Friday, July 29, 2005

Goodbye Slugging, Lugging, Mundanity

I am off to Montreal for the long weekend!! Me and the boys from work have coiled up the hoses, showered, and are about to embark on some escapism. The hotel is reserved, the gas tank is full, my suitcase is packed. Goodbye! (I'll be back sooner than I think)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hillside takes over Guelph

Howard and I split up this weekend, and he scouted out Hillside, Guelph's big summer music festival while I gritted my teeth and did various other things.

The jerk didn't tell me he had tickets to Hillside. He had been holding them for a whole month without unzipping his lip. Then he says something about a visitor coming from Portugal, and them going for a "recreational outing to the waterside." I imagined Howard with a makeshift raft and some extravagant costume like that of a gondola driver, but no, he snuck his way into the mainstream.

I was dying to see Arcade Fire from Montreal, Buck 65 from the east coast, the local singer/songwriter Nate Coles (who I see every Sunday because he hosts open mic at the Jimmy Jazz), just to name a few, but Howard kept it quiet and took his Pamphilia instead of me.

I didn't get tickets myself (it would be naive to think I depend on Howard) because for the first time in its 22 year history, Hillside was completely sold out!!

Hillside started long ago as a folky summer jamboree at Riverside park, out was then relocated to the man-made island, and has now grown into a huge event, featuring big name bands, spoken word, offering workshops, native cultural ceremonies and great food. It operates with the help of over 1000 volunteers. As part of its initiative to encourage environmental friendliness, the audio equipment was powered by wind energy, compliments of Selectpower, an offshoot of the local hydro company, who put 575 kilowatts, or enough juice to power a house for several weeks into the grid. (Guelph Mercury, A1, 07/22/05)

I got Howard to tell me a bit about the event, but I'll give you just a few bits of it:

"The bands and I go back to the days when I was a bureaucrat in Guelph, and the general atmosphere of Guelph hippies is surprisingly delightful. I will not mention a certain percussionist who once shared a portion of my cubicle on occasion before we both made a more glorious name for ourselves than paper-pushers. He is now a rockstar, I am Howard. My Pamphy loved an occasion to swim, and she has gotten over her inhibitions about Canadian climates, although she insists the lake was woman-made. I indulged her with my pottery after learning some useful lessons in a tent, and I felt especially tuned in to my artistic abilities after being spiritually cleansed of my negative energy via the ritual act of smudging, whereby a participant willingly allows him or herself to be fanned with the finest aromatic smokes."

Several of my friends went, volunteered, supplied equipment, or stressed themselves out over whether or not everything would be coordinated, parking space was ample, or whether security was tight enough. It is a collaborative event, and although I didn't go, I could listen to part of the show on University of Guelph's radio station 93.3fm.

Last year I didn't camp in a tent for the weekend as many do, but I got the chance to see Metric, Cuff the Duke, Barmitzva Brothers and other bands ranging from folk to bangra music. This weekend, there were many tourists within Guelph. For many of those who have gone to Guelph for school in the past or have been a part of the festival, it is their annual pilgrimage.

My Weekend in Toronto, Guelph and Kitchener
I on the other hand, went to see my friend Richard play music at Wimbleys in Toronto on Friday night. It was a small pub filled with aquaintances of him, which made it comfy. Since he didn't want to start right away, he invited me to play a few tunes, so I gladly sang some Radiohead, and a couple of my originals. He then gave us a good dose of Neil Young, Richard Laviola (him) and even a song by Nate Coles (when you hear someone play tunes that you haven't heard on the radio or HMV, you know they're good). Richard has a loud, expressive voice and really gets into his music, which makes it all the better.

I saw two. The first was "Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary" [Im Toten Winkel] a documentary worth seeing by anyone, about Hitler.

