Saturday, September 29, 2007

33rd SNL Season Premier

Saturday Night Live has captured cultures and historical events. The actors are bred socially aware. Weekend Update, a humorous news broadcast, offers insight on current affairs in entertaining and serious manners. The show was created by Canadian Lorne Michaels, and has produced and featured many great Canadian actors.

Tonight is the 33rd opening show. It is hosted by LeBron James, who is a 3 time NBA All Star, a 2007 FIBA Americas gold medalist, the 2006 NBA All Star Game MVP, and was nominated for three EPSY awards. He's already performed a parody of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative."

Tonight's musical guest is the controversially socially aware Kanye West.

Let's see what they have to offer.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rogers Hates Trees

There are rumors upon rumors of a Canadian do not call list but while their ironing all of that out, could we tack on a "do not mail either" list?

I think the worst offender is Rogers. I get 7-8 pieces of mail from Rogers a month, Rogers Video, Rogers Internet, Rogers Cable etc., - some addressed to me, some addressed to 'resident' and all of them trying to sell me something. There's even extra sales material stuffed in with my Rogers bill, the one piece of mail they send me every month that I don't mind getting. Rogers is not the only one that sends this, obviously, they are just the worst offender. Generally half to two-thirds of what arrives in my mail box is junk mail.

So here's a point of information for the senders: I don't buy any of it. I put a recycling bin directly underneath the mailbox and that is where it all goes, along with the flyers and other ads that you leave with the help of Canada post. Most of it I don't even look at. Virtually none of it makes it through the front door. So, could we save a few forests and just stop. Believe me, if you have something I need or if I think you might have something I need. I'll call you.

So, a question for the readers - who are the other companies out there hellbent on deforestation?

New Recordings from Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra

Five Tracks recorded live at the Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra's September 20th show at the the Tranzac are available on their website at

The next Pardale Revolutionary Orchestra show will be on October 4 at Clinton's in Toronto with the "melodramatic" (cabaretish) Raha - Definitely not your average pop show.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Most Serene Republic Canadian Tour & Blog (kindof)

The Most Serene Republic has announced a full Canadian tour (see dates below) and have launched The Army of the Republic as a tour blog for the group. Sadly it is not quite a blog as there is no feed - which means you have to check back with the site rather than getting automatic updates and there is no comments section - still it's a nice thing to do and...well...tour coming, new album =)


18 Halifax/Marquee Club

19 Fredriction/The Capitol (with Mother Mother)

20 Halifax/The Seahorse (All Ages) (TMSR Only)

21 Charlottetown/Baba's Lounge (With Small Sins)

24 Kingston/AJ's Ale House (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

25 Toronto/Mod Club (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

26 Montreal/La Gymnase (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

27 Ottawa/Zaphods (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)


01 Hamilton/The Casbah (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

02 Guelph/Peter Clarke Hall (U of Guelph) (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

03 London/The Salt Lounge (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

04 St. Catherines/Level 3 (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

09 Winnipeg/Pyramid Cabaret (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

10 Saskatoon/Amigos (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

13 Regina/ The Exchange (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

15 Canmore/The Canmore Hotel (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

16 Calgary/Broken City (With Dragonette, Mother Mother & Small Sins)

17 Edmonton/Starlite (With Dragonette, Mother Mother & Small Sins)

19 Fernie/Central Hotel (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

20 Kelowna/Habitat (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

21 Victoria/Sugar (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

22 Vancouver/Plaza Club (With Dragonette & Mother Mother)

Breaking Books!

According to the National Post, and CBC Radio 3 a book on the history and origins of Broken Social Scene "Penned By Kevin Drew, Jason Collett, Brendan Canning and other members of Broken Social Scene, along with Eye magazine senior editor Stuart Berman." is in the works. It will include information on side projects like Death From Above 1979, Metric, Peaches, Do Make Say Think and others. The books is reportedly going to be called "This Book is Broken" and will be published by Anansi Press.

Rick Mercer Can Write?

Ever wonder what Rick Mercer does during those months of summer while his show is in reruns? Me either, but apparently he writes books. Originally entitled "If I Did It" until Mercer's lawyers and O.J. Simpson's bodyguards advised against it. It is now just called Rick Mercer Report: The Book

Shake Hands With the Devil starts Friday

The much anticipated story of Roméo Dallaire starring Roy Dupuis, which premeired at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, "Shake Hands With the Devil" hits theaters on Friday. For more info on the film see imdb or First Weekend Club.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

RVT: Emily Haines - Our Hell

Brand new vid from Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton.

Why Do They Hate Us? The CRTC that is.

My question for the day is what exactly does the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) have against Canada?

According to the Broadcasting Act of 1991 which, in part, created the CRTC:
"the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property and provides, through its programming, a public service essential to the maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty;"
Yet the CRTC seems derermined that as few voices as possible be heard within that system.

  • First they along with the Heritage Committee and the Harper Government allowed cable broadcasters to sabotage the Canadian television fund

  • Then they allowed an unprecedented amount of media consolidation

  • They passed rules that encourage the importing of American programming over original, home grown programming, and allowed even more commercials.

  • They've forced people to sue them in order to get hearings that they are legally entitled to.

  • And now they are threatening to kill public access television altogether. So what is it exactly that the Harper Government and the CRTC have against the Canadian public and Canadian voices? Hopefully we can find out before they pass judgement on Net Neutrality. It has become abundantly clear though that "the public interest" is no longer something they are interested in and "the public airwaves" aren't seen that way anymore.

    Patrick Watson Doesn't Poo Clouds But...

    In a country as musically rich and diverse as Canada, even to be nominated for the Polaris Prize is a huge achievement. The Polaris prize is, in my view, the greatest musical honour in Canada. It is not run by the record industry. Sales, marketing, and location have no bearing on the outcome. The prize is voted on by 170 (ish) music journalists - people who love music so much that they have devoted their careers to it.

    So, with all of that in mind congratulations to the Arcade Fire, the Besnard Lakes, the Dears, Julie Doiron, Feist, Junior Boys, Miracle Fortress, Joel Plaskett, and Chad VanGaalen on being nominated - I'm sure that all of them will see another Polaris nomination at some point in their careers.

    Most especially congratulations to Patrick Watson for actually taking the thing home. If, like most of the world, you couldn't be at last night's Polaris award show - check out the Radio 3 Podcast from it with performances from the Besnard Lakes, Eric's Trip, Julie Doiron, Miracle Fortress, the Joel Plaskett Emergency, Chad VanGaalen and Patrick Watson.

