Archive for December, 2009

It’s New Years Eve!

December 31, 2009

Well, it’s actually New Years, so I figured I’d write up a quick ‘New Yearsy’ post…not that my last few haven’t been New Yearsy.  I mean…’Best of 09’…cliche…I sicken me.

Going into the new year I’m planning on doing what I’ve always done.  Since 1997 my New Years Resolution has pretty much been the same: lose weight, get fit, make *insert creative form currently interested in here*.  I remember in 1997 thinking ‘Next year, I’m going to spend summer with my shirt off!’  That comment passes year after year after year until…geez!  That’s 13 years!

I’ve actually succeeded each year too!  I’ve gotten fit EVERY year (…except for 09…), and usually by summer I’m feeling confident enough in myself to be shirtless.  In 07, I even got me a nifty back tattoo to show off!

And then…summer passes…I distract myself with this or that or the other thing…and by December the cycle begins anew.  The motivation for a shirtless summer becomes…motivation for a shirtless summer again.

Spring of 08 was my best year!  I actually caught myself eyeing my reflection in a mirror.  It was a strange situation: hot day, playing Super Swing Golf on Wii (the only video game I play), and there happened to be a full length mirror in our living room…actually…revisiting that moment is kind of creepy…

So, why do I do it??  13 years with the same goal and 13 years with the same result.

I think it has to do with routine…or lack thereof.  I HATE falling into a routine.  I’m most miserable when each day is like the next.  Again, aside from 2009, I’ve always tried to reject routine but I suppose my human nature has imposed a 12 month cycle to replace the one I should be having daily, weekly, and monthly.  That’s not a bad thing.

…but 2009.  The year of the routine.   I began to stay at home all the time, I ate a lot, I didn’t work out much, I wasn’t being very healthy.  Sure, school shook my life up a bit, but my ‘social’ life, the one for which the whole point of getting fit for summer was built on, kinda died off.

Which is why I consider 2010 to be the year the resolution sticks.  12 years of the same, 1 year of different…my motivation is different now.  Don’t Have Another 2009!

I guess I’m saying…there’s always a goal, and there’s always an obstacle, and there’s always the battle for motivation.  Tomorrow, due to some strange calendar-based tradition, EVERYONE gets a chance to say “I’m gonna start new.”  Try to find something and work for it.  Don’t look back in 2023 and think…’Geez!  That’s 13 years!’

Advertisements

Musical Discoveries of 2009

December 28, 2009

I post a lot of messages on Twitter (Potoroo, if you wanna seek me out, though I assume most of you read this blog ’cause of my Twit-pestering.)  When I discover a new band, whether they’re actually a ‘new’ band or just one I had missed and was now in love with, I bring it up.  I recently championed Women and was met with a request to post my top musical discoveries of 09.  Rather than make it an arbitrary number, I figured I’d just list ’em…in no particular order. ((I apologize for the gratuitous use of MySpace, but it’s still a damned good source of streaming music for testing out new bands!)

The Schomberg Fair

How to describe this band.  A three-piece gospel…bluegrass…punk…band?  Dude…from the first flurry of banjo-pickin’ to the deep, deep voice booming like an eight-foot tall grave digging hypeman I was hooked.  There is NOTHING like this out there…ANYWHERE. Their album ‘Gospel’ rocks, and is on an edge of musical reality I’ve never heard before.  Suggested Track: Angel’s Wings.

The Strumbellas

It’d be strange to not mention these guys here.  Originally a 9 piece bluegrass band and slowly widdling down to a 5 piece folk-rock band, The Strums have catchy lyrics that would offend if they weren’t so fun to sing-a-long to.  I got to watch from the sidelines as audiences fell in love with their energy and the quirky stage talk of Simon Ward, the lead singer.  The controversial lyric in ‘Underneath’ always caught the attention of the crowd.  Check it out!  Suggested Tracks: Indiana, The Racer, Underneath.

Angus and Julia Stone

I first heard the song ‘Wasted’ on Triple J’s Hottest 100 (volume 15 if you’re curious).  Julia’s sweet and innocent voice, their awesome harmonies and the gentle, laid-back nature of this folk duo give me shivers.  Their music is perfect background AND perfect listening material.  For an extra bit o’ fun, check out Bliss N’ Eso‘s hip-hop track ‘Eye of the Storm’ which uses ‘Paper Aeroplane’ by A&J as it’s beat. Suggested Tracks: Wasted, Paper Aeroplane, Mango Tree.

Crystal Castles

I’m going to have to use some strong language here, but it makes sense since we’re talking about Crystal Castles: it feels like you’re getting the shit kicked out of you by an Atari…and it feels good.  I could just see a show ending with a guy smashing a Casio on stage and then jumping into the audience to beat up someone who looked at him funny.  It may sounds like I’m not describing the music…but I am. Suggested Tracks: Untrust Us (their more…tame song), Love & Caring, Knights.

Beast

Sweet, sexy Beast.  What can I say about you?  I feel like I’m in a baptist church, a heist movie, and a dance club all at once.  Strangely you can trace this band back to both ‘Triplets Du Belleville’ and a Ubisoft video game…two things I don’t normally see infusing anger into trip-hoppish electronica, but whatever happened to this jazzy duo I’m glad it did.  Awesome band, awesome album…oh, and awesome website too! Suggested Tracks: Mr. Hurricane, Devil, Satan.

The Everpresent Melancholy

If he knew I was saying this he’d kill me, but…TEM is what Dashboard ‘could’ be if Dashboard would just shut up about girlfriends and start talking about things everyone can relate to…emo is usually a bad word, but in this case it doesn’t come across as whining, it comes across as an emotional reaction, which makes for good music.  He does it with clever musicianship and a sweet, sweet voice.  And, unlike Dashboard, you can get his music free with the artist’s permission!  Suggested Tracks: Ephemeral, Plan for a New Self

Women

A cleaned up Times New Viking, which means nothing to pretty much everyone, but trust me on this 😉  Lo-Fi at it’s best here with hooks that stick in your brain despite being recorded in a culvert or on a boombox…in fact…probably ‘due to’ being recorded in a culvert or on a boombox.  These guys were up for the Polaris this year, which along with Triple J I suggest to all music lovers as a great way to find out what others are listening to.  Suggested Tracks: Lawncare, Black Rice

Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker

I’m gonna end on a more mainstream note but that doesn’t take away from this band’s awesomeness.  Another of the emerging ‘electronica’ bands (…which, too all my compatriots who remember the early 90s, means something different now) but with a quirky edge.  They have a sense of humour.  They use this strange outlook on life in their songs and videos.  And…they sound GREAT loud.  I know the genre’s are totally different, but they’re kind of a silly Bluejuice to me…a band with danceable, crowd-pleasing music who are also a bunch of goofs.  Check it out! Suggested Tracks: Cloudboy, Neurochemical Warfare Gas Masquerade.

Overall Discoveries of 2009

December 23, 2009

I’m doing a Musical Discoveries of 2009 post, but so much happened in 09 I figure an ‘Overall Discoveries’ list is a good idea as well.  Please note: from 06 to 08 I was behind the ball a bit…my ‘discoveries’ list would be focused mostly on TV shows, alcoholic beverages, and serving customers in a diner.  Sad.  Some of these discoveries are things people found years ago…but this is my blog, boiee.  This is what *I* discovered this year:

Malcolm Gladwell

My biggest discovery is this great thinker who, coincidentally, comes from Elmira, Ontario.  In the grand scheme of things we were raised in neighbouring towns even though they’re a drive apart.  The school I attend brought him up A LOT.  Eventually I came around to checking him out, and have since read all his books but one.  ‘The Tipping Point’ is mindblowing, ‘Outliers’ is fascinating, and ‘What the Dog Saw’ was pretty much my favourite read of 2009.  His way of looking at complex topics, giving them a completely unique point of view, and making them easy to read make him my favourite thinker…ever.  If I say one thing…it’s read one of his books.  That’s my gift to everyone for 2010.

Marketing

I should preface this with a caveat: I’ve always ‘hated’ business, marketing, and all things advertising…all my life…forever.  In high school I saw business courses as breeding grounds for douchebaggery.  Who’d have expected I’d become fascinated with marketing in 2010!  Thanks to my instructor Dan Broome and books by Seth Godin I now see that there IS a huge relevance to how you communicate your ideas to the world.  It always seemed like I’d just tell people and they’d listen.  There’s so much more to the process of interesting people in what interests me.  Applicable to music, to the summer camp, and to any sort of interpersonal communication…I discovered marketing in 09.  I guess I’m a bad person now.

Hometown Tales Podcast

Gene and Bryan crack me up. The stories are great, but it’s the hosts who make this a great discovery.  These guys need a show, seriously.  And a show they can dick around in as much as they do in their podcast.  I’ll admit…it was a growing process.  It took a few listens but now I look forward to my subway rides when there’s a new Hometown Tales podcast to listen to.  The title tells it all – strange stories that come from all over the world – but it’s the hosts who make the show.

Furry Literature

There are LOTS of horrible writers in the world, and I pretty much swore off amateur writing after having to slog through even the SHORTEST stories recommended to me by friends.  In the end, I was wrong: there’s some amazing stuff out there, and some of it is furry!  The best fiction I read in 2009 was ‘Out of Position’ by Kyell Gold. My next read will hopefully be ‘Thousand Leaves’ by Kevin Frane. I’m looking forward to it! Especially since the next book on my desk is The Fountainhead…to which I have nothing to look forward.  Required reading, my ass.

School

…let’s call this a rediscovery.  When I decided to go back to school, ten years after I finished University, the reaction from friends was the same across the board: WHAT COURAGE!!!  Courage?  It just seemed like a logical step, but apparently returning to school in your thirties is a crazy step to take.  It was like riding a bike to use the lamest comparison of them all.  It took a week to remember how to take notes, but it only took orientation to get excited about learning again.  After a decade of mental sleepwalking it was a great change.  I highly recommend to everyone that even something as simple as a night course or correspondance is a good idea.  Choose something that’s always interested you and learn something more about it!

What will I discover in 2010?  I expect a lot of strange things considering I’ll be embarking on a new career path…and I’ll have this new fandangled blog to document it all.  In 2003 my life consisted of managing a coffee shop, doing a webcomic and a published comic in a children’s magazine, acting and directing plays, and I was the workshop coordinator for a summer camp up north.  Now, in 2009, I’m at school, am trying to get back into performing music, RUN the summer camp up north, and am pursuing a career in the music industry.  What…happened?

Each year in between I discovered a lot of things, and they’ve all led me to this point.

There are a few other things I’ve discovered that I haven’t either given enough time to or given enough thought to – iPhone apps, mopeds, LinkedIn, Adobe InDesign, typography…maybe in 2010 they’ll become more important and a year from now I’ll be chatting about them.  Until then…looks like I have some Ayn Rand to read…*sigh*

Over the Roo…

December 18, 2009

Everything seems to happen under the pink for me.  That has a lot to do with the fact that I have a pink-mohawk on my head.  Does that mean the pink is over the Roo…what does that even mean?

I’ve learned through conventions, classes at school, and starting new jobs that the first stage of interaction is always an introduction, and it’s ALWAYS a bizarre experience.  Take, for example, the first day of school.  I will use by example my first day of school at Harris Institute for the Arts.  About 22 eager music industry enthusiasts sit in class and the instructor, as they are prone to do, asks the class to say something about themselves.  I believe I said something like:

“Hi, my name is Lucas but you can call me Roo.  I’m here ’cause I’m interested in getting into producing, but the main reason is that I’ve been doing music all my life and the missing parts are ‘Business’ and ‘Tech,’ and since this school offers both I figured Harris was a good place to go.”

It’s an interesting experiment.  You find out more about other people…and gradually as the routine repeats itself, as EACH new class begins this way, you shake it up a bit more.  I mentioned I have a University degree in theatre.  I brought up my old band.  I was even brave enough to mention that I’m a furry…which I’m brave enough to do here too…and for which I don’t believe bravery is required so long as the next question is either “OK, you need to help me understand this,” or “Really, what is that all about?”  If the next question is “Like that CSI episode I saw??” bravery is a plus.

…I guess more on that in another discussion.

The strangest part of the introduction is the overlap.  When term two begins new teachers arrive, and now people who know each other pretty well have to reintroduce themselves.  Some people have changed their interests, some people mention NEW things we haven’t heard before.  It’s more like a revision, Draft Two.

By term three…it’s pretty bizarre going through the process again.  We’ve all HEARD everything before.  When someone changes it up it’s now more like they’ve been withholding something. (WHAT?  You used to be a professional WRESTLER??  And YOU used to be a hairdresser??) Good friends find it fascinating.  I found it weird when I ‘thought’ I knew something, but by way of a reintroduction I find out I know nothing at all.

I’ve also identified the stage introduction, or introductions where you’re essentially behind a ‘fourth wall,’ maybe an observation unique to me but something I’ve come to understand from theatre experience.  While pursuing a career as an actor at University of Guelph I was cast in roles that were VERY MUCH not like myself: a racist cop, a wife abuser…even the illustriously reviled pedophile role. Each time I felt secure doing so because of that stage, the dividing line both between actor and audience, and actor and character.

The feeling that you can be someone different on stage translates to being ‘yourself’ on stage as well.  If I’m introducing myself from a stage situation – playing live music, or in a convention scenario pretty much EVERY time I meet a new person – the sense that I’m repeating information people might have heard before goes away.  I’ve been cast in a role, it just so happens that role is myself.

At Camp Feral!, the convention I organize, every introduction is a stage introduction.  It’s much more personalized but it’s still me playing myself: the role I was born to play, I suppose.  The ‘Opening Ceremonies’ are a show, and the one on one interaction is almost like improv.  The feeling that I should be more humble goes away.  I’m allowed to talk about myself  because it’s understood that I’m the guy who’s (apparently) in charge.  This feeling is worlds apart from the feeling that I’m not in charge at all…networking with a bunch of people who hold my career or future in their hands, that’s the opposite of a stage introduction.  That always feels like an interview.

I’m generally shy when it comes to talking about myself.  Hence why I made this introduction a discussion about introductions.  The main reason is that I hate repeating information in front of people who have already heard it.  I’d do better networking alone than with a friend because I think having someone beside me who KNOWS all this stuff infuses an arrogance in me that I otherwise don’t feel I have.

…is this a blog about talking about one’s self?  Hopefully not.  I just figure I’ve had some strange experiences, found out some interesting things, and am about to embark on an adventure: I’ve reinvented myself without reinventing myself!  I quit my old job just over a year ago and returned to school at 32.  I’m about to graduate and go out into the big world where I WON’T be a coffee jockey and I WON’T be a diner bitch.  I ‘like’ to talk about what’s on my mind…I guess I just need a stage to do it.

There’s a strange world under the pink.  I guess I just feel it’s time to properly share it.