Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Lumi" is Finnish for Snow

Track in Play: A rhythm track I was working developing this weekend using my friend's copy of Groove Agent.

It is blowing hard out there. After living in Saskatchewan and Montreal I would have a hard time calling this a blizzard, maybe a snow squall? Visibilty is low and the wind is really pushing the old snow that has been in the atmosphere for a while around. Almost looks like an intense rain storm from here, but the stuff outside is definitely snow.
This weekend was good. My friend Doug played a show in Langley, his jazz band's CD release party, and I was able to attend. Good sound from a tight group. Hopefully they learn some Charles Mingus soon. (hint, hint>:) The snow that night made getting home problematic for me so I crashed at Greg and Joy's, old friends whom I have not had the chance to hand around with for a while. It was time well spent.
Greg introduced my to his new musical obsessions, The Devin Townsend Band and Strapping Young Lad. Greg and I have grown apart in many aspects of our musical interests, but we still share common ground. DTB was pretty interesting. Might pick up their album Terria at some point.
We spent time in Greg's home studio which is very nice. Greg offered me a chance to go in once a month and record material, an offer I would be a fool to pass up on. I forget the name of much of his software, but Groove Agent is what he uses for drum tracks. I played around with the preset patterns and came up with a rhythm track that Massive Attack would kill for. Been sitting at home since trying to write lyrics to go with it.
He also has a Hammond B3/B4 emulator so I can make all my organ driven fantasies come true. (if only I could play the organ...) There is a Yamaha synth emulator that shows definite promise and I spent at least 2 hours toying around with the Moog emulator.
Anyhow, Greg and I are looking at recording a project together. I have been thinking about guitar lessons so I can actually make use of my Godin, but I have also thought I might trade in the Godin out some money on top and get a something like a Fender P-bass and an ampeg amp. We'll see what comes of it, but it will be good to do something any way you slice it.
In Addendum
When I went home last night I was struck at how beautiful my neighbourhood looked. White and well illuminated. I should have hurried home since it was just before 1 am and I had to be back at work by no later 7:45 am, but it was too beautiful not to just walk for a few more minutes and take it all in. Snow on the ground, on roof tops, sliding off trees and perilous 5 foot icicles dangling from the eaves.

Monday, November 27, 2006

"Patuqutaujuq" is a Sentence Fragment.

CD in Play: Tricky, Nearly God.

It is very white out there and will apparently remain so for some time to come. Yes, snow has come to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Snow has been an all too infrequent vistor to these parts in recent Globally Warming years and has been sorely missed, at least by this British Columbian. I like cold weather and feel right at home outside these days. Weather forecasts are calling for -13°C (it is -11°C as I type) which is bound to have people grumbling.
Truthfully, though, -13° could be bad for us in the Lower Mainland. It is unusual and many things that are necessarily taken in to consideration futher north and further east - such as burying waterlines deeper in the ground to keep them from freezing - are often casually disregarded here. The coldest I remember it getting in this area was around -17°C in 1988 when I was still living in Port Coquitlam. Since about 2000 it has been pretty mild here, especially in the last couple of years.
There is myth in this country that British Columbia never sees winter. The myth is big with interprovincial transplants (and those most loathsome types of BCers - the self-deluded British "Californian") seeking to escape the typical Canadian winter, hoping to settle into some sort of in-country Shangra-La. BC is a big place, geographically diverse and most of it does see winter: just ask my friends Trent and Ken in the north-east and central interior of the province, respectively.
The Lower Mainland has mild winters usually, but that is far from a rule. Snow does hit here and sometimes, however infrequently, it makes a point of sticking around. It does get cold here, a damp cold that soaks in through the skin and straight to the bone. Snow is often followed by constant rains and the ground becomes a water-logged sponge.
The snow is here and, for the momment, it is beautiful. It is cold and I am in my element. Long may this winter last.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


CD in Play: Wilco, A Ghost is Born

It happens to all of us, songs get stuck in your head and there is only one way to get them out. We whistle, hum, sing, tap all in the hope to clear our heads. Sometimes I get two, three and four songs going all at once. Cacophonous to say the least. Anyhow here is a list of the songs that get stuck in my head, for whatever reason. (Admittedly, much of this I learned as a kid) Make of it what you will.

