Archive Page 2

06
Mar
09

Free Market = Anarchy

First of all, all this glass-is-half-empty talk in the media around the current economic downturn is just a license to be negative & indulge in dark notions. There. Now that’s out of the way I can get on with the reason we’re here.

A free, unfettered market fails in saving man from himself. Human greed is overwhelming, deep seeded & cannot be overcome (as a species). Corporations in general are headless, heartless & spiritually devoid anti-human entities. (I once saw a documentary that compared corporations quite aptly with textbook psychopaths.) Corporations are robotic constructs beholden to shareholders blinded by greed, and for those in their employ it’s a matter of survival of the fittest. If the employee’s own good is sacrificed by the greater good, then it’s culturally OK -nay, encouraged & expected- that the greater good be sacrificed. This regime is not sustainable & will devour everything & everyone. Corporations would rather pay $50 million later than $10 million now (say, in a case concerning environmental impact). It’s all about instant fiscal gratification – it’s not even good business. In the meantime -in this example- our environment gets destroyed.

I’m no economist, but it seems clear that unleashing the bankers (under G.W. Bush) & letting them run wild is what caused the stock market to crash à la 1929. Fortunately, in one sense, our Canadian bankers are much more conservative, and hence our banking system is much more stable. Having said that, good luck getting a loan from a Canadian bank even in the best of times…
You: “Can I borrow $1000?”
Cdn bank: “I dunno – do you have $1000?”

A free, unfettered market equals a descent into chaos, madness & tribalism. It could even be characterized as devolution. In this dog eat dog world of finance, one thing seems clear – if my banker doesn’t have a mohawk, he ain’t worth his salt.

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06
Feb
09

don’t panic

It is said that worry & regret are useless emotions. I would add a caveat to that – regret is a good emotion only when it teaches you what you regret, and hence what not to repeat. Likewise, worry reminds you not to allow the situation which arose that worried you to arise again. To worry about things you have no control over, mind you, is a complete waste of time and energy, and does unnecessary harm.

Panic, however, is worse than useless – it’s damaging, and even dangerous. Physically, mentally, financially etc.. It makes bad situations worse. (Almost like you’re willing it to.) Panic tenses you up, when you need to be limber. Panic makes you thrash when you should make no sudden moves, but rather methodical ones. (You can still move quickly as needed, just not aimlessly.) Panic makes you run out the back/public exit of a burning theater with the rest of the mob – getting crowded, stuck and trampled – instead of calmly surveying and going out the clear & uncrowded front exit down by the movie screen.

Panic can arise both in times of physical threat -as outlined above- or otherwise (ie. mental, financial etc.). If, for example, you are panicked that your EI is about to run out then your chances of getting that job that you desperately need decrease exponentially. Desperation & fear do not make for a good scent. There is always the possibility of willing your fears to come true – ie. self-fulfilling prophecy. If you relax and allow the Universal Spirit to course through you, the answer will present itself.

It’s a good time of year to ponder chillaxation. Everything’s gonna be alright – the Earth & Great Spirit can provide for us and keep us safe & warm (as they have in the past) if we just relax, open up & let them.

01
Feb
09

Sophomoric TV Shows For Canadian Indie Musicians, 35 Year-Old Men & Rabbid Hockey Fans

I’m not sure how long “Cock’d Gunns” can last, given it’s narrow demographic of Ontario Indie rockers. OK, maybe Canadian indie rockers, but still. This show follows the travails of a band that’s booking Lear Jets in their imaginations six months out – visions of grandeur abound for the trio. The recorded tracks on the show’s soundtrack are actually really good, in contrast to the depicted band of bunglers. The songs have names like “Baby Labia”, and the lead singer epidomizes the joke about how many singers it takes to screw in a light bulb (-one, because the earth evolves around him).

Shockingly, the show seems to have been dropped by Showcase… but picked up by IFC! (At least the already filmed episodes are recieving play. I’d be surprised -& giddy- if they go back into production.)

Watch episodes online @ showcase.ca/videos… (Scroll up on the video player thingamajig to find all the episodes.)

