Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I had to break my boycott of the Five Point last weekend for a friend's surprise birthday party. I didn't let my lapsed principles give me too much angst; after all, I don't get to see this particular friend too often and it turned out to be a fun party.

I have another source of angst now—the party photos that were emailed around today. I've never taken a good photo (nor do I give good oil painting), but these ones take the cake. I'm a husk of a man. The rot has set in, and I haven't cracked 40. From the neck down, I've become Mr. Furley.

I need to get back on track and start reviewing albums again. In the meantime, here's a top 10:
1. Witchcraft – Witchcraft
2. Dead City Radio – rough mixes
3. Neurosis – The Eye of Every Storm
4. Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse
5. IQ – Dark Matter
6. PJ Harvey – Uh Huh Her
7. Neurosis and Jarboe – Neurosis and Jarboe
8. Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
9. Ayreon – The Human Equation
10. Voivod – War and Pain box set

Thursday, July 22, 2004

You can take the boy out of Burnaby...
Robert "Rob" Feenie is a neighbourhood kid done good (not that Willingdon Black and I aren't holding our own), especially if one's status is based on accumulated appearances in Malcolm Parry's column. I had to laugh today when I read in the paper that he offers a gourmet hot dog called "Feenie's Weenie" at one of his establishments. I guess the rhymes that made the rounds of the Cascade Heights Elementary playground really left some scars.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I bought a couple of books from Continuum's 33 1/3 series on my last trip to Victoria. Number 3 in the series is about Neil Young's Harvest, and number 6 is everything you wanted to know about Piper at the Gates of Dawn. I thought they were both pretty useful. Sam Inglis's examination of Harvest not only lays out Young's early career succinctly (I've never had a good grasp of its chronology and the circumstances surrounding his involvement with CSNY), it includes an interesting discussion of the clash between popular success (represented by Harvest) and critical success (Tonight's the Night, for example). Plus it has lots of information about the recording sessions themselves—about non-guitarist Jack Nitzsche playing slide on "Are You Ready For the Country?" and forcing drummer Kenny Buttrey to play the title track with one hand, for example.

John Cavanagh's Pink Floyd book is more of a time capsule, concentrating on the extraordinary era that birthed the band. The historical material (a fair bit of it taken from a 1966/67 CBC Radio piece that I had a tape of for a while) is woven into a track-by-track dissection of Piper...—as with the Neil Young book, all the fine points of recording and songwriting are given plenty of attention. The discussion of The Floyd as musicians is quite funny and reassuring. Producer Norman Smith: "Nick Mason would be the first to admit that he was no kind of technical drummer. I remember recording a number—I can't now recall which one—and there had to be a drum roll, and he didn't have a clue what to do. So, I had to do that." Peter Jenner: "Nick, when all is said and done, was not a very good drummer, but he was a very good Pink Floyd drummer." Of course, a lot of words concern the short-lived genius of their guitarist and main songwriter, but the book avoids pandering to the cult of Barrett. If you want to know how to play "Astronomy Domine" and what the strange noises at the end of "Bike" are, put on your scarlet tunic and curl up with this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Cypress was packing a CD wallet when she arrived on Saturday, so now we're listening to Let Go by young Avril, that rebellious thrower of the devil horns. This thing's like a mini-pops version of Jagged Little Pill. Alanis has a lot to answer for. I guess Cypress's choice of prefab teen idol could be worse. As Fancy puts it, at least Avril wears clothes.

My sister reports that Owen, my 4-year-old nephew, is turning into a guitar freak. He's having trouble with the lingo, though. According to Owen, an acoustic guitar is an "air guitar." My sister has explained to him what playing air guitar actually means, but he can't grasp the concept. Now he wants an air guitar for his birthday. Can anyone recommend an air luthier? Money's no object; only the finest air instrument will do for my nephew.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Fancy and I spent four excellent days at Mayne last weekend. We needed to go where it’s quiet and the nights are properly dark. We got some sun, barbecued every night, watched eagles and bats fly around, and listened to Harvest a lot. Grandad’s Volaré ran like a dream, and looked badass parked among the Audi SUVs at Miner’s Bay.

The inventory of things to do on Mayne is limited, and we were so hell-bent on relaxing that we let most of them slide. We’ve got the rest of the summer to ride bikes, hike up Mt. Parke, and throw the Frisbee onto
the roof.

We walked out to the point a couple hours before we had to leave on Sunday. The tide was really low—the bay looked like it was in danger of draining away completely—so we decided to go along the shore instead of
taking the overland trail. The beach gets rocky close to the point, and hopping from boulder to boulder is the only way to progress. Jumping down from one rock to another, I heard a little yelp and looked down. There was a little grey seal pup right at my feet, wedged into a crook where three rocks met. From what I could see, one of the seal’s flippers was pinned under its body, and it couldn’t climb out. Otherwise, it looked healthy (if a little dry) and nervous. When Fancy leaned in for a close look it snapped and hissed at her. Fierce. We weren’t equipped to just grab the pup and see if we could work the flipper loose—Fancy suggested an
elaborate system of ropes and pulleys would do the trick—so we walked on, enjoyed the view at the point for half a minute, then hurried home, where I called the vet’s office and asked them to notify the nearest Wildlife
Rescue crew. I hope the little blighter made out okay.