something to look at


a little while back i was talking with johnny smith about how much our culinary horizons have broadened in recent years. not to blow our own brass instruments too much, but at this point i think we make quite a few meals at home that rival some of the better dishes we’ve eaten in restaurants.

i thought it would be fun to document some of our creations. so i started doing that, taking the occasional picture with the trusty little pentax point-and-shoot camera i’ve had since this blog’s infancy.

the image at the top of this post is johnny smith’s famous chili. for my money, the only chili in the universe that rivals it is the vegetarian chili they serve at with the grain in guelph. that stuff is godly. all others pale in comparison.

here’s some shrimp linguine. we take the tails off our shrimp. you hear that, lazy restaurant chefs?!

this is one of the roughly five thousand salads i’ve made between the hours of two and five in the morning. i put a picture of one such salad up on facebook a few years ago. to this day it’s the most likes and comments anything i’ve posted has ever generated. share some music you’ve been working on for a long time and are proud of? twelve people like it. share a picture of a salad? it gets a hundred likes.

good old facebook — ridiculous to the last drop.

here’s some jambalaya. the picture doesn’t begin to capture how good it tastes. one of the keys to its power is the honey garlic sausage. you gotta go all-out when you’re making jambalaya.

french toast with strawberries. because why not?

chicken greek salad. do you think we put enough black olives in there?

improvisation on a nicoise salad. take it from me: those fresh artichokes are sex.

salmon salad. i think maybe we like our monstrous salads…

now, here’s where it gets interesting. i snapped a picture of tonight’s dinner with the brand new camera, just for something to do. didn’t dig into any of the manual settings. i was hungry and impatient. i just pointed it at the food, got it in focus, and pulled the trigger.

so here’s steak stir-fry.

the difference in clarity between this and the pentax pictures is blowing my mind a little. i think i like this camera.

so yeah. i guess this is a food blog now, at least until i post something music-related again in a few days.

proof is sample. sample is proof.

i got a proof. or a sample. or a prample. or a sproof. please ignore the crooked staple (which i put there to keep said sample together) and what the camera’s flash did to the picture of the umbrella (making it look washed-out when it actually looks really nice). i’m really happy with the way this font ended up coming out on the page. i was afraid it might bleed a little, but it looks like it came right out of a real manual typewriter, with none of the “nice try but you’re just a pretender” feeling you get from some typewriter-based fonts.



if i didn’t make any bone-headed typos anywhere, i’ll give ’em the go-ahead to start making the booklets and inserts tomorrow. a release date next week is looking right on target now. progress! palpable progress! it’s a beautiful thing.

back me up.

BACKUP CDS batch 1

at long last, all those backup CDs are organized and the “database of stuff” is up to date.

if you’ve been over here at any point over the past few years, you’ve probably seen the mixing desk — not an actual “mixing desk”, but a massive, hulking thing with steel casing that holds the mixer, mic preamps, and other relevant outboard equipment — littered with white CDs, some labelled, some not.

for the first time since i can’t remember when, those are all gone. well, not gone, but redistributed. they’re where they’re supposed to be.

some of them are on that shelf up there. it doesn’t look like it, but there are a good dozen or so boxes hanging out there. some of those rows run three deep.

i was trying to figure out where the rest of the boxes could go. somewhere that allowed for easy access but was kind of out of the way. then i remembered this little cabinet beside the drums. i pretty much forgot it was there after stashing some drum keys and extra sticks in there nine years ago.

i’m not sure what the people who lived here before used it for. a china cabinet or a cutlery dungeon, i’d guess. it just happens to be the perfect depth for the boxes i’m using to store backup CDs. it’s even got cute little doors to keep the dust out.

BACKUP CDS batch 2

i gotta say, it’s a little strange to have all of this organized and to know where everything is for a change. i think i’ll be able to get used to it, though.

duck duck goose.

teenage geese posternatalie is having her CD release show next saturday at the windsor beer exchange. she’s dubbed her music “flock and roll”, which is almost too perfect. greg maxwell made the poster. that guy is one talented beast.

i’ll write more about the album once it’s out there in the world. for now i’ll just say this: along with the tire swing co. albums, it’s the best, most rewarding work i’ve ever done as a pretending-to-be-a-producer person. if you’re going to record and play on songs that aren’t your own, steven and natalie are the people you want to do it with.

staff paper.

sometimes i write string parts for songs that aren’t my own, that are being recorded somewhere other than here, by someone other than me. or maybe i just did it this one time.

TO LIVING string arrangement

the top line for the second cello section is missing (printer snafu, i think), so i used the second line as the top, since it turned into that by default in the top line’s absence. not that it really matters, because that part was rewritten as something a violinist could play instead.


i’m sure some of the note values are wrong. probably should have written eighth notes or sixteenth notes at the end there. keeping track of that stuff and knowing how to represent it on paper is beyond me. but the notes themselves are right. there’s a recording with a synthesized placeholder version of the string part so the player can hear what’s meant to happen.

that i’ve even reached a point where i can scratch something like this out in a way that might make some amount of sense to someone who can sight read is a little hilarious.

you’re impossible.

zebra stripes crop more

i got a polaroid spectra 2 camera for cheap off of kijiji seven or eight years ago. i loved that thing, but finding film for it was difficult. they weren’t making it anymore, and they hadn’t made it for a long time. at first i was able to track down expired packs of film through marketplace sellers on amazon. then even the expired stuff grew scarce.

a little while back i found out about the impossible project. they make and sell new film for every polaroid camera you can think of. it’s expensive beyond all reason — when you factor in shipping charges, the shrinking scrotum of the canadian dollar, and the sad truth that you’re only getting eight exposures in a package, it’s enough to make you cry — but i thought it would be worth it just to be able to shoot with that camera again. i ordered some black and white film with a black border, because i liked the way it looked.

ended up wasting half a pack before i figured out the spectra 2 was toast and it was never going to spit out a picture that developed again. bought a different spectra 2 for cheap, again through kijiji. the guy who sold it said it belonged to his mother. she sold used cars and took a polaroid of every customer after making a sale. sometimes in the space of a few seconds you hear a small story that has so many larger stories tucked inside of it you know you’ll never get to hear. this was one of those times. can you imagine the photo album that woman had, and all the memories it held?

i wasted another few pictures in the process of discovering impossible film is aptly named. it’s very sensitive to light. if you don’t cover up a picture in the first few seconds after it leaves the polaroid womb and then keep it covered for at least a good ten minutes before peaking at it, it’s not going to turn out at all. all you’ll get is a milky haze, maybe with the ghost of what you saw through the viewfinder lens hidden in it, maybe not.

after all of that was sussed out, i started taking some pictures that were more than haze. i think it was steven who first came up with the idea of taking a picture to represent each proper song (not counting the “afterthoughts” that act as segues, siblings, and rhythm-breakers) on the O-L west album, with an aim toward making a collage out of them. i wasn’t expecting the temperamental black and white polaroid film to become a part of this, but there’s something there — a quality to the image when everything lines up right with a well-enough-composed shot that develops the way it’s supposed to. you get something that looks like a picture taken a very long time ago and forgotten for decades.

it’s been an interesting challenge trying to come up with images that play off of the songs. you don’t want to hit it too hard on the nose, but some things are just too good to pass up. i wanted to take a picture of the walker power building (“the old peabody building” to most people, though that isn’t its true name), because it was the inspiration for a lot of the imagery in the first verse of a song called “trespassing”.

i shot it from a bit of a distance. the picture didn’t turn out. then i got closer and saw a “no trespassing” sign, framed by vines. maybe a little obvious, but man, it made for a good picture.

with other songs it’s been a little more difficult. what kind of picture do you take to represent a song that’s a pitch-black story of two brothers murdering their abusive father and hitchhiking out of town? i came up with an image i liked that commented on the theme without getting too obvious, but it took some time to get there.

of the twelve songs that need pictures, there are only two stragglers left. one of those is easy. i already know what the picture’s going to be. i just need to take it. the other one’s been a bit of a pain in the ass.

some of these pictures are more striking than others. a few didn’t turn out as well as i hoped and only really work in the context of the collage because they’re small enough not to call too much attention to themselves. but there are a few i’m really happy with as standalone images. that’s one of them up there.

a collage that didn’t make it.

