Tuesday, December 27, 2016

R.I.P. Carrie Fisher

Fuck, 2016 is a killer.

Today, Carrie Fisher was the latest esteemed member of the entertainment and arts community to pass away, the result of a heart attack suffered last week while flying from London to Los Angeles.

She was 60 years old, and is survived by her beloved puppy as well as her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, and daughter, actress Billie Lourd.

As Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars movies, she was my first silver screen/celebrity crush. I had always dreamed of writing her into a screenplay. In terms of film writing, she, Demi Moore, Rebecca De Mornay and Deborah Kara Unger were my muses when it came to female parts; I tried writing strong, smart parts for women so that one of them would one day play in one, giving me the credibility I needed to keep making and writing movies.

My most mainstream screenplay - for lack of a better word - about a guy who loses it and starts sending dill pickles by mail, had parts for all four of them as his co-workers and bosses in a call center. It was never sold nor picked up, of course, because I am terrible at selling myself.
She will be missed.

She had recently released her autobiography. It's a fine read.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Video Of The Week: The Killers

Christmas has come and past, the Holidays weren't meant to last, but here's a remnant with a bit of a twist, to be added to the original yuletide hit list, Don't Shoot Me Santa by The Killers, featuring Ryan Pardey in the role of a murderous Las Vegas-area Santa:

It was directed by actor Matthew Gray Gubler (of Criminal Minds fame).

Other Vegas staples in the video include digging a hole to bury a body in the Mohave, an old red convertible that Hunter S. Thompson would have loved, and a shitload of sand and dirt.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Video Of The Week: Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer

There are troubling times, to be sure. The world is in turmoil - and not just at war. People's rights are being bought and sold everywhere, usually to the lowest bidder.

The artists we saw a buys and lighthouses, guides in the darkness, are vanishing nearly every week. One such artist, Leonard Cohen, has fortunately left behind a body of work that many will be able to draw from; this week, award-winning writer Neil Gaiman narrates the lyrics of Democracy, with his partner Amanda Palmer accompanying him on piano, and an orchestra arrangement by Jherek Bischoff that features Étienne Abelin (violin), Ola Sendecki (violin), David Schnee (viola), and Lukas Raaflaub (cello) in a video animated and directed by David Mack and Olga Nunes:

What I like most about this version is that it is straightforward, with the words up-front, ahead of all, including melody, which means they do without the cheesy keyboard, 80s electronica-pop parts.

It's the one thing I didn't like about Cohen's oeuvre: the fact that he felt he had to provide cheesy bridges for his dames-of-the-moment to sing, rather than include them in the actual body of the song.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Silent Extinction

Don't get me wrong, I signed the petition, but it's still fucked up that because people don't care enough to look into other people's situations in the Western World, they care more to act for animal rights than human rights:
In case it isn't clear, the email's subject line is "Silent Extinction".

Need we remind people that unarmed Black men are still getting shot daily by police in the U.S.?

That the sub-language and dialect of Paw-Paw (or "Missouri French") is in its last decade of existence in front of our very eyes?

Oh, speaking of French, that 6.5 million people in Québec are another generation away from losing a language they had kept alive for over 400 years because so-called Federalists' cuts in the education system have rendered those under the age of 25 unable to fucking spell and write their own fucking language?

On the daily, we are watching governments or government employees decide or participate in the silent genocide of people who have one thing in common: they are members of a community that is decidedly poorer than the ruling class of white Anglo-Saxons.

But let's save giraffes, or send whatever means of help to Congo, or start wars with Middle-Eastern countries, or threaten China with economic sanctions, or lift those with Russia. And let's keep having the media depict Cuba as a power-hungry dictatorship instead of a complete systemic overhaul that overthrew racism and corruption and is one detail away (an embargo from the world's largest exporter of goods) from thriving.

Yep, makes sense. White, Anglo-Saxon, imperialistic sense.

Friday, December 16, 2016

United Nations Fire Wonder Woman

Here's a chain of stupidity:

It starts with the United Nations voting on a new Secretary General and electing António Guterres of Portugal to the position. This enraged some people of the "what about us" crowd, of course. You see, it had been noted that the U.N. had never - in the nine times the role had been appointed previously - chosen either a woman or an Eastern European.

Indeed, here are the past Secretaries-General:

Gladwyn Jebb, U.K. (Western Europe), 1945-1946.
Trygve Lie, Norway (Scandinavia), 1946-1952.
Dag Hammarskjöld, Sweden (Scandinavia), 1953-1961.
U Thant, Burma (Asia-Pacific), 1961-1971.
Kurt Waldheim, Austria (Western Europe), 1972-1981.
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Peru (South America), 1982-1991.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egypt (Africa), 1992-1996.
Kofi Annan, Ghana (Africa), 1997-2006.
Ban Ki-moon, South Korea (Asia-Pacific), 2007-2016.

So, uh, if we're going by "everyone should have a turn", it's missing members of the LGBT community, the Caribbean, and a North American. Also, of nations with Independence Movements in their midst: Canada (Québec), Spain (Catalonia), Russia (Chechnya), or even Czechoslovakia (Slovakia) pre-Annan.

Now, of that list, Jebb can be taken off because his term was merely the inception of the brand, he was there until someone else was officially appointed, which means no one from the G-7, G-8 or G-20 had ever held the position before Ban Ki-moon, and even then, when he took the position, the G-20 did not actually exist - the G8 stood as the world's economic summit until 2009, when it was deemed smarter to include emerging countries to the list.

Just to recap, the G-20 encompasses: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union, which was founded/conceptualized in 1993 but only got its traction and recognition when it was decided in 1999 that it would have its own currency, the Euro, effective in 2002.

So, in summation: there was outrage that out of eight (8) elected appointees in history, two groups out of possibly five or more had never held the position. One said group represents half the population of the planet, while the other one has had a pretty harsh 20th century and likely deserves a shot of optimism.

But not thinking it through, the U.N. bowed to a relatively low amount of pressure and instituted, for their 2016 selection, public nominations. Five candidates emerged: two men from Eastern Europe (Vuk Jeremić from Serbia and Miroslav Lajčák from Slovakia, who ran on the "zero tolerance policy on sexual violence and abuse by peacekeepers against civilian populations is a must; such violations must be fully investigated and perpetrators brought to justice" platform) and two women (Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, and Helen Clark of New Zealand), in addition to Guterres.

And though technically, Bulgaria is in Eastern Europe, the Southeastern part is often seen as having had less suffering than, say, Serbia or Poland. Of course, the four "minority" options split the vote and Guterres won.

Guterres, by the way, is highly qualified. He was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees between 2005 and 2015, Prime Minister of his country (which doesn't have a poor Human Rights record of late) from 1995 to 2002 and President of Socialist-International from 1999 until 2005; we're talking about a guy who has always been about equality, rights, and protecting the little guy.

