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'.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

At the base of your skull, I've got a place there still

I've been meaning to listen to Wood/Water by The Promise Ring for weeks but never got around to it. It's spinning now. Why the sudden follow-through? I bought the latest issue of Alternative Press and didn't even realize until I was reading it that they had a big 'oral history' of The Promise Ring. I was thrilled. TPR was probably the first band I went to see at a small show - the first time I met my good friend, Michelle Grunert. I think it might have been the first time I met Todd Brown too. I'm less certain of that. Anyhow, TPR were the headliners at Club Shanghai while Jimmy Eat World opened for them. They won me over with their simple yet beautiful melodies, Jason Gnewikow's incredible hooks, Dan Didier's excited drumming and Davey von Bohlen's straight-forward singing and awesome dancing. I can throw on any of their records and revel in them. They're playing a reunion show in Chicago and I wish I were there. Speaking of them, I need to search for information on the new project, Maritime, with Davey and Dan.

Well, the real reason I was creating this post was to draw your attention to one man - Darren Conley. Affectionately known as 'Conks' or 'The Hammer', Darren is a great man. I've known him a long time. Darren is dying for attention and feels that if he does anything for you, you have to do something for him. He mentioned me on his blog so he demanded that I do the same or he would spray paint my house. Fine, Darren. Here's your damn link! Hahahaha. I'm kidding. We have a lot in common. Darren hates shaving. I hate shaving. Darren's girlfriend is very photogenic. Almost as photogenic as my wife. Ok, so I'm biased (and still completely correct). Darren can make me laugh really easily because he's probably in the top three of greatest story-tellers I know. Go check his site. And read his post about his friend, Chuck. That made me laugh out loud a couple times.

I'm single for a few days because Melanie went away with some friends. It's lonely, yo. Do you want to sleepover? Please say you will. I'm on my way to homechurch. I'll talk to you fools later.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Quote of the day

"This is a shitty dollar store." - Dude with high expectations at Eastgate Mall

Today is Saturday. I think my last post was started on Saturday. The week has been really busy. Some crappy cases at work, particularly one in which I had to place a kid in foster care temporarily. And, believe it or not, it's because of other professionals who aren't doing their job, not because the parents were harming the kid (though they have their own issues). It's frustrating when you work with individuals with limited skills/abilities.

Last night, Melanie worked so I was making like Macaulay Culkin. I watched an episode of C.S.I. (I found out at the halfway mark that I had previously watched the second half of the episode - weird). I then started watching Crimson Gold, an Iranian movie that was, I have just learned, considered 'too dark' so it was never released in Iran. Watch the trailer and then read some reviews. I bought it for $10 used at Blockbuster. I also picked up In This World for $5. Here is its trailer.

I'm chatting with Michelle Grunert right now on MSN. I called Darren Salmond earlier as he just got in from Chicago and was interested in Cuba but he wasn't answering. And I called Mike & Sandi and Josh but no one answered at their respective homes either.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of Cuba and why almost all of you suck because you're not coming with us... Katie is coming with us! Katie also got a new job at my agency. In fact, she'll spend the first month and a half sitting immediately beside me. Lucky her. Congratulations and welcome aboard!

Tonight, we're going to a banquet for my softball league. I hope it's fun. At the very least, we will get food. I hope there is a lot of food and it's good food (not that shitty stuff I keep hearing about).

Tomorrow, I'll be at church. You can listen to the same thing I'm going to hear by downloading the sermon. It's given by Princess Zulu, a global AIDS activist. I hope to see Chantal and Taxman (amongst many others) there. Oh, and if you're the praying kind, give some thoughts to the Taxman. He's had a terrible week and could use some divine comfort.

The new Sigur Rós album is good. Very good. What hooked me in was the video for the first single, glósóli. It's in Quicktime and the quality is magnificent (visually and aurally). You can see the first video of their's that I ever saw for the track, viðrar vel til loftárása, too but it's for Windows Media Player. Enjoy!

With that, I shall depart. It's short but some of the shortest things are the sweetest. Like the midgets from 'The Wizard Of Oz'. I bid you 'adieu'. If you're in the Peterborough, go to Cinema 379 to see Searching For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus. I wish I could have been up there to catch it. Blondel, I hope to see you soon. PEACE!

Monday, October 17, 2005

The music is much too loud to hear this alarm sound

Hi boys and girls. It's Saturday morning just before 9AM. The Leafs smoked the Atlanta Thrashers on last night 9-1. I slept in this morning (to some degree, anyhow). Things seem to be opening up on a good weekend.