Blindspot: Hitler's Secretary
It has won awards as the best documentary and consists of interviews with Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary. It shows her mentally degenerating under the mental trauma and regret she feels for being a part of the biggest genocide in documented history. She says that it was curiosity and utter foolishness that got her to accept the job as a typist when she was only 22. She came from a poor family with no real father, and for her, he supplied the sense of security (albeit false) that she lacked.

There were heartbreaking anecdotes about the polite, private Hitler who poisoned the only living thing he showed intimacy towards, his dog Blondie, and the horrors and apathy that ensued in the bunker, including weddings held to the music of artillery, betrayal, ordered shootings, and meetings held to brainstorm ways to kill themselves as to not fall into enemy hands alive.

The film has been criticized for coming off as too sympathetic to someone generally regarded as a monster, however, what seems correct about him was that he was totally disconnected from reality. His ideals and his lack of consideration for individuals, his hatred of Jews merely on the grounds of them supposedly stinking, and his awkwardness about being touched were all characteristics of his personal and political self that came out in incredibly destructive ways. In person he was apparently considerate, speaking with an Austrian accent, not with the aggressive shouting and hochdeutsch rolling "r's" and clipped words that he used in his rallying speeches.

She was the one who wrote these speeches and hoped to get at least a partial justification for what he had done from him, but he shot himself because he could not bear the thought of existing under communism, and believed the German people had let him down and that socialism was dead.

Willy Wonka
Nancy and her daughter Heather, both of whom I met through Stream of Consciousness, took me to see Willy Wonka, the fantastical and sometimes darkly humored children's story remade and delivered to us from Tim Burton, from the 70's version of the movie, itself based on British author Roahl Dahl's book, Charlie and Chocolate Factory.

It made me absolutely gooshy! Although I worried that actors like Johnny Depp had the potential to shine so bright they blinded the brilliance of the original story, instead he brought a wonderfully eccentric new character to Willy Wonka, the chocolatier. The sets were derelict and strangely gorgeous, the dialogue witty, the children diverse and bratty (except for Charlie Bucket) and the actors were mostly British, giving it that Brit flavour.

The way they expressed the plot exposed it as a story about many things, but notably, about the fine line between children's innocence and their corruption. It was about families and their function within a child's life as guidance, and about the humourous and terrible things that can happen when you think you're a smarty-pants in someone else's factory.

I say go see it.

The Last Few Moments of the Weekend before Long Weekend
Last night I didn't know whether Nate Coles would be back from Hillside or not for his weekly stint at the open stage, but it turned out he wasn't. Anyway, I managed to kick the snot out of Steve at a pool game. (yeah, I know Steve, I did technically lose when I sunk that eight ball, but you were foolish enough to bend the rules so that your seven became the eight and I went on to smash you). Now I'm tired out though and it's still so hot, so I won't talk about the other news that went on this weekend in international events including the rising death toll in and around Toronto because of the heat, the most recent attacks in Cairo that killed almost as many as the London bombings, or the ridiculous attempts of local politicians to limit the height of resident's plants and their reactionary outrage. No, now I will drink lots of water, and get me to sleep.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mouth Freshning

Brushing tickles my teeth.
The ones I wear to whiten.
The toothfairy sits, twiddling her thumbs with glee.
scrub. scrub. scrub. scrub. scrub.

The bristles scratch furrily.
neat and clean, neat and clean.

swish, swish,
aksjflakjsdfklasdhfkjasdhkasdgoadhn couavpfinanddownthesink.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

From Womb to Here

Has not been a bad ride. My head is still on. Sure, I've had neck problems. I always backtrack on this day, remembering all the lights caught in the wind, whisking over years, remembering the people I've come across, or through, or with, looking over what I now have and what I've lost, and savouring all the memories of them both wrapped in a thick layer of existence.

