Head 'em up and move 'em out: Edmonton-style

Sunday, July 23, 2006


After 17 hours of sewing, 16 hours of dog-barking madness, +30 heat, and a near-knee injury that sent images of sparkly crutches flashing before my eyes, I am sooooo ready for this road trip. And bed. I am sooooo ready for bed.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Clenched soul...

After reading Residence on Earth a little while ago, I’ve been going after all the Neruda I can get my hands on. This one was one I hadn’t come across before – had a very visceral reaction to this one and wanted to share it…

We have lost even this twilight.
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.

I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.

Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.

I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.

Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Saying what?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?

The book fell that always closed at twilight
and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.

Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Caring sucks (or why Jon Stewart is my personal saviour)

They say that people working in the social sciences (in academia) and social justice realm tend to have the highest levels of depression, and I totally buy it. My personal therapy of choice?

The Daily Show.

Some time ago I decided that it would be best if I don’t watch the news on tv anymore, I was just getting too depressed. Instead I go to Google for my news and information. But that’s not entirely true; I do watch one news source. I have long looked to Mr. Stewart to present me with the news in a manner which will not have me wanting to jump of a cliff in despair for humanity’s future.

But the other day, Mr. Stewart struck a chord with me on another level. He was interviewing a former solider who had been acquitted of brutality charges during the current Iraq war. Now it became clear very quickly that this individual was in full support of the invasion and the justifications provided by the Bush administration for these actions. But what also became clear was the passion and genuine level of caring this man felt for the men under his command. And rather than go on the attack as he so brilliantly does usually, Jon Stewart displayed levels of both sensitivity and empathy I was incredibly impressed by. He realized that despite their divergences on the political and economic dimensions of the war, there are some things that go beyond that. There is a level of humanity that must be paramount in all our considerations. And he shifted his focus to showing a genuine concern for whether or not soldiers returning home are receiving the support and care they need.

I have incredible respect for that. So often, you are called weak for exhibiting any kind of emotion or compassion when dealing with important political or economic issues. I have great deference for the fact that he was willing to show that the real import in these kinds of issues lies in the human dimension. The fact that we are dealing with the lives of real people who live through heartbreaking experiences, who suffer tremendously, and many of whom ultimately lose their lives.

What’s brought all this on? Well, ABREA (the Brazilian asbestos victims group I work with) has just lost their organizer in Rio de Janeiro to asbestosis. Rosa was not yet 60, and an incredible woman, I feel privileged to have had the chance to meet her on my last trip. This was the second death ABREA has had in the last few weeks. And a short time ago a friend of mine in the US lost her husband to mesothelioma.

But I’m supposed to sit back and digest these losses with some kind of objective scientificity if I want to have any legitimacy in the discourse over asbestos. As though the suffering and loss experienced by these people should simply be quantified in a sick cost-benefit analysis. Bullshit. Compassion is not a weakness, it’s what differentiates us from sociopaths.

And so I say, bless you Jon Stewart (and not in an intelligent design is responsible for our place in the food chain sort of way).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Return to Camp Granolagal

Well, it’s that time of year ago, festival time in Alberta, yeehaw! I have to say, yet again, that summer in Edmonton frickin’ rocks. I love the vibe in the city, the wooftop nights, the music, theatre, the whole shebang. Which is why I feel a tad guilty in now choosing to abandon this fair city in the quest for the ultimate summer music experience.

A month or so ago a friend asked me if I’d be going to Folkfest. Indeed, while I was an avid fester for many years, I’ve not really been much into it the last 5 or 6 years, for sundry reasons. But this year, I have felt it calling me back. But when I looked at this year’s line-up in Edmonton, I can’t say that it really did too much for me. The acts that I do like, I’ve seen half a dozen times anyway. So it was suggested to me that I take a quick perusal of the Calgary line-up. So I did. HOLY CRAP ON A CRUTCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A FRICKING AWESOME LINEUP!!!!!!!!! Ani Difranco (who I hear shan’t be touring too much longer due to the really sad diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome and with whom I’ve become happily reacquainted with in recent weeks); Dan Bern; Dar Williams; Macy Gray; Son Volt; and…drum roll please…..Kris Kristofferson; and many more.

Holy crap. It comes pretty damn close to a dream line-up for me. So I pondered whether I should abandon my (now) home city in favour of returning the city of my birth.

Some things to consider while making this decision:
-I have almost universally had crappy-ass experiences in all my trips to Calgary (while admittedly I don’t have much of a recollection of my birth, I imagine it was rough on my mom).
-I’m totally frickin broke and going south would incur transportation and accommodation costs that I’m completely unprepared for at the moment.
-I really really really really really really want to see Kris Kristofferson as there’s only him and Willie left from the Highwaymen (and he’s a B-horror movie legend, second only to Lance Henriksen, of course).

And despite my somewhat sketchy past experiences in Cowtown, it is responsible one of the best folkfest experiences I ever had. What, you might be asking, were some of those experiences? Well, here they are for you, you curious kitten, you:
-Sliding (later rolling as my momentum picked up quite unexpectedly) down the mud hill during Sinead O’Connor at my inaugural Folk Fest in ‘97.
-Arlo Guthrie performing Alice’s Restaurant so all my friends finally understood what I was always going on about.
-Hearing Martin Sexton sing Black Sheep for the first time and holding that one note for the most heavenly 20 seconds ever.
-Eric Bibb singing Panama Hat at the 2000 folkfest – thank god for the large hat I was wearing at the time so no one could see me bawling my eyes out.
-All beer tent forays with Simon, Todd, Juan, Clint, Laura, Moops, et al., too numerous to list.

But the topper, the coolest FF moment of them all was:
-David Byrne singing Once in a Lifetime at Calgary Folkfest while Clint and Adam and I stood stunned by the fact we were actually hearing the Talking Head himself sing this song. I know I wasn’t the only one who choked back a tear or two during that. And I have to say, I was quites taken by the venue for this blossoming festival.

So this year, with a little trepidation for a whole shwackload of reasons, I have decided that my FF excursion will be to Calgary. C’mon, it’s Kris frickin’ Kristofferson!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

While this was supposed to be a Thelma & Louise-type road trip, I’m willing to go it solo since Thelma can’t make it(I’m willing to be Louise since we’ve got the whole thyroid thing in common) even though I say thesis shmesis (jk!). I think I’m in need of a little hippie folk music rockin’ out time on my own anyway.

And who knows, even though I’m without a Thelma, maybe I’ll meet my very own Brad Pitt anyway.

On the Writer's Edge

Here's the list compiled at this point, please let me know what you can add!

Adaptation; American Splendor; Bag of Bones; Barton Fink;Book of Illusions; Brendan Behan: A Life; Bukowksi: Born Into This; Capote; Crumb; Deconstructing Harry; Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography; Factotum; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet; Gothic; Haunted Summer; Henry & June; Hitchhiker; I Capture the Castle; In the Mouth of Madness; Misery; Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters; Mrs. Parker & The Vicious Circle; Naked Lunch; Pandaemonium; Secret Window; Sideways; Sylvia; The Bell Jar: A Novel; The Dark Half; The Hours; The Lost Weekend; The Professor and the Madman; The Rum Diary; The Shining; The Singing Detective; The Squid and the Whale; Throw Momma from the Train; Total Eclipse; Wonder Boys

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I love summer in Edmonton

How much do I love summer in Edmonton? I love it sooooooo much that I passed on an invitation for beer in favour of spending 3 and a half hours cleaning up the backyard for a summer bbq tomorrow night. 3+ hours of weedwacking (when they say use eye protection, they sooooooo mean it), hedge-trimming, and lifting the lawnmower back and forth over the fence because the stupid back gate is, well, stupid.

And does my yard look like a paradise fit for the consumption of copious amounts of caipirinas? Well, not exactly. I have realized that our lawn is probably the most environmentally friendly in the neighbourhood, which means it looks like crap. This probably due in large part to the fact that the only time we ever water the lawn is when Lucy wants to play in the sprinkler, so only tiny isolated patches ever get hydrated. And the hedges aren’t exactly looking like Scissorhands masterpieces. But at least they’re looking a little less like Day of the Triffids.

But ah well, tomorrow night it shan’t matter much what state the yard is in. ‘Cause summer in Edmonton rocks.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Back you fiend!

Hurrah, the appropriate dosage of Monty Python appears to have staved off that foul cold. Enjoy some wedding pics:

Monday, July 10, 2006

May I call you Angel Drawers?

A cup of tea, Monty Python, and the couch. Thank goodness for that new movie channel we've got. True, it's likely to serve as quite the distraction, but today it knew just what I needed as a new cold slowly creeps its way in: "And now for something completely different."

Off to cuddle up with my ex-parrot now. Photos later...

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Todd & Aliya's beautiful wedding took place yesterday. A wonderful event, two of my dearest friends finding their soulmate in each other. I really was honoured to be there and to be able to share the day with all our friends.

Am much too tired and too maudlin to write more, I'll post other photos later. But right now, I'll leave you with this gorgeous photo of the two of them and one of my favourite Pablo Neruda poems(*mental note* MUST get copy of book of Neruda's Love Sonnets):

I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep

Thursday, July 06, 2006


That is the sound my lungs now make every time I’m out in the rain. Goddam, I cannot believe this Brazilian bronchial super bug I’ve now had for nearly 3 months. It’s insane, it lies completely dormant for weeks and then as soon as it rains, I’m horking again. Of course a reasonable person might suggest that I should stop walking out in the rain. But alas, I do love it so. Guess I shall simply have to live with the echglehs...