Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is This What We're Fighting For? Pervez Kambaksh

I, like most Canadians I think, have mixed feelings about Afghanistan. On the one hand there is a horribly impoverished country, ravaged by (literally) decades of war. A country that is clearly in need of help of some kind.

At the same time I can't help wondering if the country that Canadian soldiers are building is one worth protecting. I mean, if we can't turn prisoners over to the local government for fear of their being tortured and a 23 year old Journalism student can be sentenced to death in a secret trial for "distributed a paper that humiliated Islam." How much better than the Taliban can this government possibly be? The paper that humiliated Islam, by the way, was apparently on the role of women in Islamic socieites.

Surely, if Canada wants to get into the business of propping up heavy handed, oppressive religious fundamentalists we can find plenty of countries more pleasant and less embattled than Afghanistan to support.

I am well aware that you can't change the society, culture, beliefs or customs of a people quickly, and definitely not at the point of a gun but I believe issues such as this should enter into the debate on Afghanistan going forward. At the very least Stephen Harper should offer to grant the young journalism student asylum in Canada.

In the meantime please consider
Singing this petition and adding your name to over 12,000 worldwide urging the UK Foreign office to intervene.

You can also "Have Your Say" on the Independent's blog.

If you have a facebook account there is also a group you can join to stay informed on the issue.

Toronto Art Attack Fort Building

Just got this message and thought I'd share:
"I've heard there is a good sized storm brewing, which means that Art Attack's snow fort build can finally take place.

Location: Queen and Jones
Time: Friday @ 10:30pm

Bring : Warm clothes, snow shovels, hot chocolate and cookies (to share), a reusable mug, empty spraybottles, decorations, containers for molding bricks of varying sizes and your friends!

Brace yourself for the storm and some fort building spectacularness."

Toronto Independent Filmmaking Workshops

LIFT (the Liason of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto) is running a series of workshop in February. Details are below, for more information Call 416.588.6444 or visit

Let "Tax Ma'am" help you file your tax return as a self-employed artist!
Cost: Members $55, Non-Members $70

Experience the beauty of Super 8 in this all-inclusive 'mini-course'!
Also includes camera rental, film, processing, editing time and transfer
Cost: EDIT ON FILM - Members $155, Non-Members $170
Cost: EDIT ON FINAL CUT PRO - Members $200, Non-Members $225

Tips, tricks and common sense guidelines for writing a concise and
persuasive grant application!
Instructor: ELIDA SCHOGT
Cost: Members $50, Non-Members $65

Learn how to plan and shoot a 'doable' short movie!
Cost: Members $20, Non-Members $25

Tour Vans Targeted: The Gear Theft Epidemic

In case you didn't know bands having their touring vans (or other vehicles) broken into is epidemic. I remember the epic search for Patrick Krief's Fender last year. Just today there were reports from both the the Blood Lines and Born Ruffians both reported break-ins. I seem to hear about such crimes regularly enough that I did a search for "Band van broken into" on google to see how bad the problem was. The search netted an ugly 2,710,000 results including StonlenGear.Org whose tagline is "Get Your Stuff Back".

If you thought that downloaders were "stealing from musicians", at least downloaders aren't walking off with their gear. If you're in a band and thinking about touring - seriously get a good alarm system, keep a big dog in the van or both.

Broadcast Act Architect Doesn't Like CBC TV

In an article by Marke Andrews at the Vancouver Sun today Jeremy Kinsman seemed less than thrilled with CBC television. Kinsman was assistant deputy minister for culture and broadcasting when the broadcast act was written 20 years ago. From the Vancouver Sun:
"One of the architects of the federal Broadcasting Act, which gave the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) greater power to police Canadian culture, says the act has been a success except for one glaring failure: the English-language television side of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

"It's become so dumbed-down," says Jeremy Kinsman, a Victoria resident and former Canadian diplomat who was assistant deputy minister for culture and broadcasting 20 years ago when he and others in the government hammered out the act. Kinsman will deliver the keynote address on this subject at 9 a.m. on Feb. 2 at Trigger Points Pacific, the three-day film industry conference that's part of the Victoria Film Festival."

That Bob Wiseman Interview You Missed

You might have missed this really good article on Bob Wiseman, it came out on New Year's Eve in the University of Ottawa's Fulcrum. Because the U of Ottawa wasn't even in session on New Year's eve I'd actually be surprised if you've read it.

There are some good bits on band dynamics:

“Sometimes it’s pretty dysfunctional, and sometimes it’s pretty good,” says Wiseman of band dynamics. “Even me, I’m pretty dysfunctional, and I want to quit myself, but what can I do? It’s me!”
“I’ve seen a lot of people do film and video in my life that have disappointed me,” he explains. “They have visuals, but it’s often meaningless, and its relationship to the content of the song is tangential.”
and even Bob's mom.
Wiseman’s website is also pretty unique. Instead of a “contact” link, Wiseman recommends you e-mail his mother Elaine Wiseman, who “knows way more about Bob than Bob.”
Go here to read the full article.

Theodore Bikel: Dance with TRadition

Not to sound too predictable, but Theodore Bikel believes in tradition.

For the man who's played Tevye, the famous Fiddler on the Roof, more than 2,000 times, however, there has to be balance.

"What I do most is balance modernity and tradition. I'm very much aware of tradition and roots, and I cultivate them, and make sure they don't sink into limbo or forgetfullness -yet I do it with modern means."

BIkel is performs at Toronto's George Weston Hall on Saturday night. The repertoire will be a mix of "Jewish, Yiddish, Balkan, Bosnian, Macedonian music, as well as various things from musical theatre," he explains in a jovial baritone. He is quick to underline the importance of maintaining a vitality in older forms, while keeping the audience engaged.

"When I do a concert, each song has a different milieu that it calls up," he says, "Each calls for me to paint my own scenery, set my own stage, and transport the audience to a different time and place. It's just part of what I do. Some colleagues are good at it, others work harder."

And worked he has.

In an awe-inspiring career spanning 60-plus years, the multi-lingual Bikel has appeared in film, on television, on stage, and recorded numerous solo albums. He co-founded the Newport Folk Festival, and continues to record, perform, and lecture.

And Fiddler On the Roof isn't his only well-known musical role, either. BIkel originated the role of Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, and appeared in the big-screen version of My Fair Lady as Zoltan Karpathy, the dialect coach.

Yet throughout these experiences, the Emmy-award winning artist has maintained a refreshing sense of humility and wonder of the power of art, a feeling that is as fresh as the day he first stepped foot onstage.

"When I was a student at the national theatre, they used to use students to play small roles -it was convenient and cheap for them," he says, excitement palpable in his voice.

"They gave me a role in a play called Tevye and his Daughters. It was the first time I worked on a professional stage. I played the Constable -I had exactly 29 words to say. I know, I counted them twice."

He lets out a chuckle at the memory.

"It was just as exciting for me to do that as it is for an actor who plays Hamlet for the first time!"

That sense of artistic excitement extends into other areas, including directing, something Bikel enjoys, and indeed, would like to do more of.

"I have, from time to time, directed -workshops, and in theatre. It's important," he explains, "because it allows you to flex artistic muscles. In a sense (directing) is a way of teaching."

Bikel calls his time working with students "very gratifying -you find students can surprise you. They don't know the scope of their talent -but by the time they leave school, they do."