-CASE 3534217255243-

Description: tallish, two arms, two legs, ten toes, three eyes, wide-set nostrils, big feet, brown, unpredictable hair, work hands, piano fingers, reaching neck, elusive shoulders.
Body type: climber
Demeanor: serious
Personality: none, whatsoever
Astrological sign: cancer
Genus: Murina
Handshake type: firm


It was 24 years ago today that my parents set out for a celebration at a small farm in Yarmouth, twp. Ontario. The sun was shining, people were laughing, barbecues presumeably smoking, children running. Little did anyone suspect, that there would be an extra visitor at the party. But my mother's water broke. Oops! And as it turned out, I was to be delivered.

She began rushing to make speed. There was not time for expostulation. A persistent being inside her pushed to be let free. She tried, but couldn't make it to the car. Instead, she layed down under the cool shade of a tree. All in a matter of fifteen minutes, and it would be through.

Out I burst! The midwives could not run fast enough to catch me. My father brought me out, raised me to the shining sun, and wrapped me in a picnic blanket, first severing my umbilical cord with a jacknife.

The photo journalists came to get their sneak peek of the party crasher. (I WAS born to be wild). My parents ushered me off in a car back home. I was introduced to some friends and family, if not the whole world. They had cake, but I didn't touch the stuff. My grandfather was so pleased to have a second male offspring, that he checked me in the laundry room just to make certain. Yes, that makes an X chromosome, AND a Y. The deal is sealed. Count me in on carrying the family name.

The story goes on, but that was the beginning.

Last year I spent today in a hospital after effectively receiving a nail in my arm. Work accidents sometimes come at the most inopportune times.

Today was gorgeous! Who could have asked for softer, sweeter, cool winds on a helluva heat wave summer like this one!? Although I was pleased with the gale, I was spraying industrial liquid to coat the walls of the building at work. The product is called weather sheild, and it will waterproof whatever it comes into contact.

Now, something people should know is that people are already waterproof. They don't need an extra skin of synthetic who-knows-what.

I do my utmost to wear protective gear as Howard so persistently reminds me to, but you can't ever guarantee against errant streams.

With the wind blowing, I had to duck and dodge as to not be caught in the line of my tanks fire. This made me consider: although I wouldn't mind being immortalized in the form of writing, I have no wish to be embalmed and preserved at the age of 24.

So, fantastically, and to my great relief, I managed to escape the work injury on an especially superstitious day for me: my birthday. I still have a few hours left, so now I will get in some trivia and socializing with friends and fellow geeks, easing into time further over a beer, putting on my 24 year old skin. The night is still young, so I will watch out for falling pianos, but I thank the universe for such a life filled with seeming serendipity and wonder. It is a blessing I will never forget.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Picture Time!!

The administration tells me I need more pictures. I've had a lot of criticism coming in lately about my writing. Apparently it has the capacity to confuse and alienate people, so I've decided to hide out for a bit and post my pictures from my Montreal trip and my Toronto concert last month instead. When words can't explain, pictures can. I love blogging, but I realize that I can't speak to everyone always, and I need balance. I've always struggled with writing. Writing is a language and so is thinking. That's why I long to communicate: so that I'll be a more efficient thinker. I'm sure you've spotted grammar mistakes and gaps in sentences recently, because I have been rushed and my editor left me for JK Rowling. So, now I'm going to attempt to be a better writer. I'm going to research some content and try to be more comprehensible and diligent in the future. It might take time, but I promise you, I'll make sense. Thank you for your patience. Posted by Picasa

Outside La Place des Beaux Arts, you could buy CD's, artwork, and see ladies of extreme proportions. Posted by Picasa

All eyes on the lady in costume. She caught my attention, but I didn't catch which parade or festival she was a part of. Posted by Picasa

The sky cleared and the weather was lovely, once the thunderstorm that we experienced on Mount Royale clear the smog away. Here's a peek through the buildings in Montreal's financial district. Posted by Picasa

The Chakraburty glowing with excitement. Posted by Picasa

A snap of the pilgrimage on rue St.Catherine inspired by the Jazz fest in Montreal. Posted by Picasa

