what're the odds?

i have this list of movies that i keep meaning to rent, and i finally took a chunk out of it last week. i rented four (from my new favourite video store…it makes rogers seem like a poor person’s yard sale) and watched them over the past four days or so. and they were all good!!

  • kurt and courtney: i wasn’t disappointed, though it wasn’t quite what i expected. after reading heavier than heaven, there was nothing surprising in there, just some amusement in watching courtney love put on a queen bitch display. but what really made it fascinating was this lineup of tortured friends and lovers who talked about kurt and courtney. it was one thing to read about dylan or amy in the biography, but quite another to see them arm-wrestling sanity and death.
  • waking the dead: god, what a depressing movie. billy crudup was great, and jennifer connelly is, in addition to being a great actress, just about the most gorgeous thing mine eyes have ever seen, but keeeee-rhist, i felt like doing a g.i. joe roll off my balcony after this one was done. i guess that means they did a good job. then again, maybe i’m just depressed ’cause i know jennifer connelly will never be cuddled up to me on an airplane. frig. frig frig frig. oh scotch, where are you?
  • the french connection: i can’t believe i’ve nevers seen this movie. not that it’s indispensable, but just because it’s been around for so long and it’s a classic action movie. great car chase scene – not as technically smooth as ronin, but more visceral; i still haven’t seen bullitt, so i can’t compare. gene hackman’s always awesome, even if he is playing a racist shithead. i loved how it didn’t wrap everything up nicely: bad things happened, the bad guy got away, popeye and cloudy didn’t get their due. maybe that’s why it’s a classic.
  • rushmore: i’d actually seen this one before, but i couldn’t remember much of it. having watched it, i’d obviously forgotten how good it was…maybe i’m just a bit more accustomed to wes anderson’s style now, but i was laughing out loud in parts, smiling for selfish reasons in others. i need to rent bottle rocket now.

all in all, not bad. four movies, four winners.

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what good, you may ask, is a samurai sword for someone living in an urban centre? with no need for self-protection, and with food delivered or a microwave tumble away, what use have i for it?

well, i’ll tell you.

it’s great for hacking up laundry baskets which have outlived their usefulness and will not fit down the garbage chute in one piece. absolutely great for it.

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so, after 4 days in the new place, i’m finally starting to get settled. it’s ex-bloody-pensive to move into a bigger place, especially when you toss a bunch of your older stuff when you move.

i love my new spot, though. especially the climate control, given the subtropical temps (and garbage strike) outside. just needs a few minor adjustments, a few more purchases, and then it’ll be all set. first on the list is a computer desk; i’m goddamn tired of sitting on the floor.

Mike's wedding

banais!

saturday, june 15, 2002, the wedding of mike and heather. ’twas a delightful affair, fun was had by all, pip pip, cheerio. the trip to kingston was enhanced by a stop at mcdonald’s and my complete control over the stereo, and marred only by the monsoon-quality rain that pelted us an hour out of toronto. p.j., who had encountered the same rain, claimed to have driven for 15 minutes ‘using the force’.

the hall where the ceremony took place was perfect, and very large…fitting, considering the wedding party was comprised of 5 women and 7 men (including the principals). the men were in full kilt, and the ladies looked viciously hot. rowr. now, let me say that i’ve been to quite a few weddings, but never have i been so stunned by the bride on consecutive occasions. at marney’s wedding, i nearly choked up when i saw her walking down the…uh, grassy path toward the ocean (rather unorthodox path for a bride to take, that). while i, and everyone else, know how beautiful she is, you don’t always expect the bride to suddenly asppear before you that beautiful. the same thing happened in this case: you could hear gasps in the room when heather walked in, and when our eyes followed her to the front of the room we saw tears in mike’s eyes. we all thought, “no wonder”; in any case, he was hardly the only one in the room so affected.

the ceremony itself was simple, elegant, well-handled by the official (they can really let it slide sometimes), tear-inducing (i found myself sitting between two female friends…thank heaven the kleenex held out, for i value my sleeves greatly) and quick. we all retired to a nearby pub for two hours, then made for the dinner tables. the rest of the night – for me, anyway – was marred by the sickly feeling of something attacking my body from the inside, so i wasn’t exactly on top of my game (regardless, i had to be up early the next morning to catch a train back home to take care to some rather unpleasant business), but i do recall all of the following, in no particular order:

