Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Island Rain

View from Crane Point, Mayne Island
29 July, 8:30 PM

It rained today, the first time it has done so since we arrived on the island over a week ago. I awoke late to the sounds of raindrops pittering and pattering on the metal roof, and turned over to see a film of downy grey mist shrouding the Trincomali Channel. A lone, ghost-like fishing boat sculled across its waters.

I got up and decided to shave for the first time since we arrived. Why? No good reason. My scraggle was well within the realms of acceptable island tonsorial fashion, and the itching had stopped days ago. But shave I did.

After a long breakfast (granola, natch) and ablutions, to the "village" for errands with Little Man. At the Post Office we found out that the mail comes in and goes out at six A.M. on a special Canada Post boat that weaves its way around the islands. It's still raining softly as we walk to the Trading Post for local free-range eggs and then to the Gas Station to pick up a litre of engine oil. Dearest Father-in-Law's 1992 Toyota Camry station wagon (a.k.a. The Green Whale) seems to be guzzling through the stuff (oil, not eggs). We have to wait to pay, as the girl tending the station had to run down to the gas dock to fuel up a passing boat.

We stroll to the True Value to stock up on groceries --blueberries, freshly picked salad greens, and a side of salmon to be barbecued tonight-- and finish with a stop at the Bakery next door for fresh bread. Oh, and a Nanaimo Bar, that Little Man and I share at a damp picnic table outside, watching the world go by. It is still raining.

We drive back to the house, and the afternoon unfolds into puzzles, mugs of tea, story reading, games of checkers, and the occasional squabble of siblings who, if asked, would really rather be out beachcombing, bouldering, and being pulled through the water by Daddy in their kayak, Gumdrop. But they did like the stories, checkers, and puzzles.

Evening approaches, and the salmon is grilled, then enjoyed in the company of a visiting hummingbird and squirrel. And the rain finally stops.

And the sun comes out, just for a brief spell, before it starts to set, gloriously.

Rodney DeCroo - Rain Rain (with Sam Parton of the Be Good Tanyas)
Rodney has a new album out in September, but in the meantime buy his stuff here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

We Should Be Slowing Down About Now...

Phew! It's all been going soooooooo faaaaaaast! And have I had time to tell you half the stories I want to? Of course not...

But today we're off to Mayne Island for a fortnight --that's TWO WHOLE WEEKS-- of downtime. I cannot wait until we board the ferry. It's like some sort of cosmic temporal transmogrfier; you can actually feel the time slow right down the minute you step on board. Glorious...

I will have my laptop with me, and plan to catch up with you all. In the meantime:

The Epoxies - I Need More Time (buy here or e-here)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Promise You'll Listen, Or Else...

Alright, head on over to the Contrast Podcast RIGHT NOW or else I promise you the kitty will get it...

Aw, shucks, you didn't think I'd really hurt the wee moggie, do you? Admittedly I am both a dog person and very allergic to felines, but never in a million years would I --could I-- harm Tiddles, let alone any beastie. Oh, and for the record, I think strong gun control is essential for a civilized society.

Right, were was I? Oh yes, this week the CP offers up both threats and promises, thanks to our current Thememistress, Dearest Greer. It's a lovely cast, well-balanced between the two options and full of excellent tuneage from contributors old and new. For a change, I've actually started to listen to the podcast before the weekend (the silver lining of having a longer bus commute while the car is in the shop) and the intro is a fantastically atmospheric, hiiilarious, noirish exchange between Greer and CP compere extraordinaire, Young Tim. You must listen, I promise you'll enjoy it!! Download it here, and leave your comments here. And the threats/promises made this week are:

(00:00) DAG - Ruin you
Greer from A Sweet Unrest

(04:31) Eric Clapton - Promises
Anna from Desert Island Jukebox

(07:57) Minor Threat - Minor threat
James from Appetite For Distraction

(09:42) Good Friend - It’s a deal
Eiron from The S+7 Method

(11:23) The Buzzcocks - Promises
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(15:49) Nellie McKay - Won’t U please B nice?
Matt from Perceptions Delusions

