Wednesday, February 28, 2007

That'll Learn Me

Really, by now, I should know better than to announce my intentions for upcoming blog entries.

I worked thirteen hours on Tuesday; I worked fourteen hours today. Overtime is awesome, and I'm sure the money is going to come in handy just in time to bail me out of whatever ridiculous swing of circumstance comes up next. (I'm convinced, from previous experience, that I'm not actually allowed to have personal savings. It's a funny story. Maybe later.) But this doesn't leave much time for writing, and I'm just now getting home from work, and the Mardi Gras thing was five days ago already.

Then, what with me having figured I'd made up my mind on what I'd be writing about next, can you guess what was sitting in my mailbox when I got home tonight?

Oh! Oh! Bitch, you did not just! You wait your turn! Stop mailing me these things at least once a week!

Man, I don't even have time to get good and uppity about this! I have to be waking up in six hours! What's a brother to do with himself, these days?

Next time! I don't know what, but something's going to get good and written!

Monday, February 26, 2007

That Echo Chorus Lied to Me

I went to the Mardi Gras thing at the Convention Centre on Friday. It was grand fun, and I intend to do a writeup within the next couple of days.

The night ended quite poorly for me, however, for reasons that I'll elaborate on in said upcoming writeup. The rest of the weekend didn't go all too well, either. And today, Monday, was little better than an ongoing cavalcade of disappointment. (Although it's nice to know I'm never so hard done by that I can't spell 'cavalcade' properly off the top of my head. It's the little victories you have to celebrate, sometimes.)

Have you ever had one of those days, right from the moment you wake up, when you just can't shake the idea that nothing in your life is as you'd have wanted it? Then you spend the rest of the day trying to prove this wrong somehow, and you still come up with nothing by the time you're going to bed? I assure you -- these are not among the best days a person can have.

Still, though! I can't say it isn't progress; 2006 was a terrible year for me, absolutely dreadful, all things considered, so by comparison 2007 has been okay to this point. My lone New Year's Resolution on January 1st, so far as I ever make any -- at some point I started making resolutions in September, because my life cycled in school years anyway -- involved doing my best to avoid 2007 flatlining on me like 2006 did.

I'm not dead yet! Everything else beyond that is always sort of up in the air, but I'm not dead yet! And because music of all sorts is probably the primary reason that I'm not dead yet, here are some suitable survival selections (I am given to brief bouts of alliteration):

Matthew Sweet - Happiness [buy]
The Watchmen - Crazy Days [buy]
HARD-Fi - Help Me Please [buy]
Neko Case - Hold On, Hold On [buy]

Things will get better sometime! I assume!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

For the Record: Les Zombis et Les Loups-Garous


I know I concluded my last post by tipping my hand, a little; I said I intended my next entry to be about either Spirited Energy or Rod Bruinooge.

And those were my intentions! Even the best intentions, however, are subject to shifting when something suitably significant surfaces as a subject.

(I am given to brief bouts of alliteration. Humour me.)

Remember, my plan was to see which of the two choices would be the first to trigger my hilariously impotent and indignant rage. (I suspect this is likely how Tom Brodbeck does his writing, too -- except for the part where I've admitted to actually experiencing happiness about anything ever.) But neither one had emerged as a clear frontrunner, yet, and then they were both sidelined yesterday during a trip to Into the Music.

As I mentioned last post, I got a record player last Christmas; I had a surprisingly large pile or records even before then, in a series of plot contrivances that I can always tell you about later. And (as I also mentioned last post) now that I can combine my record player and my computer to form a neat new toy, well, a neat new toy needs neat new accessories.

Celebratory record shopping! Off I went after work to Into the Music, where I happily puttered around before buying a few cheap items. And, as you may or may not already know, a purchase of $5 or more at Into the Music grants you the opportunity to take a free item of your choice from the box of unwanted stuff sitting in front of the counter. (Assuming there's anything in there that you would want, of course -- hence my referring to it as a box of unwanted stuff.)

