Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tiptoe through the true bits.

Well, all of my summer flights are now booked.  It'll be time to fill in the rest of the bits (car rentals, accommodations) in the next month.

Air Canada kept e-mailing me about a North America sale, which was perfect, because I'd decided that summer trip #2 would be to Vancouver and Vancouver Island.  I have a bunch of friends out west (including three fabulous blog friends!) so I decided it would be great to head out there at the end of August.  I'll spend about five days in Vancouver, and the rest of my time on Vancouver Island.  My friend Alison, from university, moved to Courtenay last summer, and I'm excited to spend a good deal of time with her.

I was looking through my calendar, and I've realized that between travelling, driving my cat to my parents', glamping, friends visiting me, and going to music festivals, every single weekend this summer is booked up.  It's going to be a fun time.

This evening I wandered to the bookstore to look at travel books, but I'm going on a US shopping trip this weekend, so I hope that we hit a bookstore, as most of the list prices are $4 cheaper in the US.  

In other stuff, I'm reading a book that I adore: Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman.  It was written in the late 1960s, and it's about teaching in an inner city school in NYC.  It's written as a series of letters, memos, chalkboard notes, and pieces of student work.  It's brilliant and I can relate to it so much.  It's funny that even though a lot has changed in education since that time, so much is still the same.  

My favourite line from the book comes from when the main character, a naive first year teacher, writes her department head to tell him her class average is 44 3/5 - it's supposed to be 33.  He replies back "let it be a challenge to you."  Best line ever.  Today I found out that my environmental science course next year will be V-coded.  This means that I'll have to teach two curricula to students of different ability levels at the same time (sort of like a split grade in elementary school, I suppose).  Let it be a challenge to me.

Anyway, I love this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone, whether they be a teacher, or just a former student.

Today I had one of my classes dissect flowers.  I really like a good flower dissection.  Whenever I teach  plants, I go to a cheap flower store that I know and pick up either some mini-daffodils or lilies for my classes.  Mini daffodils are the best to dissect because they have big ovules, and you get a lot of flowers per plant for a low price, but they're out of season so I had to go for lilies which are more expensive and have minuscule ovules.  

My grade tens were super excited about the flower dissection (I guess kids haven't been totally wrecked by technology yet) and were cute as they walked into my room and saw lilies in a giant Erlenmeyer flask.  "Oh Miss, you shouldn't have!" said many a student, as if I'd bought the bouquets for them.  I heard comments about "oh, they're too pretty to dissect!" to which I replied "why didn't you say that about the fish?  Poor fish!"

Of course, a lesson on sexual reproduction always has its moments.  Today I had to field the question of whether flowers have orgasms, and I replied with a deadpan "Do plants have nervous systems?" even though I want to laugh or scream or whatever.

It's never a dull moment when you're dissecting a flower, I tell you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Into giants you can't stop us.

Tonight was my solo (as in I went by myself) Patrick Watson show.  I AM SO GLAD I WENT!!!

I'd heard from a couple of my fellow music lovers that Patrick Watson was a great live band.  They were right.

This was seriously one of the best shows I've ever been to, and you guys know that I go to a lot of shows.  The way that Patrick Watson mixes an amazing light show with the gorgeous orchestrations of his music is jaw-dropping.  The show was an absolute treat for both my eyes and my ears.

At some points of the show, there stage was covered in little lights that looked like candles.  I loved how this looked.

Not only did the band play full-on arrangements with violins, guitars, gorgeous piano, drums, vocals, and trumpet, they played a couple songs in front of a single mic.

My favourite was "Into Giants" which started at a single mic, then the band ran to their places as the song crescendoed into a full arrangement.  The video below shows this song and how the band plays it live.  If you like good music, watch the whole thing.  Trust me.  It's amazing and gorgeous.



After seeing the Joel Plaskett Emergency a couple weeks ago, and Patrick Watson tonight, I am convinced that Canada produces some of the best live bands out there.  Actually, I was always convinced of that, the point was just re-iterated by those two shows.

And, I just found out before the show when I was on Patrick Watson's website that the band is playing the legendary Massey Hall in December!  Tickets go on sale on June 1st, so I think I'm going to get mine ASAP.  However, this time I'll get two so I can share this band with someone else.  Yay!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Adventures in Your Own Backyard

Weekends go fast, hey?

This was a nice mellow one for me.  Friday night was spent running errands, on Saturday I had lunch with a friend and ran more errands, and today I woke up early to run a 5K race.  I'm a little bit bummed that I didn't beat my time from the Scotiabank Waterfront 5K in October... I was about 30 seconds slower.  However, considering the fact that I was sneezing and coughing like mad on Thursday night, I guess that's not too bad.  I definitely wasn't at 100% for this race.  Ah well, I plan to run a bunch more races in the fall and I'm sure I'll make a new PB then.

The race was fun though and in a park down the street from me, so I was home by 10 am to have a little nap.  I was aware of a 10 am to 1 pm 30% off shoe sale at a local shoe store, so I was out the door in time to hit that up.  I was thinking of getting a new pair of Birkenstocks, but I'm pretty sure I can get one more summer out of mine.  I don't feel like breaking in a new pair.  I ended up getting a pair of dressier wedges (can't not buy something at a shoe sale), and I like them.

Then I treated my tired feet to a pedicure.  Good idea self.

I had consecutive Skype dates with Claire and Becca T in the late afternoon.  Laughs were had.

It'll be another busy week.  I've got Patrick Watson to look forward to on Tuesday night, and a bunch of school stuff to keep me on my toes.  Three more weeks of teaching until exams (which are actually already written).  However, I feel like I have infinite piles of marking to do in that time.  Seriously, do you ever feel that you have a pile of work that never shrinks no matter how much time you spend on it?

I hope you all have nice weeks.  I'm going to go finish reading The Weight of Water.  Thanks for the book recommendation Jabba!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On reading... (with book reviews!)

I have been doing A LOT of reading lately.  In fact, I'm on pace to read 52 books this year.  I tried doing that a few years ago, and was not successful.  Maybe it'll happen this year.

In the past few months, I've found that reading is the only thing that provides me with true escape from reality.  My mind tends to wander when I'm watching movies or TV.  However, put a good book in front of me, and I'm completely absorbed.  Thoughts of real life float away.  I believe this is because reading uses more of my brain than watching something does.

I am hoping that I can read 52 books this year, however, if I do take the creative writing course that I intend to in the fall, my reading might derailed by writing.  This is a good thing, but I'd really like to do both.  In Stephen King's excellent memoir on writing, called On Writing, he insists that good writers must also be good readers.  In fact, he spends half his day reading, and half his day writing.  I could be down with that, if I didn't have a pesky day job (with lots of homework) in the way.

Of course, I still want to keep up with my running, concert-going, etc. when I start to write as well.  Oh, and I'm supposed to knit a sweater for my work spouse's soon-to-be-born new son.  There's never enough time to do everything I want to do.  I was reflecting on this on the bus this morning, and actually felt myself looking forward to retirement. (According to the piece of paper they send me in the mail, that'll be Decemeber 31st, 2034.)

Anyway, the point of this is that I am really thankful that I've been reading so much this year.  I'd like to review some of the books I've recently read.

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman



I'd heard many good things about this book, but was initially concerned that it would be too heavy of a read for me at this time of year when I'm stressed out trying to tie up all loose ends at school.  However, I decided to treat myself to this book on my Kobo. 

It took me awhile to get into the book, but once I did I was really hooked.  I think I finished the last 300 pages on a particularly lazy Sunday.  The story revolves around four women in the Jewish settlement of Masada in 70 C.E.  The Romans had driven the Jews out of Jerusalem, and about 900 Jews settled in this fortress originally built by Herrod.

Hoffman does an excellent job at evoking the journey to Masada and the living conditions there.  Her version of events corresponds to that of ancient historians, even though many modern historians doubt that the end of Masada occurred as previously believed.  It's actually quite the story, and I'd highly recommend this book.  It makes me really want to travel to Israel to see the remains of Masada.

