Category Archives: Music

The Year That Was

I assume you’re humming the theme of Jaws right now.

I stumbled on this website last night (whathappenedinmybirthyear.com) and I thought it was rather cool (assuming you, of course, are interested in random trivia). The gist – provide the website with the year you were born and it will provide you a string of information related to things that happened that year – news, movies, books, music, etc.

For example, assuming you were born in 1975 – which, in my completely unbiased opinion is a rather spectacular year, and I’m not just saying that because I may or may not have been born in said year – you’d learn the following (which is only a partial and slightly modified extract from the full website text):

In 1975, the world was a different place. There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo. 

The top selling movie was Jaws. 

The academy award for the best movie went to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The top actor was Jack Nicholson. The top actress was Louise Fletcher. 

The number one US bestseller of the time was Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow. 

Altair 8800 is released, sparking the era of the microcomputer.

The United Nations proclaims International Women’s Day.

Bobby Fischer refuses to play in a chess match against Anatoly Karpov, giving Karpov the title.

The Suez Canal opens for the first time since the Six-Day War.

NBC airs the first episode of Saturday Night Live, with George Carlin as the first host.

The wreck of the HMHS Britannic is found in the Kea Channel by Jacques Cousteau.

Victoria, Australia, abolishes capital punishment.

The video game of the day was Pong.

Anyway, check it out. It’s kind of cool in a completely nerdy kind of way.

A Cure For The Cold And Flu Seasons

Oh summer, how I love your sunshiny carefree laughing and carrying-on with friends kind of ways.

As I sit here looking out of my window1, I have realized that the last two days have really done an amazing job of reminding me that summer is over. The fact that it’s just after 7 and the sky is already dark really says it all.

You’ll have to excuse me, I don’t think I’ve finished mourning summer’s departure yet. I’ve got nothing against autumn2, I just miss all the heat and the sun and the blue-sky goodness.

Sweet baby jebus, autumn isn’t even a week old and I’m already wanting to hibernate. I clearly need to do something about this otherwise I’ll never survive the next 8 months.

Fortunately I have a bunch of things on my list that I could do, it’s just a matter of deciding on which of these to do. For example, there are at least two weddings early next year that will involve travel – both to locations where the sun never seems to leave. Obviously these are high on my list.

There’s also the Goofy Race in January. Since I’ve already committed a sizable fortune to that event, and since my friend Mark and I have agreed to run this together, it’s on the definitely happening list.

Between now and January, however, is where I’m drawing a blank. I’ve got a few races scheduled. I also have that little thing known as renovate the aftermath that is my flooded condo. And of course there is the course that I’m teaching – which to be honest is a lot of fun even if it is taking up about 80% more time than I had anticipated. I’m just not quite sure that this is enough to get me through. 

So, dear readers, I guess I’m left wondering what crazy and wonderful things I could add to my list over the next few months that will get me through the cold and flu seasons. I’m looking for personal challenges (of all sorts and sizes), weird and wonderful competitions, crazy adventures, outings, hikes, races, and all things in between. It could be related to photography, fashion, food, travel, yoga, tattoos, must listen to music, must see movies, or must read books. Be creative. Be awesome.

I can’t promise I’ll accomplish all of them, but I’ll give it a go at least. If you’ve got an idea, please leave it in the comments below.


1 Not an easy task given all of the stuff that is still in the way after the floods. Boo floods. Boo floods indeed.

2 Save for the fact that it paves the wave for that cold and stupid wintery season3.

3 Okay, okay. Hate might be a strong word. I mean, winter does have it’s perks – like snowshoeing, bobsledding, skiing, snowball fights, hot chocolate, and winter running. But it’s also the season where I freeze, and I hate me when I freeze.


Home Sweet Broken Home

Someone’s happy I’m home.
Me too Elliot. Me too.

I’m writing this post from the comfort of my own bedroom. More specifically I’m sitting on my bed poking away at my laptop while I listen to the wee fuzzball softly purring beside me1. His tail is flicking back and forth – clearly a happy kitty. The song Angels from the new The xx album Coexist2 is playing in the background.

Inside, I’m squeeing just a little.

It feels so good to be back home, even if my home, sweet home remains slightly broken. The good news is that it’s on the mend. All of the drywalling is complete, including the required mudding and sanding. There’s something to be said about not being able to see the bones of my condo. Beyond the drywall, I also came home to a hot water thank that had been reconnected3. The fridge is back where it belongs. The floors have been cleaned.

It is a huge improvement over how I left the condo last week when I moved into the Holiday Inn.

Judging by the paper in front of my door, I think I was the only person in my wing of the Holiday Inn. Leaving was not difficult.

I won’t say that I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel just yet – there are still so many things that need to be fixed. But it’s progress. Solid progress. Still remaining: the washer and dryer need to be repaired or replaced, the laundry room floor needs to be replaced, the carpets require new padding and a thorough cleaning, the lower kitchen cabinets need to be repaired. And all of my stuff that was once stored needs to be pulled apart, evaluated, and labelled appropriately: keep, sell, give-away or toss. My guess is that the give-away and toss piles are going to be huge4.

Oh, and there’s painting. Lots and lots of painting. And after that, a long overdue cleaning.

While much remains to be done I’m not going to dwell on these things tonight. Instead, I’m going to enjoy spending the night with the wee fuzzball in a condo that – if I close my eyes and pretend to ignore all of the mess that still remains – I can call home and truly feel it.


1 He clearly missed me because he’s been curled up next to me for well over an hour – paw outstretched so that it just rests on my forearm.

2 By the way, I’m loving this album. I’ve embedded Angels below for your listening pleasure.

3 Ensuring that I will be able to have a nice hot shower in the morning and thus won’t be a walking stink bomb. For those who might be scheduled to run into me tomorrow – you are welcome.

4 Purging is going to feel so good.


Anti-Naparticles And The Nap-Event Horizon

He looks cute, but really he’s a nap-hole

Remember yesterday when I was wired and clearly delirious? And remember how I went on and on about eating my sad breakfast on my sad stairs, and how I was using my sad coffee table as a makeshift chair for my sad little workstation, and how I ate my sat leftover fries and gravy that were two days old for dinner1?

Those were good times, no?

It’s amazing how 3 hours of sleep can make one transition from a state of delirium to zombie-ism in, well, 3 hours. It’s also amazing how the adrenaline of the first official lecture of the semester3 can ward off the zombie like effects of such little sleep. It’s also amazing how quickly one crashes when all the meetings and classes and other meetings end.

And that, dear readers, is what I did today. I crashed hard. In fact, I was in the middle of an email when I passed out. Fortunately I had returned home prior to this because the insurance claims adjusters had come by, and I wanted to get the scoop directly from them about the current and future states of my condo4. After they left, I did what any hardworking fellow would do – I went upstairs to work from the comfort of my bed. You see, I decided that my sad coffee table as a makeshift chair for my sad little workstation just wasn’t going to cut it today. And so I sat down and started drafting an email.

It was shortly after I started drafting the email that I noticed the head bobs. I fought them for a while. I turned up the music hoping the beat might keep me awake. I tried singing along but found my focus was highly questionable; my multitasking skills even more so.

A nap-hole is just like this, except fuzzier. And he purrs when his belly is rubbed.

And then Elliot joined me. I should have realized that he would ultimately be my undoing. I’ve alluded to his powers before; that is, I’m pretty positive that Elliot is the black hole for particles of awakeness. Being next to him pretty much guarantees that all of your awake particles (also known as anti-naparticles) will be drawn in by some mysterious and as yet poorly-understood-by-science gravity-like well produced by Elliot and presumably by all fuzzball like creatures; being lost forever beyond the nap-event horizon5.

Clearly I was too close to Elliot. Within seconds of him lying down I was out.

There I stayed in a state of blissful slumber until a text message woke me up6.

Anyway, despite my zombie-like beginnings to the day, I have to say today was awesome. Class included a most excellent guest lecture from my friend Danny (@dcwllms), my meetings were actually fun, I was able to chat with my claims adjusters and figure out what’s going on with my condo, and I had a nap. Not too shabby for a Tuesday.

Now I just have to get back to work as I have to finish prepping for tomorrow’s lab.

Hmmm, should I be concerned that the fuzzball just plopped down beside me again?


1 With bacon of course2.

2 And pie. Mmmmm, pie.

3 While we technically had a class last week, it was all introductions and how do you dos. Today’s class was the first official lecture.

4 You may recall that a pipe burst in my upstairs laundry room on the 14th of August, flooding my condo and the condo beneath me. You may not be aware that prior to leaving on the Big Mountain Challenge, I had a second flood because my water softener decide to go on the fritz. I don’t really understand the inner workings of a water softener so I’m not really going to speculate why this happened. Needless to say it did. The bottom line – my condo has been twice baptized. I hope this means that the flood demons have been exorcized appropriately.

5 The boundary at which all anti-naparticles will be unable to escape the gravity-like forces of Elliot.

6 Thanks Rick. Sheesh, even thousands of kilometres away and you’re still annoying me. Ha! I kid. I miss your ugly face.


All Night Long

20120908-223459.jpg
Nuit Blanche

Tonight, despite a strong desire to stay home and eat dinner on my stairs, I’ve opted to wander downtown and enjoy both the Guelph Jazz Festival and Nuit Blanche.

I know, it’s crazy – I mean, why wouldn’t I want to stay home and eat a sad dinner on my sad stairs given that my condo is still in a state of complete disarray after the two floods?

Ha! I kill me.

Seriously though, Nuit Blanche and the Jazz Festival are awesome. There are events until the break of dawn, art displays, jazz, food, tasty beverages, and so much more – so much to see, hear, and do – all within the few city blocks that make up Guelph’s downtown core.

