Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I can foresee it requiring a great deal of tactical manoeuvering, which, if we are being honest here, actually rather warms the cockles of my warm-mongering Teutonic heart. I am sure my insistence on a strategic and orderly approach will drive the OKFAR absolutely bonkers though. We have polar opposite approaches to things such as storage and packing.
It will be a rather whirlwind trip, with time for only one quick meal with a couple of friends, but hopefully by Saturday, all that did not fit into the storage locker will find a space in one of those four suitcases instead. Hmmm, rolling or folding? I tend to favour the rolling method myself.
I will try to return with a camera full of images to accompany the stack of suitcases. Stay tuned for the feel-good photos of hilarity and fellowship that will no doubt accompany the resident room de-occupation. To keep you from missing me too much, I invite to read my latest No Depression post about blurring the boundaries between performer and audience.
Monday, April 26, 2010
This time though, the victory was rather more meaningful than my simply battling the cursed ParkPlus system. Today's victory was a stay of execution for my favourite theatre spot - Pumphouse Theatre - the hidden little gem, home to my beloved Sage Theatre, which is tucked away between the railway yards and the river, the playhouse that feels like my own private Idaho.
In a long convoluted chain of twists and turns, Pumphouse Theatre was today successful in having a vote overturned in council, a vote which resulted in having $2 million funding reinstated for planned expansion. Part of the success lay with the Pumphouse plan being more clearly laid out prior to this vote, but a large part of the victory came from the tremendous groundswell of support that Pumphouse was able to garner recently. Aldermen were inundated with lobbying from a grassroots movement (yours truly included) to reconsider their position on the funding vote. And for today's vote, council was filled with supporters (yours truly shamefully absent).
The final vote was a heartening 14-1. Ever forward, Pumphouse, to the next hurdle!
Calgary council reverses course, approves $2M grant for Pumphouse Theatre
In addition to singlehandedly saving the arts community in Canada, I also wrote another post over at No Depression, about the Calgary Folk Festival's often zany weather.
It's been a busy day, for a tired superhero.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Check out the rest of the site too, if you are interested in roots music. There's scads of information, various member groups, posts by people other than me, and even new music to check out. To hold you over while you wait for festival season.
What festivals are you waiting for? How many more sleeps must you wait? (You know you have already counted them...)
update: more yammerings about my folk fest wish lists now added to the No Depression blog.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
To most of us, it’s as fundamental as learning to walk, as elemental as our ability to speak, as natural as breathing. Most of us cannot imagine life without reading. It’s a tool, a diversion, a pleasure to be anticipated.
But learning to read does not come easily to everyone. Without adequate literacy skills, children struggle with low self-esteem, reduced academic achievement and ultimately, given limited career choices, face a life of poverty.
Early literacy programs, if administered during the magic window between Kindergarten and Grade 2, are highly effective at improving the ability and confidence of children struggling with reading. Calgary Reads, an early literary initiative, was designed to identify and support children struggling with reading. The program piloted in 1998 with 25 trained volunteers providing individual tutoring to 40 students. Today 350+ volunteers work with 500+ students and their families in over 75
The CBC/Calgary Reads book sale has become a major annual fundraiser for the program, and an essential event for book lovers. Last year the book sale raised $98,000 for Calgary Reads. Every year thousands of book enthusiasts return home with arms laden with high quality used books. Some have even been lucky enough to scoop up a rare edition or two for the insanely low price of $2.
With the exception of books denoted as rare and valuable, all hard covers sell for $2, while paperbacks sell for $1. Most of the rare and valuable books donated to the CBC/Calgary Reads book sale are priced at between $4 and $80, with exceptionally valuable books sold by auction. Long-time book sale volunteer Gerry Morgan, who has the challenging task of separating the rare and collectible books from amongst the thousands of books donated annually, estimates that 12 to 20 books whose values exceed $100 are placed on the auction table annually.
“One of the highlights was a Cree dictionary, found one or two years ago,” Gerry recalls. “When I researched it on the internet, it was worth $700 or $800.” Stumbling across these sorts of discoveries is what Gerry cherishes most about what he refers to as his “privileged position of dealing only with rare books” in his capacity as a volunteer.
As a retired geophysicist and former academic, Gerry has always maintained a library well-stocked with books from his technical field. As his interests expanded into palaeontology, art, and antiques, so too did his book collection. And in the six years since his retirement, he has branched out from merely collecting books to becoming a book dealer and in the process has become something of an expert in identifying rare and valuable books.
