Sunday, November 25, 2007

Toronto Roller Derby Championship

So last weekend, the inaugural season of the Toronto Roller Derby league came to a conclusion, with the first Championship match. The Gore-Gore Rollergirls and The Chicks Ahoy! - the two undefeated teams from the summer season - went at it on November 17 up at Rinx in North York. It had been a long time coming - the last public game had been in August - and part of the issue was that most rinks in the city went back to ice hockey use in September. The league was fortunate to get their hands on Rinx, a venue not designed for spectators so much; Rinx features ice rinks, bumper cars, bowling, and a roller rink. But the sweet bonus for all concerned was - provided you signed a waiver - we got to sit on the track, right in the thick of things.

The evening got off to an in auspicious start when the sound system kept crashing during the introductions. It appeared that the DJ's music board kept overwhelming the system, which was a shame seeing as the tunes are part of the whole experience. But they sorted it out, and by sitting on the track and not behind the glass, as it George Bell Arena in the summer, you could hear the announcements and play by play quite clearly. So for those of us who went through the whole summer with ToRD, we were well able to follow the action. I think the newbies who came - and there were plenty, which was very encouraging given the long lay-off - may have still had a hard time, especially when sitting on the rink surface, which of course makes it a bit harder to see things happening on the opposite side of the rink. But overall, I'd say that the crowd went home satisfied.

The match opened appearing to be a massive mis-match. While both squads went undefeated during the summer, the effects of a long lay-off seemed apparent when both sides skated a little slow off the top. This quickly changed as the Gore-Gores kept throwing numbers on the board, and the Chicks kept hitting the penalty box. By the end of the first period, the Gore-Gores had built up a seemingly insurmountable lead, in the neighborhood of 50 to 6. (I'm afraid I didn't write this down.) But the Chicks started to come back in the second, actually outscoring the Gore-Gores in the frame, and closing the gap - a bit. After 2, it was still about a 30 to 40 point lead for the Gore-Gores.

Sure enough, in the third, the hits started coming a bit harder, and while the Chicks made it respectable, they still couldn't get there, and the Gore-Gores wound up winning the first Toronto Championship Boot by a final score of 89 to 53. Led by their amazing jammers, including Bambi and Desmon Deck-Her who both fly through the pack like a hot knife through a baby's bottom, there was no way that the Gore-Gores were going be denied. The Chicks had nothing to be ashamed of, though, and both sides joined, along with the league referees, for a number of victory laps around the rink. Looking forward to next season - I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Blue Peter

Back on October 5, our friend Paul and the rest of Blue Peter played their first public show in something like 2 decades at The Mod Club in Toronto. Everyone had a blast and went home with huge smiles on their faces, especially the band, who showed that while they may have moved on with their careers they can still bring it, and bring it they did. The crowd was largely composed of friends and fans from the era - Blue Peter's last album came out in 1983 - but this wasn't some Police-style money grab: the boys just wanted to see if they could still do it, and exceeded expectations in the process.

The night opened with The Spoons, who led their own hit parade as part of the Canadian New Wave scene in the early 80s. They brought out classics like Those Old Emotions, Romantic Traffic and, of course, Nova Heart.
You got the feeling that The Spoons have been doing this a bit longer, and by that I mean the reunion thing - he was a tad slick, with the shout-outs and sing-a-longs, but they were still quite entertaining, and I think we were all shocked by how many of their songs we still knew. The only disappointment was that Sandy doesn't crimp her hair anymore.

But then Blue Peter took the stage, opening with Falling, the title track from their last album. The crowd was hyped, and just about everyone knew all the words - the band didn't forget a one, but we would have forgiven them if they had - and, I don't know if this happened back in the day or not, but the devil horns came out, too.

Here's a somewhat incomplete set list that I swiped from the facebook page for the show:
Falling, Chinese Graffiti, All Your Time, Unchained Heart, Don't Walk Past, Water On The Moon, Equalizer, Video Verite, Radio Silence, Take Me To War, Same Old Place

The order may be a bit off, but no biggee. They ended their main set, of course, with Don;t Walk Past - i am including the video I shot of that below. Forgive the audio quality, it's not the greatest. I understand that that the show was recorded that night, but have yet to hear what exactly will be done with the recording. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything.

In the short term, enjoy, the video and check out the band's site for updates about future shows, as I suspect there be some.

Oh, and check this out, a new Blue Peter compilation is on its way!

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Wedding in Picton

So, a few weeks ago - August 11, to be exact - we spent the weekend out in lovely Picton, Ontario for the wedding of our lovely friends Alex and Meredith. The countryside of eastern Ontario can not be beat, and the weather co-operated to supply a beautiful scene for the weekend. For the venue, they rented a farmhouse for the week, and set up facilities outside. The property features a couple of barns, and the ceremony was held in their shade. A large tent was filled with dining tables for dinner, and an additional tent sheltered the dance floor. There was a bluegrass band, and later on the DJ-stylings of Gabe.

We all go to weddings, and invariably have a good time, but I do think it's rare to have an experience as thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying as this. All the choices were perfect, from venue (a gorgeous house in the country) to the food (locally provided, and delicious) to the drinks (wine from the local Sandbanks winery, highly recommended) and the people. The mix of young and old was perfect, the weather completely cooperated, hey there was even a meteor shower that night around 2 in the morning. You could not have asked for a better weekend.

Oh yeah, and the bride and groom made a perfect choice in each other, as well. Congratulations, and thank you for making us a part of it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sorry, my bad

So, I've been rather busy lately, and just haven't been blogging like I ought to. I'm not exactly doing much of anything at the moment, other than saying that and getting ready for bed. But just to show you that I am still committed to this, here's some of the things that I plan on telling ya'll about in the near future:

  • I actually broke down and joined facebook. It's not as horrible I expected to be, however it is not nearly as wonderful as everyone else says, either. Once the novelty wears off, I'll be back more often.
  • The last 3 roller derby matches have come and gone, and I haven't even commented on them. I've got buttloads of photos to deal with, thoughts - there was a particularly good one a couple of weeks back - and the pending championship bout coming up.
  • Last weekend we went out to lovely Picton, Ontario for Alex and Meredith's wedding - it was without a doubt the best wedding I have ever attended. The above photo is not from the wedding.
  • Paul Humphrey's new album A Rumour of Angels has been released. Check out tracks at his MySpace page, and buy it at Amazon. I have my copy already, and will post a review soon, and hopefully a little Q & A with the man himself.
  • I'm quitting my job.
I'm not even going to post any music with this one, I'll let you hum or whatever. Better yet, scroll down to a previous post and press play on another track. Then come back up here and read that again:
  • I'm quitting my job.
Wow, that does feel good. Well, to go with that, I do plan on posting some Quasi next time, as I have been re-discovering them this week. Until then,

Monday, July 30, 2007

Eat My Shorts

There's a fun thing on the Simpsons Movie website that's going around the net. Click on the Create Avatar button, and you can make your own character. Here's what I've come up with for me - they don't give you options to change your clothes, only their colors, but you have a fair bit of stuff you can do with the face. There's a further link you can use that will supposedly create a Simpsons character based on a submitted photograph, but I have yet to get it to work. I would have done something about the sideburns, too - they're not quite right. The quality, therefore, of the finished image, leads to this terrible pun of a segue:

Badly Drawn Boy - Spitting in the Wind

This being the single of Pissing in the Wind, from the Hour of the Bewilderbeast. I always preferred this single version to the album's, mostly for the saloon style piano and the heavier harmonica. Plus, the video features Joan Collins, in a brilliant set of casting.

You can get the album here. You should have already done so a long, long time ago.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Shrimp with Pesto Penne Salad

Feeling a bit inspired today, I decided to make a cold pasta salad for dinner. H had informed me that we had a couple pounds of frozen shrimp on hand, and when at the produce shop yesterday, i wound up with the biggest bunch of basil - say that one three times fast - that would likely go bad before I used the thing up. Enter inspiration - why not a pesto sauce for the shrimp, make it earlier in the day, so when H gets home, the dinner is cool, and so is the kitchen. Ah, you say, H does not eat milk products, so what about pesto, then? Well, I searched high and low for a pesto recipe sans cheese, only to find one and realize that you just leave the damn cheese out, and then there you go.

I keep meaning to document my cooking fun in the manner of Paul the Feeder, but typically I'm all hot and sweaty and cranky from making a mess and tripping over the damn cats and the fact that we have the most retarded sink in the world - seriously, what is that point of a double sink if neither half is large enough to hold anything? - but I got lucky with this one. Since it is meant to be a cold salad, I was making it early enough that I would be chilled and relaxed myself by dinner time, but I would also have time to screw around with the camera and document it. Up above you'll see a rather arty shot, if I do say so myself. I even made a little video of the finished product so you can see how it turned out. And yes, that weird background noise is a cat purring - that would be Buster, chat numero zwei. He hasn't made a visual appearance here yet, so he may as well get to talk.

Shrimp with Pesto Penne Salad
1 pound (uncooked weight) penne, cooked, drained, chilled
1 c pesto (see below)
1 lb cooked, peeled, chilled shrimp (31-40 count okay)
splash red wine vinegar/white wine vinegar
1 pickling size cucumber, thinly sliced
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1" segments, blanched in salted water, drained, chilled
3 tomatoes, wedged (I prefer what they market as 'vine ripened tomatoes' here - usually they still have stems attached. Don't eat those.)
1 green pepper, seeded, loosely diced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp kosher salt

1 cup basil leaves, packed tightly
1/2 packed cup flat leaf parsley, packed more loosely
1/4 cup pine nuts - roasting them is up to you
3 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

  1. For the pesto, take the above ingredients and run them through your food processor or blender. The yield for this should be 1 cup and pesto paste - exactly what you need.
  2. Separately, cook, drain and chill the penne, shrimp (unless you are using frozen as I did) and asparagus. Don't overcook the asparagus, as it will get mushy.
  3. In a large bowl, combine pesto with all other ingredients. Stir well, and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours if you can.
  4. The use of vinegar, and which style, I would say is optional. I only added a little as most of the recipes I was using for input called for some. I put in so little I didn't notice its presence, and as such I think you could skip it altogether. I would also, next time, skip the cucumber, and perhaps add some other types of peppers, and maybe some mushrooms.
  5. For the cheese eaters, sprinkle some Parmesan or Asiago into the individual's bowl.
  6. Add bacon bits if you must, you philistines.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Perfect From Now On

They finally made it - Built to Spill played their first-EVER Toronto shows last week, and it was worth the wait, almost. I say almost because really, would it have been that hard over the years to play the odd show here? If you're going to come to Buffalo, and if you're coming to Rochester, what's a little trip across the border? They have played Vancouver and Victoria, so I have always wondered what the issue was with Toronto. And none of the Toronto papers thought to cover last week's shows, so no one got to ask. I have rather hoped to run into Doug out front before the gig but missed him, otherwise I certainly would've.

Lee's Palace was the perfect venue - decent sound, great sight lines and a small enough space that even at the bar you had a decent view. H and I and the rest of our friends stood near the middle, right behind the sound guy, which also let us have a sneak peak at the set list. Doug didn't veer from the list at all, so the inevitable shouted requests went nowhere; but he was scheduled to play most of them anyway. He covered material from most of the albums - my own prejudice is that I would have preferred to have seen a bit more from Perfect From Now On, but that's just me - and he did most of the bigger ones.

Car was one of the few stripped down songs - Doug played it almost solo, with the drummer - but everything else was, well, big. Carry the Zero, Strange and my all-time favorite Velvet Waltz were each on their own well worth the price of admission. The thing with Doug Martsch is that he will find these great riffs and build on them and build on them, and he likes to find these series of ascending chord patterns that feel so incredibly perfect; so when you get a song that lasts for 8 minutes, well, that sounds just about right.

Someone has very helpfully posted the performance from that show of Velvet Waltz on YouTube. Oh, Internet, what will do you for me next?

Oh, and then he came out for an encore. He only played one song, Broken Chairs, but he played it for over 20 minutes. The only thing missing was the whistling at the end. Over all, I have to say that this show was better than the show we saw in Milwaukee a couple of years ago, mostly due to the sound. Eagles in Milwaukee had a pretty cavernous ceiling, which ate up a lot of the treble and detail. You also can still smoke in clubs in Milwaukee, and I never really noticed how much of a nuisance that was in a club until they stopped letting you do it - it made it more enjoyable certainly. (We bailed during the encore last time when H couldn't take the smoke anymore.) I haven't spoken to anyone who attended the Wednesday night show, but if you heard anything about it let me know. It was pretty much a full house, so I'm hoping that Wednesday was just as good as Tuesday.

And here's the original album version of what is one of my favorite songs ever (listen for the cello on the second verse, it kills me every time):

Built To Spill - Velvet Waltz

Get Perfect From Now On at