Sunday, March 30, 2014

Top 10 Songs This Past Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. PARTITION, Beyoncé (2013)
9. UNCONDITIONNAL LOVE, Against Me! (2014)
8. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
7. BAD MEDECINE, Bon Jovi (1988)
6. MAGDALENA, Pixies (2014)
5. DUH!, Corey Feldman (2014)
4. DO WHAT U WANT, Lady Gaga (feat. Christina Aguilera) (2014)
3. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
2. REMEMBER 2 FORGET, Murs (2011)
1. BLACK ME OUT, Against Me! (2014)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Video Of The Week: Corey Feldman

No, that's not a typo. No, it doesn't make any sense. Yes, it's beyond ridiculous.

In this video - apparently the second off his 1st Glimpse of Heaven EP - Corey Feldman (yes, that Corey Feldman) tries to channel Crispin Glover (his overall appearance and demeanor), Michael Jackson (Bad, Man In the Mirror, the song's melody) and the ''Winning-era'' Charlie Sheen (the angels/hookers), references I Love Lucy, pretend-raps and just brings out a general feeling of discomfort to any viewer with a pulse. (Therefore, Corey Haim might be a fan.)

The star of The Goonies, The Gremlins, Stand By Me, The Lost Boys and The 'Burbs needs to stop basing his public personae on 30-year-old work, and perhaps try to get serious about his art. Or not. But I really don't see this ending well.

The video was directed by actress Tanna Fredrick, who plays Feldman's wife throughout the 4 minutes you'll never get back yet may inexplicably want to go through again.

I apologize in advance.

Monday, March 24, 2014

R.I.P. Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus (Of Gwar)

I wasn't the biggest fan of Gwar (I prefered their half-cousin band Green Jellÿ as a kid), but I did love the spectacle that accompanied them whether they were playing a show, doing interviews, or appearing on Jerry Springer...

And, to be honest, as far as heavy metal slapstick goes, Scumdogs Of The Universe (1990) and This Toilet Earth (1994) are pretty much classics, and are still listenable today - provided you know what you're getting into (which is the story of alien characters here to kill off the human race and spread sex and violence).

Their long-time lead vocalist (and one-time bassist and/or guitarist) Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus was found dead in his apartment yesterday. Though he wasn't the first member to die while an active member (guitarist Cory Smoot, who had portrayed the now-retired character Flattus Maximus since 2002, was found dead by his fellow band members in the band's tour bus in 2011). But Brockie was the lone original member left, the voice of the band - both in song and in the public eye.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Last Week's Top 10 Songs

Top 10 Songs:

10. REMEMBER 2 FORGET, Murs (2011)
9. FOLSOM PRISON BLUES (Johnny Cash cover), Everlast (2008)
8. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)
7. SEAFOOD TACO, Canned Hamm (2005)
6. UNCONDITIONNAL LOVE, Against Me! (2014)
5. MAGDALENA, Pixies (2014)
4. PARTITION, Beyoncé (2013)
3. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
2. BLACK ME OUT, Against Me! (2014)
1. DO WHAT U WANT, Lady Gaga (feat. Christina Aguilera) (2014)

Friday, March 21, 2014

How A Past In Sports Affects My Present

Though you probably couldn't tell by my current physical shape and from the fact that I'm now a fully-respected writer and musician, I grew up an athlete - and most of my adult way of thinking is affected by that fact.

As a goalie, I trained to be 100% in the moment, and never think about the past nor the future except if it pertains to what’s in front of me (say if I’d prepared to play against someone in particular, know their tendencies), and because of that, I still have tremendous focus in what I'm doing as I'm doing it, but as soon as the task or the moment's gone, I'll likely have forgotten most of it.

Another quirk I have is wanting to know if the effort I put into something is worth it. In the case of work or performance, I want to be the best, I want to be designated to do or come up with something, and I want to be remembered for it, but it can feel like a chore to just mindlessly enter data for an extended period, for example. In social circles, say if I’m going after a girl, I want to know I’m at least a contender.

I play to win in general (be it by myself or as part of a team), and I want to be named the MVP in the end; I don't care that I'm not the favourite going in, I care that I finish ahead, am the last one standing and ultimately got the job done.

That's probably why I played three positions in football (defensive back, offensive tackle, and quarterback), two of which pitted me directly in a one-on-one battle with an opponent through speed or brute force, and the other had my brain scrambling to find a solution using 21 (or 23 in Canadian football) other humans to get my team to advance forward.

I love a challenge, but I don't want to play in vain. I always thrived under pressure (as can be attested by my vast collection of trophies and medals, hehehe) but have had to find outside motivation (scouts, girls, friends or family watching) at times when the situation felt hopeless – or boring.

My life is definitely taking a turn these days, but I have yet to read its full context and decipher its true meaning. And part of me wants to make the change even more radical than it already is, but that would mean having no grounds to stand on at all for a while, so my moral center is urging me to take it one step at a time. Also my immediate prospects, which may be looking up, though they are taking their sweet fucking time. First comes moving from a basement to a third floor, two weeks from now. In business terms, a higher floor means more success; that's how I'll approach it for the time being.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Video Of The Week: Murs

I mentioned this song in my Top 10 Relatively Angry Break-Up Songs last week, and I've had it play non-stop in my head ever since, even when listening to something completely different.

Murs started out with a collective named 3 Melancholy Gypsies, which eventually merged with Mystik Journeymen to form Living Legends, which is how I got introduced to his talent. Living Legends were a hard-touring act who multiplied shows at the turn of the millennium, and I got to see them in maybe 10 different cities in all.

No, their live shows didn't live up to their name, feeling at times over-rehearsed and contrived, but Murs was a constant stand-out. At their merch table, he was the only one I'd purchase stuff from, even his mixtapes.

After years of releasing CDs through independent means (5 actual albums and dozens of mixtapes), Murs let Warner Bros. release his 2008 effort, Murs For President, but the collaboration wouldn't last. In fairness, it wasn't his finest work, and perhaps he got to believing his own hype a little too much.

He returned to his roots in 2011 with the strong, independently-released Love & Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation, from which this song is pulled, in a simple-yet-effective video directed by Shruti Parekh and starring Murs and dripping paint (ironic how this is also a song about somebody that he used to know).

If you feel the title of the song is super original, though, keep in mind Elvis Presley sang I Forgot To Remember To Forget in... 1955.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

R.I.P. Scott Asheton (Of The Stooges)

This weekend marked the passing of Scott Asheton, drummer of The Stooges, the seminal 1960-70s band Iggy Pop made his music debut in. He was 64.

The Stooges (1969), Funhouse (1970) and Raw Power (1973) are unbelievable records, part of a not-so-large club in which the first three (and for over 30 years the only three) albums of a band's career are excellent.

I've listened to the eponymous record possibly as often as any Led Zeppelin record, with tracks like 1969 and No Fun rivaling in energy and power anything Jimmy Page has ever put through an amp, and I Wanna Be Your Dog (while a pretty good song as well) inspiring many rebellious teens to become the crusty punks they would otherwise not have the courage to.

And like Zeppelin, The Who and - to a much lesser extent - Cream, the drumming really made The Stooges' sound what it was, and now it is no more.

The band had been inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2010 and were working on a new record, playing unreleased yet oft-bootlegged songs from the 1970s sung by different guest vocalists (Iggy wanted to take a year off).

And like Iggy's tribute to Stiv Bators I posted last month, he also had the most eloquent words about his drummer's passing:

My dear friend Scott Asheton passed away last night. Scott was a great artist, I have never heard anyone play the drums with more meaning than Scott Asheton. He was like my brother. He and Ron have left a huge legacy to the world. The Ashetons have always been and continue to be a second family to me.
My thoughts are with his sister Kathy, his wife Liz and his daughter Leanna, who was the light of his life.
Iggy Pop

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jason Spezza's Good Deed Of The Week

If you know me at all (or read my sports-and-collectibles blog), you know I'm a huge hockey fan. Not just of my hometown Montréal Canadiens, mind you, but of the sport as a whole, its history, its personalities.

And while I've been a Habs follower since I was a kid - we even had season tickets from when I was 7 until I was 17 - it has become increasingly difficult to identify with the team of late - with any team in this economy-driven, salary-cap era where they sell you players, almost shove them down your throat, but trade them away seemingly on a whim after you've shelled out your hard-earned money on team items bearing their faces or names. And you're forced to accept it, and love the new guy immediately, and spend your money on him instead. And boo the old guy every time he comes back in town to play against the team he used to bleed for.

It's also why I can't root for ''for my home country of Canada'' and ''all of its players'' at the Olympics when Habs players I'm supposed to cheer for (and do) during the 50 other weeks of the year are separated into 6 teams, while Canada only has two, one of which they decide not to dress for meaningful games, and the rest of its team is comprised mostly of guys I'd rather see never win another hockey game, ever (such as members of the San Jose Sharks).

Still, I root for the Habs as a general rule. But I also wish the Colorado Avalanche the best, especially now that their front-office staff is comprised of Joe Sakic (the best player between the Wayne Gretzky era and the current Evgeni Malkin era) and Patrick Roy (without whom the Habs would be on a 35-year Stanley Cup drought rather than 21, and would have 22 in total instead of 24).

And I'd rather see an Original Six team (except the Toronto Maple Leafs, fuck the Leafs!) or at the very least an Original Twelve-plus-the-Canadian teams (again, except the Leafs). And teams Roy has played for (Habs, Avalanche). That's it. No other team should ever lift the Stanley Cup. That's 16 teams (Montréal, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Colorado and even on rare occasions Winnipeg) out of 30, which seems like a reasonable number to me.

But I digress. So I love the sport as a whole, and some players more than others. Current (and hopefully career-long) Habs Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec top the list, but with them stand former Canadiens Saku Koivu and Mike Ribeiro. And Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza, an electrifying stickhandler, and one of the best passers in the game.

I've featured Spezza on my sports blog four times already, but I came across a story that I thought deserved inclusion here instead, where he learned that a ''very sick young boy'' had his autographed pictures of both Spezza and Sens star defenseman Erik Karlsson stolen in a car break-in.

As the article states:
Ottawa Police began searching for the perpetrator but Spezza wasn't interested in waiting for an outcome.
Instead, he got the whole team so sign a Sens jersey (great show of leadership from their new captain!), and he and Karlsson signed tons more stuff for the kid:

Not just a great hockey player, but a great person, and team ambassador (free good publicity). Well done, sir.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Top 10s This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. DO WHAT U WANT, Lady Gaga (feat. Christina Aguilera) (2014)
9. PARTITION, Beyoncé (2013)
8. INSTANT CRUSH, Daft Punk (feat. Julian Casablancas) (2013)
7. ARABELLA, Arctic Monkeys (2014)
6. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
5. LIAR, Rollind Band (1994)
4. BLACK ME OUT, Against Me! (2014)
3. UNCONDITIONNAL LOVE, Against Me! (2014)
2. FERAL LOVE, Chelsea Wolfe (2014)
1. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)

Top 10 Relatively Angry Break-Up Songs:

10. LOST CAUSE, Beck (2006)
9. SO WHAT, P!nk (2008)
8. IRREPLACEABLE, Beyoncé (2006)
7. I USED TO LOVE HER, Guns N' Roses (1988)
6. LIAR, Rollind Band (1994)
5. REMEMBER 2 FORGET, Murs (2011)
4. TRAIN IN VAIN, The Clash (1979)
3. BALLAD OF BIG NOTHING, Elliott Smith (1997)
2. FUCK YOU, Cee-Lo Green (2010)
1. DON'T THINK TWICE, IT'S ALL RIGHT, Bob Dylan (1963)

I went with ''no country songs'' because otherwise, well, it'd have been a top-500 of all-country. Also, no Eminem nor Taylor Swift, see previous for reason why (though I wouldn't put TS songs in my tops so far). And I know the GN'R song is about a female dog, don't send me any emails.

Honorable mentions: Hole's Violet, Carly Simon's You're So Vain (though I put that with the country), Pearl Jam's The End

I Swear I Won't Let 2014 Become 2012

By that, of course, I mean contend for the title of ''worst year of my life''. It's not too late to jump off the train and head somewhere else, and I guess that starts in early April, when I move yet again (this time, solo).

It won't be easy, especially financially, but it needs to be made.

It's unfortunate that the people who treat me the best are so far away (Calgary, Banff, Mexico, NYC) and I feel disconnected and taken advantage of and double-crossed a lot in this City I feel less and less at home in, but am legally bound to remain in until what is now June 2015 (part of my new lease... on life?), though there are ways around that.

You kind of have to feel dumb following the advice of an internet meme, but for the second time in little more than a year:

And when I realized I did, I fucked the hell off. No more being sucked in, no more innocent-bystander shit ruining my health and life.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Japan. Baby. Metal.

Yep, that's about right.

Target's Crotchless Models

There are Photoshop Fails, and then there are utter fucking failures. Target's latest ad campaign falls into the latter category:

Does this look right?
Look closely...
They chopped her lady-parts off!

I doubt they were taking a stance against the hyper-sexualization of women in media and advertizing, which means they just went way-overboard on the chopping. Oh, while over-extending to mutant-like disproportions other parts:

In the picture just above (also weirdly cropped at the crotch) and the first two from the top, her left arm goes almost to her knees.

Like, why? Ok, the fashionable ''thigh gap'' (that most people find disgusting, by the way) thing, maybe. But the arm? And was her vagina bulging so much that it made her thighs stick together?

So many questions, none of which I want answers to. But fuck Target, at least.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Video Of The Week: Bart Simpson (The Simpsons)

As I was making my way into my first year of high school, at the end of 1990, I was out of touch with the pop charts: I could tolerate Bel Biv Devoe but had no love for Technotronic, Michael Bolton, Snap, Janet Jackson, MC Hammer nor Milli Vanilli, though I did own Hammer's and MV's cassettes (birthday presents from adults).

One instance where I was totally in synch with the charts, though, was when The Simpsons released their first soundtrack - Sing The Blues - which I purchased from the mail-in service ripoff company Columbia House. The lead single, Do The Bartman, featured here, may not have been the best song on it (Deep Deep Trouble was), but the mere fact that it was co-written by Michael Jackson (and may include background vocals from him) makes for a fun anecdote.


''Whoa, mama!''

I like that the choreography is also a bit Jackson-like. Oh, and the self-congratulatory ''I'm bad like Michael Jackson, I'm bad, I'm bad!'' - priceless!

Oh, and it was directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille). That's a lot of big names for such a short moment in time.

It's funny to think that at first, the series (and all promotional material) was centered around Bart's antics, but they evolved into being more about Homer, a more rounded character. 25 years in, the series is still alive and well, though perhaps without the highs of South Park and Family Guy, but definitely with more consistency.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Snow Storm Alert, Montréal (Yes He's Back)

I like listening to the classics (''have your shovels ready, have your snow plows ready, don't get into car accidents'' and ''keep your iPhones charged, stay away from golf fields, and get back inside your homes'' are particularly great), but Frankie MacDonald from Nova Scotia has a new hit he'd like us to listen to:

So have your winter boots ready, your hats, gloves and scarves, order your pizzas and order your Chinese food, buy cases of Pepsi and buy cases of Coke, don't wait for your grocery shopping DO IT RIGHT NOW and charge all your electronics (I won't name them all, listen to it for yourselves), 'cause there'll be lots of snow in Montréal tomorrow.

''Best of luck to ya!''

Monday, March 10, 2014

1132 Years A Slav

I've avoided writing about Ukraine thus far, but too many people have chimed in with wild theories - and too many of those with no facts to back their points of view up - that I had to at least mention it...

The city of Kiev was officially founded in 482. That's not a typo. Founded mostly by Slavs, the settlement was also inhabited by Finnics (ancestors to modern-day Finns, among others), and Khazars (think Turks, Kazakhs, Tatars and Bulgars) very early on.

The first agglomeration to consider Kiev as its capital was Kievan Rus', circa 882-1283 (that's where I start considering it the capital of a 'country', hence the title of this post). Mostly Slavic, modern-day Belarus, Ukraine and Russia all claim to descend from that federation.

With wars and power struggles a constant in Europe, Kievan Rus' made way for the kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia (a.k.a. Kingdom Of Rus). Like J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, the Kingdom wasn't a united country per se, more like autonomous provinces each with their own capitals within a loose border; Kiev was not a capital, but three other now-Ukrainian cities were: Volodymyr-Volynsky, Halych, and Lviv.

By 1283, the Grand Duchy of Moscow had come into effect, and though its leaders and official name came to change many times (Tsardom of Russia in 1547, Russian Empire in 1721, the USSR in 1922 after a few turbulent years of the 1917 Revolution, The Russian Federation of Independent States in 1991 and the current-day incarnation since 1993), was essentially the beginning of what is now Russia. Russians share the British taste for imperialism, as well as the ''father knows best'' mentality of many Eastern cultures. They like owning a large plot of land (currently occupying an eighth of the world's land mass though they are barely 2% of its population at 145 million people), and they really dislike opposition.

And so, Ukraine has shared countries, ownership or administrations (or been under the influence of) with Russia for over 1000 years. They only declared their actual independence in 1918, and though they tried to refrain Russians from formally entering and claiming ownership from then on by themselves being a socialist state (kind of like Canada signing on NAFTA with the U.S. in 1992), Russians took advantage of the turmoil caused by World War II (and a deal with Germany) to invade Ukraine in 1939, made easier by World War I-era territorial delimitations where the Ukraine was basically split in three.

There was another, short-lived declaration of independence in 1941 when the Soviet troops went back home, but the Nazis made sure to render that useless by jailing, torturing and killing the government in place, and when Germany fell to the Russians, the movement became nothing but a footnote in History.

When the USSR collapsed and became the Russian Federation, most Eastern European subject-states decided to assert their independence, and a lot were allowed to do so. Some chose to remain part of the Russian whole, others were forced to (see: Chechnya). Ukraine chose to proclaim its independence, if only for political reasons: the Russian version of communism/socialism/sovietism  was collapsing, and it was going to change political systems; Ukraine wanted to remain communist, so in an effort for self-preservation, decided to opt for a referendum asking its population if they wanted out of the union. 82% of the population voted, and 90% voted in favour of seceding.

Ironically, Canada was the first country to recognize Ukraine as an independent state, the minute the votes were in. Russian President Boris Yeltsin did the same in the evening, proving there were no hard feelings.

Fast-forward to 2014.

Ukraine was offered to enter the European Union - or at least enter into economic accords with them first, with a promise of future consideration - though many of its constituents (Spain, The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium especially) took issue with that, mostly for political reasons (how it treats its political prisoners chief among them). As a means of negotiation, some of the terms of the deal weren't as advantageous as those of other countries, with the underlying message being ''if you play nice, we'll be nicer with you later''.

President Viktor Yanukovych, rightly, refused to sign the deal because it wasn't advantageous for his country. He then signed a trades agreement with Russia, mostly for natural gas purchases, which could have worked in addition to a deal with the EU. Protests started as people demanded closer ties to the rest of Europe and European integration, and like scared leaders do (and like we saw here in Québec in 2012), the government passed anti-protest laws, which just fueled the violence.

Also, like here in Québec, the protests soon included anger towards the perception (and fact) of widespread corruption. Ironically, though, in Ukraine, a lot of that can be traced back to Yanukovych's opponent in the last election, the country's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is among the imprisoned that the EU is demanding better treatment for; Tymoshenko owns a bunch of gas companies, which made her one of the richest people in her country (Forbes ranked her as the third most powerful woman in the world). And though her arrest and eventual mistreatment when she was found guilty were undoubtedly politically-motivated by a direct adversary, the fact remains that she was convicted of embezzlement and abuse of power, two facts that point to the sense that she at least participated in the corruption of the State.

And as the protests gained traction and Yanukovych resigned and political pressure mounted, she was released from prison - but she wasn't acquitted or even pardoned: the actions she was found guilty of were instead decriminalized. That's a big fucking difference, folks.

That is to say that all is neither all black nor white.

Except that Russia didn't have to send troops in Crimea, though it claimed it hadn't at first but eventually will/did. (of note, under international treaties, if an elected official asks another country for military help, that country is allowed to step in and intervene on a local level, which is what Russia claims Yanukovych has asked.) And while I'm not one to blindly trust Vladimir Putin, I will contend a point Jon Stewart hammers on daily since first reporting on the story a month after it had started, to wit: Putin claims the groups in place are local militias (or ''self-defense forces''), ''but they speak Russian, support Russia and have Russian weapons - so they have to be Russian''.
Dear Jon,
pretty much everyone in the area speak Russian, and they have for over 1000 years. Also, most Finns speak Swedish, a shitload of European countries have German as a first or second language, and most Quebecers understand English; surrounded by imperialists and conquerors, borders change, wars are started, people are annexed and/or assimilated. Until they no longer are... until they are again. Anglo-Saxons and Russians are expansionists and imperialists; one day they wake up and feel the need to own other people and/or their land and/or their toys and/or their food; it's what they do, whether it's to feel like Kings or to spread their ''superior'' culture (or race). Or to sell their sub-par fast-food culture. Or to ''spread democracy'' (still laughing at that one more than a decade later, by the way).
As for the Russian weapons, weren't those all for sale at discount stores in 1991? Doesn't the Russian mob own more nukes than the Russian Army? Why wouldn't a bunch of people buy some AK-47s and military garb, don't you guys have a right to purchase M-16s even with a criminal record and mental health issues, and can't you buy military clothes at both Army Surplus stores and The Salvation Army? And if you can, why shouldn't they?
'Cause to me, equating people who kind of wear military uniforms with no specific designation with the official military kind of makes it seem like your Bible-belt gun nuts and anti-Obama armed militias would then be a representation of your Army, and I guess that would make the Tea Party an actual political party, not just a fringe unrepresentative proportion of your political debate.
As I said, neither black nor white.

The whole world is going to shits, because the worst people have been in power for so long that they have instituted corruption as a rule rather than an exception. And those who lose their elections (or get ousted by the population) are only replaced by equally-minded career white-collar criminals, so the wheel keeps turning and, in doing so, always finds newer and better ways to keep its rhythm going.

Money needs out of politics. It needs out completely in everything, but especially in politics. And leaders need to feel they are liable for their crimes; I've long proposed their sentences be double those of civilians' when found guilty of crimes, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, because those fuckers are usually so well connected that they rarely even get prosecuted. They only lose their friends in high places when the shit has completely hit the fan and there is no longer a way for them to hide and melt back into the general population with their golden toilets and billions of dollars. They are but a small minority.

But, uh, yeah, Ukraine. How that turned into a battle of wits between Putin and Barack Obama is beyond me (and further proof that Americans don't view their own imperialism as such), I will never truly get it, but here's a novel idea: why don't we let the people of Ukraine decide for themselves? It worked in Iceland (where was Fox then, by the way?) recently, though there is something to be said both for and against how they made it impossible for foreigners to withdraw money out of the country (for: promotes re-investing within the country, which even foreigners can take advantage of, i.e. you cant leave with your millions but you can buy millions' worth of stuff; against: detracts foreign investors from coming in to invest for profits that would leave the country - theoretically, though, what it is meant to do is keep the economy rolling and increasing).

Friday, March 7, 2014

This Week's Top 10 Songs

Top 10 Songs:

10. UNCONDITIONNAL LOVE, Against Me! (2014)
8. DO WHAT U WANT, Lady Gaga (feat. Christina Aguilera) (2014)
7. INSTANT CRUSH, Daft Punk (feat. Julian Casablancas) (2013)
6. HIGGS BOSON BLUES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)
5. ARABELLA, Arctic Monkeys (2014)
4. BLACK ME OUT, Against Me! (2014)
3. FERAL LOVE, Chelsea Wolfe (2014)
2. PARTITION, Beyoncé (2013)
1. CONTROL ME, Kandle (2014)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In Memoriam

It was a tough past week for high art, as the world lost both flamenco guitar superstar Paco De Lucia and one of the best filmmakers of all time, Alain Resnais.

De Lucia started touring and recording in the late 1960s, but it was in 1971 and 1972 that he truly started to break ground, innovating in playing style, adding new twists to classics (such as Mario Escudero's Ímpetu) and creating timeless songs himself (Entre Dos Aguas), fusing genres and cultural influences.

In 1979, he formed The Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell, which would remain as much a constant in his career as playing solo or with legends of other styles such as Al Di MeolaChick Corea and Eric Clapton. I saw The Guitar Trio with Di Meola replacing Coryell live at the end of the 1990s and was blown away.

He died of a heart attack at age 66.

Resnais was not only one of the best French directors, but in the world. His career spanned nine decades (keep in mind cinema was invented at the turn of the 20th century...), and his influential work started in 1955 with Nuit Et Brouillard (Night And Fog). With Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Last Year At Marienbad (1961), he concluded what was perhaps the most efficient, effective, high-quality 5 years of filmmaking ever (think of early 1990s Quentin Tarantino for scope, with the budget of late 1990s Kevin Smith for budget and means).

But he didn't stop there. Providence (1977) clearly influenced David Lynch's finest works, My American Uncle (1980) was nominated for an Oscar other than Best Foreign Language, I Want To Go Home (1989) was a precursor to American Splendor, Smoking/No Smoking (1993) would have been anyone else's best film, and he kept making award-winning films until the end, highlighted by Same Old Song (1997), Not On The Lips (2003) which contributed to revitalizing musicals, Private Fears In Public Places (2006), and Wild Grass (2009).

I have yet to see You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (2012) and Life Of Riley (2013), who had just won an award at the Berlin Film Festival a few weeks ago. He died at age 91.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Revenge Of The Sea

When a seafood restaurant named Moby Dick offers a full window view of its ''right on the ocean'' location, you kind of have to expect Murphy's Law to play its odds at some point, right? Well, it did.
A winter storm in the entire Southern California region generated waves so strong that they shattered a picture window in the dining room, causing salt water to barrel in and customers to flee their seats.
 And this being now, here are the images:

Here is my favourite part of the article:
According to Yelp reviewers, the place usually lacks ambience (sic) “other than the view.” While the food is “overpriced,” the seafood is “fresh” and the clam chowder is “pretty darn good.”

With the cost of rebuilding an entire dining room, expect the prices to rise even higher, though the ambiance will now be enhanced from being associated with a piece of minor local news. Ghost story fans and gossipers welcome; now mentioned in your tourism guide.

Video Of The Week: Arctic Monkeys

And in the category ''Best rip-off of Black Sabbath's War Pigs'', the award goes to... Arctic Monkeys?

Yes, indeed. And just like last week's Beyoncé video, it was directed by Jake Nava. It's a black-and-white shot of the band playing in a Beat Generation-type of 1960s jazz bar orgy attended by British ''rockers'' of the time (you can tell by their leather jackets), so you half-expect the video to end with them entering a fight with ''mods'' (their Vespa-driving, fashion-obsessed amphetamine using counterparts):

Like most songs by Arctic Monkeys, it's irresistibly catchy and relatively dancey, but this time they've put more rock in their sound, and it suits them just fine. 2013's AM was also less ''let's be clever at all costs'' and more, uh, ''good'' than their previous efforts except for their first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006), which was successful on both ends.