This is a memoir by a Hungarian-Canadian about her Grandfather and her early life in Hungary. Her Grandfather was full of stories about their family and Hungary. Though these stories are probably quite compelling for some people, particularly Hungarians but also anyone who enjoys a good yarn, I had trouble caring. I am somebody who is much more interested in truthful history than in imagined history. I understand why people would prefer the latter, but I do not. And so I struggled with the first 100 or so pages of this book. Read More
I know nothing about electronic music and even less about turntabilism. My only exposure to the latter comes through an obscure Canadian jazz record that features some. So I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m told this record is a landmark in the genre, because before it, turntabilists just showed off their instrumental skills over some generic beats. If that’s true, then this must seem like it’s from another planet. Instead of generic beats, we get a collage of sounds and voice samples, manipulated by Kid Koala, often to humourous effect, and often acting as a statement about Read More
In my quest to hear the sources of nearly everything, sometimes I stumble upon stuff that I really shouldn’t have, music that is just not for me. This twofer is one of those things; it’s a compilation that pairs a compilation (seriously) with what appears to be a release for orchestra. Read More
This is a fairly uproarious comic novel about the fine line between truth and fiction, that also functions as a critique of medieval logic and reasoning and as a celebration/satire of the power of myth (and faith, and belief). But I felt a nagging sense of deja vu the entire time I was reading it. Because, though the story is drastically different than Foulcault’s Pendulum in terms of setting, characters and their goals, and the target of the critique – in this case the kind of backwards reasoning and reliance on belief over fact that gave us the ontological “argument” Read More
1990, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010, 2011, Best of, Compilation, Heavy Metal, Metal, Music, and New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
I accidentally picked this up thinking it was a compilation of their ’80s music. Ah well. I learned a couple of things from this record: First, Iron Maiden has a formula and they stuck to it (at least on the songs considered their “best”). Second, I should never get a live Iron Maiden album. It’s pretty clear from listening to this record that Maiden is just milking their sound for all its worth. Sure, some of these songs are pretty catchy and everything is very professional and competent, but so many of these songs follow the exact same formula. And Read More
1901, 1902, 1910, 1911, 1916, 1919, 1929, 1973, 1976, 1994, 1995, 2000, Modernism, Music, Orchestral Music, Post Modernism, and Symphony.
This is one of those Decca compilations that takes recordings from all over its catalogue (in this case from the mid ’70s and the mid ’90s) to create an ostensibly “complete” collection of a composer’s works in a given field, in this case Ives’ work for large orchestra. Of course it’s not complete, as it’s only the first four symphonies (Ives wrote 5 plus an unfinished one) and only two of the three” orchestral sets” (sort of American tone poems, though that description isn’t entirely accurate…). And, to fit on the disks, the sequencing is totally out of whack as Read More
I struggle with a lot of the name metal bands out there because it feels like it’s not only acceptable but expected for metal bands to one thing (or, in this case, a couple things) well, stick to it. But that doesn’t work for me. My favourite bands are almost all diverse; for whatever reason I like it more when a band can do many things well or even when a band tries to convince itself and its fans that it can do many things well, even if it sometimes fails in the attempt. And so I find myself listening Read More
I have never read a single Steven King novel or short story – I know, I know – and I don’t write fiction, but this book was recommended highly, and I figured I would give it a try given the struggles I am experiencing with my current project. King is an engaging, entertaining writer. He is so extremely relatable, it’s easy for me to imagine how his characters in his novels connect with people. The mini memoir/autobiography that opens the book is so good it makes me want to read a full autobiography (even though much would be lost on Read More
Brackeen’s playing is accomplished and encompasses multiple styles. She incorporates much of jazz piano history into her style: at times she almost hearkens back to ragtime but she is fully capable of playing as avant garde as anyone else. Her cover of “Michelle” is the best jazz version of it I’ve ever heard and everything else here is strong too. Great stuff, and I’ll need to check out her other records. 8/10 Read More
1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, Acid Rock, Blues Rock, Box Set, Funk Rock, Hard Rock, Music, Psychedelic Rock, and Psychedelic Soul.
This is an exhaustive collection of Experience alternate takes, outtakes, alternate mixes and live performances. For the Hendrix completist, it’s probably more essential than any of the other studio rarities collections that have come out, just because it shows off more facets of his playing and his experimentation – unlike those studio rarities collections, which are mostly demos, or those live sets which show him in an altogether different light – than any other set. This is as complete a picture you’ll get of the Experience (and Hendrix himself) outside of the original studio albums plus Band of Gypsies. But Read More
This is one of those mildly amusing sit coms that everyone goes nuts for because it’s British. Okay, maybe that’s a little mean. But I feel like this premise (irascible shop owner and his friends) has been done before. To be honest, it took me a really long time to warm up to this show. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood. I do feel like it got funnier as it went on, even if the pattern of the jokes really didn’t change much. Sit Coms are generally boring. This is better than many, but hardly one of the great Read More
Samson’s voice is way too pop punk. Way too pop punk. And this record is way too ‘pop punkers getting serious’ / ‘middle of the road indie rock.’ But it doesn’t matter, because the songs are so strong. I always feel like some people have “it” and some people don’t, and on the basis of this record, I feel like Samson might have “it.” (“It” being the ability to write songs that connect with the audience regardless of subject matter.) Not my thing, musically speaking, but I can’t help but admire the craft. 8/10 Read More
Marnie (2000) by Bernard Herrmann, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely
Marnie is considerably more traditional than Herrmann’s most famous works from the ’60s, but that doesn’t make it bad. The score is highly memorable (i.e. catchy) and features not just a compelling main theme but some other pieces that really get in your head. There’s nothing innovative here. It’s just a pretty good score by one of the great American film score composers. Worth checking out if you’re into Herrmann, or Hitchcock, but certainly not among his very best. 7/10 Read More
1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1940, 2000, Big Band, Compilation, Dixieland, Jazz, Music, Swing, and Trad Jazz.
This is a decent one-disc compilation of Fletcher Henderson’s big bands, which are more notable for the featured performers than for anything Henderson did (with an exception or two). Like all single disc compilations of a productive artist, it doesn’t give us the greatest picture of his work. But what it does function as is an interesting little introduction to the changes that large jazz ensembles went through between the early ’20s and 1940. And that’s pretty cool to hear with a band led by the same guy. That’s probably the main reason for picking this up over the separate Read More
2000, Books, Dystopia, English, Literature, Novels, and Psychological Thriller.
This is a provocative page turner that raises lots of questions about where late 20th century capitalism is headed. FYI, it’s also the first Ballard novel I’ve read, but I have seen both of the films that were adapted from his books. I found it entertaining and mostly provocative, but I did have a few issues. For one thing, Sinclair is not that likeable to begin with. I hope that was a deliberate choice but there is a part of me that thinks maybe I just don’t like Ballard (if Sinclair is meant to be him). Sinclair reminds me of Read More
2000, Alt Country, Alternative Singer Songwriter, Americana, Music, Singer Songwriter, and Slowcore.
This is some very idiosyncratic stuff. I don’t know the band at all and don’t know if this is typical, but their songs dally in all sorts of styles and though there is definitely a similarity from song to song in terms of theme and especially tempo, stylistically these are all over the palace. There is a definite Lou Reed influence on Gelb’s singing – and his writing to some extent – and that’s appealing. But I am having a little trouble at the sheer scope / range of all of this, some of which feels like filler. Some suggest Read More
This is all very pleasant: a subdued and kind of idiosyncratic take on Americana with a vague jazz bent. (I can’t really decide is this actually qualifies as jazz.) I had never heard Frisell up until this point so it was news to me that he doesn’t normally sound like this (or that he usually records with others). And honestly if I had never heard another album, I might never have bothered. Because this music is just pleasant. It makes for good background music but it’s hard to get really excited about something this mellow – it’s practically sedate. 7/10 Read More
This film reeks of its origins, as part of a series on HBO at the end of 20th century. The low-quality digital video has dated poorly and the film isn’t edited all that well. That being said: the content is infuriating, disturbing and heartbreaking as you might expect from a documentary about doctor-killers. The filmmakers managed to find some very compelling subjects and these subjects open up to them as if they have nothing to hide, which is rather remarkable. We learn that at least a few of these people are aware on some level that what they are doing Read More
I’m not sure what I was expecting but at first I was a little disappointed by this. I guess I was expecting it to be a little more out than it already is. But I have moved passed that and realized that attitude was a little silly. This is very solid stuff, but it doesn’t exactly change how I think or feel about this type of music. I like it, I appreciate it, but I’m looking for something to grab me a little bit more in 2000. That’s not to say it’s bad by any means. It’s very good, it’s Read More
Unfortunately I had seen two movies hugely influenced by this film long before I saw it: Kill Bill (deliberate) and the Hunger Games (deliberate?). Kill Bill and Tarantino’s subsequent films, as well as any number of other Tarantino-esque films from the last decade, have softened me to the violence blood-spatter that probably appeared shocking in 2000. And the Hunger Games gave me the plot. (Whether or not the Hunger Games is a giant rip-off of the source novel is another conversation.) So I can’t say that I was seeing this in the right space to fully appreciate it. That being Read More
I get this, I appreciate it intellectually, and I often find it amusing, but I have to say that, as someone who had a love-hate relationship with George on Seinfeld, I have trouble watching parts of this show. My problem is that I don’t like people like this and I have trouble relating to the most extreme segments. This past TIFF, I was in the theatre to see No Place on Earth – a documentary about people surviving the holocaust by living underground for a record 500+ days – and this Jewish New Yorker sat down in front of me. Read More
Though still very much under the shadow of Tortoise – at times perhaps even more so than on their debut – this is a lot more focused than the first album, and I think it is more successful as a result. Again, their incorporation of horns makes them sound less like Tortoise than they otherwise would, so that’s a good thing. Very solid. 8/10 Read More
Much of this is utterly fascinating and illuminating; particularly so because I collect music too – though CDs not records – and I wondered whether I was watching my future self (though I have never bought music specifically knowing I would dislike it). The film is humourous and mostly captivating. But the problem with the movie, which plagues the other Zweig feature I’ve seen as well – though there it was more appropriate – is Zweig himself. Zweig insists on including himself in his movies. This is sometimes appropriate but in the case of this one it’s hard to see Read More
Though not quite as convention-destroying as Space Ghost, ATHF is still pretty balls-out convention destroying. From the opening cartoon gambit of “Dr. Weird is up to something again” to the lack of coherent plots, the random appearances of so many recurring characters, and the complete disregard of episode-to-episode continuity, I suspect it would be hard to ever watch a straight cartoon again (well, most straight cartoons). And it’s funny, though not always consistently: some episodes are definitely way funnier than others. But I must admire the point. 8/10 Read More
I’m pretty sure I forgot to tell you that we went to a performance of Tosca a few weeks ago. For me it was a real experience to see a Puccini, even one I didn’t know. I know reviewers felt like the leads were a little wooden but having only seen a couple operas in my life, I couldn’t tell. I don’t know the difference between great singing and bad acting and great singing and good acting, especially when I’m in the last row of whatever that theatre is called in the Four Seasons Centre (if you have been in Read More
Well this is tough. There are elements here that work really well. The odd riff here, the odd kalimba there. And I like the idea of it. I like the attempt to combine late ’90s alt-metal / alt-rock with non-rock sounds in order to come to something better (hell, one of my favourite ’00s bands spent half their career doing that very thing). But something about it doesn’t work. I don’t know if it’s the songs (I suspect it’s the songs) or perhaps it is just a lack of a clear musicality on par with Tool (in Tool, for example, Read More
This is definitely rawer than Mechanical Animals and so it’s easier to take. But there are more ballads, a disturbing trend. And his lyrics are getting worse and worse (or maybe the music is becoming less interesting and I am paying too much attention to the lyrics). But I still prefer it to Mechanical Animals and everything else post-Antichrist Superstar. 6/10 Read More
2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and Movies.
Now that we’re through the aughts, here are my picks for best movies of the decade. The ones that make the initial list are movies that I rated a 10/10. The runners up are 9/10s, and the honourable mentions are 8/10s. Many of these movies I have seen only once, and remember that in 2000 I was 18-19 and not really the “man” I am today. Disagree heartily. Oh yeah, it’s alphabetical so don’t get your knickers in a knot. The Short-List: Best of Youth Capturing the Friedmans Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Grindhouse Grizzly Man Hunger In Read More
In the CD player: Obscured by Clouds the soundtrack by Pink Floyd It’s too bad this movie’s so disappointing overall. The actual title is something like “Promenons-Nous dans les Bois” or something. Anyway, there are some fantastic shots and moments in this movie. You see them and you just think “Brilliant! Another Masterpiece!” like that art that in the Simpson’s episode where Marge paints Burns. Others you chuckle at the greatness. I think I said “I love it” like 8 times. The problem is, the movie’s horrible. The plot is more ridiculous than most teen slashers. The script (or at Read More