Currently I’m listening to Jason Raso Quartet at the Cornerstone, while enjoying a rather hoppy IPA. It’s pretty awesome. You should probably be here.

Grizzlies – Smarter Than Your Average Bear

Who knew Grizzlies could count?

So today Rick and I were supposed to summit Mount Temple – an 11624 foot behemoth a stones throw from Lake Louise. To say we were stoked would have been an understatement. In fact, we spent a significant amount of time last night organizing our gear and laying everything out for the trek, including setting up a 4:45 am wake-up call.

I won’t lie, 4:45 am was painful. Really painful. But it wasn’t so bad considering what we knew we were about to do. We showered, packed, and made our way down to the main floor so that we could grab breakfast and our boxed lunches.

Shortly after 6:00 am we met up with Jason – the same fearless guide who led us up Cascade Mountain. Sadly, that’s when he had to inform us that Temple wasn’t going to happen. Not for weather, and not for dangerous conditions, and most definitely not because we weren’t up to the challenge. Temple couldn’t happen because of a law. A law about bears.

Seriously.

Grizzlies are clearly refined – dining only on meals of three or fewer hikers. Four would just be gluttony.

Specifically, the area that Mount Temple calls home is also home to Grizzly Bearsan important part of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem1. And because Grizzlies live in the shadow of Mount Temple, a law has been enacted to protect both bear and hiker. That law states that hikers may only enter the land of the Grizzly if they do so in groups of 4 or more2. Further, all members must maintain a maximum distance of 3 metres between each other. In other words – hikers need to stay close together – and not wander off from the group.

Unfortunately, despite our big smiles and bigger personalities, Rick, Jason, and myself were still only three people. Three is clearly less than four.

But not to fear, dear readers, all was not lost. Not by a long shot. Because Jason – our most excellent guide – had a fallback plan. That plan was to climb not one, but two mountains in place of Mount Temple – Mount Fairview (9003 feet, 2744 metres), and Saddleback Mountain (which isn’t as tall as Fairview – but I couldn’t find exact numbers on it). While neither mountain is as tall as Temple, both offered a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

Mount Fairview – conquered!

The day was fantastic – the weather was perfect, the views were amazing, and it was rather awesome to be able to climb two mountains when we had only thought we’d be climbing one. On top of all of that, Rick and I were able to cross off a few other of our to do items that had been given to us by several friends. Those items included: yoga on a mountain, singing for my friend Mel – a.k.a. @consuming_copy, and a jump shot or two (all provided below for your entertainment).

Anyway, now we’re just relaxing and enjoying the beauty that is the Fairmont Banff Lake Louise Hotel.

And don’t worry folks, we haven’t forgotten about Mount Temple. Rick and I will return – perhaps next year – to knock that off of our list.


Rick has conquered Mount Fairview.
Taking a moment to reflect on the climb.
Getting my jump on.
Enjoying the scenery.
Because it needed to happen.
Not my best bridge pose – but the rock was a little bit awkward.
So much epic scenery.
A tasty brew to celebrate our climb

Be warned – I can’t sing.


1 As posted on the signage we saw as we climbed Mount Fairview.

2 Who knew that Grizzlies could count? Clearly they are smarter than your average bear.


Kill Me Or Cure Me

I love my bib number because it reads the same upside down :)

I had a nap this evening1. It lasted only 20 minutes or so, but when I woke up I was fully discombobulated. I had no idea where I was, what I was doing, or what time it might have been. The only thing I recognized was the wee fuzzball who was softly purring as he nuzzled up in my arm.

I shook off the groggy feeling and realized I had missed a bunch of text messages. I slowly worked my way through them, trying to squint just the right amount to somehow make things clearer while I waited for my eyes to adjust to the light. I probably should have put my glasses on.

One message in particular jumped out at me. It was from my friend Amanda. She was wondering if I was going to be running tonight. Still slightly confused, nothing was coming to me. Did I make plans to run with Amanda tonight? Am I late? What the hell time is it? Why can’t I remember making plans?

After what seemed like an eternity, things started coming into focus. Tonight was the Guelph Classical 5km race. I hadn’t officially decided to run the race as I wasn’t sure if I was going to be in town. I sent Amanda a reply to find out when things were starting, but also letting her know that I wasn’t sure if I was going to run. I woke up not only groggy and discombobulated, but with rumblings that were the makings of a headache.

Text messages flew back and forth. Around 6:30 I suggested that I would think about the race and would let her know within 45 minutes regarding what I was going to do. I had assumed the headache was related to dehydration, so perhaps if I chugged a bunch of water in 45 minutes I’d be fine. Of course, the minute I wrote give me 45 minutes I was pretty much convinced that I was going to suck it up and run. I wrote back within minutes: Okay. Eff the headache, I’m in. I mean, the run was either going to kill me or cure me. So why wouldn’t I run?

