Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round One

Many of my regular-season predictions were pretty spot-on (5 guys score 25, Alex Ovechkin returns to form and leads his team to the #3 spot in the East, Ottawa's goalies work miracles, Pittsburgh leading the East, New Jersey missing the playoffs, Patrick Kane at 20-plus goals, Doug Weight ends up coaching the Islanders), but some missed the mark. Now's the time to try my hand at predicting the playoffs...

Western Conference:
Chicago Blackhawks vs Minnesota Wild:
The Wild overspent on default first-liners this summer and found themselves struggling all season long to compensate for their lack of depth. Their goaltending isn't what it once was, but the addition of former Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville will help a lot. But I don't see the Wild contending for another two years, while the Hawks have proven to be virtually unbeatable all season long.

Hawks in 6

St. Louis Blues vs Los Angeles Kings:
The Kings are pretty much intact from their Stanley Cup-winning team of 12 months ago; the Blues are down to back-up Brian Elliott (and we know how that went last year), and they have failed to score against playoff-bound teams in the past month.

Kings in 5

Anaheim Ducks vs Detroit Red Wings:
Both teams are playoff-proven and filled with veteran experience and youthful energy. The Wings still have a Conn Smythe winner on their team, though, in Henrik Zetterberg, and they have the better goalie in Jimmy Howard.

This one goes to 7 games and can go either way. I'll give it to the Ducks, for Saku Koivu.

Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks:
Time is running out on the Canucks, as they are getting up there in age and, should they not win soon, contractual obligations alone will force this time to be blown up. Still, they have a potent mix of top-tier talent (the Sedins), a strong defense, good goaltending, and gritty, clutch guys (Ryan Kessler, Alexandre Burrows, Maxim Lapierre). Time ran out on Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and the rest of the Sharks a few years ago, although Antti Niemi was one of the best goalies this year - but that won't be enough.

Canucks in 6

Eastern Conference:
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Islanders:
You need one sweep, and this one's the no-brainer. Sidney Crosby can take all the time he wants to recover, the Isles are no match for even the  Pens' third line. Heck, even Evgeni Malkin can stay home for this one, super sniper James Neal and the best captain team player in the game (Jarome Iginla) can take it from here.

Penguins in 4

Montréal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators:
I love the Sens, they're my second favourite team in the East. I love their goalies, I think Jason Spezza is the best set-up man not named Crosby, I love Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek, and I have a soft spot for Guillaume Latendresse. I have doubts about Carey Price. But the Habs are just way too strong for the Sens. Their three rookies are even key pieces of the team, proof that the coaching staff know exactly how to run their guys.

Canadiens in 6

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs:
Both teams play a hard-nosed game, but the Bruins' third line can match up against the Leafs' first. And sure, James Reimer had a fine year, but Tuuka Rask is already among the league's top-10. Consider this: the Bruins can afford to leave Milan Lucic in the stands as a healthy scratch once in a while... and they're one or two guys removed from still having their 2011 Cup team on the ice every night. Oh, and Jaromir Jagr's still got it. The winner comes out banged and bruised, which could cost them in later rounds.

Bruins in 7

Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers:
The Pens notwithstanding, these two teams are, on paper, the best offenses in the East. Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world, and the Rangers have the best defense corps in the league, but Brad Richards is having an off year, as many other Rangers attackers are. And say what you will about Ovechkin come playoff time, he's got 59 points in 51 playoff games, and he's got two master passers able to feed him this time in Mike Ribeiro and Niklas Backstrom. This one's a toss-up, and the winner could go to the Conference Finals...

Caps in 7

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hero of The Day: Jason Collins

I know next to nothing about basketball. I mean, I know the rules for having played it a bit in high school, and I'm aware that in order to win, a team must score more points than its opponent, and that some baskets are worth 1 point, others 2, the trickiest farthest 3.

Like baseball, I stopped following the pros over a decade ago, so while I watched a lot of games involving Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Larry Bird when I was younger, I haven't seen Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James or Dwayne Wade play.

I stopped caring when the Toronto Raptors came in, and when Shaquille O'Neal became a superstar. Not because of those events, but around the same time. I went from casual fan to not caring at all. So that's for context.