    Marcel Marceau: 1923-2007

    From Silent Movie:

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Andrea Wittgens Downloads

    Sugartown lead singer Andrea Wittgens, originally of Antigonish, Nova Scotia but currently residing in Seattle, has released her first solo EP "Alibi" and has kindly allowed me to post a few of the songs (along with her video) in the Download section. Please give her a listen and if you like what you hear go find more on her homepage or MySpace.
    "Magnetic, compelling. People are just drawn to the sound of her voice. She's the real thing." -- Bob Power, multi-platinum and Grammy-winning record mixer/producer

    Miramachi Paper Workers Take Matters Into Their Own Hands

    In an inventive move, making use of the tools offered by the internet, Chris Allison and the mill workers at UPM paper mills in Miramachi, NB have launched a campaign. After fighting for months to save their mill which is scheduled for closure the workers are now looking for investors on their own. From the statement I was send:
    "In an effort to save or ensure their jobs in the future, mill workers at UPM paper mills in Miramichi have launched a campaign, looking for buyers.
    CEP President Chris Allison says " action must happen now, the cold weather is coming, and we feel UPM will announce permenant closure, and allow the assets to be destroyed ". He continues '' we know the dollar is high , but it will come down eventually, and these facilities should be ready when it does ''. Allison is looking for the Federal Government to intervein as soon as possible. " We have 750 people and their families, searching for answers, and it seems nobody wants to help find those answers"

    Here is their commercial:

    I'm an Elitist, You Should Be Too

    I've had the term elitist thrown at me alot lately. It is generally because of something I say in reference to pop culture. If I say Brittney Spears has no talent, or that I have no interest in Paris Hilton, if I say that most of the time reality television is moronic - there is more and more often someone standing there ready to throw out the E. word. I have heard it enough in fact that I'm willing to accept the term, but we're going to have to redefine it or at least better define it.

    To me an elitist has always been someone in a monocle and smoking jacket who will tell you that classical music and opera are the only true forms, who generally doesn't like film or television at all but prefers literature and classical theatre. Someone who believes in 'natural ruling classes' and that good breeding is a predictor of success, intelligence and overall worthiness. That is not me, not at all.

    Well maybe a little:

    I have nothing against classical music, I like some of it. I have nothing against classical literature or theatre. But I grew up on a steady diet of Joy Division, Black Flag, X, the Clash, Talking Heads, not to mention Star Wars, the Muppet Show, reruns of the Twilight Zone and the original Star Trek, comic books and good B movies. I do not judge people based on their economic class, or what they do for a living - I do not, for a moment think that humanities finest artistic achievements have been made and I do not believe in 'natural ruling classes' or any of that garbage.

    So, apparently the word Elitist has come to mean something else. Elitist now means someone who has their own set of tastes, their own criteria for judging things, someone who doesn't take guidance from entertainment tonight, or pretend to 'love' something simply because some clever marketing campaign claims that 'everyone loves it.'

    So, being an elitist, here are my basic criteria and this is going to sound 'traditionally elitist' but bear with me. Back in my theatre days I learned about the three rules of dramatic criticism. Although intended for drama I find them fairly easily adaptable to most art and media. I'm pretty sure this came from Johan Goethe originally, though I can't find a good reference for it. It would be appropriate though since Goethe wrote the most widely known version of Faust - about a man who makes a deal with the devil in exchange for earthly fame and profit; Something I'm convinced that many of today's 'stars' are familiar with.

    Anyway, Goethe's(?) Three Rules of Dramatic Criticism:

  • The first thing to ask is What were you trying to do this is fairly straight forward. Simply what is the creator of the work trying to accomplish. In much of todays popular media the honest answer is "make alot of money" but since that can't be rated except in dollar terms which don't tell us anything about quality we have to revise it to what, artistically or creatively, were you trying to do? Occasionally something falls off at this point if you honestly have no idea what whe artist was trying to do.

  • Next you have to ask was it worth doing. This is where the wheat is really separated from the chafe. This is where we ask what is it that your brought to this that is unique and original. What is it that you've brought to this that hasn't been done before. In all too many cases, especially in television and film, the answer is nothing at all. For me this is where most endeavors fall off the map.

  • Finally you ask how well was it done. For the most part this is in the eye of the beholder. You and I may see the same film and I may think it was done very well while you think it was done very poorly. To me this question is not nearly as important as the second one. If you have a brilliant idea and a small budget you stand a better chance with me than someone in the opposite situation. I am willing to overlook low production value, if you really brought a fresh, original idea. This is also, perhaps, where the threat in user generated content lies. Everyone has ideas, some of them good, some of them less so, but until very recently only a tiny handful of people had the ability to bring their ideas to the world. Now tens of millions of people (and growing) have that ability and they can do it without big economic risks.

  • So, those are my criteria and though they may be elitist, I insist on keeping some criteria and not just 'eating what's put in front of me and liking it'. I do have more to say, and I'll get to a second post on the topic in the near future - I think the next thing to tackle is why the Neilson ratings, and many other forms of measurement used by media are ultimately meaningless.

    Saturday, September 22, 2007

    Pamela Under Water

    Halifax's Pamela Under Water describes her music as "Organic Folk" and "Dark but not negative" to me it sounds a bit like
    Nicola Conte or Bebel Gilberto and yeah, ok, maybe a touch of Feist - Soulful, jazzy vocals with a rhythm that wouldn't be out of place on discs like Verve Remixed or Hotel Costes. You can find more from Pamela Under Water on her Homepage, MySpace, or New Music Canada. You can also now find Pamela in the Bandblogs

    Spirit If...As If There Was Any Doubt

    To those of you going to the Kevin Drew/ B.S.S. show at Lee's next week, I'm jealous. As to the quality of the album - it almost goes without saying. If you like Broken Social Scene you will like "Spirit If..." - After two years in the making and featuring many of the people that made Broken Social Scene happen including Feist, Andrew Whiteman (Apostle of Hustle), Brendan Canning (who is due next for a solo effort), Emily Haines, Amy Millan, Ohad Benchetrit and Charles Spearin of Do Make Say Think and....well the list goes on and on.

    If there is a safe bet in Canadian Indie music this year, Spirit If.. would be it. The CD simply never falls short of brilliance for a moment. I think it's even safe to say that there are only 9 spots left on next year's Polaris short list. If you're still unsure you can hear a few tracks and download a free copy of TBTF at Kevin's Myspace but seriously, why postpone the inevitable, go get the album.

    No Room for Students or Teachers in Education Reform

    Following up on the UNBSJ Story.

    One would suppose that if the province was going to close your local university that current high school students might have an interest in the subject. Professor Greg Marquis thought so. The UNBSJ professor went to hold a scheduled information session for students at Harbourview High School in St. John, NB only to discover that the 'information session" was cancelled because "he didn't follow the proper procedures, and never contacted the superintendant's office."

    According to this article
    "District 8's Bev MacDonald says officials are not opposed to students having information about a current community issue."
    But referring to this as a "current community issue" in this case is absurd. This is an issue that will affect where and in some cases even whether the high school students in question go to university.

    You can now keep up to date on all of these happenings by reading "Living In Interesting Times" which has been added to the Canblogs. Again there is also a facebook group created by students, and a petition you can sign if you would like to lend your support to the people of St. John, NB.

    Notes for Vancouver

    First of all if you are looking for something to do tonight (Sat. September 22) - Said The Whale will be going on at about 10:15 at the Media Club in their first live show with their new keyboard player! You should rush out and see them while you can still say you "were into them before they were big". The video for "This Winter I Retire" is below if you need a sample.

    But before you watch that the First Weekend Club is looking for volunteers to help spread the gospel of Canadian film at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It's a good organization and you'll have fun - so if you have the time drop them a note.

    Said the Whale

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    Time to take down Toronto's Real Estate Mafia

    At a rally Nathan Phillips Square on Wednesday there was a rally in favour of higher taxes. It's hard to imagine, but yes things have gotten to a point in Toronto that people will hold a rally in favor of raising their own taxes.

    One of the speakers at that rally was City Councellor Adam Vaughn. Vaughn claims that the "board warned him that if he didn’t vote against the new taxes, they would make sure he lost the next election.".

    Considering the problems the city is having with public spaces, and considering that many of those problems were initially caused by bad decisions made to appease the Real Estate Board, I think it's time they lost some clout. Personally I will be watching the Real Estate Board and who and what they support. Any support from, donation from, or encouragement from the board for a candidate or a particular side in an issue will count as a negative with me.

    They have, over the years, had too much influence in my opinion and they and the developers they work with have abused that influence and let the city slowly deteriorate in favour of higher profits and faster turnarounds. The Real Estate Board does not rule the city of Toronto, it does not get to decide elections, and it must live within whatever guidelines the city and the voters lay down. If Miller doesn't run again in the next election - let's elect Adam Vaughn.

    Schools as Galleries?

    Toward the end of this summer I read uTOpia Volume 2: The State of the Arts Living with Culture in Toronto which is a fabulous book and really sparks your imagination when it comes to art and public spaces, whether you live in Toronto or elsewhere. I highly recommend you grab a copy - wherever you live. There are several authors in there I would still really like to talk to about their ideas.

    Shortly after finishing it I was flipping around at the television and landed on - I don't know what it was. There were children and they were talking about art. All they seemed to know though was the Renaissance, and Da Vinci, Michelangelo, a few even threw in Van Gosh and Jackson Pollock. It struck me that this was like your music education being limited to Beethoven and Mozart, Elvis and the Beatles. Nothing wrong with any of them - still, somewhat incomplete. I should add here that I do not blame the schools for this, the arts generally take a back seat to everything else, in terms of both time and budget in most schools.

    The combination of these two experiences led me to an idea. What if you could set aside a small area of the school, a little bit of wall somewhere and allow local contemporary artists to show off their work. Granted a public school is not an ideal gallery, kids will see it, and teachers, and perhaps some parents or other community members involved in the school. Even if it does not sell a single painting or print for anyone though I still think it is an idea worth exploring. It makes art alive for children, it makes the artists in their neighborhood as real as the firemen and policemen and bankers (all of whom are involved in the schools).

    It has also been suggested to me, by a few teachers I've talked to that it would be ideal if the artist could come in at some point to discuss their work with the children - this is also an excellent idea. I think though that it would be best to not do it right away. What I remember from art in school is that you would occasionally take a field trip to see some art, but that it was so rapid fire that you could digest nothing. You were ushered quickly through the museum and generally someone talked while you glanced at paintings and statues. If you saw something you thought curious or intriguing you didn't really have time to stop or you'd fall behind and they'd make you wait on the bus.

    By putting the art in the school for a few weeks , or a month (before hopefully someone else takes over) it gives students a chance to live with the art, to look at it for as long as they like and form opinions then perhaps when the artist comes in to present they will have something to say. Most importantly the children would be on the path to being adults who know about and think about art, not as a part of classical history, but as a current, ongoing, living, vibrant topic. The artist, as I said, is unlikely to sell anything, but perhaps - if a generation is created that knows about, thinks about and even buys art, it will pay the artists dividends down the road.

    I have talked to a school in West Toronto that is at least interested on the surface, and future talks are going to come. Ideally the art should be local, but if you live in Calgary, or Vancouver, or Halifax there is a good chance that there are artists who will work with your school - or schools that will work with you as an artist. If anyone out there is interested in participating, please get in touch, even if we are in different parts of the country, we can certainly at least compare notes.

    Tracy Fragments Scores in Halifax: Public Premiere Tonight:

    Just got word that the Tracy Fragments has won "Best Canadian Film" and the film's star Ellen Page has taken "Best Canadian Actress" at the Atlantic Film Festival ahead of tonight's public premiere in Halifax. Go here for more details on the The Tracy Fragments and where it's going after Halifax.

    Alot of Things Aren't Journalism

    Every time a news story comes on about OJ Simpson I don't just change the channel, I turn the TV off. This is not news. The OJ dispute over sports memorabilia might be local news in Las Vegas, it might even be a sidebar sports story but - he is not Canadian, he is not in any kind of position of power, he is not even interesting. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago he was a good football player - and that's it. Continuing to air or publish updates on his case is cheap sensationalism.

    Sure, OJ is just one of many possible examples of this kind of thing in the Canadian press. Many good and worthwhile stories get ignored so that pointless stories about people who are famous for being famous can run - but I wanted to mention it this time if only so I could make the following point:

    I keep reading editorials, speeches etc., by journalists who are concerned about the blurring of the line between blogging and journalism. Bloggers, according to most journalists, are not bloggers but here's a news flash - the public doesn't care. They don't care if you went to journalism school, they don't care who you work for, they don't even care much how long you've been doing it. Journalism, after all, is not an ancient and revered profession. The first journalism school anywhere was founded in Missouri in 1908. (100 years ago next year). That means there are people still alive who remember a time before J schools - hardly ancient history. Before that all journalism was done by people who specialized in something else.

    So - if you are a journalist, working for a major media organization and are worried about the integrity of your profession, about the reputation of the title 'journalist' or about the blurring of the lines between professionals and amatures , then please STOP LOWERING THE BAR.

    Nuit Blanche Previews

    From now until the start of Toronto's Nuit Blanche on September 29 VoCA (View on Canadian Art) will be previewing some of the installations and giving you a heads up on what to look out for.

    VoCA is written by Andrea Carson who, according to her About Me
    writes on contemporary art, architecture and design. She returned to Toronto in 2003 after having spent six years in London where she managed several art galleries and received her Masters degree in Art Criticism from City University (UK). A current particular focus is the promotion of Canadian art internationally. Carson has curated a number of projects, including Revealed: New Canadian Video, a screening at Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London in 2003.
    If you'd like to follow along VoCA is at or you can subscribe to the feed at feed://

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Axing Higher Education Does Not Improve the Economy

    Atlantic Canada has certainly seen better economic times, but short term fixes based solely on the demands of industry will not fix it. In any society that wants to prosper, both socially and economically, there is no better investment you can make than in education. It is education that provides the knowledge around which all other societal changes and improvements are made. Personally, I have nothing against polytechnic institutions but if you are serious about investing in the future you don't create them by shutting down universities and if you are serious about political credibility you don't do so on the basis of recommendations by a board member of polytechnics Canada.

    Please join me in supporting the students and staff of the University of New Brunswick's St. John campus in fighting an attempt by government to shut down their school - along with recommendations to deregulate tuition, cap student loans and eliminate a $2000 grant for first year students.

    More information is available here as well as a facebook group created by students, and a petition you can sign.

    Time Lapse at EDAM Studios

    This is the last weekend to catch a fantastic performance put on by EDAM Studios, Vancouver called Time Lapse. I saw the show last Saturday and was left amazed by the beautiful dancing as well as the evocative choreography.

    There are three different pieces in the program and each one is completely unique in style and feel. The first piece filled my head with visions of women trapped in a birdlike ultra-femininity and poised on the brink of collapse, while the second piece, appropriately titled 'Landscapes', was at times like watching a forest of arms and bodies drifting and twisting like leaves falling or waves rising. The last part of the program features multimedia along with simple lighting to create a prison-like setting for the dancers and is set to a score of live recordings by Johnny Cash. All the dancers performed with a raw, emotional, fluid and athletic beauty.

