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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Jane Siberry solves 'crimes against common sense' in new YouTube interactive detective serie

Episode 3 of Jane Siberry's "P.I. Squid"

Jane Siberry, one fan keenly observes in relation to her new YouTube “interactive detective series” P.I. Squid, “is always looking for balance between the internal and the external.”

Indeed, P.I. Squid is the latest enchanting manifestation of the celebrated Canadian singer-songwriter’s depth as an artistic explorer, and finds her in the alter-ego guise of a private investigator and opening her own detective agency for investigating “crimes against common sense.”

The first episode, “How Does an Office Begin?,” premiered Oct. 13. The five-minute installment had Siberry, a.k.a. P.I. Squid, sitting alone at the desk of the new agency, writing down the names of her associates and taking her first call from an antique black desk phone: Not only was it a wrong number, but the caller, somewhat to Siberry’s annoyance, recognized her voice as that of Siberry the artist.

“Yeah, I’ve just set up a detective agency, and I’m just starting, really,” she wearily acknowledged, then perked up a bit. “Yeah, keep my number. If you have any problems give me a call…fantastic! I’d love you to call actually! I do hope you have problems….”

She hung up, then spoke directly to the viewer: “We extend an invitation to you to be part of this collective where we seek, search, go on a quest to find out anything that’s uncomfortable, unbalanced, against nature--which is balanced. We will do our very best to find a win-win solution, often with words--because a lot of us are musicians, writers. We’ll be very glad to help in any way.”

The initial episode closed with the message “Open for monkey business” and “Send cases to”

The second installment of P.I. Squid, “The Restoration of Order,” runs nine minutes and was released on Oct. 25. It opened with Siberry in the P.I. Squid office, surrounded by other P.I. friends, one preparing for a long journey and too busy to take a phone call, though Siberry did inform the caller that he won’t be back for 20 years.

“A detective story is not about a murder,” she then said to the camera in a quote attributed to the late English female detective novelist P.D. James. “It’s about the restoration of order.”

In this episode, she and her associates restored order to several cases starting with “The Case of the Missing Shelter,” which had to do with the removal of sheep shelters from huge fields in order to make it easier for watering--and thereby increase profits.

Sheep, said Siberry (who actually trained her border collie Gwyllym in sheep-herding), “are fine creatures and our brothers and sisters.” Her “common sense solution” was to erect four posts in places along the edges of the fields and top them with branches as a means of facilitating “as wonderful lives as possible for however long they are.”

After P.I. Bo (Toronto band Goodbye Honolulu’s Jacob Switzer) solved “The Case of the Purse on the Seat” (“calmly and kindly [and with no] annoyance in your voice” ask the perpetrator to remove the offending purse or bag from the seat next to them), Siberry discussed the neurology of intuition, and encouraged its use. She also ecstatically made note of a fireworks display in Wellington, New Zealand, that was postponed so as not to disturb a whale in the harbor with its calf: “Great news! Positive precedent! Common sense for the greater good! Win-win!”

Holding up a novel gadget called a “Vibe-O-Meter,” Siberry explained its use for measuring “the vibration” of an event, such that if one experiences a phone conversation starting to flag and finds verification from the Vibe-O-Meter, one can then kick the energy level back up.

The device was successfully employed in solving a case submitted from a viewer in Newfoundland (“The Case of the Personal Info Request”), who wanted to know how to respond to a retail checkout clerk asking for her email. The “win-win” solution was to observe the changes in vibration when saying “No,” “No thanks,” and “No thanks. I just use it for personal things”—the Vibe-O-Meter registering only 30 percent for the first response, 60 percent for the second, and 90 percent for the third.

But Siberry passed—temporarily—on a question about heels, pleading lack of knowledge about the subject but promising to look into it when the office hooks up to The Esoteric Hotline for Higher Level Information (“where we help you access what you already know”). Fortunately, the hook-up was achieved in time for P.I. Squid’s third episode, “Inching Toward Pith,” which premiered Friday. But unfortunately, the Hotline was already too busy when P.I. Squid was contacted by phone for a solution to “The Case of the Daily Liver Evisceration,” though she promised to get back to the caller after seeking “extra advice.”

The solution to “The Case of the Missing Sock” proved more satisfying, though. In assisting the client, Siberry suggested that the sock either fell between the washer and dryer, was in her pant leg and would be discovered later, or had fallen into “some kind of energetic dimension like the Bermuda Triangle--and if you ever find your way to this Socks Triangle, you might find your sock again.”

But P.I. Paula submitted a fourth possibility: “It’s not that you lost a sock—you’re gaining one, and that’s why you have an odd sock. Actually, I’m not quite sure how that works.” This understandably prompted P.I. Squid (Siberry) to ask if P.I. Paula had ingested sugar lately, the answer being yes.

“Oh,” said Squid/Siberry.

But P.I. Bo came up with the common sense solution: Buy the same socks.

Episode 3 also offers a “Positive Precedents” segment, with Siberry saluting Banff National Park in Alberta for “doing a fine job working with animals and humans in a win-win way” by building highway overpasses and underpasses for animals to lessen the increasing number of collisions. And in “The Case of ‘Dumb’ and ‘Dumber,’” a viewer, after observing the very low Vibe-O-Meter number when hearing a man beckon his dogs with the words “Dumb” and “Dumber,” convinced him to experiment with positive words.

The man then called his dogs with “Come, Loyal!” and “Come, Faithful!” and the Vibe-O-Meter “went way up [as a] clear indication that the power of words did have an effect.” The dogs’ owner, it should be noted, was quite pleased.

But Siberry stressed that P.I. Squid is not about “Be kind to animals.” Rather, it’s “learn from animals, because they’re teaching us about ourselves, too.”

She ended the installment by taking another call from the person who wanted to speak to the P.I. friend in Episode 2 who was leaving on a journey of 20 years, and assured the caller that the time away was in fact 20 years. “Can you wait ‘til then?” she asked.

The close of the episode plugged Siberry’s online “personal styling store” Magic-The-Dog, where she and her fellow artist/product creators offer various goods manifesting their love of style, design, dogs, all living things, beauty, quality and making people happy.

“Order your sexy chicken socks there,” instructed a final text message.

By the way, the music heard in the P.I. Squid episodes featured the intro/outro music from her 2016 album Ulysses’ Purse and piano pieces by Philadelphia film and video game composer David Hilowitz. The third episode also had an acapella version of Jane's ‘One More Colour’ by world/fusion vocalist Suba Sankaran.

Meanwhile, Siberry is set to perform in pop star Andy Kim’s holiday show Dec.4 in Toronto.



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