Tuesday, October 28, 2003

mayor or bust

A quick run through the five most prominent candidates running to replace his Melness here in the centre of the universe...

Tom Jakobek - BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA...at least you can say it takes someone wallowing in dung (hello MFP) to find the dung in other candidates campaigns. Otherwise, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

John Nunziata - Dear John: You've made a lot of hay about one of the other candidate's teams, but haven't spilled the beans on who. Sounds like a last stab to toss dirt on somebody, or the backroom boys are at it again.

Barbara Hall - when the race began, it was assumed that Hall had a reasonable chance of running away with the job. Now she's in danger of falling into third, behind Miller and Tory. Boosting the island airport hasn't helped, nor have Jabokek's attempts at legal actions, a sense she's trying to win the centre-right vote, etc. Looks like strike two at the plate.

John Tory - Then there's the coverage of the Tory campaign, especially on 680 News. Whenever there's the slightest statement from the Tory camp, it's treated as headline news on 680. One of these days, while tuning in for traffic, this earth-shattering story will be previewed:

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, the latest on Britney Spears's libido, and hear what kind of soup mayoral candidate John Tory will have for lunch tomorrow. Stay tuned.

That Tory was an executive with the owners of 680 is merely coincidence...

David Miller - notwithstanding the musings about freeway tolls, Miller has risen to the top of polls lately. One of the papers (I forget which, but I think it was the Globe) made an interesting point - while the other candidates are harping on issues that aren't great concerns of city residents (hello law and order), Miller has stumped on things like infrastructure and keeping the city clean (of garbage, and not the human variety), which may be fuelling the rise in the polls. Still time for something wacky to happen to this campaign.

There's the other candidates, though they're getting less attention than usual this year, one of the side-effects when there are so many prominent contenders. Here's the official list of who's running. Just remember to vote, OK? - JB

Saturday, October 25, 2003

days of halloween past

Halloween is in the air. From highly decorated lawns to the candy displays in grocery stores, it will soon be time for the little ghouls and goblins to wander from house to house. For adults, a time to go a little crazy, step out of the day to day, to let creative impulses go wild.

Sure sign we're getting close - CBC is digging out all the old Universal horror flicks from the 30s and 40s...right now, Son of Frankenstein, Boris Karloff's last appearance as the Monster.

I've been going through the seasonal flicks in my collection over the past couple of days. Seems like the right time to watch them. Evil Dead, Ginger Snaps, Tomb of Ligeia...

Halloween was one of many things I rediscovered in university. Wasn't too keen on it as a kid - liked the candy, hated the dressing-up part. By the end, I was either going out in my sports uniforms or, the last time I went, around age 11 or so, deciding to go out at the last sec by borrowing part of my sister's costume. Didn't do anything at all through high school (the closest was acting in plays). The came Guelph and Arts House, where I finally figured out how fun it was. Didn't do much my first year (virtually everyone in the rez was a vampire, so my variation was me having just crossed over into the land of the undead - no makeup except for some neck punctures and press-on nails held on with poly-grip for fangs).

Second year I dressed up as the Invisible Man. One of those ideas that's terrific in concept and looks great when fully assembled, but start falling apart once you wear it. Wrapped my head in bandages, slipped sunglasses over my frames, blacked out any facial areas that would potentially show, wore vaguely 30ish ensemble, then headed off to a party. Looked great (unfortunately don't have a picture scan handy). Problem - the bandages caused both sets of glasses to steam up. Also started feeling very hot. After a few minutes at the party, ripped off the bandages, removed the blackout areas, drew in a thin mustache then acted like i was from the 30s.

Third year I was Green Lantern, my first (and last) attempt to stitch a costume together. Didn't turn out too badly, except I used the wrong colour on the boots (but wasn't going to paint them again after causing half the rez to choke on aerosol fumes - though that was nowhere near as bad as the stories I heard while I was away in England about one guy who boiled a mink preserved in formaldhyde).

After that, due to restraints, it was variations on dead things...dead tacky tourists, frozen corpses, etc. Bought a metallic facial appliance one year, but never could fully decide where to go with it. Should have gone for a terminator type costume, if it hadn't been for a lack of cheap leather jackets in my size (instead I went vaguely superheroish and let folks decide what I was, since i sure couldn't).

If next week wasn't shaping up to be so crazy workwise, I'd almost be tempted to pull off an idea at the back of my mind. On Halloween, I'd go into work looking normal. Over the course of the day, I would decay, first subtly with bruising and blotches, then pale skin, then mottled, then full-throttle decay so that by the time 5 rolled around, I'd look like I was falling apart. someday, someday. Main disadvantage - endless trips to the bathroom.

Friday, October 03, 2003

warehouse music annex: frogs galore

SOUNDS OF NORTH AMERICAN FROGS
(Folkways 1958)
Compiled, narrated and documented, with field recordings, by Charles M. Bogert


Moe Asch of Folkways records was a man with a mission - to record as many sounds of the human and natural worlds as he could afford. Over forty years, Asch built a large library of music, stories and sounds that continues to be a valuable resource in the hands of the Smithsonian institute. Asch promised none of his material would go out of print, and the Smithsonian has kept close to that vow. Any recordings not readily available will custom produced on CD or tape for you.

Slowly, parts of the Folkways catalogue have been reissued commercially, mostly world recordings or those of folk legends such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. The true oddity slips in periodically, such as Sounds of North American Frogs.

Recorded throughout 1957, this disc offers what it promises - the sounds and mating calls of frogs. Dr. Bogert provides information about each sound, with a well-aged voice that sounds appropriate for an old-fashioned radio reporter. This disc got a lot of airplay when CFRU got its hands on a copy. I'm guilty of pulling it out on air several times. A couple of DJs found it sounded great while played simultaneously with jazz, trance or ambient discs.

HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHTS: Distinctions not necessary - it's field recordings of frogs dammit!

VERDICT: Gives your bedroom that campground feeling. Goes well played in tandem with jazz or ambient.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

of indian food and canadian magazines

Busy weekend, the last one...

Spent Friday night and most of Saturday cooking up a storm. The kitchen smelled heavenly from all the spices needed for the Indian feast. It was the first test of the cookbook series I've bought on the last few trips to Borders. They passed with flying colours, judging from the reactions of friends and the yummy, if scant, leftovers. The sole flop did not come from this series, a rosewater pudding devoid of taste that met its fate in the bathroom sink Saturday afternoon.

The first dish out of the gate was a mixed success. Made some paneer, but when I tried to mix it in a mushroom curry, it fell apart (guess I needed to put a weight on it). Wasn't a loss - it added a nice flavour. The paneer itself had a taste and texture closer to ricotta than paneer I've eaten. Bet it would make a great lasagne.

Everything else was easy and tasty. Tandoori chicken, dhal, channa (though this was made with a pre-bought spice mix), raita, chutneys...all good. Was worried about the butter chicken, since I accidentally threw in an unmarked brown spice instead of garam masala, but it went over well. Put it this way - Dee asked for some of the recipes and Chris said it was better than the Indian food he had in London.

After eating, everyone buried their heads in CDs or books, ranging from 1960s X-Men to Johnny Cash. Good way to let stomachs recover from all the food they downed. Laughed or plugged ears at oddball music. Lots of laughter.

Everyone cleared out around midnight, after gathering around the computer to watch a Japanese TV pilot several folks talked about the week before, Toyko Breakfast. At times it was like one of those Saturday Night Live skits where one joke is pounded into the ground, though it took some potshots at stereotypes. The basic plot was a Japanese middle class family who try to act like homeboys, with gratuitous use of "niggah". You can check it out here.

Crawled out of bed around 1:30 on Sunday (I may have been alert earlier, talking to the family on the phone, but I had not left the comfort of bed). After downing some excellent leftovers (the tandoori chicken and dal got better with age), I managed to haul myself down to Word on the Street.

I made the Canadian magazine industry happy.

For the uninitiated, Queen St is shut down between Spadina and University one Sunday in September for publishers, writers and associations to set up booths and display their wares. The scene resembles a crowded subway car at rush hour, in a race to see how many people can be shoehorned in. One usually walks away with a stack of flyers, freebies or books they couldn't resist.

This year, it was cheap magazine subscriptions that drew me in. It started with Toronto Life, which I was going to sign up for soon. Next was Applied Arts, a few issues of which have been handy for reference at work. Along came This, which my father had bought regularly. Last money drop at the Broken Pencil table, since it's interesting to read about all the zines out there.

Let's compare my current subscription list to all the publications my father, who was notorious for picking up subscriptions, had coming into the house:

Jamie's Subscriptions
Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, New Yorker, Harpers, Toronto Life, This, Applied Arts, Broken Pencil

Jamie's Newsstand Pickups (regular and occasional)
Blender, Budget Travel

Dad's Subscription s(note: these may not have been concurrent, but it's a typical slate)
Toronto Star, New Yorker, Windsor Star, Harpers, Toronto Life, Atlantic, Time, Newsweek, Macleans, The Beaver, Rolling Stone, Ontario Historical Review, Rolling Stone, Canadian Forum, Sports Illustrated

Dad's Newsstand Pickups (regular and occasional)
Globe and Mail, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, New York Times (Sunday only), TLS, New York Review of Books

He made frequent forays into other subscriptions if they were cheap, a year of a mystery mag here, a year of This there, even a brief subscription to Playboy in the mid-80s. He picked up some of these publications for decades - I remember leafing through his files and regularly finding clippings from mid-60s New Yorkers, or from long-defunct papers like the Toronto Telegram or the New York Herald-Tribune. Those files are worth a future misty-eyed log.