Monday, January 21, 2008

if I knew the tunes I might join in...

I'm feeling a bit melancholy these days. And when I'm feeling blue, I turn to music. Tonight I downloaded an album from iTunes that I have wanted forever. The Indigo Girls have long been one of my favourite bands and until today, I have not owned their brilliant 2005 release, Rarities. It's the perfect recording for my current mood. The album is a collection of originals and covers, each full of the beautiful harmonies and gut-wrenching interpretations that make the Indigo Girls the musical force that they are. Their rendition of Elton John's Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters really struck me and reminded me how brilliant the lyrics of Bernie Taupin are.

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

And now i know

Spanish harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought i knew
But now i know that rose trees never grow in new york city

Until you've seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge while people run you through
And i thank the lord there's people out there like you
I thank the lord there's people out there like you

While mona lisas and mad hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can't and that is why
They know not if it's dark outside or light

This broadway's got
It's got a lot of songs to sing
If i knew the tunes i might join in
I'll go my way alone
Grow my own, my own seeds shall be sown in new york city

Subway's no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And i thank the lord for the people i have found
I thank the lord for the people i have found

Sunday, January 20, 2008

let the music play...

After listening to the Oscar Peterson tribute (see previous post) I explored the CBC Radio 2 Concerts on Demand page a little further. There are some amazing concerts on this site! How did I not know until now that this existed? I often wondered what happened with the tons of live shows that the CBC records on a regular basis, after they have been broadcast on various radio programs. It's so great that they offer some of them up on the website for us to enjoy. So while I've been cleaning up my home office, I have enjoyed some great live shows including Jim Cuddy at Kingfest, Serena Ryder at Hugh's Room and William Carn Quintet at the Rex. And there are a ton of others that I plan to listen to. All thanks to the magic of the interwebs!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

someone as wonderful as you

On January 12, a tribute concert for the late Oscar Peterson was held in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall. It was free and open to the public. I was working at a conference and could not attend, so I was thrilled to hear that the CBC had put the concert up on their website. I'm listening to it as I write this and am overwhelmed with emotion. O.P. was a much loved and admired musician and human being. The tributes to him, both musical and in words are simply beautiful.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Phil Nimmons, who was a close friend of Oscar's for over half a century. For him, speaking at this concert was the opportunity to say goodbye to a friend who meant so much to him. When Phil arrived at Roy Thomson Hall people were lined up around the block. And though the hall seats over 2600, there is no way that all of those people got in. Phil, a jazz legend himself, was amazed at how many people lined up for hours just to see this concert. He was in awe of the fact that Oscar meant so much to so many. I think that sometimes, artists don't realize just how much their talent and artistry affect us as human beings. And Oscar affected and influenced so many people. His musical legacy will live on for a very long time.

a long time ago...

I don't remember much of what I learned in high school. Let me rephrase that. I don't remember much of what I studied in my classes in high school. The social aspects are a completely different story. What I probably remember the least is Canadian history. Pretty sad really, since I love this country and am very proud to be Canadian. Just don't ask me when Jacques Cartier first landed or who the 14th Prime Minister was. I won't be able to tell you.

So I was listening to the latest episode of Quirky Nomands, one of my favourite podcasts. I can absolutely guarantee that if history was taught this way in school, you'd have a lot more kids paying attention. I know I would have.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

...hold this thread as I walk away...

I love a bargain! I hate paying full price, especially for clothing. So check out this sweater that I bought at Old Navy for $10!

Seriously, $10! I know, the picture doesn't look like much. But check out the cable detail.

Needless to say, I'm quite happy with this purchase and proudly showed it off at work today. I'm tempted to go back and buy another in a different colour...

a new soul...

Today was a big day for us Mac-fanatics. Steve Jobs delivered his much anticipated Keynote at MacWorld. So when I got home from work, I opened a bottle of wine and eagerly watched it on the Apple website. I'm no tech wizard, but I have become a bit of a Mac geek. So here's my take on the keynote.

Steve Jobs broke the announcement down into 4 categories:

1) Time Capsule
The Time Machine backup on the new Leopard operating system is supercool, but Time Capsule makes it that much cooler for the notebook user. Being able to back up wirelessly rocks! My only beef is that it comes as part of the Airport Extreme base station. Since I already have an Airport Extreme, I guess I would have to sell it on eBay and get the new Time Capsule. A serious pain in the ass that will probably stop me from purchasing it anytime soon. Instead, I'll stick with the wired external hard drive that I'm currently using.

