Monday, January 31, 2005

The U! album reviews redeemed themselves in the end with Paul Schwarz's very detailed review of Metal Blade's reissue of Voivod's War and Pain. I was very glad to see that, seeing as I neglected review it myself last issue. I used to buy a lot of thrash metal albums back in the day (that Banzai Records Speed Metal logo would always catch my eye), and while it was all good fun, very few of those albums were truly startling and inspiring. War and Pain was definitely one of them.

Last weekend I bought Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue, a documentary about Miles Davis's electric period and his performance at the Isle of Wight Festival. It's very good for something that doesn't look like much in terms of packaging. Most of the people interviewed for the documentary discuss how Miles was called a sellout and made a virtual pariah in the jazz world for going electric. "Selling out" is always in the eye of the beholder, though. To those who followed Miles until the late '60s, sure, his embracing of rock & funk must have been heresy. But to the rock musicians of the day, what Miles brought to their music must have seemed really freeing and exciting. And to me, a guy from Burnaby who likes Rush, those Miles electric albums sound really strange and powerful.

Today, having absorbed a lot of his music over the last few years, I listened to his 1985 album You Are Under Arrest for the first time. And when I heard the first few seconds of his saccharine cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," I thought, "Jeez, what a sellout."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Smash, Mai, Christian Scum and I went out to the St. James Church last night for the Don Ross guitar clinic. Don puts on a good show, with lots of stories and jokes along with the finest acoustic fingerpicking you're ever going to see. Radio Canada FM and the Aboriginal People's Network were there recording the show.

Before the gig I was happy to be able to give the nerds' old stereo amp to Chris. He hasn't been able to play LPs for a while now, so he was extremely grateful for the donation. (If you're near Middlegate tonight, you might hear some Heep drifting out a low rise window.) It's pretty near impossible to buy an amp with phono inputs these days unless you can afford to splurge on something high end. I hope my Rotel has many more years of service left in it.

Chris never fails to provide a quote any time you hang out with him. A couple minutes after I got picked up, he started talking about a "How to play like Hendrix" feature in some guitar mag. "Turns out it just boiled down to tuning to E flat and trying not to suck."

I'm on my own right now. Fancy's away at a publishing conference/booze-up in Tofino all weekend. I got a bunch of stuff to do anyway, including editing the Unrestrained! album reviews. I really wish they wouldn't review Nazi bands. The writers hide behind their quaint little genre codes (e.g. NSBM—National Socialist Black Metal), but they're talking about Nazis. Ignorant fucking Nazis. It's doubly crazy when the Nazi band being reviewed is Greek. It reminds me of one of Amy Sedaris's lines on Strangers With Candy: "Greeks are just Jews without money." (The only way you might get away with a joke like that is if your family is Greek to begin with.)

Monday, January 24, 2005

I heard "LA Woman" playing in the laudromat tonight, and it made me think of Bruce McCulloch's Doors Fan sketch on Kids in the Hall.

See that guy working in the laudromat, cleanin' lint traps and makin' change? He's a rider on the storm!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I'm pretty sure that Cypress is nearing the end of her Playing With Barbie years, but I hope it' s not too late to get her one of these (via Blabbermouth).

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Tarkake guitarist Malty has been a man of leisure lately. He’s been woodshedding while on the dole, taking lessons and watching instructional videos. At our last jam he showed us what he’d learned from the John Petrucci guitar regimen so far—how to stretch the arms and limber up the fingers prior to playing. After previewing the next lesson, which included running through scales at 200 bpm, Malty said he’d work on mastering the stretching before moving on.

My seat on the bus Thursday night had “Clapton Rules” written on it (shouldn’t it have read “Clapton is God”?). Enraged by this brazen “tagging” (never mind the fact that Clapton hasn’t ruled since 1967), I immediately went on the lookout for someone with a beard, ponytail, and a Sharpie.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I just watched a video of 21 Tandem Repeats playing their hit "Fuse Lit Bombs" at a restaurant last month. I regret missing that show. Super Robertson told me it was one of his better gigs. The video is murky, even murkier than the official Factory-issued Joy Division video. There wasn't much stage lighting at the place. You can just make out the humanoid brown/black forms of SR and WB. The song is worth a listen, though, and it's a fine performance made even more impressive by the fact that they could find the right notes in the darkness. Jeff Healey couldn't have done any better.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Everybody was so great to me all weekend. We went over to Mel & Adam & Simon’s on Friday night for Chinese food, chocolate cake and Mario Party 6. The belter got me that SCTV box I’d been wanting so damn much, and Mel & Adam gave me a gift card that sent me to A&B on Saturday (I picked up Annie Hall and Female Trouble). Fancy and I saw Sideways on Saturday afternoon, then Smash had me over for a stereo party that night (playlist included Forstella Ford, Painting Daisies [who’ve become a better band than I remember from that CBC battle of the bands they won], Nebelnest, Saul Duck, Caravan, Roger Dean Young, Necrophagist, Circle Takes the Square, Mass, and Hot Cross). Sunday was the first Tarkake jam of the year, then I had dinner out with the Hugheses. Dad’s a lot like me in that he can’t relax until he reaches his destination, especially when he’s transporting a bunch of people. But once we were seated and his usual first course disaster (tepid minestrone) was overcome, he warmed up nicely with some stories about him and mom befriending their neighbourhood grow operator on Mayne Island.

I was listening to the Miles Davis’s Complete Jack Johnson Sessions over breakfast this morning, and by coincidence I just found out that Ken Burns has made a new documentary about the first black heavyweight champion. I’ll have to check it out when it airs later this month. Funny, this article doesn’t mention the 1970 Jack Johnson movie that used Miles’s music, though it does say that Wynton Marsalis composed "period-style music" for this new documentary. I think I'll stick with Miles.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Happy birthday to me (I was born on a Friday, too, sez mum). According to this, Kenny Loggins and Screech from Saved by the Bell will also be enjoying some cake today.

Tonight I’m going to hang out with fancy and Mel & Adam. Tomorrow I need to get Clutch tickets for me and Smash and maybe see The Life Aquatic, even though moviegoing is a dangerous undertaking.

Reading about that incident at Metropolis reminded me of a shitty Saturday we had last fall. First we wasted a couple hours at the VAG’s Massive Change exhibit (with a whole room devoted to the Segway, nothing but a laughing stock the moment they showed Gob tooling around on one on Arrested Development), then rushed over to Tinseltown to see Julianne Moore in The Forgotten. Not only was it a bad film (not even bad in a good way), it was totally ruined by three stoned teenagers with cell phones a few rows ahead. We should have left early and got our money back. Instead we stayed till the end, hating every minute of it, and got lost in a back stairwell leaving the theatre. When we got outside, our three pals from the movie were loitering down the block. We tried to get a cab home (we were completely sick of humanity by then), but when the first taxi approached, one of the three teenagers rushed to the curb and got in it before we could. Yeah, I’d like to get that whole day back.

I wouldn’t mind watching the last episode of The Office this weekend. The second series has been getting more painful with each episode, though, and I’m not sure I can take it. I can’t imagine what else the show’s creators can do to poor David Brent, or more accurately, what they’ll have David do to himself. I sit there every episode thinking, “No. Stop that, David. Walk away.” Yet he does not. He cannot—he’s David Brent, an open sore, a human hangnail we can’t help waggling.

The most evil thing about this show is that as the pain intensifies, so do the laughs. The last episode we watched (Comic Relief Day) was excellent, and featured a grand scene with Finchy, who’s a favourite of mine partly because he looks like IQ guitarist (and lunatic in his own right) Mike Holmes. While I need to see the finale of the series right now, (then check out the follow-up special, naturally) I wish I could drag it out some more...prolong the agony.

Monday, January 03, 2005

2005 got off to a great start when I paid $95 for my January transit pass—just $8 more than I paid last year! I'm looking forward to the $96 worth of improved service that Translink's going to give me over the next 12 months. I got a preview a couple weeks ago when I rode in a 1986 vintage SkyTrain car that had freshly upholstered seats. The comfort I enjoyed on that trip more than confirmed that my money is being well spent. I also can't wait to ride the RAV line in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics!