Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Moondoggies Being Honoured by Kia Songwriter? Or Ripped Off...

Photo (looking a lot like my young Dad's band) by Greg Lutze
One of my favourite songs of last year was by Seattle band The Moondoggies.  They're relatively unknown outside the Pacific Northwest, but I was able to buy their debut album at one of the little record shops on Queen Street here in Toronto.

So I was well chuffed for the lads when I heard one of the album tracks reworked in a new Canadian Kia commercial.  That the ad was for a vehicle that I'd sort of been considering buying was one of those lifestyle choice/consumer product convergences that I find pleasing.

For some reason, I wanted confirmation that it really was the Moondoggies.  But after looking around the ol' tubes, I couldn't find the easy answer I expected. The only reference to the ad I could find at the time was an unanswered question at Yahoo! Answers.  The songs are so obviously the same that I was getting suspicious, so I left a comment speculating about a ripoff.

The commercial was being played constantly on the soccer channel I watch, and every time it did, I'd think...'what the heck? Is this them or what?'  I checked the internets again...still no news.  Then, a week ago, I found that the commercial had been uploaded to YouTube with some interesting comments.

Notably, "The song is an original composition, written specifically for the Sorento commercial. It was written and composed by Steve Webster of Rosnick/Mackinnon of Toronto.
Regards, Gabriela Consumer Affairs Kia Canada Inc"  

Okay, so here was confirmation that the song was NOT written by The Moondoggies. I continued to see the commercial on TV and every (note:  it JUST PLAYED on the TV behind me as I write this...bizarre!) time I did, the feeling gnawed at me that the boys in the band need to know what's up.

So - time to judge for yourself.

First up, the car commercial:

Next, the Moondoggies song, 'Undertaker' (the first 30 seconds is the bit in question)

I was convinced, but I floated the idea to a couple people at work, just to see if I was crazy or not.  It appeared I was not...so I signed up for a MySpace account just so I could send the band a message.

It turns out they think it sounds like their song too.

I guess someone told two friends, then they told two friends, because in the day and a half since I sent the message, Seattle music blog Ear Candy reported the story, (note: in a easrlier version of the story, 'Canadian fans' are credited with tipping off the band) and New York/Chicago music blog Consequence of Sound has also seen fit to make mention of the similarities of the two songs.

You hate to tattle because no one likes a rat...but better a rat than a snake.

And because it was the song that I liked from them last year, and it's one of the best-quality videos I've ever seen, here's 'Changing'.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Are You Watching, Lady GaGa?

Glee is a very popular television program that I find both super hilarious and intensely annoying.  The writing is sharp, the acting is fine, Sue Sylvester is, as Suzanne says, one of the funniest characters in TV...but the musical numbers grate on my nerves something fierce.

That said, I happened to be watching a few minutes tonight with her at home when they started talking about resurrecting songs from the 70s and I sat up straight.  I thought they were about to trump me.

See, I watched the first episode or two before abandoning the American Idol-esque lip-synching horror, but at some point I realized that I had a song they absolutely HAD to do. 

It's not my song, but one I feel would be a perfect fit for the show.  I couldn't watch them Glee-ify it of course, but a turn in Prime Time would thrust a deserving Little River Band back into the popular spotlight.  After which I could smugly sit back and say, 'I told you so'.

So producers of Glee, when you're ready, a favourite song of Frank Sinatra, John Lennon and me...Reminiscing.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bath Time

Another reason I love the Spring so much: giving Lily a bath when the sun's still up is so nice.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

We bought our house 2 years ago at the end of March so we didn't really know or notice what was going on in the front yard.  There was still snow on the ground, so we probably just assumed there was your standard square of grass.

But as the first few weeks of Spring dawned, lots of little green things started poking out of the dirt, and when a woman knocked on our door one breakfast imploring us, as the new owners, not to destroy the glorious garden out front, we knew something was up.

April 2, 2010
April 24, 2010

In fact, what we'd inherited was nothing short of spectacular.  Great whooping poppies, tulips, sweet pea, clematis, sage, lilies, roses, iris, bleeding hearts, about a dozen things I can't remember and peonies the size of Volkswagens all explode out of the ground without fail.

But every time, just before it happens, I'm often found looking nervously out the window at the dirt, muttering "we've wrecked it...it's not coming back this year."

