tell her I was on the move last time you saw me

>> Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sometimes summer is a good time for quiet, slow, sad music. For example, I think now is the best time to listen to Bon Iver, whereas that album (you know which one) could actually be dangerous in the winter. Instead of being deeply depressing the weather elevates the music to wistful, or at least manageable melancholy.

Anyway, today is one of those days. I like this song and the way it reminds me of things I haven't actually experienced.

Josh Ritter - Southern Pacifica

I know, I know. Nostalgia is a puddle you could drown in. But you can use it without substituting it for content and get quality. JR is quality. No doubt.

And, like I always say, every good country singer has to have a song (or two) about a train.

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be the light in my lantern

>> Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Those who live are those who fight - Victor Hugo

(I thought I'd give the epigram thing a go)

Sometimes it's Tuesday morning and there are 43 days in the week but only 8 in the month, know what I mean? Some days I need a little help to get the fight in me.

Some of my faves:

Wolf Parade - Shine a Light
Bruce Springsteen - No Surrender
Constantines - Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)
The Killers - Read My Mind
The Gaslight Anthem - Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?
The Hold Steady - Constructive Summer (can't beat the positive jams)
Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union
Josh Ritter - Lantern

I could have posted any number of songs by these guys (except the Killers, because I am pretty sure that is their only really good song) but these will do for this particular day.

(This would also be a good playlist for a run.)

Oddly enough, the album Fight Songs by a band I have loved (and may still) contains no real fight songs, at least none that quite did it for me.

What are your personal fight songs?

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sorrow found me when I was young

>> Saturday, May 15, 2010

For May book club we're reading Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham. I don't think it's the most inspired title (it's a multi-generational family drama...can you tell?), so I thought it was odd that his acknowledgments included a thank-you to the friend who came up with it.

Anyway, the first thing that really caught me about this book was that the first paragraph of the second chapter:

"'It's some kind of night, isn't it'? Mary said. Constantine couldn't answer. Her courage and beauty, the pale straight-spined fact of her, caught in his throat. He sat on her parents' swing, which creaked, and watched helplessly as she leaned over the porch railing. Her skirt whisked against her legs. The dark New Jersey wind played in her hair."
Now what does that remind you of...
How about this:

The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison's singing for the lonely
Hey, that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again, I just can't face myself alone again.

And we can assume that scene also takes place in New Jersey because it was written by Bruce Springsteen.

Anyway, I'm not nearly done the book but since the whole thing so far reminds me of a lot of Springsteen themes (second generation American family life, New Jersey, 'the American dream', girls, cars, etc.) I thought I'd make a playlist.

Ricky Wants a Man of Her Own
Spirit in the Night
Pink Cadillac
The Promised Land
It's Hard to be a Saint in the City
The Fever
Lost in the Flood
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Adam Raised a Cain
Mansion on the Hill
Factory
Johnny 99
Used Cars
A Good Man is Hard to Find (Pittsburgh)
Candy's Room
Racing in the Streets
Cross My Heart
All That Heaven Will Allow
Prove it All Night
No Surrender
Where the Bands Are
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)


I've deliberately left off the bigger songs. This list tends towards the first two albums, Tracks, Nebraska, and Darkness on the Edge of Town, all of which I highly recommend.

Oh, and I recommend the book, too. Springsteen references aside (and that could just be me picking up on that), he's an excellent writer.

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who does it better than we do?

>> Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Friday. My legs don't work due to playing soccer in the rain last night. But that won't stop me from living life to the fullest this weekend. I've already gotten a jump start on this plan by getting a booster juice at lunch and streaming the new Sleigh Bells on a recommendation from my buddy Ramk and pretty much the whole internet. OK! I'm listening!

Sleigh Bells - Tell 'Em and others.

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why we hate

>> Thursday, May 13, 2010

Earlier this year I reblogged an internet fight some critics were having over Vampire Weekend (hey! remember my tumblr? no? me neither). I think that argument, among others I'm sure, led to Nitsuh Abebe recently starting a column in Pitchfork called, "Why We Fight". Either this represents a tremendous lot of self-absorption, or it's something we need to think about (maybe both).

So here's a long story that maybe has a point.

I was in the gifted program (do they still call it that? sounds very un-PC) in school. In grades 7 & 8 this meant that the whole group of us had every single class together, every day, all year long. So we spent a lot of time together and got really comfortable with each other, even though we weren't all friends. There was a lot teasing, a lot of running jokes, that sort of thing. But we - especially the more popular kids in our class - also resented being forced to be together all the time, unlike the rest of the kids in our grade who had different classmates every period. By the time we were halfway through eighth grade our teachers were actually worried about us. They thought we were too mean to each other, that there was something dysfunctional about our class. So they actually brought some kind of therapist in to talk to us. The whole thing was very bizarre. Predictably, we reacted the way you'd think a bunch of smart-ass 13-year olds would - we got mouthy. Kind of like close siblings or twins who fight all the time, but will immediately gang up to defend each other if anyone else tries to join in.

I still don't think there was anything wrong with us. Our behaviour is what you'd reasonably expect, given the circumstances. In retrospect it's possible that we were a little too mean to the nerdier kids (for the record, I was neither popular nor nerdy at that point, just standard eighth-grade awkward). Personally, I thought our jokes were really funny, but then I was rarely the butt of them. The point is, everything had more or less righted itself by ninth grade. We moved on - new kids came to school, we made new friends, new things became important. We only had three classes together in the year (instead of all eight) so we got along fine during the time we were together.

The internet has so much information but we tend to seek out and spend most of our online time associating with people who share our interests, lifestyles, and political leanings. It can make it seem as though everyone in the world is just like us. Sometimes I look at twitter's trending topics and don't recognize a thing on there - unless it's about a volcano or the latest major election, I just don't know. These internet bubbles we create for ourselves remind me of my eighth grade class. A bunch of smart kids going to the same school who really aren't that different from one another, but have to find ways to differentiate and stratify themselves, usually by acting like jerks.

So what I'm saying is that every person who listens to Vampire Weekend, including those who love them and those who think they're derivative hacks, are all the same kind of people. The very same!

So, there's that. Fine. We waste a lot of time arguing a lot of useless points. This isn't a problem, except when you think about all the other kinds of people in the world. And that, by talking to and arguing with people who are just like us all the time, we forget how to anyone else. At least, that's what I found last week when I realized I was talking to someone who was strongly in favour of the recently enacted immigration law in Arizona (I am not in favour of that law). I did not know what to say. And do you know what? That kind of thing actually matters! There are whole countries and provinces and states and even cities filled with people who have completely polarized views on things that really matter and we have to be able to talk to each other intelligently and sympathetically.

What I really wanted to say was something about the pointlessness of hateration and attitudes and arguments that exist primarily to demonstrate superiority over peers. When I read those music critic fights I picture a downward spiral and hear a giant sucking sound. And the worst part is that I participate in it all the time. Hating is just so attractive.

In conclusion, eighth graders are mean bastards and hipsters are a threat to democracy.

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social media and reciprocity

>> Wednesday, May 12, 2010

There's a healthy breakfast / lunch chain I have been to a few times and whose food I like. They have a Twitter account that I started following to get the inside scoop on promotions. It seemed like a good trade: I publicly become a fan of the place and read all their tweets, I get a few deals. It did not turn out that way. My chief complaints: they posted the same damn message several times a day (thanks, I saw it the first time) and the deals were not great (usually something like $0.50 off something I would not buy anyway). They had a daily free lunch giveaway for one follower, which kept me around for a few weeks, but I finally decided I'd rather spend $8 than keep reading all those tweets. Unfollowed. I was so annoyed by their spamming that I actually don't even go there for lunch anymore.

Most of us have at least one facebook friend (usually just an acquaintance) who constantly sends invites to events we are not interested in. I'm happy to add just about anyone as a friend, but at some point those excessive invites will cause you to become unfriended. It's so obviously making use of contacts without any real relationship there and it's such a waste of my time.