The difference between acting on-camera, versus in front of a live audience, is a huge one for him.

"With films and TV, you have to imagine the live audience," he says, "even the people behind the camera, if they think you're funny, they're not allowed to laugh. You have to imagine the live audience when you do those. But it's especially strange when you do comedy for a live audience. You are working for a laugh that may not come 6 months later."

As for the famous fiddler, he says he based his own characterization on someone near to him.

"When I played (Tevye), I played my own grandfather. It's not that much of a stretch for what the actor in me has to do. (With) some roles, you have to really activate the imagination -if I play a king or a murderer, I have to reach, I'm not close to any of that."

He pauses.

"Tevye", he says, "I am close to."

Ashkenaz Foundation presents: An Evening With Theodore Bikel, Saturday, February 2nd, at 8pm, George Weston Recital Hall.

For more information, go to or

New Site For Small Press Book Fair

The Toronto Small Press Book Fair has launched a new website at which includes a directory of the presses, a monthly interview/profile of one of the presses (this month's is Misunderstanding Magazine), and information about the Small Press Book Fair.

I know that there has been alot of controversy around the Toronto Small Press Book Faire over the last year but, not being an insider, I don't even have a good understanding of what happened and my guess is it would depend on who you ask.

Regardless of what may have transpired the fight appears to be largely personal and shouldn't be allowed to harm the Fair. Toronto's small presses don't need any more setbacks. As Torontoist put it:
"Filled with all kinds of interesting and book-savvy individuals, the fair is a great place to find an array of quality (sometimes hand-crafted) books, chapbooks, zines, journals, poems in pots, trinkets, and countless other wonderfully unique items.

From micro presses to medium sized presses, to those who have ventured into self-publishing, the fair represents only a fragment of Toronto's small press community, but it is a natural place for the aspiring writer to flock to in order to gain insight on how to etch their way into the publishing world. Continuing to unite Toronto's literary community, the fair reminds us about the heart of the craft."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

RVT: New Pornograhers - Use It

If you watch CBC, you've heard the song (or at least bits of it) Here is the video for "Use It" with the New Pornographers, Nardwaur and David Cross:

Laura Barrett - What's Coming When

With the number of announcements of late from the Laura Barrett camp some of you might be a bit confused so, here's a quick breakdown of what's coming and when.

Ursula, Laura's 2nd EP came out in December

She has now signed with Paper Bag Records and her first EP Earth Sciences which was released to considerable - critical - joy will be re-released on Feb. 26

Now it appears that a full length album is on it's way too. In an article on Laura said:
"I'm aiming to finish it by the end of March, so it'll be out three to four months after that," she says. "I'm not sure what the delay is all about, but I'm aware that there is a delay… I think it involves spreadsheets."
That should about get you caught up I think, at least until summer.

Also From Chart (link added by me):
Here's where you can catch Barrett in the near future:
Feb. 4 Toronto, ON @ The Gladstone (Eyes On Toronto)
• Feb. 5 Toronto, ON @ Silver Dollar (Beach Boys tribute)
• March 1 Peterborough, ON @ The Underdog w/The Superfantastics
• March 2 Hamilton, ON @ The Casbah w/The Superfantastics
• March 3 Guelph, ON @ Salsateria w/The Superfantastics
• March 4 Waterloo, ON @ Trepid House w/The Superfantastics
• March 5 London, ON @ The Alex P Keaton w/The Superfantastics
• March 9 Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo

Breaking LInks: January 30, 2007

New Junior Boys
According to their Myspace blog the Junior Boys will release their first ever DJ Compilation Mix:
"We're very pleased to announce the release of Body Language Volume 6, in march on Get Physical records. This is our first ever DJ mix compilation, and we're super excited. We'll have more information on the release date in the coming two weeks or the meantime, keep your eyes on this page for information on upcoming DJ shows in support of the release. "

More Fuel For the Gun Ban
According to the Toronto Star a single stolen gun has been tied by police to at least 5 crimes.
"The gun used to shoot and blind a TTC bus driver two years ago has been shuffled between criminals, Toronto police said yesterday, and is implicated in four other crimes, including the 2003 murder of youth worker Kempton Howard."

Feist and Bublé to play Junos
From CBC Radio 2 comes news that Feist and Michael Bublé wll perform at the 2008 Juno Awards in Calgary on April 6th.
"It's a three day fest beginning April 4th, and this year's theme is "Wild West." Once I figure out what that translates to I'll let you know."

'Clean Coal' Isn't
DeSmogBlog reports that "clean coal" is apparently not.
"With this announcement today by the DOE, it appears that the hope of "clean coal" remains to be nothing more than a distant twinkle in the eye of the coal lobby."

CanStage Director Resigns
After only 6 months on the job David Scorch has resigned as artistic director of CanStage
""It has become clear to me that the demands of artistic director of this company are not ones which I feel are in my creative interests to pursue," Storch said in a statement released by Canadian Stage."

Global Warming = Hurricanes
From the CBC: apparently yes, Global Warming and hurricanes are related.
"Researchers at University College London, writing in the journal Nature, said a half-degree temperature increase in sea surface temperatures in the summer can lead to a 40 per cent increase in hurricane frequency."

Video Stores an Endangered Species
Torontoist reports that one of the city's last great independent video stores is closing. If it makes you feel any better, the Rogers video on Roncesvalles is closing as well.
"Revue Video on the Danforth—one of Toronto's last great independent video stores—shut down earlier this month after two decades of providing Riverdalians with access to the best and most obscure foreign, indie, and documentary films."

Good News For the Future of Music
The Radio 2 Blog has some good news about music education:
"Music education, as in formal, in-the-schools music education that is, has taken something of a beating in recent years. Usually it seems it's a bad news story, cutbacks, and more cutbacks. So it's nice to have a bit of positive news to share. First, a project called Music Monday, where students and music teachers get outside of the schools and perform, all across the country on the same day. This year CBC is getting involved in all kinds of ways, more on that closer to the date.
The more immediate good news story is that today, MusicCan, (which does a bunch of music-education related things, including musical instrument grants to kids) is presenting a special performance by Sarah McLachlan in honour of the first Vancouver MusicCan presentation, alongside two school bands that have been funded by the initiative."

Good Luck With That
Finally, the CBC is looking for vegetarian seal hunters.

the 28th Annual Genie Awards

The Genie Award nominees were announced the other day. I forget sometimes that everyone doesn't pay attention to this stuff and that I should mention it. My only real qualm with this year's list was that the Tracey Fragments, which I felt was the best Film of 2007 (Canadian or otherwise) was left off the list for Best Motion Picture. However it was nominated for Achievement in Direction, Achievement in Editing, Performance By An Actress in a Leading Role (Ellen Page), Achivement in Overall Sound, Adapted Screenplay and Achievement in Sound Editing.

The Films that Were Nominated for Best Motion Picture were
Away From Her, Continental, un film sans fusil / Continental, a Film Without Guns, Eastern Promises, L'Âge des ténèbres / Days of Darkness and Shake Hands With the Devil.

