Monday, December 31, 2007

For Those Who Like to Rank Things

Some recap/top/best of lists for 2007

From TV, eh? a recap of the Year in TV

From VoCA (View on Canadian Art) the Best of 2007

From Quill and Quire the Year in Quillblog

The Top 10 Albums as chosen by Young Galaxy.

The Top Albums Volcanoless in Canada.

The Best Music As chosen by Tegan.

From the CBC the Year in Books

From CBC Radio 3's R3-30 Podcast 2007's Top 10

From Chromewaves the Class of 2007

From Herohill the Top 10 LPs of 2007

From A Good Beer Blog the best of 2007

From Danielle Takacs the Top 10 News Stories of 2007.

Age of Confusion in Music Biz

The Toronto Star has an excellent overview of the 'music industry' - an industry that is exploding and dying off at the same time.
"The undeniable reality is that CD sales continue to fall so dramatically – down 20 per cent from 2006, and down 35 per cent in Canada – that the industry as we know it may soon collapse completely."
It should be pointed out here that when they say CD they are talking about the physical product - not MP3 sales. Also, personally, I buy most of my CD's at shows, from the artists themselves (many of whom do not have a label) and I'm sure that these CDs aren't counted in the 'industry' sales figures.

It seems certain at this point that the traditional big record labels will go under. A few years ago they were cutting back on the number of new artists they signed and throwing less profitable artists overboard. Now they are being dumped themselves, by the more profitable artists they chose to retain.
"Insiders and trade magazines are already predicting a bad New Year for the once mighty EMI Music, one of the world's five remaining major labels, after the recent loss of Radiohead, Paul McCartney and rumblings that Robbie Williams is quitting the roster as well. Warner Music, already stripped to the bone, is also struggling to survive."
Which is fine. Given their behavior over the last decade or two the big labels have done nothing to earn their survival or to warrant any loyalty among fans or artists who might save them.

Music, after all, has demonstrated that the big labels aren't necessary.
"In 2007 more than 750,000 albums were released worldwide (by mostly independent artists via the Internet), compared to 38,000 in 2002."

But there is another reality we have to consider as well. It is simply not true that all downloaders also buy music. Perhaps they wouldn't buy music even if they didn't download, in which case it's good that they're at least listening. Regardless, many independent artists are having trouble making ends meet and/or figuring out how they are going to do so in the future.

There has to be a new deal - a deal not between record labels, lawyers, lobbyists and politicians but a deal between artists and fans. We do not, after all, want to see them give up music or stop producing new music. Producing a CD, or even recording new material for digital distribution costs money and that's a reality that isn't going to change.

One final thing to keep in mind is that while music is reaching the apex of a two decade transformation, all media (TV and Film are next) is going to go down this road sooner or later.

This is an issue that I talk quite a bit about on the blog and that I intend to talk about quite a bit on the new podcast but if you think you have a piece of the puzzle I'd love to hear it.

Post #600 And A Happy New Year

This is the 600th post on this blog. As you will see, I'm still very busy with the site. The CanCon Cast will shortly be a reality and I've added several things to the aggregators (I still have a long list of things to look at so more additions will be coming sortly.)

Happy 2008 Everyone! Stay tuned.

New Additions:


  • Canuck Attitude

  • Civixen

  • A Creative Revolution

  • I (Heart) Music

  • Nag on the Lake

  • Nick's CafĂ© Canadien

  • Taxi Talk

  • We Move To Canada

  • News

  • the Galloping Beaver

  • Montreal Simon

  • Politics n' Poetry

  • Queer Liberal

  • Regret the Error

  • Podcasts

  • CBC Radio: Search Engine

  • CBC Radio: Spark

  • CBC Radio: White Coat, Black Art

  • CBC Radio: How to Think About Science

  • The National: At Issue Video Podcast

  • Politics with Don Newman

  • CBC Radio: Rewind

  • Art and Photography

  • photojunkie
  • Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Your New Year's Present from the Diableros

    If you go, right now, to you can download a free acoustic remix of "Broken Barns" the closer on the new album "The Diableros Aren't Ready For the Country.

    American Music Industry Gets Even Dumber

    Have you been, like most reasonable people, amazed and astounded at all of the music industry lawsuits in the U.S.? Did you find them a trifle unfair? Did you, for example, think that it was absurd that a single mother in Minnesota was ordered to pay $222,000 for 24 'illegal' songs on her hard drive? Apparently you ain't seen nothing yet.

    Hugh McGuire found a Washington Post article this morning that indicates the RIAA is now going after personal use.
    "In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer."

    Just to be clear, according to the RIAA it is illegal for you to take a CD that you've legally purchased and copy it to your computer or ipod. 2008 may very well mark the end of the traditional music industry but the industry keeps making it harder to have any sympathy. The old music industry chose to take what was perhaps the greatest economic opportunity in entertainment history, the ability to sell and distribute music online, worldwide, with no physical inventory and turned it into what will likely be their epitaph instead.

    Saturday, December 29, 2007

    RVT: Volcanoless in Canada - Invincible

    Volcanoless in Canada perform "Invincible" at Lydia's Pub in Saskatoon.

    Volcanoless in Canada will be playing a New Year's show with the Blood Lines at Amigos in Saskatoon, so if you don't have plans yet...well now you do.

    New CBC TV Shows for January

    The CBC has a whack of new shows coming in January. I had hoped to post Trailers for them, but in classic CBC style the only trailer they have on YouTube is for the least interesting of the bunch. There was a spat during the fall between intelligence creator Chris Haddock and the CBC because Haddock felt they didn't do enough to promote his show - sadly Chris the CBC doesn't really promote anything (except the Hour) unless you are already watching CBC TV. I've seen more advertisements for the Tudors DVD set than I saw for the show.

    One more note before I get to the shows: Warning the web sites for MVP and the Border which I link to are both flash intensive and auto-play music. Visit at your own risk.

    First there is the JPod (no trailer):
    Based on Douglas Coupland's cult bestseller of the same name, jPod is a one-hour drama series with amusing and evil twists. Ethan Jarlewski (DAVID W. KOPP) and four coworker pals are bureaucratically marooned in the bowels of a massive video game company, Neotronic Arts.The series chronicles the amoral, lighthearted and often shocking lives of these five "Podsters." In Season One alone, they routinely deal with Chinese gangs, boneheaded bosses, sexual swinging, power lesbians, British royalty, gore-laced game designs and …it's a very long list.

    Sophie (no Trailer) based on the Radio Canada show that failed to win over Quebec, looks like it might be entertaining.
    Sophie has everything: a loving boyfriend, her own talent agency, beauty, friends and a baby on the way. Everything... that is until one day her picture-perfect world starts to come apart at the seams as she tries to cope with her new single-mom status, the tormented artists that call her agency home, a neurotic mother, her father's delusional ex-mistress and her entire eclectic and funny entourage... Sophie is about to experience a year where every emotion in the book gets thrown at her... and then some!

