Weekly Haiku #71 - X mass

one twelfth of a year

spent awaiting just one day

keep greasing the wheels

Anatomy of a Night On the Town:

Following are some of the texts I sent my brother, trying to convince him to leave his computer (he had just bought Skyrim) and come out drinking with me. Except for a few minor interruptions, I'll let them speak for themselves. I'm in blue. Bro is italics.

10:01 PM: Sugar. Come. there is a band. Booze is cheap. Women are cute and plentiful. Also... booze is plentiful and the women are cheap.
10:05 PM: You know what's better than pixels and imaginary adventure? 3$ shots and floozies. Also, parakeets, but that doesn't really apply here.
10:09 PM: K dragons down in free for sugar now.
10:16 PM: Woot! Get your ass down ehere!
10:16 PM: Working on it
10:16 PM: Score.
10:17 PM: Its 20 cover. If you camt get in well bounce and head somewhere
10:17 PM: spotting for NAME. Cant afford 40 in cover.
10:18 PM: Shit. Um. Meet up with us later then?
10:18 PM: ??
10:19 PM: I can do a night out but not a total of 40 cover.
10:20 PM: If youre spotting for NAME.. hm. Were catching a band. Meet us downtown at 1130 or so? You can skip the band and we can drink like pros.
10:21 PM: any ideas where we might just hit somewhere else to start
10:23 PM: Hm. Dunno. Im half blasted already. Hit bbjs?

(BBJs is code for "Big Bad John's", Victoria's oldest and sleaziest bar. The walls are covered in old photos and there's a house rule that if you hang your bra from the ceiling, you get a free drink. It is, in a word, AWESOME. It's a tradition of ours that we start all of our drinking at Big Bad John's).

10:24 PM: Can meet there at 11:30 then
10:25 PM: Gotcha. Will do.
11:14 PM: Muight be late. NAME and i are gonna drink 80 in shots.
11:28 PM: ...That sounds like a GREAT idea
11:28 PM: Agreed.
11:31 PM: Winning?
11:32 PM: Meh.
11:41 PM: K. Were doing this. Ohhhhh yeah.
11:42 PM: lmao
11:45 PM: fuckinjg awesome
11:45 PM: You gonna make it?,
11:46 PM: Oh yeah. they were just pormn stars

(Disclaimer: While I make off that I drank half of the 80$ in shots, this is not entirely true. A buddy bought 80$ in shots, but shared it with about six or seven people. I had quite a few of those drinks - as the original plan was to drink $40 each - but I didn't drink half of the shots.

I did, however, have about $30 in shots before this point, so I did ultimately drink more than $50 in shots before leaving Sugar. And that's not counting the triple rye and gingers I'd been drinking liberally for the past hour and a bit. I figure, by this point in the narrative, I'd already had at least $50 in cheap shots, three triple rye and gingers, and a single rye and ginger. And the night was still young).

11:49 PM: K. leaving sugar. Where you at?
11:49 PM: BBJ
11:50 PM: Gotcha. Wanna meet there or Garricks head?
11:52 PM: Here has table
11:52 PM: K. There in 10.
11:52 PM: 15... hot dog stand

(there was indeed an outdoor hot dog stand. But I wasn't drunk enough to pay five bucks for a hot dog. Apparently, I have standards, even when drunk).

11:53 PM: lol
11:55 PM: theres a line to get in dude2
11:56 PM: Yes there is dude1?
11:57 PM: Don't make if typies. Did you have 40 in shots? No? I didnt think so. All things considered, i am a drunk texting GOD.
11:57 PM: Well maybe a demigod. You are, after all, a dude.
11:57 PM: Think of the tradition dude1 think of the tradition!
12:00 AM: For Rome!
12:00 AM: For Rome!

(So my brother and I have another drinking tradition - we always order a drink known as a "Gladiator", and then clink glasses while making ridiculous postures and shouting "For Rome!". This tradition started on a rather unfortunate night, but for some reason, it's stuck.)

12:01 AM: Are we doing those? Or is it every man fior hisself?
12:01 AM: Sure thing!
12:03 AM: Groovy.
12:03 AM: How far back in line
12:03 AM: 3rd
12:04 AM: Cool beans

(while texting here, I was also talking to two women well into their forties, trying to get into the bar. Eventually, I got in, had a few drinks with my brother and his friend, and we wound up wandering around Victoria.

In about an hour and a half, we hit both the Garrick's Head Pub, where we were kicked out because it was "last call" - at 1 am on a saturday night! - and then in some nameless bar that I insisted was the best bar in Victoria.

There was also an incident at a Burger King where I dared my brother to make his entire meal order in the form of haiku, which earned me the title of "Coolest guy ever" from some other drunk dude waiting in line.

Then the night ended, but not before I shot out one brilliant little text as I stumbled home).

1:46 AM: I have it all figured out. We form a band. Somehow, this gets me chicks. Then, world domination. Also, juno award.

The night of Rich Aucoin

I was going to write a review about The Arkells' live show, held at Sugar last saturday night. But, unfortunately, that plan fell through. And the blame rests solely on the shoulders of Rich Aucoin.

But allow me to take a step back.

It all started a few months ago, when the Schlesbian said something along the lines of "Hey, who wants to go see the Arkells in a few months?"

About three seconds after saying "Sure, I'd love to spend twenty bucks on a ticket to go see the Arkells!" I said "Hey, who are the Arkells?"

I was played a clip of one of their songs, listened to it for a few seconds, and figured, meh, why not? This was, more or less, my only knowledge of the band heading into their show. But I've gone into live shows with even less foreknowledge of the band, so this was really nothing new.

I got to Sugar early enough that I was able to strike up a friendship with the bartender - enough that he decided he was going to give me double rye and gingers (that were really triples) for the price of a single. As I am not a very charismatic individual, I believe this once again proves my theory that simply talking to your bartender (and a generous tip) will pay dividends down the road.

I met up with some friends, and we had a few drinks and discussed the events of the day. We noted that we were "the old guys" in the crowd - the average age seemed to be around 20, which is odd when it's not an all-ages show. But, whatever... it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Then, Rich Aucoin, the opener, came on stage. And let me just say - gah. He had a projector that played little homemade videos that accompanied his songs. He made sure to let the audience know the lyrics to each song, so they would join in on the singing. He played simplified dance music that was adorned with indie-punk style repetitive vocals. He held an arclight in one hand so that the crowd could always see him. And he just projected the utmost neediness I've never seen in an opener. Ever.

Even when he did cool stuff - like taking a parachute out and letting the crowd play with it while he sang a song - it failed to catch me, because he was using far too many props to accompany piss poor music. Timing your banter in between songs so it syncs up with your multimedia presentation so you can have a "conversation" with Antoine Dodson (dude, that was so last year!) is probably the lamest thing in the world - it just shows that you have absolutely no musical improvisation skills!

Also, skinny white guys should never wear muscle shirts. I am guilty of this, too, but I don't wear them in front of large crowds.

The best part? At the end of the show, he put up his phone number, so people could text him with feedback on his show and ask for free copies of his music (even though he was tryign to sell his music in the merch section). This so reeked of neediness that Squee and I sent him some very disparaging texts that I feel sort of bad about, after the fact.

Of course, by the end of the show, I was pretty drunk - I needed something to get me through the worst opener ever, and the bartender was doing his best to speed things along. Not to mention the point in the night where eighty dollars of shots were downed by a handful of people in only thirty seconds (true story).

I watched the first three songs by the Arkells, and don't remember them at all. I do remember stumbling out of the club and going on a random adventure with my brother that was just a little shy of epic. So I guess I can thank Mr. Aucoin for that, at least.

First Aid Stuff

I had a first aid call last weekend. It was a pretty hectic one, too - an unconscious patient, maintaining of C-Spine, paramedics, oxygen, and everything else. I spent a good twenty minutes cramped in a cashier booth, doing my best to comfort an unconscious woman while she went through multiple seizures.

That's not the interesting part. Or rather, while it was interesting for me, I can't really go into details anyway, and it's not a particularly funny story worth sharing here.

What is interesting, and maybe just a bit funny, was me, immediately afterwards.

Because, while everyone else was worried that my patient (is that the right word?) might not make it through the night, I was riding an adrenaline high, and felt like I could take on the world.

I didn't do a great job hiding the grin. So I hid in the deli cooler, stacking hams until I came down from the high.

Sometimes, I think there's something really wrong with me.

For what it's worth, the woman is okay, and will return to work within a few days.

And now, another episode of...

True story:

I was walking to work this morning, blearily rubbing the remnants of sleep out of my eyes. I had been awake until the wee hours, engaged in a marathon run through the entire Walking Dead series.

I was headed down gorge road as a light rain fell. The streets were quiet, with only a single car pulled over, flashing lights. An ill wind blew through the streets. Looking to my right, I saw a shape shamble out from behind a building, moving jerkily. The skin was pallid, and the clothing was all a uniform gray, tattered and torn.

Walker! my mind screamed, as it shambled towards me.

I reached for my shotgun, and levelled it at the walker's face, waiting for it to draw closer so I wouldn't waste the ammunition. And that was when I realized my "walker" was actually just an old woman - complete with a miniature poodle-rat, lime green jumper, and those little ropes that keep your glasses attached to your face that are standard issue for anyone over the age of sixty three.

