Month: September 2015

2015, Hall of Fame, Hockey, Sports

Does Simon Gagne Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

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, …

1995, Music

Only Built for Cuban Linx… (1995) by Raekwon

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 …

2000, 2002, 2004, TV

Black Books (2000)

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. …

2009, Movies

Antichrist (2009, Lars von Trier)

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 …

1990, Music

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

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.

1985, Music

Rum Sodomy and the Lash (1985) by The Pogues

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 …

2015

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

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 …

2015

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

This was my second time seeing Godspeed You! Black Emperor 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 in the balcony of the Danforth Music Hall but they were quite far from the stage. I guess …

1919, 1922, 1939, 2009, Music

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

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 …

2008, Music

Stay Positive (2008) by The Hold Steady

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”) …

2010, Music

Heaven is Whenever (2010) by The Hold Steady

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 …

1928, 1929, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1945, 1995, Music

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

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 …

2015, Movies

TIFF 2015: Demon (2015, Marcin Wrona)

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 …

2015, Movies

TIFF 2015: The Clan (2015, Pablo Trapero)

Though I see a lot of movies – and I mean a lot of movies – and I can usually articulate what I like and don’t like in a particular film, there are always one or two where I feel like there is something wrong but I can’t articulate it, I just feel it. This …

2015, Movies

TIFF 2015: The Club (2015, Pablo Larrain)

This is an extremely black comedy – as black as black comedies get – about a group of delinquent priests that have been forced to “retire” in a house in a small town in Chile. Unfortunately my experience of this film was affected by a couple things. First, I saw it with one of the …

2015, Movies

TIFF 2015: The Return of the Atom (2015, Jussi Eerola, Mika Taanila)

This is an episodic and pretentious documentary about Finland’s newest nuclear power plant that manages to somehow both be hysterical – not “hysterical” as in “funny” but hysterical as in “insane” – and, somehow, extremely boring.

2015

The Endorsement Test

This past weekend, Wayne Gretzky – in many  people’s minds the Greatest Hockey Player Who Ever Lived – endorsed Stephen Harper for Prime Minister of Canada. (In Canada, we’re currently in the midst of our longest election campaign in 80 or 90 years…) This was weird for a few reasons:

1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 2009, Movies

Georges Melies: First Wizard of Cinema 1896-1913 (2009)

This is a collection of many – but hardly a majority or all – of George Melies’ short films from when he got into cinema shortly after the invention of the medium until 1913, when his various personal problems consumed him and he stopped making films. (Note that many of Melies’ films have been lost …

2002, 2014, Books

A Guide for the Perplexed (2002, 2014) by Werner Herzog with Paul Cronin

Werner Herzog is probably my favourite filmmaker. It’s not that I think he’s “greater” or “better” than others, but that when I see a Herzog film, I know I’m going to see something different, whether it’s his newest film, or some old short of his I managed to find. His films are always provocative, usually …

1100s, 2005, Music

The Origin of Fire (2005) by Anonymous 4

This is a collection of some of the works of the first great Western composer, Hildegard von Bingen. I know nothing about her beyond what I read in a book once, many years ago, and know very little about plainchant. I have no idea how these hymns were curating beyond what they tell me in …

2003, TV

Angels in America (2003, Mike Nichols)

There is a part of me that wants to say this is one of the great works of American literature of the late 20th century but I don’t know enough late 20th century literature to say that with any kind of authority and, specifically, I can’t tell you how few American plays I’ve seen written …

1996, Movies

Andrei Rublev (1966, Andrei Tarkovsky)

Writing a brief review of Tarkovsky’s immense, uncompromising, willfully difficult Andrei Rublev seems inherently unfair. This is one of the most ambitious and difficult films I have ever seen, also among the longest. When I say it’s immense, I mean it: 9 chapters over nearly 3 ½ hours, ostensibly about the Russian medieval iconographic painter …

1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1999

The Twilight Zone (1999) by Bernard Herrmann, performed by Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely

Though not the composer of The Twilight Zone‘s most iconic theme, Herrmann composed music for both the overall show and individual episodes. This album collects the scores for seven of those episodes and includes a couple other pieces Herrmann did for the show.

2015, Music

The 2015 Wolfe Island Music Festival August 7-8, 2015

The annual pilgrimage to Wolfe Island Music Festival (WIMF) got off to a bit of an uneven start but ended up being one of the better festivals I have attended over the last half decade or so.

1975, Music

Born to Run (1975) by Bruce Springsteen

Full disclosure: I have avoided Springsteen much of my life because I grew up with a bunch of stupid TV shows telling me “Springsteen saved Rock and Roll from Disco.” These interviewees (boomers all) were apparently ignorant of Punk Music but, also, in retrospect, maybe Disco won in the end? Anyway…