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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
It's my father's voice dreaming of / Sailors sailing off in the morning
— Wilco, Poor Places
June 28, 2011

Jenn Grant at the Biltmore Cabaret

Jenn Grant at the Biltmore Cabaret Halifax based Jenn Grant doesn’t get out to Vancouver that often: it’s a long way from home, across this great big country we call home. Her last visit paired her with fellow Six Shooter Recording artist Justin Rutledge for one of the most fantastic nights of live music I had in 2010 at the quiet and beautiful St. James Community Square in Vancouver. On this visit Jenn played the Biltmore Cabaret and the show was quite a bit less quiet.

Jenn Grant pinky swearing with the entire audienceJenn’s album Honeymoon Punch was long-listed for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize and the night was full of material from it as well as the often overlooked but incredibly beautiful Echoes.

Playing with a full band made for a stark contrast with her last visit, when she was accompanied only on violin. Upbeat bouncy tunes like Oh My Heart and Getcha Good sounded fuller and kept the night moving along. Parliament of Owls lead to a crowd pleasing moment with the audience hooting along.

As entertaining as the music was with witty stage banter. Watch her Awkward Interviews at CBC Radio 3 to get an idea of what it’s like. Jenn’s funny tales of life in a shared house in Halifax are worth the ticket price alone and as much a guarantee of a good time as any other live act I’ve seen. Now off touring back east, as they say out here, catch up with Jenn as soon as you can.
Jenn Grant at the Biltmore Cabaret

Posted by skooter at 9:44 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Biltmore Cabaret, Concerts, Jenn Grant, Music, Six Shooter Records

June 21, 2011

Vancouver & the Stanley Cup a Week Later

It’s been an interesting week in Vancouver: tomorrow marks a week since the Vancouver Canucks threw in the towel on a season of hockey that ended badly for the team and much much worse for their fans.

I left downtown that night about 5:15 or so, right as the game was beginning. Crowds were insane and—frankly—I didn’t really want to deal with them.

So much has been written about these riots that I think I have little to add, so I’ll keep my hindsight observations simple:

I still say this city is a weird, inward looking, self obsessed place. Nothing’s happened since the riots to change that one bit.

Posted by skooter at 6:53 AM This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: Riot, Stanley Cup, Vancouver, Vancouver Canucks

June 20, 2011

A Detailed Summary of The Humpty Dance

Despite the fact that a lot of information it contains is dubious at best I like Wikipedia on the whole. It has it’s charms. One of those is that nothing ever gets deleted: the Wiki software tracks changes and you can review them anytime.

A while ago, somebody updated the entry for The Humpty Dance to include a detailed summary of the dance. It’s since been deleted (you can see the diff including the entry here) but I thought it needed to be preserved. It’s written in an encyclopaedic style, and represents the kind of genius that is both inspired and an stunning waste of time.

Mr. Hump gets everyone’s attention by requesting they end the task they are performing at that time. Mr. Hump then proceeds to take one’s perception of what’s popular and make it no longer appealing. He then goes on to say that despite his comical appearance he is very wealthy, and the planet earth should prepare for his arrival. Mr. Hump invites a group to give their undivided attention as he explains that he has recently moved to the area and he does not make wise decisions. This is of course irrelevant due to his music being produced by his group Digital Underground. He then warns everyone that he will consume all of their cognac that they own. Mr. Hump now decides to introduce himself in a sort of condescending way by removing the initial letter of his first name and then repeating it to the listener. Mr. Hump tells all of the female listeners he would like to perform intercourse with them and issues a request to the current top ten popular rap artists to allow him to be above all of them on the music charts. The listeners should note Mr. Hump seems to be walking on stilts. He then compares the listeners to a Humpty Dumpty where an egg falls from a wall. Pursuing this metaphor, Mr. Hump claims his loud music will cause his listeners to share the same fate with said egg. Mr. Hump then energetically describes some of his favorite things which include: using words that sound alike, his music to have a strange odor emitting from it, and his breakfast oats not to be mixed well. Mr. Hump claims that he is an ill gang member who does very well with members of the opposite sex. Despite all of that, once in a while his absurd behavior causes him to consume all of the listener’s saltines and twizzlers for an undisclosed reason. Mr. Hump then gets the attention of his overweight female listeners by using some offensive phrases. Mr. Hump then points out the fact that even though he is significantly smaller than his overweight listeners he has never had a problem having sexual intercourse with women of their stature. Mr. Hump admits he is a sexual deviant who prefers females with an extremely large posterior, and that he once had intercourse in the restroom of a Burger King. Mr. Hump shares with his listeners that he suffers from some type of mental disorder but will somehow make up for that by leaving his listeners in awe. Despite the fact Mr. Hump is by most standards not a very attractive man he still manages to find himself in situations where women allow him to rummage around in their trousers. Mr. Hump finally reveals to the listeners that he has a dance named after him known as the humpty dance. The audience is now encouraged to perform this dance and observe Mr. Hump perform the dance as well.

Continue reading "A Detailed Summary of The Humpty Dance"

Posted by skooter at 11:19 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Humpty Dance, Videos, Wikipedia

Clarence Clemmons, 1942 - 2011


I like my Bruce at his lyrical and quiet best, but there’s so much Bruce that’s lyrical and loud it’s hard to really be that picky.

Clarence Clemmons died this weekend, rather suddenly. The world of rock and roll doesn’t see a saxophone like this often, and it’s been changed forever. That sax line that lays underneath Born to Run—a song that every motorcycle dealership in the country should really have playing on constant repeat—didn’t just happen, and it’s not going to come around anytime soon again.

It’s a reminder, too, that the first generation of huge rock stars is aging and will end. Springsteen is 61 right now: not exactly old, but closer to the end than to the beginning of his career.

Roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well, the night’s busted open
These two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, Heaven’s waiting down on the track

Posted by skooter at 10:40 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemmon, Obituaries

June 17, 2011

Darwin the Owl

Posted by skooter at 6:56 AM This entry is filed under Camera, Vancouver.
Tags: Videos, Wildlife

RIM’s Beginning of the End

Research in Motion (RIM,) the inventor of the BlackBerry, is one of the Canadian tech industry’s favourite success stories. For years they’ve been held up by government and the media as an example of things done right.

This week, things aren’t quite as good at RIM. In fact, things are very very bad.

For the past couple of years I’ve been telling people that there would be no RIM in ten years. That ten years is a ballpark, really: I’m not picking an exact day. I’ve been fairly confident that RIM has been on a downward slide for those two years though.

I have an iPhone and people always assume that I think Apple’s going to kill RIM. Not so though: the iPhone’s impact on the BlackBerry was huge, to be sure, but the mistake was actually RIMs. The iPhone rewrote the expectations people had for their smartphones, and not in a small way. The landscape changed, seemingly overnight.

What did RIM do? Nothing. Well, that’s not fair: they did make derisive comments about the iPhone’s non-physical keyboard. I had a work supplied Blackberry Bold a couple of years ago when it was supposed to be RIMs iPhone killer. Naturally, I bought an iPod touch to go with it. Guess which one was more useful, despite the fact that it couldn’t connect to a cellular network. (Well, in fairness, the Blackberry seemed to have quite a bit of trouble connecting to cellular networks too, but that’s another story.)

Good plan RIM. Leave the technology behind, keep building the same thing you’ve been building, virtually ignore touch screens and cling to your legacy installed based.

No, it won’t be Apple who kills RIM. It will be Microsoft. RIMs ace in the hole for the last two years has been the BlackBerry Enterprise Server—the BES. BES is the software that companies install to create private BlackBerry networks. The iPhone has no comparison and shows no signs of getting one. It might happen, but it would be very non-Apple to do so. They just don’t have a history of building proprietary server software.

Microsoft, on the other hand, loves building user installable communications software. Windows Phone is getting a fairly decent response, and from a corporate perspective it’s “good enough” for most CIO and CTO types. Their clients—the managers and staff they give phones too—no longer care about carrying a BlackBerry as a status symbol, they just want to carry a phone.

So it’s Microsoft that’s going to put the final nail in the RIM coffin, by building a server that’s easier to configure and work with than the BES. If it’s easier to support, cheaper to operate, crashes less and offers essentially the same level of security, IT will switch to it eventually. RIM is a one note company with no diversity of products to help maintain it through tough times, and these are tough times indeed.

Sorry RIM. It’s been a great run, but you’ve rested on your laurels too long now. It was a good run for a while, but it’s coming to and end.

A shame Jim Balsille didn’t get that hockey team when he tried.

Posted by skooter at 6:35 AM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: BES, Blackberry, Globe and Mail, iPhone, RIM

June 16, 2011

Vancouver Burns after the Stanley Cup


The Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup last night. Instead of conversations about why Roberto Luongo was left in net to allow four goals, I’m now living in a city that’s looking in on itself after crowds rioted in the downtown core.

Early in the evening I faced a decision: stay downtown, or get home to West Vancouver. I chose to head home. I joked about this happening—it happened in 1994—but I wasn’t that serious: I really didn’t want to deal with crowded buses, and I certainly didn’t want to deal with the CBC Fan Zone crowd for any extended duration.

So I went home, and watched the game online as the Canucks fell. Switching to the radio after the game ended news of the damage started to filter in as first one car was flipped over and lit on fire, then another. At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Wicked was showing and the crowd wasn’t allowed to leave at the performance’s end, legitimately fearing for their lives.

I headed over to North Vancouver and shot the video above in the civil twilight. The smoke filtering into the sky looks like a bomb strike, and maybe that’s the closest analogy. The city created a concentrated space where 100,000 people got together and that spot exploded. Some would say it was predictable, but that hardly seems fair. People aren’t that predictable.

People say these weren’t Canucks fans, but they were. They were there to watch the game. If the large screen TVs had been showing the Vancouver Opera performing the works of Wagner, this wouldn’t have happened.

It’s embarrassing, this city, sometimes. Maybe it’s time to get out of town.

Posted by skooter at 7:03 AM This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: Riot, Stanley Cup, Vancouver Canucks, Videos

June 5, 2011

Poplars, Salt Spring Island

Poplars, Salt Spring Island

Posted by skooter at 8:15 PM This entry is filed under Camera.

On the Joy of BC Ferries

I spend a lot of time on BC Ferries these days, moving back and forth between Vancouver and the Gulf Islands. It’s quite nice, but it’s amazing how quickly the beauty of a ferry trip becomes just another way to get back and forth from point A to point B. Most of the time, I’d rather just get there.

BC Ferries was officially privatized by the Campbell government in 2003 but it’s always been something of a farce. The ferries operate, at best, as a pseudo private organization still dependent on government money for a substantial portion of revenues. A couple of years ago Gordon Campbell himself announced that ferry fares would be cut by 30% leading anybody able to think clearly to wonder why the premier was announce a cut in prices for a private corporation.

I’m willing to concede that the ferries themselves can (and maybe should) operate as a private entity, but not without pointing out that the province made one huge mistake in doing this that effectively makes the entire process suspect: they gave the ferry corporation the terminals.

Such a bad idea, for so many reasons.

Continue reading "On the Joy of BC Ferries"

Posted by skooter at 7:30 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Travel.
Tags: BC Ferries, BC Liberal Party, Privatization, Salt Spring Island Monopoly