Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time ticks on...

I am off work until the new year - thank goodness, as I have done a big fat zero in terms of xmas shopping/prep  - well, except decorating a rather lovely Charlie Brown style Christmas tree with the Boy (pictures to come at some point!).  For me, it was really nice to share that task with someone special, and we had some laughs (thanks in part to heavily rummed eggnog), and I had a few teary moments looking at the wooden reindeer ornaments Thom decapitated last year.  He did love the Christmas tree - he would wander closely by, letting an ornament touch his tail so he could turn around, surprised, and bat it to submission.  Wooden reindeer were placed low on the tree as they are the most bat-resistant.  Well, except for their weak, easily decapitated necks - Thomas' only successful prey kill I might add.

It is early days, and I still miss him like mad.  The funny thing is watching the changes in Miss Mags - she is suddenly around me all the time, no longer going to the pillow she usually slept on in the basement to spend her lazy days, instead choosing to snooze on the upstairs couch where she can keep an eye on me...or be closer to her food dish, who knows.  But it is obviously a big change for both of us.  What I find interesting is that her behavioural changes only happened after Thom was put down - there were three nights he spent in hospital prior to that event that didn't seem to phase her, it was only after he came home for the night, and she recognized that there was something wrong (she was completely freaked out, walking in super-slow motion even when he wasn't in the room with her), that her behaviour changed.  Cats may seem aloof, but they are weirdly perceptive at the same time, or so it seems to me.  Anyway, we will see how Maggie does on her own - if she seems happy, we will remain a one cat situation, but if she seems out of sorts I may look into bringing another handsome young four footed man into the house.

But enough of that for now.

In other news, we went to see The Books a week and a bit ago - what a great concert, they are always a joy live - the quirky videos that accompany their (excellent!) playing really adds to the whole experience.  My brother managed some great stealth videos - here is a taste (note - I am testing out making the video smaller so my stupid blog format doesn't cut off the right hand side!):

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My heart is chipped.

 When I got dressed this morning, I went to put on one of my favorite necklaces, an enamel heart, and noticed that it was chipped.  I wore it anyway.  It sums today up. 

I debated whether to write anything today or not.  I hate the idea of seeming overly dramatic or maudlin or histrionic, and my logical self is telling me to wait til I am a bit more settled, but the other part is telling me to write while it is all on the surface. That part obviously won out.

Yesterday Thom's biopsy results came back, and they unfortunately proved to be pretty much the worst they could be.  His liver was so bad that if he were a human, he'd be on the transplant list...there were few liver cells still functioning, he was borderline anemic/in need of transfusion,  and was having a problem maintaining his fluid balance (read: fluid collecting in his abdomen).  The vet made it clear that there was nothing we can do to make him "better" - there are some medications that could be given that might prolong things for a few days or weeks, but really that is as good as we could hope.  So the Boy and I picked him up yesterday, and brought him home for the night, and I am glad we did - he hated the hospital sooo much (he is way too nervous for that kind of place), and at least he had one quiet night.  This morning he hopped on the bed and came up to my head, and we cuddled for a good long time.  It was good to hear him purr and see him relax after seeing him so distressed in the hospital for the last few days.  But it is my duty as his human to make decisions about his well being (his well being vs my own desire not to let him go, which is one of those truly awful balancing acts), and so he was put down today - age 10 years, three months.   It was as peaceful a passing as any of us can hope for.

I know everyone thinks their cat is amazing, but Thom really was.  I had decided to get a British Shorthair because I liked their looks, but more importantly I liked how they were described - sturdy, quiet, low key cats that wanted to be with you, but not necessarily ON you.  He was a classic example of the breed both in looks and temperament. When I first saw him as a kitten, he was unbelievably cute, but he was so shy that he squeezed his body between the cushions of the couch to hide, and hissed when I tried to pick him up.  I actually wondered if I should take him based on that reaction - I worried that the hissing was a sign of things to come - but I braved it, and home he came, along with his "sister" (actually his niece if you look at the family tree, but who looks at family trees?) Maggie.  What I ended up with was honestly the sweetest natured, gentlest cat you could hope for - he never scratched or lashed out at me, or the vet, or anyone, no matter how scared he was or what indignity he was being subjected to (the polar opposite to his very lovable but generally imperious and slightly indignant sister).   Add that to his incredible handsomeness (in a slightly alien handsome way), a purr so loud and hard it would almost choke him, and his general sociability and you had one truly remarkable boy.  If anyone wants to see more of his handsome self, just click on the "cats" link (or the *snap* link!) to the side of this blog and be amazed that a creature that looked like Thom could even exist (I should add, he was a camera whore - as soon as he saw the camera, he would start rolling around and posing).

I can't express how much I will miss him - and I know I am not the only one - the Boy, and Thom's "Grandcat" will both miss him dearly I know.  Unfortunately when you sign on to the joy that is having a pet in your life, you also sign on to the inevitable sorrow of saying goodbye.  But as for me, despite the buckets of tears I seem to have shed over the last 24 hours, I just feel really lucky to have had such a remarkable, lovely beast in my life, even if it was for much too short a time.  

So, it is just Miss Mags and me now - not that she isn't a large presence in the house (physically and in every other possible way).  I think we will both be missing those giant orange eyes for quite a while to come.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Grinderman, and just...the grind.