    The Border (no trailer) could be good if it can distinguish itself from other cop/espionage shows. If it is good but is little/nothing like - Intelligence, 24, CSI, Numbers, etc., etc., I'll watch it.

    Finally, there is MVP (3 Trailers online). It's well...desperate housewives with hockey I guess. "When the uniforms are folded and the gear comes off, that's when the game REALLY gets interesting." Sex, scandal, money and skates - not going to watch, not going to post the trailer, completely not interested.

    The World Says a Reluctant Goodbye to Oscar Peterson

    The great Oscar Peterson was laid to rest today. Not knowing what to say that hasn't already been said I thought I'd just post a bit of a roundup of some of what is being said.

  • First from the family at
    A Message from Kelly & Celine Peterson:

    We would like to thank everyone who has sent their condolences, and the hundreds of you who sent e-mail messages. We appreciate it very much. There will be a public memorial service in the near future, and we will provide all the details right here once everything has been decided. For anyone who would like to make donations, we ask you to please make them to World Vision or Christian Children's Fund in honour of Oscar Peterson. Thank you once again for all your love and support. May God Bless his Soul!

  • CBC Archives has posted a multimedia galleryof Peterson's work:
    Oscar Peterson was a giant in every sense of the word. Standing well over 6 feet, he'd even been mistaken for a football player. But there's no mistaking his brilliance on the keyboard. His dazzling technique combined with his swinging style made the Montreal native, as one critic remarked, the best damn jazz pianist in the whole world.

  • From the Globe and Mail's arts section
    Few pianists swung as hard or played as fast and with as many grace notes as Canada's Oscar Peterson. The classically trained musician could play it all, from Chopin and Liszt to blues, stride, boogie, bebop and beyond. He led his own jazz trios, performed with such legendary figures as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, who called him "the man with four hands," recorded more than 200 albums and wrote such memorable works as Hymn to Freedom and the Canadiana Suite.

  • From
    I was lucky enough to have studied jazz at York University while Oscar Peterson was the school's chancellor. Even though our paths never crossed, his presence was almost palpable. I played in an ensemble under the tutelage of Don Thompson, a Canadian jazz giant in his our right, and every once in a while he'd make us put down our instruments and stop talking theory so we could listen to the masters. He'd play us records from his collection - Clifford Brown, John Coltrane, Bill Evans - but more often than not we'd find ourselves listening to Oscar Peterson.

  • From Drawn! the Illustration and Cartooning Blog
    I just read that Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson died last night. In tribute, here’s Begone Dull Care, the groundbreaking abstract animated film from 1949 by Norman McLaren, featuring the music of the Oscar Peterson trio.

  • From Canoe
    Throughout his career, Peterson was showered with accolades. He collected eight Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award in 1997, hundreds of prizes from the jazz community, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement and was a Companion of the Order of Canada. In 2005 Canada Post marked his contribution to music with a 50-cent stamp.

  • From CityNews:
    He was a man who tickled the ivories and audiences across the globe. He was a Canadian icon, a teacher, an eight-time Grammy winner and even one of the few Canucks with his face on a postage stamp. But to the world he could be summed up in just two words - "the best."

  • From the National Post
    Considered by many to be one of the greatest piano players of all-time, Mr. Peterson was born in Montreal in 1925. He died at his home in Mississauga. His affair with piano spanned six decades, resulted in more than 200 recordings, and earned him seven Grammy Awards, and saw him named Down Beat magazine's best jazz pianist 13 Times.

  • From the Halifax Chronicle Herald.
    The music was so powerful, so propulsively swinging that fellow musicians found it hard to believe Monday that such a force of nature as Oscar Peterson had finally been stilled.

  • From Vancouver Jazz
    Oscar Peterson, Canada's most renowned and probably greatest jazz musician has died. For the last day or two I've received emails informing of Oscar's death, followed by emails reporting that these were unconfirmed rumours. This morning CBC News confirmed the worst.

    Oscar Peterson Trio - A Gal In Gallico (1958)
    with Ray Brown & Herb Ellis

  • From Canoe
    Known for the propulsive swing of his music as well as his astounding technical virtuosity, the Montreal-born Peterson visited almost every major concert hall around the globe, recording some of the country's most distinctive music including "Canadiana Suite" and "Hymn to Freedom."

  • From the Montreal Gazette
    Peterson, who last played the Montreal jazz festival in 2004 was named Down Beat magazine's best jazz pianist 13 times. Even though Peterson suffered from arthritis most of his life he routinely topped international jazz polls. His memory for notes and lyrics was photographic. He played with such soul it seemed the piano spoke.
    "You can't just sit down and play the piano. You have to think of phrases, colours, intensities. That's the only way it can be," he said once, "I have to become the piano."

  • From What's On Winnipeg
    The jazz community in Canada and at large was one member short this Christmas, but for some the death of Oscar Peterson felt more like an entire orchestra had been silenced instead of just one man.

  • From Reuters
    One of jazz's most recorded musicians, both as leader and accompanist, Peterson rose from working-class beginnings in Montreal -- where his father let him pursue music only if he promised to be "the best" -- to become a major influence on generations of top-flight musicians

  • From Peace, Order and Good Government, eh?
    Oscar Peterson died yesterday at age 82. As an artist and a man, he was a glorious citizen of Canada and the world. We remember with joy his life and his conversations with his piano.

    Here is "Cubana Chant" from his 1964 concert in London

  • From the Australian
    The technical brilliance, unprecedented speed and hard-driving swing of Peterson's best work inspired generations of artists. But it also drove them to despair, for they knew Peterson's feats could not be matched, much less topped.

  • From the Telegraph (UK)
    In a career spanning more than half a century Peterson enjoyed celebrity, public acclaim and almost unqualified critical approval. The only sour note came from a few critics who, early in his career, suggested that the effortless fluency of his playing was a mark of glibness.

  • From the Wall Street Journal
    For Peterson, who died on Sunday at age 82, his full mastery of the instrument enabled him to keep striving for what to him was his ultimate reason for being. In his equally masterful autobiography, "A Jazz Odyssey: The Life of Oscar Peterson" (Continuum, 2002), he said of the "dare-devil enterprise [the jazz experience]" in which he engaged for so many years that it "requires you to collect all your senses, emotions, physical strength and mental power, and focus them totally on the performance. . . every time you play. . . . Uniquely exciting, once it's bitten you, you never get rid of it. Nor do you want to; for you come to believe that if you get it all right, you will be capable of virtually anything. That is what drives me, and I know it always will do so."

  • From Pravda (Russia)
    Oscar Peterson's dazzling keyboard technique, commanding sense of swing and mastery of different piano styles could leave even his most accomplished peers awe-struck. His death brought forth tributes from jazz pianists spanning the generations.

  • From the Los Angeles Times
    Speed, endurance, articulation and imagination -- Peterson embodied them in one perpetually explosive package, and he made it look easy, as is evident in loads of clips on YouTube.

  • Oscar Peterson performing "Goodbye"

    Friday, December 28, 2007

    Eyes on Toronto Returns January 7

    Stephen Eyes & company are returning Monday, January 7 to the Gladstone Hotel for the next installment of the Queen West talk show Eyes On Toronto.

    Cueing up for the show are:
  • Poet, performer and author Zoe Whittall - who Now Magazine named the best emerging author of 2007. Zoe's blog and more info on her book can be found at

  • Finalist on NBC's 'Last Comic Standing' Debra Giovanni

  • and

  • Musical guest Royal Wood: see youtube clip below or visit

  • If you haven't been to Eyes on Toronto yet it is the best show ON Toronto IN Toronto and it's on a Monday night so you know you're not busy. For more info visit or the Facebook event page - if you really can't make it (because you don't live in Toronto or something) you can also watch the show live on the web as it happens (sweet eh?).

    Royal Wood:

    Venture 2.0 (Fortune Hunters) coming to CBC

    Anyone remember Venture? The CBC show that served as a business how-to and all too often how-not-to show for entrepreneurs was axed at the end of last season after 22 years on the air. It's pseudo replacement Fortune Hunters premeirs January 12. According to the show's web site:
    FORTUNE HUNTERS is Canada’s only show on the trail of hot trends.

    This exciting new business program looks at “trends” – the powerful shifts in human behaviour and in economic activity that define today’s world – through the lens of moneymaking. Each and every week we’ll meet entrepreneurs who are hunting their fortune by creating companies and trying to cash in on popular trends.

    Hosted by Dianne Buckner of Dragons’ Den, FORTUNE HUNTERS also includes candid conversations with business experts on the latest trends.
    Plus, in our power profile MY FIRST MILLION segment, we’ll reveal the secrets of success from business big shots like the founders of Booster Juice, Le Chateau and McCain’s.

    The program launches Jan. 12 at 6:30 pm ET (3:30 pm PT for those of you who don't like math.)

    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    48 Abell A Memorial

    I've added a new subdomain to the site to collect stories, thoughts and memories and to serve as a reminder of the downside of gentrification. Gentrification can mean many things to many people. For a community it can mean a huge economic influx, it can mean more jobs, cleaner, safer streets, affordable housing and increased economic opportunity. If it is done improperly though, as it is in Toronto, it can mean the death of that which attracted people to a community in the first place and for long time residents of that community it frequently means disruption, displacement and even homelessness. Visit for the full scoop.

    A Copyright Carol from Galacticast

    In answer to your question, yes they are usually this brilliant find more at

    Little Mosque: As Canadian as North Dakota?

    Via TV-Eh?: The CBC sit-com Little Mosque on the Prairie is causing a bit of controversy. It is not because of it's subject matter, a group of muslims living in rural Saskatchewan, but because of it's location or lack thereof.

    The first line of the CBC's mandate states that it should "be predominantly and distinctively Canadian". However, according to the Leader Post:
    "Last Jan. 17, Zarqa Nawaz, a producer of CBC's Little Mosque on the Prairie, gave an interview on National Public Radio in the U.S.
    In it, she tells the American interviewer the producers of the show deliberately never mention Saskatchewan as the series location because they hope an American audience will reference it as taking place in North Dakota and because "sales are important".
    Apparently, they are also willing to accommodate American ignorance of Canada by often doing alternative takes to clarify or remove what they consider to be obscure Canadiana. (The budget for this must be enormous, given American ignorance of Canada.)"
    Personally I feel that such practices should simply be legally banned - that no program that receives tax subsidies should be able to do alternate takes to disguise the fact that it is Canadian.

    If a show like Little Mosque on the Prairie, which is about as mentally challenging as I Love Lucy is over the heads of Americans then I truly do feel sorry for them, however, this time they may just have to do some research and catch up. It should not be up to Canadian taxpayers to do an alternate version that they can grasp.

    For American's reading this the show is set in Saskatchewan and if that word has left you scratching your heads, you can begin your research here. Although if you really find that concept confusing you should really just turn off the TV and read a book.

    For anyone who hasn't seen the series:
    Episode 1 Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

    Wednesday, December 26, 2007

    Copyright is Forever

    Via Robert J. Sawyer: According to this article from the BBC, Egypt has decided to copyright it's antiquities.
    "Egypt's MPs are expected to pass a law requiring royalties be paid whenever copies are made of museum pieces or ancient monuments such as the pyramids.
    Zahi Hawass, who chairs Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the BBC the law would apply in all countries."
    This law which would, in some cases, extend copyright more than 7,000 years beyond the death of their unknown creators is expected to garner broad support from music and film industry groups. podcast

    So I got a new microphone for Christmas and am seriously considering a podcast for 2008. It's all still up in the air. I haven't even decided what the thing would be called yet so while I'm still in the early, early planning stages I thought I'd throw the question open and see if anyone out there has any requests or suggestions.

    New Russian Futurists Album Done

    The new Russian Futurists album "The Weight's on the Wheels" is finished and should be released this spring according to the band's Myspace.

    Conservatives: Save us From the CBC

    In a fundraising letter this week the Conservative (read Republican) Party asked for financial support from their members. They pointed to allegations earlier in the month that a CBC reporter had provided questions to a Liberal MP to ask during Brian Mulroney's testimony on the Airbus afair.

    From Canada East
    Finley, the party's campaign director, says he was shocked by allegations that a CBC reporter helped produce questions for a Liberal MP to ask Brian Mulroney at a recent parliamentary hearing.
    Now he's using the incident as a fundraising message to the party faithful: Tories face a chronic disadvantage because of their powerful enemies, and need your cash to overcome it.
    Never mind that there is nothing inherently wrong, unethical or even new about a journalist helping an MP prepare for a hearing:
    Other reporters say they've suggested questions for politicians in the past - for instance, when Conservatives were in opposition and grilling the Liberals during the sponsorship scandal.
    Perhaps the real reason that the Conservatives are finding things difficult to run in Canada is because they do not represent Canadians.
    "Let's face the facts," Finley writes in a letter, released by the party Monday.
    "Running as a Conservative in Canada is never easy
    The Conservative party of Canada certainly has broad support amoung American neo-Conservatives. But if they are having trouble finding similar support amoung Canadians perhaps they would be better off aligning their policies and platforms with the ideals and goals of average Canadians.
    If this government's goals and aspirations are not in keeping with those of Canadians that is not the CBC's fault. If they have failed to deliver on any issue of substance for Canadians during their time in office it is again not the CBC's fault, if their constant efforts to align themselves with the U.S. Republican party are unpopular in Canada they shouldn't even be surprised, much less looking for someone to blame. I can only hope that an effort to raise funds to protect politicians from journalists doesn't raise enough cash to cover the postage the mass mailing cost them.

