Thursday, January 27, 2005


His 'n' Hers Magazine presents
FAKE PROM: A Night To Forget
Saturday, January 29th
at The Grad Club
Fundraiser and Volume 2 Issue 1 Launch Party!

On the main floor, enjoy the musical stylings of:
Tomate Potate! (with guest appearance by MC Phatass)
Whiskey Steve & The Steves!
and The Radical Dudez!
. . . and inbetween, awkwardly slow dance to all your favourite good bad prom classics.

On the second floor, rocking the ones and twos, the laptops, and/or the CD players:
DJ Seez (host of CFRC's Fever Pitch)
Miss Alison "DON'T STOP BELIEVIN'" Lang, lady of the (Toucan Friday) night

On the third floor: people making out, because seriously, we don't need to see it elsewhere in the building.

Prizes for best costume, dance contests, and Fake Prom King and Queen draw, as well as other goodies to get your hands on . . .

Tickets $5 in advance at The Grad Club or from H/H editorial board, $7 at the door.
19+, fun and tunes begin at 9 PM, bands start at 10 PM.
Dress code: make an effort!

Stream or download the Fake Prom radio ad.

Come say hi; I'll be the anthropomorphic disco ball. (No, that'll seriously be enough to go on.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

i'm trying to sail away, but i'm drowning in a sea of alcohol

Boy with Shaker
January 20, The Grad Club

So, my friend Vanessa and I have this band. Actually, it's a "band," in that we can barely play our instruments (I mainly speak for myself and my triangle issues here) and are happy with our performances as long as people laugh with us rather than at us. The first time we had a "real gig" at our friend's kegger, somebody happened to drink too much before we went on stage and rather lost her ability to play guitar correctly. As a result, it was kind of a disaster, but it's not like we were much better to begin with, and no one really cared. I mean, people were there to drink beer, not to see us.

But I still have this weird thing when I go to see real bands where I kind of expect them to be mostly competent even while drunk, since I paid to see them and stuff. Call me crazy, but it's true. And as a result, I didn't enjoy the Boy show very much.

The evening was opened by Shaker, who also played New Music Night on the 11th. On that bill, they followed a horrible, tuneless band called The Visit which basically cleared the place. I think there were about seven people left when they went on stage, but they gave'r anyway in an impressive display of professionalism while wearing loafers and matching flared jeans that looked like they came from the women's section of Value Village. Things weren't much different at The Grad Club, except there were more people there. Shaker play good-natured, inoffensive pop-rock with nice vocal harmonies that's sort of like a cross between The Trews and Sloan (on an uninspired day). They're kind of like an unremarkable but dependable domestic beer: it's palatable enough and does what it's there to do, but you're probably just buying it because you're cheap and you've gotten in the habit of drinking it. That said, sometimes I'm a sucker for that sort of stuff, and I enjoyed their set. (And I feel sorry for them because they are from Kitchener.) However, the rock posturing sometimes got to be a little bit much; goofy rock jumps and attempted scissorkicks are fine, but taking yourself seriously while using these moves is not. I would also like to note that they are pleasingly symmetrical, because the guitarist on the left of the stage was playing a left-handed Gibson SG.

I've seen Boy play a couple of times before, opening for Sloan and Matt Barber. Frontman Stephen Kozmeniuk had lacked stage presence at times, but their Anglophilic indie pop material was usually strong enough to compensate and I was looking forward to seeing them headline. I hadn't been too impressed with "Same Old Song," the first single from their new album Every Page You turn, so I figured I'd decide whether or not to give it a listen based on what I thought of it at The Grad Club.

What managed to emerge through the feedback, slightly off-pitch singing, and the fumbled drunken attempts to play guitar wasn't very impressive. Boy's self-titled debut wasn't the most original album ever produced, but at least it had melody, personality and charm, from the baroque lilt of "French Diplomacy" to the whooping "Punk Ethic". Based on what I could gather from the performance, that's all been traded in for generic and not particularly catchy bar-rock, in the manner of a neutered Sam Roberts (which, in my opinion, is kind of what happened when Brenndan McGuire got his hands on We Were Born In A Flame).