April 2, 2010
April 24, 2010

"Are you insane?" Suzanne repeats.  She's right of course...I don't think there's anything I could do to stop it, although last year we let the oregano go way too long and it nearly took over the whole place.

I'm the proud son of an excellent gardener and I've been given (that is to say, 'mortgaged myself to the eyeballs to purchase') this gift of a garden, so along with the honour of the gardener's blood coursing through me, I intend not to let it die.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Do You Wrap 8:45?

I had a birthday yesterday, my 36th.  I had an ice-cream cake from Lily and Suzanne, and I'm getting another one at work tomorrow, sharing the celebrations with someone who was born on the 19th. 

As per presents, my mom and my wife conspired to get me giftcards to the two places that sell the ingredients required to complete a decorating job we've been planning for a while, so that's great.

But the best...the BEST present I got, and probably the best present I've received in ages, was the gift of sleep. 

Suzanne and I have a deal whereby she gets up to see to Henry in the night and I wake up with Lily in the morning to do her breakfast and what-have-you. That means since Christmas Day, I haven't been able to sleep in past 7:30...not once.  Most days I'm up between 6 and 7, which isn't really that early compared to a lot of people, but when it's every day, including the weekends, it can be pretty draining after a while.

That's why at 7 on Sunday morning, when out of the corner of my eye I saw Suzanne roll out of bed as Lily came into our room, I knew my birthday had come early.

"You sleep," she whispered.  Finer words have never been spoken. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Sign is Written in Blood

The weekend can be tough. 
I look forward to a break from work, Suzanne looks forward to me helping out with the kids.  But Lily demands 100% attention and Henry's having trouble sleeping, so he needs to be held a lot. 

I still cling to the foolish thought that I can afford to stay up late, because Hey, it's the weekend! but for Lily(and by extension me), Sunday starts at 6AM.  An afternoon nap would solve that problem, but that bathroom isn't going to clean itself.

I thought Japan was working on such technology?

Lily and I spent time at the park on Sunday, giving Suzanne some time alone with Henry (and the duster). We happened across this tableau on the way home.  The dog is like having a toddler and an infant;  cute, but beware:  if you're not careful, it will end you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I had to dole out the harshest punishment in Lily's young life the other night. 

Suzanne's been good wielding the time out when necessary, but my discipline has pretty much been limited to the tilted head and the cocked eyebrow, with maybe a "LILY PEARL!".  But when she refused to eat her dinner, I found myself forced into taking things to the next level. 


"Lily, do you want to go straight to bed?  Because if you don't eat your supper, it's straight to bed with no stories."

She nibbled pieces of her sweet potato fries and eventually got down most of the chicken, but in the end, Lily decided that my threat was empty.  When she dropped food on the floor and pushed away the pieces I'd been weakly trying to airplane-into-the-hangar, I knew I had to follow though. 

My stomach sank at the prospect.

"Say goodnight to Mommy," I said, while unbuckling her booster seat.

"Goodnight, Mommy!"   I'm getting out of this! 

But halfway down the hall, the awful realization set in and she started with the crying.  I adopted a 'strictly business' policy and changed her into the jim-jims without saying a word.  She continued crying throughout the tuck-in.

"Do you know why you're going to bed early?"  Stops crying and shakes the head.

"You're going to bed early because you wouldn't eat your dinner when Mommy and I asked you to."

I said night night and left.  She cried and cried and when she started calling me by title, I went back.  I sat on the edge of the bed and we talked it out. 

"If you want to play soccer like Daddy (she does), then you have to eat dinner to grown up big and strong."

"But sometimes I don't like it."

That was an excellent argument.  'When you grow up you can choose your food, but right now, you're like a goose, and you'll eat what we force down your throat' certainly didn't strike the right tone.

I made up some silly analogy about how food is like the gas we get at the gas station and it makes us go, just like the gas makes the car go.   


We eventually worked out the importance of eating, but as I got up to leave, she started crying again, and in that tiny, 2-year-old little voice, whimpered, "But I'm not sleepy.  Why am I not sleepy?"

Another excellent argument!  'You might not be sleepy, but if I let you get up, you'll learn that you can get one over on me every time, just by crying and being sweet' while true, wasn't helpful.

