Thursday, December 5, 2013


My cool cousin Tanya and her equally cool boyfriend Travis are in Paris to perform in what looks to be an amazing tap dance show this Sunday, highlighting the end of their months-long international tour. If you're free, then I highly recommend you check them out. Otherwise, they'll be hanging out with yours truly over the next week, so come say hello.

Ferns: The Next Generation

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

The Lovely Couple

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Reflektors

The Larry Sanders Show

Hey Now!

Awesome, awesome, awesome, easily one of my best nights in Paris, and a great way to see my first real concert in Europe!!! This was the Reflektors / Arcade Fire show at Pavillon Baltard this past Friday. Due to the ticket seller, Digitick, botching up the sale big time, I had pretty much lost all hope of attending this almost-instantly sold-out show. Luckily for me, at the very last moment a fellow music-lover of a similar mind, Telma, offered up an extra ticket at face value! To put this in perspective, scalpers were asking for between 200€ to 1000€ per ticket (original price: 51€). That's just not right. Telma's gesture really helped restore my faith in humanity, at least locally.

Arcade Fire Fans

Safety Not Guaranteed

I arrived in line a few hours early to try to score tickets for a friend - alas, no such luck. So, I spent my time watching a steady stream of oddly clad fans slowly making their way through the streets of Nogent-sur-Marne to the venue. As part of the festivities, the group had requested attendees to show up in fancy dress or in costume. I did, choosing a combo of the two, and was glad to see many others did as well in a variety of outfits. I'm sure the locals had no idea what to make of us all, though the management of the Pavillon did their best to communicate to them to not get startled by the "passionate, well-educated fans in their thirties" of a quirky Canadian band. How cute :)

Crossbones and Spidey Plot Captain America's Downfall

Win Butler and Régine Chassagne started off the show up in the balcony area amidst those who couldn't make it to the floor -  a nice touch - before heading down to join the rest of the band and get things rolling. It was a very intimate, festive concert.  The atmosphere was great throughout and you almost felt like you were having a rocking party celebration with a room full of family and close friends.

I completely let loose and had an amazing time, headbanging and "dancing" like a maniac. Everyone did. The crowd was a great, friendly bunch. Afterward we all crowded onto the RER and people sang and chattered away into the night. For a moment, I felt like I was back in Montreal. Definitely an experience I'll not soon forget.

Before the Show

After the Show

THE Arcade Fire

The Setlist (from ArcadeFireTube)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Witching Hour

"Eliago ... venitas ... tu ... supernas ... mondos ... inverna ..."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


My first thought upon arriving in Madrid was how I might go about telling Jérôme that I would not be returning to Paris; that is to say, it made a good first impression; and I'm glad to say, a lasting one. Of course, it didn't hurt that my primary reason for visiting was to see my super-awesome friend Jaye, whom I had last seen in Oz many moons ago. How time flies.

Major Sebastian Bludd and Lady Jaye
Very Bad Trip
You can't see me.

Jaye kindly played the part of guide, showing me some of the best Madrid had on offer, such as the Museo del Prado, and otherwise communicating with the natives in Spanish at a level that quickly put my own to shame. Of the places we encountered, Buen Retiro Park, a vast public park adjacent to the museum, stood out. Wikipedia tells me that its name means "Park of the Pleasant Retreat". Indeed. Whether one is seeking a relaxing space to lounge alone or picnic with friends, or a public space for an intense workout, one will find it in El Retiro. The rose garden within is a hidden gem.

El Retiro
Fallen Angels
La Rosaleda del Retiro
My secondary reason for visiting Madrid was to have a nice change of scenery while trying to get some rather stress-inducing work done. On that point too, Madrid delivered.

I stayed at U Hostels, a "luxury hostel" operating in the heart of Madrid. There was a swing set just outside my door and I made good use of it each and every night. So obviously, I highly recommend the place. I booked a week in a 6-person mixed dorm. Most nights it was empty, save for me and a girl or two, all friendly and respectful - but good roommates in a hostel is just plain luck. The entire hostel was clean and well-maintained, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet it got within the room itself, whatever else was going on. However, the in-room wireless was pretty poor; so I preferred to work in the common areas in the lobby with occasional breaks in the cinema room. For some god-awful reason, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo was on popular repeat play with the kiddies, so these breaks were kept short. Very, very short.

My other favourite work spot was Cafetería Santander. The online reviews are mediocre at best. However, it was my experience while in Madrid that highly-rated establishments (cafes and restaurants) tended to be expensive and disappointing - bland food generally - while the lower-rated hangouts had the most delicious food at the best prices. I loved breakfasts at Santander - I always ordered the same item on the menu, and they always brought out a different dish; but whatever they did bring was fantastic, and usually better than what I thought I was getting. Great eggs. Great tea. Great desserts, oh yeah! The two waiters, one waitress, and manager were totally cool with me, night or day. It's that sort of café culture - pop into a joint for a small meal and hang out all day, working and people-watching - that I sorely miss when in Paris.

Swingin' at U Hostels, Madrid
Gran Cafetería Santander
The Amazingly Constipated Spider-Man.
Hey Paisanos!
Plaza Mayor
Fat Spider-Man and Mini Fat Spider-Man!!!
Puerta del Sol
Nerd that I am, I made a short trip to the National Science and Technology Museum of Madrid, located in an old railway station. From the reaction of the two guards at the front desk, I imagine I might have been the only person to ever do so; that is, visitors appeared to be a rarity. It had a few interesting artifacts. On the way out, one of the guards gifted me a Spanish-language DVD set containing lectures on infectious diseases. I'm still not quite sure what to make of that. Overall, small, cute, and worth a visit if you've got time to kill or are looking to add to your DVD collection.

Mad Scientists.
La Prophétie des Grenouilles: La Morte!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Turbo Teen
Un Grand Bi
The Joker's Daughter
Turtle Man Slows Down for No One.
The Legend of Turtle Man: the Aftermath
Devaki Quixote
See Devaki and Jaye.
See Devaki and Jaye Swing.
Swing Girls, Swing!
Train Station: The Next Generation
We had a rockin' adventure in El Escorial where ... well, you know, some things should stay just between the people who experienced them; the internet's not great at capturing magic. Suffice it to say, we landed in town on the perfect day of the year for a visit. Great night, lots of fun.

El Escorial
The Parade
We can dance if we want to ...
We can leave your friends behind ...
'Cause your friends don't dance ...
And if they don't dance ...
Well they're no friends of mine.
Safety Dance.
Danny Carey wishes he was this good.
The Lords of Salem
The Royal Tenenbaums
Back in Australia, a number of acquaintances kept raving about Chocolateria San Churro to the point that I became curious and decided to give it a try. I can only fathom such crud as being popular because the locals have no idea what good chocolate or pastry is like. On the opposite extreme - Chocolatería San Ginés! It has been making "chocolate con churros" since 1894. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is so delicious. So ungodly delicious. There are criminal things I would be willing to do for just another taste.

I was sad to leave Madrid. Good friends, great chocolate, friendly smiling beautiful people, and a very relaxed atmosphere ... a guy could get used to that. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can return.