Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cadence Weapon w/ DJ Weez-L, Grand Analog -- Pyramid Cabaret, Monday, June 25th, 2007 (or, Cadence Weapon Liked My Shirt)

I'd forgotten I was wearing it, but I wore the Venom shirt to the concert -- and so Cadence Weapon complimented me on my fashion sense when I talked to him, which was nice. He was hanging out by the bar before his set, chatting with anybody who wanted to talk to him; he's a very approachable guy, very laid back, so everybody was having a grand time. It was fun!

But first, a retrospective overview. I had tickets to three concerts in the past week; I got shot in the face point-blank with weaponized decorations at the first, completely missed the second, and was nearly distracted from the third by the unfolding horror story of a minor celebrity who undid fourty years of good reputation and clean living by murdering his family and then killing himself. (There's a lot to cover on this subject. So I'll get to that in a later post.)

And I already have my ticket for a fourth concert, the Antibalas show tomorrow night tonight; I can only imagine what's going to come up before or during the event. The tornado warnings around here have mostly passed, right? No signs of werewolves downtown? No killer robot made out of Lucky Lager cans and a stray lightning bolt?

Anyway. That aside. My main topic of discussion right now is that I went to the Cadence Weapon show, and the Cadence Weapon show was gooooooood.

The show opened with local act Grand Analog, who I think I may had heard of once or twice in passing; I hadn't yet encountered any of their music, though, so I was going in with no idea at all about what I was in for.

Well, now I know. And what I know is this: every minute you remain unfamiliar with this group is a minute you have wasted.

I'm serious. Start listening to these guys. Immediately.

As best I can describe them, Grand Analog perform a hybrid of oldschool hip-hop and Scientist-inspired dub reggae; they came across live as a more reggae-oriented and sonically heavier Moses Mayes, and we all know by now how deeply my affection for Moses Mayes runs.

And frontman Odario Williams, known primarily for his previous work with Mood Ruff, is gold onstage. Gold. His three bandmates largely have to remain in place, by virtue of their instruments (keyboards, turntables and bass), so it falls to Williams to keep the energy level going -- and does he ever, dancing and weaving and clearly having a ball up there. Stage presence is a wonderful thing to have, and a wonderful thing to watch; he had it in spades last night, effectively grabbing the audience's attention by the throat and decreeing that it dance for him.

I honestly can't say enough good about these guys, now that I've seen and heard them. Grand Analog is releasing their first CD on July 17th, with a CD release party scheduled for July 13th at the Pyramid; I'm hell-bent on going, and gods help any fool that should stand in my way.

Second on the bill was Edmonton-based DJ Weez-L, who's been backing Cadence Weapon on this tour; he played a short set as the leadup to the headliner, and he was pretty good. Nothing out of the ordinary, but solid.

I bought a CD of his instrumentals, because it was an extra $5 to purchase it when I bought a t-shirt with a dinosaur on it. (I have a Y chromosome and I am under the age of thirty. Of course I like dinosaurs. I mean, come on now.)

So Weez-L warmed the crowd up a little, then on came Cadence and everything was right with the world.

I briefly considered trying to write down the set list, but cancelled this intention after two thoughts; the first thought was "wow, there is a lot of new material in this set" -- as it turns out, he was mixing his upcoming album the next day -- and the second thought was "you know what, fuck it, I want to dance". And so I did, for the entire set, because that is what I do.

I mentioned stage presence earlier, and Cadence has no shortage of it either; he had the crowd whipped up right from the get-go, led the singalongs on the choruses, used a flying axe kick as his transition between songs, ended the show with a fierce Weezer cover (!), and hopped down onto the dancefloor afterwards to boogie the night away with the audience.

