Thursday, December 22, 2005

Arteriors:Motto: ’Exceed the expectations of the customer and the marketplace.” By Christine

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Any furniture accessories company that names itself ‘Arteriors’deserves an article just for having a great name. Yes, one could have been dull and call their company, ‘Interiors’, or ‘Artistic Furniture for Interiors, but Arteriors...? Brilliant.

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Arteriors’ press page displays numerous magazine covers and/or interior pages where Arteriors products have been prominently used, and the press page gives the item’s model number so a potential customer may know exactly what to ask for.

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Given the amount of magazines presenting Arteriors products demonstrate that I’ve jumped on the bandwagon late, again. Then again, nothing is noted for Arteriors during the year, 2005, so maybe it’s time to remind those do-it-youself home renovators of this intriguing company.

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Arteriors Home and Arteriors Fine Accessories were give the Arts Award for the second year in a row in 2004. Their distinguishing feature in 2004 was their Manufacturer portable Lamps.

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Arteriors Home was also proud to be win as Designers of the Year in 2004. Arteriors also was recognized at the 1997 Eighth Annual ART’s Award for Manufacturer of the Year for Accessories. I realize that home decoration, like any art form, must move on with the times, but I feel Arteriors still have intriguing products that flow and change in synchcronicity to these times.

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Based in Dallas, Arteriors Home started as an accessory resource offering a carefully chosen grouping of traditional pieces. The Tanner Collection was the first portable lighting venture; introduced in 1995 and was followed by a lifestyle lamp company called Keane in 1999.

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Arteriors continued to grow until the company finally merged its divisions and overhauled its offerings to include a complete selection of modern home accents with coordinated collections.

Arteriors Home is represented in permanent showrooms in Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver and Seattle. A nationwide network of sales representatives sells the products throughout the United States and Canada.
Arteriors offers both catalogue, showroom, and online shopping. It’s wonderful that today’s designers are not held back by borders and distance.

The catalogs feature unique and imaginative selections that are grouped by category and style. The company introduces over 500 new items every year to select from. Arteriors is proud of its first quality merchandise track record.

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While browsing the online Arteriors home - I plugged in postal codes (zip) to see where I would be able to purchase the products. Although there was nothing present for Vancouver, Canada, an address could be found for Bellingham at 1105 11th street. My Lucky sister in Maryland has 3 stores to choose from. Use the Arteriors zip code feature to find a store nearest to you at

To Shop online with Arteriors design, simply go toand they accept all major credit cards as well as Paypal.

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Most of all, enjoy the whimsical and traditional pieces as well as imported novelties/ pieces. Lay back, close your eyes... and envision these pieces in your newly painted/renovated/updated space and Voilá, art by design - to your specifications - appears at your doorstep, courtesy of online shopping.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

All Things Cowie - By Christine

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Here I was, thinking about whom, or what, to write about for our interiors section. (The category has been abandoned temporarily as we’ve all pursued other features). Then I remembered how taken I was with some ‘Cowie’ tableware displayed at JC Penney. I quickly found my ‘Things to Write About’ notebook and settled in to research.

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As I flipped through the well worn pages of my notebook (note to son: hint hint... Christmas gift... quick and easy...) I found the Colin Cowie section with its ‘first impact’ impressions. Looked promising... interesting... great, ready to go!

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Well damned if there wasn’t an article on Colin Cowie in December’s In Style Home I swear, I think the magazine/e-zine communities can read Lezah’s and my minds and grab our cognitive headliners to trump us. (How typically egocentric of me - to assume the Swanktrendz's’ ideas are being stolen by In Style et al when in fact we are all merely reporting the same trend at the same time, and even that is an arrogant assumption.)

Back to Colin - His designs/ideas etc. are unique, exciting, beautiful yet safe, but what’s more incredible is his resume. This man can and does just about everything. He’s gotta be a type A personality (or at least have 200 invisible assistants working beneath him).

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I went to his website and the first thing I noticed was that he has a membership section. That’s right, you can become one of the inner circle Cowieites and be the first to receive the latest tip or access Colin's newest recipe according to the site.

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African born, Colin Cowie is known for his elegant yet extravagant attention to details, from a flower girl’s simple seashell headband , his beautiful dreamy wedding sites, to his table settings for an intimate dinner party. When Colin arrived to the United States in 1985, he immediately formed Colin Cowie Lifestyle. Lifestyle has now grown to include offices in New York and Los Angeles

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Cowie is an all-in-one kind of guy. He designs clothing, homes, accessories, furnishings, lifestyles and he has authored several books designated for the bride-to-be or the gourmet entertainer. Colin Cowie Lifestyle has planned some of the most highly publicized parties and weddings of the decade including the marriages of Lisa Kudrow, Paula Abdul, Kenny G., Don Henley, Hugh Hefner and many others. Not only that, Colin is a contributing editor for InStyle (aha explains the scoop of the story), Eating Well, and Honeymoon magazines. Currently, Colin appears weekly on AMC's Romance Classics as the star of "Everyday Elegance with Colin Cowie."

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Lastly, when one has been invited to appear on Oprah as a headliner, and has People magazine write an article with the headline “An Affair To Remember: Part Patton, part Barnum, Colin Cowie is Hollywood’s premier wedding designer.” you know that Cowie has arrived ... moved in permanently ... and is subletting to others.

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Lancing the Boil of French Envy By: Laurence Simon

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Lance Armstrong may have beaten testicular cancer to go on to win the Tour de France seven times, but apparently it's managed to spread to the media organs of France in the form of virulent, spiteful envy.

America's seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has reportedly claimed that allegations made about him taking drugs was part of a witch hunt orchestrated by the French. The 34-year-old added, however, he would not give either the French newspaper L'Equipe which published the claims he had tested positive for blood-booster EPO in 1999 nor the laboratory involved the satisfaction of suing them.

"The paper has no proof whatsoever," Armstrong told Saturday's Het Nieuwsblad newspaper. "It is a witch hunt and a publicity exercise."

Maybe it's burning envy?

Nah. That's just parking lots around Paris.

Fireside Smirk By: Laurence Simon

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I am hesitant to watch a recording of Bush's "fireside chat" speech because I know that everything he says about Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, and democracy will be applied in reverse with the murderous deathcultist Palestinians. Polling places are overrun by gunmen or burning, terrorists are running as candidates in a process Bush said should produce "leadership uncompromised by terror" and yet Bush keeps telling Condi Rice to yank at Sharon's leash over and over again demanding concessions and humanitarian gestures.

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It makes me wonder if that speech in 2002 ever took place at all.

It's truly sad when the people have to look to Congress for moral clarity with regard to cutting off the money supply for terrorists pretending to engage in free and peaceful elections. Hamas is engaging in the process not as part of an overall plan to moderate their views and disarm, but to grab a hold of the aid coffers as a war chest to escalate their war on Israel... upon civilization itself.

Bush, who through his envoys has been demanding free passage of terrorists from Gaza to Egypt or the West Bank, continues to show himself for the backpedaling, double-dealing, double-standard president who started the ball rolling back in 2002.

If the Qassams were being launched from Tijuana on San Diego instead of from Gaza to Ashkelon or Sderot, there'd be a smoking crater full of dead donkeys and whores where Tijiuana used to be.

Pajamas Media
has a roundup of opinions other than this one. If there's anybody else in that list noticing the disparity between Bush's view on Iraq and his rose-colored-glasses view of the Palestinian track record of violence, incitement, and lies, I'm having a hard time finding it.

Expiring domain By: Laurence Simon

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I get a panicked note from a customer begging to know when their domain expires.

Here's a pop quiz for you folks. How can you find out when your domain expires?

At the command line, do a whois and then the domain name.

Or look up the domain name with one of the many hundreds of whois tools at registrars and such.

If you registered anonymously or with a registrar that doesn't give out the expiration date, well, go to the registrar, sign in, and check your account.

Don't remember how to sign in to your registrar? That's between you and their customer service department.

Don't remember who your registrar is? Well, do a whois of your domain and you'll get the details on who the registrar is and how to contact that registrar.

Hell, a Google search for "when does my domain expire" gives you a link to a site that tells you to do a whois.

If every single one of those steps is completely alien to you, someone else should be running your website for you.

Pajamas Media, Pathfinder, and By: Laurence Simon

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I've been thinking about Pajamas Media and how it reminds me of the Pathfinder and fiascos a bit more. Or maybe I've forgotten I thought about it and I'm typing this all over again like that guy from Memento.

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Sammy who?

Pathfinder and were artificial "portal site" constructs developed by Time Warner and Disney. They were utterly devoid of content in and of themselves beyond a few bells-and-whistles and navigation trickery. In the end, they were just another annoying layer of navigation that made you hunt and click for your content more than before.

On the other hand, Pajamas Media is also an artificial "portal site" construct. Unlike Pathfinder and, it's got a bit of unique content to it, like the Blog Jams or the Iraqi Elections Reporting or the various roundups. Tack on a blogroll and some wire feeds and that's pretty much it for the consumer.

You can also still get to the Pajamas Media member sites without a hassle of slogging through Land Of A Thousand Clicks like and were. Your feeds still work, your bookmarks still work, your permalinks still work.

The eerie parallel between Go/Pathfinder and Pajamas Media is that you had two huge companies with amazing brand recognition. You know Time and CNN and Disney and ABC. However, some marketing morons decided to take all of those well-recognized brand names and shove them to the backburner while promoting completely artificial and unknown hub names.

Bad mistake.

So in this new Pajamas Media Venture, they went from Pajamas Media to Open Source Media and then back to Pajamas Media.

I wonder if any of the consultant geniuses mentioned anything about or Pathfinder before heading down the same exact road of trying to establish a whole new portal name.

Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

They call them diet Coke and Coke Zero and Cherry Coke for a reason, you know. If they had its own name (Light Cola, Cola Water, Cherry drink), it wouldn't sell as much.

The rule is not to create an unknown brand name to smother your collective well-known brand names, but to take an existing brand name and expand it to embrace all of the lesser brand names.

So, what would I have done?

The crown jewel of the network is obviously Reynolds' Instapundit site with Malkin as a close second.

Fine. Build upon that brand name.

Expanding the well-known InstaPundit brand to encompass the network of bloggers, calling it "The Pundit Network" or "InstaPundits" (plural) or "Instant Punditry" or whatever.

If it fails, well, jettison the network part and go back to just the core InstaPundit brand.

But then, what do I know? These geniuses actually came up with "Jellyfish" for a while during their spitballing sessions.

In the end, I think it's "Network of ad banners" that's #1 on the list, nothing's #2, and #3 is... um... hey, wasn't it a great launch party?

O Little Town of Bethlehamas... By: Laurence Simon

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Well, the Israelis are thinking about leasing security restrictions on the West Bank for pilgrims to reach Bethlehem on Christmas, so you know what that means...

Security forces on Monday morning chased down two Palestinians near Jerusalem who had apparently intended to carry out a terror attack in the capital city, Army Radio reported.

The two youths, who threw firebombs at security forces during the chase, were eventually arrested attempting to cross the separation fence near Jerusalem's southern Har Homa neighborhood.

The two, aged 16 and 17, were carrying carrying two pipe bombs, fire bombs and knives and had a Hamas flag.

But that's not all...

Also Monday, Israel Radio reported that security forces have captured a Palestinian terrorist who had managed to infiltrate southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.

The terrorist, who was carrying an explosives belt, firearms and grenades, was captured near Kibbutz Nir Am, located adjacent to Sderot in the western Negev region near the Gaza border.

Security forces were involved throughout the night in chasing the terrorist, who was captured alive. He had apparently intended to carry out an attack inside Israel.

Sadly, none of these captured terrorists were allowed to martyr themselves in sealed concrete bunkers along with their explosives.

How hard it must be for their virgins in Paradise, waiting a little bit longer for their beloved to arrive in bits and pieces. I feel badly for the... what's three times seventy-two again?

Cromulent Pete's Holiday Pop-Culture Poll: Laurence Simon

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Since ASV has gone tits-up, I guess you need to get your daily dose of pop-culture polling from Cromulent Pete.

Today's poll is "The Bestest Classic Christmas TV Special of All Time."

If you're wondering why I'm writing so much these days in the evenings and Nardo's spending time in my lap, my wife is watching each and every one of these Holiday Season abominations at least three times. Plus, she's checking out all the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Channel holiday movies.