I breathed a sigh of relief, though I was a bit shaken at how close I had come to blowing little ol' Gams' face off.

I mean, Public education people! Knowing how to distinguish between walkers and senior citizens might just save your own life... it could save the life of your grandparents.

In the interest of public safety, it's time for another episode of...

Scenario One: Individually-Wrapped Candies

Situation: You are at an ABC Country restaurant, sitting in a diner that hasn't seen a vaccuum since the 1950s, back when they were called "Double Turbine Vacu-Flush-amatic machines". In the booth next to you, a creature with curly blue hair, numerous vericose veins, and long talons studiously works at trying to open a caramel candy wrapped in a gold foil. It takes long, sharp breaths, assisted by a gas mask strapped to its face. In front of the creature is a plate of mashed potatoes that have long since gone cold.

Zombie, or Bitty?

Answer: Dude, that's someone's grandmother! And open her damned candy, before she passes out. She's diabetic, you know.

Scenario Two: The Blue Nudist

Situation: While sitting at a beach with your delightfully trampy girlfriend, you can't help but discuss the possibility of sex. "Come on, baby, no one will notice us out here...." you say, slipping an arm around her while she snuggles into your varsity jacket. Of course, at this moment, a strange creature emerges from the surf, with pallid skin that hangs down in folds. It has shaggy, disgusting hair that is matted with sand, seaweed, and trapped sea creatures. Whatever clothing it may once have had has long since dissolved away from the sea foam.

Zombie, or Bitty?

Answer: This is what happens to hippies who grow old - they wander naked around beaches unashamed of their bodies, even though they really should be. And it's only going to get worse, because soon, the hippies won't just be going naked due to misguided notions of sexual freedom, but because they've forgotten to take their Alzheimer's meds. Don't worry if you guessed "Zombie", though - no one's going to mind if you put a bullet in an aging hippy's skull.

Scenario Three: Scrubs

Situation: You are in a hospital, having just awakened from a coma caused by a gunshot/car crash/paralytic plant venom/global warming. No one seems to be around, and it is strangely quiet. After exploring a few rooms, you pull a call light for urgent response. A moment later, a figure dressed in scrubs shuffles towards you, a towel folded underneath one arm. Blue hair emerges from a tatterred bandana. "Brains?" the figure asks politely, still shuffling towards you.

Zombie, or Bitty?

Answer: This one's a toughy. While the figure is polite, and asks for brains in a reasonable voice, the fact that it is asking for brains at all suggests zombie. However, the real clue here is the response to the call light - everyone knows that real hospital staff never instantly respond to call lights. Yup, that's a zombie: have fun shooting!

Your Score:

How'd you do? If you did poorly, don't feel too bad - think of this as a learning experience! Just be on your guard in future scenarios. And remember the golden rule: when in doubt, assume zombie! Failing to shoot a zombie will result in a violent death, and the loss of vital brains, whereas killing a senior citizen will only be noticed at the next civic holiday.

Weekly Haiku #70 - The Banana Slug

the banana slug

-named for its shape and colour-

...not fun to step on

Evil Crevaka...

Way, way back in 2008, I had a friend who insisted I watch Fox's discontinued series, Firefly. I refused. "Dave, the show is awesome. You'll totally love it!"

"No thanks. I don't like Star Wars or Star Trek. Space TV shows suck. Not my thing," I said, absolutely confident that I had the show pegged.

Of course, I unknowingly rented Serenity, the movie based off Firefly, and loved it. Loved it so much, in fact, that I watched the special features and learned of the Firefly connection. Then I watched Firefly, and fell in love with the show.

Then, a year later, in 2009, I mentioned this to another friend of mine, and she told me in response that I should watch Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog. Once again, I shook my head.

"No thanks. I'm not a big fan of musicals, and I think the Neil Patrick Harris love is kind of overrated."

And, once again, I ate my words.

2010 rolled around, and another friend was amazed I hadn't seen the IT Crowd, and that I had to watch it - after all, it was pretty much the UK version of The Big Bang Theory, a show I absolutely love.

"No thanks. I'm not big on British Comedy for the most part, and shows about Nerds aren't really my thing."

My words were eaten again.

Flash forward to most of 2011, when that friend from 2008 told me I had to watch AMC's The Walking Dead - that it was a show right up my alley. And, still having not learned my lesson, I shrugged and said,

"No thanks. I've never liked Zombie movies."

Then I watched an episode (it was on in the background) and fell in love. I watched the entire series in one day. And have become thoroughly addicted to the show.

I've also realized I need to listen to my friends when they offer recommendations. This is a big revelation for me... but it also means that now I've got a LOT of TV to catch up on. The entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, for example. Dollhouse. Various incarnations of Dr. Who. And perhaps most frighteningly, Lost.

I have a feeling I'll have a lot of work cut out for me in 2012.

A Challenge:

Today is remembrance day. The day that we honour the veterans of the last century of warfare. The day we remember sacrifices made in the name of freedom and safety, and say "thanks".

Here's a challenge to everyone out there. Today, find five veterans, and simply tell them "Thank you". Buy them coffee if you can, shake their hands, whatever works. It doesn't have to be world war two vets in full battle regalia at the parades, either. If you see a guy in fatigues at a grocery store, say something.

Hell, let's extend it, so it's not just a military thing. Say "thanks" to people that deserve it, but rarely hear it. People that make sacrifices that are often unsung. Say "thanks" to a cop, paramedic, firefighter, nurse, soldier, whatever.

That's your challenge for the day. If you're up to it.

Weekly Haiku #69 - Ponder this

there's only eight notes

to fill a thousand albums

million words... few thoughts.

Me being an asshole, the science of ghosts, and a firefly quote:

I'm an asshole. I'm also an atheist, and a skeptic.

These three things, when combined, are a very, very bad combination.

Case in point. I'm listening to a woman describe how she is studying to become an investigator for the paranormal. Her goal is to help people exorcize and remove the ghosts that plague homes. Because, apparently, ghosts are more common on the coast (who knew?).

I sighed, and after listening to her go on and on about the "science" of ghosts, offered a solution.

"I know a surefire way to get rid of any ghosts in your house," I said, taking a sip of coffee.

"Oh? How?"

"Weatherproof your fucking house."

She did not find this amusing. But I laughed. To quote a bearded fellow from a certain episode of Firefly: "I cannot abide stupid people."

I'm young

I shaved the beard.

This was probably a mistake.

Even when I had the beard, people thought I was a lot younger than I really am. They would guess I was twenty three, or twenty four, when in reality, I'm much closer to thirty (I'm twenty-eight).

Then I shaved the beard, a few days before halloween.

In the last week, I've suffered through the following:

  1. During a first aid course, a guy told me about his recent nineteenth birthday. He concluded a rather stereotypical story with an interested "Are you nineteen yet? What are you going to do for your birthday?". Sigh.

  2. I was called in to work a shift at a different store location than my "home" store. At the end of the shift, a girl I had been talking to throughout the night (who told me she was eighteen) asked me if she could buy me coffee, and then batted morse code with her eyelashes at me. I told her I'd prefer to stay unarrested, thankyouverymuch.

  3. An older lady told me yesterday that I was "too young to know how long a foot is". I don't really know what she meant by that. Because unless something's changed, a foot has been twelve inches for several centuries, has it not?

A Moody Post

Things have been rather rough the last year, but I'm not so self-centred that I fail to see when shit happens to other people.

In October, a co-worker of mine had probably the worst month of his life. He was diagnosed with Diabetes, he was mugged, and saw (along with everyone else) his hours get cut back. And yet I watched as he'd shrug, and keep on moving forward.

Something I can identify with, absolutely.

But I find myself thinking - is anyone enjoying this goddamn year? Does anyone else find themselves looking forward to 2012, end of the world or not?

The Housecoat:

I moved into this bachelor pad about three months ago. Since it apparently takes me more than three months to unpack all my stuff, there are still boxes in my apartment. The funny thing is, I'm moving again, so it seems like some of my stuff is already packed.

This would be a good thing. Except, I'm an idiot.

I've unpacked much of what was already packed, simply so I can have the vicarious thrill of packing it again. This is what a dog must feel like when he eats his own barf.

(Yeah, I just compared unpacking stuff and then instantly repacking it to a dog eating his own vomit. If any of you are wondering why I'm single after reading a sentence like that... please post your phone number and a recent photograph in the comments section, because I would like to meet you.)

Anyways, while unpacking all my old shit, I discovered an old friend. And like the good friend that he is, he was protecting my old nintendo from damage. Yes, wrapped around my ancient NES was that rarest of rares - the comfy, worn-in housecoat.

For those that don't know, the housecoat is sort of like an accessory for lazy shut-ins. It is a vital piece of wardrobe for bachelors and the socially inept, a costume necessity in much the same way that superheroes require capes, chefs require absurd hats, the french require striped shirts, and mullet people require wrestling t-shirts.

Wearing a housecoat, shut-ins such as myself are well suited for picking up the mail wearing nothing else but shorts and wool socks. They are fit for cleaning up minor spills while cooking without having to get a cloth. And, if they're at all like me, they never have to worry about finding their capo or a spare pick while they play guitar, because not only is the housecoat super comfy - it also has pockets, yo.