  • several speeches, highlighted by mike’s which left nearly everyone – myself included – veklempt or worse
  • heather trying to recover enough from mike’s speech to make her own
  • a deaf and evil man who played music until the real dj showed up (at least, i think this is what happened)
  • cathy grabbing my sleeve with fire in her eyes saying, “you did bring the chocolates, didn’t you?”
  • cigars
  • mark and i wimping out on said cigar action, having rich cut one in half so we could share, and then struggling with them anyway
  • finally, mark ditching the remainder of his cigar over the balcony into a bale of hay and the subsequent smokey the bear routine
  • darryl’s speech, the best i’ve heard put forth from a best man since…well, since mike was ernie’s
  • rucking down
  • dry heaving in the bathroom when whatever-it-was-in-my-stomach got feisty; i decided to take it easy after that and switched to keith’s
  • ernie turning into a dancing queen when “seether” was requested
  • ken very nearly sweating to death
  • having my ass grabbed twice – sadly, by men on both occassions

all in all, it was nothing less than i expected: a beautiful ceremony honouring two people who everyone in the room would’ve gone to the ends of the earth to witness being wed. there was a palpable sense in the room that everyone, give the chance, would’ve stood up and held forth on their genuine respect and affection for mike and heather. that two people we loved so much could have a day such as that – well deserved indeed – gives you a sense that all is karmically and cosmically pretty damn okay with the world.

congratulations, kids.

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come july 1st, i will now inhabit a condo so close to work i should have to take a pay cut. it has a den, a jacuzzi tub, a dishwasher and my undying love.

unless i find something wrong with it. my luck, there’s a leper colony behind the fridge or something.

stay tuned.

whatever happened to my rock 'n roll?

thursday night, lee’s palace, black rebel motorcycle club. two bands in support: the exploders (i think) and the carnations. mike and i skipped the exploders and showed up a few minutes before the carnations took the stage. if only we’d known, we could’ve stayed at our respective homes and watched the last period of the wings/hurricanes.

first, the crowd: brmc is heavy enough that there were skids (which, inevitably, led to devil signs), glam enough that there were teenyboppers and brooding enough to bring out the shoegazers in fake army jackets. the place was packed, though; one big multicultural family.

but let’s talk about the carnations, shall we? i first saw them some time ago, when they followed white van speaker scam onto the stage at the now (effectively) defunct el mocambo. midway through their first song we decided to leave, as they sucked it loud and hard. and when i say sucked, this is what i mean: as near as i can figure, an evil scientist has built a giant vacuum cleaner that sucks talent and flair and placed sloan in front of it. what has come out is a band called the carnations. i’m not even a big fan of sloan, so this should tell you how very vile the carnations were.

guys, that whole my-eighties-tshirt-is-so-uncool-it’s-cool, i-haven’t-washed-my-beddy-beddy-bed-bed-hair-in-days look is done. over. you want people to believe you’re cool and not just a bunch of posers? learn to play some real fucking music instead of spending all your time shopping in kensington market. this was the thought going through my head as the singer droned out, “it’s a miracle of science that you’re still here.” yeah. no fucking shit.

and guys, i’m a drummer. or, rather i was. but it’s like drinking: once you’ve been an alcoholic, you’re one forever. thus, to the chagrin of my friends and colleagues, i tap incessantly. i’ll tap along with anything that’s making a beat: loud music from a nearby car, washing machines, whores downstairs, pepsid ac commercials…you name it. but guys…last night i wasn’t tapping during your set. at all. wait, wait, that’s a lie; i did find myself tapping once, but it was to a different song. see, i wanted to psychologically withdraw from what you were inflicting on us (it wasn’t unlike a mugging, dear reader…they’d taken my money and were hurting me terribly) that i’d begun to sing frank black‘s “(i want to live on an) abstract plain” in my head, and was drumming along with it. but the horrible wailing brought me back to the abyss, and i just had to ride it out. i looked back over my shoulder at mike, and he appeared to be making a valiant attempt at transcendental meditation, but the frustrated look on his face told me that it hadn’t worked. too bad, ’cause it would’ve been cool. finally, mercifully, it ended and the bad men went away. mike’s comment: “i’ve never before seen a band that made me dumber.” well put, michael.

