Thursday, September 28, 2006

New Life

Baby Tom

I'm a big softie, really. Yes, despite my prediliction for rammy music (many thanks to Dearest mjrc for adding that word to my lexicon), I'm a sentimental fool. I cry during movies - I'm talking brimming eyes, mind you, not big, bawly sobs. But still, most unmanly behaviour. What turns on my tap? John Merrick lying down to sleep in The Elephant Man; Rutger Hauer's dying speech in Blade Runner; the love story between Ralph/Bernadette and Bob the mechanic in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; the final exchange between Joel and Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Dumbo's separation from his mother in, well, Dumbo. You see, I'm a big girl's blouse.

I'm particularly sentimental when it comes to newborns. It probably has a tremendous amount to do with the memories and emotional afterimages of the unbounded, exhilarating joy that coursed through me at the precise moments my own two children were born. To me there is nothing as wondrous and deserving of celebration than a new life. So you can imagine how thrilled and misty-eyed I was at the news that Dearest S, one of our closest friends from England, gave birth just about a week ago to wee Baby Tom. Apparently the birth went smoothly and was about as au naturel as one could expect. And I'm happy to deploy the cliche that mother and baby are doing just fine.

Baby Tom has landed himself in a most wonderful, loving family that includes Daddy A, Big Brother F, Older Sisters E & S, a vivacious Maternal Gramdmother, and a Maternal Grandfather who is both the very model of a modern Major General (Ret.) and a keen Rolling Stones fan. Tom arrived at his family down a long, convoluted, and at times bumpy road of the heart. But arrive he did, and we are all so happy that he has.

Baby Tom's birthdate bodes well for his future musical taste, as he shares it with the incomparable Leonard Cohen, Oasis bad boy Liam Gallagher, and Motörhead drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor. Oh, yeah! And so to get him started with a suitable soundtrack:

Motörhead - Ace of Spades (buy here)
Oasis - Supersonic (buy here)
Leonard Cohen - First We Take Manhattan (buy here)

And for Maternal Grandfather:

Rolling Stones - Get Off Of My Cloud (buy here)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just The Ticket(s)!

Photo courtesy of Treemeat

Dear Friends, for the price of admission today you get a whole funfair full of wonderful music. So roll up, and prepare yourself for a post full of exhilarating and cheap thrills!

First up, congratulations are due to Heidi, who, thanks to the random finger of fate and a strategically scheduled Greek wedding, is the winner of the "Buy My Sufjan Tix At Cost" contest. She also came up with a rather nifty song title that made me giggle: "Come On! In the Year of the Dog, Let's All Boogey to Workhorses Sufjan and Shara (The Pick-Up line)." If ever Mr Stevens's titular well should run dry, I'm certain Heidi would come running to the rescue with full pails. Heidi, I hope you'll enjoy boogieing to the workhorses. To everyone else who participated, a big thank you (and my commiserations).

I had been feeling somewhat bereft, since putting the Sufjan tickets up for grabs had left me with no upcoming gigs to which I could look forward. Yes, my concertscape was arid and barren. But today I got myself down to Zulu Records and sorted that all out by getting tickets to see The Detroit Cobras on 16 October. Oh yeah, I'm looking forward to a night of dirty garage blues. To be honest, it's lo-fi, hi-octane opening band The King Khan & BBQ Show that I'm really keen to see; I missed their last Vancouver shows, which by all accounts were outta control scorchers, and I'm therefore hoping to make full-on amends.

BBQ - Justify (buy here or e-here)
One half of the KK&BBQ Show, BBQ is the current nom de rawk of Mark Sultan, a fine purveyor of rough-n-ready, gritty, rockapunkabilly R&B.

The Detroit Cobras
- Shout Bama Lama (buy here or e-here)
They've been called "just a cover band" by certain uncharitables, but the stuff they cover (The Oblivians?!?!!) is, as the kids would say, da shizz, and they do it with garagey aplomb!