Alas, the coat had a darkside, too - as anyone who has seen The Big Lebowski knows, frequent wearing of the housecoat inevitably leads to someone pissing all over your rug, both metaphorically and literally speaking. And so I put it away, for bigger and better things.

Not that it lasted. Because here I am again, wearing that old wardrobe necessity, feeling like some sort of flannel superhero. And, like any house-coat hero, I've completely put off packing in favour of sitting in front of the computer.


I'm moving out of Victoria, at least for the time being. My last day here will be November 31st, looks like.

The reason? Basically, I'm only able to tread water at this point. I work far too many hours, and spend far too much on insulin and rent, to make any sort of headway. Every month, I make around negative one hundred dollars, in the grand scheme of things. If Charles Dickens were around these days, he'd write a book about me.

It'd be one of those books that only people who really loved Charles Dickens would know about, the hipster literati, if you will, but still. There'd be a book about me.

Anyways, If I want to make any sort of headway, something has to change, and that means getting my butt out of here. Staying in a crappy situation simply because you enjoy your surroundings and don't want change is bone-ass stupid. Sometimes, you have to take the unpleasant route in the short term for success in the longterm. Or, as my mother put it last week, "You're not getting any younger".

Thanks, mom. You know how to cheer a fella up.

So, the goal has shifted from "make next month's rent on time" to "finish up your goddamn degree and start making some money". And how best to do that? Move down to the nice rainy hills of Sooke while I work towards getting thaat degree. Actually, it'll be three degrees, by the time I'm done. In any case, it's probably the smartest move I've made in at least two and a half years. If not more.

But damn, I'm going to miss Victoria. I was walking down in James Bay the other day, as the sun was dipping past the hills, and wistfully sighed every time I walked past one building or another. A book store I've yet to visit. A cafe I've yet to sample. A restaurant I've missed out on the pleasure of dining at. An alleyway I've yet to pee in.

And so on, and so forth. There's a lot to Victoria, you see.

I've lived in Victoria for more than five years, and I haven't been sparse on trying new things. I've eaten at dozens (if not a hundred) different restaurants, had coffee or tea at just as many cafes, and gone book hunting all over town. I've been to more bars than I can count, and still have just as many more to visit still.

Compare this to Sooke, where, were I to go to a new restaurant every week, I would be making laps in less than two months. There are two bars. There is almost nothing in the way of live music. In fact, the only real "music" there is in Victoria is the guy who blares Metallica out of the stereo of his pickup truck while he drunkenly swerves to the bassline. Or the Eminem coming out of the stereo of the car Mr. Metallica is trying to arrest.

To add insult to injury, the place basically shuts down past 10 pm, which doesn't bode well for a career insomniac. I know from experience that the only thing you'll meet on a 3 am walk is an angry bear. You can't get a good cup of coffee at 3 am unless you make it yourself.

I grew up in Sooke, and was absolutely thrilled to leave the place. Not that it isn't beautiful - it's a gorgeous little town. But even though I grew up there, it was never really home. But now, I'm going back.

And yet, I'm looking forward to it. Because I'll finally be able to get back into school, and work towards the day when I can actually afford to live in Victoria. And visit all those cafes that remain unvisited, and dine at all those restaurants that remain undined. Someone else can deal with the alleyways.

Weekly Haiku #68 - Last Month

my last month in vic

dying leaves and faded dreams

surf erodes bedrock

November Playlist:

God. Would you believe I haven't done a playlist in months? What the hell is wrong with me? Anyways, here's my playlist for November. It's a bit dark these days, with a heavy dose of blues and what I'd call "Musicality".

  1. Dan Mangan, "Jeopardy"

  2. Geinoh Yamashirogumi, "Mutation"

  3. Imaginary Cities, "Ride this Out"

  4. Black Mountain, "The Way to Gone"

  5. The Cave Singers, "Haystacks"

  6. Radiohead, "Give Up The Ghost"

  7. The Mountain Goats, "Michael Myers Resplendent"

  8. Hey Rosetta!, "Bandages"

  9. Laurena, "Permafrost"

  10. Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs"

Dan Mangan: "Oh Fortune" (2011, Arts and Crafts Records)

I've been a bit lax in my music reviews lately. Not because I haven't been listening, but mostly because I've been, well, lazy. But I digress.

Dan Mangan's latest offering has a wonderful little notice in the fine print, which reads "If you acquire it for free, and you enjoy it, please to a live show and bring a friend. If you paid for it, you should still come a show - but know that you are exceptionally wonderful".

How nice. While it has little to do with the album itself, it's something I like to see.

This is new territory for Mangan - it's no longer music built around an acoustic guitar. Gone are the country/folk phrasings of Postcards and Daydreaming, or the horns and radio-friendly indie accessibility of Nice, Nice, Very Nice. This is an album with a heavy dose of strings, organs, and atmospheric omnichord bits. Mangan also takes a stab at the electric guitar this time around, most particularly on "Post War Blues", an album that is about as distinctly "un-Mangan" as I can imagine.

It's also not very good. But it's the only song that I really dislike on the album, so maybe that's something. The other big stab at electric guitar works, "Rows of Houses", is actually really good - probably my favourite track on the album, in fact.

The album opens up with an honest to god waltz with "About as helpful as you can be without being any help at all", and then progresses into a moody piece called "how darwinian". The long-standing Mangan fan is probably going to be a bit confused by the first few tracks - it's not until the fourth track, "if I am dead" that we begin to hear that folksy Mangan-type song we all know and love. And we don't hear something that has any sort of cheer until we get to the fifth track, "Daffodil", which has an old-timey feel I definitely like.

Actually, the album really warms up after "Daffodil", with many great folksy songs that return to Mangan's roots while still being experimental enough that he's not just treading old ground. The title track, "Oh Fortune", is a great example of this, with a train-chugging riff that has an old-time rock and roll sound combined with that west coast indie feel we all love.

In all, it's a moodier version of Mangan. He's always had sad lyrics - this time around, the sounds tend to match those lyrics. Really, it's less rock and roll, and more blues. Less whistling, more wailing. And so on, and so forth. Try listening to the album-ending "Jeopardy" and trying to remain cheerful ("Where did I go?/what is this sorrow? where did I go? what am I doing?")

Bottom line? This isn't nearly as happy as his earlier work, but it's still a work that is absolutely creative and worth listening to. Rather than having you tapping your feet to infectious pop ballads, you'll be sipping coffee and thinking about lost loves and those who have left us. It's an album worth checking out, whether you buy it or find it for free. And in either case, do what the fine print says, and check him out live.

And bring a friend.


The last week, I've had incredibly bad insomnia. There have been days where I've had to be at work for 7 am, and found myself staring at the clock at 5 am, having not slept at all, wondering what the hell I was going to do.

When I do sleep, it's in bursts, and filled with weird, incomplete dreams. A few days ago, I dreamt I was lying in my bed, trying to sleep. And when I woke up, I wasn't sure what part was the dream, because I was so damned confused I couldn't make heads or tails of reality itself.

Such is the life of a chronic insomniac, I suppose. Your dreams consist of being awake, and while you're awake, you dream of nothing but a good night's sleep. There's a song title somewhere in that.

Flash forward to last night. I was groggy, and ready to lie down. I had tuesday off, and was planning on spending it being productive as well as starting to clean up the apartment (ha!). I went to bed for a "quick nap" at around 9 pm, and set my alarm for 1 am, for some reason, so that I could get a little bit of "pre-cleaning" done.

I woke up at 1 am, as planned. And then decided that this was stupid, because it was the first time I'd had more than two hours of uninterrupted sleep, and I needed the sleep more than the "pre-cleaning". This was probably the smartest, most coherent thing I've done all week. Which is sad in its own way. So I went back to bed.

And slept for the rest of the night. It was heavenly. If that is at all what being dead is like, I don't know what everyone's complaining about. I could go for some more of it.

It all ended at 7 am, however. Because my cell phone alarm went off. I hit it, and went back to sleep.

It went off again at 8 am. So I hit the button, and threw it across the room. Only for it to go off again at 9 am, waking me up yet again. Finally, I rolled out of bed, turned off that alarm, and realized that somewhere during the night, I had actually set half a dozen independant alarms, each set to go off at a different hour.

I have no recollection of doing this. We're talking some serious Fight Club, Tyler Durden stuff here. And if you haven't seen Fight Club, ignore that reference, it means nothing. And please, go see Fight Club, you fool!

That isn't even the most impressive insomniac thing I've done this month, however. A few weeks ago, I had to be at work for a 3 am shift, and had only had an hour of sleep before waking up at around 2 to walk to work. Somewhere on the gorge, I actually fell asleep while walking.

And woke up a block down the street, wondering where the hell I was, and why was I fullly dressed and walking? And why was I covered in hobo blood?

Okay, I made that last bit up. But the rest of it is absolutely true.

I have to be up at 5 am tomorrow to get to work on time. And I am wide awake right now. I have a feeling tomorrow will be an interesting day.

More Bad People Stories:

Last year, around this time, I was working at Future Shop, selling headphones to the moderately wealthy. Life was fairly good, because I wasn't too bad at selling headphones to the moderately wealthy. In fact, I was pretty sure I was going to be kept on once the season ended, because I was making a couple hundred dollars of commission every day I worked there.

This translates into "a shitload of headphones", for those at home keeping score. And my technique was pretty simple, too - I'd just talk to the customer about music, find a band we both liked (easy peasy), and then loan the customer my awesome headphones and play him a song on my ipod. It worked like a charm... and my return rates were lower than most any other salesman in my department.

But then, at the end of the season, my hours were cut short and I was told I would not be permanently hired. Basically, they kicked me out the door.

I wasn't too bummed by this, because, well, it wasn't the best job in the world or anything. And also, they kicked me out the door just before people traditionally return christmas purchases, meaning I got to keep much more of my commission from boxing day sales than those that were kept on.

But I was perplexed, as a few of the people that were kept on made considerably less than me, including one guy who only made one or two sales during boxing day. This guy was allergic to making sales, and actually at one point started telling a random customer about Milton Berle's over-large penis because he got nervous during his sales pitch.

I wish I were making this up.

This begs the question. Why the hell did they keep that guy, and can me?

I found out a while later. Apparently, I was anti-semitic, and made several anti-semitic comments to a jewish co-worker. And, as far as these things go, this is entirely true. And my jewish co-worker was canned because he made anti-native comments to one of his co-workers.

That native co-worker? That would be me. I'm part native, and he knew it. And I knew he was jewish. See, one day, we were sitting in the break room, having our lunch and shooting the shit. We started swapping insults, that got progressively worse. We shared the same sense of humour, and we just let it go away. I told him that his nose was so goddamn huge because air was free. He told me that he locked his bicycle up so that it would force a chug such as myself to do an honest day's work rather than steal shit. I told him that if things had gone right, he'd be living in a ghetto in warsaw with a number tattooed across his forehead. He told me that if things had gone right, my blankets would still have small pox.

And so on, and so forth.

Yeah, harsh words, but if you were there, those words translated more into "hey, look at all this racist shit people say about our ethnic groups. Isn't that bullshit? Let's poke fun at that!"

Of course, whitey got involved, and decided that since we weren't insulted, she was going to have to step in and get insulted for us. She got so insulted, in fact, that she went to the managers and complained. After all, how dare two of us make inappropriate comments in a break room at a quiet level, out of ear shot of customers? How dare we make jokes?

So, I got canned, as did he.

Naturally, I went on welfare payments and stole her bike. I traded it to my new jew friend for some firewater and smoked salmon. He sold the bike at his cousin's brother's deli for far too much and spent the money on a nice brisket.

Apparently, neither of us learned anything from the incident. Which is as it should be.

I am bad people

I love making fun of people. Especially when they're in on the joke. Unfortunately, sometimes uninvolved witnesses don't understand it's all fake, and think I'm just being an asshole. I mean, I am an asshole, but I hate it when I blow my cover.


DAVE: Hey! I'm working with Jean today!
JEAN: Hey Dave. It's gonna be a fun night,. We're going to rock this place.
DAVE: Jean, did you know that you're my second favourite person named 'Jean' to work in this deli?
JEAN: (Rolls eyes)
RANDOM CO-WORKER: "Second Favourite"? Dave, she's the only person named Jean that works here.
DAVE: I know. But she's just not 'number one' material, wouldn't you agree?
JEAN: I hate you, Dave.

See? It's funny. Two of the three of us had fun, pretending to hate each other. But the third person didn't get the joke... and went to the managers about my "attitude".

Another exchange between "jean" and I:

JEAN: Hey Dave. You know how Hitler died, right?
DAVE: Well, actually, he died of a cyan-
JEAN: Quit being a smartass for a second. Hitler died of a heart attack.
DAVE: No, he died of Cyan-
JEAN: Shut up. He died of a heart attack. You know, when he saw his gas bill?
DAVE: (Pause, and then) BWAAAA HAAA HAA HAAA!
JEAN: Thought you'd like that. We're bad people.
DAVE: Yeah. We are bad people. Don't know why I'm laughing... I just found out last month that my grandfather died in a concentration camp, after all.
JEAN: Oh my god. I'm so sorry. I can't believe I said that! I'm so so so sorry!
DAVE: Yeah.... he fell out of a guard tower.
JEAN: (Pause, and then) BWAAAAA HAAA HAA HAAA!
RANDOM CO-WORKER: You're both bad people.

Moral of the story? I only hang out with the fun people at work. And then get in shit.

Talk to me, Goose!

Lately, I've been in "training" mode. My goal is to walk the West Coast Trail next summer. For most people, this is a fairly ordinary goal, but because my Wilford Brimley style Diabeetus gets in the way, I've found I need to do a bit of preparation.

This preparation is taking the form of walking the Galloping Goose in a day, while carrying weight, and constantly testing my blood sugar to see how I can best handle myself on the real trail. It's been a lot of fun - get on the Goose in Victoria at around ten am, and then walk all the way down to Sooke.

Last week I did something like 35 km in around six hours, which is pretty damn good, in my professional opinion. That's like six kilometres an hour, which is... well, okay, it's not incredibly fast, but still.

Anyways, on the Goose, you see some interesting things. Beyond the wonderful views, you just see some weird and crazy stuff. For example:

  • In a crosswalk in Metchosin, someone spray-painted a giant penis on the road. And I mean giant. And then drawn in the names of various people throughout the thing. I'm going to look at this as interpretive art, or perhaps some sort of political statement.

  • On a bridge near Matheson lake, there's a bronzed paw print of a beloved dog, overlooking a dried creek bed.

  • Also near Matheson lake, there's an empty field, with soccer nets on either side. It's in the middle of thick forest, with no trail to reach it that I can see, and no houses nearby. I think it's where the aliens go to practice for FIFA.

  • Near Sooke, I found a pile of rocks near a bench, and saw the edges of a note sticking out from a tree. I thought it was some sort of geocaching spot. Nope. Opening the note, it read "Sitting here makes my pussy wet." it was signed "E.A.". That's right - apparently, people use the Goose as an exchange point for dirty letters. What a world we live in.

  • There's a bridge in Langford that is lined with letters to a girl whose body was found dumped in the area last year. It always makes me feel kind of happy and sad all at once - but I wrote about this before.

  • At the 26 km mark, someone scrawled in "halfway th" on the marker. This makes me laugh... because the trail is 55 km long. Someone didn't do the math well, and realized it halfway through their scrawling.

Moral of the story? Walk the goose when you have a day off. You'll see weird stuff, and have at least one odd adventure.

Weekly Haiku #67 - are you experienced?

our seattle boy's

guitar cries as a newborn

a prophet of sound

True Story:

DAVE: Um, hey there, boss.
BOSS: Hey Dave. What's up?
DAVE: I need to book a few nights off next month.
BOSS: Sure. What days?
DAVE: First is November 10th. I need everything past 5 pm off.
BOSS: Okay. Why?
DAVE: It's a Dan Mangan concert. He's kind of this folksy guy with a cool horns section and some great drummers.
BOSS: Alright. Concert. Gotcha. Next?
DAVE: Uh, November 11th? Night?
BOSS: Oh, okay. Why?
DAVE: Yukon Blonde.
BOSS: What?
DAVE: Yukon Blonde. They're a Canadian indie rock band.
BOSS: Never heard of them.
DAVE: They're from Kelowna. Think laid-back rock music, sort of like, say 54-40 if they had just come out now. Or maybe a less frenetic R.E.M.
BOSS: Uh... sure. November 11th... off. Gotcha. And the third?
DAVE: November 12th?
BOSS: No way.
DAVE: What?
BOSS: No way you're going to three concerts in a row.
BOSS: Who is it this time?
DAVE: The Arkells.
BOSS: Oh, I've heard of them!
DAVE: Really? I haven't.
BOSS: They're on the radio.
DAVE: I don't listen to the radio. Not really.
BOSS: But you're going to their show.
DAVE: Yeah. Why?
BOSS: Dammit, Dave. I try to defend you when people call you a hipster behind your back, but you don't make it easy.

Weekly Haiku #66 - Phantom Cyclist

one man. two seat bike.

alone... pedalling for two

empty spokes revolve

Ew. Just.... ew.

I'm walking down the street, near Mayfair mall, listening to the new Dan Mangan album, when I look down and see a picture, obviously cut out of a polaroid.

It's small, but it's a woman's face. Curious, I bend over and look a little closer. This is when I realize it's a picture of a woman's face, engaged in oral sex. The entire bottom half of her face is obscured, and I won't go into too many details on that account. She didn't seem entirely thrilled to be doing what she was doing. Ugh.

Okay, so a few things icked me out about this. One, is that someone actually cut this picture out of a polaroid. I can't understand why, because this would be the focal point of the photo (right?) and if you wanted to destroy the photo, you'd destroy the whole thing, and if you wanted to keep the photo, again, same thing. This isn't like a breakup photo, where you cut out an ex's face.

Or is it?

Second, someone was carrying this photo around with them. For what purpose, I have no clue, but it's not one I want to think of.

Naturally, I took the photo, tore it up into a couple of pieces (hard to do with a polaroid, but I managed using a key) and chucked into a garbage can. Unfortunately, the whole affair put an icky taste in my mouth, if you'll pardon the expression, all things considered.

Sometimes, Victoria surprises even me.

How to Annoy Dave:

I work with some very "interesting" people. This is a conversation I had a few days with a co-worker, pretty much verbatim. He was talking about crappy movies, and the conversation went from there:

DAVE: Um, I don't really watch too many movies these days. I mostly read.
CO-WORKER: I'm reading a good series right now.
DAVE (Not really interested): Oh?
CO-WORKER: I'm reading the Earth's Children series. It's good.
DAVE: I've never heard of them.
CO-WORKER: The first book is called "Clan of the Cave Bear". It's -
DAVE: Oh, right. I've heard of that. It's by that girl-
CO-WORKER: Her name is Jean Auel. The first book is Clan of the Cave Bear. It was written in 1980. The second book is called The Valley of Horses. It was written in 1982. The third book is called The Mammoth Hunters. It was written in 1985. The fourth is called The Plains of Passage. It was written in 1990. The fifth book is called The Shelters of Stone. It was written in 2002. The sixth book is called The Land of Painted Caves. It was written in 2011.
DAVE: Um. Wow. That sounds like, uh, quite the production run.
CO-WORKER: The story starts with a young cro-magnon woman, named Ayla, who is split with her tribe. She doesn't eat for a week, and nearly dies of exposure, but she is able to stay hydrated during this time. She comes along a tribe of neanderthals, who adopt her. They don't seem to use language, but (this continues for a few minutes that felt like hours, where he goes into Neanderthal custom and whatnot before I interrupt)
DAVE: Oh, wow. So, it's someone's story about what neanderthals were like.
DAVE: It's funny, though. A lot of those theories no longer work - there are different theories on neanderthals than there were years ago.
CO-WORKER: Oh, it's just fiction. Everyone knows cavemen didn't exist.
DAVE: Wait, what?
CO-WORKER: I don't believe in Evolution.
DAVE: Ah. I see.

He then proceeded to try and sell me herbal vitamins that he pimps on the side, in an Amway-esque pyramid scheme, and told me he had stuff that would help fix up my diabetes. I told him I only bought herbal vitamins from people who believed we descended from apes. Stony silence ruled my workplace.

And no, I don't feel bad mocking someone with obvious mental issues. Not one iota.

Who Knew?

Hey! You know what's rough? Working 70 hour work weeks.

You know else is rough? Trying to work 70 hour work weeks, and trying to find interesting things to write about while doing so.

So... yeah. It's been a while, eh? Nothing of interest has really been happening on my end, save for some surgery recovery (yeowch) and getting my diabetes working for me instead of against me. Beyond that... yeah. Life's been good, if a little hectic.

Anyways. Posts are resuming, but don't expect a daily post for the next while, at least. I'm just not nearly interesting enough for anything like that.

Who knew?

Either that, or she thought I was an asshole:

Sometimes, I like to give very general answers to questions that expect a specific answer. If someone asks me what I feel like having for dinner, I'll them I feel like having some food. If I'm asked what I'm listening to, I'll say I'm listening to music.

And so forth. It's pretty obvious I like to be a smartass. It's less obvious as to why I still have friends.

Usually, people will roll their eyes at such a response, ask the question again, and I'll give a normal answer. Sometimes, though, I get an answer that makes me quite depressed.

I was on a break at my restaurant job, when a rather doe-eyed teenage co-worker sat down next to me. She saw I had my nose buried in a book (Shadowmarch, by Tad Williams, for those that are curious), and piped up.

"What're you reading?"

"A book."

She paused for a moment, vacant-faced. "Oh."

As if my answer was perfectly normal, and she had never seen a book before. Which I suppose may be true. Kids these days.

I would have proposed

We have an old boombox in our deli at work. We're only allowed to play it when there are no customers in the store, so it gets turned on from 5 am until 7 am, every morning.

Most days, it gets turned to the radio, where it plays the exact same top 40 music that is heard on the overhead speakers. There have been days where, I swear, both the in-store music and the radio were playing the same damn Christina Aguilera song at the same time. It was as if the radio and the digital satellite shared some sort of weird hive mind, set towards the goal of driving Dave slowly insane through ridiculously stupid pop music.

Luckily, the first person who opens is usually the one who gets to pick the music. And last week, I had the good luck of being the opener. While most people would scowl at a 4 am shift (and for me, this means getting up at 2 am!), I jump at it. Not only because I get off work from an eight hour shift at 12:30, but also because I get to be the keeper of the ipod.

No Aguilera on my watch.

Day one was a combination of the Beatles and The Fleet Foxes. Day two was The Flaming Lips and Dan Mangan. Day three was The Cold War Kids and The Cave Singers. Except for the Beatles, it was three days of indie paradise.

And then day four came around, and it was back to the radio, and Miss Aguilera trying to show everyone how many notes she can hit in three seconds. Some people call that talent. I call it indecisiveness.

But I digress.

Best part, though, was when one of the bakery girls came over to me, while I was making sandwiches, and whispered "I wish they'd stop playing this radio shit and put that other music on. The ipod music was so much better."

I would've proposed, then and there, but she was forty.

Are You Calling Me Crazy!?

We were at work, shooting the shit while putting together pizzas, assembly-line style. My boss, a guy in his thirties who should probably watch what he says a bit more but thankfully doesn't, was talking about women.

In a deli. Staffed primarily by women.

So, the two of us are chatting about girls. Every time an attractive customer walks by, which is fairly frequently, he'd point to her and say "hey, she looks good. Ask her out. Give her our usual thrifty's customer service!" or some other dirty comment to that effect. Which was, really, pretty hilarious.

And then we started talking about weird dates we've both been on. After swapping a few, we conclude, rather loudly, that "all women are crazy". We said it jokingly, with that sort of fond affection that is usually reserved for a well-loved poodle that can't stop pooping on the rug.

One of my co-workers, doing the dishes, turns to us, holding a long knife in one hand.

"Are.... you.... calling... me.... crazy!?" she said, her eyes wild and this weird sneer on her face.

Funniest thing I've seen all week.

Happy Birthday!

So, it's my friend Kate's birthday today. She is one year older, and beginning to enter those hazy years we like to describe as "the mid twenties". Or, as I like to look upon it, the time where, no matter where you are, you will be charged and tried as an adult for any misdemeanours you commit.

Or the time where "you should really know better".

Anyways. Enjoy the anniversary of your birth, Kate. Not that long ago (geologically speaking), you were, well, let's not think too deeply on what was going on. Because childbirth is icky. But yeah, that was what you were up to.

And I'm rambling.

This, ladies and gents, is what happens when you neglect your blog-writing duties for a while.

Weekly Haiku #62 - Streetside Lizards

...and they were pets, once

but now the garbage is home

"to serve in heaven"?

69 Years Ago...

Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 28. For those that can't do math, I was born on August 20th, 1983. It's not really a very noteworthy day - The Police released "every breath you take" on an unsuspecting world, but beyond that, it was more or less an okay day.

Forty-one years before, though, it was hell in one little part of the world, for a small collection of Canadians who were ready to do their part for the War Effort going on. This was an event that would forever be known afterward as "The Dieppe Raid", or occasionally "The Dieppe Folly".

The raid was a dry rehearsal for later Allied amphibious assaults - the lessons learned would go on to influence the planning for the invasion of Normandy (D-Day) that would happen some two years later. But when this attack began, the planners were woefully unprepared for the devastation to come. The Canadians who were putting their asses on the line had no idea that their deaths were going to mean anything.

And they died. They died in droves.

Of the six thousand Canadians who were involved in the attacks, only 40% (a little over 2,400) made it back to England in one piece - the rest were killed, captured, or seriously wounded. In less than five hours, 3,600 Canadians had been taken from us, in one way or another. To be put another way, twelve men a minute were killed, wounded, or captured. For five hours.

The entire ten year mission in Afghanistan lost fewer people than those at Dieppe lost in twenty minutes.

I mention this because my grandfather was one of the people there. And he was one of the lucky few that made it back. There's this photo of his company taken a few days before the raid - all three hundred faces smiling at the camera. And then there's a photo of those still fit for active duty when they got back - eighteen beaten, haggard faces staring emptily at the camera.

And yet the raid is little remembered by anyone beyond war historians. Even in Canada, a country that celebrates Vimy Ridge and our landings on Juno Beach, the loss at Dieppe is one we rarely acknowledge. But every year, the day before I celebrate one more year of life in a land of freedom and boundless opportunity, I do my best to remember. And to reflect on the fact that many Canadian dead once lined the beaches of a far-off continent in a battle that is too often forgotten.

And every year, I promise to myself to do my part to help others - especially Canadians, as this battle was our legacy - to remember.

Hence, this post.

Weekly Haiku #65 - August 19th, 1942

feed the hungry guns

birds sweep down from leaden skies

and feast on lost boys

True Story:

I've decided that "hipster" shouldn't just apply to music. And it shouldn't just apply to douchebags in their mid twenties. Case in point, at my deli. I'm dealing with a customer who has to be in her sixties.

"I love Edamame."

"Yes, I know, it's really good. How much would you like?"

"I've been eating Edamame for years."

"That's great. So, a medium....?"

"When I first started eating Edamame, you couldn't get it in the grocery store. Nobody had ever heard of it. That's when I first had it. I was probably one of the first people in this city who ate Edamame...."

"...or a large....?"

"You couldn't get it a grocery store. You'd ask for Edamame, and they'd just look at you. But now it's popular, and everyone's eating it."

"Well, it is good."

"Yes, yes it is."

"So, how much Edamame can I get for you?"

"Oh, I don't eat Edamame anymore."

*walks away*


I've been AWOL for a little while. This was entirely due to being overworked, and worried far too much about my upcoming surgery. Well, the surgery is over with and done, and work has slowed down for a little bit over the next few weeks (but not so slow that I won't make money, thank the godless universe!).

Anyways. I hope to get back to my regular blogging self, but it still might be a few more days while I deal with painkillers, dressings, and all the other post surgery crapola that is about as fun, as, well, pre-surgery.

The Canadian music reviews will be finished in one massive post. I'm kind of upset I didn't accomplish my original plan... but real life trumps blog, I guess.

A Few Things:

  1. Yes, I know I need to catch up on my Canadian music thing. I spent two days in Vancouver this week, and it's kind of helped contribute to putting me behind on updates. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday's music reviews will be up by tomorrow. I hope. (Expect reviews on The Russian Futurists, Bend Sinister, and "To Be Announced"!)

  2. Regarding wednesday's haiku. Okay, so my sister is almost six months pregnant, which is very exciting news. Unfortunately, she had a bit of a scare in which she went into false labour last week. You guys can imagine how scary that would be. Anyways, the haiku was about that. Luckily, everything seems to be going well now, and my fingers are crossed things stay that way. I really want to meet little Olivia Geiger, after all. Anyways, this is one time I agree with you all - that haiku is very "ugly". Here's hope I have no more to write along those lines.

  3. I have been extraordinarily stressed out lately. There are quite a few reasons why: I've started two new jobs in the last month; money is as tight as ever; I have a rather big surgery coming up in less than two weeks (!); the aforementioned problems regarding my niece to be; starting new medications; and a few other things that aren't quite as major. The long and short of it is, I've kind of been a bit snappy to people around me. If I've been a bit pissy, my apologies. I really don't mean to be a dick. At least, not this time.

Weekly Haiku #60: my niece

low in the belly

breakout like krauts on the rhine

hold fast! or stillborn

20. Mother Mother, "Eureka" (2011)

Hometown: Quadra Island, British Columbia
Notable Songs: 'The Stand', 'Problems', 'Getaway'

Didn't I just review this, like, a month ago?

Yes. Yes I did. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be included in this list, so here goes again.

Last time I talked about this album, I was unsure exactly what I felt about it. Now, a few months down the road, I can tell you with certainty that the album accomplished what it set out to do - it created a unique sound that is electric, quirky, and exciting. And while it's not always my cup of tea, there are definitely many tracks that worm their way into my head.

Of course, if the past few weeks have taught me anything, it is that my three picks for 'notable tracks' are completely off. I expect all sorts of comments telling me how I should have included the dance-able 'Baby Don't Dance' or the new wave-influenced 'Original Spin' or the rocky 'Simply Simple' as notable tracks.

And fair enough, I say. Because all of those songs (and others on the album I haven't mentioned ) are great. Way I see it, if people are telling me I picked the wrong "notable tracks", it means the artist has done a very good job at creating - because so many tracks on it are good. And Eureka (which means "I Found it" in latin, a very apt title for this breakout piece) is damn good.

19. Timber Timbre, "Creep On Creepin' On" (2011)

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec
Notable Songs: 'Black Water', 'Woman'. 'Too Old to Die Young'.

If you listen to CBC Radio 3 at all, you already know Timber Timbre already - they're sort of the darlings of 2011, it seems. And it makes sense why - moody, bluesy, folksy, and delightfully urban, the band has a sound that is delightfully unique and familiar all at once.

Timber Timbre have really put together an album that's absolutely blissful to put on in the background. It's music that is absolutely 'cool' to listen to, and I'm sure there are all sorts of college students out there who are busily playing this to impress the other poli-sci students as they partake of recreational drugs and time-wasting.

For me, listening to the groovy and wistful 'Black Water' brings me back to the days of lying on my bed with BB King playing in the background, happily being miserable listening to what my mother calls "Music to hang yourself to".

'Woman', meanwhile, is bluesy in the exact same way that Deep Purple was 'bluesy', and I mean that as a compliment. Timber Timbre does a cover of "Smoke On the Water" here that is actually, you know, good.

Creep on Creepin' On has those urban, almost R&B tracks interspersed with atmospheric stringed pieces such as 'Obelisk' and 'Swamp Magic'. Couple those with folksy tracks such as 'Too Old to Die Young', and you'd think you were listening to something hailing from decades ago, and not just a few months ago.

18. Arcade Fire "The Suburbs" (2010)

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Notable Tracks: 'Empty Room', 'Wasted Hours', 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)'.

I kind of feel guilty, listing an album that is very well known and has won international music awards. After all, when talking about great canadian records, doesn't that go hand in hand with obscurity?

If that doesn't make me a hipster...

...But good is good, and The Suburbs definitely deserves recognition, even if it's already been recognized in places just a tiny bit larger than my wee li'l blog.

The Suburbs, a tightly-recorded concept album centred around suburban living, brings up and revisits several musical themes, particularly the guitar tracks that open and close the album - 'the suburbs' and 'the suburbs (continued)'. While much it has that indie rock vibe that is all the rage these days, it does stray into some uncharted territories - my favourite track on the album, 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)', is a strange lovechild between indie rock and ABBA. And 'Month of May' is almost punk like in its intensity, only without the jackboots and atrocious fashion sense.

But if you're a fan of the danceable beats and original guitar licks that have justly made The Arcade Fire famous, you'll still find them herein. This is very much a record that makes you feel good, and one that you will find yourself getting lost within.

When I first started listening to the album, I did so with trepidation. How much of it was due to hype and the music media, and how much of it was actually good? Turns out, most of it was good - I had to admit this to myself after listening to it three times straight. I had been finding more and more excuses to put on my ipod and 'walk for a few more songs'.

17. Black Mountain "Wilderness Heart" (2010)

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Notable Songs: "The Hair Song", "The Way to Gone", "The Space of Your Mind".

On my itunes list, Black Mountain is nestled right between the Black Keys, and Black Sabbath. Which, strangely enough, could probably be used as a shorthand to describe the group - they're not quite as heavy and riffy as Black Sabbath, and not quite as bluesy and pared down as the Black Keys. And this is, of course, a very good thing.

Black Mountain are this decade's version of Stoner Rock, with a liberal dose of indie, a touch of keyboard-driven new wave, and even a bit of acoustic hippiness thrown in for good measure. If you're not familiar with "Stoner Rock", think of 1970s hard rock without the guitar solos, focused around the rhythm section, and lacking the aggression of heavy metal. Or, as I describe it, pure musical bliss. I was a stoner rock fanatic for years. And Black Mountain has singlehandedly reminded me of just why I loved it so much for so long.

It's the perfect storm of detuned guitar awesomeness.

That being said, this album isn't "pure" or "classic" stoner rock, if there's really such a thing. In addition to the "typical" stoner sound, it has acoustic guitar lines, female vocals, and atmospheric keyboards that manage to NOT be "prog rock". This is a very good thing for me, because it's almost as if Stoner Rock was saying "look, Dave, we have that stoner sound you love... but we've added those indie things you love, too!".

In short, Black Mountain seems to be perfectly suited for me. And because of this, I've spent the last two days in my living room, in absolute musical bliss. Easily the best album I've heard in 2011. Even if you don't like hard music, you need to check out this album. Listen to a few tracks, and I guarantee there's something in here that will appeal to you.

Like I said before. A Perfect Storm.

Scene from a job:

DAVE: (talking to a supervisor about a different co-worker) Go easy on her. You're only nineteen once, and I'm sure you were just as bad.
DAVE: Hunh?
COWORKER: You're not only nineteen once.
DAVE: Um. Yeah you are. You're nineteen for exactly one year.
COWORKER: Not true. You can be as old as you want to be.
DAVE: Uh...
COWORKER: For example, I never stopped being twelve.
DAVE: You never stopped being.... twelve?
COWORKER: I've been a twelve year old boy for more than fifteen years.

(Long pause)

DAVE: Stay away from my kids.

Yeah, this pretty much happened, word for word. My supervisor roared with laughter, and we proceeded to good-naturedly tease my co-worker.

Family Emergency

Spent last night pacing and being all worried and whatnot. While I was in more or less a good mood, my mind wasn't exactly clear to catch up on blogging. There were a few reasons why:

  1. My sister is in the hospital for some complications regarding her pregnancy (I'm sending all sorts of good vibes her way, and you guys should too!)

  2. I've got a surgery in two weeks, and I'm getting a bad case of the pregame jitters.

  3. Problems involving my enrolment in Pharmacare that, thankfully, have now been resolved.

Anyways. It made battling out a 500 word review on some album or another a bit difficult. But, as I did last week, I'll come back and write one late. Probably sometime tonight, so I can still technically hit my deadline.

In other music news, I just discovered Black Mountain today. I'm amazed it's taken this long. Maybe I'm the only person in the world who still loves Stoner Rock, but holy fuck, these guys are amazing. Next payday, I'm buying their entire discography at Ditch Records.

You are now updated.

16. Hey Rosetta! "Seeds" (2011)

Hometown: Newfoundland
Notable Songs: 'Welcome', 'Seventeen', 'Bandages'

Hailing from Canada's windier, colder coast, Hey Rosetta! has already forged a reputation based on sweeping string arrangements accompanied with indie rock guitars and aggressive acoustic stylings. This time around, they've taken it even one step further.

Seeds is a collection of songs all connected with that trademark "Hey Rosetta! sound", with songs rising in crescendo and pitch before dying down softly for a few seconds, giving us just enough time to prepare for the next one. No song on the album ends in the same way it began, and if there is anything as simple as a verse/chorus/verse chorus track to be found, it's hidden very well.

The lyric matter is based around the idea of seasons and growth, which I suppose makes this a work of fantasy for the Newfies, who are used to seventeen months of winter every year (they double up from september to january).

The album is best taken as a whole, and not as a collection of singles. Because of this, it's hard for me to pick out notable songs. I chose these three because they work incredibly well connected as they are, and because they do an amazing job finishing the album. 'Yer Spring' would be another likely choice.

Lines of communication

This is kind of a brain fart, a half-formed thought that's been kicking in my head for a few days. Bear with me, here.

Yesterday, I spoke a bit about history. And I'm going to carry on in that vein, with a quick little observation that was half pointed out during a class a few years back, by my very wise (and wry!) professor, Clarence Bolt.

It goes like this - empires have a tendency to form. Empires are composed of many different peoples, of many different cultural habits. For an empire to remain an empire, and not dissolve into many disparate pieces, the core of the empire has to control the periphery.

It can do this with force, or with commerce, or with many other means. But whether you want to control your fringes through force of arms, mercantile/economic controls, or through cultural assimilation, you need to have one thing first - communication. You need to be able to keep the lines of communication open in your empire. If your people speak different languages, your roads and sea-lanes are dangerous to pass, and the cultural differences between your disparate peoples are too great, your empire is in danger.

A recent theory that has emerged is that Rome made it as an empire because it ranged from East to West. See, cultural factors rely upon environmental factors - all desert cultures share common traits, for example. Since the roman empire was all on the same rough longitudinal lines, and therfore in the same climate band, the cultures that fell under Roman control shared many similar traits - you could live on the eastern border of the empire or the western border, and still be eating the same crops.

Compare that to the new world, where the Incan empire was arranged on a north/south axis that, so the theory goes, made the government doomed from the start. The people ate different food due to climate differences. And a jungle people overseeing a desert people meant neither culture was sensitive to the others' needs.

Okay. Following me so far?

We can presume that holding open lines of communication, cultural and economic as well as military, are the means to successful empire-building. The thing is, today, it is possible for there to be no "core" of the "Empire". And the lines of communication have changed from roads and seaways to telecommunications and the internet. In short, the globalisation of the world has enabled the possibility of a one-world empire.

While I don't think we'll see anything like that in any of our lifetimes, I imagine it'll happen in the next few centuries - a one world government. And it's the type of thought that brings me great happiness.

15. Tegan & Sara, "Sainthood" (2009)

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta.
Notable Songs: 'Don't Rush', 'Red Belt', 'Someday'

What? You don't know Tegan and Sara? Seriously? These guys, while still lumped in with the "indie" crowd, are very much mainstream. It's been said that Tegan and Sara are must-have albums if you want to be taken seriously as a lesbian, these days.

This is a poor joke, but it's one I've heard far too many times. I wonder how many people don't listen to these great western Canadian musicians, simply because of their "gay connection"? Some people definitely think of Tegan and Sara Quin as the indie punk/rock version of Lady Gaga, which is a crying shame, because the music deserves a good chunk of praise that often gets swallowed up in favour of conversations on sexual orientation.

And I've fallen to the same trap, discussing their sexuality for two whole paragraphs before I even mention the music. This annoys me, because the music is great. Upbeat, uptempo, and just generally "up", it's music that comes from a lot of different places. It has an unabashedly simple lyrical structure that is undeniably folk, yet the electric guitars are punk and the electronics and drums are dance or "new wave".

This is an album that always gets me tapping my foot. It never drops into ballads, and instead follows the punk rock ethos of an increasing, frenetic tempo. While this album, due to my own personal tastes in music, will never make it to my top ten list of albums, the drive and energy of it all has made this a recent preference when it is time to clean the house or do dishes. It's dance music for grumpy gingers who hate dance music, that's for sure.

As for the lyrics, some are personal, some are quirky, and some are the usual post-relationship stuff. Mention of poker faces are kept to a blessed minimum, and they never whine about the manner in which they were born.

Wanna hear something cool? Even though they're identical twins, you can hear the difference in their voices. Listen to it on the tracks; it's a pleasant surprise.

Isn't this enough (Tim Minchin)?

why do we still name what's beyond our stars
giving glory to what isn't ours?
we'll blame ourselves for the greed and hate
yet praise a being we all helped create?

why do we reach through space
hoping to touch our creator's face?
blind to our world, blind to our lives
yet said to see all reasons why?
why ignore the ground beneath our feet
ignore life, in favour of belief?
blind to our world when we see with faith
I ask you now for everyone' sake
isn't this enough?
isn't all this enough?

we went to space in ten year's time
freed ourselves and freed our lines
cured disease and healed our minds
mapped our genes and stretched our lives
yet still we cling to dead beliefs
misplaced facts long obsolete
like a two in a line of ones and zeroes
truth left behind in tales of heroes
look to the skies yet fail to see
no good ever came from a bended knee

why do we still reach out through pace
hoping to touch our creator's face
he's blind to our world and blind to our lives
we are our own reason why
why ignore the ground beneath our feet
ignore all this beauty and favour belief?
we're blind to our world when we see with faith
believe in ourselves and not in a fake
isn't this enough?
shouldn't this be enough?

Diabetes and Travel

Looks like I'm going on an overnight trip to Vancouver next week. Should be a fun little trip, with yours truly along mostly as "moral support". Two words seldom applied to me, either together or singularly. I'm relishing the change, though. Makes me feel all grown up and stuff.

While talking to my friend about the trip, I started asking a lot of questions about when we were leaving. Where are we eating? What time do we get there? Etc.

And of course, it began to annoy her, to the point where she finally said "Can't we just wing it!?"

My wounded defence centred around my diabetes, which worked. I said that I wanted to know roughly when meals were so I could plan insulin accordingly.

Afterwards, though, I realized that this is complete bullshit, and has been bullshit for years. I don't need to plan my insulin accordingly. Not anymore. In fact, when I travel, I do exactly what she wanted to do - I "wing it". I do my 28 units of Lantus insulin at 10 pm, every night, and I do my humalogue insulin in response to meals. Beyond that, nothing is set in stone.

This has been the case for about four years now, ever since my endocrinologist saved my life and changed my insulin types. While I have to carry food for low blood sugars, that's always the case, not just for travelling. So why the worries?

Easy. I used to be on different insulins - namely, "R" and "N", which while they sound cool (like the "Mr T." of insulins, or something), are kind of, well, shitty. "R" insulin supposedly had the "R" stand for "Rapid". Except, you had to do it half an hour before eating, and it stayed in your bloodstream for hours after eating. And the "N" was supposedly "Long lasting", but it only lasted twelve hours. And was unreliable.

True story. When I first met my endocrinologist, he was stunned I was still on "R" and "N" insulins. He said something like "Dave, your blood tester was made in 2005, and is state of the art. Your insulin was developed in the 1980s. You are a 1980s diabetic. Do you really want an insulin that's been around since before MC Hammer?"

Or something to that effect. It's been a while.

Anyways, these two insulins were a pain in the ass. They meant that you had to plan out most of your day before you got out of bed. I'm going to have a bowl of cereal for breakfast. At noon, I'll eat a sandwich at that nice deli. Three pm I'll have six graham crackers, and spaghetti for dinner at 6. I'll have cereal sometime around 10 pm, and be in bed by midnight.

Seriously. That was my life. For a good ten years or so, I'd have these charts that I'd have to follow. The "freedom" in the chart was that, yeah, while I had to eat a "fruit" at 3 pm, I got to choose the fruit. Any act of spontaneity in my life had a twelve hour delay. I'd wake up and say, "aw, hell with it. I'm going to eat steak tonight!"

You can imagine how travel would mess that up. If a ferry or plane was late, you might not be able to grab a meal in the right time window, and everything would get topsy turvy. You'd find yourself in the 7/11 at 3:05 in a panic, saying "well, mountain dew is kind of a fruit...." and hoping for the best.

If you were like me, your friends would make it even worse. Because unlike me, they had the luxury of spontaneity. Which I'm pretty sure they exercised just to piss me off.

"Hey, Dave, I know we planned to eat on the ferry... but let's just wait and eat at this nice steakhouse instead. It's only another two hours' wait!"

And then you have to decide whether you eat on the ferry and then watch your friends eat at this awesome restaurant while you have salad... or you skip your ferry meal and feel sick as your insulins mess you up internally. It's kind of the diabetics' version of Sophie's choice, only with better cinematography.

But nowadays? Not the case. So I guess my travel anxiety is kind of a relic. Ironically, though, it only shows up when I'm travelling with other people, because part of me is afraid they're going to throw my meticulously planned meal schedules off. Which is funny, because these days, my meticulously planned meal schedules are basically "Sometime before noon and midnight, eat something."

Which is a schedule I can keep. Most of the time.

And now, for something completely different

I don't really mention it too often, but I have a history degree.

A lot of people assume that history classes in the college and university level focus entirely on events - you spend the entire class associating names with dates, going on and on in an endless litany. And, well, this is not really case. While you do get a fair amount of dates and names, the main focus on the class is on comparing and contrasting events, and trying to interpret what was going on.

And often, in that interpretation, looking at ourselves. Really, how we interpret the past says a lot about who we are as a people now.

For example, the Romans. The Romans, as an empire, died out sometime in the third or fourth century C.E. (Common Era), though they'd been having problems before that. Now, we've had a lot of knowledge about the Romans, in the form of written records preserved at the time. There is relatively little in the amount of new knowledge that's filtered in over the years - archaeology gives us all sorts of pieces that fill in the "little picture", but the "big picture" has more or less been known since the late middle ages.

And yet, every few decades, the theory on why the empire ended has changed. It went from divine punishment (the Romans killed Christ, after all), to being one about the perils of autocratic government. By the time of the french revolution, the theory was that it collapsed under the weight of an overly centralized government. More modern theories spoke about the problems of extending the franchise of roman citizenship to too many people, that the empire could no longer sustain itself except through a military-industrial complex (sound familiar?).

In the 1980s, a lot of theories were written about the welfare state that Rome had become, since over a million romans were "on the dole". And it might come as a surprise to learn that the theories have changed since then - a lot of historians now say that part of the roman collapse was due to ecological strain that the romans were putting on their environment.

I'm not really interested in talking about the romans, here, though they are absolutely fascinating to read about. Instead, it is the fact that the past hasn't changed. The past cannot change. But our interpretation of the past can change. And history teaches us that we can use whatever lens we'd like to look back on past human lessons learned, and walk away a bit wiser as a result. Because here's the thing - all those theories? Most probably have a grain of truth in them, that we can use to better our own lives.

It bothers me that history degrees lead to nothing but McJobs. Way I see it, they should be mandatory for anyone involved in the public works. But then, maybe that's just because I'm sick of my McJob.

14. We Are the City, "In a Quiet World" (2009)

Hometown: Kelowna, British Columbia
Notable Songs: 'Feel is a word', 'my old friend', 'Peso loving squid'

Confession time. I liked this band when I saw them live, and liked their album up until the song 'Astronomers', wherein the vocalist begins to question man's landing on the moon. This, for those who don't know, is one of my big pet peeves, and I wanted to hate the band then and there.

Luckily, I put my biases aside and listened to it a few more times. The beautiful piano lines, expansive drum rhythms, and incredibly tight guitar lines tie in together in a perfect example of "less is more". There is no bass guitar in this album, but you would never notice it until it was pointed out to you.

This is a rock album with just the right amount of experimentation, with occasional pink floyd and alt rock homages in the guitar lines. I know I'm not the only person to hear a Bryan Adams' tone in "Time, Wasted". (Hey, wasn't he from BC, too?) The reflective vocals have just the right note of melancholy, and the drums never try to get too fancy. It is an album that is at once heavy and soft, often with nothing more than a second's pause between gentle guitar lines and thunder coming down.

Ironic, I suppose, for an album titled "In a Quiet World". But then, in a quiet world, I'd feel like making a little bit of noise, too.

Weekly Haiku #59 - giant

stroll empty hallways

outstretched fingers brush both walls

a giant, alone

13. Library Voices, "Denim on Denim" (2010)

Hometown: Regina, Sasketchewan

Notable Tracks: 'Drinking Games', 'Haunt this House', 'Party like it's 2012'

The band describes themselves as 'Pop as Fuck'. They claim inspiration from The Talking Heads, The Violent Femmes, and Fleetwood Mac.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

I'd also add in a bit of The Strokes for inspiration - especially on the track 'Party like it's 2012', with stroke-like guitar lines and lines like "Party Like it's 2012, let's hear it for the Rapture!".

This is a band that comes with wry observations, catchy guitar and keyboard lines, and vocal cleverness galore. It is clean-cut in sound, and despite having something like seven members, nothing ever sounds extraneous. The band seems to know that less is more, and I can't wait to hear what the next full-length album (due out next month!) sounds like.

And, to make everything even better, they're coming for Rifflandia this year! You can bet I'll be up front and centre, singing along to 'Drinking Games', one of my favourite tracks of the last year.

12. The New Pornographers, "Moves" (2011)

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Notable Songs: 'Moves', 'Crash Years', 'Your Hands (Together)'

I feel guilty with this review.

You see, those three "notable songs" up at the top there just happen to be the very first three songs of the album. Because of this, I'm almost afraid my reader(s) will accuse me of not really reviewing the album, and just picking the first three tracks as "notable".

It's not true. It's just that this is an album that starts off with such a huge bang that you have to give credit where credit is due. "Moves" is built around electric guitars and strings that sound like a modern version of 'Eleanor Rigby'. 'Crash Years', sung by the always amazing Neko Case, is your usual amazing New Pornographers' track, while 'Your Hands (together)' is, as the title suggests, the type of thing you will find yourself clapping along to.

Of course, as with any New Pornographers' album (they're all good), there are a lot more than three "notable tracks". 'A Bite out of my bed' is a weird combo of acoustic guitars and new-age synths (and strings) that really catches the ear, and the album-closing 'We End Up Together' is very much your anthemic rock ballad.

So, yeah, there are a lot of notable tracks. The whole album, with its sweeping string arrangements, simple yet effective guitar lines, and hand-clapping rhythms coupled with New Pornographer-style duets make this one of those albums that has a sound entirely its own.

The fact that the Pornographers have been doing that since 2001 should give you an idea of just how amazing (and underrated) they really are.

Phone Anxiety

How I Think The Conversation Will Go:

BC HYDRO: Hi. This is BC Hydro. How can I help you today?
DAVE: Uh. Yeah... I moved, and forgot to tell you guys. And now I don't have hot water.
BC HYDRO: Oh, yes. Look here. Also, you haven't yet paid last month's bill!
DAVE: ...right. Uh, I've just started a new job, things have been a bit tight, can I pay it on the 15th?
BC HYDRO: No! Pay it now, or we'll cut all your power. Your hot water is just the beginning!
DAVE: But, but....
BC HYDRO: Don't pay it soon, and we'll break your fucking knees, man.

How the Conversation Inevitably Actually Goes:

BC HYDRO: Hi, this is BC Hydro. How can I help you today?
DAVE: Um, yeah... I moved, and forgot to tell you guys. And now I don't have hot water.
BC HYDRO: But you still have power, right?
DAVE: Yeah.
BC HYDRO: Oh, then it's a hot water tank problem.
DAVE: Geez. I feel dumb.
BC HYDRO: Don't! We get this alot, it's a common question.
(Address is updated, etc)
DAVE: Uh, I actually still haven't paid my balance from last month.
BC HYDRO: We understand! These things happen. So long as you pay it by August, things'll be good.
DAVE: Oh, uh...
BC HYDRO: Is there anything else we can do to help you today?
BC HYDRO: Have a pleasant day!

11. Hey Ocean! "It's easier to be somebody else" (2008)

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Notable Songs: 'A Song About California', 'Alleyways', 'Moving On'

Hey Ocean! are a young trio from Vancouver, British Columbia. Fronted by the always adorable Ashleigh Ball and carried by two different guys named David (represent!), the band has an upbeat, pop sound that is well grounded in jazz. Basslines, guitar chords, and drumbeats all borrow generously from jazz traditions, resulting in a pop album that sounds considerably different than all of the other unique pop albums out there.

A big part of this is due to Ashleigh Ball's voice, the predominant voice on the record. Husky and yet seemingly paradoxically filled with joy, it is at once similar and completely different than, say, Amy Winehouse. This is a party album, filled with happiness even when it's sad. It is about love, the joy of life, and adoration of the world around us.

And of course, it seems to hit a chord among, well, everyone. For christmas, I put a few songs by the band on a CD I made for my mom. She put those songs on repeat, and begged me for a copy of this album. Strangely, my sister, who also had a few Hey Ocean! songs on her ipod, asked for more as well. As for me, this has been an album that's played in the background for the better part of nine months.

On Sports:

I once heard it said that Sports were invented so that fathers could speak to their sons.

It's definitely true, at times.

I'll call my mother and we'll chat for twenty minutes, talking about movies, baking, trips, or whatever. And then she'll pass the phone to my dad, and within about three milliseconds, he's talking about some trade the Maple Leafs are about to close, and I'm complaining about how Dany Heatley just got traded.

To all those people who complain about sports, who say they're a waste of time, or violent, or whatever else, all I can say is that you're missing the point. Or that you know nothing about being male in the 21st century.

Sports allow two men to let their guard down, and share in something beyond themselves. They allow two self-conscious men, taught by society to be isolated and tough, to say without saying that they respect one another. And that, I think, is why I think so many people obsess over minute trivia - so at the end of the day, they have more to talk about in those brief moments when they let their guard down.

This is what I love most about sports. Everything else is just gravy.