Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sled scenes

sneaker ramp

boarder dog

Beekeeper at National Music Centre,
prior to their van window meeting a pole in the parking lot

We Are The City at National Music Centre,
after backing their van the wrong way down a one way 
without incident.  They win. 
Nardwuar heating up the crowd at National Music Centre
Andrew WK stops into National Music Centre for a 
surprise performance
with the Evaporators
while Nardwuar practices safe crowd-surfing

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You said I had the look of a prairie crow

I'm listening to a story on As It Happens about the infestation of tent caterpillars that's ravaging northern and central Alberta.  We're heading up to central Alberta this weekend, to a wedding - an outdoor wedding.  Sure am glad I know about the billions of tent caterpillars that will be there to greet us.

By contrast, the vegetation here in the south is ridiculously lush right now.  Everywhere you look, you are assaulted by such insane greenness that it almost seers your eyeballs.  We're used to brown.  June is our rainy month, however, so come August the grass will once again crunch as you walk across it.  As grass should.

We're heading out on the road early next week, crossing the gap that some call Saskatchewan, till we hit the golden shores of Manitoba on the far side.  There will be new babies to sniff, new homes to visit, and nieces to welcome home from a year in the desert.  Amongst all the family visits, we will check in on the money pit.  I'm already girding my loins for those 486 steps to the outhouse. 

Naturally I'll be putting together some road trip mixes.  

Any suggestions for a playlist, something 
that will really burn up the kilometres?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

sound science

Black Gramophone 
- Sarah Beatty

I love that Sarah Beatty's Twitter bio reads "Music and science. Science and music".  I completely get that.  Being a recovering neuroscience nerd, I find nothing odd about having two loves in two seemingly opposite universes.

I've been listening to Sarah Beatty's debut album, Black Gramophone, lately, and if it weren't for me bamboozling my schedule, I would have headed down to Mikey's Juke Joint this weekend to catch her set with Ralph Boyd Johnson. 

Black Gramophone is a sweetly acoustic offering.  Beatty's got this great blues sensibility, with a little jazz twist thrown in for good measure.  Songs like Finer Things, which had a real olde time blues feel, and The Right Shoes, that conjures up a Billie Holiday meets Feist vibe, really showcase her impressive voice. 

I would have liked a bit more instrumentation on the album, to compliment the guitar strumming. The final track, Autumn's Song, does feature a lovely electric guitar that cries oh so sweetly.  Its addition truly enhances mood of the song and I would have loved to hear more. Conversely a completely a capella album would have been very powerful and would have been a really bold move to showcase Beatty's voice.

Black Gramophone is a really fine first album, and Sarah Beatty can be proud of her efforts.  She's currently on tour, making her initial foray into the wild west, so look for her to swing through your town.  Definitely go to her show.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

pop goes the contest

It's album giveaway time again!  

Once again, our friends at With A Bullet have some new music they'd like to share with you.  If you're a fan of synth-heavy disco pop that will get your booty moving, you are going to want to get in on this. 

I have three CD copies of Gossip's new album, A Joyful Noise, to give away.  All you have to do is answer this skill-testing question: "Do you want a copy?"  Winners will be chosen by random draw from one of the disco boots that lives in the back of my closet.

The contest is only open to Canadian residents, unfortunately, but if you maintain a mailing address in the true north strong and free, you are in the running.  Contest closes midnight (my time, yo) on June 21, 2012.

Get down.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

write my mind the way I want it to read

There's a bunch of lilacs in a jar on my kitchen table.  Purple ones from the tree in the back yard, the one that hangs over the fence into the lane. 

The lilacs seem to be particularly fragrant this year, which is good, not only for the obvious joy of having a house smelling of lilacs, but also because they help to mask the stinky mountain ash tree in the front yard.  The mountain ash looks lovely, bunches of white blossoms hanging heavy from the boughs.  But there's something wrong with those blossoms this year.  They smell just like rotting potatoes.  That can't be right.

In other news, I noticed today that the middle lawnmower kid has shaved all his hair off, much like his older brother, the bossy one, did last summer.  It must be a lawnmower kid right of passage or something.  I fully expect to see the youngest, the creepy one, do something similar next summer.

Are you seeing signs of summer?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

nice one, Mr. Vonnegut

It caught my eye while I was reading in bed the other night, a little scrawl on the back of the book.  Directly under the photo of the author, it seemed deliberately placed.

I forgot about it for a few days, but then it caught my eye again this morning.  As I inspected it under better light than my bedside lamp, I could see that it was clearly a signature.  I could make out a K and a couple of ts and what looked like an asterisk. Could it really be Kurt Vonnegut's signature?

A quick trip to the internet seemed to confirm that it indeed was.  The scuff-marked paperback that I had picked up for $2.00 at the CBC Calgary Reads book sale was sporting a Kurt Vonnegut signature.