(18:35) Big Stick - A threat
Tim from The face of today

(22:01) Queen Esther - Promise me
Victoria from Muruch

(26:10) The Black Heart Procession - Not just words

(30:40) Jeremy Warmsley - I promise
Adam from Pretending life is like a song

(34:45) The Tiger Lillies - Kill you
FiL from Pogoagogo

(39:52) SoKo - I’ll kill her
DC from The Waiting Room

(44:03) The Proclaimers - I’m gonna be (500 miles)
JC aka The Vinyl Villian

(48:24) Current 93 - A sadness song
ZB from So the wind won’t blow it all away

The Tiger Lillies it was by a mile, but I was tempted to make a few other threats and promises, to wit:

Volumizer - I Promise You Thomas (buy here or e-here)
Dishrag Jade Blade, Pointed Stick Bill Hemy, and J3RK5 Rodney Graham formed this little but loud Vancouver project back in 2002. The song apparently is dedicated to Jade's godson.

Gore Gore Girls - I'm Gonna Get You Yet (buy here)
Oh, what I wouldn't give for these gorgeous garage gals to aim that threat at me. almost makes me want to go to Detroit.

L7- Shove (buy here)
I know of no finer getthafukkouddahereorelse song. None.

CocoRosie - Promise (buy here or e-here)
I keep drifting back to CocoRosie's odd little reverie of an album, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborne. So rich and lush...

Next week Contrast Podcast goes through the Days of the Week, thanks to Dearest Marcy. Find out how to contribute here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Monkeying About

Please, Dearest Friends, grab a vine and swing on over to the Contrast Podcast jungle post haste, and get ready for more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Yes, this week the CP goes all apeshit on us with an entire episode dedicated to humanity's simian cousins. The apesolutely fantastic selection of tunes is enough to make a monkey out of anyone, and Dearest Tim is, as usual, the masterful organ grinder. So get ready to do the funky gibbon and come join in all the baboonery by downloading the podcast directly here, then gibber and hoot about it over here (Stop it right now, the cliche police have been called - Ed). And here's all the monkey business (I said stop it!! - Ed):

(00:00) Hoagy Carmichael - The monkey song
Tim from The face of today

(03:37) Comsat Angels - Monkey pilot
Adam from Pretending life is like a song

(08:09) Free Kitten - Bananas
Ross from Just gimme indie rock

(11:10) The Pixies - Monkey gone to heaven (BBC version)
JC aka The Vinyl Villian

(14:18) The Kinks - Apeman
Anna from Desert Island Jukebox

(18:50) The Mummies - (You must fight to live) on the planet of the apes
FiL from Pogoagogo

(23:31) The Bottle Rockets - Coffee monkey
Linda from Speed of dark

(26:01) The Specials - Monkey man
Dirk from Sexy Loser

(29:39) The Traveling Wilburys - Tweeter and the monkey man
James from Appetite For Distraction

(35:21) The Monkees - What am I doing hangin’ around
Natalie from Mini-obs

(38:26) The Intruders - Me Tarzan, you Jane
Greer from A Sweet Unrest

(41:46) John Hadfield - Robot monkey head
Rick from Are you embarassed easily?

(45:28) The Apparitions - God monkey robot
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(50:15) Bachelors of Science - Jungle monkey
Eiron from The S+7 Method

(58:13) The Czars - Killjoy


There seem to be a lot of apes and monkeys inhabiting my music collection, and though The Mummies were my choice this week (since I was feeling a bit garagey), a few other tracks screamed for my attention:

Add N To X - Sir Ape (buy here)
I love these guys and the jarring electronic noises that they make. And yet I've never been able to listen to a whole album of theirs from start to finish, coz usually by track three or four my nerves are shredded and the low frequencies have caused my internal organs to collapse.