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She watched Forest Gump last night.

Worst. Move. Ever.

I love the book. The sequel book is great, too.

Movie sucks.

If it wasn't so damned cold out, I'd go for a walk and get some exercise. Or I should head to the workout room and spend an hour and a half on the treadmill.

Instead, I've been taking notes of each movie and finding the awful commonalities between them are.

Oh. God. That Dolly Parton movie is on tonight, isn't it?

Do they make Drano in cherry flavor? Make mine a double.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Parallels - Interview with Vancouver’s Indie Group By: Christine

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The Parallels - Interview with Vancouver’s Indie Group

Dictionary meaning of parallels: an arrangement or state that permits several operations or tasks to be performed simultaneously

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Last month, my colleague and I were fortunate enough to attend two great gigs - The Magic Numbers, and their opening act, The Parallels. I was immediately struck with The Parallels’ raw energy; their get off your ass and start moving riffs and their onstage ‘we’ll have fun with or without you’ confidence. They performed like veterans of the touring route and I was surprised to learn they had only been together for less than a year.

The group consists of four members: Mike Flintoff (guitar), Mike 'Mick" McDiarmid (drums), Tyler Mounteney (bass), and Jarrod O'Dell (organ & guitar)). After their gig I immediately approached them to find out where they were from and was pleased to note they are one of Vancouver’s ‘own’ home grown. We discussed possibilities of an interview but soon realized that an online approach would work best. After determining an assortment of questions I was soon on my way with Mike Flintoff and Jarrod O’Dell stepping up to answer the questions presented.

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Swanktrendz: First of all, thank you for taking the time to converse with us, and let me add that we are thoroughly enjoying your cd, 1961 McLean. I'd like to get right to the cd. Could you please let us know who plays what instrument(s) and sings which type of vocal (ie: lead, etc.)?

The ParallelsWithin The Parallels there is no specific "lead" vocal. The vocals are shared by Mike, Jarrod and Tyler.

ST Where did the name 'The Parallels' come from? How did the group arrive at, and agree upon, this name?

TP It just looks good on a poster, doesn't it?

ST What are the ages and marital status of members in the band?

Mike Flintoff 25 - Almost there
Tyler Mounteney 25 - Married
Jarrod O'Dell 25 - Married
Mike "Mick" McDiarmid 26 - Spoken For

ST The title of the cd is '1961 Mclean' and the insert states the cd is dedicated to Frank William Flintoff. I assume the Flintoff in question is related to Mike. Could you please explain the significance of the cd’s title?

TP The title of the CD "1961 McLean" refers to a warehouse where The Parallels formed and wrote this record. While recording the record we moved on from the warehouse and felt the need to document that ‘era’ of the band. The dedication of the record is for Mike’s grandfather, Frank Flintoff who passed on during the making of this record.

ST Well that clears up my preconceived notion that 1961 was a significant year in some regard.

ST I've also noticed that 1961 McLean is the first release for the Upstart Hi-Fi Logo. Are you associated with and/or or shareholders/owners of Upstart Hi-Fi? If you are involved in the company - what is its purpose - recording studio, producing facility, etc?

TP Upstart Hi-Fi was, at the time of ‘1961 McLean's’ release, strictly a vanity label meant to draw interest for what was ahead. In November, 2005, construction began on the Upstart Hi-Fi studio based in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Fully owned and operated by The Parallels, Upstart Hi-Fi are looking to be fully operational by February 2006.

ST Be sure to remind swanktrendz of the grand opening ( when the date is set) so we may advertise it to Vancouver’s musical community.

ST Who writes the lyrics/music? How does the writing process evolve, and in which area do you write the best (ie: jamming session, or a song will come to one of you and you bring it to the rest... or...)

TP As for the writing of the music The Parallels work as a collaborative effort. The main source of the songs comes from Mike, Jarrod and Tyler, however once the band has its hands on the tracks, the songs evolve so that each members’ personal contribution is fused.

ST What Major musical influences did you have while growing up?

TP British R&B, Soul, Ska, Reggae, '77 Punk Rock.

ST What are the band's personalities like? Is there the ‘introverted one’ or any other stereotype you can think of? Who is the main spokesman for the group?

TP No single member of The Parallels can shut-up long enough to allow for a single spokesman. Everyone speaks for the band, and usually at the same time. The Parallels are essentially one person split into four! Energetic, spastic, and passionate about music and culture to a fault.

ST What do you think of the comparison Swanktrendz made between the Parallels to ‘Joe Strummer meeting the Blasters’?

TP The comparison to Joe Strummer is quite flattering as it strikes a strong chord for all members in the band. As for The Blasters we can understand the hint of R&B and the energy produced by the band. However, there are no members in The Parallels that are avid listeners of The Blasters.

ST Do The Parallels have a following as yet and what type audience do you want/hope to attract?

TP Most members of the band are avid scooterists and culturalists, from the Mod scene to Skinhead Reggae to "indies". Nonetheless, The Parallels aren't aiming to please one specific crowd. We've been fortunate to have support from a wide range of audiences within Canada and are humbled by the great response we've received in recent months.

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ST Any other opening gigs for 'important' (depends on your definition of important) bands? Ie: Magic Numbers is garnering acclaim everywhere and no doubt will go on to bigger and better things. Is there anyone else you've opened for and thought, ‘Hey now, this group is going places?’

TP We would consider Ted Leo and The Pharmacists an important act that we have opened for. Opening for The Magic Numbers was a pleasant surprise, we didn't know too much about the band until the coming weeks before the gig. The Magic Numbers are definitely a band garnering acclaim, turn on the TV and you'll see them on Conan O'Brien.

ST Conan, in my opinion, is a perfect ‘recognition’ platform for indie bands as his producers seem to recognize the ‘just-on -the-edge-of-full-blown-success’ factor. It’s almost equivalent to Johnny Carson giving comedians high profile by inviting them to ‘join him’ at the desk. Saturday Night Live tends to showcase bands AFTER they’ve made a name for themselves.

ST Any favorite local Vancouver acts at present?

TP Our favorite local Vancouver acts at present are The Transmitors,
The Jolts, and Vancougar

ST What is your present touring schedule so that we may publish it. Also, provide a contact number to book a gig.

