Monday, July 27, 2015

He means it, maaaann...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Moving day approaches, plus the Cinematheque

I'm moving this week, and I have a back injury. Ill-timed, wot? My upper right ass quadrant and the muscle above it scream in pain if I bend it or tense in the wrong way. Off to the doctor's to see if he can fix it before I have to move, in a few days' time.

Speaking of which, have I mentioned that I will be giving up my apartment in Maple Ridge at the end of the month? I will still be visiting Mom and sleeping on her couch but I spend so little time in this space - where I now sit, in fact - that it has stopped making sense to pay the rent on it. Will be splitting rent instead at my girl's, and living in Burnaby. There's a ton of writing I want to do but with the move I may be a bit distracted. Plus my back doesn't really like my office chair right now, y'know?

But meantime, holy shit, have you seen the Cinematheque program for the summer? Not only do they have some of my favourite noirs ever - like In a Lonely Place and Pickup on South Street (which I was very pleased to hear Chris D. pick as his favourite Sam Fuller when I spoke to him; and speaking of Chris D., they'll be playing the film that No Way Out - the 80's Kevin Costner thriller with the memorable part for Chris - is an adaptation of, The Big Clock, with a great Charles Laughton performance) BUT (this sentence is getting unmanageably long but I blame the codeine) they will ALSO be having a noir sidebar of pscyho westerns (Johnny Guitar and Rancho Notorious!) AND - oo! screenings of de Palma's Blow Out  - his greatest film and the one all de Palma dissenters need to actually see before they write him off as a faker -  and Pakula's legendary, strange The Parallax View, as part of another noir sidebar of 70's conspiracy thrillers. This is some seriously inspired programming, and may actually get me out to the theatre, once my bum heals. How can it be that this is the only screening of The Parallax View I can actually recall happening in Vancouver? (Granted, my memory doesn't go back to its initial release, but given the rep of this film, shouldn't it play every few years or something...?).

Plus there's also a Neil Young film retrospective! Hmmm....!

China Syndrome at Lanalou's Friday! (like, later today!)

China Syndrome by bev.davies, not to be reused without permission

One of the nicest people I've met on the local music scene is Tim Chan, the frontman of the former 64 Funnycars and current leader of China Syndrome, pictured above on the left. I suspect Tim's got a very interesting story to tell. It connects the dots from Victoria (where he played in one of the punk bands on All Your Ears Can Hear, I believe known as Ryvals, and worked in various other projects, including one with Tom Holliston of Nomeansno and the Show Business Giants called Hathead) to Seattle (where 64 Funnycars, friends to the Young Fresh Fellows, recorded an LP and EP with Conrad Uno), to Vancouver, where he's now based. I've been pestering certain local papers for awhile about doing a feature on him, to no avail as yet, but I have no plans of giving up - I mean, I was able to get a No Fun story into print after maybe ten years of suggesting one every few months, to correspond with the odd David M. gig, so who knows, maybe persistence pays off? Nevermind Tim being a nice guy, too - I genuinely like his music, think it's smart, catchy, and creative stuff (bandcamp here). They're one of the more engaging local pop bands out there at the moment, not that you'd necessarily know it from the amount of attention they're receiving! 

That said, I got nothing much to say at present bout the gig on July 24th at Lanalou's, except people should go see it. China Syndrome's last show at the Railway featured a kickass cover of Squeeze's "Another Nail In My Heart," which, it turns out, works just great with a bit more of a guitar driven power-pop presentation. Seeing it thus embedded the song in my head for weeks afterward. And then there's great originals, like "My Pal Dan," a song sort of about envy and failure and the sort of emotions that might inspire one not to attend high school reunions. It's my favourite song on their second album, The Usual Angst (which is presently available on a very limited-run vinyl pressing, by the by). I actually shot a cool little video of it on Erika's phone when mine ran out of room at the Railway, but we haven't quite figured out how to upload it yet, there have been some complications, so... uh... this is all I got right now!  

Anyhow, I'm not in Vancouver tomorrow, have been sidelined by both a bad back and an upcoming move (a bad combination, actually). I got no other press to offer. But I wish China Syndrome a very happy gig tomorrow, and hope some of y'all check them out. Hell, I won't even be seeing the Danzig gig on Monday (I thought when they switched venues to the Commodore I might make it out but it just can't be done. I'm pretty sure it will be my last ever chance to see the guy, too!). 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More on the No Fun moratorium

Another poster on Facebook... David was kind of sort of adamant that this would be a permanent moratorium... These may be your last few days to buy a No Fun 10 CD set! (Though there are future sets yet to come, like an "old" set of pre-Paul material, or a live set...).
By the way, did I ever mention that I saw the Werewolf T-shirt at the No Fun garage sale a few years ago? To my understanding, there was only ever one of them made, but there really is a t-shirt. Any man who would name a record label after a single shirt he silkscreened should be taken at his word about a compact disc moratorium. Act now!

Monday, July 20, 2015

David M./ No Fun moratorium

So David M. is declaring a moratorium on No Fun box sets, which I just interviewed him about the other week. You have til July 27th to buy yours. It is now an eleven CD set, to my understanding, including a No Fun Greatest Hits compilation, with an early No Fun rarity, "Planned Disaster." The iTunes release of this music will also be subject to the moratorium (I believe. Some lack of clarity may be present here). Act fast - and if you have questions, please direct them to David M. himself, okay? (See the No Fun: The Beatles of Surrey Facebook page for more...).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Tranzmitors and the Sonics at the Venue: Live Review

