Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Galacticast Halloween

Rudy and Casey at Galacticast have outdone themselves again.

The Real World: Amityville

Rudy and Casey are also doing a live interview tonight at 9pm EST (6pm PST) on Jonny's Par-tay. http://jonnygoldstein.comYou can even take part by asking questions in the chat room, or even show up on camera if you log in to

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Breaking Links: Tuesday, October 30

  • This is a couple of days old, but The Gap uses slave labour. Anyone suprised? Thanks Tessa. The gap revelation does make this seem a bit disingenuous and I think You Say Party! We Say Die! may have been a bit ahead of their time.

  • The Hollywood Reporter and Ouimet have some things to say about CBC's ratings this year.

  • This link will take you to a PDF from the University of California at Riverside on RIAA and MPAA P2P tracking.

  • Growing tension between Turkey and the Kurds threatens to expand the war in Iraq.

  • Here is an interesting bit from Grist on the Great Lakes Water Wars - the battle in the US on how best to divvy up the great lakes. Canada is obviously a secondary concern at best.

  • The Quill and Quire reports on Douglass Coupeland's foray into viral media.

  • More reports of torture coming out of Afghanistan

  • Russia is set to file a claim on the Arctic before the UN this year.
  • Monday, October 29, 2007

    Breaking Links: Monday, October 29

  • For the second time in two years, Shahid Malik, UK Minister for Foreign Development has been detained at a US airport ""Obviously, there was no malice involved but it has to be said that the USA system does not inspire confidence."

  • Two Hours Traffic post photos from the"Nighthawks" video shoot.

  • Lots of good stuff lately from Hugh McGuire who has, in his blog, kindly pointed the way to the Teen Podcast Network as well as Alive in Baghdad - a weekly news program which employs Iraqi journalists to deliver news from the streets of Baghdad - these same folks (Small World News) also deliver Alive in Mexico

  • Bet you didn't know this one: While the US has waged it's 'War on Terror' and Parliament has debated Iraq and Afghanistan, Canada has quietly become #6 in the world in military exports - seriously jeopardizing our reputation as a peace loving country.
  • RVT: Serena Ryder - Told You In A Whispered Song

    no good reason

    Didactic art can be such a drag.

    Plays are, I find, particularly trying.

    All those people, working so hard, just to push through some simplistic, and frequently obvious message -without a whiff of subtlety, insight, or actual passion.
    Reminds me of those mini-plays we'd put on in elementary school: SMOKING IS BAD. DON'T STEAL. HELP YOUR PARENTS.

    Oh brother. I'd like to think adult audiences are a bit past the preaching, and ready for something a bit more challenging.

    So would Leslie O'Dell, it turns out.

    O'Dell is the director of No Good Reason, a two-man play opening at the Young Centre November 1st.

    In it, two soldiers who have survived World War One recount their experiences and work to try to find a way to live with their wounds -both outer and inner.

    "We're trying to resist the obvious or sentimental, or direct, striaght-forward peachy themes and go for something tougher,", she explains, "something more dangerous, and raw, where we back off of that simplistic message sort of thing, and say, 'okay, yes, war is bad, why do we as a species keep doing it?'"

    From listening to the play's accompanying CD, Waiting There for Me, or examining playwright Stephen Baetz's work, it's easy to see how timely a piece No Good Reason is.

    "Here we are, as Canadians, again, watching the price be paid by another generation of young people", she says with a sigh, "We call it the 'first' World War, but back then, they called it the Great War, the war to end all wars. I mean, what is it about our species that will, despite our capacity for caring and love and healing ... what is it in us that keeps us coming back to violence?"

    O'Dell is certainly no stranger to examining the urge to kill in the theatre. She's been involved in productions of Henry IV (Revolt in England and Revenge in France), Henry VI -Parts One and Two, Titus Andronicus, Troilus and Cressida and Richard III (for the Stratford Festival).

    While the challenge of re-creating battle scenes has always been a concern for directors, O'Dell figures her time directing some of Shakespeare's more bloody war-themed epics has actually endowed her with an appreciation for theatrical simplicity.

    "We're exploring something where poetry and music sit together, where the intention is not to recreate or recapture. That's one of the marvellous things about theatre. It can do what film and TV can't. It can be unreal. Language takes on a simplicity and beauty on a stage. When an actor turns and speaks to an audience, from Shakespeare to a modern monologue, it packs a punch. And you haven't spent a penny on special effects."

    What with soldiers coming back in body bags and televised news every night, it would seem war doesn't need to be dramatized anymore in order for it to be a reality. And it's not one that's going away anytime soon, unfortunately.

    Still, the team behind No Good Reason needed to draw on a number of different experiences and influences to come up with a truly viable examiniation of the human instinct to war.

    "We're drawing upon all of the cultural ways that we position war in our society, from World War Two films, to the heroic Rambo figure, through to the really brutal and thought-provoking historical examinations - not only Shakespeare, but as far back as the Greek world, with things like Euripides' Trojan Women."

    But the play, says O'Dell, is far from being a downer.

    "The ultimate statement of play is very affirming", she says, "It's about the quiet courage it takes to endure."

    No Good Reason opens at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts on November 1 and runs until November 10.

    For more information, go to or

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Breaking Links: Sunday, October 28

  • You can now see Leonardo Da Vinci's the Last Supper in much more detail than you ever will in real life - 16 million pixels.

  • The Afghanistan panel headed by John Manley will open a website for public submissions just in case anyone in the general public has any comments on the issue.

  • Toronto record label Arts and Crafts has joined the Podsafe network in yet another indication that, while the lawsuits continue, the music industry as it used to exist, is dead.

  • The Guardian (UK) on the Arcade Fire and the Bitter Taste of Success.

  • Moon Echoes presents the Rake Cam

  • You can now see Leonardo Da Vinci's the Last Supper in much more detail than you ever will in real life - 16 million pixels.
  • on the outside

    There was a nearly transcendental moment listening to Angela Hewitt play Bach Tuesday afternoon.

    The audience, assembled in the cosy performance space at Toronto radio station Classical 96, peered down, over, and around others to catch a glimpse of the Canadian-born, London-dwelling piano player.

    Hewitt, however, was oblivious to everyone.

    As she delicately played the opening notes of Bach’s marvelous Goldberg variations, she looked every bit like a new mother nursing her young, or Saint Joan hearing the heavenly voices; the look was one of concentration, care, passion and love.

    Growing up playing piano, I was never one for the Baroque composers myself, finding them too technical to be moving, too tedious to be emotional. What can I say? Blame it on my youth.

    Hewitt is currently on a world tour of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier –a huge demand for any player, since it entails close to four hours of constant playing. Believe me, those are a lot of notes. My hands ached from one hour; her hands are going to be steaming after quadruple that.

    Still, she finds the heart amidst the heat.

    I was reminded of such devotion and dedication to craft in watching Brent Carver in The Elephant Man Thursday evening.

    In what could have been a superficial reading of a deceptively simple role, Carver finds the heart of John Merrick, the so-called “elephant man” who went from being sideshow freak to toast of society in Edwardian London.

    It’s interesting, how a man as beautiful as Carver has been cast to play someone as notoriously disfigured as Merrick. Instead of covering his face up under mountains of prosthetics and makeup, he uses gesture, voice, and movement to convey the sense of physical impairment –and of the soul behind it.

    Just prior to attending The Elephant Man, I’d opened the recently-published (and very good, I may add) Anansi Reader and come across an essay by Jean Vanier called The Difficult Place of Those Who Are Weaker, taken from the 1998 book Becoming Human.

    In the piece, Vanier writes "the people we most often exclude from the normal life of society, people with disabilities, have profound lessons to teach us. When we do include them, they add richly to our lives and add immensely to our world."

    I was reminded of Vanier's essay during intermission, as I noted the row of disabled patrons at the back of the St. Lawrence Centre.

    Choosing Carver to play such a notorious outsider was a brave casting choice, and the right one. He captures the vacillations of a man at odds with his society through no fault of his own, and yet necessary in its progression. Not once does he avoid the easy trap of patronizing the role, or indeed, the patrons watching him. His performance is one filled with delicacy, subtlety, and a deep respect. Oh, and don't forget the passion.

    Like Hewitt playing Bach, the dedication of such artists is not meant to be taken apart and meticulously analyzed for every twitch and tick -it asks only to be experienced and accepted, serving as a reminder that there is dew to be found in the most unexpected –and beautiful –of places, that it is through art we take from the outside transferring to the inside, and vice-versa, regardless of the body we happen to find ourselves inhabiting in this life.