There was at least a lot of spectacle, as Stephen and one of the guitarists roamed the audience, and Stephen used faux-Libertines-style homoeroticism to its fullest effect with all of his fellow strapping young minstrels. He certainly had stage presence, just little musical substance to actually pay attention to. The drummer was very entertaining to watch, since his movements and facial expressions were cartoonish and accompanied by a lot of exaggerated huffing and puffing. He also wasn't pleased that his band's lead singer was a drunken wasteland, which made for several entertaining exchanges and comments. He didn't have a mic, but I was close enough to the stage to be able to hear him:

STEPHEN: Why isn't my guitar working?
MAURIE: Because you trampled it?

STEPHEN: (later) Hey, why isn't my guitar working again?

MAURIE: Okay, who wants their money back?
(On the way out, I also heard another one of the band members apologizing to a fan he knew about the poor quality of the show: "It had a few good moments . . ." "Yeah, but they're all supposed to be good moments.")

MAURIE: Hey, thanks a lot for telling me what song we're playing, I'm only the drummer.

STEPHEN: Oh no, they're making me play my guitar again. Uh . . .

Maurie was also none too pleased when Stephen made a grand gesture with his arm while holding a bottle of beer and spilled a bunch of Stella over the drummer's cymbals and part of the kick drum.

Boy only played two songs from their first album, "Punk Ethic" (which I guess it's appropriate to do a sloppy job with) and "Sea of Alcohol" as an encore, which could not have been more appropriate. Stephen then announced he was going to go play piano in the other main floor room of The Grad Club and invited the rest of us to join him. I cringed at the mere thought of the sounds that might result and decided to go pick up some groceries at A&P. If I am making a grocery list in my head during your encore, while using the rest of my brain to marvel that you can still stand up? You are not putting on a good show.

Rob liked this show a lot more than I did, so if I was too cranky for you, there's another perspective.

I have little to say about Death From Above 1979's show on Friday except that they are still apparently jerks, they are still very loud, they are still pretty awesome, and HOLY CRAP PEOPLE CROWD-SURFED AT THE GRAD CLUB DOUBLE-YEW TEE EFF MATE. I was like "Whoa, where did all these hardcore kids come from?" and the hardcore kids were all like "Whoa, where did all these sissy indie rock kids come from?" and then we had a Sharks and Jets style dance-off. Well, not really, but almost.

Next week, The Local Black & Red goes all MP3-blog on your hiney with Top 5 Songs About Rejection (not precipitated by personal events, in which case it would be "Top 5 Songs About People Being Inexplicably Full Of It" instead).

I love you. Stay warm.

*Boy, "Sea of Alcohol"

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

PECiquette, etc.

To take a brief break from the "2005: Set Your Watch To Awesome" series, I am breaking the "what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room" rule to ask a serious question about etiquette. Now that it is a new year, I am obviously a paragon of physical fitness, which means I've been spending a lot of time in the locker rooms at the PEC. The other day, this girl I didn't know was trying to remember her locker combination and struck up a conversation with me while she tried to get it open. That's cool, as I am pro-friendliness. After our respective workouts, we were both back at our lockers at the same time, and she kept talking to me. Again, this was cool, but there was a small problem in that she was naked above the waist and I'm really sure how you're supposed to deal with a half-naked stranger. I just wouldn't have looked at her, but that seemed rude, since she was all animated and trying to hold my full conversational attention. It's awesome that you're that comfortable with your body, but, uh, I'm not that comfortable with your body yet. Is there some kind of social protocol about this or am I just unnecessarily awkward?

When I put it like that, the answer seems obvious . . .

How Not To Write an Essay (graphic language): "Oedipus used to blaze with the makers of Aqua Fresh tooth paste." If I included every tangent that crossed my mind in every essay I wrote, well, the end result might be kind of like this. (Maybe less so with the preoccupation with homosexuality, and more so with the preoccupation with Dr. Dre.)

TTC subway station buttons: I rode the Toronto subway for the first time in the summer of 2002 (shut up, I'm not from Toronto and lead a sheltered life), and I nudged my friend, pointed at the tile art, and said "It looks like monopoly squares!" I was endlessly fascinated by the changes of colour and design the entire trip, so, naturally, I think these buttons are gorgeous. (Link via Boing Boing.)

Man, I've been totally useless since Sunday. And it's not even from drinking!

Tomorrow, Boy and Shaker at The Grad Club; Friday, Death From Above 1979 at The Grad Club (sold out with 25 spots left at the door, first-come, first-serve; doors at 8:30), bring earplugs or be sorry. I've been to 29 shows since school started in September, and that's just obscene.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

2005: SET YOUR WATCH TO AWESOME, part one.

So, the day after I made this post, I woke up in the morning with a dead watch battery. True story. The power got fixed, but I still haven't replaced my watch battery, so if you ask me what time it is, I am obligated to reply, "It's Hammer time."

My watch may say 8:32 in perpetuity, but it doesn't matter, because it's clearly AWESOME O'CLOCK. The awesome began shortly before 2005 started and has continued non-stop ever since. I knew it would be an interesting visit home when I finally got in the door (travelling Kingston to Waterloo took more than EIGHT HOURS) to find my mother almost too intoxicated to walk. "I'd help you with your bags, but I'm drunk off my ass!" she said, and then nearly fell into the closet. She had had two White Russians at our neighbour's place and had barely been able to make it home. I asked her to make me a grilled cheese, which might have been inconsiderate since it may have endangered her safety, but it was sure funny. "Where's the CHEEEEEESE? Oh, I put it back in the fridge. Why did I DO that?"

Vanessa, my heterosexual life partner, came down to Kitchener-Waterloo for New Year's, as it was a short drive down the 401 from the similar cultural wasteland of Burlington. The night she arrived, we decided to go to Wonders of Winter, Waterloo Park's annual bright-non-denominational-lights display. Because what is December all about if not puking dinosaurs? (2 second .avi)

Santa's Ho Line, Vanessa will be your operator this evening.

Me, riding that nativity ass. Jesus really looks like a football.

On the run from the fuzz! ("Indiana wants me, but I can't go back there . . .")

Nothing says Christmas like . . .

Yeah, we don't know either. Do the kids even watch Pokemon anymore? (The best part is that the nativity scene was just behind this and to the left.)

See also: Na na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na na, BATMAN! (2 second .avi)

The next day, which was New Year's Eve, we went to the Kitchener Value Village to try to find dresses for fake prom. We had no success, but Vanessa tried on a very well-designed curtain and I tried on something that made me look like a stewardess from the 1970s, but not in a hot way. It was very . . . orange.

Since Vanessa, Lang, and I spent our summer meeting every week to watch (and mock, while secretly all becoming very involved and attached) Canadian Idol, it would have seemed like a waste if we didn't go to Kalan Porter's free concert at Kitchener City Hall that night.

When we got there, a UW campus band called Glory Fades were playing "I Want You To Want Me" by Cheap Trick, which they introduced as having been covered in 10 Things I Hate About You. They screwed up the words, which is impressive considering that there are not a lot of them, but when you've never played for a sea of screaming girls before, I guess the nerves can get to you. They also pandered to the audience with a cover of "Bye Bye Bye" by 'N SYNC, during which they fumbled the words again. As for their originals, they sounded kind of like latter-day Get-Up Kids, but with the whining turned up and the competence somewhat turned down. They refer to themselves as "heartrock". I really don't need to say anything more. They reminded me of a bizarroverse version of The Radical Dudez, but not really in a good way.

I have to say, as a veteran of a couple of Backstreet Boys concerts in my younger days (one of which made me hear everything like it was underwater for six days after), the scream when Kalan Porter took the stage was kind of underwhelming. Maybe kids these days just don't have the same stamina for screeching. Meat hormones? Who knows?

Kalan Porter, amplified to ROCK! Or something.

"Look, he's EMOTING!"

