Friday, September 30, 2005
Al points out all the time that all of my friends are computer geeks. This statement is a bit of an exaggeration I do have friends that are not computer geeks. They do exist I swear. But even if you look at the members of this blog you can note a good start into the people who either work with computers or just enjoy them tremendously. But then as we progress through the people I know. My roommate, both computer geek and science geek, which helps cause I am a science geek. Then there is some of the people Al has introduced me to. His current co worker and a previous one. Both of which work with computers. The list will continue on for pages but I will progress into the story.
I have a tendency of doing the simplest task and ending up surrounded by the type of geeks that like computers. One such task was buying my computer. To use my brother in laws words "I had a team of geeks to help me pick out the ideal computer" And well I have had my computer since 2002 and I am still very happy with it. I don't need anymore speed and I don't seem to have to many problems with it.
But a much simpler task occurred today which ended with me surrounded by people who are of the computer geek realm of people. Today I decided to go borrow a movie from my sister to keep me entertained for the evening. So my roommate (computer geek number 1) wondered into my car, set forward to my sisters. When we got there, she was not there. So we wondered over to Ak and Jon's place. Jon (computer geek number two, I am already out numbered) Steve and I decided to wondered down and find some coffee. Along the way the conversation went from foolishness to something about PHP ( a computer language if I remember correctly) then wondered on to mother board and some kind of data file entry stuff. Anyway with a bit of cunning speech I managed to move the conversation to work related topics, like how horrible everyone job is and how much work everyone is trying to get out of us. Steve made a joke about a point of singularity which had me busting at the seams for a bit. The upon return from the coffee shop we wonder into a co worker of Jon's ( computer geek number 3, battle lost, I am overwhelmed). The conversation discussion went about crashing systems and recoding things I don't have clue about, redeveloping methods and computer validations. The conversation included a pile of acronyms and short phrases that make no since, I make the assumption they are various computer programs. I listen, smiled and nodded wonder how I manage this. Some times it would be fun to have a good old conversation about cellular signal for the consumption of sugar, or programmed cell death. How about the intereaction between pi orbitals between aromatic compounds in solution. I would even go for theories on energy transfer in space, or black hole theories. Computer geeks I only say this cause your conversation can be overwhelming to one who does not share the technical knowledge. Most of the time, I am content to listen. Today was not one of those days. Don't get me wrong here I do appreciate you all, but a science girl sometimes needs a bit of science or even general every mindless conversation.
(Cross-posted to The Hallway)
So last night Sabrina and I dropped by the Jam night at Piazza Joe's just because there was no cover and we're cheapskates, turns out it was the most hopping place in town. The regulars were there for the most part, people I don't know and e.co who has been pestering me to start playing guitar more seriously again who arrived a little later.
They started off with the usual rock stuff, sounding pretty good but without a bass player to keep things rounded up the guitarists were getting a little all over the place, and the drummer seemed a little timid, following the guitarists rather than setting the beat himself and making them stick to it rather than vice versa.
Then the metalheads arrived. They came from Summerside, the apparent hotbed of metal and hardcore punk on the Island. They had the requisite jeans and black metal T-Shirts (the colour, not the subgenre) and they had their gear which was piled into a big old Caddy that they drove to Charlottetown just to play at the jam night.
“Is this as much distortion as I can get?”
Usually metal and jamming are like oil and water. You can bring a stopwatch to a Metallica concert and no one would question the idea that playing a song exactly as it is written is the standard by which most metal performances are judged. Rock and jazz jamming is a completely different philosophy, where players are expected to come up with something new on the fly, and if something sounds practiced it can even sound out of place.
This gave the night a very interesting contrast, where the regulars would jam for a while, then the metalheads would come up and play “Search and Destroy” or “Fade to Black” or “Cowboys from Hell”, which got a great reaction from the crowd, (even Sabrina turns out to have some closet metalhead leanings. Her quote of the night: “maybe I shouldn't have sung 'Master of Pupets' at the top of my lungs it's making me cough.”)
