25 February 2007

Lost in France

Roubaix France is a pretty sad town. Sad as in depressed, as in, makes me depressed. It was clearly a place that had seen better days. But I could not have picked a better time to go to that petite ville, because while I was there, on the one night I had free there was a special event. The Dupléxe Cinema in the centre of town was hosting a one off viewing of the 1920's silent dinosaur discovery film "The Lost World", with all music being provided by DJ Ollie Teeba of London-based Ninja Tune act The Herbaliser.

After a whole day dressed up like a Mexican Wrestling Villain it was a pretty spectacular, if lo-key event. The Herbalisers music always seems to be inflected with jazzy horns, a sense of humour, and a healthy dose of nice beats. It was clear much crate-digging had been done to provide such a soulfully cinematic and groovy accompaniment to such a dated film.

I talked to Ollie afterwards and he told me it was just the second time he'd performed the set, to which I asked "Why the Hell are you doing it in this French shit-hole?"
Or words to that effect.
"France loves The Herbaliser," was his response.

And indeed they should. It also set me back just a paltry 4 euros and 50 eurocents, which seemed more than fair. In fact it seemed too fair, but then again you can't put a price tag on cross-boundary silent movie cinema soundscapes.

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GreenFace continued

So I'm back from France; This is what I spent most of my time there looking like.



Actually I spent most of my time there half asleep or reading in my "trailer", in anticipation of putting the green torture hood on and walking around the blue stage.


All in the name of art.


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20 February 2007

OrangeFace

We went to Binche (pronounced Baaaaanssh; hard A) today to celebrate Carnaval. It involved alot of oranges being thrown, mostly overhand, at/to the crowd. There were no injuries in our area, but plenty of general merriment, and jockeying for position.

Did I mention everyone was in bizarre traditional costumes stuffed with straw, and gigantic furry white tentacle hats? I didn't? Oh. There were those things, and it was party.

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BagFace

I've got a job, sort of. Actually i've got two sort of jobs. Both in the wonderful world of art, and involving Dutch people.
My first involves being a sales rep for an art gallery here in brussels for a Dutch artist by the name of Nick Gabrichidze"
It's commission sales work, cold calling. That one can't help but feel is exploitative. I mean I guess it's ok, but if someone only pays you if you make them money, well I guess it's sound business sense, but It doesn't offer me much in the way of job security. However, I'm looking at it as an opportunity to make some money, hopefully, and get out and explore the city, and hopefully keep me tided over until something more permanent, and regularly paying comes along.

The other job is shooting an art installation film in rance for a Dutch artist by the name of Daan Spruijt"

The filming, much to my narcisstic dismay, involves me wearing a bag over my head, and acting in front of a blue screen, so that Daan can superimpose the faces of viewers onto my body, so it's this immersive art installation. He also tells me the bag will be very uncomfortable.

However, I'll make a little money and go to France and be in a film, and those are all plusses.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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16 February 2007

Bitches From Brussels

Just to get you all up in The Brussels scene. This video was forwarded to me by a Belgian friend. She's no bitch from Brussels, but she knows what time it is. Word.


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13 February 2007

Français

My first French class was last night. It's a 6 month course, at the end I'll get a certificate. It's kinda mediocre quality-wise I think, but sure is better than nothing.
I realized in the past years I've spent time learning Italian, Dutch and now French. I wish I had more to show for it in terms of language facility, but I don't.

However I like to think of Dutch and Italian as warm-ups for French.

But going over the numbers last night we learned 1 to 10, (une a dix) then 20 (vingt) and so on, including 80 (quatre vingt) and 90 (quatre vingt dix)

Why is 80 spoken as 4 X 20, and 90 said 4 X 20 + 10 ? I almost walked out in protest.

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12 February 2007

Light Shows


To celebrate Sustainable Energy week the EU has erected a blazing ring of lights that are designed to buzz non-stop.

I don't understand either. It sure doesn't make sense, but also it is spectacularly beautiful.


On a smaller scale, and equally beautiful, and more appropriate to the event...

I've noticed a huge number of red lights in my neighborhood sporting a negative image of a heart superimposed on their entirety. What I mean is all the red lights in my neighborhood look, ever so subtly, but unmistakeably, like hearts.
Nice.



Happy Valentines Day!

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10 February 2007

a new beginning

I am getting myself around in this city, and staying savvy thanks in part to the following things:

Upfront Magazine A tiny little ma and pop mag with some music listings and a strong tie to the Irish Pub Community.

Brussels Sucks

Music and Events

The Brussels Bulletin

A weekly glossy mags full of info, listings interviews and articles.

Berlay Monster

This blog lends me a sarcastic eye on the weird world of the EU, so I can be jaded even though I've only lived here a month.


Drama Queen

I'll read her blog again.

Myboyfriendsatwat

I've just checked this blog and it seems ok, but it was voted best European blog of the year two years in a row (Fuck You Too! voting public) And it's got a catchy name. Her and the Twat live in Brussels.

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07 February 2007

Weird Spam

Is it just me, or is spam getting weirder and weirder.
It's not just me.


"Furthermore, the treacherous tomato feels nagging remorse, and the tornado related to a fruit cake befriends the boiled pork chop. Most people believe that the smelly mastadon sells the fashionable scooby snack to a satellite about a fighter pilot, but they need to remember how almost a spartan girl scout leaves. A boiled particle accelerator feverishly has a change of heart about a tuba player inside some tabloid. Any earring can take a peek at a muddy wedding dress, but it takes a real inferiority complex to laugh and drink all night with a hockey player around a short order cook.
Indeed, an oil filter from a cyprus mulch usually seeks a light bulb.Furthermore, the treacherous tomato feels nagging remorse, and the tornado related to a fruit cake befriends the boiled pork chop."

And how exactly does this help your online casino? Or is it just an absurdist avant garde food-fixated casino, I wonder.

Anyway, my pumpkin pushes targets for organized mistakes while a dozen organ grinders serve gasoline potatoes.

Or something like that.

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06 February 2007

A Late List

There's something about the end of the year that makes one think back over the year, and then make a list. I don't know about you, but that's what I'm doing. It's sure taken awhile, but I blame the early January moving to Brussels situation.

Here are things I liked, as in Best of 2006

10. 0 DOLLARS CREDIT CARD DEBT- For the first time in 5 years, my credit card debt reached zero. Not my personal debt, but still, it's a step in the right direction.

9. FIRST TURKEY – I made my first turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving in Rome, for the first time. It more officially marked my place in less-than-semi-vegetarianism (it's hard to claim vegetarian status whilst sewing up the skin of a dead bird). However, I'm comfortable with my 'flexitarian' standing, emboldened by the generally held opinion that the turkey and all the trimmings were wicked delicious.

8. PUBLISHED ARTICLES- I'd written some journalistic stuff before published in some other underground erstwhile magazines, but as I'm starting to take it a little more seriously it's nice to see it be greeted with open arms by publishers eager for some free content. Tiscali Europe, The Roman Forum and Stirred Up Magazine all had issues with a byline by me. Everybodies scratching each others' backs.

7. MOVING TO BRUSSELS Too soon to tell if this is/was an actually good idea, but it has that potential.

6. US MIDTERM ELECTIONS Ohmigod, good political news, for once. How it's panning out I don't know, but I like to se a group of assholes get their comeuppance, oh yes, I do. So cheers to Mark Foley and masses of right wing warmongering conservative pedophiles eating humble pie while being handed their political asses on a platter. Cheers to the voting public for sending the 'Worst President Ever' a loud-and-clear "You Suck!" message.

5. 2 TRIPS TO VANCITY I went back to the west coast in March for three weeks, it involved much friend and family time, 3 improv shows (1 great, 1ok, and 1 poor) and a guest appearance at Camp YES It coincided with the end-of-season implosion of my Vancouver Canucks, but I got to watch some hockey anyway. I also went back in September with Chiara, for my Dad's 60th birthday and general good times.

4. IMPROV CLASSES: I taught 2, count 'em, 2 series of workshops culminating in 1 brilliant performance. The first round, in May, was 2 full weekends with 8 beginners, 6 of whom had never ever improvised before. After the two weekends we performed a show that was actually really good. Amazingly so. The second round, in autumn, was only OK, but we pulled off another good show and even got the ball rolling for some regular improv in Rome.

3. BIRTH OF ROAN- My nephew was born in April. So cute, such a powerful experience for me to be peripherally involved in from long-distance. Almost enough to make me think of making one of my own.

2. EYE SURGERY I got elective corrective eye surgery December this year. Now I can see way way better than I could before. That makes my 'best of' list, because seeing is important. The three days I spent with my eyes squinshed shut sitting in the dark weren't that great, but now it's awesome.

1. WORLD CUP 2006. This shit was pretty much the best thing going. Football football football for one whole entire month! It's the best shit ever pretty much, the whole world goes apeshit and I've really amped up my excitement progressively over the years beginning with a mild passing interest for USA 94, when it was right on my doorstep. I also unfortunately missed Mexico '86 when Canada went, for the one and only time, to the World Cup. However Canada scored zero goals and got zero points, so maybe it's a mixed blessing I gave it a pass.

This year I was uberfan. Because for one whole month I planned my life around the World Cup, I was able to watch at least part of every single game,. They were all blogged about and can be found in my archives. I even went to see one live at the Olimpischstadion in Berlin, Germany (Brazil vs. Croatia) and soak up the atmosphere in Berlin (Incredible!) during the World Cup 2006TM "A Time to Make Friends." Beer and football fans, sporting an enthusiastic spirit of excitement, hope and good sportsmanship with a healthy dose of flag capes were the order of the day. I then came back to Italy and was in Rome for the final. Italy won. And then we partied. Me and all of Italy. All night long. Parading around the Colosseum and dancing on busses and celebrating the fucking awesomeness of it all.

Here are some things I didn't like about 2006

WORST

5. MY 29TH BIRTHDAY- This past summer I turned 29. I'm already looking back on my roaring twenties with some fondness, and feeling alternately torn between a desire to live it up more in tune with my carefree romp n' stomp 20's ie. plenty of partying and muckracking, and looking ahead to the coming decade and feeling desperately unprepared for the more general crush of adulthood that, time says, I can hardly deny for much longer. Friends with real jobs still make me think, "Wow!" like I'm sharing some inside joke with them, as if we're collectively putting one over on their employer, if only they knew who they had working for them. When in fact they have exactly what they thought they have: a young capable professional. Something I should be soon, because I'm almost 30. Are you listening Potential Employers?

4. MY SECOND SHOW AT WINK I was back in Vancouver in March. I heard there was a regular Sunday Show (The Sunday Service) at awesome vegetarian café Wink. All persons involved friends of mine. I signed up to do the show. Couldn't wait…I did my first show, during my first visit to the opened Wink, the day after my arrival. I got to do a show with Taz and Ryan Beil, two great guys and incredible improvisers: Though I hadn't improvised in months it was like riding a bike. I jumped back on and jammed with those dudes, creating what was an awesome show, according to audience feedback and the feeling. Short form hilarity, plus a long form freeform coming of age tale, also hilarious. It was a great feeling, one I couldn't wait to have again. So I asked to play again. No problem of course.
But it was a problem because the next time I stepped to the stage I had a hangover that transcended the usual definition of the word 'hangover', not so much pain, but a brain fog as if my thoughts were moving underwater: slow wobbly and muddled. By the time the Sunday in question rolled around after a great party on a friend's island I had in fact wisely decided to pass on the show, but as it turns out I was expected. By Taz and Ryan, and also by some audience members... Coming home I neglected to tell anyone about my first show, in case I sucked, but after it went so well, I invited anyone who would listen to the second. And it was terrible. Not homogenously terrible, those guys are too good for that to happen, but it was a decent show in spite of me. I think I said and did a couple funny or clever things, but it was tough to recall them afterwards. My time on stage was me trying to make sense of what was happening, and slowly respond. Anyway lesson learned: No matter how much I think "aaah, it's improv. I can just wing it." I can't.
If I'm too retarded to hold a conversation, I shouldn't be on stage.

3. SPENT A DAY IN JAIL-Sort of. Basically just got taken to the police station to get my records scrutinized to see that I wasn't an illegal immigrant, or wanted by INTERPOL. But I've been to nicer places to spend the day. The worst place you're thinking of right now is probably nicer.

2. THE DERBY It wasn't until late in the season last year that I started supporting AS Roma with any degree of passion. Perhaps stirred on by the upcoming World Cup, an increasing understanding of Italian, and a general improvement in their game since they got rid of that shitbag Cassano to the galacticos. Whatever the reason, I started hitting the AS Roma pretty hard. So fall 2006 I've been digging pretty hard as Totti and Co. blaze through Serie A, unfortunately a 2nd to Inter Milan, but so be it. Anyway, what really matters to football fans in Rome is the twice yearly derby where AS Roma plays their arch-rivals Lazio. This years derby was greeted with tonnes of fanfare, as I guess they always are. I was right there too, more frequently buying Corriere dello Sport, the Romeboosting sports paper, and reading interviews and pundits speculation and tracing the glorious history of the derby, right back to the first in 1929 (which Roma won 2-0). This derby though, which I'd been priming for for days and days, had all kinds of exciting subplots: Roma's Totti chasing the scoring title, Roma chasing Inter Milan for the scudetto, Lazio closing in on a Champions League spot, plus of course all the usual excitement, drama and blood and sweat that attend the battle between two of sports greatest rivals. I was there in Rome, at home on the edge of my seat, to watch my team suffer a huimiliatingly embarrassing 3-0 loss. They got hammered. They also lost valuable ground to Inter in the title race. It wasn't even an interesting game.

1. ACTIVELY DESPERATELY SEEKING POORLY PAID WORK This was really an end-of-the-year thing spilling over to my current time in Brussels. But it's the shortside of moving to Brussels, I think. Or maybe it just highlights my lack of real-time office job experience, either way, I don't like it. I also don't like competing against all these multilingual go-getting keeners I imagine are thwarting me at every turn, for said poorly paid assistantships.

BEST/WORST-Here are the Mixed Blessings

5. JJ ABRAMS. Creator of some of televisions finest shows. Engineer of the greatest time-sucking tandem in my home: ALIAS and Lost. But God, that is engrossing TV!

4. BERLUSCONI OUT, STEPHEN HARPER IN. Italy finally gets a decent person to lead the country, the same year as Canada gets a slimy weasel to run her government. I got my feet in two separate political waters and one always stinks like shit.

3. CANUCKS- Sure right now they're incredible, in 2007. But last year they weren't. They imploded at the end of last season, the spectacular kind of implosion that's preceded by 2 months of a painfully loud sucking noise. Consistently inconsistent, at the start of this season they couldn't score more than a goal a game. But still, the pain is peppered with the occasional glory, and of course now, they're really coming together backstopped by an amazing goaltender, with a pair of alien wondertwins leading the offensive charge.

2. FISHING TRIP FOR DAD's 60th- It was the best of times. My bright idea for my fall trip to Vancouver, some male bonding over poker and salmon fishing. In 2005 there was a salmon fishing trip off Vancouver Island. I didn't go. My brother, my father, my sisters' boyfriend Jason, and my uncle all went. They caught so many salmon they almost sunk the boat. I longed for that kind of action. So my brother and I planned a fishing trip for late September when I would be back, in time to coincide with my Dad's 60th birthday. A present for him, where we could all reap the rewards, and the fish. Me, my dad, my bro, and Jason. Guys time. We had guys time, but didn't catch a single fish. Not one. As awesome as it was, and it was awesome, it was hard not to be a little disappointed.

1. THIS LIST- I'm determined to post this year end list even if it's really past due date, I mean, year end retrospection is really passè by February. But it means I got the job done. Better late than never.

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02 February 2007

Misadventures

Brussels, for the most part, is awesome. But I still can't shake the feeling that we're not quite on target. Just too many misadventures in this comedy of errors called relocation. For instance: we got rearended while househunting, which I guess is not that significant. But after pulling over two blocks later at a Renault dealership to have somebody who understands cars look at our rear bumper we realized how foolish we'd been. We only took the rear-enders business card and bid him farewell. This, we quickly understood through broken English, is NOT going to help anyones insurance claim in Belgium. Fortunately the man at the Renault dealership called a certan M. Dubois to get him to come back and fill out the proper form.

As it happens, that accident occured just blocks from where we've now settled.

Another incident is called Paint-on-Boots. While shopping for paint to do some home painting a Brico employee dropped a can of paint, that burst open, and managed to coat and ruin a pair of Chiara's boots. Of course those boots were the nice warm suede ones her Mom bought her specifically for the cold Belgian weather.

That's now insurance claim number two. The paint job looks good though.

Also the job hunt has been slow and shitty. However we did discover two days too late that Chiara had been selected for an interview to work for the Euro COOP Organization as an assistant/translator for the Italian rep.

That was the first positive feedback we'd received, and despite their expressed enthusiasm for Chiara's candidature, by the time we got in touch with them, they'd of course already hired somebody.

Shit.

However, in the midst of writing this, or perhaps because I was writing this, I received an email reply from a Media Company saying they'd like a phone interview on Tuesday. Nice. I don't know if theirs connections in all this, or whether magical thinking (mentally drawing connections between unrelated events) is really working, but I prefer to think that it does. Because maybe it does help.

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