Friday, June 29, 2007

I'll Be Back Soon, Promise...

Mayne Island, Active Pass. Photo courtesy of Cheryl J.

Dearest Friends, I did indeed worm my way out of the Big Apple and am now safely back in BC. Alas, this week has been very hectic and this afternoon I'm off to glorious Mayne Island for the Canada Day loooooong weekend. So about 4PM Pacific Time, I'll be ensconsed on a ferry much like the one pictured above, munching nanaimo bars with Darling Daughter (our little tradition). All this means I'll continue to be scarce on the blogfront until next week, when I'll back in town, living the bachelor highlife while Dearest Wife and sproglets stay on on Mayne for another week.

Part of said highlife will include seeing The Tranzmitors on Saturday, 7 July. Oh yeah!! So, to tide you over until we meet again, here's another track by this fab Vancouver band:

The Tranzmitors - Nervous Breakdown (buy their 7" singles here or their debut album e-here)

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Noo Yawk Minute

Hellooooo, Dearest Friends! I'm surviving The Big Apple!!! Over one week now and I've yet to be mugged, shot, or thrown under a subway train. Only another 48 hours to go...

It has been a powerful strange eight days, and I'll give you the skinny upon my return. But right now, let me focus on a couple of unabashedly fantastic points:

First, I had a lovely time reconnecting in person with Dearest Bishakh, both on the cruise and the following evening chez lui, where he plied me with delish ale (in particular a luurvely framboise lambic) and divine cheese (especially a scrummy Gres de Vosges, at least I think that's what it was). On top of that, I got to spend time with his Dearest J and their mate N, who's the nicest skin you could possibly hope to meet!!

Second, I met up with Dearest Colleen and Dearest Bryce at their DJ soiree at the wonderfully cozy Last Exit Bar & Grill! Yaay!! Yes, I tore away the veil of blogdom and I'm happy to report that my view was confirmed: both are wonderful folks and absolutely splendid DJ selectors. Oh, and Colleen has fantabulous tastes in videos, while Bryce gives lovely hugs!! So go visit their respective blogs here and here.

And music, sweet, sweet music. Well, since we're still in a kind of a retro frame of mind, here's a digital rip of a 7" single that I, er, um, liberated from my college radio station back in 1988. I don't know exactly what it is, but "Just Like Hemingway" has exactly the right combo of electro-synth and arty (overwrought?) lyrics that made me feel nostalgic for I-dunno-what the very first time I heard it. Blue Clocks Green were active in the New York area from 1984 to 1990, but never met with breakthrough success. Last year saw promises of an album in 2007 from a successor group, Tripp Finn, but so far they appear to remain unfulfilled. Oh well...

Blue Clocks Green - Just Like Hemingway (you can try to buy here)

I hope you are all keeping well, Dearest Friends, and I look forward to resuming normal-ish service sometime next week or possibly the next!

P.S. Fancy a trip to the Antarctic? Then head over to Contrast Podcast to hear this week's episode!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

21 Years On

You can see my high school. Thanks andy in nyc!

Dearest Friends, I'm off. Yes, FiL is going back to the old house; on Thursday I'm jetting off to the town where I was born, Noo Yawk Siddy. Now some of you know that I don't really have much love for the Big Apple. Indeed, though I grew up in New York, I am not a New Yorker. I gladly left behind the in-yer-faceness, the noise, the rush, the dirt, the crush some twenty-one years ago, when I graduated from high school.

But you see, that's precisely why I'm going back now. For it is my my twenty-first high school reunion on Friday.

Yes, I'm off to see what more than a score of years has wrought amongst the Class of 1986. Of course any visitation to one's past comes with a spot of trepidation. Old memories of youthful awkwardness are awoken. Uncertainty lurks as to how old interactions will be reflected in present ones. But I must admit that I'm looking forward to the evening, and seeing how my cohort has progressed, evolved, changed. There will be a harcore of folks with whom I will delight in catching up, particularly Dearest Bishakh (though I last saw him some three, and not three times seven, years ago). I am also looking forward to seeing Mr Banton, my beloved English teacher, who is retiring this year and is in large part to blame for enabling me to generate the screed that I slap up here on this virtual wall. And I have awfully fond memories of my high school; it was a wonderful place with an internationally and culturally diverse set of students and faculty that made the place hum and buzz.

