On moments not reminisced.

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Memories, like the corners of mind. Misty water coloured memories of the way we were. Can it be that it was all so simple then or has time rewritten every line?

As you may remember I have an old friend named (pseudonym-alert!) Melanie P. While this post is not specifically about her, it was reminiscing about a trip we took together that got me thinking about this. Also, as a quick disclaimer this post might shed my usual ever so slightly sarcasm-tinged-tone and stray into Oprah-hallelu-LOVE YOURSELF territory

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Anyway, I was looking through some old photos the other day and was struck by something – actually it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now: memories that aren’t brought up as often become less salient over time. This is particularly sad when you experience significant life events with someone that you no longer speak to.

In not reminiscing those moments they fade over time and pass into the ether; hazy, disremembered, forgotten. It’s actually a little sad. I’ve always strived to be very honest with people, the ultimate goal being if I can’t necessarily remain as close with someone, we can remain friendly. Just because a friendship ends up in a different place from whence it began is not a reason you can’t continue to share the brilliant memories you’ve created together. -[MIGHTY OPES ALERT]- I mourn those memories as much as – if not more than – the loss of the friendship.

Memories really are a part of who we are as people and losing them – even passively through lack of reminiscing them – feels like losing a part of yourself in a way. The memories I’m referring to specifically were a part of my formative years discovering the world around me and my place in it – for this reason my worry over losing them is particularly acute.

To conclude this slightly rambling – and in re-reading perhaps unintentionally maudlin – post I have to say that tripping down paths of thought like these only make me appreciate even more the amazing people who populate my life. Straying back into Oprah territory again here, I couldn’t be happier with the people around me. As I get older I come to realize more and more the importance of these people. They really do share your life with you and reflect who are as a person back at you. There’s nothing quite the same as sharing a memory with someone whom you’ve known since you were perhaps a slightly different person, or at a different time in your life. I find it hard to quantify the importance of that, or how reassuring that is. Basically it’s a family that you’ve created for yourself and that’s amazing.

Amazing.

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Dancing on my own.

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hang with me

I know what you’re thinking. Months of absence and I manage to come back with a post about Robyn. Although maybe, just maybe, you missed the Robyn reference in the title and the above image?

Unlikely.

So yes, months without so much as a bleep (blog peep) and I return (triumphantly?) with a Robyn-related post. Sometimes when in need of inspiration one needs not turn to the new and exciting but the familiar and (frankly) fantastic. I turn to Robyn.

On this instance I spent the evening reliving the brilliance that is Robyn’s back catalog. If the Spice Girls were the soundtrack of my teens, Robyn was the soundtrack of my mid to late twenties. There are some songs that become amazing because they appear at a moment in your life when they perfectly capture your experience. For me, then there’s Robyn. Her back catalogue is like a tapestry of my own experience. I find it hard to express in writing just how important With Every Heartbeat was to me at a very low point in my life but thisevening I was thinking of a high (or I suppose low, depending on your outlook) moment that was my 30th birthday.

A brilliant night at Numbers was drawing to a close and the ever-accomodating DJ put on Call Your girlfriend to shut it down for the evening. I had literally been 30 for a little over two hours and as Robyn reached her transcendent climax in Call Your Girlfriend I hopped to the ground, mimicking (gracefully) the floor humping motion featured at [1:26] in the video. Just as I myself was really hitting my stride what did the DJ do but cut the music and turn up the house lights leaving me mid-hump on the floor.

This how I started my thirties.

On My Loving and Delightful Family pt. 2

Gary: angel

It’s Christmas-time readers! Apologies for not adding a little festive cheer to the blog this year but I’ve been busy of late in a new job.

Anyway, going back to December 1 we decorated the tree at my parents house and as is tradition every year I complained about the angel.  Our angel is a photo of my brother atop a paper body with a sparkly halo completing the look.  It is a craft he made in grade two and has thus been our tree-topper going on twenty years.  Needless to say I have never been completely on-board with my brother topping the tree year after year so I did some general moaning about the situation as I am wont to.  Then I went away for a week with work.

