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Archive for July, 2005

26 Jul 05

mmm, street wine

i paid my first visit to saigon flower last night, a vietnamese restaurant on queen west whose menu is dominated by chinese food for some reason. you may recognize this restaurant by the happy italian chef flashing you the OK sign with his fingers on their storefront sign:

while i was inside, a homelessish looking man came in carrying a large cardboard box full of wine bottles. here is the conversation that ensued between him and the owner:

homelessish man: wanna buy some wine?
restaurant owner: no, thank you.
homelessish man: are you sure? i have 9 bottles of 22% wine here. it’s good stuff.
restaurant owner: no, thank you.

and with that, he gave me a look, decided i likely wasn’t a good candidate to buy his street wine, and went on to the next location on the block. i bet he had more success with the sketchy place a couple doors down with this sign out front:

just a guess though.

24 Jul 05

onward and upward

i’m a week late on this post, but i think it’s still a story worth telling.

for whatever reason, i have suddenly become quite sought after, jobwise – something i certainly didn’t experience when i was putting all of my efforts into finding a job in toronto back in april. as a result, i took a job back then at york university’s tech department – a position i didn’t expect i’d likely keep for much more than a year, but i figured since it paid as much as i made at queen’s for far less responsibility, it would provide me with a good starting point. i also figured there would be opportunities to move up and take on more interesting stuff as time went on at york, and that has already proven true to some extent. i’ve been asked to do a number of things of late that i consider more interesting than installing software package x onto someone’s computer, and there was a slightly better position in waiting with my name on it, when they got around to doing the paperwork.

but, for some reason, everything exploded two weeks ago. i applied for a couple of jobs at the university of toronto a few weeks back more or less on a lark – one sounded pretty interesting as a “network admin” at the faculty of dentistry, and another sounded way out of my league as an IT coordinator and planner for the faculty of arts and science. i ended up getting called in for an interview for each position.

the coordinator/planner interview was LONG. i thought it went as well as could be expected, but i honestly had no clue how it went in the eyes of the four interviewers. a week later, the network admin interview gave me my first ever taste of what a bad interview was like. i was asked a LOT of “technical” questions that i probably would’ve had a better shot at answering had i studied my 3rd year networking textbook ahead of time (e.g. “describe the OSI network model”, “what role does encryption play in ensuring TCP/IP packets are delivered successfully?” (the answer, incidentally, involved checksums), “would you use IPsec or certificate based security?”, etc.) my head was reeling when i left that interview…i just wanted to get out of there, and i didn’t even bother sending them my references as promised. later that day, however, i was offered the coordinator/planner position. i told them i’d think about it, mainly because i wasn’t sure how i felt about the prospect of doing less hands on work.

during this same week, i got a call back from a company a friend of mine works for who originally called me back in june. they’d left a couple of messages for me at home back then, so i gave them my cell number and i didn’t hear from them again for over a month. additionally, i got two emails about separate GIS-related positions, based on applications i had made in april. so, by this point, i had a lot of options.

to add one more option, the faculty of dentistry called me back the day after my horrendous interview and asked me for my references. the HR woman assured me that they were very impressed by my interview, and they’d like me to come in again, presumably to ensure that i wasn’t a total idiot network-wise. seriously, they must have interviewed a bunch of monkeys.

after pondering all of these options for a couple days, i decided to accept the coordinator/planner position. the career path seemed better than the other options (not to mention the money), and i figured it would, at the very least, be excellent experience. when i told the faculty of dentistry i’d accepted another position, they told me they were willing to forego the 2nd interview if i’d accept their job instead. i definitely thought about it, since it would be a more hands on job with a fun team to work with, but in the end i felt my initial decision was best.

so, in summary, i will be starting at u of t on august 2nd (which is scarily soon), and i’m pretty sure york isn’t the happiest with me for leaving them after only three months. management have been, to a person, very supportive of my decision, and they’ve all expressed regret that i’m leaving, which has made me feel good about the impression i’ve made in such a short time. and i still wonder what it was about the middle of july that suddenly made me so in demand – too in demand for my liking, really.

21 Jul 05

camouflage nights could’ve used a little help from the sound man

you know, disappointment sucks. i was super psyched for the last few weeks about last night’s camouflage nights show at lee’s (opening for controller.controller and vhs or beta), especially after their last killer performance, and even more so because of mitch’s raves about their show in kingston last week.

sadly, the show didn’t live up to my expectations, but it wasn’t really the fault of the camouflage nights themselves. ian mcgettigan was in fine form, once again sporting a fur hat and some jeans and a tank top that were looked on the verge of disintegration…except that i could barely hear a thing he said. for their entire set, the vocals were insanely low (so lyrics and banter may as well have been left out), while the sampler’s volume was cranked to the point where there the bass’s vibrations were audible to the point of distraction. add to this some intermittent feedback and a few requests for increase in monitor levels, and that’s pretty much the set in a nutshell. the band looked a bit confused when the audience wasn’t responding to anything they said…but we had no idea what was going on.

on the bright side, five five minutes once again knocked me on my ass with another bass off, and it’s tough to disguise the genius that is this could be love. i’m still anxiously awaiting a real CN album (aside from the vinyl single i picked up last time), but i’m sure it will be worth the wait.

oh, and don’t ask me how the other two bands were. tiredness beat out my urge to see a late set by c.c, so we ditched after camouflage nights finished their set. this working thing is really cramping my show-going style.

17 Jul 05

does my car have a target on it?

i thought it was bad when someone keyed my car a few months back. well, that was nothing compared to what i found this morning when i got to my car:

apparently, someone in a white car attempted to back into the space beside my car and misjudged how much space they had, consequently beating the hell out of my passenger side. i am not pleased, since they drove off without leaving any contact information. on the bright side, judging from the plastic on the ground in the parking lot, the guy did a good job of messing up his tail light. but, that still doesn’t make me feel better.

the guy who lives in his van by my building was nearby to witness my discovery. his advice to me: “don’t sweat the small stuff. it’ll just get you down.” i guess that’s sound advice coming from a guy who lives in his van. he KNOWS the stuff you should sweat.

11 Jul 05

a festival of “blues”

if you know me, you’ll know that there’s nothing i like better than 12 bar blues, which is why we headed to ottawa to check out bluesfest over the weekend. while there, we took in all of my favourite blues performers: broken social scene, stars, metric, apostle of hustle, jason collett and gentlemen reg. ok ok, so they’re not blues…but what genius put together that lineup? i’ve been to a number of festivals in the past, and i usually have to sit through a lot of crap in order to hear 1/2 hour sets from the bands i’m there to see, but in this case, everyone got at least 45 minutes, and they were all gems. hell, they MUST have been to convince me to make the 5 hour trek, and sit in the boiling sun all day…

some random thoughts about the day:

  • gentleman reg (and backing band) opened the show to a relatively sparse crowd, but put on a typical reg performance playing most of my favourites. i was sad though when he refused to give anne an autograph in the “autograph tent” afterwards.
  • jason collett continued to prove his apparent disdain for his best song, by not playing tiny ocean of tears for the third straight live show. in spite of this, he played a solid set with a backing band whose name i didn’t catch, consisting mostly of songs from his new album, idols of exile. he got a little help from kevin drew during one song, and evan cranley supplied “bone” support on another, but sadly amy millan didn’t accompany him on hangover days as i’d hoped.
  • cranley seemed intent to perform with as many bands as possible, providing trombone, bass, guitar and percussion support to everyone but gentleman reg and metric. i thought he was going to do SOMETHING with metric, ’cause he was on stage, poised to jump in if an opportunity arose, but alas… it also made me wonder how he (and the rest of the performers) could slip seamlessly into other bands without any preparation time. i mean, stars have been on tour for a month and had just returned from stockholm the day before the show…not exactly a lot of time to get their parts down.
  • apostle of hustle were pretty good, although they were lacking ilse’s flamenco stylings during this particular show. i saw them a week ago opening for feist and enjoyed that performance a bit better (although the set list was almost identical), but i have to say that the horn section really added to their sound. in andrew whiteman’s words, “instant horn section, just add festival.”
  • stars kicked my ass. hard. i’ve never seen a bad stars show, and this was one of their best. crazy energy, fun dialogue from torq, and a set that was driven by evan cranley’s bass more than anything else. it reminded me a lot of the first time i saw them live when i just kept marvelling at the bassline. and wow, they pulled out a live performance of he lied about death that was insanely intense and loud, with lots of horns and extra accompaniment from their friends. i never thought i’d see that one live, and they totally pulled it off. stars were clearly the highlight of the show, in my mind.
  • it was nice to see a full metric show, for the first time. when they played the elixir, emily haines lost her voice in the first half hour, so it wasn’t the full experience. they made up for it with some intense energy, and mixed new songs with old. anne pointed out that there were a lot of instrumental solos during that performance, so perhaps that’s a sign of things to come with their long awaited follow up album?
  • broken social scene closed the show, and previewed a number of songs from their long-awaited forthcoming album. let me start out by saying that i didn’t NOT enjoy their set – the songs were good and i was at times in awe of how many people were on stage (upwards of 20 at times), making some pretty intense sounding music. i think though that they could’ve been better if they’d distilled the songs a bit more – fewer 8-10 minute extended jams with crazy reverb on vocals. in truth, a lot of the songs turned into exercises in kevin drew’s self-indulgence. it’s a good thing the underlying songs were good, and i hope the album itself is a bit more focused. incidentally, the live version of anthem for a 17 year old girl featuring emily haines on vocals blew me away.
  • it was in large part unlike most festival shows, ’cause the majority of people there were familiar with (and fans of) most of the bands on the bill. that’s not to say there weren’t a lot of annoying people in attendance (’cause there sure were), but it was interesting to see a lot of fans of good music in one place. oh, and a few old woman who thought it’d be a good idea to dye their bangs a bright colour, and dance madly to metric…..
  • it’s about time i went to a festival show where you were free to come and go as you pleased, which allowed for the purchase (and subsequent bringing in) of food that was slightly less overpriced.
  • wow. it was hot.

in summary, this was easily the best festival show i’ve been to. take note, edgefest.

06 Jul 05

city field live, at last

at long last, matt murphy (of super friendz and flashing lights “fame”)’s new band, city field, were booked to play a couple toronto dates. needless to say, i was pretty excited. i’ve had their authentic city ep for a couple months now, and it’s pretty solid, although not at all what i expected – for once, matt’s more or less in the background, contributing mostly guitar work and background vocals. regardless, it’s definitely worth checking out, so long as you don’t go in expecting super friendz version 3.

anyway, we caught the second of the two shows last thursday night at the silver dollar room (which, incidentally, has just about the crappiest patio i’ve ever seen – would it have killed them to supplement the wooden benches and stacks of plastic chairs with a table or two?). unfortunately, there were 3 other bands on the bill (yes, another 4 band bill, sigh). we missed the openers, whose name i now forget, and ended up going outside where it was cool during action makes’ set, in spite of the fact that it would’ve given me a chance to cheer on a millbrook boy.

we didn’t actually come back inside until the headliner set (i.e. 1 am, yikes). perhaps it was the late hour, or perhaps it was the performance, but i was pretty non-plussed. i guess i started out unimpressed when matt appeared to be helping attach gregg’s guitar strap for her, as well as tuning for her, and that negative opinion wasn’t helped by watching her “play” – i.e. strumming, looking at her hands, readjusting, then strumming again. in truth, she only played on a couple songs, and the rest of the time she stood there, providing vocals while perhaps shaking a tambourine. while on the subject – it was a pretty strange line up at times, with two people on stage essentially just providing vocals, along with a guitarist, bassist and drummer. whatever works for them, i guess. their new songs didn’t particularly grab me, and once i’d heard cleo and pretenders i was ready to split.

oh, and in the crowd were such famous folk as rob benvie and whil kidman. famous!

03 Jul 05

best keepsake ever

after going to see war of the worlds on saturday, which was pretty lame, we were handed my favourite and most useful free gift of all time: the fantastic four countdown clock!

that’s right, now i will know the exact SECOND that the movie premieres. to be honest, i’m waiting with bated breath to find out whether this handy keychain has an alarm that will scare the bejesus out of me in about 5 days…

03 Jul 05

uncle chumptastic continued

at last, proof of my uncledom. welcome kyle robert brian page-vardy to the world:

and yes, that seems like a lot of names to me too, but i can’t really argue with name #2.

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

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