My ace-in-the-hole, or insurance policy, if you will, is that we will be spending most of the night on a booze cruise around Manahttan. So if the unthinkable happens and it turns into a dreadful bore Bishakh and I can hole up somewhere with a bottle and watch the skyline slip past while the DJ rocks da beatz.

Speaking of music, I thought it only fitting to offer up twenty-one tracks that instantly send me back through a time/space vortex to the mid-1980s. Dearest Friends, these choonz helped form the soundtrack of my teens, and I offer no apologies if the odd song seems cheezy or cringeworthy. Each makes me salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs over a Proustian madeleine...

China Crisis - Working With Fire And Steel (buy here)

Blancmange - That's Love, That It Is (buy here)

The Cure - In Between Days (buy here)

Adam Ant - Goody Two-Shoes (buy here)

Specials AKA - Free Nelson Mandela (buy here)

Madness - Wings of a Dove (buy here)

The Beat - Hands Off... She's Mine (buy here)

The Monroes - What Do All The People Know? (buy here)

B52s - Strobe Light (buy here)

OMD - Enola Gay (buy here)

After The Fire - Der Kommissar (buy here)

Ministry - I Wanted To Tell Her (buy here)

Time Zone - World Destruction (buy here)

The Clash - This Is Radio Clash (buy here)

Killing Joke - Love Like Blood (buy here)

Dead Kennedys - MTV, Get Off The Air (buy here)

Ramones - Bonzo Goes To Bitburg (buy here)

Love & Rockets - It Could Be Sunshine (buy here)

Gene Loves Jezebel - Desire (buy here)

The Nails - 88 Lines About 44 Women (buy here)

Dominatrix - The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight (buy here)

Edit 7/7/07: Sorry, but this post was draining my bandwidth like a leech. So I fear I've had to remove the song links...

But that's not all folks! For you see, in addition to the reunion I wil be heading over Brooklyn-way on Saturday. First I'll be partaking of some luuurvely cheese and ale with Dearest Bishakh, then we're going to to see and hear ma chere Colleen Crumbcake and Dearest Hot Chocolate Boy (a/k/a Bryce) spin da wheelz ov steel at the Last Exit Bar. I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it!!

While the reunion dictated the timing of my NYC foray, the main purpose of the visit is to see My Mother. There is much unfinished business, but I prefer not to dwell on that here - I'm hopeful it will be a pleasant visit. That said, I'm calibrating my compassion generator in anticipation of possible adverse conditions...

So that's it for me for a bit. I may post during the next fortnight, I might not. But I will check in with you all every now and again, and should be back to regular programming later in the month. And I'll have stories to tell!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Final Link In The Chain

Ch-ch-chaaain, chain of so-o-ong... Yes, Dearest Friends, its Contrast Podcast Day again, and this week sees the conclusion of the song chain that began waaay back in episode 48 and continued in episode 53. To remind you of the concept, one person chooses a song, then the next person chooses another song linked in some way to the previous song, and so on, and so on. Tim, being the ever-thoughtful forger of podcasts, has linked all three episodes together over here. But you can download just the third length over here. Got it? Good! Go one step further and paste this RSS feed into your faithful aggregator to ensure you automatically get each episode:

And here's how this week's talented crop of contributors propose to chain you up:

(00:36) Weezer - Lover in the snow
Tim from FunFunFun
(05:16) Homie - American Girls
Heather from I am fuel, you are friends
(10:35) The Walker Brothers - Deadlier than the male
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(13:40) Jack Johnson - Banana pancakes
Kane from Burning Oak
(17:22) G. Love & Special Sauce - Rodeo clowns
Jeff from Kinky Origami
(20:58) The Byrds - Hickory wind
Tim from The Daily Growl
(24:41) Eels - I like birds
Tutu Vicar from The World Won’t Listen
(27:16) Charley Pride - Kaw-Liga
Alex from Totally True Tales from Texas
(32:08) Beck - Your cheatin’ heart
Ross from Just gimme indie rock
(35:51) The Sundays - Leave the city
Mark from Cinema du Lyon
(40:31) Toots & The Maytals - Take me home country roads
Chris from
(43:52) DeVotchKa - We’re leaving
Marcy from Lost in your inbox
(49:15) Siouxsie & The Banshees - Arabian nights
Elizabeth from The Roaring Machine
(52:53) Vic Chesnutt - Supernatural
Linda from Speed of Dark
(57:34) Waiting for Steve - Supernatural dreamings
SAS Radio

Next week's theme is Midwinter, suggested by Alexander who lives in the Antarctic! No joke! Isn't that exciting??? So think cold thoughts and drop by here to learn how to take part. Naturally as this was a closed-loop podcast this week, I was spared any agonizing decisions about what to pick. But here's a chainish song anyway, by Detroit's ultra-cool, ultra-blue, outta-the-garage Dirtbombs.

The Dirtbombs - Chains of Love (buy here or e-here)

And to finish off, an unrelated tale of paternal pride. This weekend Little Man and I went out and about in the car to run some errands. As we were saddling up to leave, I stopped to poke around in our glass CD case to find something suitable for the journey. Little Man asked if he could choose, so naturally I deferred to him. What did he pick? A Date With Elvis by The Cramps. But before settling on it he did ask me if it was loud...

The Cramps - What's Inside A Girl? (buy here or e-here)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sailing the Seven seas

Arrr, me Dearest Hearties! Shiver me timbers, splice the mainbrace, caulk the mizzen, and swab me poopdeck! This week the good ship Contrast Podcast sets sail on a sea of music dedicated to all things oceanic. And through the magic of the internet, you can all come along on the cruise! As a special treat, you'll hear the adventures of Cap'n "Salty" Tim and his band of cutthroat musical pirates as they face down the dangers of crap music and corporate greed. So slip on your eyepatch, screw on your pegleg, grab your cutlass, and come aboard! The podcast leaves from this pier, or you can join the crew using this direct RSS feed:

Anchors Aweigh!!

(03:57) Lalo Schifrin - Jaws
Tim from The face of today
(09:18) XTC - Sgt. Rock
Mark from Cinema du Lyon
(14:11) The Magnetic Fields - Deep sea diving suit
Elizabeth from The Roaring Machine
(16:34) Michael Nyman - Prawn watching
Crash from Pretending life is like a song
(19:40) Captain Tractor - The last Saskatchewan pirate
Lyle from Mentok the Mind-taker
(24:45) The Great Depression - Sargasso sea
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away
(29:27) Silver Apples - Seagreen serenade
Pieter from Two Tramps in Mud Time
(33:35) The Waterboys - Fisherman’s blues
Natalie from Mini-Obs
(38:30) Jazz Crabs - You say party! We say die!
FiL from Pogoagogo
(41:15) Harold Budd, Simon Raymonde, Robin Guthrie & Elizabeth Fraser - Sea, swallow me
Conrad from 4AD 4EVR
(44:37) Frank Zappa - The ocean is the ultimate solution
Chris from
(53:30) The Decemberists - A cautionary tale
Sid from Too Much Rock
(57:02) Whale - Hobo humpin’ slobo babe
Marcy from Lost in your inbox
(01:01:09) Dead Can Dance - Ocean
Nuno from Undercover songs
(01:04:30) Blurt - The fish needs a bike
Ross from Just gimme indie rock
(01:07:26) Gregory Alan Isakov - The salt and the sea
Heather from I am fuel, you are friends

There were a couple of other sea shanties that I considered taking on board, but sadly I had to leave them waving folornly on the quayside. Here, have a listen and take good care of them until I come back to port:

Pixies - Wave of Mutilation (buy here or e-here)
The only song I know that namechecks the awesome Mariana Trench

The Pogues with The Dubliners - The Irish Rover (buy here)
Back before Shane developed his permanent slur...

Modern English - Hands Across The Sea (buy here)
Completes the transformation of ME from punk band The Lepers to noopopwave wannabies. Rather catchy, but the "Oooh lady" bits drag it through the muck, methinks...

