Archive for the ‘WordPress: 2012-present’ Category

SLCR #254: “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14, 2016)

August 19, 2016

I turn 40 in two days.

This is an excellent way to start a concert review. For one, it ensures that I have to finish it today instead of letting it sit for another week or two. Also, it advises you, the reader, that there will be very little distracting music talk getting in the way of me nattering on about myself, which is what you’re all here for.

This fact is also relevant because these concert tickets were my 40th birthday present to myself. I’ve seen a ton of concerts this year, but this one was special – I forked over a not-insignificant amount of cash to get the Mandatory Czar VIP tickets – not only do you get premium seats, but also a bag of stuff and – most importantly – a meet-and-greet with Weird Al himself. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, which is why I made up the “40th birthday present” justification after the fact. I needed something. These were the most expensive concert tickets I’ve ever bought.

Which is a questionable purchase to make, you know? I love Weird Al, but I also know how his shows go. You have a good idea of what he’s going to play, because there are so many costume changes and special sets that things can only vary so much from tour to tour. If you’ve been once, you kind of know what you’re getting.

Though to be fair, the VIP tickets promised some new experiences. There were two tiers of VIP tickets; ours (the pricier ones) came with the meet-and-greet, but both had the gift bag and also the pre-show experience. And that’s two sentences in a row ended with “experience,” but that really is the best word for it. They let people in at 5:30, but we didn’t get there until after 7:00 as I didn’t think it would really be my thing. They gave us our stuff bags at the door – nothing too exciting. There was a flag, a lanyard, a beret, and a copy of the Mad magazine from last year that Al edited. We walked into the hall, and right into the middle of a costume contest and lip-sync battle. There was an Amish guy, some Jedi, lots of tinfoil hats, and some girls in Weird Al costumes who gave me really conflicted feelings. There were also some costumes where their relevance was… dubious. Either these were some deep references that I didn’t understand, or else it was just random dressing-up.

At the back of the room, there was a small touring museum with a selection of props from videos, lots of pictures, things like that. That stuff was really neat to see. There were snacks set out, a cash bar, and a merchandise stand so you could shop for your Weird Al paraphernalia without being interrupted by the masses. I wanted an action figure but it was cash-only and I had brought none, so I had to hit up an ATM later and shop at the normal souvenir stand like some sort of god damned commoner.

We were only there for a few minutes before the festivities wrapped up, concluding with the host tearing around the room singing Leggy Blonde (which is decidedly not a Weird Al song, but I guess it does say “goodbye” a lot) and knocking things over. We took this as our cue to leave so Mika took a picture of me with the Wheel of Fish, and then went off to our seats. The VIP tickets had us front row, just slightly right of centre. No complaints there.

Weird Al may be wacky but he is super serious about starting a show on time. 8:00 on the nose. I know it’s the same show from night to night – you can’t mix it up too much when it’s that choreographed – so I don’t want to go into too many details here. The structure of the show itself was as I remembered – lots of songs from the newest album (Mandatory Fun), lots of classics (I wonder if Canadian Idiot gets added to the tour specifically for the Canadian shows?), lots of video clips between songs while the costume changes were happening. Hearing the new songs done live was cool, and like before, there was a medley with a mix of songs from all through his career so you could hear things you might not expect. This time, there was also an acoustic set partway through that offered new versions of some of his classics. This was new to me and it was a great way to mix things up. He’s been playing some of these songs for over 30 years so it’s probably nice for him and his band to do something different too.

Anyway, this was a delightful time. Al was in fine form – I’m pretty sure he ages at one-third the speed of the rest of us – and his band was excellent as ever. Sitting front row adds to the experience, as Al once again serenaded Mika during Wanna Be Ur Luvr, putting his foot up on her chair and singing “Have you seen my picture? It’s in the dictionary, under ‘kablam’.” We also got splattered with water during Smells Like Nirvana when Al threw the contents of his cup out into the crowd. And during Fat, Al’s cries of “hooooooooo” drew an appearance from Santa Claus, who got punched, sending “teeth” across the stage. One of Santa’s teeth hit me in the ankle, which is not a sentence I’ve had much reason to say before now.

And while the show was familiar, there was a lot of new material – not only were there the new songs, but many of the video clips used during the show were new to me, and lots of the classic clips had been retired. Al has had a renaissance of sorts in the past few years, with Mandatory Fun being the first comedy album to hit #1 in 50 years, and the first one ever to debut at #1. Plus he’s been the bandleader on Comedy Bang Bang and done lots of TV guest spots and voiceover work, so there was a lot of material to draw from.

