Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Christmas Problem

I am one of those troubling women who hoards Christmas decorations in massive quantities. Worse, I keep an eye open for them, year-round, in dusty back corners of thrift stores.

A couple of weeks ago it was a wicker basket under a table at a church 'Fall Fair' garage sale.

Thrill to my pink tablecloth with grease spots. These ornaments (except the one on the far right, which is probably homemade - bless) are 'Shiny Brite' ornaments, which I have just finished reading about here. Manufactured in the U.S.A, it says so right on the, uh, lid? So the guess is that they're from no later than 1962, because they're all made from that delightful thin glass that likes to go boom when the cat gets too close.

I especially like these weird tree ones:

They're kind of battered, and that frosty stuff is turning a bit icky, but there is no denying the appeal of those seasonally nontraditional colours. The blue and yellow in particular. I find the vintage approach to be comforting, at Christmas; new and perfect things only serve to remind me that I, myself, am not perfect or at all new (and neither is the family as a whole, woof, amirite?). Instead I choose to embrace the slightly soiled loveliness of somebody else's castoffs.

These 'double reflector' numbers are heavily reminiscent of the ornaments on the tree at my grandparents' farm, many years ago. Although I believe those were plastic, as was the tree. That carelessly globbed-on orange paint is just pure pathos, isn't it? Pure pathos for, like, a dollar? You can get these all over the online auction sites, but that sort of takes the fun out of it; if you find it yourself in a thrift shop and give it a polish with a soft rag, it's like you adopted it, whereas there is far too much choice, sometimes, online, and then you just end up unhappy no matter what. Me and the thrift store, we find mutual satisfaction.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Le Livre de Poche

I love it when people post book cover scans; old Penguin and Puffin Classics are so delightful, and I'm not above buying a copy of a book I already own because the cover is really great. Generally these are old books I'm digging out of a stinky pile at the local thrift store, while my paramour holds his nose and sags noticeably with every passing minute. He doesn't like standing around in musty second-hand shops. Unfortunately for him, I love it. If all I had to do all day was sift through other people's attics and closets looking for weird old junk, I would be a happy lady. As it is, the bread, she must be earned. And the kettle chips.

Anyway, old books. Here are a couple that I'm particularly fond of. And because we are in Canada, a land peppered liberally with native French speakers and frustrated French students, these castoffs are in French, and all from le Livre de Poche.

La Jument Verte - Marcel Ayme, 1933

How could anyone pass up this book, which is about a green horse, and includes an obviously crazy ensemble cast. As with many old books, this one is lovingly inscribed with its owner's name - useful in case you went to a wild book party and needed to collect your things a week later, when the gin had worn off. So we know that Janice owned this in 1971, and she had very nice handwriting. I'll also mention that all rights are reserved in every country, even the U.S.S.R.; were they particularly guilty when it came to copyright infringement? I do not know.

The back. "A well of health and good humour." (Very roughly.) I guarantee Rene Lalou never though his review would look so funky. If book backs could be this well-designed now, people might bother reading them with some interest. There are more words on the backs of some books than in them, and for what? Abandoned self-congratulation, methinks. This, however, is beautiful. Your local bookstore could display this thing backwards.

le Diable au Corps - Raymond Radiguet, 1923

This book is gorgeous and creepy all at the same time. When I read this on the bus (showing off, obviously) it eventually occurred to me that it could make you look like a proud French smut enthusiast, which is maybe not the worst thing. The problem occurs when you notice the obvious youth of that kid on the right. Ick. Thankfully the book isn't criminally perverse, just sexually weird in interesting ways (I'm defining something here, but I'm not quite sure what).
This book belonged to Odette. Charmed.

When Jean Cocteau says you're a phenomenon, and compares you to Rimbaud, and says that your genius is basically a giant burden, you jot it down and fax it to your editor, asap. Probably that's not what happened here, but it's a good tip for any aspiring writers out there.

