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 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'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.