Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our Busking Year: If We Had A Hammer....


.....We'd Find Her A Beer In The Morning

A Mr. Beer that is.


Mr. Beer 'N Hockey
, who relies upon the Guiding (Bertuzzi) Principle to keep himself on the not-so straight and narrow at all times, has this huge dog that he and his partner Sonja call 'The Hammer'.

And this dog is probably the gentlest of gigantic canines you'll ever meet.

How do I know this?

Because today I met Mr. Beer, who himself happens to be just about the best raw-as-white-light-wordsmith living and working anywhere within a hundred miles of the Big Muddy (PacNorthwest version), when he stopped by with The Hammer during our Buskateering session deep in the deepest east end at Trout Lake.


We'll have film of this week's festivities at 11 (and/or Wednesday, which ever comes second), but for now you'll just have to make do with a musical montage of last week's outing in the nearest west end, below...

Late, late just-before-bed Sunday Night Update: Have now had a look at most of this week's raw footage and I'm pretty sure that Mr. Willcocks will soon get his wish regarding a certain line from a certain Darnielle song sung overtop of a Uke Strum-O-Rama.....Will just take a couple of days to get the editting done ....
Oh ya.....If you want to see another hammer of a very different kind indeed, check out this slice of pure sartorial splendor (play it all the way through - it's worth it).....

eteba!!!.....I can see you cruising by every once in awhile when you pass through from Cathie's place....Drop us a note in the comments when you get a chance and let us know how you're doing.....


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Let's Go Busking!

When: Sunday Jan 31st @ noon
Where: Vancouver's Trout Lake Park - at the north end where the dogs roam free!

(....for those who have been waiting for it, footage of last week's festivities is now up, here)

Thanks Billions to our good friend Laila for the fantastic photo above of 'The Buskaleros', my two E.'s and her C. last weekend at Sunset Beach....and the stringed instruments pictured in the new banner head as well!
For an explanation of the genesis of 'Our Year Of Busking Dangerously' project......please go here.
And for not-so-dangerous busking on the abandoned bandstands of London, check this fantastic site out.
Oh, ya, and if your Irish (or maybe even if you're not), Vote Mundy, for best MeteorMale, or some such thing....Instructions, both hilarious and touching, will follow...... here.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Favourite Sweater


My Grandma E knitted the sweater pictured above when I was still in Gradual School.

Which is a long time ago now.

In fact, yesterday, I was leading a seminar with a new batch of cell biology graduate students and we were discussing "differentiation-dependent changes in G-protein-coupled signal transduction" when one of the kids brought up a paper I wrote back when I was still one of them almost twenty years ago.

But, for the record, the sweater is older.

And I still wear it during at least one gigantor undergraduate lecture each year.

A no-longer-kid who left my lab a while back, and who is now on her way to work at that West Coast private school that plays Berkeley every year in the 'Big Game', really likes my sweater because, she says, "It seems like something Jughead would wear."

The no-longer-kid also, and only half jokingly, always asks if I'll give her the sweater.

I always say no.

And I am not joking.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not as proud of that no-longer-kid as my Grandma E. was of me.


Just before she passed away, in 2001, Grandma E., who always liked to tell people, especially real doctors, that her Grandson was also a 'doctor', asked me if I was ever going to finish going to school.

At the time I'd already been holding down a 'real' academic job long enough that I also had tenure.

Which meant that I was a lifer.

So I smiled and told her no - I was going to go to school until I retired, maybe longer.

Not sure what she thought about that.


When Grandma E. died, our older daughter Bigger E. was eight.

Tonight, she asked me if she could wear the sweater to school tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Friday.

Jan 29th.


Which makes it Bigger E.'s 17th birthday.

Oh my.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Our Busking Year: The Week 4 Line-Up



Monday Morning Post-Busk Update: We missed Bob, who has one of the cleverest 'double-meaning' blog names ever, because he had to take off for work before we arrived...And we also missed Mr. Beer, Sonja, and the The Hammer because they were too busy doing middle-of-the-winter-not-so-springly cleaning (or some darniferous thing or other)...But no matter, because we will catch them all at a later time and place yet be determined.....And besides, our day was positively made by a visit from Laila, her husband M., and her two wee ones, tiniest R. and the strapping C. .....Man, that C.....He sure can wail the harpoon (see: McGee, Bobby for a reference)....Film coming, if not at 11, maybe/hopefully by mid-week....Bye for now, and as the two E's and me yelled at each other as we hopped out of the VW (not-so) Microbus and scattered in all directions for school and work this morning.....


(Pssst......Scroll on down for Week 3's video, or go here.)

This Sunday (the 24th) the two E's and me will be playing a double-header for the 4th week of our Busking project.....

First, late Sunday morning (11-ish) we will be at the English Bay/Sunset Beach dog park almost under the Burrard Bridge behind the Aquatic Center in the almost Westend....And we'll be looking for Bob to stop by and provide backing vocals as one of the Pips.

Then, early Sunday afternoon (1-ish), on our way we'll stop off at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park and camp out for awhile under one of the Tai Chi Arbours near the fountain and the Conservatory keeping one eye on the lookout for Mr. Beer, Sonja and the Hammer....Geez, I just realized we better polish up a D.B.T. tune....

Until then (or if you, like the rev, just can't quite make the nut to get to Lotusland on such short notice and/or because of the long swim so that you can join us in person), here's a taste of what we were up to last week.....


And just in case you want to visit it, our Youtube page for 'The Project' is.......WeThreeBuskateers...

Oh, and just in case you missed it, Mr Hansard and Ms. Irglova busked the sidewalk in front of the Radio City Music Hall last week and then went inside and turned one of Springsteen's best pre-Nebraska ballads ever into truth and beauty all over again. Truly...

On a completely unrelated note......Don't know about you, but when VANOC started bleating about how they didn't want us to drive yesterday so that they could 'practice' for those days and weeks when we won't be able to drive for real because their cavalcade of shiny white Buick SUV's will be tieing up the best lanes of every single major arterial in the city 24/7, well.....It just made we want drive back and forth across town a hundred times or more for no good reason at all.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Busking Year, Week 3: "I Saw A Pit Bull Cross The Sea..."


Not really......

The crossing of the pit bull and the sea, I mean.

But littler e. and I did come up with an original tune, in the key of G, involving a pitbull, the sea, and an orange frisbee.

Sort of a metaphor, handed to us by e.'s friend m. during the making of the crepes late on a lazy Saturday morning, for the fear and hysteria that can be whipped up when so-called, oh-so-scary "invaders" from afar arrive at your shore.

Or some such thing.



The Sunday of Week Three was crazy.

Really crazy.....

After a sleep-over pick-up and a stop for eggs, toast, hashbrowns and sausages at the littler e.'s favourite just off-campus restaurant, we still managed to get started relatively early, around 11am, at Locarno Beach where we found a table, dedicated to dear Margaret and Gerald Hart by their family, under a big rain-shielding cedar, and got down to work.

littler e., in addition to playing bongos and capturing a big whack of raw video (yes, the image at the top of the post is a sloppy capture from one of stay tuned....), also let fly with an original Uke instrumental that got her a standing, well, walking actually, and clapping ovation from passerby.

It was a blast.

Then, after a lunchtime play-date drop-off for the littler one at her friend p.'s house in Kits, I eschewed the grant reviews for a while and instead made a beeline for the Spanish Banks dog-park for a quick set all on my lonesome, what with Bigger E., C., and the Whack-A-Doodle being away in Victoria with the Uke-wielding German Metal Head exchange student girls (honest, it is literally true that).

I got down to alternating the ballads with the pounding at this stop, and soon foot-tapped a six foot square patch of beachsand flat....Even got a nice young couple to hangout with their retriever on a nearby log for a bit while I used the harmonica to great effect on both Hallelulah and Falling Slowly before sending them on their way with Rusted Root so that I could let go and finish things off by stomping my feet to a different beat with a fused BMFA/Astral Weeks string-breaker/smash-fest.

Finally, after nightfall, homework, and an inital muck-about with the raw video feed on our new machine that The Woz would probably barely recognize before he threw it out the window, Bigger E and I headed up to the top of the Littlest Mountain and played under the swirl of the drizzle and the falling of the fog against the lights of the fountain.

It was beautiful.

Really beautiful.....

What with the rounds, the couple that sat down under an arbour right nearby to listen to almost the entire set (and/or to watch the fountain with their coffee mugs and mufflers), and the fact that we managed to hit a harmony or two that caught smack-dab right in the middle of my throat.

Or was that my heart?


What a day.

O.Y.O.B.D, Week Three:
Venues: Locarno Beach East under the trees; Spanish Banks way, way, way west with the dogs where the RV's will soon be parked for the duration of the Circus; Queen Elizabeth Park, under the TaiChi arbours by night and fountain light....
Set List: Pretty much Week Two all over again, only with a whole lot more Hansard and Christopher, both in music and in spirit, as well as the two 'originals' mentioned above...

Number of Not-So Bad, Non-Evil Green Empire Coffees: Three for me, the first from the 'Only U Cafe' just off campus, the next from Cuppa Joe's on 4th near Dunbar, and the third, after nightfall, from homeground espresso beans (probably could have done without that one, if truth be told)...
Number of strings broken: Two....The oh-so-common high E, as well as the big fat 2nd A string - Evidence, it is hoped, that I really was bashing while out on the Banks with the Spanish Dogs....
Working on: Long December by the Counting Crows and a whole lotta Hank Williams for my Pops - I mean, really, when you think about it, there is so much fantastic stuff already written, piled high atop all the even more fantastic stuff that came before it, that, well.....Why should anybody who just wants to play even bother worrying about trying to write 'real ' originals?
And thanks to Cathie From Canada ('s Heart of Hearts Land)..... Just for noticing, and for posting up some inspriationally raw Janis which, by the way, we've already loaded onto the MP3 player in the Gypsy Caravan (a.k.a the VW [no-so] Microbus).....And in case you didn't know it....the Zamzar - it's a (still free) wonderful thing.
Faces We'd Like To See In The Passing Parade One Day: Well, in addition to the usual suspects on the sidebar (you most definitely know who you are), how about our good friend and Interwebzical friend, Jon, who pushed us towards the real thing back when it was just a gleam in his "Saturday Night's Alright for Uke Cover-Fightin" lovin' eye (and ya, man, we're comingyour way.... this watch out!)


Friday, January 15, 2010

Our Busking Year: Week 2 - Coffee Songs



Week 3 (Sun Jan 17th) is going to be crazy!.....Bigger E is on the road with a gang of maniacal Uke-wielding exchange students who are going to aurally assault the waves at French Beach on the Island (video of that to come, I'm sure)....So that means it will be just me and littler e. on the home front.....She and I will be hitting the far Western end of Spanish Banks (where the little dogpark beach is) at about 11:oo am this Sunday.....More on my travails trying to get a busking license that involves kids to come (apparently the City of Vancouver has a pretty strong aversion/paranoia about musical Fagans)....And to Mr. Beer, Sonja and the Hammer (what, no Hunke Bill?), we plan to hit the top of Little Mountain again next week....

Finally, for anybody that cares - the Lotuslandian Fog/Cloud lifted just long enough today to reveal the top of Cypress Mtn where a bunch of the Circus' Nordic events are to be held.... And guess what - There is essentially no (as in none/nada/zippo) snow up there - Ha!


Young Derek would like to take my order (..."Hi!")...

He works at the coffee shop just up the street (..."Mornin'!")....
He's happy and annoying with a smirk the size of Texas...
He's my Coffee Enemy.....

Don't want to smell like an espresso....
With your coffee-scented soap...
...."Well, maybe you should have some Chai Tea"
......"Or maybe join me for some Tai Chi- C'mon!"
The Arrogant Worms - The Coffee Song


I didn't get the 'Street Entertainment License' in time for Week 2 (stupid work!).

So, instead of venturing far afield, we returned once again to the top of Little Mountain and pulled out our instruments beneath the Tai Chi Arbours.

It was just Bigger E., me, and the Whack-A-Doodle. Of course, the latter made friends wherever she went, orange hockey ball-in-mouth. This included little kid pictured below who spoke Spanish, which gave E. a chance to try out hers.

Her Spanish I mean.

Unfortunately, littler e. bailed on us again to go to the movies with other even littler kids and Mom (both thumbs 3/4 up!). So, once again, we were short our percussionist/videographer. But e. did promise to return next time, provided that she is not working on her video side-project that day which is titled, 'What's goin' on with Gina', and which is also actually considerably funnier, not to mention wittier, than pretty much everything on the Family Channel times a million (or 10).

We began our outing at Solly's on Main where the bagels are excellent, as are the Americanos. As for the regular coffee? Not so much. Here's the thing though - what are all the shops and stores and cafes along Main in the 20's and 30's going to do when their business disappears during the entirety of the Five-Ringed Circus because nobody will be allowed to park within miles and miles of the new Curling Rink (oops!..... sorry, slipped back into 'irate-speak' for a moment there).

In the end, we played for a long time - almost three hours. And more folks hung around for a bit this time, including a Little Rascals look-a-like named Sam whose Dad finally had to scoop him up and whisk him away because his Mom was waiting in the Conservatory.


Today's set-list was large, loose and unwieldy, with a slight dose of the The King.

And one of the funnest parts of the whole deal is that this time each of us took a bit of a break to just listen and chase the Whack-A-Doodle while the other let loose on their own - E. on JuNu's 'Into The Sunshine', and me on my fusion of Martha Wainright's Dirty BloodyMotherF'inA (mumbly version)/Astral Weeks (Hansard Pound version).

As promised last week, pictured below is E.'s most excellent new-fangled, electrifiable 4-stringed instrument.

O.Y.O.B.D. - Week Two:
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Park on top of the reservoir, stomping feet under the Arbours sans the Tai Chi.
Weather: Grey with bright sky off to the east; incredibly warm for mid-January.
Set List: Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton, EasyChair/HeyDay, California Stars, Lakes of Ponchetrain....In The Ghetto, This Year, The Weight, Blue Suede Shoes...... The Coffee Song....You And I, Send Me On My Way, Into The Sunshine, Hallelulah, BloodyMoFo/Astral Weeks...I Saw The Sign, Don't Stop Believin', Closer To Fine, Suspicious Minds...Folsom Prison Blues, Bobby McGee, Fallin' Slowly, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, I Bid You Goodnight.....Denton (Reprise, only louder)....
Working On: 'Winter Winds/Heart Told My Head' (Mumford & Sons) and, to, as E. put it, surprise our younger 'kids' in the audience, 'Time to Pretend' (MGMT).
Number of Not-So Good, Non-Evil Green Empire Coffees: Just one each; as I said, it was darn warm. And we only had one bagel each as well, although the Whack-A-Doodle had quite a few mini-treats when she had to be distracted from passing schnauzers, etc.
Faces We'd Like To See In The Passing Parade One Day: Well, in addition to the usual suspects on the sidebar (you know who you are!), how about Mr. Beer et al?


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Our Year Of Busking Dangerously: Week 1


.Upcoming Week 2 location, Sunday Jan 9th @ noon: QueenElizabeth Park Fountains (details at bottom of post)....


Week One was actually presaged by Week Minus-One that included warm-ups at Q&E Park in Vancouver and the flagpole sticking out of Beacon Hill in Victoria which is where C. and I got married way back when the Ace of Base were still bigger than their hair.

But, finally, things got serious this Sunday.

Unfortunately, littler e. had a previous engagement to make jewelry and play dress-ups with cousins Cora and Amy, so we had to go without percussion and somebody to watch over Rosie-the-Whackadoodle (although little eva did pinkie-swear to have the three-cornered metallic-instrument part worked out so we could let lose with a rollicking rendition of 'The Auld Triangle' during next week's show).


Regardless our depleted person-power, it was a nice enough day as Bigger E and I first fortified ourselves with Americanos, a cheese-pesto croissant, and one of those apple fritters that is bigger than a catcher's mitt from the Breka Bakery on Fraser just below 49th (ie. directly, and I mean directly, across the street from the Evil Green Empire) before heading to the top of Little Mountain where we set up shop under one of the awnings on the far side of the fountain near the (still open) Conservatory.

And then, after tuning-up, we put on a pretty good show.

Heckfire, a few folks actually gave us happy nods, and one even flashed wee smile.

But the best part was when a young couple sat down right beside us for pre-wedding pictures just as we were beginning 'Closer-To-Fine'. This resulted in my backing away a little so that the nice folks could have a better chance to hear E. sing.

Because Emily, who also works out her pipes with the youth division of this gang, was in very fine voice indeed...... And mark my words Ingrid Michaelson fans, E. will soon take over her own corner of the four-stringed world with her new-fangled, electrifiable Uke (actual model not shown above - image coming soon).

As for me.....Well, I have a bit of a cold, but it turned out that that actually helped with the Rick Danko/Crazy Chester verse in 'The Weight'.


O.Y.O.B.D. - Week One:
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Park on top of the reservoir.
Weather: Cloudy with a hint of blue; pretty warm for January with very little wind and lots and lots of families frolicking around the fountain across the way.
Set List: Lakes of Ponchetrain, California Stars, You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, Heyday....The Weight, Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton (Texas)......Send Me On My Way, You and I, Closer to Fine, Bobby McGee.....Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Falling Slowly, I Bid You Goodnight.....
Working On: I Saw The Sign (Honest!)
Face We'd Like To See In The Passing Parade One Day: Well, in addition to the usual suspects on the sidebar (you know who you are!), how about Mr. Berner.
How To Find Out Where Our Gypsy Caravan (a.k.a. the VW not-so Microbus) Will Be Stopping Next Time?....Well, we'll try and post-up the approximate time and venue for next Sunday's show here on Friday night....
Update: Week 2 location will be back up to the top of Queen Elizabeth Park right near the Fountains and the Tai Chi Arbours....In honour of the the latter we've been working on The Arrogant Worms classic....You'll be able to find us there between, probably noon and 2pm on Sunday Jan 10th (the arbours are covered, which is pretty darned important for this rain-soaked Lotusland weekend.
For Bob, who has set up shop in his new digs, which we really dig....We're working on that license, and once we have it we'll be making a compromise...You want the West End, while Bigger E. want's Stanley Park ....So.... We'll give the Cleverley Picnic Area near 2nd Beach a shot ASAP.
Finally, just so you know.....It was Haloscream (ie. JS Kit Inc.) that disappeared all the old comments, not me. I did get a chance to save 'em though, for posterity (?), all 9 thousand plus, which is pretty unbelievable when you think about it...