Monday, May 31, 2010

Music Monday: The Sadies Concert

Last week, I went to The Starlite room with a couple of friends to see The Sadies.

And it was awesome.

I'm a grumpy old woman so am not a huge fan of venues where you have to stand for hours on end, waiting with a large group of sweaty people for a band to eventually show up to play a set.

But it was worth it.

First up was The Pack AD. Yeah. Not my thing. So I'm not saying any more about that.

The Sadies were well worth the wait though. I'd seen them at Folk Fest a few years ago, so knew what I was in for - alt country, rockabilly awesomeness.

The Sadies at Folk Fest (top/2008) and a couple from last week's gig at The Starlite. Click to enlarge if you want to see more blurry guitar.

I think I mostly like them because not only can they play wicked guitars, but one guy plays the fiddle too, and there's drums and an upright bass. Like really, if they added a banjo and Jim Cuddy they would be the best band ever!


Good grief those guys can play guitar. Seriously. Awesome. Guitar.

Check out The Sadies:
Official
Myspace
Twitter
Wikipedia

You can listen to the entire new album, Darker Circles, from Outside Music.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Music Monday: Marian Call House Concert

Last week was a Firefly kind of week.

First, a friend made me this cunning hat as a thank you for looking after her cat for a couple weeks.


My had is shiny. My friend is awesome. Now I can't wait for winter so I can wear it.

Second, I got a couple Firefly related books in the mail. Why did no one tell me the Serenity Visual Companion has the movie script in it? Plus there's a new one out and I need to have a complete collection. Yes I own Firefly books and comics. Yes I am a nerd.

The best part of last week though? The Marian Call House Concert!

Some definitions for the uninitiated:

House Concert - a concert in someone's house. Seriously. I found out about it via a local Browncoat I follow on twitter, @pandagirl79. So it was advertised over twitter, but there was also a facebook event and assumably word of mouth helped a lot. Essentially, I just showed up at a stranger's house and hung out with strangers. And it was super awesome! When I got there everything was set up outside, but it started raining so we all pitched in and moved everything inside. There was about a dozen people there, and a big dog and cat which just added to the awesomeness of this unique event. We sat in the living room and listened to music. And chatted. And maybe it was awkward sometimes, but mostly it was super fun!

Marian and Scott, plus Jake, the biggest dog I've ever met.

Marian Call - a geeky acoustic singer songwriter/folk musician from Alaska. She's written a bunch of songs inspired by Firefly, so that's the connection. I had heard her music before via some-blog-or-another and actually have had both of her CDs on my iTunes wishlist for the past six months or so, thus I was uber excited to see her live. She had Scott the guitar guy with her, and a friend played drums sometimes (you can't see him in my photos because he was relegated to the kitchen). Have you ever seen a musician play the typewriter, rain stick and kazoo in someone's living room? Proof is below.

Cat vs Typewriter. Maybe she'll write a song about that.

It was a bit surreal to be sitting in someone's living room watching live music. Marian is very open and friendly and real and down-to-earth and charming though, so the whole night flowed well. There were music and stories and much laughing at the pets and drinks and snacks and sing-alongs. Marian is a clever songwriter, and thankfully she doesn't write your run-of-the-mill-love-song-pop-crap. Some of the songs are nerdy and based on Firefly or BSG or just being a nerd. Some of the songs are about random things like hating airplanes or vampire cheerleaders or a car or not being sexy. Her voice and great manner with the crowd really carried the show. You could really tell she loved singing. I think I smiled the whole night.

And yes, there was a cunning hat at the concert. It wasn't mine though, I think it belonged to Marian.

Here's an idea of what Marian Call's music is like. These two songs are obviously about me. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.



The whole concept of a house concert is very intriguing. I've heard about them, but didn't think they actually happened in Edmonton (at least that I knew of). Home Routes is the only webpage I could find that is local and remotely current. Marian said it herself, house concerts are a great way for music to be enjoyed by fans and for musicians to be compensated directly for their songs. Usually there's that barrier between musician and listener, and it was weird to just talk to someone 'famous'. That's another benefit of this whole concept - you can actually interact with and artist on a personal level, which makes the experience more enjoyable and unique. I hope I have the chance to attend more house concerts, and you know if I actually owned a house I'd be hosting gigs too!

Marian is doing a tour of Canada and the US, just playing house concerts. If you want to host a concert, just get in touch with her via her website etc. Yes, it's that easy. She has lot's of info on her blog about being a host. I guarantee you'll have a fantastic evening.

You can find Marian Call at her official website (included streaming audio and blog!), on myspace, facebook and twitter.

