Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Bean to Pick with Starbucks by Lannon McGregor

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I woke myself from a short sleep to greet Monday with saggy, heavy eyes. The morning air was topped with a crispy crust of fog with a mist and cloud-filled center.

Habit forced me to stop for my usual Starbucks' fix. Lucky for me, I had half a dozen Starbucks' outlets to choose from during my five-minute walk to the Sky Train Station in downtown Vancouver.

While I was waiting for my Venti Americano (aka extra-large coffee), I impulsively grabbed a bottle of water and paid $1.99 for this 'seemingly' normal beverage.

Now, allow me to confess: I am not known for "paying" for water. Call me crazy, but I believe the freshness of water tastes just the same from the tap as it does bottled (aside from the general smug feeling one gets from the obviously elitist choice to pay for water), and such was the case with my purchase of Starbucks' "Ethos" water except Ethos had a promotion which spoke to my innermost humanity.

After looking at the heart-tugging, subliminally prompting, (the image was of clearly thirsty Africans) and reading the "Help the World", or some equally similar hippie-bullshit promotion, I assumed that my Ethos water-purchasing-coins would contribute to implementing change in an otherwise, impoverished country.

And then I scanned the information on the back label which read:
... only 10 cents of my $1.99 contribution would go towards building wells for villagers in Africa...
and, I've gotta tell you, I was appalled. Here's a company which can afford to put two outlets directly across the street from each other, but can't afford to dish out more than 10 cents per bottle towards the promoted charity? Yet somehow they can justify charging two bucks for a bottle of water, by disguising the sale as a lame-ass excuse for a humanitarian mission instead of as the marketing ploy it is? I mean 10 cents? C'mon! That's not even 10% of the proceeds yet the charitable aspect is 90% of their campaign to sell the product. It's ridiculous to think we have to pay as much as $2.00 for water just to get a company to take some responsibility in helping someone.

This whole scheme is marketing at its best. We are always force fed guilt like it's our job, as middle class working stiffs, to help the poor whom these corporations are generally getting rich from. Why do we have to buy a happy meal from billionaire corporations like McDonalds just to encourage their (tax-deductible) charitable contribution of 10 cents to Childrens' Hospital?

Corporations are the only groups with the means to help and provide REAL change, yet time and time again they are ignoring their obligations by constantly passing off the responsibility to their consumers by using these charitable marketing schemes to play on our compassion.

The funny thing about it is, I passed a homeless man on the way in who asked me for change and I told him to get a job. Had I given the clearly, alcohol-dependent man the $2.00 I spent on the water, at least I would have been giving to a more immediate cause, rather than having my money sucked into the vacuum of a faceless corporation. After all, everyone's gotta drink something.

On the plus side, I am glad to see Starbucks do SOMETHING for a country they have been raping for all these years. I wonder how much those Ethiopian bean pickers make per hour?

I wonder if it's more or less than a bottle of Ethos water?

I hear it's awful hot over there...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Mohawk Lodge By: Lezah Williamson

Every so often I'll hit upon my latest fave song: currently it's Wear 'em Out by The Mohawk Lodge.

Dave comes by lots of compilations and British 'best of...' Cds, so I was just assuming that this group was from some distant realm. Well, I am happy to say I was wrong, and very pleased to learn that my new fave hails from my own backyard, Vancouver!

They're connected to Black Mountain and have released material through them; their debut, Wildfires, was described as 'dirty folk', but their latest is more blue collar indie/soul/rock. The band's Ryder Havdale describes them as "reformed math rockers trying to write '80's hits".

They've just completed both a cross-Canada and short European tour this fall.

Although they have no show dates currently posted, they are certainly one to put on your 'watch' list...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flight of the Conchords By Lezah Williamson

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I read recently that in tough economic times, comedies become more popular.

Sadly, the quality of most comedies these days hasn't become any better than it was were our economy stronger. In fact, there is only one comedy out there in TVland right now that is any goo. But the great news is it's brilliant. Wednesday evenings on the Comedy Network you can tune into Flight of the Conchords, probably the best show on TV today.

Based on the life of two band mates who have relocated from New Zealand to New York, Flight of the Conchords offers both comedy and songs (a combination that usually does nothing for me). And the actors Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement aren't too hard to look at, either.

Their lives revolve around their low rent apartment, meetings with their manager (who seems incapable of getting them any gigs), their one fan, and Bret's ever-changing status as a band member. The twosome bill themselves as 'formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo'. Together, they have won a Grammy (2008, best comedy album), created a radio series for BBC Radio 2, been named to the list of top five new TV shows for 2007 by Time magazine, and still tour and perform at various venues (this year, they were on the main stage at Sasquatch Festival, and did a free show a Amoeba Records, to name but a few).

Not to be missed.

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Bowie/Glam Night

On Thursday, February 5 at Celebrities Nightclub (Davies Street, Vancouver) you can step back in time and celebrate the best music of the '70s and '80s - Bowie, Glam, New Wave - it's all there for you to hear and dance to!

Promoter Vernand Goud pays hommage to the late, great Vancouver hotspot, Luv-A-Fair once again with Luv-A-Fair #4 - Bowie/Glam Night. I attended Luv-A-Fair #1 and #3, and the word is obviously getting out: the attendance at #3 had pretty much tripled from night #1.

So, this is obviously a case of be there or be square!


images from ibabuzz and ellenthegreat

Alive and Kicking - Psychedelic Furs, Part II 2008 Christine Albrecht

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Peter Gerstenzang, (Feb/02/06), had written a piece entitled New Days for Psych Furs' Butler for the Rolling Stone magazine.

Surely, life just keeps getting better for our favourite gravelly-voiced frontman Richard Butler.

Richard Butler fronted the band, Psychedelic Furs who sung Pretty in Pink which was used for the 1986 movie of the same name.

The band originally assembled in the late 70's, and continued until 1991. Artistic disagreements led to the band's semi-demise.

The '80's were the glory years for the Furs; Heaven, along with Pretty in Pink kept the Furs on the airwaves. As a lover of all things Richard, I faithfully attended his shows, but in 1994, when he came out with LoveSpitLove, I found my Real Richard - brilliant.

By 2000, LoveSpitLove was no more. Interestly, LoveSpitLove was on many movie soundtracks and televisions soundtracks and I am curious if that is when Richard decides to venture on to something new?

In 2001, the Furs rejoined and have been playing ever since with the likes of the: Violent Femmes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, X, and Franz Ferdinand which would indicate the Alive and Kicking moniker is very appropriate.

In early 2006, Richard released the critically acclaimed solo album entitled Richard Butler,which held a collection of songs dedicated to his and his friend, Jon Carin's deceased fathers (Both Doctors.)

Richard Butler was originally trained as a visual artist, and his recent works have receive much world attention. He has had gallery openings in New York, Miami, Florida and Florence. One of his paintings is his CD's cover art; but that is for you to figure out.

I had formally noticed that in 2004, the Furs have had an extensive tour schedule; Richard has recently released the song Work it Out (written by Vince Clark of Depeche Mode) for the children's show, Johnny Bravo (and perhaps as a keepsake for his daughter, Maggie Mozart Butler, 11, in 2008).

In August 2004, a book about the Psychedelic Furs was released, entitled Beautiful Chaos.

Present bandmates in the Furs are: Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass), John Ashton (guitar), Frank Ferrer (drums) and Amanda Kramer (keyboards).

Butler, (June 5, 1956) presently resides in New York with his wife and daughter.

Updated according to the ever resourceful Wikipedia, PLEASE keep it honest.

Images taken by image.listen and Susan Strange

Thursday, December 11, 2008

When The Night Hits Top 10 on Much Music

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No, this isn't a selfish plug for some new project of mine, it's all about my friend and record label protégé Aaron Nazrul, who is making serious waves with his music lately. Back in September Aaron made an amazing music video for When the Night one of the songs from his album Butterfly Man (produced by my uncle Simon Kendall, executive produced by myself). It's a classic East Vancouver block party video featuring all of our friends from the neighbourhood, filmed in the back alley behind his house. If you want to see how we party in Vancouver, you can watch the video on YouTube:

But the real news is that Much Music is now playing the video on rotation, and it has hit the Top 10! For those of you outside Canada, Much Music is our version of MTV, and is a very big platform for Aaron to get his music out. He is currently in the number six position, ahead of: Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, and New Kids on the Block! How did he get there? People can vote for their favourite artists on the web, and I'm hoping all of you will take a moment to vote as well. You can vote as many times as you want and you can vote from anywhere in the world, so let's get him to Number One! Visit the Much Music website to vote.

