Last year, of course, I also hadn't written my NaNoWriMo novel, giving myself just the teeniest bit more evidence that if I ever wanted to I could become a Real Writer. And there were a lot of blogs I hadn't read yet, either. In some ways I think of them as people that I've "met", but of course I haven't, in the vast majority of cases. (Limegirl may be the only exception, in fact.)
You know, there's not a lot in that first day's entries that I feel the urge to comment on, though of course I urge relatively new readers to click on the top archive link just to see what I was up to a year ago. I didn't change my opinion on any of the books I read or albums I listened to that day, and I still hate people who leave scads of space in front of them when they're stopped in traffic. Though I guess in the interim I've realized that some of that is supposed to be emergency space in case the guy in front of you doesn't move and you have to pull around him. But still, some people take it to excess.
This has not been a year of great epiphany for me. It has been a year in which I have done no theatre, and certainly haven't even tried to do radio. I didn't manage to go to any SF conventions, though I did at least leave the province to attend my brother's wedding. It's been Simon's "terrible twos" year, which is not over yet by any means. And I've been sick a few times, too.
What kind of comment is it on my life when the phenomenon of blogging itself is probably the most exciting thing that happened to me this past year? Or maybe it's a comment on blogging, instead.
Moving right along...I'm still working my way through Scion's Lady. It's almost starting to pick up, but still not quite. So I can't say much more about that, and I doubt I'll get it done tonight/this month.
The library booksale table today was almost completely covered with magazines, which I think is totally useless, because in general I'm not a big fan of magazines. Except for SF magazines, but they're different. I'm still not totally reconciled to the big glossy magazines, either, preferring the digest-sized ones. I did pick up a few things at the bookstore, though. One was the trade paperback version of Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire, for completeness. The other three were "classics" from the 3/$10 rack they had out front. I am generally happy with a lot of popular classics, so I picked up Nicholas Nickleby by Dickens(can't go wrong with Dickens), The Iliad by Homer(it's time I got something more than the Classics Comics version), and Moby-Dick by Herman Melville(ditto). Actually, most of the books on the rack I already had--Madame Bovary, Crime & Punishment(though that's a recent acquisition), Jane Eyre, etc. I think this'll be worthwhile, eventually. I haven't measure the average time lapse from purchase to reading, for books that I am not chomping at the bit to read, but I'm sure it's measured in years, and maybe double digits at that.
I've been listening to some albums that I've had for a few years now, since before Simon was born, anyhow, and never really gotten into. "Exile On Main Street" by the Rolling Stones I picked up because someone in one of my music guides raved about it as their masterpiece. I was never particularly impressed with it, but I tried very hard to give it a good listening today as I was doing dishes. That's one of those activities where you can be busy but still concentrate fairly well on what you're listening to. It still didn't strike me as deathless music, but I was struck by the song "Let It Loose", which stood out for me among the second half of the album. Have to remember that one for next time.
Saint Etienne's "So Tough" was also a music guide recommendation, and I enjoy it fairly well, but one problem I have is matching up songs to titles. I don't have it on CD, and there are lots of short bits between songs, so sometimes it's hard to tell what's what. Often the titles are not in the lyrics(at least, if they are, it's not evident on casual listening), except for "You're In A Bad Way". I think that "Hobart Paving" is one that I like, for instance, but I can't tell for sure.
Bob Dylan's "Blonde On Blonde"...well, everyone always says that Dylan's early work is classic, so I picked this one up as well. It does have several songs I was familiar with from two volumes of his Greatest Hits, like "I Want You", "Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again", "Just Like A Woman", and of course "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35"(where did he get that title from, anyway?). This time I gave it a good listen too, and now I have a fairly good fix on "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" and "Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine". Dylan is still not my favourite, but he may eventually grow on me. I like some of his later stuff too, anyway.
What else have we got...well, "Transistor" by 311 I couldn't give a good listen to this time because I was at work with the volume down. Siouxsie & The Banshees' "Hyaena" was pretty good, though the individual songs haven't struck me yet(with the possible exception of "Bring Me The Head of The Preacher Man", which I remember noticing but probably still couldn't hum for you). Same for Happy Rhodes' "Warpaint", which didn't seem to have any songs as striking as "Equipoise"'s "Runners" or "Cohabitants", though "Phobos", "Wrong Century", and the title track I could probably hum for you a little bit.
Then there's Split Enz's "True Colours". I've always been more of a fan of Crowded House than Split Enz, but then I never really remember them much except for "I Got You" and "Six Months In A Leaky Boat". I have picked up a few albums of their since, though, including "History Never Repeats", their greatest hits album(those I always find useful in getting my bearings with a group's music), but haven't gotten much further than those hits on the other albums. On this one, "I Hope I Never" and "Poor Boy" are still the two I notice most, but I'm getting to the others as well. I'm willing to tentatively state that I might like this album better than "Time & Tide", but I couldn't say for sure. And that's final.*
Oh, and I forget to mention earlier, on Tuesday Sharna & Nick offered to babysit, so we went out to see a movie. It turned out to be a cheap-theatre presentation of "The Sum of All Fears". The cheap theatre was incredibly busy, moreso that we've ever seen it, with actual lineups outside and everything. I should clarify--I think we've been in lineups outside there before, but this was worse than usual. It moved fairly swiftly, and we did end up having time to go see the movie of our choice(though there were four or five others at other times that we would have been willing to hazard as well), though not get popcorn. I think it was so busy because it's the last week before school starts again. I wouldn't have thought that the difference in prices between Tuesday($1.50)and the rest of the week($2.00 or $2.50)would have been extreme enough to get everybody out to the cheap theatres on that night, but whatever...