Moving along, it's Tuesday and therefore you would be safe in presuming that it's Contrast Podcast day. This week Dearest Tim has given us all a lovely present to celebrate Contrast's six-month birthday: a podcast consisting entirely of musicians introducing their own creations. How wonderful! Much more delish than jelly, ice cream, and cake, and waay more fun than pin-the-tail or pass-the-parcel. This is definitely a fantastic carnival of sound that you must must must visit! Do so by downloading the podcast using this direct link or subscribe using the RSS feed:

Oh heck, let me unwrap this gift for you - here's the playlist

(00:50) Mancino - Hetchie Hutchie Foochie
Mancino on myspace

(04:44) Earwig - Used Kids
Earwig on myspace

(08:59) Hong Kong Cinema - Good Thing
Hong Kong Cinema on myspace

(12:34) Das Mobius - Ligeia (CP Edit)
Das Mobius website

(17:00) Marianne Dissard - L’Embellie
Marianne Dissard on myspace

(20:39) The Harvey Girls - Screech Beatle
The Harvey Girls on myspace

(25:17) Gabriela Kulka - An Orange
Gabriela Kulka on myspace

(28:24) Country Cliff - Chimbley Wind
Country Cliff on myspace

(34:50) Gypsophile - Marthe
Gypsophile on myspace

(38:42) Desert Waltz - You My Sister
Desert Waltz website

(43:19) Goes Cube - Goes Cube Song 34
Goes Cube on myspace

(48:36) Saturna - Pop Rocks
Saturna on myspace

(53:20) Naïm Amor - Son Grand Sourire
Naïm Amor on myspace

(58:07) Victor Scott - Mareel (exclusive recording)
Victor Scott on myspace

Next week's theme is songs with a political bent, so exercise yer democratic rights and submit an appropriate song with spoken intro to

And both finally and gratuitously, for some reason my empeethree player seems to be full of eighties synthpop at the moment. Don't diss it, Dearest Friends - at it's best it's powerfully evocative, emotive stuff! Here, have a listen:

Depeche Mode - Dreaming of Me (buy here)
Siouxie & the Banshees - Dazzle (buy here)
Berlin - The Metro (buy here)

P.S. The lovely Natsthename also had an 80s moment a few days back right over here - and she podcasted it as well!! Hurrah!

So there you have it, Dearest Friends, a day at the funfair. I hope you feel you got your money's worth.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Godzilla vs Chilliwack vs The Squealing Pigmobile

Well, Dear Friends, my presentation was duly delivered on Thursday and I live to tell the tale. I was rather petrified to start with - I always am, even though I've had a fair amount of experience doing these sort of things. However, I neither crashed, nor burned, nor was forced to resort to the Parrot Sketch (though I did stick a Dr Evil picture up on one PowerPoint slide). The audience seemed to appreciate my talk, though I always find it hard to judge these matters. As far as I can tell, no-one nodded off, and a few came up afterwards to complement me. Best of all, I was the first speaker, so after my ordeal I was at liberty to enjoy the rest of the conference, free of fret.

I say "enjoy," but truth be told the subject matter didn't lend itself much to that. The two days were replete with words and phrases like "stochastic," "transfer pricing," "yield curve," "hard landing," and "risk-adjusted return on economic capital." Dry stuff indeed. What I did enjoy, however, was the schmoozing. I always enjoy the opportunity at these things to meet new folks, and most of the attendees were rather friendly. Indeed, they had converged on Vancouver from all over the province of British Columbia, and some I found hard to believe were in the banking business. At dinner on Thursday I sat next to one chap who looked and sounded like he should be out sawing logs rather than sorting out finances. In fact, I couldn't help but wonder whether, clad in jeans and a plaid shirt, he was an ex-member of BC's premier soft power rock gods, Chilliwack (Watch the video! Gasp in awe!! Admire the mullets!!!). Actually, everyone I met was refreshingly down-to-earth and I learned scads about my adopted province. Did you know the downtown of Smithers in Bulkley Valley is done up in an alpine theme to honour the Swiss immigrants who settled in this mountainous region during the early 1900s? Neither did I.

The conference was held at a downtown Vancouver business hotel, identical to the many others of its ilk I stayed in around he world when I worked in London (a lifetime ago in my mind, a mere eighteen months ago in real time). Same floorplan, same bed, same TV, same everything. Comfortable, well appointed, homogenized. Whenever I stayed in one I would always open the curtains and press myself against the glass, scanning the cityscape to remind myself where I was. Sometimes, even when faced with the Eiffel Tower or the Acropolis, I would need to remind myself it was real, and not something projected onto a huge screen.

