Sunday, July 27, 2008

Christopher's Lens

A friend of mine recently started a blog on which he will be posting pictures fairly regularly. He has a fantastic camera and an eye for a good shot plus he is pretty handy with Photoshop.

I have added a link to my side-bar so please check it out and let him know what you think.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Free Parking for Scooters in Ottawa

A guy at my local Vespa dealership started this petition to get counsel to look at setting up free parking for scooters and motorcycles in Ottawa. I want as many people to sign it as possible.
Other cities in Canada have it so why not the capital city? Scooters are a benefit in that they reduce traffic congestion and gridlock so why not encourage their use by providing free parking. This is the rule in Europe where the streets are lined with scooters wherever you go.
This is in Paris, where I found the scooters to be just another part of my romanticized vision of the city.

In other news, Irene now has a helmet and jacket so she can ride on the back of the Vespa. Good times ahead! I just need to get a top box for her helmet and we are all set up for doing day trips into the Gatineaus.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Take Away Shows do Arcade Fire

I think I have stumbled across one of the coolest music sites on the internet. Take Away Shows really is something special. The concept was created when Parisian film maker Vincent Moon got together with Chryde and they began filming indie bands doing short sessions on the street, in a bar or even in an elevator. The result is a raw but interesting way to see your favourite bands. The videos are barely edited and the sessions are not rehearsed.
This video of Montreal's Arcade Fire in Paris at the Olympia is especially well-known. Even if you don't know Arcade Fire, these are some amazing versions of both Neon Bible and Wake Up. I don't want to give anything away so just watch it and be blown away. These guys are just so good.

And because I am a huge Canadian indie-music fan here is another video of a Canadian. One man strings band Final Fantasy (aka Owen Pallett) from Toronto does a song while walking (running) down the streets of Paris. This brings back some awesome memories of Paris for me.

Oh, how I want to go back!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nova Scotia Trip

A bunch of weeks ago I hopped into a car with a friend from Ottawa and drove straight to the Annapolis Valley and Halifax in Nova Scotia for the weekend. He needed someone to drive with and I am always up for a road trip. I think the idea was hatched while downing beers after snowboarding at some point in the winter. Something to remember: snowboarding+beer=good ideas.
I think it may have looked something like this when I had the brilliant idea.The plan was to get to the Valley in 12 hours and catch some shut eye. Turns out we suck at math and estimating. It took 15.5 hours of straight driving. We hit Montreal at a crappy time, forgot to include the lost hour due to time zones and just generally guessed wrong. We also almost ran out of gas because there aren't a whole lot of gas stations open at 3:00 in the morning. On our way through New Brunswick we made sure we killed most of the province's bugs with the bumper of our car. Oh well, we got there barely awake and proceeded to hang out with our host in his packed apartment/designated crash pad. He had stayed up all night waiting for us (just for fun) with a friend of his. I dozed off mid-conversation and woke up on the couch. In the morning I met a couple of dudes who had crashed there too and were on their way to the airport to go home to their respective countries in the Caribbean. I also discovered that the town we where in, Wolfville, is the home to Acadia University. Apparently it gets lots of rave reviews all the time. Also, Irene and I went through this town the last time we were driving around the Annapolis Valley. Here is a pic of the apartment we stayed at.We spent the rest of the day running around getting ready for the wedding later in the afternoon. Clearly it took a lot of effort. We stopped at a little look out and snapped a few pics before getting dressed for the wedding. Its a really nice countryside out there with extremely courteous people driving around. If this was Ontario we would have been run over just for trying to pull over.The wedding was like pretty much any wedding except that it was at an army base. We had beers in the mess hall and had a good time at the reception. I met several very interesting people including a couple who had gone to the same church as me in Burlington. Small world.
Here is a picture of me trying to act like I belong in the mess hall of an army base. Am I pulling it off or what.After several glasses of wine and some good conversations with friendly people from all over Canada we headed back to the apartment. We slept heavily this time and got up for church the next morning. It was an interesting service which reminded me of our church in Ottawa. After a hearty east coast lunch with the pastor's family we headed into Halifax to see my aunt and uncle and cousins.
Before we got there my cousin launched himself off a jump on his bike and proceeded to break his arm. We had a great time catching up and stayed up late listening to my uncle tell his stories from his military days. It made me wish I had actually joined back in high school. I have to find out the recipe for that legendary Moosemilk drink. Thank you wikipedia. Here is a model of a plane that he used to fly but not after drinking moosemilk.The next day we headed downtown for a short visit with Irene`s cousins. They have a couple really cute kids who were a joy to be around. It was great to catch up with them too and see their little house. Kevin, by the way, makes some fantastic music that you can check out at his myspace page here. Our trip back was quite a bit quicker. Not a single person passed us from Halifax to Montreal. We simply had to make one stop in the town of St. Louis-du-Ha!-Ha!But other than that it was go go go and I was home and in bed by 12:30.

On the August long weekend the plan was to go to Winnipeg for a friend`s wedding but the plane ticket is killing me so Irene is going by herself. But when she gets back I leave for Montreal to catch Radiohead in concert. Should be intense.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Feist + Sesame Street = Coolness

Fresh off her Ottawa bluesfest performance Feist recently went on Sesame Street to teach kids how to count to four. She does a sweet version of her song '1 2 3 4' involving monsters, penguins and of course chickens just back from the shore. You just can not help smiling while watching this clip.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

He actually did it

For the past year I have been following this story about Hans Reiser who is on trial for the murder of his wife. Every once in a while I would catch up on the latest testimonies and/or revelations. Hans Reiser is one of the inventors of the Linux operating system. He married a woman who came from Russia to be his wife. They had 2 kids and then they divorced (or were she was planning to divorce). He started to go a bit crazy I think. Anyway, the point is they never found the body and it seemed the only hard evidence they had was some blood in his car (and he was seen washing it out at an odd hour).

But the more I read, the more I realized that I wasn't totally convinced that he did it. I don't know why but I always had that in the back of my head when reading the latest news. I just thought that maybe he was just some severely misunderstood computer geek who went a little crazy. Even when I read that he was convicted I had my doubts. Its weird because I don't usually feel this way when reading about murder trials. Maybe I just didn't read enough about it or I only read the one side of the story.

Either way, when this news feed (about him leading the authorities to the body) popped up on my google I was both surprised and I guess a little saddened. He actually did it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Polaris Short List

The short list for the Polaris Music Prize has just been announced. It is a prize of $20 000 based solely on artistic merit given out once a year to a Canadian artist based on an album released in the past year. The judges are 178 music journalists and industry insiders who debate with each other for weeks on end before compiling a long list of 40 albums. Then the debates rage on as they go to select the short list of 10.

As far as the albums selected, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite albums (Oh My Darling by Basia Bulat) up there. I don't think its will win just because of the Polaris track record of picking artists who are more experimental. Same goes for The Weakerthans Reunion Tour. I love the album but I'm not sure it will win. Black Mountain, although I have not heard much of the album, will probably be close to winning. Caribou's Andorra may have a shot but I'm not a huge fan of that album. Maybe I have to listen to it more. I don't know what Shad is doing up there. Its more comedy hip-hop than serious artistic indie music. Ottawan/Hamiltonian Kathleen Edwards is another favourite of mine who will probably not win. But I simply must buy that album. Stars have a good chance because everybody knows that album and it really is fantastic. They are the popular choice which may prevent them from winning. Two Hours Traffic and Plants & Animals are in a similar situation both musically and with a chance to win this. I like Plants & Animals better and they probably have the edge here. The last band I won't pronounce because there may be children present. I think the name of their band is totally unnecessary. since they make such fantastic music that they don't need the shock value of putting the f-word in their band name. It's ridiculous really. But I can see them winning it anyway. In short almost any of these bands could win it.

So my predictions for winning are the aforementioned band, Black Mountain or maybe Stars.

Basia Bulat (who I saw again on Canada Day), Kathleen Edwards, Stars or The Weakerthans are who I'd like to see win. Only time will tell I suppose.

There are several albums from the long list that I would have liked to see win. My Top 10 would have included The Acorn, Christine Fellows, Hayden, Islands, Corb Lund, Justin Rutledge (of course) and Wintersleep. To bad I don't have any input.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Ottawa Bluesfest 2008

Summer is a great time to be living in Ottawa. There is a continuous stream of festivals and wonderful weather. Currently our town is in the midst of one of the largest music festivals in Canada (if not the world). At ten days long and six stages it sure is a big deal. And as I said in May, it really isn't limited to blues. This is the second year in a row that it is being held in the fields around the brand new War Museum (probably the best museum in the country right now). If you look at the picture below you can see the Parliament buildings in the distance.
It attracts some pretty big names every year but if you know me, those aren't the guys I'm interested in. So on Saturday I dragged Irene and a friend of mine (whose wife is in Toronto for work) out to see a Six Shooters Records Extravaganza on the Blacksheep Stage. Basically the guys at Six Shooters brought together the better part of their roster and did each artist separately over the afternoon with a big culminating bash right at the end. The set included such great Canadian indie acts as Christine Fellows, Luke Doucet, Elliot Brood and everyone's favourite crooner Justin Rutledge.
Christine Fellows, my second favourite artist from Winnepeg (after the Weakerthans) started off the afternoon with her soaring vocals and electronic indie-pop. Mixing a violin with a synth and xylophone was a great way to start the day. Anybody who has not heard her song Vertebrea should check it out now on NMC. It is a perfectly crafted pop song.Justin Rutledge followed with a complete band this time. His voice is something special and when you get the stellar guitar playing coordinated perfectly with the lap guitar and emphatic drumming you can close your eyes and know you are experiencing something really special. I like him so much I bought another one of his cds.
Country rockers NQ Arbuckle, with the smoking Neville Quinlan played nonchalantly and where backed by some powerful country kids. The highlight of this set was when Justin Rutledge and Carolyn Mark did backing vocals and then slow danced their way off stage.Luke Doucet (former Ryan Adams-esque rocker turned alt-country crooner) wowed the crowds with his fancy guitar work and even brought his father and daughter to play and sing with him and wife Melissa McClelland in a spine tingling rendition of 'Jolene'. Mark my words, that daughter of his has a future in singing. That is for sure.Elliot Brood, who are coming off a critically acclaimed new album release, took the stage for a tight set that included, acoustic guitars, compatible ukuleles and at least one banjo. Though I am not a huge fan of the distorted acoustic guitar sound I did like it when they took it down a notch with the banjo and ukuleles. These guys also have the coolest custom chair (for the guitarist who sits down the whole time) and also the suits where a nice touch.The finale featured Martin Tielli (one of the founders of Six Shooters and who I hadn't even heard of). He played some extremely intense solo-acoustic songs and slowly added musicians from all the bands we had just heard. The result was some really amazing artistic rock that you could see was just so much fun for all the people on stage. It was twenty or thirty talented musicians playing together and interacting musically, creating a lush musical landscape. It was a beautiful way to end the night.
I wish I could see more of the Bluesfest but alas I have to install a patio this coming weekend and my list of helpers is dwindling as other projects and events are popping up.....guess I had better get digging. Here is the view we had of the Ottawa River as the sun was setting over Bluesfest. Till next year!And just for the record, this is the third blog in a row in which I am writing about my life and not just random nothingness so I don't want to hear any complaining from the peanut gallery.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Nethaneil Reid Broersma

Well I'm an Uncle again. My first nephew was born on Saturday morning. He was born at a healthy 9lbs and is by all accounts a great kid. I hope to see him when we travel to the thriving metropolis of Fergus in the near future.
In the meantime, here is a picture of him mere hours after he was born.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Canada Day in Ottawa

Once again we had a stellar Canada Day. We took in a bunch of concerts, hung out with friends, experienced Canadian patriotism and saw the fireworks.
We started the day at JazzFest in Confederation Park (where the ice sculptures are for Winterlude). Basia Bulat was playing and I really wanted to hear that and buy the cd. I accomplished both and even got a picture with her.Here is a clip of her concert. The snowbirds did a fly-by during the set.

We wandered up to the Hill and saw Blue Rodeo do a couple token songs (I'm not really a fan).And then watched the deafening 21 gun salute.We randomly met some more friends. Its amazing how with that many people downtown you still manage to meet people you know. Eric the intern scored us free lunch from his good friends at the chicken farmers lobby group. We hung around at Majors Hill park for a bit and then headed to a friends place for dinner. There is no point trying to get into a restaurant in the Market on Canada Day. Eric fell asleep because Canada Day is hard on an intern - too much free stuff.After a few beers we headed back to Majors Hill Park and watched a french band get everybody dancing. They also demonstrated how accordions can be cool. Amanda Rheaume did an acoustic set to open for none other than Hawksley Workman. As expected he was pretty crazy. He actually reminds me of the Joker from Batman with all his howls and crazy sounds. My favourite song was Anger as Beauty. Here is a picture of Centre Block during the concert.And the fireworks.