Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! It's '010

A song by a real life goddess seems appropriate for New Years no?

I've got just the same outfit for tonights celebration, great minds think alike ha. Thank goodness for Karen O and Lady Gaga bringing the shit to music!

Dear friends, family and other visitors, I hope you have the best year in '010...I hope you are all have peace of mind, to help others, good health and to follow your hearts...

...all the important things in life. .with much love and hugs,

Candy xxxoooo

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mighty Misi-ziibi

We had a lovely view of the Mississippi from our hotel room. Ojibwe word misi-ziibi is the source of the French use of the river now.

Hundreds of tribes of indigenous peoples lived along or traveled the Misi-ziibi for thousands of years. These peopels were dislocated by farmers. It won't surprise any of my visitors that I believe we should undo all the dams and levvees set up along the river and allow rechanellization and foliage and animals to return to their homes. I also believe that hunter-gatherers should be allowed to return to their homes and practice their own economies.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hanging Out

Lots of Po-po parked on entrances on Beale Street in Memphis.

Stagg has lots of pictures on his blog too.

Beale Street

Neely's ribs with the best cole slaw ever.

The hotel lobby with "our" tree.

I was geeked about the trolleys. Um, it was so rainy I had to wear my platform shoes but cold so I nerded out with socks too. And didn't care how lame it looked perfect for the weather and keeping my hems dry. :)

Jesus And Elvis

This billboard is sure true for Stagg and I. Our first date was in Memphis and we got married in Vegas!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ribs Anonymous

My name is Candy and I love ribs. I actually have eaten more ribs than Stagg on our trip. Stagg and I landed up taking the Memphis trolly all the time. One of the rides Stagg told the driver we were doing an intense science research project on ribs. The driver made sure we knew where to try more ribs. We did. We weren't going to go to Neeley's because we wanted to try other bbq...but when we told one of the women behind the desk at the hotel we weren't going to neeleys and we told her where we were going instead...she said "personally, I find __________ nasty." And we said we thought Neeley's was too far away. She said "You can take the trolley." Done and done. Out of all the ribs we ate...and we even had ribs at our hotel bar on the 24th instead of going out because it was pouring rain and we had spent the day outside at Graceland...Neeleys had the best ribs. Plus, the best cole slaw I've ever eaten and I eat a lot of cole slaw. (the ribs we had at the hotel bar ere excellent too!)

We are eating salad for supper for the next two months.

When I went on my yoghurt oddessy in Memphis I mentioned I tool the public transit. During my bus ride I landed up talking to the fellow sitting next to me. He turned out to be bartender who worked on Beale Street so I said we would come and see him at work later that evening. On the way home I took a taxi because it was pouring rain and I thought I had been gone hours and Stagg would be freaked out. The taxi driver gave me a couple of places to check out for ribs. It was about a half hour taxi ride and when we got closer to downtown a green van tried to turn right in front of us but the taxi driver honked, paused, and the guy in the gree van just slowly and then quickly saw we were cautious so he gunned his motor and pulled out in front of us to make his illlegal and dangerous turn. A black SUV on our right smashed into him. Immediately...a woman with the most pained face jumped out of the drivers seat. I opened my door and jumped out...looking for traffic to see if she was okay...and she opened up her back seat and pulled a baby in a car seat out of the car.

This poor woman. Only a parent would have moved this quickly. I was so shocked that she had gotten out of her exploded airbag. I'm sure she popped it with her fingernails. She was crying and I held her around her shoulders and then I touched her hair trying to calm her. Her baby was about two months old and he looked very angry and was staring at her. I said the baby is is okay. You're going to be okay. She said, "I'm so scared". She was so utterly frightened but then a bunch of other cars and drivers stopped and she was saying she had to call her husband. It happened so fast and with such violence and I will never forget how she jumped out of the car and grabbed her baby still in it's car seat. We left her with several good people helping her and the taxi driver and I just got back on the road and started breaking down the events. So much happened on the trip to get some groceries and my yoghurt that I forgot to tell Stagg about the accident until later that night over supper.

The rain was just crazy for a couple of days. On the 24th someone in the hotel brought us a gift basket. It had t-shirts and candy bars and cookies and a beautiful hotel holiday card. What a thrill. I was wondering what it would be like to be not at home and just in a hotel for the winter holidays and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. The city was extremely quiet and the few people we encountered were all cheery and wishing each other a merry Christmas. It was quite fun, surreal and lovely. On the 25th we woke up to a beautiful sunny cold day.WE spent a couple hours in the swimming pool and hot tub and talked to a family who just arrived at the hotel. They had been to Graceland the day before same as us and had come to memphis from Detroit because of the St. Jude's hospital. The hospital helps very sick kids and their son was going to be treated there. He and his sisters had been to Graceland and now were playing in the pool and having snacks and lots of fun. Another pause for Stagg and I. Really makes you think ya know? We could see the St. Judes hospital outside the windows of the swimming pool.

When we went down to Beale Street the city had come alive on the 25th. We took the trolley, which I had really become quite a nerd about. I saw similar trolley's in Knoxville while researching real locations that the novel Suttree incorporated a couple of years ago. What a treat that Memphis uses these reconditioned trolleys for public transit and they look the same as when they were first designed. All kinds oof people were out on Beale Street and the cafes and bars were seeing a lively business. We went for a bite and to watch a band at BB Kings spot. The food was good, the service slow but the bandNite Life was killer. Some of the songs that they played "Don't Go Messing With The Kid" by Junior Wells, "The Thrill Is Gone" by BB King, "Red House" by Jimi Hendrix, "Brick House" by The Commodores.

We were building up our energy for a late show across the street with Rhoney G. who is a performing artist with his own original work but his band also performs all the great R&B, hip hop, pop music of the last twenty years. Rhoney G and his band were fantastic and some of the classic R&B tradition they covered were "Party Like A Rock Star" by Dem Fraanchise Boys, "Hey Yeah" by Outkast, "Black Street" by Dr. Dre, "What's Your Fantasy" by Ludacris and "Pop Life" by Prince.

Memphis has so many people living outside. We talked to a lot of the guys living and trying to make contact with tourists and residents in downtown Memphis and things are tough. There seems to be a very interesting relationship between some of the businesses and some of the folks who live outside. At a number of bars and restaurants there were guys holding open doors or drinking bottomless coffees. It would be a good work to study the unwritten relationship between any businesses and the people who live outside. Some kind of unofficial arrangment and economic partnership is going on but it's not totally obvious. Sometimes it's that a fellow is just opening doors to clubs maybe hoping for a dollar.

We saw a lot of potential for jobs in Memphis. Over by Neeley's at least several blocks of sidewalks needed replacing. Like most cities, Memphis could hire 50-100 people to clean up sidewalks. All the roads across America could be mended. New high speed rail lines laid...bridges...there are so many ideas for work that could be organized right now. It is bs that jobs aren't be organized right now.

Statement from Mayor A C Wharton, Dec. 9, 2009:

“Given the recent shift in temperatures, finding a humane, responsible, proactive way to meet the needs of our city’s homeless population has obviously become a major priority. Starting this week, Colonel Billy Garrett of the Memphis Police Department and his officers will be working to connect individuals and families in need with local service providers who can help them. This is a new, above-and-beyond collaboration with the Hospitality Hub and other service providers to make sure that we are accommodating and helping as many homeless individuals as possible. My staff is working with the Memphis Police Department and local service providers to ensure we remain coordinated in our efforts to help the homeless.

“I want to assure every citizen and every concerned party that homeless individuals are in no way going to be targets of a ‘sweep’ or a ‘round-up.’ There will be no ‘crack down’ on homeless people, as some have claimed. Any action that is being taken by the Memphis Police Department will be protective, proactive, and humane. I will tolerate nothing less."

I visited Beale Street a long time ago when all the storefronts were shut and shabby. Now the music is being preserved by artists like Rhoney G. and Beale Street is a homey fun place to hang out. Why do people have to lose all sense of compassion with each other unless we label people a "historic significance"? Human life is historically significant and making our cities tidy and giving people jobs to work outside could change everything in a city. Any city anywhere.

Write your civil servants and remind them you pay their wages.

Stagg gives some of these as job creation: 1.) more booklets and maps that homeless could distribute of local art galleries and museums 2.) street sign fixing 3.) fix sidewalks 4) fix roads 5.) fire plug and hydrant painting and street curb painting 6.) more snow pick and shoveling 7.) more garbage pick up and recycling 8.) more public transit action NO MORE STUDIES-MORE TRAINS 9.) more creative decoration with murals, tiles by professional artists, 10.) more public seating and tables for people to sit outside

If you think of some jobs then write your civil servants...they work for you and you pay them their wages.

We were hanging out in downtown so much that we actually were saying hi to regular people every day. It kind of felt like we lived in Memphis for a week...doormen and waiters were calling or waving out to us on the street. We saw some of the same guys who lived in the parks over and over. We really saw a llot of layers of the city and it turned out to be an awesome way to spend the holiday season. I'm going to think about the people we met for a long time. Stagg and I want to give some kind of donation to St. Jude's Hospital for kids. WE want to do something for homeless people somehow. We just hope to get something going in the near future. Sharing and giving and being able to work with people is the best blessing ever!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays From Graceland!

Hi, I'm typing here from the lobby of our hotel near Graceland. It's a strange computer so bear with me if I have trouble writing etc. We went to Graceland yesterday and it was a blast. We rode the dog down here a couple of days ago and it was a real fast drive. The best bus driver I've ever seen. We have been walkign around and just generally chilling for the last few days. The food here is wonderful. Both Stagg and I love southern bbq! Graceland was decorated with Elvis's actual xmas decorations which was a nice change to see as Stagg and I have botrh been to Graceland before but in warmer weather. We've had crazy rain for the last few days but it's a lot warmer than Chicago.

One day while Stagg was sleeping I got it into my head I had to go to Whole Foods. sure, I could have picked up soem groceries nearby...but oh no...I had to get my organic off I went on a public transit oddysey in Memphis. Right down from our hotel is the main bus stationa nd it was a very interesting experience. Memphis and the south is so friendly. Everyone said hi to me and every guy tried to hit on me.I was like, "flash the wedding ring". I talked to a fellow who was on his way to the dog track. I listened in while his buddy with a cool brim discussed odds on dogs. Total David Mamet moment.

The bloody store was miles away and I landed up way out in the burbs. Got some groceries for our hotel room and made my way back after talkign to lots of folks on the bus. Again, everyone made amazing eye contact and was smiling and talking. It reminded me of Vancouver. The hotel gave us major upgrades. We have a hotel room with crazy comfortable beds...I've had the most amazing sleeps ont hese beds. Plus, as a holiday gift to regular customers (yes, we have a membership with this hotel chain) they gave us a rock star suite. We've got a whole living room and kitchen! So we eat a couple meals in our room and watch tv or music. And then we've gone down to Beale Street for a bite out. We had some great ribs here in the hotel last night because it was just pissing out.

At Graceland both Stagg and I just loved the raquetball room. It's been changed into a huge display of "late Elvis" know the Operatic Elvis...with some movie footage of a documantary and his pantsuits. It is awe-inspiring. We landed up buying the documentary movie. It's made during the last couple of years of Elvis's life and I had no idea it even existed. We looked at a lot of stuff int he stores outside Graceland...but the thing is we had to ask ourselves "Do we liek Elvis that much?" Neigher of us is really a souper Elvis fan...we share da drive with soem super Elvis fans though. They had been to Graceland lots of time and at one point they asked our tour guide" Is Lisa Marie here yet?" And the tour guide was "No, she's arriving sometime this afternoon" "oh, she always comes home for Christmas" It was said with such reverance. Isn't it amazing that Lisa marie and her family (she just had twins) spend the holidays in Graceland? They take down the chains and eat in the dinign room! Unreal!

I can't figure out how to hook up my camera here so no pics till we get home. I forgot to take my camera to Graceland. Can you believe it? i almsot started to cry but we bought the dvd tour movie.

We're going to check out a couple of bbqw places we've never had before. We love neely's...but neeleys is so big now we thought we'd try a couple of the smaller joints in town. We'll be at Beale Street tonight. We're goingto see a guy who plays a lot of dance music from the 80's and 90's . Apparently he does a great version of soem Prince songs. So we'll be dancing tonight down on Beale Street and thinking of all our friends and family.

Much love...I better get off this 'puter! More later and hope you are having a great holiday! Lots of love!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Maysles Brothers & The Best Movie I've Ever Seen

We watched a lot of movies this weekend. In fact we saw 4 movies on big screens this weekend. Stagg and I worked the box office at the film co-op and saw three short films by the Maysles Brothers. These brothers were among the first film makers to make non-fiction narratives for big theatres. They are most well-known for Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter. They seemed to be always at the right place at the right time making a fim about the Beatles first visit to the U.S. and a ditty with Salvador Dali. We saw a film about Joseph E. Levine a producer in the 1950's and it was a great view into the Producers work/life. This movie was 55 minutes long and called Showman. Basically, Levine described his life as "tiresome" and his big thrill was seeing his old schoolmates and showing them up at a school reunion in Boston. We also saw a short crazy film with Salvador Dali making the movie poster for cult classic The Fantastic Voyage. The best of these three films was a documentary about Jean-Claude and Christo making "Valley Curtain". The film was about 32 minutes and it was a blast seeing the labourers hired to install the curtain. It was pretty impressive to see that the Maysles Brothers actually got into the basket with the guys on the wire that drops the curtain across the cliff. The filmmaking was really impressive. It was also quite nice to see just how involved Jean-Claude was in the art-making process. She was a hoot with a cigarette always hanging out of her mouth. The Chicago Film Co-Op is a real gem and has a very different kind of movie experience to offer people. Almost no one was in the theatre that night and afterwards the few of us who watched these films all said to each other..."Boy Chicago really missed a great set of movies tonight".

And as I mentioned in previous post, we saw Avatar. We saw a 3-D iMax version at 1:30 in the morning. A total blast to see all the gamers and die-hards of sci-fi and fantasy who came out to that showing. It was a cold night at Navy Pier. Did I ever tell you? I hate Navy P{ier. Maybe more than I hate Harbourfront in Toronto. At least in Toronto the city and citizens have mildly attempted to have somethign to do down at the tourist trap. In Toronto you can usually get a beverage and go skating in the winter. But mostly it is a typical urban snake-oil. Navy Pier is the same way. I mean how much fucking fudge and popcorn can you eat? You get down to navy Pier and it's just plain boring. Especially in the winter without the chance of at least riding the Ferris Wheel. Nothing was open. We couldn't believe it, we thought we'd get a coffee and some desert to keep us awake and lively like crazy students going to a midnight showing. Zilch. Nothing open. So we killed two hours by going back to the down town and getting some snacks and coffee. Even when we got back to the iMax theatre they didn't have any coffee! What a joke. Man I hate Navy Pier.

But...Avatar was so good it just didn't matter. I was dubious about the 3-D glasses experience, I hadn't seena 3-D movie since I was high with friends Rob and Virginia and we saw a screening of Dial M For Murder. Wow...the 3-D was a lot of fun in this movie of James was just right and not at all distracting. I even felt quite dizzy at one point. At first I thought...hmmm...I'm not sure about this, the opening was a little strangely photographed and I wasn't wild about the voiceover...but then next thing I knew...I was like, holy shit this is awesome!

At one point during the movie...I said to myself..."I must remember to tell people this is the best movie I've ever seen!"

Afterwards...I was like, people will think I'm nuts if I tell them that!

Seriously. This is really might be the best movie I've ever seen. I haven't felt like that since the first time I saw The Matrix and Star Wars. Avatar is truly everything a movie should be and more. I would have been happy if it was just an exciting adventure story. I wasn't super worried about the plot. I was completely surprised that the story was wonderful. This movie was tailor-made for me. It's as if Cameron had been reeading my blog all these years haha. In fact, what it is is that James Cameron and I were so obviously in love with the same stories growing up. Every sci-fi story is in this movie. Every adventure story...I loved jack London and Edgar Rice Burroughs and Avatar has such an homage to those kind of classic adventure stories. And then nevermind that it is fucking gorgeous art work. I will go back just for the artwork in the movie. Every layer is put together in a way we've come to expect from Cameron's grasp of strong storytelling. Cameron's grasp of mythology and power within storytelling that we've all loved in The Terminator or The Abyss is all in this one. It's almost surprising this very movie and story hadn't been written exactly like this before. Stagg said afterwards that his nerves were all jangled because he flet so many emotions and was nervous and up and down all through the movie. It totally was overwhelming and exciting and what a truly beautiful needed meaning this movie offers us. I suspect there will be many cynical viewers over the age of 30 that will snub this movie. Thats's not a movie for old and bitter people. It's a movie for the people who care bout other people and the world.

I remember when I first saw Star Wars. I don't remember anyone over the age of 30 liking that movie. I don't even think my dad ever saw the whole thing but he would just mutter something about it being silly with cartoon monsters. When I first saw Star Wars I had never heard of Abby Hoffman and his famous quote "don't trust anyone over 30". When I first heard tht I could imagine why he said it because something happens to many people when they get older..especially in North America...they embrace a sarcastic attitude towards movies and music and they just forget what childhood feels like. Seinfeld riffed on Abby Hoffman when the tv show had the episode "no one makes friends after the age of 30".

I beleive Avatar is so good it just might loosen up even the most cynical viewer. This movie and it's storyline are long overdue and it's so great to see a re-working of the classic action adventure "going native motif". When I was a little kid and we played "Cowboys" I always played the Indian. The Indians had way better fashions and was smart and lived in the great outdoors...I always hated all the bullshit of civilization even as a young kid. Avatar brings all those playful memories to's every sci-fi and adventure book ever written. Not even Navy Pier could dim the light of Avatar...the best movie I've ever seen!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I See You

Avatar is sick! 10/10.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

One Ring Circus

I plan on reading One Ring Circus over the winter holidays. A collection of boxing essays, it is written by one of the most interesting writers...the author of cult classic, Geek Love.

"You can’t reduce children to fuzzy bunnies; you have to recognize them as complex creatures who are absolute individuals from the get go." Katherine Dunn

Related Links:

1.) Interview with Katherine Dunn
2.) Another review and interview
3.) An excerpt..."Defending Mike Tyson".

The End Of The World As We Know It

No one can accuse the writers of some of the best tv shows out there right now of selling out.

Three excellent series just wrapped up and the season finales were so true to the characters, to the emotional and thematic set ups of these programs and consequently so heavy I am kind of fighting off a low level blues. Have you ever had one of those dreams where you have a confrontation with someone and when you wake're still mad at the person...even though it was just a dream? I kind of feel like that. Last years Nip/Tuck pissed me off so much...because of Christians' treatment of both Kimber and Liz. But Kimber especially. This season it seems Christian has gone completely to the dark side. For a show that was able to mix the very worst of the human condition to stunning emotional resolutions and peace...this season the program has been getting darker and darker. If that's possible.

I shouldn't really be surprised about Californication. How can any good come from these people and their seeming total rejection of boundaries, right?

Nope...the writers on these shows have shown us. They will not sell out. Good for them.

But shit. I am so torn up about the finale of this season of Dexter I just don't know. As soon as Dexter walked into the Monet blue and yellow living room I had the first sinking feeling. Were you like me and immediately at the end of the finale went and pressed rewind on your PVR? I HAD to re-watch John Lihthgow. Even as I rewound I had the second sickest sinking feeling...this actor in replay was going to make sure I knew he knew. He did.

Godammit. I feel like I woke up from a dream and I can't shake it. Lithgow surely has to get another Emmy for this role. As for the writers? Those bastards, clever clever uncompromising clever writers, if they don't get an Emmy they sure get to evilly pat themselves on the back for giving us tough assed viewers a show without a sell out. Well done she says grumbling under her depressed breath...

Surely these three programs have nailed the state of contemporary industrial life perfectly. Aw, crap! No wonder Hank drinks and fucks so much.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Break-Up Song For A Different Snack Bracket

When Jennifer Lopez performed a couple weeks ago on the AMA Awards with a strange boxing costume I thought...gee what happened to J-Lo? I didn't think the song was all that great, in fact, I hardly noticed it because I thought her wardrobe was really off-putting. And then she fell in the performance and the cameras caught her swearing off stage and looking pretty angry. I thought...where is that amazing performer? Then the other night she performed on So You Think You Can Dance and I couldn't believe it was the same song or same person. I loved her performance the other night and thought the lyrics were hilarious. A lot of hip hop and rap songs personify the cultural war of people from lower incomes not only conquering cultural status by making the charts, making millions but also buying and wearing articles previously only worn by the wealthy. Have you ever noticed how say Snoop Dogg and other rappers have assimilated "old English" style writing? Thats an example of co-opting "history" and "culture" and moving it into a whole new social group. Jennifer Lopez's new song cracks me up because of the lyric "I'm throwing on my Louboutons". It's so cute because one wouldn't throw on five inch use a shoe horn and carefully slip them on...but I love the idea of this pissed off ex-girlfriend with expensive shoes just throwing them on. And the idea that all income brackets have love troubles. The average price of the following shoes made by Christian Louboutin are about $1,000.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rebel Anthem!

In the above clip you can listen to Rage Against The Machine in a British interview about how the young people in Britan are trying to make a statement against corporate music business manufacturing hits.

A grassroots campaign on Facebook has started a rebel revolution to make a song by the band RATM outsell and hit number 1 on British charts to overthrow a song promoted during the Christmas season by Simon Cowell's tv show X Factor.

"Killing in the Name" is the first single released by Rage Against the Machine from their self-titled album in November 1992. The single's cover pictured Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, burning himself to death in Saigon in 1963 in protest of the murder of Buddhists by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm's regime.

The song "Killing in the Name" has been described as "a howling, expletive-driven tirade against the ills of American society." The song repeats six lines of lyrics and the uncensored version contains the word "fuck" seventeen times. The song builds in intensity, repeating the lines "And now you do what they told ya. And now you're under control" culminating in Zack de la Rocha screaming "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me! Motherfucker!".
From Wiki.

Rage Against the Machine's first video for "Killing in the Name" did not receive any airplay in the US due to the explicit language in the song's refrain. The song received substantial airplay in Europe and drove the band's popularity outside its home country. Rolling Stone lists "Killing in the Name" as the 24th in its 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.

Tom Morello created the heavier riffs while teaching a student drop D tuning. He stopped the lesson and recorded the riff. The next day the band met in a studio and according to Morello the song "Killing in the Name" was created in a collaborative effort, combining his riff with "Timmy C.'s magmalike bass, Brad Wilk's funky, brutal drumming and Zack's conviction"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

About Last Night

A couple of us usually meet up on tuesdays at a local joint and have a bite together. Last night Lemons To Llamas brought a camera.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shame on Stephen Harper, Alberta and Canada

Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush.

Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works.

In 2006 the new Canadian government announced it was abandoning its targets to cut greenhouse gases under the Kyoto protocol. No other country that had ratified the treaty has done this. Canada was meant to have cut emissions by 6% between 1990 and 2012. Instead they have already risen by 26%. Please note, 2006 is when the extremist politician Harper got into power.

The entire Guardian article.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Low-Brow Art

I am so over being embarassed by my interest in so-called "low-brow" art. I like all kinds of levels or stature of things made by us humans. I like comic book movies, scifi, comedies, graffitti, noise music, and diversity. I find great insight into the human condition from many sources...and sometimes a "bad" film or tv show is so distilled away from "high-art" that it can be an excellent study for observing the human condition.

When we watch a "high brow" movie...we can walk away and feel we've spent some valuable time. The concept of "high brow" suggests we will be more cultured, more insightful and educated...we might learn something esoteric or exotic if we expose ourselves carefully to "high end" work or authentic work. (remember "authenticity " is stuff white people like)

I simply don't care if people think I'm a loser because I like what I like. I don't care if it's "pure" or "authentic" or "high brow". I also avoid restaurants that say "authentic" or "cuisine" on their signs...but thats another post.

I like pork rinds and I like all kinds of B-Movies and cult movies. One of my favourite holidays movies is Black Christmas. It's every bit as fun and insightful to me as It's A Wonderful Life. There is something noble about all of our trashy low-brow art...and I am fully out-of-the-closet in my passion for all genres and ranks of art. I embrace my guilty pleasures because I'm not guilty about them! Actually, did you know the director of Black Christmas is the same director of the holiday staple A Christmas Story? Black Christmas is a Canadian movie based on a real set of murders in Montreal.

My most obvious "guilty pleasure" is reality tv.

I'm absolutely crazy about reality tv. I watch about a dozen of this genre a year. including the following...

Project Runway
Top Chef
Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab
The Bachelor
The Bachelorette
Chef Academy
so You Think You Can Dance
Dancing With The Stars
America's Best Dance Crew can see I'm in pretty deep with my "guilty pleasures". The only thing I feel bad about is that I wish I knew more people who watched these shows so we could discuss them!

But right of the very best of this Dr. Drew's Sex Rehab. This program is really amazing. I cry almost every episode. These people are really going through an amazing "awakening" and transformation. They have learned so much about life and how to live, and often their past is heart-breaking. Several of the people involved have already been through recovery for substance abuse. What happenes once they get sober and another "process addiction" has manifested!

Process addiction is an addiction to an activity or process, such as eating, spending money, or gambling. These addictive behaviors can be as debilitating as those associated with substance addictions, and they require psychological treatment. People sometimes have difficulty understanding process addictions, because they believe that people should just be able to stop negative behavior, but people with process addictions face the same problems that people with substance addictions do.

It seems kind of like an OCD behaviour and stops the people from having balanced, functioning lives.

Often ...what I understand is once a substance abuse has recovered...underneath it the process addition, like sex, surfaces. Dr. Drew explained that it's ultimately an "intimacy disorder".

In an interview Dr. Dew said, intimacy disorder in adults usually is associated with childhood trauma.

Most of the patients on Sex Rehab have shared terrible rape CHILDREN! on the program...horrendous. And yet...they are struggling to find a way to function healthy with the therapy and hard work. It's really amazing.

Not all childhood trauma is sexual or an obvious abuse. In addition to physical, sexual and verbal abuse, this can include anything that causes the child to feel worthless, unlovable, insecure, and even endangered, or as if his only value lies in meeting someone else's needs. From here

I remember seeing old footage of a toddler on a tv show making amazing golf shots...of course it was Tiger Woods. The idea that a small child would be trained and groomed so extensively...might not be healthy or natural. And I suspect that childhood lifestyle of being trained to perform like that is now rearing it's ugly head in Tiger's adult life. Sad. It's easy to forget that Tiger Woods in many ways was a "child star".

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Artist From "The Winter's Tale"

Allegory of Immortality, 1540, by Giulio Romano.

Shakspeare only mentioned one Renaissance artist in any of his plays. I wonder why he mentioned this artist Giulio Romano? I have just finished a five week reading but ongoing discussion, with an online bookclub of The Winter's Tale We read one act per week and have been discussing various aspects of the poetry and characters every week. It's a wonderful way to read Shakespeare. So much information surfaces with a group reading. I had not read this play before and it turned out to be an utter surprise and exciting story. My head has been racing with ideas and thoughts about this play. And one question is, why this artist out of all the artists of the Renaissance did Shakespeare use this one? His name comes up at the climax of the play as having made a sculpture of a dead Queen.

This woman, c. 1531, is thought to be a major arts supporter in her time and her name is Isabella d'Este and was also rumoured to be the same woman as Mona Lisa. How cool is that? One of our bookclub participants pointed out that this painting seems to have some of the same elements of the scene where the artist is mentioned. There are women in the play hiding a sculpture/woman and opening a curtain to reveal and allow visitors to the woman. The play has an uncanny atmosphere of self-referential style we usualy associate with trends in literature today like meta-fiction, deconstruction, self-referencing. In the orgianal performances one scene has "Time" personified and turning ahead the clock...Shakespeare himself played this role! Does it get more "postmodern" or "metafiction" than that, ha ha? This play reminds me how much vanity we assume originality with our trends when again...there is nothing new under the sun. Especially when it comes to Shakespeare.

Portrait of isabella D'Este by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1499-1500. This woman may not have been the Mona Lisa, but considering that the actual painting isn't realistic but an idealized version fo a female...this drawing reflects the power of Isabella in her society as well as the structural and formal interests of Da Vinci before he painted Mona Lisa.

Jupiter and Olympia, 1526-1534, by Romano.