And just like that, I was on my way downtown to run the Guelph Classical 5km. The race was a lot of fun, with Guelph Symphony Orchestra members playing at each of the kilometre markers. I was absolutely surprised and amazed at the number of people who came out to run. The event was very well-organized, and I’ll definitely be running it again next year.

Special thanks to the volunteers who were dealing with registration and bibs. Since the race was all very last-minute for me I hadn’t registered. I figured I’d register on site, but found out once there that they only accepted cash (I only had my credit card and debit card with me). Fortunately, one of the ladies working the tables allowed me to run, trusting that I would send a cheque or go online after the fact to pay the race fees.

Awesome2!

Anyway, I’m home now. While I didn’t land a personal best, I’m very happy with my result considering I started the run with a headache. And even better, my headache is gone now.

Apparently running 5km was the cure I needed.


1 Once again, it was accidental and I completely blame Elliot for being such an awesome nap-buddy.

2 For the record, I’ve just sent off the payment via PayPal.


I Don’t Actually Want To Take Over A Small Country…

A beautiful morning in downtown Guelph – with stops at the market (for donuts of course), and Planet Bean (for a latte of course), prior to boarding the train and heading to Toronto.

I just want to feel as if I could. :)

I’m currently on the train headed to Toronto. For those who normally take the bus, let me just tell you that travelling by train is far more civilized. Yes, it’s slightly more expensive, but for the extra cost you get more leg room, free wifi, bigger more comfortable seats, and the ability to walk around should you get tired. If Canada actually had a high-speed train service, I’d probably opt for it over flying1. I guess for now AirCanada, WestJet, etc., will retain my business.

But the train is not the point of this post. The point of this post is tomorrow’s marathon.

Again? Aren’t you ever going to shut up about that stupid marathon thingy? We get it. You’re running a really long distance. It’s not like you’re curing cancer or buying me presents. - You yell, rolling your eyes in frustration.

You are correct – I’m not buying you presents. That’s what you get when you yell at me. Ha!

I digress.

Anyway, yes, tomorrow is the big day. And if all goes well I should be finished the race in under 4 hours2.

Let’s consider that time – 4 hours – a little bit, shall we? That’s a long time to be doing anything. I mean, most of us don’t even last that long at work before we want a break – or is that just me? Clearly, with a 4 hour race planned I’m going to need some motivation to keep moving. For me, motivation comes in one of five major forms:

  1. Heading to pick up my race kit.

    Awesomely inappropriate, hilarious, and inspiring posters that the spectators bring with them,

  2. Little kids that put their hands out for high fives as you run by3,
  3. Spectators – often strangers – that scream my name and cheer me on,
  4. Friends and family that show up to cheer me on (especially when I’m unaware that they are going to attend), and
  5. Music.

All of these things have a way of giving me a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc., wind. And in many cases – runner’s high – an incredible euphoric sense that I can only describe as Amaze-balls in Awesome-sauce. For me, runner’s high is an entire body experience. It starts at the top of my head and slowly moves down my spine, through every muscle fibre. Often times, it comes in successive waves.

While I can’t exactly plan or count on runner’s high, I’ve run enough to know that sometimes certain songs seem to trigger it. In all cases, the songs are uplifting, positive, have a great beat, or include the word run or running in them. Seriously. A perfect example: Melissa Etheridge’s I Run For Life - a song I believe she wrote as a response to her own battle with breast cancer.

Anyway, I have several other go-to songs that get me pumped (feel free to mock me ad nauseam for any or all of these – but remember, they get me through a marathon – so they can’t be completely terrible). Not all of these are what I would necessarily call great in terms of their lyrics – but they do get the job done. They either have a great beat, in some cases a great message, or are just kick-ass awesome in their own way. Some of these include:

  • Lady Gaga (Monster, Boys Boys Boys, Born This Way, Alejandro, Edge Of Glory, and Highway Unicorn4, to name a few)
  • Jill Barber (Oh My My)
  • Fun. (Some Nights, We Are Young)
  • Florence And The Machine (Drumming, Dog Days Are Over, Shake It Out, What The Water Gave Me, and so many more)
  • Adele (Rolling In The Deep, Rumour Has It, Set Fire To The Rain)
  • David Bowie (Changes, Golden Years, Oh You Pretty Things)
  • Depeche Mode (Wrong)
  • Guns N’ Roses (Nightrain)
  • Kelly Clarkson (Stronger)
  • Madonna (Deeper And Deeper, Rescue Me, Push, Jump, etc.)
  • Michael Jackson (Man In The Mirror, Black Or White, Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, etc.)
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead (Say Hey, Soundsystem)
  • The Offspring (Self-Esteem)
  • Peter Gabriel (Solsbury Hill)
  • Placebo (Pure Morning)
  • Prince (When Doves Cry)
  • Robyn (Dancing On My Own)
  • Sinead O’Connor (No Man’s Woman, Mandinka)
  • Stone Temple Pilots (Sex Type Thing)
  • The Tragically Hip (Three Pistols, New Orleans Is Sinking, etc.)
The palindrome-y nature of my bib number appeals to the math nerd inside me.