PG collage black

here’s something that almost made it into the booklet for STEW, but didn’t quite get there in the end. i wanted to put some pictures of us in there and thought the easiest way to do that would be to grab some video stills and make a collage. i liked the way it turned out (ted and stu are in there too!), but when i was putting everything together for some reason it felt more appropriate to keep the booklet image-free.

here it is anyway.

cough on me.

the trend of getting sick just as i’m about to finish a thing continues. i’m not sure how many years it’s been going on for now, but i know it’s been a lot of years, and a lot of things.

this STEW album is finished, for all intents and purposes. it’s been sequenced. it has an album page on ye olde sidebar of blog. it has artwork and a layout and all the things it needs to look presentable. a few mixes need a bit of last-minute tweaking, and one vocal part needs a bit of touching up, but that’s it.

i was going to tie up the loose ends in the first half of this week and have the CDs assembled and ready for public consumption by friday at the latest. i got a good start on the weekend. then i got a cold.

when i get a cold, it’s a SUPER MEGA COLD. only the most frustrating cold will do. none of those wimpy “gone in a few days” colds. and nothing gets done until the super mega cold is gone, unless there’s a song that needs some froggy sub-leonard cohen baritone singing-and-coughing (there never is, except for those times when the voice won’t naturally go to the froggy place).

so it’s going to have to wait another week or two. but as proof that my ass was fully in gear before the cold came along to derail it, here’s a proof i had made to get an idea of what the final product would look like (final inserts/booklets should be ready on thursday).

STEW front

at least now i have an excuse to catch up on some reading i’ve been meaning to do. so that’s something.

life takes on a whole new hue.

the first ever O-L west show is happening tomorrow. that’s the day after today. that’s getting close now. should be interesting.

we’re all going to take turns singing. here’s one of natalie’s songs. i think it’s one of my favourite things on her album, though it’s hard to choose. public domain footage comes from dreams that money can buy, which is full of so much strange goodness, i expect to use it for at least six more DIY music videos.

i’ve been looking so long at these pictures of us, i almost believe i’m veal.

joey acott came over to take some pictures while music was being made. here are a few of those pictures. here is the story they tell.

steve plays while i walk away

we begin with me sleepwalking and steven valiantly trying to get something going.

i think i'll put these headphones on

after snapping out of it, i think about putting on a pair of headphones. that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re recording, isn’t it?

steve is smiling

steven thinks it’s a good idea.

mic placement

“i must record the sound of your heart! for science!”

on the porch closer in

all that moving microphones around and making sounds gets us feeling the urge to perform for an invisible audience, so we break for an impromptu porch concert. there are sixteen encores.

dave is deep in thought

dave comes by. “the colour of your shirt has changed from what it was before i arrived,” he says. “you have given me much to ponder.”

me mixing, dave thinking

“yes,” i say. “the fabric that cloaks my nipples and torso hair has become blue with the dimming of the day. but fret not. you sing now.”

dave singing, me mixing

and so he sings, and it is righteous, and a can of beer sits atop a stool and swoons as only a can of beer can.

playing piano while dave watches

we pause so i can play “i’m so excited” on the piano. dave approves.

jim is listening

jim arrives to lend his voice to some group vocals and says, “THIS is how you wear a pair of headphones, my friends.”

steve laughs, dave ponders

“you wear those headphones like a true lord of sound,” says steve. dave can only avert his eyes, such is the power of the moment.

jim wonders if you're talking to him

“i don’t know…there’s nothing in this song about the secret lives of tap-dancing sardines. i have to say i feel a little let down. but i’ll do it. for science.”

dave likes the voice transformer

“places, everyone! you heard the man. FOR SCIENCE!”

jim and dave group vocals

this song…this song…some crazy person wrote this song…tra-la-la…they say he is reclusive…but how is that conducive…to what we’re doing now? oh, grilled cheese for malcontents, how you gooify the night.

slouching over the mixer

“i can’t believe i just got some friends to sing a made-up word like ‘gooify’. this is the greatest moment of my life. just a little more bugle in the mix, and we’ll be golden.”


dave raises his fists in victory, and our hearts soar as one.