Wednesday, May 30, 2007

30 Under 30 #11: Electrolytes Orchestra

I love Gatorade. I can't fake it. I'm not even an elite athlete. But I do get thirsty. Probably, on my top ten list of favourite things to drink, Gatorade would be somewhere between The Balvenie and the blood of my enemies. (I was going to say "the tears of my enemies", but that seemed too mean-spirited.) Other potables making the list are: Castillero del Diablo, Americanos, water, maple syrup, Concord Grape juice, milkshakes (any flavour), and rum and Coke (together, not separate, never separate).
Not making the list is Gatorade X-Factor, which was on sale at 4 a.m. this morning. It's like regular Gatorade, but they added something to it. I think it might be AWFULNESS.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

30 Under 30 #10: To Those About to Jog

Before yesterday, I hadn't worn shorts in public in about ten years. For seven of those ten, I didn't even own a pair of shorts. Now I own two: my beach shorts (which Nicole bought for me), and my brand new running shorts.
That's right, running shorts. I run. And, also, I walk.
I've been thinking about taking up running for nearly a year now, and talking about it since early spring. I mean, I'm half a block away from Trout Lake, it's kinda my duty to either take up running or get a dog. And since Gatorade was on sale at Safeway...
The thing was, I didn't have any running clothes.
Oh yeah, Emmet, of course you didn't. You lazy sack of turd. Find another excuse not to do something.
OK, I see your point. But really, it's not just that I didn't have any workout gear, it's that none of my clothes even approached workout wear. And that was always kind of the point. I like clothes. I like wearing 'em, I like to look good in 'em. I like jeans and button-up shirts. Freedom of movement has never really been an issue, because, y'know, even though I act like it is in some of my more melodramatic fits, writing isn't really much of an ACTIVITY.
So I managed to put off starting to run for about 4 months. Oh, I would halfheartedly go to the mall and LOOK at running shoes, only to get distracted by, well, by everything but. Usually I'd end up coming home with one or two nice button-up shirts.
When I'd talk about running, everybody (namely Nicole and Skye) would tell me that they'd run with me. That they wanted to, even. Yeah, okay. Maybe eventually I'll run with other people, but the point of it (not the whole point, but the point of choosing running versus, I dunno, racquetball or hockey) is that it's something I can do alone. Because I spend a lot of time alone. I work nights. I go to work when everybody else in my life gets home.
One of the things that really got me excited to run was watching Six Feet Under. (I'm only three seasons in, so shut up.) Seeing Nate Fisher run made me want to. It seemed like a form of both meditation and self-punishment. So that appealled to my pre-adolescent Catholic education and the Buddhist-hipster-poseurdom of my late teenage.
On Sunday, I went to the mall. I bought a video game and some nice button-up shirts. And then I bought running gear. It took some effort. I walked out of five different stores in frustration. Sweatpants, it seems, only come in Large, XL, and XXL sizes. But finally, I got a great pair of Saucony shoes, a pair of running shorts, sweat socks (seriously, I haven't had sweat socks of my own in a decade) and a three-pack of briefs (see also: sweat socks). I also bought some sweatpants in the elusive Medium size, but when I got home they were way too long. I have short legs.
I was exhausted, and that gave me worry. If I couldn't physically handle a trip to the mall, what made me think I could perform any kind of athletic etc.?
Monday, I got up, put my brand new running outfit on, and admired myself in the mirror. I looked like I knew what I was doing.

MP3: "Let Me Drive Your Car" by White Hassle

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

30 Under 30 #8: Well, who wants fat hair?

I am totally balding. Not so much that you would notice, but enough that I would notice. Because I'm not only balding, I'm also vain.
My hairline has been beating a slow, but steady retreat for about five years now, and I reckon I've lost about half-an-inch of shoreline. Luckily, I've always had a bit of a widow's peak, so it's sorta just like my hairline is merely becoming more pronounced. But I'm worried.
See--and I'm not fishing for compliments here--I'm not the most handsome dude around, but I have always (except for when I did terrible things to it--but more on that later) been proud of my lovely locks. They are, those that remain, thick and curly. LUSCIOUS.
But soon, that will all be in the past. There will be nothing left for me to do but to become a cartoonist specializing in Canadian historical graphic novels.
For now, though, I'm merely content with the fact that I've yet to thin at the back of my skull. When that happens, I suppose, it will be time to just go hairless.
I'll miss my hair. We've had a lot of fun together. Especially on roller coasters. But it hasn't all been good times. There was a period where I used 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner. I had a ponytail when I was 12. And I never took it swimming in the ocean.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

30 Under 30 #7: Category: Living People

As Scott pointed out last week, I'm way behind on this 30 Under 30 business. From here, I think I need to blog at least twice a day to even think about hitting #30 by the time I hit 30.
Believe it or not, I actually had grand plans for this. I was going to do some ACTUAL REPORTAGE TYPE biz, like track down stories and interview folks and do research. I might still do some of that, but, hey, let's not kid ourselves.
One of things I wanted to do was check in with my old hero Richard Meltzer. It's been nearly seven years since last we spoke, and nearly four years since I've seen any new writing from him.
As far as I know, he's still in Portland, OR, which is pretty dang close. I was originally thinking of justing going down there some weekend and knocking on his door. But a) that would be rude, and b) that whole passport mess. But now that I'm talking about it, I might as well see some of this through or something.

30 Under 30 #6: No one rides for free

If you've seen my house by daylight lately, you've seen my lawn. An ersatz swampland of grass and dandelions, and some sort of wildflowers not yet classified by modern science. A celebration of all that is wild and unruly. A rock'n'roll lawn.
But no more, dear friends, no more. The trouble began, as trouble always does, on Saturday.
"What are we going to do about the lawn?" Nicole asked.
We've never owned a lawnmower, having lived in apartment buildings back in Regina. And even if we had, I don't think we would have brought one with us.
A quick survey of the house revealed no outdoor plug-ins, which meant that our only two options were manual or gas, and who wants one more thing to pour gas into?
So I walked down to the hardware store on the drive. No mowers. The tool rental place had gas mowers, but not at this location. Anyway, soon it would be dark and when it's dark, no one cares about your lawn.
On Sunday, Nicole fired up Cragslist. We decided that we wanted to spend less than $30, which was something of an arbitrary figure, but then again, this was something of an arbitrary lawn.
Vintage, rotating blade grass cutter

In working condition, great for edging

Made in the USA

price is negotiable, but please no low balls

Twenty dollars. Email was sent, email was received.

Thank you for your interest. I have a competing offer for $20, but for $23, I'll consider it sold.

More emails. An address. White Rock. King George Hwy and a map. Whalley is the scariest place on earth. Even the civil planners are on crystal out there. Anyway, White Rock. We pull up. Hand over the money, pick up the mower.
"I actually just posted it on Craigslist as a joke. I didn't think anybody would that old thing," says teenaged seller.
He noticed Nicole's Sask. plates. "You guys came all the way from Saskatchewan for a push mower?"
"Yeah, basically."
"You guys should go to the beach while you're out here. But don't go to White Rock Beach, it's too commercialized," says the guy who just sold us a $23 push mower. "You should check out Crescent Beach."
So we did. We got gelatto and strolled in the sand. The tide was out. The tide was far out. It was windy, but nice. I enjoyed the mix of stupid modern homes and friendly clapboard post-war shacks. It reminded me of Pike Lake. Only with gelatto.
We came home. Pushed the mower around in the front yard a bit. The blades are only about 8-inches wide. Even with our tiny front yard, this was going to be some job.

So today, wearing my red shirt, I went out and mowed the lawn with gusto. Some blades were as high as my knee and the ground was still soft in spots from the weekend's rain. It was a disaster. I have blisters all over my hands, and the neighbours were laughing. Several times I thought of giving up, but mowing the lawn is one of those things you have to do all the way through. Nothing screams "jackass" like a half-mowed lawn.

Now that I'm done, the lawn looks worse than ever. It reminds me of the haircut I gave myself in the tenth grade. At the time, I was sporting a lucsiously shaggy, grungy do (as was the fashion in those halcyon days), and I took scissors to it haphazardly one Friday night. I suppose I did it because I was angry, but I don't remember what I was angry about. I was a teenager, I didn't need a reason. I didn't know how good I had it. I even had an electric mower.

MP3: "Burgers and Fries" by Weird War

Thursday, May 17, 2007

30 Under 30 #5: Beard-Clad Critics Recovery Group

This is The Way I Used to Be by the Neins Circa

Here's a real conversation I recently had with Cam Dilworth of the more-than-fine band the Neins Circa.

Cam: Hey Emmie Fitzgerald.
Me: How's it going?
Cam: You know what I was just thinking about?
Me: Nope.
Cam: Remember that time we played poker?
Me: Yes, I do.
Cam: We should do that again.
Me: Agreed.

I don't know when Cam and I (and hopefully a few other folks) will play poker again, but I do know when we won't. This Friday, May 18, the Neins Circa will be releasing their brand new album Sleeves and Wigs at the Media Club, right here in Vancouver City, Canada. Also releasing an album that night at the very same show is the Parlour Steps. They are pretty good themselves.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

30 Under 30 #4: Fashionable People are a Wild Party

Back when I was mild-mannered music reviewer for a mid-sized metropolitan daily newspaper, I once took some flack for calling Joel Plaskett the Kim Mitchell for a new generation. I guess my love and admiration for Kim Mitchell wasn't then well-known enough for this to be recognized as a compliment. Now it can be revealed: I loves me some Kim Mitchell. Not quite to the same degree as my love for Andy Kim, but that's a horse of a different colour, anyhow. So here (at the bottom of this post) is the new single from the Joel Plaskett Emergency, "Fashionable People" from the new album Ashtray Rock.
What's great about JP isn't just that he revels in the patio-lanterned sentimentality of good-time rock and pop that Kim Mitchell brought forth unto this Earth, but he's also got a soft spot for hip hop and r&b, and occasionally brings elements into his music.
The first time I noticed this was at the old Easy Alibi on Scarth St. in Regina. It was a Wednesday night show, back when I was doing the old Spo-Dee O'Dee Radio Hour on Wed. nights, and there was also a provincial election going on. I voted for JP, who was playing with the Emergency that night. It was right after (or maybe just before?) Truthfully Truthfully came out, and I had yet to really cotton to JP. Midway through a song, Plaskett busted into a verse of a then-current hip hop club anthem (whose name escapes me now) and then back into his own song like it ain't no thing.
Later, on "Nowhere With You" (which was also a Zellers ad, minus the nihilism), Plaskett borrowed the tongue clicks from "Drop It Like It's Hot".
On "Fashionable People", Plaskett goes back to the Neptunes with a synthy sounds and plenty of falsetto, all tempered with a party-prog vibe Plaskett cribbed from Trooper.
Joel Plaskett Emergency plays in Vancouver this friday.
MP3: "Fashionable People" - Joel Plaskett Emergency

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

30 Under 30 #3: They Say It's Like Crack, But It's Totally Not Like Crack At All

Maybe it was Richard Meltzer who told me that getting free records (or CDs, as the case was for me, but since I prefer the term records, I will use it from here on in) is like crack, maybe it was me who told him. It doesn't really matter who said, the fact remains, free records are not like crack at all. Free anything is not like crack, because one of the most essential things about crack is that it's not free. Of course, free records aren't really free either.
It's been, what, seven months now since I got off the gravy train of free records. I feel okay. Cold turkey. More or less. There have a been a few exceptions, but nothing worth mentioning. In fact, the only free record worth mentioning was a gift from Nicole, who put a lot of effort and care into tracking down the awesome new RTX album for me.
I kinda thought I'd miss it, and, yeah, it's taken a while to get used to idea that I actually have to BUY records (poor me, I know), but then again, it's kinda nice to get a record and have no obligation other than to ENJOY it. And, honestly, those last few years, I was enjoying music less and less, outside of the radio stuff, of course.
In face, I think I reached a point where I actually enjoyed whining about getting free records more than I enjoyed getting free records at all. I had overstayed my welcome.
But now, I'm thinking about getting back into it. Not because I want free records (which I actually don't), but because I'm kinda feeling desperate to write again. So maybe writing is crack. Though, um, y'know, not really.

Monday, May 07, 2007

30 Under 30 #2: The Outbursts of Everett True

Okay, okay, I'm lazy, and I'm straying from the format before I've established on, but this is just WAY TOO COOL not to share.
The Outbursts of Everett True - an early 20th Century comicstrip upon which you can build a brand new worldview.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

30 Under 30 #1: The Night is the Future and also the Past

"the night is a liar, it will never be a friend to anyone" Andre Ethier, "The Night"

I'm walking home down Commercial, a little after 4 a.m. It's the start of the day, but it's the end of mine. I'm on my way home, to curse the motion-sensor lights and to try to be gentle with the door.
Fresh newspapers are being delivered to the squat metal bins outside convenience stores, still closed for the night. In the coin-op boxes I see tomorrow's headlines today. I'm glimpsing into the future. It will be another two-to-four hours before the rest of the city knows what I know, but this secret knowledge is useless. I won't have anyone to tell it to until mid-to-late afternoon. By then it will be old news.
It reminds me of Montreal, when I was young(er). When I could close a St-Laurent bar and stumble out into the street to meet newspaper hawkers with fresh broadsheets. I wasn't all that interested in the news back then. In fact, the one time I actually went out in search of a newspaper, I didn't even know where to look for one. I found what I was looking for (a place to live) en route. I remember it as a Wednesday morning, though I have no reason to believe it was actually so.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

30 under 30

Well, it's freakin' May. It snuck up on me. No wonder, I just took a five-day-weekend. I have 187 lazy bones. My kid brother, no the other one, probably knows how many bones I actually have, he's the intellectual in the family. If by intellectual I mean SCIENTIST, which I do.
So, May. I turn thirty in thirty days, give or take a week and a bit. But my goal is to get 30 WELL-WRITTEN posts up on this bleeatch before the big day. So, like, this one doesn't count.