Getting out - after all this time

I got out on Saturday night.  Like, really out.  I went into the city, to a club, in the "entertainment district", to see a band. 

I'll admit it, a few years and two kids later my life has changed so drastically from the days when I didn't think twice about going out to a club on a Saturday night (although back in my day they were called "bars" not clubs) that when we got up on Saturday morning and Steve said he had a headache - I nearly jumped at the chance to call the whole thing off. 

"You're not feeling well?!!?? Well maybe we should just forget about tonight then. If you're not feeling well we should just stay home. I'll sell the tickets."

But Steve said he'd just take a Tylenol and everything would be fine. 

I spent the first half of the day packing up the children, writing out Lincoln's instructions (What?! My mom needed some guidance, it was Lincoln's first overnighter), driving them to Grandma's house, getting them settled in and then coming home again - where I could have an anxiety attack in peace and quiet.

Once the Ativan kicked in nicely, I pulled myself together, glued on my fake eyelashes, wedged myself into my Spanx, put on a pair of heels and cracked a beer.

Ahhh... much better.

Before you knew it I was doing Fireball shots in the back of a cab on the way to the skytrain.

It's just like riding a bike, I tell you.

Upon arriving in Vancouver we were like 20 year-olds again, desperately seeking out a fast food joint that would let us relieve our bursting (aging) bladders in their bathroom after a long skytrain ride into the city. 

We then hit up the bank machine and hoofed it to the club.

Once through the doors of the club in only took me a few minutes  to find my groove (more drinks), and before long, I had squirmed my way to the front row and was rocking out with the band.  I even had the token "fuck you" exchange with some drunk broad trying to sloppily push me her way past me. It was classic!  Actually no, if it was classic I would have punched her and taken a swing at her mouthy friend and I would have been escorted out of the bar by two big bouncers and then probably thrown in a cop car outside.  Still, it felt like the good old days.  I'm sure nobody suspected I was a mother of two young babies who hadn't been out in years. 

After the band left the stage I rounded up my crew and we went next door to get a cheeseburger from McDonalds (Steve) and use the bathroom (me).  Then of course the suggestion was raised that we head to another bar since it was so "early" still.  Uhhhhmmm.... It was 10:30pm!!! That is NOT early!  And it was going to be a long trip home on public transit (next time I'm hiring a designated driver - skytrain is for the birds) so I insisted that we get headed in the direction of home. 

Also my Spanx were starting to get too tight.

So we tromped back down Granville Street and got our asses on the skytrain and headed home. 

I had my Spanx and fake eyelashes peeled off and was in bed by midnight.

The next morning when my eyes opened I was overwhelmed with the fear that I would likely have a killer hangover.  I gingerly stepped out of bed to find that my poor feet had felt like they'd been put through a meat grinder from tromping around the city in heels for a couple of hours - but that, thankfully, my hangover was minimal. Nothing that a couple glasses of water and some Tylenol couldn't take care of. 

(Dodged that bullet)

Now I'm settled right back into my baby feeding, diaper changing, floor sweeping routine and it all seems like a distant memory.  My Spanx are shoved in the back of my underwear drawer and my fake eyelashes are probably stuck to the bottom of someone's socks.  It was good though, for this housebound broad to get out and be reminded of what is going on out there in the world. I had a good time and I'd happily do it again sometime.  But not for a while.

collage designs

how to include as many dancers as possible in a poster for the show? two posters, of two collages, each one comprising four smaller collages, all composited together. putting time into this company is a joy. 


Steve was given two tickets to tonight's Canucks game.  In the fancy schmancy section where the seats are comfy and have drink holders built in and waitresses bring you your drinks and you can decent cocktails and not just warm draft beer in a sippy cup.  The tickets also come with a parking pass within Rogers Arena - so no stinky public transit required to get to the rink.  La-tee-dah...

If the tickets were for a Saturday night, I would be super excited about it and I would pack up my kids and drive the hour to take them to Grandma's house where they would stay the night and I would pick them up in the morning. 

