Friday, August 19, 2005


Last night was pretty slick. Donell came by and we just kicked it for a while. After watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which was as hilarious as Donell had promised, I switched the night's programming from Lost in Translation to the two hour series premiere of Firefly. I knew that if I could just get Donell to watch it, I could get him to love it. Why? Because I haven't enountered a person yet who didn't watch the premiere and love it. Without fail, Donell enjoyed the premiere and made some comments about needing to buy DVDs. Success.

After that, we pulled out our guitars and Donell proceeded to not only try to correct my atrocious posture and technique (well, that's what I get when I play my guitar once a month or so,) but to teach me the Foo Fighters' "Everlong." Progress was slow, but made. I didn't quite get the proper pattern of chords, so we just played a stripped down version. It was also turned into a very necessary lesson in technique and fingering. All in all, it was a good night and Donell's rad for putting up with all that. Now I just have to keep practicing and keep learning. Given my track record, that's a tall request but I think I'm up to it this time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I'm writing again, at least tentatively. The muse has been gone for a long time now, but it's been sparking recently. Of course, it has been sparking at 2 or 3am when I'm trying to catch three hours of sleep before work, so the thrill of being inspired is somewhat bittersweet. I try to just scribble down a note or two then try to get somee rest, but I'm still a slave to it.

Just like old times.

The idea is a play. Three acts, naturalist setting, moving at a slightly stuttering pace. It's about a disfuctional relationship between two people whose idea of romance has long since been replaced with boredom and reciprocal domestic violence. Think Streetcar Named Desire's Stanley, except ripped roughly down the centre. So far it's fairly fun to play out bits of scenes in my head. Things are looking good for now, and it's nice not to be stuffed behind a deadline like I was for Fractions.

Here's to the muse.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Story time

A long time ago, while my Aussie friend Hugh and I simultaneously dated similar-looking girls named Ali, Hugh mentioned to me his concerns that his friend Patrick was interested in Ali. Never one to make any situation easier, I gave him what became to be known as The Picture: a mental image of Pat and Ali standing naked together, Pat doing naughty things from behind as Ali merely looked at the mental camera and gave a knowing, insidious smile. He was, understandably, somewhat scarred.

A year later, Hugh still calls me a bastard any time I mention The Picture, even though he and Ali have long since broken up and he is "over her like a bridge." I responded by telling him that he was indeed over Ali "Like a bridge," but one on his commuting route that he goes over "10 times a week." Even he had to admit it was funny and true. It was after this, of course, that things got cruel. Tonight, he told me that he wouldn't be that surprised if Pat and Ali got together, despite her repeated involvement with a girl named Steph (one time in his bed!) In fact, he would be concerned for Patrick. What follows is the MSN conversation that resulted:

Hugh: Ya'know, I actually wouldn't be suprised if her and pat got together. And I would care, but more for his sake really.

Me: So how traumatized does The Picture still get you? Because I could tweak or elaborate it, if need be. I mean, just imagine his arms slipping down her arms slightly, his face squinting slightly while he gives a thrust, but that smile never leaving her face. Maybe she closes her eyes a little, or maybe she just winks.

Hugh: However, that is far more traumatic and I hate you.

Me: Bwa ha ha ha!

Hugh: You're a master of poetic darkness

Me: Hail to the king, baby!

I've still got it.

Folk Fest 2005

Sunday afternoon I headed over to Gallagher Park to catch the Sunday night mainstage performances of the Edmonton Folk Fest. The performers for the night were slated to be, in order, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and John Prine. I was also supposed to meet Stefan and Taylor down there, but none of these things ended up quite happening. Prine wanted to catch the redeye out, so he switched with Krauss, and neither Stefan nor Taylor gave me a cell number to contact them at like we had agreed. While I was trying to find a seat, I ran into Dave and his girlfriend, so I just sat with the Mahoods all evening.

Adams came on fairly promptly, and gave a pretty exciting set. Fresh from performing with Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh last month, Adams' music all seemed to be coming out of that kind of filter, to great effect. Hearing old songs with a new sound was the best part of the show; "Shakedown on 9th Street," a longtime favourite of mine, still retained its ragged country punk vibe, but was extended to a marvelous length more than double that of its studio length. "Please Do Not Let Me Go," a favourite off his Love is Hell album, was transformed from a stripped-down acoustic affair into a slow but rollicking plugged-in number. "To Be Young (Is to be Sad, Is to be High)" gained new life as a bluesy affair. His set was heavy in songs from his upcoming September 27th release September, so it was interesting to get a sneak listen to these before the album release. Catherine Popper was great on bass, as was Jon Graboff on steel guitar. Brad Pemberton, the drummer, was better than I've ever heard him before, especially the rollicking drums on "Shakedown on 9th Street." Electric Guitarist JP Browersock was missing from the lineup, which forced Adams to play better than he has on previous albums. For once, he was able to handle the extended solos and jamming that he's previously let JP handle. He closed the set with a great rendition of a Sonic Youth classic, "Expressway to Yr Skull," complete with a jam that Thurston would have been proud of.

Between songs, Adams was the bizarre, manic, and rather amusing peformer that fans have become accustomed to. He pretended to give an announcement about a parked car, commented on how if he knew the colour theme this year was orange he would have "slipped some oranges... into the morphine," and introduced a song written in 2000 as something he wrote 8 years before his birth, something that had a baby Bob Dylan mumbling accolades about.

Yeah. For the record, Dave did ask me if I "knew he was crazy before [I] came."

He made a joke pretending to mistake the folkfest for Glastonbury, a show he was supposed to close at over a month ago, but was forced to miss because of illness. He then took on an English accent and made fun of soccer hooligans, later apologizing for it. "I wasn't trying to make fun of England... just English people... Just think, if I do this twice more I won't ever have to go overseas again." Some critics are right, he didn't try to engage the audience with banter the same way Prine or Krauss did. Instead, he just mumbled a little and then went back to a splendid performance. Can you blame him?

As marvelous as the set was for a fan, however, Adams may not have been the best pick for the FolkFest crowd, a crowd perhaps not as interested in alt-country infused with Grateful Dead psychadelia as they were with stripped-down folk or bluegrass. To get people interested in it, a later set time may have been better. Just after 6, folks with evening tickets were still filtering in and trying to find seats. Many weekend passholders were still getting food, beer, or coming back from the sidestages, as I found out by talking to people. Mr. and Mrs. Mahood hadn't heard of Adams, they said, so they stayed in the beer tent for his set. Would they have come back sooner for somebody like Prine, with a more established reputation amongst older age groups? Perhaps. Dave admitted that he almost never really pays attention to the first act of the evening. By the time Prine came out, it was starting to get dark, you could actually see the performers on stage since they weren't buried in shadows, and everybody was back at their tarps with their food. Perhaps Adams partially got caught in a transition period, or maybe I'm just making excuses for a performance that I thought was amazing by a performer I adore. Just don't read the Edmonton Journal review. As much as Ms. Sperounes congratulates Adams for a well-performed set, she also focusses a lot more on the kinds of speculations that may have been more appropriate before the show, speculations based on his tempestuous past that somebody not familar with Adams might overindulge themselves on. For a far better story on Adams, read his two Pitchfork interviews, from 2004 and 2005, respectively. They give a far better view of Adams than Ms. Sperounes, who at best seems to be vaguely familiar with the idea of there being a Ryan Adams.

This post is long enough, so I'll review Prine and Krauss' excellent sets tomorrow. But first, in all my fanboyish glory, the setlist:

1. A Kiss Before I Go
2. Peaceful Valley
3. To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
4. Beautiful Sorta
5. What Sin Replaces Love
6. The End
7. Shakedown on 9th Street
8. Please Do Not Let Me Go
9. Madonna, Sean and Me / Expressway to Yr. Skull (Sonic Youth cover)

Friday, August 05, 2005


Tonight at work I was helping a customer with finding an item in the dairy case when I heard a woman two feet to my left mutter something sounding like, "Oh no..." to her small child. A minute or so later, she turned around, came up to me and said, "Excuse me, there is a broken egg on the floor." I looked around and sure enough, there was a broken egg sitting next to a closed carton of eggs. She was already walking away.

What I responded with was a polite, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it," but I really just wanted to speak my mind. No, there is not just a broken egg on the floor. Broken eggs do not just appear on the floor. They are not naturally occurring entities. Madame, you or your child broke the egg, I can tell this from the carton you closed. This is not something to be ashamed about. I cannot get annoyed about it. I myself do it occasionally. What I can get annnoyed with however, is that you did not tell me the truth. For whatever reason, you deemed it unseemly to take responsibility for a simple mistake. That is simply disrespectful. Please go away now, and let me clean up your mess. It is my job.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Yummy in My Tummy

After I finished work tonight, I went out looking for some rapini (broccoli raab) to make with Italian sausage and pasta for dinner tonight. Before eventually finding it at Superstore for $1.98/lb, I stopped in at the Starbucks by 170th street and 100th avenue. Now, normally when I go to coffee, I go to the Second Cup in Oliver Square. Cori, my junior high crush, works there, and after seeing her for the first time in years she told me to come back all the time and visit her. Flirting? Not likely, but I'm not one to take that chance.

When I'm not being this irrational, I just go to Starbucks. When it's warm out, nothing beats a mint mocha chip Frappucino. I've got two main choices here: the one in Jasper Gates and the one in the Chapters on 170th street. They both have their plusses. The Jasper Gates location has cute baristas and is slightly closer, and the 170th street location has my friend Dru. This one often wins out, because when forced to interact with a cute girl I have no chance with, I'd much rather pick the one where I can cut through all the awkwardness, infatuation, and depression and skip straight to the ooey gooey nougat centre of denial and rationalization.

I just never get tired of the nougat. Sure, it's a little chewier and sticks to your teeth, but it's worth the trouble because it goes with everything.