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Archive for December, 2005

23 Dec 05

end of year list-o-rama

well, it’s the end of the year, and i think i’m officially the last to post a best-of list. so, here’s my contribution to the blogosphere, after much consternation and additions and deletions. i was originally going to try to squeeze everything into top 10 lists, but frankly, this year was just too good. so i say screw arbitrary limitations, and if you haven’t heard any of the music below, you really have been missing out.

a couple notes: i bet i’ll look at this list in a week or so and wish that i’d ordered things differently, so consider this a guideline. as well, i’m sure something from 2004 has crept into my list. but hey, it’s my list, and i get to make the rules.

favouritest albums  
1. constantines – tournament of hearts 14. broadcast – tender buttons
2. spoon – gimme fiction 15. clap your hands say yeah – clap your hands say yeah
3. joel plaskett – la de da 16. deadly snakes – porcella
4. broken social scene – broken social scene 17. novillero – aim right for the holes in their lives
5. final fantasy – has a good home 18. sparrow – the early years
6. maximo park – a certain trigger 19. city field – authentic city
7. ladies and gentlemen – small sins 20. okkervil river – black sheep boy
8. decemberists – picaresque 21. most serene republic – underwater cinematographer
9. wolf parade – apologies to the queen mary 22. caribou – the milk of human kindness
10. sufjan stevens – illinois 23. josh rouse – nashville
11. new pornographers – twin cinema 24. m. ward – transistor radio
12. cuff the duke – cuff the duke 25. stephen malkmus – face the truth
13. national – alligator  
honourable mentions: jason collett – idols of exile, controller.controller – x-amounts, metric – live it out, chad vangaalen – infiniheart, bloc party – silent alarm remixed, thanksgiving – the river
 
 
favouritest songs  
1. broken social scene – 7/4 (shoreline) 14. new pornographers – sing me spanish techno
2. final fantasy – this is the dream of win and regine 15. clap your hands say yeah – the skin of my yellow country teeth
3. deadly snakes – gore veil 16. sparrow – the early years
4. decemberists – the sporting life 17. bell orchestre – les lumieres pt 2
5. joel plaskett – nina and albert 18. broadcast – michael a grammar
6. ladies and gentlemen – stay 19. wolf parade – dear sons and daughters of hungry ghosts
7. constantines – hotline operator 20. city field – pretenders
8. long winters – blue diamonds 21. thanksgiving – ageism
9. jens lekman – sweet summer’s night in hammer hill 22. lcd soundsystem – daft punk is playing at my house
10. maximo park – apply some pressure 23. okkervil river – for real
11. islands – abominable snow 24. cuff the duke – the future hangs
12. metric – monster hospital 25. novillero – laissez-faire system
13. spoon – i turn my camera on  
honourable mentions: american analog set – immaculate heart 1, the national – waiting for astronauts, caribou – yeti, immaculate machine – phone number, m. ward – sweethearts on parade, hawaii – break you, russian futurists – paul simon, chad vangaalen – clinicly dead, jason collett – fire
 
 
favouritest live shows  
1. camouflage nights – horseshoe tavern, toronto, april 22 11. feist/apostle of hustle – harbourfront centre, toronto, july 1
2. joel plaskett/pete elkas/matt barber – hugh’s room, toronto, april 30 12. decemberists – phoenix concert theatre, toronto, may 21 and oct 13
3. arcade fire/final fantasy/wolf parade – danforth music hall, toronto, april 27 13. danny michel – rivoli, toronto, june 17
4. stars/gentlemen reg – grad club, kingston, january 28 14. spoon – opera house, toronto, june 5
5. broken social scene/stars/metric/apostle of hustle/jason collett/gentleman reg – bluesfest, ottawa, july 9 15. josh rouse – lee’s palace, toronto, april 5
6. inbreds – lee’s palace, toronto, march 11 16. sarah harmer/magali meagher/jason collett/andrew whiteman/gentleman reg/andre ethier/bob wiseman – bloor cinema, toronto, feb 18
7. final fantasy/torngat – music gallery, toronto, june 25 17. final fantasy/thanksgiving/holy fuck – music gallery, toronto, feb 26
8. joel plaskett/cuff the duke – elixir, kingston, january 25 18. apostle of hustle – grad club, kingston, feb 15
9. sufjan stevens – trinity st. paul church, toronto, sept 10 19. death from above 1979/lost cause – grad club, kingston, jan 21
10. jens lekman – music gallery, toronto, nov 5  
 
 
favouritest movies  
1. why we fight 11. enron: the smartest guys in the room
2. a history of violence 12. the life and hard times of guy terrifico
3. broken flowers 13. kontrol
4. crash 14. batman begins
5. syriana 15. the squid and the whale
6. mad hot ballroom 16. 40 year old virgin
7. grizzly man 17. the constant gardener
8. hotel rwanda 18. the wild parrots of telegraph hill
9. murderball 19. rock school
10. brokeback mountain 20. star wars episode 3: revenge of the sith

edit: in the interest of exercising a little revisionist history, i’ve altered my best-of movies list. i have no idea how i managed to omit a couple movies from my original list. shame on me.