It was a decent and inoffensive performance. (Well, that's not true, I found the black leather pants on the guitarist who looked like Sideshow Bob kind of offensive.) I was all excited when they covered "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," complete with madd fiddle skillz, but the crowd was uniformly too young to know what was going on. I was impressed when he didn't play "Awake In A Dream" at any point during his 45+ minute set. It was totally like Nirvana not playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Kalan Porter is so punk rock!!!1 And he's so socially conscious, like when he was talking about "that . . . thing in Southeast Asia." Whatever, he doesn't get paid to pronounce the word 'tsunami,' so don't hate.


The Canadian Idol concert had been a dry event, so we drove back to my house to uncork some less 13-year-old-girl-friendly festivities.

Customized B.A. Johnston-style bubbly, courtesy of V. ("If I was cool as Humpty Dumpty, the ladies would all rub my rumpty-rumpty/Go to the club, we're not drinking 50, Humpty Dumpty and B.A. are drinking bubbly/BUBBLEH! BUBBLEH!" Download here.)

We went through the entire bottle by making toasts, which was kind of like a drinking game without the "game" part. Then my mom's CD changer put on Diana Ross & The Supremes' greatest hits, so I sang "You Can't Hurry Love" drunk in my kitchen while Vanessa took incriminating pictures. That sounds like a very depressing way for a single person to ring in the New Year, but it was actually kind of awesome. After we ran out of bubbly, we moved onto hard liquor and classic rock downstairs. New Year's Day hurt real bad. We watched a lot of Much More Music, yelling "ONE! TWO! THREE! FOURTEEN!" every time they played a commercial for a U2 special, and then went through some skate videos trying to find all the sackings so we could laugh at someone else's pain.


(This is, uh, something else. What makes it even better/worse is that the milk song totally sounds as if it's being done by the Counting Crows.)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

in which i am forsaken by technology

Near the end of November, the television in my apartment finally broke. This wasn't really a surprise, since my housemate had purchased it for $30 a couple of years ago and we'd been dealing with some weird flickering and green tintage for several months. At last, it reached the point where no amount of beating could make the picture tube work again. So, no TV. Neither of us have had time to go buy a new one yet.

The Internet in our apartment died on December 21st. The cause of this is a long story. Suffice it to say that if you make something idiotproof, someone will just make a better idiot (this idiot was neither myself, nor my housemate). It still doesn't work, which, as you will see, is kind of immaterial right now.

On the bus out of Kingston a couple days later, I was stuck in the parking lot of the Whitby GO station for two hours when the brake valve froze and the extra bus they sent kind of didn't show up.

The second night I was back in Kingston, on Tuesday, the power briefly went out while I was sleeping. In the morning, I couldn't get my computer monitor to work again, even though the CPU was working. It's probably fine, since I spent almost no time trying to fix it — I was willing to go without MP3s until I felt like sitting down and unplugging and re-plugging things.

This morning I woke up at 9 half-frozen to death, despite having all the blankets on the bed and wearing one of those sweatshirt nightgown monstrosities. It had gotten really cold outside overnight and, apparently, inside as well. I noticed that my alarm clock wasn't on, but it wasn't flashing either. There was no power in my room, the bathroom, the other bedroom, or the better part of the living room. This also meant that there was no heat in those rooms. (At least the power wasn't out in the kitchen; it would have been really irritating if the fridge and deep freezer weren't working.) I called Mini-Larry the assistant super (the real super is also named Larry), who replaced all the fuses to no avail, and who later informed me that the electrician can't come until tomorrow. Lucky for me, I just bought some long underwear.

Maybe this has all been an attempt by divine providence to get me to work on my outstanding essays:
"Now you can't watch TV instead of writing essays."
"Now you can't surf the internet instead of writing essays."
"Now your computer monitor doesn't work, so maybe you should go to the library and work on your essays."

So, I went to the library . . . and updated my weblog, because that's how you win at life. Now I'm going downtown to buy extension cords and some blackout beer (probably Waterloo Dark).

"Yes, I love technology, but not as much as you, you see, but I still love technology, always and forever." - Napoleon Dynamite

Oh, you want a year-end list? Here's a year-end list: