Monday, July 10, 2006

New, Content?

Fer sure, dudes. Figgered it's 'bout time to fire up the brain with some recently clipped news headlines for the attention-deficient in all of us:












Monday, April 17, 2006

Life *Is* Like A Box Of Chocolates...

...Squishy, all run together, missing the best pieces, and not particularly appetizing.

Ever feel like talking, but you have no idea what you're going to say? Me neither.

Why is it that people who claim to be experts are always smug, annoying jerks?

Ever wake up and wonder where in hell you are, and what you've done to deserve this?

Why such a big suit?

Small points to ponder on a dreary afternoon.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Government Probe Reveals CBC Males Neutered


A shocking new inquiry by the Federal Conservatives has revealed what many have suspected all along -- that for years, one of the job requirements for on-air employment and feature news writing for the CBC is mandatory castration for male recruits. Since 1969, the first year of the Trudeau government, a resident surgeon has performed the operation upon final approval during the hiring process. The next step, (after a 14 day healing period) has traditionally been a renouncement of independent thought and a pledge of allegiance to the politically correct traditions of the corporation. If there appears to be a retention of a sense of humour or personal commentary, a partial frontal lobotomy is the next step.

"If you've always wondered why interviewers like Peter Gzowski, newsreaders like Peter Mansbridge, or so-called entertainers like Ralph Benmurgui have grated on the thinking person's nerves with their apopleptically neutral viewpoint, and lack of genuine vitriol, this would explain a lot," said the chair of the Committee To Encourage Crackpot Right-Wing Views, Magnus McFayden. "How Don Cherry actually slipped by is still a matter of debate, as well as a long-standing office pool."

The report went on to say that the Machiavellian practice is expected to be phased out by late spring, when all current employees of the CBC are expected to be replaced by physically-challenged vegan Asian lesbians with heavily feminist agendas.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Staunch Catholic To Eat Beef On Friday, Skip Mass, Have Premarital Sex

French-Canadian Catholic and pillar of local Trois Rivieres church Our Lady Of Perpetual Moaning & Carping, Jean-Pierre Bellefleur, issued a press release early Wednesday indicating his plans to indulge in a meat-and-potatoes dinner this Friday with his girlfriend of one month Huguette Lafreniere, while smoking, playing Bingo, watching Les Canadiens on TV and engaging in unprotected intercourse.

"I'm going to make a stand, me, against repressiveness and Old World values; and have me a friggin' good time while I'm at it" crowed Bellefleur. "It's a sociopolitical statement, not just me being a complete ass, you." He said he would also be drinking at least one Molson Export or Laurentide while he makes his "stand", depending on what the corner store has in stock Friday morning.

Neighbours said they were "dismayed and a little frightened" not only by Bellefleur's apparent disdain for the conventions of society, considering the demonstration will take place at game time, 7:30 pm on his front lawn, but also by his cavalier attitude towards pronoun usage. "Sure, she'll be cold, her, but it's worth it. The world, she has to sit up and take notice, it" he said in the statement, him. Tickets are $16.50 and a canned food or orange short-shorts donation to the local Hooter (the 's' has been removed due to Quebec language laws).

"...And That's The Kind Of Day It's Been..."


Recent Vietnamese immigrant and Guinness World Book record holder for number of dogs walked simultaneously (461), Phuc Yong Dong has agreed to permanently fill the NBC Nightly News anchor chair left vacant this week upon Brian Williams' recent conviction for consuming the remains of his wife, dogs, neighbours' ferret, and lawn furniture in a bizarre, crystal-meth fueled rampage last month. Dong will go by the Americanized moniker of "Jerk" E. Jerkerson, and plans to learn some English before beginning his new job at the end of this week.

When asked why he would agree to go with a complete unknown who isn't even partially fluent in English to replace the formerly affable, now cannibalistic, Williams; NBC Head of Programming Gary "AssFace" Schtroumpf replied "Next question, please" and "Through careful research, I have determined that I like fried chicken - a whole lot" at the press conference held yesterday. The veil of secrecy surrounding the planned introduction of Dong was lifted, if very briefly when it was revealed that he will parachute naked on to the white House roof with a helmet-cam on his inaugural newscast, and attempt to catch Laura Bush off guard.

Godspeed, young man.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Things I Find Amusing.

1) Women who get upset about pictures of scantily clad females in men’s’ calendars and newspapers but will shell out large dollars for women’s magazines that have scantily clad women selling products for women. Nice double standard girls.
2) People who anticipate a stop light turning green for them by edging slowly forward until the light does turn green when they plod ahead like tractor trailers loaded with cinder blocks.
3) Two people arguing about something and not being articulate enough to realize that they are arguing the same viewpoint.
4) Managers whose managerial style consists of yelling.
5) People in small cars who pull as far over to the left as possible before making a right turn. As though they are driving tractor trailers loaded with cinder blocks.
6) Near-sighted dogs
7) Product instructions that include the very basic use of the product i.e. a container of moist towelettes that has the instruction “wash face and hands” on it.
8) Companies that have “Customer Appreciation Days” with an accompanying sale where that company makes slightly less than it’s usual 200% profit. As if to say on every other day customers are not appreciated and treated as a necessary evil.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Chair Recognizes...

...that in keeping with the sub-header of this here blog-style thang, promising discourse on absurdity in music and entertainment as well as life in general, something has to be done. And it will... just not today.

I present to you instead, a genuine homemade album review, hopefully bereft of mundanity:

Donald Fagen. Morph The Cat. 2006. 9 Songs. Releases officially on March 14th. Obtained copies of all songs in some sort of newfangled binary code composed entirely of 1's (and also, 0's).

Unbelievably futuristic so far, yes, I know, but let me finish: These ones, and to a lesser extent the zeroes, have arranged themselves, or have been arranged by some unknown (possibly magical) source, to reanimate themselves into extremely listenable, addictive jazz chords and harmony placed in unusual, often contrapuntal configurations framed by the story of a gigantic anthropomorphic feline who descends, at first benignly, (later malevolently, mirrored in an evil-sounding reprise of the title track) into New York city.

The cat may represent anything from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to the Antichrist to Oprah. Some would argue that the last two are essentially the same thing, but I digress... Sort of a metaphor for the accelerating decay, unease, and general sense of dread in 21st century society. The songs together apparently form something you kids may be unfamiliar with, called a "con-cept" loosely based on impending mortality (Fagen recently turned 58), but are left open to the listener's interpretation. They used to call this sort of thing an "al-bum" back in the 70's.

Will not grab the listener upon a cursory playing, but after a few "spins" (also a 70's term) the tunes begin to amalgamate themselves into a kind of musical crystal meth that refuses to leave our anonymous listener's brain alone. In case you didn't know, that's a very good thing.

Enough of that, let's hear from Fagen himself, discussing rap and the practice of sampling, from an interview on published today - nah-kaiy?


Chris: Do you listen to any contemporary music?

Not that often. I mean, there's a few things I like if someone brings it to my attention, but I only listen to the same 40 jazz records I had in high school pretty much.

It's funny that you say you sort of have to reintroduce yourself. Your music has remained a constant over the years; it's instantly recognizable.

Oh, well thanks.

Chris: And I'm curious do you--well it sounds like maybe you've answered this--but do you consciously sort of shut out anything that's going on with contemporary music trends or...?

It's not really necessary, because I don't think anything has happened for 30 years or so.


Not really. You know there's a new kind know they have different names for like crunk and stuff like that, or there's this kind of music, but you know aside from some fairly subtle things, and like, maybe they use a drum machine instead of drums or something. But that's really kind of the opposite of evolution as far as I can say so. It's really...I don't think there's anything really...I don't see any sort of major thing that's happened since maybe reggae music in the '70s that's really different.

So you wouldn't consider, say, rap music to be new?

Well, I mean it's more of a theatrical forum really...or poetry with music type of thing, which certainly isn't new. And the beats are basically funk, or something else, only played by machines, it's really doesn't sound new to me. I mean, what's new about it?


I mean, they use sampling technology to put out a blip of sound, but it's really like an orchestral hit will be sampled and then know and maybe they if they appear very rapidly, that's something maybe an orchestra couldn't do, because it happens faster than an orchestra could play it's not what I would call a really significant change or anything.

So no real validity to the art of sampling, in your opinion?

