Stereotypical

When I first started my job, a local clothier was liquidating his inventory of plaid shirts, and for ridiculous single-digit prices.  Succumbing to momentary insanity, convinced it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I stocked up.

My hasty shopping spree left me relegated to wear oxford-style tartan for years to come.  Workplace associates would later proclaim that plaid became my personal trademark.

The following Halloween, everyone in the office donned plaid shirts to celebrate my limited, and somewhat lacking, fashion sense.Scary_Plaid

As the company I.T. guy, I prided myself  on building rapport and improving morale whenever possible.  Often this meant helping with menial tasks, which many times interrupted my mundane technical responsibilities, but more importantly, provided an excuse to shed my necktie.

The Friday before last, ladies in accounting had requested my assistance with carrying boxed files to the basement storage.Matching_Plaid

With banker boxes heaped five high on the handcart, my free hand fumbled to call the elevator.  The doors parted to expose the empty car. Using the old heave-ho, the cart’s rubber tires protested lethargically, but eventually conceded the threshold from marble tile onto elevator carpet.  With a closing clunk, the car descended.

The lift slowed, stopped, and divided doors on fifteen.  Motion from the lobby was absent.  The symmetrical panels reached to reseal the compartment, until interrupted by an arm adorn with a monogrammed gold cufflink.  The doors recoiled to reveal a polished executive.  He boarded the car.

“Sorry…  I hate to hold up anyone getting paid by the delivery,” said the dapper gentleman.

My eyebrow arched.  A forced smirk failed to conceal my grimace.

“…or do you delivery guys get paid by the hour?”

My mind turned introspective.  My getup looked neither like FedEx, nor UPS, and I hadn’t a clipboard, nor even a courier crest sewn to my chest.  What made me appear to be a delivery guy?  Was it the plaid?

Ideas for a witty rebuttal simply vanished.

Constraining the truth, I muttered, “…something like that.”

————————————————————————————————————————–

The story mentioned above was inspired by the Trifecta: Week Seventy-Nine writing challenge.  This week’s prompt required me to write a response, 33 to 333 words in length, containing the word APPEAR  (specifically using its third definition).

APPEAR
1a : to be or come in sight <the sun appears on the horizon>
b : to show up <appears promptly at eight each day>
2: to come formally before an authoritative body <must appear in court today>
3: to have an outward aspect : seem <appears happy enough>

The Show Goes On

Work has been all consuming recently in a way that leaves me wondering, “Why I do whatever it is that I do at work?”  Is that how a midlife crisis feels?  Pondering questions and searching for meaning and purpose?  If  it is  indeed a midlife crisis, would I even know it?

So…

Tonight, Sara Bareilles played live in Vancouver, but I’m here in Calgary.  Yes, I’m simply here, and slightly disappointed that I’m still in Calgary.  Just like most nights…

Brave_Tour

When I first heard Sara Bareilles was playing a couple Canadian cities, Toronto and Vancouver, I thought, “This is my chance!  I’ll fly to Vancouver, see the concert, and catch an overnight flight back after the show.  That way I won’t even have to spring for a hotel!  I could even be back in time to be at work the next morning (not that I would be productive).  The concert takes place at this artsy little theater called the Rio, and Vancouver’s Sky Train has a station close by the theater… I won’t even have to rent a car.  This will be awesome!”

WestJet

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  Flights to either Canadian mega-city were a wee bit outside my budget.  And not that it would be so bad to break the budget once in a while.  My problem is that I’ve already broken the budget one too many times.

While I wallow in my disappointment, being tired from work, I’m left to express my thoughts here.  While writing this entry, I happen on this concert clip which just seems to go with the moment…

Special thanks to Peter Wu for uploading this clip to YouTube

Maybe a letter, the kind that never gets sent, would be appropriate for the moment…

Dear Sara,

You don’t know me, and I suspect we’ll never meet face-to-face.  If we ever did meet, I  wouldn’t know what to say and nor would it sound intelligent.  I’m pretty sure if we had went to school together, we would have been freakish friends at best.  Okay, I’d probably been the freakish one.

I wish I’d been able to make your concert tonight.  It wasn’t meant to be this time, but rest assured, I’ll add it to my future bucket list (and mark it: things to do for sure).  Instead, tonight I’m doing the dad thing, the trying to do the right and responsible dad thing for my wife and kids.

“What?” you ask.  A father that listens to your music…?  I know, I know.  I’m not your usual demographic, but for some reason much of your music resonates with me.

I hope your next album, Blessed Unrest, proves to be a huge commercial success (that way you’ll keep touring, and maybe even come to Calgary one day.  No?  I guess a Calgarian can always dream).  Until then… all the best to you!

Sincerely,

Dad (not to be confused with your own Dad)

STAGEIT… featuring Lenka

Sara Bareilles is the first performance I ever saw on StageIt.  The second, just last Sunday, was a concert hosted by the Australian pop singer, Lenka.  Never heard of her?  Neither had my wife, so consider yourself in good company.  If you’ve scene the Windows 8 commercial linked below, then you’ve definitely heard Lenka.  Not necessarily my favorite song from Lenka, but her music indeed.

The StageIt company hosts live concerts through their virtual venue online.  Typically, these concerts are smaller productions, intimate in nature, and stream live from the performer’s studio, kitchen, or living room.

Lenka’s music is something I accidentally discovered while searching Youtube for a specific scene from Inglourious Basterds, dubbed Chapter Five: Revenge of the Giant Face.   In the Quentin Tarantino film, Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), the pretty protagonist, finalizes her revenge plans upon the murderous Nazi oppressors.  Maybe it’s because I’m a part of that MTV generation, but I especially like how the film’s scenes play out to the tune of David Bowie’s Cat People (…putting out fires with gasoline).

The clip I was actually looking for was something like this…

The Lenka clip I ended up discovering along the way was this…

(As you can see above) I stumbled upon a well-edited music video where the creator uses clips of Inglourious Basterds set to Lenka’s song, Trouble is a Friend.  Technology has clearly blossomed  since the birth of early MTV; now just about anyone with a half decent computer can make their own music videos, and many of these home-brewed productions look really professional.  Lenka was new to me.  My curiosity lead me to investigate more of her music.  I end up watching her very creative offerings on YouTube (Trouble is a Friend and The Show).  I’m not what people might call a raving Lenka fan (nor anyone for that matter), but I do enjoy her music and have added it to my personal soundtrack (the ever-growing eclectic unofficial soundtrack for my life).

Like with so many of my online searches, I start surfing for one specific purpose.  Somewhere along the way I follow a link, click another, then another, and then many URLs (and hours) later I end up in a totally different place than what was planned.  It leaves me wondering, “Where does all the time go?”  This last week, I received an email invitation to see Jars of Clay at (or on) StageIt.  While investigating the concert date for Jars, I notice a banner advertising that Lenka’s backyard concert in a couple days.  It sounds cool and costs less than a latte; sign me up!

Concert Day:

Sunday is a typical spring day in Calgary–the kind that makes locals want to hibernate because of the relentless snow (more snow, and… yep, more snow).  My family and I gather round the TV to watch Lenka on StageIt’s live broadcast from sunny Sydney, Australia.  My kids watch for about five minutes before their attention spans fade.  Jana indicates that she’s not a really “into” Lenka’s voice.  I like to think her musical tastes are still developing.  Justin says, “Dad, I’m enjoying the show, but there’s video game missions that need to be completed before bedtime.”  Meanwhile, Lenka, her drummer,  a violinist, and another fellow playing the cello perform a handful of songs from her living room to our home.

During concerts, StageIt provides a way for viewers to text messages to the Performer (which are view-able by members of the audience, assuming they’re reading along instead of watching the concert).  Multitasking isn’t my forte, hence I opt to remain “textually” silent.  For a concert, the visual quality seems a bit rough around the edges, but the audio is far than I had expected, especially since its streaming from the far side of the globe.  Despite being light on production or polish, Lenka’s show totally makes up for it because of the intimate feel of the whole thing.  Before the performance, I knew of Lenka as a vocalist and musician.  It turns out she’s also an actress, a sculpturist,  a songwriter, and even an crafty artist who creates set decorations!  In highschool, if Lenka was my classmate, friends would have joked that she was becoming a real Renaissance Man (well actually a Renaissance Woman). Classmates and I stole the term Renaissance Man as a polite way of teasing someone who might be considered an overachiever.

Lenka

In between songs Lenka draws attention to this site called PledgeMusic.com.  I kind of understood it involved a charity and charities are mentioned on Pledge Music, but whatever the case…  a person can make pledges to finance artists’ projects.  So figuring I might enjoy her new album (available in June 2013), I investigate.  Much to my surprise, Lenka fans can pledge money for not just her new album, but also some pretty amazing creations handcrafted by Lenka herself… very personable.

Signed Posters, CDs, and even Vinyl — $28 to $93
Artistic Doodles on Handwritten Lyric Sheets — $63 — Great idea!
Baby Bibs — $38 — Sorry, not for me as my wife lovingly reminds me that she ONLY signed up for two kiddos *sigh*
Crafty Stuff — $48 to $138
Mystery Craft Stuff — $138 — Oooh!?  Sounds mysterious!
Crafty Fashion Stuff — $138 — Snazzy! Unfortunate for me it cost more than my whole wardrobe :-S
20 Minute Skype Chat — $100 — Intriguing!  It’s not everyday you get to speak face-to-face with a  Renaissance Woman!
Personalized Ring Tone or Greeting  — $150 – Cool! And practical too!  It’s a shame that no one ever calls me.

and the kicker…
A Personalized Lullaby — only $1,500 — Awesome! I wish I needed (or could enjoy) a lullaby, but I’m all lights out when my head hits the pillow.

jgh_LENKA_SHADOWS_cdsleevelayout_2I’m looking forward to hearing some new Lenka in June.  The Pledge Music profile describes her new album, Shadows, as “… a collection of lullabies for adults…Lenka style.”  Interesting.  Until then, I guess I’ll just sing myself to sleep.