    Bach doesn't care what you look like; he only asks for you to be quiet and listen.

    The Elephant Man runs at the St. Lawrence Centre until November 3rd; for more information, go to

    Angela Hewitt is currently touring The Well-Tempered Clavier; for more information, go to and

    For information about The Anansi Reader, go to

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Breaking Links: Saturday, October 27

  • Just a reminder, tonight is's 2nd Anniversary Party - if you're looking for something to do in T.O. tonight, this would be a good bet.

  • The David Suzuki Foundation's Weekly Podcast has been added to the CanCasts

  • Stephen Harpers fantasies (and public statements) aside, General Rick Hilier said that Afghans are 10 years or so from being able to take over their own security. Hillier now denies that there is any 'difference of opinion.'

  • Congrats to the Junior Pantherz on their CD (and vinyl!) Release Party Tonight with the "kings of upstaging the bands they open for" Golden Smoke at Amigos in Saskatoon

  • Gentleman Reg has been added to a lineup that already featured Maggie McDonald, Terry Clement, and Mermaids and more. Monday's, Eyes on Toronto

  • Oh...and according to recently ex British PM Tony Blair "I often say to people, Canada will become one of the most powerful nations in the world."
  • drawing memories with the drawer boy

    The persistence, and perhaps misuse, of memory seems to be a recurring theme in my fall-going theatre experiences thus far.

    It’s interesting timing, considering I’ve recently been back in touch with a childhood friend, and we’ve been busily reminiscing about our youthful misadventures. I didn’t think I was at the age of forgetfulness just yet, but either I’ve been proven wrong, else my friend is pulling a fast one (or several). Then again, there’s always the chance that we both remember the same incidents in different ways.

    It’s this difference in perception, between what is and what we perceive to be, that colours Michael Healey’s play The Drawer Boy, now on at Theatre Passe Muraille.

    The play revolves around the lives of two brothers, Angus and Morgan, whose quiet rural lives are interrupted by the presence of urbanite Miles, who wants to help around the farm in order to gain material for a play he’s writing. The relationships between the three men are coloured by affection, curiosity, protectivess, jealousy, and a big shovel-full of love.

    The Drawer (read, draw-er, not clothing drawer) Boy is a deservedly award-winning play with many touching, lovely moments, and plenty of Cancon to keep the cultural denizens happy. As stories of what’s real and what isn’t dance and intermingle, we see the unfolding of shared experience and vulnerability; in a space as intimate as TPM, there were indeed more than a few moving moments, and, by the end, a few less-than-dry eyes.

    With deft and mature direction, Ruth Madoc Jones delicately steers her capable cast away from easy mugging and declaiming. When there is a danger of melodrama, she allows moments to simply be and silences to sit, however uncomfortably. And it’s a testament to the 3 great actors in the piece that they handle it all –and there is a lot to handle –with such confidence, conviction and sincerity. You can almost smell the hay and manure.

    Randy Hughson gives a wonderful, compelling performance as the confused, frightened Angus, who is holding on as best he can to what shreds of dignity and remembrance his brother feeds him. Newcomer Frank Cox-O’Connell is delightful as he alternates between lanky confidence and awkward shyness; his Miles is full of city notions, sure, but is also open to learning. O’Connell’s youthful sincerity is a perfect fit. As Morgan, John Jarvis gives a heartbreaking performance as the man behind the myths, the older, dependable brother who needs to feed the same script and stories in order to maintain a sense of normalcy, for both he and his brother.

    Noting the unmistakable chemistry between the cast members, and the exploration of bonds between the brothers, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the brother relationship in another play, The Pillowman, now on at Canstage. Once again, there are two brothers, one in a caretaking role, the other in a child-like state of neediness, each entwined in a series of stories and mythologies. The big difference, obviously, is that Healey’s work aims to explore relationships and connections, while McDonagh’s is more interested in art and the act of storytelling for its own ends.

    This isn’t to say there aren’t moments questioning the nature of art –and particularly the lines between personal and private - in The Drawer Boy. More than once I thought about the line between theatre and life, the extent to which imitation becomes intrusion, intimacy turns into exploitation. While Healey’s work does raise such questions, it’s left up to the audience to decide what it is and isn’t good for theatre –and thus, for us.

    By the end of The Drawer Boy, there is a wonderful sense that theatre is closer to life than we realize –that the worlds of the farm and the play, the city and the country, the farmer and the actor –are not mutually exclusive worlds after all. Theatre is story, and we live our stories, coloured by our perceptions –accurate or not.

    Does it matter? Not really.

    Is it good theatre? Absolutely.

    The Drawer Boy runs at Theatre Passe Muraille until November 18th.
    For more information, go to

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Breaking Links: The First One

    These are busy days for me, and even on less busy days there is always so much more that I want to comment on than I really have time to, so sometimes I'm just going to post a bunch of stuff together without much commentary - news, blogs, and whatever else I decide to add...

  • Telefilm Funding Frozen - Canadian box office receipts down in 2006

  • R3TV Episode 28 - Episode 28 of what should be a TV show: The Halifax Pop Explosion with a video from Pride Tiger.

  • The Blood Lines are giving away CDs in celebration of their WCMA win.

  • Junior Pantherz Go Old School With Vinyl Release - Saskatoon Star Phoenix

  • Natalia Yanchak of the Dears on the Environment and Big Brother

  • Jason Collett is getting ready to take up a three week residency at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto with undisclosed "suprise guests"

  • Torontoist on when historic churches go condo - people say the west has no moral compass but we most certainly do, it's currently trading at $1.04 against the US dollar!

  • Saskboy on why Ottawa doesn't want you to have a made in Canada Electric Car - we're already making them, they are selling in the US and Mexico and cost about $14k Canadian but Transport Canada says you can't have one.

  • If you love Toronto you'll love this shot from daily dose of imagery

  • Have a free MP3 from the Diableros

  • Alberta increases oil royalties - wealthy oil men everywhere cry, then decide they still want the oil.
  • Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Let's All Hate Toronto This Sunday

    This Sunday, October 28 at 10 pm "Let's All Hate Toronto" will air on CBC Newsworld's "the Lens". I'd give you a description, but I think I'll just give you the link and the trailer instead - less wordy that way. =)

    Garbage! the Movie

    I've been busy recently helping my friend Andrew Nisker promote his new environmental doc Garbage!. The summary goes something like
    Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home is a feature documentary about how the family household has become one of the most ferocious environmental predators of our time. Writer and Director Andrew Nisker takes an average urban family, the McDonalds, and asks them to keep every scrap of garbage that they create for three months. He then takes them on a journey to find out where it all goes and what it’s doing to the world.
    For me it's kind of the flipside of "An Inconvenient Truth" in that instead of starting at a global level and working down it starts at the household level and works up. It also provides people with concrete things they can do, right now, today to have an impact. Rather than wait for various governments and industries to decide to act. I, obviously, highly recommend it.

    The film is also, following the model of many recent docs, not going to theaters. It is premiering November 19 in homes, schools, churches, community centers, etc., so if you like you can buy a copy from the website and set up a screening through Brave New Theaters.

    powerful, profound puppets

    Moving, poetic, amazingly human.

    Who knew puppets could do so much?

    Apparently The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, that's who.

    Based out of Calgary, the troupe are currently performing Famous Death Puppet Scenes at the Young Centre in the Distillery District.

    Far from being a collection of eerie reenacements or a long one-note joke in the key of macabre, the production presents various scenes from famous puppet shows through the ages, using scenes from Nordo Frot's The Feverish Heart as a thread linking other more disparate elements.

    For those not previously familiar with The Feverish Heart, prepare to be... uh, hammered... by hilarity. The returning theme of our feckless hero is awfully funny, (as in, awful and funny, at once) like a lot of the show. But Famous Puppet Death Scenes is much more than squishy-headed puppets meeting untimely ends.

    The genius, for me, lies in the narrative and dramatic arc with which director Tim Sutherland has shaped the piece. What could have been a connection of disconnected elements lacking any cohesiveness or momentum (or heart, most importantly) becomes a fascinating musing on the nature of death -and life, in the process.

    The Old Trouts are adept at dismantling any preconceptions the audience may bring concerning puppetry.

    So we see strings, sticks, mechanics, masks, and the man (or men) behind the curtain. That doesn't diminish the magic, however, but rather adds to it.