Well, first the good news - the Grinderman concert on Friday night was truly awesome. Nick Cave has long been an idol of mine - I have seen him discussing film live, but I have never seen him play - so this was really a thrill. With his towering, elongated form and inky mop of receding hair, Nick Cave is rock-frontman Goddery (is that a word? If not, it should be). Rock multi-instrumentalist Goddery is found in the hairy, troll-like form of Warren Ellis - I didn't think it would be possible for someone to pull my attention away from Nick Cave, but lo and behold, Ellis' sometimes cavorting, sometimes writhing craziness was absolutely transfixing. It was all just...great. My brother took a whack of good video - a taster below:

Less great is the news on Thomas.  Long story short, he isn't really getting better, and the only way to determine what the issue is, is to do a biopsy.  Which sounds simple, but is actually pretty significant surgery, with a significant price attached.  Once again, thank god for insurance, and thank double god that my policy renews December 1st, which means I have more money available for this illness starting soon.  In my long discussion with the internist today we discussed the possibilities: polycystic liver disease (no treatment really); hepatitis (manageable with meds); cancer (you know the story there).  So, no good news, it is really just differing levels of bad.   That being said, I do feel a need to know what "bad" I am dealing with, so I will put him through the surgery for the biopsy, and keep my fingers crossed that insurance will come through for me on this one.   Bleh.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bring out the dayglo tape....

I really think I was meant to be a backup dancer.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

$1100 and counting....

Well, you might ask what this photo is of.  On the right, the end of my lovely new hand blender.  On the left, the tail end of a pureed batch of venison and rice cat food, into which is stuck the giant syringe that will be used to force feed Thomas with.

Are we having fun yet?

Thom is suffering from fatty liver disease at the moment.  And no, he wasn't overweight.  But he did get fussy about his food, and eventually pretty much stopped eating.  He is a very sick boy, and the only way to try to get him through this is to force him to eat sufficient calories to get his system back in line.  Hence, the giant syringe.

I should add that before I found the giant syringe, I was using needle syringes, and they would block up with food, be hard to fill, and I would end up with pureed venison up my arms, on my legs, on the nice.  Part of me feels like I am gavaging in order to make Thom Liver Pate, but please know that isn't the case.

As for the $1100 - once again, I am happy to have insurance, because this ain't over yet!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yes, I'm still here...

...just not very talkative I guess?  I had a fantasy that I was going to write a detailed blog post after seeing the Sufjan Stevens concert that happened a couple of weeks ago...but I didn't.  Why not? BECAUSE I DIDN'T GO.  Why didn't I go you might ask?  BECAUSE I GOT SO F%#KING SICK I COULDN'T.  Yes, on the day of the concert I came down with a flu - the real deal, complete with temperature of 101F (sorry, sickness happens in Imperial for me), shakes, splitting headache, and racking cough.  So sick that I actually realized I couldn't go, heartbreaking though that was.  Making it all a bit less painful were the impressive nursing skills of The Boy, and the videoing bravado of my brother, who attempted to bring at least some of the concert to me.

Other than that, said-video-creating-frere had a milestone birthday (happy 70th!!), and I have taken the big plunge and invested in (drum roll please) SNOW TIRES.  Yes, after having a car in Toronto and not getting snows, and living here and not getting snows, my spidey senses are telling me it is time.

And that is about it.  For now. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This feels weird, but...

...I am using part of my lunch break at work to blog. Purely out of guilt I might add - not that I really believe anyone cares if I keep up with this or not - it's strictly self imposed guilt.

What have I been up to? Another good concert (clip included below thanks to my brother and his schwingy new camera), a modern Canadian opera, VIFF, and a nasty stinking cold.

VIFF was generally pretty good this year - a few highlights for me:

Waste Land - a lovely documentary featuring some truly amazing people - it has been picked up for release and I would highly recommend you make the effort. It won the People's Choice at VIFF fyi.

And another lovely film by Mike Leigh - Another Year. Really, really enjoyed this - a lovely quiet look at relationships, in characteristic Leigh style

There are more - Down Terrace, an excellent dark comedy about a British family with criminal ties; and Me, Too - a really lovely and eye opening film about the relationship between a man with Down's Syndrome and his coworker - are the other two of real note for me this year.

Other than that...hmmm...I have finally found some cat food that the perpetually fussy Thomas seems interested in eating.  Now THAT is news! Aren't you glad I bothered posting?

Monday, September 27, 2010

What have I been doing?

Um, ya...this....a night with the life changing Flaming Lips. THIS is what a concert should be. Really.

And this....

And to the idiot loud mouth couple sitting behind us - maybe next time you find it necessary to have a two hour conversation, you'll do it at a coffee shop not at a concert? Really...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's started....

OH I've been such a lazy blogger.  Bad, bad blogger.

But things are looking up, because concert season is starting up!  I can't believe the lineup - Sufjan Stevens, Grinderman (WOOP!), the Flaming Lips, Blonde Redhead, the Books, Blitzen Trapper, the Black Keys...yes, you read it right.  Craziness.  Absolute crazy good luck.  I can't WAIT.

The fall started out with a pleasant outdoor evening with The National - it didn't rain, I was warm enough, and the band didn't disappoint.  Did they blow me away?  No, they didn't...but that's OK,  somehow I didn't expect them to.   Listening to the National is kind of like putting on a well worn, slightly moody looking cardigan - you can be warm and brooding all at once.  I have lots of things ahead that are more likely to blow my rapidly deteriorating mind.  Maybe this year Wayne Coyne will roll over me in his inflatable ball - now THAT would be worth blogging about...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weekend away...

The Boy and I managed a weekend away on the Sunshine Coast.  It kills me that the summer is almost over, but I count my lucky stars that we managed to get out of the city at least once.  The weather cooperated, the cabin cooperated, the lawnmower didn't, but we found a way around that (and no it didn't involve kitchen scissors.  Or teeth). 

