Friday, May 31, 2013

NHL Playoffs Predictions: Round 3

And then there were 4… and they happened to be the last 4 Stanley Cup champions. So much for parity and chances for small-market teams…

Eastern Conference:
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Boston Bruins:
The Big Bad Bruins have gotten better as each series progressed, which is good – and impressive. Their goalie is among the best in the league; their captain Zdeno Chara is a past Norris trophy winner; Patrice Bergeron is a face-off king, adept at shutting down opponents and a Selke winner; David Krejci leads all playoff scorers, and Torey Krug is scoring points at a Conn Smythe-like pace.
But these are the Penguins, not the anemic New York Rangers or lowly Toronto Maple Leafs. They have Evgeni Malkin – my vote for best player in the world – and Sidney Crosby, the guy most people think is the best. Crosby’s advantage is he never gets hit, because no one wants to be the guy who’ll force him into an early retirement. Although if anyone could have the balls and stupidity to do so, he’d be a Bruin – I’m looking at you, Gregory Campbell, Andrew Ference, and Milan Lucic. But Pittsburgh has a better overall defense, led by this year’s Norris favourite Kristopher Letang and shut-down aces Brooks Orpik and Douglas Murray. They can also count on Tomas Vokoun, one of the most consistent goalies in the past decade.
One team can afford to have Jaromir Jagr on their third line, but the other one can do so with the best leader In hockey – Jarome Iginla.
The difference-maker will be offense. The Penguins have too much of it, they could even get away with losing a 40-goal man like James Neal without really feeling it; the Bruins won the Cup a couple of years ago by being the only team in history to reach the Finals without scoring a single powerplay goal, and they haven't improved in that aspect. They’re no match, unless they injure at least 3 Pens.
Pittsburgh in 6

Chicago Blackhawks vs Los Angeles Kings:

I hate having to choose between my favourite Canadian goalie (Corey Crawford) and my favourite American goalie (Jonathan Quick), who happens to be the best goaltender standing, on paper. If all goes according to plan, I won't have to.

As much as I'd love to see a Stanley Cup Final pitting the best two Canadian centermen against one another and see Jonathan Toews prevail over Crosby and messing everything up in Team Canada's plans for captaincy in the next Olympics, I don't see it happening. The Hawks got in a heap of trouble against the very physical Detroit Red Wings, and the Kings have ten times the size, the grit and the taste for mud the Wings had. Chicago - like Pittsburgh - has two lines of superstars and a third that could out-produce any second line in the league with more ice time, but come playoff time, in the Final Four, games won't finish 5-1, not even 5-4. And in a 1-0 or 2-1 double-overtime won by a bad bounce, my money's on Dustin Penner and Justin Williams a whole lot more than Michal Handzus and Andrew Shaw, not that I wouldn't want them on my team or anything.

In any event, even if the Hawks won, there's still a 50/50 chance they'd face the Bruins next - and that'd be even worse. Might as well lose to the reigning champs, with dignity. And while the Hawks may have the best offense in the league, the Kings' defense has improved tremedously with Jordan Leopold, like the Pens' with Murray.

Los Angeles in 6

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW, The Mahones (2013)
9. WE REAL COOL, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
8. PRETTY NOOSE, Soundgarden (1996)
7. MOZART'S SISTER, Mozart's Sister (2013)
6. BAD MOTHERFUCKER, Biting Elbows (2013)
5. WATCHING THE DETECTIVES, Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1977)
4. SURRENDER, Billy Talent (2009)
3. LOVE IS BLINDNESS (U2 cover), Jack White (2011)
2. SACRILEGE, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
1. DON'T PLAY WITH GUNS, The Black Angels (2013)

Top 10 Hockey Players:

10. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
9. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
8. Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks
7. Jaromir Jagr, Boston Bruins
6. Nicklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings
5. Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings
4. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
1. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Top 10 Yeah Yeah Yeahs Songs:

10. Gold Lion, (Show Your Bones, 2006)
9. Y Control, (Fever To Tell, 2003)
8. Area 52, (Mosquito, 2013)
7. Subway, (Mosquito, 2013)
6. Buried Alive (feat. Dr. Octagon), (Mosquito, 2013)
5. Modern Romance, (Fever To Tell, 2003)
4. Sacrilege, (Mosquito, 2013)
3. Maps, (Fever To Tell, 2003)
2. Cheated Hearts, (Show Your Bones, 2006)
1. Rich, (Fever To Tell, 2003)

Weird Animals

Here is a webpage displaying, explaining and describing various species of animals you may not have known exist. Most look like a cross betwixt two completely foreign species (check out the Raccoon Dog, particularly) and stand as proof that evolution is inspired by habitat, yet follows a very specific pattern.

Here are three examples, the site has way more:

Drunken Funnies

I can't tell you how many times The Lady Of The House got drunk on a bottle of wine or a case of beer and I've wanted to record her so that she could hear herself the next morning - and realize just how much shit she'd make me live through.

This guy's Lady, at least, made an attempt to be funny, and he made an animation about it:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Video Of The Week: Mozart's Sister

I didn't think I'd think much of Mozart's Sister's song, Mozart's Sister. Ever since Big Country made that song In A Big Country in 1983 (I was 5 years old at the time), I was appalled by the vapidness of self-reference by musicians who feel they're oh-so-fucking clever, and I've been distrustful of most who have tried since.

I can in listening to Mozart's Sister without knowing anything about her other than her real name being Caila Thompson-Hannant and she being a friend-of-a-friend. I knew a bit about Mozart's actual sister, Maria Anna (Marianne) Mozart, four years older than Wolfgang Amadeus, and his main inspiration in life - their father taught her to play music first, and baby Amadeus was merely following in her footsteps - until she reached the age where daddy felt her place as a woman was in a(nother man's) kitchen and decided who she should get married to, and kept touring with his younger, male genius.

Then I listened to the song and watched the video. The first minute, I thought to myself: ''oh well, this won't make the Video Of the Week'', but the Cyndi Lauper-like vocals and melodies really drew me in, and the universal theme of being ''an eternal #2'' is rendered so well that I did a complete 180 and thought '' this is the only video worthy of being featured this week'' less than a minute later.

Her sound, though reminiscent of Lauper's a lot*, is still grounded in modern-era electro pop, but done with enough indie spirit that instead of having an over-polished feel, it sounds a bit edgy. The visual syle is reminiscent of fellow Montréal contemporary Grimes (everyday places, shot ina simple, straightforward manner in regular light) but, to be fair - and this is probably where the illusion of Mozart's Sister gets shattered a bit - if you sit Caila Thompson-Hannant and Grimes next to each other at a bar, I'll bet the first one gets hit on first 95 times out of 100, so there's no way she actually feels ''like a #2'' on most days, first because of her looks, sure, but also because she's actually really good at what she does, too; she's a #1 posing as a #2 to not seem pretentious.

But I can live with that. Check her out:

* By the way, I'll take Cyndi Lauper over Madonna and Kylie Minogue any day of the week, and five times on Saturdays.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Return Of Nine Inch Nails

Step right up. March. Push. Crawl right up on your knees.

That's right - Nine Inch Nails is back, with a brand-new line-up, comprised of Adrian Belew of King Crimson among others. Eric Avery of Jane's Addiction fame was slated to join, but had to back down, although long-time member Robin Fincke is back in the fold.

I guess Trent Reznor had some rage and anger left in him after failing to win his second Oscar for the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo soundtrack...

I've seen them live 5 times, and it was always a great show. I missed the last two tours, which were extremely different from anything they'd done before, and for the 1994-2000 period it did seem like it was getting too theatrical, rehearsed, and choreographed, but the energy and the great songs were still there.

With renewed passion and a revamped line-up, I wouldn't be surprised if their upcoming tour was the best live experience of the past 10 and next 5 years.

Monday, May 27, 2013

When Olympians Become Escorts

I started writing this piece in December, and somehow it got shelved until now, lost in the shuffle of drafts, Life, work, music, and a health scare. But it's the type of story that makes the news worth reading, that awesome books and shitty made-for-TV movies are made of: an Olympian athlete who even ran for the gold medal, rich, beautiful, part-time motivational speaker and full-time mother led a secret life for a full year in which she was a high-class escort, servicing men for $600 an hour in New York, Las Vegas, Chicago and Houston.

Not because she was in deep financial trouble - she did it by choice. For fun.
“Well, after my first date, I was hooked, and have been doing my best to visit Las Vegas as often as my schedule allows (I run my own business in my real world life).”
From the article:
(Suzy) Favor Hamilton described the escort business as “exciting,” an illicit midlife diversion from her routine existence, one in which she operates a successful Madison, Wisconsin real estate brokerage with her husband, delivers motivational speeches, and does promotional work for various businesses and groups, including Disney’s running series and Wisconsin’s Potato & Vegetable Growers Association. She said that only her husband Mark, 44, was aware of her escort work, but that, “He tried, he tried to get me to stop. He wasn’t supportive of this at all.”
While most clients knew her by the name ''Kelly'', she admitted her true identity to some of them:
 Favor Hamilton answered that as a world-class athlete she was conditioned to believe she was invincible, and that doubts and concerns were counterproductive thoughts. During a subsequent conversation she brought up Tiger Woods’s tumultuous fall, saying that, “I mean, he’s the biggest athlete ever. He obviously thought he could never get caught.”
 As a runner, you may have seen her look like this:

As an escort, though, her profile page had her looking like this:

I guess she had a thing for stretching. And spreading her legs - no pun intended.

Customers who were interested could schedule a ''date'' right on her webpage:

Hard to imagine after seeing this that her collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin was so dominating (she is the most decorated female athlete in NCAA track and field history) that the Big Ten Conference’s female athlete of the year award was named after her. Although Americans are so prude, that could change sooner than we think.

She has appeared in national ads for Reebok, Clairol, Oakley, and Pert Plus and released a swimsuit calendar.

Here is an ad she did for Nike:

Sex and Life intertwine. It's a discussion worth having as a society, opening our boundaries and minds, broadening our horizons and definitions. It's funny that in another story I haven't published yet, I explore sexuality in the Olympic Village. I'll try to have it done with soon, as a kind of follow-up to this one. Apparently, the place/neighbourhood where athletes reside during the Games end up being orgies - just like the Greeks intended. Hot, healthy people in their physical prime, drunk from victory or from defeat, locked in a ghetto and knowing whatever happens there has to stay there because once they leave, they go back to their 'normal' lives in their respective countries, and may never see each other again anyway, leading to some taking full advantage of the situation. And possibly creating habits and patterns and a sense of entitlement and egotistical satisfaction they get hooked on. But I digress, that story's for another day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Satanic Swimwear

Goth girls looking for beachwear, ready to take in a little bit of sun but insisting on tanning in an evil way? Look no further than Jenny Walker's - a.k.a. Alyx Suttle - Etsy page for the dark art of going in the sun.