Let me recount for you what took place on Thursday night, however. Mae. Finally! I missed them when they opened for Something Corporate in their first trip to southern Ontario (I didn't miss Something Corporate though - meaning 'I'm glad I didn't see Something Corporate'). Then there's the infamous Warped Tour fiasco from this year. So after Darryl and I worked on Taxman enough to convince him that Mae is awesome, the three of us travelled to Toronto to redeem our previously poor luck.

First, I was disappointed that Mute Math wasn't playing as they were with the rest of the tour. I don't know why (aside from assuming it was the common border-crossing complaints or they are a band of wanted criminals). I've not heard a single Mute Math song but I have read many good things about them, particularly in Relevant Magazine.

To open, we got to see The Working Title. They were okay. Their bass player was good. Their singer looks like one of the Lawrence brothers (yes, I'm talking about Joey 'Whoa!' Lawrence). I couldn't tell if he was actually singing because I swear I heard backing vocals when the drummer (who was supposed to be singing) wasn't singing. But, as Darryl pointed out, they had a crazy amount of reverb and effects on the singer's voice. They were okay but they need to find their own sound. I suspect they listened to a lot of The Cure.

Next up was Circa Survive. Let me start with the positive (notice it is singular). The individaul band members who play instruments are talented. What they need to do is kick this guy out of the band. He's their "vocalist," except he is not a very good singer or leader. I'll give it to him that he can sing/scream like Chris Carrabba on the first Further Seems Forever album. But when he has to sing in the same key as the band was playing, bad things happen. What made things worse was that he has a horribly annoying stage presence. Half the set was spent looking at his back. We wondered if he had a crush on the drummer. The other half involved him demonstrating his best tortured, epileptic rock star poses. It's been done, little dude. He could stand to take some lessons from Brett Detar or Stephen Christian on how to perform. The band, as well, didn't differentiate well between songs. They just seemed to go on and on and it wasn't until the last song that we noticed a signature change. Somehow, though, the kids seemed to like them. In fact, we're pretty sure more people were there to see Circa Survive than Mae. If that is true, there is no hope for the youth of today.

Mae rules. They kicked ass and had me singing along constantly. They played most of the songs from 'The Everglow' as well as a few from 'Destination:Beautiful'.
The only song noticeably missing from the set was 'Embers And Envelopes', which I missed. Rob, the keyboard player, was doing some weird punching/karate thing during one song. He seems like an intense dude. "You're playing the keyboard! You don't have to use much force!" Dave's vocals were spot-on throughout the night. Zach was grooving along and rocked the lead guitar. Mark plays a mean bass and doesn't really move at all. Jacob Marshall is my new favourite drummer. For one thing, the dude plays some killer rhythms that could easily be used in trance/techno stuff that requires a drum machine. Second of all, he's a ton of fun to watch. His movements are very fluid and entertaining. I also realized that I love seeing the other band members sing along to the song they are playing. It shows me that they are into the tune and find some meaning in it beyond just playing the chords. Zach and Jacob were frequently singing, which I enjoyed. Taxman and Darryl all agreed they ruled the roost that was the Reverb.

Go here to listen to some Mae songs. You can also hear a demo of 'Suspensions' (our favourite song) featuring Kenny from The Starting Line. Taxman will rejoice! Make sure you listen to 'Anything' as well - that song is so good.

Ok, it's now Monday evening. Time can fly when you read slowly. Pick up the pace, backpack.

Going back a couple days, on Friday night, Melanie, Katie, Darren Salmond and I went to the fourth annual Comedyfest, organized by Chad & Cheri-lynn as a fundraiser for McMaster Children's Hospital. Only Chad go to see it though because Cheri-lynn went to the hospital with a terrible bout of appendicitis. Feel better soon!
The night was great, on the whole. There were a couple acts that just weren't funny and one group of boys (known as the Kaytor Brothers) who were total dillholes. They weren't funny, they were just obnoxious and, apparently, intoxicated. Sadly, people will be talking about them at all (even if it is negative) instead of focusing on the other great acts such as Glenn Ottaway, Bernie (this fine gentleman is awesome - he's the one in the picture), Adam Cole and the Silly People. Great work, Chad & Cheri-lynn! Everyone had a good night!

