Friday, July 29, 2005

Set Fire to Anything
Set Fire to the Air

Music for a New Society

Back in April, I posted a kind of review of the Legacy Edition of the Clash's London Calling. Here are few comments about another favourite album, John Cale's Music for a New Society.

The AllMusic Guide describes the music as "calm, spare, and spectral" and the songs as a "handful of stories of terribly damaged lives." Finally, AMG says that this album is "Spare, understated, and perhaps a masterpiece." I agree. If there is any one album deserving of the title masterpiece, this may be it.

(I'd be curious to know what other albums people regard as masterpieces).

It's hard to say why I am drawn to an album that is so dark and even depressing. The music is ambient in a haunting and occasionally frightening way. To my ears, there is something unsettling about the composition. Perhaps because of that, I listen to other Cale albums more frequently, albums like Paris 1919, Fear, Slow Dazzle, and Helen of Troy. Perhaps the musical enjoyment is circumscribed by the intensity of the listening experience.

It has always irritated me that Lou Reed, another of my favourite musicians, is far more famous than Cale, Reed's co-founder of the Velvet Underground. Sure, I like Reed's music, but John Cale is a musician and not a pop star. If anything perplexes me it is that Cale sees himself as living in Reed's shadow. He even mentions Lou Reed in the first paragraph of his autobiography.

Some John Cale links:

1) Official site
2) John Cale Homepage
3) Fear is a Man's Best Friend
4) Wikipedia

"Roll up the history books, burn the chairs
Set fire to anything, set fire to the air
They're riding to begin and running at the end
'Cause mama said, you take your life in your hands"

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Save me from the Music in my Head

This post grew out of a comment I left on Scritture.

I am sure that most of you have had a song or an advertising jingle stuck so firmly in your head that you feared nothing would ever get it out. I hate it when that happens, especially when I hate the song. For the last four years, or so, I have found that I have had various children's songs running through my head and it is driving me crazy.

I have almost given in to the idea that I will never get these songs out of my head. At work, I find that I am considering some obtuse thing, or have been asked an interesting question, and then I realize that I have a Wiggles song in my head or the jingle to one of many children's TV shows (Arthur, George Shrinks, Dora the Explorer, Franklin -- at least that theme song is sung by Bruce Cockburn and isn't too bad). Maybe I can't fight it.

After all, my dad is a huge ABBA fan and so if I ever wanted a ride anywhere as a teenager (and that included drives to the cottage), I was forced into listening to bad Swedish pop. For a period of 2 years, I had Hell's Bells by AC/DC in my head, and I wasn't even a fan.

My major fear is that I will start singing it out loud, either causing me to be fired or committed.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wal-Mart, Pick-up Joint No More

After only one month, the Wal-Mart in Roanoke, Virginia has cancelled it's Friday singles shopping night. Single shoppers displayed a red bow on their carts to let other shoppers know that they were available.

As well, "flirt points" were set up in the store. I wonder if there were flirt points by the condoms?

I am not going to make any jokes about Wal-Mart customers. And, I have no answer to one Virginia shopper's question: "Where can someone over 40 who doesn't smoke or drink or go to bars meet someone?" In Virginia? I have no idea.

I am not sure that Wal-mart was the best retailer for such an experiment. I would say that a reasonably upscale grocery store would be a better choice or maybe even a Laundromat or possibly a public library. Who knows?

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Confession Number 1

In my pre-adolescent days I listened to KISS. I owned their records, knew the lyrics to most songs, and could name the members while most of my friends would refer to them as the Cat or the guy that spits blood.

There were some signs that indicated that I should not be listening to them. They were, even to my young ears, misogynistic. Later, I realized that the music was remarkably one-dimensional, some of it insipid, and most of it generally pointless. Of course, the worst offence was Beth. I realize that some of you may have sentimental attachments to that song. The truth is that I enjoyed many slow dances back in high school to that song. But, let's face the fact that this song will not be remembered as an important song or as seminal song writing, although I bet it led to the spilling of semen on a few occasions - get it: seminal ... semen.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Only Three Weeks Left :-(

My twelve weeks of parental leave are almost up, and I'll be heading back to work soon. That will give me more time to blog and visit other blogs :-) I have learned that I would be happy if I never have to work again. Who needs it? Those lottery winners who keep their jobs are nuts.