It was a grand time, I enjoyed all the acts on the bill, I found what may be my favourite new musical discovery this year, and I now have another show to look forward to within the next month. And tomorrow tonight is the Antibalas concert. Life is good! I was very tired at work this morning, and I'm going to be very tired at work Thursday morning, but life is good.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Professional Wrestling is a Heartbreaking Thing to Watch

Yes, I know, I know. Professional wrestling, right? Already you think less of me for even breaching the topic, your eyebrows raised in surprise, because intelligent-sounding people aren't allowed to enjoy the presumed lowest common denominators of entertainment. Well, humour me on this one for a bit.

Though it comes nowhere close to the admiration and respect that the profession garners in Mexico (which is a subject I'd like to write a book about one day, albeit I'll have to learn Spanish first), professional wrestlers are received more fondly by Canadians than they might be in other countries. You may recall that Bret Hart was voted the thirty-ninth Greatest Canadian, being called back later by the CBC to serve as the television advocate for Don Cherry's nomination. His father, the late Stu Hart, was no less revered -- and Stu Hart trained an entire generation of beloved Canadian wrestlers, including seven of his eight sons. (The eighth son became a referee; Stu also had four daughters, all of whom married wrestlers.)

Now, professional wrestlers die at a seemingly disproportionate rate to the rest of the population; the rockstar life-on-the-road mentality and the obvious inherent physical toll of the job mean that in any given year at least half a dozen past and present big names die untimely and unfortunate deaths.

A lot of these deaths would appear in retrospect to be preventable; sometimes alcohol, sometimes pills, sometimes sheer physical overexertion, sometimes painkillers, and often some combination of the above. But just as many happen out of the blue, in ways nobody could have prepared for; suicides, plane crashes, early heart attacks, diabetes, fatal drops while being lowered in a harness from the ceiling.

One of the wrestlers Stu Hart trained was Chris Benoit, considered by many around the world to be the best pure wrestler in the industry. (It's referred to as the 'industry', I suppose because of the tangles in calling it the 'sport'.) Last night, Chris Benoit left a major WWE pay-per-view event on short notice to fly back to his home, citing a family medical emergency; today, not twenty-four hours later, he was found dead in his home along with his wife and son.

The entire family, dead overnight. Jesus.

It isn't easy, over the years, to stick with professional wrestling as a form of entertainment; even the most ardent supporter of the discipline will admit that it's over the top, that it doesn't make a lot of sense from an athletics perspective, that the North American storylines are incomprehensibly stupid, so on and so forth. Wrestling fans get years of practice defending the simplest of hobbies against a seemingly endless parade of critics, because watching a prearranged athletic performance is clearly less intellectually important than remaining up to date on Paris Hilton news.

All that is fine, and it comes with the territory. The worst part about enjoying professional wrestling isn't the withering scorn of your peers, the countless hours of terrible matches you have to sit through to find one or two good ones, or even the knowledge that all the loose 'storylines' are terrible because the scriptwriters seem continually incompetent. These are minor concerns.

The worst part of it all, by far, is watching and knowing that countless many of the people onscreen will be dead sooner than anybody expects.

Other people grew up with Care Bears, or with Hot Wheels, or with reruns of sitcoms that they never quite 'got' as kids to begin with; ten years from now Care Bears will still be Care Bears, Hot Wheels will still be Hot Wheels, and the later seasons of the Simpsons will still be brutally unfunny. But there were some of us -- yes! There were! -- that grew up with professional wrestlers as the faces of our childhoods. And precious little can strike you harder and faster than watching the faces of your childhood dying off rapidly -- many of them dying far too young, and many of them dying in the most unfortunate of ways.

Yes, a lot of them die ignominiously -- from steroid abuse, or from cocaine, or from fast living, or from whatever other self-inflicted end you can reconcile with the life of a wrestler. But Chris Benoit, who by all accounts lived a clean life and did his best to be a good man, left one of the WWE's biggest shows of the year when he found out that his wife and son were coughing up blood; he went home to look after his family, because that is what good men do, and now all three of them are dead for reasons we can't even begin to understand yet.

