STEVEBLOG Home on the Range

3Feb/120

Landmarks

I love Ottawa. The city may be an acquired taste with its frigid Winters (except for this one), humid summers, and strange balance of government/private industry but I have yet to meet a city I where I would rather be. St. John’s came close; I seriously considered trying to get a dock job and never come back. What really makes a place a home is your attachments. You associate your parents’ basement with “home” because of its isolation, poor lighting, and convenient room service. I call Ottawa home because of my attachments to various communities and landmarks. And when it comes to landmarks, one of my most influential landmarks is my “music hedge”.

The “music hedge” is literally a hedge. There is a bus stop beside it (for daytime busses) and it is pretty tall but aside from those it is totally unremarkable. However, this particular hedge is a highlight of all of my late night walks home. The late night bus stop leads me to walk a particular route and this hedge happens to mark the last bend before the straightaway to my house. Distance-wise, it also turns out to take about one song to walk that stretch. As I am sure you realize, the last song you here tends to linger. Do you have to let it linger? It doesn’t matter if you have to let it linger! Anyhoo, the hedge song concludes my night. It could be upbeat, or inflecting, or angry but it ends up framing any of my night’s events.

Now that all that preamble is out of the way, I can finally get to tonight’s hedge song. Tonight was “We will still need a song” by Hawksley Workman. Needless to say, I finished the walk with a huge grin. I have seen this guy in concert twice and plan on seeing him every time he comes to town. Seriously, the dude puts an individual touch on every performance. There are some musicians that I am perfectly happy listening to their albums at home and there are those that make the show an experience.

This city is so full of landmarks for me that it is hard for me to exist elsewhere. I literally work about a 5 minute walk from where I was born and those two things are not even the most influential reasons why I am tied to that area (shout out to Hintonburg!). Some call it the city that fun forgot, but I call it home. Fuck yeah, Ottawa.

Your pal,

Steve

28Jan/110

Trains, blades, and grenades

Pop music is ridiculous, that is science fact. Anyone who does not realize this is either completely devoid of taste or is a 14 year old girl. I know you are thinking that those two are the same but that's just mean. Seriously, don't make me come over there and hug you, blackheart. Naturally, it takes something exceptionally awful for me to consider it worth mentioning. To put things in perspective, I have not only sung along to several Ke$ha songs, but I have also joined into a choreographed dance sequence to one of them. I also respect her enough to put the dollar sign in her name. Yes, my bar is that low. So when I heard Grenade, I felt it was my responsibility to speak out. Bruno Mars' Grenade is the creepiest popular song I have heard since Clay Aiken's Invisible.

This would normally be the point where I immediately jump into an analysis of Grenade but I realize that a few (read: all) of you may not be up to speed with the creepiness of Invisible. There are dozens of adjectives you will think of when someone mentions Clay Aiken and I am fairly certain that not a single one will be "creepy". Let's just take a line of his song, out of context, to illustrate my point.

If I was invisible
Then I could just watch you in your room
|If I was invisible
I'd make you mine tonight

You know who also was invisible, watched people in their room, and made them theirs?

Randall_Boggs_monsters_inc_Buscemi

Yeah, and his dream in life was to murder children.

Now that we are all on the same page, let's take a look at Grenade.

Clearly the song is trying to remind everyone of the time(s) they fell in love with someone who did not return the feeling. That's fine. That's normal. What is not normal, is being consumed by an obsessive feeling of ownership because of your love. Obsessive and ownership are two terms very rarely used when describing love on account of them not being very applicable, yet Mr. Mars (if that is his real name) is asking us to buy in to his frighteningly twisted impression of love. Don't take my word for it, take his:

I'd catch a grenade for you

As an expression, this channels the comradeship of soldiers willing to give their lives for their fellow soldiers. Literally, one might assume he is willing to have sex with an ugly member of his partner's preferred sexuality to protect them from it. Let's assume it is the former.

Throw my hand on a blade for you

Ok, now we are getting creepy. It sounds romantic with the whole "I'd get stabbed for you" vibe, except that the hand on a blade was specifically mentioned. Have you ever heard that expression before? Of course not. Can you imagine a situation where putting your hand on a blade would be a logical action? The best I have come up with is grabbing the blade of a person threatening you with a knife, which in my experience only happens in domestic disturbances when the knife grabber is the disturber.

I'd jump in front of a train for you

In a previous line, we already established he would die for his love, so this clearly cannot be simple repetition. No, this is a much more twisted sentiment. Here he is saying that he would kill himself in an obvious suicidal method to punish his love with guilt stricken nightmares.

The rest of the song pretty much follows this pattern with a catchy beat. Clearly it paints the love interest as the villain and asks us to root for the narrator. The only problem is that the narrator is clearly a self absorbed psychopath. You know what normal people would do for their lovers? Write sappy poetry, mention sweet nothings, send pictures of lolcats, possibly draw pictures of butterflies singing rainbows amongst the stars, send flowers, etc. Your list may differ but I think it is fair to say that death was not on it. Yet this song has somehow managed to become popular enough that I can envision crowds of people thinking love should be expressed through self pain. There is one person who can reverse this horribly depressing life view, but I am afraid of the side effects.

Cabelo-de-Justin-Bieber-Penteado-573x800

He makes bubblegum look like brussel sprouts.

Bruno Mars, the Biebs is on you. The following Jersey Shore picture, however, is on me.

1021-the-situation-book-00

Creeping and grenades, how topical.

I would apologize for that picture but if I need to see it, so do you.

Your pal,

Steve

17Aug/100

Into the Wild

I finally got around to watching Into the Wild, the (obviously) film adaptation of the novel about Chris McCandless. The irony will probably be lost on you, but my journey in getting around to watching it was almost as long as his trek. I have often fantasized of escaping the complexity of life for the seeming simplicity of nature; replacing gramophones, slide rules, and a shirt and tie for birds, sticks, and  tanned rawhide. Naturally a movie about just this would interest me. I avoided it at release because of the Sean Penn factor. Yes, I have an arbitrary dislike for all things Penn. No, I can’t explain it, that’s what makes it arbitrary.

cityandnature Who needs technology when you have a song bird?

A little over a year ago I got hooked on the Into the Wild soundtrack. The album manages to tell the story from idealistic beginnings, setbacks, triumphs, loneliness, and finally loss. The vivid imagery it invokes convinced me that I had to see the movie. Unfortunately, the combination of my schedule, extreme laziness dedication to important charity work kept me from getting my hands on a copy. Eventually the urge to watch the movie passed and life went on. That is until a week ago when I tossed in the CD for a drive out of the city and the desire was re-ignited. This time I made sure to get a hold of the DVD and cleared my schedule.

scheduleSorry underprivileged kids, I can’t do everything.

I was prepared for a fairly sequential story of the rejection of society leading to a wilderness voyage filled with dangerous encounters and survival challenges. Immediately my expectations were shattered by the simple difference in sequence of the soundtrack and the movie. From then on I was taken on my own bittersweet journey. The nature aspect of the story felt secondary, more of a beautiful co-star rather than the purpose. Into the Wild turned out to be a very human story of relationships and finding meaning in your life. I have not been hit so hard by a movie since The Brothers Bloom. Establishing connections and touching the lives of strangers resonates with me. It may have something to do with my reputation of wandering and trying to make friends with random people or it may have deeper meaning; it gave me some perspective on the why of that reputation.

Into the Wild easily falls into one of my favourite movie experiences. I highly recommend it to anyone who has felt the draw of nature or enjoys the thrill of meeting new people. The experience is improved if you are feeling like some personal reflection, so it’s a bonus if that’s for you. I will leave you with a line from the movie to think about. Yes, I know that hurts but deal, doofus. The line comes near the end when a weak, lonely, and afraid Chris writes in a book.

Happiness only real when shared.

Hug it out.

Your pal,

Steve

5Feb/095

The Band

No, not "The Band", I'm talking about my band. I wanted to call it Steven Talent or Tenacious Steve but we settled with Total Solution. We being myself and Jimothy J. Jimerson. At least I think that's his name, I don't really talk to him too much because he's kind of creepy. Still, he plays guitar really well and it covers for my crappy guitar playing.

Anyhoo, like every fledgling band, we run into problems trying to pick set lists. I grew up on amazing classic rock, whereas Jim grew up on Enya... or some fruity girl music like that. (He just interrupted my thought train to tell me something about Robbie Williams or some other silly dance music craze from the early 90s). As a community service I figured I'd share my technique to avoiding band conflicts. It's a multiple step process, so bare... bear... bare...  .... pay attention while I go through the key points.

Step 1: Be the cool person in the band

I can't stress this enough. If you aren't the person in the band that people are coming to see then you don't matter. Period. Exclamation Mark. Possibly even an Apostrophe.

Step 2: Be the loudest person in the band

No one can get their point across if you are louder than them. Seriously, try to make a point when some is yelling over you. YOU COULD'NT DO IT COULD YOU?!?!?! HA!!~!!!

Step 3: Drink alot

It helps with steps 1 and 2.

Step 4: Never admit fault

Step 3 totally sounds more important than 1 and 2 but it isn't. Why? Because I said so dammit and I'm always right.

Step 5: Give'r

'Nuff said.

Your Pal,

Steve

Filed under: Music 5 Comments
4Feb/090

Happy Birthday, Alice

So what did you do to celebrate Alice Cooper’s birthday? I’m guessing most of you would say “nothing”, which is fine. For anyone who said “who?”, for shame. I’m sure I should be more inclusionist and encourage you to seek out and enjoy his music but that really doesn’t matter to me. I do find music listening to be primarily a solo interest and while it can be nice to talk to people about music I like, I really do not like talking about it too much. That’s an entirely different subject and one that I am pretty much going to contradict immediately.

I wanted to share my celebration of Alice Cooper’s birthday. To be fair, I would not have known it was his birthday if the radio did not tell me, but that’s not the point. The point is that I went out and bought music CDs for the first time in about a year. Oddly enough, I was out looking for a cheap but comprehensive Alice Cooper CD but Futile Shop and HMV let me down. Future Shop was my first stop and I literally asked myself “Why the hell did I even come here? They never have what I want.” when I was quickly looking through their selection. Thankfully, HMV has a better selection of decently priced music and videos so I was able to find something I wanted.

The moral of the story is that I think Futile Shop is an awesome nickname. It’s totally in the realm of The Home Despot.

Your pal,

Steve

Filed under: Music No Comments