    Monday, December 24, 2007

    Oscar Peterson 1925-2007

    Oscar Peterson, one of the great legends of jazz and one of the best known Canadian musicians in the world has passed. I'm sure you'll hear alot about him in the next few days, but if you are not familiar Holiday or no, I would have been remiss if I didn't take a moment to not the passing of a Canadian icon.

    Here is a 1961 clip of Oscar performing Goodbye

    CBC Doc Zone: The Pagan Christ

    Oops, one more. If you're bored and looking for something to do here's the CBC Doc Zone presentation the Pagan Christ

    Part II

    Part III

    Part IV

    Part V

    Beer Nog: A Bob and Doug Xmas

    I'm off for a couple of days for family stuff. Hope Christmas treats you well (if it's not something you celebrate just have a good Dec. 25). Here is a classic from SCTV with some practical advice for those of you who don't like eggnog.

    Don't Miss the Fred Langan Xmas Album

    Because nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like xmas carols combined with financial news.

    Mark Critch Christmas Poem

    Ever wonder how Mark Critch spends Christmas? Me either, but now you'll know anyway.

    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    joyful sounds of the season

    Though I’m not up on my biblical quotes, the one about “make thee a joyful noise unto the Lord” had a particularly accurate ring to it, in listening to the Gospel Christmas Project concert at Massey Hall lastnight.

    Lead by CBC personality and composer Andrew Craig, the show featured the considerable and awe-inspiring talents of Jackie Richardson, Alana Bridgewater, Kellylee Evans, Chris Lowe, as well as the truly uplifting voices of Sharon Riley and Faith Chorale.

    Combined with a stellar lineup of musicians, the evening was one filled with joy, soul, and Christmas cheer.

    Even the most overwhelmed shopper or cynical Scrooge would’ve found something to raise their spirits.

    Featuring funky, inventive renditions of classics such as O Come, all ye Faithful, Hark! The Herald angels Sing, and What Child is This?, the evening was a panoply of incredible voices, perfect harmonies, and crunchy beats that made it hard to sit still.

    However, being typical Canadians, that’s just what much of the audience at Massey Hall did, despite being chided more than once by bandleader and accomplished pianist Craig.

    Following an upbeat South African carol, complete with audience sing-a-long (the phonetics and translation were even provided), Craig noted, incredulously, that “I can’t believe you’re still in your seats!”. Ah, the Canadian curse of being proper in public. Lord forbid we block a view or emote in front of others.

    So it was with a lot of joy and smiles I noted more and more people getting up to celebrate and shake off the seasonal blues as the concert progressed. Jackie Richardson’s happy, upbeat demeanor and singing were inspiration enough; her version of I Saw Three Ships with the Faith Chorale, leading to the first half closer, Go Tell It on the Mountain, were invitations to get up and make that joyful noise –and add the footwork too.

    There were, however, quiet moments to contemplate between faster numbers, providing a nice break in pace and a chance to reflect on the incredible musicianship onstage. Kellylee Evans’ beautiful rendering of the only Canadian carol on record, Huron Carol, was a show-stopper, and Chris Lowe’s In the Bleak Midwinter brought a new sort of poetry to the words his voice shaped so lovingly.

    Craig duly and wisely noted, after thanking his CBC colleagues, that the entire stage was filled with Canadian artists. Bravo.

    Bv the show’s celebratory ending (an entirely soulful and beat-terrific version of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah) the entire house was up, dancing, clapping, singing along.

    It was the star on the top of the tree of Christmas experiences this year.

    Here’s to more joyful noises next year.

    For more information on the Gospel Christmas Project, follow this link:

    For information on Massey Hall programming, go to

    A Mix For Insite (a PWYC mixtape)

    The From Blown Speakers blog has a new PWYC mix up featuring some of Vancouver's finest artists. Even if you can't afford to give anything, you can download for as little as an email to your MP. The mix exists to support Insite Vancouver's safe injection site. The full spiel as well as information on the artists is available here.
    "All the lovely people featured on this mix donated their music for you to download for free, and all they're asking in return is that you throw a little money the Portland Hotel Society's way (they manage Insite). And if you're short on funds (or even if you're not), you can can spend some political capital by writing your MP, Federal Health Minister Tony Clement, and the Prime Minister, to tell them that Insite is an election issue, and that it should stay open."

    Saturday, December 22, 2007

    First post

    I was asked awhile back to contribute occasionally to and after a great deal of thought I've finally added my first post - which reads alot like this:

    "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."
    -Robert Heinlein, 1939

    I've been promising for awhile to start contributing to But, I think that I have a different take on media than most. Deep down I do believe that it would be a good thing if we could force a more diverse media, a Canadian owned media that relied heavily on Canadian programming and had substantially increased public service requirements. These though were largely the unsuccessful fights of a generation ago.

    Media is changing rapidly but where it's going is clear. The "convergence" that people have talked about for a decade is happening. More and more every year print media happens on the internet, radio happens on the internet, television happens on the internet and it is not just a few big players. The proliferation of blogs, podcasts, social media and 'user generated content' caused Time Magazine to name 'you' as the person of the year for 2006. Just last week a dangerous, anti-consumer, anti-privacy, copyright bill that large US media companies tried to force on Canada was defeated by the power of the internet.

    Additionally, devices like Tivo, the DVR and once again the internet will make watching commercials optional, which means in most cases the traditional television or radio ad will become a thing of the past. At the very least, in the near term, ads will start to lose their value which means declining revenues for broadcasters. Personally I see the current round of media consolidation as an attempt to 'circle the wagons' in the face of declining power, declining revenue and a market that is becoming more fragmented by the hour.

    Jello Biafra once said "Don't hat the media, become the media". The reality is that, for the moment, we are the media. Ordinary individuals have more power than they have ever had before. While it is not yet available to everyone, hundreds of millions of people the world over have the power to publish their ideas, their thoughts and their opinions in text, audio or video via the internet. Imagine the implications if Gutenberg's printing press or the power of film or television and radio broadcasting had fallen into the hands of hundreds of millions instead of a few monied individuals.

    Given all of this I think it's better to look at where media is headed and try tp put in place a future proofed system that works for all Canadians rather than looking looking at media as it was and trying to go backward.

    As I see them, the key issues are:
  • 1. Maintaining a level playing field. In other words net neutrality. If you are unfamiliar with the term, briefly: Without net neutrality some companies, say CTV for example, could buy better access which would mean that internet users who clicked on the CTV site would get priority (faster and easier access) than users who clicked on, for example, A lack of net neturality could also mean that an internet service provider such as Bell or Rogers could superimpose their ads on your site - like it or not.

  • 2. Fair copyright reform: Reform that respects and rewards artists without punishing consumers, that has reasonable provisions for fair use, educational use and parody, that protects the privacy of consumers and that prevents the kind of endless and unfair lawsuits we've seen in the United States. The alternative, of course, to winning this kind of reform would be a heavier reliance on Creative Commons over traditional copyright. This would mean being forced to ignore content that uses a standard copyright, a huge loss for 'traditional' media, but the audience would be fine.

  • 3. A strong Federal and Provincial to public service broadcasting, including a reformed CBC, provincial public service broadcasters, and campus and community broadcasters.

  • 4. Finally a system that recognizes the importance of arts and culture in society and strives to make it more attractive to consumers and more rewarding (including financially rewarding) to artists.

  • If all of this were accomplished it wouldn't do anything about media consolidation but it wouldn't matter very much. A system that incorporated all four of the above points would be a system driven by ideas and audience response to those ideas; a system where anyone, anywhere armed with only their ideas and a computer could become part of 'the media' and while they might not have the resources of a CityChumCTVRogersBellGlobeMedia Inc., in the new world of the internet resources only help you to a certain degree, beyond that it's back down to ideas and how well they resonate with the audience and that, to me, is democratic media.

    I'm sure I'll post again in the future, but for a first shot I thought some introductions were in order. Normally I can be found at or on facebook.

    Canadian Library Association Sides With Canadians

    Michael Geist points to an article in todays Globe and Mail on the Canadian Library Association's objections to the Government's copyright bill. From Don Butcher, Executive Director of the Library Association:
    “This is a battle between Hollywood lobbyists versus the average Canadian,”.
    In case you miss it, in the reader comments section for this story Sam Genkins of Toronto has found a quote that seems to sum up the debate nicely:
    There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."
    -Robert Heinlein, 1939

    Ottawa Hires Weasels to Guard the Henhouse

    This should be interesting, according to the CBC Bell Canada has been awarded the contract to maintain the "Do-Not-Call list". Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that there is finally going to be a do-not-call list but Bell?

    When my family and I moved into our current residence we called to have our Bell internet service switched over. Once that was done though we noticed that it was unbelievably slow - slower than dial up at times. So we called Bell to fix it. After a month which included several technician visits, hours on the phone and explanations that changed from day to day we switched providers.

    Last friday, in what is only the most recent case, Bell called to offer us high speed. When I mentioned that Bell had already told us, in so many words, that they couldn't provide us with high speed at our current location the caller assured me that there was no obligation so it was a good deal. I asked to be taken off of their calling list and the caller assured me that I would be. They called back on Monday to make the same offer.

    The reality is that Bell and Rogers, along with ADT and a few mystery 'you have won an all expense paid trip to...' companies are the worst violators of telemarking. These are the people who made a do-not-call list necessary in the first place, so it is more than a bit ironic that they sould be awarded a large government contract, which will presumably result in some handsome profits, to police themselves.

    Friday, December 21, 2007

    The Kids are Allright

    Today was a gratifying day for me. I was asked to give a presentation on social media and activism to a group of twelve and thirteen year olds. The conversation went way beyond that. We covered social media, word of mouth, viral marketing, the looming death of traditional advertising, convergence, market fragmentation and the million channel universe. Obviously I tried to eliminate as much of the jargon as possible and explain these things in simple english. In the end though we covered alot of territory and there were no blank looks, few questions, they seemed to just get all of these things. Some of it they even seemed bored by.

    So why was this gratifying? Because I've tried in the past to explain these things to media professionals, even executives and got nowhere. No matter how hard I tried, how I explained it, jargon free or not, I got not a glimmer of understanding. It was good to finally have someone get it, all of it - like I was explaining basic math.

    We even had time left over for one of them to teach me how to turn on Google's Elmer Fudd option and to briefly discuss the F.A.A.'s chicken launcher technology.

    Admin Note: the Links Section & More

    I've been working on the links section a bit, when I've had the time. I still need to add more links but in the music and comedy sections I've added 'sample' links - these will take you to videos of the person being linked to, so if someone isn't sure who that is or knows who it is and would like to see/hear some right now - it's one click. I'm going to be adding sample links to the film and television links sections as well.

    I have also cleared some feeds out of the aggregators (thinks that were apparently no longer operating) and will be adding more feeds to every section in the coming weeks.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007

    Breaking Links: Thursday, December 20

    The Loonie has been named Time Magazine's Newsmaker of the Year.
    "Time magazine named the loonie the Canadian Newsmaker of 2007, saying the dollar's rapid rise was a sure sign that “something big was happening in Canada."

    From the Hollywood Reporter: Where is this talent wave coming from? Oh, Canada
    "Look out Hollywood and America, you're being invaded by Canada. Again. Last week, Canadian newspapers were abuzz over the strong showing by Canucks at the Golden Globe nominations. "Juno," directed by Canadian-born Jason Reitman and starring Canadians Ellen Page and Michael Cera, nabbed three nominations, including one for Page. Ryan Gosling has a nom for "Lars and the Real Girl," and thrice-nominated "Eastern Promises" comes from elder Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg. "Away From Her," which saw Julie Christie nab a nomination, was written and directed by Torontonian Sarah Polley."

    Hugh McGuire points to a great article from Wired David Byrne on why CDs aren't music.
    "What is music?
    First, a definition of terms. What is it we’re talking about here? What exactly is being bought and sold? In the past, music was something you heard and experienced — it was as much a social event as a purely musical one. Before recording technology existed, you could not separate music from its social context. Epic songs and ballads, troubadours, courtly entertainments, church music, shamanic chants, pub sing-alongs, ceremonial music, military music, dance music — it was pretty much all tied to specific social functions. It was communal and often utilitarian. You couldn’t take it home, copy it, sell it as a commodity (except as sheet music, but that’s not music), or even hear it again. Music was an experience, intimately married to your life. You could pay to hear music, but after you did, it was over, gone — a memory."

    Ontario has turned over the Ipperwash provincial park to the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.
    "Located about 40 kilometres northeast of Sarnia in southwestern Ontario, Ipperwash Provincial Park has been closed since 1995 when Ontario Provincial Police officers shot and killed aboriginal activist Dudley George during an aboriginal occupation of the park."

    Some of Saskatoons top musicians were out yesterday visiting local schools and caroling for Unicef.
    "Today, members of The Blood Lines, Junior Pantherz, We Were Lovers, Volcanoless in Canada, Carrie Catherine, Smokekiller, Jen Lane and The Rebellion marched through high schools in Saskatoon singing carols and raised over $500 for UNICEF's "Spread The Net" campaign. "

    The Quill and Quire has published the Year in Quilblog.
    "All we can do is hope that all you scandal-loving, muckraking, conspiracy-minded booklovers who delight in the misfortune of others have some very happy holidays."

    Natalia Yanchak is wondering about the differences between cooking and music as art forms.
    "So then why, in cooking, as an artistic form, is it better to be traditional and, dare I say, boring, where as in music, boringness and being labelled as “derivative” promises a fate worse than death?"