Once the show was done, after the Star Wars songs (he always ends with the Star Wars songs), it was time to meet the man. About 50 people had the purple VIP badges that allowed for the meet-and-greet. We got the rules (have your camera or phone ready, have your item to get signed ready, decide beforehand if you want individual pictures or a group shot). The host said he’d be the one taking the pictures, and that we could trust him because he used to work for Sears before he got fired. As someone who’s been paying close attention to the goings-on at his local Sears Portrait Studio, this joke did not fill me with confidence. Search Instagram for #searsyqr for more details. Anyway, once that was done, we were led to a side area of the centre. There was a bit of a wait; occasionally, someone would leave to use the bathroom, and then disappoint everyone upon their return. Not every door that opens leads to “Weird Al” Yankovic. Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers, who made an on-stage appearance during the Star Wars songs, stood behind the table to serve as a backdrop for photos with Al. Some other Stormtroopers wandered the line and chatted with people, posed for pictures, that kind of thing.

Before too long, Al showed up. They moved through the line at a pretty good clip. I got my phone ready, and I decided to just get the concert tickets signed (in part because I’d already taken all our stuff to the car before the show started). Al posed for a picture with us, signed our tickets, and I got to thank him for the show and for all the music over the years. Not only have I been a big fan since childhood, but he comes across like a really down-to-earth normal guy. I’ve never heard of anything that suggests otherwise.

And with that, we were out the side door and back to the car. Would I do it again? That’s a tricky question. I cannot stress enough that these tickets were really expensive and by most anyone’s estimation, buying them was a really dumb idea. I could live without the pre-show deal and the bag of stuff – I’m almost 40, I’m not going to wear a Weird Al hat or hang a Weird Al flag (and I already had the magazine because Aaron’s got my back). But we had great seats for a great show, and I got to meet one of my favourite celebrities ever, if only for a minute. That part of it was really cool. Ultimately, I certainly have no regrets that we did it once. I don’t know if I’d do it again for the next Al show, though. I had my moment with him, I got what I wanted, I’m good. For someone else? Maybe. For the right band at the right price, especially if they come with great tickets. But there just aren’t that many celebrities I really care about meeting. Watching from afar is usually good enough. This might be a one-off – but it was worth it.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• 54-40 (August 19)
• Greg MacPherson w/Dan Holbrow & Leo Keiser (September 1)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat w/Oh Pep! (October 5)
• I Mother Earth featuring Edwin w/The Standstills (October 8)
• Sarah Slean with the Regina Symphony (October 22)
• Bush w/The Dead Deads (October 27)

January 28, 2016

I got one vote for “yes” and two likes. Good enough. Let’s see how this goes.

Right now I have to post some concert review scans. That’s how it will go for the immediate future.

January 27, 2016

Should I start blogging again?

Should I commit to doing it daily?

Do I need something else to fail at? Or, more likely, to succeed at for a week and then get bored with?

I have missed blogging lately. And I’ve especially missed blogging about useless things. I don’t even know how I feel about that.

Let’s say “maybe” and see what tomorrow brings.

(If I can get to a scanner, it will bring at least one concert review.)

Jian Ghomeshi, Part 2

November 3, 2014

I posted this at Keeps Me Alive on October 30, 2014 –  four days after the Ghomeshi story broke – and I decided I wanted a copy of it here. I don’t intend to update the links here any more than I already have, and the post at KMA has quite the extensive comment thread going, so maybe go read it there instead. This is just a copy in my own space for my own records.


I have two concert reviews to finish, but they can wait. Don’t they always?

Here’s a picture that I’ve already regretted posting once this week:

james-jian

That’s me with Jian Ghomeshi after a live Q taping in Regina last spring, done in association with the Juno Awards. I’m the taller one. Pinker in face and greyer in hair.

Making jokes is not helping in the way that making jokes usually does.

I’m not usually big into chatting with celebrities – I’m endlessly awkward and never have anything to say other than “durrr, good show tonight” even if it wasn’t a good show because what else am I going to say? I can’t usually come up with anything interesting and celebrities are surrounded by people who can.

But I really wanted to talk to Jian that night, because I wanted to thank him. Many years ago, I was big into his band, Moxy Früvous (shut it, Mike) and after seeing them for the first time, I wrote a review and posted it on the Moxy Früvous newsgroup, back in 1998 when newsgroups were a thing and I would sometimes finish a concert review within 24 hours. And then I received this:

i don’t often get involved in these things but i *had* to tell you that i LOVED your review of our Saskatoon show last week. You had me laughing out loud in front of my handy dandy laptop here in my hotel room in Edmonton. So thanks for being a fan of ours…i’m flattered when somebody so clearly smart and satirical enjoys our stuff.

There was more – a few jokes and points of clarification – but this is the part that I remember. I copied and pasted the above but could have typed it up from memory. If I hadn’t been a fan before, that would have done it – it meant a ton to me that he would take a few minutes out of his day to reach out. He was encouraging and funny and kind. I saw Früvous in concert a few times the next year; he remembered me and made a point of saying “hi” and chatting for a few minutes. It was important to me to stick around after the Q taping and let him know how much I still appreciated that.

I followed Moxy Früvous until they went on a hiatus which I think is now in its 15th year. I bought Jian’s solo EP, and listened to him from time to time on Q. I wasn’t a regular listener, but always enjoyed him when I got the chance. I remember when Billy Bob Thornton had his snit on the show, and reading comments online from Americans who were so impressed with how Jian handled the situation. Hell, I toasted the guy in my Toastmasters club, which might be the nerdiest sentence I’ve ever written.

And now we have this.

Aaron said that my comment on his post should have BEEN the post, but I disagree. It’s a big ol’ internet, there’s lots of room for anything we want to dump on it, so I’ll just make my own post, plagiarizing from myself wherever needed.

My initial comments:

I don’t know if anyone will ever know what happened apart from those directly involved, who may not say or even believe the same thing anyway. We’ll see what comes out.

I don’t have any problem believing that CBC would fire someone for a stupid reason, especially if it’s a highly-paid someone. I don’t have any problem believing that people get unnecessarily scandalized by other people’s sex lives. I know that vengeful exes exist. And if I wanted to destroy a celebrity’s reputation, this is how I’d go about it.

At at the same time, rapists/abusive partners are far more common than vengeful exes who make up stories. And if I knew I was about to have those accusations levied against me, I’d do exactly what Jian did. He sues the CBC, making the mainstream story “Jian vs. CBC” instead of “Jian vs. four women accusing him of non-consensual violent sexual behaviour.” He posts a statement before the news story breaks, painting himself as the victim with lots of “you’ll hear people say” this and that to try and colour how those claims are heard. He confesses to behaviour that most people wouldn’t publicly admit to – boy, that makes him seem like an (embarrasse d but otherwise) honest guy, doesn’t it?

I note that so far, no woman has come forward to say that she dated Ghomeshi and defends him, but who’d want to jump in on this? And anecdotally, I’ve heard all kinds of rumours about the guy for a long time, but rumours don’t mean anything, necessarily.

I hope that the allegations are untrue because 1) that kind of shitty behaviour shouldn’t happen (shitty in terms of the non-consensual nature; people can do whatever they like as long as all involved are okay with it) and 2) in my limited personal dealings with Jian, he was friendly, encouraging, funny, and kind. And shitty things feel a lot worse coming from someone you thought was one of the good guys.

Now it’s a few days later. There are now eight women who’ve come forward with accusations, including one who’s doing so openly. (Edit on 10/31/2014: make that two.) From the looks of the most recent Toronto Star article, several of the women independently corroborated the others’ details.

My thought that the lawsuit was intended to spin the story as Jian vs. CBC appears to be true, as Jian can’t actually sue the CBC for that amount, based on the terms of his collective agreement. He and his lawyers would have known that. But hey, it worked – when I was watching the CTV morning news on Monday, the story was all about Jian getting fired and suing the CBC. The Toronto Star article and the women it references weren’t even mentioned.

I don’t know how anyone can defend him at this point. And I don’t know how anyone cannot believe his accusers. Explain how you can believe that many women are just conspirators. Explain what could they hope to get out of this. Explain why women keep coming out of the woodwork to side with the accusers, but so far, nobody has said “yeah, I dated Jian – we did kinky stuff and he was communicative and caring and safe.” Explain the rumours that have been going around for years; things about inappropriate touching and an interest in inordinately young girls, and that dating him was not a good idea – rumours I had heard years ago. Rumours that Jann Arden and Tara Spencer-Nairn and Owen Pallett and Carl Wilson and Steve Murray had heard long ago. Explain the Twitter account that was posting accusations against Jian in April.

[edited to add: “but so far, nobody has said ‘yeah, I dated Jian – we did kinky stuff and he was communicative and caring and safe.’” Here’s Dan Savage with an interview with a woman who dated Jian and supports him: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/10/29/interviews-with-two-women-who-dated-jian-ghomeshi ]

I would love to believe Jian’s story, that this is all a smear campaign from a jilted ex. I want him to be who I thought he was and not who it seems he is. And if additional information comes to light, maybe posting all this will seem ridiculous. Maybe it already does. Maybe the possibility, however remote, that “several women conspired to destroy a star’s reputation and career” is the BEST-CASE SCENARIO says it all about how fucked up this all is.

I keep calling him “Jian” instead of “Ghomeshi” like we’re friends or something. And that’s the stupid thing – it almost felt like we were. Three or four emails and maybe 10 minutes of talking over a 15-year span will do that to a guy, I guess.

When I heard on Sunday that Jian got fired from the CBC, I set that picture as my Facebook profile pic. As the day went on, I became more and more certain that this would soon become a very bad idea. I swapped the picture out in short order, but I didn’t delete it – not from Facebook, not from Instagram, and I posted it here today. Partly, it’s the internet where everything lives forever anyway. But I think deleting the picture would be too easy. So you wipe him off the face of the earth. Pretend he never existed. Good news, ladies! We found the last Bad Guy that had infiltrated the Good Guy ranks and took care of him for you. All clear, shields down.

I’m leaving the picture up because it makes me uncomfortable because he was friendly, encouraging, funny, and kind. Because of what I didn’t see. Because of what I had heard and had excused away because it wasn’t provable (and, let’s be honest here, because it was unpleasant and inconvenient). Something to remember the next time I find myself thinking “that doesn’t sound like him” or “that’s not the guy I know.”

In the comments section of Aaron’s post, I started a reading list of interesting and important links. I’ll include it here, but divided into two batches (and may add more over time). The first articles are the “newsworthy” ones, for lack of a better word (it’s 2:30 a.m. as I finish this off):

The second list of articles are recommended reading:

WTF Search Terms: Ghomeshi Edition

November 3, 2014

Sorry for stealing your shtick, Mike.

I was about to upload my concert review for The Smalls (sorry, “the smalls”) and happened to notice the top search terms that are leading people to this blog:

search

Dang. Poor Martina Sorbara.

 

catnip catnip catnip catnip bus bus bus bus bus bus bus

December 18, 2013

Awesome morning. I was on the bus and these two people get on, a guy and a girl. They come sit in the back where I am sitting along with three or four other morning bus regulars. She sits down and laughs “someone’s gonna want to buy this.” I assume that they’re finishing up a conversation and I’m hearing one line out of context. No. She opens her bag and pulls out a Sylvania DVD player, still in the box. “I can’t believe I walked out of the store with this,” she says. She shoves it in one guy’s face. “Look at how small they make them now! AHAHAHAHAHA. They call them ‘compact.'” The guy does one of the best dismissive nods I’ve ever seen. It does not dissuade her, however.

Her man wants to see the DVD player, so she hands it over. While he examines it, she goes back into her bag. She’s got CDs, “DVD movies,” and “Axe products” (which she helpfully spells out as A-X-E, just in case we were confused). I am completely fascinated by this display, and yet I am avoiding eye contact as though my life depended on it. Meanwhile, she’s laughing because one of the CDs is by Rod Stewart. “How old is this?! HAHAHAHA. But still good!”

Absolutely nobody on the bus is acknowledging that anything at all is happening.

Meanwhile, her boyfriend is pawing through the DVD box. “I thought this was a Blu-Ray,” he says. “It is!” she replies. “It says so right there!”

In giant print on the front of the box: HDMI DVD PLAYER

He flips the box around, openes it up, pulls out the remote, looks it over with some degree of confusion, all while she’s trying to convince him that he has a Blu-Ray player. He gives up and hands it back. She starts reading specs out loud. “H… D… M… I… DVD player with U… S… B… I can’t believe I walked out the door with this!” She pauses… she’s got something. And she delivers: “…the STORE door!” The rhyme makes her cackle.

I decide that this is clearly God’s way of telling me that I should get off the bus a stop early and pop by Tim Hortons on the way in to work. Hooray for breakfast wraps.

#humblebrag

April 2, 2013

Okay, guys, I don’t want to get all cocky here, but a big ol’ pile of people liked my review of The God That Comes. My inbox was filling up with WordPress notifications. I’ve been writing reviews forever and barely getting any attention outside of friends and family, so I gotta say, it’s pretty gratifying to finally be making some progress.

Just because of all the warm fuzzies these have given me, I’d like to highlight some of the choice feedback I’ve received:

Very good post! We will be linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.

Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing for your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

Hi you have a fantastic website over here! Thanks for posting this interesting information for us! If you keep up the good work I’ll visit your website again. Thanks!

I always emailed this webpage post page to all my contacts, since if like to read it then my links will too.

It’s an awesome piece of writing for all the online viewers; they will take advantage from it I am sure.

Awesome! Its actually awesome post, I have got much clear idea about from this piece of writing.

I’m really impressed with your writing abilities as smartly as with the layout to your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it your self? Anyway keep up the excellent high quality writing, it’s uncommon to look a great weblog like this one nowadays.

What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience regarding unexpected feelings.

It’s awesome in favor of me to have a web page, which is valuable in support of my knowledge. thanks admin

1st thing you ought to shell out consideration to ought to be the prices of UGGs. Ugg boots obtain in a position to make this happen accomplishment. Angela Daley binds the boot and adds the finishing details.

They call them Veronica Boots, but what they are really is just a cheaper version of UGGs. The UGG Ventana Vest for women is one of the new additions to the UGG Australia collection for the fall and winter seasons of 2011. Authentic UGGs would usually have sheepskin fur inside to give comfort and warmth.

You need water to flush toxins and waste from the body. Cie – Aura’s Pure Energy chips and bands are GREAT for losing weight and that much needed energy. It’s been embraced in Japan, exactly where it really is utilised in soy sauce, sweet pickles and soft beverages.

because I’m apparently a six-year-old

March 3, 2013

Every year, they do this thing at the mall downtown where several groups create sculptures out of canned goods. It’s done to raise awareness of hunger, and once it’s done, all the cans are donated to the Food Bank. All good stuff.

Here’s a picture of one of the sculptures, as seen from the second floor. It’s by the local gas company; it’s their flame logo with the words “Food 4 Energy” written in fruit strips.

saskenergy1

I made a point of looking at it from above because this is what I saw when I first walked past it:

saskenergy2

IT SAYS POO

This was clearly worth my first non-concert-review post in a year or more.

 

 

February 28, 2012

Too much health talk at work today, stemming from too many people not doing well. Serious stuff.

I, personally, am fine – both physically and feelings-wise. Just concerned for some friends.

I was thinking the other day that I’ve never had an illness or injury that didn’t just heal, you know? I am used to medical problems going away with treatment and time. My appendix swelled up when I was a kid, so the doctor took it out. Problem solved.  I broke a finger in high school. The doctor set it, and it’s been pain-free for over 20 years. The ear drops fix the ear infection. The chiropractor fixes the sore back. These issues are all unpleasant and time-consuming, but that’s all they are. I’m not sure how I’d handle something more serious. Probably not with as much grace and strength as I’d like to imagine.

You know what’s weird? Lifespans are finite. It’s not like I just discovered this, but I find it bizarre to think about. Last night, before bed, I ran the dishwasher. Put dishes in, put soap in, close door, press button. I’ve done it hundreds of times and will likely do it thousands more, but there will come a point where I have run the dishwasher for the final time. And that means that each time I do it, I’ve ticked one more instance off the list. I wonder if I can use this to get out of doing chores? “Sorry, my life only includes a finite number of lawn-mowings. You don’t want to put me one closer to death, do you?”

February 2, 2012

Got my Tumblr posts cleaned up and uploaded to this place. If you have this blog in your RSS reader (by which I mean, “if you’re my wife”), I’d be interested in knowing whether that pile of backdated posts shows up in there. I don’t want to be the guy cluttering up your internet on you, but there’s a lot more where that came from.

At least there weren’t that many posts this time out. There also wasn’t much that needed editing, so I really could have had it done weeks ago, but I got lazy. I also had an ear infection which took me out of commission for a day or two, which really didn’t affect anything, but I’ll mention it here so that you’re sympathetic to my plight instead of critical of my procrastination.

I usually make some sort of attempt at being funny (or at least interesting) when I post stuff, but man, those Tumblr posts are pretty lame. I tried to be a bit more serious and instead just came across as whiny, neurotic, and completely unable to make up my mind about website titles. And that one post where I said “blog” about 200 times might be the worst thing I’ve ever written. Who could possibly care?

Speaking of bloggity blog blog shut the hell up nonsense, my Tumblr just lists “posted one year ago” for each entry, so the dates here are my best guesses and nothing more. And when I reference Blog #5 that never got one post, I meant this place. 

Speaking of AH GOD NOBODY CARES SHUT UP ALREADY, I am going to post about wrestling next. Lucky you!