A Lonely Place to Die (2011, Julian Gilbey)

Categories: 2011 and Movies.

This movie starts off following the genre cliches of one genre and then veering wildly into another one, and as such it doesn’t work. Genre mashups are all well and good, but if you can’t execute basic things, they aren’t going to work. Some examples: At one point a character tries to get a signal on his cell only to receive…a busy signal? In a chase, the people running on one bank of the river move shockingly slower – despite the fact they are shown running the entire time – than those on another. Things like that don’t pass the Read More

The Times of Harvey Milk (1984 Rob Epstein)

Categories: 1984 and Movies.

So unfortunately the filmmakers made a strange – but perhaps understandable – decision when telling Milk’s story: they assumed they were speaking to a very particular audience. This assumption led to another: that therefore everybody knows everything they need to know about the backstory already. Since I was born in 1981, and since I am not from San Francisco, I don’t know certain things about Harvey Milk and San Francisco history and politics. In fact, I might watch a documentary like this one to learn those things I don’t yet know. However, because of the assumption that their audience was Read More

Rick Nash Trade

Categories: 2012, Hockey, and Sports.

So I have been on a business trip this past week and didn’t have time to blog about what will probably go down as the biggest NHL trade of the summer of 2012. (You know, unless something wackier goes down.) But just as an aside, the Rangers re-signed Anton Stralman for 2 years at around $1.7 or $1.8. Yes, Stralman has his problems but for a guy who has some level of talent and was clearly helpful to the Rangers in the playoffs (for the most part) I can’t help but still absolutely hate that Leafs’ trade. I mean at Read More

Rogers Telecommunications

Categories: 2012 and Sports.

Rogers wants me to like them on facebook because I am a fan of the Blue Jays… Why would I do that? They keep people from expressing themselves (no swearing at the Dome, as kids’ ears might explode). They kick fans out for getting a little too drunk. They told some guy to take off his Mexican wrestler mask because he was literally sitting quietly watching the baseball game. They check my ticket every game in a completely empty, poor people section – some of the worst seats in the 500 level – that I only sit in because it’s Read More

What socialism actually means

Categories: Philosophy and Politics.

Though I should know better, I find myself reading comments on the internet all too often. In these sections I am exposed to one of my biggest pet peeves: the complete re-creation of meaning for the major political theory isms: conservatism, liberalism and socialism. In the United States, conservatism is Republicanism (whatever Republicanism means, since they always say one thing – ‘small government!’ – and do another – ‘triple the debt!’) and sometimes also Libertarianism. Liberalism in the US, as I like to say, embodies everything from Noam Chomsky’s anarcho-syndicalism to Al Gore’s very middle of the road tempered ‘modern Read More

Nefertiti by Miles Davis (1968 Colbumbia)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

This is probably best known as Miles Davis’ last wholly “acoustic” album, before he began to embrace fusion and abandon bop. (What “acoustic” means in this context is twofold: the instruments are not amplified and also the studio editing is not obvious.) But that makes it sound like it is somehow more conservative than it actually is. Sure, it’s not free jazz, but this is still pretty out there. In fact, I detect at least a bit of an influence of free on the music (though it is very subtle) in addition to more obvious hard bop and modal strands. Read More

3* Reasonable Objections to All Conspiracy Theories

Categories: Psychology, Religion, and Society.

When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I was a big believer in conspiracy, particularly the “plot to kill Kennedy.” I ridiculed those around me who doubted a conspiracy in Kennedy’s death and regularly told them that they just didn’t know all the facts. Anyone who knew all the facts would clearly believe what I believed. How my first doubts came regarding “the plot to kill Kennedy” is another story but I have long since learned the folly of my ways. I am an ex-believer, and like many ex-believers, I am rabid in my atheism. Here are Read More

Domicile conjugal (1970, Francois Truffaut)

Categories: 1970 and Movies.

This is a sporadically entertaining film that is very well-shot though a bit clumsily edited and paced. It’s not quite as funny as it probably was originally, but it hasn’t held up that well. The bigger problem is that it really does feel like a defense of the immaturity of the protagonist, who is going through some kind of early-mid life crisis. Apparently women really shouldn’t worry about philandering husbands because they still really love them. 7/10 Read More

The Best Defense is a Good Offense: the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association and 57 Years of Screwing the Pooch on the Norris Trophy

Categories: Hall of Fame, Hockey, and Sports.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense On Lidstrom’s retirement, I hypothesized that he might be one of the three best defencemen in NHL history. I did this based on one thing: Norris trophy wins. But the more I thought of it, the more I thought that was ridiculous. The PHWA had just awarded two absolutely brutal Norris trophies: the most recent to Karlsson, and the previous year to Lidstrom. The first was a clear case of “I didn’t watch enough hockey this year but this guy scores a lot”-itis, which seems to infect the majority of PHWA voters from Read More

RIP: Jon Lord

Categories: Music and RIP.

Jon Lord was one of the earliest rock keyboardists – along with people like Keith Emerson – to attempt to fuse so-called “classical” music (actually it was usually romantic) with rock. He convinced his band, Deep Purple, to cover Richard Strauss, among others, to include his string and wind arrangements, and to eventually perform his “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” (certainly one of the inspirations for Metallica’s experiment with a symphony). All of this occurred before Deep Purple decided to try out (the early version of) heavy metal instead. After this change in direction, Lord was certainly one of the Read More

Grand Sonata for Piano and Violin; 20 Variations… (2002, CBC Records) by Carl Czerny, performed by Anton Kuerti and Erika Raum

Categories: 1807, 1824, 1842, 2002, and Music.

I am certainly not at the point where I can truly judge a performance of a work by the standards of professional musicians like these, and it is especially hard when I am unfamiliar with the work. But I like this. I feel like this CD (and another by Kuerti of straight-up piano sonatas and variations, which I didn’t review because it isn’t yet on RYM) speaks to me: it says I should pay more attention to composers who aren’t always considered canonical. The Grand Sonata is a very pleasant early Romantic piece which, to my ears, is perhaps too Read More

The United States of America (1968 Columbia)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

This stuff is mind-blowing. Almost as out there as Zappa and the Mothers (at their very weirdest) or the Velvets (at their very artiest) and not quite as crazy – and far more artsy – as Beefheart was about to get. It’s too band the sound isn’t exactly great, as apparently these guys were very, very noisy in concert, which doesn’t exactly come across here. The songs aren’t exactly great – Zappa was certainly the better composer – and the band could really use a real rock singer. (I do get that having a singer like her was part of Read More

Uninhabited (2010 Bill Bennett)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This has a surprisingly large number of jumpy moments for a movie with an utterly non-scary premise; I don’t know about you, but those tropical islands, coral reefs and gorgeous sunsets really fucking creep me out. (The film was shot on a place called Masthead Island in the Great Barrier Reef which, you can imagine, is pretty damn pretty.) But pretty much everything in this movie is stolen from something: the whole thing is pretty much a tropical island version of Blair Witch but it is a really sad state of affairs when a movie set on a tropical island Read More

Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard (1991)

Categories: 1991, Books, and Fiction.

I guess I really shouldn’t pay attention to hype. Leonard has a reputation in the States as the preeminent crime fiction writer of his time. This is my first encounter with him and I must say I’m a little disappointed. This is above average crime fiction and that’s it. Personally, I want more out of a book than just a well told story (I have to say well told because I can’t call it good) and nothing else. It’s certainly a page turner – especially near the end – but that’s it. (6/10) Read More

The Other F Word (2011 Andrea Blaugrund Nevins)

Categories: 2011 and Movies.

The subject matter is interesting. There is certainly a movie to be made about the rash of “punk” musicians who are still playing music about defying authority who now live in large to gigantic homes, send their daughters to private schools, etc and yet still claim to have retained some kind of anti-authority stance. But it is not this movie. This movie is a gigantic mess. The chapters don’t make any sense (the material appears to be distributed differently than the headings would suggest), there are lyrics on the screen, there are performances that come out of nowhere and don’t Read More