So now I have some thoughts on the use of social media.

I can see why social media seems like a great deal because it looks like free advertising. And perhaps people are expected to participate simply because there is no 'cost' to participation. But people do value their time and loyalty, and there is no shortage of competition for both. If they don't feel that they are getting something in return, then why would you expect them to participate? This doesn't mean you have to give away free stuff all the time. People value other things, like information or good laugh. And they certainly value relationships. In this sense, social media isn't anything new. And beyond a simple give-and-take relationship, I do believe it's possible to connect with people even through the impersonal internet. Reply and comment functions exist for that reason. People always know when they are being paid attention. If people feel connected in some way (whether you are a band, news outlet, corporation, etc.) they are more likely to stick around. The most successful users have ways of letting their clients / fans / customers actively contribute or participate and feel heard. You aren't going to accomplish that by doing nothing but self-promoting.

Creating value for people will never become unimportant. From my limited understanding of the field, that's just basic economics. And there's no such thing as a free lunch.

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if you wanna get high kid, just open your eyes

>> Friday, April 23, 2010

I've spent the last few days happily dissecting new albums by my favourite bands. They all write great music with clever, reference-heavy lyrics - which I love - but sometimes it's nice to kick back and just listen to fun music. So I've been listening to this band Free Energy over the past couple of weeks and they make me really excited for summer. Not that they aren't clever or have intelligent lyrics...it's just that they are also really fun.

This song makes me wish I was in high school again, cruising around in someone's car with the windows down. Straightforward fun power pop-rock.

Free Energy - Free Energy (yes, the band named a song after themselves or named themselves after a song, I don't know).

Said some guy at RCRDLBL about the track Dream City: "If for some reason you're having a BBQ or hugging someone you love this holiday weekend, play this song. Please."

bonne fin de semaine mes amis!

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heaven is whenever we can get together

>> Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hold Steady may have finally gotten too big to play bars (so glad I caught them at Lee's Palace last fall), but they are still totally solid guys. Essentially: tickets for their July 16 Kool Haus (shudder) date are only $21.50 and a portion goes to the Toronto Boys & Girls Club. SOLID.

I know everyone is using this picture but it's the only one I can find without former keyboardist Franz Nicolay...what's that? no one cares?

The new Hold Steady album, Heaven is Whenever, is streaming on NPR right now. As is the new Broken Social Scene album, Forgiveness Rock Record. And, oh yes, since High Violet leaked this week (as did the new Gaslight Anthem, American Slang), the National will be streaming it on Friday April 23 from...the New York Times website. Who knew they could even do that?

Look at me being all news-y and update-y. This won't happen very often. I'm just so excited to hear new records from my favourite bands!

Life is good, people. Here's a new song from London, ON homeboy Shad. This guy is awesome.
Shad - Yaa I Get It (new video also)

That's the cover of the new album, TSOL. 

Do yrself a favour and listen to all of his other songs. Like this one!

The Old Prince Still Lives At Home - Shad - Watch more Funny Videos

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all the very best of us string ourselves up for love

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What to do when your friend gets engaged and you think it's a terrible fucking idea?

You don't just think. You know. You and everyone else in the whole world.

I don't know. You do nothing, I guess.

A friend I worked with a few summers ago got engaged to someone she had been dating only a few months. I thought it was impulsive, which can be kind of romantic I guess, but in this particular case I really didn't think they knew each other well enough to go and get married. I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to offer my opinion and we weren't very close anyway, so I kept it to myself. So I was happy for her and every day at work we chatted about wedding plans. They never got married - the wedding was called off and the relationship ended. I think everyone figured that was for the best. I think she's happy now. But...what if she'd gone through with it?

I guess part of it is that it's useful for people to make their own mistakes. Part of it is knowing that you can't know how things will turn out. A lot of it respect for your friend and trusting them to make their own decisions. And the rest is understanding that it's always easiest to make the right decision when you're not the one who has to make it.

Everyone does really stupid things in relationships, even when they know better. Like, if someone else were to do the exact same thing you'd be like, "girl you crazy, drop him like he's hot" (my inner voice is a sassy black woman). But when it's you...you go off and do it anyway, don't you? I used to be really harsh in judging people on these things until I started making some seriously foolish choices of my own.

I still don't always get it in every case, but I get it in theory. Mostly. I still judge a bit.

At least I haven't started taking bets on how long other people's relationships will last.

Here's one for the lovers, no matter how stupid I might think you are (and what do I know, anyway?):
The Magnetic Fields - The Book of Love

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time is on your side

>> Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's a sunny Sunday, I'm catching up on Garance Doré over tea, and getting dressed for book club. This day is already perfect. So I'm feeling a little adventurous. I've been thinking about some slightly risky (you know, for me) things to wear in the near future. Here's what's coming:

1) knee highs. I love knee high socks. I wore them for 7 years in school and I still have several pairs. I often wear them around the house and I miss wearing them outside. For some time now I've been telling myself that I will. Why should they be relegated to school uniforms? So now I'm making it public: I am going to wear knee high socks.

2) Popped collar. This is partly for jokes, but also because I think it would be a challenge. I am convinced that it can be done well. The popped collar has endured a lot of douchebaggery. We can do better by it.

3) Sandals with socks. Yes.

I am really bummed out that fedoras don't suit me. But get this: I actually dreamed of hats last night. Straw boaters, in fact. I don't think they'd suit me either (my face seems too long for flat hats), but I vow to start wearing a cloche or something. I WILL become a hat person!

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women + country on my mind

>> Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I love, love this photo. I can't stop looking at it. Not exactly sure why - I guess it incorporates a lot of things I like right now.

Jakob Dylan looks more like his dad every day...

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we'll show this dirty city how we do the Jersey slide

>> Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I recently received an email that looked like this:

I don't know whether to be amused or upset that I actually understand what it means.

If anyone else can tell me what it says I will give you $5.

Some days work makes me want to start a revolution.

Or at least listen to some fuzzed out civil-war inspired New Jersey punks.

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you're the kind of girl I like. Because you're empty, and I'm empty.

>> Monday, April 12, 2010

I am sometimes asked about what music blogs I read. There are tons of good music blogs out there. It's about figuring out what you need in a music blog (mp3s? intros to new artists? stories, interviews, reviews, regular features?) For me, it's important to read one that's Toronto-focused (for show information). I read these two all the time - and they have links to the rest of the good ones:

I Am Fuel, You Are Friends - Heather is a great writer. I'll listen to almost anything she recommends, not because we have almost the exact same taste in music (though we do), but because she's so positive and passionate about the music she loves that you just have to listen. And you really should. Download any playlists she posts.

Chromewaves - the one blog I recommend everyone in Toronto reads. Frank keeps me up-to-date with a roundup of the day's music news, new tracks, introductions to new bands, reviews, and show / tour announcements. And he goes to like, every single show in Toronto (and takes excellent pictures). Serious nerds should also check out MBV.

I like these two because they do something slightly different:

Certain Songs. I especially like the craigslist musical dedications - funny, interesting, often creepy personal ads found on craigslist paired with an appropriate song. People are always thinking up clever but simple things like that.

I Love Country - for everyone, but especially people who say things like, "I like all kinds of music except country!" When I hear someone say that I automatically stop listening to anything they have to say about music. This blog is a good primer on the real good stuff.

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I never should have left New Jersey

>> Friday, April 9, 2010

Guys. Tonight I am seeing Titus Andronicus at Sneaky Dee's. I hope my face is ready to be rocked off and then stuffed with nachos.

However, because I'm feeling slightly bitter (mostly due to the amount of work I have today) and not quite ready to revolt, my song for today is:

The Black Keys - Next Girl

I'm hoping a post-work nap will re-kindle my youthful angst or whatever.