- La Marseillaise
- God Save the Queen (the anthem not the punk version)
- Oh Canada
- Hockey Night In Canada
- Eidelweiss
- Danny Boy
- The Blue Danube
- It's a Long way to Tipperary
- The Army Goes Rolling Along
- Waltzing Matilda
- Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder
- The Marines' Hymn
- Pack up Your Troubles (with the line "While you've a lucifer to light your fag" it made most kids in Grade 5 giggle without the cultural context to put the line in perspective)
- How Great Thou Art (A hymn I hate)
- Battle Hymn of the Republic (which always comes to mind when I am racing home in the cold to get to the bathroom before I pee in my pants)
- Be Thou My Vision
- Amazing Grace
- When Johnny Comes Marching Home
- When the Saints Go Marching In
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing
- O' Come All Ye Faithful
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Dona Nobis Pachem
- Silent Night
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Christmas Time is Here (Note, most of these carols and one Christmas song pop into my head around July and August)
- Linus and Lucy
- The Simpsons theme
- Original Doctor Who theme
- Original Star Trek theme
- Barney Miller theme
- Sanford and Son theme
- Blackadder themes
- Red Dwarf theme
- WKRP closing theme
- M.A.S.H. theme
- 60's Spiderman soundtrack
- Looney Tunes Theme
- Muppet Show Theme
- It's Not Easy Being Green, Kermit the Frog
- King of the Road, Roger Miller
- I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash
- Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash
- Cocaine Blue, Johnny Cash
- Canary in a Coal Mine, The Police
- Walking on the Moon, The Police
- Man in a Suitcase, The Police
- Rehumanize Yourself, The Police
- One World (Not Three), The Police
- Secret Journey, The Police
- My Boy Lollipop, Millie Small
- Guns of Navarrone, The Skatalites
- Skinhead Moonstomp, Symarip (all of West Indies descent, btw)
- Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) - Neil Young
- Goodbye Porkpie Hat, Charles Mingus
- Haitian Fight Song, Charles Mingus

There are tonnes more. "Ping-Pong" was song by my friends Greg and "Zeke" (aka Ken Goudswaard) from their days playing in a band called 32toBase. That also got stuck in my head frequently, especially the staggered 3 part harmony line, "In my head there is a little palstic ball/bouncing, bouncing in my head/there is a..." and so on. Other songs like "Hanging the Painting", "Invisible Shoppers" and "5,000 years of Korean Art" also lodged themselves inside my mind and refused to check out. My old band, Hypernode, had songs that frequently stuck in my head: "Rabbit 11", "3Jane", "New Party, New Future" and "Doktor'd Photograf".
One of the most brain-grabbing songs - like a pitbull on a side of beef - was written by Ken Goudswaard for his project, Schrodinger's Cat. "Malibu Stacy" is a song you are either going to hate or love, but either way the line "Maaa-li-bu Staa-cy, Maa-li-bu, Staa-zy..." will stick with you, and roll on and on and on. Trent and I often stuck it in one anothers head. And the only way to exorcise it out of our minds was to sing it out together.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

And When the Wombat Comes...

Stuck in my Head: The Police remixed by Stewart Copeland

I was in A&B Sound this weekend and happened to spy and subsequently pick up a copy of Everyone Stares The Police Inside Out, a documentary made by Stewart Copeland. (the drummer for The Police if you weren't aware) Copeland bought a Super 8 cam in the earlyish days of the band and shot over 50 hours of footage with it. (the camera is featured in the video promo for "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da", I think) Since Super 8 footage gets damaged every time it is played, Copeland sat on his personal archive waiting for technology to catch up. It did and a documentary was born.
So few people talk about The Police today it is hard to remember sometimes that they really were a supergroup, honest to God rock stars of mythological proportions. They were HUGE and unlike today's superstars, they had to talent to burn. Packed concert halls and stadiums, record signings, screaming delirious fans - all captured on Super 8 and transferred to digital.
If you are a fan of The Police's music, pick it up. Copeland also remixed their songs for the soundtrack. Some songs are, obviously still presented as they were performed, but Copeland's soundtrack mix will allow you to hear their music in an entirely new way. Pop over to the set-up menu and listen to his mix of "Don't Stand So Close to Me". I can listen to the song every once and a while but I am tired of it. Copeland mixed the Zenyatta Mondatta version with the singles version they released in 1986 with interesting results. I have been popping in the DVD just to listen to it. The end credits mix is also interesting in its fusion of "Can't Stand Losing You" with "Regatta de Blanc" and other bits.
Anyhow, worth checking out at the very least. Now if they'd just re-release The Police, Around the World in 80 Days.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


CD in Play: Supergrass, I Should Coco.


Wow... 5,812 visits to this blog since the 27th of this year, when I first had the Clustr Map uploaded onto my blog. And it covers quite a swath too. Given my fascination with the Arctic, Baffin Island (Iqalit I am guessing) is a welcome edition as is what I am guessing to be Churchill, Manitoba. Thoth in Taiwan continues to scare me, in that he seems to visit my blog more often than I do. Saudi Arabia and UAE are probably all my friend Glen, who's working in Qatar. Visitors from the UK seem to be growing as are the places in South America. Still, please feel free to drop a line on the blog even if just to say "Hi", "Hello", "Allo", "Hey", "Hei", "Hallo", Здравствулте!, etc.

