Sunday, November 30, 2003

"I could murder a pint. It'd be a crime of passion."
Jack Duckworth, Coronation Street

Saturday, November 29, 2003

I’m coming up for air again, having polished off the editing for the next Unrestrained! We’re up to issue #23. When did I come on board…was it #6? That’s a lot of metal passing under my nose in a few short years.

The final push consisted of copyediting a 50-page Word file of album reviews. I presume some of them will go in the mag and some will go on the Web site. Every issue I’m simply blown away by the verbiage that our writers crank out. Do they have jobs, do they eat? I get depressed by other people’s productivity. I always go into a new issue intending to submit a paltry half dozen reviews, but I get beaten down by the editing each time. This time I finished two. Two reviews amongst maybe 140 others. That’s pretty lame.

I’ve come across some pretty screwed-up stuff over the past few days.

A) An old drunk at the Jolly Alderman on Thursday night had some interesting ideas to tell our group about using electromagnetism to send convicts to the moon. Apparently the trip would only take seven seconds. At first he seemed like a good guy to humour along, then it became clear that he was a total bore. He made his initial point, then returned to his perch. When he came back for round two, fancy shooed him away.

B) People talking about George Bush like he’s Mother Teresa. My dad’s friend Vaughn from Saltspring left a voicemail the other night in a vacant, entranced timbre, probably quoting soundbites off the news: “I honestly can’t imagine who I’d rather spend Thanksgiving with. That man put his life at risk to come and visit us. He’s my hero. Give him an A-plus.” Heh-heh.

C) Janeane Garofalo. Sweet Jesus, what’s gone wrong there?

D) Butt implants. Saw an item about them on some VH-1 show that MuchMoreMusic imports. Nice idea. The show followed some Hispanic woman who felt let down because her ass didn't match up to J-Lo's. As if that wasn't enough pressure, her husband preferred a bigger butt as well. Great, all the more reason to go under general anesthetic and have two donut-sized gel bags jammed into each buttock. Afterwards, she didn't look any different, but, she said, her sex life had improved. Bully for her and the implanted-butt-lovin' dickhead she rolls around with. I hope those implants don't migrate and slip down her leg. She could end up with a second pair of knees.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Our foray into dance music for medium-sized gatherings was a disaster. We’d begged and borrowed and lost not a little sleep over the task of putting the music together, but by Friday Fancy and I had four discs of rock-solid, people-pleasing tunes that never degenerated into the kind of cheese more appropriate for (as the belter put it) Shannon and Gary's wedding. If people couldn’t dance to this, we said, it wouldn’t be our fault.

The reunion itself was great—nice dinner in posh surroundings with good company. A DiffMusic reader or two “came out” to me, which caught me off guard. (I’ve now upwardly revised my estimated audience numbers by one half). After dessert, I helped clear tables and chairs off the dance floor and asked Maureen, the superb woman who’d organized the event, about the PA.

She led me to a decade-old ghetto blaster that the venue had supplied, one of those largish portable stereos with a 25-CD cartridge and dual cassette deck. The speakers looked up to the job, but the rest of it didn’t. The “play” button was caved in, and that CD tray had me worried. I’ve never trusted the whole consumer-grade CD jukebox concept.

I loaded it with three discs and crossed my fingers. Our first selection, “Nothing But Flowers” by Talking Heads, started playing. The venue staff adjusted the lighting and switched the mirror ball on. Perfect. It was only a matter of time before our meticulously sequenced CDs worked their magic, gradually building towards a dance explosion that would rival Deney Terrio’s Dance Fever, if not Mel’s Rock Pile.

Shortly into the second song (Elastica, “Connection”), we were asked to turn it down.

Halfway through the second song (Elastica, “Connection”) the CD skipped and went back to the middle of the first song.

Thus ended the dance portion of the evening. We formed a troubleshooting huddle around the stereo, immersed in our own private disaster while everyone else in the place had a nice chat. We tried disc two, and the same thing happened—we got halfway through the second song, then it was déjà vu all over again. We tried to skip ahead to songs 3, 4, or 5. No music resulted. A distraught Fancy, fortified by prime rib and gin & tonics, kicked me in the shin.

Half an hour before the event ended, a staffer brought us a much smaller CD player to use, a feeble, tinny sounding unit that played our discs perfectly.

To sum up: The whole mishap was the perfect argument against reproducing music digitally. If I’d filled up a beautiful TDK SA90 with the same tunes, we’d be heroes.

While compiling the music, we rejected dozens of our fave artists for not being danceable enough, including Neil Young. Looking back, however, a double shot of “Piece of Crap” and “F*!#in' Up” would have suited the occasion perfectly.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

While we’re on the subject of puppets… A little while ago Fancy mentioned Nanalan’ [Flash], her new favourite kids' show. I just want to reiterate that is by far the best thing in the CBC Kids lineup, kicking the bejeezus out of the likes of Arthur and Clifford the Big Red Dog. It’s a puppet show about a little girl, Mona, who visits her Nana every day while Mona’s mother is at work. Mona looks like an alien, with a round green head and huge glossy black eyes and speaks a semi-decipherable toddler dialect. She has a dog named Russell (“Ruster!” sez Mona) who larks about with her outside.