Cock’d Gunns airs on IFC 8pm Friday’s

Another show with a seemingly narrow demo is the “Jon Dore Television Show”. If you’re a man around 35 years old, this is the show for you! If not, you just may be out of luck. (Episode subjects range from trimming that beergut, to drinking too much beer.) Jon was the antidote to Ben Mulroney on Canadian Idol in it’s first couple seasons, and you really do need a strong antidote to that guy. (The gag reflex just kicks in automatically – if his cheddar quotient isn’t enough already, then you just look into that face which looks eerily like his father’s -Worst Prime Minister Ever/Canada’s George W. Bush- and you realize you’re being haunted by the ghost of Lyin’ Brian. (P.S. Go get ‘im, Karlheinz!!)

Getting back to Jon Dore though, it’s unbelieveable the stuff he gets away with putting on TV. It’s gut-bustlingly hilarious, and a little shocking. When you see the outtakes at the end of the show you see how much ad-libbing is going on within the otherwise well-written, structured show.

Watch episodes online @ thecomedynetwork.ca/videos…

The Jon Dore Television Show airs on the Comedy Network 10pm Wednesday’s (If you live in Ottawa, you should really watch it online so you can make it to my Wednesday Open Stage @ the Georgetown.)

I would be remiss not to mention “Road Hockey Rumble”, an instant Canadian classic. The title really says it all, but basically the 2 hosts submit themselves to all sorts of inventive forms of physical punishment whilst travelling across the country staging contentious road hockey matches. It’s a do-not-miss for hockey fans.. in fact, it’s outright un-Canadian not to watch it! You can’t watch episodes online, but here’s a trailer on youtube that’ll give you an idea…

See Road Hockey Rumble trailer @ ca.youtube.com/roadhockeyrumble

Road Hockey Rumble airs on OLN Saturdays @ 10:00am Sundays @ 3:30pm

The best thing about these shows is they’re all Canadian! They draw from our environs & experience. Especially if you’re a Canadian, 35ish year old indie musician & hockey fan (er, like me!).

21
Jan
09

Crap Art ’08/’09: A Musical Revolution

On Tuesday December 30th, a handful of Ottawa Indie singer-songwriters converged on an undisclosed location in Centretown for a 24 hour music marathon. The songs that came out of it were stylistically eclectic, and the art was definitely not crap (to the slight chagrin of the event’s inciters, Adam Fogo & Brian Simms).

The aforementioned undisclosed location has 3 floors, all of which were used at some point for writing and then imediate recording of the compositions. The 1st floor was the most raucous, as it had the drum kit (and the piano). The second floor was more folksy, and the 3rd floor was the most 2-headed. On one hand, the edgiest and most modern music of the day (and night) was made up there, but -contrarily- so was the crapiest. Apparently there is a very fine line between high art and total crap. (Apologies to those who were involved in the crappy portion, although it’s pretty much the same people who also blew the the proverbial sonic doors off their hinges up there).

My first song took place on the 2nd floor with Meredith Luce & Neil Gerster. Fuelled by enthusiasm at the starting gate, I came up with an acoustic guitar sequence, which Neil sung over. I can’t remember which instruments the other two were playing. (Finishing the recording of each song was a thrill, and gave a great sense of accomplishment. And then, before you knew it, that song was histoire and you were on to the next.)

My next song was with Neil again, and Dean Watson. We would pick partners and then instruments from hats, and I pulled mandolin, which I’ve never played. This small matter didn’t get me out of playing the mandolin, mind you. What we got, nonetheless, was awesome, and I played ok for a beginner (thanks to Dean for suggesting we stick to simple G,C & D chords – I threw in a D minor, which I figured out how to play). Neil wrote & sung the verses, and I wrote & sung the refrain.

For my 3rd song I was in the mood to write a dark, slow-ish song, which I felt the album would need anyways. I was playing with Dean & Lisa Poushinsky, and the song, “When You’re Wicked Like Me” wrote itself in about ten minutes. It may actually find it’s way into an Ashley Newall set. Dean & Lisa’s call & answer back-up vocals really helped bring the thing to life.

With all the singers kicking around, harmonies abounded. On one song, Brian had been the odd man out and was writing on piano on his own. We all finished ahead of him and joined at the piano singing about 8-part harmonies, call & answers, & ooo’s and ah’s. That particular scene was really tinged with a sense of community & religion.