Well it all sounds so canned that it's basically...since they use drum machines and sequences for even the ballads now…people are used to it now, but to me, it also sounds like the kick drum comes in the wrong place, or it sounds wrong. You know like it's...there's really something wrong with the groove. Although, they're getting better at mimicking real grooves. To me there's always something, and the fact that it's unchanging makes it sound, it may be hypnotic, but it has no dynamics, and it has no shape. And what's more, if you want to continue with the technical thing, as far as the other instruments are concerned, if you use synthesizers for all the keyboards and stuff like that, they're always out of tune, technically, and I can hear it. It's like the top end is always a little flat, and the bottom end is always a little sharp, because the keyboards aren't what they call "stretched." Like, when a piano tuner tunes a piano, aside from being tempered, they'll stretch the tops of the harmonics so they aren't flat on the top and sharp on the bottom. So they're...there's no groove and they're out of tune.

Sounds about right to me. So does the album.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A House Is Just A Cover For Your Stuff

Thanks to George Carlin for his firm grasp of the obvious. He's absolutely correct, though - I've never seen two people accumulate so much sh-... stuff, that is, in three years. I've been throwing out and burning a large variety of detritus for the last month now in anticipation of our move in - count 'em - five days. Yippee!

Moving is always a pile of fun at the best of times, try it at -15 C with heavy snow and a stiff wind. Sometimes I feel like just lying down and letting the elements take their course. It's just like going to sleep, they say, only I'm guessing quite a bit colder and with somewhat more snow. I won't, of course, as I've got to do it all again when we buy a house there. *Sigh*.

People I know think I've lost my edge lately, or seem a bit off. Well, I have, and am, dammit! Try this yourself: Leave your chance at being your own boss, sell the house, pack it all up by yourself with a 7-months-pregnant wife and a dog who's constantly underfoot, in the coldest part of the winter, head for a town you're unfamiliar with and are moving in with your wife's parents (as temporarily as possible). Oh, and throw in a job search when you arrive. No wonder I've lost ten pounds and have an eye twitch and an odd pain in my upper back.

All that said, I am looking forward to not being surrounded by boxes for a while, and it'll be but a memory soon enough... Compared to those left out in the cold in N'Awlins by their own government, I really have nothing to complain about.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

When it rains, it really rains

Good Morning All! Ready for a fun ride with your host, Captain Weird O' Rama?
So, Monday night I'm heading home from the liquor store when I get stopped by one of Durham regions finest. I wasn't speeding or doing anything out of the ordinary, just the luck of the draw I guess. He came up behind me, ran my plates then pulled me over. Comes up to my window and informs me that my drivers license has been suspended since October 14th 2005 due to an unpaid traffic ticket. They don't send out notices any more, they just wait until they get you doing something wrong. Huh?
He issues me a notice telling me that my license has been suspended, then issues me a ticket for driving with no license. Tells me to leave my car where it is and drives me home. Never had a ride in the back of a squad car before. Kind of sparse back there. However he did put the window down so I could grab the handle and let myself out. Soooooooo, covertly, the missus and I sneak out, grab my car and get it home. That night we sat together and convinced each other that we paid a speeding ticket I got last June. We were CONVINCED it was paid.
Yesterday we drive to the Court House in Whitby, conveniently located less than 10 minutes from the palatial estate, where we have to pay for the original infraction before we can do anything else. It seems that I got a speeding ticket back in '03 on Weston Rd that was never paid. Okay (?!?) I paid that fine (it's good that I freed up room on my Meister Card; I needed it yesterday) $75.00. I pleaded "guilty", with an explanation. I then had to shift down three seats to talk to another clerk about seeing the justice of the peace, hereafter referred to as JOP, as I pleaded guilty with an explanation. I went through a door, sat in another waiting room, then went in to talk to the JOP. After my explanation, he was confused. "Welcome to my world, I said." He smiled.
JOP, thinking out loud, couldn't understand why I got a ticket for driving without a license instead of driving while under suspension. He said it was better for me as the ticket for DWL is about $250.00 while DWUS is worth about 10 times that. JOP then questioned how I was able to renew my plates twice without this fine showing up? JOP then said this was a very confusing issue, reduced the fine from $265 to $100 and advised me to "look into this." I then went back, paid the fine for driving without a license in order to renew my drivers license then went looking for the nearest MTO office. It cost me $150 to reinstate my license. I have to wait 2-3 days before the paperwork goes through (yes, I am driving illegally. the missus says if I'm pulled over again between now and Friday, act stupid. I can do that)
For those of you keeping track, that's $75 + $100 + $150. I am out $325.00 by now.
If this '03 fine was never paid, how was I able to renew my plates for 2 years running, lease a vehicle and then pay that lease off without this raising any issues? ANYTHING vehicle related, including plates, stickers and drivers licenses HAVE to go through the MTO, where they have a list of outstanding fines/offences that need to be dealt with before the transaction. Also, when I first got my Eclipse in November of '03, payments for fines outstanding were included in the purchase price of the car otherwise the deal couldn't have been made. Why wasn't this fine included in this? I know I had several parking tickets and I distinctly remember the outstanding fines paid to be somewhere in the $200 range.
So, I came in this morning driving illegally. I'm going to try and keep under the radar but that's kind of tough with a sports car. Fortunately it's a grey sports car (well, there is grey paint under the filth) and I will get my license back on Friday or Saturday.
Where's the Scotch?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Digressions Of Power

