Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius (2008) performed by Halle

Categories: 2008 and Music.

I wouldn’t want my poor ears truly tested – blindly for example – but I feel like I am more and more hearing Elgar in Elgar: this piece is just so Elgar. In this case though, it’s not a bad thing. I feel like this is markedly superior to the other oratorios and I think it’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve heard of his outside of “Falstaff.” For once (well, really twice) I feel like the music lives up to its reputation. 8/10 Read More

Does T-Mac Belong in the Hall of Fame?

Categories: Hall of Fame, Hockey, and Sports.

Tracy McGrady retired the other day. Though it may seem a ridiculous question to ask whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame, I suggest we all look at the stats below before we completely write him off. Career: 30, 658 minutes played, 18,381 points, 5276 rebounds, 4161 assists, 1136 steals and 807 blocks in 938 games. Per 36 minutes: 21.6P, 6.2R, 4.9A, 1.3S, .9B Playoffs: 1724 minutes played, 1109 points, 286 rebounds, 249 assists, 53 steals, 47 blocks Per 36: 23.2P, 6R, 5.2A, 1.1S, 1B Accomplishments: Top 5 in minutes played once Top 5 in total points Read More

Faure: Requiem (1987) by Philippe Herreweghe, La Chapelle Royale, Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Louis, Ensemble Musique Oblique

Categories: 1987 and Music.

I don’t, as yet, listen to a lot of Requiems. So I can’t necessarily say how it fits in to history. But I can say that I wouldn’t be offended if someone played this at funeral. (Of course I couldn’t be offended, and hopefully there won’t be that kind of funeral…) As I have said elsewhere Faure is someone who has a lightness to much of his music which I might normally detest – or at least get occasionally annoyed by – but for some reason I don’t. I can’t really explain it. I doubt it’s rational, but in his Read More

Himalaya with Michael Palin (2004)

Categories: 2004 and TV.

This is yet another excellent Michael Palin travel series with the usual: great scenery, fascinating places and people, and Palin’s general affability. The only thing I can really say in criticism is that it seems a shame they were only able to get 6 hours out of 6 month trip through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. I am guessing that a longer series would have involved endless shots of him walking up or down or along a mountain. Well worth seeing for any fan of travel documentaries, as is always the case with everything he has Read More

Blitz (2011, directed by Elliot Lester)

Categories: 2011 and Movies.

So I know that this is based on a novel, and certainly the novelist didn’t set out to write a subversive Statham movie. But it seems at some point that the director decided to that.The movie opens with a typical Statham-beating-the-shit-out-of-people scene. And then we get none of that afterwards. Instead we get character development, and a sub-plot, and all sorts of other things we wouldn’t expect in a Staham vehicle. And it’s mostly done pretty well, though a little idiosyncratically: occasionally the music seems to wish it was in a traditional Staham vehicle. This may be the best use Read More

Berlioz: Les Nuits d’Ete; Faure; Ravel (2004, Virgin Classics) by David Daniels, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris conducted by John Nelson, et al

Categories: 2004 and Music.

I have always sort of been annoyed by our collective obsession with vocalists. The human voice is indeed a powerful instrument, but it is hardly the only instrument out there. And I always am mystified when I see releases credited to vocalists when that vocalist isn’t even present on every track. Now, the music here is intended to feature a vocalist but there are moments that do not and one piece that does not include vocals at all. Why feature it under a vocalists name? It doesn’t make any sense!!!!! Alright, I’m over it. Now, the real review begins: Frankly Read More

Faure: Complete Piano Works (2006 compilation) performed by Jean-Philippe Collard

Categories: 1863, 1875, 1877, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1888, 1889, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1902, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1913, 1915, 1919, 1921, 2006, and Music.

Faure’s music seems to my uneducated ears to be the missing link between composers like Chopin and Liszt and composers like Debussy and Satie. That’s really the best way I can size it up: this music often possesses the technical demands of Chopin, Debussy or Liszt, but it also often possesses the sense of momentness, for lack of a better word, of Debussy and Satie. It’s pretty great stuff, even if it isn’t quite of the calibre of those folks. The one knock against this particular collection I would say is the idiosyncratic sequencing. All the pieces of particular types Read More

Ironclad (2011, Jonathan English)

Categories: 2011 and Movies.

I guess there’s really not much to complain about with regard to the acting: this is one incredible cast for run of the mill knight action film. But the screenwriter(s), in addition to completely fudging the historical record, have apparently forgotten what century this film takes place during: we have talk about “relieving” an “officer” of command, we have talk about the divine right of kings, something that wasn’t even a concept for another 400 years, and all sorts of other modern nonsense that has no place in the 13th century, and of course it’s all in English! Doesn’t this Read More

Snuff (2008) by Chuck Palahniuk

Categories: 2008, Books, and Fiction.

I went through a few stages with this novel. At first I was thinking, ‘I think he wrote this just to piss people off, but it’s hilarious so I don’t care.’ Then I was thinking, ‘maybe this is his attempt at creating a gross version of As I Lay Dying.’ And some other thoughts passed through my head. But Palahniuk is so good at pushing the action forward to its surprise conclusion – which, knowing Palahniuk, we know is coming – that I sort of stopped caring what this was. It’s funny, it’s a page-turner, and it’s just edgy enough Read More

Your Guide to the Eligible Players Not Yet Admitted to the Hockey Hall of Fame Or: the Annual Hockey Hall of Fame Blog for 2013: Part 2

Categories: Hall of Fame, Hockey, and Sports.

Months ago I wrote a post about the recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductees. And I planned on following up with a post of those still not selected. However, this year that post turned into an attempt to make a complete list. The result is incredibly long and has taken me ages to assemble. So now I present to you most of the NHL players who have some kind of case for inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame. If you don’t see your pet candidate here, please comment and I will do something about that. (I will either add Read More

The Port Chicago Mutiny (1989) by Robert L. Allen

Categories: 1989, Books, and Non-Fiction.

I was actually completely unaware of the occurrence of the Port Chicago explosion or subsequent “mutiny”, so this book was quite eye-opening. I don’t want to open this can of worms, but I think I have too: unfortunately this account is too focused on race and the individual, subjective experiences of the African American seamen who participated in the work stoppage. I say this because Allen has assembled a lot of damning information about Navy policies and actions that caused this explosion – and the successful blaming of the explosion on black sailors – but by focusing so much on Read More

The Entertainer (1960, Tony Richardson)

Categories: 1960 and Movies.

I have to say that I have been somewhat of an Olivier sceptic most of my film-viewing life. I feel like his Shakespeare performances are all very fine but pretty traditional and most of his work I am familiar with – from the tail end of his career – never really made me feel like he was a great actor. I feel like I was more into his direction of Henry V than I was of his performance. Anyway, this film changed my mind. This has to be one of the performances of the decade; his character is so foreign Read More

Wolfe Island Music Festival 2013

Categories: 2013 and Music.

This was my third – I think – year attending the Wolfe Island Music Festival (#WIMF) and though I can’t say that I found it as musically entertaining as previous years I had a good time as always at pretty much the only festival I manage to get my ass too. On Friday night we found ourselves in a line to get our wristbands, which was a bit of a surprise. Not the line itself, just the length. We spent most of Bahamas’ set – and we had already missed his opener, Nick Ferrio – waiting in line. We did Read More

And the hits just keep on coming: The Leafs Extend Mark Fraser

Categories: Hockey, Sports, and The Campaign to Fire Brian Burke.

So the Leafs avoided arbitration with…Mark Fraser. Most of us were hoping that sentence ended with Nazem Kadri but alas, it does not. The 1 year, $1.275 mil salary is a raise of 100% which is surely fitting in this market because of his career year. But I think we have to think about Fraser and his role on the Leafs going forward: he has been a career AHLer to date and likely benefited from the same luck that the team benefited from when it made the playoffs despite getting out-shot consistently; does it make sense to extend someone like Read More

Biutiful (2010, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

I always want to like his movies. I appreciate his attempts at realism and especially his attempts to convey the complexity of life, something which most filmmakers ignore. And he almost always gets great performances from his usually great casts. But wow, does he ever need someone to say no to him. Every Inarritu movie has about 10 too many ideas in it for its own good and Biutiful is no exception to that. There is a lot to like here but it’s all moments of power or pathos or what have you and they are drowning in more plot Read More

Deep Star Six (1989, Sean S. Cunningham)

Categories: 1989 and Movies.

Though Leviathan has the cast – Peter Weller! Richard Crenna! Daniel Stern! – whereas this one is populated with That Guys, Deep Star Six does a significantly better job with the setup than Leviathan. It’s not as cerebral – and not as good – as The Abyss but it has some surprisingly quality performances and enough sense to postpone the monster reveal for a fairly long time. The monster is also slightly more believable, I guess. The cliches of this sub-genre are all still here, but there’s enough subtle tension to keep you interested. Yes, things could have been better: Read More

Evil Dead: The Musical (2007 Original Cast Recording)

Categories: 2007 and Music.

It’s amazing how tastes change. When I saw this a number of years ago I absolutely loved it. But it took me forever to get my hands on the soundtrack. (I deeply regretted not buying it at the show.) But now I am listening to it in a post-Book of Mormon world and what can I say? I am disappointed. It’s not that it’s bad; it is pretty funny and occasionally clever but it lacks polish and more than a few of the lines go for either fan knowledge or groaners. The music, though referential enough, still reeks of its Read More