Marian Call is coming back through Edmonton in the fall. Who's coming with me to see her sing again??

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Return of the Macbook Glitch

Remember all that drama I went through recently with my beloved macbook? First the case cracked. Then the Apple store offered to fix my glitchy iSight camera, which required a week long trip to the repair shop. I've had it back now for a couple weeks and everything has been going well.

Except today the camera glitch returned. Twice.

So it was a good try by the Apple store, but apparently my macbook is just possessed or something. Fortunately I rarely use the camera (though I've been contemplating signing up for Skype). It's been broken for two years, so I reckon I wont mind if it stays broken. All's well that ends well. For now.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Curling Games: Wii

Curling season finished - check
Grad school finished - check
Lot's of time on my hands - check

What to do, what to do?

Aha! Play video games of course. And what better way to mesh things I love together than to play curling themed video games!

I just found out yesterday that there will be a *new* Nintendo Wii curling game coming out soon. Take a look at the promo:


Looks interesting. Maybe it'll be good. Or maybe not. We'll have to see when it comes out (who knows when).

In the meantime, there are still two wii curling games you can play. Both are part of bigger game packages though.

I recently spent some (a lot) of time play Mario and Sonic Winter Olympics, thanks to the Edmonton Public Library. It's super fun, and was a bit of a ride down memory lane, as it uses logos and mascots and colours etc from the awesomeness that was Vancouver 2010. I really enjoyed it, the graphics are good, the music is not overly annoying, there's lots of characters to choose from, and tons of events to play. And the events, for the most part, are quite fun to play. Fortunately, the curling event was one of the good ones.


The curling event does take some practice to figure out all the shot and speed options. Whoa boy though, if you set it with a lot of curl, the rocks break unnaturally at the end and curl with impossible paths. I also had a hard time with takeouts, as the speed seems to drop off dramatically once it hits a rock, so fancy double takeouts are pretty much out of the questions. Other than that, it's fairly intuitive and works the way you think it should. Overall, I enjoyed playing the curling event, but could only manage a few ends before my sweeping hand got very sore.

Would I buy it? Yes, but I wouldn't pay full price. It wouldn't be worth buying for the curling alone, and nor should you because most of the other events are fun too. I would buy a used copy for cheaper for sure, but probably wouldn't play that often. And I wouldn't likely just choose to play the curling event. So good game in general, one and a half thumbs up!

The other wii curling game is part of Deca Sports. It's older than the Mario/Sonic version, and pretty much is played exactly the same way, except you can't really pick characters for your team, and the music is super annoying.


Also unlike Mario/Sonic, Deca Sports sucks overall. The only events that are remotely enjoyable to play are the curling and snowboarding. So would I buy it? Not unless it was $10, and in that case I would only ever play the curling. So one and a half thumbs up for the curling, but no thumbs up for the game in general.

I wonder what the new game will be like. I suppose the controls will be the same as the two games already out there. Hopefully the music and the characters wont suck.

Has anyone played curling games on the other systems? I wonder what they're like? I know one just came out this winter for xbox. Any thoughts about it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Mac Is Back

Yay! I got my macbook back today!

I previously wrote about how my macbook cracked. Then, when I went to get it fixed, the Apple store wanted to fix my glitchy iSight camera. They ordered the parts in, and last week I dropped off my baby.

Can I just say, what a long week it's been without my macbook.

But I've got it back now, and it's (mostly) brand new so you can expect more posts coming up. I've got some rattling around in my head - they just need to be written...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

#YEG Is A Composting Star!

I find this video completely fascinating.


So the garbage I throw out daily gets mostly composted? That's awesome! I just spent some time living in Sherwood Park, where they have this awesome greenbin/blackbin/bluebag compost/garbage/recycling scheme. It's good to know we are actually doing something to mitigate the materialism and throw-away culture that is so pervasive in our society.

Guaranteed the minute I move out and am in charge of my living surrounding I'll be composting kitchen scraps. And maybe I'll get worms or something. If only that day were sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I shall continue my efforts to get my parents to stop buying plastic water bottles (unfortunately, that's not going so well - I come from a family of stubborn Ukrainians who buy into the whole bigger-better-more way of life instead of the eco-green lifestyle). *sigh*

Thanks to Geekware for the link!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

#DariaDVD


It's finally happened. After all these years of waiting, one of my favourite tv shows, Daria, is finally being released on DVD!!!


If you know me at all, you know I am actually Daria. Except she had a boyfriend for a bit and I'm a grumpy-old-woman-spinster-cat-lady.

It's been a long time coming I tell ya. I think the problem was all the music from the show (which was shown on MTV) was licensed or whatever and they needed permission from the musicians or whatever. Who cares. Daria is finally on DVD!!

May 11, 2010. Can't wait!!!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Alberta Library Conference: Jasper 2010

Oh wow, what a weekend!

April 29 - May 2 marked my first ever Alberta Library Conference in Jasper (as put on by the Library Association of Alberta with the help of a whole lot of other groups). This conference is for libraries of all kinds (mostly geared towards public though, with a smattering of academic and general topics) and for librarians, library technicians/assistants, directors, board members and trustees etc.

Let's skip to the end. It's was sooo much fun and I totally want to go back next year!!



Ok, back to the beginning...

I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing. It was my first library conference, actually my first conference in ten years. Plus, of the four recently graduated library students going, I was the only one without a 'real' job (beyond my usual part time/short term contract positions). What was I supposed to wear? What would it be like? Could I really bear more people talking at me after all that time I had just spent in school? Would I really learn anything, considering I'm not public library focused? Would those partying librarians accept me despite the fact I don't drink? Plus, could I really afford to stay at the Jasper Park Lodge?

A fellow librarian gave me some advice on twitter:

"My Jasper advice is don't expect to learn much, drink lots (vendor parties), go to the dance, enjoy the view."

I'm going to subsequently quote my tweets from the event, the hashtag of which was #alc2010jpl if you want to follow along. Not many people were tweeting though.

I really had no reason to be nervous, it was significantly awesome.

The road trip out was pretty, and the company was lovely. We arrived at gorgeous JPL, with it's fantastic view of the mountains. I do know (personally, professionally and by appearance only) a lot of librarians, so it was nice to spot familiar places, even though there would be over 700 attendees. We got settled, then headed into Jasper (like a 5 minute drive from the lodge) to get supplies (nylons, snacks, warmer clothing...). I've never been a huge fan of the town of Jasper, it's quite small, but quaint. Jasper's real draw is the outdoorsy stuff, the views are fantastic!!

"Made it to jasper. I have a feeling these librarians know how to have a good time!"

Later that night, we managed to consume platefuls of food (gotta get your moneys worth out of the gourmet buffet). The food was really good. There was always a lot of options, and salad and dessert with every meal. I actually ended up eating a lot of the vegetarian options as they were really tasty too. And yes, three desserts with every meal has likely lead to an extra 5lbs around my middle. Oops.



The first night, there was a first timers reception (which included free drinks and door prizes). We also wandered around the vendors section (which meant not much to me as I don't have a regular type job yet, but I appreciate the free bags and pens). The evening closed with another reception (aka free drinks) and some schmoozing. I'm not a great schmoozer or a drinker, but I did chat to one of my librarian heroes, and that marked the point for me where I left behind the nerves and just went with the flow of the whole event.

"Met a lot of people I know and some new people. The food is good, the company better. And the view is amazing. Yay Jasper!"

A word about the dress code: there was none. It's a casual conference, so jeans are ok. Some people dressed down, some people dressed up. It didn't seem to matter either way. We used one of our library heroes as a barometer, and ended up dressing to code.

And how about a word about our accommodations. Three of us stayed together in slumber party central, which was your regular hotel room, but in a row of joined cabins instead of a high rise hotel. One lucky member of our group was put up by her library in one of the more private cabins that included a sitting room and fireplace. Jealous much?



After too little sleep and much annoyance with the 3-girls-one-shower-no-ventilation-damp-bathroom-no-mirror situation, it was back to the main lodge for more food. And the first keynote speaker. Evan Solomon (of CBC fame) was the perfect opening speaker. Though links to libraries were tenuous, he was humourous and charming and generally a very entertaining way to start the day.

"Culture is a set of instructions and the library is where we keep the manuals for future generations"
"Evan Solomon is an entertaining speaker. are his CBC shows that entertaining too?"
"Schools and are where ideas begin. Simple but profound message." 
"Social ingenuity must come before technical ingenuity."
"Let's have a gathering place for great ideas that tell who we are in a language everyone can understand."
"Leadership is caring about the nobodies - libraries welcome all."
"Parliament is like high school with money." 

The rest of the conferency bit of the day consisted of two hourish long sessions, with another filling lunch in the middle. The first session I saw was about open education (sharing resources etc online for free), which was interesting in itself, though more could have been said about practically applying this to libraries.

"Just used an ipad!"

After lunch I went to a session put on by two library directors from two faith-based university colleges in Edmonton. I was particularly interested in this session, as one of the speakers was my practicum supervisor (and likewise one of my heroes) and the other speaker was one of the people I wanted particularly wanted to speak to (librarian hero in the future?). The session was great, they used a Mythbusters theme to bust some myths about Christian colleges (ie. they are not bible colleges, instead they provide quality undergraduate and graduate education in a slightly different atmosphere than the university, and no, you don't have to be spiritual to work or attend classes there). I also met a really inspiring librarian at the session. Indeed, our paths crossed the again that evening and will likely again. Librarians rock!

After the sessions, I went for a beautiful walk around Lake Beauvert (and yes, it is indeed beautifully green!). It's a 3.6 km walk, and I went pretty slow, stopping often to take (121) photos. How many photos of mountains do I need? It was soooo beautiful and sooo quiet and peaceful. I felt like I was the only person in the woods. This walk was one of the highlights of my entire weekend. **

"Great sessions today on open education, then mythbusting Christian colleges. And I went for a walk around the lake. Beautiful!!"

After chilling for a bit (including reading the complimentary Edmonton Journal and using the free internet, yay JPL), we had dinner, the highlight of which was our tablemates, a lovely older couple from the board of a small rural county library system. Then my fellow library students headed to the pool while I teamed up with a couple other younger librarians and we once again walked around the lake. This time we saw deer and elk around the lodge both before and after our lovely walk.




And then one of librarians convinced me to crash a party. There were always parties going on in the cabins, some were open, some weren't. Oops. It was thrilling and most interesting to glimpse what the important librarians did at the conference, though it was quite uncomfortable for a lowly student dressed in their hiking attire. This falls under the category of 'what happens in Jasper stays in Jasper' but I will say it was quite interesting to be a fly on that wall for half an hour!

The next morning, the speaker was Max Valiquette, who discussed youth demographics and culture. I have to say, I wasn't initially interested in the topic but it was quite fascinating! What another excellent way to start a Saturday morning bright and early!

"Max valiquette is teaching us about youth culture. So far - fascinating..."
"Modern library is not about books - it's about learning, experiencing, understanding."
"Self directed learning, media literacy, libraries need to/are changing (I'm so excited to be a part of it!)"
"Less need for central branch - they want info now and where they are - don't need knowledge repositories now - need gateways" 
"What libraries do is more important now than ever!"

That morning, I also had the chance to talk to an old high school teacher who I spotted the first day (who is now a rural board member), and a guy I went to junior high with (who is director of a rural library). Libraryland is a very small world!!



My first session was about facility planning for an electronic information literacy (teaching library skills) classroom. I had actually heard this talk as part of a class last summer but didn't realize it until it had already started. I could've left, but I actually enjoyed the presentation and learned from it. After lunch I learned a bit about copyright, and then saw a session about roving reference. That session was particularly interesting because I happened to be visiting that particular college library when they had just started roving reference in 2008, so it was neat to see how the experiment turned out. I'm still not sold on the idea, but principles from it are relevant and very important to incorporate in regular reference (such as you don't have to be chained to the desk, go to the students if they need you!).

"Interesting sessions on electronic classroom facility planning, then copyright, now off to roving reference. Too cold for a walk."
"Well look at that, my 2000th tweet was about interesting speakers at the Alberta Library Conference in beautiful Jasper!"

I relaxed for a bit, then joined my friends for the final banquet. We had dressed up a bit, and the food was a bit fancier. As usual, our meal company was superb and it was a great time. After some photo ops, we headed into the dance.

** Remember my gorgeous walk around the lake? Well, I had heard from a bunch of other guests that there was a mother bear and two cubs wandering around the golf course part of the grounds near the lake. One of my librarian heroes saw me walking and taking pictures (I had indeed noticed a runner on my walk but didn't know it was her). At the final dinner, she asked me if I'd seen the bears that were a mere 100m by me. Um. No. I missed seeing the bears!! I walked right past them and didn't notice!! Regretful for sure, but I was by myself and bears terrified me as a child so likely that would have made me quite anxious. Imagine, 100m from bears and I didn't even realize it!

"Apparently walked right by three bears on my walk around the lake yesterday. Yikes!"

Now I know people think librarians are boring, but let me tell you, set up a dance floor, turn down the lights, crank up the music and provide free alcohol, and well, look out! It was sooo much fun. I also had the chance to introduce myself to a famous local Edmonton blogger, and chatted with Stephen Abram, a VIP and very well known man in the North American library scene. We had a very interesting discussion about librarians and library technicians and how awesome all the library staff of Alberta was. For the rest of the evening, we danced the night away, and got to share the dance floor with many of our librarian heroes. It was a good time, well worth the blisters and sore knees the next day!!

Sunday, after little sleep, we checked out early, ate our final gourmet breakfast and headed home.

I didn't think I would enjoy ALC, but I did. I didn't think I would learn anything, but I did. I got to have fun with librarians I knew, librarians I just met, and the VIPs of library land. I certainly met many awesome people. I got to know my fellow students a bit better. I got to walk and wander in amazement through beautiful places.



Would I go next year? Yes, most definitely. It is a bit pricy, and who knows where I'll be working (and thus if they'll pay for it or give me the time off). One of my librarian heroes and I pinky-swore we would do a session next year, and I have faith it'll happen one year if not next year.

It was a great weekend. I highly recommend the Alberta Library Conference in Jasper.

"Ok so the Alberta Library Conference in Jasper was awesomely fantastic. See you all there next year!!"

Monday, May 03, 2010

Music Monday: Desert Island Discs

Recently, iheartedmonton blogged about their Deserted Island Collection. I agree with his opinion of CDs. I love CDs. I have lots. I still buy CDs even though everyone else gets their music from downloads or iTunes (although I'll admit iTunes is my go-to for hard to find stuff, which is mostly everything these days, what with my fantastically awesome taste in music).

I've been carefully thinking about my own Desert Island Disc Collection (as made famous by a popular topic English radio program). iheartedmonton's description is as follows:
"With that said, I wanted to know what my all-time favourites were, the ones that I would want with me if I was ever banished to some deserted island...with a discman, headphones and a life supply of batteries, of course. I'm not talking about particular songs or the best albums for a particular mood I'm in, but the ones that are exceptional from start to finish, that I don't get tired of, and that are blistered with scratches from overplay."
He lists 10, even though the radio show only allows 8. I'm going with 10 though, it was too hard to narrow it down as is!

So here is my Desert Island Disc collection, in alphabetical order...

***

Blue Rodeo - Greatest Hits (2001)



I recently declared Blue Rodeo to be my most favourite band. And this CD is certainly one of the best ever. It's long. It's got the greatest hits on it. What more do you want? Except maybe Jim Cuddy to keep me company on the island. Related blog post: Blue Rodeo and Cuff The Duke, and related blog tag: bluerodeo

***


Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels (2009)


This is a recently discovered band. Lovely, haunting, banjo-y, loveliness. Related blog post: Great Lake Swimmers

***

La Bottine Souriante - Anthologie (2001)





I fell in love with and listened to this CD almost non stop when I lived in Montreal for a month back in 2002. Since then, Quebecois music has always held a special spot on my CD mountain. P'tite porte-cle, Yoyo, Flying Saucers, this CD has everything.

***

Leahy -  Lakefield (2001)





I used to be obsessed with this band. Still am maybe a little bit buried deep down inside. I listened to this CD for ten months straight. And that's not really an exaggeration. This falls under the category of Best Family Fiddle Band Ever. Related blog post: MacMaster and Leahy

***

Luke Doucet - Blood's Too Rich (2007)





It's no secret, I'm in love with his guitar. And this CD really. Related blog post: Luke Doucet and My Crush On White Falcon

***

Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More (2010)




I haven't had this CD for that long, but good grief it's wicked awesome. Every song is like a banjo race, and 'Little Lion Man' would likely make the list of Best Song Ever. Related blog post: Mumford and Sons

***


Simon and Garfunkel  - The Best of Simon and Garfunkel (1999)




"I Am A Rock" is sort of like the song about my life. Sadly I will miss them in concert here in Edmonton in July as I'm off on a bit of a vacation. Shame, it would've been amazing. Related blog post: Suggest a Theme Song For Me

***

The Corrs - Forgiven Not Forgotten (1995)




For a minute in high school a boy thought I was cool because I owned this cassette tape. I wore out the tape and had to replace it with a cd later. 'Runaway' was going to be my wedding song until a friend stole it. Maybe I should march down the aisle to 'Toss The Feathers' instead?

***


The Rankin Family - Endless Seasons (1995)



This is the first folk CD I ever bought. It alone precipitated my affair with celtic music, and is ultimately responsible for my fantastically awesome taste in music today. 'You Feel The Same Way Too' might be one of my all time favourite songs. Related blog post: Jimmy Rankin Concert

***

The Tragically Hip - Yer Favourites (2005)


Because you can never have enough Hip on the island! And besides, Gord Downie would make entertaining company! This is a double CD though, and if that's against the rules I'll go with Live Between Us (2002) because it was the very first Hip CD I ever bought. I just wish one of them had 'Killer Whale Tank' on it though. Related blog post: An Evening With The Tragically Hip


***

I guess the late 90's/early 2000's was a good time musically. And notice how most of this is either male voices or instrumental? I'm weird like that. It would be interesting to revisit this concept next year to see how the list changes.

What are your Desert Island Disc choices?