Saturday, February 28, 2004

Held Hostage

I went to an Irish variety show that was be held in the Oscar Peterson hall at Concordia. I basically bought the tickets to support the show hoping that they would, in turn, support my show on the 12th of March.

The bulk of the evening was a mish-mash of clashing styles and levels of incompetancy. I had the feeling I was either on the Gong Show or Canadian Idol. Either way, after four hours of sitting there, I was ready to hit something with a mallet.

I don't think these people expected for this show to go on for four hours (with one 10 minute intermission after the first 1.5 hours), but I got the distinct feeling that they had not rehearsed the show prior to putting it on. Of course, that probably would have been difficult to do with the vast number of people that were performing (12 different acts). It would have been impossible to get them all together at the same time to rehearse the show.

What they needed was a director, someone who has had experience putting these shows on. Someone who could've timed each act and then selected which ones could play and which ones could not.

The selection of pieces was also bizarre. It was an evening with a mix of traditional music, story, and poetry. After an instrumental set, they decided to have someone read a piece of Irish literature. With so many brilliant and talented Irish writers to choose from, who do they go with? The presentor read a passage from Bram Stroker's Dracula, which did nothing to elevate the spirit of the evening. Was it Halloween? No. Was it some kind of anniversary? No. This presentation was right out of left field, flapping forlornly by itself.

The most bizarre parts of that night were as follows:
  • The host's daughters (both about 10 years old) sang four songs that night. It was cute to see them sing both the Irish and Canadian national anthems (a bit off-key, but forgivable), but having them take a good 20 minutes of the evening was opportunistic.
    I know it can be difficult to be objective about your offspring, but I got the feeling I was trapped in this guy's basement watching his home movies.

  • There was a sound guy (who was sporting a Shatner 2000 toupe) who kept criss-crossing the stage while the people performed, picking up cables, adjusting microphones, and making cryptic hand signals to the boardman in the audience. It was very distracting.

  • While the two-daughter team sang a Gaelic love song (which would`ve sounded like a bored ten year old singing You Are My Sunshine duirng a Xmas dinner), the Sound Guy plugged in a shiny kettle and left it steaming in the middle of the stage. The audience spent the rest of the song ignoring the girls and pointing at the kettle, wondering why it was there.

    It turned out that the kettle was being used by a guy playing the Irish pipes and need the steam to keep his instrument in good playing order (no, he didn't make tea).
I can assure you that our show on March 12th will not exceed two hours and will be well-rehearsed. Sheesh.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

New Digs

Some people had previous commented that my last design was a bit loud, so I've been working on improving the layout a bit and here's what I came up with. Comments?

There's just one thing though: In Netscape, the Hobbes graphic shows up on the right side of the blog in a fixed position, but in Explorer, the graphic shows up on the left. Any thoughts on why this is (I used a CSS file).
The Two Solitudes

French storytelling was a blast yesterday night! My story (Ti-Fleur and the Magic Fiddler) went smoothly, although I needed to get a bunch of last-minute translations from a fellow storyteller. This was the second time I told this story in French, so I told it better this time than last. Practice makes perfect.

A piece of advice I received from a fellow storyteller was that I needed to come up with a bit of an introduction before I started my story just to give the audience a chance to know me a bit. So I told the audience that I was originally from Quebec city and this was a rare thing that they were seeing: a Quebec city anglo telling a story in French. "Je suis le Jim Corcoran du conte!"

After the evening was done, the storytellers that were left played some foozball and talked about the different storytelling/spoken word communities in Montreal. English storytelling in Montreal tends to be *very* conservative and the average age is much older, while French storytelling is much more experimental and the average age is younger.

But I was suprised to hear that on the Spoken Word side, it's the opposite. The English community have all sorts of poetry slams, while this is practically unheard of in French Spoken Word. At an English poetry session, the poets memorize their work and then enhance their performance with music and multimedia effects. At a French poetry session, the author simply reads their poem.

One of the French storytellers also does poetry and she tried to organize a bilingual poetry slam, but while the English poets were game, the French poets were mystified.

It's interesting to see how different communities deal with the same art form.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Urban Tales

A big hey hey to the folks at Comptershare who are reading this blog apparently. My cousin Aengus told me on the weekend that he's gotten a few people there to read the blog, so please give my word to your mother. Over the weekend, I got a few complaints from folks that I'm not posting enough. I will attempt to remedy that.

I started promoting a storytelling concert that we've put together to mark St. Patrick's Day. On March 12th (Friday), we're putting on The Irishman's Tale: an evening of Tales and Tunes. It's four tellers (myself, Mike Burns, Dylan Spevak-Willcock, and Jack Nissenson) telling Irish tales and we've got three musicians (Alan Jones (pipes), Joanne St. Laurent (harp), Ralph Thompson (fiddle)). It should be a great night of entertainment (I'm selling tickets... Only $10... hint hint). Click here to see the poster as a Word doc (coming soon).

I went to Cine-Gael at Concordia, which is a viewing of Irish films (we watch a quirky little tale called The Fifth Province). I dropped off the fliers and almost a hundred people picked them up. I even sold five tickets, so I've very encouraged. The hall we've rented can hold about 200 people, so I really hope we sell out the place.