Hard to believe that the last time I saw the Tranzmitors I was writing about them for the Nerve Magazine (remember them?) when they played the birthday celebration for Scratch Records (remember them?). I guess that must have been ten years ago, now, but it seems the more things change, the more the Tranzmitors remain a consistently kickass live act. I even nabbed a bit of video of them playing my favourite Tranzmitors' song, "Look What You're Doing," which is also one of my favourite songs ever that complains about corporate media culture, right up there with X asking in "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" for the "last American band to be played on the radio" to "please bring the flag." As always, the band was fun, tight, and tuneful. glad to know they're still out there!
It was also a delight to see the Sonics, though it looks like the band had a pretty harrowing, fraught time making it happen for us - not that that detracted from our experience as an audience! Y'see, as embarrassed as bands can get when things go wrong, people have to understand: there's a certain kind of chaos that can only make an audience love and identify with you all the more, that can only make a gig all the more memorable. Perfectly played, perfectly planned, perfectly executed concerts seldom linger long in the mind, in fact. They sort of just turn into "more TV," by virtue of their ease of consumption, leaving only the dimmest impression a few years down the road, whereas gigs where it is unclear if the band is going to actually make it through without some major malfunction have an energy and dynamism to them that is unique and powerful and emotionally engaging, even if they include a few flub-ups.  
Case in point: of all the gigs I attended in the 1980's (not many) and the 1990's (quite a few), the one that stands out the strongest for me was seeing the Volcano Suns, led by Mission of Burma drummer Peter Prescott, at the Cruel Elephant on Granville, when that venue was about a week away from total collapse and condemnation. Warm summer rain was streaming from the ceiling into several industrial-sized white buckets on the stage; big sodden clumps of insulation were flumping down everywhere from above; the overhead lights were all shorted out and dark, while the floor lights were mostly lighting steam as it rose; and the band was playing soaked and shirtless in the midst of it all. No clue how it could be that no one got electrocuted, but the whole ambience - of three guys trying to make a gig work in some of the most harrowing circumstances imaginable, almost like they were playing in a cave during a tropical storm - made it maybe the most exciting rock concert I've been at. It's certainly the one I have the fondest attachment to, that lingers huge while several other shows from that time, like Tad (whom I love), are now completely forgotten.... though as is typical I barely remember what songs the Suns played that night. I think it was on the Bumper Crop or maybe Career in Rock tour, though... 
The Sonics didn't have it half that bad at the Venue, but they had a pretty rough time even getting into Vancouver, as it turns out. Saxophonist Rob Lind, who served as the voice of the band, explained during his first bit of between-song patter that they'd made a five hour drive into an eleven hour one, with a long portion of time stuck behind a fatal traffic accident on the 99 and a few extra hours spent marooned at the customs office, despite their general unthreatening middle aged demeanor. They barely made it into Vancouver in time to get their stuff to the hotel, rushing to get dressed (with a few literal wrinkles in their freshly unpacked clothes) and get to the gig on time, all the while aware of a strict 10:30 cutoff so the place could turn into some sort of hip hop club (the subject of several boos from Sonics fans in the audience, whenever Lind mentioned it). 
The general chaos meant several things: that the Sonics had to make a few adjustments with mikes and cables and such while playing their first couple of songs (!); they also had to substantially abbreviate their setlist, with several songs visible on the page not appearing at all, or popping up in some order other than what was written. A bunch of tunes weren't played - "Bad Betty," "666" (entitled on the album "I Got Your Number"), "Head on Backwards," "Money," and I think "He's Waitin'" - a favourite of mine - didn't make the cut. And here I was, already sad to see that "Save the Planet" wasn't listed!
The impromptu nature of all these changes seemed to leave certain members somewhat flustered. I particularly smiled to see Gerry Roslie, vocalist and keyboardist and author of several Sonics classics, having to turn pages of sheet music while the rest of the band played "Louie Louie," whuch is not generally a sheet-music kind of song. I suspect that he was actually looking more for the lyrics, since it was one he sang. "New guys" Freddie Dennis - who inherited lead vocals on several classic songs like Roslie's "Cinderella," and who appeared to unexpectedly have to take over for Roslie on "The Witch" for reasons unclear to me - and ace drummer Dusty Watson seemed to have the easiest time rallying and keeping things high energy, while Lind's apologetic manner was kind of endearing, and guitarist Larry Parypa just seemed to smile it all off. But the main point is, the band still rocked, overall: the set was actually far more exciting because it felt like the Sonics were negotiating an obstacle course just to survive it. The singalong for "Strychnine" was especially engaging. Alas, my one video, of their cover of the Kinks' "Hard Way," off their (just fantastic) new album, This Is The Sonics, cut off halfway through, because I didn't have enough room left on my phone....
Anyhow, take heart, Sonics: not only were we not disappointed by the fact that things weren't quite to the level of professionalism you obviously expect of yourself - we could see y'all felt bad! - but we probably got more out of the show for it all. Our hearts and good will were with you, and the chaos lent a tension to the night that was exciting to be a part of. It was a highly memorable show, and we're already ready for you to do another one! Come back soon, once these pesky European tour dates are done....
(And thanks a bunch for signing my album!).

Saturday, July 18, 2015

I dream of playing in DOA (but not really)

Right, so... half awake, half-asleep, in a strange state thanks to a Tylenol with codeine that I took for some dental pain issues I'm having, and I dream that Joey Shithead has asked me to play bass for a DOA show. I explain to him that I don't really know how to play bass and that I'd just be faking it - but he says okay, it doesn't matter, we just have to get through this one gig and we're stuck for someone to play. So I do it! We kick things off with the Subhumans' "Fuck You" - long part of DOA's set. I have no idea what I'm doing but I make some stuff up and it seems to sound okay. Later I watch myself on Youtube, and it's a very strange sensation indeed...

This is probably apropos of putting a video of Gerry Hannah, who wrote "Fuck You," on Youtube, performing at the WISE Hall the other week. I don't know yet if he's okayed the video yet (the easiest way to get his approval, since the file is so large, was just to put it up and send him the link, which he was expecting; he will yay or ixnay it presently, I presume).

In no way do I actually want to play bass for DOA, note...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Neglected gems new on Blu-Ray: Report to the Commissioner

It baffles me, having caught up with Report to the Commissioner last night, seeing it for the first time in 30 years, that the film (to my knowledge) never saw release on DVD in North America. There are so many things going for it that I can't begin to praise it enough. The stuff I remembered finding a little too overt when I saw it as a kid played just fine; the stuff I remembered being incredibly intense was exactly that; and the things I had forgotten... oh, the things I had forgotten...
First off, does anyone remember how excited I got on Facebook, in a post I made a couple of years ago, that it was none other than Bob Balaban who blows Joe Buck (Jon Voight) in the movie theatre in Midnight Cowboy? I consider myself a bit of a Balaban buff - he's one of those character actors who often ends up being my favourite part of the films he appears in. I mean, Charles Haid gives him a run for his money in Altered States, but it's such a terrific role that it's up there in my top ten character parts in cinema history. The smug, chilly, self-important movie critic he plays in The Lady in the Water is priceless. Balaban is sanctimonious and kind of evil in Prince of the City, but definitely memorable (though you can't compete with Treat Williams in that film). As a partner, too, Francois Truffaut is hard to outshine in Close Encounters, but Balaban is still a welcome presence. And of course I love his first feature film as director, the twisted Freudian meat-fear comedy Parents, starring Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt - a must see for those who like their humour dark. There's been more than one time that I've had someone propose a movie to me that I wouldn't normally leap to see where I've gone along just for the presence of Bob Balaban (sure, I'll watch Moonrise Kingdom, why not? Bob Balaban is in it! Though I kind of drew a line for The Monuments Men). He's not the only such actor out there, but if I were to formulate my own version of the M. Emmett Walsh/ Harry Dean Stanton rule that Roger Ebert proposed - that no movie can be entirely bad if it has either of those men in it - I think it might be "Balaban/ Shawn" rule (because you know, I really like Wallace Shawn as an actor, too).
Anyhow, considering my fandom here, imagine my surprise to discover that it took me several minutes of seeing Balaban onscreen in Report to the Commissioner before I realized that he plays the greasy little homeless man whose legs don't work, who bursts out in rage at passersby on the New York streets, bites jaded cop Yaphet Kotto in the leg, and occasionally drives his push-cart out into traffic. My girlfriend and Mom, for whom I was playing the movie, were treated to my practically leaping up and saying, well into the movie, when Balaban appears for a second time, "HOLY SHIT, THAT'S BOB BALABAN!" They glanced at me, as I pointed, grinning and clapping, then glanced at each other, and we got on with the film, but I was stunned. Not only is it a very early, very significant role, it's remarkably out of character for a guy who usually plays fairly buttoned-down, fussy types. He gets an AMAZING scene, too, which I'm tempted not to spoil, since it's so exciting. The film - a gritty 70's police thriller - has a couple of great chase scenes - including a foot chase worthy of Peter Hyams, involving a black drug dealer in his underwear, being pursued through the streets of New York by an idealistic young cop (these great lobby cards I found through Yahoo international image searches have a German title for the film, which translates roughly as "the lone job" or maybe "the lonely job"): 
As stunning as that scene is, the earlier moment where Balaban helps track down the drug dealer in question for Michael Moriarty is even more harrowing. I don't think I will describe it in detail - it's a very novel chase scene, but neither a foot nor car chase, exactly - but the thing that's really special about it - besides some great photography - is how much emotion goes unstated. Balaban's character is done a great cruelty by Yaphet Kotto early in the film, which is then undone by Kotto's partner, Moriarty, leaving Balaban in Moriarty's debt. When he gets a chance to pay him back, he does so with self-endangering devotion and fervour, none of which requires overt explication in the film (a lesser movie, of the kind we have now, would feel the need to put dialogue into the film to explain what's going on - "I'd do anything for him, he really saved me that one time" - but this film never once insults its audience's intelligence). It's one of those character roles - sort of like a few of Brad Dourif in The Eyes of Laura Mars - that is so good it threatens to upstage all the other action of the film.
