Another Day in Corporate Hell (Part 2)

Okay, I’ve built some momentum with these modules and now I need to start editing so its time to let my freak flag fly.  I like to edit while listening to weird music as I find it helps keep me on my toes.  Besides, you may never know when you’ll come across a juicy tidbit just waiting to be slipped into the facilitator’s or participants guide somewhere just to see if anyone is paying attention.  Truth be told; there is a little something in everything I create, whether it be a random line, lyric or image of some kind, that I gleaned from whatever it was that I happened to be listening to at the time of editing.  And today’s edit inspiration is going to be a bit, well, weird:  ‘The Waking Hour‘ by Dalis Car.

I bought this disc eons ago on a whim because I was going through a huge Gothic and Peter Murphy phase.  ‘Dalis Car’  was a musical group formed in 1984 by Peter Murphy (vocalist), Mick Karn (bassist, keyboardist, guitarist, saxophonist) and Paul Vincent Lawford (rhythm construction). The band was formed soon after Murphy and Karn left their former bands (Bauhaus and Japan, respectively). They took their name from a Captain Beefheart song from his album, ‘Trout Mask Replica‘.  Initially, they recorded this one album (UK #84) and released just the one single, ‘The Judgement is the Mirror‘ (UK #66). The cover of the album features a detail from Maxfield Parrish’s seminal painting ‘Daybreak’.  The recording of the album took place in unusual circumstances, as neither Karn nor Murphy spent much time together in the recording studio, preferring to send tapes back and forth between each other to work on alone.

Truthfully, I hated the album after listening to it the first time. In fact, I’m not sure there was ever a second time.  But it seems that the true hidden beauty of this album is easier determined with age and experience because – you know what – it wasn’t as bad as I remember it being.  In fact, I kinda dig it now.  Huh.

I now think that this might be the best thing Murphy’s ever done (though he disowns it no doubt due to a bit of ego clashing with Karn and Bauhaus fans that simply couldn’t accept it but for some reason could accept Tones on Tail). I wonder if David J and David Sylvian could have come up with anything half this clever and imaginative?  Doubtful.  This album however might just spawn a whole new series of future posts here delving back into my high school/university Gothic phase.  Who knows.

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Another Day in Corporate Hell (Part 1)

I’m currently trying to fight through his personal funk and get some real work done here in Corporate Hell so I’m drawing on a little musical inspiration today to do so, namely the ‘Achtung Baby’ album by U2 released on Island Records.

This is pretty much where I officially got off the U2 bandwagon back in 1991. This was the album that officially announced to the world that the band was moving on and leaving their 80’s sound far between them. I wasn’t ready for it at the time still believing that ‘The Joshua Tree’  and ‘Rattle & Hum’  albums were among the greatest albums ever recorded. When the album’s first single, ‘The Fly’  was released in November of that year I was all like: ‘what the fuck is this shit?’ Let’s just say that I’m more ready to receive this album now.

In all honestly, it’s a good album once you get your head around it like us early U2 lifers will inevitably have to do. ‘Achtung Baby’   is one of U2’s most successful records; it received favorable reviews and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 Top Albums, while topping the charts in many other countries. Five songs were released as commercial singles, all of which were chart successes, including ‘One’, ‘Mysterious Ways’, and ‘Even Better than the Real Thing’. The album has sold 18 million copies worldwide and won a Grammy Award in 1993 for ‘Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal’ (Really? That’s the best award name they could think of?).

The album was recorded at Hansa Studios in West Berlin, near the recently opened Berlin Wall. Several acclaimed records were made at Hansa, including two from David Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy” with Eno, and Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot’. Morale within the band had worsened once the sessions began, as the band worked long days but could not agree on a musical direction. The Edge had been listening to electronic dance music and to industrial bands like Einstürzende Neubauten, Nine Inch Nails, The Young Gods, and KMFDM. He and Bono advocated new musical directions along these lines. In contrast, Mullen was listening to classic rock acts such as Blind Faith, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix, and he was learning how to “play around the beat”. Like Clayton, he was more comfortable with a sound similar to U2’s previous work and was resistant to the proposed innovations. Furthermore, The Edge’s interest in dance club mixes and drum machines made Mullen feel that his contributions as a drummer were being diminished. Producer, Daniel Lanois was expecting the “textural and emotional and cinematic U2″  of, say, ‘The Unforgettable Fire’  and he did not understand the “throwaway, trashy kinds of things”  on which Bono and The Edge were working. Compounding the divisions between the two camps was a change in the band’s longstanding songwriting relationship; Bono and The Edge were working more closely together, writing material in isolation from the rest of the group.

And so it goes with good albums I guess. I sat it all out at the time preferring to listen to all my old U2 albums in seclusion. But they say that time heals all wounds’ and today I’m testing that theory out here at my desk at Ground Zero of Corporate Hell.

So far, there are no casualties to report.

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I’m still fighting off a case of the ‘blahs’ it seems. I just simply don’t have the will power to do any real substantial working out…particularly running as my right foot is still all ouchie. So I’ve attended a spin class, completed a 3k pool workout Wednesday morning and then a walk around a local Nature Trail (click HERE) yesterday aaaaaand  that’s about it I guess. I’m calling it “Recovery” but I also think it’s more mental than it is physical at this point. Maybe I got too much sun over the weekend, I’m not sleeping enough, my diet, or maybe I’m just reaching the end of a very long, challenging and stressful training season. Who knows?

This evening then Kelly and I scored an evening alone while the kid is sleeping over at a friend’s house for the night. That’s right, queue the Master Chef and bowl of Cheetoh’s, it’s Date Night! Oh I know. Lame. But I did say I was feeling ‘blah’ these days right? Anyway, part of our quiet time this evening included the ‘Talking with the Taxman About Poetry’  album by Billy Bragg.

If you haven’t heard this album before I have three words for you:


Only one of the most brilliant songs written, like, ever, the song’s title refers to The Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs. Whatever. All you need to know is that it’s entirely beautiful in its elegance and simplicity of delivery; a real ‘Desert Island’ song for sure if such a list were to exist.

The album’s title is also the title of a Vladimir Mayakovsky poem (which appears as part of the liner notes) and also features the subtitle “the difficult third album” under that. Pourquoi, Billy? Well, after two EP’s and a full album that only rarely featured anything other than Bragg’s voice and electric guitar, this album found him and his producers trying to add a bit of polish to Bragg’s stark sound without losing either the charm of his performances or the power of his political statements. The result was this awesome collection of poignant, powerful songs.

While nearly all the tracks on the album feature Bragg alongside other musicians (among them Johnny Marr and Kirsty MacColl), the arrangements are purposefully spare, and ultimately they sweeten the songs without getting in the way of Bragg’s homey melodies or passionate lyrics. Favorite’s (aside from the obvious) include ‘Train Train’, ‘Honey, I’m a Big Boy Now’, ‘Greetings to the New Brunette’, and ‘Ideology’. Of course, I could choose just about any track off this album and this fond sentiment would still hold equally true.

So for exactly 39 minutes we read, sorted through old photos, crushed some candy, and otherwise enjoyed the pleasant calmness to our happy home just prior to getting dinner going.

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I am having a ‘recovery day’ today from working out, however, I still have to mind two nine-year-old girls until Kelly gets home from work so, really, I might as well be working out given they pretty much need my constant attention anyway.  I will admit, though, to allowing the scribbling of “Big Farts from Big Butts” on the road outside our house in huge neon letters written in sidewalk chalk to slip past me.  Oops.  What can I say?  My apologies to our neighbors. What was I doing at the time?  Well, I was prepping our gourmet dinner of hot dogs with mac and cheese…oh, and grooving to the ‘Acme‘  album (released in 1998) by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

This album (their 5th release) represents another complete mess of sound (emphasis on ‘mess’ in a good kind of way) from the JSBX.   This time, with ‘Acme’, the frayed punk tones are replaced by more of a Beasties/Beck/Dust Brothers/white-guys-gone-phat sort of thing, where rat-a-tat beats and bone-crushing, speaker-frying bottom ends collide with shards of sweet soul, gospel, country, blues, and even some pummeling stoner rock as well as Spencer’s own wacked-out Presley-Jagger vocal spew.  I admit that it’s not for everyone and it was probably a good thing that the girls are outside and Kelly isn’t here yet as it’s doubtful any of them would have appreciated the racket as the album is an orgy of noise that occasionally even resembles actual songs; certain to dazzle some, certain to scare plenty more.

For my part, I love the mess.  The opening track ‘Calvin‘  starts to get things grooving right off the hop while the next two tracks ‘Magical Colors‘  and ‘Do You Wanna Get Heavy?‘ keep that funkiness alive and well into the album and then there’s the song ‘Lovin’ Machine‘  which is as good as anything the Beastie Boys ever released.  The rest album just kind of flows together whether it be ‘Torture‘, ‘Bernie‘ or ‘Talk About the Blues‘…it’s all good.

So while I may not have achieved any ‘Dad of the Year’ award this evening I definitely feel I earned myself some bonus style points for being hip.

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I really started discovering Dylan approximately 15 years ago. I mean, I knew who he was and all and how important his contributions were to the music industry but I simply didn’t give a shit about the actual music itself; I was more into psychedelics and shoegazing at the time. I could tell you straight up though; I really didn’t like the ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’  song – hated it actually. That song just grated on my nerves.

Anyway, eventually I woke up and started devouring his albums from the very beginning of the catalog and working my way in from there. I’d listen to each album, break them down and then formulate my own opinions. Today I’m relistening to one of those purchases I found in the discount CD bin at ‘Sam the Record Man’ (Toronto, Ontario) during this Dylan exploration phase, specifically his 20th album release, ‘Infidels’,  from 1983.

I remember coming home with this album and a buddy with whom I lived at the time simply laughed at me. “So, you’re into the Jesus Dylan now?” he teased.


I was kind of taken aback. ‘Jesus Dylan’? Oh, as in the beard? Then yeah, sure, maybe…I dunno? It’s a beard.  Who cares?  I was flummoxed. I knew at that point already that Dylan had gone through his own ‘Hooked on Jesus’  phase after converting to Christianity in the late 70’s and those albums were either hit or miss. For example, ‘Slow Train Coming’  was an amazing album despite it’s overwhelmingly holier than holy pro J-Man anthems, but the album ‘Saved’  however? Yeah, well, not so much.  But in actuality, ‘Infidels’  marks Bob’s triumphant return to secular music and once again focusing on themes of love and loss, as well as the usual commentary on the environment and geopolitics. So, apparently, my roommate didn’t know his own ass from a decent Dylan album. Totally his loss.

The critical reaction for the album was the strongest for Dylan in years, almost universally hailed for its songwriting and performances. The album also fared well commercially, reaching #20 in the US and going gold, and #9 in the UK. Still, many fans and critics were disappointed that several songs were inexplicably cut from the album just prior to mastering—primarily “Blind Willie McTell”, considered a career highlight by many critics, and not officially released until it appeared on ‘The Bootleg Series Volume III’  eight years later. Beats me why.  Dylan also courted such notable musicians to work on the album as producer including Frank Zappa, David Bowie and Elvis Costello but eventually settled on Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits.  So yeah, the album doesn’t suck.

And while the kid is bouncing outside on her trampoline and Kelly is still on her way home from work, I’m taking advantage of the current peace and quiet by chopping some melon (or what I’m referring to as ‘dinner’ this evening) and doing my foot exercises – long story.  Does that sound like way too much fun or what?

It was.  And it was heavenly.

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QEW to Niagara

Periodically I make mention to my ‘Desert Island’ picks; the idea being that most music fans will have a list of favorite albums they would choose with them should they ever end up stranded on a Desert Island in the middle of nowhere. Of course, the premise is somewhat flawed in that even if we had our precious albums we wouldn’t be able to listen to them anyway. It’s a Desert Island, not the Hilton. That means no electricity. But, regardless, I am one of those people who just happen to have themselves such list and a few of those picks have already graced their way into these online pages.

Here’s a reminder of those albums in no specific order:

So that’s eleven albums in total. I’m sure I’m probably only supposed to choose ten albums or so, but I’m opting to go with a bigger list…like, say, twenty-five. So assuming that I’ve somehow managed to Jerry-rig a working turntable and speakers out of palm leaves and empty coconut husks a la Gilligan’s Island, twenty-five albums would more than likely prevent me from going all ‘Lord of the Flies’…for a little while anyway.  So this morning the kid & I bonded over the 12th addition to my current list with the ‘Bewitched’  album by Luna.

Usually, I would save these albums for a workout or something more significant that driving on the QEW to work, but it was a long weekend volunteering with the SunRype Tri-KiDS triathlon (coupled with the whole not sleeping thing the night before thanks to noisy neighbors) and my long bike/run workout so I’m still whooped and could use the gentle waker-upper so my 100 km/h in the slow lane will have to do as ‘motion’ this morning. But back to the music.

This is the album that first turned me onto the band and Dean Wareham as a serious song writer. I remember first hearing the track ‘Tiger Lily’  in someone’s bedroom eons ago and instantly falling in love with the quirky ‘poppy-ness’ to it and I am happy to learn that that same warm familiarity resides in me twenty years later (it was released in 1994).  And the rest of the album is just as sweet too, particularly with the album opener and catchiest breakup song ever written: ‘California (All the Way)’ which HRH  seemed to particularly enjoy. Then there’s ‘This Time Around’  and ‘Sleeping Pill’, both amazing tracks in and of themselves. In fact, the whole album just sort of envelopes you, kind of like how time passes when spending a fun evening with an old friend.

Maybe if I’m lucky the kid will also remember it and feel the exact same way about it twenty years from now while she’s shuttling me to and from my seniors aqua aerobics class at the YMCA.

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Long Brick Run (12.4k)

It’s been a busy week already and today I have to fit in two long workouts because tomorrow I’m volunteering beginning at 3:30am at the SunRype TRiKiDS triathlon series at Ridley High School in  St. Catharines.  HRH  is participating herself so she is excited obviously but I personally can’t remember the last time I’ve seen ta time after midnight so, yeah, me?  Not so much.  Oh, and lets not forget that I’ve also committed to doing some errands and cutting the lawn today; not to mention my fair share of child wrangling. So as of today I am officially a member of the proud “TCT” club, otherwise known as the ‘Time Crunched Triathlete’. 

So queue the Suck baby, Daddy going long this morning!

I was initially pleased with my bike ride and I found a new route, or “Circle” in my immediate area spanning 74 kilometers (click HERE); a good deal of which was completely new to me.  I should also explain that by ‘immediate area‘  I mean within a 100k radius.  I tried to ignore the headwinds along the Niagara Parkway and elsewhere along the route as I focused on my fueling strategy while maintaining a steady pace.  I even had a few Strava successes (posted below) afterwards to show for it – so good for me!  I love the bike.  I knew however that – quite literally – this had been the fun part and now I was staring down the barrel of a long 12.4k Brick run.  I haven’t run longer than 5k off-the-bike since Gravenhurst so this was probably going to blow.  It did.

To help minimize the suckage factor I queued up another of the “Crown Jewels of Live Deadlore” from the Grateful Dead’s magical 1977 spring tour (click HERE for a review of the first night); this time from the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, NY (May 9th, 1977).  So let the suck begin and queue the awesomeness!

This is the second show in a series of three concerts that together make up the “Crown Jewels” from this particular tour so I knew I was guaranteed a good listen.  Now whether my poor legs or feet were going to care or not remained be seen.  Anyway, the plan called for a set of three descending runs off-the-bike including the first 5k tempo at half marathon pace.  But I am sly if nothing else as this show opens with a total ass-kicking segue of ‘Help on the Way> Slipknot!> Franklin’s Tower‘ which was terrific for establishing a decent rhythm down into Crystal Beach and out again along Erie Rd.  I felt good.  I felt like the possible progeny had Godzilla mated with a Panzer tank.  So far so good.

By ‘Brown-Eyed Women‘  I was another single kilometer into my second 4k set but my feet were beginning to get ‘hot'; and not in the good way.  Damn.  The flip was definitely switched around the 7.5k mark turning the physical hardship into that of a mental hardship.  Time to switch off.  Fortunately, the second set’s opening of ‘Bertha> Good Lovin‘  helped keep that motivation up through the darkness coming back along the Friendship Trail into Ridgeway.  Honestly, the entire second set really needs to be heard to be believed.  I can’t put it into words.  It was so good that I kept on stretching in the backyard until I’d finished the entire set.  It’s.  That.  Damn.  Good. 

I survived the ordeal though and despite the suffering out on the road my feet feel pretty good at the moment and my legs are fine. So that’s good as well.  Of course, I just spent a fortune on Crocs this afternoon as part of my new recovery strategy so – dammit! – they better feel good!

Bike Successes:  4th overall on Strava ‘Lyons Creek Rd Westbound‘ segment (8:44); a new PR on the ‘Michener Climb‘ segment (3:17); and another PR on the ‘Sherk Marshall Sprint‘ segment (4:59)

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