The theatre itself was a little crowded too, of course, and we did have to sit close to the left wall, but it wasn't a big theatre so it wasn't that bad. And I've noticed that there are very few seats in a theatre that are so bad that you still notice your awkward viewing angle after half an hour of the movie. I imagine they design them that way.
I read the book the movie was based on some years ago--the first Tom Clancy I read, in fact, grabbed on impulse from the library without much consciousness that it was several books into the series. The book was severely bloated with extraneous plotlines, but it came together in the second half and became very effective. I could already tell from the commercials that they'd taken major liberties, and broken all continuity with even the other movies, to put Ben Affleck in the main role rather than someone in his 50's or something.
Anyway, they had trimmed out most of the fat for the movie, and it was pretty good, though still slower in the first half. They pretty much kept the ending, which was by far the best part of the book, and that was a good thing. Though I was amused at one reversal between book and movie: In the movie, Jack Ryan is a political analyst who has an unpopular theory about the Russian leadership which nobody on the President's staff seriously believes--but in the book, there's a political analyst with a ludicrously wrong theory about the Russian leadership...who has the ear(and the bed)of the President, and causes a lot of the trouble at the end. It's almost a total reversal of the meaning of the book. Also, I noticed that the Arab terrorists of the book were replaced with fascists, who are a much safer target these days when it seems we're trying to avoid saying that all Muslims are evil while preparing for war with most of them anyway.
When watching the previews I was fired up again with urges to see "The Bourne Identity", which looks like it could be a bit closer to the book. I recognized scenes from the book during the trailer, which is amazing since it's been years since I read it, though my memory was refreshed by references in the later books, which came up more recently. (Clear?) The preview for "Road To Perdition" was interesting too, though we refused to believe that the movie had already come out to theatres because we were almost sure this was the first we'd heard of it--and a Tom Hanks movie, even! (Though we never heard a single thing about "That Thing You Do!" either.) That's another one we want to see, anyway.
Maybe one thing I should do, as I enter my second year of blogging, is write more about my past. I haven't done much of that.
I graduated from Grande Prairie Composite High School in 1987, shortly before I turned sixteen; after that, I elected to spend a year going to the Grande Prairie Regional College. My friend Jeremy, was also going to GPRC, and I both majored in Physics, mostly because of a great Grade 12 Physics teacher, Mr. Leesinsky.
We could only take one year at the college, though, so in 1988 we registered at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Then, of course, we had to find someplace to live. By chance, I ran into one of my math professors at a play at the college, and he said that he had a house in Millwoods that he needed to rent out, or at least the upstairs. There were three bedrooms, and it would be $540 a month. It sounded perfect--now all we needed was a third person.
At the college, I had met some cool people, mostly from the Catholic high school. One of them, Troy, I owe a debt of eternal gratitude for turning me on to such great comics as Watchmen, Grimjack, and Cerebus. He invited me to join in a GURPS game he was playing in. The GM of that game was a guy named Dave, who I knew slightly because at one point he had been in a play with my mother and Steve.
So when we needed someone to take our third room, Troy was my first thought. But he had already made his plans for accommodation, I guess. So I offered it to Dave, who had mentioned that he was coming down to Edmonton to take a course at Grant MacEwen. And he accepted.
Now if I could take back that offer, I would, because Dave had always been my Roommate From Hell experience. We might have had to pay that extra $90/month each for a month or two, but I'm sure we could've found someone more compatible.
Dave was sloppy and slovenly. He dirtied half of our supply of knives in a single day making a different peanut butter sandwich with each one, and similarly left many glasses with a thin film of dried milk at the bottom. We sometimes tried to make him do the dishes, but they ended up so greasy after he was finished that we abandoned the idea. He would eat anything that was in the fridge, no matter who had put it there, so sometimes if I wanted to keep something I would hide it in my room. He would cook sometimes, often a duck which he would roast and then eat for a day or two, getting everything greasy, and then stinking up the house after it started to go rancid. He would also snack on frozen peas, straight from the freezer. Okay, that one wasn't so bad, I could deal with it. His room never had more furniture than a mattress, and was incredibly squalid the few times we dared to venture into it for some compelling reason.
He was also often impossible to get out of conversation with if you got into it at the wrong time. Once he followed me into my room was I was trying to escape, and then picked a book of my shelf and started reading it. I had to actually ask him to leave. Oh, and it was almost impossible to get him to pay his share of the rent. He certainly never volunteered to do it, and it was painful to ask. He actually stopped taking the Grant MacEwen course after a few months, but never got a job or anything. He went out to buy books and games regularly, though. Once I saw one of his bank statements, and he had a lot of money on there; Jeremy said he thought that Dave's dad had given him some stocks or something.
Jeremy went to Calgary to work for the summers. The first summer, fed up with him, I asked him to move out. He didn't. He was still there when I moved in with Nicole, and he was still there after Jeremy left too. One of Dave's friends had moved in to replace me, and apparently they never got a third again. A few years later I got a call from the professor who owned the house, who wanted to know if there was any reason he couldn't evict them. Apparently they weren't paying rent, and seemed to be broke. I told him to go ahead, with my blessing. With any luck, Dave moved back with his mother. He was eight years older than me, as I discovered when the census people came by one year, and yet he was living with his mother before we moved down to Edmonton.