Again, of course, there was outrage. Limited, Twitter-storm-type outrage, but still, some angry voices were heard, and the U.N. created a new position, that of "honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls". Instead of appointing one of Clark or Bokova, or German chancellor Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Françoise David, Madonna, Kathie Sarachild, Shamima Shaikh, Annie Sprinkle, Oprah Winfrey, Geena Davis, Naomi Wolf or even the actresses who famously played the part - Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot - the U.N. chose to name the character Wonder Woman to the position.

It wasn't wrong per se: famous feminist publisher Gloria Steinem had put the character on the front page of Ms. magazine in 1971. "She" is a powerful, strong-willed character who would never back down from a fight or a challenge, yet she is also a diplomat who would rather negotiate than wield her power, a lover of peace who strives to never escalate a conflict because she wants to give her opponents a chance; if a conflict does arise, she will prevail - with the utmost authority. You know, like the fucking U.N. is supposed to.

But hey, an online petition was started by a bunch of fucking idiots and the idea was canned, because she "dresses too sexily", among other reasons. That's right: the U.N.'s "honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls" - a fictitious character - was fired because of how she chooses to dress. I'm guessing it's suits like this one that led to one person being shocked enough to start the petition:
Which conveniently forgets that she has also been drawn as follows by Jim Lee, the guy who made all five of these drawings:
Wonder Woman is an Amazon Princess, a warrior, and a diplomat; she's Pocahontas, Mulan and Angela Merkel all rolled into one, when most other characters in her medium are one-dimensional.

Some people - particularly on the left side of the political spectrum, the one I identify with the most - just don't know how to pick their fights. That's why we can't have nice things, because everything has to be so fucking watered-down that it doesn't mean anything anymore, making sure no one gets offended by any of it (which is impossible for anything of substance), and no victory but the ultimate one (well, the translucent and aseptic victory devoid of taste, anyway) is ever good enough. The same short-sighted fuckers who want to fight for everyone's equal rights one minority at a time instead of the more efficient FOR ALL at once.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Video Of The Week: Vienna Ditto

Electronic indie-rock act Heksagons have made a video for their friends in Vienna Ditto, one that is essentially a short film about a ring or team of killers-for-hire, which includes themes of treason and nods to 1970s spy films as well as a decidedly Quentin Tarantino-esque overall aesthetic:

Essentially, Vienna Ditto is a British trip-hop act that was a threesome and a foursome at some point but is now a duo; this song, however - Busted Flush - has them in a quasi-rock configuration.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Video Of The Week: Walk Off The Earth

One thing Walk Off The Earth specializes in is covering popular songs, and in their latest video, directed by Tom MacLeod, they take on Snoop Lion's Lighters Up - with special guest Snoop Dogg himself:

The video may not have all the visual and instrumental trickery of some of WOTE's earlier work, but it shows us a glimpse of studio life, and in particular studio life when a lifelong pot smoker enters the fray and gets the entire atmosphere to chill out.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Video Of The Week: OK Go

Continuing their career path of fun, quirky, one-take videos that started with 2006's Here It Goes Again, OK Go have released another impressive little piece of visual artistry for their recent single, The One Moment, directed by the band's lead singer and guitarist, Damian Kulash:

I don't know how much or how little editing - or how much research - went into it, but the parts where Kulash appears to be singing at the same speed as the soundtrack are pretty darn impressive - both from the flipping pages in a book and the rotating-poster machine.

It also happens to be their best song in a long while, which will likely help propel them to a new level of recognition.

These Chicago rockers are the real deal; they're imaginative and creative, and they can actually rock as well.

Well done.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Video Of The Week: Leonard Cohen

We lost another great today, with the passing of legendary Montréal poet Leonard Cohen, who was inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Sure, Cohen was a Montrealer through-and-through, a Jew-turned-atheist-turned-Buddhist-turned-peacenik, a bohemian ladies' man, a quiet man who loved his routine (including freshly-squeezed orange juice to start his walk around the Mile End area on Sunday mornings)...

But he was also a New Yorker through-and through, having lived at the Chelsea Hotel alongside Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin (the story of their night together told through Chelsea Hotel No. 2), a friend of Lou Reed's, who partied with Saturday Night Live cast members and its producer, Lorne Michaels.

And yet he was also at home in Europe, drinking wine, eating well, and courting beautiful women at all times of night and day, muses for eternal songs to come.

And he spent his last years in the perfect California weather, perhaps extending his life by doing so, as you want to battle cancer in the most perfect setting possible.

Many of his songs are now seen as prophetic - and not just those from You Want It Darker, the record he released just weeks prior to his passing. Now, the final words from one of his best-known songs, Tower Of Song, ring as true as ever:
Now I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back
They're moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you'll be hearing from me baby, long after I'm gone
I'll be speaking to you sweetly from a window in the Tower of Song
I don't know. As I sit here in tears writing this piece I find myself reflecting on my own life, most of it spent not just with no regard to my own future, but not even picturing myself in one; I've lived for the moment for so long - 20 of those years in the excesses of food and alcohol - that I never thought I'd outlive someone like Cohen.

Today, I choose to feature the video for Closing Time, from his 1992 record The Future, directed by Curtis Wehrfritz, featuring back-up singers Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen:

If you like the look he has in his eye, it's because his flame at the time, actress Rebecca De Mornay - who also co-produced the record - felt he needed to show more passion than he had in previous takes and opted to perform a mock striptease off-camera to seduce him.

Ever the Old World Romantic, Cohen then bent down and put De Mornay's shoes back on for her, on his knees.

Lou Reed. Hunter S. Thompson. Leonard Cohen. Most of my influences and idols have now passed.

Someone make sure Tom Waits, Renaud Séchan, Eric Clapton, Jean Leloup and Eddie Vedder still have a pulse.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Video Of The Week: Pixies

The Pixies released a new video today, directed by current bassist Paz Lenchantin, of their best song in years, Classic Masher:

You can tell Lenchantin had a lot in common with former Zwan bandmate Billy Corgan, as both have a fascination with old-time almost-stop-motion films and over-the-top makeup, frail women and stuttering videos.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Video Of The Week: The Record Company

Sometimes social media does good things, like when Katie Sunshine instagrammed herself hula hooping to The Record Company's Rita Mae Young, caught the band's attention, and became the entire video of the song onto herself:

The Record Company hail from Los Angeles and their blues-based old-school rock comes informed with rap, soul and a bit of country to make the sound I wished The Black Keys would have made if I liked them.

They formed in 2011, have been relatively active since 2013 and are currently touring the U.S. and playing late-night talk shows. I'm curious to hear what the future holds for the trio.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trebek's On Fire!

I'll take "Insulting A Contestant" for $500, Alex!

Perhaps Alex Trebek has been hosting Jeopardy! for too long...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2016-17 NHL Season Preview: The Awards

And so I went with my Eastern Conference and Western Conference predictions... might as well dig myself an even deeper hole and try to predict the various award winners.

President's Cup (regular season champs): Montréal Canadiens
Prince Of Wales Trophy (Eastern Conference Cup finalists): Washington Capitals
Clarence-Campbell Trophy (Western Conference Cup finalists): Chicago Blackhawks
Stanley Cup Champions: Washington Capitals
Conn Smythe (playoff MVP): Braden Holtby

Art Ross (points scoring leader): Connor McDavid
Rocket Richard (leading goal scorer): Alex Ovechkin
Hart (MVP voted by the press): Connor McDavid
Ted Lindsay (MVP voted by players): Sergei Bobrovsky
Vezina (top goalie): Sergei Bobrovsky
Calder (best rookie): Patrick Laine
Lady Byng (most sportsmanlike): Johnny Gaudreau
Norris (best defenseman): Mark Giordano
Bill Masterton (perseverance/comeback): Brian Elliott
Frank Selke (best defensive forward): Tomas Plekanec
Jack Adams (top coach): John Tortorella
King Clancy (humanitarian): P.K. Subban
Mark Messier (best leader): John Tavares
GM: Pierre Dorion

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

NHL Preview: 2016-17 Season: Eastern Conference

I was wrong last year when I predicted the Columbus Blue Jackets would contend for first in their division (ending up third) and that the Pittsburgh Penguins would thus fail to make the playoffs (they won the Stanley Cup, against another team I predicted would fail to make the postseason, the San Jose Sharks).

This year, I'm fucking doubling down.

Eastern Conference:

The Atlantic Division:

1. Montréal Canadiens

Shea Weber is good for a couple more seasons, Carey Price can stop 91% of pucks for a year or two as well, and the leaders are still there: Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec and 30-goal scorers Max Pacioretty and newly-minted first-line center Alex Galchenyuk.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

For every red, there is blue. The Bolts have a nice one-two punch of Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskyi in nets, and an attack made up of Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Drouin, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Ryan Callahan and Tyler Johnson. On defense, it helps to have Victor Hedman, but Anton Stralman is no slouch, and neither is Slater Koekkoek.

3. Ottawa Senators

If the Sens make it to the playoffs and against the Habs, they'll win. Craig Anderson has had the best over Carey Price on two of the last three postseasons, and history will repeat itself. With Derick Brassard to follow Kyle Turris, the Sens now have a nice pair of 1A centers to rotate their wingers around, which should keep the likes of Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Matt Puempel sharp, and having the best-skating defenseman in the game in Erik Karlsson helps as well. Guy Boucher is also probably the best coach for this team.

4. Florida Panthers

They won the division last year but were exhausted come playoff time. They'll pace themselves this season, which will help. They're a terrific team to watch play, although I'm uncertain of the revamped defense. I liked the variety on last year's squad better.

5. Detroit Red Wings

NEVER count Detroit out. But the competition is extremely steep this year. I doubt the Wings are deep enough to make it through, what with having to sign such free agents as Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek this summer, but they may be in contention for the final playoff spot until the last few days of the season.

6. Boston Bruins

File this under "Claude Julien's Final Season", although the team's failings - the defense, and lack of a good enough backup goalie - solely lies on the shoulders of GM Don Sweeney. That defense is what NHL goalies have nightmares about.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs

Austin Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly and the rrest of this talented young squad will be reminded that they play for the Leafs and falter. Time and time again. Sharks North.

8. Buffalo Sabres

I'll say like I did two years ago: "I hate to be like everyone else and put the Sabres behind the Leafs, because I like their young crop of kids, and the veterans they brought in to keep the ship afloat until the youngsters are ready are trustworthy and reliable." But I will never believe in Dan Bylsma as a head coach.

The Metropolitan Division:

1. Washington Capitals

They will dominate this year again. The team was built for a two-year window and it's still wide open. Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom are still tremendous offensive weapons, now surrounded by Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby is the best goaltender in the world, and the defense is perfectly balanced with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Brooks Orpik, Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen. Barry Trotz has this covered... in the regular season

2. Columbus Blue Jackets

He may have failed to deliver for Team USA at the World Cup, but head coach John Tortorella has the type of team he likes to coach on hand in Columbus: quiet leaders, young players willing to learn, and a Vezina-caliber goalie. There'll be growing pains, but they'll work around their differences and make it work. The Torts Redemption is on, and he'll get Jack Adams trophy votes. Seth Jones' stock will also rise. Cam Atkinson may score 40 goals.

3. New York Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist still has a year orm two left of being an elite goalie, Ryan McDonagh is All-Star material, and they may have the best and most balanced offense in the league with Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad, Michael Grabner, prized free agent prospect Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Hayes, and young Russian star Pavel Buchnevich. I'm not worried about them this year, but that defense will not hold up two years from now.

4. Philadelphia Flyers

They made the cut last year and will be hard to forget this year, led by Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecky, but the young defense still isn't ready to dominate, save perhaps for Calder runner-up Shane Gostisbehere and rookie Ivan Provorov. Former Isles captain Mark Streit might be trade bait, while Radko Gudas will still deliver borderline-dirty hits. Steve Mason needs to continue making up for ultimately failing in Columbus.

5. New York Islanders

GM Garth Snow was criticized for not retaining the services of Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, but Andrew Ladd is the type of leader the team needed to move forward. If he could chip in for 30 goals, it'd be nice, but I'll expect 20-25 in his first season with the team, as he likely will not be paired with John Tavares right away. I see the star center playing with a couple of rookies, perhaps Anthony Beauvillier, Michael Dal Colle, or a young player needing a boost like Ryan Strome. As he has shown at the World Cup, Jaroslav Halak is still unparalleled under pressure. The defense is thinner here than elsewhere in the conference, so Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk may need someone else to step in at some point during the season. Thomas Hickey and Ryan Pulock, that means you.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

Great idea to have a goaltending battle in the midst of a defense title, particularly when everyone knows Matt Murray has won it already. Marc-André Fleury could end up in a number of places: Las Vegas, Dallas, Calgary, Vancouver, Carolina... Sidney Crosby is also due to miss half a season with a concussion. You don't hit lightning in a bottle twice in a row.

7. New Jersey Devils

Nice move acquiring perennial loser Taylor Hall from the Oilers, although it did cost a steady defenseman. If Michael Cammalleri can miss less than 20 games to injury, the Devils will ice an offense they have never seen save once in their entire history (that time they had both Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk). Corey Schneider is fine in net, though he still strikes me as just below elite, and the defense has too many holes in it for the team to even dream about the playoffs.

8. Carolina Hurricanes

When Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner are your go-to guys, you're in trouble. When you re-sign Cam Ward as your starter in nets ten years past his prime, you're dead. Attendance will again suffer, and the team will have to move to Québec eventually.

The playoff picture:
Montréal (1A) - Florida (8)
Tampa Bay (2) - Ottawa (3)
Washington (1B) - Philadelphia (7)
Columbus (2) - NY Rangers (3)

NHL Preview: 2016-17 Season: Western Conference

The balance of power has shifted in the Central Division, with teams from the South taking over for former powerhouses Colorado And St. Louis. In the Pacific, Alberta rises, B.C. falters, and the Sharks will have a rude awakening.

Western Conference:

The Central Division:

1.  Nashville Predators

The Preds made the biggest splash of the off-season by trading long-time captain Shea Weber for younger superstar P.K. Subban, thus securing both the present and future. Mike Ribeiro is still an efficient passer, James Neal is still a terrific sniper, the support staff is high-end, Pekka Rinne has proven to still be at the top of his game, and Roman Josi would be a #1 defenseman just about anywhere else. The Preds are the team to beat, either finishing first in the division and making it to the second round or finishing third and making it to the Cup Final.

2. Chicago Blackhawks

They've settled in with their ''dynasty'' status and are ready for another go at the Cup. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are now supported by Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin, with Marian Hossa still in the mix; some kids will need to make an immediate impact for the team to keep rolling in the playoffs, but regular-season success is ensured by the offensive balance and a back end that starts with Corey Crawford, then kicks in with Duncan Keith (the best of the post-Nicklas Lidstrom generation?), Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. That's power, right there. And Joel Quenneville is among the top five head coaches in the game right now.

3. Minnesota Wild

Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, and Mikko Koivu, need to prove they're not over the hill (they aren't), and  Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle will become fine second-liners. Devan Dubnyk will need to play like he did two years ago, when he almost won the Vezina and Hart trophies for this team to have a chance, but Ryan Suter, Marco Scandella and the rest of the underrated defense corps will do their part.

4. Dallas Stars

Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Jason Spezza and Antoine Roussel. Patrick Sharp. A defense comprised of John Klingberg, Dan Hamhuis, Stephen Johns, Patrick Nemeth ane other promising kids. All they need is a goalie. GM Jim Nill may hold out until Christmas, but will fix the problem when the price drops on either Ben Bishop, Brian Elliott, Ryan Miller, Jaroslav Halak, Marc-André Fleury or James Reimer.

5. Winnipeg Jets

I like this team a lot. Blake Wheeler is a fine captain and power forward, Mark Scheifele is ready to take on the mantle of #1 center, Bryan Little is fine backing him up, and I do believe rookie Patrick Laine has it in him to score 40 goals. Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Entrom, Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers make a formidable top-4 on defense, and I'm fairly confident that goalie Connor Hellebuyck is going to have a great career; whether he's ready to take top spot in his second NHL season remains to be seen.

6. St. Louis Blues

Ok, so was trading Brian Elliott to leave the crease to Jake Allen the right move? The Blues will find out this season. Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester still lead the defense, but Kevin Shattenkik (a UFA at season's end) may not last all year, and it's slimmer pickings after that. Vladimir Tarasenko is still an elite sniper and Alexander Steen and Paul Stastny can help out. But this team is no longer a contender. They're aging without being the type of winners the Hawks are.

7. Colorado Avalanche

Head coach Patrick Roy left the team late this summer because he did not feel management (i.e. former team captain Joe Sakic) had not done enough to improve the team. Roy, also VP of Player Personnel, felt his opinion wasn't taken into enough consideration when it came to the roster he was asked to ice - probably having to do with Matt Duchene still being on the team despite two years of criticism from Roy and his allies in the dressing room about Duchene's lack of leadership and team play, as well as shoddy defense and not being able to land prized free agent Alexander Radulov. New head coach Jared Bednar, despite an AHL championship least season, will not fare well. The Avs will battle for last place overall with the Arizona and Carolina.

The Pacific Division:

1. Anaheim Ducks

John Gibson is the man in nets, but the Ducks remain built on throwing their weight around and scoring garbage goals - and they still have Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to do that, with Ryan Kesler to help. Getting Randy Carlyle back as coach is a weird move, but the Ducks may have landed the best/quietest/cheapest forward available in Antoine Vermette. Rickard Rackell and Jakob Silfverberg are also fine dependable forwards. There might be some movement on the blue line because of next summer's expansion draft, and one of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm or Sami Vatanen may be on the move, particularly is Shea Theodore proves ready for a top-unit spot.

2. Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid might win the Art Ross trophy. Cam Talbot could win 40 games. They brought in Milan Lucic and traded away disgruntled forward Taylor Hall to solidify the defense with Adam Larsson. They managed to keep goal-scoring genius Jordan Eberle. This could finally work.

3. Los Angeles Kings

Anze Kopitar is now the captain, Drew Doughty can finally stop crying about not having a Norris trophy and concentrate on his game, and Jonathan Quick knows how to coast through a regular season to turn it on come playoff time. And that's not mentioning the fact that the team's actal top line consists of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.

4. Calgary Flames

Johnny Gaudreau leads this team, and Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, Mikael Backlund, Troy Brouwer and Matt Stajan will follow. The defense is in fine shape too, led by captain Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton, but I'm surprised they didn't go hunting for a bigger name in nets than Brian Elliott, whom I like but isn't the flash I expected the Flames to go for.

5. San Jose Sharks

Urgh. I was asked about my opinion with the NHL awarding a new franchise to Las Vegas on a radio show this summer. I said I'd rather cheer for Vegas than the Sharks or Leafs. Chukus maximus, again. Next.

6. Vancouver Canucks

Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin are not getting younger, and Alexandre Burrows may still have gas in the tank; the uneven Loui Eriksson might score 25-30, but a lame-duck coach will use Ryan Miller too much instead of up-and-comer Jacob Markstrom. This team is too old too succeed, not experienced enough to win, and so poorly coached and managed that in any other hockey league, it would be in last place. Thankfully, the NHL still has teams in Arizona and Carolina, and Colorado is looking to spend a couple of years in the basement, wasting their captain's prime years. But I digress, this was about the Canucks sucking. And they do.

7. Arizona Coyotes

''The Seattle Portland Québec Phoenix Arizona franchise isn't done going through harsh times.'' I like playing the hits, what can I say?

The playoff picture:
Anaheim  (1A) - Dallas (7)
Edmonton (2) - Los Angeles (3)
Nashville (1B) - Calgary (8)
Chicago (2) - Minnesota (3)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Video Of The Week: High Dive Heart

Nashville pop act/couple High Dive Heart (comprised of singers/songwriters Nelly Joy and Jason Reeves) is creeping up the pop culture highway, starting independently but climbing a ladder that led them to producer Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban).

They're still about having a ton of fun, as can be attested by the video for Dirty $$$, directed by  Patrick Tracy, which pokes fun at rap videos, the American political system, corruption, and the current election with humour:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pen Apple Pineapple Pen

In my last days of subscribing to cable, I used to watch hockey, Comedy Network (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Nightly Show, @Midnight) and the toddlers' channel, whatever it's called, where it's basically just sounds and colours 24 hours a day. Way too much of that channel, probably, particularly for someone who doesn't smoke weed.

It seemed like something that wasn't saying anything wasn't as stupid as whatever else was on TV.

This would probably not have been out of place on that network:

Monday, September 5, 2016

Photo Of The Day

The G-20 Summit is going on, where Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin no longer seem like allies, regarding the Syrian conflict or anything else, for that matter...
The tall one doesn't seem to pleased, whereas the smaller one - well, I wouldn't drink the water, is all.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Video Of The Week: Banks

With her second full-length album due out in just over a month, Banks (or Jillian Rose Banks, as her birth certificate calls her) seems to have set her sights on a dancier version of dark pop (where Lana Del Rey is more orchestral) - or at least that's what I gather from her latest video, directed by Philippa Price, for the song Gemini Feed:

There's something in the song's sound that I find lacking, but I can't put my finger on it exactly. Perhaps it's the drum programming, or the lack of actual string instruments, but there's a void in the sound that is reminiscent of that of 1980s pop to my ears, the type that makes me nauseous usually - but not in this case, not quite.

I do really like the directing and photography, though; the colours are clear and crisp, the wardrobe design is really nice and makes up for the simplistic set design (and probable lack of budget). And, yes, I did say I liked the clothes she wears in the video, despite not being a fashion enthusiast - at all.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Video Of The Week: Blonde Redhead

New York City indie rock group Blonde Redhead actually has ties to a bunch of cities; singer and multi-instrumentalist Kazu Makino was born in Kyoto, Japan, while twin brothers Simone (drums) and Amedeo Pace (lead guitar/vocals) were born in Italy, raised in Montréal, moved to Boston as adults and studied in NYC, where they met Makino.

They formed the band in 1993 and released their self-titled debut in 1995, but people like me only started knowing of them in 1997 (Fake Can Be Just As Good). My favourite record of theirs is 2004's Misery Is a Butterfly.

Today, I chose to feature the title track from their 2007 record, 23, the first the band self-produced, though sound engineer extraordinaire Mitchell Froom participated in the recording of two songs. The video was directed by Melodie McDaniel, a photographer-turned-director whose past work includes Tori Amos' God, Madonna's Secret, Annie Lennox' Momma, Patti Smith's Don't Smoke In Bed, Porno For Pyros' Cursed Female and Charlotte Gainsbourg's Another Magazine:

Friday, July 29, 2016

Video Of The Week: The Strumbellas

The closest thing to a "song of the year" that I hear everywhere (unlike, say, anything by the Eagles Of Death Metal that mostly plays in my headphones) is probably The Strumbellas' Spirits.

One part Arcade Fire, one part Fun., one part Of Monsters And Men and one part The Lumineers, the Canadian band (hailing from the suburbs of Toronto) made waves with that one song, and the video for it, directed by the Juno-nominated Daniel AM Rosenberg, does nothing to squash comparisons with Arcade Fire, what with the disguises and the roaring chorus leading to masses of people getting together and chanting in the streets:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Video Of The Week: Pixies

Since Paz Lenchantin has announced she is now the Pixies' full-time bassist and violinist, what better time to feature Another Toe In the Ocean from 2013's EP1 and 2014's Indie Cindy compilation of all three of the band's recent EPs:

The animated video was written, directed and animated by Liviu Boar, with an entire team of artisans helping out: Barbu Harsan (art direction, post-production, compositing, animation), Cami Cuibus (line art, color), Vlad Botos (background art), Atilla Nagy (background art, 3D modeling and animation), Vlad Harsan (3D modeling), Hunor Illyes (background art), Melinda Raduly (background art), Andrei Zaitiu (post-production, compositing, animation), and Laszlo Demeter (post-production, animation).

I'm curious to hear what the new record will sound like, after the last few releases were good yet underwhelming.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Video of The Week: The Droids

The Droids were a French synth-pop act that was strongly inspired by the film Star Wars (1977), which is pretty obvious in their choice of band name and album title, Star Peace (1978). The bad was comprised of two main members - Fabrice Cuitad and Yves Hayat - although keyboardist Richard Lornac (who also performed with Renaud, Joe Dassin and Marie-Paule Belle, among others) played on every song.

The dancer in their video, taken from a Top Of The Pops-type of French "variété" show, is none other than Chantal Dardenne, a star of the Opéra de Paris and the New York City Ballet:

Monday, July 11, 2016

Video Of The Week: DJ Khaled Featuring Jay Z & Future

I didn't know of DJ Khaled until I saw the one episode of Hot Takes where he totally chickened out and couldn't eat hot wings; I thought he had a pretty big ego for someone whom I'd never heard of and had gone to high school with Joey Fatone of N*Sync.

I'm not saying he's living up to it, but at least his song I Got The Keys, which features rappers Future and Jay Z and whose music was produced and created by Southside, Jake One and G Coop (which really makes you wonder what the fuck Khaled Khaled did on the fucking track to begin with), is somewhat decent.

It was directed in black and white by Daniel Kaufman and features Khaled, Jay Z, and Future, as well as cameos by Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Pusha T, ASAP Ferg, T.I., Swizz Beatz, Fabolous, Yo Gotti, Bryson Tiller and Zoey Dollaz, all playing prison inmates, with fully-armed/borderline military black ops white guys playing the guards:

The racial tension is intense, reflecting the shit going on on American streets, but Jigga rapping how he's still a slave when his marriage with Beyoncé makes his daughter the heiress to a billion-dollar empire is a tad laughable. And the same can be said for Ross - a former correctional officer - and Khaled himself, who grew up in an upper-middle-class/rich family and neighbourhood.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hey, It IS Pride Week

They say all's fair in love and war; and they say team sports are about battling your opponents.

Mitch Marner, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, had this to say about what he intends to do this summer and fall: “I want to make sure I feel comfortable enough to go out against men and play hard, and make sure I can go out there and do the things that I like to do.”
The boy and his mentor choose a suitable mate or position
Don't let anyone get in the way of your dream, Mitch. Go hard against those men and do what you like to do.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Video Of The Week: The Tragically Hip

I know I featured The Tragically Hip not too long ago, but this is a Hip summer, and Ahead By A Century is one of their best songs, from 1996's Trouble At The Henhouse, which could very well be their best record.

The video was directed by Eric Yealland and filmed on a small farm in Brooklin, Ontario. It won the award for "Best Video" at the 1996 MuchMusic Video Awards (i.e. Canada's MTV Awards) and was also nominated for "Best Video" at the 1997 Juno Awards (i.e. Canada's Grammys):

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Top 10 Songs This Week

Yes, I'm bringing this feature back.

It had been stalling, with the same tracks repeating themselves from one week to the next - and while I still listen to stuff that makes its way into my ears consistently, I use the "random" features on all my players a lot more often than I used to - or perhaps more effectively.

And so, as Montrealers celebated Moving Day yesterday, it's time to start a new year with a top 10:

Top 10 Songs:

10. 12:51, The Strokes (2003)
9. LIGHTS TURNED ON, Childish Gambino (2011)
8. IRON MAN (THIS MEANS WAR), Busta Rhymes (featuring Ozzy Osbourne) (1998)
7. WOULD YOU FIGHT FOR MY LOVE?, Jack White (2012)
6. SLAM, Renaud (2016)
5. MASTER PLAN, Dead Messenger (2016)
4. RUN THIS TOWN, Jay-Z (featuring Rihanna & Kanye West) (2009)
3. SHUT 'EM DOWN, Cypress Hill (featuring Tom Morello) (2010)
2. CALIFORNIA'S DARK, The Nightwatchman (2007)
1. COMPLEXITY, Eagles Of Detah Metal (2015)

Video Of The Week: Richard Ashcroft

Ok, I'll be honest, I don't know what to think about this video.

I was a fan of Richard Ashcroft's band The Verve, and I was really into his first two solo albums, Alone With Everybody (2000) and Human Condition (2002), although the latter left me a tad unfulfilled, as if he was phoning it in, particularly lyrically.

Which brings me to his latest single, Hold On, a standard modern pop/dance fare with semi-smart lyrics about the current political state of affairs that is riddled with autotune:

The video, directed by Ashcroft himself, sees him (and him alone) doing what I guess he calls dancing, at times a fist in the air as if he was in the 1968 Olympics or a Rage Against The Machine concert - all in front of a black background.

It's as simplistic as the song. And to think Oasis' Gallagher brothers once thought of this man as the greatest British songwriter of their generation;  guess that's what happens when one befriends Coldplay's Chris Martin, the suck spreads; if you only suffered through the greatest part of their friendship (Coldplay and Ashcroft singing Bittersweet Symphony at Live 8) and didn't attend their joint tour where Ashcroft was the fucking opener (meaning he played for 30 minutes before Coldplay came to test your patience and resistance to ear torture for an hour and a half before regaling you with their one good song, The Scientist), trust me, you have never heard rock bottom.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Video Of The (Past) Week: The Tragically Hip

We learned last month that Gord Downie, lyricist and singer of Canadian band The Tragically Hip, has terminal brain cancer. And that they were going on tour so he can go out on his own terms, one last hurrah and a final "fuck you" to his illness and to Fate.

You can argue about the "best" or "greatest" Canadian band of all time; you can try to compare the virtuosity of Rush with the universal acclaim of a The Guess Who, the endurance of a Neil Young, the critical acclaim of an Arcade Fire or a Sloan, the public adulation of an April Wine, or you can go sarcastic and say Nickleback.

You can even pretend her impact was as wide as Babes In Toyland's and Hole's and suggest Alanis Morissette, or you can try to "go roots" with Blue Rodeo, Ashley MacIsaac or one of the many legendary folks whose names still strike chords in villages but opted not to make their way to any of the major cities and are now close to being forgotten.

I'll put the Hip up there with Rush and probably be so-Canadian about it and call it a tie.

However way you rank it, there has never been a "more Canadian" band than the Hip, whose lyrics are almost all based on true Canadian stories, be they political (kidnappings and murders of provincial ministers such as Pierre Laporte, language laws in Sault-Ste-Marie), historical (war heroes, events in small towns, the Polytechnique massacre) or sports-related (the 1972 Summit Series, the disappearance and eventual death of Toronto Maple Leaf Bill Barilko).

There would have been two dozen songs I could have chosen to first feature them here, and yet I've chosen It Can't Be Nashville Every Night, because it's the only thing that comes to mind after the Montréal Canadiens traded their best home-grown (i.e. "team-drafted") player in 25 years, P.K. Subban, to the Nashville Predators for becoming-a-liability Team Canada member Shea Weber.

The video for the song was directed by Christopher Mills, who also has worked with the likes of Modest Mouse, The Dead Weather, Interpol, Buck 65, Broken Social Scene, Blue Rodeo, Metric, The Joy Formidable, Senses Fail, Tortoise, Ken Mode, Rush, Breaking Benjamin, Ra Ra Riot, Young Galaxy, Great Lake Swimmers, Mandy Moore and The Boomtang Boys:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Video Of The Week: Jack White

What I like most about Jack White is that everything he does feels real. His live shows feel unique, and even his videos seem like they are different, alternate versions from the songs on his records - particularly his solo work.

In Would You Fight For My Love?, directed by Robert Hales, he keeps using the blue colour palette he's been known for since The White Stripes went on (in)definite hiatus:

That song and Three Women have been on continuous rotation on all my media players since Lazaretto was released two full years ago this week. It's pop perfection.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Video Of The Week: Eagles Of Death Metal

This song is nearly a year old and I still can't get over how good, catchy, riffy and effective it is!

It's Complexity, by the Eagles of Death Metal, a black-and-white piece where Josh Homme and Jesse Hughes (the band's two "studio members") wear turtlenecks in kind of an homage to Mike Myers' Sprockets sketches on Saturday Night Live, except with rock and roll moves:

It was directed by Liam Lynch, he who sang "United States Of Whatever" in 2002-03 and directed many videos for Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters (Times Like These), and Spinerette as well as the 2006 film Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny after having directed one of their videos.

Monday, May 30, 2016

NHL Predictions 2015-16: The Stanley Cup Final

So... most so-called experts are saying the San Jose Sharks will win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, usually in six games. I agree on the number of games, but I favour the Pens, who've been there before.

Both Matt Murray and Marc-André Fleury are better than Martin Jones.

Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are better than Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture.

Phil Kessel is better than Patrick Marleau. Kris Letang is a more complete defenseman than Brent Burns, though a tad less effective on the way forward due to Burns' extremely physical game.

The Pens don't have a Marc-Édouard Vlasic, though - then again, no other NHL team does, as he is the most effective defensive defenseman in the league right now. But he can only be on the ice for 25 of every 60 minutes, and the Penguins, depth will take advantage of every single second he's off the white surface to attack relentlessly.

That's where head coach Mike Sullivan's game plan differs the most from his predecessor Mike Johnston - instead of playing to hide Pittsburgh's weaknesses, he gets them to play to their strengths - and when you've got the luxury of having Kessel and Nick Bonino on your third line, that spells nine top-six players, including a world-class elite superstar on each line. It's too much depth to face without a goalie that's in a state of grace.

Again, Pens in 6.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Video Of The Week: Dead Messenger

I'm not preaching, I'm the choir; this week, I'm featuring Dead Messenger again, this time with Master Plan, off their new record, The Owl:

It was co-directed by Liane Thériault (who also shot and edited the footage) and Helen Simard (who also choreographed and conceptualized the piece).

In a totally unrelated way, I'd dubbed my plan for "Happiness (both at work and in my life) By The End Of The Year" The Masterplan, so having my favourite band release this on lead singer Roger White's birthday was just too many coincidences to pass up.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hell's Club 2

I'll post the first one later this week, but here's the second Hell's Club, a monster editing job by Antonio Maria Da Silva featuring clips from over 30 films edited into one short segment taking place in a club where the DJs are Daft Punk, i.e. somewhere I wouldn't be caught dead in.

Unlike, say, Jack and Rose.

I'll try to name all the movies referenced herein later this week, but off the top of my head, after one viewing (18 minutes): Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (Titanic, 1997), Johnny Depp (Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, 1997), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop, 1984), Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of The Clones, 2002), Mark Hammill and Anthony Daniels (Star Wars: A New Hope, 1977), Harrison Ford (Blade Runner, 1982), John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever, 1977), John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, 1994), George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino (From Dusk Till Dawn, 1995), Will Smith (Bad Boys, 1995), Will Smith (Bad Boys 2, 2003), Aliens (Alien, 1979), Aliens (Aliens, 1986), Aliens (Alien 3, 1992), Aliens (Alien: Resurrection, 1997), Aliens (AVP: Alien Vs Predator, 2004),  Aliens (Alien Vs Predator: Requiem, 2007), Al Pacino and Steven Bauer (Scarface, 1983), Al Pacino and Penelope Ann Miller (Carlito's Way, 1993), Sharon Stone and Robert De Niro (Casino, 1995), Kurt Russell (Escape From New York, 1981), Kurt Russell (Escape From L.A., 1996), Wesley Snipes, (Blade, 1998), Wesley Snipes, (Blade 2, 2002),  Wesley Snipes, (Blade Trinity, 2004), Denzel Washington (The Equalizer, 2014), Bruce Willis (The Last Boy Scout, 1991), Tom Cruise (Cocktail, 1988), Tom Cruise (Collateral, 2004), Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis (Beetlejuice, 1988), Samuel L. Jackson (Formula 51, 2001), Peter Weller (Robocop, 1987), Peter Weller (Robocop 2, 1990), Liam Neeson (Third Person, 2013), Sylvester Stallone (Cobra, 1986), Sylvester Stallone (Judge Dredd, 1995), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator, 1986), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991), Mike Myers (Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery, 1997), Mike Myers (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, 1999), Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger (Freddy Vs Jason, 2003), Patrick Swayze (Ghost, 1990), Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing, 1987), Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters, 1984), Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, 1994), Daniel Craig (Skyfall, 2012), Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye, 1995), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man, 2015), John Travolta (Grease, 1978), Al Pacino and Johnny Depp (Donnie Brasco, 1997), Doug Bradley (Hellraiser 3: Hell On Earth, 1992), Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights, 1997), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, 1987), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Kickboxer, 1989), Jean-Claude Van Damme (The Hard Corps, 2006), Sean Connery (Dr. No, 1962), Jamie Foxx (Miami Vice, 2006), Michael Douglas (Basic Instinct, 1992), Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan (A Night At The Roxbury, 1998), Jennifer Beals (Flashdance, 1983), Marlon Brando (Apocalypse Now, 1979), Dennis Quaid (Innerspace, 1987), Sissy Spacek (Carrie, 1976), and Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie, 2013).

Saturday, May 14, 2016

NHL Predictions 2015-16: Round Three

Wrong again in Round Two, only accurately predicting one of four series. Two of hem went to 7 games, however, and could have gone either way, so I was very close to being right on three out of four.

Eastern Final:

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Pittsburgh Penguins:
Matt Murray is for real in nets for the Pens. Then again, so is the Bolts' Ben Bishop. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were silenced by the Washington Capitals in the second round and a big part of me doesn't see that happening again, but Tampa's depth should also be accounted for. Any team with the luxury of having Alex Killorn in its middle-six and getting to the Conference Final without playing Steven Stamkos in a single game deserves some credit, and Victor Hedman is better than Kris Letang.

Bolts in 6

Western Final:

San Jose Sharks vs St. Louis Blues:
Here are two teams that are tired of choking come playoff time and are playing way above their heads this Spring. San Jose beat a contender in the Los Angeles Kings and a fighter in the Nashville Predators; St. Louis beat the reigning champions in the Chicago Blackhawks and the Western regular-season champs in the Dallas Stars, both times in seven games.

So it's all about finding out of the Blues will be exhausted from over-performing or if they can run on adrenaline and confidence for one more round.

I think they can. Brian Elliott is the better goalie in this series, and all respect due to Joe Pavelski, Vladimir Tarasenko's still the best forward standing in the West. Brent Burns is a force on defense for the Sharks and Marc-André Vlasic is there to actually defend, but the Blues have three top-level defenders who can actually do both at a level just under those two in Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester, with Colton Parayko also proving he can take on that type of role. And four 7.9/10s beats two 8.1/10s any day of the week.

Blues in 7

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Just A Thought About U.S. Politics

Republicans and Democrats usually get an even split at 47% of the vote each, with independents and undecided voters deciding the election in three to five "swing states".

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are now widely expected to be those parties' nominees.

Both have a strong anti-them movement going in each party, with a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters saying they wouldn't endorse Clinton and the Republican establishment being widely against Trump. Each party could lose approximately a third of its voters.

Wouldn't this be the perfect situation for a Michael Bloomberg to come in as a right-wing independent to steal votes from both of them and become the first non-affiliated President?

I bet he would make it an interesting race... and - I hate saying it - perhaps a cleaner one, too.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Video Of The Week: I Am Snow Angel

I Am Snow Angel released a video today, for the song Keep You Out off of her forthcoming EP, Desert. It was directed by Lauren McCune:

This is one of my favourite Julie Kathryn songs, ethereal and dreamy - darkness and hope intertwined.

Friday, April 29, 2016

NHL Predictions 2015-16: Round Two

'Tis the year where I'm wrong about hockey a lot, but that won't stop me from predicting Round Two of these NHL Playoffs...

Eastern Conference:

Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins:
The difference between these Caps and those of years past, say 2009-10, is Barry Trotz behind the bench. Sure, like Bruce Boudreau, he's never gone far in the playoffs, but that can be explained by the fact that Trotz' Nashville Predators usually barely made the cut, whereas Boudreau's Caps and Ducks would win their division and be heavy favourites. Trotz learned what he needed to last year, told his GM he needed a Game 7 leader just in case, and he ended up with the best in the business in Justin Williams. Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin, and the deepest core of forwards in the East will roll over the Pens and bruise them good while they're at it.

Caps in 6

Tampa Bay Lightning vs New York Islanders:
What I said in my Round One Predictions reads even truer here: the Isles have no chance against the Bolts without Jaroslav Halak. Tyler Johnson seems to have found his groove again, Alex Killorn is providing terrific secondary scoring, Victor Hedman is a top-10 defenseman and Ben Bishop was just nominated for the Vezina. I don't think the Isles have the depth to take on Tampa, but if any team can try, it's one with Halak stopping 40 shots per game and John Tavares scoring the lone marker in four 1-0 games.

Tampa in 6

Western Conference:

Dallas Stars vs St. Louis Blues:
I love Brian Elliott, but, really, fuck the Blues. Fuck their defense-minded coach, fuck their Big Three that has a habit of choking in big games, fuck their All-American offense made up of half of Team USA. Vladimir Tarasenko's cool, though, so I really wish he was on another team. Oh, and while the Blues will struggle to score 2 goals per game, the Stars have Jamie Benn, last year's Art Ross winner. Oh, and Tyler Seguin. Oh, and Jason Spezza. Oh, and Patrick Sharp. Oh, and among their sleepers, Valeri Nichushkin and Ales Hemsky, potentially 30-goal scorers.

Stars in 5

San Jose Sharks vs Nashville Predators:
Speaking of blue-wearing teams choking in the West, the Sharks are now clearly led by Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and probably some other forward - let's say Logan Couture. That's not enough to counter a rebounding Pekka Rinne, and I really think the Preds - who I really think have the best defense corps in the league - can match San Jose player-for-player in a best-of-seven series. I'm not sure Mike Ribeiro, James Neal, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher make for a Stanley Cup-winning offense, necessarily, but beating the Sharts is definitely feasible.

Preds in 6

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Video Of The Week: Beyoncé

So, uh... Beyoncé's Lemonade has caused quite a stir, eh?

While she hasn't yet released any individual videos yet, there are three songs that deal with infidelity, which of course the media treats as the main story line (not empowerment, which comes through in every fucking song) and most of the official coverage has been about Jay-Z's alleged infidelities.

Which of course got me thinking about Drunk In Love, when Bey wanted to ride Jigga's wooden surfboard and get drunk, and the black-and-white video, directed by Hype Williams, is a great watch:

I hate to agree with Kanye West, but Queen Bey still reigns in the pop game. She just rules this current decade, both in the quality of her output and artistic merit - and that's saying nothing of her business savvy; this is, after all, the second straight time she releases a #1 record without either any publicity or even announcing it firsthand.

By the way, she released Lemonade on Tidal first, Jay-Z's music service. Why would she do that if she really did have beef with him? Pundits should let art be art and only analyse it in the end.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Video Of The Week: All Angels

As many of you probably know by now, Prince was found dead this morning at his estate/studios, likely the result of a life-long use of opiates. He was nothing short of a musical genius, a terrific songwriter who could master the guitar like maybe ten people per decade can.

Not all of his songs were great, because he did release a lot of his output in the god-awful 1980s and he had a knack for releasing records that were too long or too many in too short a time frame, but all told, in my opinion, judging by his 35 years or so of releasing music, he still has more good (and great) songs than, say, Neil Young.

And although he was the very first artist to sell music online in 1997, he did a complete 180 shortly after and even took out his catalogue from such sites as YouTube, which is one of the reasons why I will feature one of his finest compositions from the 80s, Nothing Compares 2 U, in the form of this cover by All Angels:

All Angels are a British vocal group whose range goes from classical to opera to pop. It consists of Daisy Chute, Rachel Fabri, Melanie Nakhla and Charlotte Ritchie - and formerly Laura Wright. The song can be found on their 2007 release Into Paradise, which also includes versions of Coldplay's The Scientist and Simon & Garfunkle's The Sound Of Silence.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cameo Of The Day: Me, In An Orkestar Kriminal Video

I won't classify this officially as a Video Of The Week because it's not English-language (it's yiddish), but you might notice a tall bald man watching Orkestar Kriminal play (and, ultimately, dancing to the beat) in this video:

All of those musicians are in other bands (many of them very fine acts I have actually enjoyed seeing and listening to), but you might remember lead singer Giselle Webber from such terrific Montréal rock bands as Hot Springs and Red Mass.

This video was directed by Bruno Goulard.

Dildo Drone

At this point in my life, the burger's the only thing of interest to me in this lady's "top three", but whatever rocks your boat or finds your lost remote, I say...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

NHL Predictions 2015-16: Round One

I didn't get around to posting my predictions for the 2015-16 NHL Regular Season because by the time I'd gotten around to it, we were over 10 days in and I felt some might consider it cheating.

Instead, I'll contrast them herein with what ended up happening and go with my Round 1 Predictions for the 2016 Playoffs.

First, what I thought would happen:

Metropolitan Division:
1. Washington Capitals
2. New York Rangers
3. New York Islanders

Atlantic Division:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Montréal Canadiens
3. Florida Panthers

Wild Cards:
1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Ottawa Senators

Outside Looking In, in order of worst:
16. Toronto Maple Leafs
15. New Jersey Devils
14. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Buffalo Sabres
12. Philadelphia Flyers
11. Pittsburgh Penguins
10. Boston Bruins
9. Columbus Blue Jackets, probably through a tie-breaker

Central Division:
1. Nashville Predators
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Chicago Blackhawks

Pacific Division:
1. Los Angeles Kings
2. Anaheim Ducks
3. Calgary Flames

Western Wild Cards:
1. Colorado Avalanche
2. Dallas Stars

Outside Looking In, in order of worst:
14. Arizona Coyotes
13. Vancouver Canucks
12. Winnipeg Jets
11. Minnesota Wild
10. Edmonton Oilers
9.  San Jose Sharks

There were three Stanley Cups Finals I was rooting for:
(in bold the team I was rooting for)
Caps vs Preds (former coaches, former players, etc.)
Isles vs Hawks (my two favourite goalies, Hawks with a chance to repeat)
Bolts vs Kings (the two best American goalies, two terrific teams)

So, uh, yeah. So much for that.

Here's what the playoff picture actually looks like:

Eastern Conference:

Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers:
I thought the Fyers, like the Oilers, were a year away from making the playoffs, but Shayne Gostisbehere has decided otherwise. However, the Caps have the best goalie in the league this year in Braden Holtby, the best goal-scorer of his generation in Alex Ovechkin, the deepest core of forwards in the East and a coach who actually seems to make it all work for once. Philly only wins two out of sheer emotion and grit.

Caps in 6

New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins:
Look, it's not just that the Pens have been choking constantly since 2009; both of their amazing goalies are injured to start the first round, and Henrik Lundqvist, the best in the game, is in the other net. I don't believe a Rangers team led by Eric Staal and Rick Nash will advance past the second round, but they can beat Pittsburgh, though.

Blueshirts in 6

Florida Panthers vs New York Islanders:
The Isles have no chance against the Cats without Jaroslav Halak. Florida has injuries too, but way too much depth on offense, with six All-Star caliber forwards, Aaron Ekblad on the back end, and possible Vezina nominee Roberto Luongo in nets.

Panthers in 5

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings:
My heart is pulling for Detroit for the romanticism of seeing Pavel Datsyuk finish his North American career on a high note, but logic dictates that the Bolts will win this one. Tampa's had an up-and-down season, but it will boil down to Ben Bishop against Jimmy Howard, and Bishop wins.

Tampa in 6

Western Conference:

Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild:

I stand by my early-season stance that the Wild do not belong in these playoffs, and certainly not against the Stars, who have the most dangerous offense in the West. Sure, they lack goaltending and will win these games 5-4, but they will win them all. They might not make it past the second round, however.

Stars in 4

St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks:

What's great about the Western Conference is that we know from the start all teams wearing blue will choke and fail at some point, and the Blues are no exception. It'd be nice if the Hawks could repeat, too. This could be the one "upset", where the Champs could very well lose, either in 6 or 4 straight overtime games. Still, I'll go with my heart on this one.

Hawks in 7

San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings:

Speaking of choking in the West, the Sharks were fine with the Kings' former backup Martin Jones in nets, then decided to screw with that by bringing James Reimer in. But not much can stop the Big Black Machine of Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty in the playoffs, and certainly not a team with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton in their top-six up front.

Kings in 5

Anaheim Ducks vs Nashville Predators:

Many (if not most) pundits predicted the Ducks would make it to the Stanley Cup Final this year; I was not in full agreement, though they have top-end talent on offense and two very good goalies. Their coach has just never been able to win despite stacked line-ups, and history should repeat itself when he starts juggling his goalies in and out of the crease. The Preds lack the depth to make any kind of noise - particularly in an off year for Pekka Rinne - but they might be able to make this interesting.

Ducks in 6