Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Left Town 'Cause I Thought I Wanted More

Two weeks ago I went to cleveland to visit my sister, who goes to Cleveland State University. My Mom was driving down to watch and help out with her diving meet and while I was excited to see a few friends and also explore a city that I had never been to before. I did a few touristy things (Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, it was pretty underwhelming) but also saw some pretty rad stuff (Happy Dog Saloon was the bee's knees, as was melt), but by far my favourite part of the trip was a (sort of) house show that I went to one night with a few friends.

I was stoked for it for a variety of reasons. One was that it was all local Cleveland/Ohio bands (well one from Philly) with the two headliners being ones that I had heard of before, but never listened to. The idea of seeing bands in their hometown really appeals to me and seems like the best way to take in someone that you haven't heard before. Secondly, I really like house shows. They are the best concerts, hands down. This one wasn't exactly a house show, as it was in a recording studio, but the space was small and intimate enough that it more or less was. An added bonus was that since the show was in a recording studio, the acoustics were amazing and every body sounded top notch, especially in regards to vocals.

So, the lineup was Signals Midwest, Worship This!, Ma Jolie and En Garde. The show was great and it's always amazing to go to a show where you don't know any of the bands playing and not only do none of them suck, but they all absolutely rule. I'm not going to summarize the entire show because I feel like me saying "I hadn't heard this band before and they were really, really good!" four times in a row is pretty fucking pointless, so I'll get to the rub:

Ma Jolie is fucking amazing. Samiam/Iron Chic/etc. WHATEVA! Their singer sounded great, their bass player rules and they were clearly at the top of their game at this show. I've already linked to it in the last sentence, but they have a demo and an album FO FREE. And guess what? Both are fucking great and sure to make an appearance on my "Year End List" bullshit. The band's playing Pouzza Fest this year where I will be sure to catch them and hold beerz up in the air and yell and headbang. I really think that this band is on the verge of breaking out and are destined for bigger things, so if you want ultra scene points you should get hip to them now, so you can be the one telling all of your friends about them and not vice-versa.

For reference, try not to vibe to dis. I dare you.

I mean, that part when he yells "Take a load off baaaabbbbyyyyyyyy", AMIRITE?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sit Down. We Do This Every Fucking Day

Something that my parents instilled in me at a very young age was the importance of reading. Whereas many of my friends in elementary school (let's get real, they're still my friends now) would be getting new Super Nintendo (and then Sega) (and then Nintendo 64) games and bangin' new toys for Christmas and birthdays, I would get a whole lot of books. Though I wasn't the happiest camper when all my friends were jumping on kremlins while I was staring down a stack of literature, I realize now that it was a very good thing. Reading and enjoying a book is immeasurable in the benefits it gives to a person's language and speaking skills and also really develops one's imagination, as their mind creates images to go along with the story it's taking in. Since I got in the habit of reading for pleasure at a young age, it's something that I've continued to pursue since and something that I've noticed people I know do less and less. First TV and now, especially in my generation, video games have more or less taken up all the time that would have originally been occupied by books. Though you'll never catch me bad-mouthing either of those things since I thoroughly enjoy them both, it does really suck that instead of teenage boys getting stoked about all the angst and swearing in Catcher In The Rye, they're getting stoked brain-melting violence. (Again, for the record I would like to state that I really enjoy brain-melting violence.)

Another thing that my parents lovingly forced onto me at a young age (that I briefly touched upon in an earlier blog) was a deep love of baseball. With both my parents being die-hard Toronto Blue Jays fans, I was going to games before I knew how to talk, let alone walk. You know how it's a somewhat common practice for parents to keep a newspaper headline from the day their child was born? My parents cut out and kept the boxscore from the paper that day (A 4-3 walk-off win over the Mariners ending in dramatic fashion with George Bell scoring on a wild pitch after Fred McGriff tied the game with a ground-rule double.). While most of my friends growing were playing hockey and gushing over Mats Sundin, I was going to way more Blue Jays games than they were Leaf's games and worshipping the life-sized cardboard cut-out of Joe Carter on my wall. Eventually I started playing softball and then baseball and began to understand the ebb and flow of a 9 inning game and all the little elements that make it so great. Through my adolescence and now into adulthood I've started to realize the love/hate relationship and stress that comes with loving and supporting a team that is perpetually on the outside looking in when it comes to October. You start to realize after a while that baseball is a constant in your life. Unlike other sports, during the season baseball is there pretty much every day and it's something you get used to; the game starts at 7 (usually) and it's the way you end more or less every day from April 1st until September 30th. After a period of time you develop a kind of fatherly relationship (or about as fatherly as a relationship between a teenaged boy and 25 grown men can be) (welp, that came out wrong) and you invest a whole of emotional energy into wanting to see them succeed on the field.