It wasn't all bad, I suppose. He was a pretty good GM, for GURPS, or the Star Wars roleplaying system, which was actually quite neat and fun to play. Jeremy probably got along with him better than I did; I hid in my room a lot, or, later, spent time at Nicole's. But Jeremy and Dave were both more interested in gaming than I was, so maybe had more in common. He was a total nerd, I have no doubt.
I don't miss him, though. I miss the other roommates we could have had instead.
And now I continue with another couple of entries in the countdown of my 750 favourite songs, which I started a few months after I started the blog(November 22, 2001), after seeing something similar in another blog which I probably couldn't even find now. It'll probably go on forever, now, because after this is done I will have more songs that I like to add to the list as well. But yes, the countdown:
418. Elton John: Candle In The Wind, from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Though I am much more familiar with the live version, I think with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra or something, which had a video in the mid-80's. That's the version on my favourite-song tapes, anyway. This is such a classic that I don't know what to say about it. I never listened to the Lady Diana version("Goodbye English Rose"?), I confess, because I thought that it was stupid to rewrite the lyrics for her and pretend it was a new song. I may never become reconciled to that.
417. King Crimson: Three of A Perfect Pair, from Three of A Perfect Pair
I heard it first on "The Compact King Crimson", one of the few Belew-era tracks which isn't from "Discipline". The album itself is pretty scattershot, especially the second half, but this song has King Crimson's trademark polyrhythms, and cool lyrics(even if I suspect they misuse "schizophrenia" to mean "multiple personality", which is a pet peeve of mine)
Though I am looking forward right now to the start of the new TV season. I have actually started watching some "Scrubs" reruns. I never watched it when it came out, because it didn't sound like the right kind of humour for me, but then I heard it compared to "M*A*S*H", so I thought I'd give it a try. Besides, it came on right after "Whose Line"(good lead-in!)--in fact, it came on instead of the second episode of "Whose Line" that they usually played back-to-back. I've only seen a couple of episodes so far, but musical allusions to "West Side Story" in the first one clinched it for me. Now I just have to remember to watch it.
I've been on BearShare tonight; I finally got around to downloading the new version, hoping it would make some kind of a difference, but it's just as deserted as it's been the last few times I tried. The number of search hits seem to be pathetic. Has everyone deserted the Gnutella network? It seemed the hardiest, if not the fastest, of the P2P networks(though I haven't tried many). Where is everybody these days? Oh, well, at least I seem to have found the rest of the MP3s so that I can burn myself a copy of the first Dream Academy album to replace my cassette copy. Much harder will be to replace Don Dixon's "Most of The Girls Like To Dance But Only Some of The Boys Do", which is in really bad shape.
A lot of the tapes in my collection were bought from 1985-88, and for some reason they're all starting to die off--getting screechy at the end of side one, generally muffled all over, or just plain getting eaten. Many of them I have tried to copy before the degeneration got too bad, but I have so many that I can't do them all, and sometimes it seems silly to wait until it starts sounding bad before I tape it, because then I have a bad-quality copy.
One day I'll have everything on CD, or MP3, or whatever. But that's not going to happen anytime soon, unless I win the lottery. One day I may have to decide which albums I could live without replacing. But hopefully not yet.
I finished Sailing Bright Eternity a couple of days ago, and I'd have to say it was a little disappointing. The main plot was so huge that there was no way that the human characters we were following could have done anything about it themselves, and as it turned out they didn't. There was a brief time when I thought they could have a dramatic climax, but after the mechs being mostly wiped out through entirely indirect means, all they could do was hunt down the one that had been their own personal nemesis. It didn't satisfy me. The scenery was interesting, but it didn't measure up to its predecessor, Furious Gulf. But at least I'm finished the series now.
Then I read More Adventures of The Great Brain by John D. McDonald. I know I'd read some of the Great Brain books as a kid, but now I've been rereading them trying to figure out which ones. I don't think this was one of them--certainly the first one, and Me & My Little Brain, which was my favourite. But it was still a good read, and had some genuinely touching moments.
Now I'm onto Scion's Lady by Rebecca Bradley. I hadn't really heard of her before meeting her at ConVersion a couple of years ago, but we bought her Gil trilogy and Nicole really liked them. This is the second one; I read Lady In Gil somewhere in there, but don't remember much of it. It will come back to me, though, I'm sure. The plot hasn't grabbed me yet, but then maybe I just haven't had time to get into it. I ended up talking to Edna at lunch instead of reading my book, and that's usually my reliable reading time.
Some library CDs, and others, to report on. I listened to "Morning Dove White" by One Dove at work, but after Edna actually complained about the volume once, I've been paranoidly playing things very quiet, so I barely heard it. Also, I'm ashamed to say it, I was working so hard that I wasn't even paying attention. So I gave it a second listen at home tonight. It was interesting, sort of light techno, but didn't come up with any tracks that really grabbed me.
Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells III" was more interesting than II in some ways. It was less a slavish rewrite of the first album, which was good and bad. The opening track managed to catch the spirit of the famous piano intro and add some techno beat to it, but it didn't provide anything else to measure up to the original's incredible side-one finale. It did include the song "Man In The Rain", which reminded me more than somewhat of "Moonlight Shadow", and was apparently recorded some time ago. So I'd rate it better then "TB2", but still not really up to his best work.
