Month: December 2012

2012, Music

Bish Bosch (2012) by Scott Walker

Walker continues his unique path – nobody else makes music like this as far as I know – which seems to my ears to be some kind of combination of the singer-songwriter of the folk and rock traditions with someone who listens to way too much serialist and horror film music (and also no wave …

1972, Music

Lucia di Lammermoor (1972, 1999) by Gaetano Donizetti, performed by Sutherland, Pavarotti, Milnes, Chiarov, Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Convent Gardens conducted by Bonynge

So, as with any opera I have never heard before, I am stuck reviewing the opera more than the performance. I have no idea if this is a great performance of this opera, though I suspect it is, after all we have Sutherland and Pavarotti. The opera itself is a little over the top – …

Music, RIP

RIP Ray Collins

Ray Collins died on Christmas eve. Because he was Ray Collins, I didn’t find out about it for four days. Collins was Zappa’s earliest lead vocalist in the Mothers of Invention – that is, when Zappa himself wasn’t singing – which was actually initially Collins’ band under another name. He also provided backing vocals to …

Basketball, Playoffs, Sports

The NBA still desperately needs the CFL’s Crossover Rule for Playoff Seeding

I know it’s way too early to talk playoffs, but I can’t help but look at the NBA standings post-Xmas and see the normal glaring differences in the conferences. My team, the Raptors, has rebounded fantastically – for them – going .500 in their last 10 games. This puts them only 5 1/2 games out …

2009, Movies

Gamer (2009, Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor)

Gamer has a vaguely interesting and plausible premise – I stress the vaguely – though it is a little too reminiscent of an update of The Running Man. And it has a surprisingly strong cast, almost all of whom do a great job. So why is it a terrible movie?

2012, Economics, Politics

The Fiscal Cliff: Another triumph of rhetoric over policy

I am not economist and perhaps that’s why I have trouble understanding the panic and the political stubbornness around the non-crisis of the so-called “fiscal cliff. (On the other hand, it is perhaps because of the fact that I am a not an economist that I have perspective, something that seems to be sadly lacking in most …

1988, Music

The Chess Box (1988, Chess) by Willie Dixon

So Dixon is unlike pretty much all the other major figures in post-war blues in that he rarely led groups. He was more of a songwriter and producer (and, of course, bassist). He’s only the frontman on something like 5 or 6 of these songs.

1992, Books, Fiction

Black Water (1992) by Joyce Carol Oates

This seems to be Oates attempt to tell a story purely of someone’s life flashing before their eyes. It is loosely – and clearly – based on an incident that happened to a certain member of the Kennedys and a girl he was pursuing an affair with, but that’s really neither here nor there. The …

Politics, Society

Sandy Hook and Self-Censorship

The BBC informs me that Django Unchained‘s premiere has been canceled on account of the massacre in Newtown, CT. This is the second film to be delayed because of this tragedy – as far as I know – though it is certainly the more artistically significant of the two. I think this is a mistake. Let …

2010, Books, Non-Fiction

Extraordinary Canadians: Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin (2010, Penguin) by John Raulston Saul

I first learned about Robert Baldwin in grade 7, and I can’t say that particular bit of junior high history moved me much. I was far more interested in the war of 1812 at the time – because I was a boy and because I liked military history, not history. So I can’t say I …

1983, Books, Fiction

1934 (1983, Farrar Straus Giroux) by Alberto Moravia

I have written before about my love-hate relationship with Italian movies. But I can’t say that I have had this same experience with Italian literature, at least until now. Until now, I have genuinely liked the few Italian novels and short stories I have gotten my hands on. It seemed to me that what I …

2000, Movies

Vinyl (2000, Alan Zweig)

Much of this film 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.

Journalism, Music

Should I stop reading Exclaim!?

In the December 2012 issue of Exclaim! there is an interview with an extremely famous, near-ubiquitous pop-star. She’s not Madonna-famous, but she’s probably the next level down. On another page, a featurette compares the artist behind the “most popular song of 2012” with another, more-established artist (who, I must say, has been featured in the …

2012, Basketball, Hall of Fame, Sports

Kobe Bryant’s 30,000 Points

Kobe Bryant put himself in a very exclusive club the other day: Kareem: 38,387 The Mailman: 36,928 The Greatest Basketball Player of All Time (i.e. Jordan): 32,292 Wilt: 31,419 Kobe: 30,016 and counting (will eclipse Wilt next season provided he doesn’t get hurt / old)

Music, RIP

RIP Dave Brubeck

I can’t pretend I know all that much about Dave Brubeck, the jazz pianist. Like most jazz fans, I know Time Out well. And I only know the rest of his career from reading about him. I don’t think I have listened to a single other Brubeck album though I have heard the odd additional track …

1997, Music

His Best (1997, MCA) by Bo Diddley

Along time ago R&B was actually something called rhythm and blues. This CD, which collects many of Diddley’s singles and b-sides from 1955 to 1966. His earliest music of 1955 – now his most iconic – lacks the country of Elvis and Carl Perkins, the gospel of Elvis and Little Richard, the manic intensity of …

2006, Music

Songs (2006) by Frederick Delius, performed by Yvonne Kenny and Piers Lane

This somewhat arbitrary collection of songs is decent enough. It would be nicer to hear complete sets. I can’t say that I hear enough of what I love about impressionism to really rave about it. On the other hand it is clear that these songs mark a departure from much of what was standard at …

1994, Music

Violin Concerto, Opera Intermezzi, Pieces for Small Orchestra (1994) by Frederick Delius, performed by Symphony Nova Scotia and Georg Tintner

Though it doesn’t really contain the big hits, this is a pretty solid collection. I like the violin concerto. I also like the “Two Pieces for Small Orchestra.” The music is still a little safe for me, but it’s pleasant. 7/10   “Prelude” from Irmelin (6/10) This prelude for one of Delius’ early operas doesn’t …

2011, Music

Essential Delius (2011) by Various Artists

This is a compilation and so we have to treat it with a bit of skepticism. But it does contain most of the major orchestral works of his, and so it does offer a good intro, even the performances aren’t exactly standardized. I remain slightly reticent to get into Frederick Delius and I can’t exactly …