Are you sure that's not just part of the book cover? The Spousal Unit was skeptical as I proudly pointed out the similarities between the signature on my book and the samples posted online.  And of course, a side trip to Amazon did indeed show the back cover of Timequake as sporting that very same signature.

It was still pretty thrilling though, and I like to think that Kurt Vonnegut had exactly this sort of scenario in mind when he made his signature part of the book jacket. Kilgore Trout would certainly approve.

I had already decided, while I was still considering the possibility that there was an original Kurt Vonnegut autograph on the back of my secondhand paperback, that I would never sell this book.  I'm not sure what he would have thought of that.

What's the most curious thing you have ever found in a book?

Friday, June 08, 2012

noise you can dance to

A Joyful Noise - Gossip

They've dropped the article from the band name and picked up a synthesizer instead.  Beth Ditto still boasts powerful pipes, but the punky soulful sound that characterized the band when they were The Gossip has been replaced on their new album, A Joyful Noise, by a decidedly disco pop bent.

With a few exceptions (Into the Wild, Casualties of War), the use of synth is kind of overbearing, as though each song were competing to be more anthemic than the last.  There's nothing wrong with an anthemic song, of course, and Ditto certainly has the lungs to belt out an anthem, but a little restraint would have been refreshing.

I'm not sure if anything would have helped the lyrics though.  Repetitive and vapid, they begin to grate at about the halfway mark of each song.  The worst offender is Get a Job, which attempts to delve into Pulp territory without any of the snarling subversion or venom of Common People, and with a chorus that is just plain annoying.

A Joyful Noise can actually be enjoyable on some levels.  It's certainly dancy, and if you can get past the lyrics and the relentless synth, it will get you up on the dance floor.  I see it being a good fit at clubs or weddings, but I am not sure it bears repeated listening at home.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

nice work if you can get it

Some of the sights that I see when I go into work never fail to make me smile.

And these are just a sample.
I work in the coolest place ever.

Monday, June 04, 2012

hunting by rivers, through the streets

Despite what Joy Division may have taught us, it's not always such a bad thing to walk in silence.  

The ridge was calling to me on Sunday morning, inviting me to ditch the basement workout in favour of taking the air, to stretch my legs instead on the pathway between the fancy houses to my left and the river valley underscoring the mountains on the horizon to my right.  Steve, the ipod which normally accompanies me on these walks, didn't appear to be holding its charge.  But the ridge was calling, not to be ignored, so I opted for silence and empty pockets.

That doesn't mean I was without music though.  I have had John K Samson's infectious song, When I Write My Master's Thesis, stuck in my head for the past week.  Turns out it's precisely the right beat at which to maintain a brisk pace.  

It's quite surprising what you can hear when you are without ear buds. At one point, a large crow flew over me at low altitude.  I could hear the flapping of its wings as it approached, before I even saw the bird itself.  They sound powerful. Remind me never to get into a bitch-slapping incident with a crow.

The mountains on the horizon were surprisingly snow-capped, which is heartening, hopefully a sign that the eventual melt will provide us with sufficient water throughout the season.  I watched them maintain their distance, the meandering creek in the valley below protecting me from their menace.  I like the mountains from that distance; they just provide a picturesque backdrop to the prairie horizon.  I don't need to get much closer than that.

When I had seen enough nature, I simply turned my head slightly to check out the houses across the road.  They are occupied by some seriously house-proud folks.  I doubt my weedy patchy lawn would be welcomed in the neighbourhood.  I had to think of the Offspring when I realized that at least 3/4 of the houses that I passed had balconies.  She loved balcony houses when she was wee.  Ironically she now lives below grade.  

Where do you walk?

Saturday, June 02, 2012

nothing like napalm

I love the smell of a June morning.  I open the front door to bring in the newspaper and before I even have the screen door halfway open, the scent enfolds me, and I am at the lake. 

It's that deliciously soft moistness that can only be maintained by nearness to a body of water.  When we lived in southwestern Ontario, we knew too well that the morning sweetness would soon morph into oppressive humidity, into air like pudding.  Here in the high plains desert, it quickly burns off in the glaring sun.  But those brief morning hours, they smell so sweet.

The last few days the Slightly Retarded Kitty has been coming home looking like a refugee from a My Little Pony wedding.  As the cherry tree in the front yard slowly loses its blooms, the prevailing wind has been blowing the pink confetti onto our front porch and sidewalk.  The SRK, always a big fan of sidewalk rolling and the subsequent outdoor belly rub, generally manages to find the pinkest sidewalk block on which to commence rolling.  She looks fancy in pink.

June, of course, is recital month, so I am spending a lot of time at work, listening to Chopsticks. It's an easy gig, and a great chance to catch up on my reading.  Kurt Vonnegut, currently.  I may need to reread those paperbacks of his that are falling apart on my bookshelf.

What are you reading?  What do your mornings smell like?