Thursday, February 26, 2009

Three recent musical obsessions.

When I get a song or a band or an album in my head, it's pretty much all I can think about for a stretch of a few days. If people are unlucky enough to be around me, they'll hear me gush about it, or maybe catch me whistling a few bars from it, or if they're truly unfortunate, I'll force them to listen to some or all of it, and point out where all the diminished sevenths are in it, and ohmygod, aren't these guys friggin' geniuses?!

(Seriously, why do people put up with me? I'd smack me clean across the face.)

1. Rusty — Out Of Their Heads
You remember these guys, I know you do. Mid- to late-'90s, Canadian, frontman was a white dude with dreads, vaguely punk-ish at times? Their biggest song was probably either "Wake Me" or "Empty Cell". Anyway, for their third album, they decided it would be a good idea to go with a Rolling Stones-inspired foray into garage rock. Sometimes it comes up a bit short, but songs like "Let's Break Robert Out Of Jail" rock with a fury seldom-seen this side of Motörhead (but this and this reinterpretation of their most famous song come pretty close).

2. Blue Rodeo
I grew up on a healthy mix of the Stones and early-'80s country, so it would stand to reason that I'd have an affinity for rock and roll which had a bit of a twang. One of my absolute favourite albums of all time is Tremolo, which has this great, loose feeling (they only very minimally rehearsed the songs before laying them down on tape); their second-last album, Are You Ready?, contains the achingly-beautiful "Rena".

3. "Josie"
"I have a confession to make," I said to one of my students a couple of weeks ago. "Even though you don't spell your name in the conventional way, whenever I read it, or whenever I see you, a song starts playing in my head." This one, by none other than Steely Dan. I played them a clip of it at the end of class later that day, with a preface that (a.) they'd probably never heard (of) this band before, and (b.) they'd probably hate the song. Reviews weren't exactly glowing, but they weren't as negative as I'd feared. Maybe they were just being nice.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fun with search terms.

Every now and again, I check StatCounter to see how many people have been checking-in on this ol' blog. (Someone is using Safari 1.2... c'mon, upgrade already!) One of the things it tells me is, if someone's found this site by typing something into a search engine, what they typed to get here.

For some reason, I find this endlessly entertaining.

Here are three recent gems:
  • pipefitter hoodie
    I'm not sure what this is, but I sure as hell want one.
  • harperisms
    This actually shows up fairly often. Oh, that Steve, what a pill.
  • is tdsb going on strike soon 2009
    More on this below.
The first two could've been typed by anyone. The third, however, is very specific to a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my union's negotiations with the school board for whom I teach. Maybe it's an anxious high-schooler who's looking for a little time off. Maybe it's a colleague who's looking for a low-cost, off-peak-time jaunt to Vegas. Maybe it's the Illuminati, peering-in on my thoughts as they continue to run the world.

The weird thing about this search term is that it showed up twice, from ostensibly two different computers; one had Bell as their ISP, the other had Rogers. Maybe it's the same person, maybe not. This is why I'm pretty hopelessly addicted to StatCounter.

But, Dear Mystery-Reader, to soothe your fears... no, we probably won't be going on strike. Or, hell, we might... but it won't be a full walkout, just something to piss off management but not the students. Y'know, though... it could be, but Toronto actually hasn't gone on one of those in my lifetime. At this juncture I'd normally say, Just keep watching the news to keep informed, but my opinion of journalists these days isn't too great.

In conclusion, Libya is a land of contrast. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fun with dogs.

I took a little time tonight to figure out how to make one of those still-picture videos to put up on YouTube, using kino.

The subject? My across-the-hall-neighbour's dog. When she's away, it gets lonely. And when it gets lonely, it yowls and yelps. (You'll have to turn your speakers up a bit; sorry about that.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Three things for a holiday Monday.

1. Family Day is a bit of a stupid concept. What am I supposed to do — tell my family that I love them or something? They know already. Besides, my parents are in Florida right now; they have better things to do than to hear stuff like that from their idiot kid. Plus, we're pretty WASPy, so we don't really show our feelings to each other. (Yep, the stereotypes are true.)

2. It pains me to say this, but for the second time in my life, I've (re-)discovered an artist based on a song that was used on a TV commercial. The first time it was Nick Drake in that VW ad about a decade ago; this time it's Allen Toussaint, on that ad for Axe body spray which has that dude who's entirely made of chocolate, and chicks are taking bites out of him. The song is called "Touch Of Love," and it pretty much rocks my world right now. Hit up either YouTube or Deezer, and you'll agree with me, I'm sure.

3. I work with someone who has a Bacon Number of 2. That means, if this person and I somehow appeared in a film together, I would have a Bacon Number of 3. Look up an actor, any actor, no matter how obscure, here.