    Of course, it's way more fun to make your own interpretations and impressions from experiencing for yourself this experimental dance show, just be sure to reserve tickets ahead of time as this is the final weekend and the shows all sell out early.

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Nathan Lawr and the Minotaurs

    Nathan Lawr and the Minotaurs new album Sea of Tiny Lights is due out October 2nd. Many of you may never have heard the name Nathan Lawr and I might not have heard of him either if I hadn't seen him open for the Hidden Cameras at a church in Guelph. Even if you haven't heard of Nathan, if you're paying attention, you've heard of his friends - he has played with King Cobb Steelie, Royal City, the Fembots, Jim Guthrie, and the Constantines amoung others. He has also caught the attention of a few music press types:
    "one of the best–kept secrets in the Ontario indie scene right now" Sean Palmerston, View (Hamilton)

"Lawr harnesses an instinct for a tradition of Canadiana like the Skydiggers, occasionally dipping a toe in Tom Waits waters." James Keast, Exclaim!
    Nathan Lawr and the Minotaurs is another new addition to the Band Blogs and you can find more stuff from him at, New Music Canada, or on MySpace where you can download a copy of "Righteous Heart" if you like what you hear and you're lucky enough to live in Ontario - there are plenty of upcoming opportunities to check out the band (and buy the new CD):

    September 21 at Loplops Lounge in Ste. Sault Marie
    September 22 at Cambrian College Students Center in Sudbury
    September 30 at Sneaky Dees in Toronto
    October 12 and 13 at OCFF in London
    October 18 at the Supermarket in Toronto
    October 19 at the Spill in Peterborough
    November 8 at the Casbah in Hamilton
    November 9 at the Island Grille in Kingston
    December 8 at the Babylon in Ottawa

    While you're checking you're calendar here's the video for "Bury Me Blues"

    RVT Eastern Promises

    A Canadian/UK co-production directed by David Cronenberg and starring Viggo Morgensen and Naomi Watts, Eastern Promises won the top prize at this year's Toronto International FIlm Festival and is now playing widely.
    Visit First Weekend Club or IMDb for details.

    The Diableros: New CD + Release party and web site coming.

    A new album "the Diableros Aren't Ready for the Country" is due out is due out October 16. A few tracks from it are currently available on the groups MySpace and the whole album will be streamed on their website when the site launches October 1. Until the new site is ready you can also hear some Diableros at New Music Canada. The release party for the new CD will be at the Horseshoe Tavern on October 26 and there is a show coming to Saphir in Montreal but New Music Canada says it's on October 6th and the band's MySpace says the 5th so if you're interested probably best to call Saphir to find out.

    To help you stay up to date with further happenings I've added the Diableros to the Band Blogs. Also - through a link I found on the Diablero's Myspace - the Hungry City Blog has been added to the News feed on this site.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    TIFF 2007

    The Toronto International Film Festival came to a close a few days ago and to me I thought it was strange that there wasn't that much on buzz on any particular film. Being a staff member of the festival, you'd think I would've heard some discussion amongst the ticket holder lines or rush lines. Nope. Well, not really. However, one observation that we all did share was that we noticed that themes of war and terrorism, etc. seemed to prevail in many of the films. The films I did see (a mere five) were all depressing and as much as some of them were pretty good, I wanted to end the festival on a "feel-good" note. Last year I ended it by seeing Paris Je T'aime. Oh how I love that film! There was nothing this year that could've topped that. Did anyone see any good films that made them laugh, cry? I heard great things about Young People F***ing and Persepolis.

    Stills Join Arts & Crafts

    Congrats to the Stills on joining Arts & Crafts. The band certainly seems happy about it
    “It is with unrivaled joy, and with tremendous feelings of love that we, The Stills, join forces with friends and family as the newest members of the Arts & Crafts label.  To each member of this family we would first like to say how proud we are to find ourselves at your sides; an honour, and a privilege.  With so many of you already close friends for years now, it could not feel more right and natural.  It might very well be impossible to find a warmer, more welcoming, inspiring home.  And all is very timely as well.  We are rejuvenated by this union.” – Tim Fletcher
    And is celebrating with a show at Montreal's Main Hall on October 4 with Young Galaxy and the Most Serene Republic and two shows at Lee's Palace in Toronto.

    The Stills also have a new website, up today, and according to Arts & Crafts, will be chronicling the recording of their new album on the site.

    CBC Will Give You 50k For Making Promises You Don't Plan on Keeping

    Some people think Canada has a leadership deficit if you're between 18-25 and think you can fix it - Please grab a video camera and then visit for all the rules and stuff.

    Last year's contest (the whole thing) is here

    No One Will Know (except you I guess)

    Bella's first album on Mint Records No One Will Know is out today. The easiest way I could describe Bella would be the Stars meet Shiny Toy Guns, but if it reminds you a bit of the New Pornographers or Tegan and Sara it could be because the albums producer David Carsewell has worked with both of the above. The Band's members Cameron Fraser, Tiffany Garrett and Carla Benet swap lead vocals throughout the 12 tracks but harmonize so perfectly on each of them that 'lead vocals' aren't as important. Or, as Radio 3's John Paolozzi puts it "Bella is a Vancouver-based trio that executes the boy/girl harmony mix in a nigh-perfect sorta way"

    You can listen to the entire CBC Radio 3 interview here.

    The first song "Give It a Night" has hit single written all over it, but the entire CD is as good as the single. The music is danceable and mellow at the same time. Combining the dream like harmonies with trace inducing melodies and danceable rhythms. You can get a sampling of Bella on New Music Canada, or on their MySpace.

    Bella will be kicking off a tour in support of the album in Brooklyn, New York tomorrow night - the rest of the dates are below:

    SEPT 19, BROOKLYN, NY- Union Hall

    SEPT 20, NYC-at Piano's

    SEPT 21, SEATTLE- at Crocodile Cafe with Imperial Teen

    SEPT 22, PORTLAND- at Lola's Room with Imperial Teen

    SEPT 29, SAN FRANCISCO- at Bottom of the Hill with Imperial Teen

    OCT 4, VANCOUVER, BC- No One Will Know CD Release Party!
    at the Railway club

    OCT 12, EDMONTON- the velvet underground

    OCT 13, CALGARY, AB- at The Marquee

    OCT 22, OTTAWA, ON- at mavericks

    OCT 23, TORONTO, ON- at The Horseshoe Tavern

    OCT 24, GUELPH, ON- at the E-bar

    OCT 26, LONDON, ON- at the Alex P. Keaton

    OCT 27, WATERLOO,ON- at the Starlight with Mother Mother

    OCT 28, TORONTO, ON- at The Drake

    OCT 29, MONTREAl, QC- Bar St. Laurent

    OCT 30, QUEBEC CITY, QC- tba

    NOV 1, HALIFAX, NS- Gus's Pub

    NOV 3, FREDRICTON, NB- Capital Bar

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Tracey Fragments on Canada AM

    Ellen Page and Bruce McDonald on Canada AM talking about The Tracey Fragments - there is also an excellent review of the film from the TIFF at

    The Tracy Fragments is done in Toronto for Now but will be arriving shortly at
  • The Atlantic Film Festival

  • The Calgary International Film Festival

  • The Vancouver International Film Festival

  • Cinnefest Sudbury
  • RVT: The Choir Practice - Failsafe

    From Pitchfork:
    Vancouver's the Choir Practice released a version of Carl Newman's "Failsafe" on their self-titled debut even before Newman's New Pornographers got around to issuing the Kathryn Calder-fronted rendition on Challengers. Led by former the Gay and A.C. Newman member Coco Culbertson, the Choir Practice includes New Pornographers drummer Kurt Dahle, Sydney Vermont (of Dan Bejar collaboration Hello, Blue Roses), and P:ano's Larissa Loyva, plus members of Blood Meridian, Love and Mathematics, Great Aunt Ida, and Heartbreak Scene, among others. The group's recording of "Failsafe" leaves out the New Pornos' "How Soon Is Now" guitar tremolo, instead layering sweetly sung vocals over a lone guitar and handclaps. Panning from face to face, the video plays like a Canadian equivalent of "We're From Barcelona".

