Entries from November 2001

Rebirth

Welcome to the new (and hopefully improved) BeatnikPad! After weeks of procrastination, bungled attempts at Cascading Style Sheets, heartrending browser issues, and more than a little guilt, the site seems to finally be out the door.

Everything has been rebuilt from the ground up, and the site is now running on a brand new content management system... so there will be bugs. Please, if you find spelling mistakes, something that looks like it's not intentional (heh), or if the site totally blows up on you, let me know.

Many heartfelt thanks to everyone that sent encouraging e-mails. It constantly amazes me that there are people out there that find my babbling interesting. Your kind words are very much appreciated.

Alrighty then! Enjoy, and I hope that everything is uplifting sonatas in your corner of the world.

Novillero: the Brindleford Follies

coverNovillero hail from my hometown: Winnipeg. They are signed to Endearing Records. How do they sound? Magically delicious.

Jim O’Rourke: Eureka

coverOne of the few things you can definitely say about musical renaissance man Jim O'Rourke is that he can never be predicted. There seems to be no end to his prolific, fascinating output, and Eureka [Drag City] continues the enigma. It's a lush, tuneful album as surprising as it is enjoyable.

Taking Your Talent to the Web

coverBy Jeffrey Zeldman

It's always a refreshing change of pace to read a book about the Web that is, for all intensive purposes, for everyone. Jeffrey Zeldman ("he's not just a Man, he's a Zeld-Man") writes in a friendly, cheeky tone, and his passionate, lucid approach to the Web feels like an album where every song is a #1 single. Greatest hit: "Style sheets for Designers: Designing with Style"

Pernice Brothers: The World won’t End

coverJoe Pernice makes the most beautiful statements out of sadness, and this followup to the Bros. uneven but fine debut Overcome by Happiness is proof of that. It's a more lush, fuller-sounding, and sonically ambitious effort than the debut, evoking comparisons to Pet Sounds, Nick Drake, and Jimmy Webb. Pernice's explorations into poetic pop closes the book on his previous country-tinged work with the Scud Mountain Boys. A soaring, blissful soundtrack for a lazy Sunday morning.

Blogger begone!

All of the old site's postings from Blogger have now been imported, and can be found in the new Archives area. Blogger is an amazing tool, but I found it unreliable and a bit flaky, especially when it came to archives.

Hopefully this frankensteinian mish-mash of moveable type and some of my own code should do the trick... hopefully.

Bleary vol. II

I've been spending a horrendous amount of time in front of the computer the last couple of weeks. It's embarrassing, actually - I went out to see a couple of really stinky bands with my buddy Dave, and realized while standing in the smoke-filled, raucous din of the Royal Albert Arms that it was the first time I'd been around a large group of people in almost three weeks.

Luckily for me, my eyes haven't been bugging me that much because of my new LCD display. For someone with bad eyes (and an annoying habit of getting explosive headaches from screen flicker), it was worth every penny.

Have you noticed eye problems from peering at a shaky CRT for too long? Comments?

Monet

Today is Claude Monet's birthday. I've never been a huge fan of Monet, but thinking about him does make me feel all warm and jiggly inside.

When Renée and I were in France, we spent a day in Giverny, at Monet's Garden... site of his home, and the inspiration for many of his best know paintings.

As we expected, the place was crawling with old people, consisting mostly of loud, crabby Americans. Still, it was a quiet, peaceful day; the perfect counterpoint to the previous four days in wild, swinging Paris. And yes... it was romantic.

Perhaps those old folks were onto something... or perhaps I'm just old.

[Song] Winter

Gorgeous, soaring melancholy, courtesy of the Internet via Alan via Kottke.org.

Fast Food Nation

coverBy Eric Schlosser


I'm just waiting for a reviewer to say, "Fast Food Nation does to greasy hamburgers what No Logo did for globalization" - as lame as that sounds, it's an accurate description of this excellent book. Author Eric Schlosser rips apart the black box that is the American fast food and meat industry, and it's at times lucid, enlightening, and digusting... sometimes all at once. (Thank goodness I don't eat red meat.) A great, compelling read that will change the way you look at "1 billion served" forever.

[Song] Champale: ‘68 comeback

I've only heard two songs off of this band's debut, Simple Days (both of which are available on their label's Website as mp3s), but from what I've heard, it's gonna be a great album. Breezy, jazzy, sweetfully lazy pop to fill your summer days with goodness... in fact, I'm gonna go out and buy it tonight.

Photos Updated

Photos updated today (slightly) with more shots from Giverny and Monet's Garden, in honour of Monet's birthday yesterday. Enjoy!

Fear of flying

Renée's dad swung by this afternoon for a quick visit and a cup of tea. He's a burly, big-hearted man - a real, bred-in-the-blood French Voyageur - the kind of guy that works in a sawmill, makes beautiful furniture out of gigantic logs, and is most in his element when he's outdoors. He's a swell guy.

Renée's dad Marcel used to, as you would expect a man's man to do, fly planes for a living - specifically with Canadian Airlines (which I would link to, except that they were bought out by Air Canada a few years ago). For someone like me who is irrationally terrified of flying, chatting with Marcel about aviation always helps calm the uneasy beast inside.

Lately we've had a lot to talk about.