The Maytals - Monkey Man (buy here)
Dearest Dirk posted the storming Specials cover of this skankeriffic song, so here's the 1969 original from ska kings The Maytals. The Specials version has actually become a fast favourite of Darling Daughter and Little Man - they sing along perfectly to the line "beeg, beeg, monkey man" before dissolving into fits of laughter.

Don Ho - Shock The Monkey (buy here)
Yes, you read right. That's the late Hawaiian kitschmeister himself doing a luau-lounge version of the Peter Gabriel standard. If that isn't enough to make your grass skirt flip, you MUST visit his website...

The Wynona Ryders - Bang Bang Orangutan (buy here or e-here)
The only punk song I know that namechecks this splendid beast.

This podcast got me musing: what is my favourite primate, not counting man? I decided that while I am rather partial to howler monkeys and do have a very soft spot for the pygmy marmoset, it's the aye-aye that I hold most dear. Yes, there is a certain depth of character to this nocturnal beast, considered unjustly as a harbinger of death by the humans who inhabit its home of Madagascar, that other monkeys and apes cannot match. So, what's your favourite ape, lemur, or monkey??

And then there are the fictional primates. The clear winner for me there is Magilla Gorilla, the TV cartoon ape with whom I spent many a childhood hour. To this day I'm prone to singing the theme song at random. Here, let me introduce / reacquaint you:

OK, I think I'm rapidly losing the plot here and I'd better stop; I was about to tell you a story about proboscis monkeys and mistaken subtitling in Dutch films. Next week's CP theme is "Threats & Promises," so get thinking of a submission and submit. Or else...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Back into Summer

And so, Dearest Friends, I'm back. Still rather wobbly on my feet, but back nonetheless...

My trip to New York went acceptably well. There was much dark matter; accusations, bitterness, spite. But there were also brief flashes of light; gratitude, shared enjoyment. I also found myself spending an inordinate amount of emotional time reconciling the present summer with summers past. As mentioned previously, Mother has moved to a part of Long Island where I spent much time as a child. Several times during this last visit memories would scream around the corner, doing twenty-years-plus per second, and smack right into me. Nothing traumatic, but rather discomfiting. But the trip wasn't about me; it was about Mother, and I am thankful that I managed to stay (largely) centred and do what I set out to. However, the visit, bookended by disrupted redeye flights, left me drained. I'm still trying to refill...

I'm also still having difficulty shaking out the causes of and working through the implications of my car prang. Truth be told, it's still dragging me low. It's as if the incident suddenly turned on a bright light, revealing a host of less-than-comfortable thoughts and emotions that need to be caught before being they scurry away back into the darkness.

But soft! There have also been moments of great fun, most prominent of which was a visit by Mentok the Mindtaker and his family. He and I have been blog buddies for over 18 months now, and this year the trajectory of his summer holiday took him through our neck of the woods. We spent the evening hanging out on one of our local beaches, dining on pizzas and chatting while our kids did all that normal kids do in sand and surf. Then back to chez nous, where they spent the night before striking out the following morning to their ultimate destination. It was a wonderful transition from the virtual to the real - Mentok, his wife Library Mama, and their three boys are all absolutely lovely. And completely housebroken. So I can unreservedly recommend that you all welcome Clan Mentok into your homes, should the occasion arise.

Oh, and it seems summer has finally arrived. I know many in the blogosphere have already welcomed it with song, but given my equivocal state, I think it'd be a good, optimistic tonic for me to follow suit...

The Style Council - Long Hot Summer (buy here)

The Divine Comedy - The Summerhouse (buy here)

The Sea Urchins - Summershine (buy e-here)

Oh, and here's the video for "Long Hot Summer." Why, you ask, when it's sooo posey? Well, cos it shows Mick punting Paul down the River Cam, something that your FiL spent much summer time doing many years ago. And yes, it was just like that. Well, minus the bongos. And espadrilles. Oh, that bridge you can see between 1:19 and 1:43? That's the Bridge of Sighs, and it holds a most special, bittersweet place in my heart...