Does Simon Gagne Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Categories: 2015, Hall of Fame, Hockey, and Sports.

I missed that Gagne retired on the 15th. So here is my belated post. No, he doesn’t qualify for the Hall on points. Still writing this anyway.   Career: 14 seasons, 10 quality 291G, 310A for 601P, +129 in 822 games 82-game average: 29G, 31A for 60P, +13 3-year peak (’05-’08): 40G, 34A for 74P, +12 Possession (since ’07-’08): 50 CF%, -1 CF%Rel, 49.6 FF%, -1.7 FF%Rel Playoffs: 37G, 22A for 59P, +7 in 109 games Adjusted: 319G, 337A for 656P Adjusted: 32G, 34A for 65P Traded twice after his prime. Accomplishments: Scored 45 goals once, 40 goals twice, 30 Read More

Only Built for Cuban Linx… (1995) by Raekwon

Categories: 1995 and Music.

As someone who doesn’t listen to Hip Hop, I have a really hard time with a record like this. Ostensibly not the first “mafia” gangsta rap album, but the most important? I wouldn’t know. Is the production good? I have no idea. (It’s certainly not the Bomb Squad, though…) Are the lyrics good? Well, I feel like they are a step forward from earlier gangsta rap (that I’ve heard). But I really don’t know. So I’m giving this tentative “good” based on its reputation more than anything and waiting until I record the podcast, where someone is going to tell Read More

Black Books (2000)

Categories: 2000, 2002, 2004, and TV.

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

The Armstrong Lie (2013, Alex Gibney)

Categories: 2013, Movies, and Sports.

This is a fascinating film. It began as a documentary about Lance Armstrong’s 2009 comeback attempt but, before it was finished, new allegations emerged about Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs and the film was eventually altered significantly to focus on the revelations that soon followed. So there are really two movies that have been combined into one. One which may have started out as a puff piece and a sequel, as it were, that tries to figure out how so many people could have believed Armstrong for so long. And it pretty much works. What we get is nuanced approach Read More

Antichrist (2009, Lars von Trier)

Categories: 2009 and Movies.

I struggle with Von Trier’s movies – and megalomania – for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the ridiculous Dogme 95 statement that he has gone back on so thoroughly in his later films. (It’s not that I object to Dogme 95 in itself but it’s the brashness of youth I object to, and how hilariously he has abandoned his supposedly sincere principles later in life. Von Trier seems to belong to a segment of artists who revel in depression, as if it’s a badge of honour or a badge of their position as Artists or Read More

Ritual de lo habitual (1990) by Jane’s Addiction

Categories: 1990 and Music.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I finally got around to listening to this record, but it wasn’t this. That is sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing. But expectations always mess with our appreciation. Hopefully I can get through mine. First of all, I finally understand why Navarro is a guitar hero to a certain generation. I had never understood why before, but had rarely heard him play. Aside from Slash (who is, by the way, much better), I can’t think of another guitar player to embrace classic rock guitar like Navarro does here. That’s pretty Read More

Rum Sodomy and the Lash (1985) by The Pogues

Categories: 1985 and Music.

I have long loved If I Should Fall From Grace With God and considered it pretty near essential, especially as punk treatments of roots music go. It’s got what is probably their most famous song – “Fairy Tale in New York,” the Pogues song that you probably have heard even if you have never heard of the Pogues – and I had always assumed that was the Pogues album to have. Like with so many other things, I was wrong. This is a fantastic album that expertly blends Celtic music and punk even more expertly, perhaps, than that 1987 album Read More

Kaleidoscope (1980) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I have no idea what kind of departure this record was for the band, as its the first Banshees record I’ve heard. So even though I read that this was a big departure, I don’t have any idea, What I hear is well-executed UK post punk with “brighter” arrangements (for lack of a better word) than normal, and certainly that should not be a surprise, given the presence of a member of Magazine. Siouxsie Sioux has been incredibly influential on female vocalists, especially in the world of Indie Rock. That’s readily apparent here. And I figure that should be acknowledge. Read More

Do Not Vote for the Harper Conservatives: Good Reasons for conservatives to choose another party

Categories: 2015.

Almost everything on Facebook is meme-y, which is why I am unlikely to ever post something here that I see on Faceebook. Memes – especially political memes – are almost inherently simplistic and, usually, unreliable. But every so often, there is something different, something that is actually worth sharing beyond the echo-chamber of my Facebook friends. Today I have something from a Facebook user I do not know. He expresses the real reasons to not vote for the Harper Conservatives this election, in about as eloquent a way as I have read, and in as about as respect full way Read More

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Live at the Danforth Music Hall, Friday September 25, 2015

Categories: 2015.

This was my second time seeing GY!BE in Toronto. The first time I had a terrible angle but was rather close to the stage (at Lee’s Palace). This time I had pretty great seats but they were quite far from the stage. I guess it was the proximity, but this time the experience was a lot less visceral. It’s a show like this where I understand why people want to be up front, even if that’s actually bad for their physical health (ears and who knows what else). I still felt like I should have put my earplugs in a Read More

Does Jason Richardson Belong in the Basketball Hall of Fame?

Categories: Basketball, Hall of Fame, and Sports.

Career 13 seasons, 11 quality 14,644 points, 2.284 assists, 995 steals, 4,245 boards, 367 blocks in 29,241 minutes over 857 games 34.1 MPG Per 36 minutes: 18P, 2.8A, 1.2S, 5.2R, .5B .438 FG%, .370 3P% (14th all-time in attempts and 16th all-time in makes), .707 FT%, .528 TS% 16.3 PER, 59.1 WS, .097 WS/48, 24.4 VORP Playoffs: 633 points, 50 assists, 40 steals, 200 boards, 13 blocks in 1262 minutes over 37 games 34.1 MPG Per 36: 18.1P, 1.4A, 1.1S, 5.7R, .4B .465 FG%, .404 3P%, .724 FT%, .583 TS% 18.1 PER, 3.8 WS, .143 WS/48, 1.8 VORP Traded thrice Read More

Hindemith: The Complete Viola Music 1 (2009) by Lawrence Power, Simon Crawford-Phillips

Categories: 1919, 1922, 1939, 2009, and Music.

This disc collects Hindemith’s three viola sonatas with piano accompaniment, and it also includes a transcription for viola and piano of one of the dances from Hindemith’s ballet, Nobilissima Visione. The sequencing is odd: it starts with the final one, then goes to the first, then to the second, then back to the late ‘30s for the ballet transcription. Anyway… The 1939 sonata is exactly the kind of thing I like, and reminds me that, when Hindemith wanted to, he could be both radical and traditional at the same time. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about this music, but the work Read More

Stay Positive (2008) by The Hold Steady

Categories: 2008 and Music.

The Springsteen influence is heavily tamped down on this record. It’s still there in in Finn’s songs – he has to be the most Springsteenian songwriter I’ve yet devoted time too – but the musical influences have expanded. The punk edge is definitely greater (though, do not mistake me, I am not calling this “punk”) and there are various other musical influences we would expect from American indie rock in the Aughts. And this is all well and good because they have stopped sounding like a louder, grittier E Street Band. So good for them. I still don’t like Finn’s Read More

Appaloosa (2008, Ed Harris)

Categories: 2008 and Movies.

This appears to be Harris’ attempt at making a classic western, though there are plenty of elements that update it, making it more revisionist than it really seems. The film has the pace of a classic western and the same kind of plot/scenarios and most of the characters. But Harris’ character (who has more than a little Seth Bullock in him, at least in one scene) is a little more flawed than the classic western heroes (though Mortensen’s isn’t really) and Zellweger’s character is entirely not a woman you’d see in an old western. And the way the plot unfolds Read More

Ritchie Blackmore’s R-A-I-N-B-O-W (1975)

Categories: 1975 and Music.

Rainbow is like a combination of Uriah Heap and Purple. Or, if you prefer, Uriah Heap with a better lead guitarist, a better singer, slightly less ridiculous songs (both a plus and a minus) with better riffs but nearly as ridiculous lyrics. Some stray thoughts: It sounds to me like Blackmore is holding himself back and I don’t know why. Dio is an acquired taste, and I still haven’t acquired it yet, but I can’t deny that this is an influential record and that his approach to both singing and lyric-writing has been incredibly influential. Is “Black Sheep of the Read More

Al Green is Love (1975)

Categories: 1975 and Music.

I have heard so much about Al Green, I guess I was bound to be disappointed. This is very competent, able smooth soul. Green is undeniably a great performer. But I like my music with a little oomph behind it. As someone who values both grit and history, it’s hard for me to understand why this is considered such a classic (by critics anyway) when it glosses over and doesn’t appear to improve upon what went before it. Well, anyway, I’m definitely not the audience. Fine, but I’m not going to go out of my way to listen to more. Read More

Weasels Ripped my Flesh (1970) by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Categories: 1970 and Music.

Zappa takes his musique concrete collage obsession and applies it to a live album. It’s nowhere near as radical as the Mothers’ records at their apex – as this is mostly a collage of songs, rather than song fragments, jokes and the like – but it’s still hard to recall another live album of this (or any) era that is this deliberately constructed, and where the construction is visible on its sleeve. Though I have yet to fully familiarize myself with Zappa’s post Mothers discography (beyond his biggest “hits”), this has to be one of the last times Zappa was Read More

Teeth Dreams (2014) by The Hold Steady

Categories: 2014 and Music.

Finn’s characters appear to be getting older. You have admire his ambition, to keep up these stories. But if his songs aren’t your thing, that means things haven’t improved. And, this record manages to sound less varied than the last two, which was kind of the problem with their earlier music. A good songwriter (who I don’t like) just pumping out more songs to middle of the road rock music. Nothing to see here. 6/10 Read More

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014, Francis Lawrence)

Categories: 2014 and Movies.

It’s now customary to get whatever you can get out of a franchise. I guess it’s to be expected. But, not knowing the source material, it sure seems like they are milking the final Hunger Games novel for all its worth. This is the weakest film in the series so far; it feels like table-setting for the climax to the series yet, somehow, that table-setting is 2 hours long. A lot of this movie just feels like Katniss doing propaganda for the rebels instead of for the capital (which she spent a lot of time doing the last time out). Read More

Heaven is Whenever (2010) by The Hold Steady

Categories: 2010 and Music.

From the opening notes of “The Sweet Part of the City” it’s pretty clear that this band has finally overcome their Springsteen odour. Sure, Finn is still an extremely Sprinsteenian songwriter, but the rest of the band no longer sounds like a louder E-Street band minus the sax. (I’d blame that on the departed keyboard player but I know this had already happened on the previous album.) I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes for me, as a listener. I almost want to go back to Boys and Girls in America and knock that review down Read More

Boys and Girls in America (2006) by The Hold Steady

Categories: 2006 and Music.

Springsteen’s influence hangs over much American 21st century indie rock. For many, this is good. For me, never a Springsteen fan, it is beyond annoying. This is among the most Springsteeny of Springsteen-American indie rock albums I have ever heard. Maybe it’s the most. It’s so unbelievably in his shadow that I feel like I am listening to a different album than everyone else. People think this albums is fantastic. (Do they also think it’s original? That’s another question for most of you, I guess.) Having just struggled through Born to Run, I find so many moments on this coming Read More

Piano Man! His Greatest Recordings (1995) by Earl Hines

Categories: 1928, 1929, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1945, 1995, and Music.

This is collection of 25 recordings featuring Earl Hines – solo, leading his orchestra, with Armstrong, Bechet and some other, less famous bandleaders.  It jumps around a little too much… The title track appears to be the 1939 “Piano Man” (there are four, confusingly) and it’s more of a celebration of Hines’ legend than anything else. It’s basically the overture here. “Fireworks” is an absolutely classic Armstrong Hot Five from 1928. On a track like this you can hear why Hines was known as “Fatha” (when he gets his solos). “Skip the Gutter” is another Hot Five from the same Read More

Hindemith: Ludas Tonalis; Suite 1922 (2006) by Boris Berezovsky

Categories: 1922, 1942, 2006, and Music.

This collects two of Hindemith’s solo piano works, the most famous ones and those that are usually considered “essential.” Ludas Tonalis is Hindemith’s attempt at a modern version of The Well Tempered Clavier. And though it is obviously not quite up to that standard, it’s still a noble attempt. This is far and away my favourite of his music so far. I have found his orchestral music to be rather conservative, but this piece manages to both honour tradition (obviously, if it’s a Bach homage/re-imagining) and push the way we think about music, albeit while remaining conventionally tonal. It’s quite Read More

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d: A Requiem for Those We Love by Paul Hindemith, performed by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Robert Shaw (et al.) (1987)

Categories: 1946, 1987, and Music.

There is a tendency among us humans to celebrate things which in turn celebrate the things we think are important. I guess it’s only natural. This requiem is a Walt Whitman poem set to music for the death of Roosevelt. It’s conducted here by its commissioner so, in theory, this is how it’s supposed to sound. I appreciate the sentiments and I appreciate taste. Though I have never mourned a world leader – and cannot imagine doing so – I understand why many would mourn FDR. And I recognize the merit in commissioning music for his death, especially in commissioning Read More

All About My Mother (1999, Pedro Almodovar)

Categories: 1999 and Movies.

I struggle a lot with Almodovar’s films, as I cannot normally relate to where he’s coming from. But here he seems to have assembled something rather impervious to any criticisms I can come up with (aside from, perhaps, the overly episodic nature of the film). This is a melodrama, sure, but it the actors in it are all excellent. And Almodovar’s awareness of the history of melodrama (Sirk in particular) and his use of all sorts of film conventions (including some noir ones) in weird and wonderful ways, makes it really easy to digest what might be rather hysterical in Read More

TIFF 2015: Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2015) (14/15)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

This is the second straight excellent thriller from Saulnier, featuring “real people” in movie thriller situations. Much like his classic Blue Ruin – which I strongly, strongly suggest you see if you haven’t seen yet – this film combines an incredibly tense thriller with elements of (very) dark comedy, to great effect. I had such high hopes for this film that I was initially disappointed by the first act. However, things really kick into gear later and it’s liable to be the tensest film you see this year. It’s not Blue Ruin. It’s obviously not as original, it’s not as Read More

TIFF 2015: La calle de la amargura aka Bleak Street (2015, Arturo Ripstein) (13/15)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

This is an utterly gorgeously shot film about life in particularly downtrodden corner of what I must assume is Mexico City or some other major Mexican city. It’s practically Dickensian in its depiction of life in the shittier parts of a city. Honestly, the film is so well shot that I was rapt by it and really didn’t spend too much time on whether or not the plot was actually solid, or anything like that. It was amusing, at times, though. But everything about the production design is so well done that I didn’t care about anything else. This guy Read More

TIFF 2015: Demon (2015, Marcin Wrona) (12/15)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

This is the most unique horror comedy I’ve seen in some time. Whereas most horror comedies are ready to notify their intention to get you to laugh early on (and usually to laugh instead of scream or to laugh and only occasionally scream) this movie’s humour is rooted in the absurd dramedy of a cast of characters at a Polish wedding. The humour is based almost exclusively in the characters and their situation and has nothing to do with horror movie conventions, and I really cannot tell you the last time I saw a horror comedy that wasn’t concerned with Read More