So, what exactly do these two long-winded, seemingly unrelated  paragraphs have in common? Well, I just finished reading Season Ticket by Roger Angell and before that read The Summer Game by the same author and both were amazing reads. Angell is a columnist for the New Yorker and regularly contributes baseball and non-baseball work, but his stuff about the diamond is by far the best. It's completely obvious in his writing that while he's a through and through New York Mets and Boston Red Sox fan, he's a fan of the game first and foremost and a good deal of each book consists of him taking pleasure in seeing the game in all its different forms in different cities. Pretty much every page has at least one great anecdote about baseball, be it from Angell or the ridiculously large amount of players he interviews over the course of each volume. Some personal favourites were Earl Weaver (One of the all-time great managers and characters, managed the great Baltimore Oriole teams from the late 60's and 1970's) sitting in his underwear, drinking a beer and explaining why exactly he likes baseball so much; (a reporter asks him if he thought the Orioles were going to hang on to their lead and win the World Series) "No, that's what you can never do in baseball. You can't sit on a lead, run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You've got to throw the ball over the goddamn plate and give the other man his chance. That's why baseball is the greatest game of them all." Another was Ted Williams (The best Red Sox hitter of all time? Yes. Without a doubt.) describing the process he would go through in his mind when deciding where to swing on a fastball. It is truly a moment when you have to sit back and think "Well, that is why you are the last man to hit .400 and I only played houseleague."

But by far my favourite part of the two books was Angell describing seeing the expansion New York Mets for the first time in 1962 (the worst baseball team of all time), through to seeing them win the Series for the first time in '69 and then edging out the Sox in '86. Since the Blue Jays were an expansion team, joining the Majors in '77), they suffered though the usual fate for new teams in sports: many years of mediocrity. I've been to Blue Jays playoff games and got to witness them win two World Series, but unfortunately that happened when I was 3 and 4 years old, so I don't remember that happening (save for this of course, I'll never forget that.), so basically I've watched the Jays struggle to stay afloat (often fail at doing so) for 19 seasons. After a while you get used to the losing and learn to love the team despite their lack of success. Angell gives these long descriptions of going to Mets games and having an absolute blast at the games with the rest of the Mets fans, despite them being absolutely awful on the field that I immediately drew parallels with. It's especially great with the Mets because they came out of nowhere to win the World Series in an upset in 1969.

Angell was there from the beginning and then got to watch his boys win it all and get the ultimate gratification in the end and this is something I can relate to now. So far in the off-season the Blue Jays have pulled off a major trade and signed a few key free agents to greatly improve our chances in the American League East and in some cases become the favourite to win the division. I know that our club's certain betterment on the field will inevitably bring in hordes of band-wagon jumpers who will be a little annoying, but it sure as hell won't make the giant shit-eating grin that will be covering my face while I watch this new and improved version of the Blue Birds on the field any less enjoyable.

Even if you don't have any interest in baseball, reading either of these Roger Angell books (or any of his others, I'm sure) will make you look at the months of November through February with great disdain and make the news of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training seem like the second coming of Christ. The guy is the Mark Twain of the old game and his absolute love of every thing that goes along with it is completely contagious.

Oh, and uh GO JAYS GO!

Monday, November 12, 2012

All You Seem To Say Is Baby "How Could It Be You?"

So today I was listening to the Jonsi song "Sticks and Stones", which most people know because it plays during the credits of the most excellent movie How To Train Your Dragon (and man, it's an aweosme song), and when it ended my itunes went right into Joyce Manor. Like I said in my last post, I've been re-discovering a bunch of music that I haven't really listened to in the last few months and this is certainly an example of that. But while Lemuria gave me more of a "Wow! This band is so poppy and cute and makes me feel great! I can't believe I ignored them!" feeling, this was more of a "Hey Tim! Feel like getting ridiculously sad? Remember all those pent-up feelings from last fall? Well, here they are whether you like it or not!"

All their releases up this point sure are great though. Between an EP, a full-length and another full-length that is so short some people consider it an EP even though it's nine songs, there's not much filler and a whole lotta angst. I highly recommend checking them out.

Also, speaking of How To Train Your Dragon, I heard a lot of people rave about that movie when it came out but only ended up watching it yesterday. Holy shit a company that's not Pixar actually made an endearing, fun, touching and inspiring animated kids movie! (Siq use of adjectives brah) I really enjoyed watching it.

I've mentioned it a few times on here, but I joined a band with whack of my favourite homies in the world. We're called Beat Noir and are in the process of recording a whole bunch of music and we have a show in Toronto coming up in December! I'm excited for a number of reasons. 1: I haven't played a show in Toronto since my high school ska band The Pragmatics  (Oh, you know I still have that ASOB shirt I'm rockin' in that video) broke up on stage in grade 12. 2: The show is with Like Pacific, who I am pretty good friends with, are A+ dudes all around, just put out a new EP called Homebound and are what one could consider "on their grind".

I really think you should think about attending this show, so if you would like the info it can be found right here.

In hindsight I maybe should have not linked that Pragmatics video. It's really embarrassing man! That hair was such a bad idea!

I suppose I'll leave you with this because I want it so bad and it makes me smile:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Every Funny Guy Has A Serious Side


So this year I'm joining the Movember and how that works is that I grow a mustache and accept donations which are then used to help in prostate cancer research. Beat Noir made a team and you could donate to us right here! Since my Mom beat colorectal cancer about 6 years ago I've taken a lot of joy and pride in trying to aid in research to figure out how to help people with the disease. Once it affects someone close to you, the idea of losing somebody you love and having nothing you can do about it becomes very, very real. It's not fun. The team is currently in 17911th place and I would really appreciate it if the person reading this could help us make it further up that list. If you could forward that link or know any type of group that would be interested in donating I would appreciate the most. Thanks!

Recently my ipod ate shit and stopped working. I had to restore it (delete everything off of it) several times and also had to reinstall itunes. So now my itunes is completely reset and everything. This golden nugget of shinfo aside, what that lead to was me listening to a bunch of music that I haven't in a while because I had to go through my music library with a fine tooth. One of these artists that I somehow managed to avoid for a while was Lemuria and I have no idea how that happened because they rule so fucking hard.


You know what's awful? The Major League Baseball off-season. Baseball is something that my family's been involved with for as long as I've been alive. My mom was at a Jays game something like 3 days before I was born and I went to my first game at 3 weeks old. Since then the Toronto Blue Jays have been a constant in my every-day life. And hey, we haven't made the playoffs since 1993. Think about how many losing seasons I've had to endure. IT TAKES ITS TOLL MAN.

Anyway, the MLB season ended not that long ago with the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series and now I am faced with 5 1/2 very long, baseball-free months. I guess I'm luckier than all the football, basketball and hockey fans because our off-season is shorter, but does it suck. From April until the end of October, you get baseball every day. Unlike other sports, baseball plays almost every single day and checking the scores and the standing and seeing where Jose is in the home-run race becomes your routine and something you look forward to each morning. And now all there is to do is read wild trade rumours most of which aren't true and only serve to get your hopes a little about your perennial losers.

I still love 'em though.

Oh and if you didn't figure it out, the post started with that picture because it was sort of a "grab-bag" or "mystery box" of random shit compiled together. BET THAT WAS A LETDOWN.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Kind Of Green That Doesn't Make A Big Deal About Itself

This past Tuesday evening I went to go see the film adaptation of Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I was first introduced to the book by an ex-girlfriend of mine. She raved about it and said the connection that she had with the story was one of the more major ones she had experienced while reading. She had been given it by a teacher with whom she had a relationship not unlike Mr. Anderson in Perks, which certainly added to the "coming-of-age" aspect of the novel. I had heard several other people describe the book in a similar fashion, so taking that into account as well as my ex's stellar literary taste; I decided to read to the book after a while.

The book hit me pretty hard as I was reading it. I was going through a time when I wasn't the happiest, so I related to Charlie a ton. I mean I've never gone through anything as traumatizing as a best-friend shooting himself or sexual abuse from a relative, not even close, but I'd just been dumped and was really reveling in the level of melancholy present in the writing. I really liked how the sadness wasn't over the top; Charlie never really made over the top statements about how much he wasn't enjoying his life, he would just say "I'm getting bad again." Or at least I think that is more realistic. People who are generally alright but are having a bit of a rough time will make a huge deal about how shitty they feel (present company included) simply because they aren't used to feeling that way and are having trouble dealing with it. People who are legitimately very depressed don't mention it all the time because they are used to being sad all the time (fuck bruh), so Charlie describing it very simply as "getting bad again" makes his condition that much more real.

I also related pretty heavily to the novel because I wasn't the most popular kid in my high school, which was a very sports-centric school, so a story about the weird kids who band together hit home a little bit. I suppose when you write a story about  kid who starts to learn about relationships and try drugs and meet new people and try new things and read cool books, then most adolescents are going to relate to it, but this book came at exactly the right time for me.