brmc took the stage around 11:45 and let fly with “red eyes and tears”. all in all the show was good, though unremarkable. they played each song on the cd (except “too real”, i think) and five new ones. the highlight was definitely “whatever happened to my rock n’ roll (punk song)”, and they nearly had another stunner with the final song of the encore – “salvation” – but they went on this long rambling bass solo that lost the crowd after rolling up the tempo just moments before. they should’ve just ended with that bang, but they wouldn’t let it die and the crowd mentally went home before the show ended. oh well. i think i would’ve enjoyed them more had the wanknations not opened for them.

not a bad show for $18.50, i guess. i think mogwai spoiled me. hopefully the white stripes (two weeks from tomorrow) will re-affirm my faith in things.

a cheery wave from deafened youngsters

last night mike and i set out for lee’s palace to watch mogwai burn and pillage toronto. i’d found out earlier in the day that i was now on the guest list (through a complicated communication pipeline involving my brother tim, his co-worker paul, martin bulloch and martin’s girlfriend), so we had two tickets to give away. two people accepted the offer but then elected to skip the concert, the silly bastards. didn’t they know? meh. as it turns out, mike and i got ourselves into the show for free courtesy of wee marty, and then sold our tickets. scalpers outside were asking $70 for a pair of $20 tickets, and – after much confusion on my part – one of them gave me $50(!) for my pair. so, basically, someone paid mike and i $10 to go see mogwai last night. our night was made already! so, we walked inside and i got a pint of the dark stuff; mike got some pussy german beer, i’m not sure which.

mighty flashlight opened – it turns out i’d heard their stuff before though i didn’t remember them. they weren’t great, but not horrible either. the one thing i really loved about them was that they got on and off the stage in about 30 minutes, bless ’em. bravo, guys, well done. no one’s there to see you, just show us what you’ve got and get your asses backstage to drink mogwai’s beer. apparently they did just this, and then barry called us cunts for it later. anyway…

so, with a tiny little bit of fanfare, mogwai took the stage a little after 11:00. the perfect opening, too: “yes! i am a long way from home”, and the crowd went loopy right from the first notes. well…polite canadian loopy. at the beginning of every song that the crowd was really waiting for – “xmas steps”, “like herod”, “helicon 1” – we’d start yelping, but then become quiet and reverent as torontonians are wont to do. stuart seemed a bit confused by this, as if expecting us to let it all out at some point instead of standing and swaying quietly. he may well have been berating us, too, but no one could understand a word the little fucker said except, “thanks!”. ach, we went loopy anyway.

highlights…well, all of ’em. you know there’s usually a spot or two in a concert where you’re just not into the song? even the trail of dead concert had that, when jason reece was really off his nut singing “aged dolls” or “homage”…but this show last night didn’t have that. i was actually wary of the material from rock action that i knew would be played, since it’s my least favourite disc, but the kick at a live show can do a lot for songs, so “2 rights make one wrong” and “you don’t know jesus” sounded a lot better than i’d remembered. the fact that they played “like herod” and “helicon 1” was just gravy. i can point out two favourite spots in the whole night, though: first, during the quietest part of “xmas steps”, when it was just stuart playing reallw low, we could hear all the noise from the bar – bottles clinking, drinks spilling, conversations between the people at the bar too fucking wasted to know rock warfare was being waged 75 feet to the south – mixed in with the music. mike leaned over to me and said, “i can’t believe it’s so quiet…you can hear a pin drop in here!”. my response: “yeah…that ain’t gonna last.” and as if on cue, whammo. devil music. the same thing happened during “like herod”.

but my absolute favourite moment was near the end of the encore, when “my father my king” was well into the second movement (my apologies for using so wanky a term as “movement” to describe a mogwai song, but “part” or section” didn’t sound grandiose enough), and we all knew it was the end. stuart distilled the whole mogwai night down to one little move: he reached over to his marshall stack and just drove his hand to the right, over all of the knobs, throwing everything up to ten. it was such a little thing, but it seemed perfect. you want loud? here’s loud. jewish fucking hymns require more power. by the final note everyone in the place was clapping, but wearing stunned looks. why? though we were clapping and yelling as loud as we could, we couldn’t hear ourselves. i was clapping inches from my nose and i couldn’t hear it at all. we’d lost. they’d won. we should’ve known better.

when i got home, i couldn’t sleep as there were two tiny men in my ears hitting china cymbals with xylophone mallets. they’re still at it, 17 hours later. i think big sugar is the only other band to do this to my head. trail of dead had two cracks at me and didn’t manage that. fucking young team, man.

go celtic.