Tag Archives: music

Bookish and more – sunny Friday edition!

If you’ve noticed, I’ve been really bad in tagging my posts of late.  As in I haven’t been tagging them.  I did come late to the tagging game, which I think I might have mentioned.  I have my reasons for not liking to tag posts, and it has to do with the fact that if I don’t have a predefined set of subject classifications already designed for me to choose from, I am hesitant to create one of my own, in case I – at some poing along the way – decide I don’t like this particular set of tags, and want to change them up.

I realize this is blindingly stupid to most people, but I think some of the library types out there might feel me on this one.  Maybe?  Maybe not.  Anyway.  The UIG + tagging posts = Fail.  Does it matter?  Probably not, but I’m trying to make a conscious effort to go through and tag older posts and attempt to properly tag my current efforts, especially the ones where books, movies, other things are discussed.  It’s just good form, and I like to be able to search other blogs by tag, so I’m going to really try.  As I said, I have an aversion to assigning tags to posts, but I’m working on it.  It would have been nice, when I started this blog, for someone to come along and say “Hey, here’s your subject classification parameters – blog about the following topics, and tag them thusly!”  But that’s bananas, right?  Although, if you think I’m on to something and you have a set of tags you want to assign to me?  I’d be all over that, I’m just putting it out there.

Okay, on to the good stuff!  It’s Friday and it’s gorgeous out there, blogfriends, so let’s talk about some books and stuff.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.  The story of the Bigtree clan and the inevitable decline of their alligator wrestling dynasty after the death of their world-famous wife/mother.  Seriously, they had me at alligator wrestling.  The writing in this book so evoked the swampy everglades of Florida that I sometimes felt clammy and mosquito bitten just reading it.  Really funny at times and extremely sad and horrific at others. 

Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter.  This is a slim little book that I mentioned last post, and it was a fast-paced and very enjoyable read.  WWI veteran Henry Bright hears the voice of an angel on the battlefields of France, the angel follows him back to America and has him do his will, to save Bright’s only son, supposedly The Future King of Heaven.  Beautifully written, which is not surprising from an author who also writes some pretty beautiful songs.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  Another book set in a steamy and tropical swampy area – this time the Amazon.  Pharmaceutical researcher sent to track down one of their scientists at a remote research facility, to learn what happened to cause the death of her colleague.  Ethics and morality are called into question, and the book had a sort of Heart of Darkness feel about it to me.  Venturing down the river to locate Kurtz, or in this case, the elusive Dr. Swenson.

And in music news, it would seem that the women of this awesome band are back together, recording new material and maybe even touring!  So if you’re about to go crazy still living here, just get your friends together and dance, dance dance – to one of the best urban summertime videos of all time. 

Happy weekend, blogfriends!

Best of-ing, 2010 style

There are only 3 days left in this year.  Three.  I for one am holding my breath, waiting for it to end.  I really just want to ensure that the remainder of this year does not fuck with me.  Seriously.  So it’s looking good, with just around 72 hours left.  And while 2010 was probably the shittiest year on record – for me, anyway – there were some highlights.  I read some excellent books, discovered some great new music and saw some killer live shows.  All which I will document for your end-of-the-year reading pleasure.

Books:  The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer – this one probably goes on record as my favourite book of the year.  I know I raved about it in an earlier post, so I won’t get into too much here, but I loved this book so much for its story and for its sheer beauty.  You should read it. 

Captivity by Deborah Noyes is another one I read this year that really stayed with me.  Those are the best books, are they not?  The ones that cause you to think about them days or even weeks after you finish. 

All the Living by C.E. Morgan.  This book was just over 200 pages, but that the author was able to convey so much beauty and pain and landscape in such a short work is really quite incredible.  Loved it.

Bloodroot by Amy Greene was stunning, and was yet another book that I had a hard time getting out of my mind once I’d read it.  Beautiful, lyrical and bright, and at the same time dark and horrifying, I don’t know that I’ve read anything quite like this before. 

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum.  I really loved this book for the history, the interesting facts behind the development of forensics as a science and also for the crazy shit that went down in NYC during this time.  So awesome.

