Archive for the ‘it’s just cool’ Category

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The Tiger Has Landed

7 June, 2008

Yes, Blake and I are back in Vancouver. We stepped off a plane on May 25th, and I went in to EA for my first day of work the following day. The first week was a whirlwind of work, apartment hunting and cattle-driving, except without the cattle-driving.

In the end though, I managed to find a really nice apartment. It’s a little bit higher rent than I was hoping to find, but the place itself is beautiful and the location is awesome. It’s just off Commercial Drive, which is one of the hippest and coolest areas of Vancouver. It’s got a wacky mix of greasy-spoon diners, hippy fashion boutiques, high-end restaurants, vegetarian cafes, used book stores, very trendy pubs, antique shops, etc. It’s an area that has been transitioning from hippy ghetto to yuppy entertainment district for several years, and the patchwork that has resulted is fascinating.

Last night Vania and I walked up the length of the Drive, looking for a place to eat. We settled on a Greek resaurant, and it was excellent. On the way back, we found a little CD store full of alternative and world-beat music. I found a CD I’d been searching for for years, and saw a lot more stuff I’d like to check out too. I suspect I’ll be back. = ]

In the meantime, I’m camping out in a nearly empty apartment. My stuff isn’t expected to get here until late next week some time. Luckily, I planned for this. In my luggage, I packed my sleeping bag, my therma-rest, my camping pots, a plastic plate, a cup, a towel, an alarm clock, Blake’s favourite toys, etc. I’m not exactly prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse, but I am reasonably well equipped to survive in the apartment until the rest of my stuff gets here. At least I have internet access now, so the essentials are in place.

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Where Streams of Whiskey are Flowing

23 March, 2008

If there was anything that annoyed my friends in college, it was my ardent love for the Irish folk-punk band, the Pogues. It was the most godawfulwonderful stuff I’d ever heard and probably still is. The frenetic accordian music, the gritty lyrics, Shane MacGowan’s drunken slurring and the random screaming all combined to bring out the wildman in me, and I loved it.

You remember that foul evening when you heard the banshees howl
There was lazy drunken bastards singing Billy is in the Bowl
They took you up to midnight mass and left you in the lurch
So you dropped a button in the plate and spewed up in the church

More than anything, I wanted to see the Pogues live. But then in ’91, the Pogues threw out their lead singer and songwriter, Shane McGowan, for being an incorrigible drunk. It was a window closing… though I might someday see the Pogues, they would never be the same without their frontman.

the pogues

Some years ago I did get to see Shane MacGowan and the Popes live at the Commodore. At the time, I thought that would be the closest I would ever get to experiencing a full-on Pogues concert. But then a few weeks ago, I saw that the Pogues would be playing a concert in Boston. I knew it would be the Pogues without Shane, and I debated whether it would really be worth it… but I had seen Shane elsewhere, and I figured this would be my opportunity to see and hear the rest of the original band. So I bought my ticket and waited for the day.

I met my love by the gas works wall
Dreamed a dream by the old canal
Kissed a girl by the factory wall
Dirty old town
Dirty old town

On the way to the Orpheum, I played some Animal Crossing on my DS. I fished a bit, and ended up catching… an old boot. Somehow, that seemed like an appropriate omen. It was going to be an awesome show.

The wind it comes down and I can’t stand the chill
That comes to the streets around christmas time
A bugger to the nation and I haven’t got a penny
To wander the dark streets of London

I arrived at the Orpheum, which is kind of like what the Orpheum in Vancouver would look like if it were to suffer several decades of neglect. But that gives it a fair amount of character, so I give it a firm nod of approval. I bought a pint, found my seat (only 6 rows from the stage) and settled in.

There was a screen to one side of the stage, showing commercials and blurbs about upcoming shows. Then they showed a panel, “The Pogues,” and listed the band members. Right at the start was Shane MacGowan. Could it be? Could he be back with the band again? I didn’t dare let my hopes get up… for all I knew, someone had just grabbed the names off one of the earlier albums and didn’t know the difference.

I sat through the opening act, and then, finally, the Pogues came on stage. Sure enough, it was a grizzled Shane who staggered on stage with his glass in hand. They launched straight into Streams of Whiskey, and then Broad Majestic Shannon. I was on my feet and dancing up a storm for the rest of the show.

Did you keep a watch for the dead man’s wind
Did you see the woman with a comb in her hand
Wailing away on the wall on the strand
As you danced to the Turkish song of the damned

The show was great. Shane sounded as harsh as ever, and the rest of the band was solid. They played mostly early stuff from the first two albums (Red Roses for Me, and Rum Sodomy & The Lash) with only a few songs from later albums, which suited me just fine. They never took any breaks, but Shane did occasionally stumble offstage to let Spider Stacy, Philip Chevron and Andrew Ranken each sing a song of their own.

Well Jimmy played harmonica in the pub where I was born
He played it from the night time to the peaceful early morn
He soothed the souls of psychos and the men who had the horn
And they all looked very happy in the morning

They played all the songs I would have wanted them to. The crowd roared along with them for Body of an American, and I bounced around like crazy during Sally MacLennane. It was great! We each have a few bands that we absolutely have to see live before we die. For me, the Pogues was the biggest name left on the list. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance again, and it makes me shudder to think I almost passed it by this time, not knowing the whole band had reunited.

What a great show. And I didn’t even understand a goddamn thing Shane said all night.

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Happy Birthday, Blake

20 January, 2008

There hasn’t been much to report lately. I’ve mostly been busy with work and other things, and unfortunately the ol’ blog has been a bit neglected. But I’m here now to make up for that.

The one big, exciting thing that happened in the past week was Blake’s birthday. The little fella turned five on Jan 15th. And he got what every tiger wants… a Barrel of Monkeys!
BlakeBirthday
He looked like he was having fun. = ]
Truth is, I don’t actually know precisely when Blake’s birthday is. It was five years ago that I made a donation to the World Wildlife Fund to adopt a tiger. I figured they would just send me a picture of a tiger or something, but a few weeks later, a big fat envelope showed up in the mail, and there was Blake. His adoption papers didn’t include a birthdate, so I’m just kind of estimating that he must have been born about 3 weeks before he ended up with me. That’s close enough for Blake and I.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rescue Blake from his monkeys…
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Hitting Town

6 November, 2007

And by “town,” I mean Vancouver. That’s right, Santa Claus isn’t the only one who’s coming to town this Xmas. Having worked so hard on Empire Earth III (which hit the shelves today, by the way), and now on a new project, I have more than a month of holidays and comp time coming to me. “Compcember,” they’re calling it. I’ll be spending most of that in Prince George with my family (and where I hear there is already snow), but I’ll also be knocking shit over in Van for a few days on my way through.

vangroovy

I get in on Dec. 9th, and fly out again on the 14th. Things will need to be done, people will need to be seen, and that likely includes you. A game of Risk? A Chong Qing run? Some sushi? An Xbox night? All necessary parts of the experience. Sign up below. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again. Try to stay out of trouble till then.

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the day after international caps lock day

23 October, 2007

damn. i missed it. i usually make a big deal of it every year, but this time i totally missed it. now i have to wait a whole year (less one day) till the next international caps lock day.

caps lock

so what do you call the day after international caps lock day? when you release your caps lock and put a cool can of alphabet soup on your head, while you recover from the lockover from the previous day’s festivities, revels and typographical debaucheries? unlocksing day, maybe? dunno. it’s a shame i missed it though. = [

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Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town

11 October, 2007

Last week I had to take my car in to get a new alternator. Since I knew I’d have to wait around while the installed it, I brought my Nintendo DS along to keep me out of trouble.

So I’m sitting there, playing some Animal Crossing, and even though I made a point of turning the sound all the way down before I turned it on, I keep thinking I hear the distinctive sound of the game’s music. I check the volume, and bring the DS up to my ear… but no, the sound is definitely off. Yet I keep hearing the sounds and music, just faintly. Finally, I look up at the front counter, where the young woman who works there has her head down, working intently.

“Excuse me… are you playing Animal Crossing?”

And she was! Apparently she had just got the game a few days ago, and was just figuring it all out. So while I waited for my car to get fixed, she came and visited my town (Pawston), gathered some fruit, bought up all the stuff in Tom Nook’s store, and even got a new hairdo. It was all quite amusing, and it definitely helped pass the time until my car was all ready to go.

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Another Crazed Piano Pixie

4 October, 2007

A few weeks ago, I was driving home from work (at around 9:30pm), and they had an interview on NPR with this young musician, Nellie McKay. I thought the songs she played were seven different shades of brilliant, so I immediately downloaded the interview when I got home, as well as another concert she had recorded earlier in the year. The more I heard, the more I liked it, so I checked to see if she was playing in Boston anytime soon. And that’s how I ended up at the Paradise Rock Club on Tuesday night.

If you can use your imagination a bit, it might have been something like this…

Except without the cuss words blanked out. =P

It was a pretty nifty concert. She showed up on stage late, in a pink party dress that came straight out of 1958, and a chaotic jumble of songbooks and handwritten sheets of music with post-it notes sticking out of them. She alternated between singing, digging through her pile of music, and random monologues on such subjects as The Sylvia Plath Comedy Hour:

“Why don’t you have a statue of Sylvia, you know, with her head in the oven.”

Epitaphs she thought of while she was on the plane:

“Nelly McKay – She Still Never Met Kevin Eubanks”

“Nelly McKay – It Was A-Minor, Doofus!”

“Nelly McKay – I Hate Her More Than You Do”

And the burden of doing her songs the same way every time:

<stops short of the end of Happy Flowers> “No, I can’t do it. Why do I always end the song the same way? Why do I even tour? People only laugh because they know what’s coming. I’m sorry, I’m not going to do it. I’ll do it on another song. I’m sorry, people, I’m not going to play it. I’ll play something else.”

Overall, she was a tiny little creature with a huge voice, a nervous, jittery stage personality, and brilliant songs that infuse 40s jazz and swing with darkly biting humour. I dug it hardcore.