This time, however, I didn't need to look out the window. I was rushing to unpack in time to make an evening reception and opened a drawer to put away my clothes. There, nestled next to the ubiquitous Gideon's Bible, was an orange-jacketed book entitled "The Teachings of Buddha," placed there courtesy of the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism. Only in Vancouver, I thought to myself.

The Pogues - If I Should Fall From Grace With God (buy here)
Shane's last real coherent outing with the group. Dedicated here to Mentok on the occasion of the nifty relaunch of his multifaceted blog.

While making my way back to my room after Thursday's session, I saw several score Asian men wearing military uniforms. I couldn't readily discern their provenance, though the fact that some had patches relating to American aircraft meant that they were unlikely to be Chinese. I got into the lift and was joined by about a dozen of them. After listening to their banter, I still could not determine their nationality, but my curiosity had been piqued. So after sprucing myself up I went back down to the lobby to sort out a logistical matter with the concierge. I asked him if he knew who all the soldiers were, and he told me that they were Japanese Self Defence Force troops enjoying a bit of rest & relaxation after a training exercise across the border in Yakima, Washington. I fear childhood memories of Saturday afternoons watching old Toho Studios monster movies came flooding back, and I had visions of the soldiers sweeping across the training fields of Fort Lewis towards a roaring, rubbery Godzilla...

Mikabomb - Contact Tokyo (buy here)
"Better change your underpants / 'cause you might need an ambulance." Howzat for an opening line from this London-based, trashy glam buzzsaw garage band fronted by the lovely Mika Handa.?? They suffered a bit of a setback lost year when drummer Ergi lost his legs due to complications from septicaemia, but Mikabomb are on the way back - promise!!

Finally tonight, an update on my skid in the Squealing Pigmobile. You may recall from previous posts that this vehicle is actually my Dearest Father-In-Law's second car, which he graciously allows me to use when Dearest Wife has dibs on our own car (which is most of the time). Anyway, I got a call from him at work on Wednesday afternoon after Dearest Wife had relayed to him my little adventure. "I should have told you," he said, "it does that." Apparently Pigmobile is rear-wheel drive and front-heavy, which makes it prone to swishing its tail in the wet, especially when pushed. Of course this made me real confident about driving the brute later on that evening in torrential rain to the hotel downtown. But as you can see, I made it there and back, though I did drive like a petrified granny. Since then Dearest Pa-In-Law has fitted the Pigmobile with four spiffy, hi-tech, Finnish tyres that should, no matter what the conditions, glue it to the tarmac and keep its arse on the straight & narrow. Still, I'm taking my skid's lessons to heart and will henceforth continue to drive more like a granny.

Catatonia - Road Rage (buy here)
Ah, Cerys Matthews, how your voice moves me. I'm glad to see you seem to be doing much better these days. I hope the solo tour goes well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Of Clapping and Crashing

Right, this week I think I have it sorted: Contrast Podcast 25 came out today, and here it is, fresh and ripe for your delectation. The theme is "Handclapping" and Tim has assembled a grand podcast comprised of the happy clappy songs submitted by this week's contributors.

The 'cast can be downloaded from this link or you can subscribe using tye handy-dandy RSS feed: Be sure to check out next week's offering - it's CP's six-month birthday, and Tim has a surprise for us all...

And without further ado, this episode's playlist [APPLAUSE]:

(00:00) The Ventures - Let’s Go
Tim from the face of today

(02:55) They Might Be Giants - Clap your hands
Clea and Tuesday from (sm)all ages

(04:35) Imperial Teen - Baby
Matt from Earfarm

(08:15) The Residents - Smack your lips (clap your teeth)
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(12:33) The Meters - The handclapping song
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(15:48) Super XX Man - Coulee city
Murf from False45th

(20:45) Tilly and the Wall - Fell down the stairs
SAS Radio

(23:34) Mary Timony - I fire myself
Victoria from Muruch

(26:45) The Afghan Whigs - Debonair
Bethanne from CTASLS

(31:28) Hood - The negatives
Chip from

(35:20) The Replacements - Alex Chilton
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(38:54) OK Go - You’re so damn hot
Heather from I am fuel, you are friends