Lister, you're right, we're getting out of Dodge. I've never been a Chrysler fan anyhow.

As freaky as all of this life changing merde has been for me, I'm taking the high road and gradually getting my act together. Not gonna wallow in self-pity; instead I'll write my way out of trouble. Most blogs feature endless opinions, this one has only chronology, maybe like a series of public letters shared "entre amis".

Speaking of communication, it was announced recently (Jan. 27) that Western Union has discontinued the stalwart of early-to-mid-1900's communication, the telegram. It was fast and cheap in it's day, but has obviously been supplanted by a variety of more efficient electronic alternatives. I've personally never been on either the sending or receiving end of one, yet the telegram's passing is still noteworthy as a form of communication that served for over 150 years, dwindling from a high of 200 million sent in 1929 - "I've got a feeling those pumpkin futures should peak right around January - stop" to just 20 thousand in 2005 - "Good Lord - stop - Aren't you on broadband yet - stop". Anyhow, it's pure economics and just another sign of progress.

Life is about to change for the better, despite Kurt Vonnegut's insistence (in an article I can't find) that the human race has about five years left on the stopwatch, mainly due to our thirst for oil. I prefer beer, but how many books have I had published? Somewhat fewer than Kurt. I do recall trying to read Slaughterhouse Five during my prolonged adolescence with limited success, unless you consider snoring a victory. I digress, as usual...

Suffice it to say that I'm feeling temporarily better and even a tad optimistic. Anxiety is a cancer that has already nearly killed me once, I won't let it get a hold this time. To quote the eminent domestic philosopher Marge Simpson, "First I was nervous, then anxious, then wary, then apprehensive, then kinda sleepy, then worried, and then concerned." That sums up my natural tendencies in a nutshell. So I've got my work cut out for me, but I have help from my lovely/loving wife, who has been a mountain of support and kicked my ass right out of antipathy many times, usually only when I need it. Being able to treat myself to a Donald Fagen concert shortly after our arrival in a new city softens the blow somewhat. I have fang-section seats. For those who don't know, that's a good thing.

Weirdness Abounds

Apparently there is a wealth of change happening in the neighbourhood lately. The big D and his lovely and pregnant wife are getting outta Dodge. Me and the missus got outta Dodge and Mega-Drummer man is, well, way the hell up north. I moved out of a town that I've lived in for 29 years, leaving behind my elderly parents and familiarity that had grown contemptuous over the past little while. I watched my sleepy little town turn into a big, loud city with all of the traffic and urban chaos that goes with it. It was time for a change. My missus got transferred and *voom*; bye bye hometown!

