Friday, August 26, 2005

weddings: 1. funerals: 1. hugh grant sightings: 0.

This past weekend, I was an accident-prone bridesmaid for the wedding of my best friend from highschool. It was a lovely wedding, except for the fairly inappropriate toast by the father of the bride (hilarious, yes, but 'lovely', no), and the parts where I kept falling over and hurting myself. First, I fell backwards into a rock garden for no apparent reason while pictures were being taken, but only got a dirty, bruised butt (not pictured). The other bridesmaids and I went upstairs to clean my caboose off. The stairs back down were made out of natural slabs of rock and thus not the most even surface to be walking on in heels. I fell head-first down a flight of them, mangling 3/4s of my bouquet and a slightly smaller fraction of my body's surface area. Since the caterers hadn't arrived yet, there wasn't any ice, so I was forced to use bottles of cold beer.


But congratulations to Alyssa & Jesse, and maybe there will be more pictures once they collect all the digital shots together. You would not believe what you can do with fruit carving these days. That is not a sarcastic statement.

All my adventures of late have involved forgetting to bring my camera, which isn't that big a deal because I take crappy pictures anyway. For instance, today I left my camera on my bed when my friend Anna and I went to have a picnic on Wolfe Island. While we were eating on the lawn of a Catholic church and talking about the coming school year, a fox came out of the bushes about twenty feet away and started scratching itself vigorously and grooming its fur with its teeth.

"I think this means either we're both going to have a FOXY year," I said, "or we're going to get fleas."

Back in Kingston, Anna had three "recycling bags" full of recycling, the trouble being that recycling bags are kosher in Nova Scotia but not Ontario, and their continued presence is not kosher with an approaching visit from her parents. So we carried the bags from her place to my apartment's recycling center like Captain Planet's disgruntled summer interns.

(No. They have to share the Heart ring.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

acktuelle kamera

I was on a wrong number call several days ago at work and spoke to a guy who was very bored because he was on disability leave from his job. Why? He blew out a citronella candle and it EXPLODED IN HIS FACE. (Apparently you are supposed to snuff them out.) However, he was in excellent spirits about the whole thing and almost healed up. He even related this exchange from a recent check-up:
NURSE: Okay, any allergies?
CITRONELLA VICTIM: Yeah, I'm allergic to fire, it makes my face swell up.
NURSE: You're an asshole.
Sometimes my job is awesome.

I have been renting a lot of movies. These are four of them:

Welcome to the Dollhouse
I can't remember the last time I stopped watching a movie partway through, except when I was falling asleep during Super Troopers, which was not that movie's fault. This time I got through half an hour before I snapped. I was really not in the mood for something unrelentingly bleak full of painfully dysfunctional characters with few to no likeable qualities, who inhabit a world free of redeeming moments. Maybe it's funnier if it doesn't have uncomfortably close parallels to your own adolescence. It was kind of like watching a kid pull the wings off a fly. I can't say it was an objectively bad movie (especially since I didn't even watch half of it) but I can say I want that half hour of my life back.

Lovely & Amazing
I put this in after aborting Welcome to the Dollhouse, which was a mistake because it sucked so I gave up and went for ice cream. By "sucked" I mean "it was difficult to relate to because I have not had a mid-life crisis, or even a quarterlife crisis, or experience with young children who have weight and race issues." Also, every main character keeps busy by making inexplicable and maddeningly terrible relationship decisions. Well, they might be maddening if I were able to identify with or relate to any of the characters, so instead it was simply irritating. The film may improve with time but after 25 minutes I started skipping through looking for the scenes with Jake Gyllenhaal in them. Generally Unpleasant & Disappointing, it did have a pretty great surprise statutory rape arrest scene that was almost worth it. And then the ice cream was really good.

I don't really care about The Dandy Warhols or The Brian Jonestown Massacre. This documentary sounded interesting, though, which it sort of was, aside from the fact that you get the point after the first twenty minutes or so and then it's just reiterated over and over again. These are DiG!'s important lessons:
- Courtney Taylor is kind of a jerk.
- Avoid people who frequently claim to be leading a revolution.
- It's hard to storm off stage in a convincing huff when all you have to throw down is a pair of maracas.

Good Bye Lenin!
The best movie I've seen since Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle except with, like, more artistic merit. You've probably heard of this since it came out a couple of years ago and won all sorts of awards and was all cool and foreign. Anyway, the plot is more or less as follows: Alex's hardcore socialist mother has a heart attack when she sees him (really half-assedly) protesting the regime and falls into a coma. During her eight-month coma, the Berlin Wall falls, East and West Germany are united, et cetera. When she wakes up, her family is informed that any shock or excitement could kill her, so inside their apartment they create a tiny world where socialist East Germany rolled on, while outside they struggle to deal with a rapidly-changing Berlin. I spent a lot of time laughing really hard at an inappropriate hour in an apartment building full of old people. I also cried twice. You don't need to know anything about Germany to enjoy Good Bye Lenin! although I'm sure it enhances the experience considerably. However, even with minimal knowledge of its historical context, the writing is clever, careful, and well-paced, the acting is nearly pitch-perfect, and it's visually impressive (including some really beautiful lighting). And if you're all like "Fuck art, let's rock," it's hysterically funny, as long as you aren't just after dick and fart jokes -- in which case, I recommend Harold and Kumar.

I have to go to an emo show now, k bye.

Friday, August 12, 2005

wolfe island: "the wayne petti of islands"

August 6, 2005
Sarah Harmer, Cuff The Duke, Apostle of Hustle, Chris Brown's Citizen's Band f/Kate Fenner, Matthew Barber & the Union Dues, The Old Soul, Peter Elkas, Betablokka, Tomate Potate, and R.W.I. (Rockin' Wolfe Island)
Wolfe Island, ON

It was a bright and sunny August day as Vanessa and I ran down Ontario Street trying to catch the 2 PM ferry to Wolfe Island for the annual Wolfe Island Music Festival. We missed it last year because we were at the Olympic Island festival in Toronto. However, we had discovered the formula that music + island + ferry ride = ROCK, and we would not be disappointed.

Some time after walking past the Cutest Post Office Ever we arrived at the ball diamond which was playing host to the festivus for the rest of us. Not long after we applied sunscreen, R.W.I. (Rockin' Wolfe Island) took the saddle-shaped stage and started playing "The Weight" by The Band. Apparently the only band on Wolfe Island, period, they discouraged any others from forming and played a half-hour set of inoffensive covers. They were not bad, but I have to disagree with the programme statement that "the group takes average jam music to the outer reaches of possibility." The best part was when they played "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC at the end, and a man in his mid-to-late thirties, wearing a shirt that said BC(thunderbolt)DC on the front and ROCKER on the back, ran up into the empty space in front of the stage and began pogoing and dancing like he was sponsored by Red Bull. It was amazing. I want to be that guy when I grow up, except kind of not. Polite applause followed the set, but then, can any applause on Wolfe Island be impolite? I think not.

Next up were Queen's own ADD-rock combo Tomate Potate, who brought a loyal crew of campus folk to the front of the stage. A dance party failed to truly ensue, but heads were bobbed and feet were tapped. (These pictures, and all the others from the actual show, were taken by Vanessa. I provided "moral support" and brought extra batteries. Click on most of them and they will get bigger. Click on the Cuff The Duke pictures and they will get way, way bigger.)

Devon givin 'er, but not to your liver.

During the performance, they provided a list of their favourite things about Wolfe Island. One of them was "Hammock Lady." As Nich threatened to sleep in her hammock overnight, Hammock Lady yelled from the audience, "I'll leave a blanket out!" Because that's the kind of place Wolfe Island is. And until Tomate Potate played "Monopoly," there was no such thing as swearing on Wolfe Island. WAY TO GO, GUYS.

Next up were Betablokka, a familiar target of derision for anyone who sees a lot of music in Kingston. They are notorious for calling CFRC and K-ROCK and requesting their own music. I had never actually seen them before, and I have to say: they do not suck. I mean, they are not exactly remarkable, and they like U2 an awful lot, but they have their shit together and it was a nice soundtrack to eating hot dogs and lying on the grass, staring at the sky.

I like them a whole lot more than I like Peter Elkas. He's opened three or four other shows I've gone to, for other artists I enjoy seeing, and every time I hope I will enjoy his set, and every time it is kind of painful. He's an excellent musician and a good singer and he seems like a nice enough dude and he's got really long eyelashes, but I am alternately bored and irritated by his songs. I do not like Peter Elkas. I do not like him with a solo show, I do not like him with a band to go. I do not like him playing in a car. I do not like him playing in a bar. I did not like the Local Rabbits, I do not like his wanky guitar habits. I do not like him with a beard. I do not like him when he's sheared. I do not like Pete Elkas, man. I do not like him. It's just how I am.

The Old Soul returned to the Kingston area after a little-attended date at Clark in July. The Old Soul is composed of "veterans of the Toronto indie rock scene," but usually no one you talk to has ever heard of the other bands they've played in, making them a kind of ghetto Broken Social Scene. (If you're curious, the bands are listed on their website. Clicky clicky.)

The best part of their set, which we failed to capture on camera, was when Wayne Petti (of Cuff The Duke, durr) walked on stage during "Vege Tables" munching on carrot sticks and shoved a couple into Luca Maoloni's mouth while he was trying to sing. Wayne Petti IS SO SASSY.

The Old Soul play rather '60s/'70s inspired pop, with horns and keyboards and all that jazz, goofy lyrics and a generally sunny disposition. It's the kind of music you'd expect kids to be dancing to at a festival like this. However, both times I've seen them, there's been something rather . . . reserved about their performance that keeps me from being drawn fully into it. I can't quite pinpoint what the problem is -- I mean, they're not avoiding eye contact with anyone, or only paying attention to each other, or not speaking to the audience, or standing still, but something feels kind of held-back anyway. I like them, and yet they will not let me love them. They don't put on a bad show, though, and you aren't going to see many bands like this at the moment, so if they roll through your town I'd suggest making it out.

Because Vanessa hates Matthew Barber, there are no pictures of him or his Union Dues. But here is a picture anyway!

Unfortunately that was pretty much the most enjoyable part. I've seen him play a handful of times, and I played the crap out of both his first album Means & Ends and his EP The Story Of Your Life. But something seems to have gone wrong: he has been Elkas-fied (maybe not a coincidence since Mr. Elkas is usually a Union Due these days), which is to say a lot of his new songs are too long and too boring. Also, the lyrics are pretty disappointing. He's become more comfortable on stage and is a fairly engaging frontperson, but his material isn't keeping my attention anymore. Of course, that's just my opinion and I had been in the sun for a few hours. (You don't want to know what Vanessa thought.) The more good-natured festival program said "he has traded some of the sensitivity of his earlier work for 'sexy, sparkling rock 'n' roll'." Yeah, whatever.

Do I complain about everything? No. But am I going to complain about Chris Brown's Citizen's Band featuring Kate Fenner? Yes. There are no pictures from that set either because Vanessa and I both tried to SLEEP THROUGH IT AND MAKE THE NIGHTMARE END, but here is an artistic interpretation of what it might have looked like:

Okay, that's unnecessarily mean. But they were bad. Not can't-play-their-instruments bad or tone-deaf bad, but offensively-awful-adult-contemporary bad, dedicating-songs-with-horrible-lyrics-to-"all the poets in the house" bad, alt-country-with-lyrics-comparing-George-Bush-to-Hitler bad. I listen to some music from that general genre, and am not offended by things that sound a little mellow, a little country, or a little "my mom would like this." But this was just . . . I don't understand. I am really missing something here. I was told that Kate Fenner has a great voice, but I didn't notice it much; the songs weren't showing it off. I wish I had more specific or constructive criticism to offer so I sounded like less of a dumb jerk (which isn't to say I'm not a dumb jerk, I might be), but I don't. Honestly one of the longest sets I've ever had to sit through. And I've sat through a lot of crap.

The bizarre conclusion was an earnest cover of "The Boys Are Back In Town" featuring Andrew Whiteman of Apostle of Hustle, who soon after proceeded to turn up the good and turn down the suck. This resulted in a huge rush to the front of the stage and then a ridiculous crush toward the front, which was funny when you got enough room to turn your head around and saw the giant gap between the small crush of people and the seated crowd. We are surrounded by miles of peaceful field, and yet some guy's butt has to be fully up in my grill. Great.

I don't have much to say about them because I was really busy spinning around on demand while they played (long story). Sounds good, feels good, looks good too:


Then it was Cuff The Duke time. If you are not from Kingston, you may be confused as to why they were billed above Apostle of Hustle. First of all, they are better than Apostle of Hustle. But mostly it is that Cuff The Duke are unbelievably huge in Kingston. They are rock gods. If Kingston seceded from the rest of Canada, we would immediately offer them citizenship. We might make them Barons. We might even kidnap them. We are pretty intense about our Cuff The Duke. And if you had seen them play some of the best live shows going on in the country these days, you probably would be too.

To be honest, I preferred Life Stories For Minimum Wage to their new self-titled album, and I don't anticipate that will change. However, their live performance destroys both albums, and your face.

Setlist! "Antisocial" ended up being the encore.

Eric, the business manager/muscle of CFRC, introduces the band. There is a great facial expression somewhere in this picture.

Three classic guitar moves, demonstrated by Wayne Petti:

Apparently there are other people in Cuff The Duke. Our bad.

I believe it was Alex who said "that guy looks like he wants to mangle you with his tractor." Yet despite his cold dead killer stare, we have it on authority that Jeff Peers is not in fact an evil murderer. Also we hear he is really good at Trivial Pursuit.

Rock stands still for no man. Or woman. (But actual rocks do tend to be pretty still. Except in The Neverending Story which has the cool rock monster thing.)

Classic guitar move No. 4. Actually, wait, that's pretty much 3 again. This was not long after getting everyone in that section of the audience to put their hands in the air. Seconds later, everyone in front was treated to the smell of a whole bunch of people who have been sweating in the summer sun for up to six hours simultaneously exposing their armpits to the wind.

If you beat him at Trivial Pursuit, do you think he would kill you after?

We caught a few songs by Sarah Harmer before heading out to make sure we caught the midnight ferry. It was a bluegrass-inspired set and I think all we heard her play was covers, including some Shins and Dolly Parton. Her voice sounded fantastic. And yet after a long day full of good hot dogs and direct sunlight, we were ready to go home. As the ferry sailed across the mouth of the St. Lawrence back to Kingston, several shooting stars streaked across the sky. It was a perfect ending to our night on the Wayne Petti of islands: tiny, cute, wholesome, and ... a place to avoid visiting in the winter? The analogy was also destroyed by an argument about the island's hypothetical seedy heroin underbelly.

Wolfe Island only cost $15, but paid me back in love, sweat, and awesome. And someone I know left with a handprint-shaped sunburn.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

i've got thoughts you've never seen, i've got moves i've never used

the other guy is andrew ridgeley.

The first thing you see when you walk into my apartment.
"the biggest hits in the shortest shorts" - V-H1's Behind The Music

What's up, homes? We've been busy breaking our computer, being too lazy to fix it for a full two months, deserting instant coffee for the sweet embrace of perc, listening to the new-ish Radical Dudez CD an obscene number of times, becoming addicted to The Weather Network (that guy who was on "Are You Afraid of The Dark?" and "Ready Or Not" is a weather anchor now, I wonder if he hates his life a little) and abusing the royal "we" like usual. And some stuff happened.
  • I've been getting paid to call 17-year-old boys who are coming to Queen's in the fall. Also girls. But also, UNDERAGE BOYS. I mostly end up talking to their dads though. My real job is calling alumni and asking them for money but I'm not very good at that so they put me on WELCOME (hot) FROSH duty.

  • The Nick Carter keychain I've been using since 1997 broke.

  • I can't remember if that was before or after me, Vanessa and my roommate terrorized Clark's open mic night full of earnest young men with a hair metal/faux-punk version of the Backstreet Boys' comeback single "Incomplete" that we spent a whole hour-and-a-half learning earlier the same evening. Due to the heat in Clark, by the time we got on stage I had killer pit stains and water-cup condensation that made it look like I had peed my pants. There was a lot of fist-pumping and jazz hands. We rocked so hard we threw off the rotation of the earth.

  • I got Vanessa into Freaks & Geeks so we watched the whole thing on DVD. James Franco playing D&D = hot to death. (Back when I played, I was always a Paladin or a bard. Borrring.) CARLOS THE DWARF, TAKE US NOW.

    (words from "call me lothar" by b.a. johnston)

  • It turns out we really can live without the Internet! Possibly more happily than with it! Hmm.

  • I had pink hair. This made people look at me like I was going to shoplift from them. It also reminded a man in his 70s at the Toronto bus terminal of "the colour when they tan my bottom real good." He approached me because he wanted to pay me, or any female friend that I could refer him to, $1000 to spank him. I declined but we had an interesting conversation which concluded with him giving me dating advice, mainly about marrying someone rich.

  • That episode was probably karmically related to getting kind of drunk at my cousin's piano recital and flirting with a 15-year-old and 16-year-old boy. If the dry spell continues I might go back for the latter in a few years. He was bringing me beer. It was The Life.

  • Most of the time I was an upstanding member of the community, I swear.

Anyway, shit is on the move around here. Can you dig it?
two very tall thumbs up


PS: Does someone want to redesign this thing for me? I'm too lazy to figure out Blogger templates.

*Kathleen Edwards, "Back To Me"