Other films nominated in various categories include Après tout, Bluff, Citizen Duane, Everything's Gone Green, Faire Chaluim Mhic Leòid / The Wake of Calum MacLeod, FIDO, Here and There, Jeu, Les 3 P'tits Cochons / The 3 Little Pigs, Ma fille mon ange, Ma tante Aline / My Aunt Aline, Madame Tutli-Putli, Nitro, Panache / Antlers, Partition, Poor Boy's Game, Radiant City, Regarding Sarah, Roméo et Juliette, Screening, Sharkwater, Silk, Surviving My Mother / Comment survivre à sa mère, That Beautiful Somewhere, The Tragic Story of Nling, Toi / You, Who Loves the Sun and Young Triffie's Been Made Away With.

You can find a complete breakdown of who was nominated for what at the official site for the 28th Annual Genie Awards. As always, for anyone who is interested in keeping up with what's out and what's coming soon in Canadian film I highly recommend the First Weekend Club. You can also find Trailers for many of these films in the links section of this site.

Hamlet (solo)

Raoul Bhaneja is nothing if not audacious.

The Toronto-based actor, writer, director and musician, recounts the time a former high school saw his one-man production of Hamlet.

"One of my high school teachers came to to me afterwards, and as if he quoting Obama, he says, 'the audacity... to do that!'. It was meant it in a good way, though."

Hailing from Ottawa, Bhaneja's Hamlet (solo) show has been garnering critical praise and developing with every performance. Having already taken the show to Edinburgh, London, and New York, as well as Edmonton's Push Festival most recently, the project has been a labour of love for Bhaneja, as proven by his documentary on the years-long experience, airing Wednesday night on Bravo!.

"That's what the documentary is about - when I look back at my life working on the show, through the filter of a director putting together the story. There's not really a moral of the story, but if you're going to let ppl tell you that you're ... "

He pauses, lost in thought.

"Look," he says with fierce determination, "the play stands as a great example on so many levels, of why it shouldn't work. Lots of people might've said 'oh it won't work', but most of the really good people in the arts world, they nod, and say, 'go for it'." Everybody knows the only way you break through and get to the next level is when you're pushing the boundaries of yourself and concepts about what shows should be, and how they shodl be presented."

The idea for a one-man Hamlet originated in three experiences that Bhaneja still holds dear. One involved a high school English teacher introducing him to the play, ("He got me hooked on Shakespeare"), another was exposure to a theatre company in Ottawa who performed experimental classical theatre on the street, and the other was the much-praised version of Hamlet done by Quebecois theatre artist Robert LePage.

Oh yes, and then there was Claire Coulter, a Canadian actress, who Bhaneja witnessed performing playwright Wallace Shawn's The Fever during his days as a student at the prestigious National Theatre School.

"She did this monologue with no lights, no props, no costumes," he says, with reverence, "She sat in a rotten old loveseat at a rehearsal space in Montreal. I didn't know her, or her work. She pulled up this old chair and two metres from us, and went, 'can I start now?' We looked at each other and said 'um, yeah sure'. And she launched into this amazingly intimate whacky strange world. We were transported."

One can almost hear the smile across the line to Edmonton.

"It was such a big inspiration," he continues, "and it was then I realized, under the right circumstances, all you really need are the words, the actor, and an audience - that's it."

In the documentary, Bhaneja speaks with several famous Hamlets through the years, including Christopher Plummer, Tom Barnett, Ben Carlson, Colm Feore, Soulpepper's Albert Schultz, and everyone's favourite Mountie, Paul Gross.

Bhaneja says that although he was influenced by the many different interpretations of the famous melancholy Prince, "when you see mine, (there are) elements of it you love, but there are also characters there you love from certain (other) productions. The audience tells me what version of Hamlet they want to see -it changes ... sometimes people want it to be funny, other times, they're really listening, waiting to find out what happens next in story. Two years into performing and touring it, it's still a fulfilling experience."

He smiles again, imagining what the famous playwright might say about Hamlet (solo): "why doth one man play my play?"

He's realistic about Hamlet (solo)'s impact in the overall scheme of things, however.

"It's a play, it's Hamlet, it's not the cure for cancer or rocket science, but there is something about it that is personal and unique, " he explains.

"It's rare to see a production where an actor of any level has had eight years to (let) a play ferment and grow inside them -that's quite a special experience. I've been so spoiled by having this play as an organism inside me. I don't know every Shakespeare (play) back to front, I'm not a scholar, but through this one play, Hamlet, I feel like I have a personal, quite intimate relationship with Shakespeare, because of how long I've been on ride. It's a real gift."

Hamlet (solo): The Documentary airs on Bravo! Wednesday, January 30th, at 10pm.

For more information, go to
For information on the work of Raoul Bhaneja, go to

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

RVT: the Burning Hell

Mathias Kom a.k.a. "the Burning Hell"

Burning Hell has been added to Band Blogs Too, along with Wintersleep, Holy Fuck, Caribou, Sleepless Nights, and the Rocky Fortune.

Breaking Links: Tuesday, January 29

A Moment of Silence for the Book Room: BookNinja reports that Halifax's "the Book Room" - Canada's oldest book store (169 years old) will be closing. From
"..the retail store couldn't outlast big box bookstores, Burchell said, nor the ease of ordering books online, competition from book selling pharmacies and grocery stores or the pressure to lower prices to reflect a stronger Canadian dollar."

Risk of Restarting Reactor 1,000 Times Higher than Acceptable Standards
The CBC reports that Linda Keen, who was fired by the current Government, essentially for doing her job reported to the House of Commons Natural Resources committee that she doesn't feel restarting Chalk River is safe.
"When it comes to nuclear facilities, ignoring safety requirements is simply not an option, not now, not ever."
It is also worth mentioning that there have already been accidents at Chalk River in 1952 and 1958.

Logo Design Contest for Music Festival
Via CBC Radio 3 the Dawson City Music Festival is looking for a new logo, and they want you to design it.
"On Monday, the Dawson City Music Festival board of directors announced that their ... contest to design a brand new logo for the Dawson City Music Festival!"

Name Toronto's Cycling Magazine
The Toronto Cyclists Union is about to launch a new magazine. Go to Spacing Wire to vote.
"They’re looking for a name that is fun, smart and not cliché (Spacing did a similar contest during the formative stages of the magazine).

Over 250 names were submitted. The list has been narrowed down to eleven. Vote below for your favorite choice!"

UFO's in High Park
I don't know what this does to air quality (I guess we'd have to test their engines first) but Canaian UFO Reports says there has been a sighting in High Park.
"My friend and I were lying on a hill near the south end of the High Park when I saw what I at first thought was a plane, or a gull flying ever so slowly. Then as I continued to watch it I realized there was no shadow created by a flat object, it was reflecting the sun from extremely high in the sky."

Zina, with an I, Warrior Princess

Zina Warrior Princess is the latest addition to the podsafe downloads. I met Zina at a Xmas party, the 16 year old niece of a friend. She told me that she'd just put her first song up on Myspace and I told her that I'd love to put her first song on the site. Zina has been playing guitar since the 6th grade and this is, as far as I know, this is her first (though surely not her last) recorded effort. Although I hadn't heard it the song before I made the offer, I'm glad I did. It's surprisingly good.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Television's Great Weakness

There is a was a really interesting post on Legion of Decency on Friday about some of the failings of Canadian Television, and for my money television in general.
"Our Canadian nets have ignored the overwhelming creative drift toward changing the paradigms and trotted out a selection of knock-offs of shows everybody's seen and done before -- in some cases, long before -- and like those eager kids who put on a show in somebody's barn over the summer, they seem quite proud of themselves for doing little more than not forgetting their lines or bumping into the furniture."
Without getting into specific shows, where the author and I have some points of disagreement, television has always seemed to me, out of everything that falls within the broad criteria of 'arts and media' the medium the least likely to take chances and stretch boundaries. The methodology of television programming often seems similar to that attributed to pit bulls: "Reports of pit bull type dogs refusing to release a bite grip is more likely a function of the breed's gameness—a willingness to engage in a task despite pain and discomfort." Television seems to grab onto a concept like 'reality TV' or 'medical drama' and absolutely refuse to let go until well after the victim has released it's last breath and last drop of blood.