TP The Parallels are currently focusing on setting up the Upstart Hi-Fi recording studio. Over the remaining winter we will be compiling new material for our live set and our next record. Tour dates will be available for the New Year! Stay posted at Upstart Hi Fi and at For booking and general contact: theparallels at upstarthifi dot com

ST How long did it take from inception to end product to create 1961 Mclean?

TP While recording "1961 McLean" the Parallels were in a transitional time. The record originally had two sides; one side Rock 'N Roll and the other side Ska and Reggae. During post production we found ourselves evolving and leaning towards the Rock 'N Roll side of things. From inception to end the process took just under a year.

ST What category, in a music store, would you like to see your cd placed under?

TP Rock 'N Roll

ST It was a pleasure meeting you and watching you perform. I would also like to thank you on behalf of the swanktrendz community for allowing us a glimpse into ‘The Parallels’ world.

BEBE - Swank ‘Fave’ Brand - Installment 1  By: Chrisitne

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BEBE - Swank ‘Fave’ Brand - Installment 1 

By: Christine

bebe has been a long standing brand that I have always admired - both for its whimsical style and for its price. bebe does not pretend to be haute couture as it is a retail venture, however, that does not stop celebrities flocking to the brand just as easily as versace or D&G. Celebrities donning bebe include Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, Ciara, Eva Longoria, Paris Hilton, Shakira, Virginia Madsen, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Lopez & Mischa Barton. bebe fashions have also been featured in numerous hit television shows, including The O.C., Las Vegas, Eve, One Tree Hill, Nip/Tuck, Desperate Housewives, American Idol, CSI Miami, as well as many others.

Pronounced ‘bee-bee’, the name was selected because it represented the philosophy of the time (‘70s - ‘to be or not to be’) as well as other multilingual meanings including the Persian name for the queen in a deck of cards and the Turkish word for woman.

bebe's target customers are women between the ages of 18 and 35, who seek current fashion trends interpreted to suit their needs. The "bebe look" carries a signature hint of style, whimsy and sensuality.

Current Chairman and Founder Manny Mashouf founded bebe as a San Francisco boutique in 1976, a time when three categories dominated the women's wear market: Junior, Bridge and Missy. Deciding that there needed to be a ‘new category’, Manny decided to offer an alternative to the population of stylish women. His concept stuck and bebe reaped early success.

bebe currently has three brand names: bebe Sport, bebe, and bebe O (outlet). Of the 227 stores in operation, 172 are bebe boutiques, 20 are bebe outlet stores, and 35 are bebe Sport stores. bebe’s boutiques can be found in USA, Puerto Rico and Canada. They also offer an online store at (See below for more information on the online offerings.)

On November 23, 2005, bebe announced a new accessory store called ‘Neda by bebe’. The plan is to offer distinctive accessories, handbags and shoes with the bebe signature whimsical and sexy style. The inspiration for the name of the new store is Neda Mashouf, bebe’s vice chairman, who is, and has been, bebe’s muse for over 20 years. Her eclectic, sexy and sophisticated style clearly represents the bebe design aesthetic. The company anticipates opening additional ‘Neda by bebe’ stores in 2007.

bebe also has an incredibly popular online shopping site at which offers a varied sampling of their retail boutiques. Not only does bebe have the styles that I often find myself drawn to, but they offer prices that do not drain one’s pocketbook, considering the quality of the merchandise. Go to their store online and check it out for yourself. Definitely a brand that is here to stay.

Win An Amazon Gift Certificate Simply for Writing a Letter to the Editor

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By: Christine, Swanktrendz Administrator

As we would like the 'Letters to the Editor' to be a lively and/or controversial addition to, we are offering $20.00 gift certificates for the first 5 letters that get published in our new section, 'Letter to the Editors'.

This is a one time offer - so get those letters in!

This is your chance to sound off, contribute ideas, discuss your favourite contributor, have your opinion be heard, suggest new categories, and/or make suggestions for our web design layout. Peruse our archives as well and write a letter about anything that catches your eye/attention.

The steps are easy:
a) click on contact,
b) write your name (or a pseudo name) your email address (for verification)
c) write your letter to the editor*
d) submit
e) wait and see if your letter is published.

Remember - we do NOT harvest email addresses to forward to others. Your email address will be deleted as soon as the winners have been chosen and informed.

Get involved! is as much for your entertainment, as it is for ours in producing it.

*Swanktrendz reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and clarity.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Fiona Apple by: Kirk Bage

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Fiona Apple

This was a long time coming. After two astonishingly mature (beyond her years at least) and rich albums it looked as though female singer/songwriters had a new champion. The passing of the torch from the likes of Alanis Morrisette and Beth Orton to Fiona Apple was undeniable. But something happened... Rumours abounded of rifts with record company execs, of nervous breakdowns, of anorexia and severe depression. For several years, the world was void of the originality and strange soul that is Fiona Apple.

I am biased - I adore everything about her and have since I saw the PT Anderson directed video of Across The Universe, the main theme to the movie Pleasantville.

I next saw her popping up in the behind-the-scenes footage of Magnolia, with above noted PT (whom she comments on often in her new lyrics) and again I fell in love with her shyness, intelligence and obvious talent. Her songs fill any room with mood; challenging you to feel - sometimes joy, sometimes anger, sometimes frustration, sometimes deep loss, but feel nonetheless! The melodies of her previous work may stretch your taste, so if you play her the wrong way, the songs will scrape and jar... but that is indicative of the passion which motivates this sometimes young genius.

She has gone on record, both in interviews and in her song lyrics, as saying that singing and the fame it afforded her also brought her anxiety and panic, and she needed to leave for a while to find peace of mind. In this new CD, that difficult time she experienced comes out in every note, every word, sweet, bitter and a little bit older.