What changed? Not much. I likely won't watch a game any time soon, but my respect for its players has increased a tad now that Jason Collins has come out of the closet. For a while now, basketball players were up there with football players as athletes whose egos got so big they thought they were above the law: allegations of rape, selling drugs, gun violence, robberies, gang affiliations... the only ones who didn't get prison time settled out of court - not exactly a plea of ''not guilty''.

And yet, just when everybody was looking at the NFL for the first openly gay in the top-4 of North American pro team sports, in comes a basketball player to take a stand. We'll see where that gets him, though, because as of the end of the season, he'll be a free agent. His twin brother - Jarron Collins - became a free agent two seasons ago and never got hitched to a team; now teams would have an extra reason to exclude Jason if they had any inclination in that direction...

Speaking of Jarron, he was completely unaware of his brother's orientation. So much for twin telepathy!

Hopefully, this starts a chain reaction of coming out and acceptance, and we can get back to what really matters: the sports themselves. And when we focus on the athletes and try to figure out what type of person they are, we can assess how they treat those they get in bed with (i.e. 'not a rapist', 'doesn't cheat on his wife'), and not bother with their gender.

Ass-Loads Of Animals

Among all the things one can think of sticking up their ass, a live animal should, technically, be far down the list. And I'm not just talking about gerbils, either - a man in China encountered problems after sticking a live eel in there.

Further proof that there are idiots everywhere, and that the probabilities of stumbling upon a random act of unthinkable stupidity increase exponentially when population growth and speed of information in the digital age collide.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Video Of The Week: Brooke Annibale

This was going to be my Video Of The Week last week, until I heard about Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett's passing. I now take the opportunity to feature it this week instead:

Brooke Annibale was born in Pittsburgh but moved to Nashville as a young adult, with the idea to become a professional musician in the back of her mind the whole time.

While more folk-pop than country, her mellow acoustic sound feels at home in the city of the Grand Ole Opry and is reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan, Lauren Hoffman and Beth Orton. I'd like to see her be featured on a shoegaze track, or maybe a blues/soul/rock duet in the vein of Jack White's Love Interruption, but I also appreciate the musical universe she's constructing for herself.

Oddly enough, my favourite part of this song is the final minute, where she forgoes the cutesy varying melodies (and all-in-all Jewel-isms) and goes to the essence of her actual feelings on repetitive chords, after the final chorus.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kim Gordon Wisdom

Elle Magazine had an awesome interview recently with (former?) Sonic Youth bassist and vocalist Kim Gordon, where she mentions what turns her on artistically these days, her current projects, and how she's handling the dating life now that she is divorced from co-founding SY member, co-vocalist and guitarist Thurston Moore.

It seems Gordon blames book editor Eva Prinz for the couple's break up (well, that and Moore himself):
''We seemed to have a normal relationship inside of a crazy world,'' Gordon says of her marriage.'' And in fact, it ended in a kind of normal way—midlife crisis, starstruck woman.''
 Other people have other views but, really, the only people who should worry about that shit are those directly involved: the guy cheating on his wife, the woman he's been seeing since, and the woman scorned who moved on with her life. The one thing everyone else on the planet should be allowed to ask is: is that shit bad enough to put an end to one of indie rock's best success stories of all time, of a band who did things their way from Day 1, who own all rights to all their works, who kept it real and experimental the whole time, and eventually got support from a major label (Geffen), but only after proving they could do it on their own, and still held their rights, their freedom, their autonomy - and were allowed to release stuff independently at the same time (Geffen has a similar deal with Beck, so they're cool like that).

Should it mean the end of Sonic Youth, then we should all get our hands on pitchforks (the tool, not the website, who likely still support everything Moore does - he is to them what Jack White is to me!) and walk over to Thurston Moore's house and seek revenge/retribution/justice/his head on a stick. Anything else just isn't our business.

In any event, Kim Gordon remains a ground breaker, a trend setter, a smart, poised, strong, articulate person who rocks harder than a lot of them. I saw SY many times between 1996 and 2002 - I stopped going when the shows got more expensive and shorter at the same time - and I met the band twice - once after a show at Métropolis, and another time after one at Le Medley. Both times they were affable, took the time to sign my ticket stubs and talk a bit, and really seemed to care about all the fans who waited outside for them. ''Good, simple humans'' I thought. Still do.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Video Of The Week: Divinyls

Holy shit - Divinyls lead singer Chrissy Amphlett died this week, at age 53, of breast cancer! She couldn't undergo radiation therapy because of her concurring multiple sclerosis.

She fronted her band with bigger balls than many of her male contemporaries, and it's for that reason that I didn't go with the obvious singles (I Touch Myself and Make Out Alright) and instead opted to feature their cover of The Troggs' Wild Thing for the soundtrack to Reckless Kelly, in which Yahoo Serious is pretty much dressed like Lara Croft.

Other known versions of Wild Thing include those by Jimi Hendrix, The Runaways, Sam Kinison (who butchered it and turned its meaning around), X, Cheap Trick, Hank Williams Jr, and Liz Phair, and it is most often used as a b-side or soundtrack cut.

It's a shame I couldn't find a better-looking version of the video, but as with many overlooked great bands deemed ''one hit wonders'' by the general public, this important Australian band (they may not be on AC/DC's or the Bee Gees' level, but are definitely worthy of mention alongside or ahead of Split Enz, Crowded House, and Hunters & Collectors - far ahead of Air Supply, Men At Work and Silverchair) stopped being supported by their American labels - yet they kept making hits in Australia - and their web presence is thus almost mute.

When she wasn't playing in her band or on stage in a musical, Amphlett wrote songs for other strong-willed singers such as Chrissie Hynde and Cyndi Lauper.

I'll have to feature I Touch Myself someday just to touch upon the huge controversy surrounding that song but, again, I felt it was too obvious for this week's choice. Soon, though, I promise.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Generalized Geography Fail

As could have easily been predicted, the internets were full of ignorant, incompetent fools putting their two cents in towards who should receive a free bombing in retaliation for the Boston attacks, and the clear winners were: the Czech Republic, and its 1918-1993 counterpart, Czechoslovakia.

Because, of course, idiots have no clue what Chechnya is, let alone where it's situated. Quick recap: it's one of the few territories Russia refused to let secede when the USSR collapsed, because like the Spaniards and English-Canadians, Russians like to own other people and their land, and to collect their taxes. Empires have a tendency to not be very good at letting go...

For the geographically challenged, here is a map:

It would suck if, say, Bratislava (capital of Slovakia, which seceded from the Czech Republic in the mid-nineties) were to get invaded because uneducated assholes couldn't tell the difference between two completely different peoples and countries. The Czech capital is Prague, and the Chechen capital is Grozny, by the way. They are separated by 10 to 20 countries, depending which route you take and how you define the republics still owned by Russia.

But back to the internets:

I wonder if ''down'' means 'North'' or ''South''

It probably has to do with the U.S. winning silver at hockey at the last Olympics, Czechs don't fuck around with hockey
See previous: hockey. Also, the Czech Republic is up North, far from the devil's heat, although Patrik Elias is Czech and plays for the Devils in New Jersey...

Someone doesn't understand how the Russians invaded the Czechs repeatedly from 1948 to 1988, with 1968 being the biggest show of force

Yep, they killed a guy from the past...

Again, look at the map, those countries are pretty wide apart as well

''Aren't of any'' - does a double-negative cancel out the fact that that Czechoslovakia hasn't existed for 20 years, or does it magically bring it back to life?

Probably by way of New Zealand and Zimbabwe...

Towel heads... really? Who's living in 1620 now?

Yes, let's blame a whole country for 2 guys' work... we couldn't even do that when the two guys were Dick Cheney and George W. Bush...

And for the fuck of it, Italy, too.

I've heard of brothers from another mother, but from another country altogether? Also: Boston Massacre jokes. Well played. If you can't laugh at dead babies, the terrorists win.

''One day''... I guess after Iraq, Afghanistan, the upcoming wars with Iran and North Korea, Syria, and all the other countries with mutual hatred/disdain for one another, the list is getting pretty long...

Also, the Midwest is full of former Brits that probably still love the Queen, the Northwest has a lot of Germans (need I say more) and New York is full of non-whites - who knows how many of them could be scary?

I'm pretty sure not, but 'Super Slayan' might be tweet-talk for ''I failed the fifth grade because I was too busy sucking cock at the back of the class''

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, of course. So much so that - and I shit you not - the Ambassador of the Czech Republic had to issue this fucking statement:

My faith in humanity has almost disappeared completely.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reversing Falls (Album Launch) @ Casa Del Popolo, April 19, 2013

I had three four events I could have gone to - happily - on Friday night, but physics and cash would force me to attend just one, and it was to be Reversing Falls' album launch, at Casa del Popolo. It was organized by Indie Montreal, and had a decent $7 cover charge which, coupled with the city's best beer at $5 a pint and hosted in the best smallish-to-midsize venue in town made for a night full of promise.

