Monday, December 31, 2007

Great Songs 2007 #1: The Hangin' Judge

I spent a lot of time and effort trying to decide what the final song would be in this end-of-the-year tally of songs I really like a lot. Even though I generally lost interest in the process shortly after I posted the third installment, I have yet to lose interest in songs in general, and these songs specifically.
Some of the things I thought about while compiling this list:
-does the world really need another blog entry about Spoon's "The Underdog"?
-I've already posted one R. Kelly cover (by Shivaree). Am I ready for another (by Bonnie "Prince" Billy)?
-wouldn't I rather just listen to "Remember the Good Times" by Cuff the Duke, with its fantastically treblesome 12-string opening, fifty times in a row than write another meandering blog post?
-Andre Ethier's 2007 album, On Blue Fog, wasn't nearly as good as I'd hoped it would be, especially considering the wondrousness of his 2006 effort, Secondathallam. But the album's closing track, "Pride of Egypt" is one of Ethier's best songs ever. Maybe I shouldn't save that for early 2008?
-what's for supper?

So I've settled on Howe Gelb's "The Hangin' Judge" from his Upside Down Home 2007: Return to San Pedro. This is a bit of a tricky pick, since I only finally got 2006's 'Sno Angel Like You in 2007, and have more or less been using it as a blueprint by which to build my life ever since. Along with Thank You for Arguing by Jay Heinrichs, This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley, and the discovery of baking, Gelb's music is part of the Great Transformative Works in My Life 2007 Edition. Upside Down Home 2007 isn't quite on the transcendental level of 'Sno Angel--it's solo-er, unfinished-er, all around rougher--but it's still hitting me where I'm soft and malleable.

"The Hangin' Judge" especially taps into some of the themes from 'Sno Angel that I responded to so strongly. On the surface it's a bit of an existential quiz, but put in context with SALY songs like "Hey Man" and "That's How Things Get Done" it's something a little more earthy, a little more here and now graspable.

Thanks for all your comments and questions and Happy New Year! See you in the FUTURE!

mp3: "The Hangin' Judge" by Howe Gelb

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ten Great Songs #2: Black Water

Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup is yet another group of musicians I've blogged a lot about this year. I know I've already posted this song, but I don't want to give away the whole Threshold album here when I know that a lot of work went into making it.
Hear the song, get the album, live a happier life.
The song "Black Water" is about Regina, or at least RDY's impression of such. And aside from being a great song, it's got me thinking about R-Town and what I've left behind. I really miss good old CJTR and X-Ray Records. And I already missed Buzzword Books before I left. I miss my parents, and I miss my youngest brother, even though he's not there anymore either. I miss my old apartment and its working fireplace. The Christmas night snowfall here in Vancouver made me miss the Saskatchewan winter. Give me -30 plus windchill over day in and day out of rain. At least for a week.

If you dig on Roger Dean Young, you should also check out guitarist Chris Rippen's solo stuff on his MySpace page. It's similarly quiet and sublime.

mp3: "Black Water" by Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ten Great Songs 2007 #3: Faster Than Them

It's not every day that I see Cam Dilworth of the Neins Circa, but just about. Somehow, this has done nothing to diminish my respect and admiration for his music.
It's been a bit of weird year for the Neins Circa, since they basically re-released the same album from last year with a new name and a few different mixes. Then Cam told everyone he was leaving. Then he left. Then he came back.
In the end, the Neins Circa remain a challenging band with big ideas and fun melodies. What more could you ask for?
"Faster Than Them" is the first track on Sleeves & Wigs (originally released as Please Feel Free to Enter the Tipi), and it's got a lot going on. It talks about balls and it talks about records. It's got a lot of swoops and fine arrangement and excellent production. If you like Elephant 6 bands, you'll like the Neins Circa.

mp3: "Faster Than Them" by the Neins Circa

10 Great Songs 2007 #4: Failure to Some

It feels like it wasn't that long ago that I was posting another song from Cuff the Duke's new album (their third, I think), Sidelines of the City. I remember seeing them open for the Sadies about a million years ago, right after their first album had come out on the sorely-missed Three Gut record label. I had walked in late and CtD was already mid-way through their set. While I heard their album Life Stories from Minimum Wage at that point and was impressed, I wasn't prepared for what I saw. A bunch of kids, a bunch of peach-fuzzed, wide-eyed kids, just pouring out, overflowing soulful country-rock. I was floored and have been a fan ever since. In the time in between then and now, Cuff the Duke have only gotten better and this epic tune from their new album showcases everything that they do well. It's got a solid grounding in that The Band-esque Can-Rock I was talking about earlier, but manages to simultaneously reach for both pop and experimental impulses. It's adventurous and satisfying, like a peanut butter sandwich in a sharktank.

mp3: "Failure to Some" by Cuff the Duke

and hey, check out Minneapolis Fucking Rocks for a jazzed-out Sabbath cover from the Bad Plus that will blow your freaking mind.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ten Great Songs 2007: #5: Day

Bill Callahan's first album under his own name was all kinds of brilliant (he's got about ten previous albs as Smog). Produced by fan-favourite Neil Michael Hagerty, Woke On A Whaleheart is nine songs that have a lot to say about living on planet earth. This song, "Day", has some things to say about family. Today being today (for another half hour or so, Pacific Standard), family is a theme worth thinking about. This song also talks about pigs and monkeys. But no mention of Toffifee or who ate the last one.

mp3: "Day" by Bill Callahan

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ten Great Songs 2007: #6: Don't Stop Til You Get Enough

Shivaree, a band I've been boosting since their debut back in 1999 with I Oughtta Give You A Shot In The Head For Making Me Live In This Dump, released a wicked covers album this year of love songs made famous by folks with something less than authority on L-U-V. They don't all work as well as this one, but this one is pretty effin' ace.

mp3: "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" by Shivaree

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ten Great Songs 2007: #7: What Your Baby's Been Doing

Not much to say, except that I discovered this song on someone else's blog, and I can't remember which. Probably one of the cooler ones. Without a doubt this is one of the best songs you'll hear today. It has so much going for it that I don't even want to give you any expectations. Small Sins are from Toronto, which is where my youngest brother lives, though he's at home today. I don't know if he knows them, but Ben did once see Kenny of Kenny vs Spenny walking a goat (and then last week, Nicole saw an episode where they were tied to goats, so everything came full circle) through his neighbourhood.

mp3: "What Your Baby's Been Doing" by Small Sins

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another post for no good reason other than to share a 2-year-old or older song

I just accidentally stumbled across the White Whale records website, and discovered they've got a very fine selection of free mp3's. Here's one by my favourite White Whale band, the Precious Fathers. The song's title qualifies this post for Saskploitation.

mp3: "Prairie Train" by the Precious Fathers

Ten Great Songs 2007 #8: Fifth Dimensional Johnny B. Goode and bonus last minute christmas guide

I've already said a ton about the Howling Hex and their new album XI, so I'm gonna shut up now. Except to say that if you like the riff from "American Woman", or hate it, you'll dig "FDJBG".

mp3: "Fifth Dimensional Johnny B. Goode" by the Howling Hex

If you're still trying to get your holiday shopping done, and I--or someone who thinks like I--happen to be on your list, here's some ideas.

