Monday, May 31, 2004

With fancylady in Winnipeg, I was on my own all weekend. I kept my spirits up by reading her guestbook (more devastating zingers from Nelson’s Lululem*n coven) and hanging out with Smash on Saturday night. We got into some USA Is a Monster (an amazing Henry Cow-core duo we saw opening for Vialka and Raking Bombs at the Brickyard a month or two ago) and Guapo and Voivod and Neurosis. That kind of sustained heaviness is good for what ails you.

Sunday bloody Sunday. I had a rough morning. Caution: this is gross. I hadn’t slept well and I’d worked up a sizable blood blister inside my mouth overnight. I thought it was a lesion on first inspection. Great. They'd have to amputate my face to stop it spreading. Then I poked at it some more and brought on a small haemorrhage. Sure it looked cool, like Gene Simmons chomping on his blood capsules before “God of Thunder,” but in the context of my medical emergency I couldn’t appreciate the effect to its fullest. I also had a phone interview to do with a guy from Finland in 10 minutes, and I couldn’t face it. “Sorry, dude, I’d love to discuss your musical influences, but I’m drooling blood onto the handset.”

I got stood up for my interview and the blister situation sorted itself out before I lost consciousness. I described the incident to my mum, certified teethgrinder and sleep disorder authority, when I went over for Sunday dinner with the folks. It was old hat to her, which was comforting...yet not comforting.

Friday, May 21, 2004

What's in my bag?

Since Christmas I've been taking music to work. It helps me manage my time. This is what I'm hauling around this week:

Knuckletracks LXXVIII
What is that, 78?Not a lot of good stuff on this. Listening to it, I realized there's a lot of unnecessary metalcore out there. Martin Popoff deserves some kinda prize for the blurbs he generates for the sleevenotes for the Knuckletracks every month. "If you wish to peer into the crinkled crease of goth metal's future, then look no deeper than this insanely intellectually electronically textured Italian cabal." Sold.

Cryonic Temple: Blood, Guts and Glory
I got this promo in the mail, and I'm still so naive that I feel I must listen carefully to everything I get for free. This is power metal, with song titles containing the words "sword" (twice), "steel," "thunder," "warriors," and “metal.” This doesn’t really float my (long)boat.

Gothic Knights: Up From the Ashes
Another power metal promo. Songs include the words “warrior” (twice), “flames,” “ashes,” and “vampyre.” The first tune is called “Power and the Glory,” but it’s not a Saxon cover. Dammit. Again, not my thing. I own Walls of Jericho already.

Tiles: Window Dressing
The new Tiles album is great. I need to review this in full soon.

TOC: Loss Angeles
An interesting “Let’s throw it against the wall and see what sticks” kind of album. Sentenced/Amorphis metal, a power ballad, Entombed-type death metal, and “Smoke on the Water.” I’m going to interview these guys next week.

Roadbed: Last Dance @ the Shockcenter
This one cheers me up quite a bit. Another one I have to review in full when I get the time.

Spring: s/t
I’ve been seeking this for a while, and found it at A&B last weekend. Spring’s one album must have sold in the dozens in 1971, and here it is with three bonus tracks. Very cool mellow/dark early prog featuring Pat Moran (who went on to record Rush, Van der Graaf, and others at Rockfield Studios) and original Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Saturday morning we walked over to Trout Lake for the first farmers’ market of the season. We got some groovy vegetables, some groovy grains, and some groovy meat (if meat can be groovy). I also got a Hershey’s Kiss and a maple leaf pin from Libby Davies. My friend Brian from work was there, busking with his pal Dave and one of the smallest dogs in the world. It was a good way to begin Fancylady’s cancer walk training. The round trip must have been around 8K.

Speaking of meat and its preparation, I became obsessed with liquid smoke a couple weeks ago. What the hell is liquid smoke? What’s in it? It can’t be good to pour smoke on food, can it? I picked up a bottle I found in the IGA's BBQ sauce section and scanned the ingredients. I regretted it immediately.

“Ingredients: Liquid smoke.”

Sunday, May 16, 2004

"'Cold Gin', too, deserves special analysis. Drinking straight gin is no one's idea of fun, and it's hard to imagine how the song could refer to it being 'Cold gin time again' when it's so unlikely that there ever would have been a first time."

An excellent appreciation of Kiss: Alive!. Takes me back to the days when we suspected Paul Stanley was black.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I need to step away from the news for a while. I’m increasingly unable to deal with what’s going on. Every week brings a new nadir. Even though I think it’s my responsibility to find out what’s happening in the world, all I’m feeling is frustration to the point of dementia. Everything starts to feed into that state of mind. Freelance prison guards in Iraq are the same as drivers running the red at my crosswalk are the same as Ralph Klein presenting his plagiarized essay is the same as the woman who chides the paraplegic for hogging the sidewalk in his wheelchair is the same as a hooded guerilla with a machete…and so on. It’s not good.

So I’ll consider turning off the news until I hear suicide bombers detonating down the block, but I don't think I can. Rumsfeld's the one who's stopped reading the papers.

While I’m in this buoyant mood, the belter’s mom calls tonight with the following story. A segment of the extended family—some cousins or other from Saskatchewan—cash in their Air Miles and go to California for a “last hurrah,” as the old woman puts it. At an amusement park, the eldest daughter goes on a ride that fuses her contact lenses to her eyes. The high G-forces did it, apparently. Back at the hotel, she tries to remove her contacts and rips out her corneas. Post-surgery, she may get some of her sight back. But according to fancylady’s mom, “She screamed night and day. There was nothing they could give her for the pain.”

Always a treat to talk to Debbie Downer.

Tonight I’m going to read some more of my new library book. I'm up for it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Hey, fancylady is getting fitted for a fanny pack in preparation for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60 K walk, so I urge all five of you to cash in yer empties and give.

I think one of you may have already.

I just got back from the Sanctuary, where I was returning a mike & stand to Super Robertson. Super's always got plans, though I never fully understand what they are. Tonight it was something about the Robertson Chronicles and the Canada Lynx site. Before we left he directed my attention to the centrally located four-track and played me a storming new song. God, I wish I had a storming new song.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Oh boy, a new PJ Harvey album! Out in early June.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Urge Overkill May 3, Richard’s on Richards
I’m one of those grumpy people who didn’t get on board with the Pixies reunion. If I had to succumb to early '90s nostalgia, then a show by the 2/3 reunited Urge Overkill would do it, mostly because I never saw them during their eight months of glory. Besides, their low-key emergence from the “where are they now?” file had a sketchy underdog appeal that I felt like supporting.

Openers The Last Vegas wore Kiss and Motley Crue shirts and did their best to rock properly. Too bad they were mired in Goddo-like mediocrity, playing an overlong set of originals that I wished had been covers. The muddy sound didn’t help their cause.

Urge’s set didn’t sound much better, but at least they had the songs. As I expected, most of the tunes were pulled from the Geffen albums. The band consisted of Nash and King fronting a rhythm section that included the drummer from The Last Vegas. Although some of the songs’ finer points got lost in the ruckus, it was easy to get caught up in the good-natured Cheap Trickery on display. King worked hard, sweating through his suit while Nash kept cool in a white tank top/satin trousers ensemble, completing the dishevelled bar-band glam look with a silver Paul Stanley guitar.

Urge deserved more hits than they had...or if not more hits, then different hits. I’m still annoyed that most people remember the band because of that lame Neil Diamond cover. They dispensed with it during the first encore, then brought the show to a power-pop saturation point with “Crack Babies,” “Sister Havana,” and (finally!) “Stalker.” That's all I needed to leave happy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I saw Roadbed last Friday at Café Deux Soleils. They played a short set of mostly new songs, along with old numbers like "Gibbering Fool" and "Scarb Jacket" (played at 2x speed). I was curious to see how they were making out with their new drummer, SIMIAN. He's acquired the requisite Roadbed nickname, now how does he compare to the departed Two-Sticks Hobbs? Well, he's a different primate entirely. While Hobbs had a relaxed presence and light touch (both qualities that I admired), SIM is a more boisterous musical entity, putting an authoritative stamp on the old material and injecting lots of his own ideas into the new stuff (as far as I could tell). He's also a seriously versatile singer. Quite a find.

I will try to review the new album, Last Dance at the Shockk Centre, soon. It's a belter.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

I hope everyone enjoyed BC Book and Magazine Week. Fancylady and I managed to do a lot. I also made time for some rock.

Monday: Readings at Cuppa Joe on 4th for a joint subTerrain/Event magazine launch. The subTerrain readers covered stuff from the previous issue of the mag, including the latest Lush Triumphant contest winner and runner up. On the Event side, Jeremiah Aherne entertained us with his tales of rampant alcohol abuse. He tells a good story. It was good to see WB and the closer there, along with my old captioning colleague Wayne, husband of Cathy from Event. Small world.

Wednesday: headed straight to Vibes Lounge after work for an Anvil/Talonbooks/New Star reading. The scary-smart and very cool Mary Lou Rowley read from her brand-new Anvil collection, Viral Suite. I like her poems; they incorporate a lot of hard science that she’s adapted from the medical reportage she’s done. I became a bigger fan after meeting her and learning that she’s already picked out which Viral Suite poem would work best for Poetry in Transit. With fancy’s help, “Casual Mythology IV” could be enlightening commuters next season. (Thanks to SR for lending the mic + stand.)

Later on Wednesday I went to The Drink with Smash and Mai to see 24Unity and “support the resurgence of arena rock.” That’s how MMO from 24U put it in his pre-show emails, anyway, and how could I not heed his call to arms? The opening bands blew, so we played Ted Nugent pinball as the mediocrity raged behind us. Judging by my scores, the Nuge could obviously sense that a commie peacenik was working the flippers. Yet he smiled upon Smash, who doesn’t have a loincloth or crossbow to his name (as far as I know), but who does have a couple decades of pinball wizardry behind him. 24U redeemed the evening with their quality songs and MMO’s frankly amazing guitar playing. Hooray for arena rock (even when it’s played in front of 20 people in a dance club).

Thursday: The BCAMP Cabaret at the Five Point on Main, presented by CBC Radio and hosted by Sheryl MacKay. A lot of folks from Monday night were there, along with the excellent Adam and Rain and John Vigna, whose friend Nancy Lee read a story from Dead Girls during the first half of the evening. It might have been a great event if it weren’t for the venue. Apparently at the last minute the Five Point backed out of its agreement to host the cabaret exclusively that night, and so we had to endure the farce of one half of the room watching the hockey game and raising a ruckus while the other half of the room strained to hear the readers. It was awful for the readers, audience, and organizers, who got rogered soundly by the idiot who runs the Five Point. By the time the final reader got on stage, the place had been fully invaded by gel monkeys and assorted Shannons and the grossest kind of pod people slumming it on Main Street. Boycott the Five Point; they’re the enemy.