Monday, January 22, 2007

Thank You, Joseph O’Callaghan

Slowbear The Great + "Banquet" What a beautiful song. The sincere and somewhat-desperate heart, stripped-down word after stripped-down word, has been cleanly filleted from the larger beast. The original gills and silky-sided stutter are gone. That song was diamond, but this song is also diamond. Merely more like your mother's tear-dropleted bracelet from grey-castled Glesca, than like those sharper flashes in a shiny-wristing Rolex, London, southside. Different glamours, I guess.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Quotes Won't Make Headlines Forever

New Year business still going on—which means that there are three more examples of unexpectedness yet to provide, aren't there? Based, of course, on the tenous image—not metaphor—I used last year, that there would be towers of unknowing in 2006, places (hopefully) of unpredictability. By which I mean not only unpredictable, but unpredictably unpredictable, a Rumsfeldian not-known unknown. The bit about six means nothing, merely a number I had used to tie in the photograph I posted in last year's entry. I don't try to tie the photo into the subject any more. What happens, happens. No more hot air for the sake of hot air, right? Sure.

Most Unexpected Animal: My sister owns a gorgeous grey Persian, a ball of fur which totters around on four pillar legs, a pushed-in face, hair in his eyes like a highland steer. Did I say bright blue eyes? Thing is, my sister also takes care of a bunch of fish, a three-legged dog—a three-legged dog, may I say, which happens to have four paws—a fierce fat orange cat and a white Darth Vader-breathing cat. Also, two little boys and a baby girl. And she's pregnant. The thing about the Persian is that it needs near constant grooming, and because my sister is always busy, the poor thing's fur knots up like an Irishman's stomach in England. So her husband offered me the cat, saying, otherwise, he was going to put the little beast down. I talked to my room-mates, and only one needed persuading, but then, at the last moment, my sister had a stormy change of heart, and the upshot is that the Persian is still trying to groom the sores off its back. But I was so enamoured of having a pet that when my brother told me of his friend looking for a place for five kittens, I rushed down to his friend's acreage and picked up the softest, stripiest, smallest kitten there. Hello, Church-Yard. And that—well—that was unexpected.

Most Unexpected And Ironically-Tinged Burglary: I would have to say that I definitely did NOT expect my girlfriend's car to get broken into—but nobody expects that, right? Least of all, my girlfriend. The thing is, I live in a section of Edmonton pretty close to this-or-that knifing at the bar, this-or-that beating in the street. My girlfriend lives in a calm older suburb a good twenty clicks away. I live in a neighbourhood where you can hear the police sirens almost every night in the summer. My girlfriend lives in a neighbourhood where the sprinklers all click-whoosh at the same time. I live in a neighbourhood where the houses, many of them, are falling into their own foundations, but my girlfriend lives in a neighbourhood where renovation isn't just a hobby, it's a reason to live after retirement. So when C told me that her Sunfire had been popped open on the drivers' side, and all her little brother's mix cd's stolen, and the surface of her car damaged to the extent of a thousand dollars, I was very taken aback. As far as burglaries or break-ins go, that was one I just didn't see coming.

Most Unexpected Re-Appearance Of My Childhood: Not a person, not a return to place, no. What about a toy? What about that trailer for Transformers? I just can't get over it. So ridiculous. The movie will be trash, but we will all be going, right? My favourite toy, of course, was a Transformer, a knock off red-and-white reproduction of Optimus Prime, with a little square black head and unbending red arms. I played with that thing in our gravel driveway in Ontario for two or three solid years, I think. Making little roads in the dust for the robot to transform down. "We'll need to make a special run to Autobot City!"

That's it, then, for unexpected moments, towers of unknowing. Next week, back to the semi-regular notes on music, words about books.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Cloud Of Unknowing

Happy New Year, internet. What did you get for Christmas? Nice. What? Oh, a bookshelf, you know, IKEA. Arrested Development and A CAMERA! One of those small silver Elphs, I love it so much. And mince-meat tarts, and so much more, most of it, the best of it, making me smile even now. Now, last year, I wrote that this year would have better things to report. Now, 2005 was all autumn to me, or a ghostly year in God. Or perhaps the year was like looking through the viscuous chlorinated water in the swimming pool, bright colours, muddy shapes, the consonants in my ears eclipsed by brassy pool-side vowels. Sound and speech and act and thought were roughly distorted, slouching toward some unknown crossroads. Well, but nothing sinister happened. 2006 has been a Good Year. Good things happened. Also, some not so good. In 2005, I wrote that 2006 contained a few visible points of mystery, things unknown and sure to come to pass, six pale towers of unknowing. Less divertingly, stuff was going to happen, and I didn't know what the stuff was:

#1: Most Unlooked-For And Excellent Instant In Music: Many contenders, all worthies, most of them found on Camera Obscura's June release, Let's Get Out Of This Country, or, also, anything that Timbaland called a pie and stuck his twinkly finger in. Isn't "Maneater" ridiculous? Anyways, the most ridiculous moment in music is not the music but the picture that underpins the sound, which would be the video for My Chemical Romance, and their single, "The Black Parade". Where was there to go after the sweet sound and sincere follies of "Helena"? Everywhere, everyplace, seemingly. Never have I seen a video so chockful of itself and so mocking of itself, also. The truth is out there—believe the lie. A band like this, embodying every goth/emo visual trope out there, willingly upholding blatant cliché—even if MCR isn't self-aware, even if they aren't in on the joke, they have created a masterpiece, a place where everyone who likes MCR can both love them and laugh at them and laugh, with MCR, at themselves. And I love the opening, the arena-rock of it all, the voice contrapuntal over the piano. Don't you wish Weezer had done this business? We could have been sure of self-awareness, then.

#2: Most Unexpected Conversation Ever: Sometimes, you can feel like a fish out of water—know what I mean? I was privileged to take part of a ridiculous conversation about three wks ago, and here's a sample—one of about ten amazing conversational loops:

Person Who Is Not Orlando: I would like an apology.
Orlando: What do you want an apology for?
PWINO: I want an apology for the hurtful things you said to me.
Orlando: What hurtful things did I say to you?
PWINO: Well, I don't remember.
Orlando: Wait. Hold on. So you want me to apologize to you for something you don't remember?

There was a bit of a pause after that. Then, over the miles of bright telephone cable and plastic sheafs of coloured wire, my laughter.

#3: Most Unexpected Helping Hand What can I say about this one? Out of left field. Ten minutes from my girlfriend's, thirty minutes from the workplace, the clutch on my Galaxie 500 simply dropped. Well, I called up C and she drove me to work, because she always helps me, because that's what she does, because she's the BGE, and it's on her resumé, under "Volunteer" and "Charitable Activities". And she's helped me out so often, it's easy to slip and take her for granted. So, thank-you, C. But, also, others—for granted, that is—are easy to take. I've known S for around five years, now, and he loaned me, unasked, unlooked for, his CAA card for the tow to the mechanic, giving over most of a cold winter's day to helping me out, for no reason at all, really, except, I suppose, general goodness. Saved me a bunch of money, and more of time, and showed himself a good man to know, a friend to keep. Then, when my car broke down, again, in his driveway, let me keep it there, and his girlfriend drove us around. Wonderful.

Oh, hold on: the other three unexpected moments should be expected in the next post. Expect them.