The promotions's flagship program, WWE RAW, was to air tonight as normal; all previous plans have been shelved, and tonight will likely instead be a tribute show to Benoit. It will be no less heartbreaking than the tribute show to Owen Hart, when he died unexpectedly and much too young, nor will it be less heartbreaking than the tribute show to Eddie Guerrero for the same reasons.

I'm still going to the Cadence Weapon show tonight, because I did already pay for this ticket. (Cadence Weapon is well known as a wrestling fan himself, as his album title will attest; Cadence Weapon being from Edmontown, where Benoit is a hometown hero, I'm sure he's heard the news by now.) I'll catch the reairing of tonight's show when I get home, work tomorrow be damned.

And to think that I was grumpy this morning because I missed a concert. Boy, do I feel petty now.

I'm the Biggest Idiot Ever

I really don’t know how I do these things to myself.

I have a ticket to the Herbie Hancock concert sitting in my backpack.

I had originally thought that the concert was tonight.

It isn’t.

The concert was last night.

You would be amazed by the level of self-control that I am exerting right now.

It is nine in the morning and I want to die. This does not bode well for the rest of the day.

Somebody just kill me. Seriously. Right now. I have it coming.

[A Later Edit:

Fortunately for me, I don't often make the same mistake twice.

(Well... in a
row, anyway.)

Since I thought the Herbie Hancock concert was on tonight and it was actually on last night, I've taken my lesson from that and caught on that the Cadence Weapon show -- which I also have my ticket for, and which I would have
sworn was tomorrow night -- is actually on tonight.

I'm an idiot, yes, but there's hope for me yet!]

"Weird Al" Yankovic -- MTS Centre, Wednesday, June 20th, 2007 -- Picture Postscript

I'd mentioned I would post some of these; took me a while, but hey, here they are.

My enthusiasm hasn't since dimmed. The concert was awesome. You totally should have gone.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Weird Al" Yankovic -- MTS Centre, Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

If you were at tonightlast night's "Weird Al" Yankovic concert, there was a good chance you could see me; I was the guy in the front row, seat nine, wearing the Venom shirt. Alternately, you may recognize me -- as others actually did, afterwards -- as the guy that got shot in the face by the streamer cannon.

Four high-powered streamer cannons were to be pointed upwards, firing compressed streamers at a high velocity to wow the crowd during a relevant passage. Three streamer cannons were pointed upwards. One wasn't.

It didn't actually hurt, but oddly enough it did leave a scar and a bit of a bump. Which was unexpected, but served to get the adrenaline going for the rest of the concert.

I'm pouting in this picture for emphasis only, not as any actual indicator of my mood. My mood right now is one of exhilaration and joy, radiating nothing but love for all creatures great and small; countless men have driven themselves mad or dead in their vain and fruitless search for even a fleeting grasp on the rapture and contentment I hold in my heart right now.

And no, I'm not sarcastic; not this time. This time I can be nothing but genuine.

Set List:
Canadian Idiot [In my mind this song will forever be associated with streamers, now.]
Close But No Cigar
All About the Pentiums
You're Pitiful
Wanna B Ur Lovr
Medley: Couch Potato / Do I Creep You Out? / I'm in Love With the Skipper / Headline News (new verse) / Confessions Part III / A Complicated Song / eBay / Bedrock Anthem / Ode to a Superhero / Pretty Fly for a Rabbi / Trapped in the Drive-Thru / Gump / Eat It
I'll Sue Ya
The Saga Begins
Smells Like Nirvana
Amish Paradise
White & Nerdy


Oh gods yes. And now you understand my euphoria.

Alberquerque was the one song in the Yankovic canon that I was hoping against hope to see performed live, if not today than someday before I die; I would have sworn the chances of this ever happening were astoundingly low, and I have never been happier to be proven wrong.

