Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Emperor's New Glasses, by Lezah

The Emperor's New Glasses

For more articles like this, go to the category skank trends at http://www.swanktrendz.com

I was reminded of the old story (fable?  fairy tale? - whatever!) 'The Emperor's New Clothes' (you know the one - about an emperor who is duped into buying a 'beautiful outfit' and parading it through the streets, when in fact he has been sold nothing more than air; it took a young child to point out that 'The Emperor has no clothes', as everyone was ashamed to admit they couldn't see this 'beautiful outfit').

Anyway, as I was saying, I was reminded of that tale this morning when I read an article in the paper about Bono's glasses.  It turned out that the same optician who made Elvis’s and Elton John's horrendous specs back in the '70s has also been making Bono's for the last five years.  Frankly, I was surprised that I hadn't figured that out for myself as the eyewear all of these guys wore/are wearing has been downright butt-ugly.  I just figured someone must have strung that guy up long ago for committing the most grievous of fashion crimes, but obviously not.  He's alive and well and still churning them out.  He's the eyewear equivalent of a serial killer or something.

There really outa be a law...

Lezah

Hiving, by Lezah

Hiving

For more articles like this, go to the category Retro and Future trends at http://www.swanktrendz.com

In the '90s the trend was cocooning, which was all about staying in, beautifying one's home through interior decorating, gardening and the like, and just generally being safe and secure in a familiar environment while avoiding that big scary place we call 'the world'.

Recently, however, people are starting to do (as tends to be the case with trends) a complete 180 and now it's all about hiving:  buzzing off to do your thing, spending as little time at home as possible because that great, glorious world out there is beckoning, and only returning home for absolute necessities (like sleeping, or changing outfits).

 Extreme sports have been on the rise for a while now, and the trend in general is to be out and to be active.  The tourism industry is cashing in big-time on this now, recognizing that the staid old bus tours of Europe as just so last week; instead, business lies in eco-tours, sports tours  - you name it, if it's activity based, it'll sell.

So, Martha's out, (both literally and figuratively speaking), and the outdoors are in!

Lezah

Ani Kyd - Vancouver's Worst Kept Secret, by Christine

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Ani Kyd - Vancouver's Worst Kept Secret

When I sat down to interview Ani Kyd, the first moniker that came to mind was 'Enigma Ani'.

There she sat, a gracious interviewee, unruffled, charming, and unaffected despite a resume of performances/abilities that would intimidate any established musician. On the outside she exudes a calm persona which belies the ingenious, creative, and prolific musician/actor/celebrity that she really is. A paradox indeed. However, the beautiful display of tattooed artwork on her body does give one a hint of the inner Ani.

I decided to take a retrospective route for the interview, working from the 80s onward to track the full history of Ani's talents and experiences.

I first met Ani in the 80s, when she was living in a house full of rastas; saxophone in hand that was as big as she was. I knew then that she was a force to be reckoned with, and would end up going places. Little did I know how far she would truly go.

Ani's focus and attention to detail has always been consistent. When it comes to creativity, it's her decisions, her way, her choice of direction.

In the 80s Ani's life was full of ups and downs, much like any struggling artist. She gave birth to Michael on November 6, 1984, and set about being a single parent. She played her first live gig at the tender age of 16 with Bryan James at the Laquana fest playing bass and singing. At 18, Ani formed Rumblefish with Mary-Jo Kopechne and they became the indie darlings with the CITR university crowd. Ani stayed with Rumblefish for 3 years and developed a cult following. Her release, Stranger Things stayed on the CITR charts for months.

Ani next formed Spank Machine with Gerry Jen Wilson (formerly of the Kane Toads). After a short term, she decided to move on.

Heading into the 90s, Ani became more diversified. She formed a power trio called Peterbuilt with Megan Branford (formerly of Limblifter). That band lasted 1 - 2 years and then Spanking Betty soon evolved. Ani also had a short-lived marriage during this time.

Spanking Betty was Ani's foray into a more theatrical, arthouse S&M-themed band which developed a cult following. 9 members were in the band (with brother Luke, on drums) and within 8 months they went from opening for the Subhumans to headlining the Commodore Ballroom. She then dove into her band Ani Kyd and the Band of Champions. Ani was the main constant, but her backing lineup would change every few months with members of DOA, Subhumans, and the Payolas becoming interchangeable depending upon their schedules.

In 1998, Ani met Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys while on set of the movie The Widower. They became good friends, with music as their common ground. Biafra liked Ani's direction and was very supportive of her endeavors.

Ani next formed Kyd Monopoly with Flavio Monopoly (she played guitar/vocals while Flavio played drums - a White Stripes concept before the White Stripes existed.

In 2000, Ani took a break from forming and developing her own bands, and accepted a guitar assignment with Thor, touring with GWAR. This was the first time that Ani was not writing band songs. She toured with Thor for a 40 city tour (one of 4 Canadian/US tours she's been involved in) before opting out. She then went on to form Fuel Injected.45. This was an equally talented effort, collaboration with artists she truly respected. She stayed with Fuel Injected .45 for 2.5 years, but it came to an abrupt end due to some over-indulging.

In 2004, Ani had an epiphany/revelation and decided to clean up her life - physically, mentally and spiritually. In the summer she hit a rough spot when her son was hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia. Michael is doing well - a budding musician in his own right - and fully aware of his situation and the importance of his meds.

Ani then decided to come into her own. She formed Ani Kyd, with her favourite musicians: Gene Hoglan on drums (from Strapping Young Lads), Bryon Stroud on bass (from Fear Factory), Ian White on guitar (from Caustic Thought), and Ani on guitar and vocals. Biafra agreed to produce her CD Evil Needs Candy Too, a rarity as he only produces his own work. Everything gelled together last fall, and her CD is due for release in July of 2005. All tracks on the CD are written by Ani, and for her old Rumblefish fans, Ani has included an acoustic/cello version of Stranger Things.

Ani's credits are quite remarkable

  • 10 bands from 1986 to 2005
  • CD compilations including The Green Revolution, Trooper Tribute, Grrrls With Guitars
  • She's been characterized as a cartoon in Futurama, Simpson's #2 of 2, and in the comic, Broken Pencil
  • Movies include Attack of the Living Dead, Nerve TV, Marking the Mother, The Widower, and Little Criminals
  • Numerous cameos in various visual media from Twilight Zone to The L Word.
  • Appearances in music videos for Thor and The New Pornographers

Everything appears to have come full circle for Ani; karmic debts have been paid, she looks and sounds fantastic, and she's ready to take off. Keep your eyes open for this CD - my hunch is that it will be a keeper, and Vancouver's worst kept secret will soon become global.

Christine

High School Sucks - Cliques in High School and the People Who Hate Them, by Kyle J

High School Sucks - Cliques in High School and the People Who Hate Them

High school sucks. It’s a fact of life that high school sucks. The only thing is that you don’tknow high school sucks until you get there. Prior to beginning high school, kids think it is wonderful and they get excited just thinking that one day they’ll finally get to go there. Kids are stupid like that.

The one thing I got out of high school that I can use in real life is the ability to desensitize myself to what other people think. Oh yeah... and that the general high school population consists of lame-brained people without an original thought in their heads. I learned these facts quickly in my first year of high school when I was made fun of for tucking in my shirt and yes, believe it or not, I was also made fun of for wearing glasses. Just to give you an idea of the mentality of these people, let us move ahead 5 years to my graduating year.

These same people are making snarky comments because I haven’t shaved for a couple of days, and I work as a ‘lowly’ clerk at a retail store. It’s just hard to take these people seriously when they smell funny and rely on mommy and daddy’s allowance for drug money. It’s hard to take these people seriously when they get into fist fights because someone made out with his best friend’s girlfriend whilst in a high, drunken state, or better yet because, “OH MY GOD! Like, she totally used my lip-gloss without asking, and she may have herpes from whoring around the school!” It’s hard to take these people seriously when they come to school in their pajamas… really, what’s up with that anyway? Can you not take 30 seconds to throw on a pair of jeans? Anyway, I digress.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a firm believer that high school sucks. It’s not just the cliquey, popular people that make it suck, it’s really everything to do with school in general, whether it be the students, the teachers, or the building itself.

The best times I ever had while attending high school had to be when a few friends and I were kicking apples against the outside walls of the building. It was a daily ritual back in grade 10, and we code named it ‘cheese fondue’ so nobody would know. Every day an apple would smash and embed itself in the creviced wall of the school, and every day we’d laugh until we cried. The best part was in the spring, a bunch of ants detected the decaying apples, and ended up infesting the choir room. Good times.

The only other good time worth noting would also be in grade 10: English 10 with Ms. W. I absolutely despised that old hag and everybody knew it. She had no idea what she was doing. Then it happened. She made an example out of me - an example for all others to learn from, a totally bad example. Boy was I mad. I was so enraged you could almost hear that ball at the top of the thermometer inside my being, exploding. My blood was boiling, and that was it for her. I made it my mission to make her life a living hell, and every day that I went to her class, there was a 65% chance I was going to get kicked out. I must’ve been kicked out 40-some-odd times, but it was great fun because I felt a sort of come-uppance towards her. I heard that I even made her cry once, and it was that one thought that helped me sleep at night. Not just because she deserved it for making me feel horrible and further ostracized, but she also deserved it because she was a horrible, mean-spirited teacher. She was getting older and she didn’t seem to realize that the students, the popular culture, as well as the curriculum, had changed.

I guess I can’t just blame Ms. W. for everything. I’d say about 75% of the teachers I had either didn’t know what they were doing or didn’t know how to deal with the behaviour of their students. First of all, if you don’t know anything about geography, DON’T TEACH GEOGRAPHY! Likewise, if you don’t like teenagers, DON’T TEACH TEENAGERS!. Simple concept if you ask me.

Second, you’d swear half the teachers had never written anything before, the way they left chicken scratch on the boards.

And lastly, I don’t think most teachers know how to deal with teens. I know teenagers are “there to learn” and are expected to sit, listen, and act maturely, but that is NEVER going to happen, so deal with it. Where is the empathy for students’ situations; the earning of respect, rather than demanding it? Teachers need to know that different types of teens need to be dealt with in different ways. If the kid that craves attention is making comments while you’re teaching, try not to acknowledge him in a bad way or else he’ll learn that acting that way puts all eyes on him. On the other hand, if the kid who never speaks looks like he/she is fine, then leave him/her alone; onlycheck in on occasion to make sure everything is understood.

If you were to speak with many adults about their high school years, the stories are similar: arrogant cliques, the quiet student who (someone?) has elected as the school scapegoat, the distant teachers who don’t have the time nor the patience to help the students who need it, because they’re busy babysitting the stoners and idiots in the back.

High school should be game where the contestants ie: administrators and teachers earn points: by attempting to make students sit, demonstrating respect towards students, showing empathy towards students’ situations, ensuring no public humiliation of a student is tolerated, listening and being available, and most of all, making learning comfortable, and fun.

Instead it appears to be a game of the Ancient Romans - but instead of throwing Christians to the lions, they’re throwing students out to see who can destroy whom (perhaps while making bets?) Luckily, my 5 year layered, built up armour has given me an edge. Hopefully, they’ll throw the cliques to the lions, first.

Kyle J.

Educational Reforms in the US, by Lezah




Educational Reforms in the US

I've been reading a lot these days about proposed educational reforms in the US. Recently Gubernatorial candidate Rob Reiner (yes, Meathead, that Rob Reiner!) has proposed mandatory pre-school for all 50 States (at this point, only 2 states offer state-sponsored pre-school).  His proposal also involves the top 1% of income earners being those who are taxed to support this venture. The proposal is based on a comparison of costs between pre-school in comparison to that of the cost of early-intervention literacy training and other interventions aimed at the not-yet-school-ready school-aged set. Figures indicate that 7% of the annual educational budget is spent on these type of programs; studies indicate that state-sponsored pre-school will decrease spending by at least 6%.  It's a good thing, as Martha would say...

On the not-so-good side is Bush's 2004 proposal entitled the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which will require "forced mental health screening for every American child...(the purpose being to) locate and treat children with undiagnosed 'mental disorders'".  Hmmm, it all sounds a bit Big Brother to me. Especially considering that parents protesting this are claiming that the big pharmaceutical companies are behind this particular push.  The earlier the diagnoses are made, obviously, the earlier children will be prescribed their particular regimes of drug therapy, and the sooner the drug companies will be raking in even more money.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm all for properly prescribed medication when and where there is a need for it, but frankly, one needs to consider the number of people who are misdiagnosed on a daily basis for all types of problems, physical and mental.  That's one very major concern right there.

Poor parenting?  Environmental factors?  Socio-economic problems?  There have been a lot of kids with the above problems who have been erroneously diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.  And the more serious maladies? Don't you think the parents or a family physician might have picked these up already?  Or am I'm being terribly naive?

I've heard the US described as being an 'asocial laboratory', and this particular proposal smacks of that very thing.  I think it's time for all the parents of America's 52 million children out there to re-establish and retain control over their children's well-being - before it's too late.

Lezah

Hank Azaria - The Everyman's Actor, by Kirk

Hank Azaria made an appearance on Letterman the other night to promote his new Broadway show, an all singing, all dancing Monty Python musical! And this got me thinking about what a great all round performer he is without necessarily getting the recognition he deserves.

Most famous, arguably, without ever been seen as the voices of Apu, Chief Wiggum, etc. in The Simpsons, he has also been in a string of terrific films over the last decade - Pretty Woman, Quiz Show, Heat, Grosse Pointe Blank, Cradle Will Rock, Shattered Glass and Woody Allen's underrated Celebrity to name a handful. He was unlucky not to make the A-List with Godzilla a few years back, but lucky for us as he remains one of the most versatile and talented supporting actors in Hollywood - the kind of actor whose longevity never outstays his welcome, and who gives the impression of being a really nice guy to boot. The movie roles he plays, though, rarely seem to stretch him; he is often cast as the likable ‘everyman’ and I'm certain he's capable of so much more. The Simpsons has proved he is a natural voice artist and impeccable mimic with a deadly sense of timing - I hope his career eventually gives him the chance to use these talents more overtly. Perhaps the Monty Python show does just that... Another reason for me to wish I lived in NYC.

Kirk

Michelangelo Signorile's book Queer in America: Sex, the Media and the Closets of Power, by The Political Heretic

Political Heretic’s excerpt from Michelangelo Signorile's book, Queer in America: Sex, the Media and the Closets of Power

‘The entire room was fixated on them.’

’Soon, anger swelled up inside me: This man was the embodiment of all that had oppressed me, all the horrors I had suffered as a child. It was because of his bigotry that my family, my church -- everyone around me -- had alienated me, and it was because of his bigotry that I was called "faggot" in school. Because of his bigotry I was treated like garbage. He was responsible for the hell I'd endured. He and his kind were the people who forced me to live in shame, in the closet. I became livid.’ - from Michelangelo Signorile's web site, which he reposted from his book Queer in America: Sex, the Media and the Closets of Power which was published in 1993.

Read the whole thing. The writing is inspiring and cinematic. There he was, standing in the lion's den watching as his people willfully enter the home of the very enemies who forced a living hell on them. And then the witness who knew not how he would respond becomes one of them. Wow. It just makes me want to have been there.

The Political Heretic

Interior Design - Mad about Modular, by Christine

Interior Design - Mad about Modular

Whether you’re an ‘Up N Comer’ or a ‘DINK’ (double income, no kids) or simply a new family purchasing your first apartment/home; modular design (furniture, art, interior settings) is for you.

With major cities’ downtown cores being revitalized, living space is at an all time premium. Lofts, warehouses, high-rise apartments and condominiums are being snapped up by eager buyers, and herein lies the problem. How to create a sense of personal space, within limited square footage, without clutter or confusion?

The modular approach covers potential problem areas and is the solution for linear, clean, high-end interior design. Modular thinking involves:

- modular sliding/folding walls - to create privacy or to open a room

- modular and mobile LED video screens and entertainment units

- modular furniture for both the office, dining area, as well as seating areas ie: Todd Oldham’s new line of sofas

- modular art - a thematic approach that can be the focus of an entire wall or be divided up into various sections, creating a unified, continuous space

No doubt about it - modular is the new ‘mod’ interior design catch phrase.

Christine

modular designindustry r http://www.office-furniture-suppliers.co.uk/modular-furniture.htm