Today I listened to "The Audio of Being" by the Matthew Good Band. They're a Canadian alternative band that I've heard bashed quite a bit, but haven't actually heard much. This album didn't do much for me, despite having interesting, almost prog-rock titles like "Advertising On Police Cars". Again, it was a listen at work, and maybe I should give it another chance, but I often don't have the time to listen to a whole album at a time at home anymore. It's sad, really. I've got a whole long weekend coming up, I should be able to fit it in somewhere...
There's also a couple more I'd borrowed from Darren. There's "Steaming Pile of Skit" by Three Dead Trolls In A Baggie, an Edmonton comedy group who's done some kickass work in the past. It seems to be a sort of sampler of their work, and includes a spoof of the "sunscreen song", a song about how Canada burned the White House in the War of 1812, their classic "Proximity To God Index" sketch, and Wes Borg's "Political Diatribe" song in high-school French.
Then there's Todd Butler's homemade "CBC Songs #1" CD, mostly containing spoofs with politically-oriented lyrics, like "Hotel Can't Afford Ya", a comment on the current state of Alberta's health care system, "Bouchardian Rhapsody" about one of Québec's leading separatist politicians, and others dating back to the days of Brian Mulroney. My favourite is probably "The Car Song", which is not so much a song as a huge shaggy-dog P.I. story featuring as many car-name puns as he could fit in. The car version of "I Lobster But Never Flounder", if you will.
I haven't bought anything myself in a little while, though. I forewent my usual trip to Southside Sound last time we went up to Whyte, because that was when I was sick. Maybe if I sneak back up there this weekend to check for those heraldry books... I keep meaning to go visit the University library and look for that asteroid nomenclature book, too, even though my asteroid interest is in a bit of a lull right now.
I'll do the countdown here, and that'll be it:
420. George Michael: Father Figure, from Faith
This song has lasted better than I would have expected, and has long been my favourite from the album. It's kind of moody and haunting, and has a lot of punch in the chorus.
419. Queen: '39, from A Night At The Opera
Queen is one of the first bands I listened to regularly, courtesy of my brother, and this album in particular because of its variety. This is part of the very small genre of "relativistic folk songs", though it is flawed in that the relativistic effects of time dilation, while well documented these days, are totally unexpected by the characters in the song. It's still quite a powerful song, which doesn't seem science fictional on first listen, but on closer inspection you'll pick it up.
a^n+b^n=c^n. No solutions for n>2, as can be seen by |#@}NO CARRIER
This is the last weekend of the Fringe festival, and Darren's house, being a paltry few blocks north of the Fringe site, was almost impossible to park near. I parked most of the way down the block, technically blocking an alley driveway by about six inches, and then had to lug back the immensely heavy A.C. Fox-Davies book I'd borrowed from him last time. And I went several blocks out of my way just to get there. They didn't block off many of the main streets, but when I was going back I saw that the speed limits were cut down to 30 km/h and there were many, many pedestrians.
Darren and Bohdana's daughter Sophia sat on my lap for a few minutes--she's about eight months old now. She almost started to cry at one point, but I was able to jolly her out of that with a game of peekaboo and some knee-bouncing. I noticed, inanely, that she was heavier than Luke but lighter than Simon.
When I was downtown for the blogger meetup on Wednesday, I kept noticing things having changed downtown. I haven't been downtown that much in quite a while. I drive up 105th Street to get to work, but that's a little bit west of the downtown core. They'd been working on the Stanley A. Milner library(the "main branch", but at some point they decided to name it after somebody, probably a famous librarian)for a few years, as I'd discovered a year or two ago when I accidently requested a CD for there instead of the Millwoods branch. The existence of an actual coffee shop next to it was news to me when we were doing the venue voting.
But I just never need to go downtown these days. I go to Strathcona all the time because of the bookstores and stuff, but downtown doesn't have that kind of stuff. Actually, the last time I went downtown was probably for the Bruce Cockburn concert, and there I parked in the library parkade and walked through the underground pedway, so I didn't see a whole lot.
One of the oddest things I noticed was crossing lights with countdowns. I noticed on the "flashing hand" phase, when you're allowed to finish walking across the street but not allowed to start. At some intersections, like the one outside the Second Cup window, they had a timer telling you how many seconds were left before it changed. I noticed the same thing on Saturday at 109th Street and Whyte Ave. going to Darren's. It doesn't show up anywhere on my way to work, and I don't suppose they could afford to put it at every intersection anyway, but I guess it's just the major ones.
It's like how they used to have "audio crossing signals" on some intersections--probably the same ones. It would chirp, for the benefit of the visually impaired I guess, when you were allowed to cross. I think it made different noises for crossing one way as opposed to the other way. I don't think they have those anymore, but I could be wrong. I remember them a lot from when we used to live in Oliver, west of downtown, but then they had a Canadian National Institute for the Blind office in that neighbourhood as well.
Another entry of the countdown:
422. Tom Waits: Step Right Up, from Small Change
This is a really funny song, with a repeating bassline ostinato, a little bit of sax, and Tom doing an endless meaningless huckster routine over top of it. Not one of his deeper works, but then I think those are often overrated anyway.
421. Offspring: Self Esteem, from Smash
Oddly enough, it's mostly the lyrics I like in this one too, about a guy who just can't stand up for himself with the girl who walks all over him. The music is okay too, not unlistenable speed-metal like some of the album, but a bit of actual melody.
It was just Randy, Taz and myself at the blog meetup. Limegirl was out of town, and if anyone else showed up they probably missed us. Nobody ended up being a "host", so nobody had a sign or sheet of paper or stood up and shouted "BLOG!" at regular intervals.
