8/31/2006

Get Your Freak On

I finally got my opera tickets for the coming year which makes me quite happy.

This will be the Canadian Opera Company’s inaugural season at the shiny new Four Seasons Centre. That seems a lovely and perfect name until you remember the corporate association. When I think of people singing in hotels, I think more about vacation sex than opera.

Corporate naming and renaming annoys the hell out of me but if it gets big money thrown at the arts, I guess I can live with it. Lyle Lovett made a point about this too when he played here at the Hummingbird Centre.

The Hummingbird used to be the O’Keefe so we went from a beer company to a business solutions company. As a venue, it’s pretty good and I’ve seen some great shows there but for opera, it’s a little like being in a barn.

Apart from claims of acoustical superiority and improved sightlines at the Four Seasons, I read somewhere that the people watching opportunities will be vastly improved owing to the design. Now that’s something worth talking about.

It’s all about you and the night and the music. I get to point and laugh at what you’re wearing, revel in my superior taste, hear some great singing and go home with a smile on my face. I mean, it’s not vacation sex but it’s still pretty damned good.

They Didn't Start The Fire

When someone mentioned that the The International Association of Firefighters would be in town this week, a lot of women at work seemed to go all squishy at the prospect.

Well, they're here now and although I'm sure most of them are quality human beings, they're not the stuff that calendar dreams are made of.

There are a lot of sad and decidedly non squishy women at work now.

8/30/2006

Wriggle Me This

Remember the good old days when Barbara Walters still had tear ducts? It was around the same time we still pretended it was an accent and not a speech impediment. Ms. Walters seemed to have it all -- a good rep in the news world, those wascally Oscar specials, and 20/20 with Huge Downs. But the world was not enough for Barbara and so in her one spare moment that year, she breathed life into a still standing estrogen fest called The View.

She populated this brave new world with journalistically well hung
Meredith (Baxter) Vieira, Joy Behar, edgy enough to maybe, just maybe go off on someone, Queen of the Lawyuhr Laydees Star Jones and the young and innocent (dumb) Debbie Matenopolous. When Barbara wasn't busy getting her face pulled like Mona did in Brazil, she'd sit in with les girls.

At first Debbie M. seemed like a breath of fresh air and then, she opened her mouth. From that moment on, it was clear that she had to go.
SNL even got in on the act spoofing the dumbness that was Debbie by throwing her in a large bag with snakes and clubbing her. In real life, poor Debbie was eventually eaten by Star Jones and just like that, the world's problems were solved. Yay!

Right now I feel a little like Debbie. Each time I open my mouth, a lot of hot air escapes and so I close it again. I haven't had an idea of my own in ages and so I've been a little like
sponge toffee and soaked up what some of you guys like to get up to.

I now present Exbibits 1 through however many I may have already forgotten:

Angela mentioned the Warhol exhibit. I went to the gallery and wrote about it.

Beth brought up her love of Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. I went to his concert and wrote about it.

Holly talked about a documentary called New York Doll about Arthur Killer Kane. I saw it and wrote about it.

Skincarver/Creepy wrote about the film The 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada. I watched and wrote about it.

Ziggy mentioned The Saddest Music In The World. I played along at home and wrote about it.

Coaster Punchman and Lulu waxed eloquently about Roberston Davies. I ordered a trilogy and will write about it.

All I want to know before I go any further is, which one of you has the bag of snakes?

8/29/2006

Mmm Mmm Good

At my workplace, there's been a renewed interest in health and safety issues lately. As with most things, it's cyclical. Every couple of years somebody throws together a committee and pamphlets and stickers are handed out to remind me not to drink the liquid paper. Don't they know I can't be taught?

Today I received a very important priority email advising that one of the computer programs we use has had a background colour makeover and will now cause less eye strain. Do you know the level of excitement this could cause around here?

I need a drink.

8/28/2006

The Saddest Music In The World

At Ziggy’s behest, I watched a film on the weekend called The Saddest Music in the World. He declared my fellow Canadian Guy Maddin, director and screenwriter, a genius or someone in need of intense therapy.

I can recall hearing about the film back when it debuted but it somehow managed toget pushed from my memory. Rather than be charged with dereliction of duty to hearth and home, I settled in for a look.

The picture was charmingly oddball and inventively shot. The sets were a bit small and off kilter with interesting (mostly black and white) lighting effects providing atmosphere.


At times, it looked like a play taking place in a snow globe and filtered through several tasty pints of beer. Speaking of beer, the lovely Eesa-bella Rossellini plays Lady Helen Port-Huntley who runs a tavern. She decides to host a contest in Depression era Winnipeg to find a contender from all the countries of the world that can come up with the saddest music. What she’s really doing is profiteering and presenting a plot point that will serve to introduce us to an unlikely love triangle that will propel the story forward.

It may be a little more complicated than that actually. It might or might not involve some missing legs. Oh, and now that I think about it? What's a four letter word for love triangle, one with five people? I know! M-E-S-S! Yes, mess, but it's one worth sorting out on a quiet Sunday morning.

Adding an additional layer of kook is Maria de Medeiros who I last saw driving a cab in Pulp Fiction and before that driving herself between Henry Miller and his wife in Henry & June. Mark McKinney, David Fox and Ross McMillan round out the major players in the film and they’re entertaining to watch with Fox and McMillan being particularly well used.

Music plays an expectedly wonderful role in the proceedings and the soundtrack is something I’d like to hear out of context of the film to hear how it might work.

I declare Guy Maddin an underappreciated genius and hereby reclaim my proud citizenship.

Cheers.

Pulse

I watched my new dvd of Pink Floyd: Pulse and enjoyed it a lot. What’s not to like with freshly mixed 5.1 surround sound, cool packaging and some really great songs? The 2 dvd set is a document of Pink Floyd’s 1994 lineup and Division Bell show at Earl's Court in London.

I'm a casual fan of the band being familiar with Dark Side of the Moon courtesy of the tutelage of my older brothers just before they crossed over to the dark side. The Wall was a fascinating album to me at 15, although all I really understood was that it sounded pretty damned great in spots and got me to happily yell along with Hey! Teacher!, leave us kids alone!

The 2nd disc in the set has the band performing Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety along with some great encores. Disc 1 also has some great stuff but also some material I wasn't familiar with. To make up for that, there is a lot of spectacular lighting design, filmed bits and “lazers” to take in.

The venue looks spectacularly large and the crowd very well behaved but that makes sense when you realize thousands of people are fervently praying that they timed their drugs just so.

The camera work was pretty static and really showed off the massive attack the boys launched on the crowd. I’d read someone’s criticism that they felt the camera jumped around too much. I completely disagree. If you want to see some slapdash editing and manic camera movement, try KISS Symphony sometime, a cool but near motion sickness inducing show. (But, KISS and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in full KISS makeup? Yes please.)

Now, as much as I liked the music, the lights, the sound and the fury, I wondered if the band actually needed to be there. They were physically distanced from the crowd by a fair bit and nearly inanimate. You might say that it’s entertainment enough for them just to recreate their songs in grand fashion but, guys, a little movement goes a long way. There was one percussionist who did some jumping around and the backup singers had their own groovy syncopation going on but otherwise I felt a bit emotionally disconnected from the whole experience.

Everyone in the front rows must have enjoyed the complimentary tans provided by the lighting effects although they may have been a bit unhappy about the lack of visual perspective on the whole production otherwise.

When Bjork was here a few summers ago and played a general admission concert on Toronto Island, I held back a bit from getting too close and was glad I did because I’d read that she had her own fireworks in tow on the tour. She set them off in sync with four of her songs and seeing the lake behind her and the Toronto skyline lit up while she sang was pure magic.

Back to the Floyd, if you’re a fan or just someone who enjoys a nice spectacle now and then, I’d recommend the Pulse dvd. It’s one of those things that I’ve let play while I’m futzing about doing other things and it’s just as much fun.

8/26/2006

Music To Make Friends By

A few weeks back, Creepy had posted a photo on his blog of his nice shiny new set of DC Comics stamps that he had framed. I thought this was a cool idea and since I like comics and interesting stuff on the walls of my TV room, I ordered a set from the United States Postal Service. They showed up in pretty good time although the shipping cost almost as much as the stamps themselves.

I stopped in to see my favourite framing guy today. He's an Asian guy who runs an art and framing shoppe with his wife. He has a lot of his own photography hanging on the walls for sale and it's all amazing stuff. I think of him as sort of a Leonardo da Chinki. I let him pick out the mattes and frames because he's got a really great eye (and one milky one) and I trust his judgement.

20 dollah he says. 20 dollah I say? Okay. It be ready Monday. Okay.

I pay his beautiful wife (the Kimona Lisa) and bow and sank you all the way out.

All that just to get you to listen to this song from Avenue Q still running on Broadway. If you haven't seen it and get the chance, it's well worth it. The Bolt link isn't always working. The song is called Everyone's A Little Bit Racist. It's funny and true.


Upload music at Bolt.

The Little Girl Giant

Click the title of the post if the video doesn't show up.

Everybody's Doing It

Taking a cue from pioneer woman MellowLee (and now Beth), I figured out that the good folks at Bolt could help me enhance my whole experience at trying to sell you people on my musical taste.

So if you go to my previous post for example, you can now listen in on the song I was talking about and decide if I'm an insufferable gasbag with no taste or if maybe I'm onto something every now and then.

I just know Mary Margaret's going to show up in my backyard all pitchforks and threats but I don't care, I'll declare my love right to her sweet face.

8/25/2006

Miss America

It's one of those music saves the day days.

Don't believe me? Go ask almost anyone on my link list over there and they'll tell you. At least 8 of them posted about music. Something in the air. And in the veins.

Right now, I'm listening to a beautiful song by Mary Margaret O'Hara called Keeping You In Mind from her critically acclaimed but otherwise underappreciated album Miss America.

I didn't know anything about Mary Margaret until I came across her cassette at a garage sale that I was dragged to one summer day. I took a chance on it and was glad I did. The tape eventually was worn out from use and so, I bought the CD. This was then stolen and Mary temporarily drifted out of my life. A while back I found a few of her songs online and since then she's been back where she belongs.

Mary is actress Catherine O'Hara's sister. I love them both dearly and once saw them having lunch in a little place in Hazelton Lanes in Yorkville. I wanted to go over and declare my love but was shy and feared that not only would I interrupt their lunch but also that I'd say something stupid and inconsequential. I still regret it.

Mary is one of those singers who has an otherworldly quality to her voice. It sounds like nobody else's as it lilts and caves, then rallies and soars. She has a unique stage presence as well as I learned when I saw her open for Blue Rodeo at Massey Hall.