I don't really have much to report in terms of Big Events during the trip - we went to Gibsons, and to Robert's Creek to mingle with the nouveau hippies; we hung out on rocky beaches so The Boy could investigate the tidal pools (ok, ok...I like tidal pools too...).  But maybe it is the lack of big events that made it so good.

There are a number of decent photos - well, at least I think they're good...but I will stick to three that are sort of related, and won't get me into trouble with anyone who may have appeared in said photos.  The first is the point at Robert's Creek, with a couple of tempting benches perched on the very end.  The second, yours truly trying the bench out for size, followed by my view of The Boy from the bench.  I know, not all that exciting.  But for me, it tells a story.  And it's my blog after all.

 Who knows, there maybe another story to tell if I feel so inclined - this one likely involving crabs (the kind you find on the beach).  We shall see.

Friday, August 13, 2010

OK OK I'm still here....


I am apparently still being a bit lame arsed when it comes to posting.   Lack of motivation and lack of time, not lack of cool things to post about, trust me.

I am back at home after my month long holiday at Mum's.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around having to do things like cook for myself again - it sure doesn't take long to get completely spoiled.  And why am I back home? BECAUSE MY AWESOME BATHROOM IS DONE!!   My photos are far from awesome really, but they give you an idea.  And if you look back at this you will see how far things have come.  I'm not completely finished yet - I foresee a wall cabinet in the near future, and a few other bits and bobs.  My home away from home at the moment  is (unfortunately) Restoration Hardware...$ka-ching, $ka-ching.  I unfortunately have a soft spot for polished nickel fixtures.

I can't believe what a difference it makes to have a bathroom you actually enjoy being in.  A bathroom with ONE door, not three...and tile, not a poorly laid vinyl nightmare.

And as an aside, this has been proof to me that non-nightmarish contractors DO exist.

As I sit here, there is a plumber in my bathroom replacing my bath's intake pipes with stupidly expensive chrome ones.  My bank account and I are the only ones that will notice, I know - unless of course you hang sideways off my toilet and look behind the tub.  It's the little things....

And in other news, I saw the absolutely phenomenal Joanna Newsom last week.  This video doesn't do the gig justice at all - but it was the best I could do under the high-security situation.   Such a talented performer, supported by an incredibly tight band.  And you've got to love the harp - it is such a physically demanding instrument, and it's just odd enough to completely transfix me. Undoubtedly one of the best concerts I've seen - and thank you Vogue for being such a great venue for quieter acts like this.

And unfortunately I have had to enable comment moderation on this blog...grrr to all you Asian spam sites!  I CURSE YOU!! 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend wrap-up: Horse heads, sock garters and Porta Potties - OH MY

Yes, I'm in a post-Vancouver Folk Music Festival funk.  Well, not a funk, but it is one of my favorite times of the year, and it's over.  Another year of sun, sound, porta potties, hand sanitizer, interpretive dancing, men in skirts, and horse head masks.  OK, the horse head mask was a new thing - but it was an awesome addition - particularly because of the back-pack.  Horses are, after all, pack animals.

I didn't take as many photos, or videos, as I did last year.  But there are a few, and they amuse me enough to post.  The first - the annual shot of me and my forever-partner-in-VFMF, the lovely A - looking considerably more lovely than I do in this photo.  Alas I couldn't scare up my cowboy hat this year...there are contractors in the house and I just couldn't do enough real poking about to find it.  Sad, that.  But things will return to cowboy hatted normalcy in 2011, promise.

There was a new addition (and convert) to the VFMF this year as well - the mysterious man known by some as The Boy.  I've included this shot because it wraps up so many aspects of VFMF - the beautiful sun, green trees, and porta potties.  I'm assuming the one he just came out of wasn't too horrendous, or he wouldn't be smiling...though that smile doesn't look completely convincing, likely because he's extra special pleased with me for taking a photo of him exiting the porta potty.  But I'm too nice to post that one.  Note the natty new lid - a rare find from one of the vendors on site.

Also available from one of the vendors: the Man Skirt.  Not a mundane man-skirt, a full on, multi-tiered satin number.  Our model hear sports his skirt with a pair of fetching sock-garters.  Lovely.  FYI he wore a pink and red skirt the next day.

Now - you might be wondering about the music - which, really, is the point of the whole thing.  I probably didn't see as many artists as I have some years, but I certainly saw enough to keep me happy.  I only took one video (yes, only one) this year - The Deep Dark Woods.  It was a bit of a random choice, though they were one of the bands I liked most this year.

They performed right before what seemed to be the big draw of the day - The Malahat Review, a roving band of Vancouver musicians (Said the Whale, Jeremy Fisher, Hannah Georgas and Aidan Knight).  Second song in, the audience of excited youngsters (ok, some excited oldsters as well) jumped to their feet to dance.  I did not, and neither did The Boy.  We just sat, listened, and watched the amazing (but not necessarily in a good way...) view.  I suspect that is actually a slight shine of panic in his eye...

Now the musical stunner for me this year was Luluc, an Australian duo.  I was too transfixed to film them unfortunately.  Singer Zoe Randell's unique, sweetly somber alto really grabbed me, as did her lyrically lovely songwriting.  I've included a video below just so you can get a taste.

There may be more to post on the fest later.  And, I may also post a bit on the New Pornographer's gig if I find the energy....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

See, I'm doing what I promised...

...and not waiting a month to blog again.  That's because I have something to blog about - an extended, wine-laden weekend in BC's desert country, Osoyoos, with two of my favorite partners in crime.