Unfortunately, promises - like New Year's Resolutions - are made to be broken, and they were pretty much shattered by the opening band, Holobody, a male-female duo who at times both sing, both play guitar, and doodle with knobs and pre-programmed instruments with all the energy of a comatose paraplegic. Their most-felt and least-bad song was a cover of Beyoncé's Crazy In Love that would make Lana Del Rey proud, but for all their potential - and they do have some talent - their set fell flatter than dry wall.

Then came Asthma Camp, which was 200% better - but still pretty bad. A three-piece consisting of a decent drummer, an energetic guitarist and a singer/keyboardist, their riffs could have used a lot more power (say: louder volume and distortion) to hide the fact that their white-boy reggae was lifting beats and melodies from all over the 1980s, from Laidback's Sunshine Reggae to Men At Work's Land Down Under, and even Madonna's La Isla Bonita. Indie cred: zero.

Luckily, Reversing Falls were in fine form, with a short-but-energetic, balls-out set - now with a live drummer! They covered Hole's Malibu, played songs from their first EP and even one from a limited-release Distroboto minidisc, as well as much of the new stuff, starting out with Curse This Place. From start to finish, they gradually, single-handedly upped the evening's grade from An F-minus to a solid B - it would have been even better with worthy openers, or had they been the lone performers.

Who's Got The Erb?

Your name is Bob Erb, and you've been smoking weed since the 1960s. You win $25M in the lottery. What do you do?

You bankroll the British Columbia 4:20 events and aim to change legislation, of course.

Ironically, BC is known as the one place in Canada where everyone tokes all the time, so you have to wonder why he'd be inclined to spend money - which he could otherwise have spent on smoking - to legalize something that authorities are letting happen anyway.

Then again, this is Stephen Harper's Canada, where the Prime Minister is looking to increase prison time for drug offenders - the type that grow in nature, of course, the ones made in factories and being the most addictive still being a-ok.

Video Of The (Past) Week: Slaughter

When I was growing up, the ''Classic Rock'' category included all rock-and-roll made prior to that soul-less, God-less, taste-less and balls-less decade known as the 1980s, from The Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin, from Foreigner to Kansas, from Cream to Gentle Giant - it encompassed prog rock, psychedelic-based, blues-inspired, country-tinged, and was used from every merchant from Sam The Record Man to HMV to the ''music-by-mail'' Columbia House.

Now, among many blasphemies, it also includes shit from the 1980s and (here's the sign I'm getting old)... the 1990s. We already had classifications for those types of rock, chiefly ''hair metal'' for the ones prior to Guns N' Roses, and ''grunge'' for all things post Nirvana and Pearl Jam until, say, 1998 and the rap-metal craze...

 I was playing a music quiz with friends lately, and the category was ''classic rock'', and the answer was the video I'm featuring today, Slaughter's Fly To The Angels, the band's highest-charting song - and I was appalled. I got it right, but I had to spend 15 minutes explaining how Slaughter was in no way ''classic''.

On the glam rock scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is Trixter, 5 is Ratt, 10 is Motley Crue and 11 is Poison (all that make-up did make up for something), Slaughter would probably rate a 4 - both impact-wise, and popularity-wise. Far from being Bon Jovi (a definite 9), they barely rank higher than Nelson...

Formed from the ashes of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion (who had overextended their line of credit with their record label, Chrysalis!), Slaughter consisted pretty much of singer-guitarist Mark Slaughter, bassist Dana Strum and guitarist Tim Kelly with a revolving door of drummer that somehow always seems to revert back to Blas Elias despite his never appearing on the band's first album, and the band even now booking shows without his being present. Kelly died in a car crash in 1997 and has since been replaced by Jeff 'Blando' Bland.

Having turned 12 at the end of 1990 - with everything that implies - and being a member of the Columbia House record club (they'd give you 12 cassettes or CDs by mail for a penny - plus $10 shipping - in exchange of which you agreed to purchase 6 more at $20 apiece - yeah, I know - in the next two or three years), I gave Slaughter's first two releases a chance on the basis of their covers alone, both featuring the same model, Laurie Ann Carr, a December 1986 Playboy playmate and former wife (divorced in 1991) of a member of Ratt:

 Stick It To Ya:

Stick It Live:

I didn't mind the music so much, but I was a real big fan of the covers. Truth be told, throughout the years, I probably looked at them more often (and longer) than I listened to them, though it was probably close to even at first.

