Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Christmas Cookies and Johnny Cash

Another strange 'phone' ocurrence happened today. I was talking to a customer, hearing
out their white collar, capitalist frustrations, when suddenly I thought of Christmas. The
thought was not accompanied or preceded by anything - It just popped into my brain. Then,
a split instant after I thought of Christmas, the customer on the phone asks 'Will you be
having any Christmas specials soon?' Now if that's not weird...There's a new movie coming out
called Deja Vu and though it looks VERY hollywood, directed by Tony Scott and Bruckheimer
of course with a huge cast and a billion and one close up camera angles per minute, I just may
see it. It's weird to tap into that other 80 something percentile that our brains are apparently 'not
using'. To continue on with the Christmas theme, though, and carry this blog entry on to
completion, after that caller got me thinking, I was reminded of how much Christmas just always
seemed magical to me, as a child. I remembered things like these kick-ass ginger molasses
christmas tree cookies I always make with my mom, complete with thick vanilla icing and multi-
coloured sprinkles, and how no matter what stage of life I was in, I would always make time to
be there for that. It is an event, to be sure. Damn, they are good cookies.

Christmas has lost it's spectacle for me, and perhaps some of its lustre as well, but I am still
enthrawled by the season. Whatever my age, I would always manage to grab a few moments
of solitude by our living room tree, in the dark, with only the treelights glowing. That practice,
in fact, led to a ritual with myself, my best friend Brian and a few others from time to time that
we called 'tree talks'. They would either take place at 26 Keppler or 5 Sheahan and we
would wax intellectual about life and all of its intricacies...and mostly what girls we had crushes
on. As corny as it sounds, I would tape the network Christmas specials EVERY dang year - the
lineup included 'Rudolph' in claymation, 'Charlie Brown Christmas', the Alf Christmas special
and many other cheesy heartstring pullers. I was a sucker for that crap. Perhaps it is because
I have always been convinced of another land, time or place where real magic happens in the
sense of everyone being accepted and foundationally happy at the core of their beings. I
guess it's holidays like Christmas that kinda lose their meaning (as it is historically shown that
Jesus was born in the fall and not december 25th, year 0000) but create their own significance
as it's really all about getting together in community (mostly family centered but friend
inclusive) and letting the ones close to you know that they are loved. It should be a time of
re-inforcement and letting our lacking human love point to one that is perfect, thus giving us
hope and inspiration in all things. And maybe, just maybe, we can all be like Johnny Cash and
wear a little black from time to time, remembering the less fortunate and spiritually downtrodden,
doing whatever we can to come to their aid.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I love the movie High Fidelity. I especially love Cusack's character
who is obsessed with making 'Top 5' lists for everything he does
in life. I think what I love most about this movie, though, is the
music snobbery of the characters involved (especially in the form
of a not-yet-famous Jack Black whose performance alone warrants
a screening of this film) as I have come to the realization that I am
slowly but surely becoming a music snob and there is nothing I can
do to stop it. Somedays, actually, I think I'm mostly there.

Today, though, I am feeling pretty basic and though I won't resort
to a Top 5 list, I will resort to a Top 10 as music is definitely a header
in the mainframe of my life. So here, for your viewing and discussing
pleasure, are the Top 10 songs of my life in the past 6 months.
I feel that we all endure mounds of crap over certain periods of
time, and I think, in some weird way, music is a fuel for my engine
that keeps me sane, cogently-thinking, reflective and a little more
at ease with the madness around me.



From the first moment my cousin Ben bought me this cd as a Christmas gift, I was enthrawled with this song. I wouldn't say I'm a serious DCFC fan by any means, but what does impress me is their instrumentation and production. I would probably play them more often and be a bigger fan but as it is, I am a fairly big MySpacer and DCFC does not accept add requests from bands on MySpace. Unreal. Hey, DCFC - Newsflash - If a band like the Foo Fighters accepts all requests, I think your little egos can be deflated ENOUGH to let you do the same. Just a thought.


For the stripped-down, boom-rock indie drum/guitar lover in all of us, this song speaks to my heart of hearts. David Bazan, a known character maker in the world of song, shows us a character in this song whose main downfall seems to be in the world of gambling. Always speaking from a distance to his family, he tries to show his good intentions through the breadth of his mistakes - 'It's not like it wasn't all for you / but like everything I do / It's misunderstood.'

8.Mike O'Neill - The OwlMIKE O'NEILL -STAY WITH ME

This tune is a perfect sweater throw-on for an afternoon of lazing about and drinking pumpkin beverages whilst smoking a corn cob pipe. Mike O'Neill, since his beginnings with the Inbreds, just has an uncanny ability to soothe your ears with his warm vocal tone. Since his first solo album 'What Happens Now', I have been hooked on this guy and I seriously recommend you pick it up if you've never heard of him. You won't be disappointed - This new album 'The Owl is only available for digital download from - check it out.


This is a song that takes me away to islands of the mind while enjoying my current state all the while. It is like a blissful acid trip without wrecking your body and brain cells. This happens to be one of my favourite songs to listen to while on the way to work. Sometimes, the best music that we have pushed aside really needs to be tested while we are on foot.


If you're in the mood for some insanely talented acoustic finger-picking, please look no further than Mr. Drake. Though he seemed to have quite an insanely quiet life and died far before his time, he is well sought after by celebrities (John Cusack is an outspoken fan, Brad Pitt recently hosted a biography of Drake) and acoustic guitar lovers of all kinds. This song is a beautifully crafted canvas that instantly comforts and draws out your imaginative juices.


Though I consider myself a massive Zeppelin fan, I feel like somewhat of a loser as I did not know, for the longest time, that this song is only on one specific boxed set that was released in the late eighties. With buttery instrumentation featuring banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitars and thumper drums, this tune leaves you humming with a spring in your step. Sheer mastery by the Masters - not much else to say.


Of course, I couldn't leave out the lads from Seattle. This song goes back to the inception of Foo-ism from the debut album (which, incidentally, Dave Grohl played, recorded and produced all on his own, mainly as a demo to search for musicians but it ended up being so good that it was released on a major label) and shows you what Grohl does best - powerful, driving drums, dissident and distorted chords, accented by a dose of laidback verse vocals into an exploding, half-scream/half-sing chorus. The goods.


Though there seems to be a recurring Seattle theme in these last two picks, I assure you, I was not a massive fan of the grunge scene. I did, however, love Soundgarden in their hey-day and saw them live in Hull, Quebec in the summer of 1994 where many king cans of beer were consumed all around me and my ears rang for 3 solid days after. Now THAT is the mark of a good show. This song shows Chris Cornell's vocal range that is almost unparalleled through anyone alive or dead and beautiful acoustic playing. It's the kind of song that forces you to stop and say 'wow' no matter where you are.


Though this song is a cover of a band I used to like and the original is much more rockin, come on's Johnny Freakin' Cash. Although I am nowhere near the level of many of my friends who are Cash fans, I am starting to become somewhat of a believer and this is definitely not due to the recent hollywood-ization. I haven't even seen that movie and have no plans to do as such. I think this song is best accompanied by the video which paints a clear picture of a struggling man who is trying to make sense of a long, hard life. An amazingly written song and Cash brings a salt of the earth, soul-hungering feel to it that just gives you shivers when you hear it.


So what makes number one a number one? Well, for any fan of excellently recorded drums, this song delivers with a whap that has the drums sitting in the forefront of the mix, jumping, splashing and crashing out of the speakers, accentuating every tom, snare and cymbal hit with crisp precision. This song also makes number one for the sweetly resounding and incomparable Leslie Feist vocals and because seeing this band live was an experience for the ages. This song moved me most as all four or five guitarists playing during the concert switched MID-SONG to trumpets. Watching anywhere from 10-15 members crafting on stage at any given time was something new for me and I don't give a rat's ass what the critics say - I hope this band (or conglomerate of bands, I suppose) is around a long, long while. They are pioneers and any denial of that fact would be sheer idiocy.

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