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Blood Lines Getting Noticed, just a bit

    Things are happening fast for the Blood Lines - just back from the Beijing Pop Festival the band has now been nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award. Stay Tuned, as rumor has it some video from the Blood Lines tour of China will be appearing on the R3TV Videocast in the not too distant furure. If you are already sold on the Blood Lines, you might also want to check out Maygen Kardash's other band the Junior Pantherz.

    Edit: The Junior Pantherz have been added to the Band Blogs

    NFB Library in Danger of Deteriorating

    According to the CBC, most of the films in the National Film Board's collection - some 13,000 films - are in danger of deteriorating because the NFB lacks the technology to digitize them.

    You would think that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage would be rushing to the rescue. After all, "The board's productions have accumulated more than 5,000 awards including a dozen Oscars and more than 90 Genies."This is obviously an important part of Canadian arts and cultural heritage. However, it appears that the Harper Government remains staunchly anti-arts:
    "The board is a departmental agency and is responsible for its own day-to-day operations … including conducting and acting upon the recommendations of their internal audits," said Canadian Heritage spokesman Charles Drouin in response to the report's findings.

    admin note: Sometimes things move

    Some things have moved around on the site. I've moved several blogs that deal primarily or exclusively with politics to the News section of the site. Move the Quill and Quire blog to the Arts organizations (or Arts Blogs) and dropped 2 blogs that are, as far as I can tell, defunct. Over the coming days I will be adding more blogs to all of these sections as well as the CanBlogs from which these blogs were moved.

    Moved to Politics
  • Canadian Journalism Project
  • CRIA Prefers Law Suits as a Method of Payment

    Via Boing Boing: The Canadian Recording Industry Association filed papers this week to fight the application of the Copyright Board of Canada's recent decision to allow a proposed tariff on iPods to proceed. It would appear that in the case of the big American and multinational record labels that they don't actually want to get paid. They want you to download illegally so they can sue.

    From Boing Boing
    The Canadian Recording Industry Association (which represents multinational, US, and other non-Canadian record labels exclusively) has come out against the "private copying levy," a tax on blank media that it lobbied hard for over the past 15 years. The levy is charged against blank media, and the money raised is paid to copyright holders in exchange for the right to copy music and other works onto the media. CRIA apparently fears that the levy can be used to legalize P2P music-trading in Canada (an activity whose legality is in dispute right now), thereby breaking the P2P deadlock, decriminalizing millions of music fans, and paying millions of dollars to their members. The record industry giants would prefer to go on suing music fans and technology companies -- an activity that pays the record companies handsomely, while encouraging fans to defect from buying music in the future, and which does not pay one cent to any artist.

    Still more is available from Michael Geist.

    Friday, September 14, 2007

    Rededication of

    So I was working alot on the redesign of the site and once it was up I was playing catchup with everything else. But, I thought it was time to rededicate the site. For some time now the site has been without an 'about' section. This is primarily because the site is still evolving and has undergone shifts about every six months.
    So... was born, as some of you know, out of the CBC Lockout of 2005. While that particular event is long over, the underlying causes are still firmly in place and many in Canadian arts and media remain 'locked out' . They are not locked out by a particular employer, but are still barricaded from their own market and from the funds that would enable them to make a reasonable living in arts and media.

    Canadian arts, entertainment and cultural programs frequently talk about American media and feature American guests because, they argue, that's what people are into. It's what people want. In most cases they are right, American films, television, and to a lesser extent books and music tend to dominate the markets in Canada. But why do people want it? Largely it is because they are told that they do. In part they are told this by Canadian arts, entertainment and cultural programs and publications that talk about what 'people are into'. Whether or not that is in the public interest.

    If you are creating an entertainment program, or the entertainment section of a magazine or newspaper you want to talk about things people care about and things they've heard of. There are generally three ways that people 'hear of' something. One is advertising/marketing, one is word of mouth and one is the above mentioned programs and publications. Even word of mouth though has, until the acendency of the internet anyway, relied primarily on the other two methods. In order for a friend to tell you about a new film or musical act they like they have to have heard of it somewhere.

    So, it all boils down to advertising/marketing. If arts and entertainment programs and publications tend to stick to what people are 'in to' and word of mouth depends on already having heard of something then advertising/marketing is all that's left to spark the other two. Because the U.S. and to a lesser extent U.K. have larger populations/ larger markets they have more money to spend on advertising and marketing than Canada does and so are in a stronger position to generate the word of mouth and 'buzz' that will get their performers and artists onto programs and into publications.

    That means that without subsidies, Government protection for artists (can con rules) and a conscious effort on the part of the public foreign content will always dominate what people are into. It's a self perpetuating cycle and a self fulfilling prophecy.

    Another point to consider is the effect of advertising dollars and media ownership on what gets covered. In the states CNN is owned by Time Warner and so is more likely to give coverage to other Time or Warner Brothers properties. It would be naive to assume that the same is not true in Canada. If CTV is airing a particular American program and they want that program to do well, they are more likely to give coverage to that program and it's stars. Additionally, if a big American entertainment company is pumping advertising dollars into CTV's coffers to promote a film, for example, CTV is more likely to give coverage to that film and it's stars to appease the advertiser.

    Most media people will deny that there is a connection between advertising and content (editorial policy) but look at the CBC as an example. The things that get covered on (commercial) CBC television's arts and entertainment programs tend to be very different from the things that get covered on (commercial free) CBC Radio.

    Broadcasters receive their licences from us. We technically own the airwaves and they are licenced, through the Government, to Broadcasters. Any broadcaster is supposed to think first of the public interest. Public broadcasting is, ideally, supposed to act in the public interest and be free of political and commercial influence. Yet all of the above stands. Advertising, directly or indirectly influences content. It influences what gets on the air and ultimately influences what people see and hear and what 'people are into.' is just a small website but it is free of commercial and political influence. The site recieves no money from advertising and no subsidies from any public or private organization. Everyone who contributes directly to (the writers) is free of censorship and editorial control. The only editorial rules are that spam is not allowed and you can't do anything that is actually against the law. Beyond that the writers have free reign and I don't see what they write, or even know what they will write about, until you do.

    The site is also deliberately and consciously Canadian. All of the blogs, podcasts, artists, organizations, news sources etc., listed on the site are Canadian and while I have control over who/what is included, I certainly have no control over what they say, write or do and, all put together, there are a few hundred independent sources included.