HARK! Upon my return, A Christmas Miracle!

My parents had made me the above angel.  I now sit proudly atop the tree, crown of glitter adorning my proud forehead.  Needless to say I was, and continue to be, well chuffed.

Happy Christmas indeed!

10 Years On Girls Aloud Are Still Amazing, Not Unlike Myself.

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Back when I was on the cusp of real adulthood – having just turned 20 – and really discovering my tastes and interests a girlband burst onto the scene that managed to harness everything I was looking for musically. That band was Girls Aloud. And that was back when I used to scan the British Top 40 for songs to pilfer from Limewire. Many things have changed in the intervening decade but one thing has remained unwavering:

GIRLS ALOUD ARE AMAZING.

From the moment the surf guitar riff opens Sound of the Underground you knew you had stumbled onto something special, but this was a reality tv band!? Could they sustain that kind of amazingness? THE ANSWER IS YES. With the release of followup single No Good Advice The Aloud allayed any fears that they were just a one hit wonder and went about tackling a chart largely dominated at the time by guitars.

For much of the time in the early years the Girls struggled, but I remained with them. They persevered despite the world largely ignoring the earth-shattering amazingness that was, and is, Biology. They stuck around doing dodgy dance routines on morning television as “serious music” became de rigueur on the charts.

What I am saying here is that their struggles were my struggles. More than any other group Girls Aloud are the soundtrack of my adulthood. They were with me through dodgy attempts at pulling, drunken walks home, days on the beach, road trips, job interviews, and everything inbetween.

That is has been ten years since Girls Aloud first formed is quite a shock actually. It seems both too long and so short. On the one hand, I can hardly remember a time that I didn’t turn to Some Kind of Miracle for a little pick-me-up or Biology when I want to get my clock-dance on. On the other hand, and perhaps moreso than my actual 30th birthday, Girls Aloud Ten has reminded me that my 20s are over. I am more officially than ever an adult.

Something else I think of when I get a little maudlin? The graceful swan that is Nadine Coyle and her imitable assortment of camera ready poses and facial pulls.

The 10 years of Girls Aloud is the decade in which I became a proper adult. We share initials, dance moves, and a whole lotta history.

On My Loving and Delightful Family.

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I was sitting around with my family the other day chatting about the upcoming reality tv spin-off Big Brother Canada. As a quick aside the topic also came up at work and my co-worker was telling me about a friend of hers who got a call-back only to be rejected because she said she wouldn’t have sex on camera. Amazing.

Anyway, so we were sitting around the other night having a discussion about the contestants on Big Brother and how my Mum, then brother, then Dad were all “far too nice” to be on such a show. When the conversation finally got around to me, however, everyone was quite excited to tell me how perfect I would be for it.

Needless to say I was gracious as always and rose above the whole thing rather than calling them all assholes and storming off in an indignant huff while grabbing a 6-pack of PBR from the fridge to drown my sorrows. Gracious is, after all, one of the top five words used to describe me.

On The Falling Artifice of Reality Television and The Genius of Jade Ellis

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So aside from it being tainted with Gary Barlow’s ever-present serious face another big change to this year’s X Factor has been it’s propensity to pull back the fourth wall and really show the full machinations of reality television. What was once considered taboo in the world of reality tv suddenly seems to be en vogue. We’re hearing producers ask questions to contestants instead of just hearing them talk seemingly abstractly about their lives, we’re seeing the dreaded waiting areas before contestants are shoved on-stage for our enjoyment and even little things like seeing hair and makeup prep between performances really change the look and overall feel of the show.

The X Factor is not alone here: I was catching up on Australian reno-reality phenomenon The Block a while ago and I found that aside from adding – the frankly brilliant – Shaynna Blaze to the judging lineup they had also upped the “reality” of the programme by allowing viewers a glimpse at the producers and crew and how they get the contestants to provide the kind of colour commentary that keeps reality television on the air.

It feels like like a distinct corner has been turned in the world of reality television; like we’ve crossed a barrier that will be tough to retreat from. Largely as a result of scripted shows mirroring reality shows – such as in The Comeback, The Office (UK), or Summer Heights High to name but three brilliant examples – reality shows that stick to what was once a pretty groundbreaking format seem dated and passé. In order to keep up reality television has to include some of the actual reality of what goes in to making these shows. The lack of that kind of insight has begun to make programming not only feel out of date or old-fashioned but outright fake. Thanks to shows like the innumerable Housewives or similar we no longer trust that reality television actually presents something approaching even approaching reality.

It leads one to wonder where this will take us culturally. How much “reality” needs to be presented in order for something to feel real? Continuing along the same trajectory, if scripted shows continue to peel back the slick veneer of reality-based programming what will be left? Or perhaps reality-based and scripted television will call some kind of truce each agreeing to producing television within set parameters? These are the worrying questions of our times!

Moving swiftly along though my favourite contestant was unceremoniously dumped from The X Factor this week after what will go down as one of the greatest “Save Me” performances of all time. Needless to say it was tears o’clock for me as she intoned “I will go down with this ship, and I will hold me hands up and surrender.”

In another case of Gary Barlow being a complete and utter tit he chose to send her home – keeping these idiots – despite going on and on for weeks now about how “it’s all about the voice.” And so departed lesbian single mother, and expert puller of my heart strings, Jade Ellis. One can only hope that someone (ahem, XENOMANIA) gets to working with her as soon as possible and she doesn’t get shunted off to one of the lesser Syco labels to put out an album of shitty covers come February.

What’s Wrong With The X Factor This Year? Gary Barlow.

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This week saw The (UK) X Factor’s third live show weekend and it continues to putter along a shadow of it’s former glory. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty good, it’s just not the ridiculous behemoth that is had been previously.

First off the wind tunnel is gone. I know it may seem absurd to bemoan the loss of a wind tunnel but that moment when a contestant is introduced and would be blasted in a wind tunnel before turning as PETER DICKSON bellowed their name was AMAZING. (See example) It was, for me, an integral part of what makes The X Factor so ridiculous and amazing, like when they introduce the judges to overwrought classic music or when Louis Walsh says anything. I would argue the fall of the wind tunnel is the canary in Thale X Factor talent mine and is signalling a much larger problem.

GARY BARLOW SERIOUS FACE.

He may appear in happier times in the above portrait but Gary Barlow has never approached anywhere remotely close to this mood-wise so far this season; he has been serious-face from beginning to end. He keeps telling contestants he wants them to be serious and that it’s “all about the voice.”

GARY BARLOW YOU ARE A JUDGE ON THE X FACTOR NOT THE – FRANKLY SHITEOUS – VOICE. THE NATURE OF THE PROGRAMME ON WHICH YOU ARE LEAD JUDGE IS CONTAINED WITHIN IT’S VERY TITLE. IT IS ABOUT THE X FACTOR AND NOT SIMPLY “THE VOICE,” THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Honestly, Gary Barlow does not understand the show he’s on. He keeps telling people to tone it down(!) and the amount of bile he has for this years novelty act, Rylan, so closely borders on hatred that it makes the show hard to enjoy. Mr. Barlow even had the nerve to tell 16 year old songstress Ella Henderson that she should REFRAIN FROM DANCING. Sorry about all the caps but HONESTLY. Telling a contestant not to dance? ON CLUB CLASSICS WEEK NO LESS! And because he’s both the head judge and *grits teeth* a national treasure these days all the acts take his feedback on board, boring down their performances for one Mr. Gary Barlow. One Mr. Gary Barlow who had the audacity to insult one of the greatest pop songs of our generation right off the hop, during the boot camp stage of the competition. In my humble opinion, any man who denies the genius that is Cher’s Believe has no right to judge a pop music competition.

What the show needs is Simon Cowell back. Stat. He struck the perfect balance between ridiculous and serious-face during his X Factor tenure and the show misses him dearly. Ditto Dannii Minogue who may have been the most honest judge the show has ever had.

I have to admit that I shall watch this year’s X Factor as I have every season previous but I am not one to hold on to a show once it has gone past it’s prime and I’m starting to worry about The X Factor. Changes need to happen next year and if one of them is not the ejection of Gary Barlow from the judging panel I may have to turn my back on what was once one of the single most amazing things on television.

Driving Miss Muggins

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The other night my mother was returning from a trip to Calgary and was arriving at the airport here in McMurray at approximately 6:30pm.

Aside: I would never refer to my mother as “mother” when I speak. Not even “Mom.” She is either Mum or Muggins. She gained the nickname Muggins in my childhood from repeated attempts at teaching me and my brother how to tidy up after ourselves. Nary a day would go by without the catchphrase “Who ends up doing it?!? MUGGINS HERE!” being yelled in our direction. Needless to say it stuck. End aside.

Anyway, back to last Tuesday when Muggins needed a ride from the airport. Obviously, this is not a big deal. Above all else the woman gave birth to me but further to the point an airport run is really not a big deal so I said I would pick Mum up at the assigned time and thought nothing further of it.

Until Tuesday morning when I received the first of SIX text messages letting me know that if I was busy she could always get a cab. Two things:
1. My mother HATES taking cabs. She literally goes on and on about her dislike for cabs whenever she gets one and has even more bile for them here in McMurray than ever before.
2. Further to point 1 her offer to “take a cab” sounded not unlike the classic mom ploy of playing the martyr.

My friend Ryan once told me a joke that went as follows:
How many mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?
Old lady voice: “It’s okay, I’ll just sit in the dark…”

This joke captures the exact tone I was imagining while reading Muggins’ first text. It only got worse 5 messages in when I literally had no choice but to turn it around on her with “if you don’t want to see me that’s fine.”

Thankfully flipping the tables worked a charm and we had a delightful drive from the airport. One wonders why exchanges like this have to be so difficult. I suppose it’s a small price to pay with such an otherwise wonderful mother but a price is indeed paid. With my sanity.

As a totally random sidenote the above picture is my Mum doing her “Beyonce pose.” Obviously one of the myriad reasons she is amazing.

When I Used to Roll, I Used to Roll to Waterfalls

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It’s no secret ’round these parts that I’m quite a big fan of Stooshe. Black Heart was essential summer listening and between the slick harmonies and myriad hair styles there’s been very little not to like to this point in their career trajectory.

Enter their latest single: a cover of seminal TLC hit Waterfalls.

First off, it’s a good cover. It feels a little straight-forward in that it’s exactly how Waterfalls should sound for 2012 but I suppose that they nailed it shouldn’t really be held against them. Really, it just feels the slightest bit lazy. Waterfalls was such a massive era-defining song that I’m not sure it needed to be covered. I’m also not sure they bring enough to the party to warrant it being a single. Album track fair enough, but this is the lead single for their new album. Perhaps there was some label panic that Stooshe are not exploding as much as was hoped and this is a bit of a kick in that direction? I can accept that. I like Stooshe and I want them to be big so if this is what it takes for the masses to appreciate the rest of their ouvre then I guess I can overlook it and just enjoy a pretty solid cover of a classic song. Also, a pretty enjoyable video with what appears to be a 90s era budget – HELLO PRODUCTION VALUES!

Not too much to pick at there (B+). I really don’t care that Chilli and T-Boz make an appearance but you can be sure the Credibility Police will be happy to see them. There is just something very likeable about Stooshe and I really do hope we see more from them. Judging by how much money is being thrown at this whole project I’m guessing they’ll be around for a while if Waterfalls makes a big enough splash (do you see what I did there?!?!).

While we’re on the subject of Waterfalls can we all take a moment to remember how massive that song was at the time? The video was a good for so many reasons including that it dealt with some pretty risque issues for the time and had some, at the time, majorly futuristic computer graphics. It’s a rare video than can be quite poignant and completely throw away at the same time.

To drill down even further while we’re on the subject of TLC, I was out for New Year’s Eve one year with some friends including Jo-Ann’s big sister Christine who came out with the now classic line: “When we used to roll, we used to roll to No Scrubs.”

Classic.