Where you can read the relatively rational ramblings of a silly half-monkey, half-boy. This freak of nature is named Joel. He also responds to the name 'Bart Wang'.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Billie Joe, wake up! September is over!

It's been a busy month for the Martins. Between weeks loaded with work and weekends stacked with concerts and a wedding, we've had enough activity to keep me from updating you on what was going on. Fortunately for you (and by 'you' I mean 'Dave Breukelaar'), I have some time at work to fill in those gaps. Sure, there's work to be done but I've done quite a bit in the past couple days and nothing is pressing. So, sit back, relax, get some 'corn and it's update time.

Saturday, September 10th. The day Mike does not want me to recount to him. Why? A letter and a number - U2. Melanie and I trucked into the treacherous city of Toronto, found some free parking and walked down to the Air Canada Centre. We were late and opening act, Dashboard Confessional, were a song or two into their set. Now, as veteran Dashboard fans, we knew the routine - sing-along. I was doing my best but it just didn't have the same excitement in the arena. It is a huge place and probably no one other than me was actually singing along. They did a good job but the beauty of DBC is the experience amongst the crowd loving Chris and receiving love in return. Plus, they are very different from U2 and didn't seem to fit in that well.

I managed to call Mike in between sets just to tease him, uh, I mean, let him know we were safe and having an okay time. We didn't get to see Jenn & Chris though because we were late and so were they. That means I haven't seen Jenn since the middle of August. I'm a terrible friend.

U2 are sooooo good. Seriously, they are an amazing band who perform incredibly on a consistent basis. This was my third U2 show and it would rank third. That's not to suggest I didn't have a wonderful time because I did. They were great. I really like the new album and they played five cuts from it. What keeps the other shows ranked higher in my memory is that there were a couple songs at the other shows that I would have liked to hear again (mostly 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For').
They played two songs that were questionable inclusions (only one I didn't know except that it was really old and then the b-side 'Fast Cars' that I didn't care for). Everyone seemed overly impressed that Eddie Vedder joined the band on stage to sing through 'Old Man River', a old Broadway tune (they sang the same three lines three-to-four times). That wasn't interesting to me. What did kick ass was the presence of Daniel Lanois on guitar (including solo!) for 'One'. Awesome! It was Melanie's first U2 show and she loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would pay to see them every time they came to town. [Images courtesy of Jason Johnston - from the Chicago show.]

We walked a long way back to the car, content and able to hear clearly (praise God for earplugs). My mouth and stomach were even more content because I ate plenty of street meat on the way - one hot dog and then a Oktoberfest sausage. Mmmmm mmmmm!

Saturday, September 17th. Again, the evening finds me driving into the urine-soaked hell-hole known as Toronto. I hate that place but the only time good musicians come around, they only stop in T.O. I joined my good friend and purchaser of tickets, Todd Brown, with his companions, Mary Simon & another of Todd's many friends (I forget his name), for Sufjan Stevens. I've missed Sufjan the last two times he played up here because I was in Mexico. Both times. I've only been to Mexico twice. He visited when I was unavailable. Dude is just selfish.

Unusual stuff happened before the show. First off, there were scalpers out front of the church where the show happened. Anyone else find that odd? Second, said scalpers wanted up to $80 for a ticket. No, I didn't not type that incorrectly. Third, I met some random people there. I'm not usually that guy who meets strangers. Yes, I can carry a conversation with almost anyone but I don't often spark up such a dialogue with someone on the street. I met two dudes there though, one named Nicko (pronounced NEE-KOH) and another whose name I forget. I thought they were friends but it turned out they were just Sufjan fans hopeful for a spare ticket. The dude whose name I forget went to Camp Mini-Yo-We (he had on a shirt with that printed on it) so I struck up a conversation with him. Turns out, like half the population of Canada, he knew who Laurie Castellani was. Shocking, eh? Anyhow, I don't think he got in but Nicko did. Chatted with him quite a bit. He was a really good guy who was on a cross-country trip up from Northern California (stopping first in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and taking the train across to Toronto). He was off to the CMJ conference in New York. I gave him my e-mail address and he wrote me once. Get back to me, Nicko!

Oh, yeah, so enough about dudes I met on the street and on to Sufjan. One sound describes this show. That sound (I guess it could be a word too) is, 'Wow'. I saw Sufjan live once before he was the critical darling he now is and the show was significantly different. His backing band, known as the Illinoisemakers, were amazing. Everyone but the drummer sang and most of the players rotated on instruments. Since Sufjan is somewhat of an acquaintance (Todd is actually good friends with him - I used to e-mail him and we chatted once when he came up with the Danielson Famile a couple years back), it was neat to see the transformation that he has undergone. The guy hates live performances. I do not use the word 'hate' lightly. But he kicked ass. It was like he was a different person. He was animated, talking between songs, leading the band in cheers (it was like an American high school squad) and lighting the place up. His latest album, 'Illinois', is simply phenomenal. The more I listen to it, the more I appreciate it. Turns out Stefan actually liked what he has heard too. You're a wise man, Murrinator. Go buy everything Sufjan has out. Ok, I gave away my copy of 'Year Of The Rabbit' to Michelle G. because it wasn't my thing. I can't believe my completist brain let me do that.

I'll jump ahead to the final musical event of the month and then head back to the wedding piece.

Wednesday, September 28th. Once again, I had the distinct pleasure to spend some time (sadly, very little) with Todd and Mary at the Rivoli for the marvelous Rosie Thomas. This woman needs a major label deal so that that masses will hear her indescribably beautiful voice. Yes, I realize I said her 'beautiful voice' could not be described. Shut up. Rosie is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. She remembered Todd & I from previous meetings - that's pretty good in itself since she meets lots of different people. She spent quite a bit of time talking with us and even put us on the guestlist. Mary had just finished paying for Todd's dinner with the condition that Todd bought her ticket. Since Rosie got us in for free, Todd was going to get us drinks. Well, Rosie got those for us too! I told you she was nice! Her set was excellent, accompanied by her brother.

For those of you that don't know her, Rosie is also a stand-up comedian. No, I'm not joking. She actually is. Anyhow, she's really funny and kept talking about how 'disgusting' it was that she and her brother were singing love songs together. She's brilliant and I love her and her music and if I had a spare million dollars I'd probably make sure she got a nice chunk of it. Especially if it assisted in getting her idea of a tour featuring herself, Sufjan and Denison Witmer together. I think I would quit my job in order to go on that tour with them. Melanie could hold down the fort for me. Hahahaha. It was funny because Rosie just talked to Sufjan the day before and then was seeing Denison three days later. I so wish I were in that inner sanctum of friends. Anyhow, buy Rosie's new album, 'If Songs Could Be Held'. Now.

Enough about music... Saturday, September 24th. Love! Weddings! Marriage! Heartache! Wha...?!? Yes, in one weekend, I experienced all of that. It was the wedding day of my little sister, Holly. Yippee, right? Yes, you are correct. Yippee! Boo-hoo too? Yep, sadly, that was in there too. To begin, let me state that I love my sister, even if I don't show it. I care about her and want the best for her. As a follow-up, let me advise you that her husband, Al, is a great guy. I'll admit, I had my doubts and was resistant to the whole idea initially because: A) it's my sister, and B) there's a large age difference between them. However, the longer they have been together, the more I see that Al loves Holly and vice versa, and the more I see that Al is a wonderful person, the more happy I am for them both. So a hearty congratulations to Holly & Al!

I had a blast go-karting with Al and a bunch of guys on the morning of the wedding, though I seriously injured my left ribs and continue to be in pain a week later. The wedding was really nice - short and sweet. No long-winded sermons or annoying solos while everyone watches. Al bawled. Everyone smiled and cheered.

Where's the sadness then? It comes in the form of the woman who gave me birth. I haven't had a positive conversation with my mother since she left our family ten years ago. I've only seen her once in probably five-to-six years and that was an unexpected and unwelcome run-in at the local Wal-mart a few months ago(I knew shopping at a heartless American corporation was wrong). Some of you may not know the back-story so let me summarize it for you. She left my family (there's no drawing lines for me - you leave your partner, you leave the kids), she lied to me on multiple occasions, took almost all of our family's assets, caused a lot of shit for us (intentional and unintentional) and facilitated all of the relationships within our family to be broken in varying degrees. Oh, and years after destroying us, she continued her immature behaviour for unknown reasons (e.g. calling my dad on Christmas Eve, yelling and swearing at him without purpose or provocation seven years after he last saw her). My decision was to sever the relationship because it was unhealthy and she has never accepted responsiblity for her actions or apologized to me or my dad or sister. Granted, my sister still has a relationship with her and has all along so probably wouldn't ask for an apology. It's still due, if you ask me.

It was my sister's wedding and the focus should be on her. That is not the time to suddenly try and hash out or, more accurately, gloss over the unresolved issues. My sister and I have had some good talks about this stuff in the past year (we were on very different pages for the past decade until recently). She's no longer the go-between. My relationship (or lack thereof) with my mother is mine. Her relationship with my mother is her's. Done and done.

Well, during the rehearsal, my mom attempted to talk to me on two occasions (including hugging me). I wasn't mean or anything, I just gave short responses and made it clear from my tone that it was better to just leave me be. Even better was when she came up to Melanie and I when we were talking to our friend Cheryl. She jumped in, hugged both of us and made some comments about being so glad to meet Melanie. Yes, that was the first meet-and-greet. Awkward? Damn straight. Weird? You bet. Who invades a stranger's personal space like that? She does, apparently. Oh, it gets better. We went to the rehearsal dinner after that. I avoided all contact with her. Until, of course, it was time to leave. We went to say 'goodbye' to my sister and she came up to us and started talking. My sister, seeing the uncomfortable situation, motions to my mom to stop. I asked my mom what she was doing and what she thought was going to happen. She said she actually thought we would have some conversation. I was dumbfounded. Ten years of unresolved issues and accompanying silence and suddenly she thought this was the day I would act as if everything was fine. Wrongo.

Ok, so, I don't want to go on with this. If you're interested, we can discuss it another time. Needless to say, it was really hard to see her and think of all the things I and my family lost over the years because of her decisions. Tears were shed (like Lust Control said, 'Real men cry') and I felt sad and crappy for a few days but am now almost back to normal. Or, at least, as close to normal as a guy like me could ever hope.

It's now 11PM on Friday night. I went out to Chap's with Taxman to catch up. I don't see that guy enough. I stopped by Josh's after work to pick up a card for Head. I don't see that guy enough either. Blondel is coming down next weekend for Thanksgiving. I hope to get some time in with him and Melody.

Tomorrow morning, we're waking up bright and early to head out to Sarnia for the final wedding of the year. My long-time friend, Head, is getting married to his computer. No, wait, that's what we THOUGHT would happen but he's actually marrying a real woman! Cheryl!! Oh, his real name is Steve. I first knew him at Toast. Most people know him as that (many actually forget his real name). The name 'Head' was added in high school because of his giant noggin. Anyhow, we've been friends since grade 7 or 8, walked to every day of high school together, and I'm honoured to be able to see him walk down the aisle. Head's one of the most genuine and friendly people you could meet. If you think I've got the gift of gab with people I barely know, Head puts me to shame in that category. He could talk to ANYONE about ANYTHING. Thanks for being my friend these many years, Steve. You've got yourself one fine man, Cheryl.

Hopefully, some of these hooligans will be there too.

I'll leave you with these pictures and many words. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Blonsi, you sleep tight, ok? Chantal, have a good day with your friends. Breuks, take it easy on the homebrew. Bill, call me back, hoser! Mike, up yours. Jon, shut up, fatso. Jonathan A., on and on 'til the break of dawn. Michelle G., maybe we'll get a chance to talk in heaven 'cause Jesus is likely to return before that phone call happens at this pace. Hahaha. To those of you I missed, sorry, but I didn't even know you read this drivel. Tell me and I'll send a shout out to you as well. PEACE!


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