Sunday, August 31, 2008

Confession (And a couple shameless plugs :D)

I have a confession.
I am an inspiration junkie.
And Barack Obama's speeches give me my inspiration fix.
I've always had a passion for politics, but his campaign is especially exhilarating. My entire life (albeit it a short one thus far), I have studied history. Finally I get the chance to watch it unfold in front of me! My excitement is almost out of control. Eg. I have a bit of a collection of Obama gear, including a yard sign.
The downside is, of course, is that I cannot actually participate in the election. But now I that have all this energy, I'm finally checking off a few things on my moral 'to do' list.

Yesterday I got the chance to go canvassing with local NDP candidate Linda Duncan. I was horribly nervous at first, but after about two houses that feeling disappeared, and was replaced by one of excitement. As her campaign manager said, it was a bit of a poli sci lesson for me, as I was introduced to some awfully fuzzy logic belonging to some residents. The man who was a PC-NDP swing vote a prime example.
But overall I was overjoyed to be able to participate, and to talk to people in the community.

Also, last spring, my friend Shauna (also a Obama fan, and who is also always inspiring me with her work ethic) and I realized that homophobia and sexism are a large, unrecognized problem at our school. This prompted us to form Our ERA, to raise awareness about these issues. We've been planning since May, so this September we're going to hit the ground running. I'm anxious to confront the prejudices at our school head on, to make a difference.

And I must admit: it's great to be inspired!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yay for sentimental blog posts!

It is that time of year again. Time for Becky's Semi-Annual Room Destruction/"Re-Organization" Fest! This basically consists of my taking everything from my room out of it's place, piling it on the floor, putting about half of back, and then becoming bored. It's usually about 6 months before I become motivated to once again tackle the task.

But with the upcoming family garage sale, I was given the opportunity to rid my many bookshelves of some of the old books that I have outgrown. This meant that my actual interesting, read titles were given a new home; a nice shelf which was a luxury condo compared to their usual home on the floor, buried under old concert posters and CDs.

And I found this all so exciting! Think of it: No more torn dustcovers, and I could actually arrange them by author, subject, etc! The geek inside of me (most of me, in fact) was proud of my work.
But it was more than just an exercise for my inner librarian. It seems to me that many, myself definitely included, look to label themselves; to find security in knowing we are either this or that. And when we find ourselves split between two things we lose ourselves, not knowing how they can meet within us. But what I learned from the simple task of gathering those books which matter to me, is that what we read is one of the truest reflections of who we are.

Because there, on one shelf, sat the poetry of Canadian giants Cohen and Atwood with Obama and Anderson Cooper; the works of Vonnegut and Richler with Hollywood screenplays. Feminism sits beside Monty Python; Post 9/11 security next to the Kennedys and Vietnam and the Beatles.
Some of these seem to go well together, others do not (who ever thought that Jessica Valenti and John Cleese would make such a great pair?); But all these books mean something important to me. It's comforting to be reminded that I'm more than what a single label can define me as. Rather, we're all a just a sum of many, many experiences, and unfortunately live in a world where oversimplification is far too easy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

We watched Into the Wild last night... after we finished I stepped out my sister's cabin door and could not believe that I am there, in Alaska. The bus where Chris McCandless took shelter is only a 2 hour drive away.
The film made my last post, full of superficial worries and thoughts, seem ridiculous. It's frustrating, too frequently I find myself caught up in material things... works like this one just remind me to wake up and do something about it.
That said, I don't think people should martyr Chris McCandless, or try and live his life exactly, he did make many mistakes. But that spirit of living the life you want, the courage to defy the norms, is something that I think we forget frequently. It shouldn't have to be made into a movie to recognize and praise it... I guess we should support those with that courage more often in our own lives. Or at least I know I really need to :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

An odd sort of patriotism

So I think my promise to post more often was a bit of a death wish. I doesn't seem like it's been that long since December, I cannot believe that it's been 7 months! (Curse you Facebook!)
To sum it up, spring basically consisted of watching the US Democratic nomination (I can't believe Obama actually won!), a sweet Hawksley Workman concert and the annual trip down east. And school. Lots and lots of school...
By now I'm sure that the few people who used to stop by have given up by now (I would have too :P), but I still enjoy blogging, so on I shall go! Hopefully the free time I have in summer will mean more time to write.

So far this summer I've been visiting my sister, who goes to university in Alaska. I've been before, but never to the interior of the state, where she lives. It's odd to be in the country which is the focus of such constant media attention and discussion. I find both the similarities and differences between our countries to be fascinating, although my sister is convinced that I've just fallen victim to the "elephant-mouse" syndrome. Frankly I don't think it to be, as she insists, an inferiority complex on our part... I don't know what it is! Whatever it is, it's interesting.
Unlike in Edmonton, here Vietnam and Iraq aren't just news items and history books, but instead a large and painful part of the social conscious. Today we went on a bike ride through the local military base... it was odd to be "inside the machine". There was even a mock up of an Afghani village, complete with street signs in Dari. That was quite surreal... a life or death situation set up as if it were in an amusement park, or a playground. But still it was just an everyday part of the base, I suppose everyone was just used to it.

I didn't quite realize how much I appreciate Canada until I was in America for so long. Not to get me wrong, everyone here has been amazingly kind and helpful. I just miss the feeling of Canada, or perhaps that which is familiar. I can't imagine a life without the CBC, coloured money, or the word "washroom".
I suppose I've always been more patriotic to the things that make Canada unique than I have to the actual country/government itself. And I think that's quite alright for me, for that way there's of a chance for getting the "my country can do no wrong" attitude.
Anyways, I'm enjoying it here, but I do miss Peter Mansbridge ;)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I do so love quizzes

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

I'm Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme!

Which Simon and Garfunkel album are you?

Monday, November 12, 2007

"A darker grey is breaking through a lighter one"

Alright... I wasn't as snappy about posting again as I would have liked, but it's getting done :P

The only really interesting thing currently going on is the shows I've been attending recently. I don't have any lined up until after Christmas, but hey, I can always look fondly back at the ones I've been to...

Art Garfunkel at the Jubilee:
Before I was introduced to the independent Canadian artists I adore now, I always regretted that I'd never be able to see my favorite artists (The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.) live in concert. But Art Garfunkel proved me wrong there. Although the show wasn't as amazing as it would have been if Paul Simon had joined him (I missed the gorgeous harmonies), Garfunkel sang quite a few of the old S&G tunes, and of course the crowd loved him for it... I mean, his voice is too astounding!

The Weakerthans at Myer Horowitz:
This was a party and a half. Although The Last Town Chorus almost deafened me (lap steel guitar= good instrument, just don't turn it up so much that all you hear is constant screeching), the show in all rocked. The band kicked it off with a few of their more upbeat tunes, new and old, but in the second half they toned it down with a lot of slower songs, including quite a bit of Left & Leaving, the album which is basically the anthem of my sisters and always brings back nice memories of hanging out at their place during their university days. Think the whole audience singing along to 'My Favorite Chords' and 'One Great City!'
Afterwards I got a ride home with my sister's hilarious friends, and learned some important life lessons ("And Becky remember, marriage is only good for immigration purposes or fraud!")

Justin Rutledge and The Great Lake Swimmers at McDougall Church:
Ok, I must admit, I only went to this show to see Justin Rutledge, who was opening. But I discovered The Great Lake Swimmers, so it's alright.
I first found out about Rutledge at Edmonton Folk Fest, and fell in love with his alt country right away. I didn't find he sang as well at this show, but touring can do that do voices (especially when the artist dubs it "the magical misery tour"). But nevertheless he is amazing, and it was fun to be able to meet him again...
Plus I was introduced to The Great Lake Swimmers music, which is a pleasure.

Justin Rutledge

Geoff Berner and Kris Demeanor at McDougall Church:
Ok, it's Geoff Berner. Need I say more? I've seen him perform a couple times before this, and he was, as always, hilarious. This time I brought along father, who I swear was going to die laughing...
But what I loved best was Kris Demeanor. I haven't laughed that hard... well... ever I think, his impression of his dad in 'I Have Seen The Future' was outstanding... I got the chance to talk to him during intermission, he's incredibly friendly! My hero.

Geoff Berner and Kris Demeanor

Serena Ryder and Wil at Megatunes:
The Megatunes on Whyte (formally Greenwoods books) has a great space in the basment. The artist is set up on the floor, and everyone gets to sit on the cushy carpeted floor to watch. I really enjoy the connection it provides. Anyway, Serena Ryder was giving a quick free show there before her bigger show (which I unfortunately couldn't make). But I got to see her perform a few songs, and Wil also. I didn't know too much about the latter beforehand, but his voice is awesome and the fact that his website is just makes me that much happier :)

Serena Ryder

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Life is crazy right now. So much is happening all at once... new school, new people, new hobbies, etc, while it still seems that things are moving unusually slow. But in all the healthy confusion I just haven't had the time to write here. I could say that I haven't had anything to write about, as I've gone to some amazing shows (Art Garfunkel, The Weakerthans, Justin Rutledge with The Great Lake Swimmers). I guess I'm just tired out from trying to balance school and more personal things like writing and music. But from here on out I'll make it a goal to post more often than I have been in the past month or so, even if not as frequently as in the past couple years. I love writing here, and I plan to continue to do so...
So, you know, I'm alive, etc... check back soon :)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Saw the new documentary today at the local theatre... I love the feel of that place, it's actually just a stage with all the original art deco decor features intact, lovely.
Anyway, the film itself was wonderful. It wove narratives of top scientists with amazing footage to create a piece with huge impact.
Some have said they didn't like the role Leonardo DiCaprio played in making of the doc. Personally I believe it's a good thing that he's doing something with his celebrity, especially if it can reach those who don't watch the news but instead e-talk daily (which is most certainly not me)... and if you're still worried, he doesn't make too many appearances in the film.
Others have said they're sick of being told that the world is doomed, but to them I say:
A) That's what it take to make some people take action, and
B) This film offers hope, it's not just a we're-all-going-to-die-roll-the-credits sort of experience.
There were copious amounts of vital facts, but they were presented in a manageable way... to me a couple really stood out:
-Trees can hold up to 57,000 gallons of water each. So by cutting down a single tree, you could be making a serious impact of the flooding of the nearby environment.
-Americans spend more on lawn maintenance every year than the Indian government takes in taxes.
-The U.S. spends more money on their military than the economy of Australia is worth.
-For every one truckload of product, there are 32 truckloads of waste.
-To replace nature, it would take threes times what the world wide economy is worth every year.
These are just a few of the facts that people like David Suzuki, Stephen Hawking and Mikhail Gorbachev presented.
And it may sound like I'm completely promoting this movie... I am. It's something I truly believe in... the sentiment of the entire film "what a great time to be born, what a great time to be alive, because this generation gets to completely change this world" is something I try and remember... sometimes I get frustrated as I feel it's hard to really make a difference as a youth. Yes, I can turn off the lights when I'm not in the room, and I can do smaller things around the home, but what I'd forgotten and was reminded of today is that I may not be able to vote for political leaders, but I can vote every time I put money on the counter. It's showing I approve of what that product stands for. And while I may have already boycotted MacDonald's and Nike a long time ago, there is still so much more I can do without.
Hopefully others will remember that too, along with the larger call to arms message. I sincerely believe it's essential we listen.

Friday, August 17, 2007

You can take the Canadian out of winter...

But you can't take the winter out of a Canadian :P
A bunch of kids decided to go sledding at the Edmonton Folk Fest... In B.C. till the end of the month, and I thought I'd leave you with that. Enjoy :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

"We'll just cross his name out..."

Really boring modern music,
really boring modern girl
get me out of here,
I’m drowning, I don’t like this modern world
anti-intellect and marketing,
pretty, pretty, who needs talent?

Buck 65 sang that yesterday, although there was a lot of intellect and not much marketing on the last day of the Folk Fest...

All the shows I went to were fantastic, but a couple really stood out.

The first was 'Rites of Passage' with T. Nile, Justin Rutledge and Rob Heath. I feel in love with Rutledge's voice on Saturday, and so this workshop was a must. All the songs played were gorgeous, but his really stood out.

As a closer he sang Four Strong Winds (not aware it's the EFMF's theme). T. Nile didn't know the song, so she had to read the lyrics out of an audience member's program book. The rendition was awesome, better than, in my opinion, when played later on mainstage. After the workshop I got Rutledge to autograph the page of lyrics in my program, and we had a laugh when he scribbled out the credit for Ian Tyson and wrote his own name. Yes, I am a fan.

Then later I caught the 'If I Had a Rocket Launcher' (a nice Bruce Cockburn reference, who was at last years' fest). There played Buffy Sainte-Marie, Connie Kaldor and Mary Gauthier (and one other man who was filling in, but I unfortunately didn't catch the name of). This theme of the workshop was "things that piss you off", which meant we heard many of the artists' best. Especially Buffy, who played Universal Soldier and Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee. That was certainly quite the party!

And last but not least was Buck 65's concert. That man is hilarious, not to mention a genius! He had us laughing the entire time, and amazed us with some of his songs from his new album coming out in October... my favorite had to be Spread 'Em, a spoof on the old cop movies. His chorus of "Spread 'Em. Up against the wall, punk. Spread 'Em" was accompanied by a face that would have made Jack Webb proud. But the best part was easily when he unexpectedly added: "You're under arrest... sexy arrest."
That had the crowd laughing for awhile.

After his show I somehow found my way to the front by the stage and got his autograph on my copy of 'Secret House Against the World', which he signed "Buck 65... Amis Toujours." That made me smile, although I'm sure he's signed hundreds of other CDs like that. But hey, connecting with your fans is important, and his message certainly achieves that goal.

On mainstage was the LA hip hop band Ozomatli, who just took control of the crowd. I have never seen the EFMF crowd so energetic and involved! Everyone was dancing, EVERYONE. Then the lead singer hopped into the dance pit and the place exploded. Even after his band was off the stage the crowd was clapping and broke out into a couple soccer chants.

Michael Franti and Spearhead also got the place to it's feet, and also got them smiling. He told about when he went to San Quentin Prison, and how there was only one song that got all the inmates to sing together. He asked us if we wanted to hear it, and of course the crowd yelled yes.

That's when he played the Sesame Street theme.
And then Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
And then C is for Cookie.
That man is way too cool...
Not to mention he ended their show by doing an onstage headstand.

Finally Buffy Sainte-Marie came on, and I sat perched on the steepest part of the hill with my sister Kim and her friend Danielle (both big fans). Despite technical problems, she closed with a beautiful set with a lot of her classics. It was a great end.

But, of course, there was a one tradition left. If you read my (rather lacking) folk fest coverage last year, you will know that I was traumatized when a group of older women pulled me into their group for a teary-eyed rendition of Four Strong Winds... well, this year I embraced it, and stood up along with the hard core folkies. Although dared, I didn't go put my arm around the random guy in front of us, but I did laugh along with my sister and friend (who were beyond cringing) and took a couple photos of the event.

And this year I actually knew the lyrics :)