More Northern Harmony stuff...

Yesterday, I received the adjudication papers of our NoHarm set.

Some good criticisms (mostly tuning and balance issues they were commenting on) along with some good compliments about us.

Two of the judges were Heebie-Jeebies, and so have heard and seen us before.

So I laughed my ass off when I saw a note scribbled on Chris' sheet:

"More individuality?"

Now the reason I find is funny is because last year, the winners of "Audience Favourite" was a quartet of guys from Calgary, dressed up in sweater vest and singing very safe songs.

We weren't too happy with our own performance (no training on mics), and so it was this huge malicious joke, "What if we dressed up like No Assembly Required and sang Christian spirituals? Then we'd get ALL the awards!"

And so we did. Dress up like them in any case...It fit the mood of "Teddy Bear" anyway. And then we ripped off the vests for Viva Las Vegas, both because it was all about 70's excess for that song, and we were ripping off vests that didn't suit us. It was SYMBOLIC!

Another funny note was Ken saying, "Maybe you should lower the key of Uniform Grey a bit so Deving can hit those higher notes."

We actually raised it a key, just so Dev could hit the low notes. Also, it makes it a bit happier a tune in that key...

So while I appreciate the comments of the judges (how else are we going to improve?), if they had only knew why we did these things...

Ken loved Clocks as a selection, and one of the judges loved my take of Little Red Riding Hood, where I try to overooze with machismo and charisma. (Hell, I do that for every solo I have...)

Mostly, I and the others pulled off a good set and did it capably, which I think exorcised the ghosts from last year's performance. Singing onstage as catharsis. Gotta love it.

So I'm thinking Kow can go back to its normal performing style next year, just dress as ourselves, do a standard three song set, complete with banter.

Not go as 80s Hair Band rockers and punkers, not as a parody of a well-meaning bunch of guys, not try for an Ironman set to thumb our nose at the 12-minute time limit. Just be Kow, like we were our first year at Northern Harmony.

That year, we sang Sesame Street in a Japanese style, combined Pachebel's Canon with Green Day, and some ballad.

And we took third place.

Back to basics next year, I say...

* * *

Also in Kow-related notes, my friend Kit made a great fansite for us here. A stellar job, and she going to try to do relatively big things with it. (A comprehensive list of all the songs we've sung, since we started back in 1998, for example)

Thanks a lot, Kit. I (and I'm sure the other members) really appreciate you being one of our fans from the very beginning. Your support means a lot.


Get ready for a bucket full of update!

Okay, now I'm pretty much going to just type things that have happened during my internet hiatus, and there's not going to be much in the way of linkage. But it's news to my audience, so here we go...

* * *

Odd Transformations 3

I dreamed that for some reason, my store was relocated. Instead of being in the mall, we had our own building. It was huge! I mean, this must have been a Superstore or a Costco previously, because there was a ladder to the elevated offices, and standing on the ladder, I could see out in all directions.

I remember thinking, "Fuck. The store's eighteen times as big as the old location, but I'm still going to have to know where everything is..."

I turn around and look in a direction. "Is that lettuce? Do I see fucking PRODUCE in a RadioShack? Why the hell do we stock lettuce???"

So, yeah. Make of that what you will...

* * *

Sam no longer works at the store. She quit on Wednesday. I kind of saw it coming, I guess.

She says the reason was all due to her boyfriend. Because her boyfriend hates all the guys at the store. Darren, Martin, me (who he's never even met...).

She said, "he told me it was either the job or him." I don't think that's the whole story, but her boyfriend is quite the jackass. He always called the store while I was closing up, asking if Sam was there and how long she'd be before she left the store. Sometimes, four, five times in a half hour.

I usually was pissed off by the guy.

But on Tuesday evening, she told me, "I won't be at inventory on Saturday. I've got to sell merchandise at a concert."

I asked her if she told Jeff about that. Because I KNOW he wouldn't let her miss inventory. I had NoHarm that night, and Terry was going to Calgary for the weekend, plans we had both told Jeff about months before we knew when inventory was happening. For Sam to give notice a mere three days prior would NOT cut it at all...

So she called on Wednesday before her closing shift, asking if she could have the day off. Darren told her no, since Jeff had to go to Grande Prairie for a relative's funeral. (Inventory's been pushed back a month due to it.) So she came in and quit there on the spot. No notice, no nothing.

Even though I got along with her, and I think I was her best friend on the staff, even I couldn't consider rehiring her if she decided to come back. The no notice thing was just plain irresponsible.

Still, she was fun to hang around with at the store.

* * *

Thursday: A 16-17 year old comes in the store, approaches me about camcorder tapes.

"What kind of camcorder do you have?" I ask.

"A Sony."

"Oh, you'll need 8 millimetre tape then. Over here."

While I was getting it for him, his friends start talking to him.

"Dude, I can't believe she agreed to do this."

I start dying laughing inside.

A friend asks me, "How well will this tape do in candlelight?"

Me, barely concealing a smile: "It really depends on the camera."

So, yeah. I sold tapes to a kid planning on making homemade porn with his girlfriend, something I'm sure all his friends will be watching.


* * *

Saleswise, the store's doing great. I'm sitting at an average of about $150 of sales an hour. I hope to keep it up, because I get double commission if I'm able to stay over $135.

* * *

Marauder's fitting well in choir, I think. He's getting the music down and hanging out with my circle of friends.

And I'm pretty sure the girls will be swooning over him due to his new cleanshaven heartthrob status.

I'm so glad he joined choir this year. Another talent he's developing.

And I'm loving the Futurama DVDs he lent me. Such funny, funny stuff...

* * *

Can't really think of much else that's been happening. Going over to the house to hang out with the guys, playing Raw 2 on the XBox

Oh, and my voice came back about a half hour into my shift. So, yay!

Hawking yet another item...

So I misplaced my toothpaste, toothbrush and comb somewhere last night. I brought them to the concert, so they're either at the DeCoSta house, in Barber's trunk, or in the bowels of the Victoria School dressing rooms.

Today, before I got into the store, I decided to go to Zellers and buy new supplies.

Let me tell you, the Colgate Massager toothbrush is the best toothbrush ever! A bit larger than most brushes, but it's got the rubber ends that massage your gums while you brush. SO nice...

Granted, I'm not going to go on another Menthol Kleenex-like rant here, but it's a very nice brush.

In other news, I've got no voice. None. There's a rasp that can masquerade as my voice, but it's not loud at all.

Good thing there's no Kow rehearsal tonight. Just some good ol' geek action when Marauder brings over the Xbox and Raw 2. Four-player season, baby!


So I just got back from Northern Harmony, where Kow competed against other Alberta a cappella groups in a battle to see who would win the title of "Best A Cappella Group EVER!"

Well, maybe not quite that kind of scale, but I found this year to be one of the best NoHarms in terms of performance.

Kow didn't win anything, but we were able to hang around with some pretty cool groups. And we performed pretty well. God, that Fringe tour of duty helped us SO much with things...

While I wouldn't agree with the judges' choice for first place, CHICKAdivas, I thought they did a very good job for first-timers.

I just found some of their stuff to be lacking, quite honestly. They were good technically, and the first soprano sure could wail, and their stage presence was fine, but it just didn't completely click with me. Ah, well.

I'm not sure where Kow really ranked in the grand scheme of things. It was by no means the bad performance we had last year (no experience with mics), and I thought our performance was one of the better ones in energy, if not always musical perfection.

It was kind of hard, being the first group of the competition, because it was up to us to start the evening off on a high enough note to keep the crowd happy and energetic.

This year, we decided to go all out and just cram five songs in a twelve minute set, which didn't leave much in the way of banter. Granted, the way that Dev, Canton and I ramble, I think it was a good way to go. Sigh. If only there was an Ironman award, because five songs was a new record for NoHarm.

But we went out there and had fun, both with the audience and with ourselves. So I didn't feel as crushed as I did last year. Them's the breaks.

We started off with Astro's solo in Teddy Bear, and so I introduced him as Elvis (the young one). After that song, Barber took over lead on Viva Las Vegas as the 70's overexcess Elvis, complete with scarf, sunglasses and sideburns. Canton introduced him with the exact same intro I used for Astro.

Nothing really to say about Uniform Grey and Clocks, our next two selections. They were solid, and I think we have a good show with them. Still, it was Canton's gyrations and the interplay between us during Little Red Riding Hood which really got the crowd going.

AND I was able to pull off a sweet karate side kick to Canton's thigh. Whoo!

Quintessential, a five-man group from Calgary, walked away with the Audience Favourite vote. Good for them! They had a good set, and they clinched it by bringing out a Kermit muppet to sing The Rainbow Connection in a good impression by the soloist.

One of the guys in the group had sprained his leg in a trampoline accident, and was using crutches. I asked him if I could use the crutches as a gag during the end of the show, where each group was able to do one more song while the judges deliberated.

So the rest of Kow's onstage, looking around for me. I come on with the crutches, yelling "Whee!" every time I swing myself on the crutches.

Dev: Jago, what are THOSE?

Me: (in a very mischievous voice) Spoils of war.

Dev: Dude! The guy from Quintessential NEEDS those!

Me: Pshaw! He doesn't need these to sing!

Dev: But he needs them to get onto the stage.

So I take them back offstage and hand them to the guy who needs them, thanking him.

We then sing Sixty Minute Stan, which gets an AWESOME reaction from the crowd. As Dev said later, "If we had put that one in the set, we'd have got the Audience Favourite." Only problem was, I found the jokes were much better paced the way we did it. And we'd have to cut a song to introduce Sixty Minute properly.

After our set, I find the crutches on the OTHER side of the stage, and the rest of Kow thought I just dumped them there. At different times, I had this conversation with the rest of the guys:

THEM: Jago! I thought you gave them back to them!

ME: I did! Seriously, I put them back in his hands!

THEM: Should we give it back to them?

ME: It must be here for a reason.

Repeat four times.

So on goes Quintessential, carrying the gimpy member because "we couldn't find his crutches. We're not sure where they went."

Laughs from the audience. At which point, I run to get the crutches, and start playing with them again, behind the group.

"WHEE-!" I stop in mid-whee, seeing the group at the front of the stage, and I sheepishly give back the crutches. The crowd goes wild.

I was somehow able to steal Stan's usual position of "Most Mischievous Member of Kow," and every time I reappear on stage, the crowd loves it, especially at the end when Quintessential comes on to close off the show, since they won the right to host next year with their "Audience Favourite" status.

They sang "Good Lovin'", and tradition is that the rest of the performers come on dancing. At least, it's a tradition Kow started two years ago. So I was ready to go onstage to dance, but Dev stops me.

"We need more people."

So I run to the other side of the stage, and ask the first-place winners CHICKAdivas to dance onstage with me. The audience sees me come out with five women, dancing, and they go WILD again! At which point the rest of Kow and some other groups come out.

According to my friend Apples, I was drop dead sexy tonight. I'll take the compliment, but I'm not sure why it was.

She just said, "When you came out on stage dancing with all the girls of that one group, you were just the most attractive guy ever."

So, in all, a very good night. A very close race in terms of performances, with pretty much all groups doing an excellent job. Probably the best NoHarm I've been to, and I've been either volunteering or performing in all of them (since 1997).

* * *

The other reason I like NoHarm is because it means I'm able to see 'Ka, my close friend who moved down to San Francisco a couple years back, but comes up for the show. She kind of has to, since she's a producer.

It's always great to see her, since we used to spend a lot of hours in the high rise back when she lived in the area. I miss her loads, and it's always a thrill to hang out with her, even if she's completely frazzled due to the show.

And recently, we've been too busy to actually talk a lot like we used to. I know she reads this to catch up with my life, but it'd be cool to actually talk to her on the phone every now and then.

In any case, it's now 2:15 and I have to work at 10 tomorrow. So I'll end this post and make sure to tell you all the fun stories that have accumulated in the week with no internet. In the next post, most likely. Which'll probably be tomorrow evening.


Odd Transformations 4

So for some reason, I was walking down the streets of Whyte in the late afternoon. No, that's not quite true....I was walking because I accidentally got off the bus about ten blocks from my stop.

I was carrying a bass. And it must have been for someone else, because I was guarding it with my life.

While walking past the corner of 82nd and 106th (where the Mac's is), I ran into two guys I knew from my time at Lister. (Jason Benesch was one of them, not sure of the other name currently...)

Now, I'm still leery of groups of drunk people in real life, thanks to the assault from October 2000. I tend to steer clear of anyone who seems drunk, just in case they attack me. Yes, I do still have some emotional scarring from that. Who knew?

And the guys were drunk, and they weren't big fans of me regardless. They stopped me. I put down the bass. Bad move. When I brought it back up, there were stratch marks on it.

"Great. Now look what you made me do," I moaned.

I tried to leave, and one of them followed me.

"Are you going home?"

Like I was going to give my address to drunk guys. "Nope."

While I was distracted by some of their friends, they managed to disassemble the bass, and put all the parts into this toy bass they had, replacing the real parts with toy parts. (They were engineering students, and so it was possible, I guess.)

At that point I woke up.

Now, Odd Transformations 3 will be coming later, when I catch up from the past week. That was also an interesting dream.

Back from exile

Got my internet and phone back after I finally paid my Telus bill.

When my internet die on me last week, my thoughts were, "Fine, I can handle not having internet until my next paycheck." While it's convenient to have high speed DSL, it's not like I'd wither and die without it.

And I was right.

When the phone line was temporarily disconnected?

THAT was a problem.

It was hard living a monastic life, relying on actually seeing my friends face to face to actually communicate. It made for some stressful moments when I was trying to figure out how to arrange different things like this morning's media appearance before Northern Harmony (happening today, since it's technically Saturday).

But, $214 later, everything's back to normal.


Big post later, with everything newsworthy and thoughtworthy from the past week. Now it's bedtime.


Venting Time!

Oy, what a day at work.

Crap for sales, which wasn't TOO bad, considering I was mostly setting up things and taking care of non-selling stuff.

Still, I must have pitched computers about three times with no sales.

The main problem tonight was a guy who bought a computer from Marilyn last week.

He came in with his computer, saying the DVD burner that we installed was having problems, and the computer was acting real slow.

So, I decided to replace it for him. Of course, he wanted that DVD put into the new computer.

Against my better judgement (one of my rules at the store is that I am NOT a computer tech. It's fine when it's me doing my own little projects, or helping a friend out, but I don't want to be responsible if something goes wrong in a customer's case. Or, if something goes right, they'll keep on coming back to me. That's even worse.), I did this task for him. But he wanted to see how it worked before he left the store.

And, surprise! It didn't work. So I'm thinking it's the DVD burner's problem. And, of course, no one in Edmonton has one. So I have to get one in from Calgary. It'll take three days to get it.

"That's not what I wanted to hear, Kyle," said this customer. Never mind the fact that he wasn't my customer to begin with, and that I was doing him a favour by fixing it myself instead of sending it to Calgary for repairs.

What DID you want to hear, sir? I asked in my mind. Oh, sorry about this. The computer's free of charge! Better yet, you get a trip to Hawaii for being such a patient customer.

Instead, I just give him a neutral, expectant expression.

"I lose about 50 bucks every time I come down here," he told me.

"I'm sorry about that. But there's nothing I can do."

"Well, can't you get a computer tech out to my house to fix it there?"

I explained to him that RadioShack has sales staff, not techs. If he wanted a tech, we'd send the computer down to Calgary to get fixed.

He muttered something about returning the computer and going to Future Shop if this new DVD doesn't work.

If that's the case, I'm washing my hands of this. It's not my problem if he returns it, especially if it's after 15 days. The return policy on computers in my store is pretty strict. Especially with the 15% we take off the refund for the restocking fee.

Then, after he leaves, I realize that I left my kick-ass homemade CD mix in his computer. Sigh. I was looking forward to New Pornographers/Steve Burns/Stevie Wonder on the way home tonight.

There was a problem cashing out tonight ($20 under), and I didn't leave the store until 10:10 pm. didn't get home until 11, and I open the store at 9:30 tomorrow morning.

Completely a day I'd like to forget, other that finding out that Marauder has made in into the U of A Mixed Chorus this year.

He SAYS he can't sing, but I'm looking forward to being in choir with him this year. Should be fun.


Departing friends make me sad, but at least I'm making new ones...

So I found out yesterday that Foreman had been offered a teaching job in Fort MacMurray, and that it would start on Monday.

This evening was his party. It was fun. As usual, I did my party trick of just sitting on the couch, listening to conversation threads around the room for a while. Although sometimes it seems like I'm not having fun at a party, sometimes I enjoy myself just by listening and not taking an active part in it. Debates was sitting beside me on the couch, doing the same for a while.

I was the last one to leave the party (at 2 am), which means, that a) I might live the closest and so don't have to leave early, or b) all my friends and I are turning into wimps as the years go by. Hell, if I, Jago, am the last to leave (which has kind of been the case at any occasion at Paul's apartment), something MUST be wrong...

In any case, I will be missing Foreman quite a bit, having made a decent friendship with him over the past few years in choir. We were always able to make conversation over geeky things, and we have similar senses of humour.

Yes, I'll even miss his puns. The puns have been a defining characteristic of both Foreman and my relationship with him. Anyone in the area when he makes a pun has been sure to hear me ranting in mock outrage, "That's IT! One more pun out of you, and I'm kicking your ass!"

Needless to say, it happened a lot.

I'll also miss all of our conversations, our injokes, his insights on things, and, of course, the "I'm Keith Morris' Kid" song.

Good luck up north, Keith. I'm sure you'll be a great math teacher for that high school.

* * *

I took the Geek Test, and am proud to say I'm only a geek, and nothing above Total Geek status. I have a 23.4% geek rating.

I consider myself a geek in some aspects, but a fully functioning member of society in others...

* * *

Got an e-mail from Anna tonight, letting me know she's still alive and well in Calgary after Fringe. I'm glad what we're able to keep in touch. Sometimes it's not one of my strong suits...

* * *

Found myself on the Failure message boards with a vengeance today.

On this message boards are a whole bunch of people I feel I know relatively well, since the board is comprised of a whole bunch of journal comics creators.

So there's a whole bunch of creative artists, most of whom can draw the hell out of anything, and guys who admire their work, like me. Because I can't draw worth crap...

But I have a lot of fun on this message board, just shooting the crap...

In fact, one of the posts was talking about Top Five songs that people "get busy" to. I ran down the lists, thinking, "Yeah, that one kicks ass. Oooh...I like that song...". So I started downloading that great songs.

Now I know, I know. I'm celibate, so why the hell am I downloading "songs to get busy to"?

a) Because the songs kick ass.

b) Who knows? It might happen that I need to throw on some romantic music at some point in the future...Just because I'm currently celibate doesn't mean that's set in stone. Although I'd have to find someone first...

* * *

Wow. This site kicks ass.

Remember the kid's show Blue's Clues? And the guy Steve, who wore that green striped sweater and was the host of the show? Well, Steve Burns has gone on to bigger and better, doing a kickass album that I will have to buy. You can hear the songs here.

Listening to: Steve Burns - "Mighty Little Man."

Reading: Getting back into Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, after taking a break for some Eggers, and the collected works of Hellblazer by various writers, and Hitman by Garth Ennis.


Odd Transformations 2: My fascination for dark-haired vixens finally explained?

So I had a dream this morning. I think it was sort of a mixture in my head of Fringe (there was a festival where Kow was performing), prior high school trips (Heath was definitely there, although I hadn't seen him in a while; a friend Tara-Lynn was involved; it seemed to be at the Banff Centre of the Arts for a while), and work (my co-worker Terry was there).

So, brief synopsis from what I remember (Only remembering the last part here...):

I was in this place, performing on stages with Kow, when all of a sudden, I find my friend from high school, Tara-Lynn. Apparently, she's here for some reason, but whatever. We hang out in her hotel room when I'm not performing. Heath is there as well.

I spot Dev and MFJ in the crowd outside of the hotel balcony, and I go to grab MFJ, so I can give the two girls the opportunity to meet (shades of Fringe, where MFJ never was able to see Anna from the Scorpio crew).

But for some reason, MFJ was blitzed drunk (strange, because I never see her that way in the waking world). So I ended up pointing out Dev in the crowd ("See the guy in the black cowboy hat? Yeah, that's him.")

We meet up with Terry, who for some reason is trying to make time with Tara-Lynn (again, strange, because he's happily taken in the waking world). He asks, "So, what's the plan?" as her takes her hand and tries to lead her away, with my fuming in the foreground.

She takes her arm away. "Actually, Kyle and I have...something planned." And which point I glance smugly at Terry over my shoulder as we leave and see him distraught.

So, that's all I can really remember from it. Just my brain assimilating information, I guess. But still, pretty weird.

I'm not sure if Tara-Lynn was supposed to be an amalgam of all the VERY cute raven-haired lasses I know (Amy from Bentley, Anna, Mijke, Tara-Lynn to name a few of the many), but I'm thinking it's the most likely explanation.

And the rest of the stuff was just there. Strange.


September, already...

I left the mall at 9:20 this evening, and was completely shocked to see a dark sky. Not just dark, but black! I thought, "Okay, it must be very cloudy," but then I noticed a clear moon in the sky.

What the hell happened to late brightness? Is summer over already? Damn.

* * *

So it's September, and I'm still at RadioShack. I've been at the company for three years now. And I really want to find a new place to work.

No call from the Edmonton Journal. Sigh. No call from Convergys, although now the Frenchman's talking about how much he hates his job there.

I must find a better job than what I've got.

* * *

Jeff, my manager, now is the proud father of a healthy newborn son. I don't know his name yet, but I heard from Jeff that the kid was 8 lbs, 10 oz. Is that good? I have no clue about these things.

* * *

Choir starts up next week. I'm looking forward to it, especially if Marauder gets in. That'd be cool.

Northern Harmony's in three weeks. So Kow'd best get practicing. Although that week off was very welcome.

And Astro's in two groups competing. We'll see how he's able to manage that...