Some people are comfortable in the city atmosphere. I have another good friend who lives in the middle of the city sprawl, perfectly happy with the lifestyle. You know who you are, Guido Japanese (pronounced Jah-pan-ay-say). Infrequent trips into the city sprawl show me both the benefits and the drawbacks of the city.
Alas, we all can't live in the country and small towns as they would then become cities and then people would have to move out of the small towns because there would be too many


Anyway, another small town beckoned. Going to another small town was our way of saying "Change is good, but not too much change." There is enough change that happens over the course of a lifetime that unless you like change, bringing more change on to yourself can be very stressful. Grasping at straws here. The house is bigger, needs very little work and is closer to where she works and where I work. There is enough of a change to make this very fresh, somewhat strange but even stranger, somewhat stimulating. I've written a few new songs and have thought about continuing on with one of the three novels that I've started and left to rot. I'm closer to one of my most favourite people in the whole world, "Speedy-Marie" the sister of greatness. Family is all around, within an hour at least.

Things are different. Things are good.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Game-time Decision

Wow - have things changed since I wrote that last bit of tripe a month or so ago. I've needed to update this thing for some time; to get this stuff off my chest, where it's been weighing quite heavily the last few days. My wife and have made the rather quick and unhappy decision to leave our business opportunity, (ie - quit our jobs), sell our house and move in (temporarily) with my wife's parents in the nation's capital, essentially putting our lives on hold for the time our baby is born, which is somewhere around the first week of May. I've also got to get some kind of work. We're liquid, baby...

This has been very distressing to me for a number of very obvious reasons - I'm not 20 anymore, I don't like change, and I hate asking people for help. It seems like an admission of failure. I have been trying to look at the upshot of the situation, but my mind and body keep letting me down.

On the positive side, it's good for my wife and our unborn baby to be near family. We've been pretty isolated living out here more or less in the country, and though I thought we'd never leave this house, I see now that it is a chance to become more connected to people. I tend to be a hermit by nature, and that's not great when you need to ask for help. Being an island doesn't work very well for me.

I won't bore anyone with details, but as most people know, moving house ranks right up there with divorce and death on the stress-o-meter. All things shall pass, says the Bible and George Harrison, and they're right. In a year, we'll be able to look back on this time and laugh. Whether it's from the living room of a new house or a straight jacket in a padded cell remains to be seen.

I will update soon...

The Eternal Fatalist

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Year, New Deal

It's a gorgeous, sunny, warm-esque January morning here in the bustling Metropolis of Shanty Bay, Ontario... the kind of morning that makes you think about what has gone by, and what is yet to come. Last year held the highest highs and lowest of lows; just like life - personally, professionally and even globally. My default view that the world is a festering stinkhole will have to change somewhat if I am to give my unborn child a fighting chance in this, the new and improved world of the 21st Century Schizoid Man. Zachary is due to arrive at the end of April, and I've got to get my... stuff... together. There - I resisted the temptation to swear. And I know the world is a stinkhole, I'll just have to keep it a secret for about fifteen years.

People can tell me all they want that my life will change when he is born, and I believe it. I'm happy and terrified at the same time. At least I won't be going it alone. My wife is looking forward to having her body back to herself, and not being sick every morning. I realize it's the universal experience of mankind, but it's happening to me and my wife for the first time at our relatively advanced ages. I'll be 94 when he hits high school - can you believe it? Naaah, neither do I.

Our closest friends are moving in two weeks, which will affect us also. It's not Zaire or anything, but neither is it around the corner. To paraphrase Martin Prince as he's told the class is going to tour the box factory, "This may well prove fascinating..."

Hey - you kids like music? Listen to Sufjan Stevens' 2005 album Illinois. Now! I only heard about him recently on many BlogCritics Top Ten of '05 Lists. I had no idea who he was, but there's a bio on Allmusic that explains where he's coming from. I could best describe it as Brian Wilson Meets The Beatles Meets Progressive Low-Fi. Don't let that scare you, it's extremely tuneful and many of the songs seem to be around six to seven minutes long, so he gets to explore some of the melodies on a grander scale than the average three-minute pop song. In a perfect world, this would be playing on the radio, but see above for my worldview. It is the most evocative stuff I've heard in a long time, it covers all the bases - it's fun, sorrowful, playful, rueful, and at times joyous.

I resolve only to do more "stuff" this year - play guitar, hike in the woods, bike, swim, take more photos, and write some freakin' music. Most of those things can be done with a baby in tow, can't they? If not, I'll find a way...

Happy New Year to everyone!