Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

November 19, 2006

Go South for the Winter ... WAY South

Wherein the Parliament Writers' Group goes international! When she's not hard at work polishing her words or editing mine, Susan Siddeley runs a yearly writing retreat in Chile. "An oasis for writers," she says, and if I were kicking back in Santiago in mid-February, I'm sure I'd agree. Participants get to work with esteemed authors while basking in the sun, sights, and fine food of Chile. Sounds like the ultimate busman's holiday!

One of these days when I have the means, I plan to go. In the meantime, why don't you? More info can be found right here. First workshop starts January 7, 2007.

Grey Cup Sunday

Welcome to my high holy day. This is the day I kick back and relax, eat copious amounts of junk food, and take in the festivities on my narrow-screen, low-definition, fifty-dollar TV.

As to who I'm cheering for—roar you Lions roar! B.C. is my favourite western team, so it's an easy call. I'm decked out in the black-and-orange T-shirt I bought years ago in Vancouver.

I've seen three Grey Cups in person: 1976, 1978 (both here at CNE Stadium) and 2004 (in Ottawa). The first was easily the best game, with Ottawa trumping Saskatchewan in dramatic fashion. Can't recall much about the '78 game other than the terrible seat I was in. Of the three, the '04 game is my favourite because it was sweet to see the Argos win it all in person.

This year, I'm being especially hardcore. In addition to watching the pre-game and game on TV, I'm taping both on the radio. The radio broadcast I'll save for a miserable Sunday in February, when I need a sports fix (sorry, couldn't care less about hockey).

It's funny. To me, the commissioner's presentation of the trophy defines a moment: summer is long gone, fall is over, and winter has begun.

Gotta go—time for kickoff. Looks absolutely frigid in Winnipeg. Argos in '07!

November 17, 2006

Hello, Strawberry Piggies Forever in my Life

Wow! Just heard the "Strawberry Fields Forever" mash-up from Love, the forthcoming Beatles' compilation. Fab Four traditionalists—an oxymoron in my book, but they do exist—are screaming "heresy!" already, I'm sure. But judging from this audacious track, I think it's brilliant.

For the record (heh heh), I speak as a Beatlemaniac, not a mash-up connoisseur. Sure, I've heard the odd one; some are okay, some terrible, but I'm not opposed to the idea on principle. Why would I be? My musical heroes—including The Beatles themselves—thought nothing of backwards tapes, found sounds, loops, electronic effects, etc. All in a day's work to them. Mash-ups are merely the latest example of studio-as-instrument.

Of course, it helps when you start with the greatest song ever recorded. For all its sublime qualities, "Strawberry Fields Forever" is more than a heightened aesthetic experience: for me, it's nothing short of divine revelation. (Now, stop laughing. Yes, YOU—I'm talking to you. Stick with me for a minute.)

My first hearing (at twelve) triggered a mystical experience. By the time Ringo's drums came thundering out of that fake fade-out, I knew ... I was bathed in ... the spirit. I didn't call it "God," but one certainly could. And before you ask—yes, you snickering at the back—this on nothing stronger than chocolate milk. Not bad for a pop song, I'd say.

Love comes out this Tuesday. It'll make a fitting Christmas gift for Leilani, my beloved spirit guide. The hard part will be waiting till then to play it.

November 13, 2006

Happiness Is ...

Swaying on the swings in some park near Royal York and Bloor at midnight listening to Coltrane's Stellar Regions devouring a roll of Love Hearts infused with sweet knowing that my goddess wants me to be here, exactly here, in this delicious moment ...

You know, sometimes (often?) "God's plan" is neither sober nor sensible. It's silly and spontaneous!