    The chosen piece from The Cruel Sea (by Thorvik Skarsbarg), is sparsely dramatic. Using a combination of lighting, sound, and basic special effects (one of the puppeteers blows a handful of white flakes representing snow), we see the dismantling of the "main" chartacter, piece by piece, until he is literally the core of his old self, as another puppet, female and robed, slowly passes outside the window. It's a slow poetry, a strange one, but a moving meditation on the nature of temporal in relation to the physical, mental, and spiritual.

    Watching Famous Puppet Death Scenes, I was reminded of the value of surreal art, the sense that there is value in the bizarre and seeingly-random. I kept picturing Salvador Dali sitting there, twirling his moustache, a strange smile crossing his lips, with every twist of the strings and tug of the sticks.

    And I kept hearing Marcel Duchamp's words: "This desire to understand everything fills me with horror".

    So I stopped asking "what does it all MEAN?" and instead allowed emotions, including confusion, to surface. In so doing, I enjoyed the very essence of great theatre, noting how basic theatrical elements are utilized in service of the story being told onstage.

    King Jeff the Magnificent, by William Dingo, is a perfect example. The audience is given a bird's eye view of a puppet being elevated from a building top, into space, close to the moon, then cradled, by two giant hands coming from either end of the little procenium arch stage that had been set up across the stage of the Joseph Young Theatre.

    Maybe it is, as the show's skeletal narrator suggests, that "we puppets suffer on your behalf", even as they also reveal profound truths about love, life, death, and the connection that drives us in the short time we're given. Note the simple beauty of scenes like The Last Whale or Lucille Arabesque; the combination of the solitary with the surreal suggests a profound truth about interconnection and isolation within the human experience.

    The silence that envelopes the theatre at the play's end, as the narrator is quietly carried off, says more than any voices or script ever could.

    There's nothing else like this on in Toronto. And this isn't going to last very long.

    See it.

    Famous Puppet Death Scenes runs at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts to October 27th; for more information, go to

    Corus Radio's Strombo Mistake

    George Stroumboulopoulos is launching a new radio show.

    The Strombo Show will debut on Nov. 4 on five Corus Radio stations, including Toronto's 102.1 The Edge.

    However, the purpose of this article is not to promote George's show. Its intention is to point out a mistake on the part of Corus Radio.

    The article, which was originally a press release sent out by Corus, states that George is "returning to the radio airwaves." The release gives the impression that George has not been on the air since he hosted Punkorama on The Edge. This is not true.

    Up until this year, George hosted his very own radio show, every Sunday night on Toronto's CFRB 1010. The program was also simulcasted on Montreal's CJAD 800. Therefore, George is still on the radio airwaves and is only returning to Corus' airwaves.

    Yes, I am nit-picking. However, it is necessary to clarify these details since Corus was only doing it vaguely.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    No one likes KGTC

    There is a post on Slushpile about "the Woman in the Kelly Green Trenchcoat" maybe you don't know her personally, maybe she wasn't wearing that particular trenchcoat when you last saw her, maybe she was even a he, but if you've spend any time in any major city (in North America at least) you've seen her.
    I hate you. Really, I do. I hate how you talked on your cellphone and took up two seats -- one for your own useless self and the other for your drycleaning. The bus was packed. An older, frailer woman had to stand beside your shitty plastic-coated Gapwear. Everyone gave you dirty looks. You knew that everyone on that bus wanted to see you disemboweled and you didn't miss a beat. You kept on gibbering into your cell phone and pretending to stare out the window. You're an asshole, but you may have the biggest balls out of anyone I've ever met. I hate big balls.
    I thought just this once it was worth taking our feelings about KGTC (kelly green trench coat) to a larger audience. No one anywhere really likes you KGTC, you're just too self absorbed to notice.

    Canadian Musicians Come Out Against CRIA

    The Canadian Music Creators Coalition (CMCC) the only Canadian music industry group composed of and representing musicians have come out against the Harper Governments threats of "Copyright Reform" that were tacked on to last week's throne speech.

    From Mediacaster
    "When the Canadian Record Industry Association (CRIA) says 'copyright reform' what they really mean is 'give a free hand to sue fans who download like they have in the US,'" explained CMCC representative and Barenaked Ladies front man Steven Page in a release. "We hope the government has a better solution in mind."
    CRIA, a recording industry group that now largely represents the Canadian arm of American record labels, would (obviously) like a copyright system more closely resembling that in the US. However, following the October 4 judgement that penalized a Minnesota woman $222,000 for 24 downloaded songs combined with the fact that no recording artist has ever recieved any money from any of these law suits and I think it's fairly clear that the US copyright system is only good for lawyers. It does nothing for artists or fans, or ultimately the record labels themselves.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    pink japan

    One of the most intriguing slideshows is about to hit Toronto Tuesday night.

    Titled Pink Japan, the photos are snapshots of a Japan few ever get to see, or are even aware of.

    It was during the filming of a television program that Japanese-American sex educator Midori was granted access to the love motels and sex clubs that make up the Pink Japan show.

    "These are little pieces of Japanese life", she explains, "I was shooting from hip using a digital camera, going to interesting places, exploring love motels, maid services, the fetish of the cute, things like that. They're a collection of photos took as I went through the various subcultures."

    Well-spoken and friendly, Midori talks about the stereotypes of cultures, including Japan's, and how notions of sexuality -right or wrong -wind up being categorized in a similiar fashion.

    "We all have stereotypes of cultures we're not familiar with," she says firmly, "it's not necessarily ingrained in Japanese culture. It's ingrained in human nature. In Japan there are equally weird and bizarre stereotypes of North Americans."

    She points out that the "Memoirs of a Geisha/Madame Butterfly syndrome" is equally as inaccurate to the Japanese as the "Britney/Paris/blonde-with-guns" stereotype of North Americans held by some Japanese.

    Midori explains that PInk Japan is meant to bust down such stereotypes by bringing a "more realistic experience, a human experience."

    Sarah Forbes-Roberts, manager of the Toronto store Come As You Are, which is co-presenting Midori's appearance (with the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto), says Midori "gives such great workshops. We have about six who come to all of her workshops, but we attract more who normally don't come into a sex shop at all. She's very accessible and approachable, and she makes people feel comfortable talking about stuff they haven't said out loud before."

    If you're not brave enough to walk into Come As You Are, but want to attend Pink Japan, by all means, go for it, but don't expect to see raunchy scenes or to ogle oodles of pale naked flesh.

    "In terms of photo presentation, there is no explicit action, " says Midori, "it's not intended as an x-rated slideshow. I want people to check it out, follow my leads and get more accurate information."

    Midori's international experiences have given her an awareness of the differences in approaches to sex and sexuality that most people aren't aware of.

    "There's a stylized expression of sexuality that happens everywhere," she notes, " every culture has its own style of courtship and process of mating -the rituals of love and sex -and sometimes it's so ingrained with us culturally, we tend to think of it as natural... but there isn't much that's natural about human sexuality."

    "So much is woven in with cultural, values, upbringing, even the facial expressions one would have while having sex is oftentimes heavily influenced by our pop culture, our value set and approach, what is taboo and what holds sexual power over a certain population."

    She note that Torontonians have been among her most open and curious of audiences.

    "Come As You Are were the first folks that invited me to Toronto," she says, "they got me connected with other things. It's really encouraging to see more shops like this popping up --there's a much greater acceptance for positive sexuality."

    Forbes-Roberts concurs.

    "We hope we're contributing to the dialogue in having people like Midori here," she explains, "because we want to engage with customers, not tell them what we think they should experience. It's so different for everybody, and we want everyone to have a diversity of experiences and choices."

    This leads one to contemplate the notion of interconnectedness, for, surely if sex is among the most intimate of acts, it also stands as a symbol of connectivity, not just in a literal sense?

    "The classes I teach at Come As You Are are, yes, about what we do in our bedroom," says Midori, "but the next stage of it is to have compassion for others."

    "The world seem to be feeding off misunderstandings - war is based on that, really, the lack of compassion for others. If we are able to laugh and say, gee, sex is funny! and fun! - then there's no stereotypes. It's a global world, and everybody's experiencing the same things in different ways -including sex."

    Pink Japan takes place at Innis Town Hall Tuesday at 7.30pm.
    For more information, go to

    Blood Lines take Outstanding Rock Recording!

    While I'm congratulating people, a huge shout out is in order for Saskatoon's the Blood Lines who picked up Outstanding Rock Recording at the Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMA) for their self titled album.

    Maygen Kardash's note on the Blood Lines Facebook Group today was brief
    Ak! We won! Our name is on the Outstanding Rock Recording award and the news has been inked and delivered to the doorsteps of five provinces, so there's no take-backs *now*. I'll write of the Western Canadian Music Award and Festival highlights in a bit, but I'm in rough shape and plan on a few hours of sleep as to be able to write cohesively.
    I will say, though, that we are indescribably grateful to our families, our growing team of great people who are working to make The Blood Lines accessible to all, and that we never take the support of our community for granted.
    Okay, now sleep.
    After the whirlwind tour of China and the WCMA's Maygen should have plenty of time to rest up. Her other band's CD release party isn't for 5 days.

    More on the WCMA's at The Saskatoon Star Phoenix and CBC Radio 3.

    Triple Sensation: Canada Wins

    Congratulations are in order: I don't know what the future of Triple Sensation might be but I'd certainly like to congratulate John Michael Scapin - who won the $150,000 Scholarship, as well as runners up Anwyn Musico, Keely Hutton, and Judge's Choice Award winners Jonathan Tan, Laura McCarthy and Alison Jantzie. More than that though I want to congratulate everyone who even auditioned.

    The arts in Canada are never in great shape financially (creatively is another story entirely) and the stage always seems to take a back seat to other, more recent forms (film, television, etc). Whatever else has been said, or is said going forward it is great to see that so many talented young people still have the dream. Best of luck to each and every one of you going forward!

    applauding anansi

    There was a moment lastnight when the audience at the Premiere Dance Theatre wasn’t sure how to react to the various uses of rodents.

    Scottish author A.L. Kennedy, reading from her upcoming work, was wryly musing on the logistics of certain Saturday night fetishes.

    Lest you think Anansi is another snooty literary institution for the intellectual set, think again.

    I couldn’t help but notice Margaret Atwood, sitting in the front row, amused.

    Atwood and Kennedy were part of a stellar lineup celebrating the House of Anansi’s 40th birthday.

    The venerable Canadian publishing house, founded by Dennis Lee and David Godfrey in 1967, has seen its share of ups and downs. The combination of talented authors with the House of Anansi prove they’re a publishing house with a flair for the contemporary, and a strident supporter of all things poetic, smart, and overwhelmingly Canadian.

    With a gracious introduction from host Albert Schultz, the Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre Company, Margaret Atwood began the evening’s proceedings with a reading from the essay collection Second Words (1982), On Being a Woman Writer: Paradoxes and Dilemmas.

    Oh no, was my initial reaction, I’m not going to understand a thing she’s saying.

    Turns out, nothing could’ve been farther from the truth.

    Hearing her words brought me back to my time living in England.

    Wandering on yet another grey foggy day in 1999, I had, by chance or design, come across an old copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in a Charing Cross bookstore. The timing of the book’s appearance in my life couldn’t have been more auspicious, searching as I was, for precisely that, in more ways than one.

    Fast forward eight years. Hearing Atwood’s thoughts about how female writers are viewed and indeed, view themselves, created a profound sense of kinship, one I find deeply, personally relevant, particularly of late.

    Believe me Margaret, more than once I've wanted to wear a "Respect Me, I'm a Woman Writer" t-shirt to the supermarket. I just couldn't decide on the font.

    Next, Graeme Gibson read an excerpt from his book, Five Legs. He said it was only the second time he’d read from it in public, which, for me, increased its sense of occasion.

    Looking at the distinguished figure with the tortoiseshell glasses, I could hardly believe it was he who had climbed up a statue of Egerton Ryerson over 30 years ago and led a chorus of I'm A Yankee Doodle Dandy. (Much as I'd like to see Robert Rabinovitch sit on Glenn Gould's lap on Front Street and do that, I'm not holding my breath.)

    I could be wrong, but I sensed a bit of nervousness on Gibson's part, sharing something it took him over six years to produce, with a room full of strangers. It can't be an easy task, to share something so personal. I doubt most writers are ever comfortable reading their own words (or, as I put it, displaying their kids) in front of huge crowds, though Roch Carrier was a notable exception.

    I was introduced to the works of Carrier though Barry Callaghan -no slouch himself when it comes to great books. I was a precocious, noisy university student, fed up with reading heavy tomes of dry words and achingly dull storylines; here, said Callaghan, try this and shut up.

    The dance of words, character, story and language in La Guerre, Yes Sir! opened up the world of his work, and that of French-Canadian writing, for my hungry mind and starving heart. Incroyable, merci!

    Carrier's reading -or performance, more like -of a selection from that most beloved of Canadian tales, The Hockey Sweater, was warm, human, and positively humming with the beautiful rhythm that had so entranced me many moons ago.

    Toronto poet Kevin Connolly found an equally hypnotic rhythm as he delivered a deliciously human set of witty and telling observations on daily city life. Elyse Friedman continued the urban theme, giving a stunning reading of a brutal first-dating encounter between online acquaintances from her upcoming book, Long Story Short. As an urban woman, I couldn't help but smirk at the awful familiarity. I noticed a few other women smirking, too.

    In between the readings was a gigantic Anansi birthday cake, amiable chat, & the fortunate meeting of some truly incredible people whose own love and history with Anansi made the night even richer. I was shaking when I offered my hand to Monsieur Carrier. What can I say? Pas de mots. I'll never look at a fiver the same way again.

    I actually have the evening's host to thank for pointing out that lines from The Hockey Sweater run along the bottom of the bill.

    Indeed, the authors weren't the sole entertainers of the evening.

    Schultz made a perfect host, mixing a thorough preparedness with his affable personality, boasting, as he tossed Anansi t-shirts out like footballs, that "no other artistic theatre director in this country could hit the balcony." (which he did, twice). No other artistic director would try combining a striptease with a male-girdle prank, either. The old ladies beside me giggled like schoolgirls at that one.

    If, as Schultz noted, one were to take into account the amount of time it takes for a single book to blossom, Anansi would be, by such measurement, roughly 100 years old.

    Whatever the age, listening to selections from their incredible roster, and meeting some of the great creators and beneficiaries of their output awakened me to the level of contribution the publishing house has made to the fostering and development of Canadian culture.

    And it's a culture that is still evolving, as the evening's final reader, the editor of an upcoming book about Toronto band Broken Social Scene, pointed out, before introducing singer Jason Collett to the stage.

    Though initially an odd fit, Collett ingratiated himself perfectly with the literati, sharing a story of his own about a Grade 9 dance, a combustible HBC sweater, and the Canadian/American divide in drug culture etymology.

    His beautiful melodies, lilting voice, and rich imagery was the perfect conclusion to an inspiring night - one full of connection, community, and humanity.

    Never mind the gerbils... here's Anansi.

    Here's to forty -or 100 -more.

    For more information on The House of Anansi and its authors, go to

    For information on the International Festival of Authors, go to

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    You Have to like Nathan Lawr

    The more I find out about Nathan Lawr the more I like him. It's not just his resume - having played with Royal City and the Fembots, and it's not just his music (don't worry I'll get to that). If you go to his Myspace page he lists his influences as "the sea, the moon, electromagnetic fields, planetary orbits, solar wind, food and sometimes alcohol. If you read his recent interview with blogto he is asked "What does the future hold for you?" and responds
    Oh, lord only knows. What's the funniest joke you can tell god? "I have a plan!"
    Personally I'd always heard the saying "If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans for the future" but the sentiment is the same.

    In brief Nathan's music (at least one the new album) sounds like a Torontonian transplanted to Sudbury. It has all the complexity of the city (guitar, bass, percussion, horns, cello, and complex harmonies) but the thoughtfulness that only comes to you when you get away from the city for a bit. The album "A Sea of Tiny Lights" has a bit of everything. As savedbyradio puts it
    "like the story of Jim Loney, the Christian kidnapped by insurgents in Iraq ("Footsteps"), Gus Van Sant's Columbine interpretation Elephant ("There's A Devil"), and Uruguayan author Eduardo Galleano's Book of Embraces ("Swimming Like a Needle in the Haystack of the Sea")."
    Go ahead and read this from Wolves, Hawks and Kites well.

    Nathan Lawr's CD Release Party at the Supermarket on Thursday was everything an indie show should be...well from a fans point of view anyway. First of all there was Nathan Lawr who is an amazingly talented musician and songwriter, and alot of his friends including opening acts Andy Swan and Kate Maki. There were, of course, the Minotaurs and then there were friends and family of many of the above. Beyond that inner circle were maybe thirty people who had come to see the show without the bonds of family or friendship to pull them in.

    Then there's the important part, the part that happened on the stage. There was the new album, which was brilliant. You can get a taste of it at the Myspace (go ahead and download Righteous Heart and We Go Down) and old favorites like "Barking at Your Door" there were seemingly improvised collaborations, and obvious mistakes without embarrasement - "What's the point in continuing when you've so obviously fucked it up."

    note: only at small indie shows do you get free do-overs

    It is intimate, it is fun, and it is participatory in a way that no stadium show ever will be. I know it's not ideal from an artists point of view. It's hard to pay the bills on shows like that (That's why you've always got to buy the CD) but if you really, genuinely like music you can't do better.

    Also, just a heads up, Kate Maki's new CD is out in February, based on the previews Thursday you'll want to go ahead and grab that too.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    United Nations HQ in Montreal?

    Via Metroblogging Montreal: According to La Presse the Canadian government has "informally proposed" moving the UN's headquarters to Montreal.

    Given that there has always been a large contingent in the US, including it's current President, that didn't like the UN's headquarters being in New York this is more of a possibility than you might think. Someone certainly put some work into it: The complex would be larger than the current UN complex (65 Acres instead of 7) and would cost roughly the same as the current proposed renovations. Have a look at the models here to give you an idea of what it would look like.


    Having just floated in, wrapped in the beautiful gauze that is Michael Ondaatje reading his own work, this column may not make a lot of sense.

    I'll try my best, however.

    The International Festival of Authors has kicked off at Harbourfront, and yes, scribes of every sort are intoning their carefully-conceived prose and poetry before silent, saucer-eyed Torontonians.

    I was one of the saucer-eyed tonight, though certainly, walking in, I was concerned that I might be bored.

    Being used to theatre, live action, costumes, props, etc, I was a bit worried at the 'dryness' factor in watching a writer stand up and simply read.

    My fears were, however, totally unfounded.

    Yes, I have been to the IFOA in past years, but I must've forgotten how great it is.

    My thirst for drama, humanity, humour, and insight were all quenched -through words and the spark of imagination which Ondaatje and his cohorts set off at the Premiere Dance Theatre.

    The evening began with Margaret Chistakos, a Canadian author as well as teacher of creative writing with the University of Toronto.

    I loved that she shared her personal inspirations for her work, and loved the rhythm of her words; the IFOA program, quoting the Pat Lowter Award Jury, describes her as "a linguistic trailblazer". No kidding.

    I don't know many writers who can combine Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass with a bedtime story for kids about a camel, and weave in a tapestry of assorted voices, and recognizable scenarios, and be spellbinding.

    Margaret Christakos, however, was just that.

    Following her was the French writer, Celine Curiol, who brought an altogether more different, and somewhat more formal, energy.

    Curiol read from her book, Voice Over, about a lonely woman who works in a Paris train station and is in love with the wrong guy. Curiol's restrained reading manner, combined with her lovely French accent, lent her work a certain bite I might not have noticed, were I to read it. She has a good ear for dialogue -inner and outer -as well as for balancing tragedy and comedy.

    That fine balance was precisely the line Norwegian author Halfdan W. Freihow straddled as he read from his confessional book, Dear Gabriel. The book is written in epistolary form, adddressed to his own autistic son. Freihow gave lovely observations and insights -physical, mental, emotional -about a boating trip taken with Gabriel, and though I found his reading style a bit pedantic, I found the selection itself most moving.

    I have to confess, I had no idea what to expect with Marina Lewycka.

    I hadn't heard of her prior to the festival, and I wasn't sure a story about migrant workers in Britain would be ... much of a base for comedy. Wow, was I wrong.

    Lewycka, with glasses on edge of nose, bob hair, lose trousers, and soft, British-accented voice, is a vision of my ideal high school English teacher. Smart, funny, warm, interesting, insightful, engaging -she drew her audience right in with her tales from Strawberry Fields. I can't wait to read it now.

    And, last, but not least, one of my all-time favourite authors, Mr. English Patient himself, Michael Ondaatje. I was trying to think the last time I'd heard Ondaatje read his own work -it must've been at least ten years since he appeared as part of the Authors Series that summer in Stratford.

    I remember being captivated then, and tonight I was reminded why.

    For me, Ondaatje is first, foremost, and mainly, a poet.

    Yes, he is a master-weaver of storylines and characters, but the way he does it -and the way he writes, and in fact, reads, point to poetry.

    A sample of The Collected Works of Billy the Kid or The Cinnamon Peeler, or indeed, hearing his works read aloud, confirm the poet status.

    As his voice gently, carefully, rhythmically combed over the words, like the softest striking of a xylophone, the audience at the Premiere Dance theatre grew enrapt.

    Sure, his plots are vague and his characters usually don't say much and sometimes he can be very obtuse in his writing style... but so what?

    Plot seems to be in service to their poetry and rhythm, really, not the only way around. Ondaatje's reading, with his careful annunciation and careful attention to pace, underlines the breathy beauty of his words, so lovingly, carefully strung together.

    As he ended, smiled, and took his seat amidst applause, I wanted to shout, like George Sand lying under Chopin's piano, DON'T STOP!

    Bravo IFOA, bravo Harbourfront, for recognizing and celebrating such amazing authors.

    I can hardly wait to hear more.

    The International Authors Festival runs to October 27th at Harbourfront Centre.
    For more information, go to

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    eve egoyan: inner cities

    I can only imagine how sore Eve Egoyan's hands might be by tomorrow night.

    Egoyan will be performing American composer Alvin Curran's monumental Inner Cities tomorrow.

    Made up of twelve pieces in total, the concert will be performed in four segments over the course of five hours at the Glen Gould Studio.

    "I've never played a concert this long," she notes, "The longest I've done before was two hours, but the music is great -and I know the (musical) intent will carry me through it."

    Curran's work is rich, dense, and varied.

    It has a tremendous momentum as it captures the buzz and energy of a city.

    At the same time, it's a subtle momentum, one that lulls you into a strangely calm state, even as it suggests the energy and chaos of contemporary life.

    As well as Curran, Egoyan's repertoire includes numerous contemporary composers, including Eric Satie, Gavin Bryars, and John Cage.

    "When I came to Toronto, after studying abroad, I started exploring music I had heard, that excited me. I began seeing the piano in a new way, and started to focus finding pieces that are written by people who have very unique approach to the piano."

    Egoyan's own approach to music is unique.

    "I use my intuition about how I play the pieces," she says thoughtfully, "It's about knowing myself too. There are things I am curious about -things driving me. I suppose I have a certain luxury to be a solo pianist and to choose (material), given my temperament and curiosity -and that's what you're hearing."

    Having studied music in Canada as well as Germany and England, she says her relationship with living composers is often what gives life and flavour to her performance.

    "Alvin's personality is reflected in his music," she explains, "but then art at its best reflects the individual who made the art. If it didn't, would be a problem."

    She notes her connections with composers feeds directly into her experience -and thus the audience's -in performing their works.

    "If we like each other, there's often a fruitful relationship," she notes, "and the audience pick up on it. It comes through in the music."

    Will we be hearing any of Egoyan's compositions in the future?

    "Well," she laughs, "I have had a busy life, though lots of things are changing. I'm improvising more with certain players, working on improvising solo more, and notating things. Those are all visions I am feeling out right now."

    Eve Egoyan's performance of Inner Cities takes place at the Glen Gould Studio in the CBC Building tomorrow, beginning at 12.30pm.

    For more information, go to

    Ottawa - CKCU Funding Drive

    Help raise $107,000 for 2007.

    It's time to support CKCU 93.1 FM. Through your generous donations we will continue to provide excellent programming 24 X 7 X 365!

    For the best in music, arts, public affairs and multicultural programming please call, 613-520-3920 or 1-877-520-3920 or donate on-line at

    CKCU is a registered charity and all donations are eligible for a tax receipt.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Be in Sook-Yin's Movie

    Re-Posted in it's entirity: Please pass the word, about 50 more people are needed



    Sook-Yin Lee here. For my latest art project, I’m making a low-budget Canadian indie movie! Woohoo! My film within a film is called THE BRAZILIAN and it’s a strange and very awkward love story. What I need is an audience for a concert scene filming at the Silver Dollar Room in Toronto, next Thursday Oct. 25 from 7PM till 8:30PM. You can arrive ten minutes early if you feel like it, but whatever you do, DON’T ARRIVE LATE!!! (Cause the set might be locked up.)

    It’s going to be fun, plus you’ll get to see an amazing mystery band perform. Come by yourself, or you can also bring your sweetheart, or at least someone you wouldn’t mind slow dancing with. People into public displays of affection are welcome! (Don’t worry, this isn’t “Shortbus 2”.) People opposed to public displays of affection are also welcome! Everyone’s welcome!

