Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Suburbs With Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire discover beauty within the darkness of The Suburbs, from The Guardian

Canada's finest have produced a hymn to the middle-class motherland, suffused with a Springsteen-esque need to escape

Pop has always loved a visit to the suburbs, whether in the sleazy undertow of Suede's eponymous debut album or the high-street hellraisers of Pet Shops Boys' Suburbia.

It's fitting, then, that Arcade Fire should share this fascination so much as to name their third album The Suburbs. Listening to the jangly, back-room piano-bar intro of the title track, the need to escape is immediately evident: "I long to drive, you told me we'd never survive ... grab another's keys, we're leaving." As in Hanif Kureshi's novel, The Buddha of Suburbia, where Karim obsesses about the otherworldly David Bowie and leaving his south London borough for the glamour of the city, suburbia for Arcade Fire clearly represents a place of repressed emotions and stifled potential.

In the past, it has also represented something far more sinister. On Funeral, Win Butler was more concerned with tapping into that fear of the unknown – the lies on Rebellion that are told to "scare your son, scare your daughter" or the feral isolation to evade some encroaching menace dreamed of on Neighbourhood (Tunnels). That vision is redolent of the suburbia represented in 1950s horrors films, when the domestic idyll of small-town America was interrupted by the zombies or blobs or brain-eaters or whatever it was that was coming to turn your children into the undead. Neon Bible, Arcade Fire's second album, gave that fear a name, as the band drew inspiration from religion and the cloistering hypocrisy it seemed to represent.

In an interview with National Public Radio about his film Little Children – in which two unfulfilled parents resort to an affair to alleviate their boredom in outer Boston – director Todd Field described the mainstream media as having a "packaged contempt for suburbia". That's certainly true for Sam Mendes's 1999 film American Beauty, which depicted a middle-class world where all life's boxes have been ticked and yet everything is far from OK.

However, I don't think Arcade Fire draw inspiration from suburbia in any sort of contemptuous way. On their third album, the band capture the romanticised lifelessness of these places; the desire to shrug off the daily burden of some unnamed mediocrity. "Let's go for a drive, and see the town tonight. There's nothing to do ... but I don't mean when I'm with you," croons Butler on Suburban Wars, so reminiscent of that small-town hero (and personal Butler favourite) Bruce Springsteen. "Let's take a drive through the sprawl, to the these towns they built to change," he says on Sprawl 1. (Driving is obviously a prerequisite when putting the "escape from suburbia" plan into action, given how many times it's mentioned on the album).

Fans of the band's ability to emote about the open road won't be disappointed – Ready to Start, Empty Room and Month of May already feel like vintage Aracade Fire in that regard. But on The Suburbs it's as if the band's sense of uneasiness – so dramatic on the death-plagued Funeral and so foreboding on Neon Bible – has simply relaxed a little.

Are the doomy Canadians stepping out of the darkness and into the light? Perhaps not just yet. As Butler sings on Modern Man, there remains the continual sense that "something don't feel right". And that something is what creeps uneasily through the cul-de-sacs of The Suburbs.

Friday, July 23, 2010


It's hotter than Satan's taint around here...but here is a good summer song. Aw, these guys are so cute.

We're off to see another movie this afternoon...we need the ac. We saw Inception this week...and LOVED it! Excellent movie. It's not like it has spoilers exactly, but probably better for me not to say too much about it....because it's just a really good ride. Ride the kick as they's very William Burroughs so perfect for Stagg and I. This afternoon we're gonna try and catch the Joan Rivers movie.

Here is another video and song that goes lovely with My chemical Romance...Alice coopers "Eighteen" One of my favourite songs is anincredible video from an old tv!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alec Baldwin Double Bill Etc.

We now have decades of outstanding characters in film played by Alec Baldwin. What an animal. I love him so much! Remember his super geek in Beetlejuice? He has also played a lot of scummy She's Having A Baby and Working Girl. A lot of his roles are in movies a large part of the population never saw because they don't see "chick flicks" or mainstream comedies. but Baldwin has been blowing the screen up with his energy for just so long...And I happened to see two movies on the same day with him in them...which I didn't plan on doing, it was just one of those surprises that often happens of coincidences when watching more than one movie at a sitting. He totally stole each movie he was in. I didn't even know he played the father of Dane Cook when I started watcing a little comedy called My Best Friends Girl. One of the main things about Alec Baldwin is he feels so MAN.