My four year old daughter loves to paint, and so we have spent some time doing that. This is my latest attempt (it may be hard to see the streaks of red, blue, and yellow).

I would have posted hers, but she is much better than me.

It's acrylic on matte board (we ran out of canvas).

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

What is Your Favourite Song?

I have a theory that, as people age, they no longer have a favourite song. Instead, they have songs that they like, but it becomes increasingly difficult to have one favourite. That's true of me. When I was a teenager, I carried a top ten list in my head. Perhaps it was from having listened to all of those countdowns for the end of year, end of decade, and end of millennium, end of whatever. It's hard enough for me to list a top ten fav singers/bands.

Do you have a favourite song? Tell me what it is. I want to know.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Reality TV Redux

As if Dancing With the Stars is not enough, we now have So You Think You Can Dance. Oddly, only one is a Fox show.

I've read that dance instructors in Toronto have seen a boom unheralded since Saturday Night Fever. This new trend probably assures that ball room dancing will soon be a be an Olympic sport. This is not to say that I hate dancing. I just think that reality TV and dancing don't mix.

Which reminds me that I saw a few minutes of that show with the Jenner kids and David Foster (I'd look it up, but I am too lazy). I never knew that it would be possible, but they have ripped off the Simple Life, another show from the brilliant minds at Fox. That show sucks.

I just want to say that I'd be happy to star in a show like that, but I am far too poor. I think a reality show about librarians is long overdue, especially since we are so misunderstood. If anyone at Fox is listening, give me a call.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Penile Recommendations

Some spam I really love, like this one:
Have you ever wanted to impress your girl? Now you could grant your wish! Be realistic ? you always wanted it! Try SPUR-M now! Use this tab regularly and you'll have the best sex!
And in the same day:
You gape for ejaculating like you had seen in porno films? I am sure it was! This successful product is created especially for you, guys! Use this tab regularly and you'll have the best sex! Worried it won't work?
Both had links to different URLs. Both carried the subject line "Penile Recommendations." Both were obviously written by someone with an unparalleled mastery of the English language.

I have said before that there is no way I would ever purchase anything that was advertised to me via spam, especially anti-spam software advertised to them via spam! That makes no sense at all.

Who buys products that they have heard about via spam? I really want to know how these jokers make money.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

The Answer

Sorry to take so long to give you the answer. The answer is ... the parrot.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

12 Random Facts about my Grandmother

One thing on this list is not true.

1) she reuses toilet paper (she hangs it on the side of the sink to dry)
2) she is 86 years old
3) she buys her dresses & shoes and lawn sales and thrift shops
4) she is independently wealthy
5) she was a grandmother at 37
6) she was a great grandmother at 57
7) she could be a great great grandmother, but I can't prove it at the moment
8) she had a shotgun wedding
9) she has a pet parrot that is 47 years old
10) she has two artificial knees and one artificial hip
11) she sleeps in a reclining lounge chair
12) she used to drown kittens when she & my grandfather owned a farm

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Friday, July 15, 2005

An Actual Conversation with a Fellow Cyclist on Bloor Street Today

At a red light, he turned around:

guy: "The water fell out of my hand."

me: "Water? I didn't see it."

Light turns green, but I am pinned in by cars and garbage cans and newspaper boxes.

guy: "It got away from me."

me: "Oh yeah?"

guy: "Some people will chase after you if you litter." He makes running motions with his arms. "They get in your face."

me: "Oh yeah?"

guy: "I had to punch a guy out once. I tossed a Coke can at a garbage cab and missed, and a guy yelled: 'put that in the garbage!' and he chased after me. I had to kick him."

I see an opening and start making my way around.

me: "You should have put it in the recycling bin." (OK, so I didn't say that, but I wanted to).

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tom Cruise is Nuts, and here's the website to prove it. If you like that, be sure to visit

I can't explain it, but just as I was writing that, I had this thought:

I feel sorry for any bird saddled with the words "lesser" of "common," like the Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, the Lesser Flamingo, the Lesser Bird-of-Paradise, the Common Bristlebill or the Common Gull. How drab and boring for them.

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Monday, July 11, 2005

Get off the Stage, a Late Live8 Post

If I have to hear The Who's Who Are You one more time, I may well go completely insane. Who needs The Who? Who Cares? Who Gives a Shit? Now, those are three albums The Who should have recorded. Why did they (and I mean the Live8 organizers) have to drag out the old washed-up acts whose only future prospects are concerts at Casinos?

I only saw about 30 minutes of Live8 - and maybe I saw the worst 30 minutes - but I can tell you that I was not impressed with what I saw. My viewing commenced with Our Lady Peace butchering a Leonard Cohen song. I'm sorry if I have offended the fans of Our Lady Peace (I know who you are).

It's not about age; it's about musical credibility. Neil Young still has it. Bruce Cockburn does too. But, certainly not The Who, a band, CG reminded me, who has released no new music in over twenty years. And, Elton John's best years, if one can apply the adjective best to anything Elton John has ever done, ended in 1975. I won't even start on Madonna et al.

I know there were some good moments, but U2 with Paul McCartney wasn't one of them.

(A spider just walked across my monitor screen - actually, he's hovering over Our Lady Peace).

So, I'm thinking that there ought to be a movement to ban certain songs from any public performance. If you want to hear Satisfaction, buy or download it. The Stones should be forced into retirement. And, thank God the Eagles have packed it in.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

I Want to Strangle Franklin The Turtle and Elliot Moose too

I am sick of Franklin, that sniveling little reptile featured in books published by Kids Can Press. OK, so the books had good reviews at the beginning, but I think this turtle's time has come. After all, the books are no longer written by the originating authors, and I think they might have run out of ideas. Since it is unlikely that anyone will listen to me and make turtle soup out of Franklin, I will offer two suggestions.

1) rename all of the books "Franklin Learns a Lesson" since that is what happens in most stories.
2) make Franklin a teenager, so that they can move of to new story ideas, like "Franklin Gets Laid" or "Franklin Gets an STD."

Of course, since there seems only to be one family of each species in that crazy village, it would mean either incest or bestiality (or maybe that would interspecies sex, since they are already beasts).

Oh, and one other thing would make me happy, and that is a new book about Elliot called "Elliot's Funeral." Then, they could change the insipid theme song from "Elliot Moose is on the Loose" to this far more interesting and satisfying lyric:

"Elliot Moose is in a Noose."

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Out of Town

I am out for town for the rest of the week. If I had been more with it, I would have lined up some guest bloggers. Maybe next time.

P.S. Friday is my two year blogging anniversary. Whoopee!

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Go Fly a Kite: some reflections on my childhood

After being unable to get it up a few weeks back, I flew a kite yesterday for the first time in my life. With my kite virility restored, I once again reflected on how having children has allowed me to revisit my own childhood and even to correct some shortcomings, like flying a kite. Another shortcoming was a lack of stories and books.

Surprisingly, I had no books as a child. Perhaps this is why I became a librarian (and, no, I do not sit in some quiet corner and read all day long - that would be an idyllic librarian job, and I think it does not exist). I do not clearly remember bedtime rituals, but I know that there were no bedtime stories. I must have been sent off to bed with a smack on the ass.

I sifted through the piles of childhood stuff that my mother sold at successive law sales, and there were no books. There were toys, lots and lots of plastic toys - most of which took batteries and made high pitched noises - but no books. And, my parents did not have library cards. My mother read. Around her living room chair were ashtrays, Harlequin Romances, and stacks of True Romance magazines.

On the only bookshelf in the house there was a copy of The Happy Hooker, a dictionary, a hymn book, a bible that had long ago fallen to pieces, and a few National Geographic magazines. I also recall a copy of Lorna Dune and a book about growing peas.

Having a child has meant that I have read a good number of picture books (many of them dozens of times). I have just started Alice In Wonderland for the first time. Better late than never, I suppose.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

I Met the Fonz

It's true and also a little known fact that I met Henry Winkler at the height of his popularity. It was the very late 1970s and Henry was known the world over as that great character actor who played Arthur Fonzerelli on Happy Days. I wish someone would explain to me why the concept of the Fonz seemed to work back then, but the idea of it now seems so unbelievably ridiculous.

He came to our school. One person asked if he could have his autograph and Arthur said no, because then he would have to give everyone his autograph. And then, a sexually precocious pre-teen...well, she may have be 13, said: "can I have a kiss?" And, Fonzie gave her what looked like a deep French kiss, the bastard.

I shook his hand on his way out the door.

Have you met anyone famous?

Happy Canada Day.

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