Banjo Makes Everything Better

In my search for new and cool indie folk music, I’ve discovered a few new things…well, new for me at least.

The addition of banjo in any song adds a little extra dash of magic. To me, it is a summer instrument that makes me think of road trips. Perhaps in it’s ability to make each chord of a song feel like it is being stretched and pushed right into the next. It might just be in the clarity and simplicity it brings to each song. No matter how loud or distorted the sound might be in a song, the lonely banjo, in it’s own quiet little way, makes it’s voice heard.



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Old People in Big Cars

What is it with the elderly driving large cars?  I mean, I have nothing against the elderly, nor do I have anything against big cars but putting the two together creates an automatic war zone in any metropolitan area. 

I literally feel like I’m suddenly a stealth fighter, trying to anticipate my enemy’s moves.  I mean, I was driving downtown tonight and literally, I feel this presence beside me.  A haunting, wavering, hovering presence.  A quick glance to my left revealed the enemy.  A man that had to be in his 80’s, hunched over the steering wheel, squinting his enemy stare through large, thick glasses. 

With my heightened awareness, I immediately sized up the situation.  Ok, a three lane road, not much other traffic on the road, some slushy conditions, nighttime.  If I had to speed up or brake to avoid this hazard, I could and more importantly, if I had to change lanes to get around and ahead of him I could do that as well…

The enemy crept closer beside me, taunting me by crossing over the broken lines on the road.  I slowed down a bit, allowing him to play out his attack.  He pressed on the brakes seeing that the road went downhill.  This obviously threw him off course and gave me a chance to play into his faults.  I eased by him with my guard up, only looking back to ensure he wasn’t about to pull a trick move.

Phew!  That was a close one and there are many other enemies like that out on the road.  You just have to keep your guard up and have a game plan is all.


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Small Town Speak

Seven years ago, my parents moved to a small town up North.  I love it up there.  I’ve always said that and I mean it.  I love the fresh air, the friendliness of the community, the absence of big box stores (for the most part).  I savour the fresh air and being by the water.  I like that every time I come up, my parents see fit to inform me on all of the new things that have happened in town (i.e., new restaurants, a changed store sign and sometimes some small town political rift).

I am up visiting right now and my Mom and I had to go to a store today to return an item.  As usual we walked in and my Mom immediately struck up a conversation with the clerk:

“You probably don’t remember me.”

“Of course I do!”

This sure doesn’t happen down in the big city.  It was something else though…something that, if I ever lived here, could still not pull off and something that indeed only occurs in small towns.  We completed the return and as we left the store, the clerk called after us:

“See ya’s later!”

Ummm…now, I know I’m a bit of a stickler for grammar but the amazing thing about this was that this person made the phrase sound perfectly normal to my ears.  Even with a lot of practice, I know I would still be unable to pull that off and make it roll off the tongue like this person did.  My next thought was:  How does one respond to such a phrase? I suppose these would be some appropriate responses:

“No, I’ll see YOU’S later”

“You mean, see ya’s later alligators”  This one would then be followed by the person in turn responding “After awhiles crocodiles”

“Ok, I’se will”


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Is Yoga Making me Fat?

So, I’ve recently started doing Moksha Yoga. I had only tried yoga a few times and could immediately see the possible benefits from it. A friend had told me about Moksha yoga so I thought I would give it a whirl.

Conveniently, there is a studio about 5 minutes away from my house so I went in and started with a one-week pass. Having read all of the instructions on preparing myself for the class (i.e., drinking lots of water and bringing lots of towels), I set out to find my inner chi.

The emphasis from the instructors constantly is to go at your own rate and not push yourself too hard, too fast. As it turns out, you could literally just lie there on your mat and still sweat up a storm in this room.

After the first class, I was hooked. I was still very inflexible and clumsy but I could see that if I stuck with it, I would eventually get better and that feeling I get after every class (like I can conquer the world), would continue.

I’ve now gone about seven times and I’ve noticed the past few times, it seems to be getting harder. Is this because I’m trying harder? That’s what I tell myself. The poses are no different and the sequence is even similar every time.

Yesterday, I went to the class and worked hard, feeling quite dizzy by the end of class and came home and showered. As I got ready to go out last night, it felt as though my jeans were just a smidgen tighter.

WHAT? What is going on? Isn’t all of that excessive sweating also supposed to shed the pounds? Don’t I look as strong as I feel?

It took me a mere minute to realize that I simply wasn’t sucking in my stomach while trying to put my jeans on – a regular practice for pretty much all of my wardrobe.

In fact, most women since their teenage years go around sucking in their stomach all of the time. It becomes almost like a natural reflex of sorts. We almost don’t even notice when we are doing it.

I quickly fixed that problem but then realized that all of the ab work we did in the class really worked my stomach and it hurt too much to always suck it in.

