Archive for June, 2010

I went out with my Dad last night for dinner and yoga and we got to talking about how there are certain things that are very much “of an era.” If you produced them at any other moment they might go unnoticed, but if you hit that sweet spot on the timeline, they become this insane phenomenon because they are representational of everything about that era.

Jagged Little Pill - If you didn't buy this album when it came out, I'm going to assume you were dead or not born yet.

One such zeitgeist led to the popularity of Alanis Morissette in 1995. The boys had had their fun with their mumbling lo-fi guitar rock and now it was the girls’ turn. And after the bubblegum pink candy rock we’d had to endure during the Tiffany/Debbie Gibson abomination of the late 1980s, we had to go in a different direction which opened the doors pretty wide for Alanis’ brand of bitch rock to come growling through.

I was 13 when Jagged Little Pill came out and man, did that album hit me hard. It was kind of funny on the surface. I hadn’t gone on a date yet and I hadn’t really had any notable physical contact with boys at that point, and there I was, jamming out to a song which openly discussed things like fellatio and fucking. But at the end of the day, that wasn’t really the point. The point was the visceral experience of the thing, and the first time I heard “You Oughta Know,” I knew it was a major game changer. It was like someone had taken all of the omnidirectional angst and stress and unnamed sexual frustration I was experiencing and turned the mess of them into something useful and beautiful.

For those of you who might be reading who haven’t experienced it, – hey boys – it is incredibly hard to reconcile the transition from a girl to woman. People often make you feel you’re supposed to be forging ahead into womanhood in this confident, elegant manner. But it is not like that. AT. ALL.

Your emotions are on some tripped-out, nauseating rollercoaster ride. Your body is constantly betraying you by twisting and stretching and ballooning in all sorts of new and horrible ways*. But perhaps the thing that is worse than all of that is the fact that you are still in that stage of life where things are not really in your control. Things happen to, but are mostly not initiated by, you because you don’t have the knowledge or the wherewithal to do that yourself yet.

So instead you sit, angry and pimple-faced, off to the side, just hoping and wishing and waiting for something to happen, to feel sated, to let the low and steady growl of angst that has been building inside of you release somehow.

And that was why Alanis Morissette worked for me. She was angry the way I couldn’t logically give myself permission to be, so instead I embraced the music and released with it. I loved listening and imagining myself as an older person with real problems, but in the more immediate sense, I also really enjoyed singing along and saying the word “fuck.” I mean how decadent did it feel being 13 and swearing? The guttural stomach-dropping sound of the “fu” and the crisp edge of the “ck” made it so much fun to say, plus you got the thrill of feeling like a total badass**.

So anyway, that album pretty much lived inside my boombox – yes kiddos, I had a boombox – for a year. I think it was only when I could no longer stand the sound of it due to CanCon that I moved onto something else***, but even then, I remember being really stoked about the idea of Alanis resurfacing in a couple of years to blow my now fully teenaged socks off.

And then came Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie . . .

The thing about that album was, it was always going to be disappointing. Always.  The world was no longer Alanis’ to have. Jagged Little Pill sold 33 million copies and spawned 6 singles. It was the biggest selling debut album of all time and spent a year in Billboard’s top 20. So, hitting it big like that, what can you really do? Well, you have two options. You can either produce Angry Bitch Rock, Vol. 2 at which point, you’ll be branded uninspired and derivative, or you can try something new . . . which she did by producing a zened out I Do Yoga Now maharashi phase type album. So it was no shock when this new album with its new direction saw diminishing returns. People weren’t interested in well-adjusted Alanis. They wanted to see her stomping around in the desert with stringy hair and speculate about whether or not she’d actually boned Dave Coulier.

Therefore, unfortunately, it was never quite the same for Alanis again. No matter how hard she tried to pull us back under her spell with new albums****, she couldn’t recapture the love we had in the mid nineties.

But the good times were good, and for that, I salute the woman. Thanks for the angry shouty times, sweetie. They were the best.

 *By the way, thanks menstrual cycle for kicking off at age 10 – you really made the 5th grade fun!
** Unfortunately for me, I got a little too bold with my swearing in front of my parents one day and earned quite the smack across the face for it. Ouch.
*** The Cranberries “I Can’t Be With You.” This was my heartbreak jam through most of high school. *sigh*
**** Including an acoustic rerelease of Jagged Little Pill which, really, Alanis? That’s like neutering the junkyard dog! The entire appeal was that he was snarly and pissy! We don’t want to see him wimpering and licking his crotch in the corner! Not cool!

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A.K.A. Where Have You Gone, Peabo Bryson, Peabo Bryson.

Peabo Bryson: The poor man's Luther Vandross.

Me (lying in bed): Hey, Boy?
Boy (in living room): Yeah?
Me: Whatever happened to Peabo Bryson?
Boy: Who?
Me: You know, that dude who sang all those Disney duets in the early 90s?
Boy: *sighs* Okay, hold on . . .
*clacking of Boy’s keyboard as he searches the internet for me*
Boy: He got busted for tax evasion in 2003, released a new album in 2007 and has often been engaged to Juanita Leonard, who was formerly married to Sugar Ray Leonard.
Me: Oh.
Boy: Is that all you need?
Me: Yes, that satisfies my thirst for Peabo knowledge. Thank you.

The next morning, I go into the bathroom. When I turn the lights on, the word “Peabo” is written on the mirror in green painter’s tape.

Me: Boy, why is Peabo on the bathroom mirror?
Boy: I wanted you to think that by saying Peabo’s name so many times last night, you had evoked his ghost like in Candyman*.

Peabo Bryson is coming to get you because you made fun of his version of "Beauty and the Beast"!

Me: Oh.
Boy: But then, in the night, I actually got concerned that someone might break in and murder us and then the police would have a hard time figuring out why the word “Peabo” was written on our mirror and then our killer would never be brought to justice due to a stupid prank.
Me: Well, that is always a concern. Poor Peabo, he just manages to dig himself out of debt and then he’s dragged into the murder of two random white Canadians.
Boy: I know!

*For the record, Peabo Bryson is not dead. If you want to learn more about him, you can read it here.

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It’s funny sometimes how as an adult, you find yourself still learning completely obvious lessons. Things will happen to you and it’s like someone flipped a switch because you’ll finally be able respond to them with intelligence and common sense. And then, you’ll wonder why the hell you weren’t doing that for years.

This happened to me recently when I was dealing with my friend Bjork. Just a little background info – we’ve been friends for 10 years and I love her to pieces. We have been through a lot and have had many heart-to-heart talks. The bad-stuff-is-going-on-at-home talk. The I-think-I-might-want-to-sleep-with-this-dude talk. The what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life talk. This girl knows my dirt and I know hers.

Anyway, a little while ago, we made plans to go to a concert together and I was really excited. Way back in our younger days, we went to a bunch of concerts together and we always had fun, so I was looking forward to enjoying a lovely day of music and laughs just us girls. I bought my ticket six months in advance and I understood that she had her ticket as well until . . . a week before the show, I got an e-mail saying she hadn’t bought her ticket and she wasn’t coming with me.

I was none too happy.

The way things used to work with me, if someone disappointed me, I wouldn’t do anything about it. I would just kind of take my displeasure and frustration with the situation, jam it way down into the pit of my stomach and not say anything because I was so worried about offending or upsetting other people. I come from a family of WASPs and it was just the preferred way of reacting. Don’t mess up the couch cushions, don’t mess up your hair, don’t mess up the world with your silly/complicated feelings.

This strategy is not a good one. In fact, as I have learned, it is a giant mistake and it just plain sucks.

So, blazing forward in a shot of emotional recklessness, I actually took a chance and called her out on it. I told her that I valued our friendship, but that being blown off last minute was rude and hurtful. And much to my WASPy surprise, the entire world didn’t come crashing down on me. In fact, it actually helped. We got to talk in an honest, realistic way about it. No getting pissed and stomping off or other junior high style antics, just back and forth about what had happened and what was going on with both of us until we worked $h!t out.

Damn if it didn’t feel good.

So from here on out, I’m going to try to make the whole honesty thing part of my regular routine. I can’t believe it took me 27 years to figure it out, but there you go. Everybody’s got to learn sometime, right?

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Recently, I applied for a job I was incredibly qualified for. I went in for an interview and I kicked ass. I mean seriously kicked ass. I was enthusiastic. I was knowledgeable. I made my interviewer laugh. I can safely say it was one of the best interviews I have ever had in my life.

And then, I get the call. The pitying “Oh so sorry. There were just so many great candidates . . .” call. A comment was also made that I wasn’t quite qualified for the position in the right way, even though I have been working in conjunction with this department for the last four years.

I have been job hunting on and off for two years and every interview I’ve had has been followed with rejection and polite little hints that maybe I should just be content where I am, or worse, that I should go back to working as an administrative assistant.

I do not want to be an administrative assistant. I can do better than being someone’s administrative assistant.

I want to be in publishing. I deserve, with the hard work I have put in and the love I have for it, to work in publishing.

But it feels like everywhere I turn, I’m faced with people who don’t believe in me and people who are telling me to settle and to know my place.

I am writing this post today, not as a whine, but a pledge.

I will get a job in publishing. And the people who doubted me will be amazed they were so wrong.

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 A little while ago, my in-laws asked us to come work their neighbourhood garage sale. They are bikers, so with Americade that weekend, they won’t be around to deal with it. Originally, we were ready to refuse, but then my Brother-in-Law reminded us that Abbey would be born by then so we could all hang out together and fawn over the baby. After that point, there was pretty much no excuse for not jumping on a train and heading out to the country. This is the trick, people! Throw an adorable child into the mix and your relatives can’t say no.

Yes, we stuck a price sticker on the baby. We are THAT family.

And everything went pretty well. We managed to sell a lot of junk. Basically our strategy was, if you are willing to take it, we are willing to haggle.

A few interesting stories from the weekend:
1. A woman showed up at 7AM and was mad more people weren’t out on the street selling their wares.
2. A gentleman with canes came for a visit and bought $40 worth of stuff himself. He was an avid garage sale dude and was pretty funny. Almost every item he picked up, he related back to a job he’d had in his hayday. After he left, we were trying to work out his employment history and determined that if he had actually worked all of the jobs he said he did for the amount of time he said he did, he has been working for 120 years.
3. A woman came by and struck up an conversation with my Brother-in-Law about the items we had for sale. When he mentioned that he didn’t know what some of them were because they were items from his Dad’s fourth wife, she was flabbergasted that he was so well adjusted.
4. A tween girl came by and bought Nick’s old Walkman. He was really excited someone young was buying it and told her so, at which point she told him she was only buying it because she had to do a project on the 1980s for school. She also bought a Polaroid camera, but I think by that point Nick might have been off mourning his youth.
5. Another little girl who was dressed for soccer came by and picked up an incredibly ugly beaded string. She asked us what it was and we actually didn’t know. We told her if she could guess, it was hers. She guessed necklace and walked away with it.
6. A dude came by with a stack of old wooden cutting boards we had for sale. We said that if he was willing to take all of them, he didn’t have to pay a cent, but if he was going to leave some behind, he had to pay $0.25 a board. He took them all but still gave us $1.

Giving stuff away is hard work!

And can you believe, even giving stuff away, we still managed to make around $150? It just about blew my mind that people were willing to pay that much. At the end of the day, Boy and I pocketed about $80 of it because we’d blown some on garage sale finds. For me, it was a box of nostalgia . . .

You can't see from this picture, but underneath all the R.L. Stine, there are a bunch of Sweet Valley and Babysitter's Club books.