We splurged and stayed at Spirit Ridge  - gorgeous, gorgeous.  The slightly crap photo I've posted is the view from our balcony, out over the NK'MIP vineyards.  Why is the photo crap? Because I couldn't find my camera so had to use my Blackberry.  (I'm hoping my camera wielding pal A will let me post some of her inevitably awesome photos when she downloads them). 

We had a great trip - 35C temperatures, an air conditioned car, and many, many winery moments, followed by tasty meals and lazy nights by the pool and beds so high you had to climb into them - who could complain?  Not me, that's for sure. 

A few favorites: Silver Sage (ooooh those fruit dessert wines!!!), Tinhorn Creek (that view! that Cab Franc!!),  and Stoneboat (lovely bright tasting room with some really nice whites).  One to avoid, despite the great graphics - Road 13.  Such lovely staff, such blah wine.  But what I can recommend is taking the time to get away with a dear friends for some luxury and laughs.

And I came home to find THIS - yes, my new, gorgeous, bathroom floor...whoop whoop!  One more reason to break open one of the many bottles that made the trip back home with me...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

No I haven't disappeared...but I'm not home either!

I can't believe it has been a month (augh!) since I have posted - to the two people in the universe who bother checking in to see if I've posted, I'm sorry for being a lazy-arse.

The good news is that finally I do have something to post about!  My bathroom renos are finally (FINALLY) starting - I think I purchased the new vanity about a year ago so that tells you how long I've been waiting - and I enclose a "before" shot that hopefully captures the truly horrendous vanity and the awful vinyl flooring (though the awfulness really doesn't show well in this photo - bear in mind the flooring doesn't actually go right to the wall in all places and is more like a badly laid plastic carpet than anything.  And it doesn't show the giant light-laden disco mirror.)

So, I moved to Mum's on Tuesday with the beasts, because bathroom renos mean no bathroom at home for, oh, three weeks.  The cats weren't all that impressed with things, and I think they are likely still not all that thrilled with their change of situation, but they are adjusting.  The first night I slept with Maggie curled up beside my head, and Thom just below her at my shoulder.  Not our usual sleeping pattern to say the least - firstly the two of them rarely occupy the same piece of furniture let alone sleep within inches of each other, and if they do sleep on the bed it is by my feet.  Either they found being by my head somewhat comforting, or they were preparing to lie on my face and steal my breath.  Looking at Maggie sometimes I fear the second option was really the plan, but she likely fell asleep and forgot.

So - right now, my bathroom has NO floor (you can see through to the basement), the drywall with the tiles has been cut out, and two of the three doors into the bathroom have been framed in ready for drywall.  So far so good with the contractors - they have been extremely tidy about things and all seems to be going according to plan. 

And I will try and be a better poster this month.  Promise. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Little Lion Man...Mumford & Sons

I'm honestly waaaaay too tired to say anything worthwhile about this gig - other than the band were great, and venue left me a little bit cold (and frustrated).  The sound on this video isn't great, but then again, the sound in the club - the Richards substitute "club 560" wasn't either...and the camera was wedged behind a sheet of glass, so it didn't have much hope.  But lest you think I am complaining - the band were really great.  A treat for sure.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's been a while...

I'm baaaaack.

Well, sort of.  I think.

I haven't been compelled to post recently.  Partly, there has been too little to say, partly, there has been too much.  I have been preoccupied to say the least for the last few weeks.  By what? By the recipient of our little hat wearing friend to the left.  It was his birthday Friday, a week (almost) after my own.  

And I will break my own rule about not revealing too much personal stuff in this blog, just this once.  The birthday boy is a relatively new addition to my life.  I knew when I met him, sometime between the girl-fight and the Bollywood film set, that something was likely going to happen.   And happen it has.  And it has surprised me, thrilled me, and thrown me into fits of complete and utter panic.  It has made me realize that I haven't really dealt with all the crap I thought I had neatly tied up and discarded.  It has made me realize how hard it is for me to TRULY be in the moment, and not always judging, weighing, assessing, projecting. Worrying.  It has reminded me of the weight and responsibility of holding someone's trust and affection, and the joy of finding someone worthy of doing the same for me.

It is completely and utterly terrifying.  And incredibly, indescribably wonderful.

And that is about all I will say for now.  Except that he is quite unlike anyone I've met before.   And I'm so very, very lucky.

Back to our regular impersonal programming next time ;)

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Is there anything prettier?

I think not.

Unless of course it is a Thomas/tulip combo.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

DOXA time!

Well, it's that time of year - the DOXA Documentary Film Festival is upon us in less than a week.  My picks so far this year range from a look at Vancouver's punk past, to the "sexual dysfunction" industry, to the fate of pets separated from their owners by hurricane Katrina.  Oh, and there's some yodeling in there as well.

My current list (more may be added...)

Hope to see you there!

Terra Madre


Topp Twins 

No Fun City 

The Erectionman 

Orgasm Inc 

Bloodied but Unbowed 

A Mountain Musical 

Small Wonders 

Anatomy: Muscle Skin Heart  

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Neurotic and Lonely....Gabriel Kahane

I had the pleasure of seeing quirky American composer/singer songwriter Gabriel Kahane last week at Heritage Hall as part of Dave Pay's great Music on Main series.  I hadn't heard of him before, but a friend asked me to go and a little research revealed that he has worked with Sufjan Stevens and a few other notables, so I figured heck, why not?  What an unexpected treat.  The audience sat around the centrally placed Kahane - along with his baby grand, and his accompanist Rob Moose (described by Kahane as his "nemeru" - part nemesis, part guru) - and he had us in the palm of his hand the whole time. His work is a bit hard to describe - there are classical influences mixed with opera, quirky pop - but whatever it is, it worked really well.

