Four Syllables and a Wedding

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Two families joined
Sure, with Greek weddings, there's always going to be a lot of syllables, but clever title anyway, right? Kon-di-len-ia. Ah, le maux juste. Yes, on Saturday, I had the privilege to be invited to Kondilenia's wedding/metamorphosis from Arvanitis (also four syllables) to Kaketsis. Despite a little melancholy from the lost syllable, it was a great time. The wedding was nice, the sun was shining, and they had a great Greek band from Toronto. Plus, lots of folks (yup, getting old) from out of town that I've not seen in far too long, so it was definitely nice to catch up with them. I don't have much else to tell you of the wedding, really, other than that it was all immaculate and I enjoyed it, but I do have a few photos up. I'm trying out Google's new Picasa Web Albums feature (still in test phase). It's nice in some respects, mainly that I have all the captions and so forth on my computer, and I think eventually it will photocast (as in, I put a photo on my computer and it automagically puts it on the web if I put it in a public place). I know that you can subscribe to a feed on the site, so that you'd be able to automatically download any photos as I add them, seems the next logical step. It has some bugs and I think I like the interface of my current gallery better, but a person has to try these things. So go check out the wedding photos, you can view them here. A few of them were blurry because of the distance and low light, so apologies for that, and as the party wound up my camera wound down.

Red Paperclips to Hold Province Together?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A red paperclip
For those not familiar, I live in a province of western Canada called Saskatchewan. It's a nice province, lots of resources, in the middle of a pretty big boom, and yet still boasting a friendly small-town attitude. That could be because the population of the province dwindles ever closer to the population of a small town. With just under one million people and slowly dropping, it's quite the problem; especially because the economy is good enough that we should be growing tremendously. Our neighbour to the west, Alberta, is rightly credited with taking many of our departing residents in. However, at least one town has found a way to convince people to settle. The town of Kipling, Saskatchewan has managed to attract one new resident by trading him a house for - effectively - a red paperclip.

Instant Party Kit
About a year ago, Kyle MacDonald, an unemployed Montrealer, decided he wanted a house. While pondering his future, he spied a red paperclip on his desk and posted on the 'net that he was looking to trade it. And trade he did. First for a fish pen from Vancouver, then for a handmade doorknob from a potter in Seattle. Somehow, the doorknob was traded for a gas stove, which is a poor trade for some Massachusetts man, but the stove was bartered into an electric generator from California soon enough. This may seem an odd step, but the generator was traded for an instant party kit (a neon Bud sign and an empty keg) from someone in - you guessed it - New York. At what was probably the pivotal moment in this experiment, a Montreal radio host helped him turn that somewhat dry party into a skidoo. Now that's something. A paperclip into a skidoo. But we're not done yet. He took that skidoo and, in an interview with George Strombolopolous, was posed the following question: Is there anywhere in the world that you wouldn't go to make a trade? To which Kyle replied, Yahk, BC.

Alice Cooper holds up a massive red paperclip
Well, someone from nearby Cranbrook called up and offered him an all-expenses paid trip in trade for the snowmobile, provided the trade was made in Yahk. He guilted CBC's The Hour into coming to Yahk with him and, because he happened to have a moving company's shirt on during his interview, he had the opportunity to trade his trip to Yahk for a cube van from Cintas. The van he used to haul the skidoo to BC and then traded it for a recording contract with Club Treehouse, which included 30 hours studio time, 50 post, transportation to Toronto from anywhere in the world, and accomodation. Nice! This he traded for a year's worth of free rent in Phoenix in what appears to be a rather respectable dwelling. Not a house to himself, but certainly a start. Now, interestingly, a girl by the name of Leslie, living in Phoenix and working at Alice Cooper's restaurant, asked her boss if he'd spend an afternoon with a fan so she could get free rent for a year. He liked the idea (as you can see in the photo) and didn't that just work out nicely...

A red paperclip
But we're not out of the woods and into notoriously treeless southern Saskatchewan yet. It was at this point that Kyle tried what could have been his most bone-headed move so far (though I consider a year's rent worth more than an afternoon with ANYBODY - even Natalie Portman (sorry, hon)). Anyway, most bone-headed move so far: he traded the afternoon with Alice for... get this... an Alice Cooper snow globe. Surprisingly, Corbin Bensen saved the day. A big collector of snow globes, he traded a role in a movie for this rather rare weather dome. And so, Kyle MacDonald went from snow globe to a role in a movie to a farmhouse in Kipling that will indeed look like it is in a snowglobe come December. Yes, Kipling gave him a farmhouse in exchange for a role in a movie. And Kipling gained one more resident.

Now, admittedly, Kipling did not itself trade the home for a paperclip, but consider if they were to do so. Do you think we'd be seeing a massive influx of new residents? Yes! Would the current shortage of red (and other coloured) paper clips be remedied? Yes! Could this be the final clip in the report spelling out Alberta's demise? You'd better believe it. So, to all those thinking about the "Alberta Advantage" remember. The same house there would cost you at least two paperclips and possibly a staple.

Interviews, Barbeques, and Rosy Hues

Monday, July 03, 2006

FrankBlack.Net Podcast Logo
It's been about as hectic a few weeks as I've had in a long time, so I'm sorry there's not been much to update on. Ironically, there's been very little worth writing, much less reading, in spite of this sudden deluge of activity, but I will continue anyway at the risk of boring you. First, most recently, and most excitingly at least for me, was the Canada Day release of our tenth FrankBlack.Net Podcast. This is a little radio show of sorts that I host with a friend from New Jersey, Brian, bi-weekly, and we talk about the latest news in the world of Frank Black, play tracks from albums and offer a little (we hope) insight, and thanks to his manager, Ken Goes, have a rare track to put on our podcast every time. Not to some of our favourite live recordings, covers, and tracks from Frank Black fans. We started with a surprising 1500 downloads in the first two weeks we played it and now coming ever closer to 5000 subscribers. So it was with some excitement that we released our tenth episode, and we went all out to make it special. It's hosted at a swanky penthouse party at the halfway point between Brian's home and mine, Thunder Bay, and the most exciting thing, at least for me, is the appearance and conversation with Frank Black at this party!

Yes, on July 19th, the day his new album, Fastman/Raiderman, that same day that the Edmonton Oilers lost Game 7 to the Hurricanes, Brian and I were chatting with him using VOIP. And this is largely thanks to his wife, before I go on, who helped us set up the interview with him and also was working on family friends Jack Black and John Flansburgh among others. Maybe in the future, but I digressed with the intent of thanking Violet, and will do so now. Thank-you! So, that done, we were chatting after a few initial technical difficulties, and chatting. We talked about everything from the new Pixies tracks that were recently trashed to his new album to his touring plans (with a band) to, well you name it. Spaghetti sauce. How songwriting is like making a sandwich. A very funny man and he entertained us for 2.5 hours before we finally let him go, and he didn't ask once despite a cold and, initially, the ruckus of kids getting ready for bed. If you want to listen, there are a few ways. You can listen/subscribe to the whole in iTunes, stream it from the web using Yahoo, or download the latest episode directly here. You don't need an iPod to listen to a podcast, just a computer with speakers or a CD burner.

Uncle Ted at the BBQ
In other news that's exciting for me and less so for you, my sister finally got back from Europe/Greece late last week. Her backpack weighs more than her I'm pretty sure, or at least is very close to being on par. Or at least, it weighed, she is hopefully unpacked by now. It's nice to have her back home though she probably wishes she was still there rather than taking a summer version of Math 110. We had to trade her for my uncle, unfortunately, he was here a month but I only saw him three or four times. We had a barbeque before he left though, and it was nice to have some family and friends out. We also got very lucky with the weather; it had been raining for weeks on end and cleared up just in time for us. We had the lamb and tzatziki roast and a bunch of other good stuff, which you can probably see in the pictures I took. Click on the image on the right to check out some more.

What else? Well, I've managed to get a few games of golf in this year and hope to do a little more of that this summer. Maybe this weekend I'll go with my dad. I went with John to his uncle's golf tournament a couple weekends ago, it was a 9-hole course in Watrous, and we had a good time. I wound up golfing with a relative of Brett's, what are the odds of that? Well, in case you thought that was a genuine question, the answer is, not very good. Not very good. But we all had a good time and a bit too much sun, hence to rosy hues. John also was good enough to invite me to his cousin's pool party on Canada Day, which was nice. They have a very nice backyard/pool, and we sat around, swam, and enjoyed the warm weather. His cousins seem like pretty cool people too.

Otherwise, nothing much to report. The family's doing well, the soccer team too, the weather's nice, and the skies blue. I've almost watched my entire Hitchcock collection, I am now a definite fan; if you ask me, dear reader, he was a brilliant man. But I don't intend to rhyme all day, so I will stop right now and go away. Well, stop anyway. I still haven't had time to look at making plans for Aus/NZ next year, and I know I'd better get my act together, so perhaps this week I will make an effort to do something towards that. I still want to look into that tour that Juaquin did of NZ. Oh, I've also been biking quite a bit trying and failing to get into shape. I should probably start biking to work, but it's a looooong trek from here to there, it's a good 45 minutes at speed and without too much wind, and quite frankly I have enough trouble getting up early enough to drive in. But I'm already rambling, so I will see you again, hopefully sooner than last time.