The best part of Nanalan’, and it doesn’t happen every episode, is when Mona, Russell, and Nana go next door to Mr. Wooka’s house, where he puts on a puppet show for them in a little puppet theatre he has in his backyard. When this happens, and I’m watching a puppet put on a puppet show for other puppets, my head feels like it’s about to pop clean off.

Monday, November 10, 2003

On last Sunday's Coronation Street, Steve McDonald made a remark I felt I should investigate.
Joe Carter
Joe Carter, Baldwin's puppet

Captain Scarlet
Captain Scarlet, Anderson's puppet

Yep, separated at birth. Nice one, Steve.
I have to compile some music for the dance portion of a reunion dinner/dance. It’s a challenge to come up with stuff. My music collection isn’t exactly rich with tunes to dance to. With fancy’s help we extracted a bunch of things that might please the people, and after she raided Mel and Adam’s shelves we gathered a good two hours’ worth of danceworthy material. Anyone with a Britpop fetish should be well pleased.

I’m determined to make the playlist completely populist. No Sonic Youth even. I initially wanted to include Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control,” but I ended up rejecting it after I put it on and tried to picture copyeditors and corporate communications specialists moving to it. Poor old Ian wouldn’t have wanted it that way. On the other hand I never thought I'd be so glad to hear “Groove is in the Heart” as when the belter pulled out a Deee-Lite CD and loaded it into the iTunes.

I thought I’d be able to use a lot of the stuff I got during the half-decade I used Spin as my buying guide, but apart from a couple They Might Be Giants songs and maybe some Bjork, I’m not finding much. It’s all Jesus Lizard and no Jesus Jones.

I've got a line on a copy of Abba Gold, and I'll mine that for all it's worth.

If anyone has suggestions for more surefire dance hits, please drop me a note.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Don't rent Laurel Canyon. It's a very bad movie. I can't understand why critics didn't highjack every available entertainment media outlet and proclaim this fact in loud voices or IN UPPER CASE LETTERS — "LAUREL CANYON BLOWS!" Instead most of them claimed it was pretty good, all in all.

But it isn't. It's awful, and the characters never shut up. When the movie reaches its climax and the characters have their big blowout and call each other fucking assholes, I wasn't rooting for our protagonist, and I wasn't hoping that anyone would get their comeuppance. All I could think was, "What a couple of fucking assholes."

Lou Barlow is in it, more or less as an extra, perhaps to lend authenticity to the rock milieu the movie tries to conjure. That's about the only thing I found interesting about it.

One way to amuse yourself while watching Laurel Canyon is to reimagine it as a porno movie. Every illogical/improbable character reaction makes more sense that way. "This is where the lesbian scene would go." "This would be a good time for a solo scene in the bathtub." "I'd say the orgy sequence is coming up in about five minutes."

The trick (if you want to keep your dinner down) is to imagine it as a porno movie NOT starring Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale. Eww.

Monday, November 03, 2003

I let fancylady test some new red earth nail enamel on my thumb last night. I forgot about it until I got to work and sat down at my desk today. Though I admired the polish’s superb coverage and deep colour, I scraped it off right then. That’s not the kind of attention I want at work. I’m sure I’m already viewed with suspicion because I don’t own a car. Amongst my coworkers (to paraphrase Christian Slater in Heathers), if you can’t smoke your tires in third gear you might as well be wearing a dress.

Just as a man with two watches never knows what time it is, a man who can catch two buses to the same destination never knows which one to take. That man would be me. I face the choice every day—99B or 9. The former gets me to the train faster, but it doesn’t come as often. Number 9 buses come in a steady stream all morning, but they stop on nearly every block and are packed by the time I reach Broadway station. I used to be picky and wait for the 99B, but now I just take whichever bus comes first. I’m happy as long as I’m moving.

If that hasn't put you into a coma yet, here’s another scenario to ponder. To get home from my parents’ place I can choose from three buses. It’s great, except that these buses stop on different sides of one intersection. So I’ve basically got to choose one bus stop, then hope that’s the first bus to arrive. It never works out that way.

Last night I chose to wait for bus A. A few seconds later, bus B drove past. I looked down the road and couldn’t see any sign of bus A, so I crossed the street to wait for bus C. Five minutes after that, bus A arrived. I probably could have made it back across the intersection to catch it, but I'd made my choice. C it would be.

Having just hit a new low of banality, why stop there? On the number 9 this morning I sat beside an elderly Asian woman, her works completely gummed up with nicotine, whose constant wheezing sounded like a cross between William S Burroughs and a didgeridoo. It was almost enough to distract me from this Bill Bryson book I just started.

I don’t know what Bryson’s deal is. I don’t know if he’s regarded as a genius, or if he shares space with Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry in the “folksy humour for nincompoops” genre. My parents like him. I've read and reread the article he did on Blackpool for National Geographic. He knows how to turn a phrase. He makes me laugh. A few paragraphs about in-sink garbage disposals got me going on the way up Burnaby Mountain today. All tensed up and grimacing with stifled laughs, I’m probably as tempting a travel companion as a rheumy old woman dying for a fag on the number 9.