Aaron and his band are currently on tour in Central America, playing gigs as they cruise from country to country in their tour bus Winnebago. If you want to check out his album or (heavens!) buy it, you can get it from iTunes or order by mail from my website (click "Butterfly Man" under Discography, left side of page):Order Butterfly Man

As for me, I'm writing from NYC, on a short sojourn between gigs on my US tour. I had the singular honour of spending election day here in the States with a great group of very talented people at the Hip Hop Boot Camp in Ashland, Oregon, part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I was pretty proud of my American kin for the history they made that day, plus the entire boot camp experience was amazing.

The festival brought together seven hip-hop theatre professionals and seven professional Shakespearean actors for a series of skills-trading workshops and performances. Apparently some people high up now believe hip-hop is the future of Shakespearean theatre. You don't have to convince me...

In the past three weeks I've performed in New Orleans, Boulder, Worcester, Mass., and at Penn State University. But colleges are off over US Thanksgiving, which means so am I. So I'm just visiting friends here in New York for a few days and relaxing (I know, sounds unlikely) before heading onward to gigs in Portland, Oregon and Birmingham, Alabama (which they pronounce with extra "Ha-yam", not "Birming'm" like in England). Then I go home to Vancouver for the holidays, and spend a few months regrouping before the next round of touring.

I have some exciting projects coming up in 2009, but until I see the ink dry on the paper I'm hesitant to announce anything, so for now stay tuned, and don't forget to lend Aaron your vote.

Can we get him to Number One?

Yes we can.


Read Shane's bang-on review of Butterfly Man Here

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Transporter 3 Movie Review By: Ian Albrecht

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Just so you know, my youngest son has decided to start posting his reviews of music and movies on Swanktrendz. Due to his young'ish age - Go easy on him (or Mama Bear will roar, heh!). Actually, I warned him he was on his own and he has to take the good with the not so good (responses to his writing). Given he is an official 'tween', I think he's doing all right. Enjoy!

Although I was initially excited at the prospect of seeing the third installment of the Transporter movie trilogy, I couldn't help but come away from the theatre feeling largely underwhelmed.

The main character, Frank Martin, (played by Jason Statham)

receives his latest assignment involving the delivery of a 'package' from "Marseilles to Odessa on the Black Sea." However, Martin's European 'delivery' is not without (predictably) at least one 'twist'. Furthermore, his usual 'delivery' method is hampered by his being outfitted with a wrist device that will ensure explosive death and destruction if Frank ventures beyond 75 feet of his vehicle.

Unfortunately, this 'twist' immediately brought to mind the movie, Speed, as the underlying premise/theme is similar. E.g.: If the main hero alters/changes his course, in opposition to the villain's projected demands, the outcome will be life-threatening mayhem.

I openly admit that Jason Statham did an excellent job despite being given an average script; containing some gad-awful dialogue, as well as plenty of clichés reserved for "bust 'em up/bang 'em up" movies. Moreover, Statham's acting should be noted for his having to respond to (with a straight face) his co-star, villain, Robert Knepper as Johnson. But more about Knepper, later.

Of course there is the standard love interest between the Prime Minister of Ukraine's daughter, and our hero, Frank. Despite how important her character is to the movie's central plot, (her role is played by Natalya Rudakova) ... I could NOT recall her character's name! I had to google both the character's and actor's name (which turns out to be Valentina). This does not bode well for any actor attempting to make her mark in the 'biz'. As well, despite her character's important addition to the plot, as well as to the "twist", Rudakova did not leave any impression that would make us

a) want to know her name or

b) care to learn who was performing the role

.François Berléand, once again played Inspector Tarconi, (Frank Martin's sidekick/closest thing to a best friend) and, once again, Berléand did a solid and consistent job at injecting some humour and the occasional dramatic urgency into an otherwise, lukewarm role.

The main villain was one of the 'worst' villains I've seen, and I did not buy into/believe in his character for one minute, I would label his acting as "old school"; as in, I would liken Transporter 3's villain to the original Joker from the black and white television series, Batman.

Overall, the plot for Transporter 3 was dull, been-there-done-that, and simply pathetic (with exception to anything being blown up, or any computer generated excitement.) Then again, these effects should be a 'given' in any action movie genre.

So, why do I say pathetic? When the audience is thrown subplots, or extra information that is even more unbelievable than the movie's, "Villain character's" acting... Well? What would you call it? For example, the police department and the government learn the villain's real name and location, and rather quickly, in the movie! At least in other espionage/action flicks, the bad guy will toss out a couple of red herrings to keep the 'good guys' and audience wondering what's going to happen next. I was able to predict this movie's plot and ending, but it's times like this when I hate to be right.

I guess the most intense guessing, wondering or predicting I did during the 90 minutes was... trying to figure out when the movie was going to end?

Is this movie worth spending cash at the box office, or is it a wait-for-the-DVD type of flick? Definitely a wait for the DVD, as it is the most disappointing movie of the trilogy and will, no doubt, go straight to video within three months. 1.5/5 (and the half point was strictly for the guns, explosions, and computer generated effects. And, 1 point to Jason Statham for doing a good job in a stinker of a movie).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Seagull Management Redefined: Book Review

By: J Williamson, Jargontalk

The term Seagull Manager dates back to the late '80s, and was used in an article by Michael Madison, who used it to describe a particular management approach of interacting with employees, of only dealing with them when a problem arises, making quick-fire decisions about things, then leaving and letting others have to deal with all of the mess left behind. But is was Ken Blanchard who really quantified the term in his 1999 book , Leadership and the One Minute Manager. where he said something like: Seagull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, then fly out.

Read this line those years ago, and for awhile enjoyed the guilty pleasure of quoting it when dealing with issues as a middle manager. And if you've never dealt with Seagull Management yourself, then just think of Donald Trump in his NBC reality show, The Apprentice, where he walked in and so often uttered his now-famous line ”This one's easy for me... you're fired.”

That's 'seagull management.'

When I saw a blurb in print about the forthcoming release of Squawk!: How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results it was interesting, and more so because the author was Travis Bradberry, Ph.D., and his management seminars have become famous. Have I attended one of them? No, but I have suggested them to others, then looked over the material they brought back. And Dr. Bradberry's book looks like it was tailor-made for his seminars.

It's not a difficult read, and as you make your way through the pages, following the adventures of Charlie, a seagull manager, you'll pick up a number of good, solid middle-management pointers. It's an easy-to-follow narrative, and has an often humorous story line. Dr. Bradberry shows us the three crucial qualities of leadership that help us deal with seagull managers in the workplace. And if you're really lucky, you might even see yourself as a “Charlie the Seagull Manager," and be able to identify areas worthy of self-improvement.

If you're a middle manager, get this book. Once you've finished with it, think if you want to loan it to your boss, or maybe buy copies for some who report to you. You might like it and you might not, but this reader found it to be an engaging and worthy read.

You might want to also consider a couple of Dr. Bradberry's other books The Personality Code or The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book to add your own management or leadership library.

In truth, I didn't like this book at first, and was thinking ”been-there-done-that" in the first thirty or so pages. I found Charlie to be irritating, but as the parable continued, found myself warming to it and to the seagulls and the other critters. In the end had to admit that it was a better book than I had first thought.

OK, enough of my squawking... it's an easy 5-star read.

Go to and vote on Jargontalk’s review.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

CNN's Hologram on its Election Coverage was not really a Hologram

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I have always been a huge Star Wars fan and this was something right out of Star Wars, which made it very cool to me. Only problem, like the special effect in the movies, it, too, was not real. The hologram was not really a hologram at all.

Here is a story which I am sharing with you courtesy of

(Posted by Sascha Segan).

One of the most talked-about features of last night's election coverage was CNN's supposedly-holographic projections of correspondent Jessica Yellin and musician Will.I.Am onto the CNN studio floor. But CNN's name for the technology was misleading.As Gizmodo explains, the anchors on the studio floor couldn't see 3D images of the correspondents - there was no "hologram" being projected.

Rather, the correspondents were being shot by 35 HD cameras simultaneously to create a 3D image which was then digitally composited into CNN's broadcast image of their studio. There was no live, glowing, 3D picture that people could walk around. The "image" of Jessica Yellin and Wolf Blitzer standing in the same room existed only on TV screens.

If you want to be really pedantic (oh, and I do), Merriam-Webster describes a hologram as
a three-dimensional image reproduced from a pattern of interference produced by a split coherent beam of radiation.

The CNN shots weren't three-dimensional images - they existed only on two-dimensional TV screens. And they weren't produced from a pattern of interference, etc. They were produced by meshing live feeds from 35 cameras pointing in different angles.

It was movie magic, folks, similar to what we all remember from The Matrix. Given that it was done live without a hitch, it was extremely, way-cool. But it wasn't a hologram, and no amount of wishing will make it so.

Segan’s article was very well written, fully explaining the stunt, so I thought it was worth sharing. We are now in 2008 and I would have expected to see more real technology like having an anchor interact with a hologram, or fending off an onslaught of flying cars or (insert your favorite sci-fi futuristic ability here). Until I checked into it, I would have assumed CNN mastered the latest technology, broadcasting at least one of those inventions. (Though it now appears completely unnecessary, it was kind of cool to watch Anderson Cooper interview Will.I.Am in this manner. Here is a link to watch the video of this particular hologram interview.

