Thursday, June 30, 2011

Indie Rock Canada Day

Happy Long Weekend! Hurray for Freedom and Patriotism and having a day off work but still getting paid and stuff! I made a playlist!

The Process: I made a list of all the Canadian artists on my iPod, then I narrowed it down to ones I've seen live, then I narrowed it down to 15 favourites, then I picked a song that I think would be a great song to listen to while having a BBQ or chilling in the park or watching some fireworks.
And instead of making each song a clickable link to a youtube video (which is what I usually do), I made an actual youtube playlist and decided to embed it because some people didn't realize that on the playlists I make, the songs are links. And I wanted to make it easy for you to listen to it if you want. Enjoy!

The Playlist:
Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
Barenaked Ladies - Pinch Me
Broken Social Scene - 7/4 Shoreline
Feist - Mushaboom
Final Fantasy - This Lamb Sells Condos
Joel Plaskett - Penny for Your Thoughts
Mother Mother - Wrecking Ball
Patrick Watson - Luscious Life
Sarah Harmer - Captive
Sarah Slean - Day One
Sam Roberts - Dead End
Stars - Reunion
Tegan and Sara - Back In Your Head
The Trews - Every Inambition
Wolf Parade - I'll Believe in Anything



I am going out of town for the weekend, to see The Black Keys tonight and hang out with some friends and go to a lake and have an excellent long weekend. So I will probably post a Black Keys blog post next week. Have a great long weekend, everyone!

Books Read So Far in 2011: 20
Currently Reading: re-reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Also, with my Sasquatch posts and the Sherman Alexie post, I reached almost 900 page views in the month of June! Thanks for all your support, you guys are awesome!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Friends They Are Jewels

   These are the things I love about my friends.
   It was very hard to pick just one central thing I love about each of them, and to make them not all the same, because I love everything about each of my friends, and they all inspire me in different ways and make me want to be a better, smarter, funnier, more creative, kinder, more passionate, and more confident person. But here are some of the main things I love about them.

   Stephen - how excited he gets about the things he loves and how he wants to share them with everyone.
   Lisa - how she never gives up on her dreams, and is willing to do anything to achieve them, and how she never gives up on other people's dreams, and won't let them settle, and will always encourage them.
   Kyle K. - how he's quiet most of the time but then totally stupid and hilarious at the best moments.
   Kyle G. - how he's not afraid to be himself or forge his own path in the world.
   Jamie - how she can put something I've been thinking about or feeling into words and make it make sense, and let me know I'm not the only person who thinks it.
   Catherine - how hard she works on things to achieve her goals and how much passion and energy she puts into a project. When she's working on her art, it takes over.
   Matt - how he's so easy-going and how he makes me laugh.
   Erika - how she loves to make things for other people and how she sees the beauty in things.
   Gallagher - how he draws pictures and comics of his friends so we can all get a glimpse into the way he sees the world.
   Phil - how he always tries to see the good in people, and in a situation, and always tries to put things in perspective.
   Jeremy B. - how even though he's mega-creative and talented, he's very down-to-earth and relatable.
   Jeremy D. - how passionate he is about things, and how it's contagious.
   Jason - how he likes to question people and make them actually think about what they believe and why, but how he does it without being an a-hole.
   Echo - how caring and understanding she is and how she will give anybody a chance, and can make friends with anyone from anywhere.
   Cara - how much she cares about other people and their happiness, and how silly and random and fun she is.
   Melissa - how she will do absolutely anything for the people she loves, or those who love the people she loves.
   Mitch - how he's such a loyal friend and how we can say "screw you" and "i love you" to each other and have it mean the same thing.
   Steve - how he wants to share music with everybody so they can know what he thinks is beautiful about the world.
   Chris - how he is very welcoming and makes everybody feel like they are his best friends.

I love all of you, thank you for being in my life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Band Shirts (from Sasquatch)

     Originally, I was going to do a Sasquatch wrap-up post, showing some of the souvenirs and stuff I got on the trip, but I didn't think it was necessary. Then I wanted to just do a post of T-shirts I bought but I really wanted to respond to the Sherman Alexie article and I thought my last post was a better idea but I still kind of wanted to do this one, so here it is, almost a month after Sasquatch.

Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys 
(an awesome album that came out right after Sasquatch)
7 from the top, and 7 from the bottom. Right in the middle.

The Flaming Lips.
Wayne Coyne with skulls
10th down on the right, in between Barcelona and Dublin.

Festival T-shirt
I wore this to my boyfriend's graduation party right after we got home and it was helpful when people asked who we saw. I just turned around and let them read it. Lazy man's way!

Shirt from Seattle Aquarium

     My boyfriend bought a Sasquatch bunnyhug, a different Flaming Lips shirt (Be Kind To Animals), and a Bright Eyes shirt, and he got his sister a different Death Cab shirt, his brother a Death From Above shirt, and his brother's girlfriend the same Flaming Lips shirt I got. There was a Beach House shirt that I really liked but when I went they only had XS and L and I am a S or M. Sooo that was it. 

And when I got home I ordered these shirts online. It was $25 for just the first shirt and $29 for both, so I got the two-shirt package.


Books Read So Far in 2011: 19
Currently Reading: Deadline by Chris Crutcher

Friday, June 17, 2011

Things I See On My Breaks at Work

     I work near a park so I eat lunch there most days if it's nice out, and I usually go for short walks on my coffee breaks. I see lots of people walking and running and walking dogs and riding bikes, but in addition to people, I see lots of other things. Here are some of them.
apple blossoms

geese

awesome graffiti

a landmark peeking out from behind the trees

poof clouds

part of my lunch, and my book
lilacs
baby geese chillin' in the shade with their mom

a goose family going for a swim in the lake

a giant feather that was bigger than my foot!

the last of the yellow dandelions (all the ones here and white and fluffy now)

The same goose family swimming in the lake

Things I See When I get back to my office....

A giant fly I killed with a rolled up magazine. Ewww!

Books Read So Far in 2011: 18
Currently Reading: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes  by Chris Crutcher
I haven't been tallying books here for the past few posts so if you're curious about what I've been reading lately, check out my Books page.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sasquatch Blog 5 - Seattle

    
     After Sasquatch, we went to Seattle for two days because we were so close and we'd never been. After spending all day outside in the crazy heat and all night sleeping in a tent in the freezing cold, getting sunburnt, running from concert to concert, getting dehydrated and malnourished and whatever else, it was very nice to sleep in a comfy king sized bed, eat complimentary breakfast and delicious (large-portioned) meals, shower daily, and drive around the city sight-seeing at our own pace. It was a nice change.
     We got into the city around 4 on Tuesday, May 31st. We checked into a hotel right across from the Space Needle and our room was on the 6th floor so we had an awesome view of it. (And a high ceiling which my 6'3" boyfriend appreciated.) We went for a refreshing swim, then showered and dressed up and drove to Pier 57 for supper.

The sun was setting on the ocean, and we ate supper at The Fisherman's Restaurant, upstairs, looking out the window watching the sunset turn into this:

     We shared a popcorn shrimp appetizer (free from a coupon we got at our hotel), and had a bowl of clam chowder each. Then I had crab's legs, served with wild rice and broccoli and other veggies.


...and my boyfriend had salmon, with a lobster tail, served with wild rice and broccoli and veggies.


     He thought it was weird that I photographed the food but I wanted to remember how delicious it was and how big the portions were. This was my first good meal in days, and the most extravagant meal I had on the whole trip. So I took pictures.
     We walked around the pier a bit, but it was cold out so we ended up just going back to the hotel.

Follow the jump to read about the rest of our Seattle trip...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Writing in Blood - A Response to Sherman Alexie

     I was planning on finishing up my Sasquatch series today with a final post about the two days we spent in Seattle on the way home, but that will have to wait until next week, because I just read something I need to respond to.

    Yesterday, young adult author Sherman Alexie had an article in the Wall Street Journal called "Why the Best Kids Books Are Written In Blood". It was a response to an article, written last week, called "Darkness Too Visible" about how young adult literature has too much 'bad stuff' in it, basically. This is my response to both articles.

Note: I have not read Alexie's novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian but I have it sitting on my table at home, checked out from the library, and I was planning on reading it in the next couple of weeks. Now I am looking forward to it even more.
    
Firstly, read Meghan Cox Gurdon's article here.

If you don't feel like reading it, here are some choice quotations to help you get a feel for the article.


"...It is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. That is not to discount the real suffering that some young people endure; it is an argument for taking care."

