Tuesday, April 30, 2013

setting the record straight

The Antagonist - Lynn Coady

Lynn Coady is a master of capturing the voice and the psyche of people on the margins. She hasn't lost her touch with The Antagonist.

Gordon Rankin ("Rank") grew up bigger and stronger than anyone else in his small town. Although it was contrary to his nature, he was cast early into the role of enforcer. It was a role that he fulfilled reluctantly, in order to gain the approval of classmates, coaches, and especially his own volatile father. 

Years after that thug status places him in the line of tragedy, Rank's now quiet existence is shaken when he discovers that a college friend - the only person to whom he has ever divulged his secrets - has written a book that is clearly about him. A book that places Rank in a less than flattering light. Through a series of emails to the former friend, he angrily sets out to take the author to task for this betrayal and to set the record straight. Along the way, Rank begins to question his own memory of those long ago events.   

You would never guess that this book was written by a girl. Coady has an unerring ability to portray male posturing in all its guises - in the locker room, in the parking lot, and in the dorm room. But with a deft hand, she is simultaneously able to move beyond the testosterone-laden camaraderie and rivalries, and uncover the motives that put those men into the roles they inhabit.

It's an inner understanding that Rank himself slowly uncovers, via months of unanswered email rants.

The Antagonist is both very readable and carefully nuanced. Well worth the read.

Friday, April 26, 2013

blink don't blink

Two days ago it was midwinter.
Downtrodden brown grass harboured the last sickly vestiges 
of the most recent ice age, 
while determined ridges of snirt clung to the pavement and clogged up wheel wells.
No time for such frivolous concepts as spring this year; suddenly it's midsummer,
and we've forgotten what it's like to close the doors and windows.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

transition zone home

Partly to commemorate yesterday's alignment of the stars  which brought us that most auspicious of double whammy holidays - Record Store Day and 420, but mostly to celebrate two very talented local bands who tend to tread along similar musical paths, today I bring you:

 Two Calgary Country Bands You Should Know:
The Wine Soaked Preachers and The Ruminants

The Wine Soaked Preachers:
The Preachers started life in a rather unlikely manner. As a Corb Lund tribute band, their aim was to spread the musical gospel of Alberta's favourite former punk now reborn country roots musician, and, while doing so, play every hotel in southern Alberta. The jury is out as to whether or not they achieved that second lofty goal, but along the journey, they amassed a considerable following, including that of one Corb Lund himself.

As will happen when you play enough music together, the Wine Soaked Preachers began to develop their own sound, and the trio started penning original songs. In the fall of 2012, the Wine Soaked Preachers recorded their debut album, Tales of Western Noir, a foot stomping, fire and brimstone sermon of white lightning and watering holes. With the exception of an Alberta-only remake of Hank Snow's I've Been Everywhere (subtitled In the Key of Alberta), all the songs on Tales of Western Noir are WSP originals. Tracks like The Lethbridge Provincial Gaol Blues and Swift River embrace deep-rooted provincial ties, and all the songs call for a bracing shot of whiskey and a resounding stomp of the cowboy boot.

The Wine Soaked Preachers are currently on hiatus, to accommodate the travel bug, but look for them at a holy watering hole near you sometime this summer. In the meantime, pick up their album, Tales of Western Noir. You'll soon see the light.


The Ruminants:
Longtime Calgary bar favourites, the Ruminants, celebrated the release of their debut album on April 19 with a barn burner at Mikey's Juke Joint. Which was only fitting, since the self-titled album was actually recorded in a barn.

It was a savvy move. The acoustics of the big old Rockyford barn lend an extra level of heartache to the soulful harmonies on tracks like Time is a Bleach and The Note. You can all but hear the lonesome freight train wailing in the distance beyond the barn walls on the lead track, Railyard, and on the dark reverb within the belly hollers of tracks like Anywhere But Here.

The Ruminants debut album is a tasty melange of heartache country and hook-laden stompers. You really should pick it up and have a listen to some down-home Calgary alt-country.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

working joe

I'm using an alarm clock these days. I'm now halfway through a temp day gig that has me rising at 5, much to the delight of the Slightly Retarded Kitty, who already figured that was the best possible time for humans to be rolling out of bed and tending to her needs.

I've learned a thing or two during my brief stint as a downtown office worker:
- If you are willing to walk four blocks you can park for $10 for the day (provided you arrive before 9AM) instead of $22. Hell yeah, I'll walk four blocks for $12!
- Leaving the house just past 7 and getting home just before 6 does not leave much time for errands. I have gained a whole new respect for the time management skills of normal people who work regular hours.
 - I don't have nearly enough office appropriate clothing, ie well-fitting, unstained, and unripped.
- If you pay attention, you can make it through the week without sustaining any paper cuts (or worse still, cardboard cuts).
- Winging it isn't all that hard; you'll figure it out or make it up as you go.
- Planning meals when you are at work all day takes a complete shift in mindset. Cheese sandwiches, it is.
What did you learn at work today?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

create destroy create

The goal is to make it through the next week or so with no paper cuts, grabbing sleep where possible. We'll start with a mini Martha getaway in the face of a threatening snowstorm. Forces of spring, be ye now fickle!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

the feet of the girl who serves

On Grey Cup weekend last November, I rustled up my usual massive batch of chili and tucked several containers away in the freezer for future self to enjoy on a cold grey dampish day. Today, the future arrived. 

Let's hear it for human forethought and chest freezers!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

shadow lens

eyes in the trees
formed by the play of branches and air
gaze into a world of lazy focus and wool-gathering
they are the descendants of wood panel afternoons
where nymphs and monsters ruled the walls
shifting in and out of vision in a kingdom of badly pressed particleboard 

Friday, April 05, 2013


We take our shoes off in the house, being good Canadians. Personal experience and popular culture has us believing that, in the USA, shoes are left on when entering the house.

But, the stupid question begs to be asked, and perhaps my American friends can set me straight on this burning diplomatic matter: what happens in the morning? Say you are getting dressed in the morning, but you aren't going to leave the house for a couple of hours, do you put your shoes on right away or wait until you are leaving the house? And where do slippers fit into this scenario anyway?

These are matters that we need clarified if we are going to maintain diplomatic relations along the 49th parallel. (And yet, we leave our shoes on at airport security...)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

chesterfield notes

We're all pretty satisfied to be settled back into our own personalized butt indentations on the chesterfield.  Some of us though, on occasion, still opt for human lap over foam cushions. Not as squishy perhaps, but way warmer.