Out of the Ordinary: Tales of Everyday Craziness by Jon Ronson - The first collection of Ronson's Guardian columns, this seems to be only available in the UK. Same story for the second collection, What I Do: More Tales of Everyday Craziness. Jon Ronson is my hero, and I am heartbroken that I don't have these books.

Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 3 - I haven't finished Vol. 2, and I haven't finished my second post about the series either, but sooner or later I'm going to have to have this. Might as well get it for free.

Anything by Raymond Sokolov - A fantastic writer, who writes mainly about food. He even wrote a biog on A.J. Liebling!

Honestly, that's really all I want. I've got lots of stuff. What I really need is more time to enjoy the stuff I already have. And maybe a generous and forgiving publisher.

If you're shopping for someone who is a bit like me, but not me, here's some other ideas:

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life - The first chapter in an amazingly rewarding graphic novel series by Canadian Bryan Lee O'Malley. At first it reads like yet another Toronto-based relationship comic (see also excellent works by: Jeff Lemire, Chester Brown, Hope Larson, Michael Noonan, Paul Rivoche, Maurice Vellekoop, and many, many other cartoonists who gravitate around Toronto, which might be the world capital of awesome comics in the 21st Century), but rather quickly reveals itself to be something quite extraordinary.

Threshold, the new album by Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup. Fan-freaking-tastic. Any roots/americana lover in your life should have their own copy of this record/cd to cherish in private and public moments.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ten Great Songs 2007 #9: Lenin and McCarthy

"We used to have such an organized party," sings Michael Brown at the opening of this track from the Parkas' second full-length album Put Your Head in the Lion's Mouth. It's a pretty frenetic song that sometimes seems like it's been put together of scraps from other songs. There are several times where Brown shouts out what you'd think would be a recurring chorus, but great lines like "Now this is fighting!" (which happens to be the name of the Parkas' first album) only happen once and then they're gone. There's a weird intro that has nothing to do with the rest of the song. It's a Frankenstein song, a lumbering whole of unconnected slogans and riffs and it's awesome.

The Parkas haven't played outside of Ontario in nearly three years and I think that's a big pile of bullshit.

mp3: "Lenin and McCarthy" by the Parkas

2008 will be awesome at the movies

EDIT: I thought I had posted the Hellboy 2 trailer, but I don't know what went wrong. Check out the official site or this Guillermo Del Toro fansite for the goods.

Yeah, so 2008 is gonna be rad for movies. Of course, you already know about The Dark Knight (if you can find it, the leaked "prologue" heist scene they're showing with some Will Smith movie is pretty intense and sets a gnarly 70s cop flick tone that I am really hoping they sustain throughout the movie). Here's the trailer for Hellboy II. Other movies I'm desperately looking forward to (though, admittedly, my heart beats mainly for Batman) include: Drillbit Taylor, Run Fatboy Run, Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Little Piece of My Childhood Still Intact After Three Mediocre Star Wars Prequels, Kung Fu Panda, Incredible Hulk, Get Smart, did I mention Batman Begins 2?, Pineapple Express, and Where the Wild Things Are.
Aside from The Dark Knight, though, what I'm mostly looking forward to are the movies I haven't even heard about yet that will surprise and dazzle me.

Lakota Nation: You Are Awesome

The Lakota nation ceded from the United States yesterday. How cool is that? I guess we're gonna need a new map.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Credit where credit is due

Saskatchewan's population has jumped by over 6,000 since the beginning of July. What's the reason? Probably this blog. It must have been around July that I started my series of Saskploitation posts (actually it was August, ed.), and brought the idea of Saskatchewan to the masses (or the five or six people who read this blog for something other than Howling Hex mp3s).
Or maybe word had simply spread since August of 2006 that I was no longer there. Either way, I'd like a lapel pin or something.
In other Saskploitation related news, the Sask Party dropped their plan to drop the wheat sheaf logo. Probably because Brad Wall and his dubious hairline read my blog and changed his party's policies to reflect my knee-jerk reaction.

mp3: "Ride the Funky Mule" by King Kong

Ten Great Songs 2007 #10: Bad Kids

There's a little over ten days left in 2007, so let's do a year-end countdown. I've definitely listened to less music in 2007 than I have in any other year since I was, I dunno, 15 or so. So I'm not going to pretend I know what the BEST tracks or albums of the year are. But until the end of the year (or into the new one, if I get behind schedule--a distinct possibility), I'm going to post some songs that I was very glad to hear this year.

#10: "Bad Kids" by Black Lips

This is almost a novelty tune from Atlanta's garage-rocky Black Lips, with it's fake 50s sounds (and jingly bells=seasonal!) and doo-wop pretenses. It's quick, bratty, catchy as hell, and in a perfect world teenagers would be singing along to it at pit parties somewhere in the great suburban night. It's not the BEST song on Good Bad Not Evil (that would be the hellacious strut "Veni Vidi Vici"), but it's built around a terrific gimmick: sassy, unapologetic, juvenile deliquency. Works for me.

mp3: "Bad Kids" by Black Lips

Monday, December 17, 2007

This Bread is Bananas: B-A-N-A-N-A-S

In my life, in my entire life, I have made three banana loaves. Therefore, I am an expert, and have devised a recipe of my very own that I'm sharing with you now. I'm no Raymond Sokolov, but I'm pretty handy with a spatula, if you know what I mean.
The key to cooking is confidence. Strut while you stir. Don't let a recipe push you around. You know what you like, and you're the one who's gotta eat it. Cooking isn't rocket science, and it's not alchemy, either. You put stuff together, you mix 'em up, and then you (sometimes) heat it. You gotta eat anyway, you might as well eat well.
I created this banana bread (which is, like the best cooking, my favourite parts of different recipes) because I bought a bunch of bananas and then forgot to eat them. You know how it is. So Nicole was kinda on my case about these blackening baneeners, and I wasn't saying a thing. I was doing my homework, putting together clues, buying a loafpan. You can get a decent 5x9 loafpan for about $10. You can get a crappy one for $1, or a supersonic deLuxe loafpan that will mock your beginner cooking skills for about $30. I recommend the $10 version. If you only make three banana loaves in a year, you'll get your money's worth.