This song appears on both releases, of course:

Their follow-up full-length, The Wild Life, was released in 1992, and featured a harder, heavier sound - an evolution also made by contemporaries Skid Row. Whether it was a natural progression or dictated by the rise of grunge acts and their straightforward, no-nonsense (and definitely no make-up or hairspray) approach remains unanswered, but the Western market did not embrace them anymore. They were, however, huge in Japan, as were Mr. Big.

They now mostly perform on nostalgia tours and cruises. And Laurie Ann Carr is now a chiropractor.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Politics As Usual

Her hair makes it seem like she's stuck in the 1980s; her mind-set is more 1780. Her name is Dayleen Van Ryswyk and she was just dropped by the British Columbia NDP party for being a bigot an idiot a racist ''a true independent voice'', from a CBC news story:
Some of Van Ryswyk's comments took aim at First Nations:
"It’s not the status cards, it’s the fact that we have been paying out of the nose for generations for something that isn't our doing," reads one post on Castanet, an Okanagan area website. "If their ancestors sold out too cheap it’s not my fault and I shouldn’t have to be paying for any mistake or whatever you want to call it from my hard-earned money."
The posts also took aim at the French-Canadian community:
"Seems the only group of people universally hated around the world other than the Americans are the French and French-Canadians. The bigots are the French and not us," the blog reads.
"I’m getting so sick of having French stuffed down my throat. This isn’t Québec. It’s western Canada. We speak English here. Why are we forced to have it at our western Canadian-hosted Olympics?"
Well, because at the heart of Canada's language policy is that the country has TWO official languages, and one of them - French - was the language that pretty much populated Canada in the first place, as most people in then-Lower Canada were of French descent, and that's how things rolled. Over time, Canada's population did go from 65% French-Canadian to the present-day 25-30%, but as long as the Constitution isn't changed (wait, Québec isn't even in it, is it? Ha!), both languages have to be represented in international events - particularly in regards to the Olympics, as the IOC's official language itself is French.

If that's how she feels about minorities, it kind of makes you wonder why she even applied to run under the NDP - a party resolutely on the Left - banner, rather than the Conservative one...

And about ''paying through the nose'' for aboriginals for ''something that isn't your doing'', well, lady, the fact that you have a roof over your head and a Canadian passport, and you're enjoying the perks of running for office, means you are taking advantage of the British invading the continent and slaughtering the people who were already there, well, common decency - as well as International Law - dictates you take care of survivors of the attempted genocide. It's, literally, the least you can fucking do.

Cannibal Hall & Oates

Hall and Oates got into a bloody confrontation that ended with Hall getting bit in the face and Oates landing in jail, according to police.
No, no that Hall & Oates - two Ohio neighbours, Roger Oates and Scott Hall.

Roger Oates' mug shot, clearly with leftovers visible

Still, it's a weird story. And gives a whole new meaning to Maneater.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shout Out To Boston

I'm sure you heard.

But what I choose to remember from this, after the pain, the sadness, the sorrow, the anger, the guilt, the lack of understanding... is the people who made this shit day better: the runners who ran an extra two miles to the nearest (!!) hospital to donate blood, folks who ran towards the blast to help victims, and an incredible focus to get to the essence of the emergency.

Good, tough people.

For now, I don't care who did this - Life will get them back. I care about the heroes who stopped this tragedy from being 10 times worse.

One last thing, for Republicans/Conservatives: would more guns have stopped this? Would lower taxes have prevented this? Where was God? How can we blame gays, or ''illegal'' immigrants, or minorities in general? Can a war be started over this?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

R.I.P. Live 'N Loud & Le Labyrinthe

Another day, another tragedy in the local music/arts/distribution world...

First, on the morning of April 10th, legendary rock-and-roll store Le Labyrinthe announced it was closing its storefront:

Man, I started buying Guns N' Roses t-shirts there in 1989, then remained through the grunge years where I'd buy a t-shirt per week. It calmed down at the turn of the century, as I've been into funny shirts more than rock shirts for a while, but I'd still make my way down there three or four times a year, and never came out empty-handed.

They'd expanded from the music/bong/belt buckle/poster scene to add a comics/DVD section a few years ago, and I was under the impression that wasn't going too badly, but I may have been wrong.

Later that afternoon, online music magazine/review site Live 'N Loud announced it, too, was calling it quits. I knew people who wrote for LNL, and they hadn't heard from their bosses in weeks. Now we know why.

It's a tough time to be associated with the arts in any form, and the overhead is killing many a business, particularly those operating downtown, what with the city speculating on buildings' value to increase tax revenue promptly landlords to increase the rent they charge and businesses seeing their profit margins disappear.

Another proof that short-term visions are a cancer to public finance and politics: what's better, 20% of something, or 30% of nothing? If they stopped stealing from the public directly, said public would be able to afford to spend their money, which through taxes would end up finding their way back into our crooked politicians' pockets anyway. But they get so greedy they kill off their own supply - and we all lose in the end.

Labyrinthe had been open since 1970. 43 years.

My mom was twelve, Paul McCartney was leaving The Beatles, Black Sabbath released their first and second records, Guyanna joined the Commonwealth, Rhodesia and Tonga became their own countries (seceded from the British empire), the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty came into effect, Canada declared Québec under Martial Law during the October Crisis, Apollo 13 was in space, four dead in Ohio (Kent State University students, inspired Neil Young to write what could be his best song ever), journalist Ruben Salazar was killed by the L.A. police (prompting Hunter S. Thompson - also covering the Chicano crisis - to write one of his finest works for Rolling Stone), Jimi Hendrix and Janis Jolpin both died within two weeks of each other, Monday Night Football debuts on TV, Doonesbury debuts in newspapers, the Marshall University football team were among 75 victims of an air crash, and Catherine of Siena and Theresa of Avila were made Saints by the Catholic Church.

If it seems like a lifetime ago, it's because it was. It's History, and it's being disposed of like fucking garbage.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Distorted Eyes Of History

In the past 25 years or so, we've become so accustomed to ''grey areas'' - to finding reasons behind bad behaviour, to looking at broader pictures for further explanations - that we often find ourselves going overboard trying to ''pink up'' characters who, instead, deserve to be shown in their ''all dark'' light.

Except those outside our political systems, of course. Fidel Castro is a terrorist (whereas elsewhere, he's a liberator); Hugo Chavez was a monster (whereas elsewhere he's a provider); Mao was a mass-murderer (whereas in his country, he was a visionary and forward thinker).

Some are universally despised: your Joseph Stalin, your Adolph Hitler.
But in the days since her passing, there are far too many people jumping on the Margaret Thatcher bandwagon, and those who criticize her reign are scolded for being too harsh. We're talking about a woman who was so Conservative in her politics and policies that she created caused a rise in unemployment - a 3 million hike - and all but killed mining towns; she attacked the arts (who, good on them, attacked her right back, ensuring British films and music not all be soiled by the Duran Duran-ness of the 1980s and had some meaning, thanks to the likes of Morrissey, Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello, Renaud, Stephen Frears, Derek Jarman,Ken Loach, and Lee Hall); she outlawed the ''promotion'' of homosexuality; she wasn't afraid of calling larger groups of opponents ''terrorists'' so they could be dealt with by force, just as she asked for stronger police interventions; and as the world was awakened to the problems in South Africa, she refused any type of sanction on them; she privatized state-owned companies by the hundreds, fucked with minimum-and-other-wage laws and was a huge fan of deregulation - particularly in the financial sector. And she was re-elected.

Remind you of anyone?

I sure as fuck hope when George W. Bush and Stephen Harper die, we won't be applauding their reign as something that was for the best of Humanity.

This being the internet (i.e. ''public'') and me living in a police state (Montréal 2013, Québec, Canada) I want to state, as clearly as I can, that I do not wish them dead any time soon, nor do I encourage anyone to help them get there, and am in no way attempting to intimidate or threaten them in this post.

Now back to the point:

In math, a wrong answer is a wrong answer; even if all the equations along the way are correct, if you fuck up at some point, the answer will be wrong. As a human being, you can be fundamentally good, or fundamentally bad. Politics should not be any different. The good you do has to outweigh the bad, or you've done a bad job. The more the imbalance, the worse you are.

Thatcher, Bush II, Harper: all bad, be it nationally, or internationally. On almost every single level.

If you understand French, I urge you to read this column by senile author Nathalie Petrowski, a voice of reason in the late 1980s (or so it seemed through my childish eyes) who seems intent on making up for whatever decency she once had by spewing half-thoughts and writing shitty screenplays, safe in the confines of her brain's suburbs. (I am not threatening her, either, just disagreeing.) In it, she forgets about the 11 years of The Iron Lady's reign altogether and - in a reverse-double-feminist-backflip wonders if all of her detractors weren't coming at her that hard because, as a woman, Miss Maggie represented ''their mother, their country, a part of themselves, their impotence?''...

Jesus, lady, it might just be five-cent psychology, but if you use it too much, it'll still bankrupt you.

One of the only things she should be applauded for is, indeed, sporting a vagina. As a woman in Western politics, she was a pioneer. Two things, though: 1. she was still a dick, and 2. we also put a Conservative woman in place to break barriers, in Canada, but we were smart enough to not elect Kim Campbell afterwards because we knew she didn't have what it takes to lead a country and not, you know, ruin it.

There are tons of women deserving of political power, and tons who would be just as unflappable as Thatcher - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is one on the Conservative side, the U.S.' Hilary Clinton and Brazilian President Dilma Vana Rousseff are more in the center of the political scale, and the Left has Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner - neither of them would do irreparable damage to their countries, and all of them can/could do a better job than many of their male counterparts, past or present.

When cases like these spring up, I'm always reminded of George W. Bush's famous ''History will judge me'' quote, and I'm afraid some insane assholes will, indeed, try to pass him off as something other than a warmongering, power-hungry, oil industry puppet hell-bent on taking away as many rights and freedoms as he possibly could in the least amount of time - truth be told, he was way worse in the first 4 years than the latter 4, unless I'm forgetting things.

We cannot let our propensity to play Devil's Advocate ruin the way history is recorded; it's already compromised by the ''winner writes history'' thing, and the traditional burning of national libraries when at war, we don't need to add extra layers of lies and sugar-coating to not expose those who tried to regress and repress mankind's evolution, especially when it directly opposes that of the free market in our erroneous way of using capitalism (which should always be about exponential growth on both the owners' and the workers' sides so everybody profits even more, 1950s-style, not the ''let's use slave-labour in third-world countries to sell our products to folks who can no longer afford them'' way).

I may have digressed, I'm not sure anymore. But fuck Thatcher anyway.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

No Metal In London Museum

I'm all for mixing the arts, but it seems London's Victoria & Albert Museum aren't - they cancelled a recent collaboration between heavy metal music (more specifically ''grindcore'') group Napalm Death and resident ceramic (!) artist Keith Harrison due to... fear they might ''damage the historic fabric of the building''!
This was due to take place in the Europe Galleries which are currently being refurbished and a further safety inspection has revealed concerns that the high level of decibels generated by the concert would damage the historic fabric of the building.

The V&A is committed to an exciting programme of exhibitions and events but the safety of our visitors and building remains our priority at all times.
Yeah, sure, the safety of shattering a centuries-old building, not of people moshing...

This Irish Examiner article adds these tidbits of information:
Artist Keith Harrison, who became interested in the band after hearing them on the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 as a teenager, created three ceramic sound systems based on the tiles used on the tower blocks of the Bustleholm Mill estate in West Bromwich, where he grew up.

Harrison is resident ceramic artist at the gallery. Future events he has planned include the detonation of a clay replica of Keith Moon’s drum kit.
Hmmm... it's ok to have a clay drum set explode, but not a rock band (albeit a very loud one...)  throwing sound waves at ceramic tiles? Sounds like additional outsider pressure, or at the very least a museum curator who ended up listening to Napalm Death's music...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Video Of The Week: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

A week from now, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will release their fourth full-length album, Mosquito, four years after the disappointing, Blondie-esque It's Blitz. Judging by this first single and the quick listens I've been able to string together of bits of the new songs, they've abandoned the post-rock dance party and gone back to indie-rocking, although many of their songs remind me of others: Under The Earth has a very Stooges-like feel (never a bad thing), the title song goes 1999-era Strokes mixed in with The Doors' Five To One and a few Jefferson Airplane notes thrown in for good measure, and Area 52 has an Incesticide-era Nirvana vibe.