Fortune smiled upon me that fine day, for in that box I found something that has made me a very happy man. (If Tom Brodbeck ever writes 'I am a very happy man' in the Winnipeg Sun, I will buy all of my readers a delicious Slurpee.) Indeed, as my free item, in that box I found:

Be honest. This is what you would have taken, too, if you were there at the time.

This 1979 album, Raffi's third LP, features a variety of similarly minded small-time Canadian artists and was produced by a young Daniel Lanois (!). And it predates his breakout Baby Beluga album by a year, meaning this is the Raffi stuff that nobody knows about. Hell, I sure didn't. And it's too bad that I didn't, too!

See, in recent years, Raffi has transmogrified himself into a successful global-political activist and philosopher. He's released a worldbeat album; he's worked alongside at least half a dozen non-governmental organizations; he's called out Rogers Wireless for their shameless marketing towards children; he's written the theme song for David Suzuki's current tour, with David Suzuki as a background singer; he's performed for Nelson Mandela; he's established a new philosophy based on improving living conditions for children worldwide; he's even compiled and edited a book about said philosophy that includes contributions by Barbara Kingsolver, Lloyd Axworthy, and the Dalai Lama. He refers to himself as a global troubador, and -- unless Bono or someone seriously steps their game up -- he might be the only man on the planet who can justifiably get away with calling himself that.

(To quote Tom Lehrer: "It's people like that who make you realize how little you've accomplished.")

But this is way before all of that. When tasked with thinking of early Raffi, people think of Baby Beluga; when tasked with thinking of pre-Baby Beluga Raffi, they picture a seemingly infinite expanse of pure white where nothing ever existed.

So it's Raffi, you might say. It's Raffi before people liked Raffi. Big deal. What, you might ask of me, is your excitement here?

Well, now! This is also a song in French, and my love for songs in languages I don't necessarily understand has been previously documented.

Hearing that, you might well still ask, so what? Of course he recorded some stuff in French; he was, after all, operating in the Canadian music scene. English or French, it's still Raffi, in this case Raffi in his indieearly years.

And that is true. But.

This is not just Raffi. And this is not just Raffi singing in French.

This is Raffi, singing in French, about zombies.

Raffi - Les Zombis et Les Loups-Garous [buy (on CD) | official site]

Zombies! God damn! This is awesome!

I am not lying to you when I swear that this song, from the moment I popped it on my stereo, has remained at the forefront of my brain right through to the time I am spending right now typing these words. It certainly made the hours fly by at work, I can tell you that. (A particularly cute office girl now thinks that I'm a lunatic -- but I am a lunatic, so I suppose it all evens out.)

The liner notes credit the writer of the song as being 'Bill Russell', possibly the same Bill Russell who was one of the foremost authorities on early New Orleans jazz. I can easily imagine this song having originally been a Louisiana tune, what with the mythology all its own that the area cultivated for centuries. Zombies? Werewolves? French lyrics? From New Orleans? Yeah, I can buy that.

These are the times when, briefly, I regret not becoming an academic; there are some subjects, like these, that I feel like I could happily study and chase for my entire life without ever getting bored or losing my passion for them. This feeling passes quickly, of course, because I then remember that no institution would ever voluntarily support me on these sorts of ideas; the kinds of topics I find interesting enough to publish about would be considered kooky even by modern university standards. C'est la vie.

And to think -- even with the seemingly inescapable prominence of Raffi amongst children's musicians, this song never once grazed my childhood. I had never heard this song before yesterday, I had never even heard of this song before yesterday, and if you had tried to tell me about it before yesterday I would have sworn you were making the whole thing up just to be mean to me. How did I finally find it? Entirely by luck and by chance, buying a completely unrelated album at Into the Music and just picking the right day to look in the box of unwanted stuff. My luck is not nearly that good, normally; such is the power of Raffi.

Raffi is love. And one day Raffi is going to save us all. Just you watch.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

For the Record: Walk Through the Fire

As late, I have picked up a couple of things that will liven this blog up a bit.

(Oh, yeah, but first another correction: last time I went to my mother's house my sister got all uppity about my misspelling John Mayer's name, so OKAY FINE THE SPELLING IS 'MAYER' WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME)

The first item of interest is an old copier-scanner-printer; the printer part hasn't worked for months (if not years) now, and for as long as anybody can remember my little brother has been using it as a dirty-plate holder and a Slurpee tray.

That's okay! I'm not too interested in the printer part, and whether the copier works or not I can't imagine what I would be making copies of. (Actually, I can -- but that'll be a summer scheme, not a winter one.) It's all about the scanner, for me, and the scanner looks like it'll work okay.

The other item I'd mentioned is one that made perfect sense the longer I thought about it; I have a record player (which I got as a gift last Christmas), and I have a computer (which I got six years ago, but let's not start that again), and so obviously anything that would connect the two is a good idea.

So! A scanner for scanning images (which I desperately needed; up until now I've been laying things flat and then taking pictures of them with a two-megapixel digital camera, which is a horrible way to go about it), and a cable between my computer and record player for playing records through my computer (which I'm sure everybody else I know is years ahead of me on, but let me have my fun here).

I'm stoked about this, you guys!

The scanner means, for example, that I can do this --

-- and the cord means, for example, that I can do this.

Peter Gabriel - Walk Through the Fire (Promotional 12'' Remix Version) [official site]


Anybody with even the smallest collection of records (and believe me, mine is tiny compared to my CD collection) has at least one or two possessions they want to make noise about. A rare pressing of a favourite album that later went to cassette or CD, or an obscure notable that you just don't see any more (if you ever saw it in the first place), or something that someone grew up listening to and loving regardless of quality, or what have you.

Some records are so good, it's amazing they never made it to CD; some records are so bad, it's a wonder they ever made it to vinyl; some records are so weird, it's a wonder anybody even had the idea in the first place. It was a simpler time, then. probably because stealing everything was so much harder, I mean holy damn these things are huge

This selection above is an example of something I never expected to actually physically see in my lifetime. Peter Gabriel is by far my favourite artist (which explains much about me and yet explains nothing about my musical tastes), and damned if I wasn't looking for rarities and previously unheard material right from the minute I learned there was -- of all things! -- music on the internet.

As far as I knew, for almost a decade, Walk Through the Fire existed entirely as a quiet and scratchy unreleased track. Those were the days -- everything was encoded at 32kbps tops, nothing ever hit two megabytes in size, and people considered themselves lucky to ever find a complete song out there in the (world wide web of) wilderness amongst the shitty thirty-second samples and Tripod 404 notices.

We were kids and we were stupid, of course. That hardly needs to be said. God, we were basically internet cavemen.

So anyway, a couple of months ago I ran into the actual physical record in Into the Music, marked out like an idiot, and bought it for four dollars. The song as I'd known it for years was originally released as a 1984 promotional single, with a less interesting version of the song later appearing on the Against All Odds soundtrack. Go figure that the mix I heard way back then was the one specifically harder to find, and that I would go on to find it entirely by chance. Go figure!

You know, this isn't really such a good story after all, is it? Kind of a letdown after all of that.

Still, though! This is one of my favourite songs ever, and nothing makes me happier than knowing I hold it as a material possession. Records are awesome! Go records!

So, yeah, that's what's new with me. Fun with technology! Good times. The next post will either be me razzing Spirited Energy or me razzing Rod Bruinooge, depending on which one raises more comically overzealous outrage from me at the time. Until then!

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Hey, my internet connection is back! Awesome!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The 49th Annual Grammy Awards Made Me Mad: A Postscript

Let nobody say that I am here exclusively to hinder. I am here to help!

And helpful beast that I am, I have come up with a solution to all of the problems plaguing the Grammys.

It is my honest and true belief that all ills of the Grammy Awards as we know them would be cured in one fell swoop if a long-term contract were hammered out to establish two new hosts for future telecasts -- two beloved and time-tested pop-culture icons known for their consistent entertainment value, honesty in evaluation of talent, and enduring popularity over decades of work.

The two potential hosts?

You know I'm right.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The 49th Annual Grammy Awards Made Me Mad: A Surprisingly Long Post

Stupid Grammys. Grr. Grr!

This is one of those posts where I intended for it to be kind of short and then got incensed enough to write for forever. So you may want to go get a sandwich first.

So! Last night I went over to my Mom's house to watch the 49th Annual Grammy Awards Telecast with the family; our general consensus about this year's show was that it sucked. A lot.

(I should note before we move on: my sister raged indignant at me right upon my arrival, because she too was in Texas and helped out with the purchase of the mask mentioned previously on this site. Ten minutes later I got a word in edgewise and agreed to post an addendum, so, an addendum: big-ups to homegirl.)

In no real order, here are some salient points I wish to address.

-- The name 'Grammys' should have been changed to 'Apologies' for the evening, because that is the only possible reasoning anybody can offer for the Dixie Chicks getting five of them last night.

Yes. We get it. They had a rough time of it, nobody in Nashville learned their lesson from Johnny Cash decades ago, put a couple dudes in the Dixie Chicks and they could have said whatever they want, blah blah dick so on and so forth.

So now that their latest album has been selling like gangbusters, and its single 'Not Ready to Make Nice' (which was by no means the best song of the past year, by the way, not even close -- it wasn't even the best country song of the past year) broke popularity records on music video channels, now that Oprah has been using her seemingly infinite powers to push them to the moon, now that both the album and its songs are tearing up the charts -- well, gee, now the music establishment is sorry!

So here, Dixie Chicks! Have every Grammy that we can throw at you without being completely blatant about it!

My mother loves the Dixie Chicks. She respects the Dixie Chicks, what they've gone through, and what they've accomplished. She owns their latest album, the now-Grammy-winning album, and enjoys it very much. And even she found herself unable to justify the Dixie Chicks winning the awards they did.

This speaks volumes, I think.

-- My mother, I should note, was watching the show specifically for the reunion of The Police.

And with good reason. The Police were awesome last night! Absolutely, incredibly awesome! These are men of distinguishment and incredible talent, brilliant veterans of their craft and pioneers of popular music as we understand it today; they were, by far, the best part of the show.

You know, for the, uh... for the one song that they were allowed to play.

The Police got one song in, at maybe three or four minutes tops. The combination of John Legend (who is awesome), Corinne Bailey Rae (who is okay) and John Meyer (who was baked, oh man, did you see that guy) got maybe five minutes between the three of them combined to each play a snippet of their song. Earth, Wind & Fire... well, I'm going to get to Earth, Wind & Fire.

Justin Timberlake got two segments, for three songs and one mysterious pre-taped sitdown interview, probably totalling a good ten minutes. The Red Hot Chili Peppers got to perform anything at all, which is terrible; watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers nowadays is like watching Fat Elvis Presley, except sadder. And Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts combined for four songs, none of which were theirs, three of which were (bleh) Don Henley songs, and one of which was (double bleh) 'Hotel California'. How many times, estimated, do you suppose a person hears 'Hotel California' in their life? If you answered 'too many', you are correct.

Nice to see you, Sting and the Police! It was all downhill after you guys!

-- Man, were people ever eager to thank Jesus for their success last night. You know what I want to see? One day somebody should go up there and earnestly thank Allah, just to watch people freak.

Is anybody else suspect of the idea that the Judeo-Christian conceit concept of a higher power was wielding its immeasurable power over all things in the universe to make sure that Carrie Underwood won Best New Artist? And if it's that important to the guy, shouldn't we be worried for everybody who voted for other people on American Idol?

-- Both Justin Timberlake segments were absolutely brutal, but for different reasons.

The first performance began with a clip of Timberlake talking about just how awesome his latest single is, then went to the live feed of him playing that song. And by 'playing that song', I mean 'desperately aping Chris Martin's performance three years ago, right down to the set design'.

Boy, though -- isn't it nice to know how far music, and society as a whole, has come since those early days? Remember the dark ages when a white performer would take front and centre stage, all the lights solely on him, while the vast and predominantly black backup band would be placed way in the back and receive no recognition for the major role they play in the music we love? How nice to know those times are long gone! Ha ha! I think my facetiousness gland is hemorraging!

Then, because the segment wasn't already enough of an annoyance, Justin Timberlake held a camera right to his face and began to jerk and twitch around like a Spazbot 5000 from the Planet Spaz. This is supposed to indicate his transition into a serious artist as he performs (what he had gone on and on about as being) the best song he's ever written. I'm sure that's what he was going for.

Cassandra Szklarski, writing the horrendous coverage piece that appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press this morning, incorrectly describes the sequence:

Justin Timberlake then offered a nod to music's digital age with a performance that began on piano but ended with him filming himself onstage with a handheld camera, producing images familiar to any YouTube viewer.

Cute guess, woman whose name I do not recognize, but no. Justin Timberlake was filming himself onstage with a handheld camera, producing images familiar to any Peter Gabriel fan -- because Peter Gabriel was using the same filming technique on his Secret World Live tour thirteen fucking years ago. And when Peter Gabriel used his camera-right-in-the-face idea for the live version of 'Digging in the Dirt', he knew that it comes across as creepy and disturbing; that was the entire point of the trick, and it made an already atmospheric and spooky tune all the better for it. By comparison, I don't even remember what the song Timberlake was playing sounds like; what I remember is him waving a camera in front of himself, clearly heady with his own brilliance, because this is his best song ever.

The second Timberlake segment involved that rancid text-message-voting Grammy Moment garbage, which I doubt I can actually write about at all because the overflow of sarcasm in my head would blind me permanently. But rest assured that I did not like it for a variety of reasons!

-- Speaking of the Winnipeg Free Press coverage, read this paragraph taken from the article and see if anything strikes you as an unnecessary inclusion.

"Well, to quote the great 'Simpsons:' heh-heh!" front woman Natalie Maines said to laughter and applause from the audience, referring to a snide taunt oft-heard on the animated TV show.




-- Shakira is originally from Columbia. Wyclef Jean is originally from Haiti. Their combined hit single 'Hips Don't Lie' is classified as 'Latin pop'.

Would anybody like to explain just why the hell they were dancing around the stage incarnation of those horrible Tandoori Doritos ads? Whose idea was this?

-- If her father wasn't the owner of a record label and her longtime partner wasn't the owner of another record label and one of the most powerful and influential men in music today, would anybody still know who Beyonce is? Or is she just that strong an independent woman and I'm a mean man for even questioning this?

-- Now, if you thought you heard what sounded like modem noises and then screaming last night during the show, you need not have been alarmed; that was the sound of three Red Hot Chili Peppers phoning it in last night, then Flea's back giving out as he strained to try and carry them all to a watchable performance.

Chris Rock introduced the Red Hot Chili Peppers as "the best band in the world", which is how we now know that Chris Rock is a liar. The Red Hot Chili Peppers weren't even the best band performing last night, which all things considered is pretty depressing.

My mother knows precious little about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or why almost everything they've done in the past decade has been so demoralizing. She sure liked Flea, though -- and rightfully so! God bless Flea, still doing his damnedest to keep the music moving while Kiedis fails to sing anything properly ever and the reanimated remains of Frusciante pick listlessly at the ruinous splatter mockingly referred to as his current musical direction.

(I'm a music writer! Whee!)

My sister made the point that all the older 'alternative' bands seemed to mellow out at the same time, with Dave Grohl leading the pack. And this is true. The thing with Dave Grohl, however, is that he is genuinely good at what he does; he could play any of the instruments on that stage, sing while doing it, and come up with something that blows his contemporaries out of the water like a demented game of Battleship. Anthony Kiedis, upon mellowing out, seems to have gone completely tone-deaf. There is a slight contrast here.

Did you see Flea, there, playing with all the energy in the world and throwing himself into the music as only a dedicated musician can? Remember when the entire band shared that enthusiasm? Man, those were the days. I feel old, holy shit.

So the Red Hot Chili Peppers won four Grammys, and my little brother and I booed them. Then everybody had a good laugh because Kiedis was trying to talk into the microphone, hold the Grammy, and show off his supermasculine biceps all at the same time. Little dude, you're maybe 5'9'' in high shoes. You are not impressing anybody with your physique.

-- My mother watched the Grammys for the Police, but my little brother watched the Grammys for Earth, Wind & Fire. He was looking very forward to seeing them, and so was I.

With good reason. They are Earth, Wind & Fire. Earth. Wind. And Fire. Motherfucker.

So when it was announced that EWF were going to be performing "with Mary J. Blige", I swear I could hear the alarm bells going off in my brother's head.

Again -- with good reason.

One member of EWF got maybe thirty seconds of screen time under the lights where people could see him. This was as a backup singer to Ludacris.

EWF. Used as part of the backup band. For Ludacris and Mary J. Blige.

Then it got worse.

Earth, Wind & Fire were relegated to the darkened background of the stage, briefly visible from time to time if you squinted really hard, as Blige and Luda launched into the ol' heartrending story of runaways and child sex and whatnot. To make sure people understood that the song is supposed to be sad, giant video screens above the stage began playing what was basically the music video for the song.

EWF. Used as part of the backup band for Ludacris and Mary J. Blige, in the background, in almost complete darkness, underneath giant well-lit video screens showing a music video for the song being played.

Then it got worse.

As mentioned previously, the song is supposed to be sad. This is precisely why Blige was wearing a bright red jumpsuit and Luda threw his suit jacket into the crowd. (Shut up, I'm sure this makes sense to someone.) But the possibility existed that the crowd may have still remained unconvinced by the sad music, lyrics about child pregnancy, accompanying music video, and jacket-throwing that this was in fact supposed to be a sad song.

And so out came a procession of children carrying candles, a corridor of kids that was just long enough to stretch across the whole stage.

EWF. Used as part of the backup band for Ludacris and Mary J. Blige, in the almost complete darkness of the background, underneath giant video screens showing a music video, and now well hidden behind a line of frowning children carrying candles.

Then. It got worse.

Just to make sure that the whole connection-with-the-audience thing was being driven home to its utmost, Luda and Mary led the kids out onto a second stage to make sure everybody figured out what was going on here.

So. Earth, Wind & Fire. Genuine R&B, funk and soul progenitors and legends Earth, Wind & Fire. Used as part of the backup band for Mary J. Blige and Ludacris, underneath giant music-video screens, hidden in almost complete darkness and standing fifty feet behind the two 'main' performers and a phalanx of frowning candle-wielding children (because BE SAD GOD DAMN IT) on an entirely different stage.

My brother and I took this in stride. By booing. We did a lot of booing for the rest of the night.

-- Now, I must say, of course the Grammys weren't all bad.

Some deserving acts won -- quietly and with scant seconds of mention on the show proper, but still victorious and recognized as the best that music had to offer in the past year.

Bob Dylan won multiple Grammys without even needing to show up. (Remember when they wouldn't give him one, so the other powers that be in entertainment caved in and threw him an oscar for 'Things Have Changed'? Good times!)

David Spade showed up and was David Spade, which is always good; Common showed up and was Common, which is always awesome. And T.I. trying to look casual, then dropping the envelope as he tried to slip it into his suit jacket? That was absolute comedy gold. Oh, my, how we laughed hard at that. That T.I., always good for an easy chuckle!

Gnarls Barkley was awesome, as Gnarls Barkley always is. My mother thought Gnarls Barkley was one person -- but, then, I wouldn't be surprised if a horribly large majority thought the same thing. And you know they think Cee-Lo is the one guy, because Danger Mouse is never going to get the proper recognition he deserves. Never. Still, though, they won Grammys and that was good; why they won in the alternative category of all places is a mystery and a half, but they won and that was good.

Also good: James Blunt, that miserable looking drowned rat of a man, won nothing. This pleases me, and pleases everyone I know. Eat it, Blunt.

And, as mentioned before, the Police ruled it. That'll be all I remember about this year's Grammy Awards in the years to come, and I'm very glad for that.

But yeah, overall the Grammys were terrible. Terrible enough that I'll go off for several pages at a time about them? Yes! And in our modern wired era of easy access to music of all origins and styles from all around the world, that's all the attention we even need to grant them before losing interest and rocking out hard to whatever interesting new thing floats down the pike.

Which is just the perfect setup for me to pass along this interesting new thing! The perfect cleanser to wash away the residue of last night's debacle, with a title perfectly apropos for our troubled times:

Medeski, Martin & Wood - Where's the Music? [label -- free downloads]

Our beloved modern day grand wizards of jazz evolution, MMW are putting out a new album in April. Yes! And it's going to be a children's album! Ye--wate wut

To think, here I'd been worried occasionally about the state of music and what the future generations will have to look forward to. Where my generation looks back fondly at the surprisingly good Sesame Street arrangements or the theme from the Littlest Hobo, would kids these days grow up only to remember 'My Humps' or whatever horrible pieces of shit Phil Collins sneaks into Disney movies these days?

Well, my friends, I'm not worried any more. Because future generations will be able to reminisce by looking at each other, blurting "WHERE'S THE MUSIC?" in their most excited voices, and then dancing like maniacs to the funkiest music aimed at kids since Fat Albert was not a horrible movie relevant.

I can't tell you in mere words how happy this song makes me. I wouldn't even be able to properly tell you in pictures, which is just as well because it would be me wearing an Ultimo Guerrero mask and grinning like an absolute idiot.

My birthday is April 18th, and the album is slated for 'April 2007'; if this is not out by my birthday, I intend to go to my room and throw a hilariously oversized tantrum where nobody can see me. That is how important this is to me.

So download this song, listen to it, love it, and be happy -- and if this doesn't win the Grammy for Best Children's Album or whatever next year, that's just one more sign that the Grammys don't apply to people like you and me.

We are rebels. We are cool. And now I will dance to children's music as though my very life depends on it.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Behold the Birth of a Hero, Part II

My mother had been out and about in Texas on a business trip for about a couple weeks; she returned home on Tuesday night.

She'd brought me back a souvenir from the trip, and I picked it up from her house last night -- a lucha libre mask, more specifically a mask modelled on that of the famed Mexican wrestler Ultimo Guerrero.

My mother loves me.

Between this and the Working Class Hero shirt, I'm well on my way to assembling a perfect crimefighting outfit! Mind you, I suppose I'm also going to need some superpowers or some really good guns -- but when I get 'em, oh man, crime had better watch the hell out!

Monday, February 05, 2007

God Damn It All

I found out on Saturday that my aunt's dog, one of the sweetest creatures I've ever encountered, will have to be put to sleep on Wednesday.

And I found out tonight that my mom's dog, who we got when I was seven, died peacefully in her sleep last night. (Which, in and of itself, is seven different kinds of amazing; the old girl went through multiple incidents in her lifetime that would have killed most people, let alone most dogs.)

I am just the slightest bit perturbed by this.

It has not been a good couple of days.

Fred Eaglesmith & the Flying Squirrels - He's a Good Dog (Live in Santa Cruz) [buy]

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I Hate This Movie Already

I listen to a lot of loud music, but I definitely know for sure that my hearing isn't deteriorating yet.

Perhaps you are familiar with the new supernatural horror-thriller film The Messengers, which opened last week. I have not seen this movie. And I do not intend on seeing this movie, ever. Because the advertising campaign bugs the piss out of me.

Now, understand I'm not arguing against the thought put into these advertisements. The general idea to market the movie's concept is sound (no pun intended); if children and teenagers can hear frequencies that adults cannot, which is true, then why wouldn't it follow that they can see what adults cannot? That all is fine, and I can appreciate the thought involved.

But. But. The idea is fine, but the execution is absolutely inexcusable.

You see, it apparently isn't enough that the television advertisements remind us of this phenomenon by simply telling us. Of course not! Not in our modern climate of viral marketing and guerrilla advertising! (Incidentally, as you've probably already heard, people in Boston are really easily spooked by cartoon characters. But that's a topic for another day.)

No, these advertisements for the movie insist on demonstrating the concept -- and they demonstrate it by overlaying a high-frequency buzzing noise atop the commercial's conventional audio track.

Now, let me note at this point that I'm going to be twenty-three years old in two months. I make no claims to genuine maturity; I'm no less likely nowadays than previously to stay up past my bedtime playing video games, or to lie around in my pyjamas all day watching hockey and cartoons, or to eat more candy than is ever going to be good for me. But by definition I am neither a child nor a teenager, and have not been either for a very long time -- and besides that, this whole 'adulthood' lark is determined to sneak up on me whether I like it or not.

And so, me being an honest-to-goodness adult, there is no reason at all why I should be able to hear the horrific high-frequency hissing that they piggybacked onto the commercials. But I can hear it. And it is intensely, intensely annoying.


I swear. Good lord. This is not the way to go about advertising a movie, unless the movie is about noises so aggravating to the people who can hear them that thousands are driven insane and start killing entire cities' worth of people. (In fact, I'd be amazed if that hasn't been used as a plotline somewhere yet. And if it hasn't, man, I'm totally using it! But I digress.)

The ability to hear certain frequencies diminishes and disappears over time, such that younger ears can hear what older ears cannot; this is science, and nobody is questioning it. I assure you, however -- I really, really did not need to be reminded.

I wasn't even in the same room as the television the first time I heard the commercial air. I thought I was losing my mind, and losing my mind would be a genuine possibility if that noise were all I heard for extended periods of time. God.

I hate you, The Messengers. I hope you tank. I hope you tank so hard that--



Junkhouse - Fuzz [buy]
Peter Gabriel - And Through the Wire [buy]
I Mother Earth - Not Quite Sonic [buy]

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Return of the Rhetoricals and Hypotheticals

Does anybody actually like Winnipeg Square enough to justify keeping Portage and Main closed to pedestrians?

If Winnipeg's music scene is as robust, as varied and as exciting as people claim it to be, then why do only four or five of our nineteen FM stations ever play local artists in any real capacity beyond "they were mainstream ten or more years ago"?

In retrospect, five months later -- just what, exactly, ended up being new about 'the All-New' Q-94 FM?

Can we please, please, please start a fundraising drive to buy Kick FM a transmitter that reaches past downtown?

Of all the prospective television programming that could be offered in high-definition picture and sound, of all the potentially enhanced content that could be used to captivate prospective buyers and retailers alike with the previously unrealized exhiliration of the medium -- why poker?

Considering the nation's current political climate and the timing of the recent announcement that the Bank of Montreal is slashing over a thousand jobs, should we be worried that Jack Layton may have somehow developed psychic powers?

Does CTV honestly think that Winnipeggers don't know how to wear warm clothes and plug in their cars, or is local news just that slow lately?

If Daniel Anderson from Jubilee Avenue had been Danny Qaujisaut from Sargent Avenue, would anybody have even blinked when his case hit the papers?

If next year Regina were to become the Slurpee Capital of the World, what if anything would Winnipeg have left?

Questions to consider!