Monday, March 30, 2009

My Weekend Up North

Spent part of Saturday afternoon gathering sap:

You'd be amazed at how quickly those buckets filled.

We filled that tank a couple of times that afternoon.

Because I like to play with black and white.

That's my father on the other side. The sugar shack was once owned by my grandfather.
Earlier in the day, we drove past a flock of wild turkeys. They're pretty brave now that Christmas is done with.

Canuck Book 8 - Important Artifacts. . . by Leanne Shapton

The full title of this book:

Important Artifacts and Personal Property From The Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewellery

This book is more experiment than novel. Taking the form of an auction calendar, it details the relationship of Doolan and Morris from beginning to end. Trinkets, mixed cds, snapshots, notes stuffed in old books - everything is presented as just more items in the catalogue.

The surprising thing is that there is a narrative and it can be followed. But that's really about it. The story is pretty simple and there is nothing that really surprises.

Of course, that's kind of besides the point as this book is more about the idea of a novel and what you can get away with. It's a stunt. Thankfully, it's a successful one. The book appeals to our voyeuristic side and it delivers in spades. While I'm not likely to give up my more conventional novels, it was nice to see someone take an original approach to a fairly conventional form.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Harmonized Crap

Not much time as I should be fighting dust bunnies but I just wanted to offer my reasoned appraisal of the harmonized sales tax Ontario is bringing in next year. It was bad enough when the GST started taxing books. Now, in the interest of 'harmonizing', the province will start taxing books as well. We already live in a society that seems hellbent on destroying the great strides we made in literacy in the last century. Now, we're going to give people one more reason not to buy books.

To quote the esteemed Homer J. Simpson, 'smrt'.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day Eight

Today is my eighth day of work in a row - happy happy joy joy. It was a much better idea last week when I was lured by the notion of lots of overtime. Today, facing one last 10 hour shift, I'm not so enthusiastic.

I've been spending a fair bit of time lately listening to the Dark Was The Night compilation. It's the latest offering from the Red Hot Organization.

Back in the day (a mid-90s day, to be precise), Red Hot put out the No Alternative comp. It featured a pretty wide assortment of musicians (Patti Smith, Soundgarden, Pavement)contributing a wide variety of really good tracks to help combat AIDS. My favourites from that disc were and still are Urge Overkill's Take A Walk (the only UO song I've ever really liked) and Nirvana's Verse Chorus Verse (or Sappy depending on who you talk to). It was a great disc and far more interesting than most comps.

Dark Was The Night continues in this vein - a wide assortment of artist contributing some great tracks to help fight AIDS. It's two discs of goodness and I won't even bother trying to list the highlights because there are far too many. Helping a good cause is rarely so easy or enjoyable.

My current favourite track is Antony with Bryce Dessner doing the Dylan tune I Was Young When I Left Home. Antony is an artist I can only handle in measured doses as he soon becomes a little too affected in my books. When he is on, though, he is amazing. This track is a great example of that. While his piano playing is nice, it's something of a revelation to hear him sing this song over a fingerpicked guitar. Of course, that probably says more about my tastes than about his craft, but that's fine with me.

As for Mr. Zimmerman, I hope everyone has circled April 28 on their calendar. Together Through Life looks to be a highlight for 2009.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Zombie is my downfall. . .

As if I didn't have anything more productive to do. The Zombie completed this meme and I just couldn't pass it by. You pick you're favourite musician and then you answer the following questions with song titles from just that one artist.

Here goes:

Pick Your Artist: Bob Dylan

Are you male or female: Mr. Tambourine Man

Describe yourself: I Am A Lonesome Hobo (I guess 'Ballad of a Thin Man' might stretch things too far)

How do you feel about yourself: Idiot Wind

Describe where you currently live: North Country Blues

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Stuck inside of Mobile with the Mephis Blues again

Your best friend is: Jokerman

Your favorite colour is: Tangled Up in Blue

You know that: It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry

What's the weather like?: Not Dark Yet

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?: Workingman's Blues #2

What is life to you?: Endless Highway

What is the best advice you have to give?: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

If you could change your name, what would it be?: Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Your favorite food is: Country Pie

And now it's time I got ready for work. Will blog more soon. It's just I spent my days off working extra shifts (hooray for filthy lucre!) so I didn't really bother with the computer much.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Some random thoughts. . .

- Being amongst 42000+ people watching the Canucks and Yanks play ball was pretty cool. My father and I were far enough up in the stands to look down on the pigeons and it was still crowded way up there. The fact that it stayed exciting right down to the last out (the whole stadium was on its feet for the last 3 outs) was just icing on the cake.

- Canuck film quandary - Bruce McDonald has a new one out. And there's also that one with the guy from Dawson's Creek. Which to see? I'll likely wind up seeing both but, surprisingly, I'm leaning towards seeing the latter one first. I just can't pass up a film that looks to be a Canuck landscape love-in. I hitch-hiked from Orillia to Vancouver when I was 18 and it's still one of the best trips I've ever taken.

- Bob Dylan has a new album coming out! Next month! I've been spending a lot of time lately listening to his last studio album (the utterly amazing Modern Times) and I can't wait to hear what he's come up with now. Apparently, it's more of a country affair where Modern Times was early rock and roll and all kinds of blues.

- best breakfast I've had in a long time - whole wheat bagel from What a Bagel still warm from the oven with all natural peanut butter and washed down with black coffee. Simple. Quick. Magnificent.

- Staples' free next day delivery is a really good thing. Far better than actually having to go to one of their stores. It's not just for bigger items. My last order was just a bunch of odds and ends but it broke the 50 buck threshold and saved me a trip.

- Harper got his concessions from the CAW, so let's see what concessions he demands from the bosses. My guess is it will wind up being somewhere between a token tongue lashing and diddily squat, but I'm probably just being cynical. We all know it was the big bad unions that ruined the extremely progressive auto industry, don't we?

- Bob Dylan has a new album coming out!

- !!

- The rain is holding off which is probably a sign I should get off my ass and go out for a walk. I've had a winter of sloth. Now it's time to get moving again.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Why I'm Glad I Don't Live in Little Italy

I would be far, far too close to Soundscapes, Toronto's best cd store. As it was, I made a post-work payday trip on the College streetcar and immersed myself in some new sounds. New to me, at least. Right now, I'm switching between Arthur Russell's Love is Overtaking Me, Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago and Alela Diane's To Be Still. Not bad considering I went there looking for Hey Rosetta!'s disc (which I will have to get next time).

Still making my way through The Savage Detectives despite a number of distractions and detours (so many good books I want to read and have started). My advice is to go out and read it. You won't be disappointed. It's by far the longest novel I've ever read about poets.

Looking forward to this weekend. My father's coming down for a couple of days to hang out. I think it's his first time in the city since he retired. I've been hearing about this restaurant way out Queen St. East - The Tulip - that has great steaks so I think we will have to go see for ourselves.

After that, on Monday, my friend Sean will be in from Winnipeg. Sadly, I work at 4 the next morning so whatever we wind up doing will have to end way too early.

In other news, I have a ticket for the Bonnie Prince Billy show in May. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to get one. My friend Ezio got me listening to him. It took a while for me to come around, but now I love his stuff.

And now, I think a nap is in order. I work the late shift tonight so I might as well try to be somewhat rested.