Thursday, May 31, 2007

Geek Food

Geek Food
Originally uploaded by Leo Laporte
This is the photo Trent has a link to just two posts down.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


CD in Play: Morphine, Good

On the 23rd of this month I saw Björk for the first time. It was a good show and I am glad I was able to attend. The venue was perfect for a performer like Björk, it was outdoors at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby. (Vancouver's neighbouring municipality) I haven't really listened to her music in the last couple of years, but still like it. I'll probably pick up Volta this weekend.
Björk had a brass section, all female, who also sang back up on some songs. Arrangement-wise, the songs didn't vary too much from the albums they were from, however they weren't carbon copies either. I would never expect Björk to go up on stage with her music completely canned, though her material could easily be performed that way. The opening act wasn't enjoyable and best forgotten. There is a gigOgrapghy online for this tour and past tours, the link to Deer Lake's show is here. I believe the photo is by someone named Vasho Pakar.

Set List
01. Earth Intruders
02. Hunter
03. Pagan Poetry
04. I See Who You Are
05. Unison
06. Dull Flame Of Desire
07. All Is Full Of Love
08. Pleasure Is All mine
09. I Miss You (ft. Einar Örn on trumpet)
10. Army Of Me
11. Innocence
12. Wanderlust
13. Mother Heroic
14. Bachelorette
15. Hyperballad
16. Pluto
17. Oceania
18. Declare Independence

The Police were on the 28th and it has been a long time coming. Last time they played in Vancouver I tried to go but wasn't going to be able to make it as I lived too far away and was too young to drive myself. I figured the Amnesty International show in 1985 was as close I was going to get to seeing them live. The Police were a big band for me when I discovered them in 1981. I took a lot of flack at first for liking a "girl band", but then everyone began to acknowledge that they were also good musicians. (even the metal-heads had to grudgingly respect drummer Stewart Copeland)
My old friend Alex was sceptical about The Police being good and others had termed it the "Grandpa Show", which is unfair. The members of the band have looked after themsleves and are still all there, both as people and as musicians. And what musicians they are. I wasn't wild about some of the arrangements they came up with for the songs. Aside from Sting's voice not quite having the same range he used to have, (thus they had to transpose some keys down) the band was adamant about keeping it down to the three of them and avoiding sampling. Some songs really suffer from the lack of keyboards and other sounds, like "Spirits in the Material World" and "Invisible Sun". The keys are absolutely integral to "Spirits..." just as keys and piano really fills out "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic": the songs sound a bit empty without them.
Other arrangements were a bit clunky and didn't work too entirely well. The material from their first two albums are easy to pull off live, but the later doesn't fare so well with the barebones approach. My favourite songs of the evening were "Murder by Numbers" and "Walking in Your Footsteps". The re-arrangement of "Murder..." worked the best out of any song that night, while "...Footsteps" was perhaps the only song allowed to have extra-samples to fill things out.
Anyhow, good shows all the way around.

Set List
01. Message in a Bottle
02. Synchronicity 2
03. Spirits in the Material World
04. Voices Inside My Head
05. When the World is Running Down...
06. Don't Stand So Close To Me
07. Driven to Tears
08. Walking on the Moon
09. Born in the `50's (I think, I don't have Outlandos d'Amour )
10. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
11. Wrapped Around Your Finger
12. The Bed's Too Big Without You
13. Murder By Numbers
14. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
15. Invisible Sun16. Walking in Your Footsteps
17. Can't Stand Losing You
18. Regatta de Blanc
19. Roxanne

1st encore
20. King of Pain
21. So Lonley
22. Every Breath Your You Take

2nd Encore
23. Next To You

Input Desired

CD in Play: King Crimson, Lark's Tongue in Aspic

Whenever my Dad and I go out for Greek food we usually say we are going out for "Geek" food. Don't know how it started, it just did. But today on the bus to work I began wondering, what would "Geek" food be? Is it possible to come up with a cuisine definable as "Geek" food?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