Okay, so here's what you're going to need, aka
4 to 6 bananas, the blacker the better - here's the deal, not only are black bananas sweeter, but they're also softer and easier to work with.
1 tsp of vanilla extract - treat yourself right and use the real thing rather than that cheap synthetic vanilla. You're not saving that much money, and you get to feel like a big shot.
1/3 cup of sugar - I know that seems like a lot of sugar, and it is. But it's actually less than most recipes call for. Most call for a full cup, but I think you're better off using the following ingredient to reduce the sugar in your banana bread.
1 tbsp of vanilla yogurt or unsweetened applesauce - don't use any more than this or else your banana loaf will be soggy rather than moist.
2 cups of flour - I use wholewheat, but it's really up to you.
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda - and don't just take a scoop out of the box in the fridge. That's gross.


a tsp to a tbsp of cinnamon - highly recommended, feel free to add even more
a large handful of walnuts - also highly recommended, but not if you're allergic to nuts. It's a good idea to crush the walnuts
some amount of ginger - some people like ginger, I don't so I don't bother

Turn your oven on and set it to 325 F.
Lightly butter your loafpan.
Take your bananas, peel them, remove the hard nubby thing at the bottom and slice them up into a bowl. If your bananas are nice and soft, the edge of a spoon will work for slicing. Add the sugar, vanilla, and yogurt or applesauce (fun fact: if you use applesauce, this is a vegan banana bread, but you don't have tell anyone, least of all your vegan friends). Mix it up good until it's all gooey.
Next, in a separate bowl, "sift" the flour, baking powder and baking soda. I don't really know what "sifting" entails since I don't have a sifter, so I just lightly stir them all together with a fork.
Now toss in the banana mash, as well as any other customizations you want to add, and mix, mix, mix until the whole thing is of one smooth consistency.
Pour that into your loafpan, stick the loafpan in the oven, and find something to do for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes. Do your laundry, watch a couple of episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, wash the dishes. I don't really care what you do, and I don't want to know about it.
Soon, your kitchen will smell awesome and basically that's half the battle won. If anyone comes home or comes over while your banana loaf is in the over, their opinion of you will rise. Once an hour or so has passed, check on your loaf. Stick a fork or toothpick into the middle. If it comes out clean, your loaf is done. If it comes out with doughy stuff all over it, you've ruined the whole thing. Just kidding. It just needs a few more minutes. Check in every five to ten minutes. Pretty soon, you will be the proud owner of your very own banana bread. Eat it.

MP3: "Black Bananas" by RTX

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's not Bertrand Russell, but what do you want?

my very own lime tree

I work the nightshift. Four nights a week, every week, since May of this year. I'm part Travis Bickle, part Bodhisattva. I see the worst and quite often the best this city has to offer about 350 times a night. And I listen to a lot of classic rock.
Things I've learned from listening to classic rock in a room full of constantly changing people:
  • Everybody loves CCR. It's totally foolproof.
  • Joni Mitchell, not so much, surprisingly.
  • If you're desperate to hear the words "Turn it up, man!", lay a little Back in Black on a brother.
  • AC/DC, reportedly, has a better song than "Who Made Who".
  • That song might be "You Shook Me All Night Long".
  • Sometimes Jonathan Richman does sound like Neil Diamond.
  • "Coney Island Baby" from the album of the same name just might be Lou Reed's best song ever.
  • When AC/DC gets overplayed, reach for the Nazareth (but avoid the ballads).
  • People like the Band almost as unanimously as they like CCR.
  • If you turn off Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" and turn on Jay-Z's new album, you will get your ass beat.
  • Even the toughest thug (of a certain age) will soften a little for the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love".

mp3: "Sunset to Dawn" by the Sadies

You have got to be kidding me

Just as it's come back into fashion, the wheat sheaf emblem of my dear home province is getting kicked to the curb. While I'm not that a big fan of the yellow on green logo, I'm a giant fan of the yellow on brown motif. It's simple, it's clean, it's cool. It represents something real.

Hopefully, the Sask Party task force assigned to finding a new logo will come up with something more credible than Brad Wall's hairline.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

RIP: Ike Turner

So, yeah, not much bloggering lately. That might be a sign of the times, or it may not. I'm not saying. I'm not saying nothing. But Ike Turner is dead, and that's kinda sad.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Minor Thirds to become even more minor

got this note from Chris of Portland, OR's the Minor Thirds:

THURS, DECEMBER 6: The Minor Thirds (along with, uh, some other bands, not listed on the McMenamins website) at the WHITE EAGLE 836 N Russell St (suspiciously near a yellow MAX stop). Show starts at 8:30, costs $4, and we go on last (11ish?). Some of you have heard the rumors, and sadly they are all true: Barring the unforeseen and miraculous, this will be our final show as an ongoing full band. There will be more tM3 shows -- most just me, some with some subset of the tM3 line-up you've grown to become fanatically devoted to, some perhaps with me and new people (possibly you). But our current levels of awesomeness are unsustainable and wreaking havoc on our musicological ecosystem.
For the good of the community, and bypersonal request of Al Gore, we are playing one last show as a five-piece. If you don't come see us next Thursday, then you will not see the likes of us again. See you there.
Yrs,Chris,and Charlotte and Jake and Casey and Martin.

So there you have it. The band that pretty much invented Saskploitation (though I was the one who named the concept, and have since become the number one Saskploiter) is calling it half-quits. Here's their video for their chart-busting hit from the Saskatchewan EP, and if you follow the "Aquaman" tag at the bottom of this post, you'll find an mp3 of a song from their latest and last album, Nebraska From Afar. If you find yourself in Portland on Thursday, go bid adieu.

mp3: "The Thieves' Guild" by the Minor Thirds, from their album Dishwasher Thief

Friday, November 30, 2007

Despite appearances, they were not circus folk

It's Friday night and I'm riding the Number 3 down Main St. to work. I'm thinking about the S.S. Lake Winnipeg and how it left Liverpool in April 1903, full of Barr Colonists.

I'm standing in the aisle, because I go to work just as most of the world is going home and the #3 eventually connects with the Main St. Skytrain station. So the bus is full when I get on at Broadway. In front of me, two kids with snowboarding gear. The taller kid's boots are slung over his snowboard bag, and everytime the bus stops, which is at least once a block, the boots swing into my gut. Not hard enough to hurt, just enough so that I know it's there. A woman laughs. I don't know if she's laughing at me or at some private joke.

I assume that all these people are going home from work. But I don't know. Maybe some of them are on their way to work, nightshifters like me. Some of them might be going to a movie, or for dinner at a fancy restaurant. The snowboard kids are probably headed to the bus station and then off to Whistler. Some of my fellow passengers might even going to meet a boat, to cross an ocean and start a new life.

I don't even know what kind of boat the S.S. Lake Winnipeg was. For all I know it was a 2,000-seat paddlewheeler helmed by Mark Twain. More likely it was a steamliner, I guess. Helmed by not-Mark Twain, obviously. My great-great-grandfather, formerly a gardner at the Crystal Palace in London, embarked on that voyage along with his three-year-old son and pregnant wife. What was he thinking? What was he hoping for? At 37, he could hardly have been hoping for adventure on the frontier. But surely he hoped that whatever lay across the Atlantic Ocean, and then just as many miles of wild land, would be better than what he was leaving behind.

Henry Postle and his family parted ways with the rest of Rev. I.M. Barr's party of teetotalling utopians short after arriving in Saskatoon on April 17, 1903. They eventually settled east of Saskatoon, on a farm near Blucher. Lillian Postle was born about 3 years later.


At 16, she married this dapper fellow and became Lillian Matheson. Her life, viewed through eyes three generations removed, was fascinating.