It doesn't, though - it's merely one of many "holy shit" moments on hand.  (And rest assured, Report to the Commissioner is a damn sight better than The Eyes of Laura Mars is!). The main story of the movie goes like this: a young female undercover cop (Susan Blakely, who bears some striking resemblance to Katherine Isabelle, especially when she smiles) has been shot dead by a fellow cop (Moriarty). There is the possibility of an enormous scandal in the police department if the real story of how he ended up killing her gets out, but certain higher ups want to know the unvarnished truth, before they decide whether to cover it up or not. The investigation into what really did happen forms the meat of the story, and we get testimony from various involved parties that works us up to the present day. Along the way, there are great small turns from Hector Elizondo, Richard Gere (in his first film role!), and William Devane, among others. The film is more or less a blaxploitation movie, in the most earnest, politically-charged sense of the word, even though most of the characters are white; the grit and grimness and  70's urban despair are all akin to, I don't know, Across 110th Street or something (to say nothing of the funky soundtrack), and there's a real despair to the story of a naive idealist caught up in a cynical, hardened, self-serving system. As for the final set piece where Moriarty and the drug dealer are trapped in an elevator together, pointing guns at each other... I remembered it as an amazingly powerful scene from when I saw it on VHS in the early 1980's, and it's every bit as strong as it was to me then.
And can we say just a few words in favour of Michael Moriarty? Another great character actor from American cinema, who now lives in Maple Ridge, as far as I know - he did for years, anyhow. He has apparently been clean and sober for some time, but the only time I got to speak to him there, it was apparently during the period when he was not; he was hanging out at a coffee shop after what, from his somewhat haggard state, I inferred might have been a bit of a rough night (we gather he's had a couple of those - there was a story about him getting beaten up in the bar of the Haney Hotel that pretty much every film buff in Maple Ridge has heard). I had to briefly disturb him that one time to praise his performance as John Converse in Who'll Stop the Rain - the decisive interpretation of that character, as far as I'm concerned; there are all sorts of things I don't care for about that film, an adaptation of my favourite American novel, Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers, but by god it is PERFECTLY cast, also with great work from Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld, Anthony Zerbe, Ray Sharkey, and especially (besides Moriarty) an utterly terrifying Richard Masur, doing his career-best in the role of Jules Danskin. Anyhow, Moriarty segued, that day, into talking about how he admired Robert Stone, and how he'd written a few novels, too. I'm afraid I kind of cut him short at that point and went to get my coffee, because, you know, sorry, but I don't really need to read Michael Moriarty's novels, any more than I want to watch Alice Cooper golf - just because I admire the guy in one realm doesn't mean I need to commit fully to his work! (Plus he's some sort of Christian conservative now, and that could just get weird). But all that aside, if I ever see him again, I think I'm going to try to get him to sign my Report to the Commissioner, and tell him how much I love his work in that film, too, because damn is he good in this movie. Damn is he good. I mean, he even outshines Bob Balaban (and Yaphet Kotto, too!). That isn't an easy thing to do. 
Kino Lorber did a fine job finally getting this film out on Blu. It has a graininess to it, but it's perfectly appropriate; I'm not really a huge fusspot over image quality, but thought it looked fantastic (Glenn Erickson was impressed, too). Thanks so much for having brought this film back from oblivion; shame there are no extras, but I don't have time for them these days, anyhow. Now maybe we could see When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder, by the same director, Milton Katselas? It also sounds really interesting...
Now maybe I can use my girlfriend's enjoyment of this movie as a pretext for playing her Q? (Oh, and do note, David M., that I have just ordered Bang the Drum Slowly on DVD, on your recommendation. Yes, David M., you get the last sentence of this blog entry).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Khats, Pointed Sticks