So, is yoga really making me fat? No. Will I be walking around this week with my gut totally relaxed?   Absolutely.


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I had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Atlanta at a conference. While the weekend was filled with work, I did do my best to keep my eyes open to the interesting sights around me.

My flight had one stop in Philidelphia before continuing onto Atlanta and while it was still too early in the morning to be fully aware, as I settled into the lounge in Philly, something caught my eye. A man walked into the lounge and settled into on of the chairs across from me. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the man himself except for the sheer irony he brought with him on his t-shirt.  He was a man in what I guessed to be his early 20’s but looked older due to his protruding stomach. He wore the t-shirt below:


I realize that the t-shirt in and of itself is supposed to be ironic but the fact that this guy seemed to fit the ironic profile to a tee made me smile.

Atlanta itself was a pleasant surprise. I think I was expecting a bigger, busier city where I would feel as much of a cultural outsider as if I were overseas. What I saw was an open city that was divided into three sections. The fact that the city was spread out probably helped give it the open, smaller feel. The people there were beyond friendly. I could not get over just how nice people were. I’m not sure if the welcoming feel came from simple friendliness or the fact that when the security guy at the Atlanta airport greeted me with “Hey baby”, not only did it not offend me but made me feel great!

It seemed that the people who populated this city were once people who lived in small towns.  These people had clearly brought that small town charm with them.

I can honestly say that I hope I get to go back to Atlanta one day and actually see some sights rather than the inside of a convention centre.  If not for the “real” CNN headquarters or the Coca-Cola factory, at least to see the world’s largest aquarium.


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Roller Derby 101

I went to a roller derby match last night. Admittedly, I knew that going would inevitably create material for a new blog post but a friend of mine announced recently that she was in a 10-week training session to become a roller derby girl (if that’s what you call them). I was curious to find out if today’s roller derby was just like the 1970’s picture I had in my head of people in wild outfits, punching, pushing and shoving other people off the track.

This match took place in an old hangar. It was the Death Track Dolls vs. the Gore Gore Girls. I’m not sure what I expected but it was indeed an old hangar. I kept wondering who on earth goes to these matches. Well, obviously tonight, it was me but the fact that we had to wait in line to get in showed me that there is obviously some kind of fan base.

We stepped inside and took in the scene. The flat track was only marked by some taped down tubing and there was a small table set up in the middle. Not only were there stands set up all around the hangar but people had even brought their own lawn chairs and had set up on the floor. The really brave ones sat directly on the floor only a few feet from the track. My friend pointed out that area as the “suicide zone” because apparently some of the players actually fall into the crowd.

We found some seats within the safety of the stands, asking the kind gentleman with his nose, tongue, lip, both eyebrows and ears pierced if the seats were free. I sat down and tried to understand who these people were that came to these matches. While it was a bit of a mixed crowd, most people, decorated with numerous piercings and tattoos, were clearly friends of the players.

My observations were quickly interrupted with the announcer, nicknamed “Crankypants” announcing each referee. It was difficult to understand him through the distorted speaker system so I referred to my program. It became clear very quickly that everyone had a nickname – even the refs. The first ref out was “Sir Refsalot”, adorned in a kilt. The biggest cheers came for “The Krow” though, who came out wearing black wings and skated with wings spread around the track.

The announcer then began announcing the names…things like “Lunchbox” and “Dust Bunny” and “Dolly Parts ‘Em”. As the names were announced, these women came out and paraded around the track.

The Death Track Dolls were the first to be introduced, in their white tank tops. Each woman wore some kind of tights/stockings and many wore torn up fishnet stockings underneath bootie shorts or a short skirt. The women on this team even took time to do their makeup, adding things like fake blood coming out of their mouths and white and black make up to make them look dead. The theme of the Gore Gore Girls was clearly leopard skin, as they all came out wearing some sort of leopard skin leotard again matched with various stockings. We were then asked to stand for the national anthem. We all stood their in silence until a recording of O Canada came on about halfway through the first verse. A singer quickly joined in and while his voice was lovely, he made the grave mistake of stopping and listening to the recording his voice had previously drowned out. He, and the entire hangar of fans quickly realized he was not at all with the recording. He panicked, and tried to come in at the right time but came in with the wrong words! He stopped again and then got back on track just in time for the final line of the song.

The match got started soon after that and while it took me some time to understand what was going on, I again, referred to my booklet to help me. After reading the explanation of the game and the rules, I realized this roller derby was a little different than older versions. Apparently there was no punching or even elbowing allowed. ‘Phew!’

As the game continued, the announcer continued talking through the mic, informing people of what was going on. When he wasn’t doing that, he was trying to get the crowd excited and cheering loudly. His method however, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired. Sure he said all of the right things but as he demanded the audience cheer “louder! Louder! LOUDER!!”, his face only looked angrier. I mean, it was going purple with rage. I think in the end, the fans were intimidated into cheering louder.

After the first thirty minute period, it was announced that there would be a thirty minute break. I wondered if there was going to be some sort of 7th inning stretch. It was somewhere between watching one fan build a pyramid of beer cans on the floor and noticing the woman wearing a spiked, purple bra that covered only her one remaining breast that the dancers came out.

Two young girls came out dressed like some sort of angels. Perhaps it is because I’ve been spoiled by watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and seeing some really fabulous dancers but these ones just seemed to wave their arms and run back and forth. Perhaps it wasn’t even the dancing itself that I was disappointed with but the fact that it just seemed so out of place at this particular venue.

The second half started with much of the same action that the first half of the game held. It was fast paced and it seemed that when there was a fall, the key was to act as dramatically as possible, curling up in pain, or slapping the floor. After each dramatic episode however, the women got up and continued skating without any problems.

The game ended and the Gore Gore Girls got to do their victory lap around the track. While it was an interesting night, we didn’t stick around long after the game!


roller derby


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They Don’t Love You Like I Love You

I did something last night that reminded me of just how old I really am. Yes, I realize I am not quite reaching ‘senior citizen’ status but last night was a gentle reminder that anything I do has an equal and opposite reaction.

A friend from work told me she had tickets to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. At the time, I had just discovered this rock, indie group and told her I liked them. As it turns out, she had an extra ticket. I told her I would be excited to go.

It was general admission so we had arranged to meet fairly early to ensure we could get close to the stage when the doors had opened. I took the time to get ready and pick a comfortable, yet decent outfit. I decided flats would be my best bet as we would be standing in line for awhile.

As we stood in line, I looked around and saw quite a mixed crowd although many of them were at least 10 years younger than I was. After waiting over an hour, we finally got in and found our spots by the stage. We were in the third row of people back from the stage. This was all very exciting but as we waited another hour for something to happen on the stage, I began to notice my feet were getting a little sore.

“Oooh, not sure about this shoe choice. No arch support. Should have worn orthotics. Did I just think that? I don’t even own orthotics! No, mustn’t think that way. Must be cool and young and hip.”

So I ignored the pain. The first act came on. Some singer with two guys DJ-ing. As the DJ’s started up, it became very clear that my ears were going to take a beating tonight. The bass started up and my entire chest vibrated. The vibrations increased, out my arms and even to the tip of my nose. I felt like I had been locked in the trunk of a pimped out Acura at the hub of the stereo speakers. As the singer came out in her cape. Yes, you read that right, cape, I wasn’t sure I would immediately see the musical value. I struggled through this act but convinced myself it would all be worth it when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came on.

As they came on, I couldn’t help but notice that my feet were hurting even more. Perhaps as long as I was distracted, I’d be ok. As we waited once again, my mind also wandered a bit…

“I wonder what time this concert will end? I wonder how difficult it will be to get out of the parking lot? I wonder if I’ll get to bed at my usual time?”

These are not the thoughts of a carefree person on vacation. These are the thoughts of someone who is clearly set into a routine. A very boring routine. It was time to let loose. Time to have some fun.

The band came out and the thrill of the crowd cheering was something I’d forgotten. I actually was getting excited now.

That excitement quickly disappeared when the band started playing. I was suddenly swept up in this see of squished teenage bodies who were all jumping in unison to the beat. Was this fun? I wasn’t sure at this point. I guess it was as the pushing started that I really started to get cranky. I literally had to lock my arms with elbows out, just to stay afloat.

“Was this safe? Somebody was going to get hurt! Why is nobody else concerned about this dangerous mob??”

Things only got worse as those teenage bodies that were rubbing up against me, poking me and grabbing me started to sweat.

“Did someone just step on my foot! Hey, I think you just touched my bum! Do you mind not shoving so much?”

At one point the singer threw a towel out into the audience. Two boys (yes, they were teenaged boys) fought violently over this sweaty towel until the crowd threw them out.

We finally looked at eachother and made our way toward the back. I don’t know why I was surprised by this but it seemed so much more civilized toward the back and the demographics of the crowd changed to older concert goers.

Ironically enough, as we finally reached the back, the band was done and the lights came on. Although I was relieved by it being over, the band really did sound fantastic and this only encouraged me to listen to them even more.

All of that being said, this crowd clearly loved this group differently than I loved them. From this point on, I would love them through the sound of speakers only or perhaps in the comfort of a venue with assigned seating.

They loved them in a “I wanna jump up and down, crashing into people and screaming while I do it kind of way” and I loved them in more of a “this is neat music and I think I will show it by politely bobbing my head to the beat” kind of way.


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