The Barr Colonists are long gone. Their children, and even their children, are quickly vanishing. I get off the bus on Pender. The air is thick and dark. I've got "Under Cover of the Night" by the Rolling Stones on my headphones as I round the corner into the alley.

MP3: "Louis Riel" by Doug Sahm

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Forget the New Gods, what about the Old Gods?

Okay, I'm still working on my second post re: Jack Kirby's Fourth World, but in the meantime, this article showed up over Comic Book Resources today. Chris Knowles argues (and promotes his new book, Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Superheroes) for the influence of ancient myths on the creation of Superman and subsequent costumed crimefighters in general, and specifically that the cover of Action Comics #1 was all but copied from a Renaissance of Heracles by Antonio Pollauio. I gotta say, I'm not really buying that last bit. It seems a little too Da Vinci Code to me. But what do I know? Maybe someone with some art or design background (you out there, Wade?) can weigh in on these graphs and charts.
Knowles (a dubious name for someone putting forth opinions on the Internet) seems a little single-minded here, and makes no mention of circus strongmen, who most certainly influenced Superman's look. Circus strongmen indeed wore colourful costumes, including tights and leotards and sometimes capes or robes as they made their entrance into the ring, and were not shy at all about drawing comparisons to Greek, Roman and Judeo-Christian legends. Certainly, the circus would be much more familiar to a couple of teenagers growing up in Cleveland in the 1930s than Renaissance art.
And with all due respect to Siegel and Shuster (who, for the record, is as Canadian as Jack Kerouac--which is to say, not really), I think Knowles is giving them too much credit. I'm skeptical of Siegel's supposed contribution to the layout, and the process Knowles describes seems a little beyond the famously near-sighted Shuster's abilities.
All the same, Knowles has an interesting premise for his book (which CBR bafflingly describes as a "256 page novel"). Though its narrow focus seems to lead Knowles towards inflated conclusions, it's probably worth a look.
UPDATE: Knowles posted an interesting bit on his blog on the symbolism and metaphoric properties of superheroes, which is the stuff I like. Again, he's a little wide of his mark and a little too narrowly focused, but he's playing with fun ideas.

Finally, something cool about the 2010 Olympics

The mascots are revealed! And they are pretty rad. I particularly like Quatchie, the baby Sasquatch. There's been a bit of criticism that the characters are "too Asian-looking", to which I can only say: Shut up.

First of all, they're not that Asian-looking. If anything, they look like a very nice blend of Japanese pop art with West Coast First Nations flourishes. Second of all, so what? Have you been to Vancouver? Asian cultures are at least as much a part of the local fabric as Western traditions, and just as emblematic of West Coast life. If you don't like that, to paraphrase Bruce Allen, go home.

Bottom line, they're fun

Sunday, November 25, 2007

my other brother is on TV right now

Ben, the youngest, is in the front row on the 45-yard line at the Grey Cup. Wearing a cape.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This week: so glad it's over

I don't know, the whole Kirby thing is awesome and blowing my mind, and I'm looking forward to the football game on Sunday, but otherwise, I'm just DONE with this week. I don't even want to look at this week anymore, but there's still so much of it left.

Mp3: "Saskatchewan" by the Wooden Stars (from the Rheostatics tribute album The Secret Sessions)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thus he comes--the protector-wielder of the ASTRO-FORCE!

RX Comics had a giant sale over the weekend, and I stopped by on Sunday to look for Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber's Whiteout, since I accidentally picked up the sequel last week (thinking it was the first volume, of course). They didn't have it in stock, but they did have the first two volumes of DC's amazing reprint collection of Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, and let's just say the discounted price made them irresistible.

In the comics world, Jack Kirby is without peer. He was there at the start of the superhero genre, co-creating Captain America with Joe Simon in 1940 and was still doing high profile work until the mid-80s. Along the way, he either created or helped to create: the Challengers of the Unknown, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Mighty Thor, and the Uncanny X-Men (Kirby's input on Spider-Man was minor, but he draw the cover to Amazing Fantasy #15, which was the first the world saw of the webbed-wallcrawler).

His Fourth World series, which included Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods, and Mr. Miracle, were pretty much the last great acts of imagination and creation in superhero comics. Everything since then has been pretty much about either lionizing the canon, or tearing it down. But the Fourth World characters and storylines were all new (excluding the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, Kirby creations dormant since the 40s), and they were all Kirby. be continued...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prepare to be amazed.

I love songs about places. I love books about places. Movies about places? They also rate highly with me. Maybe...I just like places.
I like to hear/read/see about where people live, and how they live there. I like the ambiguity of hometowns. I'm lucky, I have two hometowns, Saskatoon and Regina.
Saskatoon is where I was a child, and in my dreams, that's usually where you'll find me. In my subconscious, downtown Saskatoon is massive and metropolitan, and usually wintry. It's like the Gotham City of the 70s (as seen by young me in used comics bought in a stripmall on 22nd); diamond shops and theatres line wide boulevards below, water towers and gargoyles haunt the skyline above. So Saskatoon's not a real place to me. Not in the way Regina is.
My relationship with Regina is...problematic. The less said the better. I've got a lot to say about it, but not here, not now. I'll always love Saskatchewan, both real and imagined, we just need some time apart.
This has all been a long way of getting around to saying that Cuff the Duke is in Vancouver tonight, playing at Richard's on Richard's. If you're not working, you should go. They're a terrific band, and even more terrific live. I've been listening to their brand new album, Sidelines of the City, for the last week. It's full of songs about places, so how could I resist?

MP3: "Rossland Square" by Cuff the Duke

The above image is inked artwork by Frank Espinosa from the upcoming second volume of his awesome Rocketo series. Rocketo is another example of a comic that doesn't have to be "good" to be great. Espinosa's art is beautiful, and his ideas are epic, but his storytelling skills.... Well, they're less than perfect, but throughout the 12 issues of the first series (collected in two trade paperbacks) the narrative definitely gets better and I'm expecting big things for part two. RIYL: Jules Verne, Tintin, Curious George, Aquaman, Darwyn Cooke

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comics Shouldn't Necessarily Be Good

I did something I'm not proud of. I posted a snarky message on a blog about comics. Comics Should Be Good is usually a pretty good blog, though quite often it loses the plot or displays questionable judgment.

To tell the truth, I have no problem with good comics, or even comics that aspire to be good. It's just that the bad ones are usually more fun. Take for example one of my all-time favourite issues, Challengers of the Unknown #87 from 1978. With early, unremarkable art from future awesomizor Keith Giffen, the Challs team up with Deadman and a pre-Alan Moore Swamp Thing in the year 12,000,000 AD to pit battle against the fearsome-sounding Sunset Lords and their hordes of mutants. It was the last issue of the series (the Challs wouldn't be seen again until 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths--another exhilaratingly fun awful comic--and wouldn't get their own title again until future comics superstars Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale did their first work for DC on good-aspirant miniseries in 1991) and included the awesome cut-away map of Challengers' Mountain similar to the one seen here (which is from the 1980s Who's Who). The dialogue is winceworthy and most of the concepts are lifted (as was the trend between '78 and, oh, '86) from Star Wars. It is not, by any sane definition, a "good comic". But I highly recommend it.