I was moderately excited to see the cinematic version of the book because even though film adaptations generally fall short of the original novel, it's still exciting to see a visual, moving version with sound of a story you're familiar with. It had been about 3 years since I had read the book, which was long enough for me to forget many of the minor plot details, but remember them right before or as they happened in the film. To put it shortly, I was floored by the movie.

Pretty much every scene matched up exactly to how I had seen it in my mind while reading the book. I'm sure this is due in large part to the author writing the screenplay and directing the movie, but it was almost uncanny. All of the actors played their roles exceptionally well and, just like the visuals of each scene, looked and acted more or less exactly as I had thought they would.

It sounds funny to say it, at least in regards to a movie that in reality is a pretty standard teenybopper coming-of-age flick, but I got pretty emotional at the end of the movie. It was a combination of forgetting how heavy the end of the novel is and seeing bits of myself as well as other important people in my life in the characters on screen and I had to sit back and let out a "fuuuuuuuuuuuuck" in my thoughts as the movie was coming to a close. I'm not sure if anyone can relate, but whenever I have an intense moment and let out a deep breath it always feels like a huge weight is being lifted off my chest and that happened.

I know most people will probably look down on me for liking the book as much as I do (it certainly has it's share of h8erz), but it's just one of those things that was the right thing at the right time in my life. I really have nothing but great things to say about the movie, but don't be disappointed if you don't get as emo as I did at the end.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nightmare On Arthur Street

Typical Tim: I'm back! I swear I'm back! And then leave it alone for four days.

Anyway, I went to Guelph this weekend to see a rad show in Guelph. My wonderful friends Snake Charmer who I've had the pleasure of seeing multiple times were playing as well as The Mighty Atom, Born Wrong and Social Divorce, all of whom I have heard of a bunch but somehow avoided in concert so far. All things considered it was one of the craziest shows I've been to and I'm so happy I got to make it there after my night was almost ruined by a giant gaping asshole of a greyhound driver.

I knew the show was going to be a little wild when I walked in and saw that the room where the band was playing was pretty tiny. The drumset took up about a fifth of it, so it was going to be packed and there was no doubt in my mind that the crowd would get a little wild. This is a recipe for a memorable night as well as some serious mosh, which is something that I am all for.

Mighty Atom started things in pretty raucous fashion. They were loud and rockin' and got the crowd really stoked. Though afterward the band said they thought they had played terribly, the opposite was evident as they sounded tight and loud as fuck. They're noisy and fast with a great stage presence. To get an idea of their set picture this song in (maybe, if that) 12ft x 12ft room:

I was upstairs in the house when Born Wrong started but as soon as they did a huge rush of adrenaline shot through me. That might be hard to understand for non-punk kids, but when a band is absolutely killing it and right on the mark on a night, you can tell from the first note. As a result you get really excited because you know the rest of the set is going to be just as good and you can't wait to see it. This happened that night. I really don't think Born Wrong can sound any better than they did this past weekend, their set was perfect. Fast and aggressive, with the entire crowd going crazy. People were jumping off of the staircase onto the crowd and the band was getting just as into it as the crowd was, as the singer spent roughly 100% of the set in the middle of the mosh. I spent most of the set watching everything go down from above and can definitely feel how hard I was headbanging in my neck right now.

I had heard about Social Divorce since their inception because two of the members are also in Snake Charmer who I know very well. However, I had never seen or heard their music somehow (some friend I am, right?). It feels like I'm just repeating the same thing over and over, but holy hell did they kill. They were fast and angry with just the right amount of humour thrown into their banter to keep the crowd stoked. Not to mention absolutely ace Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys covers. They have a demo, but it definitely doesn't how tight and intense these guys are live. For example:

Snake Charmer are just something else. I can't speak with absolute certainty, but I'm fairly sure that in forming the band they took the heaviest, fastest and most pissed off hardcore and then said "Let's play heavier and faster and get more pissed". They get better with each time I see them and have parts where I just have to sit back and think "Whoa, this happening right now" and parts where I just completely lose my shit without even thinking because it just gets so intense. Having legitimately the best drummer I've ever seen play live also helps their case. They play shows around southern Ontario all the time and while they are extremely intense on-stage, they are some of the nicest, genuine and most down-to-earth people off of it, so you have no excuse to miss them. While the rest of the bands sure did whip the crowd into a fury, it was nothing compared to the absolute mayhem that happened when Snake Charmer player. There's some video from the show and it looks a little something like this:

The show got me pretty stoked and has put me on a huge hardcore kick since.

Ragin' y'all.