The local patisserie always seems to be closed whenever I pass by it, so it was kind of surprising to me when my mother came home with some fresh bread and the cranberry cream cake from The Pastry Chef. She said talking with the owner that they close at five every day, which is after I make my way home from work so that would explain it then. Oh, and the cake was fab, but would taste better with a hint of lemon.
My Dad’s here helping me rewire the lighting in the house. I’ve had a little education in wiring but he’s helping me do it proper as opposed to, well, I wouldn’t think of doing it myself, so I guess he’s saving me the expense and hassle of hiring someone. Thanks Dad.
what we’ve done
- replaced the wiring and outlet upon which the fridge is operating (it was on knob and tube as well as being on the same circuit as all the house’s lighting). We placed it on its own breaker as well
- went into the attic, where we discovered that they vented the bathroom fan into the attic (a big no-no) and that they’ve insulated around the eaves (another no-no). We knew before that the roof joists were warping, but we didn’t know that there were a few gaps in the roof, boards obviously having broken when they were reshingling. We patched the holes already and will deal with venting, bracing and insulation when the electrical is done.
- knob and tube comes out from one breaker and forks off, like tree branches about the house. We figured out which branches affected which lighting, and we separated them (the kitchen, far and middle bedrooms and bathroom lights were on one, all the rest on the other). Eventually though, we realized that it didn’t matter where we separated them, we’re clipping all the K&T and replacing it.
- in the attic replacing the wiring, we also were replacing the light boxes, which required removing the old light boxes. The way the old boxes were placed was on hanging brackets nailed into the joists, under the plaster ceiling. Without completely marring the ceilings we used a reciprocating saw to cut them out. We also had to make most of the holes bigger to fit the new boxes, and do a bit of fancy work to get all the new hanging brackets in place.
- we dropped a string with a weight down the clear gap alongside the chimney from the attic to the basement and hoisted up the wire from there to the back bedroom. Then we fed some wire from the back BR to the bathroom, from the bathroom to the mid-BR, from the mid BR to the master BR, from the master to the hall light. Each of these also has a wire feeding to the switch.
- before we could feed to the switch we had to figure out where the switches were in relation to the light boxes (following the old wiring gave us a clue, but since K&T are clamped via porcelain holders within the walls, you can’t just pull the old wiring out and use the same path). New holes were drilled. We also had to remove the old boxes from the walls and replace them (it’s very difficult to fish new wire through an existing box, it’s easier to do when you have the box out of the wall). I realized that with plaster walls you have to make a big enough clearance space to pull the box out without touching or else it will catch and pull off big chunks of your wall (learned the same thing in replacing the light boxes).
- the hall lights, downstairs and upstairs, have a switch each downstairs and upstairs so you can control either from either floor. In replacing these we needed to buy some three-wire, as it requires an additional connection each. We also had to drill a big fist-sized hole into the dining room ceiling to find the path where the wiring for the hall lights goes. We did find it perfectly.
- we’ve taken, at this point, countless trips to Rona, Home Depot and Canadian Tire, as I didn’t have a stud finder, #2 square head bits or screwdrivers, wiring, face masks, coveralls, saw blades for the reciprocating saw, boxes, hangers, and a half dozen other things. Wiring, dad says, has gotten much more expensive because the price of copper has gone up.
- after the wiring, we need to do some plastering before we put the fixtures back up, and make the circuit live. We’ll have two circuits, one for upstairs, and one for downstairs. The living room, since it has an ornately textured ceiling, we’re not going to replace the ceiling light, so we’re going to figure out wall sconces instead. The front porch light we’ll need to figure out how to get up the wall from the outlet (since there’s insulation in the way) and outside to hanging bracket, since it’s finished and not easy access.
- when you’re dealing with wiring, you have a ground, a neutral and a hot, you need to know how these connect differently when doing lighting or outlets. A single outlets can have its receptacles wired together or individually, I’ve learned, depending on the power draw needed.