Douglas Wolk in his recent Reading Comics, made a case for bad comics in his chapter on The Tomb of Dracula called "The Cheap, Strong Stuff", which jibes with what British comics fans have come to call thrillpower! Most of the stuff in the Showcase Presents line of reprints from DC fits under this umbrella. It was knocked out quickly and cheaply, full of gimmicks, and never aspired to transcend any ridiculous notion of what a comic book should or shouldn't be. They simply were. Comics weren't, and didn't want to be, good until Alan Moore's Watchmen. Oh sure, there were pretentious comics before that, most famously the O'Neil and Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow run from the late 60s. But even those were, at least, still gimmicky. After Watchmen, comics didn't just want to be good, they wanted to be Important. Yechhh. They wanted to be BIFF! POW! NOT JUST FOR KIDS ANYMORE! And, in that, they succeeded. Not only weren't comics for kids, but they weren't even for human beings anymore.
There's a lot of bad comics out there, but none so willfully awful as All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder by Frank Miller and Jim Lee. Even the publishing schedule of the mag (a full year once passed between issues) makes you want to blow chunks. Blow. Chunks. With each new issue it becomes more repellant, exaggerating the most excruciating elements of the previous issue. It's pretty rad.
Its direct opposite, the Bizarro All Star Batman, if you will, is All Star Superman. Tenderly written by Grant Morrison and gorgeously rendered by Frank Quitely, ASS edifies and revels in the Silver Age gimmickry and goofiness that ASSBATS pretends to abhor and bulldoze over with unchecked MANLINESS.
Compare any issue of All Star Batman with the nearly-universally praised Criminal, a noirish caper mag by generally pretty good Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (who for some reason keeps turning up as an inker on shitty DC superhero books). Even though you may feel more, um, intellectually satisfied after reading Criminal, you'll feel even more intellectually satisfied after reading Crime & Punishment. But All Star Batman touches you in that sick, venal way that only comics can.

Friday, November 09, 2007

At last, Stephane Dion talks like a leader

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion made a speech in Toronto today. I'm not saying I want a federal election right this minute, but it would be nice if Dion brought this attitude to Parliament.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What Can I Say About This Sask Election?

The writing's on the wall, so to speak. This time tomorrow will probably be the beginning of the short and miserable life of the Saskatchewan Party government. Watching clips of the CBC Leader's Debate, it was hard not remark how much Brad Wall looks like Grant Devine these days, or maybe even a creepy cross between Devine and Lorne Calvert. Which, I imagine, is how he'll govern as premier. The Sask Party has been forced into what they imagine to be centrist territory by their desire to debunk the NDP's sole campaign tactic for the last few elections. Namely, that the Sask Party are little more than the old Conservative Party. Nevermind that the Sask Party pretty much is the old Conservative Party (or at the very least, aspires to be what was popular about the Tories in the 80s), what Calvert et al have failed repeatedly and miserably to do is give voters a reason to vote for the NDP, rather than merely against the Sask Party. You can only pull that shit off for ten, eleven years max.

Neither of the Sask Party nor the NDP (and why the Saskatchewan Liberals are even invited to the big kids' table anymore is beyond me) have really done anything, either in Legislature or in the public arena, to demonstrate that either party is anything other than a bunch of careerists fighting for their jobs.

It's sad that the NDP wasn't up to putting up a fight, and sadder still that the best thing (in voters' minds) the Sask Party has going for it is that it's not the NDP. A page, you'll note, they stole from the NDP's playbook.

This is where I'd tell you, my sweet Saskatchewani readers who continue to follow me in my exile, to vote your conscience, but I think instead I'll pass the mic to Murray Mandryk to drop some stone cold science.

MP3: "Elected" by Alice Cooper

Monday, November 05, 2007

Aquaman in New York City

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but I've been so sleepy lately. The Minor Thirds (tm3) are a band in Portland, Oregon. They make lo-fi folk music. They once made an entire album about Saskatchewan that you can download for free!
Their latest album is about the Saskatchewan of the South, and it's called Nebraska from Afar.

If you want to have your mind blown, check out this cover gallery of Aquaman comics from the 1960s. Even though the stories were as tame and toothless as you'd expect from DC stuff from that era, from '65 to '71, Nick Cardy pulled off some pretty righteous feats of layout and design.

Mp3: "Aquaman in New York City" by the Minor Thirds

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All the Kreskin You Can Handle

WFMU's Beware of the Blog is pretty rad, and today (or TOMORROW as the case may be, time zones equalling TIME TRAVEL in this imperfect universe) is no exception. I love the paranormal, even though I don't believe in it--which is possibly what allows me to love it. I do believe in TIME TRAVEL, however, which is why it confounds and disappoints me like an unambitious son. So if you're on the West Coast, and you read this in the next hour TIME TRAVEL with me to WFMU and dig some vintage Kreskin.


On a cold October night, this warms my heart. Louis Theroux's documentary The Most Hated Family in America is highly recommended, as is pretty much anything Theroux's done.

Here's a preview:


Why so serious? (at press time, only Albuquerque remains up for grabs)

Happy Halloween, here's a quintet (and maybe a hidden bonus track, since the J-man's scavenger hunt has been scooped up by bigger dorks than you or I) of seasonal traxx to darken yr doorway.

MP3: "Death of a Clown" by the Kinks
Mp3: "Reflections of the Marionette" by Two Gallants
Mp3: "Cat Claw" by the Kills
Mp3: "Changing" by Witch
Mp3: "The Change" by Tony Joe White

tough shammes, my sweetness

Just finished Michael Chabon's new novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. It may be the best book I read all summer. That is to say, I can pretty much count summer out at this point, October 31, now that I've read such a fine and satisfying book. It concerns a hard-boiled homicide cop in the Sitka District, a Jewish settlement in Alaska, named Meyer Landsman. On the eve of Sitka's repatriation to the USA (not the literal eve, mind you, more like 2 months off), bringing with it the threat of grand displacement, a man is murdered in the same SRO hotel that Landsman lives in.
A breakneck, Chabon-sized adventure follows in a noirish style full of visceral prose and unfulfilled dreams. It's not quite as grand as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, but in some ways, it's more fun. While there are a few scenes of heartbreak and loss, it's nowhere near as devastating as the end of the second act of Kav & Clay.
I thought maybe I was reaching when I immediately drew a connection between Detective Meyer Landsman of TYDU and Detective Jay Landsman of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon (who, it should be noted, mutated into John Munch on Homicide: Life on the Street) (sadly, Wikipedia says that Munch has now appeared in more episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit than H: LOTS). But I've just now learned that Chabon spent much of his youth in a suburb of Baltimore, that city of my dreams. So maybe there is a connection there, and according to THE INTERNET, I'm the only one who realizes it (aside from CHABON, of course).
Next up is Knots and Crosses, Ian Rankin's first Rebus book.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I'm not a man, or machine, I'm just something inbetween: TEN GREAT CANADIAN ALBUMS

Proven by science*: Loverboy > Slayer + Coldplay.

About a week ago, I bemoaned the lack of Loverboy on the so-called Top 100 Canadian Albums of All Time. I promised to report back with what my top ten would have been had I not been too lazy to compile and submit one last fall for the book.

In the order that I think of them:

Get Lucky - Loverboy
Ode to Joy - Deadly Snakes
Casa - Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup
Truthfully Truthfully - Joel Plaskett Emergency
How'd We Ever Get This Way? - Andy Kim
Blow the House Down - Great Uncles of the Revolution
Inhabitants - Inhabitants
Les Sables Magiques - Tricky Woo
Blue - Joni Mitchell
ah, what the hell, Sunday Anthems - the Neins Circa

So, like, that's ten Cdn albums I love a lot. What say you, fussy britches?

MP3: "The King of America" by Great Uncles of the Revolution

*when science = Mike Reno

why do we act surprised?

This just in: Shitty, low-paying jobs hard to keep filled.
In other news concerning free-market zealots who can't figure out their own system, our federal minister of finance got jacked by Harry Potter.

So wrong...and yet, so right

This bit from my ex-co-wo-rk-er Ron Petrie's Stubbleblogger is too good/bad to pass up. Bonus points for reminding me of an excellent collection of short stories by Ryan Boudinot.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Know I Didn't Care When I Was In That Coma Last Year, But It's Sure Nice To Have Friends

I've actually got a recording of what it sounds like outside my window, but when I had to retool my computer, I lost the software I needed to y'know, upload my recordings. I wasted a whole afternoon looking for it, but with no luck. I'll find a way though. I always do.
All the same, you can probably get an idea of what it sounds like outside my window.
As you can see, it's not raining today. That makes it a good day.
If you know my sister, call her and wish her a happy birthday!

I don't usually blog about US politics (and I tried not to blog about Canadian politics, but sometimes you just gotta say something), but this is interesting from a comedy/media POV. Wade over at Signal Response keeps up on US politics a little more, and he keeps up on cool design shit even more than that.

An album you should own is XI by the Howling Hex. I've been living with it for about a month now. As you know, I've devoted most of my musical attention to Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup's new alb, Threshold (which continues to fascinate and enthrall me), so it's only been in the last week or so that I've really started to listen to XI with any sort of intensity. At first I was put off by the fact that Neil Michael Hagerty backs off quite a bit on this record. I don't know who any of the other players are, but there are at least two other featured vocalists (and presumably songwriters) here. So I kinda brought a bit of baggage to XI and I had to sort of look at it sideways before I could really get into it.
Now that I am into it, I'm really into it. Despite the variety of voices, it actually most reminds me of the Neil Michael Hagerty & the Howling Hex album (the one with all the triangles). It's a bit of a singer-songwriter (see: "Martyr Lectures Comedian") album with a lot of syncopation and country-rock boogie overtones (see: "Fifth Dimensional Johnny B. Goode").
It's kinda weird, sitting here reflecting, to note the differing routes Hagerty and former bandmate Jennifer Herrema have taken since the split (has been seven years already?)(it has!) of Royal Trux. RTX (Herrema's project) is making the kind of records I think a lot of people wanted Hagerty to make: noisy, macho crotch-rock swaggering. Hagerty, meanwhile, has consistently defied (maybe on purpose?) expectations. Just when you think you've figured out what he's doing, he does something else. And then he does something like Bill Callahan's recent Woke on a Whaleheart, which is a staggering work of production and arrangement.

MP3: "Ambulance Across the Street" by the Howling Hex (Drag City)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Not quite the action on homelessness I was hoping for this week

Fifty more people facing homelessness tonight.

100 Canadian Albums

There's a book, there's a list. I was asked to submit a list, but it was while I was moving from Regina to Vancouver, and not really dealing with emails. I kinda regret not submitting, even though I have no idea what my Top 10 Canadian albums of all time would be. I'm sure my contribution wouldn't have made a huge impact on the resulting list, included below, but it woulda been cool to be a part of the project.

1. Harvest, Neil Young (1972)
2. Blue, Joni Mitchell (1970)
3. After the Gold Rush, Neil Young (1970)
4. Music From Big Pink, The Band (1968)
5. Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip (1992 )
6. Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette (1995)
7. The Band, The Band (1969)
8. Funeral, Arcade Fire (2004)
9. Moving Pictures, Rush (1981)
10. American Woman, The Guess Who (1970)
11. Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen (1967)
12. Reckless, Bryan Adams (1984)
13. Five Days in July, Blue Rodeo (1993)
14. Twice Removed, Sloan (1994)
15. Up to Here, The Tragically Hip (1989)
16. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Neil Young with Crazy Horse (1969)
17. 2112, Rush (1976)
18. Court and Spark, Joni Mitchell (1974)
19. Whale Music, Rheostatics (1992)
20. Acadie, Daniel Lanois (1989)
21. Day for Night, The Tragically Hip (1994)
22. Rust Never Sleeps, Neil Young & Crazy Horse (1979)
23. Gord's Gold, Gordon Lightfoot (1975)
24. You Were Here, Sarah Harmer (2000)
25. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Sarah McLachlan (1993)
26. Road Apples, The Tragically Hip (1991)
27. Gordon, Barenaked Ladies (1992)
28. You Forgot it in People, Broken Social Scene (2002)
29. I'm Your Man, Leonard Cohen (1988)
30. Tonight's the Night, Neil Young (1975)
31. Decade, Neil Young (1977)
32. Miss America, Mary Margaret O'Hara (1988)
33. Surfacing, Sarah McLachlan (1997)
34. One Chord to Another, Sloan (1996)
35. Songs of Love and Hate, Leonard Cohen (1971)
36. Cyborgs Revisted, Simply Saucer (1989)
37. Ingenue, k.d. lang (1992)
38. Melville, Rheostatics (1991)
39. Love Tara, Eric's Trip (1993)
40. On the Beach, Neil Young (1974)
41. Not Fragile, Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1974)
42. The Best of the Guess Who, The Guess Who (1971)
43. Let it Die, Feist (2004)
44. The Last Waltz, The Band (1978)
45. Night Train, The Oscar Petersen Trio (1963)
46. Down at the Khyber, The Joel Plaskett Emergency (2001)
47. Harvest Moon, Neil Young (1992)
48. Cuts Like a Knife, Bryan Adams (1983)
49. L'heptade, Harmonium (1976)
50. Teenage Head, Teenage Head (1979)
51. High Class in Borrowed Shoes, Max Webster (1977)
52. Hejira, Joni Mitchell (1976)
53. The Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould (1955 and 1982)
54. Forgarty's Cove, Stan Rogers (1977)
55. Wheatfield Soul, The Guess Who (1968)
56. Si on avait besoin d'une cinquieme saison, Harmonium (1974)
57. Dancing in the Dragon's Jaw, Bruce Cockburn (1979)
58. Frantic City, Teenage Head (1980)
59. Hymns of the 49th Parallel, k.d. lang (2004)
60. Hot Shots, Trooper (1979)
61. Robbie Robertson, Robbie Robertson (1987)
62. The Trinity Session, Cowboy Junkies (1988)
63. Ron Sexsmith, Ron Sexsmith (1995)
64. Nothingface, Voivod (1989)
65. Come on Over, Shania Twain (1997)
66. Everything I Long For, Hayden (1995)
67. Outskirts, Blue Rodeo (1987)
68. Joyful Rebellion, k-os (2004)
69. Sit Down Young Stranger/If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot (1970)
70. Love Junk, The Pursuit of Happiness (1988)
71. Jaune, Jean-Pierre Ferland (1970)
72. Somewhere Outside, The Ugly Ducklings (1966)
73. Electric Jewels, April Wine (1973)
74. Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot (1973)
75. Left and Leaving, The Weakerthans (2000)
76. Clumsy, Our Lady Peace (1997)
77. Harmonium, Harmonium (1974)
78. Share the Land, the Guess Who (1970)
79. Greatest Hits!, Ian & Sylvia (1970)
80. Steppenwolf, Steppenwolf (1968)
81. Ladies of the Canyon, Joni Mitchell (1970)
82. Bud the Spud and Other Favourites, Stompin' Tom Connors (1969)
83. Shine a Light, Constantines (2003)
84. Shakespeare My Butt, The Lowest of the Low (1991)
85. Clayton Park, Thrush Hermit (1998)
86. Smeared, Sloan (1992)
87. Living Under June, Jann Arden (1994)
88. The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Joni Mitchell (1975)
89. Bad Manors, Crowbar (1971)
90. Official Music, King Biscuit Boy With Crowbar (1970)
91. Lightfoot!, Gordon Lightfoot (1966)
92. Mad Mad World, Tom Cochrane (1991)
93. Rufus Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright (1998)
94. Face to the Gale, Ron Hynes (1997)
96. Hobo's Taunt, Willie P. Bennett (1977)
97. Cowboyography, Ian Tyson (1986)
98. Favourite Colours, The Sadies (2004)
99. The Way I Feel, Gordon Lightfoot (1967)
100. A Farewell to Kings, Rush (1977)

  • Holy crap! There's no 95!
  • Nice to see Simply Saucer place so high! Ditto for Voivod.
  • The massive occurance of repeated artists speaks more to the homogenity of Cdn music writers/music nerds than it does to Canada's musical output.
  • No Loverboy? Are you shitting me, Canada? (maybe it's #95)
  • One word: GET OVER THE 90s! Especially Lowest of the Low. Yes, they were a fine band, but COME ON. Just because you had a lot of fun at their shows doesn't make Shakespeare My Butt a GREAT album.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Regina to possibly lose landmark eyesore

The old Albert St. Superstore building has been sold. Of course, there's a bizarre non-competition type clause in the deal:

Francis Bast, the president of Dome Land Development Ltd., said one of the conditions of the sale -- required by Loblaw's -- prohibits the development of a grocery store or a pharmacy on the property. That means downtown Regina and the north-central area of the city will continue to be without a major food store, at least for the immediate future.

What's that all about?

And does Stephen Harper really think that acting like a total dick will help him win a majority?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

mayors who google themselves

As noted last week, someone googled "Pat Fiacco" and wound up here. Further investigation of the Google Tracking Unit reports reveals that a visit to this site came from WITHIN Regina City Hall. Which means that YOU have something in common with HIM.

In other, semi-related news, it's Homelessness Action Week. There are lots of things you can do to recognize Homelessness Action Week, but don't forget to let your elected representatives know that shelters don't equal housing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Weather Suits My Clothes

It's been a pretty glorious fall day, the kind that makes you wish for a perpetual autumn. But the magical thing about this time of year is its fleetingness. It lasts a little longer out here on the West Coast, but fall on the Prairies is more like a rumour than a season.
Tony Joe White once equated the fall with change, and that seems to work for me. Just like last October, I'm changing addresses. I've got some great new clothes (from my Mtl trip), and I'm SO ready to get to work on a project I've been stewing on for a while. Plus, there might be something absolutely magical in the works.
But first, we've gotta get through this weekend. The big moving day is tomorrow, and I've got some heavy lifting (both literal and metaphoric) to do.
I'd really like to get done early so that I can get out to Rime to see Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup publicly release their magnificent new album, Threshold. Elephant Island of Victoria is playing with them and they're pretty fine as well. Last time I saw both bands together, they collabed on an absolutely sublime cover of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On". Wouldn't mind experiencing that again.
I've had a couple of weeks with Threshold now, and am just as in love with it as I am with RDY & the TC's previous alb, Casa. "Keremeos" is currently my favourite track, objectively, but ask me again in another week, and I'm sure I'll be fixated on another song.

MP3: "Everybody's Talkin'" by Bill Withers
MP3: "Keremeos" by Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Night Status Report

We haven't examined the Google Analytics report for two weeks, so let's do that, shall we?
Most surprising location of a repeat visitor: St. Augustine, FL, about which all I know is that it's where Jack Kerouac died.
Most laughalicious place name where someone who reads me lives: Bohemia, NY
Most terrifying term by which someone found this blog: "Pat Fiacco"
Most bizarre search term which led someone to view multiple pages of this blog: "shoes for sale under $30"
Ratio of bemusement to amusement at the idea of the land development south of the Regina Airport being called "Harbour Landing": 83:1

Montreal Field Report #2: Psychedelic Cauliflower

The best thing I did in Montreal was eat. I ate a lot. I even ate something by accident that I would probably never willingly eat.
A few things I discovered about Montreal food:
-Vancouver does Indian and Sushi better and cheaper
-Montreal has some amazing vegetarian places, including Chu Chai, which bizarrely specializes in fake meat dishes (where flesh is replaced by soy and gluten proxies). We actually just ate normal, vegetable-based dishes, and they were pretty damn fine.
-Even though Le Commensal looks like an all-you-can-eat buffet, it's actually a pay-by-weight deal. So you have to try extra hard to curb your a-y-c-e pig-out instincts, lest you get SHOCKED by a $20 tab.
-"Scallopinni Cardinale" is VEAL.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Awesome video promo for my favourite comic of 2007 (so far)

If you haven't read Nick Bertozzi's awesome The Salon yet, you really should.

Un peu de Vancouver a Montreal


just like home
Originally uploaded by emmetmatheson

If you don't look down, Rue St-Laurent looks a lot like Cambie these days. The Main is down to one lane of traffic, and sidewalks seem to haphazardly disintegrate every half block. There's a depressing amount of empty storefronts, and most depressingly, Warshaw's has become a Pharmaprix. I saw Bette Midler in Warshaw's once. I'll never see her in a Pharmaprix. To be more accurate, she'll never see me in one.

Other famous people I have randomly seen:

Tim Matheson (no relation) - maybe. In Yaletown.

Mark Addy - On Yonge St. in Toronto. I was walking down the street, and I saw a face I recognized, but couldn't place. My instinct was that he was someone from Regina, and it wasn't for another two days that I finally placed him as someone I don't actually know. Which made me feel bad about thinking he was a jerk for just walking by.

Chad Kroeger - In Regina, where, oddly enough, about a million dudes have the same hairstyle.

William Shatner - In Banff, where he had just beaten REAL SPACEMAN Buzz Aldrin in a celebrity ski race.

Peter Gzowski - I didn't actually see him, but in the summer of 2001, I answered the phone at work and immediately recognized the voice I heard my mother listening to nearly every morning when I was VERY young.

Eva Mendes - On Hastings, in Vancouver. Interesting fact I learned while spellchecking Mendes's name on IMDB: Underrated actor Nestor Carbonell has a role in the upcoming film The Dark Knight. Carbonell played the superhero Batmanuel in the short-lived live action sitcom The Tick. I can only feverishly hope that he'll once again don the glad rags of Batmanuel in the Bat-Flick next summer.

Free Market Adherents Feel the Sting of the Free Market

Poetic Justice?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Montreal Field Report #1: Zoobombcrazy

I was in Montreal last week. By mere coincidence, Pop Montreal was going on. I didn't go to very much of the happenings, because I wasn't there for that. I was there for the other kind of R & R. But when I found out the Zoobombs were playing Friday night--with the High Dials, no less!--I just couldn't stay away.

I'm in the middle of moving right now, but I wanted to take a moment to post some pictures I took of the band, and a couple of mp3's, cuz I know that's what you kids are into. The first song is the Zoobombs' signature track, "Mo' Funky", which they played as an encore at the Acadamy Club. The second is from Zoobombs frontman Don Matsuo's solo album, which looks like it came out last year. Most of the info in the CD packaging is in Japanese and thus completely unknown, but I've decided to call this song "Donuts & Coffee". I'll be back with more Mtl stuff (including some thoughts on the show itself) throughout the next week or so, but until then, enjoy the tunes.

MP3: "Mo' Funky" (live in Toronto, 2000) - Zoobombs
MP3: "Donuts & Coffee" - Don Matsuo

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Good News (in the very short term)

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement announces a six-month extension to Vancouver`s Supervised Injection Site`s exemption from the Controlled Substances Act.

Me, I`m still on vacation. But following Harper`s bullish attitude going into the upcoming Parliamentary session (he seems to be daring the Opposition to force an election), one can only assume his party is trying to keep harm reduction from becoming a campaign issue, and hoping that either A) they`ll get a majority and be able to do whatever the hell they want come June or B) it`ll be someone else`s problem and the Conservative Party can posture in indignant objection.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hey (Moustache) Man!

I'm a little too busy to take pictures and upload them, but BELIEVE ME, the moustache is back--if only for a couple of days. It's as much a fashionable as rhetorical device this time 'round. No matter what all the sensible people I know say, I think it suits me. But on Saturday morning, I'm getting on a plane to Montreal, and there's no way I'm flying with this bizz under my nez.

So this is just to say that there probably won't be any updates until long after Turkey Day, since as soon as we get back, we're moving (marginally) closer to Hawaii. In the meantime, here's a look at this week in YOU, dear reader.

Number of visits from Regina in the last week: 5
Number by which Regina readers has grown: 3
City from which someone visited that sounds like something you'd expect to see on a sci-fi writer's shelf: Heerhugowaard
Most surprising search term that led someone here (and now will forevermore): "superheroes with moustaches" (let's see: Tony Stark, Vartox, Green Arrow, um, who else? Now I've gotta google that myself!)

See you in October! Be safe! And go see Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup when they come to your town.

MP3: "Hey Man" by Howe Gelb

Monday, September 24, 2007

Timely Words: RDY can't fail

Sunday night I went to a party. Let's call it a Walt Whitman party, for it contained multitudes. It was a Welcome Home Party, a Birthday Party, a Pleased-to-Meet-You Party, and--most relevant for our purposes here--a CD Release Party. I was invited.
I arrived late. As I walked up to the building, just off Main, a smiling face saw me out the window and said, "It's open."
It was. I walked through the door to the main floor apartment, and the first thing I saw was Shaun Brodie, crouched over a cymbal on the floor, rubbing it from the centre out. The smiling face from the window was right behind him, amid a drum kit. I later found out the drummer was Cary Pratt, whose name you might've seen mentioned a few times in the recent Best of Vancouver issue of the Georgia Straight. At the other end of the living room, near a freakishly large frozen dinner, was Mark Beaty on a stand-up bass (not pictured), behind him was CS Rippen, variously known as "Chris" or "Ripper", or "that amazing guitarist from the Tin Cup." In the middle, originally from Lacombe, Alberta (the same small town what issued forth another Bulldozer fave The Neins Circa), stood Roger Dean Young, with his hauntingly clear blue eyes and his trademark cowboy hat, which is more cowboy than hat. All together, that's Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup. Which meant I was in the right place.
Like I said, I was late, and so had missed all but the last two songs of their first set, thus I missed most of the new songs. The CD being released was their own, it's called Threshold, and Roger tells me that it's his pop album. Which means that the atmospheric meanderings that made Casa such a beautifully haunting album are, well, contained a little bit. The songs are, on average, shorter but the ideas are still big. Roger says they're mostly 3-minute tunes, but I did the math, and the average length is about 3.5 minutes.
Otherwise, though, Roger Dean Young is about as trustworthy as musicians come. As a person and as an artist, he's one of the most gentle and humane folks I've ever met. The rest of the band are eminently likable as well.
If Threshold is the Tin Cup's pop album, "Two Step" and "Manyberries Soul Revival" are its hit singles. For sentimental (and self-indulgent) reasons, however, I'm posting "Black Water" for your edification. It's a song about Regina, and Roger says it's inspired by yours truly. I'm humbled.

If you're in Western Canada (and if you're not in Western Canada, you should ask yourself some hard questions), you've got a few opportunities to spend an intimate evening with the Tin Cup. It's perfect timing, since Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup sounds best in the fall. It's harvest music, its tones all orange, brown and gold. It gets under your skin and sticks to your ribs like oatmeal laced with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Sept. 26 at the Railway Club in Vancouver (with Greg McPherson!)
Oct. 2 at the Ironwood Stage & Grill in Calgary
Oct. 3 at the Blue Chair in Edmonton
Oct. 4 at the Exchange (Club) in my dear, sweet hometown, Regina
Oct. 6 at Candor Books & Music in Winnipeg
Oct 13 at Rime, back here in Vancouver

MP3: "Black Water" by Roger Dean Young & the Tin Cup

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sometimes I Miss Television: Tracking Readers

So there's a new Gordon Ramsay show, and I missed it. It's a US-version of Kitchen Nightmares, and the part of Ramsay is played by Steve Carell. OR IS IT???

Checking in with the reader-tracker for the last week:

Favourite search term leading visitors to this blog: (tie) "rhetorical
terms/comics" and "steven jesse berstein [sic] and explanation of face"
Favourite city to have been read in: San Dimas (excellent!)
Cities in which I continue to be more widely read than my hometown of Regina: Taegu, Kobe, Brooklyn, Viroflay, Calgary, South Gate, Dublin, Pohang
Search term most likely to have led to disappointment: "wrecking ball sound