Vague Undertakings, Nihilism, Man Man

April 2nd, 2007

Friday night was the Vague Undertakings opening at the Chapel, featuring music from The Clips, Bend Sinister and Panurge, and art from various artists, including: Gabe Deerman, Adam Dodd, Wendy Dyk, Neal Everett Nolan, Chloe Gammon, Sally Hutcheon, Robert Mearns, Melissa Pavlovic, Evan Shandler, Ed Spence, Terra Varey, and Contexture Design Workshop.

The Chapel was a funeral home now converted into an artist-run space, and it’s an absolutely incredible venue. The main chapel room acoustics are wonderful, with a good sized space for dancing, and there are plenty of other hallways and rooms for mingling and looking at art, and even a pool table upstairs. I arrived late and missed the Clips, which was a little disappointing, since of the three bands playing I enjoyed their myspace tracks the most, but Bend Sinister and Panurge both brought solid, energetic sets that really got the hipsters moving.

The art is up at the Chapel (on Dunlevy near Hastings, around the corner from Pat’s Pub) until April 15th; do yourself a solid and go take a look. I’m really looking forward to seeing more events there.

Saturday night I had a dream that I was in a classroom writing an exam. It was in a large lecture hall, and I was supposed to write an essay about nihilism. I wasn’t worried at first, confident that I knew quite a bit about the subject, but then I realized that I hadn’t been to class all term and didn’t have the text books that everyone else was referring to (it was an open book exam I guess). Also, I had to write it on blue construction paper with a white crayon. I started to get angry and frustrated — why didn’t I study or go to class? I tried asking the prof for clarification about the topic, but he was mumbling and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I ended up just drawing a big white circle on my paper and handing it in in a fit of pique.

And then Sunday was the much-anticipated Man Man at Richards on Richards. I had high expectations for this show, all of which were surpassed. The sheer quantity of gear on the stage was staggering, with all manner of objects to crash and smash and shake in a seamless frenzy. Unfortunately the opening band, Victoria Victoria, was boring boring. The best thing about them was the drummer’s mustache, but it could not make up for shitty lyrics and weak melodies. They were fine at the Lamplighter a few weeks ago, opening for other local bar bands, but they had absolutely no place opening for Man Man.

Health Note

March 28th, 2007

I bought a chin-up bar and installed it in my hallway doorframe. I saw it when I was at Sport Chek, cheking out tennis rackets, and thought it would be a handy little piece of exercise equipment. There’s a gym at my office, and before I was full time I always thought it would be a good thing to make use of, but I’ve never been. I’ve decided that I don’t like gyms, they’re stinky and gross.

So I figured that a chin-up bar is a simple and private way to help cultivate a physique — along with my Ripped Berry smoothie from Booster Juice. “I’ll have a Ripped Berry,” is what I say to the completely bored girl behind the counter, “because I’m ripped.” And then I do a little flex pose for her. She pretends not to notice or hear me, but I can tell she’s pretty impressed.

And then I go home and do three chin-ups… that’s right, IN A ROW!

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I saw another one just the other day, a special new band

March 21st, 2007

Well, it’s spring again. The time when the cherry blossoms bloom, the snow begins to climb back up the peaks, and a young man’s fancy turns to all the awesome shows that are coming up!

Man Man – April 1

What can I say? It’s Man Man, it’ll rule.

The Neins Circa w/ Abernethy and Fanshaw – April 6

I just discovered The Neins Circa recently, and really dig their melodic, poppy, retro sound. They’re also playing this Saturday (March 24) at the Lamplighter, but if you’re reading this blog then chances are you’re going to see This Week in History at the Pic that night!

Cocorosie w/ Busdriver – May 5

Busdriver is my favorite indie hiphop guy, but I was a little disappointed with his new album, Roadkillovercoat, when I first heard it; the opening track is killer, but as a whole I found it weaker than Fear of a Black Tangent or Temporary Forever, less varied in subject matter and styles than the latter, less consistent than former, and in general more serious and political. After a few more listens I’m coming around to it, now that the lyrics have resolved for me. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I listen to a new album, it takes about five or six times through before the words really pop out. With Busdrive, it’s always worth the time.

Cocorosie aren’t that great, but who cares.