Personally, if I look at the number of shows that I will expend any effort to watch the number of programs (from any country) has fallen by more than half in the last two years alone. That is to say, the shows that I'm dedicated to not the ones I'll 'watch if there's nothing better on' or the ones that are 'fine' in the sense that I won't leave the room because they are on. Again, without getting into the merits of specific programs, I can say that there are only two American programs I still watch regularly and the newest of those just finished season 3.

Television is, for me, being replaced by online content - and generally not content produced by large media companies. Independent producers, web radio and campus and community groups are frequently filling the time that TV used to. Which makes it unnerving for me that the companies that produce bad television are frequently the ones that are at the forefront of trying to regulate the internet, or "make the internet suck".

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Eyes On Toronto Again Feb. 4

Sabrina Jalees, Laura Barrett and Sasha Von Bon Bon are all coming to the Gladstone on Feb. 4 for the latest installment of Eyes On Toronto. You should definitely be there. If you can't because you're busy on a Monday (yeah, right) or because you don't live in Toronto (ok, I guess) you can still catch it on or you can subscribe to the new YouTube channel and get hi-lights when they're posted.

So for those of you who are coming, watching online or thinking about it, here are the details

Date: Monday, February 4, 2008
Time: 8:00pm - 11:55pm
Location: Gladstone Hotel
Street: 1214 Queen Street West
City/Town: Toronto, ON

Facebook Event Page

For anyone who doesn't know

Sabrina Jalees

Is an internationally renowned comic (no criteria for that so I just decided right now that she is) and (from Wikipedia"dancer, actor, and writer from Toronto, Ontario, who writes a weekly column in the Toronto Star's ID section. She has made many Canadian media appearances, including as a commentator on MuchMusic's Video On Trial, Stars On Trial and LOL!, as well as Jian Ghomeshi's Monday correspondent on CBC Radio One's Sounds Like Canada in the Summer." If you are in B.C. you can also catch Sabrina at "Smash the Roof" on Feb. 7 and if you're on Earth you can see Sabrina promote herself on

Sabrina Jalees Stand Up

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Laura Barrett

Is also Internationally renowned (might as well). In addition to her regular appearances with the Hidden Cameras and Henri Fabergé and The Adorables Laura's Album "Earth Sciences" is out on Paper Bag records Feb. 25. According to Exclaim:
" really is Barrett’s solo work that makes her such a compelling figure. Her devotion to the kalimba — otherwise known as the “thumb piano,” of African origin — as her primary instrument certainly helps her stick out among other quirky indie rock contemporaries, yet it’s really Barrett’s fascinating and innovative approach to writing songs that bolsters her use of novel sounds."

Laura Barrett - Robot Ponies

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Sasha Van Bon Bon is definitely internationally renowned. She performs with the the Scandelles and is currently on stage with Who's Your Dada at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. From Xtra:
Who's Your Dada (written and produced by Van Bon Bon and costar Kitty Neptune), follows the multimedia footsteps of past cabarets Les Demimondes, Under The Mink and Neon Nightz. The raucous revelry is complete with The Blue Box, a secluded set-up where attendees are invited to perform in their very own porn.

If all of that is not enough The Internationally renowned DJ Holt will be spinning before and around all of this. What more could you ask for? Beer you say? They've got that too..It's a bar people.

Urban Planning the Sesame Street Way

It occured to me while on a walk today that most Torontonians aren't native Torontonians. 56% of this city wasn't even born in Canada. But for people around the world, thanks to television, there is a shared experience (if you're under about 40-45) which is that we all grew up with Sesame Street. I wondered today how much that early (pre-elementary school) shared experience shaped how we think a city should be. I mean it's not a bad model and it seems to have alot in common with what people seem to want.

  • Clean Streets: Virtually no litter and when there is everyone pitches in and picks it up (usually while singing).

  • Alot of art and music and general good fun.

  • A Strong community, everyone knows everyone, everyone pitches in to help if there's a problem.

  • Small independent shops where everyone knows the store owner.

  • A great amount of street life - there are always people you know out and about and alot of shared activities.

  • Plenty of trees, gardens, parks and public gathering spots

  • Alot of walking and cycling but very few motor vehicles (everyone was always hanging out in the middle of the street).

  • Basically, if you take away the muppets and musical numbers you've got a fair semblance of what people seem to be describing when they talk about what Toronto should be. It also seems to be similar to what people seem to want in Vancouver, Montreal, even New York. Hell, given some time New Mind Space and Improv Everywhere may even put back the muppets and musical numbers.

    The Beginning of the End for Queen West

    City council has approved the first big box store for Queen West. From the Globe and Mail via Spacing: Like it or not, Queen West, which the Globe calls "Toronto's only commercial heritage district" is getting a Home Depot.

    The Globe's article is full of assurances

    From Adam Vaughn:
    "I've never seen a perfect building, but a number of things have been accomplished since the file first came across the desk of the city planner that I think make it a very good building,"
    and the developer (RioCan):
    "We've worked closely with many different professionals including a heritage architect, and we think the aesthetics will be just remarkable,"
    It should also be mentioned that the Home Depot won't be at ground level. It will be on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a 7 story building at Queen and Bathhurst. That said, an American big box retailer simply does not belong on Queen West. Add a few more of them and you might as well take Toronto's core and drop it in any generic suburb.

    City council will still have one more opportunity to redeem themselves. "The process is still subject to final approvals, including a 20-day appeal period and final site-plan approval." But I'm afraid despite the improvents made to city government since the departure of Mel Lastman that the Council still operates at the whim of developers and counts victory as winning a few concessions.

    I urge anyone who cares about Toronto and culture in this city to succeed where Council has failed and avoid this, and all other Home Depot stores until it removes itself from Queen West.

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    How She Move - down another route

    It's likely you've seen ads around for How She Move, the latest Rocky-type hip-hop step-dancing movie, in wide release today. You might not have noticed two details about it: 1) It's a Canadian movie (not a runaway production), and 2) those ads are turning up on U.S. stations maybe more than Canadian stations - and most of all on BET. I think that makes it a first.

    The basic story is that Ian Iqbal Rashid (former resident of Toronto's Flemingdon Park and director of the gay romantic comedy Touch of Pink) got together with Annmarie Morais (a writer and producer on "Da Kink in My Hair" and maker of a short doc on steppers at York University) and made this film in Toronto and Hamilton pretty much like Canadian filmmakers do all the time - sweat-of-the-brow, grants-in-hand, facing the gaping maw of indifference that is the English Canadian domestic audience. Once done, they did what plenty of their peers do to try to avoid said gaping maw and took the film to Sundance.