Music:  The Sadies, Darker Circles.  Fantastic album from one of the best and hardest working Canadian bands ever.

The Black Keys, Brothers.  Hell to the yeah.  I came to this album pretty late in the year, even though it was on my “to purchase” list for months.  But, better late than never, and it truly did not disappoint. 

The Revivalists, Vital Signs.  Here is a band that I got to hear via a Paste Magazine sampler CD, and once I ripped it to my iPod and found myself replaying the song “Not Turn Away” over and over and over, I bought the album.  Absolutely fantastic, and I would bet the farm that they are a damn fine live band too.  So in case you’re reading this, members of The Revivalists PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD COME TO CANADA!  *ahem*  No, really.  Love you guys.

Live Music :  With everything that went down this spring, I have to say that 2010 didn’t see the UIG attending as many live shows as usual.  However, the ones that I did see stand out in a pretty big way.

White Cowbell Oklahoma at Casbah in Hamilton was the first show I saw in 2010, and what a way to start the year.  Damn fine music and a killer show.  See my post from last January for full details.

Blue Rodeo at Massey Hall in Toronto marked the first time I’d ever seen this band at MH and it was fantastic.  We had front row seats and were the first two people dancing up at the stage when Jim invited everyone up.  Magic.

Illusion Avenue, assorted gigs in the Hammer.  You have likely not heard of these guys, and that’s ok.  They’re pretty new.  And young.  In fact their bass player?  Is my kid.  The Musician is in this band with 3 other local dudes – no one is older than 15.  And yet?  They fucking kill it every time.  They write their own songs and they do some wicked, well-chosen cover songs.  They are all extremely talented musicians and everyone who sees them has their mind blown by the sheer awesomeness.  I might be biased.  Or, I might just be really, really proud of my boy.  Either way, whatev.  They’re good.  Not just “good for their age”.  They are good-good.  And seeing them kick it in the clubs around town has been such a highlight for me in a year where nothing really good seemed to happen. 

TV:  We don’t tend to watch an awful lot of TV.  This isn’t some sort of smug testament to our intellect, mind you.  It’s mostly because we spend our weeknights at the dojo during primetime, and we don’t have one of those fancy schmancy PVR thangs.  Actually until recently our TV didn’t even have a remote, so see?  We’ll get there eventually.  Now, having said that, one of the shows we did rearrange our schedules to watch as it happened was Lost.  And god help me if I didn’t freaking love that show, and yes I cried when Jin and Sun died and yes I cried at the end and yes we talked about the ending for days and days afterwards, just trying to get our heads around it.  I miss that show, I really do. 

Dexter, Seasons 3 & 4 on DVD.  So here is another show that blows my mind every episode, and while we don’t get to see it unfold like everyone else, I’m counting these two seasons for 2010 because we just could not get enough of it.  Season 4 especially was fucking brilliant and the season finale just about killed me.  Seriously.  Can’t wait for Season 5, and I have heard that it’s on board for a 6th season too, which makes me really happy. 

So there you have it.  The UIG’s “best ofs” for 2010.  Oh, and 2010?  You can’t get out of my life fast enough.  It’s not me, it’s you.  Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, k?  And as for you, 2011.  I have really high hopes for you not fucking with me and my family.  Can we please agree on that from the start?  Cos I’d really appreciate that.

The “Five Stages of Grief” as applied to a Blue Rodeo concert where Greg Keelor was conspicuously absent

1. Denial:  “OMG what?  No, this can’t be happening, he HAS to be here, this is impossible! They’re kidding, right?”

2. Anger: “WTF, this is not fair!  Fuck, how could they do this, how could they dupe us into thinking this was Blue Rodeo without Greg??”

3. Bargaining: “Okay, seriously as long as he comes out and performs, even just a few songs, okay?  Please?  I’ll do anything, I won’t ask for anything else, honestly”

4. Depression: “Dammit, what if this means the end of the band as we know it?  Why bother coming to see them anymore?  It’s just not the same…”

5. Acceptance: “He sounds great and he looks great, so I guess if this has to be the setup for the next little while until he recovers fully, it’ll be ok.”