First, a one-piece suit:

Also, for the satanists who are more comfortable showing off more skin, the bikini:

A fine piece of work, if I do say so myself. The bikini is available in small, medium or large and goes for $55-60, while the one-piece is also available in extra small and extra large, and goes for $70-75.

Not recommended for actual vampires.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Insulting Daft Punk

I hate to agree with Oasis and Beady Eye frontman Liam Gallagher, but he hit the nail right on the head with this quote:
I’d write ["Get Lucky"] in a fucking hour. I don’t know what the fuss is about, you know what I mean? It’s like fuck off, give me a fucking break.
Half the people I know are way too enthused about Daft Punk - not just their current over-hyped piece of disco, but also their inane ''classics'' like Around The World (though I admit Michel Gondry made them a stellar video for it). If I'm to admit my disdain for the French ''smart electronic'' *cough* duo might be exaggerated, one has to admit those who love them do so too much.

In that regard, they're pretty much the Carey Price of pop music.

So, kudos, Liam Gallagher. Kind of makes me want to listen to his next record, coming out this June. and produced by TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek.

Awesome Pictures In/Near Water

I love great pictures, and my favourite colour ones usually involve water and/or various shades of blue - the flashier the better. This Russian blog had just what I was looking for today, terrific pieces of art from Finnish photographer Susanna Majuri:

There are 29 in total, I encourage you to check them out.

Crackhead Mayor

I've been relatively quiet here for the past week, which means I've also missed out on writing about Toronto mayor Rob Ford, the ultra-conservative genius who once said that people who use bikes and bike baths instead of cars and buses were ''two steps left of Joseph Stalin'', and his alleged crack cocaine usage.

Now that Gawker can't seem to find the guys who were selling the evidence, Ford has come out of hiding and officially denied the claim, but it looks more like ''now that's it's safe and those guys are afraid of getting caught, I think I can get away with it''.

Taking a week off from the controversy - some say he went into a quick rehab, came out for the press conference then back into rehab - only fueled the fire, as it gave the Globe And Mail time to research what became an 8-page story on the Ford siblings' history with drug trafficking.

The heat is on. Soon, the pig will be cooked.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This Week's Top 10

Here is a list of stuff I'm into this week...

Top 10 Songs:

10. FALLEN LEAVES, Billy Talent (2009)
9. THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW, The Mahones (2013)
8. LOVE IS BLINDNESS (U2 cover), Jack White (2011)
7. BURIED ALIVE, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (feat. Dr. Octagon) (2013)
6. IZZO (H.O.V.A.), Jay-Z (2001)
5. WE NO WHO U R, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
4. NEW ROSE, The Damned (1976)
3. SACRILEGE, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
2. BAD MOTHERFUCKER, Biting Elbows (2013)
1. DON'T PLAY WITH GUNS, The Black Angels (2013)

(no, no Daft Punk, urgh, go away...)

Top 10 Hockey Players:

10. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
9. James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins
8. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
7. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
6. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
5. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
4. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
3. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
2. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
1. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators

Boiling Water Alert In Montréal Today

Don’t drink the water – check. Onto Pepsi Max and beer. Thank you, vile, decrepit, decaying , crumbling, corrupt city I love so much!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Secret Of The Ooze

Just in time for blockbuster season, a flashback to an old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film... apparently, ooze creeped from the cracks of a Nanjing street, as-of-yet unexplained, only to disappear back:

Am I ever glad our environmental policies are so strict we can rule out human behaviour as a cause of all of this. I'm particularly fond of MSN's hypothesis:
No one knows what the substance was, but the official explanation says it was a material used to soften soil for a nearby subway construction, and was as harmless as soap bubbles. Many people are skeptical, preferring to blame China's corner-cutting efforts to save money. Whatever it was, it soon seeped back into the cracks, raising two even more important questions: Where did it go, and what is it planning?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cash Money In The Minimum-Wage World

Have you been angry yet today?

Here is a list of the U.S.' companies with the most minimum-wage workers.

What do they have in common? Right-wing pundits would say ''they are rich because they control their spending well''. The rest of the world would think ''perhaps they could all afford to pay their employees better, what with the insane amount of profits they make''.

Despite the perception that minimum wage jobs are often held by teenage workers entering the job market, numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that 49 percent of minimum wage workers are adult women, many of whom have children.

As expected, America’s largest employer, Wal-Mart, tops the list.  NELP’s study looks into the genetic makeup of this dishonorable mention, and notes the majority (66 percent) of low‐wage workers are not employed by small businesses, but rather by large corporations where top executive compensation averaged $9.4 million.
The 50 largest employers of low‐wage workers have largely recovered from the recession and most are in strong financial positions: 92 percent were profitable last year; 78 percent have been profitable for the last three years; 75 percent have higher revenues now than before the recession; 73 percent have higher cash holdings; and 63 percent have higher operating margins(a measure of profitability).
$174.8 billion to shareholders in dividends or share buybacks over the past five years.
The largest companies in America have, for the most part, recovered from the recession while their workers are still feeling its entire effects. It is safe to say that we should soundly reject the argument that raising the minimum wage would harm large corporations. They don’t know harm well enough to claim it.
Yep, it's a good world for profiteering assholes.

Video Of the Week: Biting Elbows

Believe it or not, being Biting Elbows' frontman is not Ilya Naishuller's actual job - it's his hobby. His actual job is to make movies, which is kind of obvious when you watch his band's videos, which he writes and directs.

Heavily inspired by Reservoir Dogs (guys in suits with guns, men tied to chairs getting their heads blown up), Bad Motherfucker (yes, a Pulp Fiction reference) is filmed as a first-person shooter adventure with a GoPro camera and looks like it cost a shitload of money to make, although the director grudgingly admits it actually cost far less. It is the sequel to their first video, The Stampede (unofficially titled Insane Office Escape).

The band's videos have gone viral and so successful that they've managed to open for such major-label rock juggernauts as Guns N' Roses and Placebo, masters of epic videos and awesomely violent ones, respectively.

Says Naishuller:
"The idea was very simple. To shoot a very fun, exciting and relentless five minutes of action that can be enjoyed, with tongue firmly in cheek, for all its guilty excess and irreverence. Nothing more. Nothing less. I hope we have succeeded in our mission."
Mission accomplished, dear so. He'd also like to add that no animals were harmed during the making of this piece of art, a stuffed one was used at the beginning.

Biting Elbows - 'Bad Motherfucker' Official Music Video from Ilya Naishuller on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Deadly Foods From The Gulf Of Mexico

The April, 2010 BP oil spill still causes damage to the area's wildlife, and the crap it causes goes right back to our plates... as usual.

Fish rotting alive
Cancer-ridden shrimp
Eye-less shrimp
I won't just copy-and-paste the whole article, it would be unfair tot hose who wrote it, but passages such as hese abound:
Among the disturbing mutations: Shrimp with tumors on their heads; fish that lack eyes or are missing flaps over their gills; fish with oozing sores; crabs with holes in their shells; crabs that are missing claws and spikes, or are encased in soft shells instead of hard ones.

Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing. "I've seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out," Ladner told Al Jazeera. "The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday."
It's not just the oil spill itself, but also the oil dispersants used to clean up the mess... sure, to the naked eye, it looks like the oil ''left the water'', but that's just because dangerous chemicals just separated their chemical components.
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic - able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus - and carcinogenic.
And, of course, both BP and local authorities are hiding behind government regulations (or lack thereof):
"Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is among the most tested in the world," the energy company says in a statement. And "according to the FDA and NOAA, it is as safe now as it was before the accident."
Al Jazeera contacted the office of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who provided a statement that said the state continues to test its waters for oil and dispersants, and that it is testing for PAHs. "Gulf seafood has consistently tested lower than the safety thresholds established by the FDA for the levels of oil and dispersant contamination that would pose a risk to human health," the statement reads.
Well, then, let me ask this: is it, maybe, that the FDA's requirements are too low? Why satisfy yourself with the lowest possible standard when you know for a fact they aren't adequate? This could be the one chance we have to get FDA standards up to par, but instead, we'd rather let our people eat poison for a few more years or generations. It's no wonder the U.S. accepts radioactive food from Japan, seeing as the FDA accepts between 4 and 10 times the radiation levels the Japanese authorities do.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Video Of The Week: Billy Talent

I wasn't gunning for two straight very-political videos about the youth revolting in Canada, it just happened that way. As a matter of fact, I'd been waiting for Queens Of The Stone Age to release a full-length video (instead of just teasers) from their upcoming album to feature them again, but I've been caught up in listening to Billy Talent's second album (II) a lot this week, and well, it just became obvious that I had to go that route.

At first known as Pezz, the Mississaugua (Toronto) band was huge in Canada at the turn of the century. I didn't like their first record myself (I particularly disliked Try Honesty, an emo-semi-hardcore number that especially lacks honesty), but the second one, on the strength of Red Flag, Devil In A Midnight Mass, and Fallen Leaves (also, on a smaller scale, Surrender) got inside my brain.

I'm featuring the Floria Sigismondi-directed Red Flag today because it is a fine piece of art, at times reminiscent of the one she made for Sigur Ros' Untitled 1 (Vaka) - albeit a whole lot less dark; the song in itself is also gripping, and the breakdown at the end (where it's just the chorus and the drums) is arena-rock power the likes of which Van Halen could only dream of.

Self-Inflicted Arrest

Celebrity dumb-asses are fun to laugh at, and those who call the cops on themselves are right at the top of the pile - and the bottom of the food chain. Ask Boy George.

But the one that stands out the most so far this year is that of former Obituary guitarist Allen West, who called the cops to report of two burglars busting in his house, asked the police to search the premises to find other possible people planked in his home, and when they found a meth lab he'd constructed in his bedroom, told them the burglars were the ones cooking in his house...

This is his mugshot, and the one picture you'll see of him for a very long time:

I mean, shit, at least use Breaking Bad as a guideline...