Girl Talk w/ Circlesquare – June 9

I saw Girl Talk at the New Forms Festival a few years ago and he put on the most incredible show ever. For one dude with a laptop, that’s not bad. Running around dancing like a lunatic, stripping his clothes off, pouring drinks all over himself, and closing with a massive, unstoppable cover of Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice”. He’s so dreamy. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time:

This show cannot be described adequately in words. His show was like freebasing the pure white essence of the most rocking parties of the last decade. It was the audio equivalent of doing speedballs with David Lee Roth and Puff Daddy, and then trashing a hotel room while making highly inappropriate sexual advances on the staff. His cover of Scentless Apprentice was very possibly the highlight of my life. A++++++ WOULD SEE AGAIN

In Which Laundry Day is Ruined

March 4th, 2007

I always do my laundry on Sunday morning. Outside of work, it’s one of the few true regularities in my routine. It’s not that I look forward to it exactly, but I do like having my whole wardrobe clean and readily at hand. There are two laundromats within a block of my house, one of them is run by an old, deaf recovering alcoholic. He’s a nice guy, but he moves very slowly and it’s a bit difficult making yourself understood and so I always feel bad about asking for change, because he’s usually outside smoking and it really seems like a lot of effort for him to parse the request and fish through his pockets for the correct denominations. So I usually just go to the other one. It’s cleaner and brighter, and it’s serviced by two friendly asian teenagers who spend all day instant-messaging.

Today, however, when I returned from the coffee shop to put my clothes in the dryer, a homeless man was stripping down his layers and stuffing them in a washer about fifteen feet away from me. The tang of rancid body odour and stale cigarettes, comingled with an undeniably fecal effluvium, was truly overpowering. It was inescapable, and I actually literally threw up a little bit in my mouth. Tossing my clothes in the nearest dryer as quickly as I could, gagging and choking uncontrollably, eyes watering, I ran out gasping. It was so pungent and foul that I’m afraid it’s permanently tainted my olfactory sense.

Now, I’ve been to the Computer Science Club at the University of Waterloo, so I’m no stranger to offensive-smelling humans. I’ve been around gamers. (A friend of mine used to work in a game store — Warhammer, D&D, Magic:The Gathering and all that — and he told me once his least favorite part of the job was having to pull the particularly unwashed roleplayers aside and give them the talk about hygiene.) But Jesus, this was in an entirely different realm altogether. If apartheid had a smell, this would be it. That’s the only way I can decribe it: it smelt like racist oppression; its pungency was positively hegemonic, and deeply unjust.

And that, friends, the story of the worst thing I ever smelled, thanks for reading. :(

The Only Party

March 1st, 2007

Hey are you doing anything Saturday night? You should come to the Only Magazine website launch party and benefit at the Emergency Room in Strathcona. I’ve been a big fan of Only since their first issue. Great coverage of local events, music, and art helps me pretend that I’m hip, with-it, or otherwise in-the-know; reliably funny and interesting essays by Amil Niazi, Chuck Ansbacher, Alan Hindle and others reliably keep my condescending hipster smirk firmly in place. It’s seriously the only (hurhur) free mag I’d go out of my way to find, and my only (teehee) complaint is not enough columns by Rhek.

So, who wants to be a rapper? Too many people. There’s far too many rappers today. We need more rap fans and less kids who freestyle at me. More White kids need to start playing guitar again – that’s a real skill to have. You can entertain at campfires and you can grow your hair long and your mom can say “… and no guitar for a week!” when you get grounded. Being able to go, “I’m flipping the shit and ripping the shit and dipping the shit and taking a shit – straight off the dome, yo!” while imitating a rapper you saw on a SMACK DVD is not a real practical skill. Seriously. And anyway, if you wanna be a real rapper now you gotta pay your dues as a crack dealer. Crack dealers are the new rap superstars.
Crack and rap go together like tiny old Chinese ladys who’s language you can’t understand and empty beer cans worth a nickel. And if you 13 and you live with your two Dads who still take you to soccer camp, then technically you’re not a “hustler” yet.

Oh, and they launched their new website and it’s marvelous.
Anyways, come out on Saturday and see some bands I’ve never heard of.

Not sure if there’s actually a secret band, or if it’s a band called “A Secret Band.”.

Loose Change

February 26th, 2007

On my way back from the grocery store on Saturday there was a hippie bus parked on the street outside my building. This was unexceptional. Outside the bus were a man and a woman, he was tall and thin with a short beard and long black hair tied back, she wore a long printed dress like you’d see in Amish country; he was playing guitar and they were both singing what I assumed were religious songs, judging solely based on their blank, earnest stares. This was also unexceptional. What struck me as unusual, however, was that they didn’t sound terrible. On the folding table next to them was a stack of pamphlets. A pale, skinny young kid got right in my face with a huge smile, handed me one and said “Here! It’s really good reading material!”

“Ok! Thanks!” I said, and left it on my kitchen table for two days. It’s titled We Need A Radical CHANGE, and on the cover is a black-and-white illustrated collage featuring: a race riot; the word HATE; pills; a man grimacing with his eyes tightly clenched and fingers grasping at his temples; an angry black preacher. Turns out they were from the Twelve Tribes community out in Nelson, which, from the sounds of it, is a group on the model of the (mythological) early Christian church, who live according to primitive biblical commandments, particularly those that relate to the position of women.