You probably think I’m kidding, and I wouldn’t blame you because I am clearly deranged, but these are the thoughts that went through my head within about the first 20 minutes of the concert in Stratford last night. 

I did make it to acceptance finally, but as is the case in the dying process, I don’t have to like it.  I just have to accept that this is the way it is going to be.  For now, at least.  Wishing Greg a full recovery from the ear/hearing issues that are troubling him.  Because man, the thought of that band having to throw in the towel makes me really, really sad and depressed.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t reached acceptance yet.

We hope you will enjoy the show…

Are you excited about The Beatles being available through iTunes?  At first, I have to admit, I was all “well that’s cool, but I have Beatles CDs, so whatever”.  But I moved very quickly into the “holy crap, I really need A LOT of this RIGHT NOW!”  I think for me, the thing about The Beatles is that they’ve been with me for my entire life, and I think I know just about every song, every note, every word…every everything.  And then I pull up the Magical Mystery Tour on iTunes and lose my shit because I forgot about that song!  And that one!  And holy crap Let it Be is way more brilliant than I ever remember! 

So yeah.  I’m excited.

Like any type of music, what you get out of it when you’re young is going to be a whole lot different when you get older, and because – as I mentioned above – I’ve known about and been a fan of The Beatles since I was really little, my appreciation of their music has undergone substantial shifts over the years.

For example.  As a 7-year old, didn’t I just love the early hits – She Loves You, Please Please Me, Twist and Shout.  As a young teen, my level of sophistication just shot right up (according to me, of course) and those early hits?  Far too juvenile.  No, for me at age 13 it was all about Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road and their ilk, and looking for the hidden meanings in I Am The Walrus and Strawberry Fields Forever, and debating whether or not Paul really was dead.    Later still I was more about the rarities and the German versions and the live recordings and the solo works of each member. 

And then?  Flash forward to the parenting years and introducing the boys to popular music, and gaining a new appreciation for the early hits, listening to them sing along to I Saw Her Standing There and enjoying those all over again. 

When I had just turned 13, my grandfather died.  He was my last grandparent so it was the end of an era.  My brother and I, in the hours leading up to his funeral, sat in our basement in our dress clothes and listened to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band until it was time to leave.  Listening for clues in the music and lyrics, looking for meanings and codes. 

Back in May, while we were getting ready to head to my mum’s memorial service, The Musician and The Artist were both at the computer in our dining room with iTunes open, listening to music for a bit before it was time to leave.  At one point I walked by and recognized a song, and it stopped me in my tracks.

me: what are you guys listening to?

The Musician: Oh, I ripped your Sgt. Pepper CD to iTunes

The Artist:  yeah, it’s really good!

me:  it is, I know

The Musician:  do you want to listen with us?

me: yes, yes I do.

So I told them that was the exact record their uncle and I were listening to before our granddad’s funeral.  And their reaction was “Huh. Cool.”  The significance?  Kind of lost on them now.  But years from now, I know they’ll remember what they were listening to before the went to their nana’s memorial, just like I remembered.

The Beatles.  They’ve been there for it all, haven’t they?  And they will continue to be.  If you’re a fan, you can’t ask for much more than that.

S-A-TUR-D-….oh forget it

So it’s Saturday night… and if you’re like me, you can’t even say Saturday night without conjuring up the original Tartan Terrors the Bay City Rollers and their big hit from 1975-76, amirite?

And yeah, it was huge and yeah I was one of their biggest fans and yes, I had the tartan socks and a sash I think, but I was not nearly as kitted out as my friend Helen who had several BCR outfits, and also had a Scottish mother which totally added to her cred.

Anyway, Saturday Night was a good song and all, but if you were a true Rollers girl, this would have been your favourite.  Trust me on this, ok?

Really, you can keep on dancing to the rock and roll OR you can run in the sun having fun with the one that you really love?  No contest.  Happy S-S-S-Saturday night, blogfriends.  Walk hand in hand on the sand with the boy that you met on vacation.  Or something.