And for Boy, it was a big shiny metal thing.

We named the eagle Sam and after Boy gave him a polish, he put him up above his desk to keep an eye on business.

I also rescued some records for my friend Henry . . .

*Except the Madonna one. The Madonna one is mine.

And some old, unopened boxes of X-Men Valentines which I’m looking forward to giving people next year.

Growing up, Nick was always Wolverine and Boy always got stuck being Cyclops. The sadness of being a little brother - you never get to pick first!

So, all in all, it was actually a pretty productive weekend. We made some cash and we got to hang out with the cutest baby in the world. Win-win!

Would you be able to say no to this face? Didn't think so.

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(Yes, I am quoting a Madonna song, but I love Madonna so there!)

For a while, the website that I used to make my playlists on was having a bit of an issue recently, so I was trying to find another program to use . . . until today when I went back on it and it was working again. Hooray!

Do you realize our kids won't know anything but iPods? When we bring up Walkmans to them, they will just laugh.

I’ve done my best to pull together approximate mixes for you bloggerinos to listen to, but as is usually the case, I had to sub some stuff since I picked too obscurely. In any case, if you’ve been following along at home and you wanted to hear some songs, you can . . .

Listen to Maple Syrup Flavoured Homesickness here

Listen to Paying With Funny Coloured Money here

Listen to Eternal Summer In The Grateful Heart here

Listen to A Life Without Love Is Like A Year Without Summer here

And as a special treat, a few months ago, a friend of mine who is starting up a photography business asked me to pose for some test shots, so I put together some tunes to strut my stuff to. Therefore, if you’re in the mood for a little weekend sassiness, I compiled my Strike A Pose/Sexy Times playlist which can be listened to here.

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For the last of my mixes before the weekend, I did up a little something for the lovely N over at Two Chicks Nest. I was trying to come up with an ambient lyricless mix for her, but I realized as I was working on it that I didn’t have enough tunage to finish, so I improvised and came up with something different . . .

N and her partner have been working on pulling together an awesome patio so I thought that I would come out with some music for them to listen to while sitting in the sun enjoying a cold glass of lemonade or a nice pitcher of sangria. The mix titles are a couple of cute summer quotes I came across and the second one is actually a Swedish Proverb (which is a little nod to N’s hertiage).

A picture of N's patio - doesn't it look cozy?

Hope they do the trick, N! 🙂

Volume 1: Eternal Summer In The Grateful Heart

She Fell Into My Arms – Ed Harcourt
Central Reservation (Ben Watt Remix) – Beth Orton
Shotgun – Pete Yorn
On The Sly – Metric
Lions Of The Kalahari – Sam Roberts
Baby – The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Hot In Herre – Jenny Owen Youngs
Down Together – The Refreshments
Edge of the Ocean – Ivy
This Modern Love – Bloc Party
If I Ever Feel Better – Phoenix
Fire It Up – Modest Mouse
So High – Van She
Vacationing People – Foreign Born
Pink Graffiti Part 1 – Secret Cities
Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly) – Phosphorescent

Volume 2: A Life Without Love Is Like A Year Without Summer
Love is a Wave – Crystal Stilts
Friends – Flight of the Conchords
Holiday – Vampire Weekend
(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes – Elvis Costello
Sunshine – Har Mar Superstar
Private Eyes – The Bird And The Bee
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb – Spoon
Hey Hey Girl – The Virgins
Can I Get Get Get – Junior Senior
Girl They Won’t Believe It – Joss Stone
French Navy – Camera Obscura
Heartbeat – Tahiti 80
Orange Shirt – Discovery
Summertime – The Sundays
1000 Miles Per Hour – OK Go
Rave On (Featuring Zooey Deschanel) – M. Ward
Saturdays – Cut Copy
Fresh Feeling – Eels
Chaos – New Young Pony Club
Lover – Devendra Banhart
Back Of The Van – Ladyhawke
Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac
Dance Dance Dance – Lykke Li

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