We are here and now

The first time I was exposed to the music of The Tragically Hip, it was while I was attending university. While I liked what I heard over the radio airwaves, for whatever reason, I never liked them enough to buy their music. Yes, it might be blasphemy to say that. And maybe it’s something I might have to rectify.

Certain songs stuck in my head. Blow at High Dough. 38 Years Old. New Orleans is Sinking. Locked in the Trunk of a Car. Grace, Too. Poets.

Their music has been an ubiquitous part of Canada’s tapestry of life. You never think that the musicians responsible for the making that music will someday stop. And if it stops, it’s usually not out of their own volition.

2016 has been a painfully cruel year for losing music idols and heroes. David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Prince are ones that come to mind and the year isn’t over yet. Hip fans are hoping and praying lead singer Gord Downie (who revealed his terminal brain cancer diagnosis back in May on the band’s website) does not add his name to this year’s losses.

Music that speaks to your heart and soul becomes the soundtrack to your life. For a lot of Hip fans, the band has undeniably been part of their personal soundtrack.

Although their music never found a way to become a permanent part of my personal soundtrack, it was still surprising to hear about Downie’s cancer. He and the band are part of Canadiana. It can be easy to forget they are human.

The cancer diagnosis reminded everyone that Downie is human. It reminded everyone of their own mortality. It also reminded everyone that since we all are going to leave this mortal coil one day, we must go out fighting. Or at least go out wearing a feathered top hat while shaking your ass in a shiny suit and pouring your heart out on stage in front of millions of your closest friends. The time to mourn will come soon enough. Party now and kick some ass.

That was one of the messages from the band’s final concert Saturday in Kingston. That was the feeling I got from the show. I wasn’t able to watch the entire concert online because I was working but I did manage to listen to some of it.

Only in Canada can you get close to a third of the country’s population to collectively watch or listen to a Canadian rock band perform what many believe, was their last show. And that’s not including the legions of fans who live outside of the country and tuned in online.

I can’t speak to the band’s music or Downie’s songwriting skills with any level of authority. But I do know how beloved that band is. That love was in full force Saturday night. It was and is inspiring to see people across the country rally behind Downie and show him that everyone, in their own way, will be with him as his life moves towards to its inevitable conclusion.

Yes, it’s sad, but in a way, it’s life-affirming.

We’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. But we are here and now. And that’s all that matters.

On vacation

Watching TV is companionable: you share an experience, you can comment on the action here and there for a bit of conversation… it’s a way of showing someone that you want his or her company and engaging in a low-key, pleasant, undemanding way — Gretchen Rubin

Back at the beginning of July, I put my cable TV service on vacation mode until November. Why? Because I wanted to see what it would be like to go without TV. Also, I was tired of flipping through the guide listing to find nothing worth viewing despite the cornucopia of channels to choose from.

So far, it hasn’t been painful to go without.

I don’t miss it even though the Olympics are on. Honestly, I can catch the highlights or the live stream online. But I haven’t found the need to because eventually, I’ll hear the latest results either at work, online or on the radio.

With the TV service on vacation mode, I thought I would be able to put a dent in my list of movies and shows I wanted to see on Netflix. It’s a pretty long list. But I haven’t been as diligent as I had hoped. The list is still long even though there are fewer titles.

I think I can watch a couple of movies today without too much interruption from life, but we’ll see. Again, with a long of list of movies I could watch, it’s always a bugger trying to decide which one to watch. Am I in the mood for an emotional story? Am I in the mood for a little action and adventure? Am I in the mood for something that makes me think? Of course, when I can’t decide, I either default to mindlessly watching an animation film or forget the whole thing and go back to listening to music and reading a book. A ton of fun, I am.

Anyway, it looks like my plans to do some adventurous field research is gaining traction. Travel plans have been made and I have a place to stay. It also looks like I’ll be doing my field research solo. My best bud has a commitment that will keep her from joining me on the trip. Oh well, what are ya gonna do? It’s research I need to do, with or without a partner-in-crime.

Then I discovered last week that Ramin Djawadi, the man behind the music score for Game of Thrones and Person of Interest, is going to tour with an orchestra for the Game of Thrones: Live Concert Experience. Hell ya!

So what if I haven’t watched a single episode of GoT. I realize this may be ass backwards but I don’t care. I love his work. Can’t say enough about that man and his skills and talent as a music composer. As I’ve said before, I’m more likely to watch GoT than Breaking Bad.

But of course, I have no plans in the immediate future to start binge-watching GoT. Pretty sure, I still will not have watched one single episode by the time I attend the concert. But I may be deeply inspired to start watching GoT after the concert.

Some interesting things are looming on the horizon. So looking forward to it.

Focusing ahead

August brings into sharp focus and a furious boil everything I’ve been listening to in the late spring and summer — Henry Rollins

The dog days of summer are coming to an end and I gotta say that the dog days in this part of the world were not all that hot and sultry. Yes, there were days of really good weather but the temperatures rarely went above 30 degrees celsius.

The dog days of summer — the time period from July 3 to August 11 — were marked by a lot of rain which wreaked havoc on my vegetable garden. It’s a sad looking lot this year. The sweet potatoes still hold promise. Maybe it won’t be a complete write-off this year. The apple tree has been productive, too. That means there will be plenty of apple cider next month. Yum.

I managed to finish the book I was reading for research for my short-story-turned-novel. The next research book is waiting for me but it seems I’m still digesting the first one. My brain is probably trying to avoid blurring the information that’s swimming in my head by not going from one book to the next. Sounds reasonable.

But I think it’s time to start reading the next book. So, I’ll start on the first chapter today. Dip my toes into the pond again. I gotta admit, I have itchy fingers. I want to start writing again — i.e. pound the keyboard — but I think it’s in my best interest to hold off on that until the majority of the research is done. I’ll still do some writing but it will be all in my head and I can jot down notes and ideas on how the story could shape itself. However, the actual writing will have to wait.

Then there are plans to be made with my best friend. Plans that need to be defined at its most basic stage even though we’re pretty good at flying by the seat of our pants. It’s something I hope can be solidified by the end of this week. Then everything within that time period will be fluid yet definable. So many options. So many choices.

We’ll see what this week holds.