Avatar Review
December 31st, 2009


Okay, so Avatar. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to be spoiled by anything, you should probably skip this post. I’m also going to say that a lot of the issues I bring up in this review are partially or completely answered by an early script of the movie, but that some details are lost in the final product still causes so problems. I don’t hate the film, like some folks do, but I am going to criticize it a bit.


What Other Classics Can Be Turned Into Video Games?
December 22nd, 2009


A demo for Dante’s Inferno was released on the Playstation Network about two weeks ago, with XBox 360 fans seeing the release this Friday. Like other people out there, I was pretty curious as to how the hell the first portion of the Divine Comedy was going to be adapted into a straight up video game. I mean, it doesn’t exactly lend itself for video game fodder. Then again, Electronic Arts isn’t producing a faithful adaptation of the game: it’s effectively a God of War ripoff: angry male faces off against a deity (Ares in God of War, Satan in Dante’s Inferno) to win back his love. Generic character has ridiculous weapon and magical abilities. Yeah, I mean, I’ve only read the Penguin Classics translated version of The Divine Comedy so there may be something lost in the translation, but I am pretty sure that Dante never wielded a gigantic feck-off scythe. I’m also pretty sure that Beatrice, the woman whom the real Dante Alighieri pined over, didn’t have the body of a stripper, complete with massive D cups.

That said, who cares if the video game companies take creative license with things? There’s money to be made and boobs to animate. We can’t let silly things like ‘respect for the classics’ get in the way of things! After all, Hollywood’s been doing it for years so why not the gaming industry?

Exactly. So, here are some potential candidates for the next Classic that could be remade into video games! To any of my former professors who may have accidentally stumbled across this: I am so very sorry.


Top 20 Songs of the Decade…That Weren’t From This Decade
December 17th, 2009


It’s getting to be that time of year where everyone is cranking out their ‘Best of’ lists, recounting their favorite things from throughout the year. This year is a little bit different, though, as we’re going to be entering into a new decade this January, so there’s a bunch of Best of lists recounting the past decade. I was thinking about doing a Best Songs of the Decade list, but that’s sorta played out, as I don’t want to be the 732nd person to wax about ‘Hey Ya!’, ‘Yellow’ and ‘Mr. Brightside’ (or whatever.)

That’s when I realized that there’ve been a ton of great musical moments throughout the decade that involved songs that didn’t originate from this Decade That Was. Cover songs, a renewed interest in an artist, artistic selection for television and film, that sort of thing. There’s a bunch of good stuff to delve into while looking at some of the big trends that came about as a result of this decade. So, here goes!


Toronto Sports Media Makes My Head Hurt
December 14th, 2009

I have lived in Toronto for close to 6 years now and as a result, have had a pretty good vantage point of the Toronto Maple Leafs. As a corollary to this, I’ve had to deal with the Greek Chorus that makes up the Toronto Sports Media, a group of journalists who can produce some truly awful stuff. So much so, as a matter of fact, that there are blogs devoted to dissecting the worst stuff that crops up in the dailies here in the Big Smoke. For the most part, they’re a harmless bunch who will issue out some amusing diatribes from time to time. Never really had a problem with any of them.

At least until my encounter with Steve Simmons, columnist of the Toronto Sun.


The Best, the Mediocre and the Worst of 2009
November 28th, 2009

Thought I’d lay out some of the albums that I absolutely adored that were released this past year. Christmas is coming up, so maybe this could help to serve as a potential shopping list?

2009 had some fun stuff, some disappointing releases and a couple of outright horrible ones. So, here’s a look at some of my faves, plus a couple of forgettable purchases. I’m going to do this in a bite-sized format, simply because a couple of people had been bugging me about what I liked, so here you go.


The Polaris Shortlist, Free Agency, Etc.
July 15th, 2009

Well well well. Looks like I wound up going 5/5 for the Polaris Short List. I guess it would’ve been more impressive had I guessed a full ten, as that would’ve made me look far more visionary or whatever. Glad to see my personal tastes have been validated by a jury of Canadian music journalists. I mentioned that I was going to sit down and listen to K’naan and I have to say that the album is pretty goddamned good. It’s going to take the Polaris Prize, much as I would’ve loved to have seen Malajube walk away with it. Oh well.

I apologize for a lack of content, but I’ve been looking for work and have been busy working on a longer project that probably won’t see the light of day on here, hence the complete disappearance from yours truly. I had gone on a nifty little streak there back in June, right? Anyway, I’ll try to throw up some stuff soon for the millions (and millions) of nonexistent people completely by-passing this little blog.

As for the Canucks’ spin at free agency? I’m happy with what Gillis has been doing thus far, although it really sucked to see Bouwmeester go to the Flames. I think we were down to like 15 hours before July 1st when the signing was announced, so, thanks for giving me false hope, you bastard. The big question mark for the Flames is going to be goaltending, believe it or not. Kiprusoff is going to have to stop the regression he has been on the past couple of seasons (something which should be helped with the coaching change, as well as the arrival of Bouwmeester) and Curtis McElhiney is going to have to show that he is capable of being an NHL calibre back-up. Calgary’s forward depth is going to be a bit of a concern, although Flames fans will be quick to point out that this is a stronger forward core than 03/04. That said, plugging in guys like Bourque, Glencross, Boyd and Moss into your top six isn’t a guarantee for success. Jokinen is going to have to show that he’s capable of fitting in, too, as so far, he’s been showing he hasn’t been a great pickup for Sutter.

Back to the Canucks, though. I’m interested with the signing of Samuelsson, a guy who could fit anywhere in the top nine. Smart money is on him to play with the Sedins, as they played together in international competition and apparently had some chemistry, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he wound up on the third line, playing the role of Taylor Pyatt.

Raycroft is the first signing of Gillis’ that I haven’t agreed with and am unwilling to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it is because I’ve watched far too many Maple Leafs games and had to deal with an Avs fan friend last season, but I am convinced that Raycroft isn’t cut out for NHL level hockey. Slotting him as someone who will provide ‘competition’ to Corey Schneider, who could be the backup for the Canucks this year, doesn’t make any sense at all. Yeah, yeah, Moneyball. I still think Raycroft stinks.

The biggest signing of Gillis’, though, was the Sedins. People are going to complain about this until the cows come home. Unfortunately, at this point in their careers, there’s literally nothing the Sedins can do that’ll shut their detractors up, as they will never be happy with them. Are the Sedins capable of leading the offense for a playoff bound team? Yes. Are they dynamic, ‘exciting’ players like Ovechkin or Gaborik? No. Do I care if they’re ‘flashy’? So long as we’re winning, no. The Canucks’ biggest concern is having a second line that will be able to produce and relieve pressure from the Sedins. Hopefully, with Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner lurking around, along with the likes of Kesler, Demitra, Samuelsson Bernier, Wellwood and (potentially) Sundin, we’ll have the right people to slot in for the second line and it won’t be a problem.

Follow-up on Michael Jackson
June 29th, 2009

You know how I said the music industry ran itself out of business and Jackson could be used as a poster boy for that? Here’s an economist who is basically saying the same thing. Fascinating read, check ‘er out!

June 22nd, 2009

Photos of a famous author moving into his newly completed tower!

Get it? Because goats will eat anything!

Polaris Long List
June 19th, 2009

Well, the long list for the Polaris Music Prize were announced June 15th and there are some interesting choices on it. For those who aren’t aware, the Polaris Prize is the Canadian equivalent to the Mercury Prize, over in England, with the idea of celebrating and giving awareness to Canadian music, regardless of genre.

I’m not sure what the point of releasing the long list is, beyond perhaps simple promotion, but it’s nice to see what albums are given serious consideration before announcing the short list. For a music nerd like me, it’s handy to be able to have a cheat sheet of Canadian music I might’ve been oblivious about, as I’m always getting stuck trying to find new music to listen to.

Since I’ve been snubbed as a juror for the Polaris Prize, I thought I’d give my own shortlist and plug some of the music I’ve been listening to as of late as well. Also, because doing ‘list’ posts are really easy to do and I am anything if lazy. Anyway, onto my shortlist!

Metric – Fantasies

I’d like to know what Faustian deal Emily Haines and company have made that lets them continue to keep cranking out absolutely solid records. This is Metric’s third release and they haven’t really missed a beat or slowed down at all. Quite amazing, really. Haines’ voice is part of the problem, really, as she’s capable of becoming incredibly intimate, drawing you in and making it seem like you’re the only one in the world she’s addressing. Her voice is capable of provoking a range of emotions, be it wistfulness, sincerity, desire, excitement, the whole gamut. I realize that I’m veering off into sounding like a reject from Pitchfork here, but her voice is just so flexible and I adore it.  She could read the phone book and I’d sit there stupidly, loving every minute. But that’s only part of it! The rest of the band are capable of providing insanely catchy hooks and just fit together seamlessly. It really is scary how well this band gels. As great as I think Fantasies is from top to bottom, I think that Metric will be shortlisted but will end up getting the Arcade Fire treatment: too big for Polaris’ britches.

Malajube – Labyrinthes

You’ve probably heard the music of Malajube before if you’ve watched any television in the past year or so, as one of Malajube’s songs was featured in a Rogers Wireless commercial. Whatever, Malajube are a great franco-indie band and continue the tradition of artists whom I enjoy who also sing in a language that I don’t understand (yeah, sadly, despite being Canadian I’m only fluent in one of our two official languages, for shame.) They write great poppy stuff that I can just listen to and have fun with, even though I don’t understand a word of what they’re saying. Reminds me of my days when I was interested solely in metal and punk rock. HAR HAR. There’s no real buzz on Malajube AND they’re Francophone, which could either help or hinder their chances with the award…honestly, the Polaris has only been around for such a short time it is hard to say. That said, I think that there’s more than a good chance that Malajube will get shortlisted and I would love it if this great band would get some greater recognition as a result.

Chad VanGaalenSoft Airplane

I first got to see Chad VanGaalen when he opened for Matthew Good at a show in Calgary. I believe it was around 2004, which would’ve been about five years ago. Anyway, I was blown away by him, as he was a one man act, but he was able to capture the attention of most everyone in attendance and earned a huge ovation at the end of his set…something you don’t see very often with opening acts. It may have been that he was a local boy and there was a bit of civic pride at play, but I think it’s because VanGaalen is fucking awesome. If you like minimalist indie rock, you ought to check out Soft Airplane.

Joel Plaskett – 3

I was only casually interested in Joel Plaskett until I picked up Ashtray Rock back in 2007 and then I became hooked. Plaskett’s triple album is something that I’m just starting to get into, but I’m finding it quite enjoyable thus far. Perhaps I’ll write up a longer post once I’ve gotten a better feel for it. At any rate, Plaskett was shortlisted in 2007, losing out to Patrick Watson, so look for Plaskett to get the nod again, either setting him up to win the Polaris or to become the Polaris equivalent of ‘always a bridesmaid, never a bride.’

K’Naan – Troubadour

This is the only album on the list I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and listen to, but out of all the nominees listed thus far, I think K’Naan stands the greatest chance of taking home the prize. Why would I say such a thing before I get a chance to sit down and listen to his album (and believe me, that will be forthcoming very soon)? One, because the Polaris Award is seemingly about celebrating Canadian music, regardless of genre. Are we really going to see yet another Canadian indie rock group win the Polaris? And c’mon, k-os is fucking boring, if the award is going to go to a hiphop album, K’Naan is a great choice.

Anyway, my second reason for K’Naan getting the nod is because, while I haven’t listened to the entire album, I’ve been playing the hell out of ABC’s while I’ve been out and about. I love listening to up tempo music when I’m commuting, as I use my bike as my primary means of transportation and ABC’s is off the wall. If the rest of the album is half as good as this single, my God.

The third reason that I think K’Naan stands a good chance of getting the Polaris is because of his background. Canadian music is more about music that is made in Canada: we’re a multicultural nation and it should be reflected in that. K’Naan was born and grew up in Somalia and his aunt (thank you, Wikipedia) was a rather well known Somali singer. That sort of background is part of what makes Canadian music great: it’s part of what you’re bringing to the table. You aren’t ascribing to preconceived notions of what music ought to be like. If there isn’t any room for you at the ‘table’, well, dammit, we’ll make room for you.

So yeah, those are my 5 choices of potential albums that are going to get shortlisted for the Polaris. The full list of 10 will be announced July 7th, and I’ll try to have more to say about K’Naan before then!

Sheer Awesomeness
June 12th, 2009


Came across this while watching the Stanley Cup Finals tonight.

I’m usually not one for crass commercialization, but I would so be buying tickets for a movie adaptation of this.

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