On Drawing:

A few days ago, I was stuck on the phone, talking to far too many stupid customers.  While I was stuck waiting to leave a message on someone's machine for the umpteenth time, I started doodling. 

As usual, it sucked. 

Right then and there, I set a goal for myself.  I will learn how to draw.

For the last week or so, I've been doing a drawing a day, trying to learn the basics of line, shading, perspective, and all that crappy stuff that artists go on and on about.  It's been.... difficult.  Very, very difficult.

But that's neither here nor there.  None of you guys really care about that.  What is kind of interesting, and kind of awesome, is the book I chose to use as my reference place.


That's right.  The last week, I've been using a book full of Led Zeppelin pictures as my starting point when learning how to draw.  I've spent the last week drawing pictures of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones, and the rest of the whole wacky bunch. 

I think this is proof that, even when I try to do something that has absolutely nothing to do with music or pop culture... it comes back to music and pop culture. 

Weekly Haiku #46: This is me trying to be deep and introspective

is desired fruit
in branches hardly ahead
always out of reach?

Rue, I say, RUE!

The internet is a lovely place.  I'm quite the big fan of it, if for only one reason:  the internet reminds me that I'm not the only fucked up person out there.  The internet is your gateway to untold millions of people just as messed up as you.

I mean, do you know how lame it is to be sitting around in your home city, wondering to yourself if you're the only person out there who thinks barley is better than rice?  Do you ever find yourself wondering if you should tell people your deep dark secret, regardless of whatever persecution you might face?  Does your preference of barley make you feel like a freak?

Luckily, the internet has made me realize I'm not the only person with this problem*

We are not alone, people.

However, the internet is also filled with unscrupulous folk, folk who will offer free advertising, and then turn down hard-working bloggers simply because their site is too "mature" and not "family friendly".  I mean, the gall of some people, not giving away free advertising because they disagree with the ads they are placing! 

Didn't we win the war?

I am referring to my friend, Lola Lakely, who has recently had to endure seconds of hardship at the hand of internet dastards.  Her hopes of free internet advertising were dashed against the rocks, like a ship, being, um, dashed against the, well, rocks. 

But I'm here to help her fight!  Because, dear reader(s), I am going to do what those internet dastards refused to do.  I am going to go out of my way and give Lola free advertising.  Because I am just that nice of a guy.

Here is her site.

Go forth, my minions, and spread the word.  Let those family friendly internet assholes rue the day they messed with us barley-eating freaks. 

Yes, I realize that link is about the best grain used to feed horses.  But, really, petty details, people.  Petty details. 

Yeah, this is awesome:

I'm a music nerd.  And I fully believe that music is universal - it belongs to every culture, every people.  And I find it amazing that people just naturally sense music.  There are only eight notes in music - and those notes are not arbitrarily determined... they are found cross culturally.  And that, to me, is fascinating.

So while this video blows my mind, it really doesn't surprise me.  It's just one of those things that stands to reason.

Enjoy. 

A snippet:

One of the reasons I haven't been posting lately is because I've been writing.  As in, writing on MS Word in a fictional sense, as opposed to writing on Blogger in a semi-fictional sense.  I've been working on a story called St. Patrick's Day, and I've been burning through some drafts. 

I figured I'd share a bit with you guys - a few snippets of dialogue that I thought were particularly crass and tasteless.... because that's how I roll.

***

“Shit, man. Don’t be whipped.”


“I’m not whipped.”

“You’re whipped!”

“I’m not whipped.”

He made some whipping noises over the phone. “You’re whipped, dude. Totally whipped. Come drink with us!”

“I can’t. I’m taking Kelly out for dinner. Like I said.”

“Okay. Well what about after?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“Cuz we’re going to the titty bar!” He yelled out the entire sentence, and then whooped into the speaker. He was getting theatrical. I was pretty sure he had an audience on his end, and he was hamming it up.

“I’m not going to the strip club with you, man.”

“Why not?”

“I hate it there.”

“Do you hate titties?”

“Don’t do this, Smeg.”

“Answer the question, sir. Do you, Patrick Grant, hate titties of the female persuasion?”

I sighed. “You know I –”

He cut me off. “Answer yes or no to the question, sir! Do you love titties?”

“Yes.”

“And do you, in fact, love bars?” He’s always been like this, and he gets worse when he’s been drinking. He seems to think he’s funny. I keep hoping one day he’ll grow out of it, that he’ll look in the mirror and realize that he’s no longer eighteen, that he’s, in fact, in his mid-twenties with honest to god responsibilities. So far, no luck.

“Smeg, I don’t have-”

Do you love bars? Yes or no?”

“Yes.”

“So there. If you like titties, and you like bars, you like titty bars."  He paused.  "It's simple logic.”

“Well, that’s bullshit. For example, I love blowjobs.”

“Who doesn’t?”

“Right. But I don’t love blow. And I don’t really love jobs.”

There was a long pause, and then he laughed. When he spoke, it was in his normal tone of voice, and not some over-the-top orator’s tone. “Okay, dude, fair enough. But you should come tonight.”

Puns will get you nowhere

SCENE: I'm at work, talking to a female client. She's not my client, so I feel like I'm allowed to make stupid jokes and generally act like an ass. Actually, I feel like I'm entitled to this behaviour because it's a temporary job, and I barely make minimum wage, so it's not like I'm really trying too hard.


Plus, she's cute. She has a boyfriend, so I'm just having fun and making stupid jokes about my prowess as a fine male specimen. And I'm making her laugh.  Which is probably a bad sign.

GIRL: Yeah? You play the clubs, then? Pick up a bunch of women?
DAVE: Not really. Although I've got a good trick to picking up women.
GIRL: Oh?
DAVE: Yyup. Always lift with the knees. That way, you don't throw your back out.
GIRL: (Pauses, and then groans) That's not funny.
DAVE: A bad back rarely is.

That, gents, is how you don't pick up women.  Figuratively or literally. 

Guitar Enthusiasm:

I get excited sometimes.  In fact, sometimes I get so excited about something, that I just have to talk about it.  Unfortunately, when I get in a state like that, my poor friends suffer.  Because my excitement is often about obscure or minor subjects, such as the "ipod touch" incident, when I spent over half an hour telling my mother why the ipod touch would be a fun device to use as a mobile recorder. 

Unfortunately, once I get going, you only have three options:
  1. Curl up in the foetal position and start rocking back and forth.
  2. Saying "yeah," "mmhmm" and "you don't say?" while focusing your attention elsewhere, OR
  3. Dousing me in the eyes with pepper spray and jumping through a nearby window.
My poor friends get stuck in this situation quite often.  Especially lately, now that I've been really getting back into playing the guitar.  For example:

"I just tuned my old guitar to Open G tuning."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, it's this crazy tuning that lets you play it almost like an entirely new instrument."

"Oh, um, you don't say?"

"I can use a slide, and get these chords while playing slide guitar.  Chords, on slide guitar!  Isn't that amazing!?"

"Mmm hmm"

"Not to mention that it breaks you out of the usual thinking - you don't just hover around an E chord, because the fingering is all messed up."

"Yeah."

"And I'm trying to learn finger picking again, because this new tuning is like learning an all new instrument, and...."

*sound of breaking glass*

Now let's see how you guys did.  If you read this post without saying "yeah", "mmmhmm", or "you don't say", odds are, you're not my friend.  Either that, or you're already getting the pepper spray ready.

Whoops!

Just realized I forgot to include a link to Carbon Dating Service's webpage, where you can download their album Reliquiae absolutely free..  Fixed it.  I do recommend people give them a listen! 

Carbon Dating Service - Terraform Mars

I love discovering new bands.  Especially new bands that have a unique, distinct sound that is all their own.  When you find those bands, it's a rare treat.

It's always a little embarrassing, however, when you realize that that awesome "new" band broke up a couple of years ago, and all of the members have moved on to bigger and better things.  I mean, "discovering" a new band that has been around for a while is one thing... but discovering a band that has already broken up?  It's just kind of sad.  Because you know, if you spread the word and get your friends to like the music, it's really not going to do anything - they've already broken up, and no reunion is on the horizon.

I'm talking, today, about The Carbon Dating Service.  As soon as I heard their song "Terraform Mars", an eclectic indie rock offering replete with raspy 1960s style feminine vocals, horn sections that are not ska-like in nature, and quirky electric guitar lines, I was hooked on the band.  And the fact that many songs are scientific and/or geeky in nature (not to mention the band name!) was just icing on the cake.  I mean, how can you not like a song about terraforming mars?  Or a song titled "Shall we then, to the internet?".

If you don't like stuff like that, then you ain't no friend of mine.

I'm posting Terraform Mars here so y'all can get a taste of a late, great Canadian band.  And, hopefully, you'll head over to their website and order their album.  And even if you don't wanna spend a cent, they have the digital downloads for their music absolutely free!  Which is why I feel comfortable posting part of it here, without permission.



Enjoy!

Woot!

You know what's awesome?  Winning free tickets to live shows.  I just got put on the guest list for the Dodos' show next week in Victoria (April 1st, at Sugar, in case you're curious).  Guess I won a draw (they give away free tickets to every show they do if you're on their facebook fans page.... and I won for Victoria). 

I already have two free tickets, so if anyone's in Victoria that wants to go, let me know, and the tickets are yours.  I bought them for twenty bucks each, but I'll sell them for a drink per ticket, or best offer.  Because I'm all about sharing the wealth.

Weekly Haiku #45: Fridge Haiku, courtesy of Happy Apple

I didn't write this one.  So if you have complaints, send them to Happy Apple.  Me?  I think it's hilarious.  But then, I'm a bad person.

True Story:

I'm sitting at the front desk at my new, temporary job. I'm talking to the girl training me, and she starts talking about hockey. I casually ask her a question about the Canucks, and she looks at me, surprised.

"You watch hockey?"

"Yeah. I like watching it, from time to time."

"Oh, I just assumed..."

I smiled. I knew what she had assumed. As a ginger, with glasses, I look like a dork. Hell, even before I worked at Future Shop, I'd go in there and have people ask me questions about their computer.

"You just assumed because I'm a nerd."

"Well...." she was awkward. I had to put her at ease.

"It's okay. I am a nerd. I mean, look at me. I'm a ginger. I have glasses. I had absolutely no hope of avoiding it. May as well embrace it."

She laughed. "You are a ginger...."

"Still, I'm totally putting this in my blog."

She paused, and then took a long, dramatic sigh.  "Of course you'd have a blog."

I slumped my shoulders in defeat. "...yeah..."

The Dodos - No Color

I've been waiting for this album for a long time.  A very long time.  Naturally, you can imagine it's going to be a biased review.  After all, when one has gone on and on about how awesome the Dodos are, such as I have, you cannot really expect an honest and objective review, can you?  Really, as someone who has previously stated an absolute love of the band, anything I say about this album is going to be magnified. 

If I say I loved it, it will be taken as a given.  And if I say it had even a slight fault, it could be translated as "this album was so shitty, even Dave - the diehard fan - didn't like it. 

Here's the short review - it's not their best album.  But it's not their worst, either. 

So, an outline.  This is the Dodo's fourth studio album.  Their first album, Beware The Maniacs, had a very Led Zeppelin III vibe.  Their second album, the absolutely amazing Visiter, was a bit more modern and "indie" in vibe.  And then they released Time to Die, which was probably over-produced and is considered their "worst" album, even though it's actually pretty good.

No Color goes in a different direction.  It hearkens back to the days of Visiter, being primarily a rock album.  Don't let the acoustic guitars and tambourines fool you - the Dodos are a rock band.  Their drummer, Logan Kroeber, was formerly in a metal band, and he plays the drums like he never left.  And Meric Long on stage is a whirlwind of energy, more a Pete Townshend than a Neil Young. 

No Color is an extension of this, and even the slower songs are primarily rock songs that incorporate some folk-style techniques, rather than folk songs that dabble in rock.  "Going Under" has hard choruses backed up by electric guitars, while "Good" consists of frenetic guitar lines accompanied by pounding drums and anthemic shouts.  "Sleep" has some of that old-school Zeppelin influence - if John Bonham was alive today, you can bet he'd be listening to this album.  And much of the album carries on in the same vein.

However, it is not just a return to the good ol' days of 2008's Visiter.  This album takes some new strides forward - it is the first album that features prominent use of an electric guitar, for starters.  And the electric guitar is played not as just a second guitar, but as an almost percussive instrument to add some weight to many of the songs.

The feature most fans will talk about, though, is the presence of Neko Case, well known for her work with the New Pornographers.    Her appearance on the album was proclaimed all over teh internetz, and everyone was excited to hear her voice.  Well... it turns out, she's not really on the album that much - she sings backing vocals that are low in the mix, and only on "Don't Try and Hide It" do we hear anything even remotely approaching a classical "Neko Case" sound.  To be honest, I'm kind of disappointed at the whole deal - you don't put a person like Neko Case on much of your album, and then bury her in the mix.

Ultimately, this album doesn't have the range and originality present in Visiter, although its edgier songs are definitely in the same ballpark.  At only nine tracks long, it lacks the breadth of Visiter, which remains the Quintessential Dodos album.  I would happily rank No Color as the Dodos' "Second Best Album", however, and definitely one worth picking up. 

I have one more complaint about this album, although it's not really about the album per se.  I preordered this album around six weeks before release.  The band rather nicely included a free high-quality lossless download of the album along with all CD and Vinyl preorders, so I got to listen to the band on the day of the international release.  However, the vinyl itself, which was what I paid for, after all, is still on the way - more than six days after the album's release.  And yet, if I hadn't of preordered it, I could walk into my record store today and buy it.

I hate stuff like that.  If I preorder something, I should get it roughly day of release.  Otherwise, what's the point of preordering?  Music snobs live for things like this, and to watch people buying vinyls of my band almost a week after the album's release is eating me inside.  Eating me, I say.

Final Verdict: this album has been on my playlist for the last week or so, and I can see it staying in rotation for some time now.  It shows that the band has new things they're willing to try out.  I can't wait to see what the next album has in store.

Edit:  I got the album on Tuesday, March 22nd, exactly a week after release.  However, it came with a hand-written apology from the record label, and the album (CD format) Manners, from Passion Pit.  Since I really doubt they read this blog (and were able to send the vinyl all the way from SF a day after my post, in any case), I think they made a small oversight and corrected it in a very classy way.  Granted, it doesn't seem like my music so far, but it's the thought that counts!

Operation: Ginger Beard

Remember a few months ago, when I decided to grow a beard for Movember

Remember when that crashed and burned?

Well, I know it's a little late, but.... Mission Accomplished:


The Fucking French

I live next door to a very annoying french couple. 

Some of you non-Canadians may assume that, as this is Canada, there are an abundance of francophones.  Thankfully, this is not the case in Western Canada - the number of cheese eating surrender monkeys is quite small.  However, there are one or two that have somehow found their way on the island.

Actually, there are exactly two.  And I know this, because they live right next to me.  We share a wall, in fact.

That wall is enough.  Because of that wall, I get awakened at least two or three times a month by the french woman screaming - literally, screaming - at her boyfriend.  Sometimes, she'll start at six a.m.  Or I'll wake up at three a.m. by a french drug dealer, tromping up the stairs to sell marijuana to my french neighbour - since the drug deal is entirely in french, we can presume that there, in fact, three french people that live on the island... and at least two of them do drugs. 

So, I'm not a fan of the french couple that live next door.  But sometimes, they amuse me.  For example, this morning.  When, at the nice and happy time of 8:30 am, I was awakened by the sound of the french couple having sex.

He was pumping very hard, and my wall was, in fact, shaking.  At first, I was annoyed.  But then I burst out laughing.  Because, you see, she's a screamer.  Her Screams (and I quote):

Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  Oh........ OWWWW!

It was a loud "ow".  It was a surprised "ow".  And it was a very angry "ow", because it was followed with some very irate cursing in french.

Disturbing

"Look, Dave, I know you're a music fan.  And I get why people say Radiohead are good.  I just don't like them."

"How can you not like Radiohead?   They've got so much going on!  The music is so layered, and moody, and charged with emotion!"

"All I have to say is, meh.  I don't like it."

"Well, I guess that makes sense.  I mean, you do lack taste."

"What are you talking about?  I have great musical taste."

"You just played a song where the lyrics consisted almost entirely of 'I'm at the pizza hut, I'm at the taco bell, I'm at the combination pizza hut and taco bell.'  Plus, you like Disturbed."
"So?"

"Not even disturbed like disturbed."

"They're good!"

"Exactly.  You have no taste." 

Just some lyrics

I've kind of been reclusive lately.  I blame the job market - when you write a bajillion resumes, and get very few responses, it kind of sucks the life out of you. 

Luckily, I have music.  Thank God for that.  I'm still up most nights, headbanging with oversized headphones on. 

Here are some lyrics I've heard lately that I love.  Some are just how I'd want to live my life.  Some are just true.  And some are just awesome.  You guys can guess which songs I'm referring to - make a game of it.

Or not. 
You realize the sun don't go down - it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.
- The Flaming Lips
One foot in and one foot back. Well, it don't pay to live like that... so I cut the ties and I jumped the tracks.  
-The Avett Brothers
I'm wasting away... wasting my time wishing the world would fuck off.
-Dan Mangan
I miss yellow lines in my roads, some colour on monochrome, maybe I'll paint them myself.
-Matt and Kim
 Every path's a problem, every turn is trouble and you'll never solve them.  So why not love them?
-Hey Rosetta!
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
-The Beatles.

This is not a funny story. It's really just sad. But it needs to be said.

Quick note:  there is no joke in the title.  This really is a sad story that needs to be said, and it's kind of unfortunate that I have to tell it in a blog that is usually about funny stuff and music.  This is a downer post, about the social ills of the city I love.  It's about homeless people, drug addicts, and all that entails.  If you're the type of person who comes here looking for a cheerful, happy story with all sorts of funny insights, you can safely skip this post.

It's a story I'm relating less than an hour after it happened (I got home at 1:15, and finished this post at 2:00 am), and it may be a little raw.  But it's Victoria - and not the sunny side that tourists are used to seeing. 

I love Victoria, I really do.  But it definitely has its fair share of problems.

It started about an hour ago.  It was a little past twelve, and I knew I wasn't going to sleep anytime soon - my insomnia was acting up again.  But I didn't want to go to bed at 4 am like I've been doing when insomnia strikes, so I decided to get pre-emptive.  I was going to go for a bit of a midnight stroll.

It wouldn't be too bad - the snow was gone, and the weather was good, and hey, it's a monday night, so it should all be good, right?

Well, I forgot to take into account that Victoria's been under a blanket of snow for the past week.  And then, it rained for two nights straight - this was the first night of decent weather in a week.  Meaning - drug addicts and alcoholics would be hitting the street in force.

There was some nice foreshadowing when I watched a security guard chase two addicts out from the eaves of an old health food store on the Vic West side of the Johnson street bridge.  He waved his flashlight at them angrily as they jumped into the bushes.  It was almost kind of funny - I've seen things like this in Victoria all the time, and I didn't think much about it.  But the night got progressively worse.

I was looping back from the Johnson street bridge, and making my way down government street when I had a fun encounter with Victoria's finest - also known as "the drunk on a curb".   A well meaning couple were trying to look after a passed out native* guy lying asleep on the sidewalk, flat on his back.  And, of course, a disheveled guy in a trucker's cap was also there, screaming loudly and drunkenly at his friend to "get the fuck up" and screaming at, well, everyone else, too. 

I turned the native guy on his side so he wouldn't choke or anything, while the husband thanked me and let me take the lead.  He was a nice enough guy, the husband, but I could tell he was way out of his element.  Meanwhile, his wife stayed a good fifteen feet away (good call) and was on the phone, calling 911 or something.

I told the drunk friend to stop swearing while I rolled the native guy, which of course woke him up instantly.  With the husband's help, we got him sitting upright, and then the guy just leapt to his feet and started wobbling - I had to grab him so he wouldn't fall over and hit his head, while he muttered a bunch of crap about respect and circumstances and other bullshit touchy-feely crap that street addicts spout.  Neither the husband or I were paying much attention - he actually looked at me and said "Victoria's getting worse, isn't it?" while the native went on and on.  For a moment, I liked him.

And then he left with his wife a moment later, while I was propping up the native, leaving me alone with two drunks - one of them a loud, screaming drunk.  That couple suddenly fell a few points in my good books. 

An angry drunk afraid of cops.  Who then proceeded to ask me for two dollars for cab fare so he could get his friend home (cab fare starts at about three bucks).  And his friend, the drunken native, kept spewing gibberish about how the white man doesn't respect him. 

You don't say?  It's not cuz you're native, pal.

I was there when the paramedics showed up, and I gave them the basic situation as they stepped out into the night.  Of course, in the thirty seconds it took for me to talk to the paramedic, the angry drunk had run in one direction, and the drunk who had only a minute earlier been unable to stand had found the reserves to hobble halfway down the block.  The Paramedic and I laughed about it, I gave them some more basic info, and I left them to their night and went about my way.

I had to walk by the drunken native on my way home, though.  And he proceeded to follow me, wave me down, and try to buy cocaine off me.  I told him I didn't have any money I could give him, which he had no problem believing... but he had a hard time believing I didn't have any cocaine I could give him.  Or know anyone who might have cocaine to give him.  He then muttered one of two things.  Either he said: "I'm not trying to be a dick here, I'm trying to be a man!" OR he said "I'm not saying you're a dick, but you should try to be a man!". 

Neither of which made any real sense, given the context.  I basically just shrugged, said "Whatever" in my best "you're an idiot" tone, and went about my way.  Sorry, buddy, but when you pass out on the sidewalk and beg others for drug money, you lose any right to say what does and doesn't make a man.  

The night wasn't done, though.  In the fifteen minutes it took for me to leave that guy on the curb and get to my front door, I was assailed by all manner of Victoria's finest.  I had two different people, in two seperate occasions, try to buy drugs off me.  I had a hooker asking to "borrow" smokes off me, and who was convinced I was lying when I said I didn't smoke.  And I had to walk by a tweaked-out meth addict who was picking imaginary cigarrette stubs off the pavement while scratching the scabs all over her face while her legs kicked out at random intervals. 

Every other car on the street was either a cop or an ambulance. 

Like I said, I love Victoria.  But Christ, it has its problems. 

*  Okay, a disclaimer.  I refer to him as "native guy" mostly so I can differentiate between the two drunks.  Yes, there are a lot of drunken natives in Victoria.  But I'm not really trying to make some sort of racist remark, here.  I've got a large percentage of native in me, myself.  The ills affecting the native population BC is pretty horrible, and I get that there's a lot of hardships these people are forced to deal with.  But I'm not one of those liberals who will give a drunk or a drug addict a free pass just because they're native - that's the worst kind of racism, in my book.