God I love Saturdays.  Today was a particularly sweet and chill kind of Saturday, even though I seemed to be going non-stop from the time I got up until – well – now.  But whatever, it’s a day to hang and chill and – at least around here – make a kickass dinner.

 About a year ago I was in the library branch near where I work, browsing in the cookbook section (as you do) and I came across the Whole Foods Market Cookbook.  Now, I know about the goodness of Whole Foods, in spite of the fact that there is not one in my city.  No, we have to drive about 30 minutes to find a Whole Foods around here, sadly.  And we do.  Occasionally.  Not often, because hello an extra hour for grocery shopping?  No thanks.  But I do love me some Whole Foods.  It’s food porn, isn’t it?  Mmmmm…..food porn…..

Anyway, the cookbook.  I flipped through it, and the recipes looked tasty and not too ridiculously complicated, which was a bonus.  So I signed it out.  And renewed it.  And once I could no longer renew it, I returned it, then promptly signed it out again.  I kept this up for a couple of months, and finally decided – after making around 2 dozen recipes with great success – to purchase my own copy.

And it is by far the best cookbook I have ever owned.*  Today’s creation was roasted butternut squash with penne, and goddamn it was tasty.  Add some homemade garlic bread and a glass of red wine and I can guarantee you’d want to marry me.  Or at least have me cook for you on a regular basis.

Saturday dinner creations always have a soundtrack, too – again, it’s all about hanging and chilling and relaxing  – and getting down, naturally.  And this is the song that had me peeling, chopping and dancing in the kitchen today

Happy Saturday, blogfriends.  Dance and eat pasta.  There’s really nothing else you need to do.

*shout out to the rebar cookbook, though, cos it is about 50 kinds of awesome too.  Just a little more complicated.  But between these two?  I don’t think I ever need  another cookbook

The week that was

Well it’s Friday again, exactly one week since my last post.  God damn, where do these weeks go? 

So last Saturday my friend Kim and I hauled ass up to lovely Orillia, Ontario.  Orillia, for those who don’t know, is the home of the Stephen Leacock Museum as well as the headquarters of the Ontario Provincial Police, complete with shop and museum.  Of course.  Orillia is also the home of Casino Rama, the place where dreams go to die.  I’m not a fan of the casino experience At.  All.  It is so far from being my thing, it might actually be my thing.  Wait….no.  No, it is not my thing.  But the one thing about casinos is that they are showcases for all kinds of musical guests who, at one time or another, were HUGE.  And, if you were into, oh I don’t know, say Billy Idol back in the day?  Well guess what?  There is a good chance you were probably in the audience at Rama last Saturday night with me.  And if you were?  I really hope you weren’t one of the boring ones, because there sure were a boatload of those.  But the show was good, in spite of the wooden audience members.  Billy Fucking Idol does not disappoint.

Leaving the show, we had to walk through the main area of the casino, and when I said it was the place where dreams go to die, I was so not kidding.  I have never seen so many glassy-eyed, sombre looking people in all my days.  Seriously, the commercials for those places?  It’s all lights and fun and cheering and laughter and martinis, but in reality?  It’s actually quite dark.  And no one is laughing.  And people are openly angry.  And it’s crowded, and just really, really depressing.  I honestly don’t see the draw, but that’s just me, and that was my impression on walking through.  Sadness, despair and kind of a bad smell.  All present and accounted for.  No thanks.

Then the rest of the weekend was kind of a blur, as was the entire week, and now here we are on Friday, the start of another weekend.  And you know what? 

It’s a nice day….to start again.

Friday Night’s Alright for Disco

Could this be the greatest video of all time?

Let’s debrief, shall we?

Men in what appear to be satin orange jumpsuits, on the deck of a ferry?  Check.  The guitar and bass players just rocking out – cordless AND ampless?  Check.  Impromptu dance party of little kids and adults alike just shaking it with wild abandon?  Check.  Old gent in fedora and windbreaker clapping off the beat?  Check.

Happy Friday, y’all.  Burn that mother down, indeed.

Rockstars, real and fake.

