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Archive for August, 2004

29 Aug 04

at john orr, our drains are wide enough to dispose of spoons

ok, as i hinted at a couple days ago, we get a newsletter at fabulous bobby orr tower every few months. i’ve shared one of these before, and i’ve found they have a certain target audience to them.

anyway, here’s a chunk of the latest newsletter – they printed this month’s on legal sized paper, so it wouldn’t all fit in my scanner…but i think you get the gist:

i’d like to highlight a few passages for their amusement value:


note the reference to rice. for those of you who aren’t aware, my building is 90% asian.


again, a mention of rice. this section makes me wonder though – who disposes of hair down the sink? not to mention toothbrushes or spoons… the fact that they had to explicitly say this suggests that there has been at least one person in my building who made this mistake. and the disposal of diapers down the toilet? yikes. that may explain the massive flood we had a few weeks ago in which water was flowing into the lobby from above. i asked what was going on and was told that a toilet had backed up – on the 6th floor! that’s a lot of water. i took pictures but my camera is too far gone.


this line refers to what has become a minor obsession of mine over the last couple months. for some reason, throughout the last year, there has been an old asian man living in my building who likes to do tai chi on the front steps in the morning. this is unusual because it’s a student-only building (yeahyeah, ok, so i’m not TECHNICALLY a student…), which suggests that he’s been living in a tiny john orr apartment with his kid(s). but, over the summer, this has become a trend – i’ve accounted for at least four families doing the same. i see them wandering around outside the building constantly (as i would likely do as well if i were trapped living in such a tiny apartment with my family). one of the old men’s children asked me for my help tonight with moving a table while he watched and smoked. awesome.

ah, what a cultural mosaic john orr tower is.

one final note, unrelated to the newsletter: i was waiting for the elevator today and i overheard someone’s conversation with the superintendant while they were asking to borrow “the vacuum”. first of all, i’ve lived here forever and i had no idea that there was a communal vacuum to be borrowed. second of all, i would never consider moving into an apartment of my own without providing my own! this isn’t residence… i don’t think. well, then again, given the content of the newsletter (e.g. “don’t let people into your apartment without looking through the peep hole first”), maybe it is?

26 Aug 04

whoa. i have SIDEBURNS?

two different women, both of whom i see quite regularly, told me today that i look a lot different with sideburns. i had to tell both of them that i’ve in fact had sideburns for over a year and a half now. this isn’t an isolated incident either – it’s maybe the 4th or 5th time i’ve received such a comment in the last couple months. my explanation to them, when they feel bad, has typically been, “well, i’m not wearing a hat…” what i don’t say, however, is that i don’t usually pull my baseball cap down to my chin. usually.

in other news, my blogging has sadly had to take a bit of a back seat to insane amounts of work. hopefully this will change soon ’cause i’ve been sitting on a new john orr newsletter that i wanna scan in – aka pure comedy gold. stay tuned.

22 Aug 04

ringing ears = good show

my exposure to death from above 1979 at the olympic island music festival a couple weekends ago was just enough to pique my interest. we only saw a few songs thanks to the ferry’s arrival time, but i liked what i heard – two guys on stage making a whole lot of noise. thankfully, the rock crew (sigh) booked them for a show with raising the fawn at the grad club last night. i’d missed raising the fawn’s opening slot with the weakerthans while i was in london, but mitch approved so i was looking forward to hearing them as well.

we arrived just as the first band, from fiction, ended, so i have nothing to say about them. i quite enjoyed raising the fawn’s set, for the most part. they played an interesting mix of loudish rock, bounciness and somewhat self-indulgent drone-rock, and are apparently led by a member of broken social scene (but what band isn’t?) some of their songs were laid back enough to make anne and jeremy retreat to the next room, but i enjoyed most of their set, with the exception of the amelodic and feedback-filled finale.

death from above 1979 were loud. i couldn’t make out many of their lyrics, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying their set. like the inbreds and duotang before them, they’re made up of just a bass+drums (with the occasional song featuring keys) – but that’s where the similarities with those bands end. there’s a lot more emphasis on volume and noise than on the inbreds’ poppiness. in spite of the poor sound quality (i’m not even sure why they bothered with vocals), i liked them a lot – they sure can squeeze interesting music out of their few instruments. their stage banter could use some work though: “my pants really smell” and “this song is about ejaculation” are two examples.

anyway, the night was fun enough that i was able to get past the fact that i no doubt did further damage to my ears. i’m pretty sure that was the loudest show i’ve ever seen at the grad club.

19 Aug 04

car-to-car etiquette

is this unusual to anyone else?

on my way into work this morning, i was sitting in my car at stoplight at the corner of johnson and sir john a, waiting patiently, when i heard a voice shouting. i turn around, and an old man in a chrysler straight out of 1984 was talking to me: “they say it’s going to rain!” he proclaimed, “that’s all i ever hear, forecasts of rain.” i wasn’t really sure what to say at this point, because a) it was spitting at that point and very very dark and b) i was IN MY CAR. i muttered my agreement and he continued, “i sure hope it doesn’t snow every day in the winter…” thank goodness the light changed at this point. i guess i’ve just never been properly trained on between-car conversation etiquette – except for how to whistle and shout at chicks, ’cause really, isn’t that why i got that blue light for under my car and that new stereo that adds bass to any song?

17 Aug 04

technology hates me, and i hate it right back

technology hates me again right now. some examples:

1. those problems i had with my laptop when i was in london (you know, the ones causing me great amounts of stress about possibly missing my plane) came back last night. i was working away on some php and poof, no video. rebooting would consistently get me into windows, only to have it reset again. eventually, i managed to get into safe mode with networking, so i was able to back up all my files (and i stayed up late doing so in case i wasn’t able to get into windows again) which turned out to be a good thing ’cause it’s completely toast this morning. apparently the eeprom on my system board is no longer good. excellent. the bright side: a brand new 3 ghz laptop with a screen as big as my desktop’s monitor, courtesy of work. i should’ve broken it a long time ago.

2. for the past week, hotmail has started randomly filtering out sms messages from cell phones that are sent to me when i’m not available on msn messenger. i didn’t notice this for over a week, so i missed about 10 messages in total. you’d think that hotmail would know that msn messages weren’t junk… to make things even better, mozilla thunderbird started doing the same to me yesterday, and i nearly missed 3 messages yesterday. that’s a lot of false positives all of a sudden.

3. when i got home from work last friday, i noticed that my fridge was ajar slightly. i was annoyed at myself, but i figured that things were probably kept cool enough that i wouldn’t have lost too much. then i looked at my hamburger (bought the previous night) that was grey. this made me recall that maintenance was done on my building that day which resulted in the power being turned off for most of the day. not a lot in my fridge survived the day.

i think that’s enough proof.

13 Aug 04

ah, fond memories

peterborough in a nutshell:

10 Aug 04

ac newmania

and now, my belated description of sunday night’s ac newman show at lee’s palace in toronto:

the neins (not to be confused with these neins whose webpage explicitly states that they are NOT currently touring with ac newman) were on stage when we arrived. i’d never heard of them before, but they were fun and quirky, featuring guitar, keys, drums and trumpet. i got the sense that they haven’t done a whole lot of touring in their musical careers, but they were pretty solid all the same.

rogue wave were on next. before last week, i’d never heard of them. for some reason though, starting with last wednesday’s pitchfork review, they’ve turned up all over the place (including in a feature story in now and an eye review) – enough so have piqued my interest. when i heard that they were opening for ac newman, i figured it was a sign that i should probably check them out. anyway, i thought the shins comparisons that kept popping up were a bit overplayed. they were an enjoyable band, although maybe they were a bit overhyped to me…they didn’t really wow me i guess.

ac and his 6 piece band came on last, and played a set that reminded me a lot of the new pornographers show i caught at lee’s way back in 2001. the comparison may be an obvious one, given that ac is IN the new pornographers, but the similarities went beyond the musical style. the set was only about 45 minutes long, including one non-album track and an encore consisting of 2 covers – exactly like the NP show. i guess it’s hard to headline a tour on the strength of one album, but he could have at least dusted off a couple old zumpano tunes for us. the stage was crowded (although it was sorely missing neko, mmmm), and i quite enjoyed watching the multi-talented member of the band, who played trumpet, mouth blown keyboard (quick, i forget what they’re called), trumpet and “cello” (which turned out to be a tiny keyboard). it’s a shame that the bassist was a bit off key and kept doing the same shuffle move over and over, but that’s the only flaw i could find aside from the set length.

one other note for indie geeks like me:
ian blurton was in the crowd, and wow, could he possibly have any more hair? that beard/long hair/baseball hat combo makes him look even more homeless than he did a year or two ago, which is challenging.

09 Aug 04

olympic island festival rundown

as previously advertised, saturday was the the sloan/sam roberts olympic island festival, and it was a long but good day. the weather was very un-august-like (i was wearing a hoodie for most of the day and was just barely warm enough), but there was no rain and the line up of bands was the best i’ve seen since edgefest 1995 (also headlined by sloan, coincidentally). here’s a rundown of all of the bands as i saw them – take it for what it’s worth:

death from above 1979 – we arrived in the middle of their set so we didn’t get the full effect, but while walking towards the venue we were greeted with a wall of sound. i was certainly surprised to see that there were only two guys on stage. i didn’t see enough of them to formulate a full opinion, but i enjoyed the 3 songs i heard – as well as watching them on stage.

arcade fire – i’ve have a few songs by them for several months now, so i was at least familiar with some of their material ahead of time. i wasn’t sure how it was going to translate live, but i think it’s safe to say that they were one of my favourite acts of the day. they’re a six-piece and include a xylophone, an accordian, various percussive instruments (including a drum tied around a guy’s neck that he flailed wildly at), as well as the normal few guitars and drums. very catchy and fun, i hope to catch them live again.

buck 65 – he put on a better show than he did on friday night, i thought. he played many of the same songs, but he seemed more relaxed and into it than he did at the previous show. he also didn’t start out with screwed up versions of my 3 favourite songs, so that may have had something to do with it. robin’s description of buck 65: “he makes vanilla ice sound black”. i’ll leave it at that.

broken social scene – they wowed me with their set. they’re one of my favourite bands, so i was probably most excited about seeing them (in spite of their somewhat disappointing show i saw a little over a year ago). amy millan and evan cranley from stars and emily haines from metric were in attendance, so they were able to put on a show that lived up to their potential. many layers of guitars, horns, a variety of voices and amazing songs add up to a fantastic show that their long set up time didn’t detract from.

constantines – i’ve now seen the cons twice live, and both shows were at outdoor, uninimate venues. they put on a solid show but, like last time, i felt like they were lacking in a bit of energy and intensity – perhaps i would’ve felt differently if we’d been crammed into a small venue rather than having them towering above the crowd on a huge stage. regardless, i still liked their set, even though they added a somewhat misplaced flute to shine a light, my favourite cons song.

pilate – the one band on the bill that i really had no urge to see. i saw them open for the dears back in september and i was just really bored. it’s not that they’re untalented, don’t get me wrong – their music is fine, technically sound and radio friendly. the catch is that they don’t have their own sound…they’ve elected to emulate coldplay, u2 and radiohead instead, and have been rewarded with some popularity as a result. i’ll admit to dozing through much of their set, but scotto summed it up well: “it’s like they played one long song.” thrilling.

stills – i’ve kinda been feeling like i should like the stills a whole lot more than i do. their cd is okay – still in love song and lola stars and stripes are fantastic songs, but the rest have a tendency to run together in my mind. their set was pretty good, if you could get past the annoying cockiness of the singer. they also made use of broken social scene’s drummer for a couple songs, allowing their drummer to take the lead on one and sing, which was a highlight for me.

sam roberts – it became clear to me pretty fast that the majority of the crowd was there to see sam roberts. he sold an insane number of t-shirts (see my t-shirt assessment section) and the crowd seemed to grow when he hit the stage. his performance was pretty typically sam roberts – he thrives on that kind of environment, and has grown used to the large stage show over the last year or so. there were no surprises in his set – he played all the same stuff as the last two shows i saw, and the crowd ate it up. one highlight was during brother down, when several sets of bongos were brought on stage. several members of bss came out to play them (evan, amy, kevin, etc.) as well as k-os (!) who also added a short rap verse to the middle. pretty cool really.

sloan – i’ve seen sloan 11 or 12 times now by my count in all sorts of environments and venues, and i always seem to like their festival shows best – the shows at which they’re not hawking a new (and invariably shitty) new album so they’re able to fully explore their back catalogue and play the songs i like best. this show was no exception. if you can imagine, they opened their set with underwhelmed (!), which caused robin, scotto and me to all look at each other with great surprise, and played a set mainly filled with their singles, old and new (losing california, live on, coax me, lines you amend, people of the sky, etc.) a highlight for me was when they dug 500 up out of their vaults (i haven’t heard it in years) and brought kevin drew from bss out to sing andrew’s part. pretty cool. i’ll admit though that we left in the middle of their set to try to beat the insane rush to the ferry, but having seen them so many times before i don’t feel too bad about it. one final note about their set: i was a bit concerned that they were going last ’cause i really don’t have a good sense of their popularity anymore. sam roberts seemed to be the fan favourite and it probably would’ve made more sense to have him perform last, and i thought it was a bit of a risk for sloan to headline – what if everyone left early to try to beat the rush? my concerns were unfounded though – a LOT of people stayed to see sloan, which was a good thing i thought.

other fun notes:

  • riding the ferry over with broken social scene (“hey! it’s brendan canning!) – apparently they weren’t helicoptered in like true rock stars.
  • doing lotsa some indie pseudo-celeb spotting – brendan et al on the ferry, the entire broken scene crew gathered beside us at the beginning of the day, brendan again djing between sets (and playing the best music of the day, in my opinion), brian and dylan from by divine right separately wandering through the crowd, ian mcgettigan from thrush hermit hanging out at the dj booth with some unidentified girl who also played really cool music, chris murphy walking through the crowd (and posing for pictures), and gentleman reg also djing. overload!
  • watching the drunkest guy at the show “dance” – he was a big jockish guy wearing a jersey with the name “corkenheimer” written on the back, and watching his drunken near-falling stumble was hypnotic.
  • seeing a guy suddenly fall to his knees and puke on the grass, which is always a highlight. someone covered it up with a pizza box, and the next person to walk by stepped on it. whew. oh, and later on the evening when it was dark, some guy ended up rolling around on the ground in its vicinity. i hope for the best.
  • scotto’s friend adam recognizing the radiohead component of the karma police+a day in the live mashup played between sets, but not knowing who sang the beatles tune.

oh, and one final thing…as i alluded to above, we conducted a small t-shirt survey throughout the day. it was highly scientific, so feel free to use it in any academic paper you may be writing about the relative popularity of bands. here were the results:

metallica – 1

sloan – 1 (note that it was an old “sloan sloan sloan” shirt, like the one that i own – not one that you could buy at the show)

stills – 1

buck 65 – 1

broken social scene – 1

vote for pedro (which turned out to be related to napoleon dynamite) – 3

beatles – 4

sam roberts – uncountable (note that every single one of these looked to be purchased at the show)

in summary, those fans sure did like sam roberts.

more to come later about last night’s ac newman show, stay tuned…

07 Aug 04

bring back the rock

as you may or (more than likely) may not have noticed, chumptastic hasn’t exactly been the live music review hub that it used to be. as i’ve pointed out before, i saw 36 shows in 2003 (i.e. one every 10 days or so, which is staggering when you think of it that way), and to this point, 7 months into 2004, i’ve seen 14 – and none at all since may 28th (and even that one was just a bar band that i didn’t intend to go to see). never fear though, this is all about to change…this weekend gives me an opportunity to do some serious catching up.

it all started with tonight’s buck 65/jason collett show at the elixir. i was quite excited to note that all the ads only had 2 bands listed in spite of the fact that it’s a stupid rock crew show, but alas, when we arrived at the venue there was a sign saying that someone called the move was also scheduled to play. when we arrived, jason collett had just begun his solo set. i enjoyed it, but his songs sound almost unrecognizable without his band…i didn’t recognize a whole lot, and even though i saw him back in january, i didn’t even recognize him.

anyway, his set ended at around 10:45 or so, and i was expecting another band to start setting up…but no! buck 65 came out around 11:15 or so, so either there was no mysterious third band, or they went on early. does this mean the rock crew is finally getting it? of all the nights for an early show, friday probably wouldn’t be my first pick (although i DO have to wake up early tomorrow, so it was nice).

buck 65’s set wasn’t what i had expected. he opened with 3 of my favourite buck 65 songs – wicked and weird, the centaur, and pants on fire. the catch was that 2 of them had completely different music than their recorded versions, and they weren’t nearly as good. that ended up being a trend throughout his set – the songs i knew often sounded quite different than i was expecting, and frankly i don’t like change. i didn’t dislike his set (although his between song stories were a bit odd – i really didn’t need to hear the story of his doctor popping his inflamed ear cyst, and i could’ve done without his screwing with his equipment between every single song), but it wasnt as good as i’d hoped. he did mention that his last show in kingston was 3 days after sept 11/01, and that only one guy came. he asked if that guy was in the crowd, and he wasn’t. that didn’t make buck very happy.

oh, and i can’t go a show without talking about the crowd. perhaps it was a summer crowd, or perhaps it was more of a hiphop crowd than i’m used to, but it was a lot different than normal. there were an inordinate number of ultra dressed up girls at the show, as well as a whole lot of really really short people. the crazy quotient was also a lot lower than normal, with the exception of one guy in a really unfortunate hat who kept walking by us and staring intently at us. words can’t really do him justice, but he was definitely creepy.

ok, time to wrap this up – i need to sleep. saturday is the olympic island festival (featuring sloan, sam roberts, the stills, the constantines, broken social scene, buck 65 again, arcade fire, pilate and death from above) so i gotta get outta here bright and early, and pick up scotto on the way. sunday night is ac newman at lee’s, and i’m quite looking forward to that one too…in spite of the fact that i have to work on monday. and now, to bed.

05 Aug 04

famousesque again

hey look, robin is famous again. online publications sure do love his mug for some reason. note that robin denies claiming to be a “graphic designer” in order to sound less geeky, but i’m still suspicious.

also note that this is post #666. be afraid.

Pronunciation: 'ch&mp
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps blend of chunk and lump
Date: 1883

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