    So is unbiased? Hardly, but I'll gladly tell you what the bias' are. The site is pro human rights, generally against poverty, it is in favour of an environment that human beings can survive in, above all it is pro-art, unapologetically pro-Canadian and most likely to promote artists and organizations with little to no marketing budget of their own. These are, of course, my bias' and tend to be reflected in the site, but again all contributors and inclusions are independent and free to have their own bais'. All put together it is a small step. But it is a step outside the cycle of commercialism and 'what people are into' and hopefully there will be more steps to follow.

    Calgary: Filling Station Blow Out Tonight and Tomorrow

    Filling Station, "a literary magazine based in Calgary, Alberta, that is dedicated to showcasing innovative poetry, fiction, drama, film and visual art" is hosting it's 3rd Annual Calgary Blowout tonight and Saturday, September 14 and 15. The event, at the Carpenter's Union Hall (310 10th St. North West) will feature over 20 poets, playwrights and fiction writers including Emily Elder, Helen Hajnoczky, Mark Hopkins, Brea Burton, Shane Rhodes, Jaspreet Singh, Robert Majzels, Ian Kinney, Ross Priddle, Kevin McPherson-Eckhoff, Chris Ewart, Emily Carr, Bronwyn Haslam, Peter Norman, Laurie Fuhr, Aaron Giovannone, William Neil Scott, Sina Queyras and Weyman Chan as well as music by the Lonely Hunters and Heather Blush. Best of all, the whole thing is Free. So, if that's you're part of the country you can get further info at

    Art Crawl Time

    If you're in Toronto you already know about this, or if you don't it will be hard to miss - but the Queen West Art Crawl is this weekend. There will be events in Trinity Bellwoods Park, Parkdale Village, at the Gladstone Hotel, the CAHM Campus and all along Queen Street. You can check out all of the doings at the Toronto Artscape Website.

    Not having heard from many artists specifically, I'll primarily be randomly exploring the events but..I would invite you to check out

    The art of Mary Calarco Booth Yellow 230

    And the "Forgotten Spaces" photography of Tammy Hoy Booth Blue 131

    Both can be found easily (along with everything else) using this map (PDF)

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Buck 65 In Toronto

    Buck 65 posted the following on MySpace:

    This Friday @ The Drake Hotel in Toronto. 12:00am sharp!
    Richard Terfry (aka Buck 65) hosts a special introduction to the
    sights, sounds and ideas from his forthcoming album SITUATION, due
    out worldwide on Oct 30. He is joined by the album's co-producer,
    Paul Murphy (aka Skratch Bastid). Expect to leave better educated
    on all things 1957 - the year pop culture saw its beginning and its
    end, and the worlds of popular music, art and philosophy changed

    Darn. If it wasn't for my buddy's birthday, I would have gone to that. Seriously, how often do you get the chance to see Canada's best hip-hop artist/poet/musician?

    Meanwhile, Buck has started an online show called Situation: Show and Tell. Fans can watch the program by going to Buck's YouTube page.

    Eric Rosenhek
    Toronto, Ont.

    And Now.....A Word From Chris Crocker

    "Hey Chris. What do you think of 'Britney Spears Haters?'"

    Pirate Television in Toronto

    Via Art ThreatVia Art Threat Star Ray TV creator Jan Pachul has accused the CRTC of corruption. Star Ray has been trying for 10 years to get a license for a low power community station. During that decade the CRTC has refused to allow even a hearing despite a 1971 Supreme Court of Canada decision that an applicant had a statutory right to a hearing.

    According to Art Threat
    "The volunteer run Star Ray TV offers viewers local event coverage, a weekly forum discussing Toronto issues, local sports, and programming provided by Canadian producers. Star Ray also distributes on the internet supplying channels of international radio and streaming video programming including Star Ray TV and SR Music, a radio station uniquely programmed by the listeners through a web interface."

    Star Ray is currently operating anyway, without a licence. You can find if on UHF Channel 15 in Toronto or online at Star Ray has been added to the list of public broadcasters under Ontario television.

    The First Stumble

    Sadly, the Facebook group has actually gone down by 12 members this week. Everything else is still going up though and so we push on. For anyone who missed the news, Radio 3 has just released a Special Edition Hillside Podcast featuring The Dears, Angela Desveaux, Shad, Emily Haines and Do Make Say Think so if you were there, have another souvenir, if you weren't - now you can be, kinda.

    Enjoy Episode 22: "Can You Dig It"

  • Petition:495 (up 7)
  • Facebook Group: 656 (down 12)
  • Myspace: 1049(up 32)
  • Myspace Group:668 (up 6)
  • Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Artistic Endeavors - Grants, public funding and your own business

    This is the time of the year that most private run venues or organizations draw up their fiscal year and apply for a government funded grant. Now most of us know that for the last 10 years or so, the government has severely cut grants from Arts programs of any kind. And that alone is disturbing. So in these troubled times, venues and organizations are constantly dependent on the general public for donations, which can be used as a tax write off regardless of how much income you make, and also they turn to sponsorships as well. The Vancouver East Cultural Center is dependent upon both avenues. The Coastal Jazz and Blues does as well. This is pretty much the only avenues that they depend on for financial income, which in turn, is either spent on advertising, paying staff, drawing talent from a global diversity and paying them for their time and performances and with what is left is a profit for that organization or venue. Which by today's standards is not much of a profit, if there is a profit. Most times there is no profit and the banks they deal with are left to deal with a continuing debt.

    A few years ago, I was told that a Credit Union here in Vancouver was having a competition of sorts and would give a grant in the total of $1 million dollars to the "winner". Well, this competition is getting to be legendary in these parts, as this grant has gone to the same place from this Credit Union since 2003. Not that this particular place should not receive this, it just looks a bit strange, and in the spirit of the Arts, it should be spread out evenly every year. I find this pattern a bit disturbing on the part of the Credit Union. Have they signed a deal with this particular venue/organization? And if so, why are they not informing the general public? It is the general public who donates money, spends additional money on going to the events and spreads the word to their friends about what a great show or place they attended, which is free advertising. I think they deserve more than just what they get, which is good entertainment, but at what cost?

    Why are private deals made, not only in the Arts, but in other areas, which is kept from the public? Does the government fear the power of the people as a whole? You bet they do! If we were to demand as a large, strong group of people, and not back down, things would become clear and we would see what they've been hiding from us. The government deems that the Arts are not as important as say Athletes, who advertise for the country they come from because they are paid a sum of money and sponsored by the government, and are basically only in it for self gratification, fame and money through promoting designer labels/shoes. I think Artists of any kind deserve the same recognition that athletes do. We are all people who have different talents and should not be treated differently because we have different talents. Artists also have some morales as well because I would not advertise for any country and would not accept any form of payment for what I choose to do. I would also not want to advertise for fashion or designer labels, not even for the paints, pencils, brushes and cameras I use. Why would I do this? Because it is not a reality. The government would never sponsor an Artist when they have Athletes. I am only using Athletes as this is a reality and the governments do do this.

