In My Life

Just When I Thought I Was Out, The Music Pulls Me Back In…

I have had a hankering to listen to some tunes from my collection of CDs for a long while now. I never realized it would be such a big deal, but when you store your collection in large Rubbermaid containers, it can become a pain. To pull out the ol’ bin from the dark corner of the basement seemed like a very daunting task. Overwhelming, in fact:

So much good music in this bin, but it weighs a ton…and…oh man, forget it. I’ll just listen to music on YouTube…

When my iPod went belly-up two years ago, at the time I said to myself I was going to do something with those CDs once and for all. Rip ’em onto the terabyte so I could reacquaint myself with them. Well, it hasn’t happened, folks. For years, we have been concentrating on gaming and house renos – putting the CDs away, favouring instead other avenues to get music – Sirius Satellite radio, online streaming services like Google, Groove Music and Accuradio – and plain ol’ .mp3s fulfilled the need. Whenever I’d think of reacquainting myself with the CDs, the thought of moving around furniture again to make room to display them seemed impossible.

It was one Sunday in August when the hubs and I were at the mall on the hunt for the game Spot It (highly recommend!) when he said he wanted to go into Sunrise Records. Understand, we don’t do the mall. The last time we stepped foot in a mall was back in March when coincidentally, HMV, the only record store for miles was closing its doors. Sunrise has since opened in its place, and this August was the first time we checked it out. I haven’t bought physical music in a long while (I purchased Man Machine Poem by the Tragically Hip last fall).

Honestly, I have been out of the CD-buying game for a LONG TIME! I have been gleefully watching from the sidelines as Mike, Bop, Aaron, Geoff, Deke, 1537, J., JHubner73 (see blogroll for a who’s who), and the rest of you great music bloggers search, buy and review music. I haven’t bought music on a regular basis in years, partly because of my own self-imposed austerity, partly because of gaming, partly because of the wave of digital media, and well, I seem to get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that accumulates versus the lack of time and energy to enjoy it. I have written on this blog how music changes my mood; it inspires, it entertains! And I have been feeling like I need to connect with my music again! So when we set foot into Sunrise, I found myself perusing the racks. And you wouldn’t believe what I found:

What?! U2’s The Joshua Tree, remastered!?!

I was in awe. The hubs said, “Well, that’s it, I don’t care what you say, we’re buying it.” Boy, am I glad we did.

The reissue was crisp-sounding, and since I hadn’t heard the Joshua Tree album in a long while, it was fun getting reacquainted with all of those songs. It brought me back to 1987 when Where The Streets Have No Name was hitting the charts. The first half of the album is well known to radio, while it’s also the last half – Trip Through Your Wires, In God’s Country, One Tree Hill, Mothers of the Disappeared – that I love the most. Yes, this is good! Yes, it inspired me.

Following that trip, the hubs and I have since pulled out our three bins of CDs, alphabetized them, and catalogued them using Discogs. Now, I am looking at my current collection more critically.

Lotsa CD-Rs…

Not so amazingly, when we went through the collection, we discovered at least 1/3 of it is burned CDs created from downloading! Looking back, I can’t believe how much effort went into downloading, printing covers and burning the CDs – a whole large Rubbermaid container full! Granted, some of the music were bootlegs or hard-to-find collections, but certainly not all of it! I couldn’t help but feel a bit of guilt.

I have started to legitimize my collection by acquiring the actual physical media of my favourite albums. My preference in media is for the CD (more accessible to me – I can listen to it in the car!), while the hubs is getting the vinyl fever (natch!). Regardless, if there is a remaster available on an album of interest, I will certainly consider that purchase. The ones I have purchased lately have been worth it.

The Majesty!

This newfound interest in my music collection has led me to explore some albums that eluded me back in the day. While I can freely peruse the stacks at Sunrise, the thriftin’ bug also catches my attention. What with CDs as little as $0.50 to $2.99 at the junk shops and used media stores, I have managed to gain some headway on this front, quite cheaply. Many people are dumping out of their physical media, which works out great for me. I’ve been using my two-hour daily commute to my advantage too, by taking my music spoils for a spin in the car and have discovered some really awesome new-to-me albums…and I have also found some no-so-great albums…which I can cast aside, guilt free!

I hope to talk more about my love for the tunes here on the blog. For now, I am just really enjoying this experience.

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[Film] On an Endless Loop: Heavenly Bodies (1985)

Have you ever had one of those memory flashes triggered by something – music…a film…even a commercial where you see it or hear it and all of the sudden you recall a film from a long time ago…but the name eludes you…It’s driving you crazy…until the answer arrives when you least expect it?

In 1985 I loved nothing more than to dance around to music (the hubs would say I still do – ha!). My sis and I would come up with faux dance routines, and sing along like we were rock stars on MTV. My mom had decided that September 1985 was time to put this energy and interest to use. Aside from having our necessary weekly piano lessons, we took dance classes – Jazz to be precise. I took dance consistently for years well into high school until school work and jobs competed for my time and energy. I really did enjoy that time I took jazz and learned a lot about physical balance, coordination and timing – big things for me as I can be unsteady on my feet. I always wished I was good at team sports, but I just…am not. Dancing, however, was fun and physical, and in my own way, I was being sporty…with jazz hands.

Back in the 80s, Jazzercise as a theme was a big thing in films (see Flashdance, Staying Alive, Perfect, Dirty Dancing…). There was a succession of dance-themed films, and I knew about all of them. If there was dancing in a movie, I was watching it. Time has faded the memory of these films to a certain extent, however…until one of them caught my eye in my satellite guide recently… and those memories came flooding back.

Anyone remember a little Canadian movie called Heavenly Bodies from 1985? This gem used to air on Canadian TV so often from ’85 to ’88 that the dialogue, music and scenes of this film were burned into my brain. I couldn’t tell you if it was a movie channel I originally watched this on, or just plain old Canadian network TV Can Con fare, but regardless there was a time it seemed to be on every month, and I would catch it every time.

Samantha and her friends are dance fanatics working the day-job grind in gritty 1985 downtown Toronto. They have met their limit with their secretarial jobs and decide to quit. They find an old warehouse to rent, and open their own Jazzercise studio they name Heavenly Bodies. The place gains media attention as the hot new “it” aerobics studio; everyone is going, and Sam and her pals are watching the cheques come rolling in. Business is great, which is drawing ire from the big boss of the big hot-shot fitness club in town that used to have the curb on the workout market. Now his patrons are choosing to spend their dollars at Heavenly Bodies instead.

Sam, the main instructor in the studio, is a lifelong dancer, and has endless energy to jazzercise all day. Believing in her abilities, her friends encourage her to audition for the top spot on a new TV fitness program pilot. She is soon picked as host above a number of contenders, including the hot shot fitness club owner’s girlfriend. Her success irritates him and his jealous girl enough to threaten Sam to shut down Heavenly Bodies…and he can do it because he owns the property on which Sam’s studio sits! In typical fashion, no 80s dance movie would be complete without duelling fitness clubs having a danceathon, and Heavenly Bodies does not disappoint.

Heavenly Bodies is true 80s in style and soundtrack. Plenty of flammable leotard and leg warmers here! Some might say Heavenly Bodies is for mature audiences…for sure, when we are talking about people barely dressed, you will have the camera panning a little too long on some areas of the human anatomy, and no one sex was spared. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention other social factors addressed in this film, such as Sam being a single mom, and there being some surprising violent scenes that were impressionable on me as a kid. Being raised by a single parent, I could easily connect with Sam’s struggles raising a young boy alone. Thankfully, the violence bit never came into play at my house growing up.

Aside from the themes of sexuality and violence, there is something sweet and hopeful about Heavenly Bodies‘ story. The “dream come true” shallow easiness of the plot is appealing. With so many dance-themed movies at the time, it’s easy to draw comparisons between this film and Flashdance (another great film). But, what sets Heavenly Bodies apart from Flashdance is Canadian actress Cynthia Dale who played Samantha. Unlike Jennifer Beals who in Flashdance, had a double for most of her dance scenes (using cut shots of moving legs and her sweaty face to make it appear like it was her dancing…). Dale is a trained dancer who did ALL of her own dance scenes and stunts, and did them WELL, might I add. That girl worked her ass off for this film and gets kudos from me today. Even at age 11, she earned my respect: She could grand jeté, plié and spot turn anyone under the table – and I wanted to dance just like her.

The music is something that I definitely remember from my childhood. It’s not all good, let’s be honest. One song by the Sparks called, “Breaking Out of Prison, Baby” is pretty bad, and is unfortunately played several times in the film. Other artists, such as the Tubes (known for “She’s a Beauty”) and Gary Wright (“Dreamweaver” fame), also make an appearance. Of note is a song by Toronto New Wave band, Boys Brigade, whose song “Into the Flow” is probably the best song on the soundtrack. A little known fact about this song: it was produced by non other than Geddy Lee! You can sample the soundtrack here.

Heavenly Bodies is quite a rarity. I haven’t been successful in finding it anywhere for sale on DVD, to download or to stream (at least in Canada). Hollywood Suite (a Canadian movie network) seems to have an old VHS copy they must have pulled out of the dumpster somewhere as that print they aired is pretty darned gnarly. I’d love to find this cleaned up for sale somewhere. For now, I’ll have to settle for the recording of Heavenly Bodies on my PVR. Heavenly Bodies is for sure a hidden gem that brought up some great memories in me. If you are Canadian and subscribe to Hollywood Suite on Satellite or cable, be sure to check this blast from the past!

Heavenly Bodies
Starring Cynthia Dale
1985

[For the Love of ‘Fee] (PART 2) If a Percolator Dies in a Kitchen, Does Sarca Make a Sound?

…Not only does she make a sound, Sarca’s whole family makes a sound!

If you’ve been reading this blog and remember the last time my percolator died (Sept. 2014), you’ll understand the struggles I faced finding a replacement.

Its successor was a Hamilton Beach electronic percolator. My household used it lovingly until last Sunday when it stopped drawing power after it brewed a pot, and it never came back. I have to say it was on borrowed time, as it would periodically lose power mid brew, and then repeatedly try to percolate about 3 times before it was satisfied the coffee was hot enough. It’s been doing that behavior for a better part of a year.

Why not just replace it with any old coffee maker? Because, I’m stubborn, and enjoy a perked cup. And honestly, as I have previously opined on the subject, there aren’t much in the way of choices here in Ontario for electronic percolators. My research shows, not much has changed since 2014: people still love their Kuerigs, Starbucks and Timmy Ho-Hos. Few seem to brew at home any more, and percolating is obviously a dead technology, relegated to manual campfire percolators and catering coffee urns. I got the memo, people, loud and clear! No more perc!

But, I still buck that hive-mind mentality. I am forever on the lookout for a decent percolator, even when my perc is working. On Amazon and coffee fan sites, I read reviews like they are the Bible on Sunday. I’ve even taken to Value Village to see if I can find another gently used percolator; my first electronic perc being a Proctor-Silex from VV that introduced me to this way of electronic brewing in the first place.

Last winter, I found a DeLonghi percolator that didn’t look like it had ever been used. This model came with an adjustable setting, giving you the ability to perc a light or dark brew! SCORE! I kept it in storage for situations like this week when my Hamilton Beach would bite the big one. I took it out of the cupboard, and got it running. And welllll…..

I can see why the DeLonghi was barely used, and given away to Value Village…franky, it brews a TERRIBLE cup of coffee. I took this week to try to work out the bugs that come with having a new perc – finding the right grind, using the right amount of grounds, etc. But, unfortunately, after trying for five days to get a decent cuppa out of it, it didn’t work out. There was no aroma…there was no taste…the coffee was practically hot water, even after adjusting the settings to perc a dark brew! The hubs didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. And now my visiting in-laws didn’t like it! Time to fix this – FAST!

The solution is, of course, to buy another percolator. But which? Because of a lack of percolator popularity, there are STILL only TWO main electronic percs on the market that are readily available around here at stores accessible to me: Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach. You look online, and the top two 5-starred percs happen to be from Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach (and no surprise why…those are the only ones being made right now! Of course they are highly revered!)

From past experience, I concluded the Cuisinart percolator isn’t great; a little less than a year and it was giving us problems. At least we had more longevity with Hamilton Beach! The hubs encouraged me (out of practicality or caffeine withdrawal) to stop the search, and just buy the next option…the low-hanging fruit…the Hamilton Beach.

What? Buy another one?

Yup, I went to my local Walmart Friday night and bought another Hamilton Beach percolator. There isn’t much choice out there, and for what it’s worth, for all the whining I have done on how cheaply they manufacture these things, the Hamilton Beach percolator does make a good home perked coffee. Who knows, maybe I’ll get another 2.5 years out of this one too. Fingers crossed. I think in terms of coffee makers, this is number 7 in 20 years. Obsolescence is alive and well!

Enjoy your ‘fee today! I know finally I am!

[TV Movie] Dirty Dancing (2017)

Why would a television network ever try to tackle a remake of one of the most beloved movies from the 80s, Dirty Dancing? It’s a question I asked myself last week, and practically discarded, until curiosity got the better of me.

In case you’re not familiar with the movie, the premise of Dirty Dancing is a coming of age story seen through the eyes of Frances “Baby” Houseman, who in the summer of 1963, spends a three-week vacation with her family at Kellerman’s Mountain Lodge, a five-star resort in the Catskills in New York State. Baby is a smart, wholesome girl with plans to go into the Peace Corps out of college. She always does right by her parents and always follows the rules. A secret crush on one of the male dancers at the resort prompted Baby to curiously sneak past the “restricted to staff only” signs one evening. There, she runs into a friendly staff member who needs help carrying watermelons into the staff quarters. She then enters into one of the secret and frequent after-hours parties the working-class employees at Kellerman’s throw to blow off steam. The music is loud, the room is smokey, and the dancing is dirty! It is here that Baby meets the object of her crush, Johnny, and along with his dance partner Penny, a different world opened up to Baby from her sheltered upbringing. Johnny taught her how to dance and soon the two became inseparable…much to Baby’s father’s chagrin, who disapproves of Johnny’s sketchy pedigree… but don’t worry, folks, cue the Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, and there you have your happy ending…Baby had the time of her life…she arrives a girl, but leaves a woman.

The original Dirty Dancing is one of the core movies from my childhood. I saw the film in the movie theatre in August 1987, and later was able to re-watch a taped version off of VHS (and since have bought the DVD and Blu-ray). It was one of those films that was on a constant loop at our house, and I never got tired of it. There was something magical about it. The pairing of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, their dancing, and the love affair that the two emoted on screen was nuclear. Here was a girl who had a crush on someone and was able to actually attract the object of her affections, fall in love with them and live happily ever after; a dream come true for any teenage girl. Not to mention, the dancing and music were a perfect pairing. For a girl on the verge of teenhood, Dirty Dancing was a film that will forever resonate.

While watching the 2017 version of Dirty Dancing, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to the original. I found myself swearing, cringing, guffawing and shaking my head in disbelief. As a matter of fact, the first raw critical thought I wrote down after watching it was:

“This did everything wrong.”

As I was trying to formulate this review, everything came up negative with me – EVERYTHING. I realized after my third attempt to write this blogpost that objectivity would be difficult here; I was too much in love with the original! So I did something I don’t normally do: I re-watched Dirty Dancing 2017 and tried to find some good in this film.

The 2017 version of Dirty Dancing stars Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) as Baby, Colt Prattes (dancer in Broadway productions) as Johnny, Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) as Baby’s older sister Lisa, and Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls) as Penny. We also see Debra Messing and Bruce Greenwood in a surprise pairing as Baby’s parents. Other recognizable actors were here too – Tony Roberts, Billy Dee Williams and Katey Sagal also make an appearance. This reboot follows the same plot from the original 1987 version, pretty much scene for scene, including soundtrack. Certain key characters’ plots, though, have been expanded upon here where they were glazed over in the original, particularly Baby’s parents and their marital troubles, as well as Lisa’s attraction to an entertainer.

The one major difference with Dirty Dancing 2017 is that practically every scene has the actors singing and dancing, using this as a plot device to move the film along, unlike the 1987 original. Every character here was made to sing: Johnny, Penny, Baby, her parents…everyone. With so much of its production focused on singing and dance routines I concluded that Dirty Dancing 2017 is actually more of the musical rendition of the original, as opposed to a remake of the original. With this thought in mind, re-watching this film was a lot more palatable for me.

What was a hit for me pretty much came down to casting for this film.

Abigail Breslin as Baby. At first viewing, I thought Breslin was mis-cast as Baby. She is almost too wholesome and fresh-faced to pull off dirty anything, let alone dirty dancing. But, honestly, I think she is a match – a bit clumsy, but purely honest. You can see her feelings in her facial expressions. I also liked the fact she doesn’t look totally polished here like a lot of the actresses we see nowadays.

Lisa, Baby’s sister. I really liked the relationship development between Baby and her sister. The 1987 version saw Lisa as aloof, selfish, and frankly a bit mean to Baby. It wasn’t necessary to expand her story-line, but I am glad there was a bit of breadth to Lisa’s character. The remake had them different from each other, but close sisters, and this is where Hyland and Breslin shone. Cue the scene where Baby reveals she is in love with Johnny – these two light up the screen. It was cute to watch.

Katey Sagal as Vivian Pressman. Vivian is a Bungalow Bunny at Kellerman’s and is a secondary character in the Dirty Dancing franchise. She basically lives at the Lodge during the week while her husband is away working. She takes dance lessons, drinks cocktails and sleeps with the staff. In the 2017 version, she is divorced, and happy about it, but still sleeping with staff. Seeing Sagal play a Bungalow Bunny was a real treat. She basically reprises her Gemma Teller Morrow role from Sons of Anarchy here. We even get to hear her sing “Fever”, and it was pretty decent.

Debra Messing and Bruce Greenwood playing Baby’s parents. Marital problems have come to a head at Kellerman’s. At first, I didn’t think exploring this avenue was necessary at all, and to a certain extent, I still don’t think so, but, I did enjoy seeing Debra Messing and Bruce Greenwood together, even if they were fighting.

Unfortunately, my optimistic lens was slightly askew and there were just some aspects of Dirty Dancing 2017 I couldn’t get past.

Jazz hands! Yes, I did say this is more of a musical. But, it seemed they shoe-horned singing routines where they should let the music play. In one scene, Baby and Penny practice some dancing, and Penny just starts breaking into song. And there was plenty more where that came from…

Hello iTunes marketing! Um, where is the classic music the original film was famous for? Most songs, with few exceptions, were remakes; even the Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley hit. What’s worse, most of it was autotuned! Can you imagine the Patrick Swayze hit, “She’s Like the Wind” remade…and autotuned? It happened! Prepare for a push of sales of the Dirty Dancing 2017 soundtrack on iTunes…this would have been partly forgivable had Dirty Dancing 2017 just been touted as a musical version…

Changing a famous line. If you are rebooting a franchise, you are allowed to take some creative liberties, and obviously, Dirty Dancing 2017 took many. But, look – never change key lines from the film. There is a famous part from the 1987 film where Baby is approached by Johnny for the first time, asking how she got into the Staff Quarters without permission, to which she says:

In the 2017 version, she says:

This isn’t the end of the world, except it was an unnecessary edit that I don’t understand the reasoning for. It was made even worse by Johnny who, instead of walking away silent like in the original, retorts:

OUCH! Sorry, but that is super lame. Why change it??

Lastly, NO CHEMISTRY between Baby and Johnny. Yes, indeed. The crux of the movie hinged on the love affair between Baby and Johnny, and I am sorry, it was missing in this film, and I blame Prattes for that. Breslin was able to convey a puppy dog crush, and all Prattes rewarded us with was an aloof jerkiness; dancing with Baby because he had to, pretending to love her because the script said so… I just didn’t feel it between Breslin and Prattes. Breslin worked her ass off here, and we got nothing but a leap off the stage and some jetés from Prattes. There was only ONE part of one scene where I actually felt there was “something” between them, but really it was Breslin and soft lighting that won it:

Armchair critics were very harsh with this 2017 remake of Dirty Dancing, and honestly, there are some inexcusable things here that are detrimental, but it isn’t all terrible. The dance numbers for what it’s worth are pretty okay, and I did enjoy the expanded sub-plots. Honestly, if I were 13 and watching this version today, I think I might have liked it a lot…maybe more than the 1987 version? I don’t know. I saw a bit of myself in this version of Baby, likewise seeing myself in 1987 Baby. There were indeed some likeable things with Dirty Dancing 2017. You may not have the time of your life, but there is no need to leave Baby in the corner.

2.75 / 5

Dirty Dancing (2017)
Aired on ABC, May 24, 2017

I’m not too late, am I?

I feel like the negligent blogging sister!

It’s been four months since I have posted anything on here, and before you express concern, nothing at all is wrong. Life is good! It’s only that my time is not my own these days. Unfortunately, the blogging has taken a back seat (I surrender, I just can’t do it all!) and there has been very little gaming happening. My daily habit of reading your blogs was also put on ice to a large degree, but I pop my head in every once in awhile. What can I say, life is taking a lot of my headspace these days. Work, a rodent infestation in our garage, and a kitchen reno since my last post have been the time avengers.

As I write, my new kitchen is wrapped up in drop-cloths waiting for paint, but the worst is over, thankfully. Those of you who I’ve friended on Facebook have seen the pics – it’s looking good! All I got to say is my father-in-law and husband are great people. I chose the cabinets, countertop and flooring, and they put it together. Love them! I mean, I helped with what I could, but they did the grunt work. My kitchen is now functional, and I love it! After the kitchen is done, we’ll be back at it with a new laundry room. I’m telling you, it never ends!

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I haven’t played much game as of late… but I have been playing the DLC for Borderlands 2 with the hubs over the holidays, and it’s been fun. I just can’t keep out of the Borderlands!

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This Christmas, the hubs and I pulled out our Christmas decorations, and even trimmed a tree! I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I think it is. It had been three years since we put up a tree. A lack of interest and our travel plans home over the holidays really didn’t make pulling out the decorations from under the stairs attractive. This year though really put us in the spirit. I bought a 3-ft tree at my local grocery store and went to town. Busting open the boxes of ornaments was a fun experience. I had forgotten all of the ornaments we own, including some old-timey ones from my mom, and Star Wars ones we’ve received as gifts. We even got into the Christmas spirit outside, as my husband strung some lights around our front door.

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As we close out on another year, I would be remiss if I didn’t address all my “favourites” passing away, particularly George Michael. Gosh, that one hits me. In case you didn’t read my previous post on the subject, my mom always had it in for George Michael when I was growing up, and forbade me from owning and listening to his album, Faith; something about “I Want Your Sex” and my churchy upbringing, I suppose. To this day, my sis and I laugh at how she hated him. Last night, I was watching some YouTube vids of Michael’s…what a voice he had. Arguably one of the most natural voices in the music business. He sure had some great tunes too. RIP George Michael.

Anyway, this year, contrary to my past year-end posts, I won’t make any resolutions…I think I will just be and say, here’s to another year! I hope mine is full of happiness, gaming, music, love and friendship. And I hope the same for you.

Happy New Year, friends!

That Night in Markham: My Tragically Hip Story (1993)

Group post! 

Today our community of bloggers has come together to write about the Tragically Hip. In the wake of Gord Downie’s news last week, we wanted to come together and share our experience with this household name in Canadian music. Each story is unique, but with a common theme. Hope you enjoy it!

This is the story of how I got to see the Tragically Hip live in concert.

Summer 1993 was a time of new beginnings. I had just graduated from High School, and had accepted an offer to attend the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario for Visual Arts. Going to Western was something I had worked hard to achieve, and made it. I was looking forward to the change of scene by moving away from my Northeastern Ontario town of Sudbury, and was also looking forward to moving in with my sister, who at the time was also attending Western. Some big changes were afoot – new geography, new faces…a new life! And I embraced it all.

I remember the day my sis called and asked if I would be interested in attending an all-day concert of mostly Canadian bands. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as it was two days after my 19th birthday, and I was planning a visit with my sister before I made the big move down south. My musical tastes during this time were pretty eclectic – marry Led Zeppelin and Clapton with the Smiths and Canadian radio, and you pretty much have it. Canadian rock was in my repertoire. So it should come as no surprise that I was salivating at this concert’s line-up. Called Another Roadside Attraction, it was chock full of bands I was very much familiar with: Andrew Cash, Midnight Oil, Crash Vegas, Hot House Flowers, 13 Engines, Thomas Trio and the Red Albino, Richard Seguin, Daniel Lanois and the Pursuit of Happiness. Even more exciting that it was headlined by the Tragically Hip. At this point, my exposure to the Hip was radio and MuchMusic. Having had a few albums under their belt, Fully Completely had been released in the Fall of 1992, and Locked in the Trunk of a Car, as well as Fifty Mission Cap were common songs heard on the radio. I recollect, their song, Courage (for Hugh McLennon), was scorching up the Canadian charts, and I loved it. I wouldn’t consider myself a die-hard fan at this point, but I very much enjoyed their music. This was gonna be one fine concert!