My goal upon arriving had been to play some keyboards, & I got my chance with a little toy one mid-evening. I was thinking something trippy – almost elevator-esque- and Dean dialed just the right feel up on guitar. Meanwhile, Brian was composing something kind of concert pianish for the piece, which he couldn’t play & sing the verses at the same time, so I switched up my 80’s keyboard intro for the bare chords during the verses. I believe this one was called “Hotdamn it’s Cold!”

Then there was “The Ballad of Tiny Thompson”. After mulling through tabloids, obituaries, instruction manuals, and greeting cards for lyrics (on previous tunes), we were at a loss for our next one. Meredith was using google search, and finally hit on something with the “I’m Feeling Lucky” search option. It was the bio of a hockey goalie, Tiny Thompson, and the happenstance was unmistakeable as we’d been staring at a book on a shelf all day on hockey goalie masks (- so it was clearly meant to be). The lyrics more or less wrote themselves from Tiny Thompson’s bio, and I think Mer wrote the music, and I wrote the chorus chords, which I wouldn’t mention except for the fact that I’m slightly proud of them. For a quite a while afterwards Brian was all ‘teeny tiny thompson this and teeny tiny thompson that’ left, right & centre. It’s great to have a hockey song in the mix.

My favourite refrain on the day was probably “The Truth About Women Our Age”, with Brian leading the vocal charge with ghusto, and with the whole supporting cast singing along in harmony. (Click on the song title to see video of this song performed at the Georgetown Pub Open Stage.)

By the end of the night the picking out of hats thing fizzled out and as we mulled about the kitchen, little song seeds were hatching in the living room. We’d all eventually gravitate there, and the last three songs or so were such birthed. Dean came up with a lullaby, which will go nicely on the (double!) album. Tip of the hat to Ringo’s “Goodnight” (and Jellyfish’s “Hush” – that’s right, Tara!). Also in this mix -with all hands on deck- Tara Holloway belted out “Takes What It Takes” in true Holloway fashion. It was a thrill, with no lack of drama in following this dynamic singer, for your Bongo King to be bongo-ing along on this one.

Dan Overvelde showed up late, and became like a lucky charm. He didn’t play any music, but dressed like a pimp from the 70’s, he was totally styled out! Arriving slightly earlier was Graham Boyle, who wrote a killer song for which the world seemed to stop as we were playing it. Mike Shultz also made a cameo appearance on a tune.

After about 14 hours of writing and recording we retired to the TV room, lit a fire in the fireplace, and one by one listened to our tracks. Laughter & applause abounded (and the odd red-face). 20 songs were written and recorded in total, making it a double album! Some keeners launched into making some videos at this point (@ 4am), but the majority of us collapsed into much deserved sleep.

There’s some talk now of staging and performing this piece, perhaps at a small soft seat-theatre, in the spring.

14
Jan
09

Clive Doucet for Mayor! Or Brian Kilrea! Or Spartacat! Anybody but Leisure Suit Larry O’Brien!!

So far Ottawa has lost an estimated 280 million over a 3.4 million dollar bus scheduling conflict. Some businesses are teetering on bankrupcy. Thank goodness Clive Doucet (someone in council – anyone!) has split with O’Brien on this farce and called for new negotiators. The two sides aren’t even talking! And all the while Larry O’Brien continues to lead this city like it’s his personal business, with no accountability to, or care for, the 850,000 people he’s putting out over his pride to balance the budget and bust the union. We’re now paying for his alleged lawbreaking/bribe offer to his mayoral rival – in the face of his impending trial (and having been embarrassed by council going behind his back to approve the arts & culture funding), he desperately needs a political victory, and the OC Transpo strike has become his hobby horse. He needs to think of the city first (ahead of himself) and fall on his sword. He could actually be in jail in several months time – too late though to help us now, but at least it may stave off his next bone-headed move. This man is a total disgrace as mayor and must be made to resign.
Perhaps we need a junior hockey coach to whip us back into shape. Step forward highly respected Ottawa living legend, Brian Kilrea. A Memorial Cup victory is all the credentials I need. Then if we ever wanted to know what’s going on at city hall, we could just tune into the Team 1200 for his regular morning call-in.
Or maybe Spartacat is what we need to put smiles back on our faces. I know our Sens aren’t doing so great, but Spartacat is fuzzy and enthusiastic to the max! And kids love him, and it’s all about the kids, right? And that move that Sparty does when he’s shakin’ all over – how cool is that?! It should also be mentioned that he shoots free hotdogs from a hotdog bazooka – he could walk down Rideau Street Rambo-style & feed the homeless!
Take one for the team, Larry – hit the road!

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07
Jan
09

Chillin’ Evening w/ Dave Gaudet & Meredith Luce at the Black Sheep

Dave Gaudet made a triumphant return to Ottawa on January 3rd @ the Black Sheep Inn, opening for a band he used to play in, Meredith Luce & the Mandates. The packed room was only too happy to have him back from far-off Vancouver.

He opened the set with my personal anthem for the fall of ’06, “Walking Disaster”, originally written for his former duo, Los Llamas (featuring Nick Eakins). This song also appears on his self-titled 2007 EP. Dave’s set picked up as it went on and peaked near the middle with a new song, “Light on the Consequence”. Also near the middle of the set Gaudet played the rock-solid “Sittin’ Tight in the Fire”, and payed homage to fellow Ottawa indie artist (& fellow Dave), Dave Norris, covering Norris’ song, “C’mon Lighthouse”. He wound down the set with a fan favourite called “Missing the Point” and went out with one of the most popular & radio friendly songs on his EP, “Wrecking Ball”.

In between sets the world stopped for Canada’s world junior team to finish their semi-final game versus Russia, by this time in overtime after Canada scored to tie with 6 seconds left. Fortunately the good vibrations on the night continued beyond the game as Canada prevailed in a shoot-out. (Meredith’s drummer Tim Watson’s spirits were clearly tied up in the game as he anxiously & excitedly took in the dramatic overtime & shoot-out – fortunately for Luce, Team Canada insured Tim did not take the stage a dejected hockey fan.)

Meredith Luce’s band took a minute to warm up on this cold night aswell, but once Adam Fogo -on viola da gamba- hit the stage for the aptly titled “Snow Country”, the band achieved lift-off. Luce’s sweet, clear vocals soared and the vibe created by her and her Mandates was cozy & warm. Next, Gaudet joined his old bandmates on “Neck of the Woods”, the title track off Luce’s recently released CD. The band -featuring the aforementioned Tim Watson on drums, Graham Boyle on bass & Eric Vieweg on lead guitar- was really grooving at this point, and again the vibe matched the room and the night. Next up was the toe-tapper “The Ballad of Bob & Sally”, an ode to Meredith’s parents. It was a little looser in places, but still warm & fuzzy. “Pages” from Luce’s CD “October” came next, with it’s cool, bossa nova rythem. This was followed by a toe-tapper that was introduced as a ‘murder mystery’. Luce rounded out the show with the stellar title track off her previous CD called “October”.

Overall, the night was tons of fun for friends & fans of Meredith & Dave, and the music was suitably chillin’.

videos from the show @ www.youtube.com/ashleynewall (This was my first attempt with my new camera to video anything, much less an amplified concert, so it’s not exactly HD quality… I’ll get better.)
photos from the show @ www.flickr.com/bongoking

29
Dec
08

Call In Sick Before You Get Sick So You Don’t Get Sick

Shshshsh. Don’t tell my boss, but I’m not coming into work today. I’m not sick exactly, but I feel like I’m coming down with something. If I go to work, it’ll break out. But if I stay home now, I think I can beat it!…
Doesn’t it suck when you finally get/take a much needed/deserved day off, but you can’t enjoy it because you’re totally sick! Isn’t it ironic (& not in the Alanis sense)? But do you feel guilty calling in sick when you’re not really.. yet? Well don’t!
You’re going to get sick anyways if you don’t listen to your body and recharge before it’s too late. It may help your consciense to only call in sick when you’re completely flattened, but it’s not exactly preventative. Do you want to treat the symptoms, or the problem?
Some may call them mental health days, I just call them reality days. As in it’s not realisitic to think that you’re a machine, and to put your company ahead of your own health.
Enjoy your day off, and don’t feel you have to wallow in your own maliase to justify a sick day. Take a sick day before you actually get sick!