They Call It Progress

Cynics and religious figureheads claim we come from and will return to dust, when it settles, which is another way of saying ''who gives a shit about how you live your life, you'll end up dead anyway''.

And that belief, I guess, is what prompts economics giants like Monsanto and McDonald's to feed the world crap - oftentimes literally - because who gives a shit what you eat, as long as it doesn't kill you right away.

That's one part of the equation, the other being that it doesn't matter what you build, it will eventually crumble or erode, so we might as well destruct it ourselves first. Which brings me to this news story about greed a construction company destroying one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids with backhoes and bulldozers to extract rocks for a road-building project.

That's right: take a construction that has withstood the test of time - and the elements, and Conquistadors -  for over 2,300 years, and turn it into a fucking road, something that usually has trouble maintaining its integrity for 15 years. Awesome!

The human spirit knows no bounds!

Sure, the police are looking into it, seeing of they can't prosecute someone for what is the murder of a cultural landmark. But one man - it's always a man, isn't it? - spending 15 years in jail for finding a easy way to pocket millions of dollars won't bring the structure back. There's always that one asshole trying to fuck up what hundreds built to amaze thousands. That guy's organs and bones should be taken, one at a time, once per week, and given to people in need of transplants, until he is but a heart, a head and a stomach, kept alive by machines in a dungeon, serving a life sentence of watching the Mummy movies.

The AIDS And The Bees

In the future, you might be able to tell your kids the tale ''about the AIDS and the bees''... turns out bee venom could kill AIDS cells.

Too bad their population is decimated...

I like how we humans keep fucking with nature and only realize we've made a mistake when it's on the verge of becoming critical.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Writing; it's a hell of a beast. Yes, I meant writing, not writers. Writers are a disparate bunch, but most of those who consider themselves to be writers have this idealized preconceived notion that it's a glamorous way to kill oneself through poverty and acclaim, when it is often one and rarely the other, and almost never done in the spotlight.

The spotlight kills, always has, always will. Not just writers, but thinkers too. Very few revel in it, and most who do do so fort such short periods of time hat it's irrelevant. From a three-movie career (hello, James Dean) to a decade of high-level sports success (Patrick Roy, Wayne Gretzky), they are shooting stars in a world of dead planets.

So, no, this won't be about writers.

The action of sitting down to put thoughts into words drives a few of us to the brink of (in)sanity, usually because it causes us to exist on a parallel plane, one in which we have time to ourselves, one in which we can afford to take a moment and not make a living for a while. Time is often more an enemy than inspiration, which can be triggered. You can't invent hours, make them up from scratch when you've run out - if so, one could harness that skill to create immortality. And yet some dedicate their lives to this... but, of course, I digress. Which I do so often I'm probably an evil mastermind in a poor sci-fi movie.

Where I meant to go was here, to a blog post by Kelly Kay, a friend-of-a-friend I met at an UnPop show I put on three or four years ago, someone I would have liked to get to know better but probably scared instead. Which is fine, because I already have all the friends-I-don't-have-the-time-to-be-around that I can handle.

Like myself, Kelly's a film grad who loves music, particularly of the live variety, and who, in an ideal world, would get paid to write whatever's on her mind. except her mind is twisted, violently, because she spends way too much time over-analyzing stuff like Lana Del Rey as a fictional, built-up character personalizing America; it's at once mesmerizing, compelling and haunting - not the subject matter, but the depth to which she dives into it. It's a heck of an interesting read.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NHL Predictions: Round Two

I was wrong on 3 counts in my First Round Predictions, but got the right games count on most - I was more than a game away just once. Here is my take on Round Two:

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators:
The Sens have the reigning Norris trophy winner, the Pens have a nominee this year. Ottawa has the best playmaker in the league in Jason Spezza, Pittsburgh has the runner-up in Sidney Crosby, but they also have the best player in the world in past Conn Smythe winner Evgeni Malkin. The Senators have the guy I considered at the beginning of the season as the second-best captain in the league (in Daniel Alfredsson), but the Penguins acquired my top pick (Jarome Iginla) at the trade deadline. And while Ottawa has capable snipers in Milan Michalek and Guillaume Latendresse, they fall a bit short of Pittsburgh's James Neal. However, the Senators have the best goalie in the playoffs in Craig Anderson; no disrespect to Tomas Vokoun and Marc-André Fleury, but this season, they're not even close. It would take an All Star team to beat Anderson; Pittsburgh has that. Ottawa's sizeable defense just has to pound them as much as they did the Habs and the Sens can get it done, in time.

Senators in 7.

Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers:
Well, the Rangers' offense has awoken, to go with the best defense in the league and the best goalie in the world. Add one of the best motivational coaches in the league and you've got a potent mix. On the other hand, the team John Tortorella would dream of coaching - the best-balanced skill-and-toughness mix in recent memory - happens to be the team he's facing. This may be the best series this round, though they'll all be exciting.

This one goes to 7. Rangers win.

Western Conference:

Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings:
I love the Wings. Their grown-sooner-than-expected defense, Jimmy Howard, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader, Valtteri Filppula, Justin Tootoo. But The Hawks have much more depth. And youth. It won't be a fair fight.

Blackhawks in 5.

San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings:
I don't make the rules, they're just there: The Sharks shall not win a Cup. And who better to knock them out than the reigning Cup champs? L.A. is the better team, with the better goalie, the better defense, the best offense, the best captain... but since emotions are high in this new Battle Of California, I think the Sharks could take a couple of games. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see the Kings sweep.

Kings in 6.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mothers Day Shooting

This is becoming some kind of a sick joke: 19 were injured in a New Orleans Mother's Day Parade shooting...
FBI spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig called it "street violence" and said federal investigators have no indication that the shooting was an act of terrorism.
 In a twist I'm not used to seeing these days in Montréal because participants would get arrested swiftly:
As many as 400 people joined what is known as a second-line parade, a loose procession in which people dance down the street, often following a brass band. They can be impromptu or planned.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The New World Trade Center

At once a symbol of perseverance, resilience, grandeur, and perhaps something I'll call the American Spirit, to many of the 7-billion people in the world who are not Americans, this new version of World Trade Center Tower 1 (1 WTC) may seem more like a demonstration of arrogance.

Having been a guest on many occasions of the Marriott Hotel at the former 3 World Trade Center - including a six-month stint in the late 1998 and 1999 -  and understanding the way economics work (sure, it cost billions to make, but over time, the rent paid by the tenants will have reimbursed it, so the equation that some will do and come to the conclusion that ''that money could have saved starving people'' isn't factual), and considering they didn't go out of their way to make it the highest building in the world (it'll stand at #3 to start), I see it as a positive thing myself.

Gloating about it on the front page makes the tabloid New York Daily News look like pompous, self-important Imperialists, though. Of note for fellow Quebecers, the mast/pole on top was made in the Montréal area.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Video Of The Week: The Mahones

This is the second time I'll have featured The Mahones, this time with their most political video thus far.

To quote the band themselves:
In summer of 2012, The Mahones recorded their 11th album, Angels & Devils, in our hometown of Montreal. At the time, Montreal students came together to protest the proposed tuition hikes, and on March 22nd, 2012, over 300,000 students and supporters united to exercise their right to peaceful assembly.
Sadly, the Quebec government responded by passing bill 78, an emergency bill restricting freedom of assembly, protest, or picketing on or near university grounds, and anywhere in Quebec without prior police approval. It was entirely unconstitutional, and a direct violation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. It has brought shame to the province of Quebec, and it escalated the student protests from an issue affecting those seeking an education (which is a right, not a privilege), to an issue affecting Canadian society as a whole.

The Mahones stand united with the 500,000 students, supporters, and citizens who protested to end this violation of fundamental rights, and took to the streets to fight back against austerity. Never stop pushing back!

This song is for you.

The Mahones have been touring relentlessly of late, and may have missed out on the recent happenings in our fair town, so let me update you on the situation: after the provincial passed Law 78, when it looked like it was going to be overturned - it was - Montréal passed By-law P6, which essentially carries the same rules, but adds the power of police to arrest, detain and fine participants prior to actually assembling, for any group of over 3 people who would not have given the cops their itinerary 24 hours in advance; not just that, the police also have the right to refuse your itinerary altogether. Also, if you do provide one, you are considered the de facto ''event organizer'' and can/will be held responsible for any crime or illegal action committed during the rally, even if done by a complete stranger at the other end of it.

Needless to say, this will neither stand the test of time nor the judicial system, but in the meantime,  participants are fined $637 every time. The cops, when they aren't busy charging protesters for no reason and perfecting the art of police brutality, kettle all present, whether they're participating or not, even journalists, and it looks like this (and is illegal in most civilized countries, including England, which technically owns Canada):

The Montréal police's spokesperson even famously declared:
The Charter [of rights and freedoms] protects the right to freedom of expression, but there is no right to protest.
You can understand why most folks just don't know what to do as the rights they thought they had are proven time and time again to be mere illusions. As one guy who often has an opinion on most topics said:
What do we do [now]? We can’t accept our city becoming a police state. We can’t accept P-6 and provide a route for spontaneous demonstrations. But we also can’t keep getting hurt, kettled and arbitrarily arrested.
If you have any ideas, please share them. I’m kinda stumped.
And that's pretty much where we're at now.

I wanted to make a video like this myself, for my recording of the Skip James classic Hard Times Killing Floor Blues, which should be ready in a couple of weeks. The Mahones have beaten me to it, and I'm really glad they did. Their voice rings loud and they make our town proud, here and abroad. I have a feeling it may require international pressure to hand us back our freedom, because right now, probably because of Canada's great reputation in pushing for human rights in the rest of the world for the past 100 years, the international eyes watching are merely befuddled by the situation, probably unaware that an entire generation of Quebecers is suffering broken bones, loss of limbs, concussions, harassment, profiling - for merely standing up for what they believe in.

33 Home-Made Popsicle Recipes

As a recent diabetic, I now have to eat less fruit than I used to, which means I cannot indulge in these fine examples of summer goodness - home-made popsicles!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Horny Stock Photos

You can find anything these days on the internet, and half the sites are filled with stock photos. It was only a matter of time before people with too much time on their hands compiled them into funny lists, and from there, to compile the weird ones.

And so I bring you Horny Stock Photos. Awkward work stuations galore, with a sample of my two favourites:

Seriously? Groping? She's paid to just sit sit there, and even she's thinking ''oh HELL no!''

Monday, May 6, 2013

There Goes Gun Control

3D printing is here, we hear about it more and more.

And our inventiveness keeps getting better and better, and while society is getting dumber, some members of it are definitely getting smarter.

Which brings us to this story: a man has started a company who will provide plans to print your own plastic gun at home. The only thing not included is a small nail, which acts as its firing pin.

I particularly like this part of the story:
And it’s complied with the Undetectable Firearms Act by inserting a six ounce chunk of non-functional steel into the body of the Liberator, which makes it detectable with a metal detector–Wilson spent $400 on a walk-through model that he’s installed at the workshop’s door for testing. “Our strategy is overcompliance,” he says. (There’s no guarantee, of course, that anyone who downloads and prints the Liberator will insert the same chunk of detectable steel.)
Ah, a loophole the size of the moon - Republicans will love it!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

1000 Posts (!)

I can't believe I used my 1000th post to write about a dumb story about humans preferring sex and alcohol to religion and work.

I started this blog about six years ago, and have witnessed a shitload of stuff. I saw a bird committing suicide; I broke my back and farted in someone's face; I went to Cuba and had the best time of my life; did nothing - not even move - for 15 straight hours; went on 3-to-5-day sleepless stints more times than I can count; challenged Murphy's Law and lost - time and time again; and again; I've been let down and got back up; I almost fucking died.

I played solo shows, shows with my band, with experimental projects, with ''bands made of friends''. Even played in a Velvet Underground cover band. I even stole the show by just being a guest on one song.

I could have written about anything old, anything new, and I chose a bottom-drawer story.

What I should have done is thank you, anyone who would read this, whoever you are.

And The Survey Says...

A study shows that ''making love'' is the activity humans find the most enjoyable and rewarding, ahead of drinking alcohol - far ahead of religion and caring for children.


Things you can feel, that are found in nature, and that distract from the useless daily grind we have invented as a means to be in control of one another should always have priority over make-believe and duties, in terms of what you take from it in the immediate moment.

Having kids, teaching them about Life, nurturing them - that's a long-term commitment that only seldom reaps benefits, and more often than not in the long run, not right away.

Logic would have dictated that, but I guess some people weren't sure. That's what scientists do: they test out even the most obvious stuff to have what they call 'empirical evidence', even though that evidence is usually a result of testing a sample population and, technically, is merely a representation of what some might feel, not all.

What a waste of time, resources and money.

Fun With Notebooks

It started in elementary school and hit its apex in high school, but still continued in College and university, though I was more prone to sleeping when I got to that level...

The minute I got bored in class, I would start drawing in my notebooks and manuals, from scratch if there wasn't anything, or using a pre-existing picture if possible. And it seems I am not alone, as this site showcases 22 fun examples, among which one really resembling what I'd do:

Friday, May 3, 2013

The State Of (Indie) Rock

I read a piece a few weeks back that I thought was bang-on about the state of indie rock, whose bottom line was ''it has no balls'' compared to any other meaningful rock movement before it, and you can use your imagination to remember the impact Chuck Berry's feet and Elvis Presley's hips had, to The Rolling Stones and The Animals and Cream in England to Bob Dylan, even, in folk, to the heavy-band music of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, to punk rock to post-punk to Guns N' Roses to grunge to techno (both the Detroit revolution and the mid-1990s U.K.-based boom) to hip hip - from Afrika Bambaataa to Public Enemy to N.W.A. to Wu-Tang Clan to Outkast.

The article itself blamed blogs, namely those who keep bringing the same crowd-pleasing faux-indie acts to the spotlight, and he used the following top-10 to drive his point home:
  • 01: Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Anima
  • 02: The Lumineers – The Lumineers
  • 03: John Samson – Provincial
  • 04: Mumford and Sons – Babel
  • 05: Sufjan Stevens – Silver and Gold
  • 06: The Walkmen – Heaven
  • 07: Beach House – Bloom
  • 08: Matt & Kim – Lightning
  • 09: fun. – Some Nights
  • 10: Jack White – Blunderbuss
I agree that, apart from Jack White, there's nothing worthy of a top-10 list there. And he lost his indie cred to most people (not me) because everything he touches turns to gold he made it big repeatedly.

And it ends with with this firecracker:
In 1992, when Donita Sparks of L7 pulled out her tampon and threw it at the crowd at the Reading Festival, she didn’t do it to create a YouTube sensation or to make a Pitchfork top 10 list. She did it in a moment of genuine defiance and frustration at a crowd flinging mud onstage. She knew what was between her legs and she wasn’t afraid to use it. And by that, I don’t mean a bloody tampon; I mean a serious pair of balls. She had more balls than the members of Fleet Foxes can ever hope to have. And that kids, is what rock and roll is all about.
And I tend to agree - both with the state of disposable music, and that rock (and most music, actually) should have a rebellious energy.

My friend, sometimes band mate and at times Voice Of Reason John 'Triangles' Stuart took offense to most of what Ms Kitty Vincent wrote in a well-written piece of which I will quote the following:

For someone who came of age with first wave punk and hardcore, grunge, as I perceived it was the last, pathetic, gasp of the dying 80’s punk scene. Yah I know Sonic Youth calls it ‘the year that punk broke’ but really it was more like the year that punk died. I mean can you actually believe that grunge isn’t watered down vaguely Black Flag/Sabbath/ Husker Du/ Grand Funk Railroad.  Anyone not living in the Pacific Northwest in 1991 probably heard Nirvana et al from MTV. Good old underground MTV, they never tried to shape anyone’s taste, especially when they were airing Smells Like Teen Spirit every 18 minutes. (...)
More mindfucking is that she just instructed people not to buy records by indie artists.  I suppose they should just stay home and listen to Geffen Nirvana box sets while watching VHS recordings of Lollapalooza. (...)
Another problem is that apparently these kids aren’t angry enough – because you know anger is the only authentic emotion. Well, aside from Rage Against the Machine and some riot grrrls, I can’t really think of too many political grunge bands. Soundgarden? Ooh that’s some heavy angry political shit eh, just like Gang of Four or the Au Pairs, or The Style Council and the Red Wedge tour. Grunge was not a political scene, sorry, Amnesty pamphlets at some fucking festival with fat-ass corporate sponsors just don’t cut it. Wearing a “corporate rock sucks” t-shirt on the cover of Rolling Stone? No, saying fuck off to Rolling Stone & MTV would be more like it.
Good point about grunge being mostly non-indie, but I have to take points away for the political thing: bands like Pearl Jam said no completely to RS and MTV, supported Ralph Nader's two runs for the Presidency (and went on the Vote For Change tour), fought Ticketmaster's monopoly and exorbitant surplus charges in court and accompanied women into abortion clinics (the reasoning behind that is that one is less likely to kill a rock star than a single, teenage mom). Also, again: Fuck Soundgarden.

For me, it's probably just more where I'm at in my life at this exact moment, and what I'm most in the mood for. And that with Ben Gibbard being in tons of projects (the best of them being Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie, of course), he's already flooding the scene with (fine) soft songs, I don't need a hundred imitators to sound exactly like him on the radio, on TV, in Festivals and in ads.

I need some diversity, I need originality, and above all, I need to feel what I'm listening to is real. Anyone who doesn't hear that The Lumineers is watered-down Arcade Fire needs to be tied to a chair and taught some serious lessons.

I'd start with Classical (Baroque, Classical and Romantic), move to tribal African or middle eastern, then move onto the blues (early 1900s, then Delta, Memphis, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans), touch on jazz and the history of Montréal during prohibition until the mid-1960s, then the blues-inspired (mostly British) rock, then hard rock, funk, punk, post-punk, hair metal (a.k.a. 'cock rock') for a few laughs, the ''good'' bands who wore make-up (half the lesson on The Cure, of course), GN'R, grunge, metal, how truly great Rage was and the unfortunate shitty bands they inspired (from Korn to Deftones, but mostly Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach), a two-part class on how rap started as having a message and split into one faction that was all about 'the bling' while the other more about abstract poetry, and electronic music, from house to industrial to drum-and-bass and how the fuck it ever got castrated enough to end up on Madonna records.

And we're back to the balls. Half of AC/DC's songs are about balls. If it was all about the testies, though, I'd be the most successful artist on the planet, and yet, I'm among the poorest fucking saps currently owning a guitar on the planet - whether that's a testament that they don't matter or they're just not fashionable these days isn't up to me to judge, but that's a fact.

However this turns out in the end, though, I will be comfortable knowingly having become a cynical bastard, listening to shit I like, not giving a fuck about the shit I hate, biding my time until my brand of entertainment comes to me and going back in my cave when it leaves. Just like I have since age 10.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guns Don't Kill People, Kids Do

Did you hear about the 5-year old who killed his sister in Kentucky Tuesday afternoon?
Cumberland County Coroner Gary White identified the girl as Caroline Sparks. He said the children's mother was at home when the shooting occurred, and the gun was a gift the boy received last year.
"It's a Crickett," he said. "It's a little rifle for a kid. ...The little boy's used to shooting the little gun."
White said the gun was kept in a corner, and the family did not realize a shell had been left in it.
He said the shooting will be ruled accidental. "Just one of those crazy accidents," White said.

Read more here:
So to Coroner decided the outcome before the autopsy... seems legit.

For those wondering what a ''rifle for a kid'' looks like, here is a screengrab from the company's website:

It's not the size of the gun that matters, it's the velocity of the bullets, and on all guns, they come out at a speed that can kill. I checked out their website, and nowhere did I find an age requirement for any of these. Yet, G.I. Joes are for ages 5 and up because a kid could choke on... the detachable, plastic guns.

I mean, fuck - can't you get them paint guns until they're 10? What the fuck kind of small, hick county has a Coroner who knows the victim and culprit enough to say such things as "The little boy's used to shooting the little gun"? How used to it was he that he decided pointing it as a 2-year old was a good idea?

But the real criminals are the parents. They're the ones who killed their daughter, by giving a weapon and training a child who could not possibly understand the consequences of not making sure the weapon is unloaded and under lock inside the house.

I don't care if owning guns is a way of life, or if you could be allowed to marry your fucking pistol - a kid, under 10 for sure, under 16 a best, should not own one. You want to train them to shoot, you take them to a firing range, rent a weapon there, go back home alive.

There should be background checks. Not just for owning guns, for having fucking kids.