(42:03) The Auteurs - Bailed Out
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(46:20) Eskiimo - Patience
Jamie from

(50:20) Boat - Holding all the globes
Rachel from Untitled

(52:17) Ndidi Onukwulu - May be the last time, I don’t know
FiL from Pogoagogo

Before I give you my also-rans (come now, I know you expect them and would be put out were I to omit them), allow me to plug my choice of artist once again in print. When I pootled along to the Vanvcouver Folk Music Festival earlier this year, you may recall that top of my "Must See" list were Feist, the smartass agit-folk of Hammell on Trial and Dan Bern, and dub-punk priestess Ari Up (who sadly was a no-show). But it was the slender, elegant frame of Ndidi channeling elemental blues from somewhere deep within who was to prove my epiphany. Backed by the gitarr-pickin' Madagascar Slim (isn't that the greatest blues name ever??), she is truly magnificent. Keep an eye (and ear) on her. And here's another track that'll knock yer socks off:

Ndidi Onukwulu - Water (buy her album here or e-here)

Alright, alright, keep your shirt on (but the socks can stay off), I'm coming to the runners-up. Though Ndidi was the obvious choice, a few other songs with the clap got a look-in, viz:

Sham 69 - If The Kids Are United (buy here)
Ah, spare a thought for this working-class hero of a ditty, co-opted by Tony Blair as the entrance song for the 2005 Labour Party Conference. Does that mean Tony, Gordon, John et al think they're in with da kidz?!?? Ye gods...

The Cure - Close To Me (buy here)
I'm thinking of dressing up as Robert Smith for Halloween. That should send the neighbourhood kiddies scuttling away in fear...

Le Tigre - Deceptacon (buy here)
I actually prefer the DFA remix, but regardless, this song has some killer lyrics: "I'm a gasoline girl with a vaseline mind," "Your lyrics are dumb like a linoleum floor"

From clapping to crashing. Well, near-crashing, to be precise. You see, Dear Friends, I had a bit of a scare this morning. I had just saddled up the Squealing Pigmobile for the drive to work and was waiting to make a left turn onto a main road. I started my turn, but my underpowered porker of a steed was proving sluggish, so I squeezed down on the accelerator. However, I neglected to remark that the previous night's rain was sitting on top of tarmac polished slick by three months of summer. And so the tyres planed, the Pigmobile skidded, and everything went slo-mo.

The car's snout aimed for a line of traffic, but with a calmness I'm yet to understand I steered into the skid and avoided a collision. But in so doing I overcompensated and began to fishtail, now heading towards the sidewalk. Again I steered surprisingly cooly, the tyres gripped, and the Pigmobile resumed its intended, straight course. I then turned into a sidestreet, pulled over, and tried to reflect objectively on what went wrong as a delayed shot of adrenaline coursed through me.

Ohmigaaaahddd...!! That, Dearest Friends, was a close one. I'm glad to be here still...

The Primitives - Crash (buy here)

On crashing of another kind, day after tomorrow I'm speaking at a conference put on by my employer. While I know the material sufficiently and the audience somewhat, my dread is mounting; I have visions of getting up at the podium and going "Good Morning, my name is FiL and I'll be speaking with you about... er... um... agblapthtapt... I mean... croak... heh heh... mlxphutpthirple... koff koff... er, you folks want to see me do the Dead Parrot sketch instead??" Oh well, it'll only be 45 minutes of dog-and-pony showing. But you can bet that at 8:30 AM Pacific Time I will be sweating profusely and panicking quietly...

The Smiths - Panic (buy here)

And so, Friends, Dear Friends, and Dearest Friends, to bed. You'll probably not see much of me now before this week-end due to the conference and its associated evening social activities (don't get too excited, I doubt they will be exhilarating). Keep well, I shall miss you all.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Look What I Found While Cleaning Up!