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Growing Young with Rock and Roll - Jon Landau, 1974

>> Thursday, April 8, 2010

This article appeared as a concert review in The Real Paper on May 22, 1974. Jon Landau was a music critic who also wrote for Rolling Stone. At the time, Bruce Springsteen had released two records and had gained some critical success and a moderate following, mostly through college rock stations. His label had spent a ton of money promoting him as the next Dylan but saw little in the way of commercial success. This article contains the famous quote, “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Soon afterwards Landau stopped writing for Rolling Stone and became Springsteen's manager, a position he holds to this day.

It’s four in the morning and raining. I’m 27 today, feeling old, listening to my records, and remembering that things were diffferent a decade ago. In 1964, I was a freshman at Brandeis University, playing guitar and banjo five hours a day, listening to records most of the rest of the time, jamming with friends during the late-night hours, working out the harmonies to Beach Boys’ and Beatles’ songs.

Real Paper soul writer Russell Gersten was my best friend and we would run through the 45s everyday: Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” and “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” the Drifters’ “Up On the Roof,” Jackie Ross’ “Selfish One,” the Marvellettes’ “Too Many Fish in the Sea,” and the one that no one ever forgets, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave.” Later that year a special woman named Tamar turned me onto Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour” and Otis Redding’s “Respect,” and then came the soul. Meanwhile, I still went to bed to the sounds of the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man” and later “Younger than Yesterday,” still one of my favorite good-night albums. I woke up to Having a Rave-Up with the Yardbirds instead of coffee. And for a change of pace, there was always bluegrass: The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, and Jimmy Martin.

Through college, I consumed sound as if it were the staff of life. Others enjoyed drugs, school, travel, adventure. I just liked music: listening to it, playing it, talking about it. If some followed the inspiration of acid, or Zen, or dropping out, I followed the spirit of rock’n'roll.Individual songs often achieved the status of sacraments. One September, I was driving through Waltham looking for a new apartment when the sound on the car radio stunned me. I pulled over to the side of the road, turned it up, demanded silence of my friends and two minutes and fifty-six second later knew that God had spoken to me through the Four Tops’ “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” a record that I will cherish for as long as [I] live.

During those often lonely years, music was my constant companion and the search for the new record was like a search for a new friend and new revelation. “Mystic Eyes” open mine to whole new vistas in white rock and roll and there were days when I couldn’t go to sleep without hearing it a dozen times.Whether it was a neurotic and manic approach to music, or just a religious one, or both, I don’t really care. I only know that, then, as now, I’m grateful to the artists who gave the experience to me and hope that I can always respond to them.

The records were, of course, only part of it. In ‘65 and ‘66 I played in a band, the Jellyroll, that never made it. At the time I concluded that I was too much of a perfectionist to work with the other band members; in the end I realized I was too much of an autocrat, unable to relate to other people enough to share music with them.

Realizing that I wasn’t destined to play in a band, I gravitated to rock criticism. Starting with a few wretched pieces in Broadside and then some amateurish but convincing reviews in the earliest Crawdaddy, I at least found a substitute outlet for my desire to express myself about rock: If I couldn’t cope with playing, I may have done better writing about it.

But in those days, I didn’t see myself as a critic — the writing was just another extension of an all-encompassing obsession. It carried over to my love for live music, which I cared for even more than the records. I went to the Club 47 three times a week and then hunted down the rock shows — which weren’t so easy to find because they weren’t all conveniently located at downtown theatres. I flipped for the Animals’ two-hour show at Rindge Tech; the Rolling Stones, not just at Boston Garden, where they did the best half hour rock’n'roll set I had ever seen, but at Lynn Football Stadium, where they started a riot; Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels overcoming the worst of performing conditions at Watpole Skating Rink; and the Beatles at Suffolk Down, plainly audible, beautiful to look at, and confirmation that we — and I — existed as a special body of people who understood the power and the glory of rock’n'roll.

I lived those days with a sense of anticipation. I worked in Briggs & Briggs a few summers and would know when the next albums were coming. The disappointment when the new Stones was a day late, the exhilaration whenAnother Side of Bob Dylan showed up a week early. The thrill of turning on WBZ and hearing some strange sound, both beautiful and horrible, but that demanded to be heard again; it turned out to be “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” a record that stands just behind “Reach Out I’ll Be There” as means of musical catharsis.

My temperament being what it is, I often enjoyed hating as much as loving. That San Francisco shit corrupted the purity of the rock that I lvoed and I could have led a crusade against it. The Moby Grape moved me, but those songs about White Rabbits and hippie love made me laugh when they didn’t make me sick. I found more rock’n'roll in the dubbed-in hysteria on the Rolling Stones’ Got Live if You Want It than on most San Francisco albums combined.

For every moment I remember there are a dozen I’ve forgotten, but I feel like they are with me on a night like this, a permanent part of my consciousness, a feeling lost on my mind but never on my soul. And then there are those individual experiences so transcendent that I can remember them as if they happened yesterday: Sam and Dave at the Soul Together at Madison Square Garden in 1967: every gesture, every movement, the order of the songs. I would give anything to hear them sing “When Something’s Wrong with My Baby” just the way they did it that night.

The obsessions with Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, and B.B. King came a little bit later; each occupied six months of my time, while I digested every nuance of every album. Like the Byrds, I turn to them today and still find, when I least expect it, something new, something deeply felt, something that speaks to me.As I left college in 1969 and went into record production I started exhausting my seemingly insatiable appetite. I felt no less intensely than before about certain artists; I just felt that way about fewer of them. I not only became more discriminating but more indifferent. I found it especially hard to listen to new faces. I had accumulated enough musical experience to fall back on when I needed its companionship but during this period in my life I found I needed music less and people, whom I spend too much of my life ignoring, much more.

Today I listen to music with a certain measure of detachment. I’m a professional and I make my living commenting on it. There are months when I hate it, going through the routine just as a shoe salesman goes through his. I follow films with the passion that music once held for me. But in my own moments of greatest need, I never give up the search for sounds that can answer every impulse, consume all emotion, cleanse and purify — all things that we have no right to expect from even the greatest works of art but which we can occasionally derive from them.

Still, today, if I hear a record I like it is no longer a signal for me to seek out every other that the artist has made. I take them as they come, love them, and leave them. Some have stuck — a few that come quickly to mind are Neil Young’sAfter the Goldrush, Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, James Taylor’s records, Valerie Simpson’s Exposed, Randy Newman’sSail Away, Exile on Main Street, Ry Cooder’s records, and, very specially, the last three albums of Joni Mitchell — but many more slip through the mind, making much fainter impressions than their counterparts of a decade ago.

But tonight there is someone I can write of the way I used to write, without reservations of any kind. Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square theatre, I saw my rock’n'roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.

When his two-hour set ended I could only think, can anyone really be this good; can anyone say this much to me, can rock’n'roll still speak with this kind of power and glory? And then I felt the sores on my thighs where I had been pounding my hands in time for the entire concert and knew that the answer was yes.

Springsteen does it all. He is a rock’n'roll punk, a Latin street poet, a ballet dancer, an actor, a joker, bar band leader, hot-shit rhythm guitar player, extraordinary singer, and a truly great rock’n'roll composer. He leads a band like he has been doing it forever. I racked my brains but simply can’t think of a white artist who does so many things so superbly. There is no one I would rather watch on a stage today. He opened with his fabulous party record “The E Street Shuffle” — but he slowed it down so graphically that it seemed a new song and it worked as well as the old. He took his overpowering story of a suicide, “For You,” and sang it with just piano accompaniment and a voice that rang out to the very last row of the Harvard Square theatre. He did three new songs, all of them street trash rockers, one even with a “Telstar” guitar introduction and an Eddie Cochran rhythm pattern. We missed hearing his “Four Winds Blow,” done to a fare-thee-well at his sensational week-long gig at Charley’s but “Rosalita” never sounded better and “Kitty’s Back,” one of the great contemporary shuffles, rocked me out of my chair, as I personally led the crowd to its feet and kept them there.