Montreal has the funnest tunnels and highways to drive on. Posted by Picasa

Lean back and enjoy the show! Posted by Picasa

Leaning tower of Pisa or CN Tower? Here is Toronto's engineering achievement of the century in all its glory. Posted by Picasa

This put some umph into my step, and I was able to get to the concert twice as fast. Posted by Picasa

A seagull acted as concierge to the island. Posted by Picasa

This is the ferry that took us to Toronto Island. If you look really hard, you can see Howard standing atop of the ship, with his foot up on the mast, in his captains uniform. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Moment of Silence for Victims of London Bombings

London held a moment of silence to remember the victims that were killed in the subway attack at Kings Cross in London last Thursday. The four suicide bombers who took the lives of more than 50 people were identified as citizens of Britain, a shocking attack indicating that terrorism can happen anywhere, and that the enemy is with us and that we are the enemies.

A friend of mine has a cousin who lives in London and was going to work that day via the subway. She got off like any other day and only found out later that if she had waited two cars later she would not be alive.

It should not be surprising that terrorists don't have to be foreign fundamental extremist Muslims, although the news does seem repetitively depressing. In this case they were mostly impressionable youth who lived normal British lives. They played cricket, or were fathers or teachers. Although they attended school in Pakistan and were Muslim does not mean they represent the majority of Muslims or Pakistanis. They played sports and integrated like normal British citizens. We are asked to stand in solidarity and resist the temptation to condemn a religion, a race, or a socioeconomic category for this terrible act. The British seem strong in insisting they will not be broken, and I believe that if there is going to be change, it won't be because of terrorism. It is individuals who decide for themselves the rationale or anti-rationale for killing themselves and taking many with them. It is up to you to decide whether you will react, or be proactive in the way you live on a daily basis.

Hate tends to breed hate, but people have it in them to reverse the cycle. Be original.

I'll Put Five on it

-Photo courtesy of John Moore /AP-

This photo was sent to me in a forward entitled "Pics the nesw never shows" (news) encouraging us to support the soldiers in Iraq. It is moving because it shows kindness and interaction between people, not as enemies, but as partners. Although I do not support the war in Iraq, and I am troubled by the collaboration of Canadian soldiers in US offensive missions in Afganistan, (because Canada is known as a peacekeeping nation) I don't disagree that good can come through the military.
The military has access to amazing resources payed by tax dollars. An operation that seems worthy is "landmines to ploughshares" taking place in Afganistan and elsewhere, whose initiative is to uproot and recycle the metal from landmines by making them into useful farming equipment. It is dangerous work. Anyone courageous enough to risk blowing themselves up to save the countryside and someone else's life in the future deserves our support. Other projects are equally important, including reducing military dependency and banning our own weapons of mass destruction. These are inititives are some of the objectives put forth by project ploughshares.

"...they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and speares into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4)

Monday, July 11, 2005

It's enough to drive a man to drink

Too hot. Sluggish. Can't breathe. Salt stains on my back. Someone please drop an iceberg on me. It makes you so thirsty "you could suck a coke through a dead dog's ass" -anonymous

Monday, July 04, 2005

Jazzme, Bébé, Montrëal-style

Oui, c'est vrai. J'ai fait une petite èvasion, -plongé dans la cyclone de musique. Je suis allé à la feste du Jazz à Montrêal. C'ETAIT HYPERCOOL!!! *

-ê? Non. Ce n'est pas correct. ç? Nope. ¢?+?¶? NAO!! ê? Proche.-

Une chose que quelques <> ne sait pas, c'est que, quand vous voulez dire: <>, vous ne disent pas "Montree-all", vous ne le disez pas comme ça. Vous ne disez pas le "t" non plus!! C'est "Mooooooorrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal"!!!

Oh la la!! Parfait!!! Vous êtes trës intelligent etudiants!@! *

Une autre chose que quelques <> ne comprennent pas, c'est comment trouver les boutons sur le keypad, pour faire des accents come â,ç,è,è,(alt+138). Sur notres ordinateur, c'est difficile de souvenir les codes des lettres.* That's my problem, mais je suis vite!! But je vais enseigner moi-meme pour ameliorer mes abilites de accents dans l'avenir. Maintenownant, right avant your yeux, je shift å L'english. *

It was an event to keep you racing. Savouring the seductive tunes of jazz-fest, supposedly either one of the largest, or THE largest jazz fest worldwide!!!

There were millions of people gathered to get a piece of the musical action going on all over Montreal!! Bands came in from around the world and nearby to play their songs, and lay their souls on smooth, sultry rhythums and wailing voices.

We got to Montreal at 4am on Thursday night, and slept. Then on Saturday we woke up to jubilant drums and parades on the street. We went for lunch at an Indian buffet called the Mahara and strolled around watching the parades. We ended up near the Molson plant at night for the Canada day celebrations. There was a megatron and people packed to see a flamenco style band. The guitarist basically went up and down the scale, but at oscillating rhythums, making the mood full of intense latin fever. I was woken up from my deep immersion in the music when the samba squad came out blowing whistles and banging giant drums. Later we saw the biggest fireworks I've ever seen. Wow did they invest in those incendiaries!

The next day we hiked around Mont Royal and went to see that electric light cross that is visible from most of Montreal. It was a hot day and we stopped at a lodge. The air was thick and smoggy. Then a thunderstorm broke out. It was such a violent storm that everyone was driven inside except for one couple romantically making out in the rain. It blew sideways and came down in torrents, cleaning the air of the humidity. When it was done I saw some interesting bands of colour and I ran out to the edge of the lookout point to catch one big long rainbow.

That night we saw Fathead -a techno-ish funky band, some calypso, reggae, and the generic jazz and blues. The one act that blew me out of the water was "Son of Dave" a one-man show. He had a harmonic that flipped open like a phone and could be used as a microphone as well. He would play one phrase then sing a phrase, then it would loop. It was amazing how he would beatbox with his own voice and then that would repeat as the percussion to his own harmonica music and singing. At one point he made some cricket and frog noises then had them go on by themselves while he sat down for a sip of beer. It gave the impression we were in the outback on our rocking chairs with no one around for miles, and this is with millions around.

On sunday we packed up and left the place. We were all tired and it was hard to get back to reality after a long (well, three day) vacation like that. Now it's been a week of work and I'm rushing to have some leisure again. It's up to cottage country for Chris's annual pig-roast.

Excuse the abandonment of the "è" as the author of this narrative has decided to make a political statement about the implementation and representation of the "è". He simply cannot be bothered to expend the energy and the concentration to memorize seemingly thousands of hypothetical options of key combinations that exist on a keyboard required to execute proper french spelling. No need for offense if offense need not be taken. Although, with an author arrogant to write something like this as if it were a sincere defense against... hmm. Though, if an author, be they male or female, or circumcized or have a purple sash ?Howard? were to spend their time typing about "è" to the extent to which this author types the letter "è" once he has learned to (he or she or le or la or this or that or celui or celui-la or celles-ci or it) musn't one consider the redundancy and worthlessness of taking the time to explain it?

I'm not a french teacher, and I don't use translators. I'm just playin with y'all,...but THAT's how you say it, as far as I can tell. That's how they say it in Montrèal.

Some keyboards are designed to have several keys for the same letter, though different accents. On most people's keyboards, you have to fiddle with the alt key and the number keys.

By now, you should be able to tell that I'm just being completely silly: over-sidenoting and bastardizing both english and french, as languages, with strict rules about how to use symbols, accents, logical grammar and content. I'm just trying to create a bit of the mood by giving a shot at the language. I've studied it until my brain exploded and Salvador Dali jumped out. Stop ruining it!! Say you love Quèbec!!!

...Opps! Wrong "e" again.
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