So mostly another discussion of popular culture, my eyes glazing over a little bit as Randy and Taz talk about Saturday Night Live(a show I've never really watched)and obscure bands and websites I've never heard of. But it was okay. Each of us mentioned our brothers, generally as cool people, though Taz's is actually a local newsanchor that I've heard of, and maybe even seen on TV...
We also talked about the impending anniversary of September 11th, and how we heard about it. This also made me realize that this blog's first anniversary is coming up, because I hadn't been blogging very long before the tragedy. I will have to make an effort to mark the event with...well, a post, at least. That's all I can promise at this point. What, you want a new design too? Then fix one up for me, because in truth I don't care that much, and I don't really want to learn about cascading style sheets right now.
Tonight I had to pay Nicole back for the blog meetup. That is, I left her with the kids for an evening, so I had to take them for an evening in return. "Evening" here is basically 7:00 to 9:00. Well, it wasn't that much fun. Luke was fussy and kept wanting to be held or even walked with, but Simon wanted me to play computer games with him. Finally, once Luke settled down, Simon wanted me to play checkers with him, then complained when he ended up the wrong colour, and then cried when I beat him. I know that he has no clue how to play and it was probably cruel to beat him, but that was just the mood I was in at that point. If he wants to play with me, I won't hold it back. Maybe soon he'll start to get a grasp on rules.
I also showed him a bit of Go. I might have mentioned how Dick at work is a big Go player, so he got me interested in it, in passing. I managed to beat the computer a few times on a 9x9 board with first stone but no handicap, though it beat me too. Simon wanted to play too, of course, but he got absolutely toasted, and wasn't happy about that, either.
When I brought them back upstairs I was just enervated. I felt totally dead tired. I've recovered a bit since then, but I still might manage to get to bed before 11:30 tonight. Last night I didn't feel like doing anything, but I didn't want to go to bed, so I ended up doing stupid useless things like looking up my high school class on classmates.com.
There's only one person from high school I would really like to get in touch with that I haven't heard from at some point or other, and of course she hadn't signed up there. It's tougher to find female classmates than male, because they often get married and change their names. I never got to know her until just a few weeks before graduation, so it's a shame I lost touch with her.
But then, I'm bad at keeping in touch. I've given up on the baby announcements I kept meaning to send out to some of my friends, because it's at least six weeks now. I keep thinking "better never than late". Somehow to me it would be worse to be an afterthought than never thought of at all. Besides, they never sent me any baby announcements either...
Right, now a bunch of library CDs. First we have "Furnace Room Lullaby" by Neko Case & Her Boyfriends. I ran into Neko Case a little while ago on the New Pornographers album, and discovered that that's sort of a west-coast supergroup. Neko herself is more alt-country, but in a good way. Interesting contrast to Sara Evans, who's totally mainstream country. The title track of the album is quite good, and there's some good guitar bits on "Mood To Burn Bridges". I'm not sure if it's quite up my alley, but I'm sure I'd buy it for two dollars...
I was quite impressed with "99%" by Meat Beat Manifesto. I don't know anything about the album, but had them confused with the Meat Puppets in my head, and maybe even the Beat Farmers now that I think about it. Anyway, it's electronic music of a sort, but more industrial than techno in a lot of ways. If I have those terms right...at the very least, it made me think more of Cabaret Voltaire than the Chemical Brothers or Daft Punk. Also a bit more drum'n'bass. The track that stood out for me was "10x Faster Than The Speed of Love", which is mesmerizing even at six minutes long. Definitely one for my wishlist.
I also picked up "Undercover" by the Rolling Stones. I've never really gotten into the Stones that much, but I like "Beggar's Banquet", and some tracks from "Steel Wheels". I picked up "Exile On Main Street" strictly on the All-Music Guide recommendation, but it doesn't do much for me. I know I've tried "Goat's Head Soup" at some point, too. This one at least I knew some of the tracks from their videos. I don't think it's a keeper overall, but "Too Much Blood" was a neat song, if also a bit long.
Now I guess on to the countdown of my 750 favourite songs:
424. The Buggles: Living In The Plastic Age, from The Age of Plastic
My brother used to listen to this album a lot--I recognized this track when I first played the album--but I couldn't get past that stupid "Video Killed The Radio Star" song for a long time. But now it's one of my favourite albums. This one, the leadoff track, keeps making me think it's a track from Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma" when it starts, with a little bit of weird psychedelic sound, but after that moves into propulsive synth-pop and opens up on the chorus. Highly recommended.
423. The Police: King of Pain, from Synchronicity
I know I used to like this song a lot, though it's palled a little bit in recent years. But it is still a classic.
Opinions are like armpits--yours are warm and secure, everyone else's stink.
You know, I meant to look it up on the Web when we got home, so that's what I'm going to do. There seems to be a site which touts it as a "resort community". Apparently you can buy or rent homes there, and there is a much better ferry available for "residents and their guests". Not the hoi polloi, though. It is a "gated community". According to an article on its history in the Detroit News, it used to be owned by a company that did have an amusement park and such on there, but that stuff was all sold off in the 90's, and apparently a guy named John Oram has bought up the whole place and is probably making a mint off of it. On the Web, I am unable to determine precisely how much it would cost to buy or rent a house there, though, so I don't know exactly what class of people are supposed to live there. Maybe one day I'll write a story set there and fill it with snide, snobby rich people.* (Also, there is another Bois Blanc/Bob-Lo Island up in the Straits of Mackinac--at the other end of Lake Huron...)
Anyway, after that fiasco, we just drove around the coast for a while. It's bizarre seeing a boat dock on every house. Finally we went back to Duffy's. We had message from Steve and Kelly, to the effect that Kelly had fallen asleep early Sunday night, probably from relief of tension, and they'd never made it to Amherstburg. So they'd stayed overnight in Windsor, but they'd be down to see us after lunch. Lunch was a bit of a challenge, because there didn't seem to be a lot of places open. We ended up going back to a Burger King that Mom and Elmer had seen during a trip to the local mall for supplies. It had a little kids' play area that we let Simon loose in for a little while.
Then we came back to Duffy's, and we waited, and we waited. We went in the pool. They phoned a little later to say that they were having trouble getting away--people kept showing up that wanted to talk to them. Finally, sometime close to 4:00, I think, they showed up. I think most of us(except me and Luke, of course)were in the pool by that point. I did go down a little bit later--Steve came to poolside and held Luke for a little bit.
By that time it was close to supper. We all piled into the minivan, even though there was technically not room for Steve and Kelly to both fit in there. But they are neither of them drivers. A quick turn around Amherstburg told us that there were very few restaurants open there. This on a Monday that was not, technically, a holiday in Ontario, in a town that was supposed to be touristy? We couldn't figure that out. We even tried a couple of places that we'd seen a little south of Amherstburg on the highway.
Then Kelly talked us into trying a place in Lasalle, called the "Michigan Tavern". She said they had really good food there. Well, when we got there, it was apparently an all-smoking place, if not technically a bar that did not allow minors. So we left there pretty fast. After that we ended up going all the way to Windsor, where we went to a Swiss Chalet. We didn't really feel like Swiss Chalet, but we were damned if we were going to drive any further.
And that was the first chance we really had to talk with Steve & Kelly, brief as it was. By that point it was close to 7:00, I think, and Luke was getting hungry; we just mixed him some formula and gave him a bottle. It was another short evening after that; we went back to Amherstburg and Duffy's, and retired to our own rooms.
The next morning we had breakfast at Duffy's as usual, and eventually Steve and Kelly joined us. I think they were staying there a little while longer, but I'm not sure. Our plane was scheduled to leave from London shortly after lunch, so we left in what we thought would be plenty of time. We decided we would take the 401 this time, which it looked like it would be easiest to get onto in Windsor. So we drove up to Windsor, but our map was missing a number of streets, and we kept missing turns. Only a few good warning signs kept us from ending up going over the bridge to Detroit. Finally I took the map and managed to navigate us back down to the highway that would take us to the 401.
The 401 itself was not that impressive, just a four-lane highway. I guess it's more notorious for its bad traffic, and that closer to Toronto. This side of London, it was fine. I found amusing that while they had few signs that actually told you how far it was to London, etc., they had a number that told you the exact fines for traffic violations, in English and in French. That's the difference between signage in Ontario and Alberta, I guess. I still give the "good signage" award to Alberta hands down over any other province I've driven in. But then I think we have a better infrastructure budget.
We got to the London airport with not as much time to spare as we would've liked. We managed to get all five of our seats actually together this time. We didn't end up with much time for lunch, though. The tiny little cafeteria was understaffed and very slow; Nicole asked for a hot dog, which she thought would be quicker than a burger, but it turned out to be the holdup of the whole thing. My BLT sandwich came faster. So we're sitting there, Nicole waiting impatiently for her food and the rest of us wolfing ours down, while the calls come over the PA exhorting us to get into line for the security screening for our flight. At least, the airport being so small, we were in easy viewing distance of the line--it was maybe ten feet away--and got into it in time, even though we had to bring the fries we'd allocate to Simon along with us.
Then, of course, we had to sit in a crowded waiting lounge after our security screening. It wasn't too long before we got to pre-board the plain(one benefit of traveling with small children, though you have to get off last as well). Somehow, our water bottle got left behind in the shuffle. It was a squeeze bottle we'd gotten many car trips ago and had taken to bringing up into the bedroom at night. We haven't replaced it yet.
Simon was a bit more of a pain on the flight back, not wanting to stay in his seat belt. Perhaps the fact that we had more turbulence--nothing major, but a lot of bumps--and the seat belt sign stayed on for most of the way contributed to that. The washrooms were in high demand, probably because there weren't any in the boarding lounge in London, so I think we were almost to Winnipeg before I got to use one. We had to switch planes in Winnipeg, with just enough time for everyone else(who hadn't gotten to the washroom)to use them, and change diapers, and then we hurried back to our gate to wait as they unloaded our plane, which had been running a few minutes late. I actually got a window seat this time, for a while, because Luke had been fed on the descent into Winnipeg and wouldn't need to be fed again until we got back close to Edmonton.
Finally, after enduring more Simon misbehaviour, looking at mostly clouds out the window, and then having to switch seats with Nicole before we started descending again, we got back to Edmonton. Our stroller, however, was not waiting for us when we deplaned. We'd gotten a gate tag in London like everything else, but it was not there. We asked someone, who went and checked, and found only a stroller labelled for Comox, BC(the plane's next destination), which was patently not ours. They told us to go down to the baggage claim, in case the gate tag had gotten lost or something. So we went there, but it did not show up. Finally we went to the "lost luggage" counter, and talked to the guy there, who said he would check into it, and after he did everything he could with the plane that we'd been on, had us fill out a form and said it would hopefully be found and delivered to us soon. In the meantime, we had to carry Luke, but it was not a major hardship because they had a little "Park & Ride" shuttle bus, where it was easier to carry Luke than get the stroller on and off of it anyway.