This was the second time I saw "Weird Al" Yankovic live in concert; the first time was eleven and a half years ago, in Halifax, way back in the second balcony. And Albuquerque hadn't been written yet. At the time that was one of the few concerts I had ever seen, and it was far and away my favourite yet. But, this time around, watching Albuquerque performed live while sitting in the front row no less than twenty feet away from the man? Let me understate the matter severely by telling you that this time was way better.

I said A! (A!) L! (L!) B! (B!) U! (U!) Exactly eight beats of silence! QUERQUE~! (QUERQUE~!)

I could die tonight and know that I have now died a happy man; in fact, I had better die tonight, or tomorrow is going to seem like the most mundane and intolerable of tedium just by comparison.

I had intended to take pictures of the show, usual draconian policies and procedures be damned -- but I left my camera at home, thinking it safely tucked in my backpack with me, because I am an idiot. My sister had her camera, thankfully, so pictures will be forthcoming and edited in afterwards pending her email.

[Later Edit: The pictures are one post up.]

My little sister was in seat ten, my little brother in seat eleven; we three each bear our own interesting scars from being shot point-blank by a supercompressed streamer rifle, and of us three only my sister was even mildly perturbed by it. So for us it was an experience all our own -- and, hey, we have the scars and the streamers to prove it.

In conclusion, I give this concert two million stars out of a possible five. And if you had thought about going but didn't, next time I see you I am totally going to rag on you. Be prepared.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This is How People Find Me

Yes, I swiped this practice quite blatantly from Progressive Boink (and swiped it quite openly at that, what with me telling you about it right now) -- but there's enough implicit entertainment value involved that I couldn't help myself.

So here, unedited and one hundred per cent real, are some of the search strings that have led people to Slurpees and Murder when entered into Google:

-- rod bruinooge new baby
-- download to save the littlest hobo theme tune
-- don newman kaboomba
-- reasons why slurpees are so good
-- i got my pyjamas on raffi lyrics
-- luongo video fat elvis
-- jack reimer ottawa strategist
-- jim reimer pc party jets
-- "you don't want no drama"
-- high frequency noise jagged little pill
-- the buffalo sabres theme song origin
-- a&b sound
-- university of manitoba students boo hugh mcfadyen
-- hugh mcfadyen is a moron
-- hugh mcfadyen fuck
-- hugh mcfadyen concession speech
-- paul simon

Oh, man, you poor guys!

I mean, imagine the sadness on the faces of the online lost souls who aimed for one of the objectives up above; they were genuinely hoping to expand their knowledge on a subject, find a particular file they've been seeking for months, or just listen to some well informed and carefully measured discourse. And instead they ended up reading me -- whoof! Sorry, folks!

. . . Paul Simon?

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Sudden Disappearance! (No, Not Mine)

Hey, I'm back. Again.

Some of the required drivers were readily available online and some continue to elude me -- I hope I don't need to scan anything immediately -- but I'm up and running enough that I can once again express my surprise at downtown developments. Like this one.

Now, this has to be a recent change; I had an archive of newspapers built up, by which I mean I hadn't read any of them since Thursday, and a quick tear through all the material of the last few days turned up nothing about this.

About what, you ask, half to yourself and half for the purposes of the conversation? Well! After work, I was walking past Portage Place; I'll admit I wasn't focusing on the scenery along the way, because A) I bought my Herbie Hancock (!) ticket earlier in the day and B) downtown Winnipeg is pretty depressing if you stare at it for too long.

But as I walked past the main decorative entrance of the mall, something tiny in the back of my mind registered a miniature alarm and suggested I take a look around. Doing so, I was presented with this scene:

Well, something seemed amiss about this. Granted, these concrete flower islands pop up frequently along that path, and certainly nobody else around appeared to notice anything unusual -- but this one in particular seemed awry to me.

Yeah, hmm. This seemed out of the ordinary somehow, I figured. Especially what with the railroad track metal fixture sitting in the middle of the... wait, metal fixture?



Uh oh.

If the location still isn't ringing any bells for you, see if you recognize anybody out of the lineup.

Sure enough:

"Some argue we need more police on the beat while others say we need art on the street. (Artist Mark Saunders) wonders why we can’t have both."

Well, apparently we can't have either, now!

(Oh, we just can't have nice things around here.)

Now, let's not automatically assume the worst (like I did initially); the possibility exists that it was just removed temporarily for repairs or touchups, and not removed because some literal philistines took a shovel to it or because somebody was hiding their crack inside it. A pack of particularly petty poker players might have pushed it over, for all I know. And if somebody with very grand and unusual ambitions took the time and energy to steal it somehow... well, I guess I'd actually have to respect that. I'd be willing to accept Winnipeg's loss as irony's gain.

But, as often as I was tempted to make cracks about him being there to scare off cyclists, I have a certain fondness for the charmingly rotund cop caricature; sure, he could be construed as a darkly comedic commentary on our city's forces, but he's funny! Besides -- and I am willing to argue this with people, because obviously this is a strong stand to take -- having art around is generally better than having no art around.

I think I'd actually feel pretty affronted to learn that somebody smashed it, and for what would no doubt be the dumbest of reasons -- so here's hoping for his safe return, maybe with a new coat of paint or a widened moustache. We'll be waiting, obese but lovable authority figure!

Catfish Haven - Please Come Back [buy | site]

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Computers are Not Without Their Hassles





Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lovely Day Out

oh god why is it so hot i swear to god my keyboard is melting oh my god aaaaaaaaaaa

No, no, must pull myself together. Strength in the face of adversity! This is nothing!

We Winnipeggers are nothing if not a resourceful, hardy lot! I can safely say that I am very well prepared against the continued heat, by which I mean I've supplemented my tiny fan by buying one point eight litres of grape Slurpee.

Dietitians keep bursting into flames around me. I wonder what that's about.

Woo! Tangent. That may be the heat getting to me. Certainly it's thrown off my writing intentions tonight; I was either going to run down the upcoming concerts schedule or rage for hours about golf, but right now it seems far more reasonable a proposition to stretch out like a kitten and fall asleep in the basement.

So my initial intentions will be put off until tomorrow, then. It's not like the weather can get any worse, bec--

Oh, huh. Whoops. I really should have known better than that.

Well, still! Strength in the face of adversity! So if anybody needs me, I'll be cradling my rapidly depleting Slurpee supply and moving no further than ten feet away from my tiny fan under any circumstances.

It's so nice to have the summer back again, isn't it? Ah, good times.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'm Still On About This

As part of my ongoing watch, an update:

Still empty. I'm mystified.

Why is it still -- still -- empty? Is there a training camp of panhandlers inside honing their skills? Is it overrun by particularly aggressive geese? Is there a portrait of Gary Doer buried deep within the building, its visage growing ever uglier and less politically viable?

Is our downtown revitalized yet?

Have I mentioned previously how ugly this building--yes? Okay, good. Just checking. It's been a while since I did this. Good to be back!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Upgrade (Almost) Complete

Nobody needs to discover me! I'm back again!

Genesis - Looking for Someone [buy]

Sweet merciful everything, this new computer is fast. My goodness. Whoof.

This new computer has nine times the RAM (!) and sixteen times the hard drive space (!!) of my previous box -- the eMachine, as you'll recall, the one from the turn of the century -- so you can imagine my veritable bewilderment at double-clicking a file and then having that same file actually open within the same day. It's madness, I tell you!

Aside from the minor issues of reinstalling programs and hunting down my printer and scanner drivers (freaking fracking they were right here I swear rasserfrackin' mumble mumble why I oughtta), I'm almost entirely back up and running -- and so, likewise, is the blog. Updating should be a lot more painless, now, so -- barring my own extreme tendencies towards summer laziness -- there should be a lot more activity around here than there was before.