My parents are about and my Dad has a snacking fixation (now I know where I get it from), so snack foods, like Doritos Nacho Cheese flavour, are floating about the house
113 - Popular Science May ‘09. - gadgets a-plenty, the future of transportation and the hacker threat from China
114 - Behind Closed Doors by Alina Reyes - a “Choose Your Own Adventure” of an … adult nature
115 - Nova vol.4 TPB: Nova Corps - Nova is getting separation anxiety as the Worldmind establishes a new Nova Corps and a new home base, but everything is not as it seems. A quintet of betweener issues plus some reprints of early Nova reprints.
116 - Captain Blood #1 - SLG Publishing is soon going to be back in the monthly business after a few years of trades-only, and Captain Blood, an adaptation of the classic Rafael Sabaini novel is a surprisingly phenomenal way to return.
117 -The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury - one of Bradbury’s most legendary works, it’s not so much a novel as a collection of microstories which tells one larger story. I love SF that predates the space race, it’s so much more inventive and fantastical. It’s interesting to see what writers know about with respect to science and physics of space travel and other planets and what they just have no clue about. Need to see the Rock Hudson tv adaptation now.
118 - Lost (100th Episode) - All about Daniel Faraday, revealing more about himself, his freaky mother, Charles Whidmore, the Others, and causing troubles for Jack and Kate, while Sawyer lands himself and Juliette in even more hot water. Fun stuffs.
114 - Aged White Cheddar Popcorn from Popcorn Indiana, of all the cheese popcorns out there (and I’ve tried a lot of them) this is the best.
115 - chocolate milk - the doctor says JJ needs more calcium in his diet, and likely we all do. I drink milk just fine but neither Aden nor JJ are much fans of it, so chocolate milk (diluted with more milk) has been introduced to our household as a new staple
116 - Fruit and Nut miche - from Presidents Choice, a delicious loaf without the usual price tag associated with it
117 - mango smoothie - I always forget how thick mango winds up getting when you blend it, but this mango was perhaps the best, most juiciest one I’ve ever had (I probably should have just ate it instead of smoothifying it
.What’s the best Action/Adventure/Mystery/Science Fiction/Horror/Noire serial to have been lost to time? Why it’s the Adventures of Twain and Einstein. Thankfully “Thrizzle” caretaker Michael Kupperman has assembled a respectable sample of these long forgotten tales, and presented them for everyone to enjoy once again in the latest volume of his Fantagraphics series. As well, this magazine of comics literature has articles on the latest fashion craze to hit the runway, hobo chic (memories of Derelict with a 1920’s twist), and in the “how to” section, it’s potato printing, noir style. It’s more fune than a chorus of dancing aged prospectors
Canadian and US labs have confirmed a new influenza strain that’s evolved from pigs has hit Mexico and spread across to the southern US. As of this morning there have been some 800 suspected cases with flu-like illness (though not all have been confrimed as the same), with 57 deaths around Mexico City as well as another 24 cases and 3 deaths elsewhere, and seven known cases in the southwestern United States.
Human outbreaks of “swine flu” (H1N1) were reported in 1976 and 1988 but global focus on flu pandemics have shifted more recently to bird flu (H5N1). Swine flu is infecting, in some cases terminally, healthy young adults, and Canada has issued a travel advisory warning recent travellers to be aware of flu-like symptoms. In Mexico schools are closed and people are warned to avoid contact (kissing, shaking hands) and using the subway.
An anagram of “The First Menomena Album”, “I Am The Fun Blame Monster”, 6 years later, is still an amazingly enjoyable album which I have yet to tire of no matter how often I listen to it. Menomena’s smooth, calculated, almost jazzy style of indie rock, full of slowly building tunes with soft lyrics throughout (until bursting at the seams in the finale of the ninth track “Monkey’s Back”), and the faintest hint of an electronica influence. Two albums which I somehow have yet to acquire have followed, but they’re on my list.
Latest Sandwich Box sandwich had me stepping, erm, outside the box for a little something different.
Curried Apple Spread
Ribs ‘n’ wings ‘n’ fries during a beer lunch and hockey talk at the Fox and Fiddle. Minus the beer… and the fries (replaced by salad).
Bought this 3-CD/1-DVD compilation of the NY East Village comedy show whilst in New York back in 2005 (although you can really buy it from anywhere in the world on line, at any time no less, not just 2005, as it’s distributed by Comedy Central Records). It was a grand revelation of new comedic talent (okay, it was about 50/50 of greatness and crap), and I thought it’d be good to go through the list of performers and see just where they are now:
1. Bobby Tisdale - was in “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan” and is still, I believe, the real-life embodiment of Kermit the Frog.
2. Mike Birbiglia - a couple of Comedy Central specials and a CD, limited notoriety
5. Craig Baldo - he’s doing copywriting or something now
2. Aziz Ansari - his sketch troupe Human Giant had (has?) their own show on MTV and now he’s appearing with Amy Pohler on Parks and Recreation
3. God’s Pottery - appeared on last season’s Last Comic Standing where they wore themselves thin.
4. Jessi Klein - currently the director of development for Comedy Central.
5. David Wain - dude made Role Models, so he’s totally Hollywood now. As long as I don’t have to hear him sing again.
7. Tom McCaffrey - umm stuff.
8. Andrea Rosen - was on Season 2 episode of Flight of the Conchords and other minor tv things.
2. Todd Barry - was just seen in The Wrestler of all places. He’s recently been on The Sarah Silverman Program and lent his voice to bunch of Adult Swim shows and was in the final episode of season 1 of Flight of the Conchords.
4. A.D. Miles - Is now the head writer of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
5. Andy Blitz - did much work on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Human Giant.
6. Patrick Borelli - hopefully got funnier
7. Jon Benjamin and David Cross - H. Jon Benjamin is on Important Things with Demetri Martin, he’s lent his voice to Family Guy and written/created/voiced dozens of Adult Swim cartoons. David Cross is everywhere, including an Alvin and the Chipmunks “Squeakquel”. Awww.
Essentially, “grilled cheese”. No, not a sandwich, but cheese slapped on a grill and left to fry up nice and crispy. Me and the exRooms went to El Trompo for some genuine Taquitos. We had Al Pastor and Chorizo, richly spiced, tamed with tomatillo salsa and a margarita and Horcahta to drink. There was also the unusual but tasty Mexican Spicy bean soup, with bacon, sausage, tomato and onions. Good times, although the wife was going a little nuts wondering what that smell was when I got home.
A strange bit of commotion as we arrived at Massey Hall about 90 minutes before showtime. There were assistants of some sort instructing the crowd in line to pick up their already-ordered tickets that if they were in Rows A through O they would need to have all of their party members with them and that once they picked up their tickets they would not be allowed outside again (well, not to reenter anyway). I guess it was some form of scalping counter-measure but at the same time it seemed kind of arbitrary (why only A through O?) and a little frustrating since we were planning on grabbing a snack after picking up the tickets.
Anywho. Eugene Mirman, a man whose stand-up work I am familiar with, as well as for his roll as “Eugene” on the Flight of the Conchords television programme, was the crowd warmer for the tour. He’s a presence comedian, his unusual appearance accentuated with an offbeat delivery style, a half snicker caught in his throat while he tells his stories or futilely holds up some images on letter-sized paper to a theatre-sized crowd which, naturally maybe the first dozen rows (at best) could actually focus on. Mirman dropped a few minutes of Toronto-specific improv, hardly refined yet welcoming in his seeming unsureness of what was coming out of his mouth. He had jokes and bits, and stories, a diverse array of comedy, most of which elicited hearty laughter from the audience. He closed it off with his true story of his vendetta against Delta Airlines, an anecdote that’s amusing in its own, but accentuated by Mirman’s delivery and embellishments, and pushed over the edge into comedy by his absurd “I hate you letter” followed by his post cards handed out to the crowd. Did he kill? While not everyone was laughing, he got at least 70% on the ride along with him, so I’d say that’s at least a maiming.
The Conchords took little time getting out on stage, the audience of primarily 20 - 30 somethings, majority hipster-esque, erupting in cheers. The younger audience members screamed their “I love yous”, while the older members clapped politely. A rave-tastic rendition of “Too Many Dicks on the Dancefloor” kicked off the show in an unusual fashion, as the vocals were drowned out by the pulsating beat (not necessarily what you want for a comedy song), and nobody stood up to dance (which is just weird in a seated theatre anyway).
Bret and Jemaine’s stage presence was everything I’ve come to expect from them, a huge fan of their shows, their music, and their performances. Their stage personae are seemingly unrehearsed, unprepared for between song banter, and somewhat demure, timid before the crowd. But there’s no mistake, they have the audience enraptured. The first person to shout out from the crowd was dubbed a heckler, and the joke of the evening was then that any calls from the audience were heckles and would be handled appropriately.
I realized as they made their way through their near 2-hour set that they have a rather large stable of songs, since so many that I could immediately recall were still left out. A couple new tracks that seemingly wouldn’t fit into the Conchords’ HBO show were also on display, including a Johnny Cash-style story about a bad western gunfighter named Stana. This, as with most of their songs, found Bret and Jemaine embellishing in the lulls, giving the tracks a unique new life on stage.
An eager audience member turned the show into a “Rocky Horror”-esque participation project as she threw an assortment of items upon stage (toothbrushes during “Business Time”, gumdrops during “Alby”, a stuffed monkey during “Think About It” and an eyepatch during “Bowie”). It was actually a charming bit of unanticipated audience participation, and Bret and Jemaine’s surprised reactions to it all were priceless (they loved the eye patch).
Tracks from the latest season were played in equal measure as those crafted and honed long before they appeared in the first. As Aden and I haven’t seen season 2 yet (and have only occasionally caught up with clips on youtube) we weren’t too familiar and thus there was a largely fresh component to the set. Good jokes can be told and enjoyed over and over, but nothing beats the surprise of a fresh one. That the Conchords are talented musicians and by and large great songsmiths, their music is enjoyable for it humour but also makes you want to sing along with it (and I did). Aden I think was laughing too much to sing along.
The capper of the opening set was an R. Kelly inspired rendition of “Sugar Lumps” which was absolutely genius, and the encore, six songs deep included a largely unprepared rendition of “Foo de fa fa” which probably plays better with a Canadian audience than an American one.
My immediate sense was that this should would be so much better in a smaller venue, with more intimacy and even more audience interaction. The duo are so affable that you can’t help but be swayed by their New Zealand charm (just don’t say their hair is greasy else feel the sting of their Kiwi ire).
With my long hair and weeks’ beard growth, I’ve been getting some random comments about my appearance. Yesterday the coworker, S, sitting beside me compared me to Rafael Nadal, while today another coworker, A, passed by, adopted a wide grin and leaned beside my coworker and whispered in her ear. They both looked in my direction and A said “I think he’s about the right age”. I of course was being talked about and implored them not to leave me out of the loop.
“How old are you,” A asked.
“I’ll be 33 this year.”
“Yes, that works,” he said. “I was just commenting to S that you look like, and I was going to say a “young Jesus”, but just Jesus is more correct. Either that or ‘Hector’ from ‘Hair’.”
I said “Hair?”
“You’ve never seen the musical, ‘Hair’?”
“I’ve heard of it, but never seen it, no.”
S and A talked about “Hair” for a second while I looked it up on IMDB.
A said “no not the movie, I mean more the concept of Hector” and trotted off.
I’ve been compared to Christ before, by our former office cleaning staff. They were a delightful, grandmotherly staff of white-haired women who spoke nothing but Portuguese and a tiny amount of English. I miss them.
Former coworkes back in Barrie took to calling me “Pierce” at the height of Brosnan’s Bond days, which I never took offense to.
For a very brief time I was compared to guy from Smallville, but I think people just wanted to make the Superman reference.
I’ve never been good at the “who would play me in a movie” game, however. I’d probably just play myself.
Two more holdover artists/albums acquired many years after first hearing and mixtaping them on Brave New Waves (see anew #86 for details).
Couch: Fantasy - I had “Linie Gegen Strich” on a mix tape for years, listened often enough that I know it’s movements and rhythms, it’s bass-centric maneuvers with intimate familiarity, even if I didn’t know it’s title. When I bought the “Fantasy” album (likely in 2001/2002, used) I was surprised to find another 8 songs that were in a similar vein of post-rock instrumental. To my ears, though, listening to a full Couch album, it honestly sounds like incidental/interlude music for small-market television channels. It’s a few notches above elevator music for sure, but it’s by and large forgettable and in a large dose, a little hokey.
Disco Inferno: D.I. Go Pop - finding this album whose opening track was “In Sharky Water” seemed like a major coup for me, as I was trying in the early 2000s to recreate my BNW mixtapes digitally. “In Sharky Water” is a melding of found sounds, post-punk instrumentalism, experimental tape looping, and lo-fi aesthetics. It’s dark and dirty, intense with an occasionally lulling serenity, shifting tempos about a dozen times through its 4:40 time. The D.I. song I’m more keenly interested in is the manic “It’s A Kids World”, which sadly doesn’t appear on this album. The remainder of D.I. Go Pop is a challenging mash of avant-gardeism that generally defies rules of song structure, and rarely aims for listenability. Apparently my obtaining of DI Go Pop in 2002(ish) was another coup since it wasn’t released by a North American distributor until 2004. *Shrug*
As mentioned previously, Ebert wrote a blog post containing the rules of joke telling. It’s not necessarily 100% applicable to all comedians, since most comedy these days is either story or performance-based, (few are joke tellers, like Stephen Wright or the late Mitch Hedberg and Rodney Dangerfield). Ebert retells a conversation he had with Buddy Hackett, a portion of which states: “The people want to idealize a singer. They want to feel superior to a comic. You’re trying to make them laugh. They can’t laugh at someone they’re looking up to.”
I think this is true, to a certain extent every really popular stand up comedian provides a sense of inferiority to the audience. It’s difficult for a comedian who is arrogant and lords it over his audience to succeed (though David Cross and Bill Hicks are the exception, Norm MacDonald, Lewis Black, Patton Oswald and others make a schtick out of it, in as much as their arrogance attributes to their downfall in life). You have to provide a sense that it’s okay for the audience to laugh at you. Scott Thompson (from the Kids in the Hall) said in an interview I did with him back in university that some of the best humour comes from the darkness, from pain, and it’s not surprising that many comedians have a very bleak world view or come from a painful background. That so many comedians die so young isn’t surprising once you know this. It’s a universality, those dark things, and comedians try to find the humour in them, to share that it’s really okay to laugh at the bad things, but some are only so strong and succumb to it.
Coming across a comedian on the Comedy Network the other day who was going on and on (in vulgar tones) about the funny things his kid does with his penis, it dawned upon me that comedians who tell stories about the “funny” things their kids do are lazy and it’s simply the cheapest form of comedy. Last night Eugene Mirman had a brief comment on this, stating, in effect, that of course kids are funny, you’d be that funny too if you had no education. You can tell jokes about being a parent, no problem, because invariably it’s highlighting how inept/careless/crazy you are as an adult who should know better, rather then talking about a child who doesn’t. The other thing about telling stories about your kids is everyone with kids has stories, and there are buckets of commonalities between those stories. There’s humour in shared experiences, but there’s also a “so what?” sense to stand-ups telling stories about their kids as in “Yeah, so what? This one time my kid…”
It’s the same with telling stories about interactions with foreigners who aren’t aware of the customs of the land. One stand-up who I’ve seen far too many times locally tells stories about his ESL class, and it’s painfully unfunny. He’s not making fun of his students, but at the same time, everyone who’s learning a new language will have problems with it. It’s anecdotal, something you might tell at a dinner party, but not worthy of a mass audience, certainly not if they’re a paying one. It’s just not funny, that is unless you’re the foreigner, misunderstanding the culture or language.
I love stand-up comedy, I love humour, I love puns and wordplay, silly comedies and bawdy jokes. I have a good sense of humour, and although I don’t necessarily study or practice the art of the funny, I’m trying more and more to understand what it is that makes something funny and something not. Everyone’s sense of humour is subjective, as individualistic as their fingerprints. Two people may laugh at one joke, but only one may laugh at the next, and the other at the next. Some people have no sense of humour about themselves, some can only laugh about things they understand. Some people only like dirty jokes, while others only like them clean. There’s no such thing as universally funny, but there are rules (a whole lot of rules) that make some people and things funnier than others.
It’s sort of a sexist cliche that there aren’t many good female comedians. Now, I won’t deny that Ellen Degeneris and Rita Rudner and Margaret Cho and Deborah DiGiovanni are all great, they’re still in that narrow minority of comedians who are women. One researcher in the UK believes that testosterone is to blame for this imbalance.
Roger Ebert states, somewhat aptly, “I have noticed that when a woman can really tell jokes, men love it. Women too. Many women fail because they don’t go in for the kill. I would love a Dangerfield routine from a woman.”
Had about an hour to kill after work yesterday as the wife and I were heading out to a Flight of the Conchords gig, and I came across this post from Roger Ebert about jokes and joke telling. Like a good opening act, the post (and it’s hundreds of comments) warmed me up for the main show (as did Eugene Mirman on stage, who had a killer bit about God being a 10-year-old boy with aspergers). As I was walking to the venue with Aden I was trying to entertain her with some of the many new jokes that I learned, and I realized, I’m not great at joke delivery… or remembering jokes. Rule #1 broken.
I find when something is funny I don’t remember it right away, because I’m too busy laughing at it. It sometimes takes a half dozen exposures to a joke or catch phrase or funny bit for it to sink into my memory in such a way that I can use it. People like my great friend Ryan and my grand old roommate Jeremy are both really damn good at picking up on the funny things the first time and segueing them back into conversation at just the right moment. I’m often envious of this ability. Even my wife’s able to do it, recently reiterating a bit from SNL that I hadn’t necessarily picked up on.
Anyway, as I failed somewhat miserably at retelling some jokes, and my wife politely laughing, I attempted to come up with some jokes of my own (my delivery still sucked, though, and my wife aptly groaned at each of them). Far from refined yet, however, I think they’re funny:
My wife just showed me a pregnancy test she took and the result was positive.
I asked her “should we keep it?”
“No point,” she said, “it’s one-time-use only.”
I met a set of twins at the bar the other day.
One of them told me she had one leg longer than the other.
I asked if that’s how I tell them apart.
“No,” her brother responded, “I’m the one with the beard”.
One of the things I’ve seen on improv shows is quick-witted comedians coming up with alternate variations on the same joke, two, three, four times over. It’s likely the rapidness in which they do it that makes it funny, but Demitri Martin also “remixes” his jokes and I find this also quite amusing.
My wife told me she took a pregnancy test and the result was positive.
I’m still waiting for the upside.
(It’s Dangerfield-esque but I’m no Rodney)
I met a set of twins at the bar the other day.
One of them told me she had one leg longer than the other.
I asked if that’s how I tell them apart.
“No,” she said, “one’s attached to my left foot, the other to my right”.
It’s not that I’m an unfunny guy, but I’m more a personality funny than a joke-telling funny. Usually when I’ve been drinking.
I learned the hard way that the floors in my basement aren’t exactly level. Now I knew this already but what I didn’t realize that the difference in height from floor to ceiling on the interior wall can be up to an inch shorter than only 16 inches out from the wall. The difference is noticeable when you’re trying to fit a bookshelf up against the wall that’s 75.5″ tall and the height from floor to ceiling against the wall (where the back of the bookshelf would be) is 75.25″ or 74.875″ while the height from floor to ceiling about 16″ out (where the front of the bookshelf would be) is anywhere from 75.5″ (perfect) to 76.5″. They say measure twice, cut once… I say also measure twice (or four times), move once.
Sometimes I really just can’t spell very well, but I’m just as bad at proofreading my own work.
Witness this Kijiji ad I posted recently:
GE Spacemaker portable washing mashine (great for apartments)
I’m so thankful for the Firefox text editor and other automated spelling-madoohickeys even if they don’t always know all the words or Canadianisms.