For some time now I have been receiving a steady stream of e-mails from labels, promoters, bands, and artistes, each one extolling the myriad virtues of their latest oeuvres. However, I have been terribly remiss in going through them all - this bothersome thing called "offline life" keeps intruding. But this weekend I actually sifted through some of the backlog and listened to a whole slew of rather nifty, new music. Well, I found most of it rather nifty. To be totally honest, some of it struck me as rather pedestrian, and a clutch of it I thought was downright cringeworthy. But dwelleth we not on the pedestrian and cringeworthy - life is far too short. Instead, let me focus on a few tracks that, I'm pleased to say, stood proud from the crowd.

Despite their Quebecois roots, the francophone members of Harvee sing largely in English. Criff de tabarnouche mautadine! However, to date most of their publicity has been in French. Truth be told, methinks they deserve to be praised in each and every language spawned since that darn Tower of Babel came crashing down. Harvee spin wonderfully evocative, urgent pop perfection that soars and swoops from your speakers. As it flies around, you hear much that is familiar - angular-jangular Futureheadsian or Wedding Presentish guitar licks, some Go! Team shoutiness, a reedy 198os Casiotone synth line, harmonies worthy of The Beach Boys, and are those really the bells from The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping??" But put it all together and it sounds so upliftingly gorgeous and fresh that it'll make you fit to burst with joy.

Harvee - Father Was A Gambler
(EDIT: Now dedicated to Colleen cuz she's feeling glum. Cheer up, m'dear!!)

Harvee - Hiding Julia

(Buy their album, "Sink or Swim," directly from the band here)

Snowden grabbed my ears with their epic, reverby, guitar-driven sound. The funny feeling I get in my chest listening to "Anti-Anti" is akin to the ache that seizes my heart each time I hear Killing Joke's "Love Like Blood" or "Ceremony" by New Order. And the relentlessly compelling cadence evokes Gang of Four. Their lyrics leak beautiful anomie and disillusionment: "We are anti-movements, we are anti-anti / One time we believed but now we don't even try / And I can't cut a rug, without my fashion drugs / Inebriation leads revelation." Oh, this is so coldly glorious!

Snowden - Anti-Anti (Buy from the label here or virtually here)

And herewith some of those reference points I mentioned. Just so you can see whence I am coming.

Wedding Present - California (buy here)
OK, last Weddoes track for some time. Promise. I hear the Armadillos in Cali are lovely ;)
Beach Boys - Help Me Rhonda (buy here)
Killing Joke - Love Like Blood (buy here)
Gang of Four - Damaged Goods (buy here)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oh You Hellenes, Your Scheduling Leaves Much To Be Desired!!

Dear Friends, I'm starting the week with a juicy offer. Indeed, it's a veritable blue light special...

You see, I must part with my pair of tickets to the sold-out Sufjan Stevens / My Brightest Diamond show on Saturday, 14 October at St Andrews Wesley Church in Vancouver. I'm not at all thrilled to be giving these up, but subsequent to purchasing them Dearest Wife and I were invited to a close friend's Big Fat Greek Wedding on that same night. In fact, it looks like I will be DJing the event. So the Hellenes win out over poor Sufjan - endaxi!

Now I realise I could eBay these tix, but my conscience is still guilty from the time I made an unexpected and exorbitant profit via that route from a pair Tom Waits tickets that I had to offload both at short notice and with a heavy heart. I'm therefore prepared to part with the Sufjan tickets at cost, i.e. $54 for the pair, plus the $5 processing fee I paid, plus (if necessary) postage. Those are little Canadian dollars, by the way.

If you are interested in buying the tickets, please send me an e-mail at lefilATpoboxDOTcom entitled "Sufjan Tix" and including a Sufjan-esque song title of your own making (e.g. "Hark, Vancouverites! FiL's Loss Is Your Gain!") that describes why you want them. I will pick a lucky punter at random from all valid entries, and together we will sort out payment and delivery methods. Deadline for all mails is Monday, 25 September, and please don't try to buy them off me at a higher price. I've got all that Tom Waits bad karma to try and erase!

Hurry up folks, get them while they're still going...

Sufjan Stevens - Lakes of Canada
(Live @ Judson College, IL, 19/11/03)

My Brightest Diamond - When Doves Cry (Live @ Joes Pub, 14/7/06)

Gorge yourself on Sufjan here and dine on My Brightest Diamond here

Friday, September 15, 2006

Contrast Goes To The Movies

Oh dear, I'm a bit late this week, I fear. This week's Contrast Podcast came out as usual on Tuesday, but here I am drawing your attention to it on Friday...