However, because today is Monday - Steve will be going to the game with his brother (which is nice for them, it is).  And I'll be staying home and single handedly wrangling my children in and out of the bath, into their pyjamas and into their beds, after I feed them both their dinners - which my husband hob-nobs with the elite of Rogers Arena.  As a consolation prize, he is buying me sushi for dinner - which is very sweet and I do appreciate the gesture.
Yeah it sucks that I can't go but that is the way it is these days and mostly that's ok with me.  It's my job to care for my kids and most of the time I don't feel too sorry for myself when I miss out on stuff.  It's just life. 

But what I don't like is that my one and only babysitter lives an hour away.  There are some times when I really, REALLY would like to have someone local who could come over and watch my kids.  I'd happily pay!  My problem is that I don't know a single person who could do this.  And I don't know how to go about finding someone.  I don't feel comfortable placing an ad for some stranger to come into my home. I don't feel comfortable answering an ad either.  The thought of leaving my kids with a stranger scares the living shit out of me.  We don't have any teenage relatives or friends - do teenagers even still do babysitting these days??

I have been lucky that I have been able to use family up until this point, but it's truly not all that convenient or wise, as far as I'm concerned, to not have someone more local whom I could rely on in a pinch or, say on a Monday night when rare, fancy hockey tickets are bestowed upon us.

How does a person go about finding a reliable, local babysitter?  I'm curious to know what other people do. 

Let's Not Bother Celebrating, College Football

On the first Thursday of the NCAA season, you won't be able to wear black make-up, start your special teams in a wedge block, or taunt your opponent if you score.

There's no truth to the rumour that from the start of the 2011 season, all college football players will have to have an immaculate high school record, and universities will be fined if a football player misses a team meeting from the death of his grandmother. There's also no truth that every game will now have the NCAA logo with the slogan: "Big Brother Is Watching You", either.

While we can understand the wedge blocking rule - we don't want anyone to get injured or killed out there - the eye make-up? Really? What difference does it truly make? Is it going to change the world?

And don't get me onto the taunting. The VFA was at the Georgia-LSU game in 2010 in Sanford Stadium for one of the biggest piece-of-crap calls in NCAA history, involving AJ Green, a great touchdown catch, and a celebration that was called "taunting". It eventually cost Georgia the game.

First of all, what is considered taunting? Is diving over a defender considered taunting, if the wide receiver is the size of PSU giant receiver Derek Moye and the cornerback could star as 'Grumpy' in Snow White & Seven Dwarves? Is celebrating in an endzone taunting? If so, then every player in college football is dead. Is smiling in the end-zone after scoring? What happens in the last second of the National Championship Game, when you go absolutely crazy to your female cheerleader buddies, only to look up and there's a sea of opposition fans? Is the ref going to blow up the play and cancel out your points? Seriously?

Secondly, how is it going to be reinforced? Which school is going to be made an example of? Will Ohio State get a flag in the Horseshoe, Florida in the Swamp or LSU in Death Valley? Or will away schools be punished because the home fans bitch and moan about a decision. Let's say Penn State actually scores a touchdown in The Horseshoe later this year, and celebrates in the end-zone because it's a last second touchdown and it's well and truly upset the world's worst fans. Can they expect a flag? Or can fans live in fear of their team scoring on an away trip to an SEC school, for fear that 100,000 people will start screaming "flag", knowing full well that the SEC officials - who had one of their worst years on record in 2009 - may well throw that yellow flag and change the game.

Thanks, NCAA, you've taken just a little bit more fun out of a fun game. That's what college football is, right? Fun?

Miss Teapot, Winter

oh heavens she has been so patient waiting for her images we shot that early cold morning in fall. i hope they are well received. but what i want to know most - do the recipients of these exquisitely crafted crowns know the loving personal attention to detail she dedicates to each and every one? do they know the hand made-ness that permeates literally every detail of these adornments? the beeswaxed frames, the hand beading, the hand-stamped miniature ceramics fired in her home kiln, the hand-sewing, the machine sewn touches on every single hang tag, the attention to non-toxic materials, the time and passion put in to natural fibers for every piece. do they know?? i want them to.
i love you miss teapot, friend b, cheryl.

complete session at

Mellow Candle: 'not a folk band as such'

About five years ago I traded my perfect copy of Mellow Candle's magical Swaddling Songs for what seemed an embarrassment of other rare records (to be precise: Skip Bifferty, Fresh Maggots and Amaryllis by Bread Love & Dreams). I was confident I'd got the better of the deal, and that I would find another copy of Swaddling Songs soon enough. How wrong I was - I haven't encountered another since, and the few that have popped up on eBay have sold for as much as $2650. But enough self-pity. 

Mellow Candle came from Dublin, and centred on the talents of teenage friends Clodagh Simonds and Alison Williams (now O'Donnell). They actually made a 45 as a duo in 1968, issued on Simon Napier-Bell's short-lived SNB label, before returning to Ireland and regrouping as a band. They played a few gigs at home, and came to attention at the Wexford Festival, held in March 1971. John Peel was there, and praised the newly organised outfit in his Disc column in the 27th:

Disc, March 27th 1971

Andrew Means of Melody Maker was there too:

Melody Maker, April 3rd 1971
They signed to Decca that autumn, and their album was taped in London in the winter. It appeared on Deram in April 1972 (trailed by a 45 pairing 'Dan The Wing' and 'Silversong', issued on March 31st). Both sank like stones (to borrow an idiom from the album), and the band didn't last much longer. Part of the reason such records sell for so much today is that the mayfly-like acts that made them left behind so little (both in the way of music and press coverage), inadvertently creating considerable mystique in the process. Perhaps surprisingly, two different ads for Swaddling Songs appeared in the British music press at the time (both designed by David Anstey, also responsible for their memorable LP cover):

While putting Galactic Ramble together, I encountered only two reviews of the album. The first appeared in Sounds on May 27th, and states that review copies were sent out with a large green candle:

The second appeared in Disc on June 3rd. ‘The kind of group that suffers from being pigeon-holed into a loosely-based folk category, merely because there doesn’t seem to be anything more appropriate to class them in', it begins. 'Mellow Candle are not a folk band as such, although they have a similar enthusiasm and tone to Steeleye Span, and no traditional material, on this album at any rate. The band shares the writing, with pianist Clodagh Simonds carrying a lot of it. With the other lady vocalist, Alison Williams, the songs are sung mainly by the girls in harmony. Too stately in places to be rock, and too fast-moving in others to be folk, they rely a lot on the piano, to good effect.’ It's considerably more sympathetic and accurate than most such pieces of the time, but did nothing to help sales

The album and the 45 have been established as serious collectibles for decades, in which time the cult reputation of the band has grown and grown, to the extent that the members have been interviewed repeatedly. Seemingly little remained to be discovered about them, so it was pretty astonishing when a hitherto unknown picture sleeve popped up on eBay shortly before Christmas. Here it is (the full version of the image on the back can be seen at the top of this post):

It sold to a serious collector for nearly £400. The seller was clearly in good faith, but questions were soon being asked. Was it genuine? If so, why were no other copies known to have surfaced? And how had it eluded the attentions of vinyl bloodhounds for so long? Was it a mock-up, created by Decca's art department but never issued? That might explain its rather crude feel and anomalous typography compared to other Decca releases of the time - but why would they have bothered in the first place? Simonds and O'Donnell had no recollection of the sleeve, and nor had their manager or David Hitchcock (who produced the 45). All possible explanations for its provenance being genuine seemed unlikely, and the seller decently agreed to reverse the transaction. Has anyone reading this seen another copy? 

As a somewhat ironic postscript, Alison O'Donnell does in fact possess a genuine picture sleeve for the single (with the same design on both sides). She recalls little about its manufacture, but thinks it must have been made in tiny quantities by the band's management to house promo 45s in March 1972. Here it is:

UPDATE: in May 2011 a copy of this sold on eBay for £620. Here it is:

Finally, here's a brief interview I conducted with the delightful Clodagh a few years back:

What do you remember about the album sessions?
Very, very little! But I think David Hitchcock deserves a medal for getting such a cohesive album out of a bunch of spaced-out teenage hippies. The first sessions were pretty rough, but rather than just dump the project he suggested changes in the line-up and lots more rehearsals, staying patient, tactful, encouraging and calm until we finally got it finished. Buy that man a drink!

Why do you think Swaddling Songs failed to sell? 
At the time it sounded rough compared to Fairport and Steeleye Span, though I guess our passion and conviction make it engaging. Deram may well have been waiting for us to start gigging properly before promoting it, but we just couldn’t get live work. Agents felt we weren’t engaging to watch – a bit wooden and self-absorbed. Probably fair criticism! Also, Thin Lizzy were suddenly taking off, and our shared manager wasn't able to give us as much time and energy as before.

How do you account for its ongoing popularity?
I think it sounds good now because there’s been a return to lo-fi, slightly-rough-around-the-edges recordings. At the time our lack of polish went against us, so it’s wonderfully ironic that nowadays it works in our favour. I also feel there’s been a return to fundamental songwriting skills, maybe as a backlash against years of linear, sampled, techno-type music. I’m surprised and very flattered by the attention, especially Stephen Malkmus’s cover of ‘Poet & The Witch’. I was very chuffed about that! Mellow Candle was all about songs, really, and we had three good writers all in one band, which I suppose is fairly unusual, and meant there was real variety in the music.

Lily & Maria: search music

To me the very things most people criticise Lily Fiszman and Maria Neumann’s sole LP for  - earnestness / seriousness bordering on the precious / pretentious – are its strengths. It strikes me as a unique and powerful document of two intelligent and sensitive teenagers at a turbulent point in their lives, suffused with the liberal / experimental atmosphere of late 60s America. It may be overwrought, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially when there’s so much passion in the grooves. I especially like the impossibly fragile, desolate ‘I Was’, which Maria told me was “about those heightened moments of experience when you feel most alive, but also sad because you’re aware it won’t last… In the lyrics I was referring to anyone who performs lowly tasks for others and experiences the satisfaction of making something beautiful, even if the result isn’t for them to enjoy.” I could also harp on about the catchy ‘Aftermath’, the delicate ‘Morning Glory Morning’, the sensual ‘Melt Me’ and thoughtful ‘Fourteen After One’, but ultimately I can only urge people who haven’t heard the record to do so. In the meantime, these are a few odds and ends relating to it. Firstly, two early publicity shots:

Maria wrote the bulk of the LP – here are a couple of slightly later pictures of her, in quintessential hippie goddess poses:

Here's the (slightly faded) press release issued by Columbia to promote the album, dated September 1968:

And here's a copy of the album, signed by the duo for engineer Stanley Tonkel (the dedications read 'To Tanley Stonkel, to a real trooper (at the age of 18 no less), lots of love and iced tea, Lily' and 'To Tanley Stonkel, good things are supposed to come in small packages - somebody goofed! Love you, Maria').

And here's the label to side one:

Critical response was mixed; on October 5th Billboard called them ‘two young girls with an exceptional talent. Their debut album proves an exciting showcase for that talent, as they vocally create a variety of moods’, and on October 11th the Los Angeles Herald Examiner said ‘this may be a great album. After three or four listenings I am almost persuaded that it is. If it is not, it is pretension of a very high quality.’ Less enthusiastic were Stereo Review (who described it in January 1969 as ‘an unremarkable effort by two young ladies whose talents are almost buried under complex arrangements, pretentious songs and over-production’) and the American Record Guide (who wrote in February that ‘mediocrity and pretentiousness rarely relieved by somewhat pleasant musical performances define the recording debut of two very breathy thrushes with a decided predilection for lyrical mundanity and off-key harmonies’).

 On October 26th this small advert appeared on the front of Billboard:

A 45 was extracted from the LP, coupling ‘Everybody Knows’ and ‘Morning Glory Morning’, but it was just as little circulated (and seems not to have made it beyond the mono promo stage):

This ad appeared in one or two music publications in the autumn of 1968:

In January 1969 Esquire ran this snippet, belatedly commemorating the duo’s signing to Columbia:

By that spring, however, the girls were moving in different directions, both personally and artistically (though they remain friends to this day), and made no further recordings. Columbia must have lost a lot of money on them, but in my view it was worth every cent.

Game On

When I got pregnant with Lincoln (surprise!) I had been trying to lose weight (out the window that went) and I swore that I would get back to doing Weight Watchers no more than 5 minutes after he was born.  But after he was born things were... different and I got to a place in my life where I swore I would never to back to Weight Watchers.  In the days, weeks, months after he was born my sleep deprived brain could NOT imagine adding one. more. thing. to my proverbial plate to deal with or think about.  It was all I could do to get through the day. I could not fathom the thought of counting points, restricting calories and playing all the little mind games that I play when I'm on Weight Watchers.

Besides, I was breastfeeding! And everyone knows that when you are breastfeeding, your excess weight just "falls off" you. 

Except not.

At least not for me.

Hovering at a ridiculously high weight and not seeing any change in weeks, I recently started contemplating the whole thing again. Of any weight loss plan that I know, Weight Watchers is the most adaptable.  And I've been successful with it in the past. But did I want to go there? In all honesty I think I made myself sick of the plan by doing it halfassedly so many times in the past. 

What to do?

Then that damn Jennifer Hudson started showing up on my TV in her sexy white dress, singing the praises of Weight Watchers.  She must feel so good!  I want to feel that good!  Could I do this?  Could I fit it into my insane life?

Then, like a sign, I received a Weight Watchers brochure in the mail.  The plan boasted that most fruits and veggies were now ZERO points! AND that the daily points allowance and the weekly bonus points allowance had gone up!  Oh hell yeah! That sounded great to me!  It was all I needed to propel my fat ass back to a Weight Watchers meeting, all determined and charged up and gung-ho.

What I discovered after I signed up and paid for my "monthly pass" was that yes, the daily and weekly bonus points allowance had gone up - but along with that the formula for calculating points on most foods had also changed and many foods have a much higher points value.

For example...just off the top of my head... regular beer used to be 3 points and now... now... it's 5!!!! And light beer which used to be 2 points is now 3!

Ahhh...Well played, Weight Watchers.  Well played.

I'll admit that I felt a little bit of panic at this realization. Everything that I knew about Weight Watchers (which was everything) had changed.  I would have to relearn everything! All my little mind games would no longer be applicable. The food I had traditionally eaten during previous WW attempts would not all fit into my new plan.  I would need a whole new strategy!

After the panic subsided I realized that this was EXACTLY what I needed.  Something new to get me excited and interested again. A different way to look at food and exercise and weight loss.  It's actually quite genius.  And really, how much beer do I drink these days anyways?  Not nearly as much as I have in the past. (Purely for survival reasons.)

So bring it on, Weight Watchers. You may have fooled me into signing up for your little plan but I can play your game. I will play and I will WIN.

Bring. It. On.

Getting Out

I have always loved music. Music is part of my everyday, I dance with my kids and I sing, and on the rare occasion that I'm alone in my van, or out for a jog or at the gym, I crank it out.  It makes me feel good, or helps me deal with anger or sadness or a variety of other things that may be muddling about in my head. 

Music is good. 

Live music is better.

There are lots of bands that I like, a few that I love.  However, there are only a handful of bands that I would go to the trouble of seeing live - even though live music rocks my world.  Right now seeing a band live involves spending precious maternity-leave-employment-insurance funds on tickets, finding (buying) something to wear (because there are few venues where you don't get looks for wearing your sweats), organizing and arranging someone to look after my two very young children (preferably overnight), making my way on some sort of public transit into the city, braving crowds of people that almost always piss me off, and it also almost always means sacrificing some of my precious, precious sleep - as most bands don't start up until after dark - which is when I'm usually in bed, hiding under the covers, praying my kids will sleep through the night.

I'm sure you can understand why there are few bands that are worth that kind of effort these days.

Really, very few.

But in July I discovered Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. And I fell in LOVE. 

And I swore that if Grace Potter ever came to Vancouver then I would go.

Well wouldn't you know I found out just before Christmas that Grace Potter is coming to town! I knew I MUST find a way to see the band live. 

That is why I was so excited to get two of these for Christmas...


The person who bought these for me had to know me well. They had to know how crazy I am for this band and also that I would make any and all efforts to go see them. 

The person who bought me these tickets is obviously a very thoughtful and special person.

OK, yes, I bought them for myself.

So next weekend the kids are heading to Grammy's house, I've picked up a new pair of jeans and shirt and I will be braving the skytrain to head into the city, into the entertainment district, into a club who's website shows photos of scantily clad people young enough to be my... *ahem*... MUCH younger... uh... siblings.

And I will ROCK OUT like the best of them.

And by "them" I mean mid-thirties exhausted mothers of two.

diabetic youth foundation publicity

final proofing below of the lsod upcoming ballet, benefiting our friends at the diabetic youth foundation:

Master Poster and Postcard, 2nd revision, January 16:

Postcard alternate 1:
Postcard Alternate 2: