The return of Mayor McCA

Back on June 6, I lamented the lack of interest there is in determinedly indie Canadian musician Mayor McCA. How wrong — or premature — I was.

I just heard from Mark at Sonic Unyon records that not merely does the Mayor have a new CD out, but that they’re sending me a copy! Whee!

Better yet, the Mayor is playing a free show later in the month at The Horseshoe, Toronto. This is all on his website, mayormcca.com, along with a track from the new album. Great stuff!

Stumpy!!!

stumpy4.jpg

I just got a classic bike from a small ad in a bike shop: a mid-80s Specialized Stumpjumper — with ultra-relaxed 69° angles and retro tiny main tube diameters — converted into a singlespeed.

The frame’s a little rusty, but it’s still lovely. The seller had done the conversion with pretty decent parts, so I’m happy as a clam. And the price was great. And it rides like a dream.

So, only 20 years after drooling over a Stumpy as a paperboy, I’ve finally got one. Wheee!!

the wisdom of chairman ralph

You know, you can’t let people like this get away with stuff like that because if it’s a pie today, it could be something else tomorrow.

 — Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, after being pied at the opening of the Calgary Stampede. Thanks to The Globe & Mail for the sharp words.

and finally… Raudelunas ‘Pataphysical Review!

Raudelunas 'Pataphysical Review CD cover

Well, after many years of waiting, Raudelunas ‘Pataphysical Review has made it onto CD. It’s especially nice to see my name on the “Special Thanks” credits.

So how did a Scottish engineer who was only 5 when the original performance took place in Alabama get a credit? Well, long ago, I had a site about Fred Lane. Various people got in touch with me through the site, and before long I was putting members of the original collective in touch with Ed Baxter, who runs Alcohol Records.

So now, after about five years, I have the CD in my hands. It sounds even weirder than it always did. It’s still The Best Thing Ever

happy birthday to, erm, me

Jings, 12418 days old today.

Through the wonders of gift exchange (where geographically diverse families agree to spend an amount on each other, then buy something for that value; saves mailing stuff) I got a used but gorgeous Zero 2000 camera, all teak and brass, from my sister and my parents. I took this with it:

Light Streaming through Leaves
(image links to a larger version at photosig.com).

And now, to a birthday breakfast …

a great place to be *from* …

[Bit of background here. I’m Scottish, but I live in Toronto. Canada is big, Scotland isn’t.]

There’s this thing I like to call The East Dunbartonshire Conspiracy. I used to live in Kirkintilloch in East Dunbartonshire. It’s a small central Scotland town, rapidly becoming another suburb of Glasgow.

Since coming to Canada, most of the expat Scots I have met are from East Dunbartonshire:

  • The LCBO guy in Toronto Union Station is from Kirkintilloch, about 100m from where we used to live.
  • Another LCBO guy on the Danforth is from Bishopbriggs, where I used to work.
  • The GO Train customer relations person who called me about the new proposed train station at the end of our street (yay!) grew up in Bishopbriggs, and has relatives I think I worked with when I was at Collins, the publishers.

So what’s this all about? Why are so many people leaving East Dunbartonshire for Toronto? Is it the horror of living at 56°N, with dark, windy wet winters? Who can say?

damn your photoshop, sir!

I’ve decided I really loathe all those composited, over-sharpened retouched images that folks spew out of photoshop. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

To this end, I will mostly photograph without lenses for a while, using pinholes. A small gallery of mostly pinhole images is here (or possibly here: Pinhole).

After all, as Cartier-Bresson once remarked to Helmut Newton: “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”

what’s this ear?

Stewart’s first theory on the evolution of punctuation: the question mark is a stylized representation of an ear. Because a query expects listening, an ear symbol would make sense here.

Mind you, I did come up with that at 3am …

they don’t make ’em like they used to

I heard today that my old HP DeskJet 500 printer is still going strong. This thing must be about 13 years old (I bought it to go with an Amiga 500), and it had some pretty heavy use in the four years I had it. This included printing Catherine’s and my theses — long nights with a spare cartridge and a brutally expensive ream of Mellotex paper.

I’ll bet that no manufacturer makes printers with that kind of staying power these days.

pinholes

I would have told you about my success with pinhole photography last night, but Toronto Hydro decided we didn’t need electricity. Here’s our backyard during a thunderstorm, taken on a 8×10″ paper negative in a modified mailing box. Effective aperture is f/75, exposure time 24’45”. Photo paper makes slow film!

backyard

“What a Life!” lives!

Lady Goosepelt

After about a year offline, I’ve put the book What a Life! back online. Someone asked, you see. It’s here. You’ll like it.

I’m glad I was careful with the markup back in 2000 when I did it, ‘cos it only needed minor tweaks to become valid XHTML.

fishepiphany

We sampled Len Duckworth’s Fish & Chips (2638 Danforth Ave, just east of Main) tonight. Mmm. Though the halibut was not the Scottish customary haddock, it was really good. The chips were the best. I haven’t had ones this good since frequenting The Unique in Glasgow. All it needs is mushy peas, and it’d be perfect.

I was pleased to hear a few Scottish voices in the crowds. We know good food when we see it.

Christian Anderson Smith, where were you in our hour of need?

Norvin just lent me a great CD; Welcome to McCALand, by Mayor McCA. It’s exactly my kind of music — quirky, folky, trippy, witty. Think Robyn Hitchcock sings Of Montreal.

What’s sad is that Christian Anderson Smith (aka Mayor McCA) doesn’t have a major recording contract. I had to go direct to the distributor, Sonic Unyon (phone 905-777-1223) to get his CDs. There’s no justice.

mmm

Just discovered Reese’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. They are so good.

For various reasons, I don’t eat “brown” chocolate. I love Reece’s Pieces, and so these are perfect. But with 910kJ per pack, I won’t be eating too many.

Typically, these things are a time-limited edition. Sweets I like always get discontinued. I guess that’s why I make my own.

is this thing on, eh?

Since this is my first entry in my first blog, I think I’m supposed to quote something clever:

For imperial Britain, rapid expansion overseas was a sign not of economic strength but of underlying weaknesses at home. An empire that looked impressive and invincible on the map later proved to be remarkably fragile, shrinking much faster than it had grown. — Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, Afterword.

I’ve just re-read FFN, this time in the extended edition. It’s better the second time around. And he’s right about Conway’s burgers in Colorado Springs — they’re that good.