I am a little disappointed that the interviewer was just staring at blank space, and at no time was there an actual holographic image being projected anywhere. The more I think about it, the more it seems the illusion was pointless. On the other hand, it did made me watch CNN last night, and I am writing about it today... so it can't be all bad.

Spinning a Tale and Weaving a Story - LIVE with Shari Taylor

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Spinning a Tale, Weaving a Story - LIVE! at the City of Langley Library

Shari Taylor is our Langley Artist in Action for the month of November.

Drop by the City of Langley library Friday, November 14th, between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. to watch and learn as Shari demonstrates spinning and weaving. While demonstrating her artistic skills in-the-moment, Shari will answer your questions about this beautiful and practical art form.

Call or visit the library to reserve a spot:

20399 Douglas Crescent



Langley Arts Council

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Artist on the Scene - Check out Bolton's Detailed Eggs

Our own Intricate Girl, Lisa Bolton, has branched out into the Fine Arts. Always a dabbling artist (meaning she would create for self, friends, and family) Lisa is now creating art for the general public. As well, it appears she is taking her 'intricate' url name seriously as the egg art she's been creating is breathtakingly detailed. Check out her work online at Lisa Bolton's Art.

Enya' s "And Winter Came" to Be Released November 11th By: Christine Albrecht

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Twenty years after arriving on the scene with her memorable, "Watermark", album, Enya, is set to release her seventh studio album, "And Winter Came". As a well known artist selling 70 million albums worldwide, we can expect Enya's latest effort to garner brisk sales when it arrives in stores on November 11, 2008.

And Winter Came took Enya two years to craft at Aigle Studios near Dublin, Ireland. Once again, she sought partnership with producer, Nicky Ryan, and lyricist, Roma Ryan. The album was originally envisioned as a Christmas themed release, but as recording progressed, it became apparent that a broader seasonal theme had emerged.

During her career, Enya has collected four Grammy Awards, winning Best New Age Album for Shepherd Moons, The Memory of Trees, A Day Without Rain, and Amarantine, as well as three World Music Awards in 2002 for Best Selling Female Artist, Best Selling Irish Artist and Best Selling New Age Artist.

Enya has also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, both in conjunction with her musical partners Nicky and Roma Ryan, for the song, May It Be, which was written and recorded for the movie, Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring. May It Be was written at the personal request of director, Peter Jackson. The song also won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for Best Song and was also nominated for a Hollywood Golden Globe Award.

Check out your local music store on November 11.

Durham County Television show review - by Lezah WIlliamson

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There was once a time when Canadian TV shows were guaranteed to be dull, unappealing, and have a really low-budget appearance.

Then came Durham County.

Six episodes premiered back in May, 2007, on The Movie Network and Movie Central; this year, you can catch the repeats on Global, as well as Showcase (at 9:00). Season 2 is just starting production this month, and the first episodes are set to air in the spring of 2009. I'm predicting a surge in audience numbers by that time: the first episode of Durham County has been nominated for 13 Gemini Awards, including best series, best writing, best directing, best photography, best editing, and best sound (to name but a few). And well it deserves any accolades that come its way.

There is more art to be found in one episode of Durham County than you would find in any gallery in Canada. In scene after scene, there are shots that are just masterful. The images are incredibly evocative.

Most episodes open with, or feature at some point, a shot of the power lines that run through Durham County. Between the images, the symbolism, the mood that is set and the story itself, this is TV that easily tops every that is out there right now. It is almost Lynchian in its presentation, and frequently juxtaposes images and ideas that tell you much more, and much more quickly, than you are learning from the characters themselves. And that is just part of its magic.

Durham County is a police procedural with a family drama backstory; each episode is not resolved, but rather, the story builds as the season progresses.

The show stars Hugh Dillon as Detective Mike Sweeney; Sweeney has left Toronto following the death of his partner, and the near death of his wife (to cancer). Still dealing with the emotional after-effects of both of those emotionally traumatic events, Sweeney is plunged right into the middle of a serial killer hunt in his new hometown, the suburb of Durham County. Complicating matters further, it turns out a nemesis from his youth lives directly across the road; as well, the young woman he fell in love with at the cancer support group turns out to be his daughter's high school English teacher.

In addition to the adult cast, the teens in this film are especially noteworthy. Laurence Leboeuf stars as Sweeney's daughter, an independent young lady who enjoys recreating crime scenes in her doll house during her spare time; her counterpart is the shy, artistic son of his father's nemesis. Rounding out the cast is the youngest daughter, a character who appears in most shots wearing an over-sized Sailor Moon mask.

Altogether, the story is a convoluted, twisting journey through an everyday neighbourhood where good and evil co-exist.

Not to be missed.

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AC/DC’s Latest Release Sold Only in Wal-Mart By Terry Lowe

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AC/DC had announced that its CD would be sold exclusively in Wal-Mart stores in the USA.

With this, their credibility dropped through the floor. AC/DC, in its early days, was a fun band; sort of a guilty pleasure – who couldn’t like the bouncy raunch of “Girls Got Rhythm?"

But Wal-Mart? Say it ain’t so, boys. Wal-Mart may be the world’s biggest retailer of CDs, but...

Wal-Mart is evil. Don’t get me started, or I’ll rant all night. Information on Wal-Mart’s cancerous “race to the bottom” tactics is not hard to find: just Google the term “Wal-Mart is evil” and you’ll find lots. And most of what you’ll find is both sad and nauseating.

The most interesting (and balanced) item I found was from the Markulla Center For Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, who considered the question “Is It Ethical to Shop at Wal-Mart?” and concluded:

It is unethical to shop at Wal-Mart. However, refusing to shop at Wal-Mart is an insufficient response to its gross effects on the values of shared prosperity. You could do more, such as: Support local efforts to keep Wal-Mart out of communities. Support legislation that levels the playing field and prevents Wal-Mart from forcing down standards for wages and benefits.

AC/DC joins has-beens John Mellencamp, James Taylor, and The Eagles in the “Wal-Mart only” new release sales brigade. No further comment should be necessary, apart from noting that Bon Scott must be whirling in his grave.

Rumour has it that AC/DC had been in Vancouver this past August, putting the finishing touches on their CD. Did anyone manage to track them down and call them out on the Wal-mart monopoly? If so, please share your experience with me.

Ruby’s Chicky Boil-Ups (Radio Nowhere) By: Terry Lowe

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I love well-made radio almost as much as I love print media, so Internet podcasts are catnip to me. I found Ruby’s Chicky Boil-Ups by following a link from my favourite podcast, The Bike Show, broadcast from London by Jack Thurston on Resonance 101 FM (link below). The Bike Show, not surprisingly, focuses mainly on cycling. Ruby (who, it turns out, is Jack’s cousin) focuses entirely on music.

She chooses a loose theme for each show, then chooses a surprising range of music to fit each theme. She also finds a well-informed someone to talk to about this theme, and includes music that this person chooses. The result is eclectic, unusual, and wonderful.

How surprising? How eclectic? A few themes and playlists are shown below. Scroll down and have a look...

Sunday Service

Gospel Train - Sunbury Junior Singers of the Salvation Army
Heaven’s Radio - Molly o’Day and the Cumberland Mountain Folks
Female Jesus - Men in Gray Suits
Dominique - The Singing Nun
Saved - Lavern Baker
Jesus in His Pomp - The Chimps
Six and Seven Books of Moses - The Maytals as The Vikings
Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho - Paul Robeson
Soul Train - Judith
Angels Laid Him Away - Mississippi John Hurt
Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet - Gavin Bryars

Tour De France

Rockin’ Bicycle - Fats Domino
En Bicicleta - Manuel Jiminez
La Troisième Roue De Ton Velo - Antoine
A Bicyclette - Yves Montane
Motorcycle - The Rumble Strips
Gravel Rash - Cookin’ on Three Burners
Pedal Pusher - Abdominal
Tour De France - Kraftwerk
Bravo Eddy - Jean Narcy
Blood on the Saddle - Tex Ritter
Henkie de Fiets - Henkie
The Highway Code - The Master Singers
Waiting At The Bus Stop - Kay-Gees
La bicyclette - Annie Duparc

The Great Outdoors

I Came Out of the Wilderness - Pete Molinari
Arizona Yodeller - DeZurik Sisters
Building a Boat - The Rumble Strips
Run Rabbit Run - Harry Smith
Country Death Song - The Violent Femmes
Moonlight & Roses - Tommy Sanderson Francis, Day & Hunter
The Valleys - Electrelane
Inakano Musume - Ban Ban Bazar
Goodbye California - Jolie Holland
Puszta-Fox - Orchester Barnabask von Geczy
Roam - B52s
La Montagne - Choeur des Armaillis de la Gruyère
Whispering Grass - The Ink Spots
Lord Blow the Moon out Please - Hem
Down by the Riverside - Lesley First
Man Walks Among Us - Jonathan Richman


The Smoke Comes Out My Chimney Just the Same - Skeets McDonald
Do The Whirlwind - Architecture in Helsinki
This is the House that Jack Built - Willy Whyton
London Calling - The Clash
Luton Bungalow - John Hegley
First Row Balcony - The Gaylords
Love Breaks Down - Prefab Sprout
Home is where the Hatred Is - Gil Scott-Heron
I Wish to Build a Mosque - Markos Vamvakaris
In Your House - The Cure
Crying in the Chapel - Elvis
Living on the Ceiling - Blancmange
Maison Rose - Emmanuelle Parrenin
Underneath the Arches - Billy’s Banjo Band
My Head is My Only House Unless it Rains - Captain Beefheart
Lara’s Castle - Yann Tiersen
Come on Feel the Illinoise! - Sufjan Stevens
Build - The Housemartins
Christopher Robin at Buckingham Palace - Anne Stephens
We Built this City on Rock and Roll - Starship

Enjoy! I certainly do, and hats off(!) to Ruby.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

TV on the Radio Vancouver Concert Review

TV on the Radio has been spinning in my player since late 2006. I was onto other sounds for most of 2007, but rediscovered Return to Cookie Mountain just prior to May, thus giving me my summer soundtrack. This band consistently puts me in a good mood, so, to say I am glad I received tickets to see TVOTR perform would be an understatement. I was ecstatic.

TVOTR's alternative jazz/rock vibe is accompanied by intriguing, occasionally obtuse lyrics. Anyone who can write a line like "there's a purple stain spat up on interstates" immediately gets my attention. As I have often mentioned, I am a huge believer in lyrical importance over beat.

The September 7th, Commodore Ballroom gig, was sold-out and I anticipated the usual Commodore sardine-can experience, but it wasn't there. The venue did not even appear sold-out in comparison to past sold-out shows e.g. The John Butler Trio. The audience's age appeared to average around 25+; males outnumbering females (this bodes well for the band's career longevity). The fans were not decked out in distracting, image conscious get-ups.

Within the first three chords of Young Liars, the formerly missing, full-house audience appeared from out of nowhere. The stage floor was packed with fervent TOTR-heads.

Christine's typical aside: There should be a height limit for stage leeches. I am just as bad as the next music lover, staying as close to the front as possible, straining for any and all giveaways that the talented performers are indeed humans with everyday realities. But come on... A six foot, drunken young male does not need to be clinging to stage edge with a planet-sized noggin eclipsing a 4-person viewing opportunity!

The negatives for the performance: the bone-numbing bass feedback that stayed throughout the show, and the mumbled lyrics whose blame could not be sloughed onto the sound engineer.

Tunde Adebimpe hurls through his lyrics throughout the set, just as he does on their CDs. Mind you, can this man move, or what...? I ask you. So liquid in his movement, then frenetic in the next; for a moment I forgot his singing... and briefly wondered if he ever considered a career in dance. Jaleel Bunton is the driving force behind TVOTR's sound. Each song begins with a unique drumming intro, and frankly, Jaleel is satisfying eye candy. I was impressed with Kyp Malone's falsetto vocal accompaniment which sounded as consistent as his contributions to their CDs. Gerard Smith and David Andrew Sitek filled out the rest of TVOTR.

TVOTR's members appear to have class. You won't find Tunde and Kyp inserting f**k as either adjectives and/or adverbs during their acknowledgement of Vancouver or the fans. There was the requisite nod to 'the great grade' of people, a sly nod to our world wide reputation of having the best pot/ganja in North America.

They performed a variety of songs: Young Liars, I was a lover, Province, Dreams, Wolf Like Me, Blues From Down Here, Golden Age, Wash the Day, Shout and Sattelite. The encore was comprised of Stork and Owl, Dancing Choose, Method, and Staring at The Sun. The last song sent the audience over the edge, as the fans' vocals threatened to drown out Tunde's.

Alas, my second fave TVOTR tune, Dirtywhirl was not performed. Overall, splendid performance. 9/10

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lindsay Buckingham to Release New Album By: Christine Albrecht

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Gift of Screws due out on September 16/08

Lindsay Buckingham (independent singer-songwriter, as well as the artistic main man of Fleetwood Mac) will be releasing his album, Gift of Screws on Reprise Records, September 16, 2008. He hopes to begin an American tour (with two Ontario stops, October 7th and 8th) to accompany the album's release.

Buckingham says of the album,
I'd say this album distills several periods of time. It has false starts to make albums, songs that go back a number of years that took a while to find a home, and brand-new songs. I wanted to bring it all together in one place. As an artist I'm still, for better or worse, clinging to my idealism and to my sense that there is still much to be said. This album is a culmination of that.

Buckingham's latest offering is more rock n' roll than his acoustic driven Under the Skin. In some ways it's also an extension of his Fleetwood Mac legacy as Mick Fleetwood and John McVie played on the album, providing the unmistakable foundation for several songs, including standout, Wait for You.

Gift of Screws was produced by Buckingham, with the exception of two songs - Wait For You and Gift of Screws which were co-produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Jewel, Dave Matthews Band).

For more information, Visit Lindsay Buckingham.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Come to Canada: Big Acts/Small Venues (A Common Occurrence) By: Christine Albrecht

Great Bands Play Awesome Venues in Vancouver

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I pulled out my January, 2008, Spin magazine and did a flip-through to determine if I should save or recycle the publication. I do not like to throw out any music magazine, but I equally dislike magazine clutter, so I force myself to critically evaluate if the issue is a keep 'er or toss 'er. It's not uncommon for me to have a second or third read-through of Spin's archives, so as I was reacquainting myself with January's articles I noted several familiar names. The names are familiar because I just posted an update of Vancouver concerts. As I noted familiar headliners, I had to take a second look at the booked venues. How is it that up and coming, popular musicians, sell out mid-sized arenas throughout the world, yet continue to be booked into small venues while touring Canada?

This is not the first time I have puzzled over the Big-Act/Small-Venue Canadian phenomenon. In the early '90s I attended a Radiohead gig at Vancouver's The Town Pump (now known as Sonar). The Town Pump was a small pub/dance club in downtown Vancouver which allowed an audience of approximately 400+ patrons. The club's booking manager kept musically 'current', often bringing in top talent who could sell out 5000+ venues anywhere else (than Canada). Richard's on Richards is a similarly sized venue.

Lykke Li

and The Charlatans UK will be playing at Richard's on Richards.

As well, the extremely popular The National played there in 2007.

I'm not sure of the reason for currently popular bands being booked 'down' in Canada, but I'm always grateful for the 'up close and personal' experience. I often wonder how the performers reacted to the venue. Were they surprised, appalled, embarrassed, oblivious, annoyed, or indifferent? Canadian concerts spoiled me as I now refuse to attend a concert if the venue holds an audience larger than 1000 (using The Commodore Ballroom as my quota template). The Commodore's capacity limit is advertised as 990, but sardine-packed audiences at sold-out gigs appear 'fuller'.

TV on The Radio will be playing the Commodore on Sept. 7th.

Canada's knack for showcasing amazing talent in contrarily matched venues consistently baffles me. The only explanation I've arrived at is our nation's tendency towards delayed appreciation. The Fine and Performing Arts rarely receives priority status in the media. As a teen, I was reliant on local/national Canadian media for my music news, and our country remained six months to over a year behind the rest of the world. Although the Fine and Performing Arts are still largely under-reported, the internet has allowed music lovers to fall into sync with similar-minded fans around the world. However, the average Canadian concert-goer still depends on the media to alert him/her to an upcoming concert rather than proactively seeking updates.

With an 'audience alert' in mind, here is a sample of upcoming performances by artists presently riding a popularity wave. And to avid fans of specific bands - Canada may be your last chance of viewing your favourite musician(s) in a more intimate setting (and you won't need a video screen to see her (them) perform). I may not understand the reasoning, but I appreciate the bang-for-yer-buck entertainment outcome.

September 1st - Estelle - The Commodore Ballroom (capacity 990)

The London rapper/singer/producer (Shades of Lauren Hill) coos her "American Boy" hit .... groove from that's way better than his half-baked crap. Spin Magazine

September 7th - TV on the Radio - The Commodore Ballroom (Capacity 990)

... one reason TV on the Radio gets listed among the best American bands of their generation is because their free-ranging sound... Rhapsody Mp3 Spin Magazine 2006's Artist of the Year.

October 8th - The Charlatans UK - Richard's on Richards (Capacity 400)

...played a number of high-profile supporting gigs during the summer of 2007, including for The Who and The Rolling Stones, at venues including Wembley Stadium and Twickenham Stadium in London... Wikipedia

October 16th - Duffy - Croation Cultural Centre (Capacity up to 1000)

Duffy's rise to success has been remarkable. She already has a number 1 single under her belt, as well as critically acclaimed TV performances and is the current darling of the music industry.

October 17th - Sara Bareilles - The Vogue (Capacity 1150)

achieved success in 2008 with the hit, "Love Song", which brought her into the number one spot on the Billboard Pop 100 chart. Wikipedia

October 28th - Lykke Li - Richards on Richards (Capacity 400)

... the Swede of the month... tentative, tuneful love song, "Little Bit", is buoyed by wispy indie-tronic production...

To see more upcoming concerts go to Swanktrendz Concert Listings.
FYI: Capacity Numbers for Vancouver's Musical Venues

BC Place: 59,687

UBC Thunderbird Stadium: 21,500

GM Place: 14,000

Vancouver Coliseum: 16,123

PNE Forum (Vancouver Forum) 5050

Agrodome: 3260

Queen Elizabeth Theatre: 2931

Orpheum: 2780

Malkin Bowl: 1500

Chan Centre: 1400

Vogue Theatre: 1150

Red Robinson Theatre (Casino) 1074

Plaza of Nations: 1000

Croatian Cultural Centre: 30 to 1000 (7 available rooms)

Commodore Ballroom: 990

Vancouver Playhouse: 668

Stanley Theatre: 650

BC Enterprise Hall: 500

The Town Pump/Sonar: 450

Richards on Richards: 400

The Red Room: 400

Media Club: 150

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Biography of Curly Howard By: Shane Christensen

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Curly Howard Image from:

Most people on the street would probably have no idea who Curly Howard was. But if you were able to impersonate his "nyuk-nyuk-nyuk" or "woo-woo-woo" sounds, a smile would immediately come across all the faces as they answered in unison, "oh, that Stooges guy." And a true measure of how much of a comedic icon he really was is that fact that people today still recognize him but his zany and totally one-of-a-kind antics.

There is little argument that Curly was the fan favourite of that hilarious comedic troupe known as The Three Stooges. And although he was a source of constant hilarity on the screen, Curly never had too much to laugh about during the last years of a life which was filled with serious health problems that were a result of a wild and excessive lifestyle that rivaled some of the rock stars of the 1960's

But it wasn't always like that, because Curly was born Jerome Horwitz, the youngest of a family of five boys, into a nice Jewish home in turn-of-the-century New York City. His early life was a fun-filled exercise of having his older brothers, who nicknamed him Babe, include him in their small comedy productions that they put on for the neighbourhood kids, charging a couple of pennies for admission. Babe was only 4 years old when he made his first stage appearance, and there's no doubt that the experience had a lasting effect on the young child who would live his entire childhood in show business, up until he was no longer physically able to do so.

Some of "Jerry's" greatest loves as a young man, and later as an adult, were music, musicals, and comedy. Most people were shocked to hear years after he died that he actually had a beautiful singing voice and that he was an accomplished ballroom dancer . He also loved nothing more than to watch and hang around his older brothers Moe and Shemp, who were a part of a vaudeville act that was gaining quite the following. This act was led by a brash and alcoholic Ted Healey, and included another stooge named Larry Fine.

Because Jerry was a constant fixture at Healey's shows, he was entirely familiar with the entire skit and was a natural to replace his brother Shemp, who had decided to pursue a solo acting career. The only requirement was that Jerry had to shave his curly locks and mustache for greater comedic effect, but this caused him great distress as he felt he was no longer attractive to the opposite sex.

But Curly never lacked for the love of the fairer sex, as he would end up being married a total of 4 times in less than 20 years, and also had quite the reputation as a womanizer and carouser. This behaviour only intensified after celebrity fame and fortune entered his life, and he began a steady and vicious physical slide that was exasperated by smoking, heavy drinking, and living the wild life.

As lovable as Curly was on the big screen, in real life he was reckless, spontaneous, and financially irresponsible to the point that older brother Moe eventually took authority over his spending because he was incapable of any type of control. By the time he hit his forties, his body would begin to suffer the effects of a lifestyle that was almost suicidal in nature.

A succession of strokes affected all areas of Curly's life, and eventually he suffered one that was big enough to physically disable him. By this time he had met and married his fourth and final wife, Valerie Newman, who would go on to become the mother of his daughter and loyal nurturer in his final hellish years.

Jerome Horwitz eventually succumbed to his physical deterioration in January '52 after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage while in hospital, at the relatively young age of 48. By this time his brother Shemp had returned to replace him in the Stooges, who would go on entertaining millions for many more years.

But it was never the same without Curly, and Moe was always the first to admit it. Because Curly had the rare ability of encompassing all aspects of comedy (including physical slapstick), and his nonsensical sounds and actions, such as spinning around the floor or going "woo-woo-woo", still make millions laugh to this day.

It's just very sad and tragic that a man who entertained millions and put smiles across all of our faces (and continues to do so) had to die in such a horrible and hellish fashion. Rest in peace Curly, and thanks for the years of laughter.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who are the All-Time Top N.H.L. Players By Shane Christensen

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The names of the top N.H.L. goal scorers of all time looks like a list of hockey royalty as it is filled with some of the greatest players who ever played the game. It includes those from an earlier era with names such as Howe, Mikita, Richard, Beliveau, and Hull, who were responsible for much of the popularity of professional hockey in North America.

This allowed the league to expand and players' salaries to increase substantially, so that most players could earn a respectable income and not have to work during the off-season, as was the case in earlier times when the original six teams first started out.The top goal scorers from this era were as follows: Gordie Howe 801, Bobby Hull 610, Johnny Bucyk 556, Maurice Richard 554, Stan Makita 541, Frank Mahovolich 533, Jean Beliveau 507, Jean Ratelle 491, and Norm Ullman 490.

The next generation of players included the names of LaFleur, Esposito, Bossy, McDonald, and Perrault, and they can be thanked for taking the league to the next level as some played for expansion teams that would go on to become Stanley Cup champs, or finalists. This further cemented the leagues' status as the number one professional ice hockey organization in the world, and allowed for even further growth and expansion.

The top goal scorers from this era were as follows: Marcel Dionne 731, Phil Esposito 717, Mike Bossy 573, Guy Lafleur 560, Michel Goulet 548, Bryan Trottier 524, Gilbert Perrault 512, Lanny McDonald 500, Darryl Sittler 484, and Denis Savard 473.

When the next generation of great players came around, the league would see a huge increase in both popularity, franchise appreciation (value), and further expansion into non-traditional hockey markets in the southern United States. The names include Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Andreychuk, Yzerman, to name a few.

The top goal scorers from this era are: Wayne Gretzky 894, Brett Hull 741, Mike Gartner 708, Mark Messier 694, Steve Yzerman 692, Mario Lemieux 690, Luc Robitaille 668, Dave Andreychuk 640, Jarri Kurri 601, Ron Francis 549, Bryan Trottier 524, Pat Verbeek/Mark Recchi 522, Dale Hawerchuk 518, and Pierre Turgeon 515.

And finally, there is a group of active players that have amassed a number of goals that puts them in this elite group. The names include the likes of Jagr, Sakic, Shanahan, and Sundin, and these individuals are ensuring the popularity and viability of the league remains. With a new crop of future record holding players such as Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin currently racing up the goal scoring charts, it will only be a matter of time until their names are put in the same category as their predecessors.

The top goal scorers on this list are: Brendan Shanahan 650, Jarmomir Jagr 646, Joe Sakic 623, Mats Sundin 555, Teemu Selanne 552, Mike Modano 528, Jeremy Roenick 509, and Keith Tkachuk 500.

The one ingredient that all these amazing players possessed was the will to be the very best, and never settle for second place. All great players possess comparable skill levels such as skating and passing, but those who truly stood out amongst the crowd did so because they gave that little extra that enabled them to score when other mortals would have not even had a chance at a goal.

It's therefore no surprise that of the top goal scorers in the N.H.L., most have played on either Stanley Cup champions or finalists as the greatest goal scorers are usually the franchise players whom the team can build around to create a champion.

Brett Hull Image from:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rebel Cell

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>Hello People,

Thanks for all the great feedback on my Fly on the Wall episode, and now this one is about the next chapter. In three days Dizraeli and I will perform our first show at the Edinburgh Fringe, the World Premier of The Rebel Cell. Exactly four years ago I premiered The Rap Canterbury Tales here and the reverberations are still being felt, not the least by me.

Well, The Rebel Cell, in my humble opinion, is better - it's funnier, crisper, more topical, and in many ways a perfect inheritor to the Lit-Hop mission I began with the Tales, although its content is more Orwellian than Chaucerian. I sincerely hope the reverberations of this project go even further; although, tragically, not everyone can make it to the Fringe!