The concert was to be held in a remote part of Markham, Ontario, located 20 minutes north of Toronto. The venue was the Markham Fairgrounds; basically a dirt field amid farmland.  The date was two days after my 19th birthday – July 24, and my Step-Dad offered to drive us to the event, and even pay for a hotel. A shuttle bus would drive us back to civilization to the Markville Mall’s parking lot where my Step-Dad would pick us up afterwards.

The day of the concert, my Step-Dad dropped us off early enough to catch the first act, Andrew Cash, on stage. The day was hot and humid, and not a cloud in sight. Hats and sunscreen were in order. At this point, it was easy to get into the venue; It wasn’t yet packed full of people, and my sis and I were able to get right up to the stage to see many of the bands play. The fairgrounds were dusty with a hard dirt floor. To be honest, everything was pretty non-descript and bare-bones. I don’t remember much about it other than there being food stands with a 200% mark-up (because we had to buy water), and a bank of smelly johnny-on-the-spots (because…well…y’know…). I have no take-away from the day – no pamphlet, or poster…I don’t remember there being CDs for sale there, but maybe there was…? And back then, they didn’t like people taking pictures during concerts – so, no pics!

The acts before the Hip were amazing, and because the venue was small, it felt intimate. It was a long day being in that heat. At one point, bouncers got out the water hoses to cool down the crowd. There wasn’t much shade, either but we persevered. The Hip were the last act of the night and we weren’t about to miss it for anything. As the time came to them coming out on-stage, the place really started to fill up, as though the Hip were all they paid money to see, and just showed up in time to see them; the Oils be damned.

And when the Hip took to the stage, it was complete pandemonium.

My sis and I stood somewhere in the back of the mostly male crowd when the Hip started, and moved a bit closer to the middle to get a better view. A mosh pit had developed almost immediately close to the stage. Meanwhile, the crowd at the back were moving their way closer to the front. Without even trying, thanks to force from the crowd my sis and I were being led forward. We weren’t noticing initially, as we paid more attention to the Hip. It wasn’t until they started in on their fourth song of the night, the Hundredth Meridian, that the crowd lost their minds, and became one large mosh pit, pushing and shoving each other. Next thing I know, I am there in the middle of this giant mosh pit! In an instant, a big guy shoved me, I lost my balance, and I hit the dirt. The scary part was when others involved in the mosh pit used me as a rug and stepped on me. I tried to pull myself up by grabbing people around me, but then I’d get stepped on and I would fall back down. Out of nowhere, this hand reached down and grabbed me by the t-shirt and pulled me to safety. It was my sis who said, ” That’s it, we are out of here!”

The incident was mere seconds, but felt a lifetime! I got away with little damage – only some cuts and bruises. I wanted to stay longer, but there was little crowd control. As it was, the crowd were almost preventing my sis and I from leaving the concert, as the whole area was now a mosh pit. I agreed – it was time to go.

Today, I live 15 minutes away from Markham Fairgrounds, and pass it by weekly. Amazing how this seemingly nondescript swath of land had a venue that hosted the Hip and a number of other bands I liked at the time. Another Roadside Attraction was one concert I won’t soon forget.

Now go read from others in the community who have shared their stories on the Tragically Hip:

Boppin from Boppin’s Blog
Aaron from Keeps Me Alive
Scott G (Guest post) from Mike Ladano
Geoff from 1001 Albums in 10 Years
Deke from Stick It In Your Ear
James from Keeps Me Alive

Thanks for reading!!

[Movie] Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Let me take you back in time…back to when I was the tender age of 12, in the seventh grade. It was an awkward time…I had a mouthful of braces, was gawky and had the remnants of a bad perm…music and movies were a means by which I could escape from the awkwardness of Teenland into a cool world of fantasy full of awesomeness. At this time, the older sis and I would frequently go to the cinema. With boredom, our proximity to downtown Sudbury, and an attempt by my Mom to get us out of her hair, we saw many movies in the theatre between 1985 and 1988. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday night.

One of my absolute favourite movies that I saw in the theatre during that time was John Hughes’ Some Kind of Wonderful, starring Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson and Lea Thompson. The movie was released in theatres in the Fall of 1987, and tells the tale of working-class high-school senior, Keith, his friendship with Tomboy, Watts, and his attraction to fellow student, Amanda, who is also from his working-class neighbourhood…but who has somehow crashed the popularity glass ceiling in high school and is part of the it crowd.

The crux of the story is Keith’s crush on Amanda, and how he plans to ask Amanda out on a date. He recruits Watts’s aid, and manages to wrangle help from the big gun skids from detention. Good thing because Keith is up against some serious shit. Amanda has just broken up with her rich, popular, and possessive asshole boyfriend, Hardy Jenns; a vindictive mec who threatens to ruin Amanda’s “rep” if she doesn’t get back with his lying cheating ass. Another strike against Amanda is having the most vile and venomous girl”friends” who abandon her when she decides to go out with grease-monkey Keith instead of reconciling with Hardy. Meanwhile, Keith is dealing with an overbearing father who is riding his ass about going to college. Then he has to put up with best friend, Watts’ opinions about his taste in girls – which is a ruse because, well, while Tomboy Watts herself dresses masculine, denounces men publicly and is accused of being a lesbian, she is secretly in love with Keith.

watts

“Guys are so sickening. Really, it must be a drag to be a slave to the male sex drive.” – Watts

In terms of characters, I thought Watts was the coolest chick on the block. First, I liked her sense of style that didn’t mirror anyone else. I mean, the girl was allowed to play drums at home (poorly, as my mature eye sees it now) but I only wished I could have ditched the piano for my own kit at 13*! She was also a strong and bold gal who stood up for herself when people called her names. Lastly, Watts was a faithful and altruistic friend, always there, willing to help Keith hook up with Amanda, all the while sacrificing her own tender feelings for him and dying a little on the inside. I liked Watts. There is a little of Watts in me, for sure. Especially the last part about sacrificing your feelings to help your male friend / crush hook up with other girls (ouch, that hurts…).

Amanda and Hardy – a match made in hell?

It’s not hard to know why sexually frustrated Keith chased after Amanda; she is easy on the eyes and in the bedroom. What I don’t get is why Hardy Jenns (that’s right, with two “nns”), her asshole boyfriend, would need her. The movie has him successfully chasing tail all over high school while dating Amanda, using his popularity to get his way. …And uh, why is he popular? He’s a conniving donkey! Amanda isn’t much better, really. In fact, her behavior is pretty vile, purposefully agreeing to go out with Keith to make Hardy jealous, knowing how Keith feels about her. (Can you tell I’m not a fan of Amanda’s?)

keith-nelson-some-kind-of-wonderful

And while we say Keith gets the stubby end, he doesn’t fare much better with me. He’s cute with gorgeous blue eyes, but makes some questionable choices. He is an amazing painter with tons of potential, and instead of studying Fine Arts after high school like he wanted to, he decides instead to blow his entire first year College tuition on a pair of diamond earrings he planned to give to Amanda on their first date. Although considered a romantic gesture in my 12-year-old mind, I remember thinking that this was a pretty stupid move. I was not surprised his Dad blew a massive gasket.

duncan

The best character in Some Kind of Wonderful was Duncan, played by Elias Koteas. He is the leader of the detention pack who helped Keith get his date with Amanda, and uses his muscle to eliminate some of Hardy Jenns’ obstacles. Duncan has an attitude that goes against the societal grain – he has a rough skinhead exterior, counters authority, but overall he sees the good in people and is kind. I like him because he is the only one who is completely transparent – what you see is what you get.

some-kind-of-wonderful_still5

I know it may seem like I’m picking apart Some Kind of Wonderful’s characters and plot, but for all its faults, I have loved this movie from the first time I watched it. It has all the elements that would attract a young teen girl to its story – conflict among peer groups, the desire to fit in, and the need to break free of the rules laid out by parents…. The strongest one here is the complexities of love and relationships. Hughes took imperfect and complex characters and crafted an interesting yarn that is still watchable today.

And now, some fun facts about Some Kind of Wonderful in my life:

  • Saw it in the movie theatre, November 1987.
  • Never rented the movie on VHS – it was never available for rent!
  • Finally taped the film onto VHS off of First Choice Superchannel… it was an awful print (thanks to SLP…), and the audio was baaaad. I have since acquired a DVD copy, and was amazed the first time I took it for a spin that I could finally clearly hear what everyone was saying!

Some Kind of Wonderful
Writ/Dir: John Hughes
1987

*Made up for it at 28 when I had my own house and my own rec room…and my own drum kit.