But now to the point of this post.

Finally!

What songs do you listen to when you run or exercise?

What songs have you dancing around the kitchen when you think no one is watching?

What songs move you?

I ask because I’m looking for some new music. My play list, while awesome and getting the job done, is getting old. So I’m looking for some new additions.

The songs need to be upbeat, full of awesome, and make you feel like you could take on an army of angry raptors with nothing but your bare hands and a charming (but deadly) mouthful of pearly whites. Or perhaps they make you feel as if you could take over a small country, while at the same time winning the hearts and minds of its residents. Whatever the song does – so long as it moves you – I want to know about it.

Less than 18 hours until the gun goes off. W00t!


1 Can I ask why? I mean, I know this country is huge, but we are the only country in the G8 (according to the all-knowing and all-powerful Wiki) to not have a high-speed train service. Surely we could organize one between some of our cities.

2 My previous marathon took just over 4 hours 8 minutes to complete. Of course, I had to slow down after about kilometre 36 because my IT band decided to explode. Or at least that is how it felt.

3 And I question anyone’s judgement who chooses not to high-five these kids.

4 How can I not include a song about unicorns. Ha!


Adventures With The Warrior Princess

Solace (Sarah McLachlan album)

While I was in Toronto on Saturday picking up my race kit for the Yonge Street 10k, I stumbled on some rather exciting information. Specifically, I stumbled on the fact that Sarah McLachlan was coming to town. More specifically, I learned that she was coming to town Friday, June 22, and that she would be joined by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

Sarah McLachlan and the TSO?

Note the first: I am a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan, and have been since around the time she released Solace. This means that despite the fact that I’ve already seen Sarah a few times, seeing her again was a no-brainer.

Note the second: While I might not be the most versed in classical music, I love the symphony. It’s more than just listening to the music. It’s experiencing it. I’m not quite sure how to describe it, other than to say that I know what I love, and I love it.

Given these notes, you’ll not be surprised to know that I might have squeeed a little on learning that Sarah was not only coming to Toronto, but that she would be joined by the TSO. My first thought was not whether I was going, or how I might get there, but who was going to join me. The answer was very clearly my friend The Warrior Princess (commonly known as Aqleema, although there is nothing common about her), who had joined me on my last outing to see Sarah.

After verifying that tickets were available, I sent Aqleema a text message that went something like this:

Me: Sarah McLachlan June 22. Molson Amphitheatre. You in?
Me: The only answer is yes.

While awaiting Aqleema’s response, I was already in the process of buying tickets. I was serious when I wrote The only answer is yes. Of course Aqleema was on board without question.

Anyway, I’m freaking stoked! So much so that I had to ask the almighty and all-powerful Google to find me some videos of Sarah doing what she does best. I also challenged the Google to find me videos of Sarah doing what she does best while accompanied by an orchestra doing what it does best. The Google did not disappoint. And since the Google did not disappoint I can offer to you, dear readers, the following videos.

You are welcome.





Saturday’s Just Getting Started

AMAZING!

And after just over an hour outside running in the light snow, to no snow, to holy crapshite it’s absolutely freezing out here and I think my eyeballs are frozen because I can’t see anything anymore, I’m back home. And after stretching and enjoying a very hot coffee, I think my parts are finally warming back up.

Anyway, that run was fantastic. Despite the slush and the salt and the snow and the ice and all the various combinations, I managed to finish my week strong – with a 13.04 km run at an average pace of 5 minutes 33 seconds. Additionally, I didn’t feel knackered at any point during the run. I felt strong and consistent, and that’s how I’m hoping to be come marathon day in May.

Beside the run, today was filled with rather typical chores: laundry, cleaning, groceries, etc. I also braved the mall in order to pick up the Adele Live at Royal Albert Hall DVD, and to purchase my January bottle of scotch (so as to begin the challenge that is item #251 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list).

Doesn't she look pretty?

I’m stoked about the DVD. I love Adele’s music and haven’t grown tired of her albums yet (something that I tend to do when I repeatedly listen to the same thing over and over). I’ve embedded a preview of the DVD. Trust me, if you are a fan, you want to own this DVD. It’s freaking amazing. I so wish I was able to go to that concert. Ah well, the DVD is still pretty awesome.

As for my scotch, I picked up a ~$50 bottle this time. It’s a new scotch – well, at least new to me. I haven’t tried it yet so I’ve no idea what it’s going to be like. It’s a 10-year-old single malt scotch, from the Isle of Jura. Hence, it’s simply called Jura. Specifically, Jura Origin. The box informs me that it is light and delicate with a warming honey finish. It also informs me that

this beguiling spirit has a lingering taste of warming gentle oak, notes of honey and caramel, soft liquorice and roasted coffee beans. 

Finally, it also tells me that it should be leisurely savoured. Done and done!

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m off to meet up with some friends for dinner. Because my Saturday is only just getting started.


Update: For those curious, the box did not lie. Honey – check. Caramel – check. Warming – check. And I am absolutely pleasantly surprised to say: Coffee – check. Verdict – I approve of this scotch.



Three Violins, A Cello, A Piano, And Tori

Tori Amos at Massey Hall, December 8, 2011. Photo credit: Tom Pandi

Wow, has it really been 5 days since my last post? Sorry folks, I guess things just got a bit hectic. Trust me, it’s not for lack of things to write about. Quite the opposite.

For example, last Thursday night I headed to Massey Hall in Toronto with Dom to cross off item #35 from my Not-So-Bucket-List list. That item: see Tori Amos in concert.

Now, dear readers, you should be aware that Tori Amos has been on my list of favourite musicians since I was first introduced to her by a friend in high school. Since that time I have wanted to see her in concert but never managed to do so; either because I was unaware of the opportunity, or because I wasn’t able to go. Thankfully that all changed on Thursday.

Photo credit: Tom Pandi

And holy shite, what a concert! I’ve been thinking about the concert since Thursday, and I can honestly say that I think this is in the list of my top five concerts. It may even be number 1. It was that good. It probably didn’t hurt that Tori was accompanied by her piano, and a string quartet including 3 violins, and 1 cello. For those unaware, I’m a sucker for strings. The combination of Tori’s voice with the strings – incredible. After every song I could hear people around me commenting to their friends about how amazing the last song was. This of course between applause, and various hooting and hollering.

Photo credit: Tom Pandi

It’s hard for me to pick my favourite pieces of the evening, but I think at least two of them were Spark, and her cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s Songbird. Amazing. Simply amazing.

For Spark, she pounded on the side of the piano to capture the drums one would typically hear on the track. As for Songbird, the song itself is beautiful and Tori does an incredible job of living up to the standard set by Stevie Nicks.

Honestly though, I think Tori could sing the phonebook and impress me. Her voice is incredible and I am so happy that I’ve finally been able to see her in concert. For those of you who might be fans, you have to check out one of her concerts. Tori on CD is amazing, but Tori live is amazing on a completely different level. I know for sure that I’ll be seeing her again.

Anyway, for those of you that might be interested, I’ve linked several of the performances from Thursday’s concert below (at least, what I could find). I’ve also added the set list.


Shattering Sea

Playboy Mommy

Father Lucifer

Songbird (Fleetwood Mac) – Note, this video is not from the Massey Hall concert, but it gives you an idea of the brilliance of the song, and of Tori.


Setlist:

  • Shattering Sea
  • Way Down
  • Suede
  • Star of Wonder (John Hopkins cover) (Solo)
  • Nautical Twilight
  • Maybe California
  • Jackie’s Strength (Solo)
  • Cooling (Solo)
  • Playboy Mommy (Solo)
  • Winter
  • Spark
  • Star Whisperer
  • Take to the Sky (Solo)
  • Taxi Ride (Solo)
  • Songbird (Fleetwood Mac cover) (Solo)
  • Fearlessness
  • Hey Jupiter
  • Spring Haze
  • Cruel

Encore:

  • A Multitude of Shades
  • Father Lucifer
  • Edge of the Moon
  • Precious Things
  • Big Wheel

Adventures In Unplanning

The Barrymore theatre.

As a Statistician, it should come as no surprise that I love random things. So it should really come as no surprise that I love when random things equate to random awesome adventures.

Take for example my recent trip to New York. The trip was roughly planned out between Steph, Gerarda, and myself. That is, we emailed a few ideas of things to do, places to go, food to eat, drinks to drink, and plays to attend. Based on our conversations, Dr. Steph had sketched out an itinerary that included such things as a gin sampling at the Breuckelen Distilling Company, eating at Crumbs bakery, drinking copious amounts of wine at Maloney & Porcelli‘s Weekend Wine Dinner, and seeing The Book of Mormon. But, we are not the type to be so stuck on our plans that we can’t change them on a whim. Granted, after buying the tickets for The Book of Mormon in advance we likely wouldn’t have been changing those plans.

Regardless, our original list was soon revised, and revised, and revised again. Not because anything prevented us from completing our original list of awesome New York activities. Instead, other opportunities presented themselves and we had to jump on them. Take for example the gin tasting; first it was moved from Friday to Saturday because we randomly found ourselves going to see a Jimmy Fallon rehearsal, then it was removed from our list to accommodate Seminar – the play I mentioned yesterday. In the case of the Jimmy Fallon rehearsal, we acted as guinea pigs; our reactions were used to determine which of his opening monologue jokes would make it into that evenings act. Most of the jokes were hilarious, but a few were absolute bombs and they did not make the cut. We also sat through his Thank You Letters which were terribly hilarious. Seeing Seminar with Alan Rickman was a time limited opportunity; we reasoned that the distillery would still be around next summer – a time when we could sit on a patio and enjoy gin-based beverages while watching the world go by.

Another item that made it onto our list that we hadn’t planned – seeing Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin in concert. We managed to snag tickets for this show the same night that we bought the tickets for Seminar. We only learned of the show while perusing the website for the Seminar tickets. Since Gerarda is a huge Patti LuPone fan, this was a no-brainer.

Me, taking a bite out of the big apple, I guess.

The show was amazing. We were fortunate to have purchased some excellent seats, although I really don’t think any of the seats in the Barrymore Theatre were bad. The show was a medley of famous broadway songs, presented on a stage consisting of a piano, a cello, and various microphones and lights. A simple set, but enough for the two actors to work with. They managed to keep me completely engaged with the barest of props – a testament to their ability as stage actors.

Of all the songs they performed, I’d have to say my favourites were those related to Evita. For those not in the know, both LuPone and Patinkin made famous the lead roles of Evita. LuPone sang Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, while Patinkin sang Oh What A Circus - which was absolutely freaking incredible. I only learned of their roles in Evita thanks to Gerarda. Clearly I have much to learn.

Anyway, while our original trip itinerary ended up being slightly modified here and there, the end result was an amazing adventure. In fact, I prefer not having things so planned on a trip because it provides the opportunity to stumble on some great things. In this case, we managed to pack in two extra shows, plus see Jimmy Fallon live. Awesome.



The Book Of Awesome

The Book of Mormon. W00t.

One of the reasons The Doctors decided to come to the Big Apple was to see The Book Of Mormon; the 9 Tony award-winning – including best musical - broadway production written by the creators of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone), and the writer of Avenue QBobby Lopez. This of course was not the only reason for visiting New York, but it did give us a great reason to be here.

Tonight all of our planning came to fruition, as Steph, Gerarda, and I made our way to Broadway. In a word: Amaze-balls. The play is about a couple of Mormons who have been sent on a 2 year mission to Uganda; one of the Mormons a born prophet type, the other a completely bumbling but loveable twit.

The play was absolutely hilarious; and in proper South Park style – nobody was safe, nor were any topics taboo. Everything was skewered. Dark things that people don’t speak about were brought out into the spotlight and ridiculed. And all of this in a brilliantly hilarious, yet on-point way. For example, the song “Turn it off” mocks abuse, and cancer – and who mocks those things? Better yet, the play does an amazing job of mocking it from a religious point of view, which probably equates to blasphemy to some; to me – hilarity. It also pokes fun at the Mormon, and really most religions’ view on homosexuality. For example:

“When I was in fifth grade, I had a friend Steve Blade,
He and I were close as two friend could be
One thing led to another, and soon I would discover,
I was having really strange feelings for Steve

I thought about us, on a deserted Island
We’d swim naked in the sea, and then he’d try and…

WOAH!  Turn if off, like a light switch,
there its gone! (Good for you!)
My hetero side just won!
I’m all better now,
Boys should be with girls thats heavenly fathers plan
So if you ever feel you rather be with a man,
Turn it off.”

The music was fantastic. I actually found myself dancing in my seat and smiling my face off the entire time. I honestly am not sure what my favourite songs were because they all were fantastic, but I can say for sure that some of them were so off-colour that I probably shouldn’t be singing them aloud in certain company. I also don’t want to spoil the show for anyone that might be wanting to see it, so I’m not going to link to YouTube to share them with you. Instead, if you want to see the play, just let me know. I would absolutely see this again.

Let me repeat that: I would absolutely see this again. Phenomenal. I am so glad I got to see this on Broadway, and for those of you coming to the city it is completely worth the cost. See it. See it. See it. I can’t say that enough. You won’t regret it.

Unless you are perhaps easily offended. Then it might not be your cup of tea.


An Evening With Jill Barber

Why yes, that is an autographed vinyl copy of Jill Barber's Mischievous Moon.

Not only was Friday the second #LunchUpGuelph, it was also an Evening With Jill Barber. Could this day have been any better? Likely not.

The eve started with a nice glass of wine with my friends Dr. V. and Carolyn. We chatted about running, marathons, and health, with a bit of work thrown in, and of course, shenanigans. After that, we met up with Cody and Sarah who were saving seats for us in the second row of the Dublin Street Church; the location for the concert.

Note to my mom: I went to church! So, I’m good for the year now, right?

I’ve never seen a concert in a church, save for choral type music. I have to say, it was really pretty cool. There was a smell of incense in the air (or as I mentioned to Victoria – It smells like Church in here); a smell that I happen to love as it makes me think of Christmas mass when I was a kid. The organ-as-backdrop was rather epic too. The setting was quite intimate, especially since we were sitting in the second pews from the altar/stage.

