Wednesday, September 28, 2011

hurry the fortnight

I've begun the countdown.

In two weeks, I'll head to the coast to await
the arrival of fourteen brave souls.

Taking off on a tangent from last year's beta version, Communique 2011 promises days filled with treasure hunts and walking and film festivals and record stores, nights filled with food and music and laughter and perhaps just a snort or two of BC's finest libations.

You should think about joining us next year as we cement friendships while exploring yet another fascinating city.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

final days of wonder

Is it wrong to be in awe, to have a secret admiration for a microscopic being, so warlike, so bent on world domination?

Given the opportunity, I'm not so sure I wouldn't be jumping ship, as they jump species, pledging my allegiance to the conqueror. Not so much to save my own skin, but in true admiration of a superior entity.

Ebola. The thrill of fear is matched by fascination. Clever and relentless, a unified drive hiding within strands and loops. Microbreaks. Hot zones. Every opportunity will be snatched.

I wonder about the secret lives of lethal viruses. How do they imagine the world, once they have conquered every host?

Friday, September 23, 2011

where's waldo (zombie edition)

The hunter becomes the hunted on the "caught reading" pages of the most recent issue of BC Musician Magazine.

Care to read my article? I sat down beside the banks of the Bow River this summer for a chat with Amber Webber and Joshua Wells of Lightning Dust / Black Mountain / Pink Mountaintops fame.
We talked of many things, including how Buffy Sainte-Marie is a babe.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

digital love

I now have the computer I wanted. It's the same one I brought home a couple of weeks ago, but now it zips along like a hopped-up page-hopping roadrunner. There is just no comparison. All it took was the replacement of the wireless router, which in the scheme of things is a fairly nominal expense.

It took a bit of detective work to cypher that out, but I am enormously proud that I figured it out myself. Now I can start having fun. Oh yeah, and getting some work done.

Tomorrow will be music moving day. I can't wait for those sweet sounds to fill my life again without having to lug out the terabyte HD.

What do you love best about your computer?

Monday, September 19, 2011

because the cat says

It certainly looked like a cat stand-off, but it may have just been the Slightly Retarded Kitty filling in Splotchy Cat on her recent adventures.

They trapped me in the truck and it started moving! And we kept going faster and faster. I didn't know what was happening, so I just kept telling them you better turn this thing around! We better stop right now and you better turn around right now! And you know what? They did.

Actually the real reason we aborted the trip to Manitoba today had more to do with the issues that the Spousal Unit has been having with vertigo lately. A mere 45 minutes into the trip, he pulled the truck over to the side of the road and admitted to feeling quite ill. Although I certainly could have driven the rest of the way, there is nothing fun about an 11 hour trip when you are feeling nauseous.

So we returned home, much to the kitty's satisfaction, who immediately headed out to brag about it all to the neighbour cat.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

into the wild

Pre-dawn will see us barrelling eastward along the Trans Canada. We've decided at the last moment to take the Slightly Retarded Kitty with us, and fully expect that she will settle down and stop howling after the first hour or so. And if not, it's only an 11 hour drive.

It will be great to connect with family again, and we no longer have to feel guilty about leaving the kitty without someone to snuggle with.

We have no internet at the lake (hell, we have no fridge, stove, running water, or indoor plumbing at the lake), so online time will be limited to a brief foray into the wheat city midweek.

See you next weekend. Be nice to each other.

Friday, September 16, 2011

animal magic

The Study of Animal Magicality - My Boy Rascal

I saw My Boy Rascal perform at a coffee house recently, an overnight stop on a cross-Canada tour with road buddy, Folk Thief. The acoustics of the room, combined with the escalating background chatter of a bustling coffee house, did not really allow for ideal listening conditions. My impressions of a laid-back groove from an affable young guitarist were cemented, however, when Colby Ramsay (aka My Boy Rascal) made the rounds of the tables after his performance, stopping to shake hands and thank everyone personally for listening. That's the way to engage an audience, I thought. We talked at length, about family, growing up in BC, the challenges of the road.

But I really needed to listen to his debut album, The Study of Animal Magicality, to get a better feel for the musical range of this singer-songwriter. My initial impressions of a smooth and laid-back performer were confirmed by the first track, OK, a breezy number that conjures up images of life by the water. Turns out those initial impressions were merely surface reflections.

The Study of Animal Magicality quickly reveals more interesting depths of music with subsequent tracks, the sound fleshed out with backing orchestration, all the while showcasing the impressive finger-picking style of guitar playing that defines My Boy Rascal. The darkness of Coming Clean, the raw emotions of The Plea with its powerful guitar breaks, the surprising turn from piano-driven ballad to operatic overture showcasing an impressive vocal power on Lost, are all points of real musical suprise that keep surfacing. Family is particularly lovely, the power of backing drums and vocals adding real strength to the poignant lyrics.

The Study of Animal Magicality
is an impressive debut album from an affable musician who is worth the listen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

up for air

The new laptop arrived yesterday, at exactly the same time that I started researching my next article. So I have been jostling my focus back and forth. Doing research feels like a familiar and comforting activity to balance the frustrations of new technology.