Let's Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson




Lawson blogs under the moniker The Bloggess, and although I've yet to check out her blog, her memoir is laugh-out-loud funny.  My favourite chapters are the ones that centre around her childhood, with a taxidermist father who has a penchant for bringing live animals, such as a herd of wild turkeys or bobcat cubs, into the home.  In addition, the chapter about her experiences working in HR is absolutely priceless.  Her frank and open discussions of what it's like to live with an anxiety disorder are brave and informative.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, provided their sense of humour is a little bit twisted (as I would assume any friend or well-wisher of mine to have).  In addition, this book provided with one of my favourite quotes about friendship ever:

"A friend is someone who knows where all your bodies are buried. Because they're the ones who helped you put them there."


The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler



Anne Tyler is one of my favourite writers, and her latest is a pleasant little novel.  Her writing and characters are always very lovely.  This was a nice short read, but if you are new to Anne Tyler, I would recommend an earlier work such as The Accidental Tourist or Earthly Possessions.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova




Genova has a PhD is neuroscience and is the author of a previous novel (Still Alice) about a women with early-onset Alzheimer's.  This book centres around a woman who develops a Left Neglect after a car accident.  This is a brain injury, usually caused by an accident or a stoke, that causes the patient to be completely unaware of the left side of their body and their environment.

I found the beginning of this book to be a little bit slow, with some unnecessary dream sequences. Overall I liked this book because I learned about such an interesting condition, and came to care about the characters.  Genova interviewed many people with Left Neglect as research for her novel, and as a result, I feel her descriptions of what it's like to have this disorder are authentic.

That's How I Roll by Andrew Vacchss (currently reading)




 I follow Jennifer Weiner, a popular author whose books I like, on Twitter mainly because she hilariously live tweets the Bachelor/Bachelorette and it brings me joy.  She recently wrote an article about her summer reading list for EW, and that's how I came across this book.  It's a crime/mystery novel, which isn't my typical fare, but a nice (well, it's actually a little graphic, so nice mightn't be the right word) departure from my usual literary fiction.

This book is a fictional memoir of a wheelchair-bound hitman where he describes his life, his crimes, how he got caught from death row.  I found the beginning forty pages to be rather rambling, but now the story's started to roll (no pun intended).

I look forward to making more progress with this one tonight.

So, that's what I've been reading.  I hope that some of these titles make it to your own to-read lists.  In addition, feel free to toss book recommendations my way.  I've got quite a few on my to-read list, and some that I'd like to re-read, however I'm always looking for recommendations, especially while I'm on this current reading spree.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rollin', rollin', rollin'. Gathering no moss.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of fun and busyness, and I caught a little bit of a cold along the way, but my body's do a great job of fighting it off.  Let's do a re-cap.

Thursday

Thursday ended up being a bit of a crazy day at work, but then thankfully it had a nice remedy at the end of the day.  My work spouse moderates the math club, so as an end-of-year celebration she and I, and two other friends, took them on a tour of U of T, and bowling.  It was a beautiful day to be walking around campus, and I think they enjoyed our anecdotes and seeing teachers being weird in a library.  We took them to the science library, and laughed at book titles such as "Mathematics, its mystery and magic".

Bowling was super fun too.  The kids had a blast.  I bowled too and I got one strike and a couple spares.  Probably one of my best games ever.

After the kids were dismissed, the four of us went out for dinner to unwind after the insanity of the day.  I got home late enough for Rilo to give me the side-eye. (Which isn't all that late, but the cat believes getting home past 7 pm is wrong.)

Friday

I had a great day at work on Friday.  I grossed out two consecutive classes.  I did a presentation on organisms living together for my grade 9s.  Of course, that meant that I could bring in some disgusting pictures of parasitism (tapeworms and the like), including my personal favourite Loa loa, aka the eyeworm.  Their reactions were priceless: "Miss, why are you doing this to us??" etc.

I responded: "because look how this wakes you up!  And your reaction is so funny... C'mon, did anyone enjoy this?"

A few of the quieter boys responded with "I liked it, Miss."  And I know the loud complainers did too.

Then, I showed through my grade 10s an excellent video on the digestive system.  It's pretty awesome in my opinion.  They used microscopic cameras to show food's journey through the digestive system.. Where else do you get to see the pyloric sphincter?

After school on Fridays, I take kids from the Eco Club and other volunteers to do some community gardening in a nearby park.  We often have a large group come to volunteer and I always enjoy it.  What good kids, I tell you.

In the evening, I went to see Joel Plaskett and his Emergency band play at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  It was such a great show.  Frank Turner, a favourite of Claire's and Siobhan's, opened and was really great.  He had everyone on their feet standing and singing at the end of his set, which is quite a feat for an opening act, although there were many Turner diehards in the audience.

Joel Plaskett put on such a great show, as always.  He is one of the best live musicians going these days.  He played a great variety of new songs, old songs, rock songs, and acoustic songs.  My favourite moment was when he played the song "Lightning Bolt" with strobe lights flashing.  There were so many moments when everyone was just dancing and singing  My throat was hurting because of the cold I have, but I couldn't help but keep singing along.  I decided to make "Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'" my anthem for the summer too.  Anyway, it was a great show, and the music was so good that I felt nothing but happiness; no bittersweetness kicked in at all.  Well done Joel, you are awesome.

Saturday

My friend Vern (Go9) came to visit me and one of her sisters for part of the long weekend.  She also brought another one of her sisters in tow.  They went out to Centre Island for the afternoon, but I opted out since I was still feeling a bit crappy thanks to my cold.  I napped, and did a bit of shopping too.

I met up with them for a nice dinner, and Vern and I headed to my place and had a nice evening of catching up.

Sunday (today)

I woke up early, and even though I still didn't feel 100%, I went for a run since I haven't run since my 10K, and I have a 5K in a week.  It wasn't my best run, but I felt better afterward so job well done.

We headed off to the Jays game.  It was a perfect thing to do on the Sunday afternoon of a long weekend.  It was free Bobblehead day too!  Vern didn't want hers, so it'll be a gift to my dad.  It was great sitting out in the sun, drinking (overpriced) beer and eating hot dogs.  It was an exciting game too, but the Jays lost to the Mets 6-5 in the end.

The attendance for the game was pretty high too - over 41,000!  It made for a congested trip back to the subway.  We stopped off for gelato on the way home, and then Vern had to head off.  It was a nice visit though.  :)

Tomorrow

The weather's gonna be super nice again, but I have to buckle down and catch up on marking.  Giant sigh.  Oh well, life can't be all music, gelato, beer, baseball, and fun, can it?  Oh yes, it can, but not 'til July... and to get to that point I have to mark all these quizzes, projects, and labs.  So summer will be my motivation for tomorrow's day of work.

Hope everyone else is having a great long weekend (if they get one), and happy Monday to the rest of you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And it's no fun when I'm always at home.

The title of this post is taken from the song "Better Girl" by Best Coast.  Music has a way of working itself very easily and randomly into my life.  My pal Wes from Vancouver is visiting me at the end of July, and I've been keeping an eye out for cool shows while he's here.  I saw that Best Coast just announced a show, and I've heard good things about them, even though I'm not overly familiar with them, so I decided it'd probably be a good bet for a show.

Since I had tickets for the show, I got the band's new album yesterday.  I really like it, and definitely think it will be a part of my summer soundtrack.  I listened to it for the first time this morning on my commute, and it's super upbeat and catchy, and has lyrics that I can really relate to.

Anyway, the title of this post is true, but luckily it's not applying to me these days, and will not be applying to me this summer. 

This evening, I went to see the documentary "Bully" with my pal Fea.  It was good; but I think we both thought it would be better.  It's a definite conversation-started on a heart-breaking issue that's especially important to educators.  It was a valuable film for two teachers to see. 

After the movie, we met up with another friend for a fun dinner.  Tomorrow night, I'm helping my friend take out our school's math club to celebrate the year's activities.  It should be fun.  I think we're bowling!

The rest of my weekend is busy too.

And this summer is going to be insanely busy for me, which brings me back to the title of this post.  There will be a lot of fun because I'll rarely be home.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

I feel my pulse working overtime.

Wow, today was a really great day.

I woke up at 6:30 am to get ready for my race.  My pal Jolene (Go9) came down yesterday evening.  We had a pleasant evening where we hit up a local patio for beer and snacks, caught up and went to bed at 10:30 pm.  Extremely early for me, but necessary with the 6:30 wake-up.

Around 22,000 people took part in the Sporting Life 10K.  100% of the entry fees to Camp Oochigeas, which is a camp for kids with cancer.  It's pretty cool that every penny goes to a worthwhile cause.  That alone is a great reason to do this race.

However, running a 10K was a goal that I settled on after running four 5K races last year.  I am SUPER NONATHLETIC.  The fact that I ever even ran one 5K was a big deal for me.  Upping that to 10K is an even bigger deal for me.  Jolene is one of my oldest friends, and today we discussed how high-school-me, or even university-me, would have never ever believed I'd be running 10K races in my thirties.  I am very proud of myself for this.

The route of the race is also pretty amazing.  For the majority of the race, you are running straight down Yonge St. (Toronto's "main" street, if you will) which is mostly DOWNHILL.  I loved it.  I never realized how downhill Yonge is... I don't think you get a complete picture of it on an average day when it's full of cars and pedestrians.  However, it was amazing seeing a sea of yellow (the race Tshirts were yellow) as I ran downhill.  I kind of wish I'd taken a picture, but that would have slowed me down.

There were lots of spectators cheering us on as we ran.  One of the best signs was after the largest hill on the course (it wasn't that large), it said "THE HILL IS OVER!".  There was a group of people with hilarious signs at Yonge-Dundas.  One said "keep going random stranger!" and another said "why do all the pretty girls run from me?"  There were more, but reading them would have slowed me down.

I think I felt better during this race than I've felt during any of my other races, which mainly attests to the fact that I'm pretty fit from all my running.  As I kept running, I kept thinking about how really awesome it was that I was doing this race.  It's definitely one of my favourite things ever.

Once the finish line was in sight, I gave 'er.  I crossed at about 1:11, but later I found out my chip time was 1:09:21, which I'm quite pleased with.  My goal was to finish in under 1:10.  Goal achieved.

Jolene got separated from me at the beginning of the race, because she went to the washroom before the start.  She ended up crossing the finish line a couple minutes after me, but her chip time was 20 seconds greater than mine.  I can't believe how close we were! 

After the race, we had arranged to meet at the first aid tent, 'cuz we figured it would be very visible, but it wasn't!  It was a little bit stressful, 'cuz Jo didn't want to run with her phone, hence didn't bring it, but I eventually found her in line for free yogurt. 

After heading back here to clean up and change, we went out for all-you-can-eat sushi, and gelato on a patio in the sun, which made for a great ending to a really nice day.  After Jolene headed home, I had a nice little nap, and Skyped with Becca T.  I hadn't talked to her in awhile, and it was great to catch up.

So yah, today's been a really great day.  Great race, great food, and great friends. I'm already planning my fall races.  And I've also decided that the Sporting Life 10K will be a regular part of my spring.  I loved this race.  I'll leave you with one of my favourite running songs.  I'm going to head off to have a hot bath to soothe my muscles, some wine, and read a little bit.  It'll be another early night, because I am pretty tired.  10K takes it out of me, but I love it.  It's a good kind of tired.



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Who's gonna run this town tonight?

In 24 hours, I'll be running down Yonge St. for the Sporting Life 10K.  I got the idea to do this race last fall, and I signed up in December, and I can't believe that it's almost here.  I will be honest... I felt readier for this race three months ago as opposed to now.  I've still be training, but my headspace isn't as clear as it used to be, so it's been tough to get in really good runs.

However, no matter what, it will still be lots of fun, and it will be an accomplishment.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day, and I'm excited to be doing this with my friend Jolene, and hopefully I make my goal time, but if I don't, at least I still did it.

Last night I went for a good run in the cemetery, but just 5K.  I'm lucky to have a good running route where I can run there, run around my favourite parts for a bit, and then run home.  As I was running, I had to stop and sit for a bit.  Not because I was physically tired, but just because it was a beautiful evening, and I just wanted to sit still in a quiet place.  I decided to do just that, and I'm glad I did.  I felt a bit of peace.

Anyway, I'll let you guys know how it goes.  Wish me luck!

p.s. I came across this song on the radio last weekend when I was in Stratford.  That's the only time I listen to the radio.  Anyway, I love this song and got the album and it's great.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Three Good Things

In an effort to be more positive about my life, I thought that I should get into the habit of reflecting on three good things that happen to me each and every day.  I should write them in a notebook, but to get the ball rolling, I will post them here from time to time.

Really, when I think about today, which was a pretty average day, I could list more than three things.  That's pretty awesome in itself.

1) One of my colleagues said something awesome today.  It will be something I will think of next time I need a pick-me-up.

2) One of my friends at worked applied for an award earlier this year.  I had to write him a letter of nomination.  Today I got an email that he won, but he doesn't know it yet.  Still, good for him!

3) I have a student who totally has the same taste in comedy as I do.   He likes Community, 30 Rock, Louis CK, and, get this - Seinfeld.  In all my days of teaching, I've never taught a kid who likes Seinfeld.  Anyway, he had to stay after school to write a test today, and he updated me on the fact there would be two Community episodes tomorrow.  I'm excited.  Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and retrieve the "Troy and Abed in the Morning" mug that I bought at the NBC store in NYC this summer and give it to this kid. He also said that he would like me to include a Seinfeld portion on the next test for bonus marks, but alas, I cannot.

4) My friend Fea and I both had student teachers this year, so we went to an appreciation event at the university.  Free food and wine?  Why not?  It was all right.  Now that we've scoped it out, we figure we'll take advantage every year, because of the free food and wine.  There were door prizes too.  Fea won one but I did not.  So I ate a second piece of free cake.

See, I couldn't even LIMIT it to three.  And I didn't even write about how my little class did very well putting together their cell puzzles today.  That was good too.  Oh, and the post-free-food-free-wine nap that I had was pretty good too.  We're up to six good things for the day!  AND, I got a compliment on my daisy earrings.   AND Obama came out to support same-sex marriage.  AND it was rainy, but a perfect spring rain as opposed to a cold annoying rain, or a too-hard will soak you to the bone rain.  It was A-plus rain. 

So, in summary, a lot of good things happen every day.  I just have to look for them.  I think writing them down every day (not necessarily here, but sometimes here) will be a good practice.

GOOD THING UPDATE:
After writing this post, I booked ALL of my flights for summer trip #1.  Toronto to Winnipeg - free thanks to credit card points.  Winnipeg to Chicago - will be paid for using my student teacher honourarium.  Minneapolis to Toronto - only $20 after I used the voucher I got after my plane home from NYC was cancelled last summer.  So really, the flying part of this trip is essentially free!

Oh, in case you're wondering, AlieMalie and I are road-tripping from Chicago to MSP.  That's how I'm getting in between those locations!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Because you can't, you won't, and you don't stop.

I promise you that this post is going to be ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.  I'm going to write it in chapters.

Chapter One: Aging Supermodels really DO bring people together... providing those people don't get sick.

On Friday night, I went to see About Face, or as I've been calling it, the aging supermodels documentary.  I was supposed to go with my pal Eric, and two other friends, but each of those friends got sick (unrelated illnesses) at the last minute.  Luckily, I was able to find one stand-in among my work friends, and I sold the other ticket in the rush line.

Anyway, all three of us really enjoyed the documentary and had some good discussion after the film.  Most of the models turned out to be really interesting people with more personality than I ever imagined, and the overall message of the movie is that beauty is found in self-confidence.  My own self-confidence has taken a beating this year, however, I'm working on getting it back.  Or healing it.  Or whatever.  I guess seeing these beautiful women struggle with self-esteem and aging made me feel OK about it, and also appreciate my own beauty.  It was good.

Chapter Two: Visit to St. Ratford (in point form)

- dinner with friends at a really nice new restaurant
- planning summer GLAMPING (I'm in charge of bringing the glam)
- my dad enjoyed MacHomer and I did too
- I read a lot
- I ran
- I relaxed

Chapter Three: If I could have one person in this world on hold for hugs, it would be Dan Mangan.

The video for this song, one of my favourites, came out today... or at least I found it today.  When I first watched it, I just wish I had Dan Mangan around to give me a big hug whenever I feel a bit sad.



Chapter Four: I'm now a VP of Promotions for Ben Folds Five

Christielli history - in 1997 I discovered Ben Folds Five's album "Whatever and Ever Amen".  That was a life changing album for me.  I quickly consumed EVERYTHING BFF had done, and remember very fondly when their follow-up album came out on the last day of my first day of university.  (Surviving that first year was a big deal for me.)  That album got me through a rough summer where my beloved Nana battled and eventually died of cancer.  The song Magic describes a loved one dying, and it was an important touchstone for me that summer.

Luckily, the band played that fall in Toronto and I went to the show.  Not long after that, they officially broke up and I was sad.  I tried to fill that gap with Coldplay (didn't work).  Luckily, Ben Folds went on to have a great solo career, and I even followed Darren Jessee's (drummer) band too.

HOWEVER, how happy was I to learn that my favourite band from my late teenage years is working on a new album together?  Moreover, they are using a new way to get the album out: Pledge Music.  Bascially, you pledge the band while they are working on the album.  What's kind of cool, and lead me to pledging, is that I get a bunch of perks.  I get the download, my name in the liner notes, the signed vinyl (CD was sold out, so I went for the vinyl), a Tshirt, and the title of VP of Promotions.  It was a bit of a splurge, but I figured, why not?  I've downloaded the first single and I really like it.  PLUS 18/19 year old me was freaking out in my head, and I like indulging 18/19 year old me whenever I can.  Seriously though, I think when one's old favourite band reforms, it's an occasion to splurge.

Chapter Five - RIP MCA

The Beastie Boys bring back high school for me.  Things like dances and when MuchMusic actually played videos.  The cool boys at school listened to the Beastie Boys, but they were good enough that I didn't hold it against them.  Lately, I've been known to break out into "Sabotage" at school, and it was sad to hear of MCA's death at such a young age.  I'm sad I never got to see the Beastie Boys live.

I am so thankful for music, and musicians.  I think that's why a musician's death always affects me.  Even though I have exactly zero musical talent, music's always been my philosophy, my best friend, my touchstone, my soundtrack, and so much more to me.  I write a lot about it because I'm thankful for it.  It's kind of cool because yesterday was Music Monday, a day to celebrate music education, and Ben Folds has been tweeting/blogging a lot about the importance of music education.  Today I had to cover a music class for half a period, and it was really nice.  It was keyboarding, and the kids were just practicing and I chatted a bit with them.  I took piano for years, and although I've lost it, I'm glad for that experience.  It was pretty cool too because one of my student council kids was composing a song on piano, and I didn't even know he had that talent.  It was pretty good, and we were chatting about music and I recommended Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright to him.  We'll see how that takes.

I love sharing music.

Friday, May 04, 2012

We have made a spark.

Last night, or tonight, or whatever you should say when you wake up at 4 a.m. and decide to write a post about the night before was excellent.

I went to see Rose Cousins, whose album We Have Made a Spark, has been on heavy rotation ever since I bought it about a month ago.  I saw her play at the Rivoli, which is a small bar that I used to frequent a lot in my university days.  I hadn't seen a show there in awhile, and being there brought back fond memories of discovering the Toronto music scene.

Rose Cousins has a gorgeous voice, and her songs are absolutely heartbreaking.  She opened with a cover of Blue Rodeo's Five Days in May and closed with a cover of Adele's Rumour Has It.  As fun as those covers were, it was her own songs that truly shone.  She was joined by a bunch of her friends, including Oh Susanna on vocals.  It was such a nice memorable little show, and I was glad to be there with some really good friends. 

Here's her new professional-like video for the song Go First.  It's a song that breaks my little heart.  Love it.



This concert evening is sandwiched in between my two Hot Docs documentaries.  The first I saw was all right, however, we agreed it was more of a docu-drama than a documentary.  Tomorrow evening's documentary, the one about aging supermodels, will be fun no matter what.  I originally thought I might be going by myself, but now three friends are joining me.  I guess aging supermodels are something that brings everyone together.  You heard it here first.