That being said, I can never forget the impact their first record, Fever To Tell (2003) - and the live shows up to and including that era - have had on me. I remember when I left New York in the Fall of 1999, we had been called Jon Spencer rip-offs for playing a loud, rocking version of blues riffs without the presence of a bass. I mean, shit - we were shat on for two years and tagged as imitators. Fast forward a year or so after leaving town, late-2000/early 2001, as Creed dominates the charts, the top up-and-coming bands in the U.S. are The White Stripes and The Black Keys, and the most-hyped band in New York are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs - all bass-less, all overblown blues riffs, all two-or-three piece bands involving only guitar and drums (although YYY use bass tracks now).

Needless to say, I was curious to hear them, and was awaiting their live shows ready to tear them to shreds in a review. But I couldn't - they were really good. Despite the lack of insightful lyrics, the one line continuously repeated throughout the chorus, singer Karen O's cheesy gestures. They were good performers, and some of their songs - Maps, Rich, Date With The Night, Modern Romance - were truly great.

On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is Creed/Nickleback, 10 is anything Jack White touches and Miles Davis, and 7 is The Black Keys, I'll score YYY a good, hard 8. Despite the Blondie record.

In this video, a reverse-order sequence explains why The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus' (a great fucking movie, by the way) Lily Cole gets burned alive. Spoiler alert: she truly is the town slut.

America Versus Poutine

So someone at BuzzFeed is angry that Americans can't do poutine right, and explains how and why in much detail...

Source: midnightpoutine.ca
Let me tell you something, Henry Goldman, sir, most of Canada can't get it right either. In Toronto, most places use mozzarella or regular cheddar rather than cheddar curds; in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, you can get a severe beating just for ordering one - and my fist was sore from defending myself (and cops were coming), so I had to leave before it even got to my table.

Truth is, while the Rest Of Canada has shown a bizarre love for poutine in particular but Québec foods in general (the current debate is figuring out which between poutine and pea soup is the country's official dish...), it's pretty hard to find a decent fries-brown sauce-cheese meal outside of La Belle Province. Heck, there are probably as many good ones as there are God-awful ones even in Québec.

What we need is a list of decent places, pictures, and a how-to list that we can print out and carry at all times and take out whenever we crave one, and force restaurants to make us one on the spot whether it's on the menu or not - it could become the ''order off the menu'' of our generation.

Fries, cheese curds, warm gravy on top.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Priests And Porn

The good people at Torrent Freak did a little digging, and found out Irish priests like to pirate Hollywood films (via screener DVDs) while people in Vatican City have a preferrence for... well, not much, except porn.

And while TF don't mention what those guys are into and make you Google it yourself, I shall save you the trouble: RS stands for ''Russian slaves'' - chapter 77 seems pretty deep in the series.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How Toy Story And Walking Dead Are the Same Story

I'm usually the first to find similarities between different films, to the point where I could re-edit a new release each week with clips of old films (I did so with Avatar, with mostly just clips from Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas...), but this one I never saw coming, despite being a HUGE Walking Dead and Toy Story fan: 25 similarities between the two.

Here's #1, and check out the rest here:

Calorie Wise

Who can you trust when it comes to labeling the calorie content of food? Who makes sure the labels are accurate? What constitutes ''healthy'' food?

Here's a 5-minute, unscientific demonstration:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Video Of The Week: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra

Amanda Palmer - the female Jack White for a while (when she was fronting The Dresden Dolls). Now she's more ballad-oriented, more of a Big Band mixed with Tori Amos vibe, but it's still very good.

Controversy has followed her of late, what with the postponement of her 2013 European tour, debate over whether she should try to innovate by offering fans to play as her backing band ''for free'' (internship-like) after having raised over a million dollars to record her latest album... Steve Albini publicly objected...

Her marriage to writer Neil Gaiman continues to feed tabloids, seeing as she still considers herself bisexual and polyamorous (in open relationships)...

And yet she keeps rocking, for our aural pleasure.

Noise Park

Many people take the South Park-themed apps to ''Park'' themselves, their friends, or their idols - or just waste time. The good people at Noise Park took it one step further and took the entire genre of experimental music and turned it into the crude cut-up-style creatures we love watching on TV:

Jean-Michel Jarre
Aphex Twin
Albert Ayler

Whether it's electronica, jazz or whatever that soft prog Jean-Michel Jarre creates, they are now part of the Noise Park universe!