The players started mixing together, and did a pretty good version of “All Along the Watchtower” with more distorion on the lead part than one normally hears. Then they start into “Crazy Train” and one of the regulars suddenly starts playing all the lead parts, including the flashy bridges and the solo, as good a facsimile of Randy Rhoads I've heard since my guitar teacher who would play old Ozzy and try to explain to me that this solo was ‘really really important’.
The metal fan closet doors were being thrown open that night, to be sure. I'm definitely making time to start playing guitar more seriously again. I was never one to want to play in front of people, I only did it a couple of times and then it was doing classical guitar stuff, but remembering how much fun it is to just play around and find interesting little patterns and riffs and go with the flow of playing with other people really gave me a charge.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Peter has asked me to be on his team that he's entering for World Trivia Night in Ottawa on November 4th. My team yesterday at Churchill arms was rather unceremoniously slaughtered, but I blame an inexperienced trivia host who doesn't seem to have the ear for a factlet that people will have inadvertently heard sometime in the course of their lives, instead just asking questions for which you had to have been reading a certain newpaper on a particular day to have learned.
I might go if I can get a ride with Dirty Alex whom he also invited. (between the two of us, myself and Dirty Alex, we used to pwn Jeopardy and Rock'n'Roll Jeopardy at MacKenzie House. I miss those days.)
I answered 8 of the 10 sample questions correctly right off the bat, so I think I'll do allright with the kinds of questions they might ask. Oh, and it's for charity, so I'll be pestering people soon enough for cash, with the money going to the Children's Aid Society.
Peter's even set up a team blog: WeKnowStuff.blogspot.com, for team co-ordination and for posting random facts we come across. A competitive trivia blog is a very neat idea, perhaps something that we could keep going after the World Trivia Night is over.
Technorati Tags: Trivia
Monday, September 26, 2005
This time Taylor and I sat together for the show. (If he gets sick he's on his own, goddamnit.) We were in line waiting for the doors to open, getting the same flyer for an after party from at least three different people; it was at the same rather lame dance bar we ended up at the night before, needless to say we figured we'd have better luck at Trapper's.)
We got in and were looking at the Merch table, but $35 t-shirts weren't really my cup of tea that day. Especially since I was already wearing my totally supercool blue Superchunk t-shirt. Taylor did buy a poster, though, and thus began his quest to protect it from any harm between then and getting to PEI the next day, never letting it out of his grasp the entire time.)
Our seats were very close again. About 10-13m from the stage. We apparently miffed a dude sitting just in front of us who had been a member of Tenclub for over 5 years and I guess was hoping for an even closer seat. The fact that we had been members for about a month before the Canadian dates were announced didn't seem to sit right with him, though he didn't say anything. 10c said that seats were to be distributed based on how long you were a member, but whatever, I'm not complaining. I still say they should distribute floor seats by height. Apparently it's a rule that if you're in Tenclub you are likely to have a very attractive girlfriend. Mine must be lost in the mail.
Wintersleep came out after a few more minutes of Taylor and I engaging in our usual nonsense (we really hadn't stopped the entire trip aside from Thursday night when I was too ticked off to even speak for a while.) They mostly did new stuff, which I was impressed by. The crowd gave polite applause at first, with Gonzo and Taylor and I being pretty audible with our shouts of "JUD!!!!" We totally pwned the PJ crowd with our enthusiasm for the underdogs. The performance was pretty good, didn't approach nearly the level of insanity as their last Brennan's show, but that was just craziness, with people pressing in on the band and threats to stop playing if people wouldn't move back. Wintersleep are very good at building up a mood and raising the tension and feeling throughout their set, and they did the same on Saturday, though perhaps a bit too stringently, with Loel not really cutting loose on the drums until the end.
But the last song, “Orca” was when they really won over the crowd. The song starts off slow with very quiet but intense lyrics and slowly builds until the big finish which repeats and undulates and gives the band a chance to really shine with Loel throwing in more and more adventurous fills and Paul's vocals becoming infused with more and more energy. The crowd were mostly all on their feet by the end of their 45 minute set.
Best part of Wintersleep opening for Pearl Jam: Watching the band gather up and take away their own equipment. Now that's indie.