And then Tuesday night, I'll be telling tales in French on the plateau. This is my new project to tell more stories in French, so if you seen me muttering to myself as I walk the streets, don't call the cops: I'm only rehearsing.

Speaking of which, I need your opinion. Would you translate "It was the most beautiful that you would have ever heard" to "Vous aurait jamais entendu une musique d'une telle beauté"?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Access to Sherbrooke is Once Again Granted

Note: I'm working on Blork's Monkey for this month (that really didn't sound right; check the link) and it's taking a while. Damn Blork and his challenging questions!

The tunnel that goes under the tracks on Melrose is once again open for use, thank the Gods. It's been closed for a month while the city was working on it to install a camera system and better lighting. Apparently, this tunnel has been a troublesome spot for muggings and whatnot, so the camera should keep everyone on their best behavior.

There's now a giant monitor above the entrance that shows the inside of the tunnel to show that it's clear and I imagine that the cops are watching as well. There's a sign over the entrance that could just as easily be hung in any brothel house. It reads You are being watched. Keep it clean.

But all that technology aside, I'm just glad that I don't have to walk a kilometre to access the shops that are really only 250 metres away.

Sure, sure... I could use the exercise, but I'm tired of walking like an old man with my baby steps on the ice-caked streets of Montreal. I'm ready for Spring now, please.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Valentine's Day Surprises

This past Saturday was a barrell full of monkeys, I can tell you. I was facing the big VD with a mixture of grim facination and dread. And I'm not alone either. After chatting with a few single folks, I heard that there were a few Fuck Valentine's Day parties going on in the city. That was a possibility and I had a couple of invitations to consider.

But then I learned that the lead singer from the Mahones (Finny McConnell) was playing at O'Regans pub on Saturday night. That settled it for me. Called Kensington and we made plans to meet there for a good night of music.

Then I called up Deserita to see if she would join us. She agreed, although she had to leave early due to prior committments on the Sunday. "Some Deserita is better than no Deserita," I said. "Meet on Greene avenue at 7 pm and we'll go for some sushi." This Valentine's Day is getting better and better: sushi with a hot chick followed by a great band and my buddy Kensington.

Supper was thoroughly enjoyable; Deserita never disappoints. She had spent some time in Japan a few years ago, so she shared some tidbits on sushi etiquette and Japanese sayings. Conversation between us has always been easy and fun. She has this way of dropping pearls into the dialogue when I least expect it. I think she's trying to get me to blush, but at least this evening, she tried to time them between mouthfuls of sushi.

Met up with Kensington for pints and the live band. This was a fine way to end the evening except that at the end of the evening, the pub owner let some girl behind the bar and she put on some kind of Boom Boom crap that really didn't suit the atmosphere. One song like that would've been fine, but after three or four of those (with the volume insanely high), I put a coaster on top of my pint, turned it upside down, and let the quarter of it seep through onto the table as I walked out.

But all in all, not a bad VD. Catch you soon Deserita!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Saying More Than They Meant To

Over coffee, Matou pointed something out to me about the latest regurgitation of the Grammy Awards. I'm not sure if the graphic designers did this on purpose or by accident, but this year, the Grammy folks have decided to make their symbol an inverted pentagram.

Is that supposed to mean something? At first, I was skeptical, but then Matou pointed out Celine Dion's face immediately next to the pentagram. That clinched it for me. It's official: the Grammys are really being run by the ghost of Anton Levay.

If you know anything about Satanism, one of the main things is that Satanists see themselves as their own God instead of deferring to an external being for moral guidance. That could certainly apply to the Grammy Organization, I suppose.

I didn't watch the Grammys this year (I'm more of a Junos guy myself), but the highlights were splashed about the media the next day (I actually think I would've liked to see Prince sing Purple Rain). Justin Timerlake apologized again for the whole boobie incident.

Fer Gods' sakes, get over it. A boobie is about as offensive as an elbow in this sex-laden media industry with all the groping and groining in videos and whatnot.

I'm not sure how Canadians would've reacted to the whole incident if it had happened in Montreal, but the boobie flash would probably qualify for a grant from the Canada Council and then taken on tour.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

A typical night at the pub

After meeting the boys for pool and going to storytelling, I decided to head down to the pub because I heard that my old friend Lindsey was in town from Halifax. Met up with her, her fiancé, and her friend Angellica, who I didn't even recognize at first because she'd lost weight since the last time I saw her. Angellica and I went on a date once, but nothing came of it, which is a shame because she's even more attractive now that before (which is really saying something). Yowsa!

Then I got a musician offering to play accordian while I tell stories. My look of surprise was noticed by Yvon and Arinn, who assured me that he really could play accordian. "No worries," I said. "I'm sure he really can play accordian. That's not something you would brag about if you couldn't do it."

And then I ran into my old drinking pal Elvis and his friend Katarina. Unfortunately, Elvis' girlfriend had recently "left the building", so he was out with Katarina to drown his sorrows. Somehow I managed to charm Katarina into staying with me until closing time and I got her phone number. Sweet.

Actually, I got two phone numbers that night, which is my book, is the definition of a successful evening.