the next guy, but this is no joke.