Hockey, Sports

Memorial May Madness

My fellow Canadians regularly ask me why I watch March Madness. Usually, I tell them, “It’s the greatest sports tournament in the world” and then I spend a while qualifying that by telling them what I think of the NCAA. (I regret to say, by watching this year’s March Madness on cable, I am indirectly …

1978, Music

Another Music in a Different Kitchen (1978) by Buzzcocks

Full disclosure: I don’t like the Buzzcocks. Until hearing this debut, I’d only ever heard A Different Kind of Tension and that record likely biased me towards this one and its importance.

1978, Music

Easter (1978) by Patti Smith Group

I struggle with Patti Smith; she’s one of those artists I think I should like, not just because of received opinion but because the things she does are things I supposedly like. But for some reason I have this barrier. I think it comes from how I first heard her.

1973, Music

A Wizard A True Star (1973) by Todd Rundgren

If you’re like me, you wished that Something/Anything?could have been, well, weirder. Or, if not weirder, at least more varied. I personally find that the record doesn’t quite live up to its reputation for weirdness and variety. Well, be careful what you wish for.

2012, Movies

Byzantium (2012, Neil Jordan)

This is a fascinating revisionist vampire film that takes a different approach to an over-done genre in more than one way. It’s not a great movie, necessarily, but it’s a neat twist on a tired genre and it’s worth watching if you are interested in vampire films that don’t follow the tired old movie formulas …

1968, Music

Safe at Home (1968) by International Submarine Band

This record invented country rock. As such, it’s one of the milestone records of the 1960s. (Country infected popular music in the 1970s and the country rock phenomenon of the late 1960s and early 1970s is a big reason why.) But with the benefit of hindsight I am tempted to criticize the record a little …

1968, Music

Eli and the 13th Confession (1968) by Laura Nyro

I was barely aware of Nyro when I listened to this record – I had heard her name, likely from seeing it listed in credits and mentioned here and there I guess, but I didn’t know what I was in for.

1963, Music

Surfin’ USA (1963) by The Beach Boys

I know this record is supposed to be the Beach Boys’ best album of their early years – hell, at least one writer is on record claiming it as the best record by an American rock band released before the British invasion, which is one tall order – but I prefer their debut album. I’m …

1951, 1952, 1953, Music

Memorial Album (1953) by Hank Williams

I try not to listen to compilations unless I have a really good reason. The reason I try not to listen to them is simply because, especially with “Greatest Hits” compilations, someone other than the artist has decided what is on the record.

2013, Movies

Buying Sex (2013, Teresa MacInnes, Kent Nason)

This documentary about prostitution in Canada is a little brief, a little low-budget, and a little too reliant on talking heads, but overall it is extremely nuanced and well worth your time if you are interested in laws and policies about prostitution, or about gender equality.

1998, Music

Ray of Light (1998) by Madonna

This may or may not be the first Madonna album I’ve ever listened to – not 100% sure – but it is definitely the first one I’ve given my three requisite listens to. Given that fact, it should be no surprise that I can’t fully grasp what a drastic left-turn this record probably was for …

1993, Music

Fuzzy (1993) by Grant Lee Buffalo

I decided to talk about this record, rather than any number of other records from 1988 and 1993, in part because Michael Stipe once claimed it was the best album of 1993. Now, I don’t necessarily share musical states with the lead singer of REM, but I do feel like he had an important role, …

1961, Music

Reptilicus [American Version] (1961, Sidney W. Pink)

Note: I watched this as a┬áMystery Science Theater 3000 episode so I technically didn’t watch the whole movie. Note 2: There are at least three different versions of this movie. I believe I watched the second American version but I’m not 100% sure.

1993, Music

On the Mouth (1993) by Superchunk

By reputation, I always thought No Pocky for Kitty was the Superchunk album to listen to. Then I listened to it and, though I appreciated why people like it, I didn’t love. I see the RYM rating is higher for this one. I think I know why. I mean, maybe I know why.

1993, Music

Where You Been (1993) by Dinosaur Jr

There’s a part of me that listens to this and thinks “it’s another Dinosaur Jr. record, you shouldn’t rate it this high!” I have this obsession with artists who evolve. When artists don’t evolve (enough) I used to dock them points (as if they cared). The older I get, the less I care about this, …

1988, Music

I’m Your Man (1988) by Leonard Cohen

So many of these songs have made it into the broader culture – either through covers or through the songs actually getting played places I would hear them – that I actually thought I had heard this record before. I can’t find any record of that, but I sure got a sense of musical deja …

1983, Music

Porcupine (1983) by Echo and the Bunnymen

I really enjoyed Heaven Up Here and I perhaps had too-high expectations when I first listened to this record. The first time I heard it, I wasn’t feeling it. A lot of that had to do with listening to War for the first time in ages at the same time, as both records were released …

2014, Books, Non-Fiction

The Human Age (2014) by Diane Ackerman

This is an endlessly fascinating book about how human beings are currently shaping the world through technological innovation, and how we have shaped the world in the past. Though the back might convince you it’s about how humans are fighting climate change, it’s really about much more than that, as the climate change section is …

1978, Music

The Kick Inside (1978) by Kate Bush

The problem with starting mid-career with an artist is that you kind of assume what they sound like in their maturity or prime is how they’ve always sounded. I started with The Dreaming, a record that knocked me out. It was pretty damn unlikely that Bush’s debut would stand up to it. And I certainly …

1978, Music

Crossing the red Sea With the Adverts (1978)

I think the thing that so many people find really appealing about this band is that they manage to combine punk attitude with a pretty strong sense of melody, a sense of melody lacking in other punk bands of the sort of second wave of British punk bands, who got record deals in 1977 but …

1978, Music

Van Halen (1978)

The first time I ever heard “Eruption” my mind was blown. I had never heard anyone play guitar like that (though that was because I hadn’t heard so many guitarists). It was my gold standard in virtuoso (masturbatory?) guitar showmanship until I heard “Spanish Fly,” which seemed so much more impressive for being played on …

1978, Music

Stained Class (1978) by Judas Priest

I do not like Judas Priest, at least as they compare to the other New Wave of British Heavy Metal (henceforth abbreviated NWOBHM) bands. I sort of assumed that was due to the fact that they predated those bands by years and that they jumped on the bandwagon. I am only familiar with their early …

1973, Music

Lifemask (1973) by Roy Harper

Lifemask finds Harper pulled in two different directions after Stormcock, which I assume is his best album; on the one hand retreating from its ambitious format on side A but doubling down on side B. The arrangements are also more elaborate, on the whole, than on that previous record.