More waiting for stuff to happen. We made sure to talk up the opening band to the people sitting around us. Most people were pretty impressed, though some wish they could have seen Sleater-Kinney again. (Can't blame them for that, of course. PS. Memo to Corin: how can you be my Joey Ramone if you won't sing that song, or any other old hits, anymore?)
The show started in pretty short order, seems like they wanted to get out there right away. Eddie greeted the crowd by saying “Live from St. John's, it's Saturday night!” The first songs were all hard rockers, with “Can't Keep” and “Go” starting off followed by “Evenflow”, which almost felt like they were getting it out of the way early, but they always do a great job on it from the live shows I've listened to in the past.
Eddie started talking about what a beautiful city St. John's is and how it feels special to be by the ocean and on the edge of the continent. The next part of the set list is Animal, Corduroy, Nothing As It Seems, Given To Fly, Grievance, Daughter/(Bad by U2/"hey ho, let it go"/WMA), Lukin, U, and Present Tense.
After this Eddie sort of teases the crowd a bit and then gives the microphone to Stone Gossard. Taylor and I then proceed to go nuts, since you know it really is Stoney's band. They've only done it once before on this tour, in Toronto, and never before that, so we were never expecting them to do what we suspected they were going to do. But then Stoney says “You know what I said to the cod before I kissed it? .. Don't Gimme No Lip.” This is a song that Stoney sings and it's completely fun and upbeat and hilarious, not really fitting with Eddie's vibe. They made it seem like they were letting slip a secret of the band by giving Stoney the mic. Stone's duck walk with the mic was one of the best parts of the night. We were all jumping up and down and singing along to “Don't give me no lip / I've had enough of it / Don't give me no lip / I'm just not havin' it.” That more than made up for Stoney's rather understated fashions of the night.
After this Eddie goes back to singing and they play “Better Man”, one of my favourites and one that everyone in the crowd sings along to. I always find this song incredibly sad because it's about a woman who stays with an abusive partner. Radio stations started playing it without it being released because it sounds really soothing and some say it's got a poppysounding vibe to it, but I always thought it was the highlight of the last half of Vitalogy. They really rocked out the ending to this song, the way it sounds very positive even though the lyrics are heart-breaking (“that's why she'll be back again”) gives it a real double-edged sword feeling.
The last two songs of their first set were Porch and Save You. Eddie said that St. John's actually reminds him of West Seattle, but “without all the raping and killing.” The crowd cheered but I wasn't able to bring myself to be happy about raping and killing, even if it's happening somewhere else. I think Eddie has picked up on the undercurrent of simple-minded nationalism that a lot of Canadians have, since he then announced that the next song would be the last one, and after the requisite ‘boo’s he said “you're so easily manipulated”, which I think ties back to the ‘raping and killing’ comment.
Of course the crowd all knew there would be more to come, since it's Pearl Jam and Eddie hadn't even finished his wine yet.
The way it works is when the band takes a break and the stage set is being re-arranged they keep on a couple of the purple spotlights so people know the show isn't over yet. This keeps them in their places but still cheering for an encore.
For the first encore they played Thumbing My Way, I Am Mine, Small Town, Black and Rearviewmirror. This was the quieter, semi-acoustic portion of the night to mellow out a bit and Eddie became even more chatty.He talked about St. John's being closer to Ireland than New York City, and how it almost felt that way just by being there. You could tell they really liked Newfoundland. I heard that they were in fact going to spend a few days vacation after the last show there. Between that and Keith Richards saying he wants to buy a Summer home in the Maritimes we may be crawling with rock stars soon now that we've been discovered.
Then Eddie asked the crowd what they were still doing there, “shouldn't you all be down on George St. or something?” (‘we were driving down ... route 401.’ I kid.)
The next part was the real rock out section. They went off again and then came back with Whipping, Do The Evolution and my favourite PJ song of all time, Spin The Black Circle. (Eddie then explains how this song is about sitting and playing records. I think he likes to stress this because for a while some confused people thought it was about doing heroin - I don't see how you could mix the two up, personally.) During “Do the Evolution” Eddie really seemed to turn up the anger when he sang “I can kill 'cause in God I trust” Intense stuff because it goes from being a lyric penned as something that might sound good to being the thoughts of the singer at the time, and you connect it more to real events than when you're listening to something static like an album.
Then Eddie says ‘hello’ to the people sitting behind the stage, and then climbs up a rope ladder and faces them to sing “Last Kiss”. Very cool, and he didn't even fall until he was back on the ground again. (oh Eddie, you and your wine...)
The next story is the best one of the night, especially the way Eddie tells it. Apparently Eddie's best friend who was in St. John's with the band was waiting in line at a store and a woman at the front of the line was trying to sell the cashier two tickets for $160, more than they cost, this got a round of ‘boo’ from the crowd. It was pretty obvious that the girl really wanted to go but could quite afford the tickets, but she finally said ‘yes.’ But when the woman went out to her car to get the tickets Eddie's friend goes up to the girl and asks her how many tickets she wants and says however many she wants they're free.
Then they learn that the girl originally did have tickets to the show, but her boyfriend had just recently broken up with her and was taking another girl instead. Eddie then says the girl's name, Kelly, and proceeds to lay the greatest burn ever by calling Kelly up to the stage and saying “well, because this guy was such a loser, Kelly now gets to watch the rest of the show from the stage. And after that she'll be able to use her back stage pass to hang out with us, and hang out with the guys in the opening band. (go, Jud) The girl was shaking as she was standing up there next to Eddie. It was a great moment.
After that they played a really great long jam on Leaving Here and Alive, really bringing the elements of proper jamming into the songs, and it really got the crowd's energy level to peak as Jeff chased Mike around the stage and the two of them ran around with each other musically at the same time. Matt also added in some amazing fills into Alive, but if you weren't paying attention and listening for them you wouldn't have noticed. It's not quite the overtly in-your-face skill display of Soundgarden-era Matt, but it's very very impressive all the same.
Eddie is pretty clearly having a blast this night, and they're bringing out all their big guns, but I had no preparation for what was next. It was just about the end of the show, and they started turning up the house lights, and Mike plays a little melody that I definitely know, and I say to myself ‘That's not what I think it is .. they're not really going to play that, are they?’ But oh hell yes they are, Eddie being the giant Who fan he is, they start into Baba O'Reilly and blow the whole crowd away. It was the most intense moment of the show and you could see the whole crowd jumping up and down and singing along to something they never expected.
Closing the show with the requisite awesome rendition of Yellow Ledbetter while the house lights were up to full was an excellent way to finish things up. A while ago there was a web cartoon that made up some hilarious lyrics to the song, which is basically Eddie mumbling, and you can tell which members of the audience had seen it since half the people I could hear were singing “and I don't wanna wear a box or a bag” as the chorus. Mike's guitar playing was top-notch and the show was wrapped up in perfect style. Much much much better than Chuck Norris, baby.
The night on George St. was spent talking to people about Pearl Jam and other rock concerts people had seen, how great Newfoundland was, and more experiences with incredibly friendly people. One guy I met said that they didn't get nearly enough Islanders up to Newfoundland, and thought it was because we don't ever go anywhere. I tried to defend my home province by saying that it's just because there aren't very many of us. Taylor said that he had been in every province in Canada just this summer, and that Newfoundland is by far his favourite. I would certainly agree with that. Because Pants was still feeling tired and a bit cranky again we just stuck to one place, but that was fine since there were plenty of people in and out of every place on George St. all night.
We watched a screeching in, they rung the bell and did the whole production, which was fun to watch but not quite as fun as Brad White doing it back in MacKenzie House on our Newfie Nights, no foolin'.
We decided to be geniuses and not get a hotel at all that last night. The timing worked out pretty well, though, at least for my scarily still-not-tired ass. We leave Trappers around 2:30, walk up to the hotel where we stayed the night before and where we had arranged for a cab to come by at 4am, and collected our bags. The guy at the desk had no problem at all with us waiting in the lobby and using the old desktop computer there for email and message board updates (Will and Gonzo again. geeks) while I went through all the pictures Taylor took at the show and put them onto my laptop. Unfortunately I didn't tell Taylor not to use too much zoom in the low light, which is why a lot of the pictures are kind of blurry, but they were still pretty interesting.
The plane rides back to Charlottetown weren't as smooth or pleasant as the Canjet flight to St. John's. I dislike Air Canada more and more each time I fly on them. Also, our travel agent very helpfully forgot to adjust for Newfoundland being half an hour ahead, and if we didn't leave an hour for our flight we'd have been screwed. I finally slept when I got home this morning. Now life is back to normal. One thing's for sure, going out in Charlottetown just won't be the same anymore.
Technorati Tags: Rock, Music, Concerts, Pearl+Jam
The hotel ended up being quite nice, not as sweet as the suite we had in Halifax at the Marriott Residence butas a place for 5 people to flop for the night it was exactly what we needed. For some reason if my body knows I have to be awake for something I can always get up in time for it, no matter what. (sadly, it also means I can't wake up early unless I have to, multiple-alarm tricks be damned, it just doesn't happen.) So I was the first one up at 9am which gave me the privilege of taking a long shower and shaving and actually trying to look like less of a dirtbag. Then when I was done I got to wake the boys up and tell them we all had to be out of there in an hour and a half. I love being able to lie back and rest and laugh while everyone else scrambles around and curses at me and begs to sleep longer. (At this point in the weekend I was both the one with the least sleep and the one with the most energy. This would develop into a rather bizarre pattern.)
For our purposes St. John's turned out to be really easy to get around. Our hotel was at one end of Water St. and Mile One Stadium was at the other, and everything we needed to get was somewhere in between. We had lunch at the first place we could find that didn't look too touristy, though it was pretty run-of-the-mill and the service was slow.
After standing in line to get tickets we get a bit adventurous and decide to just walk on around the back of Mile One. By some heck of a coincidence we were spotted by one of the dudes from Wintersleep, and eventually the whole band came out to talk to us. Since we've seen them numerous times and always ended up chatting with the guys after the show they seemed pretty happy to see us. It goes without saying that they were completely pumped. Apparently they were on a list of about 30 bands that were being considered as opening acts for the St. John's shows, and weren't officially asked until just 2 days before the show.
It was pretty funny to see their little van parked in one corner of the lot next to PJ's multiple 18-wheelers.
I forgot to ask them how it felt to go from opening for Grand Theft Bus to Pearl Jam in the space of about 8 months. We stood there chatting for a while while activity buzzed around us in the parking lot. I told the story of seeing Sleater-Kinney and compared their SF show to Halifax (SF was way better, but that's because it was their own show), and we even talked about message board politics for a while. Everyone is a geek these days, it's pathetic. Jud said that he regretted ever looking at the Pearl Jam message boards, never before had he seen such rock snobbery, and before he thought teh Dependent Music message boards were awful. (so bad in fact was the snobbery on there that Wintersleep set up their own board so new fans wouldn't be jumped on and savaged quite so badly.) It must be a bit daunting to have people say they'd rather not even have an opening act than see your band. We re-assured them, though, and talked a bit about how they were really good at building up drama in their performances. They said they were glad we were there, and that there'd be at least 5 people who knew who they were at the show.
Then the boys checked out a little internet cafe across the road from Mile One. I'm proud to say I'm officially less of a geek than Willie, Taylor or Gonzo, based solely on the fact that the girl behind the counter wanted me to tell her what I thought of the coffee she had made and we got to talking which struck me as more interesting than my email and posting to message boards. (getting home and clearing out days of spam re-assured me of that.)
After that we walked around for a while, took a few pictures of the pretty buildings and wound up on George St. again. I guess it goes without saying that George St. was far less spectacular without the strung-up lanterns and throngs of scantily-dressed people, but it still had its charms. We ran into a couple of friends of Gonzo who told us about meeting Stone and Mike that morning (they were staying at the Delta, where the band was. (pwned by frugality)
At that point in the day I was starting to really notice that anyone under 40 had barely a hint of Newfie dialect in them. Either TV has flattened out North American accents completely or Newfies can switch in and out of a more standard way of speaking when talking to people from away, the way Québecois can switch effortlessly between school-type French and joual. While I can do a fairly decent job of faking a Newfoundland accent, I find I have to compose the sentence I want to say in my head first, then speak it sped up, I haven't been able to speed my conversation centre up to match the normal conversation speed you typical Newfoundlander.
“‘Don't Give Me No Lip’ - That's what I said to the fish before I kissed it.” - The incomparable Stoney G.
I wasn't able to get to an internet connection while in Newfoundland so here's my St. John's brain dump.
We arrived at St. John's airport at around 11:00, and head straight for the hotel room. The plan was to check in, throw our bags into the room and then head straight for George St. The only hold up was trying in vain to get the wired ethernet to work in the room. For some reason it wouldn't let us go to the default page thing, even Will's tech support mojo didn't crack that nut. A couple of girls said 'hi' to me as they were getting of the elevator and we talked about Pearl Jam for a bit. Unfortunately they were back out even quicker than we were.
We pretty much found George St. by guessing and the vague directions our cabby gave us fro mthe airport. We had no problem finding it though, and wow what a sight. It's like hell only fun. It was like a giant party going on right in the street. Everyone was incredibly friendly, too. And by that I mean that my normal PEI-type social rules didn't really apply. Instead of just apologizing and slipping through a crowd if you need to get somewhere, you're expected to strike up a conversation. Person after person would just want to talk and talk and talk. Many people wanted to shake my hand as soon as they found out I was from PEI.
The first place we went into was pretty non-descript and forgettable, just a place for people to dance to pop music and get drunk. They were charging cover which kept us inside longer than we'd have stayed there normally. Apparently charging cover isn't the norm for most places, thank god.
After that we followed a a bouncer's recommendation and checked out The Attic. As we get up the stairs we hear a PJ DVD playing. Very good sign. The bartender there was the chattiest dude on Earth. It was getting close to closing time (03:00), but he kept us there telling us the story of how he screeched in Pearl Jam that day. The whole band and their entourage were all there, and he was told not to treat anyone any differently from anyone else, be they in the band or whoever. Really nice to hear. Apparetnly the dude, who's name is Jason LeCour, was the owner of the Attic up until very recently and is pretty famous for excellent screech-ins. Taylor says he even saw him on TV once.
His opinions of the band members were that Stone was the funniest, and really smart; and he knew a lot about Newfoundland and was asking questions about Labrador where Jason is from. Mike was the friendliest and most intense, he kept coming back to talking about how great he thought Mike was, which rules because he's my secret-metalhead double agent in the band. (Iron Maiden lunchbox holla') Matt was sitting at a table with a bunch of dudes in jeans and metal t-shirts, so he goes up to them and says “I'm guessing this is the weed table”. Apparently he guessed right. Eddie and Jeff were pretty quiet and unassuming, just acted like regular dudes and made friendly conversation. Eddie was intrigued enough by the idea of cod tongues that he said he wanted to try them.
Jason then put on an Alice in Chains DVD and we talked about tunes for another hour after the place closed, pretty much just us and a girl who was also bartending that night and a couple of others. Jason turned out to be a total rock expert. We talked about the best rock concerts we ever saw and I told him all about the Stones in Moncton and when I told him about seeing Maiden in '99 he nearly lost it and told me a friend of his was at the show where they got pelted with eggs and shit by Sharon Osbourne's lackeys. So good.
We were still not ready for bed when we finally said goodbye so he directed us to another place that usually stayed open all night. I can't remember the name but it was just your typical loud boring electronic music with sexual lyrics and flashing / blinding lights, but the girls in St. John's seem to be more aggressive than anywhere else I've ever been. It seems like they're the ones who seek you out and try and pick you up rather than vice versa. As we were walking there one girl just walked up along side me and we started talking and she came in with us. We were good boys, though, don't worry. All made it home, even Will who it turns out just got a little lost.