Wasting Time isn’t always Wasted Time

Took a day off today from corporate slavery, for no other reason than I needed one.  Not a weekend full of chores and errands (ok and maybe a wee bit of fun) but just a mental health day to stay home and do whatever the hell I pleased.  Or nothing at all, either way, no commitments.  Best thing I’ve done in a long time and here’s how it went . . .

Woke up at 7:30am – might not seem that late, but since I get up at 5:30am, those extra 2 hours rocked.  And the true luxury – I spent the next 2 hours just lying in bed, drinking tea and reading.  OMG, so incredible.   I’m totally immersed in an amazingly good  book called “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak.  Nazi Germany is not usually a subject I’d pick up, but because the story is about survival through a love of words and reading, it has really grabbed me.  His style is unusual – the book has random quotes and pencil drawings throughout, but it makes it very real and present.   Here is one of the pencil drawings that has stayed with me.

from the hand painted story "The Standing Man"

One of my favourite passages (it’s about a young girl finally learning to read, but it could equally apply to writing stories or songs)  goes like this:

“…the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Leisel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain”. 

That I’d ever be a good enough writer to craft a perfect sentence like that**sigh**

I’ve been on a record buying binge over the last few weeks – I fear my favourite place to spend a lunch hour, HMV Records on Robson Street, is closing down so I’ve been buying up all the records I’ve always wanted.  Soon I fear  iTunes will be my only option, which sucks.  I still like to actually go to the store, browse the racks and bring home a new CD, pop it in and play it while browsing the liner notes and artwork.   iTunes just doesn’t compare.  Call me a dinosaur.    As a result, I have a pile of CD’s stacked up, so I decided I should curate my iTunes (I do love my iPod, call me contrary!) and tidy up the piles of music lying around.

When I uploaded the pic I realized I’d caught an old skiing picture in the background.  I was going to edit it out, but heck, I love that photo, which was taken at something like 10,000 + feet up on a glacier  in the Cariboos on a spectacular heli ski day more than a couple of years ago.   No editing required. 

So iTunes is curated (everything uploaded, synced, ready for the road trip) and then I had to find space in the tower for all the good new stuff.   That meant a bit of  sort . . .and look at the gem I  came across.  Hahahah, seriously, was I drunk at a hippie festival one day?????   Pan flute music, nice …..ok, so what is the very worst thing you have on your shelves?

Even on a down day I’m a compulsive multi-tasker, so catching up on some You Tube vid’s I’d been meaning to watch seemed like a good layering activity while uploading and syncing music.  I was at bootcamp earlier this week (I’m still sore – she’s a beast) and there was a great song playing while we were lying on the floor stretching.  I know, most people would be thinking stuff like “lying on the floor is the best thing I’ve done all night” and “is this torture nearly over”, but I was thinking, “wow, great lyric, what IS that song“.  Quick lyric search and it turns out it’s an Adele cover of an old song by The Cure called “Lovesong”.  The lyric that I can’t get out of my head is “you make me feel like I am fun again”.  Isn’t that a great thing to think about  a new lover or an old friend – or both as the case may be . . .well,   Adele is not my usual style, but since this is stuck in my head, you get to listen in too!

I got caught up on a trailer that had been posted on my FB  for a new documentary called “The Other F Word”  that “explores punk fatherhood”.   It has some truly great one liners about the contradictions involved in growing up as teenage anarchists and then becoming a parent and figuring out how to be a good authority figure for your kids when you have stuff like “F**K Authority tattooed on your neck . . .it looks really good.  

You know I'll be waiting for this one to open

The  film  features (among others) Jim Lindgren (formerly of Pennywise) and now with The Black Pacific.  Caught them at Warped Tour and we were blown away.  Going to see them later this month opening for Rise Against, because, after all, it’s Rocktober. 

Here’s the trailer and a short preview on Rolling Stone. (apologies for the ad . . . blame Vevo)

The only task I had left to finish was to pack for my weekend away in Seattle.  We are headed to the White River amphitheatre in Auburn for the Uproar Festival featuring Avenged Sevenfold and Three Days Grace.   Hell yeah, a full day long metal festival, I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED!!!!

Doing a meet and greet with TDG in the afternoon – taking my Sharpie and getting some autographs and (with any luck!!) a fab new pic for my profile.  What’s not to love ❤

And because this is a bonanza of videos sort of blog, here’s A7X’s video for “Nightmare”.   OMG, it’s going to be even better than Warped.  

And that’s how I wasted a perfectly good day off.    My smile couldn’t get any bigger.   And I’m betting it’s the only post ever with A7X and Adele one the same page.


This Might Get Loud

The wingchick and I headed downtown on Saturday night to see an amazing post – hardcore (don’t you love the genres and sub-genres of music)  show at one of our favourite venues, the  Rickshaw Theatre, located at the very trendy (not)  Main and Hastings in the heart of the Downtown Eastside.   The Rickshaw is always  . . .interesting . . our latest learning experience is that you have to bring your own TP . . .seriously.

Washroom degradation notwithstanding, it was an incredible show  – the “I’m Alive” tour with five hardcore bands, most of them had  toured together on Warped Tour this year.  Given the sheer number of bands at Warped we had managed to somehow miss all of these at The Gorge, so it seemed like a perfect chance to catch up with them. 

And you know, since the fancy venues don’t book hardcore bands, if you want to see them you just have to man up and head out to places like the Rickshaw.  And its a riot – sometimes literally.   I’ve never had a bad time there and in fact I’ve had some really excellent nights at the Rickshaw.   And you get to go next door to The Savoy Pub for shots between sets . . .that place has been there forever and the regulars could not have been friendlier.  It used to be a popular live music venue –  the wingchick has vague memories of seeing Tom Cochrane there aeons ago – and maybe even Blue Rodeo – it’s for sure their sort of place and it reminds me a lot of The “Legendary” Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto (scene of many a crime in my UofT days).  I’d say it’s a real possibility.  I came across this review of The Savoy on Yelp and I laughed so hard – he must have been an ***hole because the regulars were super nice to us – but we’d just come from the metal show next door and didn’t have our FB friends, so maybe that’s why it was all ok???  Or we are just not that hip (or young!).

“The hot new thing in Vancouver is dive bars, with the poverty-stricken elderly alcoholics losing their seedy drinking holes to a rising new generation of hip youngsters. For one reason or another, they seek out cheap liquor in run down areas, and take over filthy locations by playing ironic music and inviting all of their friends on Facebook. What used to be a scary and depressing series of bars near Main and Hastings is slowly developing into regular hangouts for overdressed students who love the novelty of poverty.

But not the Savoy. This place is perhaps the most exclusive of all the dingy bars on Hastings, in that anyone who looks like they might have been remotely spoiled as children are not welcome by any of the regulars. Full of loud obnoxious drunks who’ve seen it all and people who would stab you for your shoes, the vibe is very “you think you’re better than me?” and it’s not unusual to get yelled at to leave by the close knit group of angry “too ugly to ever get famous no matter how good they are at singing” regulars.

But man, the drinks are super cheap, and the song selection is pretty great. The bartenders and bouncers are alright too, they usually seem happy to see polite and wholesome people who actually leave tips, but they can’t really do anything to protect you from whatever the locals have in mind.

The pit at the Rickshaw often looks something like this, and your feet are usually stuck to the floor, so after a few shots at the Savoy,  how could you not have fun!!  It is of course possible that the wingchick and I have somewhat unusual tastes . . .no, really?   You think? 

But, back to the music.  At any show I always hope that I will come across a new band that I loooove and this one didn’t disappoint.  We had never heard Texas in July and they turned out to be the winners of the night.  Amazing live show, great musicianship – loved them – the drummer was absolutely stellar.   Our other fav of the night was Miss May I, which maybe says something about our taste – the guys from Miss May I started their set by saying that they weren’t sure they belonged on this tour because they were “too metal”.  Sub-groups with sub-groups.  I thought they were great.   Here’s 1000 Lies from Texas in July – it’s loud, be warned.

The only dubious part of our evening was the walk back to the bus . . I know, we really know how to have a good time on a Saturday night.  We decided that the bus stop right at Main and Hastings was too nasty even for us (prior  experience) so we thought we would walk back to the much better Gastown bus stop.  This did involve a stroll along a couple of Vancouver’s finer blocks where really, no-one paid us even the slightest bit of attention.  The only “danger” we were in was when one of the more athletic citizens of the area took exception to a greeting yelled at him from across the street and proceeded, with admirable strength and accuracy, to hurl his shopping cart right across 4 lanes of traffic, missing all the cars but almost mowing down the wingchick and me standing open-mouthed on the other side.  


Getting back to the Gastown area, it seemed to truly be overtaken by the suburban kids who would formerly never stray north or east of Georgia and Granville – which is a bit of a disappointment.   We will just have to keep heading eastward.  All in all, it was an excellent night out and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else but the wingchick – she knows how to walk the walk in the best parts of many towns.


Lost and Found

A ring is a halo on your finger” – Douglas Coupland

Every so often, we all get our own little miracles, things that reaffirm our faith in basic goodness.   I was lucky enough to have one of those recently and the timing could not have been more propitious.  Summer if often a time of shorter days and lighter workloads in the business world, as people take vacations and spend time on the golf course.  But for a variety of reasons, my work remained challengingly busy all summer.   Add that to an incredibly fun personal schedule of summer concerts and festivals, wine touring and camping and it’s felt a lot like burning the candle at both ends for the last month or so.  August saw something of a dearth of blog posts – I barely had time to sleep and laundry was a forgotten dream.   It felt like all that was coming to a dreadful end as I slogged my way through the logistics of yet another round of conference planning.     One of the “team events” saw me on Granville Island, at the end of an exhausting day, competing in an “Amazing Race” event.   I hadn’t wanted to go, but sometimes the best ending come from the most dubious beginnings.  You just never know when your own little miracle is waiting around the corner.


Our teams were all equipped with GPS’s and given hand drawn maps of Granville Island, with 2 hours to collect as many clues as possible.  Being a bunch of intensely competitive Type A’s, we all took off at a run and were soon causing no small amount of mayhem in the public market, boutiques and byways of the island.   One of our last clues found us at the Alder Bay dragonboat dock searching for a “rope to pull” clue.   One of the guys spotted a rope hanging into the water off the dock, ran down and started manfully hauling up a crab trap holding a plastic pig.     His exuberant efforts came to a bad end, however, as he watched his wedding ring catch on the rope, slip off his finger and go through the slats of the dock into the dark and very dirty waters of Alder Bay.   It was not how we saw our adventure ending.   Turns out he had been married all of 6 weeks and despite the urgings of his new bride he had not yet taken his custom-made, engraved ring in to be resized.   Pretty much a disaster and it definitely cast a pall over the rest of the evening.   By the end of the night, after a few bottles of wine, I had been tasked with finding a diver who would try to recover the missing ring . . .do they think I’m a miracle worker?

By early next morning the incredibly capable and proactive Jono at Pinnacle Pursuits had emailed me with the contact information for a diver who was willing to go down and take a look for the ring.  A quick call found our intrepid diver on the dock, in his wetsuit, ready to go in  – all for the princely sum of $200.   Have at it, I said, expecting to shell out 200 clams for nada.   But some special guardian angel was looking after that ring, because not 10 minutes later I got the call that he was up and had the ring in hand.  Unbelievable.

A halo on your finger

I delivered the ring back to its rightful owner and as he said to me, sometime you just have to believe in miracles, because he really thought his wedding ring was gone forever and a replacement ring would always be, well, a replacement ring.  And now they really DO think I’m a miracle worker, and I’m not going to dissuade them.

Things lost and things found has been a theme in my life for the past couple of weeks, and it all started with the lost and found ring.  One of the losts was all mine and you would think that, knowing from the beginning that the end had already been written I would have been better prepared when the time came, but I wasn’t.    And I had to do battle with that green-eyed beast, jealousy, which I found both surprising and unbecoming as it’s not something we cerebral Aquarians see in ourselves.  I definitely wasn’t at my best for a while, but I’ve found my equilibrium again.  There’s a song lyric that goes “friends, lovers or nothing, there can only be one…there’ll never be an in-between“, but something I’ve learned is that there is always an in-between if we can only remain open to the possibilities. 

And a couple of founds – one for me personally and one for a very good friend.  A friend that I have known since high school found a lost love – they have been apart for 20+ years and lived a lot of life in the in-between times.  When they told me I wasn’t even that surprised, it was one of those moments when you just sort of feel the cogs of the universe drop back into place, it just seemed so right.  There is (I hope) a much longer blog to come – it’s a fantastic story – and I get the rights because apparently my “live life to the max” writing helped inspire the reunion.  How incredible to think that something I wrote led to a friend transforming their life in such a positive way.  I’m thrilled and humbled. 

My own found was so surprising, I still don’t quite know what to make of it and as I’m writing this I’ve only just realized that the timing was nothing short of astonishing.  I hope it will be another really good story someday soon.  There is a sense in my life just now of wheels turning within wheels, of pieces of a puzzle dropping into place, of events coming into alignment.  I had some things to learn (or maybe relearn is a better way of putting it) and I think, no I know, because I had a great tutor, that I’ve done that – so my “lost” was not really a loss, it was a huge, awesome, WOW.   Long before I read The Alchemist I would always say that if your life seems really difficult, it’s because you are on the wrong path and that when you get on the right path it all just gets so much easier – doors open and the universe does seem to conspire to help you.   So I think I must be on the right path, because so many amazingly wonderful things just keep on happening.   Yes, there are some tough moments, but they are all part of the bigger plan.  One of my challenges is learning the patience to wait for events to unfold as they should, to give up the illusion of control I thought I needed and had over every detail.  And to remember to be thankful for the people who become part of the journey, because we are part of each others’ journey and it’s neither good or bad, it is just as it’s meant to be. Part of this adventure is that it’s a ride I”m not in control of.  I’m just going to have to appreciate every moment of it and roll with whatever comes my way.  I can’t wait to see where it’s going.  

I’ve had some old Counting Crows on heavy rotation this past week – for me it’s always about the lyrics and Adam Duritz is so incredibly talented.  I’m once again thankful for that breeding ground of talent, the San Francisco Bay area – home of (almost) all of my fav bands.  Goodnight Elizabeth is a song of regret and such amazing storytelling, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.    I was captivated by the imagery, and especially “If you wrap yourself in daffodils, I will wrap myself in pain, If you are the Queen of California, baby I’m the king of pain”.   To be able to write like that *sigh*.

Just Because I Could, Doesn’t Mean I Should

I wish this was some super sexy posting about doing unmentionable things with unsuitable guys, but alas, it only relates to the gym . . heavy sigh.  I headed out on Wednesday night to what was previously my regular bootcamp.  Haven’t been in a while . . .well more than a while . . .it’s been 4 months since I tore all the ligaments in my wrist at a dragonboat event back in April.   The recovery has been, well . . .long.   Usually I would have spent most of my summer racing dragonboat and kayaking, both activities that have been completely derailed by the torn ligaments thing.  But I’ve been hiking and running so I thought I’d still be in pretty good shape, which only proves how easy it is to lie to yourself if you really want to.  I should have known. 

I love my bootcamp – it starts hard and the only options are harder and freaking ridiculous.  They basically tell you at the beginning of every session that this class is designed for people already fit, who want to challenge themselves and cross train, and that if you don’t think you can keep up, well leaving is a pretty good option. Some people actually bail at that point.  But I used to be a regular, so I was confident – hahahaha!!!  

The first few stations went ok, then I hit the first push up/plank.  I thought my wrist was, well, good enough.  Nope.  Apparently planks or push ups were just out of the question for this girl – the wrist still wouldn’t support me.  Damn.   But our ever-so-helpful drill sergeant had a great suggestion.  Not “don’t do it” or “here’s an easier version” – oh no.  Her suggestion was to pass me a set of 12lb hand weights and suggest that if my wrist couldn’t take the flexion, I should do the push ups off the freaking weights.   That’s right, balance on the weights and then do push ups.  That girl is a barrel of laughs.  And no, this is not a live action shot  – I’m a blonde.

**Disclaimer - this is not me, it's just what I was doing.
So with this helpful advice, I made it around the circuit.  And because it was my first night back, it seemed like a great time to push it pretty hard – after all, I needed the workout.  Honestly, what was I thinking????   Just because I could do it, doesn’t mean I should do it. 
Thursday morning my alarm went off at an indecent hour  – it’s usually the only indecent thing going on in my house . . but I digress. In my feeble attempt to reach for the alarm and slam it into oblivion I realized that getting out of bed was going to be a bit of a challenge.  Even my fingers hurt (those freaking hand weights).  Oh well, I had great faith that a hot shower would help.  And it did, for at least 31/2 minutes.   Then the pain set in again.  Dammmmm, it was going to be a long day.   I managed to hobble through my day, walking really slow and not going to far.  And if I dropped something off my desk – well what the heck, it could just stay on the floor till tomorrow.  Who was really going to care.   I crawled up the stairs to bed on Thursday night firmly convinced (against everything I know for a fact) that I’d feel better in the morning.   Once again, the human capacity to lie to ourselves is simply staggering. 
Friday morning dawned in a haze of pain.  There was not a single muscle in my body that didn’t hurt. And I don’t mean a little “owie”.  I mean some serious, bone deep pain.   The only way out of bed was to roll onto the floor and then try to get upright.  The hot shower therapy helped briefly, and as long as I stayed in motion it was only painful, not desperate.  But luck was not on my side. I had a full day meeting on Friday that meant I would be sitting for about 8 hours, with a few breaks.  Torture.   I discovered that it is extremely unseemly to groan out loud every time you get up from the boardroom table.   People stare .  And wonder.   And if you try to explain, well they just look at you . . . .oddly.   With the help of a few dozen Advil I made it through another day, thankful to lurch home and assume a prone position on the couch, not to rise until Saturday, when hopefully the worst will be past.
And here I lie, laptop in my lap, typing sideways because any other upright position hurts like a bitch.  My right hip feels like someone whacked me with a hammer, my obliques won’t allow me any sideways action and my thighs – well lets just say that anything that falls on the floor is going to have to stay there unless it’s light enough for my Swiffer to pick it up.   I’ve tried Advil and, laterally, liberal doses of a fairly decent Argentinian Malbec,but no love, it still hurts like a beast.  The only good news – it’s Saturday tomorrow and I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything.  I”m thinking a nice gentle Hatha yoga class.  Or maybe just don’t get out of bed at all.  And that’s the best option I’ve heard all week.   
Thank God it’s Friday –  and I’m horizontal.
It’s not really a music video, but its’ so damn good I had to post it.  Here is the “trailer” for Butch Walker’s brandie new record, The Spade, out, to my considerable excitement, now.   The man is pure genius (and can even make a porn-stache look hot).  Love Butch.

The Magic of Music – a biochemical orchestra at work.

“Music triggers the same pleasure-reward system in the brain as food, sex and illicit drugs”

I came across a fascinating piece of research conducted by a team at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University and published in the journal Nature NeuroscienceThese brainy people undertook an experiment to try to find out exactly why people love music so much and what they discovered is fascinating to a music lover like me.   When we are listening to favourite pieces of music our brains are busy pushing out the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has long been known to generate feelings of pleasure when we eat or have sex – which are not only fun but key to survival. 

The volunteers for the experiment were given two types of brain scans while listening to their favourite music – PET (positron emission tomography) which showed if and where in the brain dopamine was being released and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which shows oxygen usage in brain cells, indicating which areas of the brain were being stimulated as the pleasure kicked in.   As the volunteers listened to music they really liked, clear signs of pleasure showed on the scans, along with physical responses such as elevated heart rates and chills running up their spines.  There was almost no response when the volunteers listened to music they didn’t like or were indifferent to – the reaction was totally dependent on their individual tastes and preferences in music.  It didn’t matter if it was punk, classical or bagpipes, if they liked it they responded and if they didn’t there was no response. 

The researchers did not determine why music engages this  ancient system deep in the striatum, a primitive region deep in the brain, but by doing so music has a powerful, pleasurable effect on us.   Heroin and cocaine hijack the same system, which helps explain why they are so addictive, but if you get the same high from music you won’t be ruining your health and wasting away, you might actually be doing something good for yourself, which is great news for me,  a seriously addicted  music lover. 

A friend recently hijacked me into listening to “Knee Deep” that infectiously feel good song by Zac Brown and Jimmy Buffett.  And although I’m not usually a country fan, I am a closet Parrothead, having once spent a ridiculous night, while I was on a sailing trip in the Caribbean, in the bar on St Bart’s Jimmy wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise”about.  Only the timely intervention of the crew, dragging us back to the boat to sail with the tide, saved us from the less than tender attentions of the gendarmes (St Bart’s is a French protectorate) who were not impressed with our attempt to drink an amount of tequila we thought was necessary to honour Mr. Buffet and dance up and down the streets singing all the Buffet songs we could (barely) remember.  It was a memorable night  . . .but I have seriously digressed.  Or maybe not, my memories of that night are all tied up with my memories of Jimmy Buffett songs and when I hear him singing it always triggers the most enduring, happy memories of that incredible sailing trip.    So I  now find myself walking around, humming about being knee deep in paradise, and it’s a perfect example of the feel good high music can have in our lives.  Take a listen, it’s impossible not to smile and tap your toes – which explains the 5 million plus YouTube views – dopamine running rampant.

And all this scientific inquiry helps explain a lot about my fantastic weekend – my dopamine has been in overdrive with not one, but two, concerts with  my long time favourite band, Blue Rodeo.   The boys were in town for their annual show at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park and it was just amazing.    They have been playing Malkin Bowl (a lovely outdoor venue in the heart of the park) for about 9 years and in that time I’ve sat through some great weather, but also rain, cold and mud.  This weekend was exceptional September weather – so hot and sunny that even at night you didn’t need a jacket.   Outdoor concert bliss.   And the band played two of the best, most inspired shows I have ever seen  (and I’ve seen a lot . . .check out some of my California road trip blogs). 

One of the really interesting things about following a band over a long period of time is watching the changes they go through.  The ups and the downs, the times when you think (and fear) that they are breaking up and you won’t get to see them again, the long hiatus when it seems like forever since you saw them live and, of course, the amazing performances that remain in memory long after the night has come to a close.    

The shows this weekend saw a reformatted on-stage performance by the band. Greg Keelor has developed a hearing problem that makes it very painful for him to hear loud music, especially electric guitars and drums, so to accommodate that they had Greg doing the acoustic performances and brought in Chris Cripps, who plays with Jim Cuddy on his solo records, to play electric guitar with Jim.  It could have gone either way, but the result was awesome.  Jim and Chris rocked it out, while Greg was at his very, very best singing acoustic and a capella – “Dark Angel“was a standout.   It was great to see them all so energized and having so much fun on stage and that sort of infectious energy transmits out to the crowd.  And although Malkin Bowl seems to draw a fairly stalwart “sit on my butt all night” crowd, there are always a few of us singing and dancing fools that set up our own impromptu dance party on the side.  Made a few new friends, had a lot of fun and when they finally opened up the front of the stage for standing room we were centre stage in the front row.  Awesome.

My favourite performance both nights was Jim singing “After the Rain”, a song I have loved forever.   On Saturday night he talked about  the song being bittersweet for him because it was at Malkin Bowl while singing it several years ago he lost the high range in his voice.  I was at that show and remember it well and for quite some time after that Jim struggled with the falsetto he is famous for.     Fortunately, the wonders of modern surgery worked their magic and Jim is back belting out those high notes with a bravado and confidence that makes me happy all the way to my toes.  Here’s a live video shot handheld at a bar in Atlanta, GA a few years ago, no mixing, no autotune, just a really talented singer hitting it out of the park.

And as if my weekend hadn’t been fun enough – gotta run down to the Zeitgeist Media Festival to catch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes this afternoon.   So much fun, the weekends are just not long enough.   Keeping it real, always.

This is our life on holiday

My home could not be construed as traditional in any sense of the word, but nonetheless my daughter and I do have a few sacred traditions, one of which is our annual marathon day at the PNE – the Pacific National Exhibition.   We have been going from gate open to gate close for more years now than I really care to remember; it’s a day we plan carefully and put aside to spend together every year.   This year that day was yesterday as we set off to spend a day eating unbelievably bad food and seeing the cheesiest of sideshow acts.   Awesome.   When she was younger we spent a lot of time riding the Midway – that carnival of excess – but fortunately she has taken pity on me and now saves that for her friends.   The year that Hell’s Gate was the new ride, we decided to see how many times we could ride it consecutively . . .and no, I don’t know why we thought that was a good idea.  But we got to seven rides before I called uncle and heading for a trash bin . . . nuff said.  

Now we plan our day around Superdogs, Evolution of Extreme and a Summer Night Concert, with a hefty dose of Market Place thrown in for variety.   What can you say about Superdogs – the awesomest, cheesiest dog show ever.   Every year we wait to see what Gary Glitter suit Richard comes out in – it was a bit disappointing this year – blue blazer and white flannels – but maybe his new sponsor, President’s Choice, put the hammer down on his flamboyant outfits.  Too bad, but the dogs rocked.  

Next up was a visit to Evolution of Extreme, the extreme motocross show with guys flying 75 feet through the air, doing back flips on motocross bikes.   A couple of years ago they added extreme ATV’s – a bit weird but ok.  Then this year they added extreme Snowmobiles – I’m not kidding.   In 30 degree heat they were flying snowmobiles off of ramps, across jumps and doing back flips with them.  That’s just plain crazy.   My daughter and I sat there, equally thrilled and horrified, both of us thinking “please don’t let this be the show that ends badly”  – because they do, quite regularly. 

A little break was in order, so it was off to Market Place to see what “as seen on TV” slice and dice ’em specials could be had this year.  Sad to say the infamous “Shake Weights” are gone . . .so sad.   And since we are already the proud owners of (maybe more than) or fair share of ShamWow’s (those cloths are fantastic and last forever) brooms and mops we were on the hunt for something new and fantastic.  I ended up with a set of Pony O’s – wait to be amazed and thrilled by the stunning new hairdo’s you are going to see soon, and just be thankful we came to our senses and did not buy the press-on “glamour” eye shadow stickers!!   But it’s not all kitsch and useless crap;  I”m a big proponent of an all natural, locally made cleaner called Pink Solution that I first picked up at the Fair a few years ago and now use for everything from laundry to dog shampoo to degreasing the carport –  it’s fantastic, and eco-friendly.  Love it. 

Eating junk is a HUGE  part of going to the PNE and I think I managed to horrify more than a few of my friends by posting pic’s of the delicacies I was enjoying  – dinner was a Crazy Dog (it WAS veggie) and a deep-fried Mars bar – truly not my usual organic, vegetarian fare.   But it’s all part of the lowbrow entertainment that is the Fair, so we throw ourselves into it with gusto.


My lovely girl is old enough now (yeah!!) that we could wind up our day enjoying a refreshing beverage in the beer garden while watching the evening concert by the Stereos.  The cuties from Edmonton were our pick for the best concert of the series and they put on a great show –  all the LG’s loved them 🙂 Though I have serious suspicions about what was really in those water bottles, given all the on-stage chatter about heading to Granville Street to party, and I’m guessing that Roxy lived up to its reputation last night!! 

I was contemplating as I was writing what is so fascinating for me about the Fair and I think it’s all that tawdry glitter pastiched onto a seedy, dirty and sometimes desperate underbelly.   The acts are, for the most part, second-rate – I’ll give a pass to the Stereos and Hedley the year we saw them – even Jake’s famous dropping of trou and BA’ing the crowd seemed like an appropriate response in the circumstances.   Most of the other musical entertainment is, at best, C List.  And that’s without even going into the “Tribute Beer Garden” which is devoted full-time to tribute acts . . Nearly Neal, Almost Abba a Bon Jovi act and last nights Led Zeppelin tribute.  The  hucksters in the Market are telemarketers live and in person – the sales pitches there are hilarious, but at the same time they are both desperately trying to make a sale and brazenly taking us all for suckers – and we play along and buy the crap.   There are the games of “No Chance” as my daughter and I call them on the Midway – pony up your $5, usually lose and maybe if you are lucky win a truly awful stuffed animal?  There is no rational explanation for the attraction of any of this, though if you have one I’d love to hear it.  

If you find the world of carnivals and circuses as fascinating as me, you might want to pick up a copy of “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn.  Water for Elephants this is not, although that is also an excellent book.  But I doubt that anyone (well except maybe David Cronenberg) would be making a movie out of this one.

This  mesmerizing novel should carry a warning: “Reader Beware.”   The characters live in a world of carnival freaks and it is narrated by Olympia Binewski, a bald, humpbacked albino dwarf and there is no escape from a story that is at once engrossing and repellent, funny and terrifying, unreal and true to human nature.  The premise is bizarre. Art and Lily, owners of Binewski’s Fabulon, a traveling carnival, decide to breed their own freak show by creating genetically altered children through the use of experimental drugs.  You have to read it to see where this will end up, though I think it’s obvious there is no happy ending. 
And for today’s musical interlude . . .I was just incensed to see this weekend on Twitter and FB that some glorified waitress on a third-rate airline (Southwest – greyhound of the skies) had the temerity to throw one of my personal heroes – Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day – off a plane because she didn’t like his PANTS.  Not kidding – his low riders were apparently some national security threat.  More likely they were a threat to her middle class mediocrity.  And I’m guessing that Billie was probably sporting  black eye liner and a punked up hair do and that, given it was in the good ol’ US of A, his appearance offended her self-righteous, judgmental,  evangelical christian morality.    Personally, I don’t judge people by their appearance, but by their actions.  And the Green Day boys had the jam to stand up and sing “Don’t Want to be an American Idiot” when a whole lot of other musicians, actors and writers were hiding out in fear of being ostracized by the “Dixie Chicks” effect.   Love those girls too – if you want to see something that will really piss you off, watch the documentary “Shut Up and Sing” about the fallout from an off the cuff comment that Natalie made concerning that American Idiot  – George Dubbya.    So here is Bille Joe, Mike and Trey killing it in England on the American Idiot tour with Holiday and, to quote the boys, I think it’s awesome as f**k.