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. …

2013, Movies, Sports

The Armstrong Lie (2013, Alex Gibney)

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 …

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. First of all, I finally understand why Navarro is a guitar …

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 …

1980, Music

Kaleidoscope (1980) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

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) …

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 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 …

Basketball, Hall of Fame, Sports

Does Jason Richardson Belong in the Basketball Hall of Fame?

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 …

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”) …

2008, Movies

Appaloosa (2008, Ed Harris)

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 …

1975, Music

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

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 …

1970, Music

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

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 …

2014, Music

Teeth Dreams (2014) by The Hold Steady

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 …

2014, Movies

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

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 …

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 …

2006, Music

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

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 …

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 …

1922, 1942, 2006, Music

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

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 …

1946, 1987, Music

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)

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 …

1999, Movies

All About My Mother (1999, Pedro Almodovar)

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 …

2005, 2015, Movies

TIFF 2015: Anomalisa (2015, Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman) (15/15)

Kaufman is probably the most interesting American screenwriter of his era. This film is based on his 2005 “sound play” (i.e. a modern stage equivalent of an old radio play). POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT

2015, Movies

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

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 …

2015, Movies

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

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 …

2015, Movies

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

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 …