Highlight for me was his performance of CraigslistLieder, an 8 part song cycle with lyrics taken directly from Craigslist -  oh lord, so very funny.  And slightly sad.  You can download the whole thing for free, or just listen, here.  For those that care, my favorite is the last part of the cycle, Opera Scene, an ad placed by a guy looking for a roommate that can put up with his compulsion to put ice cubes down people's shirts.  The clip above is the only thing I could find online that had decent sound quality -  "Neurotic and Lonely" - a personal ad that you really have to listen to to appreciate.

And speaking of neurotic and lonely (ok, not quite but it was a good segue) - life is challenging me in some interesting ways this week.  I think it's good...but heck it's challenging.  I've had a bit of a rude awakening that my cool calm together self is really only that way when it's not faced with things that threaten that stability.  So, I will try to breathe.  And not panic.  And not self-sabotage.  And not run. And maybe, just maybe, in the coming weeks I will actually tell you what the heck I'm talking about...or not ;)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jónsi ...

Just a quick post to memorialize the fantastic Jónsi concert the other night. The one-eyed, angel-voiced singer of Sigur Ros started his tour in Vancouver this week - and what a fantastic show. The video is shot by my brother & his new camera, which does a much better job of handling crappy lighting than mine does. Pay attention to the amazing set design. Flying birds, loping dear, running wolves, flaming sets - spectacular.

In other great news, Joanna Newsom is coming to the Vogue in August - front row balcony seats already procured! CANNOT WAIT!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday - A story of Luff and Hate

This is a picture of how my day started.  No, I'm not preparing to operate, I'm preparing to finish off the incredibly annoying job of stripping paint from my f&^%ing bathroom window...all so I can paint it again.  There was so much paint (cracking, peeling paint) that it really had to be done before the full bathroom reno is done.  The hazmat gear is to protect me from potential lead in the paint.  Wish I'd thought of that before I spent hours stripping it previously...sigh.  Still, it is as done now as it will be.  Next step: primer.

What made it all worthwhile was knowing that I had a guaranteed evening of fun ahead, with my own true cultural luff, Brent (*dramatic swoon*) Bambury - and the annual Vancouver taping of CBC radio's GO!

So much fun. 

And dare I say it one more time -  look at those pipes!  All he needs is a Lycra suit and cape, and Brent would be as close to a Canadian Superhero as you could possibly want.

He was joined on stage with another CBC hottie, Ian HandsomeManThing.

I feel like a broken record harping on about how much I love CBC radio.  It is such an incredible treat to get to participate in that rarest of rarities, a live radio show, and so much fun to watch people that are obviously having fun.  It was the Western finals of the GO!'s Canada Writes contest, and the contestants and judges (including John Mann from Spirit of the West, another personal fave of mine) were all brilliant.  Listen for yourself here - you can hear me and my pals cheering from the second row if you listen carefully enough.

Topping it all off? Dinner out to celebrate the birthday of the lovely A, fellow Brent lover and GO! fanatic.  You couldn't ask for a better Friday night.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

All hail Noah Baumbach

I went to see Noah Baumbach's new film, Greenberg, with some pals last night.  I'm a big fan of The Squid and the Whale (well, more like amazed and horrified upon realizing I actually dated the doppelganger of Jeff Daniels character *shudder*), and quite liked Margot at the Wedding, so I went with high hopes for his usual brand of slightly painful humour and cast of not all that likable,  definitely damaged, but infinitely true and recognizable  characters.  I wasn't disappointed. 

Greenberg (played fantastically by Ben Stiller) is a generally unlikable, neurotic 40 year old, uncomfortable in his aging skin, and frustrated with the imperfections he sees - constantly - in the world around him.  Florence, the 25 year old he strikes up a truly awkward (and at times ugly) relationship with, is lovely and kind hearted, but her passivity makes her a somewhat complicit victim to the weirdness that is Greenberg.  What I love about Baumbach is that he stays with these characters throughout the story arc, small though it may be - they don't change, there is no big transformation or resolution.  It's awkward, painful, funny.  Some people will hate it, but I think it's brilliant.

I know I have been blogging strictly about stuff I've seen recently, and not stuff that is going on with me.  There is stuff, most of it is good, and I'm busy, but for some reason, I just don't feel like writing about it all just yet.  Maybe soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just a place holder....

It's been another crazy busy (generally in a good way) week.  I'm too tired, and not motivated enough, to write about anything in detail - BUT - here are the highlights for those who care:

  • Nixon in China (clip above) - a randy Kissinger and twist-dancing Nixon, anyone? Very, very cool.
  • Balkan Beat Box - time to put your hands in the air....
  • HIVE3 - already counting the days to the next HIVE - the lovely Sugarlove (aka the better half of my brain) talks about it here, so I'm going to be lazy and just link to her blog.  What I will say is that at one point I felt like I was dying, and it was really, really cool...
  • SPINE - some great ideas in a play that could have done with some serious editing...that being said, I want the Isis outfit...
  • Cobre - for a dear pal's bday celebration ...YUM. and more YUM...followed by the agonizing ache of an overstuffed stomach.
Connecting all of these events? Friends and family that share my wacky interests and are willing to join me for the ride.  And that's the best part of all.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Bring on the toe suckers...

    My brains seems to want to be challenged more than it usually does these days - if I run across something that I know has a high likelihood of eliciting a WTF?! in my brain, I want to be there.  So, welcome to my night with Compagnie Marie Chouinard.