    Fashionable People Doing Questionable Things

    As a fan of Canadian independent music, the only thing better to me than the Bucky Awards is the Polaris prize. The WCMA's and ECMAs are great, but they're regional and the Juno's are, well they're nice too. And I'm not saying all of this just because they gave me one (honorary). So, I'd like to congradulate everyone who was even nominated. If you made the Top 5 in any of these categories it means that Canada loves you. But then the voting starts and someone has to win and this year those people were.

    Catchiest Hook - Buck 65 "Indestructable Sam"
    Best Sweatin' to the Indies Workout Song - Chromeo "Fancy Footwork"
    Best Song Title - The Wet Secrets "Grow Your Own F*cking Moustache Asshole"
    Best Falsetto - Joel Plaskett Emergency "Fashionable People"
    Best Rap - Abdominal "Pedal Pusher"
    Best Lyric - The Weakerthans "Civil Twilight"
    Best Reason to Learn French - We Are Wolves "Magique"
    Best Gang Vocals - Tokyo Police Club "Your English is Good"
    Best New Band Name - Said the Whale
    Best Song to Listen to in the Fetal Position - Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton "Doctor Blind"
    Most Unpronounceable Name - Basia Bulat
    Best Bass Line - Tokyo Police Club "Your English is Good"
    Best Yacht Rock - Patrick Watson "Drifters"
    Best Road-Trip Song - Two Hours Traffic "Backseat Sweetheart"
    Song Most Likely to be a Future Classic - Feist "1234"

    Plus Video Award Winners

    Sexiest Canadian Musian: Peter Elkas
    Most Likely to Have a Future Career in Television: Shane Nelken From the Awkward Stage
    Best Video: Fashionable People - Joel Plasket Emergency

    And the brand new "Old But Awesome" (lifetime achievement) award: Bob Wiseman

    oh yeah and the Best Fan (or something like that) - Me =) for doing this.

    The Radio 3 podcast version of the awards is here and the video awards can be downloaded here. By the way, they contain what is my favorite George Stroumboulopoulos  moment since he joined the CBC.

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    Don Chevrier: 1938 - 2007

    Canadian sportscaster Don Chevrier has passed away.

    For many, including myself, Chevrier will be remembered as the original television voice of the Blue Jays. Like his radio counterpart, Tom Cheek, Chevrier provided solid play-by-play for over two decades. He was the man in the television booth during Toronto's "glory days."

    As a young fan, I always viewed Chevrier as a wise and articulate elder. He seemed to know every single detail about any baseball player, regardless of whether the player wore a Blue Jay uniform, or an opponent's uniform. His voice was authoritative but not commanding.

    He was a versatile broadcaster, covering a number of sports. Along with the Blue Jays, Chevrier was the play-by-play voice for the Ottawa Senators, a number of Grey Cup finals, and many Olympic events. In fact, the last time I had the pleasure of watching and listening to him was during the 2006 Winter Olympics when he covered the men's and women's curling tournament for NBC.

    A fixture of the Canadian sporting scene, he described many great moments. He will be sorely missed.

    RIP Don Chevrier.

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    RVT: Gravity Wavelength Volume 1

    You can find Gravity Wavelength Act II here and more from Gravity Wave at Appearing in this video are Nils Edenloff, Brendan Hewlett, Paul Banwatt, Amy Cole, Lauren Schreiber, Laura Barrett, Kate Gordon, Jesssica Whyte, Kat 'n' Lorna, Specer Butt, Chris De Castro, and Shazad Chaudhary.

    Breaking Links: Thursday, December 18

    Via J-Source: Reuters is reporting that 64 Journalists have been killed in the past year.
    "For the fifth year in a row Iraq was the deadliest dateline with 31 journalists killed, most of whom were targeted and murdered, the watchdog said. All but one of the journalists killed were Iraqi, with nine of those working for international organizations, including Reuters and The Associated Press."

    The East Coast Music Award nominess for 2008 have been announced and Halifax's Joel Plaskett has garnered a whopping 7 nominations.
    "The band's 2007 album Ashtray Rock has three nominations, including recording of the year and its single Fashionable People earned nods for best single and songwriter of the year for Plaskett."

    Volcanoless in Canada have posted their top music picks for 2007
    "Damn I love the end of the year... there's something about snow on the ground, a frozen ice world outside, frost that physically hurts, that makes a guy just want to curl up someplace warm, forget about every single outside obligation, and for the first time all year, take the time to nostalgically make reference to breakthrough/amazing music encompassing another completed year. Team Volcanoless recently experienced some warmth by the fire, partaking in mad discussion about 2007 and the albums that made us want to make another one."

    68 year-old John Peters, the latest RCMP taser victim is accusing the agency of a whitewash. In related news a new study has determined that tasers do not reduce shootings.
    "Peters's wife Ann, who was in the car at the time, said her husband only put his hands over his face after the officer punched him in the mouth, and that the officer used the Taser twice on her husband while he was still in the car. "John never hit the officer. He was never tased outside the car. He was tased both times inside the car.""

    The new album from Gentleman Reg is just about done.
    "And it became apparent that all the songs we had recorded, even though they were all good, didn't make up a complete album.So, in the last few months many adjustments have been made. Adding songs, taking some away, re-mixing, editing,,,adding horns....And it's finally feeling finished. This week we go through the mixes and pick our favorites, and then assemble the album.It has a name too. I'll tell you later."

    Vive Le Canada on the Tory plan to muzzle Canadian minorities.
    "If passed, the proposal would give B.C. seven new MPs, Alberta five and Ontario only 10 – fully 11 fewer than if the province was treated the same as Canada's other fast-growing regions. This means effectively disenfranchising some 1 million Ontarians in the next decade, or approximately one in every 10 citizens of voting age."

    MTV is referring to 2007 as The Year The [music] Industry Broke.
    "In April, Trent Reznor released Year Zero, a concept album about a future society teetering on the brink of apocalypse. It was supposed to be a grand work of fiction, but it could just as easily have been about the music industry in 2007 — a bleak, burned-out world where the sky fell on a daily basis and the rivers ran red with the blood of record execs. (That the album didn't sell well only furthers the analogy ...)"

    Police are looking for a man who murder a 74 year old while he was delivering Christmas cards in Kitchener Ontario and in Winnipeg they are looking for a man who abducted and assaulted an 11 year old girl. On the off chance you might know something please read the suspect descriptions in the articles.

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    Your Xmas Present from Said The Whale

    Said the Whale is offering up a 2 song EP as their Xmas gift to you. Check their website for details

    Nominations Open for Canadian Blog Awards

    Nominations are now open for the 2007 Canadian Blog Awards If you have a favourite blog that you would like to honor visit to nominate them in the following categories.