The first essay, entitled “When the foundations are DESTROYED,” discusses the breakdown of social norms and the foundations of family life. The first instance of rampant moral decay brought to the reader’s attention begins: “Not long ago it would not have been allowed to show a woman with nothing on but her underwear. The town would have boycotted such a store or perhaps the police would have even put a stop to it.” Ah yes, the glorious Godly days of the morality police. “A woman with nothing on but her underwear,” the author huffs, “right there in front of everyone.” Other societal ills include women working outside the home and women taking pain-killers during labour. (The pain bonds them to the child, you see, and the husband is bonded to the wife by empathizing with her suffering. The intelligent designer sure did think of everything!) In fact, the only instances of moral turpitude in which women (as such) are not specifically implicated are high divorce rates (which should really maybe count for half) and our lack of a death penalty for murder.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. I thought I’d finally found the agrarian end-times cult for me, but guess I’ll just have to start my own. In my cult, women will not only be allowed but encouraged to take drugs while only wearing underwear, and even also to have sex with other women, to whom they may or may not be married. My cult will rule! It’ll be just like the sixties, but without the hope.

Alice Donut Liver Henry Moore

February 20th, 2007

I posted the mp3 of Alice Donut‘s new single, the seven-minute epic “Madonna’s Bombing Sarajevo,” on the WoJ post a couple days ago, but I recently saw the video and thought I’d share that too, because it’s pretty cool. (Unfortunately the quality is kind of shit, I think there’s a higher res version on their myspace.)

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Alice Donut was my favorite band in the whole world, and pretty much the only band I listened to, from age 16 to about 18. And I still think they hold up as one of the great 90’s post-punk bands that was always sort of on the cusp of breaking really huge, but never did. They have a fiercely loyal cult following, but I think they were just a little bit too out there to break through to a more mainstream audience. Their lyrics were a bit too intelligent, and Tom’s vocals are a bit too strange. When they broke up in 1996 I was devastated, but luckily I was able to see them on their final tour, the very first rock show I ever saw, with seminal Vancouver punksters NoMeansNo and the Japanese noise-core group Ultra Bidé.

They reunited in 2004 and released a semi-disappointing comeback album, Three Sisters. Their latest record, Fuzz, is pretty awesome though. It’s nothing super new or groundbreaking, it’s no Pure Acid Park or Untidy Suicides Of Your Degenerate Children, but it is a good, solid rock album.

Fun fact: the band name was conceived on the way to their first gig, at CBGBs. They didn’t have a name yet, and drove past a donut shop and came up with the horrible/brilliant pun on the movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. The promoter at CBGBs shortened it to Alice Donut to fit on the posters.

People’s Prom Pix

February 18th, 2007

Well, the People’s Prom was about as wicked-awesome as I had hoped.

After luckily scoring two tickets, (they sold out in one day), I only had to find a date. I didn’t have anyone in mind when I bought the tickets, figuring it wouldn’t be too hard to find someone cool to bring (I mean seriously, is there a better ask-out line than “Do you want to go the prom with me?”), and I was not mistaken. I don’t really get out and meet many girls, and I was actually considering asking one of the barristas from my coffee shop (definitely a crap shoot — it’s part of their job to be nice), so I decided to post an ad on craigslist. I got about five responses (an improvement over the zero I got when I was looking for someone to go see Califone with), and Lindsay’s email left no doubt that she would be a stellar prom date. Right again. We had a blast and danced our faces off.

Yours truly, gettin jiggy wit it
Yours truly, gettin jiggy wit it.


Lindsay looking glamorous.


My neighbour Tom, dancing up a storm. After the party we compared sweat stains. “My armpit sweat has joined in the middle, like… amoebas!”


Bonjour madames


Yes please


These two got my vote for prom king and queen, no question.

War On Junk

February 18th, 2007

Today I undertook fixing my leaky kitchen fawcett. Whenever I ran cold water, it would dribble out the bottom of the tap and spread along the counter. Previously relying on a j-cloth as a stopgap measure, today I decided to unleash my mad plumbing skills and remedy the situation once and for all.

But, as the Bush Administration is fond of repeating as if it were exculpatory, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. In this case, if my counter-top represents New Orleans, then I guess my junk drawer is Iraq. It was definitely a quagmire; I knew I had some thread-sealing tape (=WMDs?) in there somewhere, but could not locate it within the foreign and inhospitable terrain, no matter how vigorously I shoved and prodded the junk. Instead of cutting and running to Home Hardware, I decided to open a second front in my home repair mission: cleaning out my junk drawer.

Inventory:

  • Paint: acrylic x 5; watercolour x 7
  • Disposable camera with five pictures taken (~7 yrs. old)
  • Sewing materials: thread X 14; needles; leather lace; fabric scraps; a button
  • Head lights (Sort of like glasses with little flashlights on either side of your face. Great for camping.)
  • Cork
  • Silicon weatherproofing spray
  • Tools: screwdriver x 3; wrench; pliers; hammer; scissors x 3, x-acto knife x 4, etc.
  • Batteries: AA x 7; AAA x 6
  • Tape: clear tape x 3; masking tape x 2; electrical tape; packing tape; thread-sealing tape!
  • Paperclips
  • Sponges

I eventually located the tape, brought order to the region and Accomplished the Mission. A well-spent Sunday.

Meanwhile, two car-bombs explode in Baghdad, killing 60.

February 3rd, 2007
You know the Bible 82%!

Wow! You are truly a student of the Bible! Some of the questions were difficult, but they didn’t slow you down! You know the books, the characters, the events . . . Very impressive!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

American Wit And Humour

February 2nd, 2007

Hey it’s me again. I just thought I’d share some of these laffs that I found.

I Am the Karaoke Master

Call my name! Call my fucking name, dude! I am READY!

“Debbie”? What do you mean, “Debbie”? That chick was just up there like two minutes ago, ruining a Shania Twain song. How the hell is it her turn again already?

I have more than twenty slips of paper up there with my name on them. Every song that I have selected is more perfect than the last. Just call me so that I can set this place on fire. My mad karaoke skills are gonna get me laid tonight.

Here’s the plan:

First, I’m going to rock the house with AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” You know, to get the crowd on my side. I even do a hilarious Angus Young guitar solo pantomime right in the middle.

After that I’ll slow it down a little and do something soulful to get the girls all lubed up. I believe some Creed might be in order. It feels like an “Arms Wide Open” night. I’ll do a little intro describing how that Scott Stapp dude wrote the song for his son. That’ll get ‘em right off the bat. As soon as they see my pouty expression while I deliver that heartfelt, lyrical bullshit I might as well just throw on a condom to save time.

After that, it’s time to show off the old sense of humor. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that chicks love dudes who crack their shit up. Luckily, I’m a certified cutup. I think I’ll do Adam Sandler’s “Piece of Shit Car.” That song is fucking hysterical! The car he sings about is so shitty. Everybody will be rolling.

But wait …what if these morons really think I have a shitty car because that’s what I’m singing about? That could backfire on me. Chicks hate broke dudes. Maybe I could say at the top of the song that I actually drive a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am. No, that would sound like I was bragging. It’s not worth the risk, I’ll just do a Weird Al song.

“My Bologna” it is.

By then, everyone will be sweating my mad karaoke skills, and that’s when it’s time to select a chick and do some duets.

First order of business: “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” They don’t get any more classic than this one, and you can feel the sexual tension build throughout the whole goddamned thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if she jumped my bones right in the middle of the baseball announcer part.

After that it’s time for a ditty from a little musical called Grease. I believe “Summer Lovin’” is in order. Depending on my mood, I might even do the chick part and have her do the dude part just to score some extra laughs.

I’ll play it by ear.

Then it’ll be time to pull out the B-52’s “Love Shack” and let nine bitches back me up while I do my patented Fred Schneider impression. I wonder if that queer had any idea when he recorded that song fifty years ago how much strange it would get me one day.

I’ll wrap up the evening with my end–of–the–night showstopper, “Closing Time” by Semisonic. It’s way appropriate because the song’s called “Closing Time” and it’s closing time at the bar. So it works on two levels.

After that, it’s just a matter of watching all the broads duke it out over who gets to go home with the karaoke superstar. I hope it’s that blonde over there.

Call my fucking name!

New David Foster Wallace Story

January 31st, 2007

“Good People.”

I have to say I wasn’t blown away, which when it comes to DFW makes it a surprising exception. It’s not a bad story, it picks up a lot of steam as it goes, it’s just played really straight-up and kind of stiff, stylistically.

They were up on a picnic table at that park by the lake, by the edge of the lake, with part of a downed tree in the shallows half hidden by the bank. Lane A. Dean, Jr., and his girlfriend, both in bluejeans and button-up shirts. They sat up on the table’s top portion and had their shoes on the bench part that people sat on to picnic or fellowship together in carefree times.

Do you think this is a good opening? I don’t, really. “the bench part that people sat on to picnic”? The voice is naive, earnest, emotional, traditional, very “in-character,” but used in the third-person it caused a weird cognitive dissonance for me, because it sounds very un-DFW. When I re-read those sentences transposed into the first person, they don’t sound as stilted or melodramatic somehow. Or at least the melodrama feels a little more plausible.