2) iPhone/iPod Touch
For the iPhone, awesome new functions including maps with location, webclips, home screen customization, the ability to SMS multiple people at once and other cool features. They're all available as a free download, but since the iPhone is not available in Canada yet, it's hard to get really excited about these.
For the iPod Touch, five new apps including mail, maps, stocks, notes & weather. I love the idea of these extra little applications on an iPod, without it being a phone. All new iPod Touch units will come with these features but existing owners will have to download these from iTunes for a $20 fee. Seriously? I know $20 is not much, but don't they get some kind of bonus for being early adopters?

3) iTunes Movie Rentals/Apple TV
Brilliant idea! How cool is it to be able to rent movies on iTunes?!? For $2.99-$4.99 per title you can watch a movie on your TV, Mac, PC or current generation iPod. You'll have 30 days to start watching the movie and 24 hours to finish it. What if you start watching a movie on your PC but want to finish it on the commute to work on your iPod? No problem. Just transfer it from one device to the other. What about your fancy new HDTV? Plug Apple TV right into your TV and rent movies in HD with Dolby 5.1 surround sound. You can also view podcasts, photos from Flickr and .Mac and videos from You Tube. You can even buy TV shows and music from iTunes. All without plugging into a computer. Very cool. The only catch for us Canucks is that these features are not yet available in Canada. But if all of these features are available when it's released internationally later this year, you can be sure that I will be purchasing Apple TV.

4) MacBook Air
OMG! This is the sexiest laptop ever! Apple has created the world's thinnest notebook, so thin that if fits inside one of those inter-office memo envelopes, complete with a built in iSight camera, full size backlit keyboard and 13.3 inch widescreen, LED backlit display. The trackpad allows multi-touch gestures making it much more versatile than the average trackpad. 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB memory, 80 GB hard drive, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, 802.11n Wi-Fi and the magsafe connector. So what's missing? No optical drive. That's right kids, you can't stick a CD or DVD in this box. You can buy a SuperDrive that plugs into the USB. So how do you install software? Mac has created a remote disc functionality that allows users to install software wirelessly. What about battery life? 5 hours. This is one area that still needs improvement across the industry but Mac does an amazing job with their built in batteries. And just to appeal to my environmental side, the case is enclosed in a fully recyclable aluminum case, contains a mercury-free and arsenic-free display, includes BFR-free and PVC-free circuit boards and comes in 50% less packaging than the last MacBook. Do I want one of these babies? Hell ya! Do I have $1,799 US to spend on one when my notebook is only a year old? No way! But a girl can dream.

So all in all, Steve Jobs did not disappoint this Mac-head. I only wish that it didn't take so long to get some of these cool things in Canada. Nevertheless, you can't deny that Apple is one of the most progressive and innovate technology companies out there. And if you spot a wide-eyed, long-haired brunette drooling over a MacBook Air at a Toronto area Apple Store in the near future, make sure you stop and say hi.

Monday, January 14, 2008

that's just the way it is...

As you can tell, I'm spending a bit of time on You Tube and Funny or Die tonight. After listening to an episode of the Daily Source Code Podcast from last week, I felt compelled to look up some George Carlin. This man is brilliant. Here are some examples. (Not work or kid safe.)

And one of my personal favourites. No video, but worth a listen.

if you got a bad back put your hands up...

This totally cracked me up! Not work or kid safe.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

run, run away...

After thinking and talking about it for quite some time, I am finally going to start running again. So I signed up for the 5K clinic at the Running Room. I used to be the person who said that they would only run if something scary was chasing them. That changed after doing the Running Room's Learn to Run clinic and completing my first 5K race. They break it down in such a way that it's actually enjoyable. And each week they present a relevant topic from buying the correct shoes to nutrition to stretching. And it's great to have a group of people to run with. Signing up for the 5K clinic is the kick in the ass I need to actually get out there and run. The fact that I have signed up for the 5K portion of the Around the Bay Road Race also helps. I just hope the weather is not too tasty in the next few months.

