Friday, October 31, 2008

A Song and a Novel About a Haunted House and

The spookiest day of the year is here, and since there's no upcoming Batman movie to hype (yet), I'm gonna recommend a novel. Richard Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western is not necessarily more spooky than Trout Fishing in America or Sombrero Fallout, but if you've recently read Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree, why not? It's as much a Western as it is a Horror novel, but it's not really either in anyway that fevered fans of either genre will recognize. Mostly it's a Brautigan novel, and it's one I no longer have a copy of--haven't for a dozen years. Someday I'll build a nice library of Brautigan volumes, but I'm gonna wait until I have a big house to haunt with shelves and nooks and secret passages.

mp3: "Be the Last to Stay in a Haunted House" by the Howling Hex

Thursday, October 30, 2008

flashback: 1997

A great couple of posts by Wade regarding the nineties. Which is an interesting coincidence, since I'm currently knee-deep (just one knee) in composing a weird remembrance of 1992 that has something to do with something but has also become a thing of its own.

mp3: Live in Toronto, 1997 by Bluebeard

FemBots tonight

FemBots are a very excellent band from Toronto and they are playing tonight in Vancouver at the Railway Club. It would behoove you to attend. I saw them in the spring of oh-six in at the Exchange in Regina on a bill with Cuff the Duke and the Hylozoists. As you might be able to imagine, it was a pretty amazing night of music. FemBots sort of occupy the middle ground between the Hylozoists' percussive adventurism and Cuff the Duke's rocko-balladry.
Tonight they're playing with the also excellent Octoberman, who I've never seen live, but I think I interviewed him/them at one point (which is a safe bet for any CanRock outfit who operated between 1997 and 2006).

mp3: "Good Days" by FemBots
mp3: "Run from Safety" by Octoberman

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Proof that I'm not making good use of my 'free' time

Sometimes, I just sit at my computer with Vic Chesnutt on my headphones, following one link to another until I don't know how I got where I am, but I'm glad I've arrived. This is where I ended up tonight.

SHAZHMMM... - An extremely likable comic review site with a winning he said/she said thing going on. It's like Siskel & Ebert but you read it. And it's about comics. But, y'know, two intelligent, articulate people with broad tastes discussing new releases (and sometimes older stuff).

Areas of My Expertise - You know John Hodgman. But did you know he wrote a book? But did you know he wrote another?

mp3: "Wallace Stevens" by Vic Chesnutt

Who Blotches the Blotchmen?

If you like comics and plums, you can't miss with this hilariously excellent webcomic from Kevin Cannon.

Party in the hood tomorrow night!

Do you like barbecues, saving lives and free music? Get on down to 139 E. Hastings on Thurs., Oct 23 to eat some free burgers, check out Bedouin Soundclash, and show some love and support for InSite, Vancouver's Supervised Injection Site. With the Harper Conservatives returned to a minority gov't, it's more important than ever to let them know that Canadians will not abide their attempts to condemn drug addicts to "a short and miserable life" when we have the tools to provide dignity, survival, and hope for a better tomorrow. Party starts around 3:30 p.m., and Bedouin Soundclash goes on around 6:30 p.m. Word has it Bend Sinister will also be playing.

mp3: "Shelter" by Bedouin Soundclash

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It was the day before Columbus Day, so I discovered America

We drove down to Seattle on Sunday. When I say "we drove," what I mean is Nicole drove. I don't drive. I guess you could say it's by choice. Not my choice, but, rather a series of poor choices in my past.

The Pacific Northwest US in the fall is a lot like the lower mainland in the fall. Only with more Giant Sand. Same amount of Chad Vangaalen, though.

But they were both in the same spot on Sunday night, the Triple Door. It's a reformed supper club on Union Street with a tasty menu and excellent sightlines.

C-van-G was up first, just him and his drummer. "Our bass player left," he said. Mostly C-van-G played one of those electronic electric guitars like Lou Reed played on the Velvets reunion, which is a good guitar to play if you don't have a bass player, because it gives a big sound. Vangaalen & drums played really well, as we noshed on green beans and papaya salad. The only thing was C-van-G sang all of his songs in his falsetto-y voice, which is cool, especially on songs like "Willow Tree" and "City of Electric Light", but I know he has more range than that.

Giant Sand, which is Howe Gelb and three Danes these days, was something else, man. "So," Gelb gravelled, "did you enjoy dinner? Are we dessert? Are we desert? Are we dez-zert?"

They mostly played from proVISIONS, the new Giant Sand alb, but also culled from other rekkids, including Gelb's 'Sno Angel Like You--maybe the greatest record ever. Gelb played a lot of guitar, but also played some piano--both keys and strings. Sometimes he'd start in one song, and then finish in another. And they skipped all my favourite songs, like "Out There" and "Well Enough Alone" from the new album, but did play a real fine take on "Ain't Misbehavin'" and encored with "Shiver".

Howe bemoaned the malfunction, and the ramifications thereof, of his blue effects pedal, but rejoiced in the ultra-reverb of his yellow pedal. He lit feedback cherrybombs under the soft-cushioned seats of the dinner club crowd, myself included, who'd maybe become a little too comfortable amid the fine food, luxury and sophisticated Americana leanings. It was kinda monstrous, kinda beautiful, all at the same time. Just like America.

We got tunes today from Seattle cowboy band who wear masks. Brent Amaker & the Rodeo's new album Howdy Do! is expected in November, and they'll spend the rest of the year playing shows in the US of A.

mp3: "When Love Gets to a Man" by Brent Amaker & the Rodeo
mp3: "Girls Are Good For Lots of Things" by Brent Amaker & the Rodeo

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I was away for a week, did I miss anything?

If I didn't clearly remember voting (early), I might wonder if we even had an election this past week. Nothing seems to have changed and no one seems that interested in talking about it anymore.
While Harper's Tories have gained a substantial number of new seats, their gains in the popular vote were marginal. The difference between popular vote and seats won is pretty striking in general, especially comparing the numbers of both for the Bloc versus the Greens. No wonder the Greens are such big fans of proportional representation.
As I write, Dion is probably drafting his resignation speech. Which means that Harper--who has now failed to win a majority government twice in less than three years and faced zero public criticism from within his own party--will get a free ride in Parliament for at least another year as the Grits deal with their internal issues at the expense of the majority of Canadians. You know, the ones who didn't vote for Harper and do not want to him to have a de facto majority government, which is what he gets when the Liberals prop up his minority by abstaining from voting in Parliament because they're still unprepared to face the electorate.
The Liberals' bullshit head-in-the-sand technique not only makes them look ineffective and gives Harper the power to do as he pleases, it also gives the NDP room to posture and position themselves as English-speaking Canada's official opposition without fear that they'll trigger yet another election.
Can the federal Liberals even survive another two years in the wilderness? It will be next spring at the earliest before they elect a new leader. But will another struggle between Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff strengthen the beleaguered party, or will it just enflame the grudges between the various Liberal factions who did a terrible job of pretending to present a united front during this fall's campaign?
There will be much made of Stephane Dion's disgraceful position of being only the second leader of the federal Liberals in history not to wear the Right-Honourable title of Prime Minister (who was the other? who cares?), and Dion has earned that ignoble distinction for failing to galvanize his own party, never mind the Canadian people. But these fancy-pants Liberal Insiders we keep hearing about, who have been whispering off the record about their dislike for Dion for the last 24 months, surely must bear the weight of perpetuating the image of a party so smugly convinced it is "The Natural Ruling Party" of Canada that it ignores its Parliamentary duty, ignores the electorate who voted for it, and even ignore the basic political necessity of effectively criticizing the competition.
It's this last one that bothers me the most. Harper's first term in government was so obviously sleazy and contemptible that it should have been a slam-dunk to turf his daycare-killing, climate-change-denying ass. But nobody called him on it. He didn't have to run on his record, he didn't even have to run on a platform. The Liberals effectively handed Harper this election, and if they don't get their shit together and learn how to be the Official Opposition they were elected as, they certainly won't find their way back to Government in another two years, when Harper calls his next snap election.

mp3: "City of Electric Light" by Chad VanGaalen

Friday, October 10, 2008

Vote Your Own Country

Things to think about when you vote on Tuesday:

"Dead people don't detox." There are approximately 4,700 injection-drug users (PDF) in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Vancouver Coastal Health has 316 detox beds (PDF). So even if everybody woke up tomorrow morning ready to take that step toward recovery, the support isn't there for them all. In the meantime, we as a society can do something to reduce the harm (PDF) drug addiction creates for both addicts and the public. In Vancouver, we have a Supervised Injection Site that helps prevent overdose deaths, the transmission of HIV and Hep C, connects users with health care treatment and increases their chances of entering detox and recovery. Stephen Harper's Tories want to shut it down and send drug addicts to prison. Prison, it turns out, doesn't help addicts kick. Go figure.

Climate Change is gonna hurt. What's going on now with the economy is a lot like what's happening with the environment. We've been living beyond our means and the payment's coming due. Some things are still manageable, some are gone for good. It's time to grow the fuck up and deal with this.

Good luck, Canada. Hopefully Quebec will pull through for us. See you in ten days or so.

mp3: "Start Your Own Country" by the Parkas

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Because you don't spend enough time thinking about comics

Two new comic blogs to tell you about. One of them is hilarious, the other one is Canadian. Not that those are necessarily exclusive concepts, but, um, too often they are.

You Don't Know From Hurt doles out oracle-like opinions on comics before they even come out! They read, or plan to read, a lot of the same comics I plan to read and share a lot of my conflicted feelings on being a grown-ass man reading funnybooks.

Four-Colour Words (note the U) is hosted by The Walrus (again, note the U), and is therefore a little more, um, Seth-positive.

mp3: "Intentions Alone" by the Olympic Symphonium

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Because we asked for it

He used to from Ottawa, and now he's from Toronto. Ontario's Andrew Vincent has finally got a new record coming out. Rotten Pear will be released on Kelp Records on or around the US election day, coincidentally one of my brothers' birthday. But which brother? IT'S A MYSTERY.

mp3: "Going Out Tonight" by Andrew Vincent

Monday, October 06, 2008

$ellabration Update!

I've put a bunch more stuff up for sale. Some of it colossally good, some of it abysmally awful. You can decide for yourself which is which. I've still got a tonne more, and finally figured out a sensible plan for moving product (Showcase Presents volumes don't travel well, it's like sticking a phonebook in the mail), so I'll be listing more as the week progresses. Shop soon, shop often, I am always glad to take your money.

mp3: "Stop the Pusher" by Bo Diddley

Belly Full of Fire

There is perhaps no other time in a man's life that he is so plainly shown what a cakeride it is to have a Y chromasome than when he is expecting a child.

Oh sure, payday is a good time to be a man, so's when you have to use the bathroom in a nightclub, or if you'd like to be a Member of Parliament. But skipping out on the rigours of pregancy, well, it kinda makes me want to belch a sigh of manly relief. We get to be a part of Life's Greatest MiracleTM without gaining 30 lbs, suffering wild mood swings, peeing every twenty minutes or losing our taste for green beans (though I suspect Nicole never really liked my green beans and is just using pregnancy as an excuse to put the kibosh on them without hurting my feelings). We're never kicked in the bladder from within, never have to take a break to catch our breath going up the front stairs. All we have to do is raise our game a little bit, be a little quicker to offer foot rubs, pick up a few more household chores, eat two servings of green beans, whatever. Oh yeah, and not brag or complain about how we're a larger portion of the daily things that make life go by--especially when we're doing a terrible job at keeping up with the larger projects like clearing out the clutter (ie, 25 yrs of comics) from the eventual baby room.

Where you run into trouble, though, as an expectant father, is when you're out in public alone. When you're out with your baby mama, at least, people know. Things are going on in your life and you're afforded certain niceties. You can smile at young children with impunity. You can marvel at the souped up Peg Perego travel system and no one bats an eye. Other couples out and about with infants make eye contact and transmit warnings of fatigue--joyous fatigue, but fatigue, don't kid yourself, man. And a pregnant woman alone...forget about it. Nicole has regaled me with stories of walking home (a whole four blocks) with two bags of groceries. Everyone who passed her by looked on with concern and pity. If I'm walking down the street weighed down by cans of refried beans and split pea soup, I better not show any strain or I'll get shanked passing by the D&D store.

It's a sunny afternoon in early September and I'm sitting in the park, alone, reading Dan Fesperman's first novel and drinking a pretty lousy Americano, because Beans is closed on Monday. Despite the sun, I've got a Sarajevo funk on from spending all day with Lie In The Dark. I'm identifying more with Vlado Petric this time around (he's also the lead in Fesperman's second novel, Small Boat of Great Sorrows), because I'm starting to see myself as a father. Like Vlado, I've been separated from my wife and child. He, because they've fled Sarajevo for an indifferent Berlin; me, because I work the nightshift and miss too much time with my growing family. Okay, so it's not really the the same. Not even close. But, y'know, on a metaphoric level... And there's the whole business of how the parts of my family that are not are still contained within a single unit, like a Vancouver Special.

So there's me, Vlado, and hell, why not Rebus? Sitting alone in the park with our inadequate coffee, spending a rare nice day with a book full of gray. Quietly, shamefully, more at home in our morose solitude, in our weird otherness. In my fifth-dimensional imagination, writing is the same as sleuthing, and so my brow is always furrowed with the waves of mystery.

But now it's October, and I'm not on the nightshift anymore. Now the days are gray and wet, though my nights are clear. It's a tradeoff, but it's worth it. Now I'm home when it matters to be home, when home is home and not a bunch of rooms full of books and comics that I can't figure out what to do with.

And I've got next week off, which means I'll be out of the country when the election results come in. With any luck, I'll be somewhere without access to the election results. I'll be in some cabin by the ocean, reading by the shine of a lighthouse.

But first, I'll be in Seattle, watching Giant Sand (and Chad Van Gaalen) with my wife and fetus. I think I've already mentioned how my life is nearly perfect.

mp3: "Belly Full of Fire" by Giant Sand
mp3: "Well Enough Alone" by Giant Sand

Friday, October 03, 2008

For realz, ol' buddy, ol' Palliser?

The Leader-Post says the Conservative Party has the Regina riding of Palliser (where I grew up) all but locked. The poll results seem less of a feat for the Tories, with 43.3% of decided voters, when you look at a few things.

First of all, both the NDP and Liberals have very strong candidates running against the Tories' Ray Boughen. The NDP, with the support of 35.7% of decided voters are running Don Mitchell, who, like Boughen, is a former mayor of Moose Jaw. Mitchell's got a long history of political and social activism in the Em-Jay of Ess-Kay (he's also the brother of Ken Mitchell, who once wrote a rock opera with Humphrey and the Dumptrucks) going back to when political and social activism meant something. The Liberals, with the support of a disappointing 17.3%, have a star candidate in former Regina police chief Cal Johnston. I had hopes in the early days of this election of Johnston as Justice Minister, but it's sadly obvious that won't happening soon. Johnston surely has better ideas for improving the justice system than Harper's Fresh Meat approach.

At first it seems strange that a riding that includes my sentimental favourite part of Regina is being dominated by Moose Javians. But then, Regina has never really been much of a breeding ground for politicians who "matter". Provincially, most of our best pols have traditionally been either rural, or from Saskatoon. And federally, well, what can we say about Ralph Goodale anyway? Municipally, well, fuck, that's depressing.

What makes Boughen's not-quite-insurmountable lead--along with the likelihood of another near-sweep for the Tories in Saskatchewan--all the more depressing, though, is how shitty the Conservative Party presence has been in Saskatchewan lately. Mostly, the Saskatchewan Tory Candidates are doing their best to stay out of public view, as Murray Mandryk tells us. From Gerry Ritz to Tom Lukiwski to Michelle Hunter, Saskatchewan Conservative candidates have decided that their best strategy for election or re-election is to make themselves scarce.

Sadly, it seems like a winning strategy. It seems like only Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is the only person on the federal scene willing to call the Harper government on their broken deals with Saskatchewan.

Maybe the drubbing Potash Corp. has taken on the markets this week will give my dear Saskatchewan second thoughts about the blank cheque they're about to write Harper.

mp3: "Summertime" by Feuermusik

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Revolution Will Not Be Twittered

(via Signalresponse)

highlights from pmharper:

highlights from liberaltour:

  • Stéphane Dion won decisively! He clearly demonstrated that he is the only leader with a credible plan for Canada's economy!
  • Dion does what Harper refuses: to talk with ordinary Canadians. Today, Stéphane went to Algonquin College and met with students and staff.
  • "Nervous energy gets my adrenaline flowing" was how Stéphane answered a question about the debates next week. More Dion unplugged to come.

You're a sensitive nighttime creature, but it's over

God bless you Cam Dilworth, wherever you are tonight.

Goodbye to the night, hello to the day!