1980, Music

Dirty Mind (1980) by Prince

Like so many artists’ early work, I’ve come to this Prince album backwards. And I suspect that a lot of my issues with it come from all the later Prince I’ve heard. Because, on first listen, this record just sounded like Prince in utero or, um, proto Prince.

1980, Music

Lightning to the Nations [The White Album] (1980) by Diamond Head

There are a couple NWOBHM bands that sound a little closer to the thrash metal they would inspire and, from their debut album, Diamond Head appears to be one of them. Nowhere near as dirty and punk as Motorhead, they’re still (at times) grittier and heavier than some of their contemporaries.

2010, Movies

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010, Alex Gibney)

This is a fascinating documentary about former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal and New York State and American political corruption in general. I must admit I didn’t pay much attention to the scandal at the time – I don’t care much about American gubernatorial politics – and assumed he’d done things a …

2020, Psychology, Society

Journal of the Pandemic Year: Vaccine!!!!!!

The first people in my region will be vaccinated next week, roughly a year after the virus first started spreading. It’s one of the great achievements in medical history. By summer or fall I should be vaccinated and I am already planning a party to take advantage of our fantastic new backyard which somebody else …

2020, Politics, Psychology, Society

70 Million Americans Voted to Re-Elect a Con Man to the Presidency [Updated]

In August of 2016, before his election to President, I wondered whether or not Donald Trump was the Greatest Con Man of All Time. (The GOAT-Con? The Con-GOAT? The GCMOAT?) A year and a half later, still mystified by his support, I wondered how people continue to trust him, as he burns one after the …

2018, Movies

Slay Belles (2018, Dan Walker)

Slay Belles, not to be confused with the Ru Paul album of the same name, is a no-budget Christmas “horror comedy” that is not remotely scary, though it made me laugh. Twice. (I think it was twice. It might have been three times.) Like so many of these movies, there is more wrong with it …

1989, Movies

Heathers (1989, Michael Lehmann)

At some point when I was younger, I told myself I had watched Heathers though I either confused it with some other ’80s movie featuring Christian Slater and/or Wynona Ryder or I saw five minutes of it and decided that counted. Anyway, I had definitely not seen Heathers.

2003, Movies

Love Actually (2003, Richard Curtis)

This is a romantic comedy about a whole bunch of people finding love (or not) around Christmas. Apparently it has inspired a whole host of similar films, something that I was completely unaware of given how little I watch romantic comedies or holiday movies. So it’s sort of the inaugural film of this type of …

1975, Music

Godbluff (1975) by Van Der Graaf Generator

Van Der Graaf Generator’s firs reunion album feels like the first step in the band’s evolution from its dense prog sound of its early days to the almost new wave sound they would have on The Quiet Zone. It’s a notably sparer record, which may seem like an odd thing to say if this is …

1975, Music

Rock of Westies (1975) by Elton John

Based upon the title, the cover, and the presence of “Island Girl”, I thought this was going to be John’s Caribbean record. (I thought “westies” meant “West Indies”; I didn’t know it was a spoonerism.) So colour me surprised by (most of) the actual content.

1970, Music

Tumbleweed Connection (1970) by Elton John

Try as I might, I cannot fall in love with Elton John’s music. I have listened to many of his records at this point – basically only from the ’70s – and I have quite liked one of them. The others don’t really connect with me yet and this one is just another of those.

1970, Music

Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

I honestly had no idea this was an album first. I think because it has been so successful as a property I just assumed it had to have been a musical. But, instead, it was an album. And, as a result, it got reviewed as an album. (And, hilariously, it was banned in some countries …

1989, Books, Fiction

And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) by Nick Cave

Nick Cave is both one of my favourite songwriters and, I think, one of the great songwriters of the era. (He is in my 20th century songwriting canon.) But I don’t think too many would argue that he has greatly improved as a songwriter from when he first started out in the Boys Next Door …

2000, Music

Let’s Get Ready (2000) by Mystikal

When I first started purposely listening to hip hop about 5 years ago, the idea that a rapper had charisma was something I couldn’t really stomach. As a music fan I am primarily a fan of chops and, for me, vocal chops had to do with singing, not rhyming. I didn’t understand flow and I …

2000, Music

Music (2000) by Madonna

For one of the few times in my life, I can actually say I’ve heard the previous Madonna record before listening to this one, so it gives me context that I normally wouldn’t have. (Normally my context would be “I remember the hit singles.” And I do! But I’ve actually listened to Ray of Light.)

2000, Music

Felt Mountain (2000) by Goldfrapp

The British really did like a certain sound circa the turn of the millennium. It was one I was entirely oblivious to, living in rural Quebec, even though I had what was then an incredible internet connection. I suspect some of my radio station friends were into stuff like this, but I was honestly unaware.

2000, Music

The Teaches of Peaches (2000)

Remember electroclash? It felt like such a big deal for a couple of years there, but I must say I tried to pay as little attention as possible. I was super into prog rock, and post rock, and I was getting into jazz and “classical”, and I had no taste for minimalist things. And, also, …

2000, Music

Hearbreaker (2000) by Ryan Adams

Faithless Street (specifically the expanded edition from 3 years later) is one of my favourite albums of the 1990s and easily my favourite alt country album of all time. I went through a phase where I was chasing that dragon a bit, listening to the other Whiskeytown records and some Adams solo stuff, and never …

1995, Music

The Gold Experience (1995) by O(+>

I can’t claim to know Prince’s catalogue that well, especially since the ’80s. So you can’t take what I say as gospel. But, listening to this, I’m inclined to agree with the critical consensus that says it’s his best record of the ’90s (or one of them). There may well be better ones, of course, …

Music

See You on the Other Side (1995) by Mercury Rev

Transition albums often have a bad rap. Of course, we usually only know they are transition records in hindsight so it must be that we retroactively apply the term. That or maybe some critic guesses extremely well at the time. (I really doubt it, though.)

1995, Music

Up (1995) by Great Big Sea

There have been a lot of bands like this over the years. “Celtic rock” has existed since the ’70s and folk punk came not long after that. This particular band might be relatively unique given their focus on Newfoundland but I doubt it. (I have spent very little time in Newfoundland but I suspect there …

2020, TV

Eco-Challenge is Now The World’s Toughest Race

My favourite first wave reality show, Eco-Challenge – the only returned this summer as The World’s Toughest Race now hosted by Bear Grylls. (It’s on Amazon Prime if you’re interested.) I loved this show when it was on and, for years, sort of assumed that nobody else had watched as, when I described it to …

2020, Movies, Sports

4 Issues You Have To Overlook In Sports Films

We all have our favourite sports movies. But it’s fair to say that there’s a lot that Hollywood ultimately gets wrong about our favourite sports. That’s why documentaries like The Last Dance feel like such a breath of fresh air. It provides an honest perspective of the game. So, let’s run down some of the …

2017, Books

Canadian Whisky, Second Edition: The New Portable Expert (2017) by Davin de Kergommeaux

I’m Canadian but I know every little about Canadian whisky. For most of my adult life I’ve definitely conflated “rye” and “Canadian” and only knew that some whiskies were Canadian through osmosis. Aside from a period of drinking “CC & G” as my go-to cocktail and another period of always having Wiser’s at home (usually …