Bruce Springsteen is a wonder to look at. Skinny, dressed like a reject from Sha Na Na, he parades in front of his all-star rhythm band like a cross between Chuck Berry, early Bob Dylan, and Marlon Brando. Every gesture, every syllable adds something to his ultimate goal — to liberate our spirit while he liberates his by baring his soul through his music. Many try, few succeed, none more than he today.It’s five o’clock now — I write columns like this as fast as I can for fear I’ll chicken out — and I’m listening to “Kitty’s Back.” I do feel old but the record and my memory of the concert has made me feel a little younger. I still feel the spirit and it still moves me.

I bought a new home this week and upstairs in the bedroom is a sleeping beauty who understands only too well what I try to do with my records and typewriter. About rock’n'roll, the Lovin’ Spoonful once sang, “I’ll tell you about the magic that will free your soul/But it’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock’n'roll.” Last Thursday, I remembered that the magic still exists and as long as I write about rock, my mission is to tell a stranger about it — just as long as I remember that I’m the stranger I’m writing for.

- Jon Landau

I also like Heather Browne's opinion. I've seen other good posts elsewhere, I just can't think of where right now...

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you're too hard already, you'll only get harder

>> Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I am so caught up in the spring weather and all this amazing new music (is it just me, or is there more lately than usual?), both from bands I already love and from some newcomers. This is a list of familiar names who have new albums coming out in the next couple of months. I am pretty much dying to hear all of these.

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record (May 4)
All to All, Forced to Love, and World Sick

Band of Horses - Infinite Arms (May 18)
Compliments, Factory

The Black Keys - Brothers (May 18)
Next Girl, Tighten Up

The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang (June 15)
American Slang (myspace)

The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever (May 4)


Jakob Dylan feat. Neko Case & Kelly Hogan - Women + Country (April 6)

Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away (May 4)
Change of Time

The National (obvi) - High Violet (May 11)
Bloodbuzz Ohio, Terrible Love (live), Afraid of Everyone

The New Pornographers - Together (May 4)
Your Hands (Together)

Stars - The Five Ghosts (June 22)
Fixed

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re-tox'd

>> Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This weekend (between midnight on Saturday and Sunday night) I broke free. I went out with friends on Saturday, consumed TWO different kinds of poutine (one regular, one Lakeview), and ate out for all meals without a care in the world. Pancakes, maple syrup, coffee, fruit, sugar, dairy, fried chicken and cornbread (at Harlem) - all these bits of deliciousness went down the hatch. And all, or some key ingredients, made me feel so bloated and headache-y that I couldn't fall asleep on Sunday night.

I spent Monday morning tired and wary of all foods, nursing a green tea and contemplating my life.

The thing is, everything I ate / drank / did this weekend wasn't totally abnormal for me on any given weekend. One night out, one brunch, one dinner out. It kind of highlights how unhealthy my 'normal' is.

Last night I went out for dinner and I really wanted a salad. Really! Not like, "oh, I should have a salad." I really wanted some vegetables. Maybe I have improved my eating habits.

The other thing I've noticed is that I spent much less money while on the detox. I did more groceries, but made fewer small purchases. I always had food on hand (at work, in my purse) because I knew I couldn't easily buy detox-friendly snacks. I liked being prepared and not settling for processed sugary snacks that are tempting but always a bad decision 30 minutes later. Saving money is nice, too.

Oh, and I lost five pounds. I declare this detox a success.

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I never thought about love when I thought about home

>> Friday, March 26, 2010

One of a few new tracks released this week: Broken Social Scene - All to All. I think Lisa Lobsinger is finally growing on me. It's no small feat to make yourself known and loved when following in the footsteps of Amy Millan, Emily Haines, and Feist (whom I have heard called, quite seriously, 'the holy trinity').

I simultaneously wish there were more days in the week and wish for this particular one to be over.

Last night I dreamt of eating chocolate bark. Mental craving satisfied?

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sad songs for dirty lovers

>> Thursday, March 25, 2010

I love this album and I'm concerned that not enough people have listened to it. Since I'm currently fiending for the new National album, and since I'm being made to wait, I've turned to their older ones for comfort.


Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers is the National's second full-length album. I got into it after their second and third came out (I wasn't cool enough to be listening to them in 2003) and it's become a staple, whole-album listener for Saturday mornings and afternoons that feel like mornings. It's especially great when you're hungover. If anyone can understand your pain, it's the National.

The title is absolutely perfect for it. Compared to the next two, I think of Sad Songs as being prettier and more personal. There's also less Boxer-style drums from Bryan Devendorf that seem now to have become a band staple. And of course, it's full of the genius phrasing (both musical and lyrical), bleak humour, and drunken confessions that we have come to know and love.

My first favourite track was It Never Happened. The party kid in all of us gets what it means to look younger than you feel and older than you are. Available is a little mean and has made me feel intense shame a couple of times, but they never takes themselves out of the screw-up equation. Matt Berninger often sounds like he's just barely holding on, and I love how he sort of loses it towards the end of this track (he fully loses it on Slipping Husband). Both express his frustration at someone's failure to live up to their potential or fulfill duty. A couple more tracks showcase their ability to be sweet in their self-deprecating way, as on Lucky You and Fashion Coat (with a little political commentary thrown in). I think this album sounds like trying to figure out the right way to behave ('morality' sounds so heavy but I guess that's what I mean), navigating the transition to adulthood/manhood, and figuring out what we're responsible for (both ourselves or others). The opener, Cardinal Song, is a great example of this confused but sincere attempt to figure it out.

Related: I totally wrote this post before a new track from High Violet, Bloodbuzz Ohio, was released.
I continue to love the album art.

My anxieties are simultaneously assuaged and renewed. So far this album sounds like it'll be a great balance of the more abstract anthemic rock songs (that's what other people call it, I don't think of the National as 'anthemic') of Alligator, the introspective urban isolation of Boxer, and even some of the good stuff that came before those two.

Also related: thank God the weather is improving, as I clearly need to get outside more.

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all yr songs

I think I like Diamond Rings better than D'Urbervilles.

this track is on repeat today: Diamond Rings - All Yr Songs

I also like the video, as "painfully hipsterish" as it is.


What?! I thought I said I was SO OVER neon!!! Shows how much I know.

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Detox update

>> Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In case anyone is wondering, the detox is still chugging along. I don't know why people are so surprised that I've stuck with it, given that I'm known to be as stubborn as a mule. I have cheated accidentally or out of necessity (usually when eating out), but I've been perfect so far this week. It's easier when the end is in sight. Saturday at midnight it all comes down.

I'm craving sugar and baked goods but it's all mental. One minute it's a pumpkin scone, the next a doughnut, the next a cupcake (it is painful to even name these things). Knowing that I can't have them makes me think about them all the time. I've always been highly suggestible - if I see someone eating something on TV then I want it, too. Actually making use of my willpower over the last three weeks has been an interesting exercise.

Also, as Sarah mentions, I'm much more aware of how the things I consume make me feel physically. It's a totally obvious and very simple concept, but it's easy to forget. I always understood why it's better to eat food that is fresh / organic / local / etc., but I feel like I really get it now. Especially the stuff about avoiding processed food. It is just the worst.

So in conclusion: I feel good, I've been able to stick to the detox, I'm proud of myself for cooking so much, I've saved money, and feel an enlightenment bordering on self-righteousness. Good times.

That said, I will devour the following when Sunday rolls around: coffee, wine, various baked goods. Oatmeal pancakes at Mitzi's, definitely. More coffee.

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influence

I got my sister Dirty Dancing two Christmases ago (2008), and we watched it together over the break. It was then that I decided I needed two things in my life: white keds and cut-off jeans. By the time summer 2009 rolled around apparently so had everyone else. For a while I thought this was a weird coincidence. But the more I think about it (yes, this is the kind of thing I spend my time thinking about), I realize there must have been other things going on that made me decide that Baby's style was perfect for me right then. After all, I've watched that movie several times and I watched others over that Christmas break.

Influence is an interesting thing. People or events that are highly visible and draw a lot of attention can be influential, but often it's little things coming together. I realize I'm probably venturing into Tipping Point territory here (haven't read it; tried to but got bored) so I'll stop there. I just wanted to talk a little bit about one part of my life that I have found is slowly influencing others.

Just over a year ago I started taking ballet classes for no particular reason except that I wanted to try a form of dance, and it was available to me. I ended up loving it. I love that it's a discipline, an art form, and great exercise. My first teacher would always tell us bits of history every time she taught us new steps, like about how ballet evolved from fencing and that at first it was only for men. We also had a live accompanist in those classes and I loved all the music we danced to. I don't wish I'd started taking lessons when I was younger so could have advanced further. I just appreciate it now.

I've noticed that my taste has been influenced by ballet classes and the performances I've been to. Ballet is one of those things that has an automatically-associated set of characteristics: pink (there is a colour called "ballet pink"), tulle, satin, fluidity, grace, etc. I want to wear ballet colours all the time - pearls and light pinks and nudes and oyster greys. I find that I'm wearing tights every day. I hate wearing pants. Maybe it's because I feel good when I wear these things in class. Either way, it feels like a good direction.

I kind of wish it was appropriate for an adult to wear a tutu in public (I do not own a tutu - yet). I actually bought a black tulle skirt for this reason. I went with black so as to not appear like a maniac (it's a good rule - if I'm buying anything sort of outrageous, I buy it in black to tone it down).

Everyone in tutus - Spring 2011??

My song for today: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - So Everyone. I love that this is a love song that is also slightly inappropriate. And I love that it's a waltz (I have a special place in my heart for pop songs written in 3/4 time).

Sidenote: how many cowboy items is it appropriate to wear all at once? Like, cut-offs, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, plaid shirt? Two of four? Maybe three? All four and you're officially in a costume, right?

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everything all the time

>> Friday, March 19, 2010

If the weather network is to be trusted (and it isn't), today is the last sunny day for nearly a week! So this is your official reminder, as if you needed one, to get outside and get some vitamin D.

Tomorrow night I will be checking out these two bands at Lee's Palace and I think you should, too.

Cuff the Duke (find a way to listen to 'Ballad of a Lonely Construction Worker')
&
Hooded Fang

It's been a few years since I saw Cuff the Duke live, but I remember them putting on an incredible, high-energy live show. I had my very own Courtney Cox moment at the Grad Club in Kingston in...2005? Towards the end of the show when everyone was exploding with energy, Wayne Petti pulled me up on stage to dance. OK, he may have pulled up a couple of others, too. But I'm pretty sure I was first. The next time we went to see them was the last night of a two-night stand at the Grad Club. It was totally sold out and we had no luck talking our way in. We were walking away, dejected, when we saw the band smoking on top of the fire escape at the back of the building (it's a converted three-storey Victorian house). We yelled up to them that we couldn't get in but we just wanted to see them play. Being the totally solid guys they are, they let us in through the fire escape and down through the crazy winding hallways and stairwells of the Grad Club (four years and I never figured them all out) into the main room. The bar staff were not impressed when they saw us later. But it was an excellent show.

I saw Hooded Fang a couple of times last year, opening for various bands, and they're also fun. I don't have any stories about them, though, sorry. I'll see what I can do tomorrow.

Bon weekend! Wish me luck 'enjoying' Lee's Palace without the benefit of a handful of 50s.

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livin' on a prayer

>> Thursday, March 18, 2010

Things have been tough this week, I'm not gonna lie. I think I accidentally had gluten yesterday (hidden in oat crackers) and was rewarded with a headache all afternoon. Forgoing St Paddy's day merry-making and Kaleb & Cheryl's (hereafter referred to as "Chaleb") delicious spread of sugar cookies, Irish soda bread, and whiskey and Guinness flavoured cheeses was almost too much for me. Luckily Sarah was there, too, so we were able to resist together. I don't miss alcohol but I do miss being able to drink something other than water when out with friends. Unfortunately, most bars don't seem to stock soy milk. I have seriously considered asking for green tea, though. I'll let you know if / when things progress to that point.

I just started watching The Wire. I know it's supposed to be amazing, and I'm really enjoying it so far, but my limited attention span is making it difficult to get through episodes that are actually an hour long. Anyway, for all the totally obsessed Wire fans out there (which describes all Wire fans, as far as I can tell), there's a new trailer up for David Simon's new series, Treme.

But you probably already knew that.

I would also like to send a shout-out to all the quality 22-minute shows out there. Keep it real.

This week has also been busier than usual so it's been tough to stay on top of meal planning and cooking, but I'm halfway through!

Sad news today: Alex Chilton passed away last night. A great musician who inspired many more great ones.

My song for today: Big Star - Thirteen (you should listen to the rest, too)

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it takes an ocean not to break

>> Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Yesterday was the birthday of two good friends and the celebrations (such as they could be, for a Monday) were lovely. But of course birthdays and other times of celebration are also a little stressful for me right now. Last night we went out for sushi and I had edamame, seaweed salad, and asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon. I'm not sure that everything I ate was detox-friendly (there was definitely too much salt involved), but it had to be pretty close. Anyway, it's not worth stressing about when I'm supposed to be celebrating with friends.

And speaking of my amazing friends, my friend Tara has a show that opens this Thursday evening at the Paul Petro Special Projects Space (962 Queen St W). I will be there and I think you should join me!

For all the crazies out there who can't get enough of the National, check out Music Taster's Choice's videos of their show at the Bell House in NY this past weekend. New tracks premiered!

My song for today: I listened to the new T.I. track, "I'm Back", this morning.
Every new T.I. track usually makes me think the same thing: I miss the undeniable swagger of "What You Know". But this is not a duet with a catchy club sing-a-long chorus by Rihanna. T.I. is out of prison and he is pissed at someone. I'm guessing it's MTV. Imagine coming out of prison to find a world obsessed with Jersey Shore? I'd be pissed, too.

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new ways to wear old clothes

>> Monday, March 15, 2010

Yesterday I did Joshi's recommended liver cleanse (grapefruit juice, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and ginger, blended). It did not taste good at all. I was really excited to have grapefruit juice because it's not otherwise allowed on the detox, but it was totally ruined by the garlic. I didn't feel great afterwards (more detoxing?) but I feel fine now.

I look forward to the weather improving. Not even my new, fully yellow tulips can do much to dispel this gloom. So we may as well roll around in it and get comfortable. To that end -

My song for today: Japandroids - Darkness on the Edge of Gastown from the forthcoming No Singles, a compilation of their two earlier EPs.
This is the kind of noise rock I dig. Any noisier and I get all, "get off my lawn".
No, I didn't pick it solely for the Springsteen reference. Yes, that was a major factor in the decision.

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it's only a change of time

>> Saturday, March 13, 2010

I was really hoping the weather would be nicer for today's post. I've been saving this song for it. It's perfect for emerging spring weather, Saturdays, and sunshine. We got two out of three today plus a bonus: daylight savings starts tonight! So change those clocks ahead one hour before bed, or, if you're reading this on Sunday morning and you're in my book club, hurry up! You're late for brunch!


Song for today: Josh Ritter - Change of Time from the forthcoming So Runs the World Away. Check out Josh's website for a free download.

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where did the sun go?

>> Friday, March 12, 2010

All I have to say about today is this: I was in back to back meetings all day in a boardroom filled with cruelty. Cruelty in the form of coffee, cookies, krispy kreme doughnuts, and chocolate.

I end this work day filled with spinach, tofu, carrots, hummus, and hate. But I didn't cheat! Hooray for me.

My song for this weird day: MGMT - Flash Delirium. I'm not saying it's good (because I don't know). But it's interesting. I'd like to see what made-up genre this falls under.

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I picture you in the sun

>> Thursday, March 11, 2010

Turns out there was no detox-friendly food at the reception last night. Also, I think I hate Perrier now. Last night was also sports league night, where we headed to a bar (as usual) after our dodgeball game. Sarah and I were both pretty hungry - me especially, having eaten dinner at 4pm. Things were looking dicey until we asked the server if we could each just have a plate of veggies and a side of grilled chicken. Turns out that works. Also, it cost us like $5 since we pretty much made a meal out of two sides. Lesson learned: if you don't see what you want on the menu, just ask for it.

Tonight's test: drinks at Bedford Academy with the notorious SPPG class of 2009.

People keep asking me if this detox is hard or if I miss certain foods. The answer is: not really. It's not tons of fun sitting beside someone who's eating fries but it's not unbearable, either. Obviously I am cutting out a lot of foods but it doesn't feel like I'm being deprived. I actually eat a lot. I keep saying that the only challenge is planning and preparing all my meals and making sure I don't get hungry. Yesterday was tough because I was out of the house before 9am and came home after 10pm. This is the reason for the extra bag in my daily luggage - it's all food!

But the best part is that I feel great all around. Headaches are gone now, hooray!

This morning my co-worker Sara lent me her copy of Joshi's Holistic Detox, so now we are no longer flying blind. I'm going to figure out my ayurvedic profile, whatever that means.


My song(s) for today: all songs entitled "In the Sun".

Check out the new She & Him video, which currently has the internet being all like, "OMG! cutest thing EVER!!"

I still have mixed feelings about Zooey Deschanel. M. Ward, on the other hand, receives nothing but adoration from me. They're at the Phoenix on June 9 (which is also the date of the National's 2nd Massey show).



In other exciting music news, Stars will have a new record out in June and some guy called Jakob Dylan (looks familiar?) got Neko Case and Kelly Hogan to join his band and the whole lot are coming to the Phoenix on April 25, touring in support of a new album. Very interesting...

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holy frack

I cannot tell you how freakin' excited I am for the new National album.

High Violet. Out not soon enough (i.e. May). Listen to the first track, "Terrible Love", as played on Fallon.



If anyone gets a leaked copy you are duty-bound to share with it me. Obviously I will buy it later - how could I not with this sweet album art?


Anyway. The National. New album. Can't wait.

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Out there somewhere is the finish line

>> Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tonight I face my first real challenge: an open-bar reception with plenty of hors d'oeuvres. Hopefully there will be some broccoli and carrots in the spread and, if I'm very lucky, some hummus.

No headaches today! I feel really good. I made a big batch of carrot ginger soup last night, which turned out really well! I'm so pleased with myself. I once again toted a ludicrous among of food with me to work today (lunch AND dinner, I am not going into that reception hungry!) I actually had so many bags with me that it slowed me down when jaywalking across Yonge this morning. Close call. Near-traffic collisions aside, I feel like I've gotten the hang of food making / planning. The real tests will come with social gatherings. Maybe I can just avoid other people for the next 2.5 weeks?

I'm so excited to drink Perrier with lime and pretend it's a cocktail.

I miss wine.

Today's song is upbeat but sad, considering the news today: The Thrills - Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?

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Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try

>> Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yesterday ended a lot better than my last post suggested. I headed to a spin class after work (sweating out more toxins!) and then Sarah and I headed to the Juice Box for our first shot of wheatgrass.
Wheatgrass smells like grass. It tastes like grass. It is also a little sweet. Not bad, not great. We'll call it an acquired taste. But it's supposed to be hella good for you. Also, the couple who run the store were really sweet. Apparently they've been there over 10 years! I only noticed the store last week. Shows how much I know. They also had a few detox-friendly veggie juices so I'll definitely be back to try a couple of those (and more wheatgrass!)

The whole cooking / meal-planning thing is going better. Last night I made meatballs out of ground turkey. It's kind of fun to realize that I actually know how to make things (I don't think I can overstate how infrequently I cook). I don't remember ever making meatballs on my own before. Tonight, if I have time, I'm going to make carrot soup.

Only mild headaches so far today. Fingers crossed.

Things I miss: coffee. I haven't been without it this long since I started working. Its sweet aroma drifts over my cubicle walls all day long...oh, mercy.

My song for today: Donné Roberts - Malahelo (you can download several tracks from his website).

We saw Donné Roberts at Wavelength a couple of weeks ago and it was one of those opening act pleasant surprises - he and the band are tons of fun live.

In other news: work is busy, the weather is gorgeous, and my tulips are secretly all red inside so they are turning out orange instead of yellow. I feel like I should be angered by this deception but they are still so pretty.

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Joshi Detox: Day 2

>> Monday, March 8, 2010

Yesterday started off great. The weather was gorgeous and my new tulips were blooming. However, by mid-afternoon I wanted to throw a fit. Like, an actual temper tantrum. I was starving and had a headache and I didn't even want to look at the massive bag of spinach in the fridge. I'm not sure if I was actually hungry or dehydrated or just detoxing. Still having headaches today but nothing too bad.

The toughest part so far is that I feel like I spend half my day cooking or planning meals, which is a big adjustment from spending approximately none of my time doing those things. Hopefully I will get the hang of it soon. Sarah and I spent some time making hummus and baked chickpeas last night, all of which turned out pretty well and will be excellent for snacking. I brought a ludicrous amount of food (carrots, hummus, baked chickpeas, spinach salad with tofu, banana) to work today. Everything should be fine as long as I don't let myself get hungry!

Plain yogurt with a banana and honey is a delicious breakfast, and much more filling than I thought it'd be.

My song for today: Metric - Help, I'm Alive (for now...)

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...is butter a carb?

>> Sunday, March 7, 2010

Excitement! This morning Sarah and I have officially begun our Joshi detox. Wish us all kinds of luck!

Last week we realized that two things will occur during our 21 days: 1) book club, which I am hosting and is a brunch and also not that big a deal, and 2) St. Patrick's Day. Um, that's cool. I don't really like friends or drinking or being merry. Thank goodness we are doing this together - we can raise a glass of green tea together on the 17th! Right.

This morning I have weighed myself and checked my body fat percentage (I don't know if the detox is supposed to affect that, but it's on my scale) and have figured out that hot water tastes a lot better than warm. I am a genius.

My song for today: The Drums - Don't be a Jerk, Jonny. Because it is so gorgeous out today. Almost summer!

Onward!

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a grocery list

>> Saturday, March 6, 2010

dear god, I hope I don't become one of those people who can do nothing but talk about their diet.

Today Sarah, ALo, and I are are heading to the Promised Land - a.k.a. Costco - for some supplies. Do you think they have mini humidifiers? I really need one for my cubicle. 

  • rice milk, soy milk
  • spinach, spring mix, kale, carrots, frozen mixed veggies, frozen edamame
  • seeds (pine nuts, sunflower, sesame), pumpkin seed butter
  • Braggs, sesame oil, olive oil, tahini, honey
  • minced and fresh garlic & ginger, onions, coriander
  • brown rice pasta, brown rice wraps
  • chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, etc.
  • bananas
  • plain bio yogurt
  • egg whites
  • lemons
  • ground turkey, chicken, frozen fish, tofu
Doesn't that sounds good? Am I missing anything? Maybe a shredder, or a year's supply of birdseed. JUST IN CASE (which is funny, because it actually comes IN a CASE...ok nevermind).

I'm hoping that these items will be the base for what I eat over the next three weeks, topped up a few times with fresh produce and soy milk. A few things might require a trip to the health food store but most are regular groceries. I'm guessing this list will cost about the same as my regular grocery list, which is much shorter. Yay, produce! Boo, cheese and Italian sausage. Who needs it.

I'm also investing in the following implements:
  • citrus juicer
  • garlic press
  • glass food storage containers (since I will be taking my lunch EVERY DAY)
  • good-quality bakeware (since I will be cooking more!)
  • sunflowers (to put on my desk so I don't get too depressed - also, to inhale their moisture in case I can't find a humidifier and become desperate)
My song for today - a little whimsical. Charlotte Gainsbourg - Me and Jane Doe. Sunny little adventures. Summer is almost here!

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I don't like these drugs that keep you thin

>> Friday, March 5, 2010

Ok, friends, here it is: the skinny on The Joshi Detox.

As the book cover says, this is a 21-day program (followed by a 'maintenance' period, where some foods can be added back in). The goal is to help your body become better at eliminating toxins, to return the body to an 'alkaline' state (apparently we eat too many acidic foods), and to get used to healthier eating habits. It's not specifically for weight loss (as there is no calorie counting or portion control), but it can have that effect. I don't actually have the book, so I'm relying on the internet for rules and recipes and things. All I have to do is stop eating and drinking the following 'toxic' items:
  1. Red meat
  2. Alcohol
  3. Coffee or tea (even decaf)
  4. Wheat, gluten, or yeast
  5. Anything processed or with added sugar, including chocolate, sweets, jams or spreads
  6. Dairy 
  7. Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant). Apparently no mushrooms, peppers, and possibly not zucchini or cucumber either, but I'm not clear on these. I'll just avoid them anyway.
  8. Fruit
  9. No artificially flavoured / processed condiments like ketchup, vinegar, mustard, etc.
  10. Most nuts 
And of course, absolutely, definitely nothing deep-fried.

Well that's depressing. How about a list of what I can eat? Yes!
  1. Fish (but no seafood or tuna / other large fish, due to mercury), chicken, and turkey
  2. Brown rice
  3. Eggs (up to 4 per week)
  4. Lentils, pulses, and seeds
  5. Tofu, soy milk, rice milk, etc.
  6. Plain yogurt, goat cheese, and buffalo mozzarella (thank jeebus)
  7. Honey
  8. Olive oil
  9. Herbal tea
  10. Lemons

And all the other vegetables in the world! like kale, and wheatgrass!

Other things:
  • I am to start mornings with a glass of warm water and lemon (I've tried this - warm water is gross)
  • Once a week, ingest a "liver detox smoothie" - a mouth-watering blend of grapefruit juice, water, olive oil, garlic and ginger.
Apparently there is a good chance I will be in physical pain for the first couple of days as all the toxins in my body rise to the surface and make me miserable. But THEN - oh, then - I will supposedly begin to sleep like a log, enjoy higher energy levels, and acquire a saintly glow.


My song for today: Phantom Planet - Leader. Yes, the guys who did the OC theme song! Remember how good the first two seasons were?
ah, youth...

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the cutest things I have seen this week

>> Thursday, March 4, 2010

My last post made me rageful. If it did the same to you, then I am sorry. Here are the cutest things I have seen this week! They should help.
omg what. r u serious.
teacup pigs!!!
HIMYM fans will remember these little guys from this week's episode. Just try looking into those adorable eyes and telling the little guy you'll never be together!....for now.

Back in the day, a little ol' state called Californee had a hockey team called the Golden Seals. This was their jersey:
 
A seal playing hockey!!! can you just imagine! it's all like 'arf arf, I don't even have hands, how do flippers hold a hockey stick!?' I guess that's why the team didn't last. But at least seals are good at sliding around on the ice. On their chubby little seal bellies! 
This is my current pick for cutest pro sports logo (hey Sportsnet! TSN! this would make a great segment - hire me!) If you think there is a cuter one than this, then I would really like to see it (no, really - I'll add it to this post!)

You know who else is awesome? My new friend Ramk Chardri. He just started a blog, and it is my third favourite thing this week! I hope you guys all get a chance to visit it and say hello! And he has a birthday coming up - the little guy is turning seven - so be sure to wish him a happy birthday!

And finally, my favourite new song this week is World Sick by Broken Social Scene, from the forthcoming Forgiveness Rock Record.

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Cortisol rising

Guys! My friend Mark has a blog now. First entries are promising. Follow him!
And because he seems to think I'm too nice (???), I have here compiled a list of things I hate:

  • People who don't use coasters on wooden furniture. Maybe you hate my furniture, but I'd still appreciate it if you'd stop trying to ruin it.
  • Slow walkers who take up the whole sidewalk 
  • Groups of people who suddenly stop in the middle of the sidewalk / top of the stairs / entrance to the subway / etc.
  • Basically, anyone who is in my way and needs to get out of it.
  • People who claim they "can't do math" (yes, I say this. That's how I know how lame it is).
  • Self-righteous vegetarians / vegans.
  • Last-minute invites - sometimes ok, but most of the time I am already in my pj's and don't want to go out. Or I already have plans and then I feel badly saying so, because it sounds like an excuse! Stop making me feel bad just because you can't make plans!!!
  • Servers who tell you you should have asked them to split the bill before the meal. What a useful comment that is (especially when they give you attitude about it). Right, I can see how you'd reasonably expect one person to pay for these 5 people who are obviously unrelated and obviously not clients or employees.
  • Service people, in general, who have attitude problems. I have an attitude problem, too! But guess what: I don't work in the service industry. Idiot.
  • People who are always starting sentences with "let me be clear:..." Because it's obvious that they think they are incredibly intelligent (and probably think you are dumb). They are probably not that intelligent. You might be that dumb, though, I don't know.
And last, but probably the one that makes me rage the hardest:
  • People who ask questions that are easily answered with a simple google search. Especially if they ask the question while using the internet (via email, twitter, etc.) It would have cost you the SAME EFFORT to type the question into a search engine. But instead of doing that you expect someone ELSE to google it for you? Are you kidding me?? If you need directions and you're already en-route, then call me. If it's three days before the event, ask google. Otherwise you are getting a link to this: http://lmgtfy.com/. Remember: the Lord helps those who help themselves. And so do I.
Yes, I am concerned that I might have anger management issues. Why do you ask?

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you're toxic.

>> Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So those of you who know me and bear the burden of listening to me on a regular basis have heard me mention my intention to start a detox diet. A friend of mine has been doing one and claims he feels great - sleeping better, more energy, all good things. This weekend (in between amazing and unsettling and finally rewarding periods of hockey) someone finally identified this mysterious diet as the Joshi detox. So after some googling I (and my friend Sarah) have decided to start it! No, really, this time it's for real! I have committed to it IN MY BLOG!

And you guys are in for a treat - I am going to blog about the whole experience. Ohhh yeah. The excitement starts this weekend!

Also, download this remix of First We Take Manhattan that my friend Stu did. I love me some Leonard Cohen.

Oh holy crap. I just went to the Joshi Clinic's website and the first thing I saw was Gwyneth Paltrow's endorsement. Well, I'm still going to do it because plenty of normal people seem to think it's a good idea. Also - for some laughs delivered straight to your inbox, skip the joke-a-day email subscription and sign up for GOOP. You'll thank me.

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can't hardly wait

>> Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I feel really good this morning. I slept well last night and I feel like I might even have a bit of a glow to me today. It might be due to these new B-vitamins I'm taking, but I'm pretty convinced it's actually the result of an amazing show I saw last night. So props to my friend Mark for dragging me out on a Monday night to see Joe Pug and Justin Townes Earle at the Horseshoe Tavern. I have been meaning to see the younger Earle for a while now but never got around to it, so I'm glad I got to see him while he's still playing venues as small as the 'shoe.