Prior to the annual book sale at the Triwood Arena, Gerry Morgan scours the dozens of boxes of potentially valuable books that have been set aside by the other volunteer book sorters, and he separates those elusive and often innocuous-looking rare books from the regular offerings. Some of the rare finds are unmistakable, such as the 18-volume leather-bound Canadian history set, circa 1910, which was donated last year. Because of the value of those books, estimated to be between $1500 and $2000, Gerry recommended that a reserve price of $1200 be placed on the bidding for that set.
One of Gerry’s favourite discoveries was a first edition series of books written by Winston Churchill. Aside from the monetary value of this particular set of books, what he found particularly compelling was the historical significance of the inscription he discovered on the fly leaf of each volume. “The person who had originally bought these books in the 1940’s or maybe early 1950’s had written on the title page of each book ‘I purchased this book on the very first day that this book was published and appeared in bookshops in England.’ I thought that was historically interesting,” Gerry recounts.
Even amongst the rare books being sold at the CBC/Calgary Reads book sale, there are real bargains to be found. Gerry estimates that all the collectible books are priced at one-half to two-thirds of the asking price at any antiquarian bookshop. “When people come to the sale, they expect a bargain,” he explains. “They don’t expect to pay bookstore prices. If I think a book would sell in an antiquarian bookshop in
Bargain seekers and rare book aficionados alike will be heartened to hear that not all the valuable books uncrated make it onto the specially priced or auction tables. Many books worth $50 or more are left on the regular tables, priced at $2. Much of this is due to the time and space crunch facing Gerry and the other volunteer book sorters. “There is not a lot of time between when all the books are put on the table and when the sale opens to the public,” he explains, “but I go through the tables and I find dozens of books that the sorters haven’t picked out, which should be marked rare and valuable. I go through as many tables as I can, but I can’t look through the boxes underneath the tables, which are still packed.”
Other times, though, the oversight is deliberate, an incentive to those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt. “Half the fun is looking at the regular tables and finding books for $2 that should be $30,” Gerry maintains. “There are always a few valuable books left out on the general tables. Some of those are worth $40 or $50. I hope I don’t leave too many, but I leave enough to make people want to come back the next year.”
So do come to the 8th Annual CBC/Calgary Reads book sale, to be held April 30 (4-9pm) and May 1 - 2 (9am-4pm) at the Triwood Arena. You never know what treasures you may unearth while helping to raise the funds needed to assist a child in learning to read. You can also help by donating your quality used books by dropping them off at the CBC from April 12-26 or at any RBC branch in
For further information about Calgary Reads or about volunteer opportunities, please visit www.calgaryreads.com or call 403.777.8254.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The first time I used one of the new machines that don't take coins, only credit cards, I ended up paying $27.00 to park for less than 10 minutes.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Okay, it's a pretty sturdy and secure limb, in the face of other recent news, but I am still giving myself kudos for having figured it out early. I know for a fact the Sled organizers snared a couple of big names when they were in Chicago a few months ago, and hey, doesn't Iggy Pop still live in Chicago?
I really need to buy my Sled tickets pretty damn soon if I don't want to miss out on the chance to hobnob with Mr Osterberg.
Do you know who I really wish would come to town though?
Friday, April 16, 2010
There's a lot to love about Kick-Ass, the latest in a long list of comic book adaptions, which opens in theatres tonight. At the basis is the sweet nerdy kid in high school story, which melds nicely with the colourful hyper-violence of the comic book genre, and which is all swept along on a wave of Kill Bill-esque female revenge tale.
Aaron Johnson plays Dave Lizewski, an entirely average high school comic book nerd, whose only power is the ability to be invisible to girls. He and his friends lurk in the background of the teen dramas that are played out daily in school and on the streets, but eventually, tired of being victimized and witnessing others being victimized by thugs, Dave feels the need to assert his sense of morality. So he orders a scuba suit on-line and begins his transformation into the super hero, Kick-Ass.
After being seriously injured in a knife fight, he becomes a mascot of sorts for the family super-hero duo of Big Daddy (played with delicious bat-shit craziness by Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (a tiny but incredibly foul-mouthed assassin portrayed by the intensely watchable Chloe Moretz). By day, Big Daddy is a tortured comic book artist, and Hit Girl his far too worldly daughter. They live in a secluded world of weaponry and planning, preparing to exact vengeance with a glee that is at once disturbing and, well, gleeful.
I enjoyed Kick-Ass quite a lot. Not as much as the guy who laughed boisterously at scenes that only caused me to smile or snicker, but quite a lot. Kick-Ass strikes a nice balance between morality tale and revenge story, with a humour that is at times sweet and at times brutal. But even though Chloe Moretz steals the film, Nicholas Cage's cheesy mustache should get top billing.
Of course, Friday's aren't only for movie premiers; they are also for Random Playlists. Here's mine:
The Shoot First, Dance Later Friday Random Ten:
1. I don't have time to stand here with you fighting about the size of my dick | Ballboy
2. Folkloric feel | Apostle of Hustle
3. Why don't you find out for yourself | Morrissey
4. In the modern world | Jesse Malin
5. Nighttime anytime it's alright | the Constantines
6. Only love you for your car | Immaculate Machine
7. Skyway bridge | Melissa McClelland
8. To Pluto's moon | My Brightest Diamond
9. Sister lost soul | Alejandro Escovedo
10. Dance. dance. dance. | Lykke Li
Have a brilliant weekend, everyone. Leave the knives and guns at home.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
There on the third shelf, behind the jumbled pile of towels that had become ratty and were no longer used, was tucked a box that had once held chocolates some long ago Christmas. It rattled slightly, was sealed with tape, and had a sign written on it in the OFKAR's hand - Don't Open Till 2002.
We will certainly have a time capsule opening ceremony when she returns home for the summer at the end of the month, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I should schedule these closet cleaning sessions more often.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Friday, April 09, 2010
I am still not able to remove Sputnik's leopard hat from the corner of the living room in which she spent much of her last days; that's still a little too immediate.
I'm also still not able to close the bedroom door completely at night. Like most cats, Sputnik could not tolerate a closed door, so rather than having her scratching at the carpet trying to get in or out, I used to tuck a slipper under the door to hold it open a few inches. The past two nights I have tried closing it all the way, but it just felt so wrong and I had to resort to the slipper trick. Just in case.
Sputnik would have hated the spring blizzard that blew through the area last night. I think she would much rather see these photos of my recent jaunt to Vancouver:
1. Kamera | Wilco
2. Peek-a-boo | Siouxsie & the Banshees
3. Judas | the Verve
4. So tonight that I might see | Mazzy Star
5. Fat city | Twilight Singers
6. Black water | Watermelon Slim & the Workers
7. Southermost | the Lucksmiths
8. Sorglopur | Sigur Ros
9. Credit | Buzzcocks
10. Swans | Camera Obscura
What's on your Friday random playlist?
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
The cancer had spread everywhere and there was nothing further that could be done, other than approve an extra dose of isofluorane, and let her pass.
Although she had been spending most of her time lately sleeping in her leopard skin hat, last night she came downstairs and curled up on her old blanket on the chesterfield and watched a little tv with us. And later, the Spousal Unit brought her upstairs to Skype with the OFKAR. She even gave the webcam a few big face-rubs, just like old times.
And even though she stopped sleeping in my bed a few weeks ago, last night she came upstairs with me and watched me brush my teeth and then waited for me to fill the sink with a couple of inches of water, so that she could have a nice big drink of bathroom sink water, just like she used to do every night.
Yesterday she did not go outside at all, but this morning, she demanded it. Although we were due at the vet in a half hour, I wasn't particularly worried that she would take off for the entire morning like she used to. I'm glad she had that final chance to get out into the world as she always loved to do. It's a shame we didn't have her ratty old lounge chair out on the front deck for her to relax in. She was the poster cat for relaxing in a lounge chair.
Sputnik was one of the fiestiest, fiercest, smartest cats I have ever known. I still can't believe that I tried to talk the Offspring out of adopting that funny-looking little Tortoiseshell, the very last kitten that was available at the Humane Society, that winter day twelve years ago. Because she turned out to be the very best cat of all.
Monday, April 05, 2010
So we are opting for surgery.
Because the cancer is on her intestine, the vet can remove the mass and the affected section of intestine and sew the good bits back together again, with a reasonable expectation of success. Her surgery is scheduled for Wednesday.
Of course there is always the chance that the vet will find more cancerous lesions once inside, and if that is the case then of course we will have to let Sputnik go. But at least we will be able to sleep nights, knowing that we have explored every reasonable option. And if the procedure will give us a few more years with her, then it is worth the risk.
And as the vet confided to me the other day, the bitchy fiesty breeds like Tortoiseshells are just too tough to simply roll over and die. There's something to be said for being a Type C personality.
I will keep you posted.