I am not in love with this new laptop, at least not yet. A lot of it is me, of course, as I struggle to install all the new software and transfer all that data. But the laptop is not completely blameless either. It has a truly annoying zoom feature located on the mouse pad, which zooms and shrinks the images and fonts on the desktop. It is far too sensitive and the page is forever jumping back and forth between sizes. I am constantly resetting it.

This computer is also considerably slower than I expected it to be. I expected web pages to open instantaneously, but I find I am waiting for quite a while, depending upon the page. Gmail takes ages, and don't even get me started on trying to install Skype. Okay, get me started. It took all afternoon, and six tries.

I finally plugged the laptop directly into the cable modem and the installation then took mere seconds. I'm not sure if the problem lies in the laptop's ethernet card or in the house's wireless modem.

I have a feeling I have some detective work in store for me.

Wasn't technology suppose to simplify our lives?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

December boys

It's a clash of seasons, backpacks dominating when swimsuits are clearly needed. I should feel sorry for the youth marching off to the vaults of learning, the heavy iron door clanging shut behind them as they gather around one grimy window in the corner of the room, watching ghosts of summer drift across the playground. I should feel sorry for them, but the sudden stillness is exquisite.

When the mercury flirts with 30 at this time of year, at this alignment of earth and sun, here in the high-plains desert, it does so for an hour, two hours, before scrambling back down to nighttime chill. The daily rise and fall of mercury is ... mercurial. I can happily accept two hours of +30 when I need a sweater each night.

Even the wasps who join us for our daily al fresco meal seem to be merely reminding us of their status. Their dives at the meat are cursory, lacking in intent and malice. We have a shaky truce with the striped hordes.

All too soon, the summer blossoms will shed their remaining bruised petals, the daily handfuls of ripe cherry tomatoes will be gone from the single triumphant plant that towers over the flower bed, the rain of yellow leaves will begin in earnest. But for now, I am grateful for the confusion of seasons.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

flight 101

There's something I like about online check-in. The combination of video game jitters and lottery crap shoot. Feeling like the world's biggest fan counting down to concert presale, I am mindful of the clock. No seat selection fee within 24 hours of the flight. Getting three seats together near the front, using two different reservations codes, elevates my game. Master player, I'm turned up all the way to 11.

Always book the middle seat last. Nobody is going to steal that from under your nose. The middle seat gets the arm rests. They don't mention that in the preflight safety talk, but they should.

A throwback to the early days of human flight, I insist that the airline people affix the baggage tag. I can pick the best seats, but can't deal with two feet of sticky paper spewing out the machine at me.

Always, as we begin our descent, the overwhelming desire to sleep. It makes no difference if we have been in the air for an hour or for four. The descent triggers an irresistible G force increase that pulls on my eyelids. We'll be on the ground in fifteen minutes, I remind myself, you've made it so far. And I fall into the most delicious sleep.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

when I click my heels together

There were two pairs of sneakers hanging from the arbutus bush outside the back door. I took this as a sign of welcome.

Yesterday we moved the RO into her new place - a townhouse residence she will be sharing with five flatmates, boys on the third floor, girls on the second, kitchen/living room/party central on the ground floor. Munchkin village, they call it, by virtue of the yellow brick road that winds through and connects the units. And there is something vaguely fairy tale-esque about it.

Perhaps it's the old growth forest (or what looks to be old growth forest to a kid from the prairies) that the townhouse backs onto. Just a city block's worth, but enough to remind you that you are in a part of the country bursting with life and natural beauty. It's the view that the RO will be seeing from her bedroom window this year, a far cry from the construction site that greeted her mornings last year.

And of course trips to the cafeteria will be replaced by tours of duty in the kitchen. It will be a good learning experience, I think. If all goes well, I may relinquish turkey roasting duties this Christmas, giving the Offspring a chance to demonstrate her newly acquired culinary skills. While that dream might be stretching things, I am convinced that this townhouse living is the ideal setup for a third year student - the convenience of campus living combined with the autonomy of cooking and cleaning for one's self.

If I had those types of options available a hundred years ago when I was in university, I may never have inhabited those basement suites and those ramshackle flats in sketchy parts of town. But those are stories for another day.

best/worst apartment you ever rented?

Friday, September 02, 2011

from ten floors up

... you get a finer appreciation for the sheer power of the physical beauty of this place. When we arrived in Vancouver yesterday, we were upgraded to an executive suite high atop the Sunset Inn, a suite overlooking False Creek and English Bay and the bottle-green highrises of downtown.

The view is spectacular, and from this height you can discern all the geographic attributes that make this city so appealing. But we find we sometimes miss the drama inherent in having a suite overlooking the back lane and the judgmental possibilities behind watching people park in a tight lot.

Last night we wandered down to English Bay and walked along the seawall, following the setting sun until it dipped into the ocean. The walkways were teeming with humanity, toddlers to grandmothers, cyclists and joggers and walking sticks. With every strolling couple we passed, we overheard tantalizing snippets of conversation, every third one in a language other than English. The night was bursting with life.

Today we perused the thrift stores for kitchen supplies and tomorrow the Resident Offspring Offspring Formerly Known as Resident moves into her new digs, after having reconnected with her peeps, as they all start to wander back into town. We old folks will be reconnecting with our own peeps, away from the ivory towers, amongst the rainbow flags of the West End.

Life is good on the coast.