    Please forward this email to anyone you think would be interested in taking part in a weird and wonderful hour and a half art experience. So again, here’s the info:

    Be part of the audience in my movie and come to:

    THE SILVER DOLLAR ROOM: 486 Spadina Avenue (at College), TORONTO, Ontario, Canada.
    Thursday October, 25th
    7PM-8:30 PM (no late arrivals!)

    Please RSVP


    I am forever indebted to you.


    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    a spicy soulpepper season to come

    There aren’t many Canadian companies that would have the balls to mix the likes of Neil Simon, William Shakespeare, and Caryl Churchill, all within one season.

    Even fewer who would add Chekhov, Congreve, Anouilh, and Stoppard.

    Cries of "it'll scare people off", and "it's too weird", comments like "there's no consistency" and "there's nothing to keep my interest" would be the norm. Particularly in Toronto, where the tall poppies are frequently clipped down.

    The first word that came to my mind, reading over the list of planned works is, eclectic.
    Second word, awesome.

    Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m an unabashed Soulpepper fan.

    Soulpepper is the artist-founded theatre company out of Toronto. Over the years, they've produced a delicious cornucopia of theatrical delights, including Mirandolina, Don Carlos, Hamlet, The Real Thing, King Lear and my favourite production, Waiting for Godot.

    Even when their work was comci-comca, I always admired their ideals –that is, to provide, as they put it, “the world’s greatest stories in vital Canadian interpretations”.

    Man, I love that.


    I’d waited so, so long for a classical theatre company in this city –I was sick of driving out of town to face summer crowds, limited runs, and simplistic, unchallenging productions.

    I wanted a company that would present the classics I loved in new, fresh ways –one that would be relevant, daring, challenging, and most of all, yeah, Canadian.

    Cause that matters –a lot.

    Soulpepper has made a commitment to promoting and fostering Canadian talent. In other words, they’ve put their money where their ideals are. They provide training in the form of an academy, and also participate in youth and community access programs. They have a roster of amazing Canadian artists, and aren’t afraid to toot the horn when it comes to homegrown talent.

    At the same time, they’re wise enough to incorporate a myriad of international influences –notably their work with amazing Hungarian director Laszlo Marton.

    As I looked through the offerings for next year, I couldn't help but smile.

    The season begins with the incredible David French play Salt-Water Moon (January 5-31). French is one of our greatest playwrights, and it’s entirely fitting Soulpepper opens with the prequel to his breakthrough play, Leaving Home. This past season’s production, directed by Ted Dykstra, was by turns moving, smart, sad, and funny. It’s good to see French’s work getting the attention it rightly deserves, and equally good to see Dykstra at the helm again in January.

    Then there's Neil Simon's The Odd Couple (February 9-April 19), featuring Soulpepper stalwarts Albert Schultz & Diego Matamoros.

    I can hear the theatre purists griping now: "that's not classical theatre!"

    Oh shut UP.

    The casting alone is worth the price of admission. Schultz & Matamoros are both gifted comedic actors with incredible timing, rhythm and a great sense of one another's nuances.
    I can’t wait.

    Speaking of comedy, the Restoration comedy The Way of the World is set to be produced July 2nd to August 2nd, with a stellar cast of Mike Shara, William Webster and Nancy Palk. It'll be directed by Peter Hinton, the artistic director of English Theatre at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa. In fact, it's a co-production with the NAC –thus reinforcing Soulpepper’s mandate to provide and promote great Canadian interpretations by and for Canadians. Hinton himself has a reputation for being not only a flag-waver, but an artistically innovative and daring director; witness his all-Canadian programming of the NAC, his partnership with the RSC (for The Penelopiad), and his production of The Odyssey last season at Stratford. He did an audacious job with Homer; I can hardly wait to see what he'll do with William Congreve.

    Representing the epitome of the classical theatre ideal is As You Like It, running February 26th to April 19th. Featuring members of the Soulpepper Academy, I'll be curious to see how a production I've never fully felt satisfied with (having seen it several times) plays out under Schultz's direction.

    Spring also brings the drama of 'Night Mother (May 13-June 21), with Megan Follows, and her real-life mother, actor Dawn Greenhalgh. A wrenching piece of theatre that examines the ever-difficult mother-daughter relationship, I imagine this could well be Soulpepper's acting Tour de Force of the season -unless of course you count the solo Under Milk Wood production with Kenneth Welsh, running July 11th to August 2nd.

    Soulpepper has wisely chosen to re-mount the hugely popular one-man (with music) production after its incredible success at last June's Luminato festival. Yippee!

    Being a huge Dylan Thomas fan, and knowing how complex his work can be to perform, I was in awe -and not just over Welsh's transformation through over 30 different characters, either.

    The marriage of Thomas' poetic language, Welsh’s accents and gestures, and the sound of live music and foley effects was a magical experience that reminded me (and I am sure everyone in the audience) of the transformative power of theatre at its very finest. No fancy effects, no tricks, no preciousness or gimmicky. Just great acting, powerful storytelling, and good design, all in one compact package. Who could ask for anything more?

    More is what Toronto theatre lovers get, though, with remounts of the Marton-directed Uncle Vanya (June 4-21), Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (October 25-November 22), and A Christmas Carol (December 2-27).

    I’ll be curious to see the remount of Vanya, since I absolutely loved what he did with another Chekhov favourite, Three Sisters, with playwright Nicolas Billon this past season.

    Other awesomeness?

    Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound and Peter Schaeffer’s Black Comedy, in a double-bill (August 20-September 20), Lorraine Hansbury’s A Raisin in the Sun (October 19-November 19), and Jean Anouilh’s Ring Round the Moon (August 23-Septemnber 20).

    Ambitious, eclectic… holy smokes.

    I know, I'm gushing. I can't help it.

    But, to quote a friend of mine, "I just want to like stuff now. I'm sick of not liking stuff."

    Those words have stuck with me for a long time.

    So after decades of criticism, sneering, cynicism and sarcasm directed at the hard work of many, I can safely say, no more.

    Soulpepper is one poppy I am not cutting down.

    Additions to the Band Blogs

    6 More bands in the band blogs as of today

  • Acorn

  • the Winks

  • Pink Dead Whale

  • Vivek Shraya

  • Henri FabergĂ© and The Adorables

  • Vibrosonics
  • Happy Birthday Toronto Indie!!

    With a rumored redesign in the works Lidia Vila's baby is about to turn 2! The birthday party starts at 9 Saturday, October 27 at the not nearly as famous as it should be - Rancho Relaxo 300 College Street in Toronto (get an order of 'mexican mice' seriously). Your $5 admission does not cover food or drink but there are three bands - Vivek Shraya (check out the cover of 7 Nation Army on Myspace also live video "Your Name" below), Vibrosonics (click and download some samples) and Dead Pink Whale (also click to download)

    There is also rumored to be free beer and swag from Steam Whistle, and door prizes like a photo shoot from Kid with Camera and 1st Edition Comics from Monkey Pharmacy, A dinner for two from Rancho Relaxo, Free CDs and more!

    Sadly, due to another committment I can't be there, but if you're free, and are the kind of person who enjoys fun and has 5 bucks - this would be a good bet.

    Event: Calgary - CJSW Fund Drive Kickoff

    This Friday, Oct. 19, at 8 PM CJSW in Calgary will kick off it's annual funding drive. The party starts at 8 pm ad Emmedia, 351 11th Ave SW and will feature the Neighborhood Council, the Konts and friends of the Lonely Hunters. Apparently discounted admission is available for people who "dress like an ecosystem". For those of you not in Calgary, you can listen to CJSW here.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Time for a Boycott of Hollywood?

    It would appear, based on the throne speech, that U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins and the lobbying arm of American media are getting their way with Harper promising to "improve the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights in Canada, including copyright reform."

    So I think it's time to ask the question:
    Given the continuing interference, interference based almost solely on greed and lies, in Canadian copyright and intellectual property laws by US media companies and their allies in Washington, is it time for an organized, outright boycott of American media (film, television, music, publications etc.,)?

    RVT: Chromeo - Needy Girl

    From Montreal, here's Chromeo.

    MSR Video Shoot Stills

    Some Stills from the Most Serene Republic video shoot for "men who live upstairs" is on their Myspace Blog.

    Traditional Record Industry: Collapse Continues

    Via Radio 3 and worth reposting in it's entirity:
    Is it me, or is this October 2007 going to go down as the month the record industry as we know it collapsed?