That night, we got a call about 9:30 from the lost luggage guy, saying that the stroller had been found in Victoria(???), but was on its way back to us and should get there within the hour. I was just about to give up and go to bed at 10:30(which was 12:30 Eastern)when the doorbell rang, and sure enough it was a guy with our stroller. So that's pretty good service, if you ask me.
And that concludes, finally, the Ontario story. And probably explains why we didn't leap at the chance to go to the SF convention in Calgary the next weekend.
A few library CDs to discuss as well. As a result of reading that list of "albums to get rid of", I became interested in not a few of the ones I hadn't heard. One of these I grabbed at the library a few days later--"Time Out" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Now I'm not a big jazz fan, but the whole thing of playing around with time signatures sounded interesting. Well, it wasn't, really. It was still mostly just jazz.
And "Take Five", which I thought would be some bizarre 5/4 masterpiece, was not only incredibly laid-back, but I'd heard it before, or a version of it, on guitar. Apparently I already had a version of it by Chet Atkins on one of his albums, and just didn't realize it. I don't know if I'd noticed it was 5/4.
So it was nowhere near as interesting as some of the other odd time-signature song I'd heard, like "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel or "Mother" by The Police, just to name a couple that occurred to me, or practically everything by the early-80's incarnation of King Crimson.
I also wasn't that impressed with Daryl Hall's "Soul Alone", not that I really expected to be. Pretty bland and unremarkable.
I was impressed with "Room For Squares" by John Mayer, about whom I've been hearing a lot, mostly on the Net. I hadn't heard him on the radio or anything, that I know of. I did like the album, though. I could see why some people had compared him to Dave Matthews, though his sound was not as musically elaborate as most of DMB that I've heard--mostly just the voice. The sound was more like Don Dixon, almost, and I kept hearing hints of that in there. More of a musical throwback, I guess. But it will definitely go on my wishlist.
Finally, I also checked out "Made In Japan" by Deep Forest, which apparently was a live album. It's sort of world music, though with synthesizers as well--more like Shadowfax meets Gentlemen Without Weapons. An interesting sound, but not compelling. My mom might like it though, I'm not sure.
Finally(last time I use "finally" this entry, I promise), we have the countdown:
428. Björk: Human Behaviour, from Debut
I like a lot of Björk albums, but sometimes she's hard to pin down, and sometimes she just gets too weird. So the first of her I heard is still my favourite. I love those big tympani in the background, the lyrics are just too cool, and it's just very compelling.
427. Indigo Girls: Land of Canaan, from Indigo Girls
Actually, I'm not sure of the album there, because I also have it listed for "Strange Fire". Maybe it was on the earlier version of something. I had to look it up, anyway. This is a powerful song, more Amy Ray than Emily Saliers, of a woman in love with someone who regards her as an ideal, when what she wants is real love right now. It's bitter without being scathing.
I had to laugh recently, when I got a few referral links from Sex and Sunshine, "mainly a music blog". I've gotten a few, mostly from archive pages for some reason, but never two in one day before, so I thought I'd check it out in case he had posted about me. Well, he had. But apparently only to state that he was removing me from his sidebar of "music blogs", because "the posts are too long, my attention span is too short".
This is fairly diplomatic, because it doesn't come out and say "The Den of Ubiquity sucks" or anything. It's self-deprecating, the way I say that I don't get certain books because they're too literary for me, and not because I think they're pretentious arty crap from someone who doesn't know how to tell a good story. So for all I know Mr. Fritz, the proprietor, thinks I'm crap. But I agree that my blog is not a good "music blog", and I've never categorized it as such. I like to ramble on about music, and about books, and also about what's happening in my life. And I do it less frequently, so the posts get long.
Besides, I don't like Radiohead, either.*
I was going to talk about Darren & Bohdana's visit yesterday. Not much to tell, but I will anyway. They called up, offering to come over and chip in for a pizza. Basically, they had just gotten back from Vancouver, on the bus, no less, and did not feel like cooking. We could totally relate. We had been going to have lasagna, from our abortive plans for the anniversary dinner, so we just invited them to come over and have that, and they did.
Sophia is quite alert now, and kept looking around with her blue eyes. Bohdana had to hold her for most of the meal, though, because we didn't have a high chair for her or anything. We found Bohdana's knife, completely clean, under the placemat when we cleaned up. Yes, we used our placemats, since we had company. We're so hifalutin.
They said something about a "translator's conference" in Vancouver. Since Darren is a chemistry instructor, this must be what Bohdana is doing now, which makes a certain amount of sense. She knows Ukrainean(her native tongue)and English, and probably Russian too, and possibly others. And it's work she can do at home with the baby if she needs to. Even on the road, if she spends some time in Red Deer with Darren. (I wonder when his year starts and he has to go back down there.) Darren hasn't done much work on the next stage of the D&D campaign yet, so who knows when we'll get back to that...
Tonight Simon was being a bit fractious, wanting to go upstairs with Nicole when she wanted to work on her writing. Finally I lured him downstairs with the promise of a story. He didn't want any of the usual "stories" though--which I just recite, as opposed to reading from a book, and at the moment generally consist of "Goldilocks & The Three Bears", and "The Three Little Pigs". We'd had some success last week with "Goldilocks & The Three Pigs", especially with the three porridge bowls, one made of straw, one made of sticks, and one made of bricks.
I then asked him about "Luke & The Three Bears"(since Luke was downstairs with us, lying on a pillow on the futon and kicking his legs happily), "The Three Little Lukes", etc., but Simon would have none of that. Until I hit on the idea of telling him the story of Luke Skywalker.
This isn't the first time that we've told him the Star Wars story, actually, but it has been a while. He seemed quite taken with it, especially the light sabers and the attack on the Death Star at the end. Mostly because they involved fighting and shooting, but whatever. We will really have to let him watch that sometime, but not for a few years yet, I think.
Yesterday we went down to Old Strathcona. That's one of the older parts of Edmonton; in fact, as I understand, it used to be a separate community on the other side of the river from Edmonton, until they joined together at some point. I love the name "Strathcona", and wish they'd used it for the entire town instead of "Edmonton", which is pretty dull. Oh, well. It was apparently quite run-down for a while, but has been revitalized in the last ten-fifteen years into an arty place like Vancouver's Gastown. It's got the largest concentration of used bookstores in the city, and lots of craft shops and such.
I was originally planning to go there because I had somehow, by accident, ended up with a book on hold at the library branch there, instead of at the Millwoods branch. The only thing I can think is that I was using one of the web computers that someone had set to a different default, and I didn't notice. I wonder if any others of my requests are also going to come in at Strathcona... But my comic store, Warp One Comics & Games, is also down there, and while I do have a file there, I collect it so infrequently that after a few months I get paranoid that they'll clean it out.
Then Nicole decided to go, because she likes to visit the Wee Book Inn, the premier used bookstore chain(for our purposes, which are not focused on particularly old or rare books). So we drove down there, and upon arriving at Whyte Avenue(the central thoroughfare of Old Strathcona), found signs that some streets were blocked off for the Fringe Festival. But we were fairly sure that the Fringe hadn't started yet... We parked near Sharna's old apartment, as usual(though not as near as we often manage), and set off to our separate destinations. (This was the day that Luke was awake most of the day, recall--that car trip was his only nap.)
When I entered the blocked-off portions of 83rd Avenue(one block north of Whyte), I soon realized that active Fringing was not in progress. The Fringe Festival is the annual drama festival in Edmonton, with dozens of plays going on in assorted venues, mostly around the Strathcona area but some at other places around town. I haven't been in years, but I've seen some good plays there and some bad ones. I know that they have Fringe Festivals in other cities as well, but I recall hearing that Edmonton's was the first... Though I could, of course, be wrong. Anyway, they were just in preparation for the Fringe, which is probably starting more like Thursday or Friday.
The Strathcona library branch is a really old building(by Edmonton standards, anyway--in Amherstburg nobody would even notice), and probably getting pretty cramped, but also probably an unrenovatable historic site. It's just across the park(whose name I forget)from the Gazebo, and on the same block as the Walterdale Theatre(a former firehall). I picked up the CD that was there for me("99%" by Meat Beat Manifesto), and grabbed CDs by Neko Case and Sara Evans on impulse as I went through. (It's one of the branches where you go in by one door, but have to go all the way around and out by the other door.)
Then we went down to Warp One, where I've been going for several years, since it's the premier comic and gaming store in Edmonton. I'm not as much into comics, or gaming, as I used to be, but I still read two faithfully, Cerebus and Love & Rockets. There were four Cerebus issues there, so it's probably four months since I was there. I thought Simon might enjoy the store, but I don't think he really saw much of it, though he did like one display of miniatures and another of Tintin comics.
Then back to the Wee Book Inn, where Nicole had a very awake Luke in his stroller, and had already searched through more of the romance section than usual. I wandered over to the SF section and picked out a few books, which I will discuss more fully in a later entry because I know you want it, but they're still upstairs for some reason. Nothing too spectacular, but I nonetheless could not resist. Also a book of geometric and pictorial puzzles which looked interesting, and which Simon might like in a few years. He's already looked through it a couple of times.
The Cerebus issues were interesting, though more and more Dave Sim's going into the single-picture-per-page-with-dialogue-down-the-side mode of working. I loved the bit where the Northern Isshurians(basically Canadians, in Cerebus's world)came to complain(very politely)about the fact that Five Bar Gate(=hockey)was considered less important than food and drink. Sim's a Canadian himself, of course, so it was all in good fun, and really quite funny. He's up to Issue 280 now--20 issues more before the long-announced finale in Issue 300.
Love & Rockets I'm not as sure about these days. Gilberto Hernandez has apparently quit writing Palomar "Heartbreak Soup" stories, though he's perfectly willing to write stories featuring the characters who are now in America, like Luba's younger sisters, though he's started a similar series of stories which somehow hasn't gelled nearly as much. Jaime is still writing with Hopey and Maggie and all those, and the "Bay of Threes" story showing how Penny Century met H.R. Costigan was a nice bit of backstory.
On to the musical portion of this entry, viz. the Countdown:
430. Moist: Silver, from Silver
Moist may be a mildly lame band who rose to prominence mostly because they sounded fairly "alternative" and a little "grunge", and fit Canadian Content regulations, but they have moments of brilliance, and this song is pretty powerful, especially David Usher's vocals.
429. Sinéad O'Connor: Jackie, from The Lion And The Cobra
The album opener(I believe), lyrically almost a traditional folk song about the woman mourning her love lost at sea, but with a powerful guitar line that builds underneath it which, along with Sinéad's piercing vocals, drive it to almost painful intensity.