Her movement was what I'm sure many would call affected but watching her, I believed every tilt of her head, wave of her hand and scuffle of her shoe. When she had left the stage, I asked Debra what she thought and she said Christ, it looked like she was trying to scrape shit off her shoe the whole time. What the hell was that all about?

It was then that I knew Mary wasn't for everyone.

Reluctant genius.


Like a listen?

Upload music at Bolt.



EDIT -- And if you'd like an example or two of Mary Margaret's dance style, Youtube has a video for Body's In Trouble and a live performance of When You Know Why You're Happy. Enjoy. Or don't.

8/24/2006

Book 'Em

NYC Beauty of Views From A Broad tagged me after her post on Favourite Books. I immediately went to my Blogger profile to see what kind of books I like. I wrote a long entry and hit the pretty orange button and oops, all that I had written disappeared. Here’s a recap for those of you who weren’t living in my brain at the time of this tragedy.

When I was a young lad, I read Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick and then I read it some more. It took me to some strange places and made me think, wonder, worry and laugh. I still have a copy and after reading it again as an adult I was a little less impressed but still fondly remember the daydreaming it caused. Blade Runner, the film, was based on this book and is a favourite too although as always, there were changes from the book.

This next guy, well, what can I say? I loved him before Oprah did. I even wrote him a fan letter which is out of character for me. What’s more surprising is that he jotted a lovely note back. Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance is a tale of struggle and humanity lost and found amid the chaos of 1970’s India.

The characters are so well realized and the writing so vivid that I found myself quite worried about them. I wanted to give them advice and stop them from certain torment any time I saw them heading for a wrong turn. But nobody ever listens to me. Family Matters and Such A Long Journey are well worth the read too.

As wondrous a debut novel as any I’ve ever read, Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald is a dazzling and evocative saga following a Nova Scotia family through some intense and turbulent trials. The writing is just amazing. If I knew how to properly describe it, I’d be busy writing my own book.

I once had the pleasure of seeing Ms. MacDonald perform in her excellent play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) and that too was a very enjoyable experience. I don’t want to say this but I’ve started her latest novel several times but have not been able to progress. I will try again hoping the magic is only temporarily lost on me.

Running With Scissors was a book given me by a friend and primarily bought for the funny cover shot of the boy with the box on his head. Augusten Burroughs’ harrowing childhood adventures are now well known and a film is to be released starring some big name talent. I laughed, I cried, I was impacted. Many of my unusual childhood recollections pale in comparison with the ones outlined in the book but still, I identified.

What I admired most was the way the author was able to so successfully temper the horror with humour. I wondered how he made it through all that in one piece. And then I read his follow up, Dry. Everything made more sense.

There are so many books that have moved me in the last few years like Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Paul Auster’s Oracle Night, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

Although I didn’t finish it until on the way to work this morning, I had already decided to go with another Auster book for this list, The Book Of Illusions. By the time I was about 1/3 of the way through it, I felt like I had read a couple of good books already. Mr. Auster is a masterful storyteller and artist and this book is going to stay with me a long time. It has suspense, drama, hope, love, loss and a lot more going on and is just what I'd been wanting in the last few books I'd slogged through.

I could go on and on with my silly love letter but for now, I’ll close and say thank you to all who have kept me in such good company.

I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony so please feel free to share some of your favourites in the comment box or enjoy the home game.

8/23/2006

Pipe Cleaners


The configuration of my workstation / cubicle / pod / life draining station is such that three women sit in very close proximity to me. While I enjoy talking to them and working with them, I don’t really enjoy hearing about every aspect of their latest dieting schemes.

This week the topic seems to be all about the benefits of a body cleanse. I have my shower every day I tell them. They say no, no, not that type of cleanse, the type where I bore you with details of what I can and cannot eat all week in the hopes of better health, possible weight loss and cleaner pipes.

Word to the wise? I don’t give a shit. Although I’m guessing you do. Or will.

8/22/2006

When Love Comes To Town

It’s 8:30 a.m., I’m at work and one of my co-workers is eating cold pizza. I walked by and said Ah, pizza, I love cold pizza. At the same time, a female coworker happened by and said Ew, how can you eat that it’s disgusting? We argued that there’s nothing quite like the taste of congealed cheese, dried up pepperoni and cold tomato sauce. She wasn’t buying it.

This made me think of how as a child, I loved being the first to wake up on those mornings after my parents had had a party. My whole purpose in beating my siblings to the punch was that I got to eat like a king feasting on leftover delights like vegetable thin crackers that had been dabbed with cream cheese and a sliced olive delicately placed on top. Aged overnight, this was the ultimate in refined dining to me.

As my palate matured and the colours in my palette changed, I found myself enjoying ever more exotic delights like Chef Boy-ar-dee ravioli. The only way to eat it was cold right out of the can. Considering my mother’s general cooking skills, having the Chef take care of dinner was like having a gourmet friend stop by and make everything all better.

Now, I look back and smile knowing that I’ve come a long way. Those childhood delights were but stepping stones in my evolution into the person I am today. When the chef visits now, I always empty the can into a bowl. I’m not an animal.

8/21/2006

Lunch Money

I decided a long time ago that I waste a lot of money every day buying my lunch at work.

My rationale is simple. If I bring my lunch to work, I’ll get sick of eating boring sandwiches. So, instead, I choose to buy and eat boring sandwiches every day. I showed me, didn't I?

Another longstanding problem has always been that there’s nothing suitable for me to carry my lunch in. There's just something about a simple brown bag or a grocery bag that screams COMMON SENSE to me and so that’s definitely out. A briefcase maybe? I ruled this out because I don’t have the type of job that requires the transport of important looking documents hither and yon. European carry-all? Not a look I could pull off. Backpack? Since my nice leather one was stolen that time, I never got around to replacing it.

I settled in to do some research. Years went by as I watched, listened and slowly tabulated my findings. The briefcase as viable lunch carrier had been passed over too hastily. My results conclusively showed that briefcases are primarily employed by people who need a safe haven for their car keys, sunglasses, umbrellas and lunches. Occasionally work can be found in them but only if there’s room.

Yesterday, I set out for the mall and purchased a beautiful new leather briefcase. I was so happy packing it with a nice lunch, a few snack items, the cell phone I never use, my book and a pen. Imagine the spring in my step as I rose up to my full height and made my way to the train station. And then turned around and went back home. I wondered how it would work on a Monday!

8/20/2006

Chaos / Control

Bow down before Andi. She's looking for some help with submissions for her webzine Estella's Revenge but her deadline is August 28 so go find her now and pledge your love.

Her theme this month is Appearances. Give her some book or music reviews and become a global superstar. Plus I heard she pays $1000 a word.*







*This part may not be true.

Si Si

I watched The Ring Two this afternoon. As far as horror movies go, it wasn't the greatest. Suspense was lacking and there weren't even many of those Gotcha! scares.

Alright, alright, I'll admit it. There was that one part that made me jump. And scream. And then nervously laugh.

It was right at the moment when I realized that Sissy Spacek was in this movie. It was only a small part but come on, Sissy, are things really this bad? Call me, I can spot you a few bucks.

8/19/2006

How's My Blogging?

I always let a few days go by from the time Grant Miller blogs about his site traffic to when I decide to spontaneously post about the same thing. It's not that I forget about Site Meter or anything until I wander by and notice he's done it again. No.

So, here are some of the fun ways people have ended up on my blog's doorstep lately.

signs of manorexia - I'm the #1 hit in Japan. Or is that Chinese. Whatever.

"happy is the soul ..." rain - also, happy is the funk soul brother ... sun

dale the lazy bastard - how very dare you! Uh oh, #1 again. I haven't made it down to Stupid Evil Bastard Dale which is a few slots down.

"BuonDi breakfast" - without crispy bacon, there is no point.

how d i avoid dead spots in my thyme groundcover - what am I working for Harrowsmith now?

Dale Morgenstern - at no time have I ever looked like Rhoda, Brenda, Ida or the dad

gerber baby auditions canada - this one horrified me a bit because I was complaining about babies and swearing at the same time. No worse I suppose than pimping your bundle of joy out for some easy advertising bucks though is it?

Insert witty closing remarks. Someone, please.

Nan (The Catherine Tate Show)

I'm It

Beth said tag and so I gave it the old Nike try.

Ten Years Ago - I was dreaming of this day, the day I got to answer questions about what I was doing ten years ago. I can barely remember ten minutes ago so I'm lucky that this one worked out.

Five Years Ago - Also Sprach Zarathustra played over and over in my head to the point of distraction.

One Year Ago - I was still shaking and turning grey while my body began a detox from nicotine. Duskily complected = Very uncool.

Five Songs I Know All The Words To
Happy Birthday
What Do You Do / Glory of Love - Lyle Lovett
I'm The Man Who Murdered Love - XTC
Something About Trains - Jane Siberry
Unemployed In Summertime - Emiliana Torrini

Five Snacks I Love And Wish I Could Eat
Fried Clams
Dixie Lee Fried Chicken
Lay's Smoky Bacon Chips
Chocolate Sundaes
Donairs

Places I'd Run Away To
Italy
Prince Edward Island
New York City
My TV Room
U.K.

Five Favourite TV Shows (Current or Vintage)
Six Feet Under
The Sopranos
Square Pegs
Oz
Catherine Tate

Five Things I'd Never Wear
What you've got on right now
Those rubbery trendy cloggy gardening shoes
An ascot
Bells on my toes
An eyebrow piercing

Five Favourite Toys
PC
iPod
Surround Sound System
Gamecube
Slinky

8/18/2006

LL Cool Jesus

The first neighborhood I can remember living in as a child was home to what theTownsfolk called the low rentals. It was government built housing for lower income families and we had one of the lowluxe four bedroom models that came with its own refrigerator and stove.

Let it be known that we weren’t so poor that we didn’t have a little something to call our own. We arrived in this situation with our very own fridge. Imagine the lofty distinction of being the only family on the block with two fridges. It made sense until you did the math and realized we could barely keep one of them in food. And so, the downstairs fridge generally sat idle but willing.

My mother was a busy woman being a mother of nine but this did not stop or slow down her active involvement with various Church activities. Her most mysterious affiliation was with the Catholic Women’s League. The only thing we kids knew about the CWL was what she always said when asked what they actually did. Without fail, she would exclaim it’s a national organization! as if that explained everything.

From time to time, the CWL would have a bake sale, presumably by national decree, and my mother would launch into action convening a committee and calling people to find out what they would bake or contribute. She herself was always at the ready with a pan of Queen Elizabeth squares when called upon.

The husband of one of the members of my mother's coven worked at a grocery store and decided to donate a dozen bags of doughnuts, the kind that were sold in a bag with a little cellophane window on the front. As the bake sale was a week away, mom called the auxiliary fridge into action and the bags fit nicely into the usually lonely freezer.

My brother decided that having so much treasure close by was too great a temptation and he hatched a plan. He took a doughnut thinking it might not be noticed. Because one doughnut is widely known to never be enough, he decided he’d take another but this time he took it from the next bag. As the week wore on, he progressed bag by bag until he’d eaten a full dozen. He was full, of doughnuts and himself.

My mother somehow became aware of my brother’s crime against church and committee and he was soundly thrashed for his sins. She repopulated the missing spot in each bag with a doughnut from the final bag and paid for those who were lost in action.

To this day I’m convinced that his nefarious plan would never have been discovered if the CWL hadn’t been a national organization. National organizations have resources. Don't mess with Jesus' ladies.

8/17/2006

Ik riep enkel...*

I stepped away from my desk at work for about 5 minutes this morning and missed the second most interesting thing to happen to me today.

A friend of mine moved to London to work her kung fu magic at a new job recently and I'd already begun lamenting that she's never been the best stay in toucher.

And then she called! Yayyyy! And got my voice mail at work. Ohhhhhh.

She wasn't calling from London but from Johannesburg, South Africa. She said she'd been sent there to do a few weeks work and left me her numbers and said that although there's a 6 hour time difference I should call anytime anyway.

As we're not allowed to make international calls at work and I couldn't remember my calling card number, I raced home at the end of the day to ring her up. I got her on the phone just before her bedtime and we spent time getting each other up to speed on our news and had some choice laughs. I missed her before the phone call even ended.

She's been to England, France, Germany and now S.A. in a short span and managed to get there in style. I'm a little jealous.

I wonder what an hour's worth of catching up with your friend in South Africa costs these days? Who cares? I'm sending her the bill. Fucking show off.

Nothing else more interesting happened to me today. I just wanted to add a little sexy danger to the post.

*I just called...

Photo Passion

Just to prove I'm a copycat and never have an original thought, I took a cue from Chelene and her photoblog and Just A Cool Cat and his high bandwith blog and made one of my own.

I put a few photos up and will add some more as it suits my lazy self. Check them out here if you'd like.

8/15/2006

I Fear Me

My biggest fear is not that I will be misquoted but that I will be air quoted. So I guess in the fear department, I'm calming down.

On How Life Is

On Friday I used a vacation day just because I wanted to. No sick days were harmed in the scheduling of this event. I did next to nothing and revelled in it.

On Saturday, I was to officially declare my triumph at having quit smoking for a year. I woke up at 6 a.m. with a migraine, something that happens maybe once every couple of years. Six hours of curling up into impossibly small versions of myself seemed to cure it.

On Sunday while I was sitting around aging, my lower back began to get a bit sore. I visited the Warhol exhibit which was cool. By Sunday evening I could barely walk.

On Monday, I went to work, suffered through it with the help of some over the counter meds and trooper that I am, let Dr. Lyle Lovett cure my Big Backache for just under 3 hours.

On Tuesday, now, I've been through my blogroll and feel a bit better.

On Wednesday after work, I'm going to try and fit in my Pink Floyd Pulse dvd which arrived yesterday. I'm a minor Floyd fan but this sounded pretty cool.

On and on I go.

Well You Ugly Too!

How can I best describe a show that brought together folk and bluegrass, jazz and swing, country and gospel and made the most joyous noise I'd heard in a while? By saying this: Lyle Lovett & His Large Band.

Back in July, Beth shared her passion for Lyle the man, his large band and her great plan in her Tuesday series of favourite albums. Although Beth's usually agreeable, she demanded that the next time Lyle was in anyone's neck of the woods, it would be in theri best interest to go and check out the show. Since I'm a good listener and maybe a bit impressionable, I snapped up tickets as soon as I saw he was heading my way. There's no telling why I'd been too stupid to see him in concert before now considering I'd enjoyed Lyle for a whyle.

Although I would have glady paid the price of the ticket just for the pleasure of seeing and hearing Lyle and the amazing Francine Reed sing What Do You Do / The Glory of Love, I got so much more. Counting Mr. Lovett, there were 18 virtuosos up on the stage of the Hummingbird Centre demonstrating their wonderful artistry and managing to look like they were having a ball at the same time. Great horns, guitars, mandolin, percussion, piano, voices, ahhhh.

When he wasn't wowing the crowd with renditions of a lot of his great tunes or generously shining the spotlight on his fellow performers, Lyle took the time to engage and amuse the audience with anecdotes about growing up in Texas, the effects of corporate branding and his local weatherman among other things. He even tied in some Toronto references and none of it sounded the least bit rehearsed or scripted.

Everyone got a chance to shine and showcase their playing and the four other singers added a real punch to the proceedings shining brightest on some of the livelier numbers where lots of space was left for them to inhabit and play in vocally. Francine Reed got two barnburning numbers to herself and the crowd was absolutely hers for every note.

The show clocked in at over two and a half hours and helped banish the fact that it was a drizzly Monday night. Many of my favourite tunes got played and included:

Family Reserve
Since The Last Time
Church
What Do You Do/Glory of Love
Here I Am
She's Hot To Go
If I Had A Boat
That's Right You're Not From Texas
Walk Through The Bottomland
This Old Porch

Thank you Lyle, thank you Large Band and thank you Beth for threatening me. It was a great evening and I'm glad I didn't miss it.

8/13/2006

Flaming Star

Generally, I have little interest in art exhibitions but Angela's reportage on the Art Gallery of Ontario show called Andy Warhol SUPERNOVA Stars, Deaths And Disasters 1962-1964 last week piqued my interest.

I haven't been to an Art Gallery in ages. I'm not sure if it's de rigueur that everyone gets a handheld phone like device to play with? I have seen them on guided tours but not in an art gallery before. They work like so: the exhibits are numbered, you punch the corresponding number into the phone and listen up while someone tells you what you're looking at and gives it some context. (In this case it was guest curator David Cronenberg and others such as Dennis Hopper)

Using this phone and looking around at everyone was a bit like watching a strange dance that Andy would no doubt have enjoyed. The steps were simple -- mill about, shuffle your feet, breathe, listen and nod knowingly to no one. I did make it a point to talk to my friend John at first in hushed tones and then in my normal speaking voice to see if this would affect anyone. I did get a few dirty looks but nothing like the ones my mother used to give me for talking in Church.

It was interesting to see how Andy appropriated images from newspapers, magazines and popular culture and made them more iconic by simple virtue of adding splashes of colour and repetition. I was surprised at how impactful and effective this made them.

A lot of the pieces on show were stark and disturbing while others were tragic and funny at the same time. I thought Mr. Cronenberg did a fantastic job with juxtaposing some of the filmed works with the still ones. Some of his commentary I found a bit far reaching but then again, I don't wear glasses like he does.

One of the biggest challenges while listening was stopping my eyes skipping ahead to the next display. Elvis 1 & 2 was larger than life and just drinking in the range on the panels from garish technicolor through to a fading obscurity was a feat. I'd seen this image many times but up close it was a different and surprisingly emotional experience.

There were some great quotes on the walls from Andy and also a wonderful Mappelthorpe portrait of him. Throw in a few electric chairs, nudity, some Jackie O, film pieces and those wonderful screen tests and you've got yourself a great afternoon.

And as for that phone, I listened and heard Andy through it and I know he heard me. He told me to make this for you. And so I did.

8/12/2006

Nastassia Kinkajou

I heard on the radio earlier that Paris Hilton required a tetanus shot after suffering a superficial bite from her pet kinkajou. Could Paris have any other type of calamity than a superficial one?

At first I though kinkajou was a term of endearment she'd given Saviour Onassis after their recent meeting but I was relieved to learn that he wasn't implicated.

Or, I'm Just Lazy

I had been looking forward to seeing the film Cache (Hidden) for a while. Mob posted a good review without giving the game away and I'll wait here while you go and read it.

This film succeeds on a lot of levels. I felt that a genuine sense of dread, tension and foreboding were masterfully presented by director Michael Haenke. This is quite a feat considering the nearly dispassionate way events unfold. There's no unnecesary camera movement and a limited number of close ups that makes perfect sense in the constructs of the piece.

Generally I do enjoy art that leaves some wiggle room and ambiguity but having said that, I couldn't have hated the ending of this film more. I've cobbled together my own conclusions but it may well be the least work I've ever done trying to play fill in the blanks.

At this point in my life where I find peel and eat shrimp more work than they're worth, I can't afford to spend any more time theorizing about this film. I have more important work to do like consider whether Juliette Binoche and Rachel Griffiths could pass as sisters. Maybe they should work together. Just sorting out the accents would be fun to listen to.

Jesus Close The Blinds

Nobody ever comes right out and says it and that's why I'm here. I love migraines. Some people pay top dollar to be forced into submission, kept immobile in a dark room for hours and focussed only on what they're feeling. Migraines give you that for free. And like everything else, they're from baby Jesus.

Advantage One

Being a centaur in the middle of a battle wouldn't be so bad. At least you don't have to worry about your horse running away.

8/11/2006

I Ain't Missing You At All

At the top of my street, there's a car wash, the kind that's drive in, self serve and coin operated. Turn the dial to your desired soap and spray combination, put your change in and do the chamois shake.

The car wash has been there as long as I can remember. It sees a lot of action because let's face it, car pride and thriftiness go hand in hand.

Today, I noticed a professionally painted sign on top I hadn't seen before. It says STILL A CAR WASH.

Why would anyone affix that sign to the building when it's function is so singularly determined already?

Am I missing something?

Have I Told You Lately That I Love Me?

On August 12, 2005, I stopped doing something I'd done with alarming frequency over a 27 year period. Smoking cigarettes.

I was up to about a pack a day (25). When tomorrow comes, I will be able to say that I didn't smoke 9125 cigarettes in the last year. I will also be able to say that I saved about $3000 doing so.

It's often repeated that it's easier to quit heroin than it is to quit smoking. Now that I've nearly made the one year mark, when midnight tolls should I go straight for a vein or back to the smokes? I can quit any time. I've already proven that.

Itchy & Scratchy

Being full of virtue, pure of heart and rarely ill (lucky me), I've got a million sick days banked at work. If I ever need them (perish the thought), I can set them free and let them surround me with their downy love.

The folks I work with seem to think that if they don't take their sick days right away, they'll get all soggy floating in the milk. So they all call in sick. A lot. I don't understand this attitude.

One wipe of a guy I know calls in sick a fair bit and I usually get stuck doing his work. He always has elaborate and implausible tales of medical emergencies suffered by him or his elderly parents. There's never any real evidence that anything's actually been wrong and people always see him on the Jumbotron at the ball game and things like that. I hear his parents are hale and hearty as well.

He'll be off on legitimate vacation soon for a few weeks and I was laughing to myself today thinking that the worst possible break he could get at this point would be to have his parents kick off while on a pre-arranged holiday. Knowing him, he'd prop them up and kill them all over again after he got back to work for more time off.

Assholes like this give me lice.

8/10/2006

Fa-Q!

Happy is the soul who has found work that they embrace and enjoy. Me? I fake it. Why can't everyone else be as good as me? Low standards I guess.

When I go for a stroll at lunch and find myself in a store, generally all I'm looking for is a nice atmosphere that's conducive to shoplifting.

Instead of shiny happy salespeople who seem helpful and harmless, I seem to get forced into interaction with glommy types who pepper spray me with their fake love in order to fleece me, release me and move on to their next target.

Rather than soldier on with a simple no thanks, I’m just looking because that's getting pretty tired, I’d like some help on stocking up on responses to their Frequently Asked Questions. Can you help arm me against these heartless bastards?

My first few:

Q > Is there something special you’re looking for today?

A> A complicated silence


Q> I think that might be a really good colour for you.

A> I’ll do anything as long as it’s not above or below the waist.


Your turn --


8/07/2006

C.R.A.Z.Y.

C.R.A.Z.Y. is now out on DVD. It's a gem of a film of French Canadian descent.

When a film does well in Canada, it's big news. Even on the packaging for this one, there's a nod to the fact that it's done a whopping $6.5 million in box office.

This might sound laughable when openings for even mediocre films in the US soar past that but we're just ridiculous enough to not always support and market ourselves properly. If we could all chant I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me! we might get somewhere.

I watched C.R.A.Z.Y. today and haven't enjoyed a film so completely in a long while. It was funny, dramatic, poignant and well written. The entire cast turned in wonderful and nuanced performances and the soundtrack was also excellent.

Rating: 5 Royales with Cheese

Rent or buy it so we can eventually boast about 7, 10 or 113.5 million bucks on the back.

Who Wants Treacle?

Mother Nature showed force late last week by wresting power from several thousand people in cottage country during a violent thunderstorm. This loss of electricity delayed the fun for many on the Canadian August long weekend. The minor delay in my plan to spend time dockside with friends at the cottage had some benefits.

Before we humans declared victory at making the power lines buzz again, I sat and adjusted to the sights and sounds I don't always get to enjoy in the city.

Diamonds of sunlight on the rippling river
Waves, not only of water but of people boating by
The flap of a flag as the wind kicks up, surprising it
A boat motor insistent in it's far off drone
Echoes of a dog barking a call and response to itself
Most importantly, my soul settling.

My Classical Period

I just watched the first 14 minutes of what I remembered as a classic film of my childhood, 1970's Pufnstuf.

I am on my way out to buy some acid so I can understand what it's like to be a 6 year old again and enjoy this.

8/05/2006

Shitty Shitty Bang Bang

At about the 7 minute mark in V For Vendetta, the masked guy has a few lines of dialogue almost entirely comprised of words beginning with the letter vee. I started laughing and had a hard time stopping. The film had some pretty shots, some good surround sound action and Sinead O'Connor took over for Natalie Portman about halfway through. You don't get that in every movie. I know where they got the masks but where did everyone pick up the hats and capes?

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was funnier than V but intentionally so which made for a more enjoyable ride. It was a bit of an oddball offering with some really good work by Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. It seemed a bit too clever for its own good from time to time which slowed the storytelling down but was very enjoyable just the same. I tend to enjoy a film that colours outside the lines here and there.

Neigung des Dale

When your weekend plans change and you've already watered the plants, mowed the lawn, pressure washed the deck, walked to the bank, rented videos, and had a quart of Pepsi, there's nothing better left to do than to Babelfish your blogroll.

Why look, over there =====================================================>
I actually went in and changed all your names to different languages.

Yep, I'm just that bored.

Many thanks to Chelene at Gl├╝ck und Galle for mentioning Babelfish in one of her comments thereby making me look it up. I'm probably the only one in the world not to have known about it.

**Edit** They's all changed back now cause I am no longer bored.

Pearl Necklace

My friend Lorena has moved to merry olde after taking advantage of an opportunity that she very much deserved.

She's the type of friend that I wouldn't see often but when we did get together to go to a movie or to see Garbage when they were in town, we'd pick up right where we left off.

We always spent a good deal of time making each other laugh and while we always enjoyed reminiscing, we made sure that we worked on making new memories too.

A few years ago, there was an ad campaign in the city about domestic violence. The posters pictured a pretty woman looking ashamed and self concious about the bruises all over her arms and her black eye. She was reaching up to touch a strand of pearls that she was wearing. The text pointed out that just because he buys you a gift (the pearls) and says I'm sorry doesn't mean the violenece will stop. There was more information and a phone number for assistance. From my lay perspective, I would say the campaign did what it was meant to do which was educate, show support and heighten awareness.

Lorena and I had discussed the issue having both seen the poster and agreed that it was a horrible thing for anyone to have to endure. One particular night, we were on the subway after one of our escapades and got out at our usual stop. As we rode the escalator up to escape the station, a large version of the poster was in our sightline.

I looked at it, she looked at it and then she turned to me and said very nonchalantly, I'd take a shiner for a set of pearls.

We laughed and laughed about this. And then we stopped. So we could catch our breath and start again.

8/04/2006

I Was A Teenaged A&W Cook

Growing up, we managed for years to hide our wanton lust for the McDonald’s restaurant our town didn't yet have. We suffered quietly and proudly with only a Dixie Lee and an A&W to keep us fat and happy.

The summer that I went to work as a short order cook at the A&W in the mall on the outskirts of town, interesting things happened. Prince Charles married Diana, I learned to steal and we finally got a McDonald's (sans drive thru).

After Prince Charles had married Diana and they began touring the world, they stopped in my town for a Royal Walkabout. I stood along a cordoned path in the park with roughly 9000 of my fellow townsfolk hoping for a glimpse at the happy couple.

I saw demure Diana from several feet away as she smiled and wilted along the green in a big hat. Occasionally she'd stop and say a few words and the group would crush harder trying to be near her. She smiled in my general direction on her way by and I felt special for a moment.

Charles stopped in front of me and shook my hand. I said I hope you’re enjoying your stay in New Brunswick and he said mumblety tumblety jibblety yes, indubitably or something like that. I said I hope you’ll come back and visit again and he said bippity boppity boo, of course we’d love to as it’s simply beautiful here don’t you think? and off he went.

I had to go to work following the big event and for the rest of the day, every burger I cooked had a positively royal air about it.

The A&W restaurant itself was set up so that there was a little phone in each booth and you’d pick it up and call in your order to the waitress at the station near the front. The system never worked properly and generally, your voice would get amplified and all the other diners would look around to see just who was ordering the Papa burger, the large root beer, onion rings and the Chubby Chicken.

As chief cook and bottle washer, I would like to say at this time that I never did anything untoward with the food. Although I did steal a lot of it. We were expected to pay for half the cost of our sanctioned lunch and so I accidentally mixed up orders here and there and would eat to my belly's content.

When we did get our McDonald’s, it was a relief not to have to drive an hour outside of town to get to the nearest House of Ronald anymore. We could feel special right in our own tiny town.

One evening after my shift, my mom came to pick me up. On the way home, she said, you know I think I’d like to stop and get a drink. Why don't we stop at McDonald’s and maybe you can run in for me? I had already taken the paper hat off but was still sporting the hideous orange shirt and brown polyester pants that made up my uniform. I imagine that I looked like some sort of awkward moving Reese's product display.

What do you want? I asked Mom as we pulled in. Maybe a Coke or no, make it a root beer, yes a root beer.

I went in trying to look as cool as I could in the uniform and asked for a large root beer. As soon as I said it, I knew what a fucking moron I was. A&W is famous for it’s root beer and here stands Dale, the biggest tool in town wearing the colours of the Bear in the House of Ronald.

The counter girl’s face screwed up a little as she said what?, her eyebrows trying not to escape upward. I calmly repeated my order. Sure she said fairly bursting as she went to the back. She spit out her glee in hushed tones, cupped hands and some pointing at me to her friend at which time they fairly collapsed with laughter.

I smirked as though as I was in on the joke and not a part of it. She eventually composed herself enough to come back out and give me my drink. In my mind, I ran from the store but in reality, I sauntered out as cooly as I could muster and didn’t go back for about a month. I still won’t talk to my mother.



8/03/2006

OK GO! On Treadmills

Why isn't a gym paying these guys to sell memberships instead of the fat sweaty guy who shills in my lobby at work 3 times a year? Just asking.

I stole this from Jen at Casual Slack who I'd say lifted it from You Tube but that's just a guess.

Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before

Just as I do frequently, today I swore off people.

As I stepped off the train into the pouring rain, my old pal Gimli fell into step with me for a moment and grunted need a lift? to which I replied no thanks, I'm good.

All is full of love when you're talking about the heart of a dwarf.

The rain carried me home smiling.

Period Piece

When you’re using an abbreviation like b.s. instead of the whole word (bullshit) and it comes at the end of a sentence, do you let that period act as the full stop or do you add another one?

It seems ridiculous to add one but somehow incomplete to leave it on it’s own.

I think I've got a big bag of b.s.


I know I’ve got a big bag of b.s..

Do you think I’ve got a big bag of b.s.?

Wait, it seems like you’d add the question mark in that case so why not other punctuation?

Someone guide me. But be gentle.

8/01/2006

Hello I Love You Won't You Tell Me Your Name

Ask Dale

I am absolutely opposed to writing about things so mundane as the weather. So, this post is not about the weather, at least not directly.

Earlier today, I was talking to my friend Tanya, who is at least as wonderful and frightening as anything Mother Nature can throw at us. She talked a bit about us, I talked a bit more about us and then we discussed how we know why it’s so damned hot lately.

We’ve both had our inboxes inundated by spam or junk e-mail over the last while. We don’t mind a bit of junk e-mail, it makes us feel special, but this is ridiculous. How much bigger do you think our penises can get? We’ve taken your pills, we’ve used your enlargers and now look at us! We’re so gigantic and engorged that we’re causing heatwaves.

Any other questions?

I Love Summer!

The graphic I had here was hard to see so I've removed it. Teach me for thinking that since it looked good on the 100 foot monitors at work, it would look okay here.

It was a screen capture from The Weather Network's website.

This afternoon, in beautiful downtown Toronto, it was 38 degrees. With the humidity factored in, it Feels Like 48.

Since I'm a giving sort, I'll tell you that 48 degrees C equals 118.4 F.

We're fucked.

Welcome To August

May I take your coat?