Le seigneur des anneaux - Tolkien, 1954

It can scream pocketbook all it wants, but that sucker is huge. This is a 1979 edition of a 1966 translation. The fun of this book is to hold it up in front of nerd friends and challenge them to identify it. If you want to make it legitimately difficult, cover the author name, but honestly it's amazing how long it seems to take. Maybe the little hobbit (oops, spoiler) in the bottom right corner, with his loopy hairy feet and spats, seems a bit... goofy? And I'm not sure why we've got TOLKIEN in giant BONANZA-style lettering. I enjoy the big gold rings though, very threatening and Christmasy, all at once. The French edition wins out in this regard also: "Tome" is waaay more impressive than "Book" or "Volume."

I take it back, he's not goofy, he's hilarious and I would like to watch him eat scones and fight dragons in a mountain:

Friday, September 25, 2009


I have not ever watched Doctor Who. I realize that there has been considerable renewed interest in the franchise over the last few years thanks to a Mr. David Tennant, who is considered quite handsome. Fair enough. And the new Doctor (premiering next year!) appears to be even more entrenched in the alterna-cheesecake vein, which only proves that the Doctor Who producers know their youthful nerdlady audience extremely well, and are trying to ensure the series' longevity by installing what is essentially a British Wentz in tweed (fig.1, at right) as their new hero. He's very cute, don't get me wrong, I support you, young nerdladies! Chase that tweed fox! But there are other things to be considered, like the fact that I am ancient, and no longer with it; what is out there in the Dr. Whoniverse (actually a real thing on the internet, gurgle) for moi?

Shall I tell you? I shall. It is the Eighth Doctor series on BBC Radio 7. Starring the lovely Paul McGann, whose voice is really his best attribute anyway. The adventures are glorously improbable, and very silly, and always involve disastrously cheesy aliens (I think this is the deal with Who, M.D., but I'm a beginner, so it stands out) and of course there is a harshly shrieking companion lady who always gets into scrapes, boy howdy. She grows on you, though, despite the constant 'oi!'-ing.

McGann was on TV once as Dr. Who, although I have not seen it. He's solely a radio Who now. Because really: Paul McGann does not need to get dragged onto the TV for this gig anymore. Not that he isn't dreamy or anything, because I think it's been clinically proven that (even at 50, long pause) he is. But oh my grandmother, that is not a good look for him, that eighth doctor outfit. And they assault me with it every time I open the BBC page; like cold defiance. I can handle the velvet jacket and the ascot, mostly. But the hair is beyond the pale.

Here, take a look at this fan art (thank you, dedicated fans, you never fail me), and I challenge you not to spontaneously scream, all together now:


But really it's the wig's fault. It's very alarming, and fully overpowers an otherwise quite nice looking person. And that was in 1996! A man doesn't need to deal with that when he's reached his fifth decade. It's just not right. It shows a lack of respect, strapping that limp rug on his head. Never again, atrocious wig, never again. He looks like Rex Smith after a conditioning accident.

I think we've established, I hate the wig.

And also this is just wrong:

Ten years and no gold watch

As much as I love it and will miss it probably, I've left CJSF. So there. I've been doing a radio show at Simon Fraser University for ten whole years, and frankly my old bones don't want to make the weekly drive up the hill anymore. Yes, that's me, so broken down that even a short car ride is a hardship. The bumps in the road! My hips! I mean, yes, it's good knitting time, but the risk of spearing onesself in the eyeball is ever-present. Where is my PSA about that? Blah blah blah, sum up: Flushie flushie goes Singing with Barbra.


I did so used to enjoy bleughing, and so I am going to instead use this space to catalogue my many little projects outside of radio, provided any of them get off the ground at all. Also to complain about my angina (which incidentally would be a lovely baby name, I think - let's rehabilitate that word via innocent children) and itchy scalp. Baby, it's gonna be a ride and a half, and you and I will take it together. Or I'll take it alone, what the shit.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

She's real good lookin'.

I'm a bit fixated on Rick Moranis this week. Every time we dip into the old video collection and he stumbles in, being hilarious and endearing, I think to myself, "Hey self, where has that charming Moranis fellow got to?" Thankfully, my self has a subscription to the internet.

Download this week's show: Part 1 Part 2

On this week's show:

Song 1: Immaculate Machine - thank me later
Comments: Chugging rock dealing with hindsight. I know you'll thank him for it later, when your heartache nets you a hit song and you make millions! You will curse him when Bruce Allen waves a pistol at you and demands you take up smoking to give you edge, however.

Discussion: The Joel Plaskett concert at the Vogue a couple of weeks ago, it was extremely good, and the crowd loved him like a deranged parent loves their glue-eating child (i.e. unconditionally, and with goodwill to spare). He's very talented though, so we could have been quite grumpy and he probably still would have won us over.

Song 2: Joel Plaskett - wishful thinkin'
Comments: This is yet another j.p. touring song. It sounds like a train! Somebody's been taking notes from their Can-rock elders. The line "I wish you were here but you're naaaaaaaaaaht!" sounds like a taunt, which is what makes it so appealing, I think. Ha ha, Joel is beyond supervision and out of control! He's probably wearing multiple sweatervests, you cannot stop him!

More discussion: Playing solo, like Mr. Plaskett, takes some serious avocados in the pants. You have to make the material speak for itself, sans Marshall stack! That is an impressive feat. Nick Lowe is my favourite example of this. He could play any of his songs just with an acoustic guitar and force you to listen. Probably has endless success picking up chicks in bars using roughly the same skill set; there are some things you can't teach.

Song 3: Nick Lowe - Tanque-Rae
Comments: The rhythm of this is reckless and fun. Mr. Lowe specializes in songs about girls, and the fact that this one doubles as a song about alcohol is no accident. Dance dance dance, gulp gulp gulp.

Light chat: Should they make moves out of just any old book? They are probably going to make one out of What is the What. I refuse to watch actor children pretend to eat baby birds. But would I like to hear it as a radio play? Possibly! Somebody needs to resurrect the radio play business with some really gripping stories, and not ones about little orphan Annie and Superman, thanks.

Song 4: Mathias Mental - my little life
Comments: I've decided that Mathias Mental and Joel Plaskett should have a keyboard-off, if only because it would amuse me. This whole album is really great, I have made a habit of listening to it at home. This particular song is a bit melancholy, but still so danceable, and combining the two without re-writing an old Joy Division song is truly a wonderful skill.

Further talking: My summer project for 2009 is THIS. 75 pages per week and I should have read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest by the end of September. I'm on the library waiting list now. I hope it's full of repressed females and brooding tall dark men in tight pants! But I doubt it somehow.

Song 5: Luke Doucet - Pedro
Comments: A cross-border love song full of resonant guitar that would make Neil Young blush with simultaneous pride and envy. Pedro is some sort of Mexican-Canadian angel with a serious power over the ladies. Specifically the American ladies.

Talky talk talk: Rick Moranis, and why he continues to fascinate me, perhaps unhealthily. I think it behooves us all to think about how we might achieve success as early as possible so as to retire and devote ourselves to family and maybe put out a hilarious country album.

Song 6: Rick Moranis - music and love
Comments: Rick Moranis talks for ages about nothing, basically listing song titles and random stuff, and still it's hilarious. I cracked at "she's acting single, I'm drinkin' doubles." This is from the 1989 album 'You, Me, The Music and Me' which is out of print, but I suggest you click on that link up there, AHEM, cough, wheeze.

Talking: Wherein I refer to that last track as 'a song,' because I am so clever. Anyway, you should waste some time at Vectorpark, apropos of nothing.

Song 7: Kiss Me Deadly - dance 3
Comments: This is very pretty, and has sort of an outdoor festival feel to it. Would sound great in a park, full of crazed people in face paint. Get on that kids.

Song 8: Wax Mannequin - dustboy rides the train
Comments: Adventurous yet stripped-down guitar in no fixed time signature (or maybe there is one, but heck if I know, I only got to grade 8 in the royal conservatory). Thankfully the middle bit is in 4/4, which even I, the musical heathen, am familiar with. The charm of this is that it's sort of cocky but also low-key, which almost implies a threat. A threat to rock.

Song 9: Eddie Furman - jobs I'd like to have
Comments: Pretty much anything as long as the overtime's not too heavy, huh Eddie? I feel you. Can't really relate to your wish for surprise illegitimate children though. That's a bit weird.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

live as I'll ever be

I think Grant of Downliner's Crypt told everyone I would be pre-recorded tonight, but no, he's wrong, I'm here flying by the seat of my pants. If the whole thing falls apart at 7:17pm, you'll know it's real. Reality radio! The punters love it, amirite?

Put it on yer mp3 player: Part 1 Part 2

Track list:

1. Afternoons in Stereo - Everybody dance now: songs from Hamilton 3 - party at dick & mimi's

Comments: This is being played again, because it is a stone groove. I'm stealing terminology from 'Trading Places' and using it incorrectly! Check me out! I'm also chair dancing. Grrr, Hamilton, you sexy, uh, industrially-based town.

2. Gentleman Reg - jet black - how we exit

Comments: More dance dance dancing! I love his little beard. The whole package is quite charming. Meets or exceeds my criteria for excellence. Music, facial hair, chair dancing, check check check!

3. Grandfather Fire & the Holy Mourning - freedom street

Comments: A dramatic interlude for a dramatic show. Think about life: the song.

4. Anime feat. Versus - If we ever get out of here, a prince george tribute to band on the run - helen wheels

Comments: Yes, that really is what it says it is. This is so much better than McCartney. Ooh, sacrilege! Ah hell, I slaughtered that goat a long time ago.

5. Cursed Arrows - cfru: just west of something big - run forever

Comments: Grr, angry guitar. Very crunchy, I like it. I want to destroy small business equipment to this song! In boots! And then maybe dance for a bit. And then kick stuff some more!

6. The Maynards - date & destroy - dance fight '83

Comments: I like the dance instructions, and also the mysterious warning. They're going to get me. It is maybe not as threatening as they want it to be. They seem too cuddly for this kind of thing. Also I just kind of want to hang out with their bassist, whose stoicism is undeniably compelling.

7. Lola Dutronic - in berlin - brigitte bardot

Comments: Boys are just so silly sometimes, don't you think? I love this whimsical techno-pop! And it has a fake ending. This song is basically perfect.

8. The Buttless Chaps - cartography - total amounts left are not enough

Comments: An economic crisis-appropriate song, right? This is pretty and honest. I'm feelin' it.

9. Final Fantasy - plays to please - crush love crush

Comments: reliably sad and lovely. Okay, must dash, see you next week.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wearing my Ira Glass costume

Which consists entirely of silly glasses, but hey, I'm already feeling 30% more excellent and gender-confused. Huh?

Track list:

1. The Bicycles - oh no it's love - leave that woman alone

Comments: So overwhelmingly optimistic, I think I will come back and listen to it again in the summer, in the car, repeatedly.

2. Mathias Mental - is the happiest boy in montreal - she's a character

Comments: Baby you're such a character. The girl in the song is right, everyone in Montreal has a show on TV, the CBC is so freaking indiscriminate.

3. Pine Tarts - faux fauves - etoiles

Comments: Tarts in French, you know I can't resist. Sort of a gentle ballad over a determined guitar and drum combo. Charming as usual.

4. Cam Malcolm - a little bit of history - basement rock

Comments: Ha ha, he's going to move out based on his degree! Hilarious. Despite (because of?) the magic realism it's very enjoyable.

5. Economics - economics - birds are probably dinosaurs

Comments: A one-man dance band, with science! I don't know what I'm saying anymore. Let's make a movie about space ships and use this as the score! It's a deal.

6. The Magic - the magic - deep water

Comments: Another danceable public service announcement! Don't swim in the deep water, sharks will eat you. I love the saxophone, and the bongos, and the uh, wacked out theremin-y guitar. You are being chased through the jungle! Run Indiana, run! It's great, whatever it is.

7. Elephantine - quebec emergent 08-09 - la beaute

Comments: I think there are French swears in this song. But I'll never know for sure because our French teacher would never really tell us. Darn her inhibitions!

8. Crash the Car - they built houses here - atlas & axis

Comments: This is to make you feel really sad that I am leaving again for a week. Suffer! Weep! Ha ha HA HA HA. Phew. Lording it over you is exhausting, listener.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Old 78's

I got a whole giant box of 'em, from the magic radio station library. I'm takin' em home. But man, those things are not vinyl, they're metal and hard plastic and stuff. They are very, very heavy. I have been told to lift with my knees.

Liberace was kind of cute when he started out, actually...? Am I a twisted weirdo? Oh yes.

Download the show, if you wish: Part 1 Part 2

Track list:

1. Le Roi Poisson - quebec emergent 0809 - premier rang

Comments: Funky with excellent keyboard. I wish I knew the more technical term for that keyboard sound. It's like, one of those little organ things? Anyway, this rocks times french!

2. Bad Flirt - virgin talk - heart of darkness

Comments: Their CD art is so professionally done that at first I was nervous. This is college radio after all, what would we be if we were not pretentious? We would cease to exist! Even my cold dead heart has to admit that this is pretty rad though. If I were 15 again this would rock my ass to the point of hysteria.

3. DD/MM/YYYY - 777 - vantan

Comments: Driving rock with an electronic sort of a thing going on, and basically I'm trying to express something I have no business expressing. Whatever, I'm inexpert! daymonthyear, you're great, you know it.

4. Direction - est - caption

Comments: Sort of epic. Sounds like massive arena rock, but with low-key vocals. At first I thought Rush but Quebecois, but now I'm not sure. Emerson Lake and Palmer, maybe? (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ricki Lake and Arnold Palmer, obviously.)

5. The Soles - you burst into fire again - hey old man

Comments: Funky with amusing lyrics. Nobody writes modern pop for old people! Thank you Soles for addressing this major oversight.

6/7. B.A. Johnston - stairway to hamilton - you will miss me when the zombies come/dirtmall

Comments: I find that first one romantic and touching; am I deranged? He wants to hide with me in the dollarama! Swooooon.
Uh yeah okay.

8. Down the Lees - the guest room - the gallivant

Comments: I have decided this bridges the gap between dance music and my beloved sad bastard indie rock. I know it sounds like an insult but I swear on my mother's eiderdown that it is not. I enjoy to dance and cry simultaneously.

9. The Magician - who will cut my grass when I'm gone - indicator stop bath

Comments: Lengthy, epic, passes through many moods. I would like to use this in a film. Make a note!

10. The Stolen Minks - high kicks - your broken heart

Comments: Will slam-dance you into a coma in three minutes or less.

11. Land of Talk - some are lakes - yuppy flu

Comments: I don't have this, I live in the suburbs and I'm distinctly unprofessional, ahahaha!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Secret dirty lyrics

They're not always obvious. So much fast singing these days. Probably nobody notices but me, armed with my lyric sheets and my filthy mind.

Track list:

1. The Organ - thieves - fire in the ocean

Comments: This is an existing favourite. It's great! But I think I would like to reassure you; you do not need to throw yourself into the ocean to feel a comforting all-over embrace. It's dangerous and cold. And eiderdowns are so affordable these days. Especially if you go synthetic.

2. Paper Moon - one thousand reasons to stay, one reason to leave - the history of punctuation

Comments: Dance dance dance to the history of Canadian pop music! I'm delving into the library today.

3. Corb Lund Band - unforgiving mistress - mora (blackberry)

Comments: Corb goes latino! This is a bit cheeky and also hip-swagglin'.

4. jale - various: never mind the molluscs ep - lung

Comments: Delicious east-coast grunge.

5. Emilie Muscle - laches louuses ii - manger la tete

Comments: Slow fast slow fast awesome.

6. Weasel Faced Judge - hear & now '92 - bacon and egg bicycle

Comments: Craziness. A sausage built for two! Glad to know someone else has embraced weird for the sake of weird.

7. Donner Party Reunion - "it's been about five years, hasn't it?" - days of degradation

Comments: Punktacular, and from the past. It has been about fifteen years I think, actually.

8. Search Parties - an hour like this - wonderful disease

Comments: I love how this song is like eight songs all smashed together. Sort of symphonic, in that sense.

9. Wintermitts - heirloom - mer de l'atlantique

Comments: Sort of sad and dance-y at the same time. And tinkly at the end.

10. Jenny Omnichord - charlotte or otis - I sneeze in threes (with Andy Swan)

Comments: So adorable. I have this at home and it just makes me grin horribly. I miss being five. Except the time I was punished for smacking a kid with a rubber porkchop in kindergarten, that sucked. I had to sit on the orange chair! Ick.

11. B.A. Johnston - stairway to hamilton - tetris junkie