Category Archives: Recollections

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s Lessons In Womanhood

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, according to Sarah, has some merits that may not be obvious on the surface of the camp horror film.

That’s why she wrote “Nothing Has Prepared Me For The Reality of Womanhood Better Than ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2′” for Electric Literature.

To read the whole essay click here.

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Filed under Culture, Films, Recollections, Shameless Promotion

Matt Good Tried To Create His Own Broken Social Scene

Matthew Good

Matthew Good

Matthew Good, Can-rock’s number one provocateur, says he attempted to create his own Vancouver version of Broken Social Scene, Toronto’s critically-lauded space jam indie rock outfit.

“I’ve tried to. I’ve tried to,” says Good, explaining how the BSS-imitation was one of many artistic ventures he’s embarked on since the Matthew Good Band officially dissolved in 2001. “I’ve tried to form tons of different side-projects. But you get involved with people and — a lot of the people I’ve been involved with — they just, it just turns into a power struggle. And all I ever want to do in those bands is just play rhythm guitar. I don’t even want to sing.”

As part of an interview for the cover story of Chart Magazine’s upcoming September 2004 issue — his first interview with the mag since ’01 — Good discussed BSS, as well as a wide range of topics including the final days of MGB, his new album (White Light Rock & Roll Review), his humanitarian efforts and related fights with right-wing organizations, his affection for country music, and some of the artistic ventures he hopes to tackle in the future.

Good’s Social Scene attempt came after listening to BSS’s You Forgot It In People album, one of his recent favourites.

“The last Broken Social Scene record I listened to quite a bit and I thought was really interesting,” he says. “A lot of the ideas on it were really, really good.”

Don’t think Good’s motives were all pure, though. Seeing how Good has been the rock ‘n’ roll point- person/figurehead for the last 10 years as a band leader and solo artist, being part of a jam-out gang would have given him some time to, in Don Cherryspeak, have a few “pops.”

“My idea of paradise is going on tour once in my life where I don’t have to go to bed early because I have to sing the next day,” he says. “I can just have a beer and talk to people and play guitar. Paradise.

“The collective idea is really interesting. It would probably be more interesting to see how long it would last really. ‘Cuz it can get a little convoluted… And it does have that kinda really cool factor to it.”

This news piece was originally published August 13, 2004 via Chart Communications.

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Franz Ferdinand, Hot-Blooded Girls And Fan Fiction

Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand

A long time ago in a publishing galaxy far, far away, Sarah once interviewed Franz Ferdinand about “hot-blooded girls” (the band’s words) who wrote fan fiction pairing them up with Morrissey.

At the time she thought she had started something fun… and now she’s not too sure.

To read the whole story, head over to A.Side by clicking here.

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Things I Ate At The CNE In 2017

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2017.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2017.

Stunt food is officially a thing now at the Canadian National Exhibition. Every vendor seems to have at least one bizarre item on their menu — “charcoal” everything is particularly popular this year — which is a good thing because it’s looking like I’m going to be heading to the Ex on at least four occasions in the next two weeks and I’m not going to run out of options.

For round one I enlisted the help of multiple time Juno Award and Polaris Music Prize-nominated rapper and hilarious Instagram ninja D-Sisive to bear witness to the things I put in my mouth.

Here’s what I ate at the CNE on opening day Friday, August 18:

Bacon Nation Pig Mac. Maple smoked back bacon, regular bacon, cheese and lettuce with a hamburger patty on a bright red dyed bun to honour Canada 150. The red bun is a good gimmick visually, but this is really just a tricked out bacon burger. The fries were pretty good, though. 6.3/10.

 

Sprite. The oppressive ubiquity of Coca-Cola products at the Ex is something that’s bugged me forever. But I forgot to bring a water bottle and needed a container with a bottle cap. It tasted like Sprite. 5.3/10

 

Philthy Philly’s Strawberry Short Steak. People have surprisingly strong reactions to the idea of the Straw Berry Short Steak. It’s a philly cheesesteak sandwich slathered in strawberry syrup and whipped cream and topped with icing sugar. It’s not bad so much as it’s… not exactly what you want out of a steak sandwich. 6.1/10

 

Chloe’s Donut Ice Cream Sandwich. I’m a big fan of the midway classic, the waffle ice cream sandwich. As such, I tried to replicate it at Chloe’s booth. You can bam these up with different flavours and condiments, but I went traditional vanilla. Taste-wise, it’s fine. Where it falls apart, though, is when it literally starts to fall apart and the ice cream starts seeping through the donut, leaving your hands a sticky mess. When compared to the relative stability of the waffle sandwich, this just doesn’t stand up. 6/10

 

Interlude. Salad doesn’t appear to be a big draw at the Ex this year.

 

Fruit Punch Powerade. Sometimes you need a pick-me-up. This didn’t really “pick me up,” but it did stave off the worst of the dehydration. 5.3/10

 

Canadian Bacon Pickle Ball. This is a hot dog, stuffed in a pickle, wrapped in bacon, then deep fried. I had *really* high hopes for this, because I like both corndogs and deep fried pickles. It doesn’t work, though. There’s too much going on. 5.5/10

 

Deep Fried Chicken Foot. This is probably the most polarizing stunt food at the Ex this year. Either you’re completely freaked out and appalled by its mere existence or you’re, like, “Yeah, poor people have been eating chicken feet forever. No big deal.” “Eating” is a relative term here. There’s not much to eat. It’s basically bits of skin hidden under a layer of eggroll-y batter. It’s a pain in the ass to try chewing apart, so I gave up pretty quickly. As food, this is a 5/10. As a thing to freak out your friends on Facebook, 8.3/10.

 

Cake Shack Double Brownie. This was amazing. Two very good chocolate brownie slabs with a whomp of buttercream icing, some mini-peanut butter cups and a few crackles of Skor-like caramel bits. I was already super-full by the time I had this, and it’s huge on its own, so I didn’t enjoy it all that much. But it’s a beauty. 7.2/10

 

Bonus guest shot. Shoutouts to my eating companion for the day, rap and Instagram star, D-Sisive.

Round Two, September 1

Deep Fried Cheese Curds. We had sky-high expectations for these, having tried them the first time on a trip to Vegas and essentially seeing the face of god in our mouths. Alas, these didn’t quite match the meticulous Vegas fried curds. These were good, and the texture was appealing, but they were so heeeaavvvy. 7.3/10

 

Spaghetti Donut Balls’ Savory Fried Spaghetti Donut Ball. This was not really weird at all. Or particularly “donut-y.” It could probably work as a good trick to make a kid eat their spaghetti. 6/10

 

Barq’s Cream Soda. I like cream soda. This was cream soda. Also, it was clear coloured and not loaded up with no. 9 industrial red dye. 5.6/10

 

Interlude. Butter sculptures of Justin Trudeau with pandas and the viral capybara family.

 

Interlude. #DeadRacoonTO. I completely flipped out for this because I consider Dead Racoon the best manifestation of smart ass Toronto Twitter. Then I realized this year’s butter sculptures were entirely about viral Toronto animals and I got angry because IKEA monkey wasn’t there. Well, it turns out IKEA monkey *was* there and I somehow completely ignored it/it didn’t register with me. I’m blaming the butter sculptors because if their IKEA monkey was better sculpted I would have figured it out.

 

Farm To Fryer Mac and Curd Chimichanga. This was a little on the plain side, if entirely acceptable. It was ferociously thermodynamically hot, though, partially melting my plastic knife when I cut it in half. 6.6/10

 

Eative Very Berry Nitro Sorbet. The very beleagured woman at the counter had a whole speech ready to explain that the sorbet would *not* make your mouth puff out nitro smoke (that was their “Dragon’s Breath” offering). That said, somehow a dramatic nitro smoke effect is involved in the creation of the berry sorbet. I suppose it might be exciting to some people to witness. As sorbet, it was fine. 6.7/10

 

Chimney Stax Crazy 4 Caramel cone. These fancy ice cream cone thingees feature a baked chimney cone dipped in chocolate with crushed pretzel and caramel popcorn coating, a two-bite cinnamon bun and salted caramel sauce on soft serve. It’s a very, very tasty combination. It is also monstrously, unreasonably, borderline unnavigatably massive. Every bite you take is small act of surrendering one’s dignity to the inevitability of your chin or nose or, maybe, ear somehow inadvertently getting slimed by the cone. It takes you out of the experience and makes something that’s otherwise amazing a bit of a chore. 7.2/10

Rounds Three & Four, September 2-3

I went to concerts at the CNE on these days, so I got some more bonus food in.

Fran’s Southern Slang. Buttermilk chicken on a cinnamon sweet bun with coleslaw and chocolate sriracha sauce. Fran’s is usually super on-point straddling the line between tasty diner food and county fair novelty creations. The slang, however, didn’t quite sit right. The chicken was great — think KFC Big Crunch, but probably with 23% less mystery chemicals — and the slaw was fine. But the dumb cinnamon bun was unnecessary. 7/10

 

Fran’s Root Beer Float. Soft serve vanilla ice cream, root beer and a bit of whipped cream. You can’t really screw this up. 6.8/10

 

Corn Dog. A midway standard. See below in 2010 for a review.

 

Coca-Cola. It would be funnier if they put vaguely lurid lines on the bottles instead of “First Kiss.” Like, who wouldn’t be entertained by “Heavy Petting” or “Butt Squeeze” or “Leering Old Man”? That would make me love this product more. 5.1/10

 

Reese Flurry. They did NOT skimp on the “reese” part of this flurry. The well-ground peanut butter ‘n’ chocolate chunks filled the whole substantial cup and probably dinged me up about 2,000 calories. 7/10

 

Cowboy Taters. Deep fried taters topped with smoked brisket, southern cheese sauce, tomatoes, green onion, guacamole and sour cream. This was some tasty shit. About $5 too expensive, but still. In a sea of weird food combinations, this succeeded by being just a wee bit weird and having a wonderfully simple combination of things. 7.3/10

 

Additional reading:

Things I ate at the CNE in 2016. Including Bug Dog with Roasted Crickets and Deep Fried Butter Tarts.

Things I ate at the CNE in 2015. Including Corrado’s S&M Burger and Iron Skillet’s Frosted Flakes Chicken On A Stick.

Things I ate at the CNE in 2014. Including Fran’s Thanksgiving Turkey Waffle and Coco’s Fried Chicken Cocoa Chicken.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2013. Including Nutella Jalapeno Poppers and the S’more Dog.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2012. Including the Chocolate Eclair Dog and Bacon Nation Nutella BBBLT.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2011. Including the Krispy Kreme Hamburger and Deep Fried Twix.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2010. Including Deep Fried Butter and Taco In A Bag.

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I Was A Professional Pillow Fighter

The women of the Pillow Fight League on Good Morning America.

The women of the Pillow Fight League on Good Morning America.

GLOW, the new semi-fictional Netflix show about real ’80s TV show G.L.O.W., the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling, struck pretty close to home in the Risky Fuel household.

That’s because Sarah spent some time in her younger days as part of the Pillow Fight League, which, exactly as it sounds, was a professional pillow fight league.

There were a lot of eerie parallels between GLOW and the PFL so Sarah called up some old fighting colleagues and reminisced about it in a feature story for VICE.

To read the story go here.

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Iron Maiden’s Gamble Pays Off

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden

LIVE: Iron Maiden
October 16, 2006
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, ON

For a legendary metal act like Iron Maiden it was a bold and brash gesture when, four songs in, singer Bruce Dickinson declared they were going to play their entire new album, A Matter Of Life And Death, from start to finish. That would mean 10 dense songs, a few of the more sprawling numbers licking just under 10 minutes in length, eating up more than 70 minutes of the concert’s running time.

Under normal circumstances, this could have been riot-fodder for the well-merchandised near-capacity banger crowd, but Dickinson played things deftly by declaring that Canadian fans propelled A Matter Of Life And Death to debut at #2 on the SoundScan album sales chart (their highest Canadian debut), so Canada was going to be rewarded with more Maiden shows in the future. Pavlovian, sure, but his speech came right at the point where the assembled metalheads were just starting to restlessly realize, “Hey, fuck, this ain’t ‘Powerslave.'” It turned the whole building in Maiden’s favour.

The early numbers — “Different World,” “These Colours Don’t Run” and the excellent “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns” — were well-received, but it wasn’t until the post-speech blast of the galloping “The Longest Day” that Maiden’s hold was solidified. The front half of the general admission floor was a frothing mass and there were salutary fist-pumps arena-wide.

“Out Of The Shadows” followed. It was Dickinson’s best and most dynamic vocal performance of the night. Unfortunately, though, it was wasted on the album’s most tepid song.

From there, it was on to the constructed-for-Rock-In-Rio-singalong-songs, starting with “The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg” and followed by the reflective yet epic “For The Greater Good Of God.” The last four songs were heavy on the”Oi-oi-oi-oi-oi” and “Whoa-ooo-OO-oo” participatory theatre that Maiden songs never really had to trade in before, and it felt somewhat pandering.

Still, just when Maiden ran the risk of backsliding and losing the audience, they jumped headfirst into their back catalogue. First up was ’92’s “Fear Of The Dark,” followed closely by the set-closer and highlight of the night, “Iron Maiden.”

During the song, the stage morphed Transformers-style into a giant tank with the ubiquitous Eddie on top in military garb. Spinal Tap-ish though it was, there are few things cooler than seeing Maiden’s zombie mascot, 30 feet tall, at the helm of a Sherman.

This dovetailed into the evils-of-war-themed encore section of “2 Minutes To Midnight,” “The Evil That Men Do” and grand finale “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” The three songs were delivered with fire, sending the audience to a well-executed peak.

Walking through the hallways of the ACC afterwards, the building was still roaring. The crowd filing out were cheering, yelling, high-fiving and bellowing “Maiiiii-dennnn!” Proof that the band’s gambit, A Matter Of Life And Death, paid off.

This review was originally published October 18, 2006 via Chart Communications.

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Morrissey Exhumes The Smiths Live In Hamilton

Morrissey live in Hamilton.

Morrissey live in Hamilton.

LIVE: Morrissey
February 14, 2000
Hamilton Place
Hamilton, Ontario

“Half A Person.”

“Meat Is Murder.”

“Is It Really So Strange?”

“Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me.”

“Shoplifters Of The World Unite.”

Five Smiths songs. Betcha you’re kicking yourself for not making the drive to Hamilton now.

After dropping so many of the “oldies” as Mozzer so quaintly referred to them, let’s face it, any sort of objective criticism went out the window. And there were more than a few things which could have flown back in Morrissey’s face this night: He chose to play the steeltown of Hamilton rather than Toronto, a mere hour away (but now that I think about it, Moz has always had a strange working-class fixation despite his pure bourgeois ponce). He has no record label, largely due to the fact his last record, Maladjusted, was truly horrible. And, at 40 or so, Moz isn’t exactly the winsome young turk that made sexually ambiguous hearts flutter back in The Smiths days.

Still, by about the third song in, all of the potential black marks against this show were rendered moot, showing just what kind of performance Stephen Patrick could put on.

Moz started out slowly, with a three-pack of mid-tempo numbers that included “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” and “I Am Hated For Loving.” They were warmly received and prompted the obligatory surge of Moz diehards to the front of the stage, which was surprisingly easy considering that Hamilton Place is a soft-seat venue (and yes, everybody was standing throughout the show, something I’m not sure would have happened if Moz had played in the more dour surroundings of Massey Hall in Toronto).

Things really got going, however, when the festivities were sped up with “Billy Budd” and “November Spawned A Monster.” By this time Moz had launched his first sweaty t-shirt into the crowd and had his first stage-invader.

Throughout it all, Moz was peppering the crowd with witty banter, coy lines and even some jokes. He was laughing and jovial, and it truly was a departure from his customary tortured writhing. That injection of humour just may have been what helped get him over this night as well. We know Morrissey’s days of playing to 12,000 at Maple Leaf Gardens are over, and you have to admit he’s haggaring somewhat. But he’s smart enough to know that if he’s getting his people to not only travel an hour from Toronto to see him, but drop $40 for the privilege of doing so, he better do more than leave them stewing in a nostalgic fog recalling how that special boy or girl broke their heart.

I must say though, that nostalgic fog felt pretty good when the band broke into Smiths’ classic “Half A Person.” Like a bolt of electricity, this instantly sent a shock through the crowd. At this point, there were no more questions about Moz’s performance or appearance. Everybody was in the palm of his hand. From there, the crowd lapped up “Hairdresser On Fire” (turned into a faux rip on London, Ontario) and “Boxers” before a tempo change once again with “Now My Heart Is Full.”

With the crowd firmly hooked, the stagelights turned a blaring red and Moz entered into “Meat Is Murder.” If the first half of the show was about a friendlier, Moz-as-entertainer vibe, “Meat Is Murder” brought back all the morbid loathing that drew all those lonely-yet-haughty-types to The Smiths so long ago in the first place. Wrenching and poignant, it would have made a fine conclusion to the evening, except there was still more to come.

A crowd-stoking “Is It Really So Strange?” and “Alma Matter” closed off the regularly scheduled program for the evening. But when Moz and the boys re-emerged at the encore to perform “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” and “Shoplifters Of The World Unite,” the crowd broke into their biggest singalong of the whole evening in addition to prompting a renewed rush of stage invaders.

It was something of an abrupt end considering Moz had only just set the assembled masses into a frenzy, but you’re not going to hear much complaining. About the only thing that could have made the night better would have been a double shot of “Pretty Girls Make Graves” and “Panic.” And besides, how many times are you ever going to hear the Moz play five Smiths songs again?

This review was originally published February 18, 2000 via Chart Communications.

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