This week's theme was Entrance Music for a Film, where contributors proposed mood-setting pieces for films that currently play only in the cinemas of their minds. It was proposed by Dearest Colin of the recently-defunct blog "Let's Kiss And Make Up." The mix of tracks is wonderfully diverse, but then that should no longer come as a surprise.

You can download the podcast through this direct link or you can subscribe using the requisite RSS feed:

And here's the souindtrack:

(00:00) Helm un Heik - 20th Century Fox Fanfare

(00:23) The Cocteau Twins - Fifty-fifty clown
Colin from Let’s Kiss and Make Up

(04:24) The High Violets - Cool Green
Nikki from Indie don’t dance

(08:51) +/- - Surprise
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(12:57) Erik Scott Johnston - For Candace
Cindy from Adzuki Bean Stash

(15:32) Hope of the states - The black amnesias
Simon from You can call me Betty

(21:15) 50 Foot Wave - Bug
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(25:55) Yoko Kanno - The real folk blues
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(32:27) Chet Baker - Vehicle
Tim from the face of today

(35:30) The National - All the wine
Richard from Invisible Limb

(38:54) Fields of the Nephilim - Intro (harmonica man)
Chip from

(41:22) Hawks and Snakes - Her Cooling Jets
Bethanne from CTASLS

(43:40) Dead Can Dance - Frontier
FiL from Pogoagogo

(47:30) John Barry Seven - Hideaway
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(50:23) Richard Hawley - Coles Corner
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(55:45) Bedhead - Burned Out
Merz from Mars needs guitars

Next week's theme is "Handclapping" and there's still room left, so go get yourself a song with happy, clappy handclaps in it, record a brief intro, and fire it off to

There was only one other song in contention this week, namely "Fanget i Krystal" by everyone's favourite rubber-nosed Norwegian, Mortiis. The track dates from his dark ambient phase, which fell somewhere between his black metal and darkwave periods. I hear it's eerie pootling as the backing for some sort of black-and-white German expressionist film set in a snowy, spiky-treed forest inhabited by Juddermanesque creatures.

Mortiis - Fanget i Krystal (buy here)

Beware the Judderman, my dear, when the moon is fat...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It Is All Transitory

Loch Fyne, Scotland, Easter 2005

Dear Friends, it has been an odd day. And it all centers around changes. Some made me happy, others saddened me, all reminded me of the transient nature of things. I was going to make a binary list here: good news and bad news. Upon reflection I decided, however, that I really shouldn't be judging them in that way. Things happen, and the trick is to greet them when they do and reflect on what it is one is supposed to learn from them. Even the uncomfortable ones. So I'll work on that, but in the meantime, here you go:

Dearest Colin has brought down the shutters on Let's Kiss And Make Up. He's doing so for the finest of reasons: to focus on family, work, and making the offline world a better place. I understand and respect his decision, but I will miss him, his infectious enthusiasm, his dry wit, his encyclopedic and sublime taste in music, and his wonderful heart. Yes, I'll miss both him and all that something fierce. LKAMU was one of the first blogs I ever frequented, and Colin one of my first cyber-friends. Scratch that, one of the first friends I made through blogging. Because he's real, you know (as are so many of you). So Colin, I do hope to see you around, and I wish you balance and peace. And this one's for you. No tears, no mope, just straight up righteousness.

The Redskins - Keep On Keeping On (buy here)

Uncle D & S flew back to London on Monday. It was lovely jubbly to see them again after over a year, but now they're gone I can hardly believe they were here. I miss them, as do Dearest Wife, Little Man, and Darling Daughter. So, Dearest Uncle D & S, this one's for both of you. Uncle D, this should bring the smell of latex paint to your nostrils...

Supergrass - Pumping On Your Stereo (buy here)

And Dear Coxon rocks!! You see, he's landed himself a spiffy new job and though he seems a bit daunted by the challenge of the new, he also sounds pretty darn excited. However, I do think his new employ might necessitate a spot of musical realignment. So, Coxon, here's a little something to help you on your way.

Pantera - Walk (buy here)

Dearest Ash has been pouring out heart and soul most eloquently here, and you can feel the fervour and emotion burning off the screen. I've pointed y'all there only recently, but I feel obliged to do so again. So, Ash, yes, we are all in this together. And just in case the doubt ever creeps back chez toi:

Hefner - The Sweetness Lies Within (buy here)

As I moved through the day ever so slightly out-of-focus, I frequently found snippets of a particular song playing in my mind. Now let me start by saying I find the most popular outing of this song, i.e. the one mewled by Terry Jacks in 1974, mawkishly atrocious. But the version on rotation in my head today was that performed by Daniel Johnston and his band, Hyperjinx Tricycle, with off-kilter production by Kramer. It is a wonderfully askew and mournful track that taps a well of tears deep within me.

Daniel Johnston & The Hyperjinx Tricycle - Seasons In The Sun (go here and scroll waaay down)

And finally, something for all of us to live by, Dearest Friends:

The Wedding Present - You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends (buy here)

P.S. Last night I poisoned neither Dearest Wife, nor myself. Indeed, the scallops were easy to cook and delish. Melt butter on high heat in a heavy frying pan, then fry for two minutes on each side. Then eat and go into rapture.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Today Is A Birthday

Today is Dearest Wife's actual birthday. So at great risk to us both (though also at her request), I will be cooking dinner tonight. As my culinary skills are quite rudimentary, I'm opting for the tried-and-true approach of good ingredients prepared simply. On the menu: pan-fried scallops with wilted spinach and papaya salsa. Only problem is I've never cooked scallops before. Gosh, I hope I don't f**k it up and poison us both...

On that upbeat note, Happy Birthday, Dearest Wife! I'll try my best...

The Sugarcubes - Birthday (Icelandic version) (buy here)
King Khan & BBQ Show - Fish Fight (buy here)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tempus Fugit

Goodness! Things seem to have been all go, go, go a go-go around here. Several times over the past few days I've tried to tend to the blog, but to no avail. It's been looking up at me with watery, doe eyes and trembling lower lip, whimpering pathetically for attention.

Sigh, I've slipped so... far... behind. But I will now try manfully to catch up...

GBH - Race Against Time (buy here)

Apologies for all the secrecy before the Labour Day weekend, but, as Dearest T mentioned in his comment, I was laying schemes to surprise Dearest Wife for her birthday. You see, it was a big, important one that needed to be marked, and I feared that disclosing too much on the blog might have compromised the plot. Not that Wife was checking my cyber-scribblings much during her five-week soujourn on Mayne, but you never know...

Not to bore you with the details, but I smuggled our Dear Friend Uncle D (Little Man's Godfather) & his Significant Other, S, into Vancouver the week before Labour Day, then onto Mayne for the weekend. It was worth it just to see Dearest Wife's context compass thrown all askew by seeing them march into the kitchen on the Friday afternoon - we'd not seen them since we left England some 15 months ago. Further bewilderement ensued when my two other sets of mystery guests arrived on-island: Ratgirl (old friend of Wife's from deepest, darkest Washington state) & her Sweetie, plus Forest Girl (close schoolfriend of Wife's from Vancouver Island) and her daughter. Actually, I think I may have permanently damaged the compass...

We all had a wonderful weekend - a fabulous celebratory barbecue on Saturday night (well lubricated by local brews), much noodling along shorelines and beaches, copious molesting of starfish, a tasty Lion's Club salmon BBQ on the Sunday, starlight soaks in the decrepit-but-serviceable hot tub. Oh, and the orcas came by again on Sunday evening, much to everyone's delight. I never tire of seeing those magnificent animals - it's always such a privilege.

I must admit that I also selfishly benefited from Uncle D's & S's visit. While I had them to myself for a few days before we headed over to Mayne, and once I beat my flu bug, we had a couple of fabulous nights on the town. One evening we dined at The Sandbar, where I wrestled with a whole, steamed Dungeness crab for my supper. I always find it most humbing and rather disconcerting to actually come face-to-face with and recognise what you're eating, but my crab was a noble and delicious beast - well worth the struggle and mess. Another night I fulfilled my overarching promise to all visitors and took my guests to Vij's. Another night of culinary bliss, and FAR too many Dark Armies (hic!)...

Alas, after the Labour Day weekend it was back to town and the week evolved into a maelstrom of work and back-to-school preparations for Little Man and Darling Daughter - the joys of la rentree, comme on dit en francais.

And so, that is where I've been and what I've been doing. Methinks and mehopes that this coming week will find me once again blogging a go-go. I've also been similarly negligent in doing the rounds of my favourite blogs. But two shout-outs in particular are due. First, to the Mighty Mentok whose blog has just celebrated it's first anniversary. Second, to Coxon le Woof, who recently posted a shimmytastic cover medly of "One Way Or Another/Teenage Kicks" by Brazil's own Cansei de ser Sexy. I urge you to go post haste here to check it out. And in both homage and thanks, hereunder are two separate cover versions of a Blondie track and the mighty Undertones's "Teenage Kicks." Each one rocks, in mah umble opinion...

I look forward to catching up with you all!

L7 - Hanging on the Telephone (buy here)
Thee Headcoatees - Teenage Kicks (buy here or e-here)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What? Oh, He's Back...

A brief appearance tonight, Dear Friends, but I am indeed back. Thank you so much for the kind comments on my last post- I will answer once I get back in the saddle. And though T did reveal the gist of the secret in his scribing below, I will fill in more details as soon as I can - things are hectic.

But let me break radio silence by drawing your attention to the latest Contrast Podcast. This week the theme was, quite simply, "What." The sole criterion for submission was that the song had to have said word in title. Easy 'nuff!

So here is this week's playlist, rife with the usual viriety and spice of life. You can download the podcast using this direct link or subscribe to the podcast (What?! You've not done so yet??) using the following RSS feed:

(00:00) Ramsey Lewis - Do what you wanna
Tim from the face of today

(03:16) The Buzzcocks - What do I get?
Bethanne from CTASLS

(06:35) The Blow - What Tom said about girls
Richard from Invisible Limb

(09:44) The Spin Doctors - What time is it?
Jamie from

(14:40) Suns of Arqa - What does it profit?
Colin from Let’s Kiss and Make Up

(20:15) Afro omega - watcha need
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

(23:38) Treble Charger - Just what they told me
Andrew from Circles of Concrete

(27:47) The Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield - What have I done to deserve this?
FiL from Pogoagogo

(32:46) Pink Nasty (Sara Beck) - What the fuck
Dan from Burning down the house

(35:17) Def Leppard - No Matter What
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(38:43) Mark Knopfler - What is it?
Charles from Heartache with hard work

(43:45) Dramarama - What are we gonna do?
Tom from Other People’s Toys

(48:10) Marion - What are we waiting for?
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(55:14) Hüsker Dü - What’s going on?
Bob from Gimme Tinnitus

(01:00:07) Joshua Radin - What if you
Rachel from Untitled

Next week's theme comes from the evah-so-clevah Colin of Let’s Kiss and Make Up who wants y'all to choose ‘Entrance music for a film’. To wit, if you were making your masterpiece of a film, what track would you choose for the opening sequence to set the scene? C'mon all you arty types, get all Ingmar Bergman or John Woo or Steven Spielberg or whatever and send your tracks plus spoken intros to

So, as usual, there was a process of winnowing and sifting before I settled on my submission for this week. Actually, I submitted while ill, and I must admit that The PSB plus Dusty Springfield was the right song at the right time: a wee bit self indulgent and not too hard on the digestion. Plus Dusty cures all, didn't you know? Anyway, the also-rans this week were:

The Cramps - What's Inside A Girl? (buy here or here )
Still trying to figure this out. Answers on a postcard...

The Monroes - What Do All The People Know? (find it on this)
Delish 1980s New Wave Lite. Plus a girl I was sweet on in 1984 loved this tune, especially the break at 3:39. More memories of schoolbuses to and from Manhattan...

Teenage Fanclub - What You Do To Me (buy original here or get the virtual "Best Of" here)
Further evidence that Scotland is the cultural capital of the world. As if you needed any more...

And finally, Buzzcocks almost made it with "What Do I Get?" But fear not, the lovely Bethanne, Tastemistress Extraordinaire of CTASLS, picked it as her tune. Marvellous!!