    That's when their typical Canadian path veered off.

    Not only did they get a big-shot distributor in Paramount Vantage, they also got the support of MTV Films (not exactly the guys at the Masonic Temple but the MTV) and Black Entertainment Television.

    It's that last entity I find interesting because BET is a very important part of a media machine that has been instrumental in helping foster black/urban cultural industries which have become a major force in the last ten years in the United States. With filmmaker Tyler Perry at the forefront, big money is being made in movies and theatre made by blacks for blacks (being white, I feel odd using the term "black" all the time here, but that's the term that keeps being used, so I'll go with it). In a strange way, it reminds me of Quebec - their own media, their own shows, their own stars, telling their own stories.

    So the latest BET hype has been around this story of a girl trying to escape a hard life in Jane-Finch...or is it Queens? There's been some talk about some of the Canadian-ness being drained from the movie for its American distributors, but in the many reviews (mostly positive) I've read in U.S. papers today, the vast majority of critics have identified the main setting as Toronto. So while it's not bleeding maple syrup, I don't think its nationality is being too aggressively hidden. But to the audience Paramount Vantage is aiming for, the nationality probably doesn't matter - it's the dancing, the music, and the struggle.

    We'll see, then, if that audience will embrace How She Move like no other U.S. audience has embraced a Canadian movie, and what that could mean to cultural industries here who have never seen such a media machine. Sigh - I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

    Improv Everywhere Global Because Pants are Overrated

    Do you remember Improv Everywhere? The people that brought you the International No Pants Subway Ride recently? Well they too are now getting in on the whole social media thing. They've created a Ning site and set up the Improve Everywhere Global site so that you can meet other like minded individuals and conspire to create chaos, or at least have a bit of fun. You can sign up at

    Canadian Authors Virtually In the Classroom.

    Through I recently found out about W.E.I.R. which stands for Writers In Electronic Residence. According to the web site:
    •An educational initiative that focuses on Canada's literary culture through creative literary expression and critical discussion undertaken in a writing—and written—community; and, An arts initiative that creates new forms of work for Canada's writers, and audiences for their books.
    The idea, basically, is that WEIR sets up classrooms with electronic writers in residence who not only talk to students about the importance of literature, but run writing workshops for kids via the internet. This seems to me a hugely important and timely exercise given that it comes at a time when according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs the US book market is dead.
    "...the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    New Stuff

    So I haven't had a whole lot of time to write anything today because I've been busy with admin/back end stuff. But I've added some new Zunior links - including a feed of their latest releases (see sidebar). I've also added some new stuff to the 'More Links' section (sidebar again), but I won't tell you what's new. If it looks unfamiliar you should check it out and, because I can only put about 100 feeds into any one aggregator and because Canada's musical explosion gets bigger every day, I've added Band Blogs Too which so far includes:

  • Blankket

  • Boats

  • Dog Day

  • Elbow Beach Surf Club

  • Melissa Boraski

  • Paperbacks

  • Telefauna

  • Tom Fun Orchestra
  • Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Post #700 and the Periodic Call for Writers

    Though this web site started out in conflict, being born out of the 2005 CBC Lockout. It has been for the last two and a half years a labour of love. The other writers who sometimes post to the blog have been fabulous but it has been, and remains largely a one person operation.

    Despite this it has been remarkably successful. According to it is currently, out of all the websites in the world, number 34,718 in Canada. To give you an idea the top 10 (in Canada) on that list are

    1) Facebook
    3) Windows Live
    4) YouTube
    5) Yahoo
    6) (counted as seperate from #3 above)
    7) Wikipedia
    8) MSN

    Ebay is #15, Flickr is #24, is #67...

    So given the competition and that this is, largely, a one person operation with no revenue (no grants, donations or advertising) I'm pretty happy with #34,718. It is also ranked 1,432,925 in the world (all languages, all countries) which is an improvement of 2,832,408 spots in the last 3 months alone.

    Still, it could be better and with extra hands I think that and the promotion of Canadian arts and culture could go much higher. If you would like to contribute, in any way: Especially if you like to write about things artistic and cultural (and ok, sometimes political) and would like to contribute to the site please let me know. You can reach me, as always at beach.justin[at] or by using the form at I cannot offer you cash, as I said, there is none. What I can offer though is a chance to talk about what's important to you and almost complete freedom to write what you want about anything that interests you.

    An Unreserved Endorsement for Zunior

    I've said before, many times, that a new deal has to be struck between artists and fans. Thanks to the internet we've graduated from a system where big record labels screwed artists and fans to a system where everyone screws artists. Whether you pay for music downloads, or download them for free the artists still get screwed.

    While this website doesn't do paid advertising, I will wholeheartedly support, endorse and recommend The "Little" (Toronto) "Digital Music Store" which bills itself (apparently rightly) as "The Source for Independent Digital Music in Canada" sells both MP3 and CD Quality lossless Flac formats. Most for 8.88 (10.88 for Flac). Best of all, from a consumer perspective "All albums come with complete artwork 
All music is completely unrestricted and uses no DRM - All music plays on your iPod or any MP3 player - Own your music and play it wherever you want"

    But the real draw for Zunior and the reason that they get the endorsement is that they don't screw the artists. From their FAQ:
    Artists on the label pay a small administrative fee to be part of the digital label. The majority of this goes towards the merchant account, hosting, and bandwidth fees. We provide the best way to enjoy music from your favourite artist right away, knowing you are supporting independent music in the most direct way possible.

    We also act as a digital distributor for several independent labels. These labels are all fully independent and completely artist-focused.

    We subscribe to the manifesto of Peter Gabriel's MUDDA initiative - the Magnificent Union of Digitally Downloading Artists. Read more about his goal of creating a network of digitally distributing artists worldwide.

    You can read the whole Zunior Manifesto Here.

    They also have the selection. I've been to some 'artist friendly download sites' that featured alot of (I'm sure very fine) artists that I'd never heard of. Zunior has pretty much everything I'm interested in. If it's Canadian and Independent (and increasingly from elsewhere and independent) they probably have it. From Feist, Cuff the Duke and the New Pornographers to Henry Faberge and the Adorables, the Bicycles and the Phonemes.

    In addition to selling music they offer free compilations, have a live video stream, a podcast, online radio, An RSS Feed of New Releases.

    So, basically everyone gets what they want. Fans get DRM free music at reasonable prices and artists get paid.

    This, I think, is the beginning of the new deal I talked about in the beginning. So, if you see links for them (and they will start to appear) or you hear me plug them from time to time it is not because they are paying me (anymore than "The Good Life" from WWF or the people are paying me. I have always, on this blog, endorsed things I believe in and Zunior is now on that list.

    Again, this is not an advertisement. Just a wholehearted, enthusiastic endorsement. These, however, are ads pretty clever ones too.

    In Flight Safety Update

    Halifax's Inflight Safety report from their blog that a new album is in the works and IFS piano/keyboard player Daniel Ledwell has just released a solo album.
    Yes it's true we are still alive. IFS is buried under snow (just how we like it!) and we are crafting/molding songs for a new record. No album title as of yet, and no release date will be announced until we're good and sure, but we are excited about what we are working on.... and soon we will send it forth into the world as new children exiting the birth canal (ewww). This is what happens when you work on lyrics for a month straight you go crazy.
    In other news!!!
Daniel has put out a solo record. It's a beauty. Check it out here:

    Download a Bride (or two)

    Yesterday I introduced you to Elbow Beach Surf Club part of Guelph's Burnt Oak Collective which you can read about on Wikipedia. Today's addition to the Podsafe Downloads is another member of Burnt Oak: the Brides.

    The Brides have, like label mates Elbow Beach Surf Club, have been getting alot of positive attention lately. From Eye Weekly:
    Before its recent revival, No Wave was the sound of art-schooled New Yorkers hitching their cart to punk rock’s horse. Queens, Brides’ second EP (their first since expanding from a duo to a five-piece), proves that the historical and literal distance between the Mudd Club and kids in exurban towns like Guelph actually helps.

    From Echo Weekly:
    Melodies trapped inside the bellowing distortion are worthy of their own merit as Brides have grown considerably since the name change. In addition to doubling their size to a foursome, the band have been writing together more as well as touring often, which has only tightened their sound and the playful aggression 
bleeding out of it.
    But don't take their word for it download a bride or two of your own and give them a listen.

    Gideon Arthurs Named New Executive of Toronto Fringe

    According to a press release Gideon Arthurs has been appointed the new Executive of the Toronto Fringe Festival. Arthurs Bio from the CanStage website reads:
    Gideon Arthurs is the Artistic Producer for Groundwater Productions, as well as an independent director.   He was  formerly the Company Manager for Soulpepper Theatre Company and sits on the Board of Directors for Pleiades Theatre and the Paprika Festival.   Recent directing credits include: Ubu Roi (Massacred), assistant director/producer for A Thought In Three Parts
    Festival producer Bridget MacIntosh was clearly thrilled with the appointment “I am ecstatic to welcome Gideon to the team during such an exciting time in the Fringe’s development and look forward to working with him on what is sure to be an incredible 20th anniversary event.”

    The 2008 20th Anniversary Toronto Fringe runs from July 2 to 13 see for details.

    MLSE = Disgrace

    Yes, there needed to be a change in the Maple Leafs' front office. Yes, John Ferguson Jr. was not getting the job done and needed to be replaced. However, the way Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) handled this situation was absolutely disgusting.

    Just imagine what it would be like to be John Ferguson Jr. For the last few weeks you have had to endure scathing comments from the fans, the media, and your employer.

    The lack of confidence from your employer has to be the worst; especially when that employer is subtlety letting everyone know that you're not a good General Manager, you're going to be fired shortly, and a number of replacements have already been contacted. MLSE openly made all the preparations for JFJ's execution. Fortunately, their actions have been condemned by many high-ranking officials in the NHL.

    The majority of Leaf fans can be very irrational sometimes. They have insulted and ostracized JFJ to a point that is disrespectful and downright disgraceful. I understand his track record was less then stellar, but that does not give people the right to go on Facebook and create groups such as "John Ferguson Jr Must Die" and "John Ferguson Jr has royally f**ked over the Toronto Maple Leafs." I don't like J.P. Richardi. I don't like what he's done to the Blue Jays. I think he should be fired. However, I don't want him to die and I'm certainly not going to put the blame all on him.

    Making JFJ the scapegoat for forty years of futility is ridiculous. Most of the blame should fall squarely on MLSE.

    Like any other corporation, MLSE only cares about making profit. Regardless, of how the Leafs fare every season, MLSE will always have financial success. If doesn't matter if the Leafs are the best team in the NHL or the worst, fans will still fill up the Air Canada Centre. Therefore, in the eyes of MLSE, there's no need to fix the product because people are willing to pay outrageous prices to watch a mediocre hockey team. Even if one person canceled his/her season tickets as a way of protesting the on ice product, there would be 100 people waiting to take that person's place.

    The real victims - along with the fans - are MLSE's "neglected children:" the Raptors, the Rock, TFC, and the Marlies. These entities have had to fight for attention while the Leafs get the majority of support. There are probably people at MLSE who only care about the Leafs and wouldn't mind if the other teams disappeared. Fortunately, the neglected children understand that in order to have financial success, you have to have a winning product. Some have found that success (Raptors and Rock), some are building towards that success (TFC), and unfortunately, some have floundered (Marlies). However, this in turn allows the four teams to have a loyal and intelligent fan base.

    To his credit, JFJ acted very professionally despite the way he was treated. He will probably find work somewhere else very soon. Truth be told, he was probably relieved he would never have to work for MLSE ever again.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Help Radio One Get on the FM Dial in Vancouver

    CBC Radio One in Vancouver is currently only available on the AM dial and it has been estimated that Nearly 40% of Vancouver residents have reception problems on the AM frequency. But the CBC's Mandate states that it should "be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose...". If 40% of Vancouver can't pick it up, it is clearly not being made available by the most appropriate and efficient means. It is not, however, up to the CBC. It is the CRTC that will decide if the CBC can move to the FM dial. The last date/time for public comments is Please take a moment to tell the CRTC what you think is Midnight on Wednesday, January 23rd (Tomorrow night). Please take a moment and ask the CRTC to let the CBC fulfill it's mandate.

    • Go directly to the form on the CRTC website and click on the button #2007-18.
    • Check the box beside #200714239 (in the list, this is the second CBC application) and go to the bottom of the page and select next.
    • Follow the instructions to complete your letter of support.
    • And please remember to also copy CBC on your e-mail at REGULATORYAFFAIRS@CBC.CA

    Elbow Beach Surf Club Downloads

    I am pleased to announce that Guelph's Elbow Beach Surf Club are the latest addition to the podsafe downloads on . Elbow Beach Surf Club is currently sitting at #3 on the Earshot Charts for campus and community radio. Check them out at Sneaky Dee's on Jan. 26 (Republic of Safety's last show) and with Immaculate Machine at the Starlight in Waterloo on March 5!

    Comics to Smash The Roof in BC on Feb 7

    Toronto comics Sabrina Jalees and Debra Digiovanni along with American comic Nikki Glaser will be in Vancouver on February 7 to crash "right through the glass ceiling of the formerly male-dominated genre with the “all chick” comedy revue, Smash The Roof!"

    According to Jalees, the event's host: “The best reflection of how far women have burst out of their restrictive gender roles is found in stand-up comedy. The women on this bill are in-your-face, original and unapologetic."

    For more info see or the event page on facebook.

    If you're in Toronto, not B.C., it just so happens that while Debra Digiovani was at January's Eyes on Toronto, Sabrina Jalees will be at February's. Check with for details. If you're not in Toronto or B.C. um...I'm sure that there are funny people where you are too.

    For more from Sabrina Jalees ('If you don't like her you're probably racist) visit or click here

    For more from Debra Digiovanni visit or

    Event:  Smash The Roof
    Dates: Thursday, February 07, 2007 Times: 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm
    Venue:  Norman Rothstein Theatre, 950 W. 41st Avenue at Oak
    Admission: $20 (plus service charges)
    Tickets: 604.257.5111 or

    BC Govt. uses Facebook/Myspace to Spy on the Poor

    According to the Tyee British Columbia officials are using social sites such as Facebook and Myspace to spy on welfare recipients.
    "A message circulated in recent weeks to advocates working with people who receive financial help from the government warns that investigators use the Internet sites to look for evidence of "undisclosed co-habitation (living with someone), spending beyond what is provided by the ministry, casual employment, leaving the province for more than 30 days, gifts, pets and other income."
    In each of those cases, the information might affect how much welfare a person could receive, or whether they would be eligible for help at all."
    To me this sounds like an excuse for bureaucrats to spend their work days surfing the net and pretend that it is work related.