I hadn't even heard of this movie when I watched it a couple weeks ago. I was not ever a fan of Dane Cook...and I saw that Kate Hudson was in a movie...and I love I thought "what the heck". Stagg was out with his friend Jim for the weekend. As soon as I watched this movie I realized how badly Stagg would have to see it when he got home. Dane Cook was fabulous. He totally surprised me. He plays a total asshole. His job is to teach ex-girlfriends a lesson with a little revenge. Okay. I see this is a great idea for a story. This movie has hip contemporary humour and dialogue and I found it refreshing although quite edgy. It's hilarious and what really makes this potentially cold style of humour successful in this movie is the chemistry between Hudson and Cook. It isn't as lighthearted as old screwball comedies but it has the redeeming quality of true onscreen sparks between the stars. Alec Baldwin plays Cook's father and he is charming, snakey, sly and damn funny. I landed up watching this strange movie 3 times because I thought it really had something different with the nasty cool asshole has heart softened by tough talking smart woman. Sure, it's cliche but this has a contemporary tone that makes it feel fresh. It's a little dark, a little cold, but worth it. 8/10. Excellent soundtrack.

Like I said...I somewhat expect Alec Baldwin to steal a movie....but saying that when Meryl Streep is involved is saying a lot. What a great set of characters created for the movie It's Complicated. James Wolcott recently called director Nancy Meyer's movie "real-estate porn" and there is some tasty houses in her movies, for sure. But her exploration of women and characters and men...are really good. ..and Wolcott has done her a dis-service by labeling her movies so superficially. Alec Baldwin was so good in this role, we see quite a different side to him...sure the perfect comedian and physical prescence we know...but he has a very touching sympathetic aspect here. The story deals with a side of family that often doesn't get a good deep treatment. Much enjoyed. If you're a kid of I was...there is something poignant here for you. Well done. 10/10.'s also very funny!

This is a lousy condition of video...but of a fantastic segment in the wonderful 30 Rock tv series. The premise of this episode is the network is switching to High Def tv...and some people can't make the transition. As each person walks past the High Def camera we see how they translate and it's hilarious. The best is Alec Baldwin's High Def persona...worth watching this clip if you don't follow the show....wait for it...

Here is one of the most talked about and beloved cameos on film from Glen Garry Glen Ross. Even my grandmother used to quote this scene..When people stopped talking about Baldwin during a quieter phase in his carreer they always mentioned this work. He was always good and now it's as if Baldwin is really seasoned and hit his stride and I am so glad writers recognize his power and lure. How do I love Alec Baldwin, let me count the ways..

...third prize is you're fired...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dimestore Dostoyevsky

He listens to opera. He reads fine literature. He plays blues piano. And he has a killer inside him.

The absolutely amazing Michael Winterbottom has made a masterpice with following the unleashed innocent babyface of Casey Affleck. It would have been enough if Winterbotttom had just made 24 Hour Party People (GENIUS!) or Welcome To Sarajavo or Code 46...but Winterbottom is on some kind of a roll...and we are so lucky he is.

Jim Thompson is one of my favourite writers and several of his novels have been made into movies...almost all of them very very well done. Thompson always had a story where the alienation, and restlessness of daily boring life seemed to be some kind of trigger for violence. Thompson portrayed people who lived where noone ever seemed to know who they really were except us readers...and his stories make us afraid....very afraid of the ordinary guy. that guy could be a Thompson's world...they are all psycho. Even the kids.

Author of Hardboiled America Geoffrey O'Brien called Jim Thompson a "dimestore Dostoyevsky" which is such a perfect moniker for him. Thompson's novels are like Dostoyevsky in the way that it seemed the psychology of the characters was in rooted in their environment. For Dostoyevsky, the social and political structure of Russia molded the minds of his characters, for Thompson.....that would be America.

It is interesting to compare Stacy Keach's performance of Sheriff Lou from the 1970's to Afflleck's portrayal. They are both very good...but the soft pastel persona of Affleck, his babyface versus Keach's all-man is worth noting. Affleck is an force and he has done an amazing job with this role.

Director Winterbottom is like my generations Scorcese, attacking genre films of all kinds, and nailing them. He has made a gorgeous dangerous beautiful film. It is highly violent so I am cautious about recommending it. But if you love pulp fiction novels, if you love crime stories, this is a beaut.

The utterly tight recreation of the era is the clue to the mind of this killer. We don't get the kind of answers we may want...because Thompson never spelled it out, and Winterbottom doesn't either. Our killer hints at the opening voiceover how we don't know each other. In looking for any kind of answers to what makes a man like Sheriff Lou tick, the answers seem to be in the very landscape...incantatory attention to details of recreating the American dream town...the evil is never separate from the Americana.

Can this really be true?

As Sheriff Lou might say, god help us...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This City

I am forever grateful that I spent time in New Orleans in the 1980's. That is me laying in bed reading SPIN magazine in the French Quarter, in the spring of 1987. A copy of A Confederacy Of Dunces is on the bedside table. I was crazy about cajun and creole food and wanted to check out the music scene...and somehow I managed to get down there with such ambition, while juggling a babysitter as a single mum, and getting time off from a bartending job etc. Sometimes, I still can't believe how lucky I was at the time. I worked in a bar in Toronto that served a cajun menu and the cuisine was just getting trendy at that time. My bosses saw me going to New Orleans as research for working for them, so they gladly gave me time off. I don't ever remember eating as much food as I did on those visits...I ate at every possible place I could find and went to every possible live music venue I could find. It was a really incredible time, and the kind of energy really one mostly spends when they are young. I rode a moped to Algiers, I got a manicure in the Garden District, I stayed up all night and walked home while vendors hosed down the streets at 9 a.m. and I went to house parties of total strangers. I am glad I went to New Orleans before Trent Reznor, before vampires, before Bradgelina...before Katrina. Having said that....New Orleans also has an inertia that defies visitors so it also feels the same on return visits years and decades later. Amen.

But can you ever know New Orleans as a visitor? Can you ever know anywhere as a visitor?

HBO's series Treme sets out to introduce New Orleans to the world. No really. It doesn't matter if you've got street creds and you've been there. In some haunting, languid style...the series brings you into conversations, houses, streets and a seemingly alternative universe of New Orleans that feels very very precious and part voyeuristic and part tangible and immediate.

Sometimes the camera work is responsible for the sense of immediacy, by moving and setting between cast as if it is a domestic handycam. Sometimes someones head is right there in your view and sometimes, the camera is capturing something so private that we feel like..."are we visible?" Should I leave you alone?"

I think Treme is one of the very best programs I've ever seen on tv. And believe me, I watch a lot of fucking tv. I read a lot of books, I watch a lot of movies, and I listen to a lot of different music, and I watch a lot of tv. That in so many ways defines exactly who I am. I am a person who absorbs the stories of humans, low brow, highbrow...i don't care about any such bullshit like "good taste" or "stature'. People made something: I'll at least respect it and check it out. I like storytelling. Period.

Treme is it's own incredible world and it is an accomplishment in character construction, in narrative, and in cinematography and then there is the soundtrack. What an incredibly beautiful journey that Treme has offered us. This is a tv show that should be watched with friends and then have a lovely mixer to discuss each episode. I hope people will be having viewing parties when the dvd is released. I hope people have friends over and enjoy the art of conversation and play music and talk about each episode.

Treme is unusual because it is often very slow moving. Like the city it portrays. If you walk fast in New Orleans, then you just don't get it. If you think you can absorb New Orleans like any other tourist town, then you just don't get it.

Part of the fascinating thing about Treme is that it explores this stubborn purism of the people who live there...who believe the city has it's own narrative that one surrenders to...or not. The city will break you and ignore you if you don't see it's own unique pulse and spiritual undercurrent. You can go to New Orleans and never see the languid undercurrent...but you might if you watch Treme. We come to understand the stubborness of the characters we follow, why they do the very things they do that at first we might dismiss. Every choice of clothing, of music, of improvization, of where they live, of where they work and how they speak unfolds slowly like a mystery. Sometimes breathtakingly.

This is slow cinema. This is cinema verite. This is mise en scene. This is complex, layered storytelling revealing Greek Tragedy and folly. And love. Love for life that maybe it is easy to have forgotten. It's more than a tv show about New Orleans...but if that was all Treme was it is a huge success. But Treme also points a finger at us, where ever we we believe in music? Do we believe in standing up for our ideals? Do we believe in "home"? Do we believe in dancing? Do we really believe it's "the little things in life"?

In the world of Treme the little things in life are revealed for the monolithic powers they offer.

Most of all, I cared about all of the people portrayed in this series. I even landed up having dreams about this series and the characters. Dreams that woke me up.

By exploring and presenting an intimate portrait of several families and people in New Orleans, we have had the camera reveal our own lives and our own communities.

Watch Treme and learn about how you live with music and community.

You can see a few seconds of a scene where Steve Earle is a street musician...and he is busking with his real life son, Justin Townes Earle.

Above is Steve Earle performing the song he wrote for the series, Treme, called "This City" and it was nominated for an Emmy (The Emmy Award show airs August 29)

Wednesday night on PBS, Tavis Smiley tours New Orleans with Wendell Pierce, one of the stars of Treme, and director Jonathan Demme.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Some Reading This Week

Yes, that is Blair Underwood on the cover of that novel. And visitors here know I love me some Blair Underwood! I noticed he was on a talk show recently so I set up to watch it, and he was promoting a couple of things, including this novel. From Cape Town With Love is a detective novel with an actor turned sleuth and it is the third in a series. They are written by a husband and wife which also got me interested. I love crime novels and potboilers and when I saw this at the library the other day- right after I saw it promoted on a morning talk show-zowie! I really liked it. First it is fascinating on a publishing angle...yes, the husband and wife authors...and it is also set up with multi-media. The novel has produced a hook up with a "Vook" which is video movie excerpts from the novel...yep...starring Blair Underwood. Possibly with a feature length movie to follow. As soon as I began the novel I was totally surprised to see a "suggested mp3 playlist". How cool is that? With all kinds of music from Dr. Dre, to Nine Inch Nails, to Rolling Stones, The O'Jays, to Alicia Keys to Marvin Gaye. Wonderful idea! What a hoot. but listen...I still want to it a good book? Yes it is. Action, sex, good and evil, exotic locations, death, love betrayal and action and adventure. Oh did I mention the sex. And what sex it is. Holy cow! I just really enjoyed this novel and can't wait to read the previous novels and get me some more private eye action.

When I had the book at the loan desk...the librarian checking out my books saw this one...and said "Oooh, is that Blair Underwood...ummmm, I must get this..."

Oh...and here is the trailer for the "Vook"...

Why We Make Mistakes was a really great read. I thought it was a lot of fun while at the same time, it made me amazed we haven't all killed each other by now out of sheer accident! I highly recommend this book.

"We misremember our high school grades. We give our friends gift cards they'll never use. We think we'd be happier if we lived in California (we wouldn't) and we think we should stick with our first answer on tests (we shouldn't). Why do we make mistakes? And could we do a little better?

We human beings have design flaws. Our eyes play tricks on us, our stories change in the retelling, and most of us are fairly sure we're way above average. In Why We Make Mistakes, journalist Joseph T. Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error—how we think, see, remember and forget, and how this sets us up for wholly irresistible mistakes.

In his quest to understand our imperfections, Hallinan delves into psychology, neuroscience and economics, with forays into aviation, consumer behavior, geography, football, stock-picking, and more. He discovers that some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error-prone. We learn to move rapidly through the world, quickly recognizing patterns—but overlooking details. Which is why 13-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists miss—and why you can't find the beer in your refrigerator.

Why We Make Mistakes is enlivened by real-life stories—of weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jail—and offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where you've hidden something important. You'll learn why multi-tasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women don't, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (it's not)." From author's website...

I am doing a group read with one of my bookclubs of Richard III. I've read it several times before, and seen several live performances of it, plus several movie versions. Actually, I ve even done a group read of it an online bookclub. I also own the dvd of Al Pacino's Looking For Richard (a great documentary btw). The wonderful thing about reading Shakespeare in a group is learning new things about the verses and always seeing something new. Shakespeare always feels infinite. Harold Bloom says that the judge in the novel Blood Meridian is like Iago, but I think the judge is also like Richard III. Richard is cruel, sick, sadomasochistic and worse, attractive , funny and smarter than everyone...and Shakespeare never moralizes over evil here in this play, but inspires us to purge such sick humans from our lives and society.

A classic book on fairy tales and how important they are for children. The author makes a distinction between fairy-tales and myths. myths moralize where fairy tales allow children to problem solve on their own. A fantastic book for caregivers who believe children shouldn't read fantasy or fairy tales when in fact they offer a venue for building skills for the rest of their lives.

An excerpt:

"Past generations of of children who loved and felt the importance of fairytales were subjected to the scorn of pedants....Today many of our children are far more grievously bereaved-because they are deprived of the chance to know fairy stories at all. Most children now meet fairy tales only in prettified and simplified versions which subdue their meaning and rob them of all deeper significance-versions such as those on films and TV shows, where fairy tales are turned into empty-minded entertainment.

Through most of man's history, a child's intellectual life, apart from immediate experiences within the family, depended on mythical and religious stories and on fairy tales. this traditional literature fed the child's imagination and stimulated his fantasizing. Simultaneously, since these stories answered the child's most important questions, they were a major agent of his socialization. Myths and closely related religious legends offered material from which children formed their concepts of the world's origin and purpose, and of the social ideals a child could pattern himself after. These were the images of the unconquered hero Achilles and wily Odysseus, of hercules, whose life history showed that it is not beneath the dignity of the strongest man to clean the filtiest stable; of St. martin, who cut his coat in half to clothe a poor beggar. It is not just since Freud that the myth of Oedipus has become the image by which we understand the ever new but age0old problems posed to us by our complex and ambivalent feelings about our parents. Freud referred to this ancient story to make us aware of the inescapable cauldron of emotions which every child, in his own way, has to manage at a certain age.

In the Hindu civilization, the story of Rama and Sita (part of the Ramayana), which tells of their peacable courage and their passionate devotion to each other, is the prototype of love and marriage relationships. the culture, moreover, enjoins everyone to try to relive this myth in his or her own life, every Hindu bride is called Sita, and as part of her wedding ceremony she acts out certain episodes of the myth.

In fairy tale, internal processes are externalized and become comprehensible as represented by the figures of the story and its events. This is the reason why in traditional hindu medicine a fairy tale form to his particular problem was offered to a psychically disoriented person, for his meditation. It was expected that through contemplating the story the disturbed person would be led to visualize both the nature of the impasse in living from which he suffered, and the possibility of its resolution. From what a particular tale implied about man's despair, hopes, and methods of overcoming tribulations, the patient could discover not only a way out of his distress but also a way to find himself, as the hero of the story did.

But the paramount importance of fairy tales for the growing individual resides in something other than teachings about correct ways of behaving in this world-such wisdom is plentifully supplied in religion, myths, and fables. Fairy stories do not pretend to describe the world as it is, nor do they advise what one ought to do. if they did, the Hindu patient would be induced to follow a pattern of behaviour-which is not just bad therapy, but the opposite of therapy. The fairy tale is therapeutic because the patient finds his own solutions, through contemplating what the story seems to imply about him and his inner conflicts at this moment in his life. The content of the chosen tale usually has nothing to do with the patients external life, but has much to do with his inner problems, which seem incomprehensible and hence unsolvable. The fairy tale clearly does not refer to the outer world, although it may begin realistically enough and have everyday features woven into it. the unrealistic nature of these tales (which narrow-minded rationalists object to) is an important device, because it makes obvious that the fairy tales' concern is not useful information about the external world, but the inner processes taking place in the individual."

Friday, July 16, 2010


It's almost impossible to find a photo of my parents without a drink in their hands. Actually, I wish I had all my photo albums here because there are a lot of old photos I'd like to post here on my blog. My photo albums are all in Toronto in storage along with odds and ends. I just happened to get this photo in my traveling address book I brought with to show Stagg's parents some of my family photos like my daughter when I came to visit one time. This photo is my parents and grandmother, taken by my grandfather way back when. I think they are at a Legion or MESS where they all loved to hang out as they were always living on military bases. My dad seems to be smoking a pipe and I can just see in my mum's face she looking at what a ham he is. I think they are still Newlyweds at this point. Weird to see them look so happy around each other.

I've got some kind of weird glitch on my blog...I can't get to my blog from just disappears and I've had trouble posting some things. and I have no idea how to fix this glitch. It's aslo so bloody hot and we don't have ac so it's difficult to spend any time on the computer as it's directly in the sun and hottest room all day. this morning the weather has broken for a little bit and it's nice to catch up on blogs friends and surf around a little...I am basically useless in this heat.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Goodbye Rodeo

As a kid, I played cowboys and indians just like a lot of other kids. I always wanted to be the indian though...because they were the coolest.

I also grew up going to a fair bit of rodeos including the Calgary Stampede. We went to the Stampede almost every summer while visiting our grandparents. My grandmother loved the festival where you could see all the animals on display for competition from various ranches throughout Canada , or to visit the food pavillion, or ride the midway, or go to the rodeo.

As a child I didn't question the roseo and it's effects on animals...and actually, it was when my dad had a ranch in alberta that I started to wonder about farm life. I was always an avid outdoorsperson as a kid. I've written about my other grandma's camp here before...and growing up in the Pacific Northwest and seeing whales, octopus, seals, bears,wolves in the wild was a massive influence. i became a vegetarian when I was about 12-13 years old. I began thinking about animals more and more. i loved jack london and animal stories in general. any kind of adventure story outside. To this day...I prefer novels with inter-species relationships and narratives.

I struggled with the world between wilderness and countryside. Wilderness won.

This week at the Calgary Stampede 4 horses have died. A young woman has been crushed by her own horse having a heart attack.

When my dad had his ranch I started seeing how cruel farm life could for animals. Our cat got electrocuted. Dogs would have very short life spans. Escaping fences and hit by cars, or killed by predators. Cows were often not allowed to breed on their own but artificially inseminated. We would go buy bull sperm and inseminate our cows ourselves.

As a teenager...this all started to bother me. Not over night but a slow inquiry about how we get our food, how our food lives till we eat it, and how our whole economy and way we think is influenced by our relationship to how we get food.

Like most people, I have a romantic notion of the cowboy...rugged, aloof, hardworking, independant, and shy just looking for work with animals. But it's long time to say goodbye to the rodeo and the last cowboys. As much as I love my memories of living on a ranch and riding horses and herding cows...or visiting the's a bad karma job.

Anyone who has worked or lived on a farm knows how shitty the job really is...death to totalitarian agriculture!

The old ways are not always the best ways...old minds suggest old programs...out with the programs period!

What is calf-roping? (From Vancouver Humane society)

Calf-roping, also known as tie-down roping (rodeo promoters changed the name to make it more palatable to the public), is probably the least popular rodeo event, even among avid rodeo fans. There is often a gasp from the crowds when the calf, just three to four months old, is brought to a sudden, jerking halt at the end of the rope.

The event starts with the calf contained in a steel-barred “chute” at the side of the arena. The calf is goaded, prodded and often has its tail twisted to ensure it will burst out of the chute at full speed (up to 27 miles per hour). The terrified calf is then chased by a mounted rider who must lasso the calf, jump of his horse, pick up the calf, slam it to the ground and tie three of its feet together. The event is timed and the rider who does it fastest wins.

Calves are sometimes injured or killed because of the sudden physical impact of the roping. The time pressure of the event and the prize money at stake can lead to poor roping, harsh handling and mistakes by riders – all of which put the calf at risk of injury. But it is not just the risk of injury that is the problem with calf-roping. It’s the fear.

The cruelty of fear

All cattle are “prey” animals and research has shown they are particularly sensitive to fear. Dr. Temple Grandin, the distinguished animal behaviourist, has written that fear is “so bad” for animals it can be worse than pain. There can be little doubt that a three-month-old calf, goaded and chased into an arena with a shouting crowd is suffering even before the rope pulls him off his feet. How can tormenting an animal in this way be acceptable as entertainment? Treating a dog this way would result in cruelty charges. Sadly, farm animals in Canada have no such legal protection – apparently even when they are used for mere entertainment.

Related Links:

1) Vancouver Humane society
2) 4 Horses Dead at rodeo.


I always used to think...I needed something like a small cabana for protection from the sun for too many hours at the beach. Well, doesn't it figure that American innovations have all kinds of solutions...I love some of these! These small cabanas and umbrellas totally are the answer. We saw quite a lot of people with canvas gazebos, beach cabana umbrellas at the beach this past weekend. Impressive.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Working On Stagg's CV is strange.

I don't know how I turned out to be the organized one. I am totally not that organized...but in tough moments or some kind of challenge I have been known to rise to the occasion. Enter Stagg.

I managed to find someone less organized than me and I married him. He seriously can't find anything. Not his passport. Not his social security card. He had a zerox. Oops I mean xerox, I mean photo copy. I made him get a real one. Took 15 minutes....that is after lots of humming and hawing. We now have very specific places to keep specific things. My rules. My choice of places to keep things. Like passports. The toaster is broken. Plug it in. My watch is broken. Change the battery. I lost my passport. Look in your drawer on right side of bureau. You get the drift.

I have always been lousy at writing CVs or resumes. But...apparently I am now a professional because I've been writing Staggs stuff for the past year. This week I have been working on his art portfolio and CV.

Oops...I had to change this blog post. I was concluding it with a major idiotic thing I did...which was my big punchline but Stagg said I wasn't allowed to say it on a blog. To sum it up...after all I wrote basically I did something really stupid and unorganized...which is why its ironic I'm busy writing up stuff for Stagg and taking care of his bidness. is the gist of his CV:

Anthony Stagg

Gallery History:

2009 Urban Café, 1467 West Irving Pk. Rd. Chicago, solo show, paintings

2007 Uptown Recording Studio, 4656 N. Clifton Ave. Chicago, group show, paintings
Heartland Alliance AIDS Fundraising, James Hotel 56 East Ontario St. Chicago, group show, paintings

2005 BIG SHOW, 1139 College Street, Toronto, group show, paintings

2003 Peter Jones Gallery, 1806 W. Cuyler Av. Chicago, group show, paintings

2001 GREAT LAKES, Harbourfront Galley, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, group show, painting/sculpture

1997 1633 Gallery, 1633 N. Damen Ave. Chicago, group show, paintings


We watched the World Cup final down by the lake and had hotdogs and coffee from the kiosk guy Johnathan as he had his tv and cable hooked up in his kitchen. Fun! Johnathan is Greek-American...his cousin used to own all the food kiosks at the lake and the bait shop. Wow. Johnathan now just runs this one for his cousin for five months a year. The other months he drives a limo. At one point Johnathan apologized for swearing and I said "Don't worry I swear like a pirate." And he asked Stagg, "Do you swear?" Stagg says "Not much." I said, " I totally swear all the time and he hardly ever does. Canadians swear a lot, all the time." Johnathan points to Stagg and says "Yes, Americans are much calmer and nicer. Us Europeans and Canadians we are rough and swear and tell it like it is."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beach Bums...

I love hanging out at the beach...i am a total beach bum. Stagg never hung out at the beach growing up and it's kind of a new thing for him since we've been together...the first few times he was not comfortable. Actually, he used to get a lot of anxiety anywhere near anything resembling nature. He went once to the beach with his friends Derek and Dave from high school...but he got anxiety. Today Stagg wore flip flops for the first time outside...he never owned flip flops until I bought him some this summer! Can you believe it? We just took off walking to the beach today for lunch with some packed sandwiches and cole slaw (and we bought fresh cut fries at the beach). Look! There is an old school bait shop down by Montrose Beach in Chicago. We can walk there in about half an hour.

We stopped for a pop and watched the soccer game with kiosk owner Johnathan...he had the game set up in his kiosk. We might go watch the final tomorrow with him. What a hoot.

Amazing how many people were at the beach today. I guess people like us urban dwellers without a patio or back garden at their homes. I love it! I love seeing all the people and finding a little spot to set up with a blanket and cooler. I wanted to rent a jet-ski...but Stagg was a little dubious. We're going back to the beach maybe he'll let me get us on a jet ski then...he needs to move towards all this summer fun real slow.

Tonight we are off to see his friends...earlier mentioned...Dave and Derek, in their bands at Wicker park tonight...should be fun...ah this is what I love about summer!!!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sad Boys...

Why are some of the very best singer/songwriters so sad...?

Related Links:

Prevent Child Abuse

An organization protecting children...Human rights Watch

A message for artists.


I love seaweed and often toast Nori seaweed over a gas stove flame and eat like potato chips. Seaweed is a good source of iodine, Vitamins B, C, Niacin, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron and calicum.

Buddhist Hair-seaweed Soup

1 bunch golden mushroom
1/2 cup dried Chinese mushrooms
1 bamboo shoot
1 oz hair-seaweed
pinch parsley
6 cups of vegetarian stock
3 tablespoon dark vinegar
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoon water


Soak Chinese mushroom until soft. Remove stems. Cut into strips. Soak the hair seaweed briefly in water and rinse. Cut bamboo shoot into strips. Trim the tough ends off from golden mushrooms. Heat a wok/skillet and stir fry the Chinese mushrooms adding bamboo shoot, hair seaweed. Add to veggie stock, vinegar, vegan wine, sesame oil, soy sauce, sait, vegan sugar. Bring to a boil. Mix constarch and water well. Add constarch mixture. Sprinkle with parsley.

Korean Seaweed Soup

1 (1 ounce) package dried brown seaweed
1/4 pound beef top sirloin, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
6 cups water
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Soak seaweed in water to cover. When soft, drain, and cut into 2 inch pieces.
Heat a saucepan over medium heat; add beef, sesame oil, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, and a little salt, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in seaweed and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce; cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Pour in 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Stir in garlic and remaining 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

How It Works

I don't know.

I wish I knew how it worked. But I know when it feels right and when it feels done. I know when I'm on the right track.

I mentioned yesterday that I was writing a story incorporating something about Chemtrails.

Mister Anchovy commented that he too is writing, a "novel of all things". Oh I wanted to write a novel. I have tried many many times...and each time, it ends as a poem. Not that there is anything wrong with a poem...but when you intend to write a novel it's a bit of a ...well I can't say its a let down. Its funnier than that because I can laugh about it. So...I have a fair shitload of poems...that were all originally intended, as I set to write, as novels.

But....I really like writing scripts. I have worked on what I thought was one long script for about 8 years. It turned out to be the ideas for three separate scripts. I have an awfully difficult time writing something as long as a feature length script. The longest script I had written in the past few years was 45 minutes. I made a film once from a script that translated into 25 minutes. I used to make experimental films. I didn't even know what they meant. But sometime in the 1990's I decided quite seriously and with great enthusiasm to write a narrative with a beginning middle and end. I landed up making four short films of varying lengths from 5 minutes to 25 minutes. Not bad. Some of them even made sense and engaged the odd viewer. average feature length script is about 120 pages.

This past week I suddenly saw my entire story...more or less within a grid laid out. No a story long enough to be complete and a somewhat potentially interesting feature length story. Stagg was out busking and I had just read a recent news story. And all of a sudden I saw the pattern among my characters. I had been stuck on them already in a relationship... and I suddenly they meet near the beginning of the movie. It was like everything opened up. And I've been hiding in the bedroom at odd times of the day obsessing and writing.

What happened? I don't know. Because I have already got pages of dialogue and already had some major aspects of the script written. I had main characters and a lot of the plot. But I had blanks. These blanks don't feel as intimidating as they did four months ago.

What happened? Well...oddly enough, I think part of my brain was able to process because I had cleared out the bedroom in a massive organizational project last month. I had taken all our storage that was under the bed, of archived paintings...and put them in the basement storage unit.

Our bedroom became instantly more comfortable and cleared out...I think I had a bit more room to think...never mind the massive amounts of dust bunnies we cleared out from all the archived paintings. I always write just about everything in bed. So I think just quite simply, the bedroom is more comfortable to spend time in.

I wish I could talk in detail about this script. I'm very much excited tying it up this weekend. maybe it might even be nextdoor to be complete. I am not a prolific worker in painting or writing...and this sense I have right now is terribly rewarding. it's major personal accomplishment for me.

What I can tell you about the script is it is a little bit funny, a little bit of a love story and involves ideas and there is a bit of criminal activity.

I'm not going away for the weekend with Stagg and his buddy Jim to Summerfest etc as we had planned because...I feel it's so unusual for me to feel so comfortable writing and get a total vision...I better stay locked in the bedroom writing while the muse is visiting. She can be a fickle lady...but she is keeping me company right now and I'd better make her a cup of tea...

Besides Stagg and his buddy can have man-time and do some serious male bonding...while I have a date with this muse...and have pillow fights...

Friday, July 02, 2010


I am writing a story incorporating chemtrails. So...I'm watching a lot of stuff about them to stay inspired. Chemtrails became a concern in the late 1990's. Have you ever seen an aircraft contrail that lasted all day?