Things are looking up!

Travoltas - The Return of Randy [buy | site]

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Upgrade Upcoming

I bought a new computer! Yes! Whoo!

The parts are being acquired and assembled over the next few days, so the current prognosis is that I'll have it by Thursday night; you'll pardon me if I disappear from the blogosphere in the meantime, as I get everything set for all the various transitions and maneuvers involved in switching from one computer to another.

This is going to be magnificent. I'm all giddy. Ooh!

There'll likely be a dramatic upswing in posts upon my return, if only because they're going to require far less time to perform -- so here's what we can look forward to when I get back.

Obviously this incoming technology will mean saying goodbye to my current, soon to be former, hysterically old computer; a friend had suggested a post to honour the occasion, so I'll be sure to give the ol' eMachine a lovely sendoff for its many valued years of service. Maybe give it a watch or something. We'll have to see.

I'll also be going over the upcoming concert schedule for our fair city and highlighting everything I either intend on seeing or wish ruefully that I could go to; if you haven't been paying attention to the oncoming neat stuff, rest assured that I'll fill you in as best I can. Because that's how I roll.

Also -- you may have noticed this story that popped up recently about the University of Manitoba purchasing the neighbouring Southwood Golf Course. As a recent University of Manitoba graduate you can bet that I'll have plenty to say about this, particularly because -- not to spoil too much about the eventual post, but just so you know in advance -- I hate golf.

And of course, as I'd originally intended, I'll continue to bring to you the very best in music that you weren't going to hear otherwise; precious few people seem to be taking me up on this as yet, but I'm going to keep trying! Because I don't know any better!

So, yeah, Slurpees and Murder will resume updates in a few days or so. If anybody needs me in the meantime, you know where to find me.

Which reminds me:

Susan Cadogan - If You Need Me [buy]

I was going to save this song for later, for another post of summer tunes, but what the hell. It's nice out now, a merciful development considering the weather these last couple of weeks, and this will tide you guys over in the meantime.

I usually have a good ear for what'll stick and what won't, as I was reminded yesterday when a friend of mine blamed me for his having Dale Hawerchuk on the brain. So, trust me -- you'll probably have this song popping up in your head periodically, and furthermore I would guess that you'll have very little complaint about the matter.

I once had a coworker tell me that it was terribly uncool to like reggae at all. Except for Bob Marley, she amended -- but liking anything else was lame. Well, I don't need people to tell me that I'm terribly uncool! I can--wait, damn it, no. Hang on. Scratch that last part.

Oldschool reggae is awesome, and anyone who would tell you otherwise has never properly investigated the genre beyond the same three Bob Marley songs that mainstream North America ever acknowledges. (There, that's more like it! I'm back on track.)

Though this piece in question is unmistakably reggae, chock full of the traditional anchoring rhythm trappings that primarily identify the genre (and dig the bassist on this piece, especially during the guitar solo a minute in when he's easist to pick out; there's no way that guy wasn't having fun playing this line), this is one of those songs that would have been just as accessible -- and just as delightful -- if played in almost any other conceivable genre. This wouldn't have seemed out of place in the slightest as a soul tune, a country anthem, a new wave chart, a classic rock anthem, whatever; hell, if I were a rapper (and I assure you that I'm not, at least not as far as I know yet), I would singlehandedly fight an entire pack of lawyers to make sure I get to sample this track.

And if I had the necessary comic-book superhero powers to will things into being with my mind, this is the song I would hear in my head every time I wanted to conjure up a tasty citrus-based alcoholic beverage. As I furrowed my brow and focused my energies I would hear the drum hit, the opening riff, bam, and a tall glass with an umbrella in it would spontaneously appear in my hand just as the lyrics kicked in. Oh, to dream. (And I swear, if I ever write a comic book, somebody's getting this power.)

So kick back and enjoy the weather as best you can, gentle readers; I'll be back to continue shoving songs at you before you know it.