    Best Activities Blog
    Best Blog
    Best Blog Post
    Best Blog Post Series
    Best Blogosphere Citizen
    Best Business/Finance Blog
    Best conservative Blog
    Best Education Blog
    Best Entertainment/Cultural Blog
    Best Family Blog
    Best French-Language Blog
    Best Group Blog
    Best Humour Blog
    Best Local Blog
    Best Media/Celebrity Blog
    Best Military Blog
    Best New Blog
    Best Non-Partisan Blog
    Best Personal Blog
    Best Photo/Art Blog
    Best Podcaster/Vlogger
    Best Political Blog
    Best progressive Blog
    Best Religious Blog
    Best Sci/Tech Blog
    Best Sexual/Gender Issues Blog
    Best Sports Blog

    Toronto Steps Up for the Parkdale Food Bank

    Yesterday was a great day in West Toronto. The snow dump and the problems that came with it make it even more impressive that the Music Marathon Fundraiser for the Parkdale Foodbank came off without a hitch. Of the 10 scheduled bands only one had to cancel and the Cadillac Lounge was full all day. Most people didn't come and stay for the full event but for every departure there was an arrival and in all $800 plus was raised for the food bank.

    So, huge thanks are in order to all of yesterdays performers and to every single person who looked at the snow piling up yesterday and then came out anyway.

    I have no heard how last night's other event (Monkey Toast: PWYC. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St.) fared but in all I would say, to date, the effort to raise funds for and awareness of the problems facing the Parkdale Food Bank has been a resounding success. A third fundraiser (Sing For Your Supper: Dec. 22., 8:30 p.m. $12 or $10 with food donation. Hugh's Room, 2261 Dundas St. W. 416-531-6604) has already been scheduled and apparently there are more in the planning stages. The Hugh's room fundraiser is still looking for performers.

    For all of the negative things said about Toronto, people here have shown once again that when it matters they will step up (bad weather or not). It would appear, after discussions yesterday, that I'll be doing some work with the food bank going forward so stay tuned for further updates.

    Anyone who has not made it to a fundraiser but would still like to donate can send a cheque to St. Francis Table / St. Clare Centre, 1322 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario M6K 1L4 make sure you mention in the 'memo' line of the cheque that it's for the Parkdale Food Bank.

    Saturday, December 15, 2007

    New Laura Barrett EP "Ursula"

    Laura Barrett of the Hidden Cameras and the Adorables has released her second solo EP "Ursula." According to Laura's Blog it
    is available (so far) at Soundscapes in Toronto, as well as through Ta Da! itself (they are distributed through Revolver in the States, but I'm not up there quite yet).
    Sadly Ta Da! doesn't seem to have a website so for now it's Soundscapes but I'm sure it will be available elsewhere shortly.

    Here is the video for "Robot Ponies"

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    RVT: Basia Bulat - Snakes and Laders

    Recorded live at the Ottawa Bluesfest, July 12 2007. CBC Radio 3 and the blog It's not the Band I Hate, It's Their Fans have strongly positive write ups on Basia's in store performance at Criminal Records on Queen St. West in Toronto.

    Stay tuned because "The concert was recorded by CBC recording guru Ron Skinner and once it's mixed, you'll get to enjoy it right here on the site. Meantime, here are some pictures from the event."

    If the Magazine Only Has A Canadian Price - Don't Buy It

    You are probably being ripped off. Just sayin (via CBC)
    Instead of dropping its Canadian prices, a U.S. magazine publisher has quietly removed the American price for its magazines — leaving only the Canadian price on the cover.

    Breaking Links: Friday, December 14

    The Winnipeg Police have some serious splaining to do. From Inside the CBC the Canadian Association of Journalists has filed a complaint over the inexplicable arrest of a CBC cameraman yesterday.
    "The CBC says Scott did not film any undercover officers or cross police lines as he filmed the incident. He agreed to a police request to step further away from the incident but refused to stop filming, according to the CBC."

    VoCA has a great post on "the search for the authentic in contemporary art.
    "Art has become trendy among the young and upwardly mobile, creating a demand for edgy, flashy yet not-too-difficult work. As if to answer this demand, art schools are churning out thousands of young painters and installation artists annually, each of whom fully expects to make a successful career from art making. Mega collectors like Charles Saatchi in the UK, Martin Margulies and the Rubells in the US have become media stars with their own galleries filled with artists whose work they collect, complete with catalogues and full time staff."

    The Quill and Quire blog has a rundown on the, very sad, battle over the Toronto Small Press Book Fair.
    "A few weeks after the most recent Toronto Small Press Book Fair, a public battle is raging between fair organizers and disgruntled constituents – mostly in the arena of Facebook."

    Ivor Tossell at the Globe and Mail has a look at 'How Copyright Became Cool'. We can only hope the people leading ACTRA will read this and be a little more aware of the situation before they belittle and insult the Canadian film, theatre and television audience again.
    "When did copyright law become sexy? Jim Prentice must be wondering. This week, Canada's freshly shuffled Industry Minister was set to table new copyright legislation that could have completely changed the relationship between Canadians and their digital media. But then he backed down, at least until the end of the year."

    Parkdale Pictures sings the praises of Rolling Stone's 'best songs of 2007'.
    "Rolling Stone should have called its best songs of 2007 "a list of 100 songs you heard of" since it is bereft of both logic and taste. "

    Homeless Nation is asking for help to save a forest.
    "For those who do not know already, there is a culturally significant area of forest in Langford that is slated to be destroyed by the new development of a proposed cloverleaf-style freeway interchange. Previously entitled the "Bear Mountain Interchange," it is currently known as the Spencer Road Interchange. Currently, the area is being protected by activists who are occupying several trees and a sacred cave in the path of the proposed interchange."

    Kelowna police have tasered a 68-year-old man (twice) as he sat in his car but they're sorry. Meanwhile the RCMP thinks their officers may be getting carried away.
    "The RCMP's watchdog is calling for the force to restrict its use of stun guns, saying the weapons are increasingly employed to subdue those who are resistant rather than those who pose a threat."

    And Vive Le Canada brings word that Acidic seas may kill 98% of world's reefs by 2050
    "The majority of the world's coral reefs are in danger of being killed off by rising levels of greenhouse gases, scientists warned yesterday. Researchers from Britain, the US and Australia, working with teams from the UN and the World Bank, voiced their concerns after a study revealed 98% of the world's reef habitats are likely to become too acidic for corals to grow by 2050."

    Via CanCult "Our School Libraries are Starting to Die" Chapters/Indigo has a short doc and call to action on the subject.
    "Writing on the Wall explores the literacy crisis unfolding in Canada's classrooms. Complete with shocking statistics of children's literacy skills and the impact on their future, and Canada's, this groundbreaking film follows two high-needs elementary schools as they prepare their submission for an Indigo Love of Reading Foundation grant to rebuild their dying libraries."

    Harper's Nuclear Gamble

    Obviously when word of the Chalk River shutdown, and the resulting shortage of isotopes for Cancer tests was announced on December 5 everyone was concerned. Cancer has become a worldwide epidemic and the thought of people dying because their cancer wasn't diagnosed was unacceptable.

    But when we talk about "unacceptable" nothing comes much higher on the list than a nuclear accident and if it were to occur it would no longer really be an accident, it would be someone's falt. The chair of Atomic Energy of Canada, Michael Burns, resigned today over the restarting of the plant, possibly to ensure that it won't be his fault.
    "The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission had advised against restarting operations until a raft of maintenance work was complete, and declared that the plant was in violation of its license. The necessary upgrades were only half complete, the nuclear safety watchdog said."

    By overriding the concerns of those in charge of nuclear safety Harper has scored a few points, possibly, with those concerned about cancer. By dismissing the concerns of the regulator though Harper takes full responsibility for the outcome - should anything go wrong at chalk river, cancer rates in Ontario and Quebec will surely go through the roof - and that would be the least of our concerns.

    Harper has rolled the dice with a nuclear plant that Canada's nuclear regulator found to be unsafe. As much as I would like to see Harper out of office and his party in ruins - if you have anyone that you regularly pray to, pray that he is right on this one.

    Free downloads from Republic of Safety

    To me, one of the most impressive people in Canada (especially in the indie scene) is writer, award winning playwright, illustrator, political activist, former NDP candidate and musician Maggie MacDonald. You simply have to admire anyone who can seemingly do everything and do it well. As a musician - in addition to her work with the Hidden Cameras she is, along with Marlena Kaesler (bass/voice), Jonny Dovercourt (guitar/voice), Steve Sidoli (drums), and Martin Eckart (saxophone) Republic of Safety.

    It is with no small amount of pleasure that I announce that Republic of Safety now has four songs in Podsafe Download section of the site.

    Free Downloads from Rock Plaza Central

    Few bands in the last year have generated as much buzz in Canada as Rock Plaza Central from Pitchfork to the
    Globe and Mail, From Rolling Stone to CBC Radio 3 they've kinda been everywhere. But, in case you haven't heard them, or haven't heard them enough there are a few songs in the podsafe download area that you can have for free.

    As a special bonus here is a video someone mixed with Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" with the Rock Plaza Central cover instead of the rather lame original music.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    RVT: Captain Tractor - "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate"

    Captain Tractor cover of an Arrogant Worms song.

    Breaking Links: Thursday, December 13

    Sam Roberts wants you to sign a petition supporting Al Gore.
    "Tomorrow Al Gore is going to address the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia. At his urging, I've signed an important petition showing I support his important call for a visionary treaty to address the climate crisis. I hope you will too."

    According to the CBC no matter what people tell you, in music, the album still reigns supreme.
    "Modern music may, indeed, be irreversibly fragmented. Comprising both downloads and chain record stores, the business of selling music is a tangled, sprawling mess. Despite a growing sense — both real and imagined — that online, single-song sales rule, the album is in no jeopardy of disappearing. Talk to musicians and avid listeners and you’ll see that albums still matter. Regardless of how it’s delivered, the album, that unified assembly of songs, is still the most powerful (and effective) medium musicians have."

    A CBC cameraman has been arrested for attempting to film Winnepeg Police according to
    "“By all accounts, the CBC staff that were involved in this were acting completely appropriately,” he said.
    “They were on public property, in essence a street, shooting an event that was public activity. They were doing nothing, that I can see, that was improper or illegal.”"

    Bookninja wants your vote on the Story of the year.
    "Send me your vote for top lit-story of the year, either as reported on Bookninja or as missed by Bookninja. Was it something skeezy, controversial or stupid like the OJ/the Goldmans/Judith Regan money grab? The dumbening of The Golden Compass? The Martin Amis/Ronan Bennett racism dustup? The rise of the blog? Stephen King winning literary awards? Canada Customs screwing Little Sister? Stephen Henighan pointing the shaky finger of conspiracy at the Canlit family? The Google/digitization arguments? The kindling of The Kindle? The exposing of the misblurb? The end of US reading according to the NEA? Brown writers being mistaken for terrorists? The death of the books pages? Rankin vs the lesbians? etc etc etc?"

    Help Mix the Blood Lines New Album

    The Blood Lines are, without a doubt, one of the smartest bands out there. In keeping with the philosophy of their Facebook group "the Blood Lines Love Me" they would now like your help in making their new album.

    No, they don't want you to play an instrument, and they don't need backup singers, but they will be posting a new song every Wednesday on their Myspace and they want your input and feedback before they go back into the studio to finish the album.
    We're planning on recording the real album early in the new year and we're looking for help choosing which songs will make the grade and which will be dragged into the recycle bin never to be mentioned again.

    So, every Wednesday we'll be choosing a new recording - nearly finished, partially finished or completely raw - for your ears only, and I suppose for anyone who has access to the internet.

    The message from the band is and has been pretty loud, clear and consistent. You may not be on stage (or on tour) with them, but this is your band and you have a say in what directions they take.

    A few other notes. SJ Kardash has an interview in the VueWeekly about last summer's trip to the Beijing pop festival and their upcoming visit to Edmonton.

    They will be playing in

  • Edmonton's Velvet Underground (right under The Starlite) on December 14

  • December 15 at The Marquee Room in Calgary.

  • On December 21 they will be in Moose Jaw at the Mae Wilson Theatre

  • and of course they are playing at Amigos in Saskatoon with Volcanoless in Canada on New Year's eve. Oh and one more gig in the near future: According to Maygen, she and S.J. are organizing a UNICEF fundraiser that will see local artists carol the halls of Saskatoon's high schools on Wednesday the 19th ... that would be an all ages show.

    ACTRA Sides Against the Audience

    ACTRA supports Jim Prentices anti-consumer copyright legislation and is angry over it's delay. As a long frequent supporter of Canadian film, television and theatre I can't help but feel that they ACTRA (who I don't believe speaks for all Canadian actors) is being short sighted and reactionary in this case. Hopefully their stance won't weaken public support for the Canadian industry.
    "ACTRA called the protestors a vocal minority and said that further inaction by the government to reform the copyright laws will cause reduced investment and innovation, plus job losses in Canada's "already struggling industry.""

    Fortunately the Canadian Music Creators Coalition which includes, amoung many others, the Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan, the Stars, Avril Lavigne, Feist, Sam Roberts, Sloan, Broken Social Scene, Alexisonfire, Billy Talent, Bob Wiseman, Sum 41, the New Pornographers, Chantal Kreviazuk, Matthew Good, Metric, Randy Bachman, Volcanoless in Canada and many, many others is still on the side of fans and of artists who want to control their own future.
    Until now, a group of multinational record labels has done most of the talking about what Canadian artists need out of copyright. Record companies and music publishers are not our enemies, but let's be clear: lobbyists for major labels are looking out for their shareholders, and seldom speak for Canadian artists. Legislative proposals that would facilitate lawsuits against our fans or increase the labels' control over the enjoyment of music are made not in our names, but on behalf of the labels' foreign parent companies.

    By the way, if you're a musician and would like to add yourself or your band to the CMCC's list just send them an email.