Third time’s the charm

The first time I almost saw Iggy Pop was in the mid-80’s. A boy I was seeing/dating/whatevering had two tickets and invited me along. I don’t remember his name; I do however remember the feeling as the clock hands moved past the time that he was supposed to pick me up. I tried calling his apartment about 15 minutes late, but got an answering machine. At the half hour mark it began to occur to me that I was being stood up. The fact of it sank in after an hour of waiting.

The second time I almost saw Iggy Pop was in the early 90’s. He was playing 3 nights at the Guvernment, and I got tickets for the third night. I gave the tickets out to my friends, and on the Friday night we sailed past the scalpers looking for tickets and presented ours to the bouncer.

“Nice try. These were for last night.”

No amount of begging would get us in, so we spent the night getting wasted at the Horeshoe. I still have my pristine, never-been-used ticket somewhere.

The third time, I did see Iggy Pop. Last night, Katherine and I headed to the show and my mind was blown. Totally.

Worth the wait.

And the beat goes crashing, all along the way*

It’s rare when a band I’ve liked for a while comes to town. Mostly because the bands have broken up long ago and/or key members are dead.  But also because my tastes have changed, and there just aren’t that many bands from then that I still like to listen to now.

Simple Minds is one of those bands. And they are still touring and playing.

I still have my first Simple Minds album I bought, Life In A Day. According to the fine print on the back of it, it was released in 1979. I was seventeen. It only seems like a really long time ago if I do the math. So I won’t. I have all of their albums, even the crappy one I don’t like very much. What I don’t have is the single with that song from the Breakfast Club that I loathe.

I’ve only ever seen them once before, in 1984 when I was working at a bar and dating a DJ at the Toronto alternative station. I was quite surprised to find I still had my ticket from that show.


I didn’t even know they were touring until a rare phone call from Jeany, when she asked if I wanted a ticket. I think my answer was, oh hell yes!

It was a great show. The band played like they loved being there and the audience responded. You could practically see the energy spiral from band to crowd and back again, flowing up to crash against Massey Hall’s domed roof to spill back down. Massey Hall is a soft-seater venue, but no one was sitting after the first few bars of the second song, Waterfront. I was dancing in the aisle for the rest of the show, a feat my knees reminded me of for the next few days every time I got out of a chair. Whatever. That’s what Aleve is for. It was worth it to dance again to I Travel.

Jim Kerr talked to the audience between just about every song, saying that he hoped we didn’t mind but they “were from Glasgow; we’re a bit chatty”. No, we didn’t mind at all.

They played two sets and an encore in a show that lasted two and a half hours. I have no idea where the time went. It seemed like they just got going when their walk-out music, Jean Jeanie by David Bowie, came up. No one in the audience left – I think we were all hoping we could get another encore. Jim Kerr didn’t seem to want to leave either; he walked off much slower than the rest of band, leading the crowd in an impromptu Jean Jeanie sing-a-long. He looked rueful as he waved his last wave and finally walked off the stage.

And that’s my new definition of a good show – one so energetic and engaging that even the performers don’t want to leave.


*this line from New Gold Dream has been stuck in my head for 4 days now. I’m ok with that; I’ve had worse songs stuck in my head.


So I wrote a few days ago about learning to play the guitar, about how I was fulfilling a teenage dream, blah, blah, blah.

What I neglected to mentionw as that I’ve had the guitar for over a year, and you know what I can play on it? The first 60 seconds of Ode to Joy. That’s it. Yippee skippee.

It’s not that I don’t love the instrument, or no longer want to play it (man, I love double negatives, don’t you?). I do love it, and want to learn to coax loveliness from it. And it’s not entirely because I’m lazy as hell.

It’s just practising at home on my own bores the hell out of me. I tried using videos, but never got past the first 2 lessons of the Learn & Master series. I’ve watched YouTube videos, borrowed Guitar For Dummies from the library, got copies of music from the music teachers at school.

Yeah, no. Not so much.

I also downloaded a bunch of apps for my iPad. Tuner apps, chord finder apps, apps with videos, apps with notes and apps with tablature, free apps and apps I paid for. I read app reviews when I should have been practicing.

It’s a funny thing about paid apps and my sense of perceived value. I have no problem dropping a ten spot for a crappy lunch or a fiver for coffee too many times during the week, but I hem and haw over a $10 app like a miser. I dithered for weeks before buying the PhotoShop Touch app for a whole $10, an app which gives me much of the desktop version does for a small fraction of the price. Which is why I only bought the $20 Rock Prodigy app last weekend, even though I first read about it months ago.

I have practised more in the last six days than I have in the last six months. I’m loving it; it’s set up a bit like Rock Band, and I earn points for every note I hit correctly. There are bonus points for streaks and as in Rock Band, the bonuses drop to zero if I flub a note. I do love seeing my score improve as a measurement of my improved skills.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the gamification of learning. As a non-gamer, I couldn’t quite get behind it.

I can now. And now it’s time to go practice, for the second time today. Really want to break the 100,000 point mark on Lesson Two.


Written Friday, November 16…am catching up on my NaBloPoMo after my weekend away and a crazy start to the work week.


Before I was obsessed with boys, I was obsessed with music. And when I was in high school, I think grade 10 or so, I wanted to learn how to make music.

And I mean really wanted it.

The object of my affection was the guitar. I'm not sure what triggered it, if it was a classmate or crush that knew how to play it, or if it was something I'd heard at a party, but I craved it enough to ask my father for lessons.

This story is not going to make my dad look good. It paints him as stubborn, autocratic in a very man-of-the-household-what-I-say-goes way, maybe uncaring or unloving. He was none of those things. Well except stubborn. He had enough of that to pass a big chunk to me and still have plenty left over.

This story does not make me look good either. I come across as passive yet stubborn, nervous, painfully uncomfortable with confrontation, and willing to abandon a passion at the first roadblock. I was all of those things.

Not sure how I worded my request, but I do remember it was after dinner and we were in the rec room. My hand were shaking and I was scared. Not scared of my dad per se, but sometimes his reactions could be unpredictable. He worked hard at the phone companyand at home, was the only wage earner and the only driver. I knew that I was asking him to not only to find something extra in the budget but give up some of his limited free time to take me to and from lessons. I still wanted it even if it meant balogna sandwiches and inconveniencing a tired man. I screwed up my courage and asked.

And he looked at me and said that learning music was a good idea. His grandmother, his mother and sisters had all learned to play the piano and he was all for it. Oh what joy!

Until the next sentence – he'd look for piano lessons in town.

I reiterated that I wanted to play the guitar.

No, piano was good enough for his mother, it would be good enough for me.


Piano, or nothing.

We stared at each other for one of those moments that feels like an eternity but is really about 2 seconds. I saw his jaw clench and het got that look in his eye, the one I was afraid of. He did not like to be defied (well, who does, really). I broke first.

Fine, I said. Nothing.

And turned back to the tv as if I was ok with it. Conversation over.

Being a teenage girl, I blamed my dad for my anger, hurt and disappointment. But as I grew up, I knew where the fault lay. I wasn't smart or quick enough at the time to say, sure Dad, let's try it, and later manoever to the more reasonable priced, portable and lovely guitar. I was too fearful to defy my father even in something as small as this. I was too stubborn to pursue another avenue, to get a friend to teach me, to work more hours part time and save up for one of my own.

I'd said nothing, and nothing it would be. My stubbornness said a big ole fuck you, cutting of my nose to spite my face.

The guitar changed from an object of desire to a symbol of my own failings. I began to hate it, asking people not to bring it out at parties, sneering at it's kumbaya campfire reputation, deriding acoustic singer/songwriters as being insufferable shoe-gazers.

The only insufferable one was me.

An opportunity came up a few years ago to learn a string instument at school with the younger grades; I chose cello. While I liked the instrument and the sound, I was never really drawn to it. After an epiphany, I gave it back and went out and bought a guitar, a tawny Yamaha acoustic that makes me smile and think “that's MINE” with a bit of wonder everytime I see it.

I was doing well with it, learning by video and practicing every other day. But then I broke my knee and the momentum stopped. I've had Keith and Chuck both offer to help me learn, but a degree of stubborn pride wouldn't let me accept their help. And yet, I can sit in with the grade 7's, having no problem at all watching 12-year-olds quickly pass me and then watch me fumbling with slightly smug looks.

Someday I'll understand myself better. But at least I'll know how to play the guitar when I do.


In my bag

In my Timbuk2 bag (which I love), I have:

  • about 30 sheets of paper. 20 are response forms for the school's new Acceptable Use Policy, 6 are sketches for a Lilypad Arduino project and 4 contain the instructions for a knitted shark I am making my nephew for Christmas, at his request. There is also an envelope from East Toronto Hospital informing me that my mammogram appointment is on October 26th and reminding me not to miss it. I missed it. I keep the envelope to remind me to reschedule. I haven't yet.
  • iPad 2 with Logitech Ultrathin keyboard and Bamboo stylus. I keep all this expensive tech in a neoprene sleeve I got at the dollar store for, well, a dollar.
  • Moleskine unlined journal and 2 Sharpie pens. Not all writing should be digital.
  • school keys on leopard spotted lanyard
  • five, count 'em, five USB keys with a total of 20gb storage. No idea what's on any of 'em. My favourite is the Darth Vader one. Quel surprise.
  • November TTC Metropass. The bike has been put away so yay, I get to take the bus for the next five months.
  • Pendant I made at a 3D printing workshop.
  • Sleeping cat shaped pill box with Aleve & Advil & Tylenol.
  • Burt's Bee's Pomegranate Lip Balm
  • change purse with mostly US change in it, left over from Mastodon Weekend
  • Black leather men's wallet.
  • pouch with the Olio lens in it for the iPhone
  • 68 cents worth of coins and two candy wrappers that were floating around the bottom
  • reading glasses
  • demo cd from former student. No one sings Frank Sinatra like she does.
  • iPhone cover in shape of cassette tape. Usually iPhone is in it, but I was using to take photo. Duh.
  • Skullcandy earbuds. Because I am taking the bus again.


Last night was quite possibly the second best time I have had in 2011. And if that’s the second best time in 358 days then this year has sucked more than I’d thought. I will be glad to see the ass end of it in a few days.

I got home last night happily wired due to a combination of good conversation, good beer, and incredible music. I felt good. Alive. And pretty fucking fabulous. I IMed a friend that I’d felt like 20 years just slipped off my shoulders.

I’ve been thinking about last night’s Headstone’s show all day today. Frankly, it could have been the only thing that got me through this year’s Christmas Eve Day lunch with my father-in-law with a smile on my face.

I danced most of the night, much to the chagrin of the woman beside me who kept giving me the stink-eye. I never encroached on her space, so I’m not sure why the attitude unless there’s a memo I missed indicating that one should stand utterly still throughout a live show and alternate between soberly watching the band and trying to capture it as shitty video on an iPhone.

Fuck. That. Shit.

The first time I saw the Headstones it was 1990 and I was with the man who would become my ex-husband. They opened for The Forgotten Rebels in a small room above a crappy restaurant at the edge of Little Italy. The music was loud, angry and smart, and there was something about the lead singer that held my attention, a delicious combination of dark bad-boy good looks and a fuck-you attitude that I still find impossible to resist. I wanted them to play all night; I was disappointed when the Forgotten Rebels took the stage.

Between then and now, I bought all their cds and saw them every time I could. They split up in 2003 and the man with the fuck-you attitude cleaned up and took up acting, getting gigs portraying cops, husbands and fathers. I didn’t watch after the first episode, not because he wasn’t good but because that’s just not what he is in my head.

I couldn’t resist when I read that the original members had reformed, put out a single and were performing some dates across Canada.  Last time I saw them was 8 years ago, and they were just as good last night, just as tight, just as energetic and just as fucking wonderful as they were back then. The crowd seemed a bit older, but then so is the band, so am I. But some of us (i.e. me) refused to act it.

So yes, I sang and danced to every song. I tweeted how I expected to be unable to walk today, but I actually felt better than I have since April 21. Apparently the knee likes punk rock more than physio. So do I.

I think we’ll do this some more.


ear worm

I have what is quite possibly the sexiest song ever recorded stuck in my head. It snuck in my iPod shuffle somehow and surfaced while I was out walking. It was fun to have Mark Lanegan purr in my ear for a while, but now it’s just making me antsy and it’s not helping me get my work done today.