CD in Play: Wilco, Sky Blue Sky

I had a chance to see all 14 episodes of Firefly and the film Serenity this past weekend. I had seen maybe half the episodes in their totality and others in snippets. When I initially tried to watch the show it didn't grab me, which may be because Fox had decided to air the series out of its intended broadcast order. The show wasn't always on when I went to watch it, having been pre-empted for sporting events. Fox apparently had problems with characterization and the shows tone, so I have to wonder if Fox wanted to scuttle the show from the outset. No other network was willing to pick the show up. This would have been around the time of Farscape's cancellation, when there was talk about the death of space-bound science fiction on the small screen.
I remember reading how networks wanted to stick with earth-bound sci-fi, where they could use real locations, cut-costs on wardrobe, make-up, sets and special effects. That idea was short lived and a show like the new Battlestar Galactica showed how space-bound sci-fi was still viable when it was supported and done right. (Stargate was a hit too, but I never liked the show) It is easy to see the cancellation of Firefly as bad decision as the show only had 14 episodes and hadn't had the chance to screw things up, or "jump the shark". But the writing and characterizations were tight and the effects were extremely well done. The show avoided Star Trek-style techno-babble, but did have a very interesting take on the way we would use language in the future: the characters often used Mandarin curse words while coversing in English.
The film, Serenity, may not have been a "real" film as such, but it certainly was handled better than the X-Files movie and holds its own against the majority of the films in the Star Trek franchise. The film leaves things open for a return to the screen (big or small) but also offers a certain sense of finality, having resolved two issues (The Reavers and River) that arose out of the shows limited run. With networks, apparently, clamouring for high-end concept shows to run in between their commercials, (shows like Lost, Hereos, 24, BSG, etc have opened the doors for things other than "reality" TV) a comeback for Firefly would seem to be a natural. It has a cult fan base that has been expanding since the show's release on DVD and did respectable business at the box office. Still, I wonder if there is anywhere left to go after Serenity? I'd like to see these characters return, but would writers have anything worthwhile for them to do?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Burn Your iPod

CD in Play: Pink Floyd, Ummagumma.

I bought the CD version of Ummagumma (You-mag-un-muh) today for reasons both practical and sentimental. Red Silo ( a band I am in with Elijah Bak, Miriam Davidson and her little brother Lorne) is covering the song "The Narrow Way, Part 3" at an upcoming show on June 7th, which is the practical side of this purchase. The song is pretty simple, but Roger Waters had some nice touches he was doing on bass. Sentimentally, Ummagumma was a cornerstone album from my teen years.
I had started listening to Pink Floyd around Grade 9 (1984-1985) and really got into them. My Mum married a total scumbag in 1986. He was a creep, but he did have a great record collection. Among his records was Ummagumma, a strange double album by Floyd consisting of an experimental studio album and an overdubbed live album. It also had two different great album covers. One cover features the father of a certain modern day movie starlet. He was one of Floyd's roadies and contributed the wild laughter on Dark Side of the Moon.
A few friends have iPod's of assorted types and they are pretty neat. The fact that you can store so much music and not have to carry around CDs or cassettes is a big bonus. But the iPod lacks a certain something. Perhaps it is just too convenient a format, making music more like a disposable accessory than an experience. I used to lay on the floor listening to Ummagumma on headphones for hours at all hours. After that might come John Coltrane, The Police or a soundpage out of Guitar Player magazine. (usually "Easter Sunday" by Robert Fripp)
Having to flip sides of a record or cassette was always considered to be a downside to the format, I thought so. Everyone loved CDs because you could listen to an entire album, usually, without having to change anything: multi-disc players took away even more of the hastle, just settle in and the music flood on by. These days I am beginning to think that inconvenience and limited space of the vinyl and cassette formats - except in the cases of, Baroque, Classical, Chamber music, etc - are their upside.
Not everyone is going to agree with me and that is fine. For some people music isn't an experience, it is an accessory that makes you feel good, that makes you seem hip or is simply something to help pass the time away. For me, music is about the experience to be had from it and the best experiences have to be worked at and don't come easily. Music seems much more special on these limited formats - like gold on vinyl and like silver on cassette.
Good grade vinyl, despite its fragility, still has the best fidelity overall. Just check out a copy of Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and compare it to the other formats it has been released on. Vinyl is inherently superior in this regard and really doesn't degrade as quickly as so many people believe. Cassettes are great for their versatility. Mixed cassettes have always been much better than mixed CD's. The tighter time limit really forces you to think about the music you are putting on, what is you really want to hear or express to someone. Cassettes also allow for some really creative people to cut loose. Ken Goudswaard and I did a fake radio station once called KILL FM 108.9, "The Rabid Pit Bull of Radio". Hard to pull the same thing off as easily on CD and kind of pointless to do on an iPod.
I dunno, I just hate to see music become so disposable and the iPod is so vast it just seems to render music as just another comodity, like toothpaste or toilet paper.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lloyd Alexander, 1924-2007. RIP

CD in Play: múm, Finally We are No One

Lloyd Alexander was the author of many books, the most familiar (and the only ones of his I have read) are the Prydain Chronicles. Inspired by Welsh mythology, (though in no way a literal retelling) the books that make up the Prydain Chronicles - The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and the The High King - were a fairly import part of my reading diet as a child, along side the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Jules Verne.
Alexander died just two weeks after the death of his wife of sixty-one years, Janine.

On another note, raging fundamentalist Jerry Falwell also passed away this week on the 15th. In my opinion, Falwell was a disgrace and did a major disservice to the Christian faith. While I am certainly no pargon to hold up to the masses, I pray for God to show him mercy and may he find the clarity in death that he lacked in life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It Done Feel Good Tuh Be Vindicated

CDs in Play: Various, The Golden Pig Mix. Wilco, Being There (Disc 2)

Politics as Usual

I called it, I did indeed: disgruntled conservatives are fielding the idea of resurrecting the Reform Party. Pete Chattaway sent me this story from the Globe and Mail and I cannot say I am surprised except that I am surprised it took them this long to get this angry. The right wing elements in this country have always been rather fractious and divisive and there is a real divide growing between traditional Canadian political views and the more American views that have been seeping in for over a century. It should also be noted that there have been disgruntled Reformers out there ever since the Reform became the Alliance and even more after the "Unite the Right" efforts that merged the Reform/Alliance party with The Progressive Conservatives to form the new Conservative Party.
I knew Stephen Harper would have to become more of a Centrist if he wanted to avoid forcing another election. Had Harper actually tried being the sort of Prime Minister that these ex-and-maybe-soon-to-be-born-again Reformers, his minority would have been toppled in no time. (also see Minority Governments in Canada ) Prior to his election, Harper was painted as a monster waiting in the wings and nothing would have validated that image more than acting like a Federal version of either Ralph Klein or Mike Harris. I happen to believe that Harper still is a monster waiting in the wings: just a monster waiting for a majority government.
And as scary as I find the wing-nuts wanting to revive the Reform Party, I hope they do it and cause another division within the right wing of this country. Even if the new Reform Party succeeds in going anywhere, they are either going to have compromise like Harper's Conservatives if they wish to achieve and hold on to power or they will just become irrelevant.

So What To Do?

I have been a malcontent for quite sometime and one thing people say to me is that you can't complain unless you have a solution. Personally I think that is crap spouted by people who don't like to think, but I do finally have a solution. For the record, I think the electoral process in this country is a joke and that the only hope for good government in Canada is to introduce two reforms to the system.
1. Proportional Representation or STV. (Single Transferable Vote) Utterly democratic, it eliminates the possibility of the Liberal Party ever dominating the Canadian political scene as ruthlessly as they did throughout the 1990's and forces governments to form coalitions and alliances, to work together.
2. Non-Confidence or None Of The Above option on all ballots. Currently, spoiled ballots are the only real way to register protests. The only other alternatives are to either hold your nose and vote for the party you dislike the least or to vote for parties like The Rhinos, Natural Law or the Communist Party of Canada. With the ability to register your protest and have it count as a blanket statement of non-confidence it would limit the various parties from claiming to have a "clear mandate from the people".
After these measures there could be more checks and balances added. I am also a firm believer in referendums and plebiscites. People have said to me before that Canadians prefer leaders who lead, take charge and make decisions - referendums are for the weak. I often chalk that up to electoral laziness and/or fear of discovering that your position isn't actually the majority position.
Referendums and plebiscites would have settled the issues like gay marriage or gun control, letting us know what the national consensus on these issues really are. In the debate over gay marriage, both sides claimed to hold the majority opinion: a plebiscite would have allowed the government ask Canadians directly whether or not they supported the issue giving them the option to frame (or not to frame) legislation accordingly. A referendum on GST would most likely have resulted in it not have being implemented.
I dunno about you but a more democratic society sounds better to me, how about you? It just means that more of us have to be willing to step up to the plate.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Life to you is a dashing bold adventure

CD in Play: Redside, Verbs

General Crap

It all piles up at once, doesn't it? I am looking at a busy couple of weeks in a ddition to the week that has just passed. Aside from a new semester dawming tomorrow, Trent is down with his wife and 1.5 children. My landlady has asked me to look after her cat, which she completely panics about. I have rehearsal tomorrow night and intend to see Bill Bruford's drum clinic at the Ridge Theatre on Wednesday. Must remember to bring my copy of Red for him to sign. And then there is a tonne of little things beside.
One ineteresting thing that always happens when I try to go back to church, and I have been trying, is that everyone suddenly seems to need me elsewhere or other things pop up at the same time. I don't go to church and things are kind of dead. I start attending and WHAMO! The worst of is when people tell me they need me to do something and then call me at the last momment to cancel. As i take transit this can really screw me over.
I am hoping that a job I am applying for will pan out. The job is $40,000- $48,000 a year looking after the security and parking issues surrounding a major campus in the Fraser Valley. If it does work out I will move to Langley and be able to get a car/motorcycle. I still intend to return to school, however and would just be using the job to further that end. Since my landlady is considering selling her place, I hope it does pan out.

The Title

The title of this post was from a fortune cookie at my table on Friday. Apparently it is pretty common, but I know the line best from the Faith No More song "Land of Sunshine" from Angel Dust. Mike Patton apparently culled the lyrics together from fortune cookies and from Scientology's personality test.


I had an old lady (70+ is my guess) from the Phillipines (she looked and sounded like a Filipina anyway) lecture me on the bus that I had to get married and have kids. I was reading one of my Ex Machina comics on the bus and she asked me if I had bought it for my kids. I just shook my hy head and she looked shocked. She looked at my left hand and asked me why I didn't have a wife. I just said that overweight, underpaid ,comic reading geeks who rely on transit and obsess over music don't get to have wives. As I was leaving the bus she tugged on my jacket sleave and admonished me to go get a wife.
Any volunteers? Didn't think so.