Blog: entries tagged with "life"

The ring

The Ring

Above: the ring, made by Sean, my sweetheart of nine years and given to me one week ago, on the beach at Ashbridges Bay, at midnight, while the remnants of Hurricane Ike whipped by.

The awesome Michele, who counts metalworking among her many talents, had invited him by her studio to learn some of the craft and create a piece of jewellery that day. Acting on a deep impulse he decided to make this for me - knowing that even though I never wear jewellery, I’m a big DIY nerd, and if there was one thing I’d never want to take off, it would be something made by his own hands. He made me a freaking ring. For about three days I couldn’t look down at it without starting to cry again.

It was pitch black. We had to use the light from my cel phone to see it. We sat with the hot winds buffeting us, eating pretzels and watching birds fly backwards. And then we got caught in a sudden downpour as we pedalled up Woodbine*, and ate terrible

breakfast sandwiches

Brekwiches at an all-night coffee shop. I spent equal time crying and laughing my head off.

The long and the short of it: we are engaged. Life just got a bit stranger and much more wonderful.

* Oh, did I mention? We got bikes a few weeks ago. It’s been great, and the wounds from our respective first accidents are almost healed!

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Springtime

A quick summary of an eventful season:

I’m settled into my new position as web maintainer for Evergreen, an organization focused on environmental education and community-based greening initiatives. It’s a fine bunch of people, and the work feels much more worthwhile than almost anything I did working on the “agency side”.

We’ve been dropping into Don Kerr’s studio every few weekends to record the new Flickershow album - we have ten songs in progress, with vocals, guitar, bass and drums complete on almost all of them and keyboards on about half. I’m currently working on the trumpet arrangement for a recent song called “Mute”. We’ve also played a whole pile of gigs, most notably busking in front of Pages Books on Queen St, and a swell gig for Earth Hour which included an hour-long, completely acoustic songwriters’ circle.

Sean and I spent a few days in San Francisco last month - he was there to attend a couple of different conferences, and we got to visit his sister, her partner and their two black cats (it seems to run in the family). I spent several days walking all over the downtown area, and up to Fort Mason, where I visited the Long Now Foundation’s museum and shop. Spent many hours checking out every sound-related exhibit at the Exploratorium. I came home with far too many books, and a new pair of shoes - my old pair having disintegrated completely after several dozen hills too many.

Much more to come - more musical experiences; several books to discuss; and my obsession with ruins continues.

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2007 wrap-up

The dust’s settled on 2007 at last, and does it ever feel like a new year now. Here’s a few highlights, including some stuff I didn’t write about the first time round:

Props from the shootJanuary: Spinglobe moves into a brand new office in a neat building in the east end. One of the first projects is a music video for the Mahones. It’s a takeoff on that Fellini scene where la Saraghina dances the rhumba on a Mediterranean beach - except it’s January, on Ashbridge’s Bay, and the warm spell of the previous week is most definitely over. We should have called the production Minus 8½. We freeze our collective asses off, but the video ends up looking pretty darn fine.

February: Played in the band for a musical revue put on as a fundraiser by some friends - my first time playing Broadway style is a fun challenge; I stress way about it more than I have to. Reconceived long-running audio drama idea as a podcast; later in the year would reconceive it again as a comic. Expect it to morph into a novel, a musical extravaganza and finally a series of haiku in 2008.

March: In the studio with Ellen Carol to record bass tracks for her new CD, produced by Don Kerr. Restarted work on Flickershow CD; we get some solid demos done and some cool results on a trip-hoppy new song called “Hold Up Donny”. It doesn’t last, however; I end up firing myself as producer later in the year. If all goes well we’ll be recording with Don in 2008.

May: Played with Flickershow at the Sammy Sugar Day Festival, the kickoff for Ellen’s fundraising bike tour of Eastern Canada. Finally launched a site for Presonance, a collaboration with Rezo Largul.

June: Attended OpenCities, an “unconference” about the convergence of civic engagement and the open source movement. Among the topics are the waterfront revitalization, public space, DIY electronics and public art, dancing in the streets. Coincidentally, the next day, Flickershow played at Pedestrian Sundays, a monthly car-free event in Kensington Market (other events occur in Mirvish Village and on Baldwin Street); our first outing with keyboard player Rich.

Trees downLater in the month, Sean’s mom comes up from Pennsylvania for a visit. Tuesday we’re at work while she takes it easy; she’s out having a smoke on the front porch when lightning strikes a tree two doors down, and a gale-force gust of wind tears off branches for several blocks. We return home to find our street a maze of police tape, tree limbs and downed power lines. Neighbouring streets are almost unaffected. “I didn’t do it,” she pleads.

July: Played Newmarket and Brampton - our only out-of-town gig prior to this was our TVO appearance taped in Parry Sound. First steps toward developing an analog-to-MIDI interface using that splendid new toy, the Arduino.

August: Cottage outing with co-workers. Lots of laughs, plenty of good food and drink, and some cool photographic exploration of natural forms and painting with light.

October: A week from hell. Two or three clients go through reorganizations, and a number of key projects go on indefinite hold. Contractors removing a cellular tower break a sprinkler pipe and flood part of our office. None of this registers, however, because our co-worker’s 21-year-old brother has just died in his sleep. Things are very quiet for several days.

IMAGENovember: Two good friends of ours invited us to play a song at their crazy cabaret-style lesbian wedding. The only question was what to wear. (As MC for the evening, Sean had no such dilemma, since they’d put him in a rather lovely kilt and feather boa.)

At the end of the month, a beautiful, awe-inspiring, mad trip to Marrakech with Sean, his mom and stepdad, and a new friend, the irrepressible and energizing Katie. We stayed in the heart of the medina, a maze of winding alleyways full of people, tiny shops, mopeds and stray cats. A handful of local kids kept asking for money; Sean juggled for them instead (years ago he did it for a living in Dallas) and became an instant hit. Later, we drove through the Atlas Mountains to ride camels into the desert and sleep in a tent. Beautiful country, lots of wonderful people. And occasional strange family moments.

December: The partners make the tough decision to sell the company to a bigger firm. Some of us move over, the video business splits off (taking on the name Robotnik Films), and I start looking for work. I’ll miss the place, and I’ll miss working with the Spinglobe crew. But it’s a huge opportunity, both to find work in a field that’s important to me and to have some actual free time again. Here’s to the new year!

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End of week brain sweepings

There’s nothing like looking down at the last bite of your lunch and noticing that part of it is blue.


This morning.

Sean: [rummaging through our room] Where’s my Blackberry?

Me: [spying the empty belt clip for it, and unaccountably reminded of Flanders and Swann] “There was the case, but the horn itself was missing.” [belatedly realizing the play on the word horn] Ha! Now I’ll think of that song every time you lose that thing.

Sean: Great. Are you sitting on it? Yes you are, you bastard.

Me: Oh. Oops.


My extended Shakespearean mondegreen:

OSWALD:
The leopards have wunched the poor boy
For every dollar he’s got. Feast your eyes upon him
[Mumble bumble] O! Unto her death!

Dies

EDGAR:
A serviceable villain;
As like to the right forth of the [mumble, radio static].

GLOUCESTER AND/OR EDGAR:
Is he dead? Sit you down, father; rescue him!

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Rerun: Five things

That “five things you might not have known about me” meme is going around the blogs lately, so what the heck - here are my answers, previously published elsewhere (except for #4).

1. When I was a kid, I drew quite a bit. My dad had a box of old, unused forms for tracking lab samples of plant material, which were my standard drawing paper for years. There were two sorts: white, legal-sized ones and heavy, green-tinted ones with a perforated section at the bottom (there was a serial number that you could stick in the bag with the smelly bits of collected leaves).

To me, the functional side of the paper was the blank side. And it seemed really weird to me that anyone would draw on anything else. I drew pictures of the house, the cats, and some incomprehensible comics - the detachable section at the bottom was roughly Sunday-comic sized - about talking mugs and bunnies that spent all their time falling into water and yelling at each other.

Purple2. A couple of years ago, I was Purple for Buddies in Bad Times’ Pride promo photos.

3. I talk to cats in made-up languages in addition to English. I sometimes use something like the peculiar dialect of “cat talk” spoken by everyone in my SO’s family, particularly when talking to Gomiya (her name is actually a form of address used when speaking to a cat; a more formal version is “Gohdemiya”). I think my personal cat dialect is also influenced by an old George Booth cartoon in the New Yorker called “Ip Gissa Gul” (“Ip Gets A Girl”) which was written in a made-up caveman language (I also find myself addressing dogs as “Huppy dod!” sometimes). Tarquin I talk to in something reminiscent of Inuktitut. I have no idea why.

4. My nickname in middle school was “Fish”, for reasons known only to the maybe three or four vaguely in-crowd kids who started calling me that. The only thing I can think of is that my last name has a similar rhythm to the word “mackerel”.

5. I owe a lot of my understanding of musical chords and chord progressions to a program I had for the Commodore 64 when I was in high school called Instant Music. The flip side of the disk had a whole bunch of example songs in different styles from rock history, all rendered in binky three-voice synthesis, and the book that came with it had a helpful rundown of chord types. The interface was horrible without a mouse, but I soldiered on anyway, even after my joystick died (I jammed its wires into an old calculator and used that as a controller instead).

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Le week-end

After a few weeks of non-stop construction at the new office, and every other kind of work at the old office, Sean and I took a sanity-mending holiday-in-town this weekend. I realized not long ago that these days we mostly see each other at work these days - I mean, at least we do get to see one another during the day, which I’m grateful for, but we’re seldom at our best.

Still from Belleville

Among other things, we caught up on some movie watching. Highlights: part one of a PBS series from the ‘80s about Joseph Campbell, which Sean’s mom sent him as a birthday present. Also Triplets of Belleville, which was loopy fun. I could have done without the, uh, frog scenes, but I’ll forgive those for the scenes of crazy old ladies (the Kickass Granny is one of my personal favorite archetypes) playing music on very do-it-yourself instruments…

Saturday dinner was at the Pomegranate, a lovely Persian restaurant on College St, and the food was beyond wonderful. I’m getting shivers just thinking about it. Really.

Sunday afternoon we trooped back to our office-to-be to do more drywalling and mudding. It’s turned out to be one hell of a project, this. But it’s going to rock.

And this evening J and I did some more planning for our upcoming CD, and tried out some new arrangement ideas. And I got back on the Song-a-day wagon:

Signals (1’13”)

I had iTunes pick out some tracks at random for inspiration. One was basically a bunch of random beeping by the BBC Radiophonic workshop, similar to what ended up in today’s song, and also echoed in the “signals” theme in the lyrics. The other was a folky tune by a friend of mine. The resulting song is rather similar to “Margins”, another Song-a-day from this past summer… they’d graft very neatly together.

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New house news

The studio is indeed going to rock, but it’s going to take longer than I’d anticipated. My computer, the 4-year-old Windows XP box on which we recorded the Stars for Searchlights EP, started to act flaky a few weeks ago: it stopped recognizing the DVD drive and the big recording drive, then found them again… and now it’s completely lost ‘em. Something wrong with the motherboard’s built-in drive controllers.

Cat, presumed guiltyThis may have something to do with the cat wee liberally spritzed through the inside of the machine near the back ventilation grille. Thank you ever so much, Cobweb. (To be fair, he’s been in distress lately - he’s got bad gums and slowly lost one of his canine teeth during the week following the move. For a while he had a sort of walrus-tusk that he wouldn’t let anyone touch.)

I’m not about to buy a new computer, though - good monitors are taking priority over that. The new studio machine will most likely be my SO’s old PowerBook G4, with my old drives moved to FireWire enclosures, and an MBox for sound I/O. And when I get a new machine, I don’t think I’m going to go the Windows route again.

So the fancy new quiet case I just got for the Windows box will most likely go to J. (If you’re setting up a studio and prefer Windows, or you just can’t stand screeching fans and rattling hard drives, check out Antec cases - my other roommate’s got the same model, the Sonata II, and I’m quite impressed. Thoughtfully designed and easy to install, too.)

Meanwhile, the house is still a bit chaotic, but we’re starting to settle in. The weirdest part is having three floors plus basement. The studio, on the top floor, is going to have to be kind of self-sufficient, since it’s separated from the kitchen by two slippery, narrow staircases.

I’m hoping that at some point I’ll be able to go up there and actually make some music…

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MOVING

Planning mapQuick summary: the new house looks awesome. The move begins tomorrow morning.

We also have a gig in the evening, thanks to a terrible coincidence of scheduling.

The new studio will rock, especially compared to where I’ve been working up til now, in the sunroom (which is, funnily enough, neither sunny nor roomy).

Appliances. Lots of windows to put plants in. Lots of windows that need curtains or blinds.

Best song from the ‘80s that I never knew about until now: Nik Kershaw’s “Shame On You”.

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Time off

On the way home, we decided to take a detour back to the turnpike, and found ourselves zig-zagging back and forth along the country roads north of Philadelphia while I tried to tell from my hastily-printed Google map whether this or that road ever hooked up.

“This way. No, whoops, not this way.” We pulled a U-turn, and I studied the map some more. “Trouble is, at this scale, none of the roads on this map have names.”

I looked up. The road to which we were now returning was called “Street Rd”.


Central ParkWe’d spent Sunday in midtown Manhattan, and ended up wandering idly through Central Park. There was a sort of roller rink set up near the southern end of the park, and we watched for a while before continuing on. In the distance, from the top of a hill, we could hear more music. “Oh, this sounds more like Eli’s kind of thing,” said Sean. A few steps later I realized who it was: Konono No. 1.

I’d been kicking myself for missing their show at Harbourfront a couple of weeks earlier. And now, here they were, playing for free, in Central Park. My companions found it a little monotonous, but I danced like a goof.


A few hours later, I realized that in all my bouncing I’d really done some damage to joints in the balls of my feet. Again. It’s Thursday now, and I can still barely walk. No more dancing until this gets fixed. Waah.

But that was probably about the only bad thing about the weekend. We saw family, we relaxed, we bought books, we ate good food, we learned stuff.

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Back on track

Wallet has been found. I left it at rehearsal on Sunday.

No sign of the bodhrán though. What the heck did we do with it? Must raid scary storage closet downstairs.

Also, got Cubase up and running again. Most things are back in business.

Great band rehearsal tonight - Friday we’ll be a five-piece!

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