20 Dec 05

stars: even their worst is pretty damn good

thursday night was the first of 6 sold out shows in 4 days for stars at lee’s palace, and i was lucky enough to be in attendance. let me start by saying that this was probably my least favourite stars show of all time; however, the worst stars show is still better than many other bands’ best.

i saw stars at the mod club almost exactly a year before, and the sets were unsurprisingly quite similar, given that the band has spent the majority of the year touring the world and gradually becoming deserved superstars. in fact, this show marked their return to toronto after a couple months of solid touring, and frankly, they looked kind of tired. other minor quibbles? the insane heat in lee’s – they didn’t even open a door until the encore, and i thought scotto was going to pass out. and how about that 5’0 waitress carrying a tray with a circumference twice her own, pushing into my back no less than 6 times (i mean really, who orders drinks in the middle of a set?)

ok ok, so having said that, the band played a fun set featuring songs from all albums (and even threw in the comeback, just to make me happy), and even though they looked tired, they played with a lot more energy than i’m sure i could have mustered. torq was, as always, in fine form (is there a front man more entertaining than him, besides joel plaskett?), and cranley carried the show with his bass, as usual. and while it is true that they played pretty much a repeat of a show a year previous, they significantly changed the arrangments of a number of songs, which was fun to hear – even including a saxophone and violin to spice things up a bit. and any set that includes he lied about death is a winner in my books.

so to summarize: while stars didn’t wow me as much as they have in the past, i’m happy i didn’t miss them. but, i still wish i could see them at the grad club again.

12 Dec 05

photographic documentation of uselessness in toronto

here’s a quick photo round up of uselessness i’ve captured on my camera phone over the past few weeks:

1. seriously, who thought it would be a good idea to put an elevator in a building…but only make it accessible after climbing a flight of stairs?

the geniuses in charge of the building at the northeast corner of john and king, that’s who.

2. i’m pretty happy that the city has elected to tear down my bus shelter right when it started to get cold – i.e. right when i need it most:

for some reason, that orange fencing didn’t do a particularly good job of protecting me from the crazy cold wind this morning.

3. i wish this photo had turned out less blurry, but it’s a pic of a store on college’s front window, which apparently is doubling as the back of their refridgerator:

i can’t help but wonder about that milk, yogurt and cheese…especially after a warm day with the sun beating in…

08 Dec 05

asbestosy update

to quickly update my previous post about my office’s other function as an asbestos testing facility, here’s a sign that i found lying on my table that isn’t preferable to find in one’s office:

at least it wasn’t hanging on my door…

07 Dec 05

camh’s mystery structure

a couple of weeks ago, this bizarre structure showed up on the grounds of camh on queen west (aka the crazy house) without any indication of its purpose:

it was clearly dragged onto the grounds, judging from the dug up dirt underneath its “tracks”. it’s shaped like a small house or tent, but there didn’t appear to be any way to get inside. i couldn’t really see what was inside too clearly, so no clues there.

the plot thickened when i walked by the structure at night:

it appeared to be full of that pink fibreglass insulation stuff, and was illuminated somehow. that didn’t really help me with its purpose, but it made me more interesting.

finally, on the day before it vanished from whence it came, i saw a practical purpose for the structure:

it can be used as a message board for the crazies.

and now that it’s gone, i miss it.

07 Dec 05

downtime

apologies for the day long downtime. the short version of the story is that i had dns issues, which are now resolved.

the longer version of the story is that rogers changed my server’s IP yesterday for some reason (i’m now in the 70.x.x.x range), which meant i had to update my dns settings. unfortunately, i’d also let my credit card lapse on my dns host, so they locked my account until i gave them a credit card that works…which took until this morning. all is now well, but i have no idea how my dns was working for the past 2 months since i suspect my dns subscription should’ve ended around my birthday. go figure.

05 Dec 05

the fembots know the city

the fembots successfully converted the royal theatre on college street into a fun performance space on saturday night. they put together a show to celebrate the good and the not so good about toronto, to go hand in hand with their latest cd the city, and featured performances by andre ethier, the singing saw shadow show and, of course, the fembots themselves. as a fun touch, between sets they played a slide show of many photos of the city (including the cursed santa hat man, aka zanta). the slide show was particularly fun, and allowed anne and i to play “where in toronto is that?” i discovered that i’m only good at identifying landmarks on queen and bloor. sad.

andre ethier went on at about 8 to a relatively sparse crowd that filled up gradually as the night went on. for once, he didn’t bring along christopher sandes for support, but he played a strong acoustic set that was a mix of songs from his solo album, some new songs, as well as a deadly snakes track for good measure. pretty fun stuff. i always enjoy andre’s sets.

the singing saw shadow show really weren’t my thing. picture this: 8 or so musicians on a make-shift stage hidden behind a sheet stretched across the stage (think shadowy men on a shadowy planet), many of them wearing horse head masks or the like, illuminated by an overhead projector that was displaying various colours and shapes while a digital projector displayed random images on the movie screen above their heads. oh, and many of the members of the band played saws. now, none of what i’ve said so far has necessarily been bad…but wow, the free form “song structure” was definitely bizarre, and i really couldn’t get into the chanting/howling vocal contributions. the audience often didn’t know to react, or even when to applaud. it was something alright.

the fembots, however, turned things around with the best set i’ve ever seen from them. they played a mostly up tempo set containing (obviously) many songs from their new album, and they invited several guests along for the ride. at various points in the show, they invited 4 additional vocalists to the stage (including kate maki) as the fembots family singers, and they also included 2 saxes, a trumpet, and an extra percussionist for some songs. while they played, they had a slide show projected on the screen above them of historical images of toronto provided by murmur, which would have been even cooler if they had been at an appropriate resolution for the projector. alas, that’s a minor quibble. very fun stuff.

oh, and i can’t forget to mention how great the royal’s seats are – they have full recliney/bouncy action! i’m gonna have to actually watch a movie there at some point.

04 Dec 05

an unexpected feature

i’d like to propose an advertising strategy for the makers of usb bluetooth class 11 dongles:

they work great, even after going through the laundry.

that is all.

02 Dec 05

islands: less cranky but more boring than unicorns

i broke my cardinal rule last night by going to a show on a school night. ok, fair enough, this “cardinal rule” has only really been in existence since i got to toronto, but the plethora of live shows on weekends plus the fact that i’m now quite old has made it prudent to try to get 8 hours of zzz a night.

regardless, i couldn’t resist checking out the islands show at the drake last night, especially given the close proximity of the venue to my bed. i downloaded the two teaser tracks a few months ago that were linked all across the blogosphere and loved them, so i was looking forward to seeing how they’d translate live – and i hoped it’d be better than the unicorns’ attempts at shows. which brings me to my next point…the islands are: 2/3 of the now-defunct unicorns (nick on guitar+keys, j’aime on drums) + jim guthrie on guitar + 2 brothers on violin + a bassist + a guy who mostly played saxophone. an interesting mix. i have to say though that i wasn’t particularly wowed. the songs were pretty good, but tended to be lacking in the hooks that sucked me into the unicorns. and wouldn’t you know it? they refused to play both flesh and abominable snow, the only tunes people knew (and were requesting loudly). it struck me, however, as music i might enjoy listening to at home more than in a live setting…i could see the album being a grower. i think this post on stillepost summed it up well for me as well:

Islands were good, but that’s about it. Their songs are too straight for my taste, I think. I really enjoyed their set, but I wasn’t having fun, which after the Unicorns, I was sort of expecting. I doubt I’ll bother seeing them next time they play here. I’m still interested in hearing the record when it comes out though.

i’d probably amend that to “i kind of enjoyed their set” though. on the bright side, at least they weren’t clearly pissed at each other as the unicorns always seemed to be when i saw them live. oh, and what’s the deal with them wearing all white? are they trying to steal some of the ladies and gentlemen’s thunder?

oh, and i’d be remiss if i didn’t mention that i managed to catch wayne petti’s opening set (although i missed that of fox the boombox, except for their last song). apparently wayne had to rush over from a cuff the duke show and played a similar set to the last time i saw him perform solo: he included a couple of CTD tunes, some new originals, and some covers, including springsteen’s i’m on fire as a closer. i quite enjoyed it.

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

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