Eventually, the band came on the stage and started playing. Jill Barber entered from stage left. While her band was decked out in black, she was in a very sparkly white dress and heals. The contrast was pretty striking. She had the air of an old-time movie star, crossed with a pin-up girl from the 50s. Sultry, seductive, beautiful. And then she started singing. Her voice is even more amazing in person than it is on her album, and that is saying a lot. I’ve been trying to come up with the best way of describing her voice, but the only words that come to mind are sultry and sensual and completely feminine. She seems like she has been transported from an era long-gone-by. Her voice is unique, and timeless, and completely soothing.

Between songs, she chatted with the audience; telling us stories about her life, some of the instruments, and her band members. They included a violin-hickey sporting child prodigy, a pianist/accordionist Doctor of chemical physics, an amazing Upright Bassist who was apparently available for the single ladies (and possibly single men) in the house, her amazing drummer, and her guitarist/road manager (if I remember correctly). It was clear that the band enjoys spending time together. There was a certain obvious mischievous between them. This only made the concert that much better; it was as if we were watching an amazingly smooth and flawless rehearsal; one that we were privileged to take part in.

After the concert, the band played with the church organ while we waited in line to chat with Jill, purchase some music, and have her sign the items. Up close and personal, she seemed very down to earth and personable. She took the time to not only sign my LP, but to chat with me about it and then personalize it for me. Very cool Jill. Very cool indeed.

Anyway, I’m so glad I was able to see her in concert. I look forward to her next visit to Guelph. I’m definitely going to make a point of seeing her again.



Music To My Ears

A few days ago I posted a list of items that I’d save if given the chance should my house be on fire (see The Burning House Project). The particular post was inspired by a tweet that my friend Rob had posted during the Ontario provincial election. Later on, Rob commented on the post with his own list of items that he would save. The first item on his list of things to save was his collection of favorite albums. Specifically, he stated

If this list was a ‘desert island’ music pick – these would be it.

And as a typical response to anything Rob does, I started thinking. Specifically, if I were on a deserted island which albums would I want to bring with me? Which albums do I think I’d be able to listen to for a lifetime without ever getting bored with them? While the questions themselves are not new, and the idea of a ‘desert island’ list is clearly old hat, it’s one that I hadn’t really thought much about. Until now.

As with most people, I can list a bunch of albums that I like, and some that I love, but listing a collection of albums that I’d never get tired of should I be required to listen to them for the remainder of my years – that’s tough. I mean, there are a lot of albums out there; where does one start? What makes a good album? Is it the lyrical content? Is it the musicality? Is it the statement? Or is it simply that I want to dance in my chair when I hear the album? How does one classify art?

Clearly, a set of rules to govern my list selection was in order. The thought being that a set of rules would help limit the list of potential albums that could make it to my ‘desert island’ collection. I first thought to trim the collection by imposing a time constraint. Specifically, the albums had to be released during or after 1975 – hence, in my life time. Further, I could only pick one album per artist – no doubling up (and that wasn’t easy). I also excluded movie soundtracks, rap, and country. Excluding rap and country was easy, as there is no way they would have made my list regardless. Soundtracks could have made the list, but I opted for non instrumental-only albums. Next, I decided I’d allow myself 10 albums, plus one additional 10 song mixed album which could include any song from any time (for 11 in total). The mixed album would be a repository of one-off songs that I absolutely love for one reason or another. Finally, I would count a multi-disk album as a single selection on my list.

So with my list of rules in hand, I sat down and thought about my list. And dear readers, without further ado, I offer to you my desert list in no particular order. Note that I tried to select a range of music to satisfy whatever mood I might be in while on a deserted island. I assumed those moods would be think-y, day-dream-y, hungry, mosh-pit-ydance-y, or sexy-time-y. Those are all moods, right?

Albums

  1. Adele – 21
  2. Tori AmosLittle Earthquakes
  3. Loreena McKennitt – The Visit
  4. Sarah McLachlan - Solace
  5. Pearl Jam – Ten
  6. Tragically Hip – Yer Favourites
  7. Florence and the Machine – Lungs
  8. Guns ‘N Roses – Appetite for Destruction
  9. Nirvana – Unplugged In New York
  10. Joni Mitchell – Hits
  11. Madonna – The Immaculate Collection

Album of One-offs

  1. Dee-LiteGroove Is In The Heart
  2. Michael Franti & SpearheadSay Hey (I love you)
  3. Third Eye Blind – Semi Charmed Life
  4. Sir Mix-a-Lot - I Like Big Butts
  5. K.D. Lang – Hallelujah
  6. Annie Lennox – Into The West
  7. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over The Rainbow
  8. Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill
  9. Simon and Garfunkel – The Boxer
  10. Nina Simone – Sinner Man

I have to say, picking Groove is in the Heart was the easiest selection for my one-offs. That song is my happy song. Every time I hear it, I can picture myself and a certain group of friends dancing our collective faces and butts off. It is absolutely awesome because it always, always, always makes me smile.

So there you have it folks. My list of music. Of course, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some rather epic albums, so I reserve the right to modify this list as I see fit. And who knows, the best album that ever existed may not yet exist. I have to be allowed the ability to add that to my list.

What albums would you have included?