Posts Tagged ‘work’

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.

SLCR #171: The Dandy Warhols (May 23, 2012)

September 12, 2012

I was on the fence about this one. When I got corporate approval to attend a week-long conference in Dallas, I was pretty excited for the possibility of seeing some bands that don’t ever tour anywhere near me. Dallas is big, right? They must get all kinds of shows. Then I got on Pollstar, and discovered that I was seemingly there for Canadian Week. It was like they knew I was coming. I have nothing against Great Lake Swimmers, but they play Regina fairly regularly. And I DO have something against Theory Of A Deadman. That basically left the Dandy Warhols and Kristin Chenoweth, and while I liked GCB as much as the next guy (which probably isn’t a whole lot), I decided to opt for the band I vaguely knew.

Much like Kasabian, this was a case of me knowing a whole two of a band’s songs before the show. I also thought that going to the show might make Mika jealous, but it turns out that she only knew two songs too. The same two: Bohemian Like You and We Used To Be Friends. I got both songs from Feely back in the day, which means that it was way too long ago and I am a sad old man. Good songs, though.

I bought the ticket in advance and figured I’d go to the show if I felt like it and if a better option didn’t come along. The first few days in Dallas felt a bit isolating; much like in Regina (but on a much bigger scale, of course), downtown seemed to empty out at 5:00 p.m. The first night, I was lucky to find a Subway that stayed open until 7:30. I had resigned myself to evenings of pricey flaky hotel Wi-Fi, but after Wednesday’s presentations, I went exploring and saw some really pretty architecture (and had a kickass burger). Mood renewed, I decided to take in the show.

I knew the House of Blues was within walking distance, but not knowing the neighborhood, I opted for a $10 cab ride. I can live with that.

The restaurant part of the House of Blues was booked for a private function, so I didn’t get to see it. Instead, they sent us in through the back – which I suspect is normal if you’re going to shows there. I was really impressed by the venue; really good acoustics and sight lines. It was just generally an attractive place – and very cool (in the temperature sense, I mean). I’m not sure why, in the middle of a Canadian winter, I go to a show and I’m sweating in minutes, but Dallas can keep a club so cool that you almost wish you’d brought a sweater.

My experience with Dallas indicates that the Texans have mastered the fine art of air conditioning. In fact, I’d suggest that the hotel was a little overzealous; I saw one conference attendee on Twitter threaten to make herself a hobo blanket out of conference evaluation forms.

Other things Texans like: Dr. Pepper, spicy chips, lime-flavoured chips, spicy lime-flavoured chips, and referencing God at every opportunity. I have been blessed so many times, you have no idea. I had thought GCB was supposed to be satire but mayhaps it was a documentary? At any rate, after the first day, I switched my clock radio to a Top 40 station. I’d rather wake up to the racket that the kids listen to today than news stories about “abortion-inducing drugs” and “so-called gay marriage.” USA USA USA

Anyway. Enough filler and editorializing. Our opening band was called 1776, or at least I assume they weren’t Seventeen Seventy-Six. I am not going to pay airplane Wi-Fi fees in order to do research and resolve this issue. I had been prepared to say “generic rock band with 80s metal haircuts,” but damned if they weren’t kinda catchy. I sense some potential in these ones. They closed with a cover of Aerosmith’s Train Kept A-Rollin’, which left me with a big smile on my face. That song was in one of the early Guitar Heroes and it had a reputation among my friends for coming up “randomly” about every third song. Not only did that amuse, but this was easily 1776’s best song of the evening. I would have liked to see a bit of that energy in their originals.

As far as I knew, The Dandy Warhols had a few hits some years ago and then kinda disappeared. That’s what happens when you rely on Feely for your new music – he eventually finds better things to do with his time and you just assume that nobody is making new songs anymore. But here they were, with a bunch of CDs I’d never heard (including a brand new one) and a club packed with fans. And there had evidently been more hits that I didn’t know about, since we got the requisite moments where they’d play a few notes and everyone would go bonkers and I’d be all “…yeah! Notes!”

Halfway through their first song, a girl pulled me aside and asked if they’d played (Song I’ve Never Heard Of). I told her that this was their first song, and I have never seen such delight. She disappeared into the crowd soon after; I hope they played whatever it was.

I do know they played We Used To Be Friends right near the opening, and Bohemian Like You right before the end. In between, there was a nice mix of tunes that I could try to describe, but really, why bother? Some songs were fast and energetic and some were slow; see also: pretty much every show ever.

I couldn’t understand the words for many of the songs, but that may have been by design. There were times when the lead singer would belt things out and other times he seemed big into mumbling.

He was also left by himself for two songs when everyone else went to take a pee break. Amusingly, they later said “can we just count these last two songs as the encore to save us the effort of leaving and coming back?” This is exactly what they did, and it is a practice I highly endorse. It feels so much less phony on everyone’s part.

The band seemed to have a good time in general. Apart from the usual talk about what a great crowd we were and what a great place this was, there was something going on at the front of the stage. I don’t know what someone in the crowd was doing or wearing or whatever, but the band ordered the house lights raised so they could take a picture of it. They seemed greatly amused. And not “greatly abused” like AutoCorrect tried to have you believe.

I had a good time too! But I think the guy who had the best time was the middle-aged man standing directly in front of me. (By “middle-aged,” I mean the guy was probably my age but I’ve held on to my hair a little better. God, I’m old.) This dude was clearly a diehard fan. He clapped (off beat) and sang (off key) and danced (if you want to call it that) and at one point said “time to drop some acid!” in a way that left me thinking that he’s not entirely sure what acid is. I think he might believe that one drops acid by adding a base in order to neutralize it. But whatever; this dude seemingly had the time of his life (his wife, maybe less so) and enthusiasm like that can’t help but spread.