    The language of dance is not something I have at my fingertips (or anywhere else in my body); that being said, we are all able to read meaning into movement to some extent, because we do it every day to help us survive in the world.  Chouinard's interest in this piece has to do with the relationship of intelligence and body .  Does her explanation make my head hurt? Yes, a little bit - but that's what I love about it.

    Watching the piece, my brain was happily enjoying its fair share of  WTF?! moments.  And I have to give props to dancers who are willing to suck each other's toes, and stick their tongues to the floor...and perhaps most disturbing, dance while wearing Stephen Harper masks.

    Thank you, Marie Chouinard.

    Saturday, March 06, 2010

    Some good news this way comes....

    I have mentioned Mumford & Sons on this blog before.  This week saw two bits of Mumford related news - first, the release of their CD Sigh No More (which is both great and inexpensive at $7.99), and the news that they will be playing Vancouver at the mysterious "Five Sixty," which is what the old A&B Sound space at 560 Seymour has now been branded.  I look forward to seeing how successful a live venue it is - I doubt it can live up to its predecessor, Richards on Richards, but I would love to be proven wrong.

    I challenge you not to be charmed by Marcus Mumford's moppish hair and their sweet harmonies.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

    I briefly mentioned the documentary Scott Walker: 30 Century Man a couple of years back, after seeing it a VIFF; I picked it up on DVD last week (along with the Scott 3 CD which I am loving), and I've got to say, it deserves a second mention.  The film covers Walker's career path from idolized pop star to fairly reclusive avant garde musician/composer, interspersed with really interesting interviews with musicians about the influence of Scott's work, and fascinating interviews with the man himself.  

    What got to me this time were two of the extras - the first, an extended interview with Brian Eno.  Eno's amazing musical brain is not news to me, but I was still left shaking my head in wonder at his ability to so clearly articulate some fairly difficult musical ideas, and his ability to so accurately pinpoint what makes Scott's music unique.  Eno speaks with the confidence of someone who is comfortable with his lofty position in the pantheon of musical gods - he's great at what he does, he's comfortable, he has nothing to prove. 

    Not so much with the second extra - an extended interview with Scott.  What slays me about this interview is how revealing it is - every question is treated with complete openness and honesty, and the picture you end up with is of a man who is at once very precise and sure of his musical ideas, and utterly terrified that they won't work out; someone who understands that he is on the musical margins, but is somewhat pained by the isolation of that position; someone who blames himself for any perceived misstep his career has made, and not the record company's creative shackles.  You look at his eyes and see the pain of living with his creative, tormented brain.  Unlike Eno "comfortable" is never a word that comes to mind.  Scott has no choice but to do what he does, but it doesn't mean that he finds it easy. 

    Not much else to say really - except rent it.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    It's almost too much

    It's been quite a week...though my feelings about the Olympics are mixed to say the least, one thing I will say is that t has allowed for a fantastic convergence of remarkable artistic talent in our fair city (and with this sunshine, it is more than fair, it's fantastic).  This week's entertainment?:

    Tuesday: New Songs/New Voices - which featured 4 singer/songwriters from across the country (Meaghan Blanchard, Romi Mayes, Jason Plumb and Dan Mangan); excellent show, and gorgeous sound at the Roundhouse.  I'm hoping they will continue to present music there - so few small QUIET venues in Vancouver.  And, being the hometown boy, Dan brought the house down, but I also really enjoyed Meaghan Blanchard and Romi Mayes.

    Wednesday: Delusion, the new performance piece by Laurie Anderson.  The highlight of the week for me, for sure.  It's a bit hard to explain her amazing twining together of story, music, visuals, but it was astounding and completely transfixing.  One of those things I just feel very lucky to have had a chance to see.  As an aside, the slightly curmudgeonly and surprisingly tiny Lou Reed was sitting in front of us, which was kind of cool.  When we left the venue he was busy reaming out a technical person for the misplacement of one of the lights on the stage, so his cranky legend lives on.

    Thursday: Hal Wallner's Neil Young Project - a Neil Young tribute that brought together a huge whack of diverse musicians (Broken Social Scene, Sun Kil Moon, Joan as Policewoman, Eric Mingus, Teddy Thompson, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Emily Haines to name a few).  Overall a very enjoyable, if uneven, night.  They couldn't quite get the energy in the place just right, but when the performances worked, they were fantastic. Below is the only clip I took, and unfortunately it was one of the low points for me of the night - Kevin Drew and gang do their best to close the night off, but the energy wasn't there.

    Friday: The Blue Dragon, by Robert Lepage (oh how I love thee RL!) - for the second time.  As always, an amazing production.  I didn't find it as powerful as the two solo works of his that I have seen, but I'm starting to realize that there is a resonance that a one person play can have - at least for me -  that can't really be touched by ensemble work.  Great to see it twice, and to notice how he had modified the work over time.  Also had the good luck to listen to a Q&A with the cast; Lepage is a wonderfully open guy, great to hear him speak about his process.

    It has been a GREAT week.  Sorry about the brief, not all that insightful post, but I just had to get it down on paper...I mean, on computer...

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Olympic Portraits

    It takes all kinds.
    This Olympic Portrait is by my fantastic stealth photographer pal A., taken at la Place de la Francophonie at Granville Island last night.  We had a brief chat with our new friend - and, indeed, he does love his foreskin, and we got to learn the many, many reasons why.  Not sure if anyone else loves it, but honestly, I don't think it matters to him.
    And he does sell the t-shirts if anyone wants one.  I suggested he start making mugs as well.

    Funniest moment?  The fact that A.'s rabbi called her during our chat with ILMF.  ILMF cut the conversation short after that - so to speak...