Squeeze - Pulling Mussels from the Shell (buy here)
For the longest time I thought he was singing about pulling muscles for Michelle...

Next week Contrast Podcast continues the song chain. So no opportunity to contribute, but have a look here to find out how to take part in upcoming episodes. And if you've never submitted a song, please think about doing so - it's easy and so much fun!! Don't believe me? Look here!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Reckoning

Last night's tally:

Two whisky sours
Two gin & tonics
Three glasses of white wine (Sumac Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, yum yum!)
One calvados
Three beers
One double Jack Daniels

Went to bed at 4:00 AM, woke up at 7:30 AM, attended a presentation at 8:00 AM.

And I suspect tonight will be the same. So time for a nap...

P.S. It's pissing down outside, and I'm chortling at the thought of those out on the green worshiping the god of golf...

RIAA - It's Whiskey [Run DMC vs The Pogues & The Dubliners] (have a gander here)

Black Flag
- Six Pack (buy here)

Divine Comedy - Gin Soaked Boy (buy here)

Monday, June 04, 2007

On Business

Greetings, Dearest Friends, from the deepest, darkest wilds of British Columbia. OK, perhaps I exaggerate. But I am currently nestled among the mountains a few hours north of Vancouver, attending a conference on things financial and banking. Ah, I can hear you all yawning in unison... Granted, some of the material is a bit, um, dry, but the setting is breathtakingly wonderful, even if the weather has turned from hot, sunny, and spectacularly clear to wet, rainy, and cloudy.

As those of you who have attended conferences know, much of their utility lies not so much in the actual presentations, but in the associated networking. And of course networking must take place in the context of wining, dining, and "events," all sponsored by various companies that hope to convince you to send money money money their way. Big business is very wise. Take, for instance, yesterday's cocktail reception, put on by A Very Big Investment Bank. There were oysters aplenty, hundredweights of calamari, and chunks of roast beef the size of Volkswagens to gorge on. But on top of that, the full-size bar was carved entirely out of ice. And the piece de resistance? A four-foot tall ice carving of A Very Big Investment Bank's logo with a tube snaking through it. A comely waitress lass would pour the martini of your choice into the top of the logo, and it would wend its way through the ice and into the glass you were holding at the other end of the tube. My goodness. I will admit to enjoying the nosh and the booze, as well as the company of some of the delegates, many of whom are in fact lovely people. And I think I'll be better able to assist the righteous co-operative for which I work as a result of my attending. But I'll also admit to an uneasy sense of it being all a bit too much, too extravagant, too wasteful. Feed the world...

And then there's golf. Seems that most attendees are spending vast amounts of time doing deals and making connections on the manicured greens. Indeed, it's not a sport, it's a religion whose adherents revel in its rituals, fetishize its accoutrements ("Goodness, is that a Tiger Woods Carbon Titanium X3CR Puttmaster?"), and revere those priests who have attained enlightenment through low handiaps. Me? Can't stand the game. Bores me to tears. I hate the clothes. I can't stand the clubbiness. And I outright reject the pressure to play that many folks who share my feelings have succumbed. With this as background, you will understand why I delighted in the stories I heard today from golfers whose games yesterday were marked by nonlethal, but unnerving encounters on the green with resident black bears freshly awake from hibernation...

Anyway, the music. There's not much rock 'n' roll in my immediate vicinity, but as a counterpoint to where I find myself right now, I thought I'd share with you some rips I did recently off of 1987's "Wake Up!" EP in support of the ill-fated UK miner's strike. This is a cracker of a record, the highlight of which for me is the live version of the Clash's "Garageland" sung by Billy Bragg, his bestest mate Wiggy, the wonderful Atilla the Stockbroker, and The Neurotics at a festival in East Germany. Howevr, I've screwed up the mp3 and can't fix it remotely. I promise promise promise to do so upon my return, but in the meantime here are The Redskins doing a version of Billy's "Levi Stubbs' Tears" and a Neurotics track as well. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

The Redskins - Levi Stubbs' Tears

The Neurotics - This Fragile Life

You can, in fact, buy the EP on CD. Where? Go here and scroll down.