JTE (as all the other bloggers are calling him) sounds simultaneously 28 years old (!) and much, much older. It's all pedal steel and fiddle (played by the same guy) and upright bass; silly songs about hogging the bed alongside tearjerkers about his mama and one or two classic travellin' man blues (and a song or two about a train). He did Hank Williams and Carter family songs without sounding like a hack and then covered a Replacements tune with believable angst. The man is like the past, present, and future of country music all in one.

I also really enjoyed the opener, Joe Pug (I will automatically love almost anyone with a harmonica). He's got a great, gravelly voice that I loved and a nice smile, as well as some pretty solid tunes. More rugged-sounding than JTE (no pedal steel here) but definitely good for delivering a few lyrical gut-punches. Also, he got some lady in the crowd dancing, which was kind of weird but cool, I guess. I'm kind of bummed about being out of cash so I didn't get to pick up his new CD (released just last week), but hopefully will figure out a way to do that soon. In the meantime, links!

Justin Townes Earle (listen to Midnight at the Movies and Mama's Eyes)

Joe Pug (listen to Not So Sure and Hymn #101)

Does anyone know how to post mp3s on blogger? I have been trying to figure out a simple way of doing this.

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in like a lamb

>> Monday, March 1, 2010

Just came across this ridiculously perfect springtime photo of Bianca Brandolini in a recent Garance Doré post (the other picture is pretty nice, too!)
Again, I love that blue. And the pink. And if only we could all have miles-long legs! Though fyi Bianca is dating her cousin (Lapo Elkan), which is slightly weird, so I don't know how jealous I am of her.

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good advice

>> Friday, February 26, 2010

I love Torontoist's Vandalist feature

happy Friday!

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please kill me

>> Monday, February 22, 2010

I am rarely asked for book recommendations (I’m not going to reflect too long on why that might be), but I feel like I have a few good ones to offer. I try to keep my current books list up to date and have posted my book club’s picks, but no one needs me to recommend the type of current / popular books that Amazon would recommend anyway. So here's something a little different.
On a tip from one Jess Mariano (whom I still miss) I picked up Please Kill Me, an oral history of punk music. It was rare for me to voluntarily read non-fiction but this book helped convince me that the real world can be just as fascinating and engaging as imaginary ones.

I was was totally engrossed by the history of the Detroit, New York, and London scenes and their roots in the social and political failures of 1960s ideals. The oral history format is perfect for punk's ethos - who better to tell this story than the outrageous, real-life cast who created it?

To me, the greatest thing about punk is the energy and spirit of it: that anyone can do anything they want to do, and that they should. This gets taken to negative extremes, obviously, and ends tragically for a lot of the main players. I remember thinking that someone who did as much heroin and made as many poor life choices as Iggy Pop did probably doesn't deserve to still be alive. Some characters are pitiable, and some (like Debbie Harry) are totally awesome. It's a book that provokes strong feelings. It's funny, disgusting, sad, appalling, and sobering. If you're at all interested in the more palatable musical trends that came before and after punk, and especially in the various post-punk genres inspired by the DIY ethic, then I highly recommend this book. Also, it has pictures!

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stop being so serious, it's Friday!

>> Friday, February 19, 2010

new playlists this week!

This one's mostly new stuff

and this one is all love songs! (aw)

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in which I become irrationally angry over things no one else cares about.

Look, I don't have time for this your/you're business people are always on about. If you have a poor grasp of basic spelling or grammar, then use an automatic checker. If you can't be bothered, then forget you. I don't have time for that. Because the same people who are so proud of themselves for knowing the difference between a possessive noun and a conjunction (woohoo! congratulations on acing the third grade!) make all sorts of other sloppy errors. I have seen the word "definitely" misspelled so often ("definately" - so ugly) that I have actually wondered if I'M the one spelling it incorrectly. Can you believe that? People make me crazy.

The mistakes that make me craziest are substitutions of homonyms (or almost-homonyms), most likely the result of hearing, rather than reading, expressions and then repeating them without thinking about their meaning. A common one is "pre-fixe" (for "prix-fixe") - I even see this printed on menus. I often hear or read people say "in one foul swoop" (it's 'fell'). Another type of mistake is using smart-sounding words that sound like they have a certain meaning but don't. An example is 'fulsome', which sounds like it means the same thing as 'full'. It doesn't. If you want to say 'full' then say that. Or say 'complete'. Why would you use a word you only half-understand? These mistakes won't necessarily make you unintelligible. But the point is that you're not thinking about what you're saying, you're just repeating a pre-fabricated thought. Maybe it's not the worst thing in the world - it's not like we live in Nineteen Eighty-Four. But it is lazy. Sometimes it's both lazy and pretentious. And often it's wrong. And none of these things make anyone sound smart.

If you haven't read George Orwell's essay on Politics and the English Language, then you need to do so immediately. Here is something I did not write outlining Orwell's six rules for effective writing:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as 'toe the line', 'ride roughshod over', 'stand shoulder to shoulder with', 'play into the hands of', 'an axe to grind', 'Achilles’ heel', 'swan song', and 'hotbed' come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic.
For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
Long words don’t make you sound intelligent unless used skillfully. In the wrong situation they’ll have the opposite effect, making you sound pretentious and arrogant. They’re also less likely to be understood and more awkward to read.
When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied:
Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree (Ezra Pound). Accordingly, any words that don’t contribute meaning to a passage dilute its power. Less is always better. Always.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
This one is frequently broken, probably because many people don’t know the difference between active and passive verbs. I didn’t myself until a few months ago. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand:
The man was bitten by the dog. (passive)
The dog bit the man. (active). 
The active is better because it’s shorter and more forceful.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call. You don’t want to drag on with unnecessary explanation, but try to help people understand what you’re writing about. You want your ideas to spread, right?
6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.
The point of communication is to clearly convey your meaning to others. But it's also important to think about and fully understand what you're saying. Repeating phrases heard elsewhere to convey a meaning that someone else created eliminates the need for you to think. Misusing those phrases just proves to others that you don't even know what you're talking about. 

I won't get into the argument that those who control language control thought (too Orwellian, and I won't really know what I'm talking about) but you can kind of see where that leads. We end up talking in buzzwords and phrases whose meanings are unclear and say very little while using a lot of words. Politicians do this deliberately. We do it by accident, or out of laziness. I think that actually makes us worse - at least politicians do it for a reason. I'm most irritated when journalists do it. Their trade is in words and they have a wider reach than most, which gives them power to influence language.


These are a few sources listing commonly-used redundancies and irritating phrases (the list of redundancies is extremely long but thorough). Some of my favourites:
  • "At this point in time"
  • "At the end of the day"
  • "Going forward" - don't even get me started.
  • "For all intents and purposes"
  • "Not so much" - this sounds so unprofessional, I have no idea how it gets past editors
  • "A perfect storm"
  • "should / shouldn't of" for "should / shouldn't have"- really???
  • "For all intensive purposes" - doubly irritating.
  • "Begging the question": I'm not sure it's worth correcting this one, as doing so makes you seem like a jerk. But here I go. This expression does NOT mean that a particular statement provokes an obvious question. To beg the question is to use faulty, circular logic in a proof. It means that someone has tried to prove a point (e.g. "God exists") by using arguments that depend on the original statement being true ("because the Bible says so, and the Bible is God's word"). It helps to think of it as being like a tautology (defining a word by using that word in the definition). Unless you're engaged in a philosophical discussion it's probably better to just avoid this phrase.
  • "Ironically": From Reality Bites - (rhetorically) "Can you define 'irony'?" "It's when the actual meaning is the complete opposite from the literal meaning." Simple!
      The point isn't to write perfectly or according to all the rules all the time (thank goodness, because I sure don't). It's to think about what you're saying. Simple, clear language is more powerful and flows better than fancy phrases. And, most importantly, it actually makes you sound smarter.

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      About This Blog

      this here ma blog.

      I like to talk about things I have no particular expertise in. Especially music.

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