Following the show, a nice House of Blues employee kindly directed me to a cab. And I did need direction, since I had absolutely no idea where he was pointing to. Silly tourist. In Texas, cabs park… along the side of the road just like they do everywhere else. I blame fatigue and cultural ignorance. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including my confusion.

SLCR #169: Kasabian (April 7, 2012)

September 12, 2012

Upon second viewing, the University LRT station has very clear directional signs, and I only took the wrong train on the way back from The Cat Empire because I’m a dumbass. “These things happen, especially to me” definitely still applies, though.

I started this text file over a month ago and the paragraph above would have worked a lot better had I sent this review out the day after the last one instead of six weeks later. I had good intentions. I also had work being work and keeping me there all hours again. Mind you, I also had DrawSomething and Words With Friends and Scramble With Friends and Jetpack Joyride and (most recently) Prose With Bros. Maybe I’ll play a real video game someday.

I used up most of my standard filler to set the scene for the last review, so this one might be short. I have made my peace with this. Besides, I really need to get this review thing off my conscience.

What I know about Kasabian: about twice as much as what I know about The Cat Empire, in so far as I knew TWO of their songs. Club Foot is in Rock Band, and Days Are Forgotten was used for some WWE pay-per-view last fall. She’s much better than I am when it comes to recognizing and remembering songs, but I still find it hilarious that Mika remembered this and I did not. When I looked it up online, I had no recollection of ever hearing it before. Apparently, their song Fast Fuse was used for a WWE show a few years before. I didn’t remember that either. Songs Are Forgotten.

Having used the previous night’s show as a Calgary Transit trial run, I got the timing down perfect and made it to the MacEwan Centre with just enough time to buy the new Kasabian CD, Velociraptor!, and find a place to stand and play my DrawSomething words. The venue layout had changed a bit from the night before, as there was no seating area this time. Essentially, it was a big warehouse with no chairs.

Our opening act was Hacienda, and I am struggling to even finish off this sentence. They were the quintessential opening act, in that I had never heard of them before, I never once thought “I dislike this,” and I never once thought “I need to hear more of this.” They played for their half-hour and it was fine. I feel like I’ve written this paragraph 50 times before with different band names. I wonder if I could make up my own Mad Libs to speed up future review writing.

Before the opener, as I was on my way to an empty piece of wall I could lean against, I ran into a friend from work, which is not something you expect when you’re 500 miles from home. We had a bit of a chance to chat between sets, which was nice. I have no real problem attending shows by myself (even if, as in the case of The Cat Empire, it does take away from the overall experience), but it was good to see someone I could talk to for a bit.

In England, Kasabian sells out arenas and headlines festivals. In Canada, they play chairless warehouses, but their big-stage history shone through. Sometimes too brightly, as it appeared that they brought their arena lighting kit with them and occasionally it hurt. The stage also featured a banner showing the artwork from their newest CD, which looks like four Whiplashes – you know, Whiplash, the He-Man character from 30 years ago – in a circle all eating each other.

Like I said, I really wasn’t that familiar with them, so I couldn’t tell you what they played. I got the two songs I knew, but I enjoyed everything else as well. It was loud and fast and fun from start to finish. I’ve been listening to that CD, and it’s not bad or anything, but doesn’t compare to the live show.

Although speaking of the finish, I will say that the show ended on an odd note. You know the normal routine: the band ends with a hit song, they really give ‘er for the finish, they leave, everyone cheers, they come back and play a few more. But at the end of Kasabian’s set, they just wandered off, one by one. It was the opposite of a big climax – an anti-climax, if you will – and the crowd wasn’t sure what to make of it. Despite the crowd going nuts for the whole show, there was very little reaction when it was over. I think people really just didn’t get that the main show was done. And then there was more of the same after the encore. It didn’t wreck the show, by any stretch, but it was a slightly confusing end to what had been a fantastic show.

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?”

January 12, 2012

On Monday, I was out for an afternoon coffee break with two coworkers, Rick and Cam. Cam looks at his phone and asks “Who’s (Name Redacted)?” Rick explains that Name Redacted used to work on our floor, she retired about a year ago, right around the time that Cam had joined our floor. Then he adds “why do you ask?”

“She’s dead.”


I didn’t get the email so I wound up reading it over Cam’s shoulder. Seems that this lady had hurt her ankle recently – maybe broke it – and a blood clot developed and it killed her. I was in disbelief. She’d retired relatively young and was in really good shape. We weren’t super close or anything, but I’d seen her just days before when we crossed paths in the mall, and she looked to be doing quite well. Coffee talk turned to discussions of people who’d died before their time. When we got back to the office, you could hear gasps and “oh my God” and “did you see this” as people checked their email.

A half-hour later, we got an email update that said she was fine. No idea where this rumour started. Even her ankle was unharmed. (Hence “Name Redacted” up there – I don’t want to attract any Googlers with poor reading comprehension skills and risk spreading the rumour any further.)

And I was mad, you know? How does something this irresponsible happen? And then I took a second, realized that this was way better than the alternative, and settled back into my day.

Meanwhile, I mentioned this incident in passing on Facebook. A coworker who I had also seen on that coffee break replied “no, James, it’s okay, I just sprained my ankle!” I thought she’d been following the emails and was making a funny. Then she sent me a picture of her bruised, swollen ankle and asked who the emails were about. So in the span of about 90 minutes, she had ACTUALLY injured her ankle, just like the fake story in the email. Ridiculous.

On the bus ride home, a punk stoner kid was loudly extolling the virtues of Rush Hour 2. I’ll take his word for it.