    Insider Outsourcing at the CBC?

    Late last year the CBC sold international distribution rights to 700 hours of it's programming to British-based ContentFilm for an 'undisclosed amount.' It is actually not quite as simple as that. From the Tea Makers:
    "Steve Billinger says no Canadian distributors wanted the package. Robert Lantos said he would have taken it. Billinger says the Board of Directors knew about the deal. Some Board members say they learned of the sale after the press release was issued."
    It is unclear whether the board knew about the sale before hand, and it would appear that when they say that "no Canadian distributors wanted the package" what they mean is that Canadian distributors were never told about the package or given an opportunity to bid on it. From the Globe and Mail:
    "The deal angered many in Canada's entertainment sector who argue the sale of a publicly funded asset should be an open tender to ensure the best price.

    On the show, Mr. Stursberg said the CBC made the deal with Fireworks/ContentFilm (which has since been tentatively sold to Toronto-based Peace Arch Entertainment) because "we did not see any [Canadian] company specialized in selling TV programs that was even remotely as well-capitalized, with as big a catalogue, or as extensive set of international relationships, to be able to sell these programs."
    Well, it's not entirely accurate to say that 'Canadian distributors didn't know'. It would appear that one did. Again from the Tea Makers
    You might remember that 2 days after we sold the catalogue of still-undisclosed shows to British-owned ContentFilm, they were bought by Toronto-based Peace Arch. The Globe points out that Fred Fuchs was a senior vice-president at Peace Arch before coming to the CBC.
    Fred Fuchs, in case you don't know, is the Executive Director, Arts and Entertainment Programming, CBC Television. The Toronto Star raises still more questions about the deal.
    A titillating footnote: Just two months ago Gary Howsam, the CEO of Peace Arch, had to take an extended leave of absence because he's facing fraud charges in the United States.
    A lingering question: If the CBC knew that Peace Arch was going to be taking over ContentFilm, why negotiate a sale to the British instead of waiting to deal directly with a Canadian company?

    None of this, at any rate, seems to be going away. From Today's Globe and Mail:
    "My problem is he never mentioned the outsourcing of the CBC distribution library! Not once," Mr. Emerson says in a response to Mr. Stursberg. "You say ContentFilm came to you? How did they know to do this? I didn't know the CBC Library was in play."
    Oasis is one of several Canadian companies that is angered it could not bid on the catalogue, which includes 132 titles. Mr. Emerson calls his company "the most obvious candidate in Canada" to buy the assets, adding "this stinks to me."
    And (also from the Globe)
    "The nasty exchange comes as the CBC board is set to approve the deal, according to sources close to the broadcaster, rather than provoke a battle with new CBC president Hubert Lacroix over stalling the sale."
    I can't imagine that CBC Management didn't operate within the letter, if not the spirit, of the law on this. However, given the self-contradictory statements, the unusual timeline of events, and the connection between Fuchs and Peace Arch It would appear that someone in Ottawa might want to have an investigator look over the deal and the timeline before anything is finalized.

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Kudos To the Border for Being More Realistic than Harper

    Congradulations to the Border for being brave where Ottawa chickened out. The day after Harper's so called government took the US off the torture list the Border airs an episode about US Diversion Flights. Sympathizers of Bush's neo-cons will say that 'the Border' and the story line are a work of fiction - which is true. But US diversion flights certainly do not seem to be fictional. That the US tortures is also not fictional.

    Work of fiction or not, the Border is more grounded in reality than Stephen Harper's Government.

    Krista Erickson a victim of Ottawa Politics

    Inside the CBC is reporting that Krista Erickson has been reassinged as a result of providing questions to Liberal MPs related to the Mulroney-Schreiber-Airbus affair.
    "Following an investigation by senior management of CBC News, we have determined that our reporter Krista Erickson did, in fact, provide questions to a Member of Parliament in the lead up to the Ethics Committee meeting in December. Those actions, while in pursuit of a journalistically legitimate
    story, were inappropriate and inconsistent with CBC News policies and procedures, specifically under our Principles, Sec. 3":

    However the press release states that
    "Our investigation determined there was no bias in related news coverage."
    It seems to me that that should be the centeral issue. If elected representatives choose to seek the advice of a journalist prior to a hearing I do not see an ethical breach unless it affects the press coverage of the affair. Our elected officials should be able to seek information in any way they choose, so long as it does not violate the law. Make no mistake, the CBC is not anti-Conservative, but the Conservatives are very anti-cbc. Disciplining Krista Erickson for giving information to an MP who asked smacks of politics and an attempt to appease the Conservative government to me.

    Said the Whale: Western Canadian Tour Dates

    Said the Whale is kicking off a tour of western Canada on January 30. To keep up with the latest from them stay tuned to

    January 30th, 2008 Nanaimo, BC | The Queens

    January 31st, 2008 Kelowna, BC | Doc Willoughby's

    February 1st, 2008 Penticton, BC | Voodoos **ALL AGES**

    February 2nd, 2008 Prince George, BC | COLDSNAP Music Festival **ALL AGES**

    February 4th, 2008 Edmonton, AB | The Black Dog Pub

    February 5th, 2008 Calgary, AB | The Gateway @ SAIT Campus Centre

    February 6th, 2008 Lethbridge, AB | The Slice

    February 7th, 2008 Saskatoon, SK | Lydia's Pub

    February 8th, 2008 Medicine Hat, AB | The Dog House

    February 9th, 2008 Canmore, AB | Canmore Hotel

    Underfunding of the Arts and Cultural Assimilation

    Via TV Eh?, an excellent article from the Halifax Daily News on underfunding in the Canadian arts and cultural assimilation:
    Because there is an element of the preservation of the culture which does not exist in the rest of the country. Quebec sees its culture as being under threat - all the time - from the rest of English Canada and consequently gives a lot of time and attention and spends a lot of money to preserving that culture. A culture it sees as under threat.

    The sad fact is that we are under as much threat from America, because 90 per cent of what we see on our television sets and in our movie theatres here in Canada is American product.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    Breaking Links: Sunday, January 20

    Sadly in yet another act of spineless cowardice (not to mention ass kissing) Canada is removing the US from the torture list. This is not because the US doesn't torture, it is because the US doesn't want to be on the list.
    "OTTAWA, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Canada's foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, said on Saturday it would remove the United States and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured."

    Via Quillblog: Congrats to Marjorie Celona who has picked up this years Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers.
    "Last night, the winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers was announced. This being the first year the award is sponsored by the RBC Foundation, the ceremony was held, appropriately enough, in the 40th floor reception suite of the RBC building on Toronto’s Bay Street. Below are some photos from the event."

    CBC's Fortune Hunters profiled on Digital Journal
    "Digital Journal — The Web is changing how people do business, but it’s also injecting new life into how TV covers business. Case in point is Fortune Hunters, a new show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Newsworld channel. It analyzes adventurous entrepreneurs, their ideas and their potential to profit from their ventures. The upcoming show airing on Jan. 19 profiles a social-networking upstart in Toronto, for instance. "

    The Toronto Star reports that in Toronto You're safer than you think.
    "Q: For the average Torontonian, what are the odds of getting killed in a random crime, like, say, a stray bullet?
    A: In Toronto, about 12 people per year are killed by a stranger. There are 2.6 million people in the city, so your chances of getting killed by a stranger are about one in 220,000."