If you'd like to join us with reading The Winter's Tale we'd love to have on hyperlink. When it comes to Shakesspeare, the more the merrier. We're still discussing The Winter's Tale and probably going to select a new one for the new year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Unusual Sauce

I mentioned in this post I enjoyed a new reality show and was going to make a tomato sauce demonstrated on the program. I forgot I took pictures of the sauce for fun to compare to the tv show. The sauce was pretty good..I actually don't like star anise but I wanted to try somethign different. Instead of onions this recipe uses vanilla and anise for a base flavour. Stagg said it was okay but he thought it wa s a lot of work. I had to laugh because while we were cooking this sauce I made two other meals. I thought this sauce was really easy to make. We served the sauce over jullienne raw zucchini.

New Profile Pics. This Post Is Dedicated To Andy

I hardly ever have pics of me because I'm always taking the pictures so i thought it was time I put some here. You know feeling all homey with Festivus and what better way to be homey than share something about ourselves. I'm pretty much in heaven these days what with Stagg here all the time. We work so well together I wish I was one of those people who could think of some kind of awesome job we could both do. I'm not really that kid of thinker though. We've been having a wonderful set of weeks. Sure, sometimes we go" gee, whats going on?" but most of the time we are...running errands. Or working in the studio, or playing online, or reading, or walking, or busking. It's been super cold this week but it's really nice today. So, we'll probably go out busking in a couple of hours. I thought I was doing volunteer work last night but got my nights mixed up. We landed up going to a local bar in Boystown2 and watching the hockey game. Oh my god. Well one thing I learned about being a Leafs fan is that it has prepared me to be a Hawks fan. Neither team is ever hungry. They just don't need it. Ultimately I'm a Canucks fan way deep in my heart but I am also just a hockey lover in my own little way.

Hockey for me was never about the big teams when I was a kid. I used to take figure skating lessons. Don't get any big ideas. Like most of school I wasn't any good but I do enjoy skating to this day. After figure skating lessons or just group girlfriends and I would wait for our rides from our parents while watching a local young peoples hockey game. I have a really strong almost profound memory of autonomy when we lived on an army base and I was about 11 years old. I was sort of free to travel with my girlfriends around Ottawa on the public transit. I had some sort of money I suppose it must have been an allowance. Frankly, I was a strange quiet child and I simply don't remember the logistics of this time and money. But I vaguely remember getting some discussion about allowance. This astounds me thinking about it because our family was fairly poor. I was and I can't stress this enough...I was simply not a smart kid. I was terrible at school and couldn't read and absolutely nothing made sense. I never ever, memorized the lyrics or words of childhood songs or games. And I was too shy to ever ask for help learning the songs or games...I would just mumble school playground songs.. I was a total poser for social survival. When I had my daughter and she was in grade school I was so happy she knew all these school game songs from the playground. I was so releived she wasn't a social misfit like I was in school. I was a highly over-protected child at one point growing up. I didn't talk back in fact, I rarely remember speaking. I would never dream of asking a question in school. I couldn't barely read but I did make some friends who I adored. I started really get into friendship during this period in ottawa. I kind of really ahd a massive social growing spurt you might say. I had these friends who I am not sure of all their names but Christina, Cynthia and Ian are three significant people I was friends with at the time .We'd get on the bus and go to the rink.

I had money in my pocket. We would skate and this is the time I remember with such enthusiasm of buying a hot chocolate and french fries. it's the first time I ever remember eating french fries and we would watch the kids play organized league hockey. Anything I know about hockey I learned here. And I thought french fries were the most amaizng food. I would put ketchup, vinegar, gravy and salt and pepper on them. It seemed like the best use of my money to put more things on to the french fries...which seems to be a kind of economic logic of a poor kid. heh heh. I wouldn't think to eat that now in a zillion years! By the way...I spoke rather good French. All children learned French in those days in Canada. I excelled at French right up to about grade ten and I went on a field trip to Paris during high school based on my enthusiasm and skill at speaking French? Go figure. I barely use French anymore so it's pretty much gone now. My friend Scott calls me an idiot savant.I agree with him about the idiot part...I have yet to reap or see that "savant" part ha ha. I am completely ignorant of most practical or popular knowledge but when it comes to very specific things, I am quite well versed with some things. Like natural history, indigenous economies, music, paleontology, wildlife, nutrition and pop culture. All things completely uninteresting and uncommon for most conversation. Trust me...just try to get someone interested in talking consilience. Good luck with that. (I've spent ten years online with hundreds of complete strangers from a variety of backgrounds and it's near impossible.) I don't have a clue about geography, specific war history or politics. Those subjects all fall under the general rules of adaptation and resource scarcity in my world. Drives my friend Scott crazy. Drives everybody crazy. ...So Scott says with a lot of love I'm an idiot savant. It's occurred to me looking back perhaps I was some kind of autistic spectrum child. I did have learning disabilities. I was in Remedial Reading for years. Remedial is a nice term for retarded. I have very strong dyslexia. I finally conquered reading a couple years later when I read more and more comic books and much the racy books off my parents book shelves. I had major breakthroughs in reading around the age of 15. I still fight the dyslexia especially when I am tired. But I found a way to read even though sometimes I have to read certain sections and certain themes over and over. i am now a very fast reader because I realized that "books on tape" only have a duration of 6-8 hours for a full novel. I thought...surely i can read silently much faster than someone narrating a story.

Anyways, I loved buying a load of french fries and watching live hockey at this time in my life and nothing beats a live game of hockey for excitement. The cold air, the cheering, the suspense. The snacks. I thought of this in the back of my mind last night as we watched the game at the bar and chatted. The audio system was very good and this was the first time I had been in a bar in Chicago where they not only had a hockey game on but they also had the sound of the game. I swear my eyes teared up when there was a brief set of notes of the organ during the game. Most of the time hockey doesn't get half the attention in a bar here as it does in Canada. Having been to NHL game here the audience doesn't get as worked up as the NHL games I've been to in Canada either. But I was so excited when we walked into this bar last night and all you could hear was the hockey game. I felt pulled back to that dreamy quiet child who saw everything in a mist without clarity and saw games as mysterious forces she couldn't follow or understand except as vague patterns. I basically began looking for what patterns I could see and articulate. I took my very first art lessons in Ottawa that same year. They were on Saturday morning at a local community centre. Somehow game theory became a fascination for me and it related to social life and to natural history. I have been working on a general theory of the world in all the short films, poems and paintings I have struggled with ever since my first formal art lessons in Ottawa. I remember my teacher who taught us drawing in that class so long ago how he could bring a clarity to our subjects. I remember thinking how confident I felt in that situation. How I felt I could communicate so much easier than using words. It was a feeling I had with the animals I grew up with too. I felt my closest communication was with our pets and I often was the kind of child who spent a lot of time playing with our huge menagerie of animals. We had several cats, two dogs, a squierrel and a spider monkey. Getting out of the house and making friends wa sa huge stepping stone for me. At this same time, I got a radio. I had a little transistor radio in my room and I was utterly addicted to it. I started getting familiar with the local djs voices and the songs they would play. I was obsessed with people phoning in and making requests. I felt the same sense of power and autonomy as going to art classes and the local hockey arena and ordering a snack.

Last night as Stagg and I were chatting and just enjoying being out and people watching...I was overcome with the clarity of seeing how profound this time period in my life was for forming all my interests. The co-mingling of learning social skills, of having a sense of autonomy, of animals and art lessons and trying to learn the organic patterns and play of hockey. In my short films I have struggled with trying to put all these elements into action.I have got a kind of holy grail I've been messing with for many years now. It's a feature film script with these very particular elements in them: patterns, game theory, storytelling, radio, natural history, paleontology, indigenous peoples pre-literate transmissions of knowledge, image making and music. I often feel like I'm that 11 year old in the community centre taking art lessons and making the same painting and set of images over and over wondering if I will ever get the clarity to share this vision with anyone else. To me this is the very root of freedom and autonomy is to make, tell a story and share it. I am grateful for the ability to attempt like Camus' Sisyphus to keep rolling the ball up the hill and even if it rolls down again...know that I am happy doing it...I some how managed in my life's trajectory and interests to not learn anything that is practical or makes money. But...all are perfect for seeking a holy grail. For me freedom is the essence and luxury of practicing this weird mixture of seeking and making primal connections.

P.S. One of the reasons this post is dedicated to Andy is because he is interested in art-based research. I had never heard of this concept before...but I realized that that I have been doing this all my life> Art is the only way I've been able to learn and over-come obstacles of comprehension through art. And the idea for this film is a little bit about art-based research and learning.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah!

Above is a video made by Punk Empire of an old friend of mine Craig Morrison, and his band playing at Hillbilly Night. Hillbilly Night is an internationally-known event that welcomes all who are in favor of or at least open to authentic country music. It is attended by the young and the old, the French and the English, the ladies and the gentlemen, the hip and the square. Singers, whether amateur or professional, take turns backed by a pool of able players. Styles include hillbilly, bluegrass, fiddle tunes, honky tonk, western swing, country boogie, rockabilly, folk, and skiffle. This event has built a real and expanding community, and is a jewel in the cultural world of the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

I highly recommend checking out the link to Punk Empire. If you don't have time to watch all the videos, at least read the "profile blurbs". There are definitive quotes about music, punk and the art-making process. This is one of the very best pages on YouTube. I shit you not. If you've ever wondered what punk music is, why it means so much to those of us who are punks, you can find all the answers here!

Craig Morrison just might be the hardest working music lover in the world. He was a huge influence on me when I was a young bitter "purist". He taught me all music is work to be respected regardless of it's genre or stature in history, and for that soul-opening lesson I am forever grateful. If you visit Craig's website you can see and order one of his books. He wrote an encyclopedia of Rock and Roll and a major contribution to the study of Rockabilly. Craig was writing a dissertation on Rockabilly back when it was a nearly forgotten art form and almost no formal work on Rockabilly existed. In this labour he was a visionary and brave academic soul.

"a definitive study of rockabilly music. This book is a gem! Unlike most rockabilly mavens, Morrison is a professionally trained musician, a lucid writer, a savvy sociologist, and a critical yet balanced evaluator of singers, songwriters, and songs. The blending of such theoretical strength and musical knowledge is rare among popular music commentators. The genius of this investigation resides in the author’s pursuit of cultural meaning rather than just stylistic definition." - B. Lee Cooper, Popular Music and Society.

Famous Jewish Cowboys:

1.) Kinky Friedman at Amazon
2.) Bronco Billy
3.) Chicken Farmer and singer Scott Gerber and his songs. Order the documentary
4.) Jewish Cowboy Museum
5.) Sammy Davis. Jr,
6.) Interview with James Caan The Best Jewish Cowboy

Everyone has a little punk in them...what's yours? Happy Festivus!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Peter Greenaway, the British director who was educated as a painter, first came to wide attention in 1982 with The Draughtsman’s Contract, a silky comedy about seventeenth-century aristocrats. Greenaway then promptly set out not to build on this success, undertaking one eccentric film project after another. It was almost as if he were determined not to grow cumulatively, as most of the best directors have done. Of the Greenaway works that I have seen, only two of them--quite unlike each other--stand out in memory. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover was a modern comedy that revealed how sex can be achieved in restaurant restrooms. Prospero’s Books, a slanted view of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, put the future in debt to Greenaway by preserving John Gielgud’s exquisite reading of Prospero.

Now Greenaway turns to the Golden Age of Dutch painting. Rembrandt’s J’Accuse is a study of that painter’s most famous work, The Night Watch, and though it certainly is a study, it is also--or primarily--a fascinating film. Greenaway has a thesis, possibly stated previously in the mountain of publications about Rembrandt. The painting, familiar to millions, shows a group of civilian militiamen in Amsterdam rousing to an alarm. Greenaway’s film sets out to prove that the painting is really an exposé of a murder--of one officer by another. Twenty points, all visual, are made to support this thesis.

A rather long, but interesting article on the film at The New Republic

Related Links:

1.) YouTube notes
2.) Wiki
3.) Move over Da Vinci Code...Greenaway's got decryption too

Festivus Ornament From The Flaming Lips

Christmas on Mars comes early! The PERFECT holiday gift for any Lips fan...a silver pewter fetus ornament. Measures approximately 3" tall. Comes in custom designed box.

Pre-order here

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox


What a terrific movie. We had so much fun watching this great escapade. I mean loud crazy laughing and unrepenting giggles.

10/10, no problemo.

The filmmakers must have had a blast constructing and making this stop motion movie.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

SPIN Magazine's Top 40 Albums of 2009

I'm a major sucker for a list...

And GALLOWS made Spin Magazine's Top 40 Albums this year. They are number 37 with their album Grey Britain. Remember we saw them in October...they were awesome!

Mariachi El awesome band! They do a cover of Prince's I Would Die 4 U

40.) Kiss Sonic Boom
39,) Wilco Wilco
38.) Rick Ross Deeper Than Rap
37.) Gallows Grey Britain
36.) Brakesbrakesbrakes Touchdown
35.) Mike Snow Mike Snow
34.) Mariachi El Bronx Mariachi El Bronx
33.) The Avett Brothers I And Love You
32.) U2 No Line On The Horizon
31.) Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca
30.) Julian Casablancas Phrazes For The Young
29.) Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures
28.) The Plaming Lips Embryonic
27.) Jarvis Crocker Further Complications
26.) The Mountain Goats The Life Of The World To Come
25.) The Big Pink A Brief History of Love
24.) Wolfmother Cosmic Egg
23.) St. Vincent Actor
22.) Teagan and SaraSainthood
21.) Raekwon Only Built For Cuban Linx Pt.II
20.) Paramore Brand New Eyes
19.) Lily Allen It's Not Me, It's You
18.) Anthony And The Johnsons The Crying Light
17.) Mastodon Crack The Skye
16.) Japandroids Post.nothing
15.) Neko Case Middle Cyclone
14.) Amadoou & Mariam Welcome To Mali
13.) Jay Reatard Watch Me Fall
12.) Ida Maria Fortress Round My Heart
11.) Miles Bejamin Anthony Robinson Summer Of Fear
10.) The Dead Weather Horehound
9.) Drake So Far Gone
8.) Florence And The Machine Lungs
7.) Mos Def The Ecstatic
6.) Bat For Lashes Two Suns
5.) Girls Album
4.) Grizzly Bear Veckatimest
3.) Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
2.) Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz
1.) Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion

A couple Canadians on the list... Neko Case, Drake and Teagan and Sara...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Best Movies of The Decade

I should probably wait until after the Festivus movie releases...I mean Avatar and Red Cliff and Sherlock Holmeslook incredible. (if they are...I'll add them to the list) But I'm too excited to start work on this list. The following are movies that I believe are very very good especially and despite their genre. (does that make sense as a qualifier heh heh)

It's not like I've seen every movie made this decade...but I watch more movies than your average bear. I watch a shitload of movies. I love all genres of film and find valuable lessons, scenes and characters even in the lowliest of movies. All of the movies in this list are "high end" movies though. I haven't listed anything that sucks. But you may disagree...isn't that fun?! I also think that all of the movies on my list locked horns with the history of filmmaking on some level. I believe all of them have in common an accomplishment of using the narrative opportunties in filmmaking sometimes in innovative ways as well as exploring characters. Plus they are all damn entertaining or compelling emotionally which is probably the most important quality in movie making.

This decade of the 00's had a tough act to follow. Not only did the 1990's produce some amazing movies...the year 1999 had some of the best movies period. And about ten of those outstanding movies of 1999 all dealt with the nature of reality...which boosted their stature in my opinion.


I'm not putting these movies in a hard order of preference I simply wrote a list as movies came to my mind. I also may have forgotten some movies that blew me away and I will add them fact if you think I've missed one please add it in the comments and why you believe it should be on my list and I will take your views very seriously. I'll take your objections to my list very seriously here goes...

Basically, I feel these are all movies both excellent and worth your time to sit, let go of your ego and watch...


Eastern Promises
Mulholland Dr.
Little Miss Sunshine
Hotel Rwanda
Last King of Scotland
Grizzly Man
Donnie Darko
I'm Not There
Inland Empire
A History of Violence
Casino Royale
No Country For Old Men
American Gangster
The Departed
Somethings Gotta Give
High Fidelity
Kill Bill Vol.1 and 2
Inglorious Basterds
Michael Clayton
The Descent
Waltz With Bashir
Sin City
American Psycho
Shawn Of The Dead
Brokeback Mountain
Let The Right One In
The Bourne Identity
The New World
Wendy and Lucy
Cast Away
Star Trek
28 Days Later
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Life Aquatic
The Royal Tenebaums
The Dark Knight
Badder Santa
There Will Be Blood
City Of God
The Lives of Others
Ghost Dog
Pan's Labyrinth
Oh Brother Where Art Thou
Almost Famous
Slumdog Millionaire
Lost In Translation
Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
Farenheit 9/11
Battle Royale
Bowling For Columbine
Gangs Of New York
Master and Commander
Children Of Men
Before Night Falls
Iron Man
The Wrestler

And just for fun...I'd like to add a category of "best double bill". The Passion of The Christ and The Da Vinci Code.

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