Was fun to see David M. perform at Khats yesterday (indeed without Paul Leahy, though Paul sent a note for David to read), and to catch the Courtneys and the Pointed Sticks; haven't, obviously, seen them in years, and thought they were in great form. The new songs, too, sounded VERY tight and sharp and shiny, got me really excited to hear their new CD (which is popping up in stores now, with vinyl to follow). I was kind of lukewarm on Three Lefts Make a Right, but this one I think is going to be the triumphant career-capper the band deserves, if the songs they played yesterday are any indication. Random photos follow! (None of David, because if I got up close to him no doubt he'd have SAID something about it. Hope he sold some box sets at the show!).

Thanks to Grant at Zulu Records for having organized so much cool music this year (and apologies to everyone I didn't get to see, there were lots of bands I missed - but I have only so much energy, and Erika wanted to look at textiles for a bit! Best shopping discovery by me was Ayoub's Dried Fruits and Nuts, some really tasty snacks in there...

















The Sonics at the Venue: an early show, Saturday July 18th

You know, I don't really dig the whole "early show" thing. Even though it makes it much easier for us suburban transit-users to actually see the whole of a concert, there's something kind of no-funnish about starting a rock concert at 7pm. More than one show I've been at has been cut off just as it was starting to cook; plus it seems like a vote of non-confidence in the band to bring in an audience - though the reality sometimes seems to go the other way, since I've been at concerts where hundreds of people were present for the live music then told to leave to make way for tens of people to listen to DJs.

Be that as it may, lately I've been feeling like I have to see the Sonics - that it would be an insult to garage rock if I don't seize the opportunity to catch them just once. And I don't really care if the show at the Venue (with the Tranzmitors opening!) ends early. Plus This is the Sonics, their new album (yes, folks, THEIR NEW ALBUM) is pretty terrific. I mean, "Save the Planet" alone is worth the price of a ticket...

Re: Nestle and water

An interesting development - Judi Tyabji is explaining on Facebook that we should NOT be urging the BC government to sell our water, that it is in fact against our interests - because a push in this direction turns water into a saleable commodity, not a public resource, and opens the taps forevermore. We probably don't want our water stolen, either, mind you, so the issue is somewhat tricky, but we also probably don't want to be signing petitions about selling off one of our most valuable resources... post and comments here.

Tyabji writes: 
I have to make a statement about the growing hysteria around BC's laws on water, which terrifies me because the campaign is wrong. Do NOT demand that the province charge Nestle money, unless you want to open the door to massive water sales in BC. Please read my full statement very carefully because water is more important than politics. Context: I have been campaigning against bulk water exports since the late 1980s, arguing against the Free Trade Agreement, and later NAFTA, which defined water as a commodity eligible for export, and contained clauses locking us into sustained export levels regardless of our domestic need. Recent news stories alleging that the BC government is 'giving away' our water to Nestle and stating that the government should be 'charging a fair price' for it are dangerous. Currently, Nestle pays the same fees that everyone else pays for access to water. Nestle is on the record saying they will pay a fair price and in fact want the province to do an inventory of its fresh water. Understand this as you sign the petition DEMANDING that the province charge Nestle for water: you are lobbying our government to turn our water into a commodity for sale. That's what you are doing when you post articles and petitions. You will make Nestle VERY happy if you succeed, because then we can NEVER turn off the taps due to the international trade deals in place.

Do NOT sign the petition do NOT ask that our water become a commodity. When Environment Minister Mary Polak says “We don’t sell water. We charge administration fees for the management of that resource" she is trying to tell us this - we are NOT selling it. And that is the ONLY way we can protect it. By NOT selling it. Honestly, this campaign terrifies me. Every headline I have read is misleading and intended to make you angry and lobby for something very bad. Please share.

https://www.facebook.com/judi.tyabji/posts/10153042171231964?fref=nf

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Thoughtful dreams of Godzilla

So I was dreaming about Godzilla, rampaging around British Columbia. Unlike most Godzilla movies, the dream had little to do with the military or government trying to solve the Godzilla problem. It was, instead, a dream about denial: about how people in the dream, including me, were all trying to find a way to "live" with the Godzilla problem, trying to find a way to continue to enjoy their lives, to have sex and good food and shelter and so forth, while FAILING TO DEAL WITH GODZILLA. Godzilla was "the elephant in the room," a metaphor for the human failure to tackle overwhelming problems and do something about them - the way we're failing to deal with climate change, or such, say (or even trying to do something, personally. My lifestyle has changed not one whit because of climate change - though granted, I do not own a car, I do not take a lot of plane flights, I live a pretty low-impact life in that way, my meat consumption not included...). In the dream, we all knew Godzilla was out there. We all knew that he could pop up at any moment and ruin whatever we were attempting to get away with for our own selfish comfort. But because we all felt powerless to deal with him, we all just thought of ourselves, our own quality of life, our own safety. Near the time when I woke up, it had occurred to me that this was what had to change, that if we wanted to get rid of Godzilla, we had to confront the problem, to all actively resolve to DO something about it, collectively and committedly. Until that time...

Great Gerry Hannah show last night. Talking to him - he spent quite some time on the question of climate change - probably had something to do with the dream. (Unlike my No Fun article: all those Gorgo ads haven't produced a single Gorgo dream, David, ever).

See you all at the Khats fest...

Monday, July 06, 2015

Why is this katydid here?

Okay, here's a strange one. Erika, when I was on the phone with her a few hours ago, was mentioning an unusual green bug that showed up at her apartment in Burnaby this evening; in fact, she spotted it while we were on the phone. We'd had a pretty cool scarab sighting at her kitchen window the other week, which enabled me to relate the tale of Jung and the scarab. I asked her if the green bug was a lacewing, and she said no, it wasn't something she'd seen before.

I left it at that, but now I'm thinking, maybe it was a katydid? I wouldn't normally have suggested a katydid, because I've never seen one in BC before. There were some huge ones in Japan, but to my knowledge, katydids just aren't something we HAVE in British Columbia.

Tell that to the katydid on my computer monitor right now! I got out of bed about fifteen minutes ago, disturbed by weird subsonic thumping sounds, needing to pee, and kind of hungry. I put on raisin toast, came to my computer, and - lo and behold, discovered a smallish katydid sitting on my screen. He's still there as I type this.

Maybe there are katydids somewhere in BC that are being displaced by wildfires currently burning?Maybe Erika's green bug was a katydid, too?

He's cleaning his front feet with his mouth as I type this. I guess I'm just going to leave him where he is, let him find his own way out if he so chooses.

Hello, katydid. Thanks for dropping by.





Bowen Island vacation: some photographs

So Erika and I took a trip to Bowen Island the other day. It's amazing to me that I've only been there once before, considering how beautiful it is. It's utterly cost-effective, one of the best possible daytrips you can get from the Vancouver area; you can leave as late as noon and still have a great time there. The ferry is something like $13 round-trip, so if you pack your food for the day, with ferry and bus fares included, you can have a fantastic time for under $20 per person - assuming you like swimming in the ocean, that is (the lakes of Bowen apparently have abundant leeches and are not recommended).

To tell the truth, I haven't ever swum in the ocean before, or at least not in my adult years (I might have once or twice during trips with my parents to White Rock, as a child). It's amazingly buouyant and, where we went, quite surprisingly warm. The best beach is across the island, apparently - a bus will take you, which we missed - but there's a good one just a short walk up the hill, turning right from the ferry (the first beach you come to is closed, apparently, due to bacterial blooms or such, but a little further up, and then down a steep hill, there's a lovely swimming spot; the visitor's centre can give you better directions). Bring towels and water-friendly footwear, because the beach is really pebbly.

Anyhow, I haven't much to say about the experience: we went, we swam, we had a burger, and we came home. But it was lovely. So here are some photos... all I have time to do right now is post them.

Thanks are due to the dragonfly who allowed me to get right up close to take a few pictures. Totally fearless little fella!

At Horseshoe Bay (eat at Trolls!):



Fun with the hand dryer in the ferry men's room (soon to be Facebook profile pics):




The ferry trip:

Disembarking:

Arrival:




The swim (Erika has pics on her phone of my first venture in, then I took my phone out to photograph her). The water WAS a little cold at first:






In which I go out to join her, and continue to be a ham:












Back on the pebbly beach, as the tide comes in:





My sandals, her swimsuit. (No change rooms):


The road back to town, plus the fearless dragonfly:








A salt water pond with many ducks (including a species we had not previously seen), dragonflies, and geese:


On the ferry back, as the sun goes down:




We'll probably go back to Bowen this summer, but I think we might not need to bring a camera next time, eh? The experience has been amply documented...!