(talking about an editor forced to censor the language in a YA book to get it into schools)
 " "I don't, as a rule, like to do this on young adult books," the editor grumbled, "I don't want to compromise on how kids really talk. I don't want to acknowledge those f—ing gatekeepers."
By f—ing gatekeepers (the letter-writing editor spelled it out), she meant those who think it's appropriate to guide what young people read. In the book trade, this is known as "banning." In the parenting trade, however, we call this "judgment" or "taste." "

" "It almost makes me happy to hear books still have that kind of power," Mr. Alexie was quoted saying; "There's nothing in my book that even compares to what kids can find on the Internet."
Oh, well, that's all right then. Except that it isn't. It is no comment on Mr. Alexie's work to say that one depravity does not justify another. If young people are encountering ghastly things on the Internet, that's a failure of the adults around them, not an excuse for more envelope-pushing."

Now, read Alexie's article here.

Here are some quotations from that.

"Of course, all during my childhood, would-be saviors tried to rescue my fellow tribal members. They wanted to rescue me. But, even then, I could only laugh at their platitudes. In those days, the cultural conservatives thought that KISS and Black Sabbath were going to impede my moral development. They wanted to protect me from sex when I had already been raped. They wanted to protect me from evil though a future serial killer had already abused me. They wanted me to profess my love for God without considering that I was the child and grandchild of men and women who’d been sexually and physically abused by generations of clergy.
What was my immature, childish response to those would-be saviors?
“Wow, you are way, way too late.” "

" When some cultural critics fret about the “ever-more-appalling” YA books, they aren’t trying to protect African-American teens forced to walk through metal detectors on their way into school. Or Mexican-American teens enduring the culturally schizophrenic life of being American citizens and the children of illegal immigrants. Or Native American teens growing up on Third World reservations. Or poor white kids trying to survive the meth-hazed trailer parks. They aren’t trying to protect the poor from poverty. Or victims from rapists.
  No, they are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be. They are trying to protect privileged children. Or the seemingly privileged."

"Teenagers read millions of books every year. They read for entertainment and for education. They read because of school assignments and pop culture fads.
And there are millions of teens who read because they are sad and lonely and enraged. They read because they live in an often-terrible world. They read because they believe, despite the callow protestations of certain adults, that books-especially the dark and dangerous ones-will save them."

"And now I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed."

My response:
   To Meghan Cox Gurdon, I say: You are delusional if you think that reading about something bad will make it happen. I hate when people don't give young people any credit about this sort of thing. It's true that art has great power and can influence people, but a perfectly happy person with no dark thoughts in them at all (if there is such a person in this world) would never read a book about self-harm and start harming themself. That person probably wouldn't even finish the book, really. What a book about self-harm can do, is help somebody, the way Cox Gurdon suggested herself in the article.
    One of the purposes of art is to reflect the world. Bad things happen in books because bad things happen in real life and if we don't talk about them they won't just go away, we will just be even more unequipped to deal with them.
     And for those parents (and teachers, for that matter) who think that censorship = "judgement and taste", you are doing your children and your students a great disservice by trying to 'protect' them. It is your job as an adult influencing a young person to provide a safe place for them to talk about the bad things that happen in this world, and if you can use art to do it, maybe you can find some beauty or comfort in a way that would be impossible without books like Sherman Alexie's.

     To Sherman Alexie, I say, thank you. To you and other writers like you. We need people like you to keep writing beautiful, true, and painful stories, to keep creating art that influences and impacts young people and people of all ages in real important ways. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sasquatch Blog 4 - Monday

Day 4 of Sasquatch - Monday, May 30, 2011

     On Monday we were so tired and there weren't too many acts we were super excited about, so we got a really great spot on the hill by the mainstage, planted our blanket and camped there all day,under umbrellas. We saw Wavves, Young the Giant, and Old 97s. I didn't have too many thoughts on any of them. I took photos but none worth posting. I think by this day I was so exhausted and emotional about the end of the festival. Chromeo, however, were very memorable. This was the biggest crowd I saw at the mainstage all weekend. Even for the headliners it wasn't as packed (probably because by then it was freezing, and on Monday it was super hot out so people just wanted a dance party. Chromeo delivered.)

Chromeo-ee-oh-oh.
 I want my. I want my. I want my Chromeo. 
We are Chromeo and we are in control.

     People were throwing around inflatable toys, balls, toilet paper rolls. And Chromeo had their own giant white balloons floating and bobbing around. It was a great set, very danceable and the energy of the crowd was amazing.

     Guided by Voices followed, and it was a tough act to follow, especially since GBV were probably some of the oldest performers at the festival, performing to a group of thousands of people in the 20s and early 30s. I respected them for being classic but I wasn't that into it.

     Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings were next. I love the trumpet player on the far left's trumpet face. These were half of the Dap Kings.

     Sharon Jones was tiny but she had so much stage presence. She even called an audience member up on stage and danced with him and serenaded him. It was awesome. A really fun show.

     Rodrigo Y Gabriela were awesome. You can't capture what they do with photos, it's something you have to see and even when you see it you don't believe it. 
     During this set it rained and it was the first time all weekend it rained enough to actually get things wet. Despite having a raincoat and umbrella I still got wet from sitting on  a blanket on the ground, so I was cold the rest of the night.

     The Decemberists featured Sasquatch. (It was one of the band members dressed up.) A good set. I love audience participation in live shows. And I'm a Decemberists fan.


     Deerhunter was incredible. They kept talking about the weather and nature and stuff, I guess because of how frickin cold they probably were. It was a great show. Re: Karen O's comment about how seeing them live was a religious experience, my boyfriend said after "I am converted."


     All my shots of Wilco are blurry even though we had a really great spot right up close. I was shivering so the camera couldn't focus, but this is one of my favourite photos I took all weekend. I thought of it and was waiting all weekend for the opportunity, and I think this turned out great. The band in the background, the camera in focus, and just the composition of it, I like it. Wilco was great, of course, and a perfect way to end the festival. 

     My experience at Sasquatch was unforgettable and just...really good. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do anything like this again in my life (because I'm going to be a teacher so I can't really pick my holidays) but I am so happy to have gone when I did, it was the perfect time in my life to go on a trip like this, and it was the perfect year to go to the festival. The lineup was awesome, the weather cooperated. The overall experience was just awesome and I loved it and I'm so happy.

Read my other blogs about my trip:

Sasquatch Blog 3 - Sunday

Day 3 of Sasquatch - Sunday, May 29th, 2011


     Today was Flaming Lips day. We were excited.



     We saw Smith Westerns on the mainstage. They introduced "All Die Young" by saying, "Here's a real wrist-cutter." Then we watched The Drums, who were pretty good. It was really hot out this day and we mostly staked out on the hill and hid in the shade of our umbrellas to avoid getting sun stroke and even more burnt.

     Fitz and the Tantrums was awesome. The lead singer looked like a young Bowie and the lady's dress was sweet. They covered "Sweet Dreams" which was a big hit with the crowd.

     Tokyo Police Club had really good energy, and they were reppin' Canada so gotta love that. During their set, they called their friend on stage from backstage. He said "This is a dream come true. I've always wanted to come on a big stage like this and be a rockstar. But today I only want to be a rockstar to one girl..." then he called his girlfriend on stage and proposed to her!

She said yes.

     Beach House was un-fricking-believable. It was so beautiful. Sadly, it was unbearably hot at this point in the day, but the concert was still fantastic. 


     We got into the pit for Flogging Molly because they were right before Flaming Lips and we wanted a good spot for that. Unfortunately, we were a little too close to the front. My boyfriend was taking a video on his phone (for his friend who loves Flogging Molly) during the first song and all of a sudden the song picked up and everybody started going crazy and moshing hardcore. His phone got knocked from his hand and fell to the ground, where it got stomped on by moshers. With a lot of shoving by both of us, he rescued the phone and miraculously it still works, the screen is just cracked on the surface. 
     I'd never really been to a real punk show before. I'm used to folk shows where people tap their feet, or indie rock shows where people just stand there. We were in the pit and people were trying to rush the pit. The biggest security guards were at the front, near the stage, catching crowd surfers who got surfed into their arms because of the slope of the ground. The second biggest guys were guarding the gate to the pit, and at one point they all banded together to make a human chain, and three guys jumped over them. People kept jumping the fence and some got caught but some didn't. I was just terrified the whole time, thinking that if all the people behind the pit rushed in, I would get trampled and die. So I didn't enjoy the show too much because I was just paranoid. But it was a good lively show. 
    
      Then it was time for Flaming Lips. We had seen their equipment set up all day. The huge disco ball, the giant light-up arch, all the neon sound equipment. 
     Most bands stay off stage until their set starts, to make their entrance more dramatic. Wayne Coyne was just walking around, taking photos and videos for his twitter, taking it all in, waving to the crowd. Earlier in the weekend, I'd heard people making fun of some of the Canadian performers (particularly Wolf Parade) for how polite they were, saying Thank you all the time, but I think out of all the acts I saw that weekend, Flaming Lips were definitely the most grateful to their fans. Wayne thanked us for being freaks, for being predispositioned towards being happy, and he said "Thank you. We do it all for you." which struck me as a very genuine and heartfelt statement.
   The show was amazing. It was a spectacle, it was an emotional experience. The program notes described Deerhunter's live performance as a "religious experience" (as described by Karen O) but I would say the Flaming Lips show was for me.

I snapped this photo and then quickly put my camera away so I wouldn't miss it if he came to us. He didn't make it to our side, though, the crowd kept pushing him back to the right side and we were on the left (facing the stage)

Race for the Prize

This photo sums up the weekend.

<3

After this show I am thinking of getting a tattoo that says "Love is the place that you're drawn to." Not just as a Flaming Lips tribute, but because I think that is a beautiful message and kind of fitting for my life philosophy. What do you guys think?

Read my other blogs about my trip:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sasquatch Blog 2 - Saturday

Day 2 of Sasquatch - Saturday, May 28th, 2011

     We saw the tail end of Seattle Rock Orchestra covering Radiohead, then we saw Pepper Rabbit, who were really cool and my boyfriend bought their CD. We watched The Radio Dept. and The Head and the Heart on the mainstage, sitting on the hill, and then we went and stood for Local Natives. It was really hot out and I ended up getting the first part of my sunburn on this day. 

     Local Natives was incredible. It was the first time at the festival where I was seeing a band and I knew every word to every song. It was exciting for me, and we had a really good spot. I had never seen a live video of them and I was amazed at how much they sounded exactly like their record, the harmonies were beautiful.


     During "World News" a spontaneous dance party broke out on the hill, and a guy near us said "I wish I were up there instead of down here." but I was happy where I was. Later, Local Natives did a signing and we got a CD signed and we got to meet the band and chat with them briefly, about making their new album and stuff and they were all really nice and mustache-tastic.

This was Wolf Parade's drum.

Really good show, great energy, really tight band.


     I went and caught a couple of Jenny & Johnny songs while my boyfriend waited in line for the Local Natives signing (before the band was there). I liked it, this was the first time I wished I'd caught the whole set when I missed part of it. (I kind of wished I'd seen Dan Mangan, but this was the first time I was really bummed.) It made me nostalgic for Rilo Kiley, too.


     We saw Pink Martini and some of The Antlers, and then went and stood for Iron & Wine. He is one of my favourites (my fish is named Sam Beam) and I'd seen him once before, in an intimate outdoor festival with probably 2,000 people, where it was just him and an acoustic guitar. This was much different. He had a full band, a horn section, 3 backup singers, and he would play a 3 minute song for 15 minutes just to solo on electric guitar. It was still amazing. Sam Beam is such a good musician and such an icon and I have so much love for him that he can do whatever he wants and it will be great. 


<3


     Bright Eyes came out and it was the first moment of "wow, we're really here. We are seeing one of our favourite bands that we've never seen before. That's Conor Oberst. Right there." It was awesome. At first, he was being all sketch with his hood up, hair in his eyes, bent over the piano, and nobody could get a good photo of him but by the end of the set he was just in his T-shirt and looked pretty normal. 
Highlights of the set: 
- He stuck his face right up to the camera filming him for the screens on the side of the stage and fogged it up, and pointed another one at his crotch.
- A fangirl was trying to break through security and he went down and kissed her.
- He played Poison Oak which is my boyfriend's favourite Bright Eyes song and we both cried.
- He talked about politics and pacifism and how there is no reason to celebrate when your country shoots an old man in the head in his bed. 

We could only see a couple of Robyn songs because of when the show was, but it was super weird. Her hair, outfit, music, and dancing are such a statement. I liked it but I didn't mind not staying.


     We saw Deathcab for Cutie from up on the hill, cuddled under a blanket and freezing and singing along. It was amazing. My favourite (and least favourite) part of live shows is other people, and a great moment for me during this set was when he sang "I Will Follow You Into the Dark." The band left the stage, it was just Ben and his guitar. and whenever I hear the line "You and me have seen everything to see/From Bangkok to Calgary..." I get all excited, because I've been there! and it's like I've seen half of everything to see. 
     Well, when he sang that line everybody cheered and went crazy (especially the people FROM Calgary) and it reminded me that all these people loved the song as much as I did and probably thought the same thing when they heard it and we were all together in the same place experiencing it at the same time, in different ways, but still happy. 

     This was a really big day for me. I couldn't believe I saw Sam Beam, Conor Oberst, and Ben Gibbard live all in one day, one right after the other. It was incredible. 

Read my other blogs about my trip: