Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Orthotics, AFOs, and Childhood Memories

I've had to wear these sort of orthotics for my entire life. They go to my knee, and I've always loathed them as they give me robot legs and they give people another thing to stare at (along with my hands). They feel like plastic bags on your feet in the summer, and made me feel incredibly embarrassed and self-conscious all my life.

Today, my doctor told me (despite the fact I've been told I'll have to wear these things forever) that I don't need them anymore. Apparently, despite missing the fibulae in my legs, I don't need them! I seem to have corrected my posture and walking through taking a year of intense dance classes at school, and now all I need are shoe inserts!

I really never thought this day would come. Me and my Mum were in so much disbelief that I found myself running into my Mum's arms and smiling with my eyes closed, as she did the "I'm not gonna cry" face.

Unbelievably happy.
Julianna xoxo

Fairview Avenue Street Fair: Gig #1

I have done performances solo, but there's nothing quite like being in a band. Saturday June 25th, 2011 from 6:30-7:27, I learned how much coordination it took to keep up a show of 5 people working together. It was sort of a disaster, but sort of incredibly awesome.

After practicing for hours (and watching a load of Pokemon spoof videos and Weird Al), we walked over to Fairview Avenue to survey our audience. We were slightly freaked out to find 95% of our audience were kids under the age of 9, and that the majority of them were covered in face paint, armed with squirt guns, and riding in or on some form of kiddy transportation (scooters, mini plastic cars, bikes with training wheels, etc.). I tried to beg with my band to omit the heavy rock stuff in fear of making little 3-year-olds cry, but they said to just stick with the plan. Also, our drummer said "we gotta prevent another generation from becoming a load of Bieber fans". That completely convinced me, so I stopped squabbling with them. We packed our stuff into our guitarist's Mum's van to be transported around to the stage, and did a sound check (in which I did the noises at the beginning of Tim Minchin's Ready For This, and a bit of lame beat boxing). To our luck, we had the help of two pro musicians (an ex-Bare Naked Lady and another guy with the last name of "McCouat" who used to be in some famous Toronto band with the word Blue in it).

To be honest, it wasn't so much a stage as a porch with enough room for a drum kit, a keyboard, and enough space for three hunky guys to stand without poking each other in the eye with the heads of their guitars, but it still made me grin my face off. I wore a dark red spaghetti strap shirt with jeans and purple shoes while the rest of my band wore all black.

An accurate portrait of us

Our setlist was great, but a hell of a lot of things went wrong. We got polite applause for everything we did, but nothing enthusiastic. Also, to our advantage, the 3 year olds went home & to bed while the parents stayed, and teens appeared out of nowhere for the night's barbecue.

Alice Cooper- School's Out
I introduced this with "This is a good song to celebrate summer". We played awesomely, but paused at the second "no more pencils, no more books,"and the audience clapped, so we cut off the song half way through.

Deep Purple- Smoke On The Water
I introduced this song by saying "This is a song. You may have heard of it. It's called Smoke On The Water.", thinking of that episode of the Simpsons when there's a country musician on stage and says in his thick Texan accent: "This song is 'bout a country. You may have heard of it. It's called America.". I was slightly taken aback when my lead singer murmured to me "I think they probably have...", reminding me that not everyone is fluent in sarcasm, nor is everyone an ardent Simpsons fan. During this song, our guitarist broke a string, and we had no replacement string or guitar with us.

Supertramp- Breakfast In America
Went perfectly. We dedicated the song to Rachel, my drummer's friend, cos it was her birthday.

Gorillaz- On Melancholy Hill
I forgot how riff went, so I improvised, but it wasn't as pretty.

Electric Light Orchestra-  Don't Bring Me Down
I introduced this song saying "This song is called Don't Bring Me Down by Electric Light Orchestra". After 5 seconds of accidentally switching the microphone off, our singer replied "But we don't actually have an orchestra... in case you were confused... by the title". He turned the microphone off and on again. "But hey," I joked. "If there's a tuba player among you in the audience, come on up." The crowd laughed. "Really, come on up." I continued. "Tuba rocks". Thank god for watching comedy. It somehow rubbed off on me a bit and made me funny enough to save us from the awkward lull about whether or not we had an orchestra, and microphone issues.

When we played the actual song, I kept forgetting when the Groos bit began, and made 3 false entrances. Felt like an idiot, but it went really well overall.

Tim Minchin- Drowned
Our guitarist forgot all the chords, and we sped up out of stress. I felt like I made a mess of a beautiful song, but not to the point that I cringed after the gig.

Rob Zombie- What
I think it was here that our drummer's high hat malfunctioned. Funnily enough, the terrified kids I was expecting to see were replaced by loads of kids jumping up and down with massive grins on their faces.

Ragione- Live To Destroy
Great. They wrote this song before I joined the band, and the lyrics are unbelievably fast.

Ragione- Funny
A song I made up, and that we learned 3 hours before the gig. It went down well, although I stumbled at one point and just said "blubliblablubliblablubliblablublibla" for one of the verses. The solos were great, and after it was done, we said our names and our band's name, and awkwardly announced the gig was done after 5 minutes of me playing Peace Anthem For Palestine and the band murmuring things amongst ourselves.

At 7:27, I hugged my friend Kate (who said we rocked, contrary to what I saw), and ran as fast as I could to babysit at a house situated 7 blocks away from the party. I spent the rest of the night watching Scott Pilgrim with a 4 year old and an 8 year old, laughing with them about how many malfunctions happened in that short hour-long set, and cleaning their tabletops and window sills as they slept on the creaky floor above me.

Friday, 24 June 2011

A Small Chat About A Theistic Video

I was shown the following video as evidence for never questioning the Bible. Note: It's 10 minutes long, he has the soft teacherly voice, and he has creepy semi-enlightened music in the background.


Let me state for the record that I think it's fine if one is religious. Religious people can be amazing and compassionate people, but the bible states terribly homophobic and racist things that were the original principles of Christianity. 

It states such things like that it's a sin to work on a Sunday, or eat shellfish, or praise celebrities (false idols), or say "omg" (that'd be speaking the Lord's name in vain). EVERYONE does at least one of the above things, which according to the Bible (if the Bible is treated as a collection of facts), would make virtually everyone a sinner. So honestly, I can't believe it's justifiable to take the lessons of scripture as anything more than stories, from which you can learn lessons from. Also, by your youtube man's point of view, god is beyond logic. Now, this also means he is even beyond his own commandments. Exodus 32, with the priest running with the spear and killing the sinners. The priest who killed the people would become a sinner for killing, if it wasn't for God ordering it. For some reason, God couldn't kill the people himself to send them to Hell, nor leave the masses of sinners to live with the guilt, or somehow encourage them work through their issues with their church. This was no sacrifice for the greater good... it was just brutal, unforgiving murder, to which God is somehow unaccountable for. Rules are stretched without mercy, and suddenly the whole concept of a forgiving god disappears. Throughout the bible, God's personality just doesn't stay consistent, nor moral by even our simple standards. And if God can't meet the basic standards of the lowly human He created, He can't begin to meet the complex standards that he supposedly has that are beyond us.

Case and point. I could go on if you'd like, but it's 3 am, and I have to be up at 10:45 tomorrow. I love comments on this sort of thing, so please reply. 
Julianna xoxo

I have my first band gig!

Right, for those of you who know me may know I like piano. And if you read this blog with a burning devotion, you'll know I joined a band.

So I'm here to announce that my band Ragione is having its first gig with me as their keyboardist! It's for a street fair on Fairview Avenue from 6:15-7:30 this Saturday (tomorrow!), and I'd love it you guys could come (you guys being those of you in the area). It's gonna be a bunch of covers, and a couple of originals (I haven't been in the band long enough to learn all the songs the other members made up).

We're a bunch of rock and roll nerds. I think you'll like it.

This is us. Left to right: Lead Singer Watson, Bassist Jean-Marc, Pianist Me, Drummer Chancellor, Guitarist Isaac.

So yes, please come, because we don't want to play for the cardboard boxes we brought our instruments in. 

Julianna xoxo

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Small Ranty Poem About Canada

Canada cannot live up to my standards
I think UK is better
Yes, it can be nice here
but we're constantly having an identity crisis
We don't know whether we want to be more like the Americans 
Or more like the British
We just end up being the confused, lazy, eldest child of the family
where UK is the mother
America is the disobedient teenage child who ran away from home at 16
and Canada just stands there as the 30 year old who was kicked out of the house
cos Canada hadn't been taken the hint when UK said "Have you thought about being an independent country?"
So it tried to emulate its younger, more hip brother
But failed, because its youth was long behind them
THAT is Canada to me
Yeah, we're relatively intelligent
and we have a couple of good products like maple syrup and money with beavers on it
but in the end, 
We're just the loser older child who sat at home mooching of its mother until it was kicked out of the house
Intelligent and awkward, but never really finding itself.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Matilda, Money, and the Magnificently Marvelous Mark Watson

Right, you may think this is a blog about things that start with M's. But actually, it's about my incredibly lovely day filled with funny, caring people. I'm always amazed how kind people are to me. I've no idea what on earth I've done to deserve this, but I'm just taking it while it lasts. The luck seems to have lasted (minus that one breakdown around Xmas holidays) for a year and a half. Absurd, but unbelievably fun.

First, in the morning, I woke up late. I had a dream that I was going to die in the dark if I didn't find the thing that killed people. The answer to getting rid of the evil thing was the one tiny difference in the room. The answer was that there was one more paint chip on the porch rail, so I crushed a log like a cool burnt marshmallow while my friend's geography teacher looked on. Logical, I know.

Then, before school, I got a message from someone I only vaguely know of offering to send me a bit of lyrics and sheet music from the musical Matilda. I LOVE figuring out Matilda songs from clips from RSC previews, but I can't figure out the full songs. Today, I am VERY lucky. Plus, there's no way I can go wrong! It's sheet music (although I'm not very good with sheet music), so I can only learn it the right way (with help from my piano teacher). 

At lunch, I ran home to get some video games to then sell to my friends. I lost them on the way to school in the backseat of the car to a stupid zipper incident, but again, luckily I found them. Mum gave me a ride back to school (the kindness continued) and I made $125 by selling a 4 old games and a 5 year old Nintendo DS Lite. I feel like I may as well use money as a fan like that guy in the Cash Man ads. This will definitely help me to save up to go to Montreal in July (I will blog about this separately).

Then, I came home and the best thing of the whole day happened.

My Oxfordian British friend Cathy went to see Mark Watson do his book talk about his new novel "Eleven" and the process of making it. It was apparently an endearingly tiny gig, in what seemed to be a bookkeeper's attic sort of space. No stage, and Cathy was in the front row, about a foot away from where he sat. I would've done almost anything to see that. If you don't know who he is, YouTube him now and come back. He's a lovely comedian, and I adore his writing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3S2OjRUV6E

Since she told me about said show about a week before she went, and she offered to buy me a copy of Eleven and send it to me, signed by him (at which point I squealed in glee). She also said she'd give him a letter from me if I wrote one (glee turned to grinning so big your field of vision is obstructed by your chipmunk-like cheeks). She's unbelievably thoughtful and funny , this woman is. Makes me happy whenever we chat, whether it be about the crazy weddings she's seen as a florist in Oxford, or about comedy, or about her memories of being a little girl who moved to Canada as a tiny child, growing up in Canada, then moving to Oxford and having to relearn the British accent. She's beyond amazing. Truly great friend.

Anyways, I wouldn't even begin to think of not writing a letter for Mark Watson, so I wrote this for her to print off:
Dear Mark Watson,

I've been a fan of yours for about a year now, but in that time, I've watched, read, and listened to as much of your stuff as I can find. I just wanted to say you've made me appreciate life a little more, with the "no santa claus versus a dead mum" perspective. You can't help but be grateful with that mentality. 
Thanks for your funniness and your writing. A Light-Hearted Look At Murder is the only book of yours I've had access to (thanks to Sarah K/h2osarah), but it's my favourite book. You've definitely got another fan here in Canada, and I will meet you somehow, once I've graduated high school. Give Cathy a hug for me for her incredible kindness, and keep doing what you're doing. 