* * * * *


4. My across-the-hall neighbour's dog is howling again. I've been thinking about it, and it sounds like a mix between a drunk five-year-old's attempt to yodel, a squeaky shopping-cart wheel, and a coyote. Keep in mind that your coffeemaker probably outweighs this sorry excuse for an animal. Someone fetch me my nonexistent gun.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One-line post #2.

People with canes shouldn't jaywalk across busy 4-lane streets.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Coming attractions.

There are three things which need to be brought to your attention. I plan on attending all of these, and you should too. ALL OF 'EM.

1. Everyone's A DJ (but especially me)
The inimitable Matt Blair (seriously, does the guy ever sleep?) is hosting the umpteenth-monthly edition of Everyone's A DJ on the 14th down at Disgraceland (Bloor, just west of Ossington; and yes, I know what day that is, but I refuse to recognize its so-called "significance"). I will be DJing, as always, under my old Golden Words pseudonym, Frisbee Pilot, from midnight to 12:20 (everyone gets a 20-minute set). I haven't decided on whether to go with a mix of my current musical-genre obsessions — late-'60s Motown with big horn sections plus similar-era gritty Detroit rock — or, owing to the day and my distaste for it, a collection of the cock-est cock-rock that ever rocked a cock, which will most definitely include Triumph. Your input is more than welcome.

2. Golden Words Science Fair
The tagline says it all: "Just like Grade 5, but held in a bar with cash prizes." (I miss you, Clark!) If you're in Toronto and want to carpool it down to K-town on Friday the 6th, let me know and we can be all environmental-y that way. I have to be back here by about noon or 1pm-ish on Saturday the 7th, though, because of...

3. World Baseball Classic: Canada vs. USA
If the Skydome isn't full of crazy Canadian fans screaming their asses off, then I will be heartily disappointed in my country. I already have tickets, but I'm sure you can get some too — they're pretty cheap, all in all. I just hope I'm not hung over from the night before; the game's at 2pm. (Probably for the best, though — that way I won't be tempted to buy any $9 beers down at the dome.)

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Go check out Kate and Matt's, and get inspired every day with a new word.

One more thing... because I know frequent site-contributor ECB loves this song, I have to mention that, whilst driving around last night, Triumph's "Lay It On The Line" came on the radio, and I had to sing along. (It's a good thing I was alone; Rik Emmett's vocal range is extremely high, and it was tough to reach those top notes, but I think I gave it a good ol' try.)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Look, a bunch of things.

More than you ever wanted to know about me, I'm sure.

Do you like blue cheese? In salad-dressing form, yes. In cheese-form, I could take it or leave it.

Have you ever smoked? Cigarettes, you mean? A total of two puffs, both while drunk, and not in the past ten years. I didn't exactly go to Flavour Country, and I was never in danger of being Alive With Pleasure.

Do you own a gun? No.

What flavor of Kool Aid is your favorite? I've always been partial to orange.

Do you get nervous before dentist appointments? Not at all. Bill's great.

What do you think of hot dogs? Ain't nothin' like a little Toronto Streetcock... ketchup, honey mustard, banana peppers, and fake bacon bits.

Favorite Christmas movie? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Favorite thing to drink in the morning? Coffee. Either 2 sugar/1 cream or 1 sugar/black.

Can you do push ups? A few.

What's your favorite piece of jewelry? I don't wear jewelry of any kind, except if I'm wearing a suit — then I might wear the fancy watch I got for being Best Man at my brother's wedding.

Favorite hobby? All things baseball — playing, reading about it, watching it, going to Florida for spring training.

Do you have ADD? I can focus for extremely long periods of time, so no.

What's one trait you hate about yourself? I'm an inconsistent perfectionist.

Middle name? You are never, ever squeezing this out of me.

Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment.
1. I really like Steely Dan's "Home At Last".
2. Why has my hot sauce turned colour? I hope it's still good.
3. I'm very busy at work these days.

Name 3 drinks you regularly drink. Water, Coffee, Diet Pepsi.

Current worry? I hope we don't go out on strike.

Current hate right now? A tie: celebrities and Jesus-freak colleagues.

Favorite place to be? Baseball game, Detroit, sunny day, armed with peanuts and beer.

How did you bring in the new year? With a very tired Hubert and a very delicious plate of nachos at a pub in Ottawa, after seeing one of the best hockey games in World Juniors history (Canada/US).

Where would you like to go? It pains me to say this, but... somewhere warm.

Name three people who will complete this. I don't really care.

Do you own slippers? No, they're for little kids, my mom, and old people.

What shirt are you wearing? I'm wearing a green t-shirt with a couple of stripes, and an off-white hoodie.

Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I can't say, as I never have before.

Can you whistle? Quite well, yes.

Favorite color? Blue.

Would you be a pirate? Nah, I don't think I'm that malicious.

What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't really want to torture my neighbours in that way, and my place isn't that soundproof. I keep my singing to the car... even at that, though, I don't usually remember too many words of songs.

Favorite girl's name: I've always been partial to Olivia.

Favorite boy's name: I've always been partial to Avery. (I realize that name could go to either gender, but it's been in the back of my mind for a decade.)

What's in your pocket right now? Absolutely nothing.

Last thing that made you laugh? I actually have no idea, which is very weird.

What vehicle do you drive? When my Rolls convertible is in the shop, a Pontiac G5.

Worst injury you've ever had? Nasty ankle-twist, complete with crunching sounds (3 times).

Do you love where you live? I like my apartment, but you already know about my downstairs neighbour.

How many TVs do you have in your house? One, but I have another one sitting around. Does anyone want a 21" CRT TV? Inquire within.

Who is your loudest friend? Hubert, especially when his laughs turn into coughing fits, which they almost always do.

Do you have any pets? I have a houseplant named Sparky.

Does someone have a crush on you? I doubt it.

Your favourite book? Fiction, probably something by Kurt Vonnegut. Nonfiction is a tough one, but Matt Taibbi's stuff is always damn entertaining.

Do you collect anything? Books and CDs are about it.

Favorite Sports Team? If you have to ask, you don't know me too well.

What song do you want played at your funeral? "Lay It On The Line" by Triumph, at a very high volume.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

CBC Toronto News at Six, you disappoint me.

Alright, here's the REAL reason why Toronto's OSSTF (District 12) won't sign the contract that the Toronto District School Board proposed. (I figure if an outlet as venerable as the Mothership messed this story up with lazy-ass journalism, someone's going to have to tell it like it is, and it might as well be me.)

Follow the bouncing ball, ok?
  1. Back in the fall, negotiators from the provincial offices of OSSTF and the Ontario Public School Boards Association (which oversees the TDSB) agreed on a "framework" for contracts negotiated by local OSSTF branches and local school boards. This included specific language about salary and workload issues.
  2. This framework says that, if the TDSB wants to increase our workload, they have to give someting up to the Union in trade. Maintaining the status quo is also an option; if it's not the same language as the previous contract, I reiterate, the TDSB has to give us something in return, and only if we agree to that.
  3. The TDSB's offer gives us an increased workload, but nothing in return. This is not cool, under the framework which the TDSB ALREADY AGREED TO, through OPSBA.
  4. The Chair of the TDSB, John Campbell, is being a Mike Harris clone* by talking about teachers being "clock-watchers" and not wanting to do "eight more minutes of supervision a day." That's an average, pal — it's not like I duck out of work at 3:20 and this would mean staying until a whopping 3:28 instead. Has this guy ever been a teacher? My guess is no, or else he'd realize what a crock this statement is.
  5. This "eight minutes" thing was all that the CBC reporter talked about tonight. Did he talk about the framework? No. Did he talk about how the Minsitry of Education mediator, who's been overseeing the talks, said the TDSB was in clear violation of said framework, and that D12 wasn't? No. Did he talk about how John Campbell punches babies? No.
Listen up, folks, and listen good. This whole thing is the BOARD'S FAULT. They are bargaining in BAD FAITH. They're going against the greement which they already agreed to, because it's CONVENIENT for them. They say more teachers supervising the halls is going to make schools safer... am I, me, personally, JTL, going to break up a fight in the hallway between armed thugs from rival gangs? Stop a drug deal in progress? Disarm a gunman looking to settle a score? Hell no.

If you want to read the Education Act, Johnny C, you'll see that I'm responsible for teaching six classes a year, period. Anything else above and beyond is what the Board gets for free from me, because I know the kids need it. When you try and jerk us around like this, to pull these kinds of dirty tricks when you're negotiating... oh, believe you me, buddy, you're gonna see the results, and you ain't gonna like 'em.
* In the late '90s, the provincial Conservative jerkbags put this ad on TV to slam the teacher unions which had a ticking clock and this condescending voice saying, "Come on. Just forty more minutes per week. It's still less than the elementary teachers work." And I thought dick-moves like that were a thing of the past.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I showed up to this party nine years too late.

Goddamn, why is Freaks and Geeks so good? And why am I so enraptured with these (faux) high schoolers, seeing as how I SPEND ALL DAY IN A GOD DAMN HIGH SCHOOL?

(Whoa. That actually sounded extremely creepy.)

(Also, Linda Cardellini is hot.)

(It's alright, she was 25 when she was on F&G.)

(Although she's hot now, too. I read she's on ER these days.)

(I haven't seen that show in forever. Is Clooney still on that?)

(Wait, he can't be. He's too busy making movies and banging celebrities, as far as I can tell.)

(Unless he's gay.)

(Do you think he's gay? You know the trick, covering up the gayness by semi-secretly slutting around with every red-carpet trollop in town?)

(I think Gene Simmons is gay. Same trick.)

(I wish I could stick my tongue out farther.)

(Alright, this has gotta stop.)

In unrelated news, I went skiing for the first time in a few years this past Saturday. I hurt today in some very weird places — for example, in a spot which is sorta behind my knee. How can I even hurt there? What's there to hurt, anyway?