I came out and walked back down the hall, tears in my big baby eyes because I knew she didn't really get it, but I had to do it.  Or did I?  I don't even know.  I suppose I did.  Suzanne met me with a delicious glass of Niagara's finest and patted my back. 

"She'll be fine."  And she was, of course.  The next morning she crawled into our bed and we snuggled for a while before breakfast.

That whole business about 'this'll hurt me more than it'll hurt you' might have something to it. 


Friday, April 2, 2010

Lily Pearl & Henry David

I got a new camera at Christmas 2008 with the goal of learning how to take better pictures of people.  Thankfully for Suzanne, I'm spending less and less time twiddling knobs before taking shots nowadays, although once they're on the computer I spend even more time fiddling with the sliders in iPhoto.

I've put colour versions of these pictures on Facebook, but I like them in black and white too.  These are the latest of our Lily and Henry.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Who's The Best Frontman in Music?

Like it is for most questions about music, or art, the answer is subjective.

But for my money, it's Liam Gallagher.  A recent discussion on Facebook got me thinking about the Oasis singer, and after re-examining his case from all angles, I can once again confirm that he's the business.

The voice, the look, the balls, the stance, the swagger, the scooter, the hair, the cigs, the booze, the blow, the birds...take your pick.  But most of all, I love Liam for his 100%, 24/7, 365 days-a-year commitment to Being Liam.  If you like it, nice one.  If you don't - and believe me I know there are millions who don't - fine, sod off.

I met him once...it was the night Oasis played their 12th ever show, opening for Dodgy at the Manchester University student union bar in June of 1993.  From the off it was obvious they were something special...I turned to the chap standing beside me in the crowd (The Smiths' Johnny Marr, as it happens) and asked if they knew who this band was.  He said 'they're called Oasis' and by the time they got to I Am The Walrus, I was a fan for life.

When they were done, Liam hopped off the stage and wandered over to the bar.  It boggles the mind now, but I just walked up to him and told him I thought they were awesome.  He said, 'thanks, yeah'.  I asked if they had anything recorded yet, he said no.  'Not even a demo or anything?', I asked, unbelieving.   'No, man, nothing yet'.

I'd have to wait more than a year for Definitely Maybe.  But it was worth the wait.  Oasis have had their ups and downs...the quality's been hit and miss, but not where Liam's concerned, not for me.

In honour of the man...here's his latest song.  Dubbed 'Man of Misery' it's apparently meant to promote his clothing label, Pretty Green. The video has Liam recreating scenes from Jimmy's visit to Brighton at the end of Quadrophenia.  Which for me, is as awesomely convergent as, say, Morrissey reading PG Wodehouse.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

See, I'm Canadian After All

Yesterday I said some things about the Canadian men's Olympic hockey team that might have led you to believe I was something less than a true Canadian.  As proof of my heritage, I present recent photographic evidence of my father teaching my daughter how to play the game.

If that sweater doesn't clear my name, I don't know what will.  (Bonus photos are of the two of them with an absolutely awesome toy riding tractor)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Skeleton In My Closet

I have something terrible to admit. 

I barely gave a crap about the Canadian men winning hockey gold in Vancouver.  

I think I may have given Suzanne a sideways smirk when Sidney Crosby scored, but there was certainly no fistpumping, no high-fives, no whoops of joy.  No particular feeling of pride.  

Don't get me wrong;  I absolutely love the Olympics.  I watched CTV's excellent and often hilarious coverage pretty much from the minute I woke up until I went to work, and from the time I got home until I went to bed.  In between I checked online results throughout the day.  I was a full-on junkie.  But all the while I carried a shameful secret:  The hockey just didn't do anything for me.  

I took far more pleasure from Alex Bilodeau's awesome performance in moguls.  I was more moved by the Ice Dance win of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  And neither of these emotions reached the depths of the disappointment I felt when Cheryl Bernard lost the curling gold.  

Think about that:  I cared more about women's curling than I did about men's hockey.  Do I need to turn in my passport? 

Here are the events I watched significantly more than hockey:

...actually, scratch that.  I was going to make a list, but I just checked Wikipedia and it was ALL OF THEM. 'Wait, Jesse', you're saying, 'surely not even Ski Jumping?'  Indeed, Ski Jumping! Watching Ammann, Maylsz and Schlierenzauer battle it out on the normal AND large hills was incredible! (although I consider myself an Andreas Wank man) 

As the games went on, it seemed to me that for most people, the Olympics was essentially a hockey tournament with a bunch of opening acts.  I think a lot of people probably felt comforted by Pierre McGuire's continued and boorish references to the NHL, but for me, he was the utter antithesis to Brian Williams, and my entire problem in a nutshell.

One of these people belonged at the Olympics
And I'd bet my house, that for the vast majority of Canadians, the Games' defining moment was Crosby's winner.

But in a fortnight that gifted me dozens, my absolute highlight, the moment that had me leaping farthest off the couch, pumping my fist in the air and swearing 'YESSS!  EFFING Ye-e-e-e-e-sssss!' happened at the end of Latvian skeleton racer Martins Dukurs' fourth run.  As the final slider in the competition, Dukurs looked to have a lock on Gold all the way down the hill until something went wrong on the very last corner where he lost enough time to hand victory to  used-car salesman Jon Montgomery.

Draped in our flag, Montgomery began celebrating joyously, later describing the moment as feeling like he'd stuck his finger in a light socket.  His elation was so obviously pure, so clearly the pinnacle of his unheralded training and sacrifice, that to me, Jon Montgomery became the Olympics personified.
Then, when he walked through the adoring crowd lining Whistler's main drag, serenaded by our anthem, drinking lustily from a pitcher of beer...has there ever been a more perfect portrayal of how excellent Canada can be?
To the Victor go the Suds

I shouldn't say I felt nothing when the red light went on that final Sunday, because I take great satisfaction from Canada's record 14 gold medals. And 'Men's Ice Hockey' is undeniably one of them.  

But when I look back at Vancouver's Olympics, I won't be getting nostalgic for Getzlaf, Heatley and Nash.  My glowing pride is thanks instead to the likes of Hamelin, Nesbitt and Groves, but most especially for the red-bearded skeleton racer who started his run a unknown auctioneer from Russell and ended it our national ambassador.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Excellent Desktop Wallpaper

My (computer's) desktop at home is pretty empty.  It really only has the recycle bin and an image or two. 

But it's a different story at work, with spreadsheets and pdf's and word documents all over the place.  I always found them impossible to 'see' at a glance...until I happened across this excellent wallpaper.  Click to enlarge, make it your desktop, move your icons around and voila!  Instant organization.  I don't know the psychology behind it, but I find I really can see things easier when they're on shelves. 

I just need to draw in a ladder so I can reach the top one.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Would Be If I Were You

Still smiling from watching Ellen's excellent interview with Constance McMillen, the courageous but oh-so-shy girl who's fighting to go to her own high school prom, I happened across an amazing website this evening.  It's called Answers in Genesis and I'm not going to link to it and give them any juice.  (they're a dot org, so you can look them up)

AiG, as they refer to themselves, is an organization which, aside from having a pretty kick-ass graphics designer, is an apologetic Christian ministry that:
...desire[s] to bring people back to the authority of the Bible and provide biblical answers to the questions that cause many to doubt and disbelieve the Scriptures. Beyond that, we strive to edify, equip, and encourage believers through God’s Word. We challenge non-Christians concerning the truth of God’s Word and the message of the gospel, and train believers to defend their faith reasonably and biblically.
This is one of those groups that spends their time trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, pass Proposition 8 and generally reverse the course of human progress (they're behind the utterly absurd Creation Museum).

Their latest project is called 'I Am Not Ashamed' - again a dot org, if you're curious - which bills itself as a online video bible.  The hook is that each chapter and verse can be recorded and uploaded by anyone with a webcam and a copy of the good book.  It's actually a pretty excellent social media project, but that's beside the point I'm discussing now. 

Those who know me know how I feel about faith and people thereof.  Over the initial flush of ironic self-righteous indignation at what I considered the enemy of reason, I've mellowed to the point where I'm not about to take a crap on folks that draw a little comfort from scripture.

But Answers in Genesis and their ilk appear to be attempting to turn the good ol' USA into a Christian theocracy, which to me sounds plain un-American.

So I watched a few of these Scrip-clips.  First up was the soccer mom with a midwestern drawl reading about Moses purifying the alter with the consecrated blood and entrails of the slaughtered cow.  Next came the Abercrombie & Fitch'd 20-something, who, with a completely straight face, advised us that a woman who gives birth to a male child is unclean for seven days and has to remain in the blood of her purification for more than a month.

It seemed so much like a like a Louis CK comedy bit, this concern about what to do with all the blood, that I honestly wasn't sure if these people were taking the piss or what.  But Answers in Genesis claims to take the bible at it's word, so I can only assume they were being serious.

Now here's where you might think I'd come over all dismissive of the lunacy inherent in taking literally the lifestyle choices of Bronze Age sheep-herders.  On the contrary!  I decided that if these folks were going to try and get the entire bible on YouTube, the least I could do to help the I Am Not Ashamed folks was upload a video of my own.

Webcam on, I whipped out the trusty King James, and thumbing to one of my favourite passages, I recorded my lines.  And, I'm proud to say, I did it in one take.

Leviticus 11:9-12 talks about what you can and cannot eat in the way of seafood.  In a nutshell, as long as it has scales and fins you're cool - anything else, like shellfish, is an abomination.  So remember that when you're next settling down the Admiral's Feast at Red Lobster: Cheddar Bay biscuits are pleasing to the Lord, but the bottomless popcorn shrimp?  More like the bottomless pit of eternal damnation.
The problem, of course, is that another of the Holiness Codes, the famous and of-quoted Leviticus 18, forbids the lying of men with men and by extension, I presume, the wearing of tuxedos and the attending of proms for lesbians.  So while most Good Christians ignore the 11th chapter and rejoice at the melted butter running down their chins, too many others, including the assholes administrators at the Itawamba County School district in Mississipi, hold up the 18th as an acceptable guideline for social and educational policy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Great Moments in Kid's TV - Caillou's Daddy is The King

I won't lie and say Lily never watches the TV.  Often it's a bloody lifesaver.  

Daddy and Caillou, TCB
And I guess I shouldn't be surprised that, even at 2 and a half, she's developed favourites.  First it was Dora, then it was Backyardigans, and we're now on to Caillou and Toopy & Binoo.  
The molasses-esque pace and constant repetition of Dora drove me crazy after a while, and I hated Backyardigans from the start.  (against Suzanne's advisement, I told the Pearl that I didn't like it - now if it's on, she turns to me and says, 'you don't like Backyardigans...but you like Caillou') 

And yes, I do like Caillou.  There are those that say he's nothing but a spoiled whining brat, and indeed his voice can get pretty shrill when things don't work out. 

But my love for the show stems from Mommy and Daddy.  Caillou's parents are kind, gentle, sweet, funny, a little overweight, and almost infinitely patient. 

What really solidified my fondness for Daddy in particular is the episode where he's secretly building a bookcase for Mommy with Caillou's help.  Realizing he's forgotten to buy enough paint, he lays out a  plan:
"Oh no, I forgot to buy the paint, Caillou!"
"What are we going to do, Daddy?"
"Do you know what we're going to do?  We're going to take care of business."
We're going to take care of business, Daddy?"
"That's right - we're going to take care of business!" 
I must've rewound it 7 times, laughing with disbelief at Daddy's hip turn-of-phrase.  He's is far more Elvis Perkins than Presley, but for a brief moment, Daddy somehow channeled the King.  

The best part is that Lily now answers me with the line whenever I'm getting her ready to go somewhere...

'Okay, we'll get your coat and boots on and then do you know what we're going to do?'  
'Take care of business, daddy?'  
'Well, I was going to say get in the car and go to Grandma's house, but yes, we'll take care of business, too'.

Next time on Great Moments in Children's Television:  Toopy and Binoo are Gay and Fabulous!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Starting Over, with Optimism

I've hum'ed and haw'ed enough about getting another blog up and running.  Certain figures and lifestyle changes have led me to believe that the time is right, so here we go.

The old one is still there, left untouched for just over two years.  All of my children were born in that time, which is sort of an indication as to why there's been no writing.

Suzanne has started two blogs - one for The Pearl, one for The Prince - and she's doing wonderfully.  

But the major inspiration is my uncle Barry's blog, Barry the Birder.  I believe I can take a little of the credit for getting him getting started in the first place, but over the last four years, and from the start really, he's taken the ball and run with it.  If you're at all into birding I encourage you to read all of it.  Likewise if you're into well-written and funny musings accompanied by increasingly excellent photography.

At this point there is no point.  I'm hoping that a theme or two emerge as I continue to post, but we'll just have to wait and see.