    Major international acts are say "no thanks" to record labels, including Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Radiohead - and Oasis and Jamiroquai are rumoured to be following suit. In a recent post on his website, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails said he is thrilled with the idea of being "free of any recording contract with any label."

    At the same time, record companies are reportedly telling their employees that they had better innovate, or risk losing their jobs.

    Now, according to ArsTechnica's Jacqui Cheng, Apple plans to expand its iTunes Plus - that's the branch of iTunes that sells DRM-free tracks - and drop the price for a song from $1.29 to $.99, which is the same price as the songs with DRM. That means music buyers won't have to pay extra to get digital rights-free tunes.

    So far, only EMI has signed up to sell the DRM-free songs - which have no limits on how many computers play them and are downloadable at twice the bitrate of standard tracks - but now that they're on par with the other songs, they may end up pushing the envelope.

    So grab some popcorn and an extra large soda, because it looks like this show is going to continue for a while...

    I think it can certainly be said that the demise of the record industry as it has existed is eminent, it has been for a long time now. The only thing that's really kept it going this long has been a series of lawsuits and copyright legislation that has unfairly punished consumers and rewarded media companies. At this point it's just a reality of the business world. If, given all of the free money, artificial subsidies and rediculously unjustified court settlements they've been awarded the old record labels still can't make money then they don't have a viable business model, plain and simple.

    Michael Geist and veteran musician Nathan Lawr have also had some interesting thoughts on this topic in recent days.

    Coheed and Cambria pre-listening party

    Ok, I can't make this one myself but the Coheed and Cambria pre-listening party is Tonight at 8 pm at Blood, Sweat and Shears, 809 Queen Street West, in Toronto. "Listen to the new record and get a coupon to buy the record cheap once it comes out. Show up early; there's some beers for the first 60 people through the door. We're also giving away tickets to the show, Coheed Vinyl, copies of the new record (before it hits stores!!), discounts from BS&S for hair cuts and tattoos, etc." If you don't know Coheed and Cambria you can get a taste at

    More info on the event is available at

    CHRY 20th Anniversary Party

    According to the latest update CHRY, the community radio station of York University and the Jane and Finch neighborhood, has raised $46,000 in it's funding drive. The official CHRY 20th Anniversary party starts at 8 pm this Saturday at Philthy McNasty's 130 Eglington Rd. East with music by DJ Manifest (Toronto Morning Live), DJ Grumps (Bigger Than Hip-Hop), DJ O? Nonymous (Sound Junction) and Golden Child (Morning Rush). Admission is a mere $5.

    More info on the party is here.
    Information on the Funddrive is here
    please lend them a hand if you can!

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Superfantactic +

    So here's the deal, I told you awhile back about the Superfantastics Video (tour) Blog - the thing is that every time they post a new one, I feel like I should tell you about it again. So, instead of doing that, I'm doing this: For the duration of the tour, I'm including the Superfantastics video blog feed in the main feed - so now they will show up automatically and, if you like, you can pretend that I posted something about it. =)

    The Tracey Fragments officially Opens November 2!

    The confirmed dates and places for the official, non fest, opening of the Tracey Fragments.

    Toronto - The Royal - Friday November 2nd

    Vancouver - Tinseltown - Friday November 2nd

    Montreal - theatre TBC - Friday November 2nd

    It has also been announced that the award winning NFB short Madame Tutli-Putli will be attached to the Tracey Fragments for the opening.

    CBC Blogging Policy Redux

    You may remember the CBC Blogging Policy that wasn't actually their Blogging Policy a few months back. Well it's back and this time it is once again their blogging policy. Ok, it's not exactly the same, the language has been softened a bit, and there is even a nod to the CBC Blogging Mainfesto but - it appears to me anyway, that the core of the policy is the same and it raises troubling questions.

    First things first, it still requires journalists to have their supervisor's permission to maintain a personal blog, or to post a comment on someone else's "blog or Facebook" - I have no idea why Facebook was singled out given that there are dozens, if not hundreds of other possible places to 'leave a comment'. This to me is similar (in today's digital world) to attempting to regulate private conversation. Who is going to enforce it? Who is going to monitor the vastness of cyberspace? How can anyone have any expectation of uniform enforcement? It also says
    "If you are identifying yourself as a CBC/Radio-Canada employee in the course of such activities (e.g.: posting on your own blog or on a third party’s), you should not advocate for a group or a cause, or express partisan political opinion. You should also avoid subjects that could bring CBC/Radio-Canada into disrepute. Similarly, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include a disclaimer to the effect of: “the views expressed here are my own and not those of CBC/Radio-Canada.”
    Personally I think that the days of 'unbiased' journalism are a myth. Everyone who knows the truth about Santa knows that everyone, journalists and jurists included, has bias'. Personally I subscribe to the school that says: "I can handle that fact, just let me know what those bias' are." I'd like to read personal blogs by journalists. I'd like to know what they really think about issues and people - that way when I'm reading/watching/listening to one of their reports I can decide if they, given their bias, are being fair. Keeping their bias a secret does not remove the bias, it merely creates an illusion of it. And it is worth noting that this policy does not apply only to journalists, but to everyone who works for the CBC.

    This policy also does not address anonymity, so - the message that: If you are going to say something negative, done use your real name remains. Wouldn't it be better if people were somewhat honest but restrained by using their real identities?

    Overall I'd have to say that this policy is dangerous. The internet is a huge part of the lives of most people under 40-45. This policy does not, in any way, recognize the realities of how people use the internet. It is a policy that everyone, at some point, will violate and so creates a situation where anyone, at their manager's (or their manager's manager's digression, or their ... etc.,) can be punished, at any point. Everything that everyone said about the policy the last time it was announced, still holds with the new one.

    Ok, Fine, Bring Back the Sponsorship Program

    Maybe it's just my imagination but...Wasn't Stephen Harper the one who wanted to restore openness, accountability and transparency to government? I suppose that I must be thinking of someone else. After all, Stephen Harper is the one who kicks people out of the party for representing the views of their constituents, on Google the keyword combo "Stephen Harper Gag Order" returns 131,000 hits. He has only, to date, made one single appearance at the National Press Theatre and now he wants to create an entirely new, entirely government controlled press center where the PMO would get to decide who was admitted and, reportedly, would control the cameras and decide which images made it out of the room - in addition to Harpers usual practice of "insisting that his staff decide which journalists pose questions.".

    It's enough to make you long for the good old days when governments gave kickbacks to friendly ad agencies, but there was at least a free press to report on it.

    the REAL real mccoy

    Let me just say this and get it over with: Andrew Moodie's The Real McCoy is, well, the real McCoy.

    Now that that little matter of critical predictability is out of the way, I can safely say it's the only bit of predictable around the play itself.

    While The Real McCoy follows a familiar dramatic trajectory -prologue, intro, conflict, rising action, resolution -its action unfolds in the most unique and moving of ways.

    By turns clever, witty, smart, and sad, much like its lead character, The Real McCoy is a genuinely inventive piece of theatre -not to mention educational.

    For those who don't know, Elijah McCoy was born in 1844 in Upper Canada, the third son of twelve, to escaped black slaves. He attended Edinburgh University and went on to patent over 40 inventions, most notably a self-lubricating steam engine that revolutionized train travel.

    Oh, and he also invented the folding ironing board, vented treads on the soles of shoes, & the garden sprinkler. Seriously.

    Moodie's play, rather than dryly going through the finer points of McCoy's life, injects drama, comedy, and a whole lot of thought into the man and his times.

    The issue of race hovers around the edges, until McCoy is forced to deal w/ it himself- and the audience, in turn .

    Maurice Dean Wint gives a towering performance as inventor Elijah McCoy, the main man of the piece. He starts off around the edges of the play, serving as a kind of omniscient narrator observing his younger self (played with aplomb by Kevin Hanchard) relating to his teachers, professors, and fellow university students.

    Upon his return from school, Wint takes the form of a man who was well ahead of his time. He recognizes the inherent racism of his world but chooses to ignore it (as best he can) in favour of promoting his higher notions around thermodynamics and the uses of his ideas in everyday life. Ideas, after all, are colour-blind.

    When he's confronted by racism in the form of two brothers running an engineering firm, (Bruce Beaton and Darren Keay) he handles their vitriol with grace and confidence. The same strong heart is shown in a more gentle manner as he relates with a fellow fellow co-worker, Bogey (Kevin Hanchard). It is through these small, interpersed scenes, that Moodie's material truly sings.

    As in real life, the play covers the loss of McCoy's two wives, and his dealings with his father, his younger self, and heck, even the thermodynamic universe itself. I couldn't help thinking, in watching it, that the feel and rhythm of Moodie's work really does echo that of the steam engine McCoy helped to change: sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always consistent. Two hours clip right by as we're taken through not only the chronological events, but the emotional ones, that shaped and defined the man McCoy.

    As director, Moodie has creatively decided to forgo a set proper in favour of movable pieces the cast themselves adjust according to scene, putting our attention firmly on the story and characters.

    None of this would work if it weren't for a uniformly strong cast who take on several roles throughout the play. I especially enjoyed Marcia Johnson's physical comedy as McCoy's second wife-to-be, in their first real meeting, set on an ice rink, and Ardon Bess' sassy turn as McCoy's housekeeper.

    The changeability of the set and characters, with Wint as the ever-constant factor, is a strong reminder of the power of theatre to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. Moodie has accomplished this with The Real McCoy.

    You'll never wear your winter boots the same way again.

    The Real McCoy runs at the Factory Theatre in Toronto until November 4th.
    For more information, go to

    Sunday, October 14, 2007


    Ok, yesterday I saw the movie and I laughed in spite of myself, because in truth there is nothing funny about junkies in small town Canada who are trying to get clean while fighting a satanic cult to rescue their friend and retrieve money they owe to organized crime with the help of midgets in armor (who also happen to be mall cops) with medieval weapons. I mean, you should probably go see it, just to reassure yourself that there is no possible humor in that situation. =) You never know...there could be sarcasm in this post.

    Music Video: All that's left to Collect

    In the digital age, when your 'record collection' has largely been reduced to a database on your iPod and/or Laptop it seems to me that the only thing left to collect for the music junkie is - Music Video Cameo's. Yesterday was my second.

    I went to the New Music Gallery in Toronto to dress in pseudo 1910 Garb, catch a dose of the plague and contribute to a riot in the name of the Most Serene Republic's next video effort, which I'm sure will be really interesting once it's all done.

    Thanks to the band and their friends and families (who made up most of the extras) for treating me...well like family. Can't wait to see the finished product!

    The Dears New Everything & Natalia's Blog

    According to their MySpace Blog the Dears are hard at work on "new everything" which includes a new album! I mention this not only to get you excited about a new Dears album, but so I can mention that Dears keyboardist Natalia Yanchak's Blog has been added to the CanBlogs.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Art Galleries

    For a year or so now I've had a gallery section to hilight artists. Sadly only two people have ever taken advantage of it. So I'm considering turning that section into an aggregator, like the blog or podcast aggregators that would have art and photography blogs (including deviantART and Flickr etc., and would actually include images (unlike the blog and podcast aggregators). Any thoughts on this or who/what should be in it before I go ahead?

    RVT: Glitter Cinnamon - In the Woods

    Armed with new bass player her name is Megan Hennigar long time friend of is headed into the studio in Wolfville, Nova Scotia to record a full length album the recording will be done by John Longly from Tumbleweed Entertainment and My dog Ego.

    Glitter Cinnamon was one of the first artists to have a page in the download section. You can also find some downloads on the Myspace

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Polkaroo & Jodie Run In Provincial Election

    Here are two interesting post-election tidbits:

    1. The Libertarian candidate for the riding of Toronto-Danforth was Mike Scott. You might think I'm referring to the Mike Scott who pitched for the Houston Astros in the 1980's; but I assure you, this is a different Mike Scott. This Mike Scott happens to be the man who wore the Polkaroo costume on TVO's Polka Dot Door. Don't believe me? Just read this article.

    I had to see this with my own eyes, but when I got to the Libertarian office, I was told Mike Scott had left. Aw, I missed him again.

    2. In the riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, the Liberal candidate was Nerene Virgin, who played Jodie on Today's Special. It's unknown if Ms. Virgin had a mannequin who would come alive at night and dance around the campaign office.

    You never know who might run in an election.

    thank you, COC

    There is nothing in the world like Mozart to revive the spirit.

    In my youth, I was a piano-playing hellraiser, scoffing at Wolfgang, preferring Ludwig van.

    Maybe I was in my Lucy Honeychurch phase.

    Much like the precocious heroine of A Room with a View, I had a passion for Beethoven, and impatience for much else. It took me a while to get into Mozart, who, at the time, I considered fluffy, tune-sy, and cotton-candy sweet.

    Perhaps time is the great transformer of taste. After all, back then I didn't like anchovies or olives either.

    Now, I have come to adore -and I mean seriously adore -the music of Mozart. There is something so wise, deft and sensitive about his work.

    The COC does a lovely job of capturing this magic with their current production of The Marriage of Figaro.

    Like any opera, the plot is silly and there is much running to and fro, hiding, disguises, scheming and household mayhem.

    Count Almaviva lusts after Susanna, his man-servant Figaro's bride-to-be; the older Marcellina lusts after Figaro, Figaro lusts after Susanna, who he cannot get a moment's peace with, and Cherubino lusts after pretty much anything with boobs and two legs. The Countess quietly falls apart at the loss of her husband's love too.

    In between are lots of stock characters (of the poop-disturbing variety), but I have to say, it was nice to see that none of them were thrown away, vocally or otherwise, in this witty and cute production.

    Director Guillaume Bernardi has his leads in dreamy sepia-toned outfits, while the schemers -generally older charcters -are in bold purples and reds. The set is simply designed, but with touches of the East, a nod to the fascination Turkey and the Orient held over the Viennese of Mozart's day -and who knows, perhaps our own too.

    But if this production is about anything, it's trust -specifically between the genders. How do we create it? How do we foster it? And, once broken, can it be repaired?

    The Marriage of Figaro presents these questions wrapped up in a gauzy bejewelled bubble, and always, always that gorgeous music weaving its way through everything.

    The singing is, for the most part, marvellous. I wish I could've seen Isabel Bayrakdarian's Susanna; she has a beautiful colaratura-style soprana that would suit the role to a tee.

    However, she is sharing the role with Ying Huang, a soprano making her COC debut. Maybe it's because of the midweek, or the rain, or too much turkey over the weekend, but Huang's voice was weak beside her castmates' considerable belts.

    While she has a lovely sweet tone, Huang simply isn't utilizing the breath control that is needed for the part. There are a lot of words, a lot of notes, and considerable speed is required in balancing the two. At times I was sure I heard Huang very-nearly run out of air; at others, I wanted more vibrato, more power, more resonant chest sound, not merely a shallow heady one. I hope she grows into the role, because she is a cute, fiery presence whose spunk and verve are well-suited to the role of the headstrong maid.

    As the Countess, Jessica Muirhead captures the beautifully sad poetry of a woman who is lost in a passionless sea of a marriage. Her introductory aria is heartbreaking, and her scenes with Cherubino are fun. The look on her face as the first half closes says everything. Here's that most auspicious of pairings in the operatic world: a good singer and actor.

    Typing of which, Sandra Piques Eddy, as the youthful lustmuffin Cherubino, is equally magnificent. Her mezzo is a resonant, rich sound that is capable of both power and delicacy, just at the right moments. Her tone, as well as good body language, lend believability to her male part, even as she manages a bit of menace in her harassment of the countess.

    Supporting the leads are Donato DiStefano as Bartolo (a rich, caramel-like bass), Megan Latham as Marcelline (a strong actor and singer -I'd love to see her in Cosi Fan Tutte ) and Jonathan Green as Basilio (a superb bit of singing and comic timing).

    Overseeing all of this is, of course, our Figaro, played with incredible physicality and vocal power by Robert Gleadow. Again, delicate and strong when required, he easily conveys to us the awesome beauty, power and wisdom of Mozart's every note. There are no throwaway phrasings or tossed-aside arpeggios here. This is a strong performance, from start to finish.

    Conductor Julia Jones leads a COC orchestra who is responsive to every small change in direction and tone.

    The final tentet onstage had me melting; listening to it was truly a spiritual experience. It is simply one of the loveliest pieces ever written, and, if you've not been to the opera, the definite bon-bon worth waiting for. Trust is restored, love is declared the winner, and all is right in the world, if we so choose it. So the music, not merely the words, tell us, if we listen closely.

    As I closed my eyes and absorbed the beauty of the aria, I recalled a line from Amadeus.

    Several people talking in a play is just noise - but in an opera?

    It's music. It's more, too.

    It's heaven.

    The Canadian Opera Company's production of The Marriage of Figaro runs at The Four Seasons Centre to November 2.
    For more information, go to