So I am totally digging Bettie Serveert’s new album.  Wait, can you say “totally digging”?  Is that like mixing metaphors?  Except that it’s mixing era-specific descriptives?  You know, “totally” = 80s and “digging” = 60s?  I know what you’re thinking: for someone who does a lot of crappy punctuation and LOLspeak in her blog posts, you  care about really stupid things, UIG.

Okay.  So I am really enjoying the new album from Bettie Serveert.  Now here is a band with some staying power, and while I personally lost track of them somewhere around the late 90s, apparently they were pretty prolific and busted out a whole whack of records  – like close to a dozen – that I am clearly now going to have to go out and get.  Damn you, Bettie Serveert for still being as awesome as I remember and now having to drop a whole paycheque on your back catalogue. 

But seriously, it’s a good one.  Go check it out.  My only complaint?  It’s kind of short.  But it’s got good jangly rhythms and I can tell it’s going to be my go-to record for the summer.  Which might actually be starting on Friday, people.  25C by the weekend, can you dig it?  I, for one, can totally dig it.

And, in other rockstar news, I am taking my “How to Find Good Stuff and Avoid Shit on the Interwebs When You’re Looking for Health Information and Why You Shouldn’t Believe Everything You Hear or Read in the Media” schtick on the road next week.  It’s actually just a talk I did at a conference in the fall, and I have been asked by another group to present it for their community lecture series.  So it’s cool, but as I talked about before, I am not used to being the expert in anything, and seeing my name and title and stuff in the paper and on posters all over the place here at work, and having to provide a bio so they can introduce me properly is a bit intimidating. 

And if you think that maybe I should just get used to the fact that I am an expert in some things, and that I will be called upon many times to talk about shit about which I know a lot and just freaking embrace the rockstar life that goes with it, here’s an exchange that happened between me and a patient just last week:

her:  Well, you have a lot of good information in this library, don’t you?

me:  Thank you, we really try to have a lot of good, current information, yes.

her:  You know, if you’re looking for good information, there is going to be a talk in a couple of weeks…

me:  Oh – yes?

her:  Yes!  It’s all about searching the internet for health information, and how to figure out what’s best and avoid the stuff that’s bogus!

me:  Uh…yeah…that’s….

her:  You should really go to it!

me:  Actually, that’s my talk.  I’m giving that talk.

her:  :blank stare:

me:  Haha, yep, that’s me!

her:  Oh.  You don’t look old enough.

There, you see?  My public.  Helping me keep it real since 2007.

Oh, Massey Hall…

I love you.  No, seriously.  I know that’s not a big shock or anything, but wow.  So much love for you, Massey Hall.  What is it, exactly, you ask?  Well, I love that you are situated on a tiny little street.  That you are barely visible from the larger street.  I love that when I walk into your lobby, you greet me.  No, the ticket-takers and security people don’t greet me, you greet me.  (okay, the nice people that work there do too, but I’m trying to make a point).  You, Massey Hall, greet me like an old friend you are thrilled to see again.  There is a warmth that has nothing to do with the central heating.  I love that I forget my way around once I’m inside, because of the dizzying array of red and carpeting, and the fact that I am beyond excited to see you again.  I love the fact that you have been there, on that tiny street, for an eternity, and the sheer variety of people that have graced your stage throughout the years and that they are, many of them, documented behind glass as newspaper clippings and promotional cards and other items.  Isadora Duncan and Bob Marley.  Not together, exactly, but kind of. 

I love that the stage is a sort of smallish one, and when I am in the front row (like I was last night) the stage is just right there.  In front of me.  Not too high, not too low.  Just perfect.  I love your sound, I love your adjustable seats, and I love – as Jim Cuddy pointed out last night – that “just when you think they can’t make the old hall any better…I see you can now drink in your seats”.  I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist.

So thank you, Massey Hall.  For still being there, and still welcoming me and all your other guests each night.  Thank you for maintaining your integrity, for steadfastedly holding on to your charm and staying true to your history.  Thank you for the energy you generate throughout each and every show, the energy that stays with me long after you say “Goodnight, and thanks for coming!”

Visiting you is a once in a lifetime experience, every time I walk through the doors.  Every time, it feels like history is being made once more.  And it is.  And I am so, so fortunate to be part of it.