A quick glance at her website will allow you to see a set of photos that show the ever photogenic waif to be less edgy and intense - more soft, mature, yet still deeply scarred. I think she looks great, but it is the music that I'm most excited about. Of course nothing of Fiona’s is ever easy and there are multiple uses of discord and "noise" in her music. But each and every song is laced with beauty in some form: often revealing, touching, thought-provoking and life affirming, and never, ever dull.
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As seems to be the norm with anything/one I worship beyond reason, this album is not for everyone. Those of you who despise a hint of jazz in any way should definitely stay away. But those listeners who actually ‘get’ Fiona, will be like-minded in wanting more, and hopefully before another five years go by. 9/10

Albums 2005 By Mike

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Albums 2005

I think most of you will agree with me when I say that 2005 was an interesting year ("Interesting" meaning "fucked up"). Now I can't speak for everyone (except the mutes and maybe some of the deafs), but for me personally, these were the records that shaped 2005. Not only providing a soundtrack, but carrying things along, inspiring us, and hopefully getting us into a bit of trouble along the way.

So here they are.
They are in no specific order.
(Of course they are.)
They are not.
Let's go:

• Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
This album is sprawling and gigantic, a million shiny hooks happily drowning beneath a tsunami of beautiful, churning noise. Complicated and dense yet still utterly appealing, It's an absolute mess and it works perfectly.

• Burdocks - What we do is Secret
With taut, charging rhythms, impossibly charming melodies and jerky, angular guitar work, these songs are scrappy, caffeinated and catchier than the avian flu. Vote Burdocks.

• Stephen Malkmus - Face the Truth
Steve Malkmus is a weird guy, and it's never been more apparent than on this album. These songs are all over the map, ranging from synth-y dance experiments to extended guitar jams to twinkling balladry and folk-infused indie rock. Yet it's still unmistakably Malkmus.
And unmistakably great.

• Sleater-Kinney - The Woods
Not only the biggest and loudest rock album of the year, but the biggest and loudest rock album IN years. Sleater-Kinney have cranked this puppy to 11 and sent everyone else packing.
Here they are. Rock you like a hurricane.

• Blood on the Wall - Awesomer
Awesomer than what? Than most other albums this year. I'm not even sure why I find these sloppy little rock songs so endearing. probably because they make it sound so easy.

• Beck - guero
Mr. Hansen is back with another loot bag full of random pop-culturalisms and here-and-there musical inclinations, meshing it all together with his usual panache. He manages to sound very much like the Beck of yesteryear, but a little older, a little wiser; a twinge of maturity rearing its head through the junkyard riffage and whiteboy funk. His best album? No. An f-ing great album? Hell yes.

• Kiss Me Deadly - Misty Medley
Jittery and nervous, but as inviting and seductive as a geisha made of silk. The sublimely dance-y rhythms and percolating beats keep things moving along nicely, and vocalist Emily Elizabeth's breathy sqeal makes it sound as if she's sitting in your lap, quickly running out of oxygen but having way too much fun making you blush and squirm.

• Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain
This record is an absolute menace. Played loud it's the aural equivalent of rolling down a jagged mountain on fire and on drugs during an earthquake and loving every second. And when that really happens to you, you'll say the same thing you said the first time you heard this album. "This is fucking awesome."

• The Kills - No Wow
Not so much love songs as they are songs about the nuclear fallout that can accompany love when it all goes sour. Stark, sexy and sometimes jarring, these songs absolutly seethe with paranoia and betrayal. But they still kinda wanna do you.

• DangerDoom - The Mouse and the Mask
What's this? A hip hop album that's actually fun? In the era of bling-blang and G-Unit faux-gangsta bullshit? Who could have done this? Only MF Doom. With a little help from Danger Mouse. (And a little more from Master Shake, Meatwad, the Mooninites, etc). Danger's bouncy old school beats are a perfect counterpart for Doom's brilliant/nonsense flow. I also enjoy all the Adult Swim samples, (because I'm a giant nerd). Funny how an album with a dozen late night cartoon characters running all over it can turn out to be the least bullshit hip hop record of the year.

Honorable Mentions:

Dog Day - Thank you EP
SS Cardiacs - Fear the Love
Ladytron - Witching Hour
Sharp Like Knives - No Pressure
Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth

Best Compilation:

Public Enemy - Power to the People and the Beats

Best Reissue:

Sonic Youth - Goo: Deluxe Edition

Best Remix Album:

Beck - Guerolito

Best Album That Didn't Actually Come Out In 2005:

Triumph - progressions of power

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Readers Please help out with Our Letters to the Editors Column

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Dear Swanktrendz/Lezah blog readers,

I can't believe that a year has flown by already! Lezah and I have immersed ourselves wholeheartedly (with our wonderful contributors) into our online website,

At present, Swanktrendz is a non-profit e-zine (and if you need some free advertising send us an email and we can probably assist you). We are hoping that, with time, we’ll eventually sell advertising space, but for now advertising is free.

For those of you who have taken the time to visit our site I ask, (no, make that beg) you to take the time to write a letter to the Editors (Editors being Lezah and myself, Christine)

Choose any category you wish, any articles (archived or not) you want and offer suggestions, compliments, opinions or critiques. If you would like to see more articles written in specific categories - voice that. If you have a favourite contributor - note that.

I’m simply asking that you write a letter to the editors, so that we may provide a more interactive space for the e-zine. In order to contribute a letter, go to:

i) Swank Home

ii) click the contact button;

iii) write your letter re: the topic/category you’ve chosen,
and provide yourname (or any moniker you wish ) as well as your email address. (We need your email address merely for clarification purposes).

Remember, swanktrendz prides itself in being an above board e-zine that does NOT harvest email addresses.

We are excited about the prospect of the Letters to the Editors because we rely on you to provide us with your insight. We’re hoping to get enough Letters to the Editors that we will be able to add the feature within the next 10 days.

Thank you in advance for participating in this new adventure.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Shoes and Salad Dressing By: Rob Williams

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Well, I did it. I bought a pair of converse high tops. My first ever. They were on sale.

They're white and I know, they're gonna get dirty. But that's ok. I was actually looking for the grey ones, but they were out. i got them at FootLocker in Mission Valley, San Diego. The saleswoman gave me a military discount (must've been my new haircut--thanks Eduardo!). She also talked me into buying a pair of insoles (remember i said converse are cool, but not very comfortable)--she was trying to win a contest for the most insoles sold that day.

Pair white converse on sale: $34

With military discount: $27

A pair of comfy insoles: $19

With military discount: $10

Total price of entire package with military discount: less than $45.

Rob's smile as he walks out of FootLocker: priceless (Albeit butch and militaristic)

Worked another banquet last night. This time for the Hilton. I swear, the moment I started pouring salad dressings into the little silver dressing boats and smelled the buttermilk and italian I was transported back to 1990, to the Cafe Del Rey Moro in Balboa Park-- that old, run-down, rat infested, crumbling WWI building with the moldy stairwells where I was a banquet and restaurant waiter for almost 5 years. Some things you never forget and funny how a song, a touch, a smell can take you back.

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Pix 1 - where Rob spent his formative years. (Well, sort of. I mean, doesn't "after high school and coming out of the closet" count as formative?)

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Pix 2 - I never served these ladies, though I did serve many a wedding party in this room. We used to launch silverware off the balcony and try to make it into the fountain (pictured above).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Excerpt From This Was Not Supposed To Be An All-Night Thing By Mike G

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All of my tests yielded the same results.
The Tilting My Hand At Slightly Different Angles test.
The Dropping Tiny Pieces Of Litter From Various Heights test.
The Staring Into My Lighter For 15 Minutes test.
They all proved the same thing.
That the air around me was not moving.
Not in any substantial way at least.
This meant that the sound I was hearing, the sound of strong winds howling through a large pile of wet animal bones, was entirely in my head and that I was still very much on mushrooms.
It took me two hours to do those tests.
This was not supposed to be an all-night thing.

Fact No. 736 By Mike G

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Someday, I'd like to wake up in a different bed, in a different city, perhaps even in a different time, and discover that I'm a popular and influential Jazz musician.

This would be a strange and unexpected (but welcome) gift.

It would be exciting I think, to wake up in a new life, with the means to be heard, to inspire people.
And what would I do with my sudden acclaim; my instant A1 status in the realm of Jazz music and culture?
I'd release an album of course.

Called Unprotected Sax.

Don't groan.

I was gonna call it Anal Sax.

Loading my iPod Part II 9:17 AM By: Kenn

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It's 5 hours after I started and it's only about half-way through the 2765 items I am transferring to my iPod. Man, USB is slow. My old firewire iPod can be reformatted and everything transferred over in less than 30 minutes. Granted, my Mac is an older G4 with USB 1.0, not the recommended USB 2.0, still, it's glacial. Hey Apple! Fire wire compatibility on the next one, okay?

Saturday November 12, 2005 4:28 am By: Kenn

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The first Saturday I've had off in a month and I wake up at 4 am. Nice. I just can't sleep lately.

So I'm downstairs in my studio updating my new iPod. I have an older one. The last model before Apple added the click wheel. The one with the row of buttons above the wheel. It's pretty good. I gave it to my wife to keep the rugrats entertained in the car. I got the new one.

Like the last one, this one is my Christmas present. It's a pretty extravagant present, I'll admit. But screw it. I work Saturday's. Its pretty nifty. A little buggy though. For instance, if you are playing a video and you pause the video or just surf over to a song and hit the middle button, it will show you that you have switched over to the new song. It lies. The video's picture is gone, but the video's audio continues to play on, in slooowwwmmotiioonnnnn. It's creepy. You have to turn off the iPod to make it stop. You get around this by using the back button to get out of the video completely. Then you can go play a song. I should report this to Apple. They can probably fix it with a software update. They probably already have. Never mind.

It's also slow as hell to update. USB only baby. It takes forever, especially loading up videos. Other that those little drawbacks it's cool as hell. I got the big one of course. I have much, or little depending on how you look at it, to compensate for.

I love the video. I'm trying to figure out a way to pipe the video signal into my Prius display window. You can watch dvds in Japan. I want to watch my iPod here. While I drive. In rush hour traffic.

It takes a while to convert mpegs and .mov file to an iPod compatible format, but I just set those to run overnight. I'm using iSquint which can batch a folder so it's a breeze. The files aren't as small as the ones you get from quicktime and they have more artifacting, but it doesn't show up on the Pod screen and is tolerable when I'm watching on my 13 inch tv at work. Okay. Enough. So I sometimes have to work Saturdays, but I can watch tv at work. It's just that kind of job. A 60 hour week is still a 60 hour week. Alright?

I started this at 4:28. It's now 4:45. I still have about 2 hours to kill before the rest of the family gets out of bed. I guess I'll select another batch of songs to transfer to the new iPod. The last one just finished.

I've got to get some sleep.

On a happier note... By: Andrew Hoshkiew

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The Yukon seems to be experiencing a warm spell, with every day for the last five getting above zero, and with the highest high being +7. Not warm by southern standards, but still a gladly received refreshing break from the -22 (or -34 with the wind-chill) we had a few weeks ago. The forecast for the next five days calls for every day to be above zero as well.

   My long hair is getting hot and annoying, and I vow, if it hits +10 at all, I will shave my head to honour the weather gods.

   The days are getting very short though, with just under seven hours of daylight now, and I think the lack of light is affecting me. It's dark when I leave for work in the morning, and dark when I leave work at the end of the day. But there's only one more month till the days begin to get longer again.

I hate Windows XP By: Andrew Hoshkiew

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I think it's the most awful operating system ever created.
I find it incredibly annoying. It seems like in every way possible it's designed in the most backwards, vile ways. But, as it is what is used at my second job, I must put up with it.

Mostly it's the popups that get to me. It seems like whenever the cursor hovers over anything, there's an annoying yellow box with text that pops up with helpful hints about things which are already blatantly obvious. Often, it covers up whatever it is I'm looking at, making it more of an annoyance than a help.
They're everywhere, associated with everything, and for the life of me I cannot figure out how to turn them off.
When I print something, a box pops up in the task bar telling me I've printed something. Why the fuck do I need that?
And then there's those stupid, shit-kicker animations, the paperclip and the puppy dog, which appear from time to time. Every time I see them I desperately fight the urge to throw the computer out the window.
When I stick a disc in, a box pops up with a list of options, asking me what what I want to do. Why do I need that? I know what I want - I want to open Windows explorer and copy files over. There's a little check mark box which says something like, "don't show this screen again," and I always click it, but the next time I stick a disc in there's that box again.
It's like it's mocking me.
Is there any way I can fix Windows so that it doesn't do all this? If not, I may have to quit the second job soon.

40 ounces of tequila in 14 minutes By: Andrew Hoshkiew

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I've just seen this happen a short while ago, at an experimental theatre performance.
I sat in the front row; heard him crack the seal on the bottle; could smell the alcohol. It was all quite real and very disturbing.
Anyhow, I've been doing a lot of thinking, the last few weeks, about what I want to do with my life for the next few years. I've come up with the following observations.
1. Although I like working for newspapers, I'd rather be making my living from the editorial side. Meaning writing and photography would be preferable to advertising design.
2. I crave a lot of the things big cities have to offer, like higher education, variety when shopping, good live music, and desire to live in one.
3. I still have 30 car payments to make, which is a huge financial burden which is always gnawing at me.
4. I also want to travel again at some point, for an extended period, which will require saving up a lot of money.
5. In this small town where I work as a designer and write on the side, I have enormous opportunities. In terms of arts and culture, I can write about anything that happens here. The Yukon does get a fair amount of quality stuff, and as a writer trying to cover it all I have no competition. I doubt it would be the same way in a big city.
6. I'm earning a shitload of money here. More than any other time in my life. And far more than I'd be making if I was working as a reporter.
So when I consider all that, my future is clear as mud. I can either go be a reporter somewhere and be happier in the moment while slowly paying off the car and not hoping to travel again for years. Or I can stay, endure work I don't really care to do for a year or so, pay off the car, go travelling and then come back and be a reporter.
Which will it be?

The Guardian’s Top 20 Geek Novels By: Sashi

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We know online polls don’t necessarily mean too much. Actually, most polls of any kind tend to be meaningless anyway.

As such, I’m not about to discuss the validity of this particular poll [Top 20 Geek Novels] or the interpretation of the results [Top 20 Geek Novels - Results!], and instead I’m just gonna see how many of these books I’ve actually read.

So far, 132 people have voted for the best geek novels written in English since 1932, in spite of Survey Monkey’s rubric saying free polls were limited to 100 responses. The top 20 is therefore as follows, with the numbers in brackets showing the number of votes.

1. The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams 85% (102)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four — George Orwell 79% (92)
3. Brave New World — Aldous Huxley 69% (77)
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? — Philip Dick 64% (67)
5. Neuromancer — William Gibson 59% (66)
6. Dune — Frank Herbert 53% (54)
7. I, Robot — Isaac Asimov 52% (54)
8. Foundation — Isaac Asimov 47% (47)
9. The Colour of Magic — Terry Pratchett 46% (46)
10. Microserfs — Douglas Coupland 43% (44)
11. Snow Crash — Neal Stephenson 37% (37)
12. Watchmen — Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons 38% (37)
13. Cryptonomicon — Neal Stephenson 36% (36)
14. Consider Phlebas — Iain M Banks 34% (35)
15. Stranger in a Strange Land — Robert Heinlein 33% (33)
16. The Man in the High Castle — Philip K Dick 34% (32)
17. American Gods — Neil Gaiman 31% (29)
18. The Diamond Age — Neal Stephenson 27% (27)
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy — Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson 23% (21)
20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham 21% (19

I’ve read some of the top books on the list, while there’re some I’ve been meaning to read for ages but have never got round to yet - books like Asimov’s Foundation series, and the classic graphic novel Watchmen.

Others I’ve yet to get my hands on are Microserfs, Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Diamond Age and Trouble with Lichen.

Anyway, this list comes at a good time for me - I’ve been actively increasing the size of my personal library now with the latest addition being DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little. At least lists like this make a good reference point for future titles I should look out for that appear to be timeless in nature.

Any other recommendations?

The Goblet of Fire - Kirk’s Movie Review

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If you are between 6 and 11 years of age, this was the most anticipated event of the year. And as I'm lucky enough to witness and share in the excitement of one particular nine year old, I find it difficult to see the cynicism most childless adults have to this iconic series. Being in a full cinema on a Saturday morning and feeling the air buzz with nervous energy and hope for a movie is something very special, whatever the actual film in question is.

Those I know above the age of 13 that have allowed themselves to enjoy the J.K. Rowling’s books say that Goblet of Fire is their favourite - It is deeper, darker, more grown up and 3 times as long as the preceding 3, and as such, must have caused the execs a fair few headaches in pre-production. It was always going to have to be one film albeit a much condensed version of the book, purely for marketing reasons, and even at a popcorn stretching 2hrs and 40 minutes is way too short to represent its print version with any accuracy.

And herein lie all its problems; those who have not read the book will become confused to the point of not caring as key events are skimmed over in 20 seconds (if at all) and very little is explained enough to give the climax its necessary gravity. Not that what is in there is bad, it does have a different atmosphere about it, brought in by the new director, but most scenes are handled very well, especially the last half hour and the re-emergence of Lord Voldemort (a deliciously creepy Ralph Fiennes stealing the show). But there is so much missing the whole falls way short of the sense of doom that should be present as the credits roll.

Also, I have to mention the main trio of teenagers... As younger actors it was easier to forgive their inexperience and lack of emotional depth, but they have done 4 of these things now and things really are not improving; now they are just beginning to look stupid surrounded as they are by the cream of British talent. Indeed the adults were outstanding as ever in their roles, but Rickman and the rest were shamefully underused, with Brendan Gleeson as the new dark arts teacher Mad Eye Moody the only one allowed the scope to camp it up in style - he is hilarious, a great character that saves the tone from entering the realm of the mediocre more than once.

What this needs is a longer director’s cut to fill it out. I don't know if such a thing exists, but if not I may even have to think twice about buying the DVD and seeing it again... Who am I kidding? My daughter is nine! Of course we'll buy it - it's the law. 7/10

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cd Review: Goldfrapp

Cd Review: Goldfrapp
Category: Music Profiles
Contributed by Kirk on November 16, 2005
Of the latest batch of albums out there this Autumn there is not a lot that has taken my fancy - the pre-Christmas market seems to get flooded with the bland and the repetitive, and you have to fish a little for something original.
Well, I'm not sure this album can be classified as original, as at times it has deliciously reminded me of Abba, Kate Bush, Gary Newman, OMD, T-Rex and even a bit of Kylie! What are you doing? - I hear you cry - That sounds bloody awful! Perhaps if this had come to me in a different mood I would be agreeing with you, but I put it on in reverence to the one or two tracks I liked from their debut album Felt Mountain and found something almost entirely different but immediately likable - and it lasted the whole album with no breaks!

What we have here then is a collection of superbly crafted pop songs designed to help you get your funk on in style! And for some reason I couldn't be more delighted... All the pretension of earlier works has been swept away and you'd be hard pressed to find anything too deep here, but aurally, as long as you're partial to a little electronica, like me, then you're in for a treat.

They seem to have found the trick of great pop hooks and catchy choruses and layered them with their distinctively European blend of future and retro to create a sensational whole. My favourite track keeps changing between several excellent candidates and I find myself playing the entire album through almost once a day. There may very well come a day when I can't stand the thought of it but for now I just Love it - ooh la la... 9/10

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The Magic Numbers - November 6/05 Max. capacity

The Magic Numbers are the current indie darlings in the music world. When people speak of The Magic Numbers, words like good aura, moving, dreamy, and melodic are often used.

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What makes this band the new ‘buzz’ in the music industry? To the point where some well known music reviewers are proclaiming The Magic Numbers’ June/05 cd release as the best of 2005? This next statement was actually written somewhere in a magazine, and I apologize for the lack of source as the quote’s scribbled on a crumpled napkin - ’The Magic Numbers are... The Beach Boys (Pet Sounds-era) crossed with The Beatles crossed with Pavement crossed with a bright summer day...’

All this hype made sense when the band took the stage. Awards for good looks will not be presented to this lot, however, as soon as they opened their mouths, they went beyond beautiful. Such perfect harmonizing and beautiful melodies! My co-reviewer noted that The Magic Numbers were akin to a more melodic Flaming Lips.

The Magic Numbers are two sets of brother/sister. The group’s core originator is Trinidadian singer, Romeo, who met up with drummer Sean, in London. After the two of them decided they had an act, they invited Romeo's equally talented sister, Michele, to take on bass and vocals, while Sean's sister, Angela, was invited to take on percussion and vocals. Of all the vocals, Angela’s ethereal voice keeps the audience tense with anticipation. As soon as she steps into the spotlight and begins to sing, you can literally feel the exhalations of satisfaction from those around you.

Together, this group with its odd assortment of musical instruments and vocal arrangements, has a sound that transcends most acts out there. It has that undefined, intangible, forever sought, ‘it’ factor. The Magic Numbers have ‘it’, and it will be interesting to see how much further they take ‘it’ and subsequently, the listeners.

When the opening act The Parallels took the stage, my first impression was that the fashion of old ska/punk bands (Selector, Specials, Madness) was making a reappearance. With that in mind, I was semi-prepared for some opening ska beats.

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What I received was a fabulous and frenetic Joe Strummer meets The Blasters. The Parallels’ set was a tangled, combustible grouping of instruments, movement and vocals. Herky jerky, loud, abrasive and fun. From their first note, The Parallels motivated the audience to move, sway, tap, and shake.

The Parallels are Mike Flintoff, Mike ‘Mick” McDiarmid, Tyler Mounteney and Jarrod O’Dell. Having been a ‘band’ with just a year under their belt, they can be assured that if they keep going in their present direction, they will soon be headlining. Their cd is entitled The Parallels - 1961 McLean.

Fort Langley’s Artisan’s fair

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What a pleasant surprise (in this season of ‘craft fair’ invites) to attend a local event that actually goes beyond the ‘craft fair’ territory and transcends into an ‘artisans’ event. The biggest differences between a ‘craft fair’ and an ‘artisans’ fair’ are quality and creativity of merchandise, and price. Artisans generally belong to a guild and to be in a guild requires a ‘juried’ process. Quite intimidating to the average scrapbooking/crafty person.

Essentially, this fair offered up the high-brow aspect of multi-textural artistic creations. Gone are the doily snowflakes and ribbon tree ornaments, replaced by the one-of-a-kind hand-knitted scarves, hats, ceramics, raku, wood art, stained glass, etc.

I was invited to this fair by Shari Taylor, one of the artisans in the Spinners and Weavers Guild (the organization that arranged the event). The beauty of an artisans’ fair is that it allows you to acquire a one-of-a-kind, unique gift for those difficult people to purchase for on your Christmas list. Rather than describe each item at the fair (which would require a significantly larger column) I’d rather do a photo diary of my personal interests and mention the artist(s) involved. This will also allow you to contact them if you see something that intrigues you.

The first items to catch my eye were the wooden art displays. Four artisans had grouped their wares together in an appealing display. There was Margaret’s Wood Creations (, Woodturnings by Colin Delory ( Rocky Mountain Woodwork by Lance Murphy and hand-crafted wood pieces by Brian Murphy. You could probably get more info re: Lance and Brian via Margaret or Colin.

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The second stop of interest was Sandra Reams whimsical paper art. In particular, her handcrafted card/booklets which come with a particular gift. For example, a book about ‘Mothers’ Sayings’ came with a packet of clean underwear. Gardener card/booklets came with an assortment of seeds.

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Barbara Paulus’ scarves were absolutely beautiful and perfection at its finest - not a flaw to be found

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I found a gorgeous hand embroidered jacket by Heleen that also had intricate stitches in its wool.

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Sandra Harcourt silk-beaded caplet was another item that was so finely crafted that not a blemish could be found.

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The Glass Puffin’s display was beautiful and actually reasonably priced given the amount of hours than must go into the creations. Adrian Renkers stained glass tiffany lamps are a must see. (

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Diane’s Herbal Basket offered an assortment of herbal creams, oils and ointments. The packaging was very professional and Diane is also a ‘Chartered Herbalist’ for anyone in ‘need’ due to a particular ailment. (

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Last, but not least, was Shari Taylor’s beautiful hand spun and sewn purses, hats, etc. I did not catch a website for her, but I do know her email is

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I did not get to profile every item I enjoyed (such as the raku, pottery, jewelry and wool displays as the fair was very crowded and it was difficult getting the information I did.

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The fair turned out to be a success, and I personally walked out with a lighter wallet and with some wonderful gifts.

The fair was held on November 5th and 6th at 9142 Glover Street in Fort Langley. It is an annual event, so be sure to look for it next year.