2014, Movies

The Calling (2014, Jason Stone)

I do not believe in god but I recognize that a lot of people still do. And I recognize that there is a broad appeal in movies with explicit or implicit religious content. Despite my lack of belief I do occasionally find religious horror films and thrillers quite effective, in part because the rich traditions …

2018, Music, Theatre

The Nightingale and Other Short Fables live at the Four Seasons Centre, May 13, 2018

Back in 2008 or 2009 or so, the Canadian Opera Company put on a radically different performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “3 act” opera The Nightingale, buttressed by additional pieces in order to actually make the runtime somewhat comparable to a normal opera. (The Nightingale runs less than an hour.) I don’t know who initially curated the selections …

1988, Music

A Bell Is a Cup Until It Is Struck (1988) by Wire

I am a long-time fan of both Pink Flag and especially Chairs Missing but have somehow never managed to get to any of their other material. Having not heard their first album after they reunited either, this is a surprise.

1988, Music

Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (1988) by Camper Van Beethoven

Perhaps for the first time they acknowledge their debt to Kaleidoscope by covering a song Kaleidoscope covered (“O Death”). If I didn’t think these guys were the ’80s College Rock Kaleidoscope before, I do now.

1988, Music

Lovesexy (1988) by Prince

To the extent that I know Prince, I know him as the dynamic performer who effortlessly combines aspects of R&B (funk, soul, etc.) with elements of rock (psychedelia, art rock, hard rock) and pop. Well, he’s dialed down the ambition at this point in his career and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

1988, Music

Melissa Etheridge (1988)

I know virtually nothing about the history of queer/LGBT performers and especially singer-songwriters in popular music. Depending upon how you feel about the queerness of David Bowie or Freddie Mercury, I may know absolutely nothing. So I don’t truly know how much of a landmark this record is, by a woman who was out, if …

1983, Music

Learning to Cope with Cowardice (1983) by Mark Stewart + Maffia

I have long meant to listen to The Pop Group but somehow it seems I’ve just never gotten around to doing it. Because of that I lack the knowledge of the connection between this music (made by its lead singer) and the earlier music. Maybe this would make more sense to me with that context.

1983, Music

Back to Mystery City (1983) by Hanoi Rocks

The term “hair metal” was thrown around a lot in the 1980s, often at bands that little or nothing to do with it – like the Gunners (too bluesy), Def Leppard (not metal enough once they were successful, too British, and not really of that scene at all), or Queensyrche (too proggy) and any number …

1983, Music

Power, Corruption and Lies (1983) by New Order

I was pretty disappointed by New Order’s debut. If I can recall, I believe I was expecting something along the lines of the little I knew about New Order, and what I got was Joy Division minus Ian Curtis. Yes, that’s basically the band, but I was not expecting that. I was disappointed.

2017, 2018, Basketball, Sports

Your 2017-2018 Toronto Raptors: Blow it all up?

Every year at this time of year I usually write a recap of the Raptors season. (Before I switched allegiances, it was a Leafs’ recap.) I’m sorry to say I don’t really do this for other people. I know there are actual basketball writers in the world who have actual things to say about Toronto …

2006, Movies

Il caimano (2006, Nanni Moretti)

This is an amusing and clever satire about a hacky low-budget producer attempting to make a film that he initially doesn’t realize is about Silvio Berlusconi. But, for me, the film is somewhat weakened by its farcical nature and particularly the ridiculous behaviour of its central character, who rubs me the wrong way like so many …

1978, Music

Power in the Darkness (1978) by Tom Robinson Band

This is certainly more musically traditional punk than so many of the punk albums that came out in 1977 and especially in 1978. I guess that’s why some people consider it pub rock; it’s more musically competent than punk and, were it not for the lyrics and the vocals, it could be mistaken for pub …

1978, Music

Die Mensch-Maschine aka The Man-Machine (1978) by Kraftwerk

If I thought Trans Europa Express was the beginning of synth pop, that was because I had not heard The Man-Machine. The connections between Trans Europa Express and ’80s synthpop felt slightly tenuous; honestly it felt like I might have been exaggerating the connection just a little bit. Not that that record didn’t influence a …

1968, Music

The Pentangle (1968)

This is some pretty good folk jazz / jazz folk stuff, that is classified on RYM as “progressive folk” and “folk rock” for some reason. (Well, there is a reason: it’s possible they don’t recognize the existence of the folk jazz / jazz folk sub-genre, despite how much of it there is out there.) Anyway…

2003, Movies

Café Lumière (2003, Hsiao-Hsien Hou)

This is the first film of Hsiao-Hsien’s I’ve ever seen but I have seen a few of Ozu’s, and this film is a tribute to Ozu. I don’t always love Ozu – apparently my ADD is too much for him much of the – so I think that my feelings towards Ozu’s type of filmmaking …

1998, Music

This Is Hardcore (1998) by Pulp

I think one of the things that distinguishes Pulp from their supposed contemporaries in Britpop is simply their experience – they’ve been making music so much longer than most of the other bands they’re lumped in with, they just know how to do things better. At least, that’s my theory as to why I like …

1993, Music

Are You Gonna Go My Way (1993) by Lenny Kravitz

I do not love nostalgia. Even when that nostalgia is for music I like, I have a hard time liking or sometimes even appreciating music that was made in awe of and devotion to another time. Sure, it might sound better than the original because it was recorded better or mixed better or mastered better …

1993, Music

Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993) by Depeche Mode

At this point I have heard enough synthpop (and enough Depeche Mode) to understand how this record breaks from that tradition (much like the previous record, Violator, also does), and so I feel like I might actually have something decent to say about it, unlike when I first listened to Violator.

1998, Music

Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (1998) by Nile

One of the things that I worry about with Death Metal (or Black Metal, for that matter) is that I am going to be confronted by 35-60 minutes of the same style of music and that doesn’t really float my boat. I just don’t want to listen to so many tracks where the style of …

1998, Music

Before These Crowded Streets (1998) by Dave Matthews Band

I have always been the kind of person to go left when everyone else was going right, when it comes to cultural things. If a song is everywhere, it’s pretty much guaranteed I won’t like it. If a movie is getting celebrated a little too much, I want to not like it. What does this …