Lots of love,
Your 14-year-old, piano-playing, nerdy, Torontonian fan
Julianna xoxoxo

After the gig, Cathy and a couple of my other friends in UK went to meet him (some for the first time, others he knew from before), and Cathy gave him the letter. Dialogue:

Cathy: This is from Julianna in Toronto. 
Mark: Oh really? 
Cathy: Yeah... you don't have to read it though (there was a big line of people behind her). 
Mark: *tears open the envelope so avidly he almost rips the note inside, and reads* Apparently, he was genuinely thrilled to get it. He kept smirking and making little "oohs" and "ahh" noises when he read the note. This makes me extremely happy.
Mark: Thank her for taking the time to write me. How does she spell her name again?
Cathy: *spelled it a couple of times*
Mark: Pretty name. *signed my book*

And there ends the episode. Small and insignificant to most, but it makes me grin to the point that my eyes turn squinty, I scrunch them, and I dance around the house like a fool.
Julianna xoxo

Sunday, 12 June 2011

More Fancy Words

Punt Poles-
Yukka Plant-
Stags & Hens-
George Bernard Shaw-
Anteroom- an outer room that leads to another room and that is often used as a waiting room.

The End.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Tim Minchin is even more incredible than I thought he could be

Look, this was longer before, but it's 2 in the morning, and the internet shut down, so I lost everything. Now to try again. *cheesy grin and thumbs up*
Tonight, I saw Tim Minchin. I love the guy. But this is the best I've ever seen him. And for that matter, seen any concert or act of any kind ever.
The meetup:
Commensal, 5:00. Ate mildly overpriced vegetarian food, shared British chocolate, got signatures from my Feeter friends, and my school friends. My school friends were Winter, her Mum, Luc, Susannah, and her cousin. And it was very lovely. I gave @h2osarah (great blogger) a photo of us together from the last Tim Minchin gig we went to, signed by me on the back. I also gave her the back the books I borrowed (A Light-Hearted Look at Murder by Mark Watson & Tickling the English by Dara O'Briain, both great standup comedians).  At 6:15 we chaotically rushed through Yonge Street festival crowds, and got to the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre. My friend Winter joked it therefore belonged to her, and while she held my massive bag of stuff, I ran off to Tim Hortons with Luc.

Look, here's what I did. After seeing a comment on a blog on timminchin.com about Tim coming to Canada saying "If anyone offers you TimBits, take them",  I decided I'd do just that. I know Tim tends to want books and clothes more than sweets, so I only bought a little box of 10 across from the theatre, (with mild stress levels as my friend Luc went to the washroom and went up an elevator that was heading to absolutely any floor of a rather tall building. I was left wondering how long it'd be, and if we'd make it back to the theatre to have ample time). Needless to say, things worked out, and after buying Timbits from a woman called Aysha, we headed on our way.

Note for non-Canadians: Timbits are essentially the insides of a donut hole, made larger. There ping-pong sized donut balls, and they come in packages like this.

So with these appropriately named donut creations, we headed into the theatre. I found out where the stage door was, told Sarah where, ran back up to my seat (I had 3rd row centre mezzanine,  while she had front row centre. Lucky duck got to buy tickets cos she was at home at 10 am when the presale began... I had to wait til school ended, and even then, wait for the day after for my friends' conformations).

Anyways, after many subtle light changes that left me with many unnecessary shushes of conversations, the lights darkened, and Tim walked on. For some reason, I never remember his name being called out to bring him in. The lights just dim, and he walks out like "Yeah, hi... whatever. I'm just walking out onto the stage with a grand piano, I'm gonna do my thing..."

He began with a stunning Rock and Roll Nerd. Better than any previous live performance I've seen (maybe only the Sonisphere Rock and Roll Nerd clip competes due to the epic guitarist who just popped up. But this was the best one of him ever when he played alone). He replaced pubs with bars, and "small pants like Kylie (or Lindsay, depending)" with Brittany. There was a bit where when he sang "He will always be" and on the always, a big guy just walked in front of the lights the back, darkening the majority of the spotlight that would've otherwise been on Tim's face. He stopped. "Hey, you know that... the lights are up there right? Not down here. Not down here. And I'm not bioluminescent either." He said to the laughing audience. "I'm not made of phosphorus..." he murmured, and began at "be" again.

In between, he did a little bit about going to the hairdresser (yes, this hairdo does actually need to be cut). He said he was sitting beside  guy as they were both getting their hair cut. The other guy's hairdresser was a very beautiful woman, and as she cut his hair, he... *Tim put his coat on backwards and moved the microphone around a bit under the coat towards the pants area*.  The woman said "How DARE you do that in my shop! Get out!", only for him to say "I was just cleaning my glasses...". And then she lifted the cape. And he was completely covered with semen. He then admitted this never actually happened, but it amused him. He also pointed out how at 3rd row centre,  there were 2 empty seats. In a sold out hall. He said something like: "It's probably cos they booked so early in the sales that they forgot that the show was tonight. Or maybe they died... it's statistically possible, that in all the shows I've done, some people would die on the way to see me..." Tim paused. "Tell you what, if they show up: standing ovation. Everybody get up and clap as loud as you f**king can".

Next was Cont. Not the C word, if that's what you were thinking. It's actually called Context, in which (SPOILER) Tim Minchin sings about all the races, sexualities, genders etc. that make him mad (e.g. I don't like black people). It sounds terribly racist, sexist, agist, etc. Then after ending with "Yeah, no matter what your colour or your creed, I will judge you for no reason", he stops awkwardly and looks at the lyrics on paper in front of him. He suddenly "realizes" that half the lyrics were covered! He then starts again and says the full lyrics (e.g. I don't like black people... who risk billions of other people's money on future derivatives), and ends with "Yeah, no matter what your colour or your creed, I will judge you for no reason... but your deeds". He also changed the line about the reading over the shoulder on the tube line to subway (Canadian word for the British tube! Yay for gig-specific references!).

If I Didn't Have You. Began with VELP bit, said colouring, not tracing. Damn good wiggle.

Thank You God. I adore this song. Made me laugh the most of all his new material the first time I heard it. He began with the bit about how he wasn't doing religious material that night, and a girl yelled out "Boo! like a trick-or-treater. Everyone laughed. The Tim went on about Sam in that "you can't hear dialogue" way: "Sam said: "'Hi my name's Sam'" His name was Sam... 'I'm from Dandenong' He was from Dandenong...", and mentioned Ross Noble, which made me rather happy. I'd LOVE it if Ross Noble came to Toronto. I'd totally see that. Funny to hear this song acoustically.

Prejudice. Made jazzy! Got the audience to sing along at the chorus. There was a bit when the whole place looked exactly like a dream I had of seeing him. I couldn't help but let my jaw drop. 

Pope Song. Qur'an bit was lengthened. Instead of  ust the surplus of f**king idiots being the burner and the people who protested the burner, he added the bit about Fox being stupid enough to give the story attention.

Confessions. Not a favourite, but live, the funniest thing of the show. So well-measured and awkward. He certainly knows how to make his eyes look like they're saying "What are YOU thinking?". People later on shouted out things about boobs for the rest of the time (particularly funny when he said "If you gain anything from my shows, it's all about... " "BOOBS" "Well, yes, but other than that..." he grinned). He said "If you learn anything from my shows, it's that religion is like tupperware party. It's a bunch of people trying to give you see-through sh*t you don't need.".

Lullaby: Exactly like the youtube version. Lovely. It's a damn beautiful riff. At the end, my friend Winter whispered to me to tell her Mum "I'm SO sorry.". I have good friends.  

Storm: He began by saying "It's almost over now...". The audience said "Awwwww..." as expected, to a reply of "Don't worry... the next 2 songs are very very long." Then he said, "This is a nine-minute beat poem", and I could not even begin to stop grinning. The audience screamed and applauded, and he said something to the effect of "Big fans of poetry here in Toronto? Or did you just get a bus of college and uni kids to come in like 'Yeah! Poetry!'"He spoke along to the Storm Movie background, and fumbled sweetly on "bright and light-hearted" by saying "light and bright-hearted", then correcting it. His voice was even more emotional and excited than any CD or YouTube version. He would add extra lilts in his voice and details, like yelling "AHH!!!" before saying "the f**king JANITOR... or the dude who ran the water slide" and changing Basprin to Vagasprin. Of course, he had that glass of red wine in his hand too. Made me so happy.

Dark Side: As soon as he played that C# minor chord, I began to shake. I've been wanting to see this song live ever since I saw it on YouTube. The lights were a perfect blend of blood reds and black clouds, then sunny blue and orange and a tad of green. The solo was intense, messy, yet precise. You have no idea how much I enjoyed it. The entire crowd gave a standing ovation. As everyone expected, he came back for an encore.

White Wine In The Sun: Before this, he asked the room "Christmas, or tumour?". The crowd shouted out their votes, and he laughed to himself saying "I can count the amount of places I've been where the question "Christmas, or tumour?" has been asked...". So terribly funny. And of course, as always, White Wine was gorgeous. I held my breath a lot. 

I stood up again to applaud him, and found that my knees buckled under me. Not due to pain or anything, it was like my body had decided to faint due to a system overload. Except without the loss of consciousness. I then pulled myself back to standing position with the chair in front of me. Any show that turns me to jello at the end is beyond incredible. He said "Thank you so much, this has been an incredible night. Thank you." He pointed to the two empty seats in the entire and said, "But F**k those two, f**k 'em... Thanks." and everyone went nuts again. He went backstage, and came back to do his "second encore" song (I never remember how it goes, sorry) & the audience filed out with a look of happiness and satisfaction on their faces. 

After about 20 minutes of waiting, Tim came out the stage doors onto Victoria Street. I was near the end, so I talked to fans beside me about Matilda, sang them a couple of bars from the songs I knew off-hand. I was amused to find Tibbs from the forum was wearing a shirt that said "I think I'm going to try science" and a stick man with a bubbling beaker and calculator.  
Sarah K, Tibbs, Me in front

I walked up to him while he was meeting my friends to the welcoming of "Hello Julesy!" and a hug. 
"You remember me! That's nice of you!"
"Sure! What would you like?"
I brought out TimBits "I know you don't like sweets, but it's a small pack, and it has your freaking name on them."
"I was prepared to sign them! Thank you..."
"I've got far too much stuff... sign this bag I made?" (I made a "Take me to the supermarket" canvas bag, with canvas stitched onto 2 sides of a canvas bag I bought. On one side it says "take me to the supermarket", on the other it has a picture of Tim)
He commented how he liked it, signed it, and put an arrow going towards his face that said "<-- i am jesus" (I did make him look rather Jesus-like in the picture, it's true. The solemn look, the long hair... it all fits.).
He also signed a couple of birthday cards for my friends, and I told him it was the best show I'd ever seen. "What have you seen?"
"You last year in Toronto with Bo Burnham, Conversation With, Eddie Izzard..." I began listing.
"Alright, that's pretty good then." He smiled.
"Are you going to Montreal?" He asked, smiling oddly earnestly.
"I wish! I have no money left..."
"Right, cos you already spent it all on me in UK." He smiled a bit less, almost like he would miss me. "That's ok. Yeah... fine."
He went to some other people, came back gave me more hugs, kissed his hand which he then put on my cheek (cos he had to stand up for a photo.), and I stood for a photo with him, Sarah, Tibbs, and me. 

Then I took one with him and my friends.

Then I asked if I could squeeze in there, gave the camera to Sarah to take a photo,  and I snuck under Tim's arm, mumbling "Let me just get under here like a little monkey...". "That's my Julianna!" (can't lie, that made me grin a hell of a lot). The photo was taken, Luc, Peter, and Winter's Mum left. 
Susannah, Luc, Tim, Me, Peter, Winter

"You were the one who got me into politics, rationalism, to be better at piano..." I told him.
"So basically better at being a nerd?"
"Then you're an even better girl."

Then he said goodbye, ran off towards Massey Hall with his suitcase, and disappeared into the night.
Julianna xoxo

Thursday, 2 June 2011

I quite love planning

I really love planning. A lot. I'm going to a Tim Minchin gig tomorrow, and I've drawn myself a map. There's something very concise and cool about a map, writing your own symbols and such. If you look, I drew a cutesy version of Tim Minchin's face, indicating the theatre.

I'm also putting things in bags, setting up my outfit, etc. It's all in anticipation. Tomorrow, I see my online friends as well as my school friends, at a restaurant downtown. I see Tim Minchin for the 3rd time, and for the first time since I traveled all the way from Toronto to Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK for him. I really must see his reaction when I see him again backstage (assuming he does go backstage). I wonder if he'll hug me, make faces at me, or plain forget I went to see him. Anyways, he's talented guy, and the music is going to be incredible.

Julianna xoxo