    I myself am a Visual Artist (painting, photography, comics) but I also am a Literature Artist (poetry) and a Musical Artist. I decided 5 years ago to open my own business, and found that the government was unwilling at that time to grant me any funds to start my own business because I was not "bankable". In other words, they could not see a future for me as an artist because I would not make enough money. Period. I was very shocked but not discouraged about this revelation I had about our wonderful government and decided that I would get my business registered with the government. I contacted my networks, and met tons of people to get jobs so that I could register my business. I also took a job part time in a hospital making good money to prove to the government that I was serious about my talent and could run a business with my talents. In the past 6 months, I have worked as a photographer for VFest at Thunderbird Stadium, taking many photos of the bands there that day, and had some of my photos from that show published in Vancouver, Toronto, London UK and in magazines in other countries. The government took notice. And finally, I was allowed to register. But only after I could prove that I was viable.

    This is the sad state of what the governments think of Artists in general. And I for one am appalled that they can do this to citizens who were born and raised here. We should be the government, and dictate to them what they can and cannot do. This was the reason democracy and freedom were based into a governmental body to work for the people of that country. It certainly is not that way anymore. Governments look out only for themselves and for money to feed the monster it has become.

    Vancouver BC
    September 2007


    CTV's Sunday night prime-time schedule consisted of a documentary about Brian Mulroney and the MTV Video Music Awards. One minute, Brian Mulroney is discussing the Meech Lake Accord. The next minute, Britney Spears is strutting around in her bra and panties.

    Talk about two extremes.

    Besides me, does anyone else see anything wrong with that?

    Calgary MultiArts Variety Show #3

    On Saturday September 22 at 7:30 p.m. bands, poets, DJs, filmmakers and others will converge at the Soda in Calgary for the third MultiArts Show.

    Featured performers include Kara Keith & Your Dignity and the Pine Tarts as well as freestyle DJ Leif Olson, poets: Calgary Slam Team, Natalie Zina Walschots, William Neil Scott, Jill Hartman, and Brea Burton , solo musicians ryan fitzpatrick and michelle, drama by Swallow a Bicycle Performance Troupe and short films presented by Garth Whelan.

    For more info see the Calgary MultiArts Myspace.

    Literary Potscard Competition

    If every picture is worth a thousand words then a postcard has to be worth at least 500. Geist Magazine and the Tyee are co-sponsoring Geist's 4th annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest. The rules are simple, take a poscard, any post card and write a story to go with it - 500 words max. The deadline for entries is December 1 and your $20 entry fee includes a one year subscription (or extension) to the magazine. For the full spiel and info on prizes go here.

    Exposure 2.0?

    Congrats to Toronto's Kirby Ferguson who won the first round of CBC's Exposure with his video Yo! Gah!. That mean's that Kirby has won "up to" $25,000 to develop an online entertainment series for the CBC. Fortunately, for Kirby he already understands CBC copyright policy as clearly demonstrated by another video he uploaded.


    In other Exposure news, a message to the Exposure Yahoo Group says
    This is just the beginning here at Exposure. We'd love for you to keep the videos coming in. This website will stay live and we encourage you to continue uploading, watching, and commenting. And keep checking the site for more information about Exposure 2.0!
    So, Exposure rolls on. Hopefully part of the upgrade will be policing the above mentioned Yahoo group which has been short on posts and long on spam.

    the Blood Lines in China Update

    I mentioned the Blood Lines visit to China previously. They are there to play the Beijing Pop Festival (as well as a few clubs). While we have to wait for them to get back with a full report and (reportedly) some video - Lisa Christiansen of Radio 3 caught up with keyboard player and singer Maygen Kardash at the hotel. Listen to the full interview here

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Beauty and the Beast

    I've sat up and taken notice of a couple of events spinning from the music world. One is the televised train wreck of Ms. Spears and the other is the phoenix-like ascent from Hell of Nikki Sixx. One coming, one going. Same place.

    Now granted, Britney has brought a lot of grief upon herself. No one put a gun to her head and forced her to aspire to stardom. Publicity is the price you pay for wanting umm, publicity. The same can be said for anyone who is lured by fame and fortune and then cries foul when they're the centre of attention. However, the girl is obviously not playing with a full deck. Something upstairs has snapped, the plane has crashed, and yet like we sit and stare at the TV screen like a bunch of rubber-necking drivers past a car accident.

    The media certainly hasn't been any help. Misery sells, especially the misery of the rich and famous. Britney's faux pas will get milked to death, until there's simply nothing left of her to bash. Women in particular seem to be delighted in this latest turn of events. There is damn little compassion for one of their own, just the descent of female wolves on the weakest pup in the pack. Why? Because that's what women do. Their latent jealousies and insecurities spur them to find even the tiniest flaw of their competition and expose it, pick at it until it becomes a festering, gaping wound. The judgemental comments that are so freely spewed are often nothing more than verbal affirmations of our own fears and hang ups. "Oh my gawd, can you believe what she's wearing? She must be at least 5 lbs overweight!" Of course, if she didn't have any padding, she'd be anorexic. There is no winning on this. Anyone in the public eye is expected to be something the rest of us aren't: perfect. However, the definition of that perfection is as loose as the tongues that wag about it. Is it any wonder that eventually these celebs come unglued?

    Britney's only hope for mercy at the moment is that the entertainment industry is fluid. By next week or next month, the sharks will have found new prey and media attention will sway in that direction, leaving Britney to pick up the pieces, alone, and make some sense of the chaos...if that's even possible. She'd be doing herself a huge favour by stepping away from the spotlight for a few years and allowing some healing to take place. I doubt her management would ever encourage or allow it though. She's their paycheque.

    Another casuality of infamy has come back with a vengence, doing a complete 360 and paving the way for the Britneys, Lindsays and Nicoles to get their shit together and become something much more than press fodder. The well-documented fall from grace of Nikki Sixx, bassist of Motley Crue, has now been published in The Heroin Diaries. When a 'US only' pre-release of the soundtrack to the book was announced back in May, I was one of the few Canadians smart enough to realize that computerized shopping carts don't recognize borders and ordered a copy anyway.

    Technically flawless, the CD is as addicting as the drug that produced the material. It holds a universal understanding for anyone who has leaned on a synthetic crutch and been beaten by it. You can feel the insanity, the self-loathing, and the frailty of a lost child inside an adult's body. The project also comes with hope though, proof for those who fall into the same black abyss that there is a ladder out.

    Like Britney, marketing and sales detered anyone from preventing the derailment of Nikki, an oversight that temporarily cost him his life, both literally and figuratively. No matter how many people could see that the Emperor had no clothes and was deathly ill, there was money to be made and no one wanted to be the one to put the cash cow back in the barn.

    Yes, everyone makes choices in life, and some are poor, even lethal. But the media circus that surrounds potential tragedies like these is our fault. We support it with the money that we shell out to the tabloids, we encourage it by tuning in to gossipy TV programs or clicking 'informative' hyperlinks. We create the feeding frenzy and then blame the people we expect new material from. We're drawn to lurid tales of demise and debauchery like flies on shit. We live vicariously through the outrageous antics of icons, only to discredit the players when we're done with them.

    Sadly, I don't think it will ever change.

    © Arlie MacGregor, 2007

    Some Quick Notes: Toronto, Montreal, Guelph, Saskatoon and China

    I'm off to do some volunteer work at the TIFF here shortly, so I don't have alot of time to devote to any of these subjects but quickly..

    Montreal is getting reading for the launch of Spacing Montreal. It is a free/pwyc event so if you're available this Sunday, definitely worth checking out.

    Guelph's Hillside festival has been over for awhile, but when there's recording equipment around nothing is really completely over (ask Richard Nixon)!
    Radio 3 has just released a Special Edition Hillside Podcast featuring The Dears, Angela Desveaux, Shad, Emily Haines and Do Make Say Think so if you were there, have another souvenir, if you weren't - now you can be, kinda.

    China is where Saskatoon's The Blood Lines are and while Maygen Kardash reports some trouble getting regular computer/internet time, they will have some tales to tell when they get home.

    Toronto ... is still TIFFland - off to plug FWC!

    Ottawa Votes No On Art

    Ottawa City Council had set aside $666,000 for arts and culture, hoping to get matching funds from the Federal Government. After learning that those federal dollars weren't coming Ottawa decided that it's arts and culture community should be punished further and put it's half million plus back into general funds.

    Someone should explain to them the importance of the arts to quality of life, explain to them that everyone doesn't get everything they want from the Federal Government and explain to them that arts and culture are part of what make a city great, everyday, for the people who live there and are not just a way to make the tourist brochures look better.

    P.S. support the Canadian Renaissance Project

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Why You Should Join FWC!

    With the TIFF on I've been doing some volunteer work, handing out info for the First Weekend Club (they also have just relaunched their site.

    For those of you who don't know the First Weekend Club exists to build audiences for Canadian Film. In English Canada, Canadian Film currently gets 3% of screen time in movie theaters and generally underperform in terms of revenue. Some feel that this is because Canadian film isn't good, and doesn't connect with the audience. Personally, I don't think that anyone who has seen much recent Canadian film feels that way.

    The problem is that people simply don't know about Canadian film. As I said, only 3% of cinema screen time is devoted to English Canadian film. There is also little or no money for marketing Canadian films. So it takes something of a perfect storm for a person to be able to see any of them. They have to somehow find out about the film, and then find a theater that is showing it at a time when they can go.

    The First Weekend Club aims to fix the problem by enabling better communication between filmmakers, distributors and the audience.

    Membership in FWC is free. As a member you will not only get information about upcoming Canadian films and where you might be able to see them, but invitations to special screenings, director's Q & A's and more. A full list of Membership benefits is available on the new site.

    So, if you even think you might, sometimes like some Canadian films please consider signing up or grab a card like the one pictured above from a FWC volunteer (frequently found hanging about theaters during the TIFF) and join us for a special screening of Bruce McDonald's Hard Core Logo at the Drake September 27.

    Admin Note: Redesign is Up

    Aside from some link checking the redesign is now complete. Please let me know if you encounter any bad links or other problems.

    If you've been wondering where I've been, or why the site hasn't been updated lately this is it. Coming up:

  • Some content shuffling, for example: blogs that primarily focus on politics will be moving to the news section

  • Alot more content to add - to links as well as the arts blogs and elsewhere

  • A consierable amount of catch-up things to tell you about, additions to the download section, new authors to add and other such things that took a back seat while I was working on the layout.
  • Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    Spark Plug

    Radio host, journalist and podcaster Nora Young has a new show and podcast on CBC Radio. According to the site: "Spark is your guide to the Next Big Thing. On-air and online, join Nora Young for a surprising and irreverent look at tech, trends, and fresh ideas." The program, Sark, launched today with
    • Donna Bell from Ryerson University's Academic Integrity office on the ways students use technology to cheat
    • Mark Federman on the changing culture of learning and creation
    • Scott Moschella on cleaning your keyboard in the dishwasher.
    • Ana Serrano on Late Fragment, a Canadian interactive film showing at the Toronto International Film Festival
    • A call for your long-distance love stories.
    • Thomas Kriese on Omlet, an urban chicken habitat.
    The show also uses only Creative Commons music and sound effects so the podcast is exactly what you hear on the radio.

    For more info visit the Spark homepage, or the Spark blog you can also download new episodes of the podcast directly from the blog (click here to download episode 1) or you can subscribe via iTunes or via RSS.

    Bella in the Band Blogs

    A bit like the Stars meet Tegan and Sara but with a dash of Shiny Toy Guns, Vancouver's Bella have a new deal with Mint Records, a new album on the way, a tour coming and been added to the Band Blogs. More on Bella to come but if you'd like to check them out, see their home page or MySpace - and no, this isn't one of the changes I was talking about in the last post

    Admin Note: Fasten Your Seatbelts

    Things may get a bit bumpy this week, there are some changes coming to the site - new content as well as a new design. Just so you know - if something seems wrong it's probably not permanent.

    Minority US group calls for end to Canadian film subsidies.

    The Film and Television Action Committee filed a petition today in an attempt to get the "U.S. Trade Representative to initiate negotiations with Canada to remove its subsidies." the group has spent most of it's energies since 2001, according to the Variety article, on prepping the NAFTA petition. They claim that their petition "represents the most effective way of putting the brakes on productions fleeing to less-expensive locations outside the U.S."

    This will now, if the U.S. Trade Representative even bothers with it, go get tied up in courts for a decade or two. Personally I imagine it will simply go away. The whole idea is deeply flawed on several levels. First, a visit to the groups website reveals sketchy support at best. Under the heading "Film and Television Workers" they don't give an actual number other than "Our numbers are growing each minute" and an implied support from the MPAA. The MPAA has not supported the petition and in fact contradicts FTAC's numbers (I'll get to that in a moment). Under the heading "Labor, Government, and Private Industry" FTAC is able to show support from 29 groups - primarily Southern California city councils and a few unions and trade groups. Finally, under the heading "Locals of the IATSE" they are able to show support from just five locals of the "labor union representing technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry."

    The FTAC website also claims that "You can help bring Film & Television jobs BACK to the U.S.". This is where they run into the above mentioned conflict with the MPAA. According to the MPAA's numbers there are more, not fewer, film and television jobs in the US than there were. From Wikipedia
    "Employment numbers from the MPAA reveal imprecision. In 1992, the MPAA claimed 164,000 Californians were directly employed in entertainment production. In 1996, the number of Californians directly employed in entertainment production rose to 226,000. Furthermore, in 1996, the estimated number of California jobs indirectly generated by the entertainment industry ranged from 233,000 to 253,100, which brought the “industry’s total employment to well over 450,000.” [13] The MPAA claimed that entertainment production in California during 1996 generated $27.5 billion in economic activity for the state. The astonishing economic growth from 1992 to 1996, according to the MPAA, exploded for two reasons: (1) as the growth of multiplex theaters and cable television rose, it created a higher general demand for more entertainment media productions; and (2) “the possibility that this new production activity would occur outside California, or in other countries, did not materialize.” [13]"
    Production is not only on the upswing in California. Film and Television production in New York is also at an all time high.

    Further, the FTAC's action does not ask that U.S. federal, state or local subsidies be shut down. It also does not even consider the fact that productions in Canada are on the decline as other countries offer even lower labour rates and greater subsidies for production. It is doubtful that, even if successful, FTAC's action would bring a single production back to the US.

    FTAC does not have the support of their own industry. Their request is inconsistent, asking Canada to give up production subsidies but not the US, or any other country. Their petition is based on assumptions (that the US is losing production jobs) that are not borne out by facts. In short the U.S. Trade Representative and the Canadian Government should give this all the attention it deserves; none.