After registering for the clinic, I surfed around the Running Room website and found a link to Runningmap. This cool site allows you to map out your own personal routes and save them in your profile. You can also view other people's routes and find additional routes in your area. Very cool. So I'm signed up for the clinic, I have my training route mapped out and I have lovely, new running shoes. I guess there is just one thing left to do...

running back to Saskatoon...

I really don't understand why the premier of Saskatchewan is upset about this. (article included below) He should be grateful that CTV is sparing his fine province from the patheticness that is Canadian Idol, not to mention Ben Mulroney.

Premier outraged Idol skipping Saskatchewan
Last Updated: Friday, January 4, 2008 | 1:40 PM ET
The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is calling on fans of Canadian Idol to lodge a protest after Saskatchewan was left off the list of audition locations this year.

Wall said he was outraged when he learned the reality TV talent competition would schedule auditions in 10 major Canadian cities, but leave out both Regina and Saskatoon.

Saskatchewan's Theresa Sokyrka performs on Canadian Idol in September 2004. She encouraged new contestants to drive to Edmonton or Winnipeg to audition.
(Aaron Harris/Canadian Press)
"I think it's more than a little bit ironic that we are apparently good enough for the Rolling Stones, but no longer good enough apparently for 'Canadian Idol,"' Wall told the Canadian Press.

In the fall of 2006, the Stones played two sold-out shows in Regina and set a record for concert revenue.

The province has produced three top five performers so far in Canadian Idol, including Season 2 runner-up Theresa Sokyrka, and Matt Rapley, who made it to No. 5 on the show last season.

Supervising producer Mark Lysakowski said there isn't room on the schedule for a Saskatchewan stop.


The Juno Awards for the best in Canadian music are being held in Calgary this year and Canadian Idol producers wanted auditions in both Calgary and Edmonton.

Somewhere had to be left out and that somewhere was Saskatchewan.

"We only have so much we can do in the allotted time from when we start our auditions and when we need to have the show on the air," Lysakowski said.

"We will be back. This is not to say that Saskatchewan has fallen off the Canadian Idol radar forever. It's a place we want to come back to — we need to come back to."

It's the first time since Season 1 that an audition has not been held in either Regina or Saskatoon.

Wall is encouraging Canadian Idol fans to send messages protesting the change to the show's web site.

Many Saskatchewan residents echoed his outrage.

Rapley, a shy 18-year-old who was encouraged to audition by his music teacher, said he considers the move an "insult."

"I do take it personally a little," Rapley said. "I know a lot of talent came out of Saskatchewan in the last five years."

His mother Jackie Rapley was hurt that Saskatchewan is being overlooked.

"Maybe that is not their intent, but my feeling on it is that they are saying there is no talent in Saskatchewan — that is how I am taking it," she said.

Sokyrka, who went to Edmonton for an audition before being accepted at an audition in Saskatchewan, encourages young performers to travel to the other cities to try out for the show.

It would be a day's travel to Edmonton, Calgary or Winnipeg for Saskatchewan residents.

"I know that even though they are not coming here, there will be someone in the top 10 from Saskatchewan. There is no question of it," Sokyrka said.

Aside from Sokyrka and Rapley, Tyler Lewis of Rockglen, Sask., made it all the way to No. 3 on Season 4 of the show.

Saskatchewan residents have been enthusiastic supporters of talent from close to home.

The 10-city audition tour begins Jan. 26 in Edmonton, and would-be stars are once again being invited to bring musical instruments.

Hamilton, Ont., the hometown of reigning Canadian Idol Brian Melo, will be among the audition stops.

i don't have to speak...

One of the reasons that we bought the house that we live in is because we have a creek running behind it. I love watching the creek cycle through its seasonal changes. Our weather has been totally wacky lately. We had a major dumping of snow a couple of weeks before Christmas, then it got really warm for a while and it started to melt, then it was really cold for a few days and everything iced over and now it's getting warm again. The forecast is saying that it will go up to 11 degrees celsius this week. In January, in Canada? Total insanity. Thanks global warming! (please note the sarcastic tone - I happen to totally love winter and miss having real winter.) As a result, the creek is going through this spring-like melty sort of thing. I went out and took some pictures today and some of them turned out pretty well. Here are a few. If you like, there are more on flickr.

Friday, January 4, 2008

away in a manger...

I was supposed to be out with the girls tonight but sadly, I'm at home fighting off a cold. I'm determined to not let it get the better of me so I'm medicating myself and resting. I'm pretty exhausted and will be heading to bed soon. But before I do, here are some pictures of the gorgeous nativity scene that Christine & Stewart gave us for Christmas.

Not being a very religious person, the nativity scene was not a part of my Christmas decor. Honestly, I find most of them rather tacky. But this one is absolutely beautiful! I don't know who the artist is, but Christine found it somewhere in Waterloo, Ontario and there are quite a few ceramic artists in that area. I love the modern feel of this set. It's almost a shame that I'll be packing it up to sit in a box for the next 11 months.

the baby Jesus in the manger

dove & fish

three wise men

I'm off to bed. Night all.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

doin' it right...

I came across a very cool website today.

At Instructables, everyday people share their methods for how to do stuff in words and pictures. Let's say you have the perfect technique for cutting a fresh pineapple or you're a whiz at curing hiccups. Why not share your expertise on Instructables? The idea is for people to share and learn with others in an online community setting. And some of the stuff on the site is very cool! Where else would you find step by step instructions on how to make your very own, working banana phone? Ever wanted to make your own trombone out of PVC pipe? Or maybe you really need a safety pin but all you have is a paper clip. No problem. The answers to all of life's little dilemmas are here.

I don't know about you, but I'm totally going to make some cranberry infused vodka!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

oh night divine...

Steve and I had a very Canadian experience a few weeks ago. We attended a live Vinyl Cafe Christmas show at the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall. For those of you who are a) not Canadian or b) don't listen to CBC radio, the Vinyl Cafe is a one-hour, weekly variety program on CBC Radio One. It features stories, music & essays. Mostly, it is centered around the fictional family of Dave, the owner of the Vinyl Cafe Record Store, his wife Morley, their children Stephanie and Sam, Arthur the dog and Galway the cat. It is the brilliant creation of Stuart McLean, a magnificent writer and master storyteller.

Stuart McLean, hard at work.

Up until recently, I had only heard a few episodes of the Vinyl Cafe but each one made me laugh or left me completely emotional. Luckily, the CBC has added the Vinyl Cafe to its podcast lineup, so I now get a weekly dose. But seeing it live adds another level to the experience. I had seen pictures of Stuart McLean so I thought I knew what to expect visually from the performance. I was completely unprepared for what we saw. McLean was unbelievably energetic, on his toes as he told his stories, practically airborne. I hadn't expected so much movement from him but it only heightened the experience. His timing and delivery are impeccable. He was simply brilliant.

In addition to the fantastic storytelling, there was music. Two fabulous Canadian talents, Allison Russell and Danny Michel performed with the "house band" featuring Chris Whitely on guitar & trumpet, John Sheard on piano and Dennis Pendrith on bass. The music of these talented individuals added another dimension to the night. Danny Michel's performance of Snowglobe was a particular highlight as was Allison Russell's Till It's Gone.

Allison Russell & Chris Whitely

Danny Michel

If you are a fan of the Vinyl Cafe and have the chance to take in the live show, you must! And if you haven't yet listened to the Vinyl Cafe, do it! You will not be disappointed.

you're the inspiration...

Today marks my one year blogversary. Yes, I have been blogging for exactly one year today. Now I haven't always been the most consistent blogger but I did successfully complete my first NaBloPoMo and I had a few other good stretches of posts. I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions, but I do want to blog more consistently in 2008. I'm actually thinking of taking my laptop with me on my daily commute to work on blog posts. I'll let you know how that goes.

So far, I have found blogging a fantastic and rewarding experience. I love being able to sit down and blather on about whatever the heck I want. It's my way of decompressing from the stress of daily life.

On this anniversary day, I feel compelled to let you know why I decided to do this. It's quite simple. Elizabeth. I had been reading my dear friend's blog and loving it. Then I watched her complete her first NaBloPoMo and I thought, "man, I wish I could do that." Well, I could! Thanks to the glory of the internets, anyone can blog! Including me, the ultimate technology moron. Yeah, I know how to check my email and load music on my iPod, but that's about it. I am of the generation just before computers became mainstream. I used a typewriter for my high school essays and didn't own a computer until my 2nd year of university. But Blogger makes blogging idiot-proof. I just have to make the time to sit down and write.

So cheers Elizabeth and thanks for the inspiration. Who knew that blogging would become my favourite hobby.

And thanks all of you, for reading.