» Fear of flying continues...

testin’

Just finished moving the BeatnikPad to a faster, hopefully more stable server, which seems to have cleared up the comments problem. Still, there may be problems - please, as always, let me know if something goes wonky on you.

sleepy

I stayed up until 5 am this morning, driven on by copious amounts of blessed caffiene, the server move, and a steely determination to finally see the much ballyhooed Leonid meteor shower.

At 4 am I got bundled up and went outside to the park across the street. I stared up at the night sky, waiting for the show to begin.

A couple of bums hassled me for change and cigarettes. Bikers roared by on their buffed-up, mufflerless motorcycles. A group of teenaged kids walked by, dragging a drunk companion between them like a sack of potatoes. And then stillness.

But I saw nothing. Goddamn light pollution. I went back in, defeated and bone-weary.

Night at the Braemar

Let me begin by stating outright that I find buffets creepy. The idea of everyone ladling heaping servings of mass-produced food out of the same stuffy, sneeze-protected steamtable, while kids run amok with their mashed potato-smeared faces makes me shudder.

(Did I ever mention that I once worked for Uncle Willy's Buffet?)

Last night, Renée and I had quite the surreal experience. A buffet was involved. Isn't that always the way?

» Night at the Braemar continues...

100 moments in time

Welcome to the 100th BeatnikPad entry. What were the BeatnikPad's first words? This dribble.

Life continues on in its chaotic and strangely comforting way. I'm heading to Toronto on Friday for a well deserved break from the stressbox that is work. Anyone out there want to meet up for some Gandhi roti, sushi, and coffees at Kalendar?

Aw. thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and U.S. visitors. I’m thankful for you (yes, you). Don’t forget that turkey is extremely high in L-tryptophan, so find yourself a good, horizontal surface for the resulting turkey coma.

Hogtown poetics

I'm obsessed with poetry these days: I just finished re-reading my favorite collection of my favorite poet, Octavio Paz.

I just picked up a new Rainer Maria Rilke collection, which I'll be reading on the plane: I'm off to Toronto in around eight hours. I'm really looking forward to hanging with my homies for a few days: Barbles! Tonia! Thandles! Leslie! Dolon! Mark - and the rest of my people still employed at my old job.

I sometimes spend way too much time reading technology books (self-improvement and self-edification in all of its forms is another obsession of mine). It feels very good to get back to reading just for the pure enjoyment of it.

Home again

The worse thing about visiting is the inevitable, sometimes painful moment when you have to say goodbye. I've never been good at farewells - even with those I love I stammer, avoid any semblence of eye contact, and run off at the first opportunity. So much for the stalwart macho grunt, shaking-of-hands, and stagger off into the distance...

Hugs, though. I love hugs. Call me mushy.

The Toronto trip was great. I've some journal-type scribblings I'll post when the mood strikes (and the ego inflamed). Those of you who sheltered, fed, entertained, and made merry with me, know that you are loved (especially those who sheltered and fed).

"Come, let's have one other gaudy night. Call to me. All my sad captains. Fill our bowls once more. Let's mock the midnight bell."

Chris Bell: I am the Cosmos

cover There's something intangible about this once-"lost" album by ex-Big Star troubadour Chris Bell that helps assuage the blues. Perhaps it's the tortured title track "I am the Cosmos", or the sweetly sad "You and Your Sister". Whatever the case may be, listening to it makes me think of far-flung friends, fragile-but-beautiful connections, and the hopeful glow of new paths to forge. It makes me feel good.

(Listen to the track Look Up: 4.9 MB)

Bridges

Last night, as I was sleeping in my bed for the first time in almost a week, my cat Emma started crying.

She woke me up, and for a confused, bleary five minutes I was convinced that I was back in Toronto, curled up in a young child's bed that was kindly lent to me by my host and dear friend.

The sounds of Emma's crying mixed with the memory of my friend's cat whining for attention, and for a fleeting moment I was thousands of kilometres away...

Emma jumped onto my bed, breaking the reverie and pulling me back into my own bedroom. For that brief five minutes, I stood in two worlds simultaneously.

If only real life were so easy.

Life as a Rothko painting

I went for my long-awaited appointment with my new opthamologist today. His office was packed full of old people with failing eyesight, sporting Captain Hookesque eyepatches and looking quite miserable. I was the youngest person there by at least fifteen years.

It was incredibly busy and after getting eyedrops to dilate my pupils, I sat down to wait for my turn. The only source of distraction was a television set that played the saccharine-laced horror of Heidi on a seemingly endless loop.

After ten minutes of Shirley Temple, I wished I was blind and deaf.

KeaneThe bad news? My glaucoma is back, and I may need to get eye surgery to get it fixed. Plus, my doctor dilated my eyes so much I've been walking around all afternoon looking like a living Margaret Keane painting. Everything looks like a gigantic wash of colour, swirled together into a big, blurry mess.

In the words of Elvis Costello: "It's the death that's worse than fate". Not only do I dress like and have the cranky temperment of an old man, I now suffer from old man diseases. Are there jobs out there for half-blind Web designers?

Thinking outside the browser

While it’s doesn’t do much yet, this is one of the most amazing uses for Quicktime I’ve ever seen. is probably quite happy about this: MovTV.


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