    Close Gould Street Rally on Thursday

    I have said this before but: Creating 'Car Free Zones' improves our public spaces and makes the city more enjoyable for pedestrians. It also helps with reducing carbon emissions. The primary reason people drive instead of finding alternate methods of transportation is that driving is convenient. If we are ever going to have a serious impact on carbon emissions (as well as Toronto's air quality) a concerted effort must be made to make driving in Toronto far less convenient. So kudos to the Ryerson University students who are staging a Close Gould Street Rally this Thursday.

    Via Spacing:
    Close Gould Street Rally
    Who: Ryerson students, community members and supporters of pedestrian-friendly initiatives
    Where: Corner of Gould and Victoria Sts. (One block north of Dundas St., one block east of Yonge St.)
    When: Thursday, January 24, 12:00-2:00PM
    For more information, visit the Close Gould Street Facebook group.

    RVT: 22 Minutes MVC (most valuable curler)

    This Hour Has 22 Minutes take on MVP: MVC: the Secret Life of Curlers

    Fifth Estate - the Lies that Led to War

    I've no idea how long this will be up for, these things tend to disappear but the entire Fifth Estate episode the Lies that Led to War has been posted on YouTube. Of course this episode and many others are available on the Fifth Estate Website at in Windows Media Format. That means that if you have flip4mac and a Mac you can save them as quicktime movies (likely how it ended up on Youtube.)

    Television Links Update

    It's been a busy weekend but I've added promos or sample clips to the Canadian Television links. This has already been done for film, music and comedy. I'll add to these link sections slowly as time goes on.

    Saturday, January 19, 2008

    RVT: Two Hours Traffic - Nighthawks

    Getting ready to launch a cross country tour Two Hours Traffic has just released a new video. Tour dates are below - more Two Hours Traffic at

    January 19 Stereophonic Festival @ George's Roadhouse, Sackville NB 
w/ Dog Day, Shotgun Jimmie, The Stance, Tom Fun Orchestra. 10PM.
February 2 The Seahorse, Halifax NS w/ Smothered in Hugs, Their Majesties
February 6 "Spread the Net" Benefit, North Nova Education Centre, New Glasgow NS w/ Wintersleep, We Are Pioneers. 7PM.
February 7 "Rock The Hill", Student Union Building (UNB campus), Fredericton NB w/ hey rosetta!, the Tom Fun Orchestra and Slowcoaster.
February 8 Fredericton NB, Delta Hotel w/ Mark Bragg, hey rosetta!, The Tom Fun Orchestra and the Jimmy Swift Band.
February 9 Fredericton NB, Nicky Zee's
February 14 Quebec City QC, Le Bal du Lezard
February 15 Montreal QC, Club Lambi
February 16 Ottawa ON, Zaphods
February 19 London ON, Call The Office
February 21 Guelph ON, Bookshelf Ebar
February 22 Brantford ON, The Ford Plant
February 23 Toronto ON, Horseshoe Tavern 
February 28 Sault Ste. Marie, Loplop's Gallery & Lounge
February 29 Thunder Bay ON, Killroys
March 1 Winnipeg MB, Royal Albert Hotel
March 5 Edmonton AB, Pawn Shop
March 6 Calgary AB, The Gateway (SAIT)
March 7 Kelowna BC, Doc Willoughby's
March 8 Vancouver BC, The Railway Club
March 13 Saskatoon SK, Amigo's Cantina
March 14 Medicine Hat AB, The Doghouse
March 15 Regina SK, The Exchange
March 20 Peterborough ON, Red Dog Tavern

    Eyes on Toronto - The Channel

    So do you ever get tired of me posting Eyes on Toronto stuff? Didn't think so (no comments please). Now you don't have to wait - Eyes on Toronto has it's very own You Tube Channel at So you don't have to wait for me to post them all any more, though I probably will eventually. Now - Pirates of the Caribana!

    Stop Logging in Algonquin

    Only 713 names are on this petition since May of 2006!!!!!

    Not enough people know what is happening to this National Park that many of us have enjoyed.

    "The fact that a government report says that it's time to reduce the area of logging in the park is great news,'' said Evan Ferrari, director of the Wildlands

    "It would be the first expansion of protection area in Algonquin in 40 years,'' he added, noting that a recent survey suggested only 14 per cent of Ontario residents knew logging went on in the park."

    Plan to reduce logging in Algonquin Park lauded
    Sun. May. 27 2007
    Canadian Press

    "The Ontario government has responded to modern-day Thoreaus by imposing strict controls on logging in Algonquin. The park's logging camps and sawmills have been closed. Chain saws and lumber trucks may not operate in places and at times when tourists will hear or see them. No cutting is permitted on lake shores or portages. The result, however, is not less logging, but less apparent logging."

    Published: July 24, 1983

    "On December 8, 2006 the Ontario Parks Board produced the report Lightening the Ecological Footprint of Logging In Algonquin Provincial Park , which was subsequently released in May 2007 to the public. This report makes a series of recommendations, the most notable of which is to expand the protection zones to include 54% of the Park. This presents an historic opportunity to protect some of the remaining pristine and old-growth forests that are currently available for logging within the Recreation/Utilization Zone of the Park. To this end, we conducted a mapping analysis of old-growth forest in Algonquin Park, which shows that less than half of the old-growth forest in the Park is currently protected from logging. The Ontario Parks Board recommendations would increase this level of protection for old-growth forests to just over two thirds of the old growth remaining in the Park. In addition to leaving one third of the Park’s old-growth forest available for logging (roughly 34,000 ha, an area half the size of the city of Toronto), a number of large clusters of old-growth stands would be excluded from the recommended new protected zones.] for the full report.


    FACEBOOK CAUSE (application) GROUP:

    FACEBOOK GROUPS DEDICATED TO SAVING ALGONQUIN PARK (in order of largest to smallest):


    Conservatives Backpedal From Moment of Honesty

    Via the CBC: After correctly, if rather boldly, listing the United States and Israel as countries where prisoners might face torture and abuse. Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier is now rushing to backpedal calling the whole thing a mistake.
    "I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department's torture awareness training," he said in a statement released Saturday.

    "The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy," he said. "As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions.

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    RVT: Bob vs. Bob

    From December's Eyes on Toronto here are Bob Wiseman and Levi McDougall as Bob Wiseman

    Are You Ready for the Good Life?

    World Wildlife Fund Canada has created a new web site and blog called "the Good Life". So, what is the good life?
    "What is The Good Life? It's a community for Canadians who want to make simple but significant changes in their lifestyles that help fight climate change and reduce their footprint on the planet."
    It has actions you can take, from large to small, and it keeps track of how much greenhouse gas you've helped eliminate. To date, even though it's brand new, the site has 1048 members who have saved 1,919,504 kg of greenhouse gasses.

    The Good Life blog has been added to the News aggregator on this site. There is more discussion over on Spacing Wire - read all you like but then sign up, learn what you can do and claim credit for what you already do. Oh...and watch this: