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Archive for October, 2006

26 Oct 06

active surplus: a treasure trove of crap

after living in toronto for a year and a half, i finally paid a visit to active surplus on queen west. if you live in toronto, you know the place – a gorilla suit out front, alongside a random guy whose “job” is to say “active surplus, active surplus, come on in, you never know what you’ll find!” it’s because of this guy that i never went in before…until a couple weeks ago, not-so-coincidentally when he wasn’t manning his post. and now that i’ve visited, i think it’s my favourite store ever! they really do have everything. and here’s a small sample:

awesome flashlight glasses:

super portable cell phone:

“turntable disk thingies”:

old school rotary phones:

microfiche reader (only $50!):

“insulating thingys”:

film canisters:

little boxes:

switch box thingies?:

so, if you need… well, anything, so long as it’s not particularly useful, stop on by…if you can bring yourself to walk by the sketchy guy outside.

18 Oct 06

meligrove + dynamic funds

i’m late posting this one, but, in my ongoing series of posts about good songs being featured prominently in ad campaigns (see: joel plaskett, camouflage nights, deadly snakes, marble index, jim guthrie, etc.), i’d be remiss if i didn’t include the meligrove band’s before we arrive in an ad for dynamic funds, of all things. i hope they earned enough to buy something good from that deal.

16 Oct 06

the one thing i have in common with jack nicholson

is it just me, or does the fact that jack nicholson had to have a stone in his salivary gland removed suddenly make my own salivary gland issues a whole lot cooler? until now, i thought i was the only one with this freakish problem…but, jack makes anything cool. he was even hospitalized for his issue – meanwhile, i had mine cut out and was back at work an hour later.

and it was gross.

16 Oct 06

exclaim + mint have a birthday

i’m obviously a subscriber to the “better late than never” school of blog posts, which is why i have no problem making this post about last wednesday’s exclaim show, in spite of the fact that it’s now the following monday. sure, a “good” blogger who is “on the ball” would have made this post by “thursday”, but my own goals are less lofty: i’ll settle for being an “adequate” blogger. or perhaps “subpar”.


let’s start this again: wednesday night was exclaim/mint anniversary show at the kool haus, and thanks to phil‘s newfound exclaim connections, he scored me a free ticket. the lineup was pretty fantastic: new pornographers, immaculate machine, novillero and the bicycles. i would’ve probably felt like i had died and gone to heaven if it wasn’t at the kool haus, if it wasn’t a school night, and if i wasn’t so damn old. if rock crew chris were still around, he’d probably say something like “even i wouldn’t put on a 4 band show!”

we sadly missed novillero, who are on my list of bands i seem destined to never see live, but we arrived at the beginning of immaculate machine’s set. they’re a band with some really good songs (and the guitarist has a killer elvis stojko haircut) but not a lot of stage presence. i guess you can get away with that when you have catchy songs, and a keyboardist who can sing like kathryn calder.

i was much more into the new pornographers’ set than i was the the last time i saw them at the phoenix. sadly, there was no dan bejar this time to add a couple songs, nor was there neko to add her voice and presence, but they still played a fun show proving that, as carl newman once said, they really can be the new pornographers without neko. i don’t think i’d be able to say the same thing if they didn’t have someone as good as kathryn calder (yes, her again) touring with them. also, and i’ve said before, i can never get enough of watching kurt dahle drum. a high point: when a moron in the crowd yelled “we love you neko!” kathryn looked pretty uncomfortable, and kurt dahle yelled “she’s not even here, you fucker!” that solved that.

definitely not bad for a free show, and for the 2nd time in a couple weeks, grant lawrence was the MC. not bad at all.

11 Oct 06

friends of chumptastic, i need a favour…

i find myself on a somewhat embarassing and oddly elaine-ian quest: i’m in search of a discontinued deodorant. for the last few years, i’ve received many compliments on how i smell – “what cologne are you wearing?” people often ask. “none,” i reply with a knowing smile, “it’s my deodorant.” for a while i wondered if i only smelled good in relation to other IT people, but i’ve since ruled that out (although i like to think that is a true statement). anyway, in summary, speed stick ultimate summit grand (by mennen!) gets the credit for my odour.

sadly, these compliments will come to an end in the near future when my stockpile runs out. that’s right, colgate-palmolive, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that: “[a]lthough [they] realize that a number of consumers enjoyed the product, unfortunately sales were simply not sufficient to continue selling it”, according to lucienne beaumont, bilingual consumer consultant of colgate-palmolive’s consumer affairs department. lucienne tried to be helpful by sending me $10 in coupons for colgate-palmolive products, but ultimately i won’t be satisfied until i can spend those $10 on speed stick ultimate summit grand.

i’ve taken to looking for leftover stock at any drug store i pass by, and it’s proven to be somewhat successful – i hit the jackpot at the liberty village dominion last week – 7 sticks! sadly, these 7 sticks won’t last me forever, and this is where you, my dear reader, come in: if you happen to come across a stash of speed stick ultimate summit grand, please email me at and let me know where i can pick more up. otherwise, i may be forced to trying to decide whether an event (or person) is summit grand-worthy or not, and no one wants that to happen. come to think of it, could that be why IT staff tend to smell the way they do? could it be that i’m not deodorant-worthy? perhaps that’s a topic for another post.

[a quick aside: who knew that people bought deodorant on ebay? not i.]

10 Oct 06

bye bye controller.controller

in a blog post that never quite made it from my brain to the web, i was pondering the future of controller.controller. i saw them play a show two weeks ago (with the fabulous you say party! we say die!) that left me wondering whether i’d ever see them play again. their set was energy-filled as always, but it was almost identical to the show i saw them play almost exactly a year before…and the parting words of the band were something to the effect that we shouldn’t plan on seeing them for quite some time, and that they needed a break.

i happened across this chartattack article a couple days ago that confirmed my suspicions – bye bye nirmala. it’s a shame really, ’cause i quite liked controller.controller, and they seemed to get more and more intense every time i saw them. but really, after hearing stories of band members getting into a fight at the grad club a while back, i figured it was only a matter of time. i guess that means that, as was the case with the deadly snakes, i attended the 2nd last ever controller.controller show. what an honour.

in other news, welcome torontoist readers. i enjoy the fact that chumptastic was cited in a story about k-os being an asshole to a reviewer, something that i’m all too familiar with.

05 Oct 06

i’m in awe of joanna newsom…and i’m not alone

it’s about time joanna newsom finally played a show in toronto. she played the mod club last night, alone on stage with her enormous harp, and i haven’t seen many shows like it. since she’d never played toronto before, she elected to alternate between older songs (from the milk-eyed mender) and new ones (from her forthcoming ys which, incidentally, is a crazily ambitious album that i think is best defined as a grower). i think it’s safe to say that i’ve never seen anyone cram as many words into an hour as she did – her songs are complex and very wordy (for lack of a better word) in a good way, and the lack of traditional verse-chorus-verse song structure or any kind of extended instrumental stretches left me wondering how she didn’t mess up the lyrics more often than the one time she did (which, incidentally, she covered quite well by simply replaying that section over again without missing a beat).

i watched her with the kind of awe that i feel when i watch paul aucoin and his hylozoists play live – like his mastery of the vibraphone, joanna newsom makes playing the harp look easy, in spite of the fact that it’s twice her size and has 47 strings. it’s insane to watch. at one point i was trying to figure out how she knows which string is which, and i got my answer shortly after when she kindly requested that the lighting guy stop using saturated colours that make all of the strings the same colour.

the crowd was both unbelievably attentive, as well as almost too at home with joanna. i haven’t seen an audience so completely entranced by a performance since i saw sondre lerche at lee’s palace a couple years ago, but between songs the setting felt so intimate (well, as much as the mod club ever does) and she seemed so approachable that people couldn’t resist but talking to her as though she were in their living room: “i love you!” “come to toronto more often” “come to toronto every month!” “never leave!” etc. at one point, someone in the front row even gave her a handkerchief because she was so warm. crazy.

the show only lasted a little over an hour, including a 2 song encore, but it was a jam packed hour. i get the sense that she would’ve played even longer if she wasn’t getting blisters – an occupational hazard – but i’m not complaining.

[thanks to the omnipresent chromewaves for his lovely joanna newsom photo]

03 Oct 06

see vous play

i must say that i admire what cbc radio 3 attempted to do on sunday night at the kool haus: on international music day, they organized a 4 band (2 anglophone, 2 francophone) all ages show, giving away free tickets via their podcast and radio show. oh, and they cleverly called it see vous play. unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite as i’d hoped.

we arrived at around 8, thinking that, since the doors opened at 6:30, we could skip at least one of the openers. sadly, this was not to be. les breastfeeders had just begun playing when we arrived, and their set was extremely loud, but reasonably fun for an all-french set. i quite enjoyed the band member whose main role was to jump around shirtless with a tamborine. we figured he could probably get a job with the ladies and gentlemen (or small sins, if you prefer) if things don’t pan out with les breastfeeders.

emily haines and her new band, the soft skeleton, went on second. i was looking forward to her set, and i quite enjoyed her single, but the set itself made me want to go to sleep. robin described it as music to kill yourself by, which was fairly apt…but the strings and horns sure were pretty. sadly, no one shouted out requests for dead disco to liven things up a little.

next were les trois accords, who i could’ve really done without. apparently they’ve sold over 100 thousand albums in quebec, but i won’t be buying a copy. their 50 minute set seemed to drag on forever, and i kept looking at the time, realizing that things were going much later than expected. yawn.

joel plaskett and his emergency band finally took the stage at about 11:40, which was frustrating since kristi had to make the annoying drive back to whitby after the show, on a school night no less. we managed to stick around for 5 songs, but had to leave much sooner than we’d liked. it’s tricky finding an appropriate time to leave when dealing with someone like joel – there are no low points in which to sneak out. we had to leave during nowhere with you of all songs. anyway, as has been the case roughly 75% of the many times i’ve seen joel play live, he was sick, and it showed in his voice. he was endearing as always and put on a good show, but it sounded like it was hurting him to sing – he definitely didn’t have his usual range. having listened to the cbc radio 3 recording of a million dollars, i do have to say though that jill barber made him sound fantastic though. definitely not her finest moment.

so how could they improve on things? if i were running things and it HAD to be a 4 band bill, i would’ve definitely started things a bit earlier and reduced the set lengths of the bands. did we really need 50 minutes of each of them? it was a shame that so many people left before joel even took the stage. i probably also would’ve chosen different bands, but hey, you can’t please everyone. a good effort anyway, and it was free – AND, i got a free loot bag containing a mint records cd. not all bad.

[note: thanks to cbc radio 3 for the photo of jp.]

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

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