Bloody Sunday

It's that time of year again: Grey Cup. A friend is having a Grey Cup party, but I have other things to do. I could care less about organized sports, as I have indicated on here before. BC won and I suppose that's kind of cool, but it just doesn't matter to me at all. Just seems that Organised Religion has either been entirely relpaced or supplemented by Organised Sports. Funny thing is you can say you don't believe in a religion and get fewer askew looks than if you say you don't follow a particular sport.
I spent my day drinking actually. Uisge Beatha, Gwirod - Water of Life. Whisky and one pint o' Smithwicks. Hard alcohol doesn't have that great an effect on me, not like beer. Whiskies of the day included Redbreast and Tullamore Dew representing Ireland and for Scotland we have Cragganmore and a 15 year old Arran Island whisky aged in port casks. By virtue of the Arran entry in to the competion, I declare Scotland to be the winner. (may my Irish ancestors heap forgiveness upon my soul and may the taste of Redbreast never lose its charms) If my Mum is reading this, she is no doubt having the heart attack she believes I ought to be having - but relax Mum, I am fine.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cry for the Youth of Today

CD in Play: None, just have that damned "Spiderman Samba" stuck in my head.

University for Dummies

The recent power outage has given me scary insight into the future of this country. I don't think some of the students here have ever been in a power outage before. I am not sure that is possible, but most just seemed so clueless as to what was going on. I had to field a lot of stupid inqueries so, bastard that I am, I thought I'd share some of these with you:

1. When's the power coming back on? Is the power coming back on soon? Why did the power go out? - Valid queries in their own right, but am I really the man to ask? Is anyone at the university really the right person to ask? After legions of people walking up and phoning in to ask these questions (in some individual cases, more than once and up to four times++) it becomes hard to take these questions seriously and I start to roll out the impressions of the Great Carnack and Mentok the Mindtaker. Hmmm... I forsee a dark future...

2. Why is the Library closed? Does this mean we can't play in the Games Room? - The Games Room is a place they set up with a number of games consoles from different eras: Pong, Atari, Intelevision, Sega, Nitendo, Playstation, X-Box 360, etc. Since game design goes on in the University, the place is often regarded as a research centre. (*cough*) Anyhow, These particular young men had just been talking about how their computer lab was canceled - what to do? Oh hey! Lets go to games room and play multi-player Halo! Um... hi boys... if you can't go to your comp-sci lab because of the power outage, what makes you think you can hit the games room?

3. Caller: "Has the power come back on?"
Me: "It did come back at 11:30 but it just went out again at 7:30 this morning. Non-technology dependent classes are still running, though."
Caller: "Okay... um are there any computer labs up and running?"
Me: "Well, the power is out so - no."
Caller: "Are you sure?"
Me: "I'm quite sure."
Caller: "Are you absolutely sure?"
Me: "Yes, the power is out therefore computers will not operate."
Caller: "Well... is the student lounge microwave working?"
Me: "Again, the power is out, so no it isn't working."

I have a picture in my mind of a student sitting in a dimly lit apartment munching on frozen instant dinners.

4. (P3 enterance door intercom rings) Me: "Hello?"
Student: "Hello please to let me inside now. I am a student"
Me: "Sorry but the signs clearly indicate the university is closed due to to the outage."
Student: "But I have to drop off assignment?"
Me. "I can't let you into the building for reasons of liability, you'll have to come back tomorrow. (Student becomes visibly agitated, straightens arms and starts to pace) Don't worry, these are exceptional circumstances and I am sure that your prof...*"

I am not over-exaggerating here, though I am guessing at some of what he might have screamed since it became quite unintelligible going into the scream itself. He screamed like a pubescent boy whose voice was in the middle of the cracking phase. My colleague took the paper and delivered it. But this student was just one extreme example of a number of students who don't seem familiar with the notion of a grace period. In situations like this alotments are made for freaks of nature and the like. One guy tried playing each of us off of the other like a brat playing his mother off his father in order to get the result he wants.

Our dim and blunted stars for a gloomier tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Whale of a Gale

CD in Play: Mojo presents, Experienced!

Blowin' in the Wind

So I guess we had a big ol' gale here in the Lower Mainland. People seem so surprised by it, but I recall Novemeber being a stormy, windy month usually. As a kid in the eighties I seem to remember some huge wind and rain storms hitting the coast. We live in a temperate rainforest region, so this kind of weather is to be expected.
Right now around 200,000 people are stuck without power in the areas throughout the Lower Mainland and also on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and on the Sunshine Coast. When the power went out at my place we had to start bailing water out of the area for the sump pump. My landlady was suppossed to have some work done to drain water away from the house over to the stormdrain. I think she was taken for a bit of a ride by the contractor.
With the power out the sump pump can't pump and her emergency generator wouldn't start. Anyhow, me one of the other guys renting in the place and a neighbour all started to bail water waiting for the guy to show up to get the generator going. Two hours we were bailing water, and loosing against the rising water levels.
I am at work now and the campus has been evacuated and closed. Amazing how students still want to come in and try to work, drop off papers, hand out, etc. It is calm outside now, but still...

Stuck in My Head

I have a few things stuck in my head these days. I picked up the latest issue of Mojo this week and it came with a free CD called Experienced! tying in with the Jimi Hendrix cover story. Some of disc features covers like Love covering "Little Wing" or the insipid cover of "The Wind Cries Mary" by Jamie Cullen. (The best cover of that song is still the version on Marc Ribot's Rootless Cosmopolitans) Some of it is stuff the bears the influence of Jimi - "Super Stupid" by Funkadelic - or contemporaries that Jimi respected like Johnny Winter and the Move. One track actually features Jimi himself playing with the Last Poets, but it's not that great. For great Lost Poets check out the track, "On a Subway".
Three songs have been rotating within my head - "A Message from the Country" by The Move, "Drifting" as covered by the now departed Chris Whitley and Rotary Connection's cover of "Burning of the Midnight Lamp". The Move have to be one of the most ignored bands ever, aside from in the native UK. Quite original and versatile, the Move deserve to be heard. Whitley's cover is spartan, but faithful and it sticks in my head. The Rotary Connection's cover of "BotML" does what so many people into Jimi's music have wondered - can the melotron vocals on the original be produced by real voices? The answer is yes, especially when you have a metzzo-soprano up your sleave.
I have also had portions of the Spiderman cartoon from the `60's in my head - specifically the "Spiderman Samba". (or rhumba, something Latin) Uses congos at any rate.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Don't Be a Sap, Give Me a Pitch

CDs in Play: Tortoise, A Lazarus Taxon. (Disc 3) Tortoise, It's All Around You.

Okay, I don't really want you to pitch me ideas. I have two story ideas I am trying to work out at the moment. I never have short story ideas, nor do I enjoy the short story the way every bloody Canadian seems to - so please, enough with the you should start with a short story suggestions already. (Apparently Canadians are voracious consumers and writers of short stories - so much so some literary types I have encountered in Academia and in the Vancouver and Montreal scenes have said it could almost be considered the Canadian literary medium) Quite often after reading a short story I can hear PJ Harvey in the back of my head singing Is That All There Is?
Anyhow, back to the matter at hand. I have two story ideas I am currently hammering out. One is a crime story and the other (which has shortness possibilities) is a horror story. My question is, as readers what don't you want to see in these stories. What would have me avoid in these rather well trod genres? What have you always wanted to see? Not that your input is going to be gospel in any way, but I am curious as to what readers expect or are tired of. I'll give you the details of the stories later if you are a friend o' mine, otherwise read them if they ever get finished/published.

"Is that all there is, is that all there is If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing Let's break out the booze and have a ball If that's all there is"
Sorry, just stuck in my head now.

Remembrance Day

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Matter of Compulsion?

CDs in Play: Broadcast, Tender Buttons. Tortoise, A Lazarus Taxon (Disc 1)

So I finished Hide & Seek today and started in on Let It Bleed. (Rankin has at least three novels sharing their tiles with Rolling Stones' albums) Hide & Seek and Mortal Causes seem to me to be the most similar in tone so far. Let It Bleed and Black & Blue seem to get bleaker as the character of Rebus gets older. Anyhow, a quick post just denote that I am still alive.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Apt Titles

CDs in Play: The Beatles, Yellow Submarine.

Hide and Seek

So as you are aware, unless you have never been to this blog before, I have been ripping through Ian Rankin's Rebus series for a little over a month now. I finished Strip Jack and am just about finished with Mortal Causes. What to read next? I haven't exactly read them in order. I started with the first one, Knots and Crosses, but have been jumping around just a bit since I wasn't always able to pick up the books in chronological order. I had been trying to stick to independent/semi-independent stores, but trying to find the second Rebus novel has proven to be a real chore.
Appropriately enough, the second book in the series was named Hide and Seek. No one smaller seemed to carry it, so I walked into Chapters and it really did turn into a game of hide and seek - the computer stating that the store had ten copies in, but none were on the shelves, in the back room or on display elsewhere in the store. But have them they did and after a vigorous search by the sales clerk I now have a copy of Hide and Seek sitting in my work bag.
As for Mortal Causes, I have found it to be my favourite Rebus novel of the bunch so far. Of course, have always had an interest in the sectarian politics and intrigues generated by the conflict in Northern Ireland, so maybe that's no surprise. It is easy to focus in on the IRA as villains, Rankin went the road less travelled and looked at the Loyalists.

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