Never fear. Just like with the Tales, we've recorded The Rebel Cell as a full-length rap storytelling album, and it is now available for free download from my website. Free?!? Yes, that seems to be the nature of the beast these days. Everyone with a bit of web savvy will be able to get it for free soon anyway, so why not follow in the footsteps of Radiohead and beat them to the punch? At least that way we can raise the buzz to a fever pitch and hopefully have a successful run at the world's biggest arts festival. So please, tell your friends!

Of course, if you want to order a physical CD in the mail that's still an option, and if you want to support us there is also the option to donate £5 ($10) to the cause of a couple of recording artists doing good things, but either way you can start listening to The Rebel Cell... right now, no strings attached.

Okay, that's all.

All the best from the 'burgh,


Read a review of Rebel Cell.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fly on the Wall by Baba Brinkman

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Hi Lights,

In the midst of all of the intended fanfare around The Rebel Cell, which premiers in Edinburgh in one week, with the corresponding album release coming up on the weekend, I thought I’d take a moment to share a quick Chaucer-related story, bizarre and hysterical as a Canterbury Tale.

 Yesterday I returned from performing at the New Chaucer Society conference in Swansea, Wales, where over three hundred of the world’s top medieval professors had congregated for four days to give papers and roundtables and plenary speeches on the subject of history’s favourite storyteller.  I was scheduled to be the entertainment at the pub night at the end of the conference, but I asked if I could also come for the day to attend some of the lectures and get caught up on the state of global Chaucer studies.  I was especially keen since I recognized many of the featured speakers from the bibliography of my Masters thesis, so I was looking forward to putting some faces to the quotations I used.

The first session I attended was a fierce debate about New Formalism vs New Historicism, the question of whether the study of literature is best guided by a close reading of each text as a semi-autonomous work of art, or whether it’s generally better to understand texts as a product of their historical and cultural circumstances.  As with many debates, it was only the most radical applications of these two approaches that were really under attack, and both of the speakers actually seemed to fall somewhere in the middle, although they did a fine job of misrepresenting each other as ideologues.

The second session produced an incident that was so surreal I’m sure I will never forget it.  It was a roundtable discussion on Teaching Chaucer featuring short presentations from six professors (actually five professors and one high school teacher) who all shared their varied experiences with teaching The Canterbury Tales at their respective schools.  I had quietly taken a seat near the back of the lecture hall before the session started and was curious to hear if any of what was said could be brought to bear on my own work in schools with the Rap Canterbury Tales.  Little did I know that the intensity of the New Formalism vs New Historicism debate was shortly going to be eclipsed by the intensity of the pro-Baba Brinkman vs anti-Baba Brinkman debate.  

I was mentioned probably half a dozen times in the various presentations, with the first speaker coming out strongly against me, cautioning against over-reliance on superficial pop-culture adaptations of Chaucer, from the TV dramatizations to parallels with South Park and Family Guy to the notorious Rap Canterbury Tales, which was now being put to use in a dangerously high number of classrooms.  She argued that these students would be left with no memory of the actual curriculum material or of Chaucer himself, only the cool stuff it was compared to in class, like rap.  Other professors came to my defense, saying they were skeptical at first about a white Canadian co-opting a black art form in order to disrupt the sanctity of medieval studies, but that after seeing the show performed and hearing about my work in inner city schools, they were convinced that I was a valuable resource for capturing the attention of young people who would otherwise never give Chaucer a chance.  Still others argued that it was a bad idea to use the rap as an ice-breaker, because it would unduly influence the students’ interpretation of the Tales, but that they had found it effective as an incentive, as in: at the end of the Chaucer section, if you study hard, you’ll get to hear the rap as a reward.

As this debate transpired I kept sliding down lower in my seat trying not to be noticed, since they were clearly oblivious to my presence.  Ever wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall at your own funeral?

 Well, as it turned out one person had noticed me coming in, and it happened to be the session moderator, Dr Helen Cooper from Cambridge, whose job was to open the floor for questions after the initial talks.  So the first thing she said was:
“A fascinating debate about modern vs traditional approaches to teaching Chaucer!  Rapping and YouTube and Television, what exactly is their place in medieval studies?  It may come as a surprise to many of you, but we are lucky enough to have Baba Brinkman in the room right now, and I’m hoping he’ll be willing to comment on the ongoing discussion of his work.”
 A hundred and fifty bespectacled professors’ heads swiveled around in surprise to stare directly at me as I gave them a nervous wave, “hi everybody”.

So I said:
“It’s pretty surreal for me to hear you all debating the merits of my rap adaptation as a pedagogical tool, especially since that’s definitely not the purpose that I wrote it for.  I’m happy that it’s found a home in the classroom and that some teachers have found it useful, but my original motivation when writing The Rap Canterbury Tales wasn’t to help you to teach Chaucer; it was to wrest Chaucer away from you people and bring him to a wider audience outside the classroom.  That’s why I brought the show to the Edinburgh Festival and to dozens of other festivals around the world.  I thought it was a tragedy that The Canterbury Tales was only being enjoyed by people with a medieval studies education, when the Tales have a universal appeal and deserve to have a universal audience.  So, use the rap version at your own risk, and please judge it on its own merit after listening for yourself, instead of through the lens of your prejudice about rap, and keep in mind that from performing this show to tens of thousands of people around the world over the past five years, I am now the face of Chaucer, not you all.  I think the tales should be studied because they are loved, not loved because they are studied, and I’m trying to make people love the Tales again. So come see the show tonight and you’ll see how I do that.”

That night I got to perform the rap in a crowded room full of the world’s most eminent (beer-drinking) Chaucerians, and from the response I got (both to my comments and to the performance) I have a feeling that the anti-Baba Brinkman faction has been all but been vanquished from the field of Chaucer Studies.  However, the New Formalism vs New Historicism debate rages on.

Yours from the trenches,


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Speculating what songs would have been on the Beatles next album By: Shane Christensen

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It is actually pretty easy to figure out what songs could have been on the Beatles next album, simply by looking at the solo work and songs that came out immediately after their acrimonious breakup in 1970.

The biggest surprise of this album would be the fact that John Lennon and Paul McCartney would have probably played a lesser role in the songwriting department, as George Harrison had been stockpiling a number of heavyweight tunes that had previously been denied a place on a Beatles record.

But that all changed during the recording (and subsequent release) of their final studio album, Abbey Road. The first single was Here Comes The Sun, followed by one of the greatest love songs ever written (so says Frank Sinatra - and who's going to argue with him?) Something.

It was during these sessions that the band also experimented with a prophetic, beautiful tune called All Things Must Pass. Anyone who's heard the Beatles’ version would probably agree that this song would have been a standout tune, especially with the lovely vocal harmonizing between George and Paul during the chorus. Unfortunately, their relationship was strained to the point that the last thing George wanted to hear was Paul singing alongside him.

Another surprise on this album would be the inclusion of other non-Beatles musicians participating in its making, which they had done previously on Let It Be (Billy Preston) and the White Album (Eric Clapton). With all the interpersonal tensions in the band, the members actually enjoyed having "neutral" players break the ice so that everyone could actually have fun and enjoy themselves again. It was akin to a marriage that had soured, and having friends over for drinks and a BBQ was all that is needed.

So, in saying that, I would speculate that Bob Dylan would guest on this album and offer a tune he gave to George for his first solo album. If Not For You is a mellow love song that would chart as a "new country" tune today. I think it would have been amazing to listen to Dylan playing on the next album of a band who simply idolized him years before, and who he influenced greatly (remember Rubber Soul)?

Paul had a few songs that had been bumped from earlier albums which I feel would finally surface on this latest album. The tunes Junk and Teddy Boy had both been written in India, but were cut from Abbey Road and Let It Be respectively. Now, with a little reworking, these songs would make it on this new album, along with the classic Maybe I'm Amazed. This tune was the stand-out track on McCartney's first solo release, and the Beatles version would have been far superior with the participation of the other top-quality musicians as well as with the production of George Martin to do it justice.

Ringo Starr's contribution would be the song from his first solo release; one which many speculated was actually written by George or John due to its intricate level of songwriting, It Don't Come Easy. Ringo’s song was a number one hit for him, and there's no doubt the Beatles’ version would have done equally well, if not better. John Lennon was the most dominant member of the Beatles up until Sgt. Peppers, and then a number of factors precipitated his decline as the acknowledged leader. Meeting Yoko, experimenting with heroin, and losing Brian Epstein all affected John's attitude towards being a Beatle, and it was he (not Paul) who first suggested the dissolution of the band in 1969.

After the break-up, many people were shocked at the lack of quality in Lennon’s material, and it would take him over a year to produce anything comparable to Beatles’ caliber. This finally came with the release of the song Imagine. Perhaps Instant Karma and Working Class Hero; his solo songs released in 69/70, could have been offered up for a new Beatles’ project (which would have guaranteed quality production and effort).

Of course the one song that would definitely be on this album, and which would also be its title, is the anti-war anthem Give Peace A Chance. This song sums up the passion and ideology of the man, and the Beatles as a whole, and it would be reflective of an entire generation who grew up loving the Beatles, their music, and their message of love and peace.

Give Peace A Chance, would have been the next album by the greatest musical group in the entire world, The Beatles.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

CFox’s Vancouver 2008 Seeds Tickets on Sale July 11th

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On Friday, at 11:00, tickets will go on sale for CFOX's, August 9th, Vancouver's 2008 Seeds event, at the Commodore Ballroom.

Tickets are only $9.93 (so you are definitely getting your money’s worth and then some).

The evening’s lineup includes:


Innocent Bystander

Cold Driven

Versus the Nothing

Jordan Carrier

With Special Headliner: Thornley

One of these top five acts will receive the Platinum Award which provides:

• A management consultation deal with Coalition Entertainment (currently managing Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven and Simple Plan)

• An agency consultation deal with the Agency Group (Ralph James)

• Recording of an EP at Mushroom Studios Vancouver from Mushroom /Hipposonic

• A 1-day song writing session with Brian Howes (Hinder, Rev Theory, Puddle of Mudd, Sheryl Crow)

• Mixing of 1 radio single by Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Ill Scarlett)

• A demo recording deal with Maple Music Including national distribution

•A gig opening Foxfest with Stone Temple Pilots at GM Place on August 30th.

I feel that the Fox’s contribution to the independent British Columbian music scene via The Seeds contest is commendable.

There is one contest entry requirement that I have always felt must hamper some eager band’s eligibility. The Seeds entry form lists several conditions that entrants must adhere to. The most standard condition is: This competition is open to residents of BC, except the employees, directors, and immediate family members of CFOX Radio, Corus Entertainment Inc., Long & McQuade Musical Instruments, Labatt Brewery and Music BC, their employees, and immediate family members of anyone in these groups.

These aforementioned companies employ A LOT of British Columbians and I am sure there were a few potential entrants who were affected by their (or their family members’) employment. I have often wondered why this is a common requirement with contests? (The first explanation that comes to mind is eliminating any accusations of unfairness or favoritism.) Be sure to get your Seeds' tickets and support our local musicans.

To listen to the final ten CFOX 2008 Seeds' entrants, Click Here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

New Band Alert – Tickle Me Pink By: Christine Albrecht

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I received a band alert from Windup Records, and I do believe we have a potential ‘winner’ with Tickle Me Pink.

Colorado’s latest musical export reminds me a bit of Story of the Year, especially with their release Typical (due out on radios next week). I prefer the melancholic tune, Madeleine, and predict it will become as popular as Typical.

One note of sadness, the band's bassist, Johnny Schou died on July 1, 2008. This must be heartbreaking; to have one of the most important days of your life (album release date in the USA) be countered with one of the most saddest.

Check out the tunes yourself atWindup Records


(The full-length Madeline album is due out in Canada in August).

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tawdry Travelogues By: Baba Brinkman

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Attention Seekers,

Name-dropping is so tawdry, but so are most things that instantly capture our complete attention. Twenty minutes ago I bid goodnight to my dinner companions, a group of five including the legendary English actor and playwright Steven Berkoff, theatre dynamo and James Bond villain extraordinaire. Steven regaled us with tales of theatre productions in the 60's when he shared the stage with a 24 year old Ian McKellan, and I reciprocated with a command performance of The Wife of Bath's Tale. It turns out he's also directing a play at the Pleasance Dome in Edinburgh this year, so we'll soon be sharing a venue. When I told him that we'd be performing 27 consecutive shows in Edinburgh, he retorted: “I have a tour of Australia coming up in September with 36 consecutive performances, two hours per night!" Nothing like a little healthy competition among playwrights...

If you don't know who Steven Berkoff is, then you've never seen Beverly Hills Cop. Check him out:

I'm writing from the Lowdham Book Festival in Nottinghamshire, where I have three days of performances and workshops in schools to keep me busy. Today I performed The Rap Canterbury Tales in five consecutive one-hour sessions starting at 9 a.m., for groups of students ranging in age from 11 to 18.

Ouch, I can hear some of you wincing. Cool, I can hear others enthusing. Yeah, a bit of both, I concede. On the one hand, it leaves me completely wiped out, rapping for hours on end, repeating the same stories. On the other hand, every new audience brings new appreciation, and I get $1000 a day when I'm gigging. The only thing more tawdry than name-dropping is talking about how much money you're making, ugh. Whatever. Independently mounting a full production at the Edinburgh Fringe is an expensive endeavor, and this is how I'm financing it. Speaking of which, Dizraeli and I finished writing the script for the Rebel Cell the other day and have done a few test runs, smoothing out the kinks. We're also pressing ahead with the album version of the show, and we'll have advance copies ready in time for the Fringe, barring any unforeseen disasters. We recently completed the first track, The Fallout, during which we break up like the Fugees in true dramatic fashion. The preview is now on myspace if you want to give it a listen.

Last week I was in Stoke-on-Trent, (which the locals call Choke-on-Stench), an industrial town not far from here that couldn't be more different (Lowdham's demographic is more than 70% millionaires, according the cab driver).

I spent three days performing at Staffordshire schools and teaching workshops to kids who definitely don't see outsiders much, lovely as they were. Some of them came up with very clever raps. Most bemusing was the fact that they mistook me for a celeb and had me signing dozens of autographs, which they seemed to think might be worth money someday. But I can't imagine even Eminem's autograph is worth anything on a scrap of paper (autographed large glossy photos go for about $5 on Ebay). If it were otherwise, he could just stay home scribbling his name all day instead of making records. Of course, no one is a celebrity until/unless people mistake him/her for one!

Hold me back. In two days I depart for the notorious Glastonbury Festival, headlined by Jay-Z, Amy Winehouse, and Leonard Cohen. I'm performing on three different stages over the course of the weekend; a mixed bag including both hip-hop gigs with Mud Sun Image from :

and solo spoken-word gigs. I've heard the Glastonbury legends for years and I'm finally going to see for myself, and under the exact circumstances, which I had most hoped for.

After just over three weeks in England the cuts and scrapes on my limbs from a month of tree planting have finally healed and I've completed my seasonal metamorphosis from a beast of burden into a purveyor of linguistic animal magic.

If you're curious about what our new Edinburgh show is going to be like, take a moment to read some press on The Rebel Cellat Rebel Cell Press:

During the current run and lead up to the Fringe, (...under a month left to go...) is that time when the publicity drive kicks into gear, so any press contacts or suggestions for getting the word out are always appreciated.

Wish me luck at the mother of all music festivals!


Any Middle and high Schools interested in booking Baba Brinkman for a performance/ assembly, please contact Baba through his website.

Back to the 80s: The Karate Kid & 'Sweep the Leg' video By: Kickin’ It Old School

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As you all know by now, I love almost everything about the ‘80s, but especially the music and movies. One of my very favorite guilty pleasures is the movie The Karate Kid (the original from 1984).

I am not sure exactly why, but I have always loved this movie.

Maybe it is because it is about the underdog who overcomes tremendous obstacles to achieve his goals in the end. Maybe it is because it is a story about the power of friendship, trust and honor. Maybe it is the thrill of victory and that all of the hard work and training really does pay off. Maybe it is battle of good versus evil with the good guy losing some battles, but ultimately winning the war? Maybe it is because of Elisabeth Shue? Maybe it is a combination of all of those reasons, but I love this story about Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi and whenever it is on I cannot help but sit and watch it.

Here is a link to an article written by Bill Simmons for ESPN which discusses his love for The Karate Kid movies, which made me feel a little better about my sentimentality toward this movie. Also, here is a link to a YouTube video that I thought gave a great summary of the movie in less than five minutes, set to the song Blurry by Puddle of Mudd. The video only glosses over some of the enjoyable training scenes, but I feel it does a good job of hitting the highlights. Despite supplying you with this link, the clip is not the real purpose of this entry.

There is a video that I find amusing called Sweep the Leg by the band No More Kings. The video was released in 2007 and was written and directed by William Zabka who played Johnny Lawrence in The Karate Kid.

The premise of the video is to see what old Johnny is up to nowadays. He is haunted by the band (No More Kings) and ends up chasing front man Pete Mitchell and a battle ensues. He then wakes up to realize he was only dreaming, only to get hit by a car driven by none other than Ralph Macchio himself. Strange, but funny stuff especially for an ‘80s junkie like me.

The video not only features Zabka and Macchio, but also other members of the movie cast including all of the other Cobra Kai cronies. Macchio looks good considering he is now 46 years old, but the same can't be said for some of those Cobra Kais. The beginning of the video stars Dennis Haskins (better known as "Mr. Belding" from the Saved By The Bell (television series). Sweep the Leg also references some other ‘80s movies like Back To School (which also starred Zabka as a bad guy bully) and Raising Arizona as well as the music video for The Cars song, You Might Think.

Enough talking about it, you should just watch it for yourself. It is about 7 minutes long, but it is entertaining.

Sweep the Leg video by No More Kings

So, what did you think…? If you are not a big fan of The Karate Kid, you might not find it as amusing as I do. It is good to see that Zabka does not take himself as seriously as many of his 80s characters did. Hope you enjoyed this little piece of pop culture gold.

Peace and much love.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to read some more 80s-related articles, If you click here. As well, check out the Archives in the upper left hand column to see all past issues of Kickin' it Old School organized by month. If you enjoy anything here, please consider subscribing or at least bookmarking it.

Check this out: I have mentioned a couple times how much I dislike Amy Winehouse as a person and that I also do not really appreciate her music much either. Here is a link to a story about how she recently punched an audience member at one of her performances. What a loser. I also came across this picture of her, which features her out-of-control beehive hair do. I can't believe someone would leave the house with her hair looking so ridiculous...

Quote of the day: The fruits of life fall into the hands of those who climb the tree and pick them. -Earl Tupper (American entrepreneur and Tupperware inventor)

Download this: What's Been Going On? by Amos Lee - I have recommended a couple Amos Lee songs in the past and he just released a new album titled Last Days At the Lodge with this song being one of my favorites.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Marq DeSouza Swanktrendz CD Review By: Shane Christensen

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Category: Vancouver/Canadian Indie Music

Living a few thousands miles east of Vancouver guaranteed that I had never heard of local musician (of ten years) Marq DeSouza. And after listening to his very ambitious, fourteen-song, self-titled CD over the last week, I'm realizing what a shame that is.

For one, I could tell immediately upon the first few listens that this guy is a true, musical journeyman both as a songwriter and recording artist. Even if a specific song didn't do it for me; after the first couple of plays, I could hear the genius in the details which, I've learned as a seasoned listener, separates the men from the boys, so to speak.

And there are a lot of details in the song's respective locations, aptly complementing the individual track they're enhancing, instead of taking away. A good example is on the catchy You Haven't Changed At All, where there is a continuous guitar solo throughout a portion of the track. Yet the song is mixed at just the right level so that it doesn't become a distraction. And just as the song is nearing its end, a great layer of harmonica and gentle picking of the guitar strings subtlety trail off in a sonic dance of bliss. This song is one of the standouts on the disc and reminds me of a cross between Blue Rodeo, Tom Cochrane, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The real beauty is that it's all pulled off without sounding derivative.

But make no mistake, this album will conjure up comparisons to a whole whack of rockers from bygone days. As well as the before-mentioned acts, I'm constantly amazed at how closely Marq's voice resembles that of a young Mick Jagger from the Let It Bleed era (but only on certain songs when he accesses his lower vocal range.

This leads me into my one critique of this effort, which lies with in the apparent production inconsistencies which crop up now and again, negatively impacting the overall sound. It is most apparent on the hard rocking All You Had To Say Was Hi!, which is a song that has grown on me despite my initial confusion as to why both back up singers' (Amanda Sonic Guests) appear to rock in a lower register than their natural range would indicate.

I also found that track one's Prey Becomes Predator, appears to be unlikely slagging fodder for some pundits who feel this thrash metal tune just doesn't "fit" with the rest of the disc. This song is one of my favorites, in no small part due to the fantastic guitar layering and the solos that leave me shaking my head in respectful awe. Fair enough, the vocals appear recorded and/or mixed in a way that just isn't congruent with the quality on the rest of the disc. This is unfortunate, because you know DeSouza's instincts are too aware for him not to have known that.

There's definitely not a lack of vocal ability with Marq, as DeSouza's pipes prove to be first rate, most notably on the cuts You Haven't Changed, Glimpse of Her, and the kick-ass Some $, Somehow. This track is an impressive offering of balls-to-the-wall rock of the Cougar/Hip/Stones/Skynyrd calibre, and it would be an injustice if this song doesn't crack Canadian radio soon as this tune should be topping the summer charts across the entire country.

Following behind is the trackRazorburn which is another Skynyrd sounding tune, especially during the latter half of the song which graces us with some of the most impressive guitar manipulation I've heard since Slash was in the Gunners.

This musical skill is what impresses me the most after listening to, and getting addicted to, this disc. Despite being an independent release, the quality of songwriting and musicianship on this album is comparable to some of the best records released, which is a testament to DeSouza's: talents; abilities; staying-power, and the-all-important-gift - instincts. Marq could steal Springsteen's tag of hardest-working-man-in-rock music with his two-year labour of love, which does not disappoint.

I don't usually rate the albums I review, but I need to give this disc a nine out of ten, 9/10

and I hope Marq DeSouza's Self-Titled CD generates enough critical and commercial buzz. that his follow-up attempt will get the financial backing it deserves (ahem...Bob Rock as producer)?

But if an offering of funding and production assistance is not forthcoming, I am sure Marq will still deliver top quality music on a working man's budget.

Great work, man. You have yourself a new fan in the Eastern part of the country who can't wait to see what the future holds for you.

Check out Marq's sites and see for yourself!

Visit Marq

Marq's Myspace

Album Track Listing

Prey Becomes Predator

Daddy Doom

You Haven't Changed At All

When I Was A Child


Glimpse Of Her

Some $, Somehow


All You Had To Say Was Hi

A Lucky Man

Some Guy

Where Did You Wit Go?

The Monologue Is All That Remains

Divided Highway

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Father's Day Ideas From Treasure Finds' Matthew & Rebecca G By: Christine Albrecht

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Growing up, Dads were the dispensers of all wisdom. "Shut the door, did you grow up in a barn?" was a popular one. He was also in charge of reminding us that contrary to popular wisdom, money did not grow on trees. We laughed and left the doors open then, but now appreciate these early lessons (plus the great bedtime stories).

Make your Dad proud by remembering those thrifty lessons when you shop for a present for his special day. From now through Father's Day, all orders, no matter how big or small, will ship free inside the USA! We love our international customers too, so we're shipping airmail for half price.

Women might love our jewelry, but men find we have one of the nicest selection of hard-to-find cufflinks, moneyclips, tiepins and other items perfect for your Dad. Here are some ideas to get you started, but as always, feel free to email or call us if you want any help!

Money Clips

One of our all time classic gifts for guys, there's no worries about finding the right size and we've got classic styles for everyone. If you're really feeling generous, these are especially popular when stuffed with wads of hundreds, but a folded up note with a special thought just might bring a tear to his eye, too.

Click here to see more money clips


No question about it, cufflinks are our all time best seller for guys (and some stylish girls, too). French chain and bar styles, we have them all in classic sterling and dramatic gemstones. We have one of the best selections of sterling silver cufflinks anywhere with over 60 great designs. If the dad in your life wears cufflinks (or should) here's the chance to make his day.

Click here to see more cufflinks

Anam Cara Ring

If you're lucky your Dad is more than a father, he's a good friend, too. The Celtic words "anam cara" mean "soul friend". The words are from the ancient Celtic belief that some friendships run so deep that they reflect an ancient bond or connectedness of two people's souls allowing them to understand, trust and support each other on a level beyond most mortal relationships. We also have Anam Cara pendants, lockets, and bracelets.

Click here to see more Anam Cara items


Matthew & Rebecca Gelber

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers Book Review by Lezah Williamson

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Twilight (2005) is the NY Times best seller by Stephanie Meyers; it is the first in a series of the same characters.

Part romance, part suspense, part teen angst story, Twilight chronicles the unrooting of Bella from her life-long home in Arizona to her new home in Washington state, where she is now living with her father. The mother's re-marriage and the step-father's Farm team baseball career are what prompts Bella to move to the cold, damp Pacific Northwest. To say that she doesn't like the weather is a bit of an understatement.

Likewise, the transition from her old school in Arizona, where the population was in the thousands, is a far cry from her new school, which is little more than a small group of trailers and outbuildings. The town itself, probably has a lower population than her former school. Culture shock rears its ugly head pretty quickly...

But, it's a case of friends to the rescue as the new girl in town become the popular IT girl. She doesn't embrace her new-found popularity well, though, and instead is drawn to a reclusive family of incredibly beautiful, intelligent people. Or are they people?

Turns out the answer is no: they are vampires.

But this isn't your typical vampire story, with vamps running around biting and blood sucking. These guys are above all that...

Personally, I was a bit disappointed with this book. I thought the main character was not at all believable (for instance, what teenager wouldn't like snow?). Someone I know felt that the vocabulary was limited.

Over all, I'd suggest you save your money: wait for the movie, instead (there's bound to be one).

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