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Dan Mangan at the CBC: you had me at Leonard Cohen

    I headed to CBC Radio's Studio 2 with my pal A. for a particularly special treat:  I managed to score a couple of seats to Dan Mangan's studio session with NXNW host Sheryl MacKay.  CBC Radio is trying out having a live audience for some of their studio sessions - in the case of Studio 2, that audience is limited to a max of about 14, so we were two of a very lucky few.  

    First off, let me once again attest my deep, crazy love of CBC radio;  NXNW and Sheryl MacKay's bright yet miraculously soothing voice (soothing being oh so important at 7am on a Saturday) is inevitably the soundtrack of my weekend mornings, usually accompanied by whining cats and a cup of coffee.  It was a real treat to walk through the new CBC building down into the uber-quiet, studio-filled basement to see what goes into producing the show - well, at least a little bit of it.

    I have also gone on (and on, and on...) about Dan Mangan repeatedly in this blog.  I've spoken about his records, his voice, and his ability to engage an audience.  What made this experience different was getting a chance to listen to him talk about what his life is like now fame is starting to nip persistently at his heels.  Here is someone who has obviously though long and hard about who he wants to be, and how he wants to be.  He seems genuinely humbled and grateful for what is happening in his world - not the fake humble you can smell a mile away, but the real, all-too-rare humble.  Unfortunately I am someone who looks for the cracks, and (maybe frustratingly?) I didn't see any.  Even when asked for his opinion on the rise and popularity of marketing-machine pop stars, he managed to treat the topic respectfully and graciously, with a recognition that they are playing completely different "sports," not begrudging them their fame, and realizing what he wants, and what they want, are very different things.  He remarked with admiration on the grace and humility of Leonard Cohen - and what decent Canadian doesn't love Leonard?   Really, he just came across as a genuine, pleasantly self deprecating guy.   He was getting over a flu so his voice was a little hoarser than usual, but his performance, as per usual, was completely engaging.

    My pal A. brought her camera and was an incredibly effective stealth recorder of the event, as you can see.  As we left, she made the comment that pretty much summed it all up: "Don't you just want to wrap him up and put him in your pocket?"  Weird maybe, but it made absolute sense to me. 

    The burning question we didn't ask?  How did he feel about being tied with Jack White as the #2 musician women want to sleep with - according to the Georgia Straight -  behind #1 Jon Bon Jovi (who comes up with this stuff?).  One thing I will say - of those three, Dan is the only one you'd want to bring home to meet your Mom.

    Listen to the interview this Saturday morning on NXNW on CBC 88.1 - it will play at some point between 8 and 9 am.

    Friday, February 05, 2010


    I'm heading into a couple of weeks of cultural craziness - no, not the Olympics (which would classify as craziness...and other things... but that's another story).  It started last night with KAMP - a play by the fantastically creative, Rotterdam-based Hotel Modern.   I met up with my pal A. there, and we both brought along our well coordinated relatives (meaning they both share the same birthday and matching surgery scars, and not that they are both able to walk and chew gum at the same time - hey, it's my blog, I can tease if I want to...this post needs a bit of levity, trust me.)

    I'm not sure where to start really.  When you walk into the room, the stage area is covered by an incredible, tiny, detailed scale model of Auschwitz.  The theatre troupe of three then starts to tell the story of a day in the life of this concentration camp - everything from the human cargo trains coming in and out, the painful repetitive hard labour, desperate suicides, gas chamber murders, meager rations, the broken bodies - all by manipulating tiny figures in this incredible set.  Often, the action was filmed and projected on the white curtains that surrounded the set, providing a really amazing interplay of scale, of live, real-time action and projection.  All many of us have seen of Auschwitz is in film, either news footage or cinematic recreation; the fact that the action being projected was happening right in front of us helped remove the safe distance film allows - not only from what was being seen as part of the play, but really all footage you might have seen of this horror in the past.

    There was no dialogue - just incredible, intense sound - the scraping of the shovels, the screaming whine of the train on the tracks.  And we all just sat, quiet and still, completely transfixed.  There were no personal narratives told - this story was the ugly machinery of day to day life in this unimaginably horrendous situation, and the incredible scale of what was happening.   For me, that is perhaps the hardest thing to really grasp about the Holocaust - the scale.   This piece did a beautiful job of making it tangible.  

    There was a Q&A afterward.  One of the questions raised was when will this be history?  If you mean specifically what transpired in this one camp - well, strictly speaking it is history; if you mean genocide, the answer is obviously very different.  The reasons the Holocaust is still such an active and important story to tell are many and various.  As we chatted on the way home, the fact that in part, the importance of what happened at Auschwitz is to remind us that we, despite our illusions to the contrary, can so easily do the unimaginable, given the right situation, the right social permission, the right recognition.  It's a horrible thing to have to face up to, and it is all too easy to forget.  For that reason - and many more - this story has to be told, again and again.   YAY to Hotel Modern for doing it in such a fantastic, fresh, creative way.

    Up next: Robert Lepage's The Blue Dragon, next Tuesday night  - I CAN'T WAIT

    Sunday, January 31, 2010

    Learning to let go

    I just realized that in combination with this picture of Thom at the vet, the blog title might seem quite dire...that's not the case.  At least I don't think so.

    But I will start with the vet story.  I took the terrible twosome in for their annual oil change/tire rotation yesterday - something I dread for two reasons: it is very stressful for them, and financially stressful for me (I won't say how much it costs, but suffice it to say I could be supporting two children in a third world country for a year for less).
    Vet trips are big productions - the catching (admittedly with Thomas, this part isn't that hard - he tends to hide ON things, bright spark that he is), the yowling trip to the vet, and Maggie's channeling of Freddie Kruger/rabid mountain lion as soon as the vet even looks at her don't make for a fun time.  And I don't blame Mags for protesting - there are needles (in the bladder as well - ugh) and other nastiness, including the most dreaded part of all - The Nail Trim, which Maggie seems to equate with the amputation of a limb.  It's equally terrifying for Thomas, but he just shuts down - the vet could wrap him in bandages and hang him upside down by his tail and he wouldn't complain.  But it doesn't mean he's enjoying himself.

    So - it's stressful.  And I'm the one that brought them, so I should be The Enemy.

    But as soon as we get home, and they are out of their cages, life immediately returns to normal.  They wander around surveying their world as per usual, even walking calmly back into the dreaded transport crates on their own, completely unphased by their recent trauma.  I'm not held accountable (at least I don't think so).  Cat-life goes on as normal.  Whatever horrors just happened, it seems like they've just let them go.

    I had a difficult day at work Friday.  I'm not going into the details - it's a combination of the landscape changing in a way that I'm not looking forward to, a reminder that the "you can lead a horse to water" proverb is frustratingly true, and a few other disappointments and frustrations.   I've been carrying it around with me all weekend, but looking over at Thomas snoozing happily on the couch, I realize I've just got to let it go.

    These are things that are out of my control.

    Just let 'em go.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Goodbye Kate

    Kate McGarrigle's death earlier this week really hit me.  It's kind of funny -   there are a lot of musicians that have been important to me and my little life that have passed on, but for some reason this one resonates more than most.  I don't know...maybe it is that there is something about Kate & Anna's music that feels so distinctly Canadian; I listen and I feel the crisp central Canadian winter, all mixed in with the warmth that their beautifully honest voices bring to everything they do.  Or in Kate's case, did.  I have had the good fortune to see the sisters perform a couple of times, and they were amazing - incredibly connected to each other, and in a bubble of their own, that's for sure - they were who they were, regardless of who was watching. 


    Monday, January 11, 2010

    There's an essay in there for someone who wants to write it....

    I went to see a couple of really strong films this weekend - Tom Ford's A Single Man, starring Colin Firth (who is looking absolutely fantastic fyi) and Crazy Heart, the new Jeff Bridges film. Both films deal with broken men - one a gay English prof in 1962 California going through the motions of a life rendered meaningless by the sudden death of his long-term partner, the other a once famous musician now incapacitated by alcohol and the crash of his career (who knows exactly which came first). You couldn't get two more different men from the outside - Colin Firth's character lives a life of absolute order (and my god what a gorgeous life to look upon - well done, Tom Ford - and well done, cinematographer and art director whose names I am too lazy to look up); Jeff Bridges leads a life of absolute disorder (unless you can call keeping your jeans unbuckled so you can pee into a jug in your truck while you drive "order"), but in both instances potential salvation comes, perhaps predictably, through a human connection. Man - sorry, I try to avoid analysis of any sort on this blog, it requires too much brain work. Forgive me - but do go see the films (if you have to choose one, go to A Single Man)

    Tuesday, January 05, 2010

    Is this what you mean by "in situ"?

    In situ being code for "under the cats".

    It's in an awkward spot to take a good photo (my dining room is really more of a wide hallway than a dining room, and I have yet to get an overhead light so the lighting is a bit of an issue), but I will try, soon.  Thankfully, I LOVE IT!! And so do the cats, unfortunately.  The pillow you catch a glimpse of on the seat below Thomas is part of the temporary cat-repellant setup (a combo of books and pillows).  The issue with the chair seats is that they are a very coarse weave that the cats will inevitably get stuck to.   Potential solution suggestions (that don't involve cat foot-binding, tempting though that is) welcome!

    Sunday, January 03, 2010

    The Bunkle goes mid-century modern???


    I am not at heart a danish modern fan (particularly not a teak fan) - but there was something about this rosewood table that just kind of felt right.  The grain and colour of the wood somehow goes back a lot further than the 60's, and the light, simple structure is kind of perfect for the very small space it will be placed in.   With leaves extended I will actually be able to seat ten.  TEN.  Better than the big fat zero I can currently seat ... and the little chairs are extremely comfortable - and come upholstered with fabric that the cats will LOVE destroying (nice coarse weave perfect for trapping cat claws).  Perfect.  I foresee more dinner parties, and more games nights, in 2010.

    Anyway, the set arrives tomorrow.  Fingers crossed it will look like it belongs.

    Friday, January 01, 2010

    Sometimes I like to feel used.

    I've been doing some cooking and things around the house today (Happy New Year by the way), under the watchful, slightly withering gaze of Miss Mags.   She doesn't get as much copy on this blog as Thomas does - quite honestly, it is because Thom is so ridiculous looking, and so damn easy to photograph.  When Thomas sees the camera, he will start to purr and roll around.  Maggie - not so much.  She will immediately glare and vacate the area - UNLESS she is putting on her uber-sweet, needy kitty act to try to get something out of me (food).  Sucking up is a skill all cats have, but some are better at it than others.

    And this is the joy of Maggie.  Unlike the sweet-natured (and slightly gormless) Thomas, she makes you work for it.  She has rules.  It doesn't mean she doesn't like hanging around with me - well, at least I assume so because she is usually lurking where ever I am when she is awake - but it also means she reserves the right to look slightly miserable while doing so (anyone with a teenager, or who has ever been a teenager, will know the look).  I know a lot of cat lovers that avoid female cats - they are commonly thought to be more intelligent and bit more...difficult... at least in comparison to the male of the species (why does that sound familiar?)  But somehow, that makes them all that much more interesting.