Saturday, April 28, 2012

Video Of The (Past) Week: Sam Roberts

Almost a year to the day since I last featured the Sam Roberts Band, this time with a song... from last year. But I was really in the mood for this today.

It's a simple video, made with, uh, Canadian means (i.e. $0 budget), but with nice lighting plays, shadows and dark-ish tones, and a catchy, well-written song (as he usually writes)...

Obama's Big Stick

I like how the room cracks up at the end. Joe Biden's amazing at putting his foot in his mouth, and this was just another example among many. Hopefully he won't have to put Barack Obama's big stick in there too...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Video Of The Week: Bruce Springsteen

Just in time for Mitt Romney's purchasing of the Republican nomination, Bruce Sprinsgteen has released an official video for what I've already deemed the Song Of The Year...

And should you not be convinced these two events are inter-related, remember Romney's ''joke'' about his father closing a factory in Michigan, and compare it to these lyrics from Death To My Hometown:
They destroyed our families’ factories and they took our homes
They left our bodies on the plains
The vultures picked our bones
So listen up, my Sonny boy
Be ready for when they come
For they’ll be returning sure as the rising sun
And then think about Romney's quote about ''letting Detroit go bankrupt''...

I'm glad folks like Springsteen still have fire in their repertoire. And if he can mix it with a great fucking song, all the better...

Friday, April 13, 2012

NHL First Round Playoff Predictions

Sure I'm late in posting them here, but they're all over my Facebook - and those of my friends...

Flyers - Penguins

I really don't like the Pittsburgh Penguins. I respect their superstar Evgeny Malkin, I wish the Habs had their goalie Marc-André Fleury, I really like Krys Letang on defense... but I hate Sidney Crosby.

On the other hand, the Philadelphia Flyers have everything I like to watch about hockey - amazing scorers like Claude Giroux, top-notch goaltending, and a hard-hitting defense corps. Oh, and even attackers with a mean streak.

Flyers in 5

Devils - Panthers

I'm rooting for the Florida Panthers and would like them to win in as few games as possible, but I just don't see that happening, especially since the New Jersey Devils now have the most offensive firepower they've ever had... and one of the league's 5 most electrifying players in Ilya Kovalchuk.

Devils in 6

Bruins - Capitals

Again, a match-up where I'm rooting for the underdog - this time the Washington Capitals. Hard to think of Dale Hunter's Caps as underdogs, with the likes of Alexander Ovechkin in tow, but the Boston Bruins did win the last Stanley Cup, after all. But I'd love to see them fail at repeating, big-time; ideally, I'd want the Bruins to lose to the Flyers, with a taste of their own medicine (timely goals, shut-down goaltending and borderline-illegal hits that injure opponents), but the sooner they're out, the better.

I predict the Bruins will take a 2-0 series lead, but with the return of Tomas Vokoun, the Caps will bounce back.

Capitals in 7

Senators - Rangers

Yet again, my heart lies with the underdog. The Ottawa Senators - with the likes of passer supreme Jason Spezza and sniper Milan Michalek - are easy to like, but John Tortorella's New York Rangers are just too good in every aspect - the bestgoalie in the game in Henrik Lundqvist, the best defense corps, the most balanced offense led by sniper Marian Gaborik. I wish for the Sens to win in 6... but they're just no match for the Blueshirts.

Rangers in 6

Kings - Canucks

Oh, the Los Angeles Kings have laid low all year despite being Stanley Cup favourites since the beginning of the season, with Drew Doughty leading the way on defense, the goaltending tandem of Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier, and an offense so potent they can afford to have former Flyers captain Mike Richards play on their second line...

But the Vancouver Canucks - the best team in the league for the past 2 seasons, last season's Cup finalists - are just too good. Their goaltending tandem of Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider is even better than the Kings', they have 2 of the last 3 Art Ross winners in Henrik and Daniel Sedin, a strong defense, the best agitator line in the business led by Maxim Lapierre, and all of Canada behind them.

Canucks in 6

San Jose - St. Louis

There is no way in hell the San Jose Sharks will finally meet expectations, and because of that, they are just not allowed to eliminate the St. Louis Blues and their superstar goalie Jaroslav Halak. Period.

Blues in 6

Predators - Red Wings

One team in the entire NHL was built to win this year, and this year alone: the Nashville Predators, with all their deadline trades, Alexander Radulov coming back from Russia, and All-Star goalie Pekka Rinne. But no one in their right mind would neglect the Detroit Red Wings, with goalie Jimmy Howard, the best defenseman of all time in Nicklas Lidstrom, the best all-around forward in Pavel Datsyuk and Conn Smythe winner Henrik Zetterberg... it may extenuate them and get them eliminated later on, but the Wings will find a way.

Red Wings in 7

Blackhawks - Coyotes

The Phoenix Coyotes' story is just too good to be true - a team on the verge of moving, with no owner, in the middle of the Arizona desert, with one of the lowest payrolls in the league and a rag-tag bunch of throwaways from other teams, against the Stanley Cup champions of 2 seasons ago, the Chicago Blackhawks...

Hawks in 5

Owners Of A Lonely Heart

Life in the 21st century, where everyone in the civilized world has a computer (or computer-like device), the internet facilitates regime change, and people would rather connect with folks at the other end of the planet than their next-door neighbour.

And where half the planet is starving and doesn't have a roof over their heads...

The Atlantic's current cover story looks at the phenomenon of social media and how it's taken over our lives.

Kind of reminds me of a humourous picture that circulates over Facebook every so often...

Weird that I actually had to find this on Facebook, eh?

I, for one, even when I take time off away from Facebook, probably check it once in the morning. I'm glad I only go on Twitter once every couple of months, because I don't want to think about how much time I'd waste online before actually getting anything done if that wasn't the case...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Sugar Shack

We could only handle it for two and a half hours...

The Sugar Shack is a yearly Québec tradition, where you convene either family members or friends - or both if you're really courageous - to a far-out place no one can get to without a vehicle to go eat, essentially, breakfast at supper time drenched in maple syrup. And you conclude it with maple taffy - or sugar on snow, which is exactly what it sounds like, boiled maple syrup essence hardened when it collides with the cold from the snow. It is one case where eating the brown/yellow snow is actually encouraged.

These places are alike more and more - and they take on each other's defects rather than qualities, as evidenced by most of them no longer serving fucking bacon anymore. Eggs, ham, toast, cretons, marmelade, baked potatoes - all good. Fried, salted bacon fat (''oreilles de crisse''), too, yeah. But bacon? Oh-the-fuck-no!

I was even told ''Sugar Shacks don't serve bacon, why would they''? Then why the fuck do grocery stores sell maple-fucking-flavoured bacon, then, genius? Where did they get the fucking idea?

At $20 a pop, plus gas, plus the fact that you have to endure everybody else's fucking kids running around on sugar highs when you deliberately chose not to have any of your own with this precise moment in mind as to why, having no bacon is really not going to put you on my good side.

I don't eat eggs, I'd rather not eat ham but will here, entirely submerged in maple syrup; same goes for cocktail-sized hot dog sausages. Without bacon, basically, these are all things I'd rather avoid, at a ridiculous cost to boot.

What I do, basically, is fill up on cretons and test my blood-sugar's capacities to the extreme by over-indulging in maple, both in syrup form and taffy-on-snow, then I get sleepy at 7PM because my body's on the brink of shutting down from temporary diabetes. But I don't care. I won't let these fuckers take my twenty bucks without a fight. Although after an hour and a half of kids running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and screaming like a b-movie actress in a casting session for a Wes Craven flick, I was more than ready to raise the white flag.

That could have been the epilogue to my story, but it isn't.

This was organized by a friend-of-a-friend, a radio personality. 80 of her guests were there... 40 of whom got sick. Major gastroenteritis. I was fine but know many of the ill. Either I have the super-stomach of a rat and can digest anything, or it was in something I didn't eat (eggs), or ate very little of (ham, sausages). It sure wasn't the maple syrup, the bread or the cretons.

I know one thing for sure, though: we won't be going back to that hell-hole next year!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Video Of The Week: The Guest Bedroom

Sure, The Guest Bedroom were Video Of The Week a month and a half ago, but they're staying true to their word of trying to release a video for each new song on their upcoming EP/LP, and their songs rock.

This time, video artist Ryan Mounsey concocted a fairy tale with kings and wizards (and Toronto mayor Rob Ford), animation and analog images. Oh, and good music. Yeah.

Freedom Of Speech... Just Watch What You Say

Only in America - again.

In the Land Of The Free and Home Of The Brave, a Hispanic (Venezuelan) baseball team manager can have no consequences by insulting gays, but gets suspended (without pay), boycotted, picketed and petitioned to get fired for saying he ''loves'' or admires somebody... if that body is Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Sure, Ozzie Guillen is now managing the Miami Marlins, in a town filled with Cuban expats, but Castro is the former leader who freed his fucking people from American abuse, gave them universal health care, free quality university education - Cuban doctors are widely known as the best on earth - and provided his people with all the basic necessities to ensure a decent life in country as well as abroad despite an embargo that would bring other countries past the brink of famine.

The two most common knocks on the Castro regime are: rigged - or absent - elections, and the imprisonment of political dissenters, two areas of expertise seemingly reserved for Americans, whose last two-term chief actually lost his first election and then spent 8 years putting opponents in jail or ruining them in newspapers under the guise of ''national security''.

Yet Bush II didn't free his People from oppression, instead facilitating future oppressive regimes by giving the presidency too much power. But ''boo'' on the commies, right?

Not everyone is going nuts over this, at least.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How Lobbies Are Killing Society

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin useless killing, our eyes once again turn to Florida (this time, Tampa), where the Republicans will hold their presidential convention in August.

It will be forbidden to bring water pistols on  the premises; same goes for air and paint guns. But fully-loaded, concealed, actual fucking weapons will be ok, because it is illegal for the city to supersede state laws about the right to bear arms, even for a single day.

So instead they ban all sorts of other things: ladders, clubs, hatchets, switchblades, pepper spray, slingshots, chains, shovels...

Only in America!

Friday, April 6, 2012

''Introducing'' The Musical Stylings Of Jordi Rosen

I told you about my sometime-bandmate Jordi Rosen a few times already, but I'd like to mention she now has a blog/site - complete with videos and stuff, all as she is nearing completion of her most recent album.

She deserves the attention - and she's just going to get more, so jump on the bandwagon and go listen to her heartfelt eclectic sounds today!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

War On Caterpillars

Just how out of touch and desperate are Republicans when it comes to women's rights? Let's have Reince Priebus tell us by comparing them to insects:

No Respect

Pat Lafontaine, the one guy who kept the late-80s New York Islanders from becoming the present-day Islanders (i.e. ''a joke'')  any sooner, is now being written out of their 40-year history.

Read the story: it's both sad and frustrating.

The main reason seems to be because he disagreed with team owner Charles Wang over the dismissal of Neil Smith as GM, and the appointment to the position of Garth Snow, who was the team's back-up goalie at the time. But this is going over the line.

I mean, I've seen classless moves by sports organizations (hello Bob Gainey-era Montréal Canadiens), even saw the Habs treat hero Guy Lafleur like a second-class citizen after forcing him to retire only to see him re-emerge with rivals Québec Nordiques. But never did they insult their fans by leaving him out of their history, be it videos of his achievements or on the sacred Wall Of Fame in the locker room.

We're talking Hall OF Famer, still lives in the region and supports kids' organizations and team charity events... and to think he played his junior hockey in the Habs' backyard...

Video Of The Week: The Sainte Catherines

It's really happening. As Montréal punkers The Sainte Catherines are pulling the plug on 13 years of ramen noodles, white econoline vans and getting drunk all over the continent, they're releasing their final video, the aptly titled I'll MissThe Boys.

Full disclosure: I've had the pleasure of working with two former members of the St-Caths, bassist 'Wood' Nadeau and drummer Mike Sokolyk for two of my own songs, including Hep C. We're talking about grounded, down-to-earth, socially active, bright individuals who were in a band that was a revolving door of such individuals. And they all love poutine.

The Sainte Catherines were legends that just went under-appreciated in terms of local recognition from the major media; like AIDS Wolf before them, they're just now getting a shitload of attention as they are promoting their farewell shows. They released an album on Dare To Care Records - a creation of friends Eli Bissonette and chief St-Cath Hugo Mudie - before releasing a bigger, international one on Fat Wreck Chords, only to have to go back to local company Indica Records for their final album.

It means they got respect from their peers, as all these labels are run by musicians, but those labels just kind of failed at broadening the band's exposure. GrimSkunk's fans already probably buy Sainte Catherines stuff; NoFX fans had already seen them in opening slots. What they could have used was help crossing over to other scenes, like Rancid's, or in Europe.

Or maybe I'm just sad that a decade's worth of honest music and quality shows is now the stuff of memories. Now, when I come across Mudie at my local Lafleur, I'll be looking at a full-time dad and husband who occasionally plays duet shows with Fred Jacques and whose country-punk-bilingual side-band Yesterday's Ring is on indefinite hiatus rather than the active punk superstar showman I saw in action the week before.

Maybe I'm reminded of my own mortality.

Or maybe I should quit whining and just be stoked that there is a farewell show on April 27th. See you there!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012