Melanie and I looked at three houses on Sunday. Are we going to buy one soon? Probably not. But we've both been talking to Len and he's chatting us up on the issue. Here's some oddities to the day... The first house we saw was owned by the church on Manor Place, the original Stoney Creek Alliance, where I went for the first eighteen years of my life. The house that is owned by the church? Where I had Sunday school. Crazy eh? Crazier still was that after that, we saw the house owned by my maternal great-uncle (my mom's uncle and grandfather's brother). I never knew my grandmother as he died shortly before my parents were married in 1972. I did know my great-uncle as an acquaintance though. Families are weird and, in spite of the fact that he lived around the corner from us, we only went to his home once as a kid. For those of you that know Dan Pergentile, this is how I'm related to Dan and his sisters. My great-uncle is his grandfather. Anyhow, his daughter-in-law brought over the key and we started chatting a bit. When we went into the basement, she said she had something for me to see. It was a big picture (over 8x10) of my grandfather that they found while cleaning the house. I don't know that I've ever seen a picture of him before. Wacky. I took the picture to get to his family through my sister.

I finished our wedding 'thank you' cards yesterday. Yes, that's right, our first anniversary is next month. According to etiquette rules, you have until then to finish your 'thank you' cards. I've got time to spare! I actually only had eight cards to go but I never made the time to do them. Sorry to Booj, Belly, Michele, Mr. & Mrs. Timko, Sarah King, Mary Jo & Father Covino (a.k.a. Matt).

Did you know that I am known as "Pope Joel" by people at the Catholic Children's Aid Society? I made up the name a while back but it's spread. Here's the deal... When we investigate families, the law specifies that a Catholic family has to be serviced (when available) by the Catholic Children's Aid Society. Only Hamilton and Toronto have such agencies. As a result, when we find out the family is Catholic, we get excited because we can send the file to the CCAS to finish up. I have a particular gift for finding them so I gave myself the title of "Pope Joel I" (i.e., the First). Another colleague, Matt, is also adept at finding Catholic families so he was given the title of "Father Covino" by the CCAS screeners (who answer the phones). That's actually how they refer to us when we call, believe it or not. It's hilarious.

We might have a couple more people on our trip to Cuba with us! Katie is seriously looking at joining us and then I mentioned it to Darren Salmond this morning by e-mail and he was interested. That would be great.

If you're interested in being challenged, listen to two sermons from our church. The first is called "Can Queers Follow Christ?" and the other is called "When Is Violence The Right Response To Conflict?" The first was really good and I liked everything that was said. The second left me more unsettled and with plenty of questions. Oh, and if that's not enough, the first sermon in the series is called "Should A Church Spend Millions Of Dollars On A Building?" Appropriate, since we're spending about $6 million on a building. It's always good to know the leaders are asking difficult questions. Chantal wasn't at church because she was busy with school and not feeling very good. I hope you're doing better soon, Chantal!

We watched 'The Longest Yard' yesterday. Meh. Didn't think it was anything great. I probably wouldn't recommend it. There's many better movies. Did you hear they are FINALLY making 'Rocky 6'? HELL YEAH!!! I can't wait for that. But I will wait. Eagerly anticipating the glory of Rocky Balboa.

My new favourite NHL team, the Nashville Predators, remain undefeated. They beat the Blues 4-1. Steve Sullivan, a former Leaf, was named the NHL's offensive player of the week. That makes it sound like he's a jerk. He's not. He's good at scoring or setting people up to score. Oh, wait, that makes him sound like he's a jerk with the ladies. Hahaha. Go Preds! Bill tells me that tickets are cheap. I hope we can one day go to a game together.

I'm going to leave you now. You have a lot to read and listen to so get to it. As a final note, congratulations are extended to Darryl Timko and Julie Woods as they got engaged. Darryl's a good and sexy dude and Julie's a smart and foxy lady. Good luck as you prepare to enter the wacky and exciting world of wedded bliss. In December. Yes, that's right, in a little over two months. Enjoy and don't stress. PEACE!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Now THAT's a turkey!

Fresh from our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, I give you another update from the Martin's home. I was on a good roll there, wasn't I? Two updates in as many days? Egads, you must have been thrilled! But I let you down. I'm so, so sorry. I'm done grovelling.

I went out last Monday with some of the fellows from high school as I was telling you. For the first while, it was just me, Nathan Veldman and Mike "The Animal" Andres. That was fine, though, because they're both good dudes. Matt Armstrong joined us after returning home from work. [Funny aside: when I called Matt's house to find out if he was home or when he would be home, his brother and parents had no idea when he'd be home. Ok, it was funny at the time. Shut up.] We ate a lot of wings (six pounds between the four of us) and an insanely large plate of nachos (which was actually the half size). Stefan "Tiger" Murray showed up when we were getting ready to leave. Stefan was excited to find out that I knew who Sufjan Stevens was. I was thrilled to be able to share some Suf-love with another person.

The week at work was pretty busy, getting some cases closed, calling people, trying to help some while trying not to openly belittle/mock others. Why are so many fathers absolute tools? Yes, they are created and beloved by God. But their behaviour is so questionable or inane, I wonder what God thinks. Friday was our busy day of getting new cases. I got my three but didn't meet any of the families. I've got two whole days this week to do that before we get new files again! Only Taylor got screwed on Friday by getting stuck out until 6PM.

Speaking of what God thinks when people act like morons... Taylor's case involved some kids whose parents left them at home for the weekend. Now, most of the time, the report we get doesn't have all the information so things are usually fine once we check it out and the parents made appropriate plans. But we can't assume things are okay because we do meet parents who are several bricks short of a load. I'm sorry, that was the best cliche I could come up with at this moment. Anyhow, the school gives Taylor the wrong address so she tries to find the family and they don't live at that home anymore. She calls the father - a PASTOR - and he shit-talks her the whole time. Instead of being respectful, responding in a mature manner to the very basic questions and acting like Jesus would, he acts like a fool. Awesome. What could have been cleared up in ten minutes will weight on Taylor's weekend and then bite this guy in the ass this week. What a poor example of Jesus he gave (and I know that I do the same often as well). I told Taylor to find out what church he pastors because I want to go and heckle him. Maybe I will point out that Paul implored the Christians in Rome to respect the government (and, by extension, its various branches and services) because they were put in place by God (Romans 13:1-5).

On the news today, we were stunned to see video from an arrest gone horribly wrong in New Orleans. This old man (64) was being arrested for public drunkenness. Sounds pretty mundane, right? I would imagine this is common in the Big Easy. Apparently, the cops were so threatened that at least three officers beat this guy to a bloody pulp. They were caught on camera punching him in the face multiple times. Another camera showed him after the beating - gross. His face was seriously messed up. While lying on the ground, bleeding everywhere, a cop is shown to be pushing the poor man with his foot. I'm not a violent person and I don't like violence. But seeing that made me want to kick those policemen's asses. I might take a beating in the process but they cannot treat someone like that and get away with it. I hope they all lose their jobs and spend time in jail to learn their lesson. Shockingly, the officers are pleading 'not guilty'. Oh, did I mention the senior citizen who was beaten was black? And the police officers were white? Don't worry, the cops said it wasn't racially-motivated. Pheew. We can just forget about all these years of racism.

On Saturday morning, I was up bright and early to join my good friends, Dave and Melody Blondel, for breakfast. We visited the Sunnyside Up in Mount Hope for a home-cooked meal. Delicious! I went for the 'Big Boy' breakfast. It was rather large. Let me give you the delectable rundown of my plate: two eggs (over-easy, of course), two slices of bacon, two sausages, one slice of ham, homefries, three pancakes, a slice of French toast and two pieces of regular toast. The only thing lacking was the amount of homefries - I loves my fried taters! We talked, laughed, Dave told lots of stories... Good times. Oh, incidentally, this picture was taken the last time we went out for breakfast. To Joey's Only, a fish and chip place. Yes, for breakfast. No, it wasn't my idea, it was Dave's. Dave and I both had incredibly painful cases of diarrhea afterward. My drive home was about 30-40 minutes. Dave's was 2.5 hours. But back to this visit...

We then went to the mall so Melody could look for some clothes. Fortunately, we also found our way to some music stores. I like to support such stores. I was wanting to pick up the new King's X album but it wasn't there. So I had to buy the new Sigur Rós, Iron And Wine's 'Woman King' EP and '100' double disc from Andy Stochansky. Blondel told me a cool story about Andy Stochansky before but I forget the details aside from him showing up at neXt church in Kingston
after the church used one of his songs in musical worship. Very rad. I visited that church once while in Kingston. They used songs from Uncle Tupelo, Sinead O'Connor and Coldplay. Excellent!

Anyhow, Dave and Melody were off and I came back home. I cut the lawn. I hate cutting the lawn. Especially trying to cut it with a dull blade after it has not been cut in three-to-four weeks. Josh came over in the evening to watch two periods of the Leafs-Canadiens games before abandoning me for his wife. What a jerk eh?

I must send out a belated 'happy birthday' to my adopted father, Mark Fraser, way back on October 2nd. Ok, so he didn't really adopt me. I just lived in his basement like an adolescent son for a few years. Happy birthday, Marky Mark! The big 3-0.

Yesterday, Melanie composed the finest Thanksgiving dinner ever eaten. Martha Stewart has nothing on my wife. A huge turkey with cornbread stuffing, the best dang cooked carrots I've ever tasted (honey-almond, ya'll!), beans, garlic mashed potatoes... Mmmmm mmmm! Melanie just ate a plate of leftovers and said the food tastes even better today. We have enough turkey that if you come over in the next four months, that's probably what you'll be eating. Be thankful, you ungrateful ogre. Her sister, Jenn, made awesome pumpkin pies (I ate my piece today and loved it). It was Thanksgiving dinner as well as a meal for Melanie's parents, who celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary last week. Congratulations!

I haven't showered yet today. I smell just slightly better than hobo butt. I should probably think about changing that. I did, however, finish my laundry so my clothes are all flowery fresh. I ever ironed six shirts! I don't know what I hate more, ironing or shaving. Probably shaving because I have to do it more often. Both tasks suck though, let there be no misunderstanding.

Bill arrived in Nashville safely the other day, thanks be to God. Did I tell you about all the happenings in Bill's life? I can't recall. Most of you (and by 'most of you', I mean 'all of you' - Breukelaar and Blondel) likely read his blog. If you don't, you should. Bill is a fine fellow and a good friend.

I will leave you now. Enjoy your day off (if you are a blessed Canuck) or your day on (if you are a cursed non-Canadian). I'll direct you to two places. First, you can listen to a new King's X song, 'Alone', online! For free!

Second, you can visit Darren Conley's new blog. Darren's a swell guy. Get it? 'Swell'? Like 'swelling after getting a nose job'? I'm funny. He wrote up a whole post about me. That oughta draw in the readers! Peace out, ya'll!

Monday, October 03, 2005

A blessed and glorious day off

Hey kids. Uncle Monkey Boy is sitting at home, in front of the computer, sending you a message of love. I love not being at work. I would retire now if I could. Dropped the Stratus off to get undercoated in preparation for winter. I do not love winter. In spite of the fact that I was taught not to hate anything, I will say that I hate winter. Yes, I share my wife's sentiments that snow at Christmas looks nice. I would do without it if it meant at least ten degrees Celsius/50 degrees Fahrenheit throughout that period of time. The best part of winter is when it ends and I get my tax return. I'm already looking forward to that.

It's Josh's birthday today! YAY! Happy birthday, sweet thang.

I'm going to try to use today to get some small tasks done. Booking appointments, writing letters and such. I'm getting a new doctor and had to get my old doctor (who I dislike a lot) to send my records to the new doctor. I put it off for months but finally did it up by sending him the money required ($25). I also finished the Mae CD I was making for Taxman. He's seen the light that is the glory of Mae. I was just listening to Imogen Heap on Bill's recommendation. Egads, that is some great stuff! You might know her as half of Frou Frou. Or, you might not know her at all. I suggest getting to know her.

Oh, how could I forget the entire weekend?!? Saturday, we ventured for the first time into Sarnia for the blessed union of Head (a.k.a. Toast a.k.a. Steve Host) and Cheryl. The ceremony was nice, Head looked dapper, Cheryl was beautiful and all went well. I'm not too keen on priests though. I can think of only one Catholic wedding I've been to where it seemed like the priest was at all interested in the events. The reception was a lot of fun too as we got to catch up with people I rarely see. Matt Armstrong is back from England and living in the Creek again. We sat with Jamie Blashill, Mike Bujara (a.k.a. Booj), Nathan Veldman and Lori-lin Harrett. Even Belly showed up for the reception! Animal (a.k.a. Mike Andres) was in effect too. Of course, Head's brother, Richard (a.k.a. Grichard a.k.a. Little Head a.k.a. Roast) and his wife, Melissa (a.k.a. Animal's sister) were present and partied down. The food was marvelous as it was in a Polish hall - that's right, homemade cabbage rolls and perogies! SOOO good! The only disappointment of the night was that everyone kept calling Head 'Steve'. No one used his real name. I thought that was ignorant.
Congratulations to Head & Cheryl!

Last night, I was going to head back into Toronto (a.ka. Hades) to see my man, Pigeon John, but I was too tired. Instead, I watched 6ixty-nin9, a great Thai film by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. It was very entertaining, combining action, drama and comedic elements. Ratanaruang is now garnering praise for his film, Last Life In The Universe. Blondel's seen it and thought it was great.

There's supposed to be a gathering of Saltfleet boys tonight at the Attic for wings. Mmmmm, wings.

Just finished some dishes and now I should head out and pick up my car. It only takes an hour to do the undercoating and I ran home from the shop. It's about 10-15 minutes from the house by foot, probably 7-8 minutes by dog sled and 45 minutes on the back of a 68-year-old Slovakian woman. Those Slovakian seniors are slow but they never give up.