Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Five Songs That Changed or Impacted My Life by L. Brown

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"10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2)" by Tool This summer, I received a call from my sister. She told me that my mom fell from the top of a ladder, headfirst onto a concrete driveway below. She knew that my mom had been taken to a hospital, but she didn't know how she was doing, or even which one she was taken to. As I called from hospital to hospital, I prepared myself for them to tell me the worst. Finally, I found out where she was taken and called to find out how she was. They told me that she was alive, and then said the words I really didn't want to hear: "You need to get here soon." On the way, I knew I couldn't listen to this song. I had been in emergency mode, and I needed to know exactly what was going on before I would let myself feel anything about it. When I got to the hospital, I found out that the fall was very serious, but she would live. So as I left the hospital, I listened to "10,000 Days" so that I could break down. I knew that in the coming days, I would have to keep it together to help her recover, but for a little bit, it was okay to be upset by it.

2. "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash. What can I say? The CD came out the year I graduated, but having grown up in a strict home, I certainly didn't hear it. It wasn't until I went to college and saw the video that I realized the full extent of the music scene I had been missing all those years. This is the song that welcomed me into adulthood and making my own music choices, for better or worse. Like everyone else, I was moved when Johnny Cash covered it, and I think both are excellent in their own right.

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3. "When I'm 64" by The Beatles My dad was a huge Beatles fanatic, and his most prized album was St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I remember that he would grab my mom and dance with her, or serenade her, such as it was, to this song. Sadly, he never made it to 64. It's a bittersweet song for me. I know it made my dad smile to sing it, but I wish he could have lived to see how 64 would have treated him.

4. "Baker Baker" by Tori Amos I actually lived this song, almost word for word. An early relationship of mine was breaking up, and my boyfriend was leaving me for someone else in Los Angeles. As the date of his trip approached, I convinced him to take a trip, but come back to me. The whole week he was gone, I had no idea whether he was actually going to return or not, or even whether I really wanted him to come back. I still can't listen without feeling a little helpless.

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5. "Epicentre" by VNV Nation For years, I had wanted to direct music videos. That was my dream job, and I spent my time coming up with a treatment for each song I heard. Except for this one. Although the rest of the ideas came easily, I never could come up with an idea for this song. I spent years trying to think of something that would work with the song. Because the character in the song is going through his own personal hell, I thought about what my version of hell would look like, and that's when it dawned on me. This song would be a modern version of Dante's Inferno, set in a department store. Although I never filmed this for my own amusement or became a music video director, it taught me that years of patience can pay off. Even now, when I listen, I can picture every scene in perfect detail, and on days when I'm not feeling particularly creative, I'll pop in this CD to listen to this song.

Cash image by and Tori Amos image by

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Canadian Group, Shaye, Release New Album During New Reality Series By: Christine Albrecht

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Juno award-nominated Canadian Group Shaye will release their new album Lake of Fire on February 6, during the filming of their new reality series, Shaye, produced by Breakthrough Films & Television

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Close friends and members of Shaye, Kim Stockwood, Damhnait Doyle and Tara MacLean are known for their gorgeous vocal blend and outgoing personalities. What some people may not realize is that these women face the same everyday challenges all women face - motherhood, balancing their personal lives and careers - all while striving to realize their dream. Now fans will have greater insight to their world as they share their lives on and off stage with the cameras rolling. Leading Canadian production company, Breakthrough Films & Television (Ira Levy, Executive Producer.) has officially started production on its newest factual programming project, Shaye.

The new documentary series follows this female musical trio on the road to stardom. Shaye chronicles the behind-the-scenes journey as the girls work towards fame and fortune when they release their new record, Lake of Fire on February 6, 2007.

Both the show and the new album offer old and new fans quite the revealing side to Shaye. The three co-wrote most of Lake of Fire and, just like them, it runs the gamut of emotions.

Considering the personalities of the three women in Shaye and the energy of the new album - it is safe to expect lots of fun, humour,
strength, and courage will come through in this new television program.

In the meantime, Shaye will be doing extensive promotion in February, along with a free show at Nathan Phillips Square (as part of Toronto’s Winter City Festival) on February 3 and a live performance on Canada AM on February 5.

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Neil Young’s ‘Live at Massey Hall’ (1971) is set for release on March 13/07 By: Christine Albrecht

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On January 19, 1971, Neil Young performed at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada. This was a ‘homecoming’ of sorts because Young had left Canada in 1966, joined Buffalo Springfield in LA, and then recorded his self-titled debut solo album in 1968. In 1970, Neil recorded his best-selling album After The Gold Rush. When he recorded at Massey Hall, he had already acquired a huge fan base.

His performance at Massey Hall included his well-known songs ‘Down by the River’, ‘Ohio’ and ‘I am a Child’, but also included songs that had not been released at the time; such as: ‘Old Man’, ‘Needle and the Damage Done’ and ‘Heart of Gold’.

This is the album that should have come out between After The GoldRush and Harvest, Young says now.

Live At Massey Hall, produced by Young and the late David Briggs, is the second Reprise Records release in the Neil Young Archives Performance Series, following last year's Live At The Fillmore East album. The ‘Archives Volume I’ collection, due this fall, will be an 8-CD, 2-DVD audiobiography will include Young's music from 1963 to 1972, and will feature many unreleased recordings, both studio and live, along with concert footage and rare memorabilia from the first decade of Young's career.

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The Bargain Hunter Strikes Again By: Lezah Williamson

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Brand Name Clothes

Following my big scores in exercise wear recently, I decided to check out some of the other local liquidation stores to see what they had in.

Now, it used to be that the only time I went clothes shopping was when I was out of the country, because I don't like having the same clothes as other people. If I shopped near home, it'd be at a thrift store or some such place. And then I started getting free stuff from all over - my (fake) aunt's daughter's best friend is really, really, really rich and goes on shopping trips to New York every 6-8 weeks, and I benefit from getting the barely worn hand-me-downs; and my mother-in-law volunteers at a local Hospital Thrift Store, and 'culls' a lots of fantastic stuff - I've received everything from a pair of brand-new Tailored Sportsman riding pants (suggested retail price: $260) to a new Roots winter coat to some very cool t-shirts... and the list goes on.

But, I was taking this mission seriously, and so off to the liquidators I went. And this is what I found: at MTF, they had Seven jeans (7 for all Mankind - suggested retail price $250) for a whopping $18! And Kenneth Coles' Unlisted jeans for the same price. Other brand name items I couldn't resist picking up included a Club Monaco sundress for $2.50.

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Then I went to Liquidation World, which looked like it had very similar stock with a little more selection. More Alfred Sung (a velour t-shirt for $2.90), and more premium jeans of various brands with a lot of Calvin Klein straight-leg black denim for $10 and $12. They still have a wide variety of shoes, as well, which I think were from the Army & Navy designer shoe sale a while back (I scoured that particular bargain hunters paradise at the time, too, and distinctly recall some of those same shoes). Said shoes are going for around $10.

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So, if you're looking for some clothing at pretty reasonable rates, and you're not afraid to dig through piles of odd sizes, try MTF and Liquidation World - you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

For One More Day by: Mitch Albon Book Review By: Lezah Williamson

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Initially, when I read Mitch Albon's latest release, 'For One More Day', I thought to myself, "Oh, not another 'Saturday'." Because at first, I was getting this Ian MacEwan vibe - here's with popular, well known, best selling author, and what do I end up reading? Well, certainly not what he became a popular best selling author for.

But as I continued with 'For One More Day', my opinion changed. The deeper I got into the book, the deeper it got. By exploring the concept of motherhood and unconditional love under the guise of 'what would you do if you had one more day to spend with someone you loved', this book went right to the heart of what it means to love someone so much that you give yourself up for them.

I first thought that this would be a great Mother's Day book, but hey - why wait 'til them. Read it now.

And Albon's other books, "Tuesdays With Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" have now moved onto my next-to-read list.

Hergé 100! By Lezah Williamson

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Had he still been alive today, the late Hergé (Georges Remi) creator of the fabulous Tintin, would have been 100 this year.

Sadly, he is no longer of this world, and yet we cannot seem to forget him. His work has influenced and affected so many people that all over the world, from Paris to Tokyo, there will be exhibits, celebrations and retrospectives of his work.

Belgium is putting out a commemorative stamp, and a 50 metre high replica of the rocket from Destination Moon has been made.

Go, Tintin! Go, Snowy!

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Five songs!?!? Five songs!!!???? You expect me to pick just five songs!!??! Impossible! By: Lezah

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Here is a very abbreviated list of some of the songs that have impacted my life - most for the better.

1. 'She Loves Me', The Beatles (1963). My parents were, without a doubt, the two most non-musical people on the earth. But my mom loved to listen to the radio, and periodically this song would come on, and my Mom would sing. After a while, I'd tell her to be quiet and let ME sing, since I was obviously a much better singer. We also had a coffee mug up at the cabin that portrayed a cartoon version of the Fab Four singing this song. Also from this time, I liked 'The Unicorn' by the Irish Rovers (1967) - but I think this one is reserved for Canadian tastes only...

2. This next song on my list is from the 'for worse' category. When my Dad was mad, he would hum to himself, and if he was really mad, he would hum 'If I Were a Carpenter' (1966, Bobbi Darrin). Hearing this song still makes me nervous. Oddly enough, Dave and I were listening to a Mojo collection the other day - I think it was songs picked by Roger Daltry or something - and one of the songs on that compliation was by the writer of 'If I Were a Carpenter', Tim Hardin - a hard-living guy, by the sounds of it.

3. 'Making Plans for Nigel', XTC (1979). This one started the music revolution that is still going on in my head.

4. 'No Mercy', The Stranglers (1977). I didn't hear this song until about ten years after it first came out, but by then it fit my life so well - just listen to the lyrics. That was my life.

5. 'Express Kundolini', Love and Rockets (1986). And for those moments when I wasn't "sweatin' buckets, hopin' that you'd get it right" (see #4, above), I was down at the Luv-A-Fair, dancing to Love and Rockets and the Express Kundolini. All aboard!

6. At about the same time in my life, along came Echo and the Bunnymen, who provided me with the soundtrack for a whole decade. 'The Puppet' (1981), 'The Cutter' (1983), 'The Killing Moon' (1984), 'Bring on the Dancing Horses' (1985), and 'Villiers Terrace' (1980) still fill me with nostalgia for that beautiful lost decade. Sometimes I think I'm the only person in the world who liked the eighties. And I LOVED those Echo and the Bunnymen hairstyles. Baby!!

7. Then along came the '90s, a musical wasteland. About the only thing that kept me going was Sloan, and more specifically, their fantastic lyrics - try 'Snowsuit Sound' (1994) if you've never heard them.

8. The late '90s was saved by The Beta Band and their fantastic, multi-layered songs, such as 'Inner Meet Me' (1997). And nothing could beat their live show, either.

9. I was saddened when the Beta Band called it a day, but soon another multi-talented, multi-layered band from Britain came along - but this one had different stripes. Sixties samples mixed with '80s chants, add some hip hop and some dance, and what do you have? The Go! Team. For the highest energy sound, listen to either 'Lady Flash' or 'Panther Dash' (2005) - both sound, to me, like pure, unadulterated happiness.

10. 'John Wayne Gacy, Jr.' by Sufjan Stevens (2005) - How can someone write such a beautiful song about such a horrible topic? It's paradoxical. And that, I guess, is Sufjan Stevens in a nutshell.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bloggers Sued For Defamation Posted by Sashi

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Malaysian socio-political bloggers Jeff Ooi and Rocky have been sued by NSTP.

Lim Kit Siang writes about possible implications of the case.

Am not happy about this. But am not making further comment while events unfold. Let’s see what happens...

But just so you know… I’m on the bloggers’ side.

Read these links for more info:

NSTP gets injunction to remove blog postings[The Star Online]

• Malaysia’s pro-government newspaper sues two bloggers for defamation [International Herald Tribune]

Malaysian newspaper sues bloggers in landmark case[Reuters]

Malaysia newspaper sues two bloggers [Business Week]

Bloggers United image courtesy of Kickdefella


As of January 16th


Sunday, January 21

House of Blues

Prospera Place (Kelowna)

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Tuesday, January 30


Legends Nightclub (Victoria)

Wednesday, January 31

House of Blues

Richard's on Richards

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Wednesday, January 31

Live Nation

Save On Foods Centre (Victoria)

Thursday, February 1

Live Nation

Save On Foods Centre (Victoria)

Saturday, February 3

Live Nation

GM Place

Monday, February 5

Live Nation

Prospera Place (Kelowna)


Thursday, February 15

Coastal Jazz &Blues

Christ Church Cathedral


Thursday, February 22

House of Blues

Richard's on Richards


Monday, March 12

Sealed With A Kiss

Orpheum Theatre


Friday, March 23

House of Blues

GM Place


Thursday, March 29


Richard's on Richards


Sunday, April 1

House of Blues

Orpheum Theatre

Matt Mays images: BNL Image from winnipeg sun

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hair News By: Lezah Williamson

The trend this season is towards more natural colours, and away from those overly artificial highlights and lowlights that became so popular over the last few years. Quite frankly, I was at the point that if I saw one more zebra-striped hairdo walking through the mall, I was going to scream. Enough, already.

As far as cuts go, just take a look around. The bob's the thing, and if you can't go short in back - well, at least go short in front, because blunt and edgy bangs are also big news.

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Back in Black By: Lezah Williamson

Did you know that long ago in China, only royalty were allowed to wear black nail polish - and if any non-royals were found to be sporting black polish, the punishment was death?

Perhaps that's why black nail polish is associated with people who like to live on the edge, people who aren't hangin' in the mainstream. In more recent history, black has resurfaced as a popular nail polish colour during London in the swinging '60s, and then with the punks a decade later.

Fast forward a quarter century and black is back again. Turns out that many of the top fashion houses included shades of black prominently in their nail polish collections this year.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Joe Public and Shawn Hornbeck

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The topic was sensitive - the sexual abuse of a kidnapped boy - yet it was broached in the most public of settings ... the revelation ... raised anew the thorny problem of identifying sexual assault victims and dramatically demonstrated how the line between public and private has been redrawn in this 24-hour media world...

Image and quote from regarding ‘the Missouri Miracles’ - Shawn Hornbeck and William ‘Ben’ Ownby who were found at Michael Devlin's home in Kirwood, Mo., Friday (January 12/07)

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This reminds me of a case publicized over twenty-five years ago. Seven year old Steven Gregory Stayner was abducted by Kenneth Parnell (a multiple felon and convicted child molester) in 1972. As Stayner approached puberty, Parnell began to look for younger victims. His abduction of a five year old boy named Timmy, in 1980, was the figurative straw that broke the camel’s back. Staynor took Timmy and hitchhiked to a police station to deliver the young boy, as well as offer up the fact that he had also been abducted and all he knew was that ‘I know my first name is Stephen’ (later released as a book and tv movie). Stayner effectively saved the Timmy from the life he had to withstand for so many years.

Similarly, Devlin abducted Ben Ownby, aged 11, the same age Shawn was when he was kidnapped by Parnell. Shawn was still not able to actually save Ben and himself, and fortunately some alert policemen happened upon Devlin’s truck, which was the main lead in a state-wide search.

The traumatic loss of innocence, suffered by the boys involved, at the hands of a molester brings forth the ‘ugly’ side of the viewing public. I cringe and become internally angry when I hear Joe Public’s unrelenting, unanswerable questions: ‘Why didn’t he phone his parents?’ ‘Why didn’t he run away?’ Why didn’t he tell a friend?, and ‘Why didn’t he call 911’?

Just by prefacing a question with the query ‘Why?’ immediately puts the child on the defence and sends out the message that the victim had control over his circumstances and, hence, fate. By asking ‘why’ there is an unspoken belief that the child had the power to handle and appropriately deal with his situation/abduction.

If you are following this story, please don’t ever ask, ‘why?” I can only imagine what further hurt and shame this psychologically brings upon the boys involved. We should only ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ Whether they were physically or sexually abused, and whether or not they tried to find ... help does not help them in the present - in the here and now. Joe Public’s focus should be on helping rebuild the boys’ lives, and helping them realize their future goals rather than focusing on the ‘What ifs?’

You can furherad apcppda

Monday, January 15, 2007

Phunky phones and tonnes of tickets By: Sashi

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The two major talking points throughout most of yesterday was the 1 million free tickets being offered up by Air Asia (this coming hot on the heels of the other big announcement of last week, the RM9.99 fare from KL to Manchester, courtesy of FAX) and of course, Apple’s buzz-a-licious unveiling of the iPhone.

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We here at the office were trying on and off from morning till late evening trying to get into the AirAsia site, despite the fact that most of us (including myself) had no clue where or when we wanted to book the tickets for…

Of course, as most people who have tried will know, we couldn’t get through. And during those times that we did manage to find a way past the “Sorry, the network is congested” crap, we couldn’t get the free tickets for the destinations.

Well, as one colleague pointed out, there’s no such thing as a free lunch - to get free tickets, you’re gonna have to WORK for it. And if that means getting online at 4am to avoid the crowd, then so be it.

If only I could get those tix to Macau…

Meanwhile, my Inbox was bursting with e-mail ‘goodness’ yesterday with many well-intentioned souls sending me info on the iPhone. Well, thanks, guys and gals - but being the kinda person who has his finger on the techno-pulse, trust me when I say I would have found about it sooner or later.

But thanks for the thought anyway - it’s always nice to get e-mail that doesn’t involve work or enlargement pills of any kind.

About the iPhone, it’s still more buzz than substance right now, isn’t it? I mean, the iPod is cool and all, but is it the best portable MP3 player out there? Likewise, is the iPhone another product built on hype rather than truth? For example, read this article on Gizmodo - Windows Mobile 5 Already Does What the iPhone Does. Having said that, the iPod DOES rule the MP3 market, and barring any disasters on Apple’s part, the iPhone could very well make the major cellphone makers out there very, very nervous.

Oh, and on a related note, you might want to read this really good article on TIME magazine: Apple’s New Calling: The iPhone.

UPDATE: Kottke has written a nice (and funny) iPhone round-up on his blog. Check it out!

And while I’m making some time to blog here, I might as well add a footnote on another recent major news item: the hanging of Saddam Hussein, and the leaking of the videos of his execution.

I didn’t see it. I don’t want to see it. That’s all.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Marianas Trench - Vancouver Shows in January

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Marianas Trench has two dates set aside for their January shows. Radio's 99.3 CFOX is presenting both shows in Vancouver. The band is going to be 'out and about' the whole evening so feel free to go to The Plaza Club, enjoy some good music, hang out, and generally visit with the fellows from Marianas Trench. They are very fan-friendly and appreciative of their audience.

The first show is on January 18th, 2007 at

The Plaza Club, 881 Granville St. Vancouver, BC

9:00 pm

Tickets are $9.93 and are available at


as well as at Zulu Records and Scratch Records

The second show is an ALL AGES show on January 21st, 2007

The Plaza Club, 881 granville St. Vancouver, BC

6:00 pm

Tickets are $9.93 and are available at


as well as at Zulu Records and Scratch Records

Make sure to keep an eye on Marianas Trench's Myspace Profile Page for any other information and new show listings. Check Marianas' Myspace

To request the hilarious (and a great tune) video Decided To Break It be shown on Much Music, simply email the station and send your request
Much Music

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Know It All - One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

The Know It All - One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

by A. J. Jacobs

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I was down in Portland at Powell's City of Books - more on that later - and bought the most fantastic book. It is A. J. Jacobs' book 'The Know It All - One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World'. How could I resist?

Basically, A.J. Jacobs is a Brown University educated editor at Esquire magazine; he decides to take up a quest of his father's, which is to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica from start to finish (no skipping! no skimming!). The book consists of A.J. summarizing interesting points from the encyclopaedia for us, and relating them to his own life. This sounds like it could be dry, but was actually laugh-out-loud funny. I'd be sitting at home on the couch with Dave as he watches the hockey game and all of a sudden, I'm bellowing out these loud HA HA HAs! I had no control! I could be in the gym on the cross trainer, reading, and without any notice - HA HA HA! It got a bit embarrassing. But Jacobs writes in such a way that these hilarious moments sneak up behind you, and before you know it - HA HA HA, out loud.

I laughed a lot, and I learned a lot. Did you know, for example, that the first Encyclopaedia Britannica had only a few lines on drama, but 39 pages on horse diseases? That's my kind of book! Or that dalmation dogs are the only dogs that produce uric acid in their urine, thereby making their urine extremely similar to humans? Useful information if you've been on the failing end of a drug test lately... But I digress.

Jacobs also did some growing through his quest, as he and his wife struggle with infertility, Jacobs tries to get into Mensa, he and his father try to understand each other, Jacobs interviews the font of all knowledge (Alex Trebek), and he and his many relatives (including an especially difficult brother-in-law by the name of Eric) learn to get along just a little bit better. Jacobs even gets onto the game show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'; his hope, of course, is that his new-found knowledge will stick with him long enough to make him some cash.

Like any good book, this one made me want to read more. I even considered, briefly, going out and reading the Encyclopaedia myself. But I quickly came to my senses. I'll leave that sort of thing to the experts like Jacobs.

This book gets an A+++ from me.

Strangers in a Strange Land (part 2) By: Lezah Williamson

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Last time I was in California we had taken the Pacific Coast Highway from Oregon down to Los Angeles, going past San Simeon on the way. This time, we did that section of the trip in reverse primarily because we wanted to fit in a visit to the famous San Simeon.

San Simeon, or the Hearst Castle as it is commonly known, is located on the Pacific Coast Highway about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco (approximately 200 miles south of San Francisco). The closest large down is San Luis Obispo, which is about 1/2 an hour south of San Simeon.

San Simeon was the dream of publishing baron William Randolph Hearst. Originally envisioned as a modern style bungalow, the dream quickly took on a life of its own. Today, it's not just a mansion or castle; it's more of a small village, with a number of large and small residences and guest houses on site, in addition to the various recreational facilities. The residences are built in a Spanish Renaissance style with some Gothic influences. The large outdoor pool, however, has more of a Greco Roman facade. Hearst took a lot of his inspiration from the art works he had collected throughout his lifetime, and which now adorn the castle.

Interestingly, Hearst, who was not a trained architect, had much to do with the design of his dream. To help him out, he employed a very talented (and patient!) person, the San Francisco architect Julia Morgan. Morgan was not only a trained architect, she was also the first female architect licensed to work in the United States - as well, she was also a trained Civil Engineer. Quite the lady! And all that training came in handy, as the site, far atop a hill, miles and miles from any town (and supplies) had more than its share of challenges. Hearst, too, could be a challenge to work with - his ideas were constantly changing, which meant that the buildings had to change, too. Together, Hearst and Morgan built San Simeon for seventeen years (1922 to 1939). Construction was halted right before Hearst's death; however, some buildings remain uncompleted to this day.

San Simeon was famous for its parties; Hearst enjoyed surrounding himself with famous people, and Hollywood provided plenty of potential guests for him. The guests were flown in on Hearst's private plane, and were treated like royalty. Not only were the accommodations and views spectacular, but guests were provided with anything they needed - even bathing suits. There were both indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a movie theatre, and hundreds of thousands of acres upon which one could ride. Hearst even had a five mile long pergola erected so that his guests were able to ride in the shade. He had also had the world's largest private zoo, with over 300 different animals. Nice place to go for a weekend - or two.

Following Hearst's death, San Simeon was donated to the State of California. It now operates as a State Park, and as such, offers tours year round. There are five different tours to choose from (prices are $24/person; $12 for children) and pre-booking is strongly advised. In fact, we had pre-booked but due to an unplanned stop at Santa Monica beach on our way out of town and a two hour traffic jam through Santa Barbara, we ended up missing our tour! By the time we arrived, all tours had been sold out for two hours - but the staff was very, very kind and managed to fit us in with another group. Whew!

If you're in the area, I strongly recommend a trip to this historic site. And even if you're not in the area, do what we did and take the detour. It's well worth it.

Stranger in a Strange Land (part 1) By: Lezah Williamson

Los Angeles

We're recently returned from our sojourn to the sunny state of California. At times I felt like I was very much at home, while at other times, I felt very much a stranger in a strange land. 80 degrees on Christmas Day? A bit hot for my Canadian blood. And all those signs that they have posted everywhere about 'substances on this site have been found to be hazardous to one's health, including causing cancer and birth defects' - a bit disconcerting, especially considering that these are literally everywhere.

Anyway, once we got there, it was a case of what to do, what to do? Sure there's tons and tons of options, but not too many people can fit everything in. Here's my quick and dirty tour of LA for you, in a nutshell.

Universal Studios - Studio City. My advice is, if you've seen it once, you don't need to see it again. I went back in the mid '80s, and, quite frankly, should have saved my money this time. At over $50 per head, the tour (which is really what you're there for, right?) is almost exactly the same - and you never see any bona fide movie stars while there. The best we could manage was Spider Man and the Green Hornet. What is new there is a smallish (compared to Disneyland) theme park, with about four major attractions including Jurassic Park (I understand this one is good, although I did not partake). The tour I liked; the amusement park I could have done without. Also new is the setting of the city in the entrance area, which I did like - lots of shops and restaurants with way, way, way more variety than you get in Disneyland, and much better piped-in music (The Polyharmonic Spree!... and others). If I had my druthers, I'd go for the Warner Brothers Studio tour, which is apparently a little more 'real' and is also about $15 cheaper, per person.

La Brea Tar Pits, 5801 Wiltshire Bl. (Image

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I grew up watching The Flintstones, but oddly enough, pretty much everyone I've talked to about my visit to the tar pits has been mystified by it, to the tune of, "How did you hear about that?" I thought it was commonly knowledge, but perhaps I was reading more into what Fred and Wilma were saying than I had previously thought... Anyway, to make a long story short, the La Brea Tarpits are one of the world's most famous fossil sites, and also offers the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plant and animals remains. Located smack in the middle of downtown Los Angeles along the Museum Mile and just a couple blocks from Rodeo Drive (I had always imagined the tar pits being off in the hills on the outskirts of town somewhere), the pits are located on what used to the Rancho La Brea, a working ranch. There is a large park, and scattered amongst the lawn area you can find the pond, with a replica of a Wooly Mammoth family struggling for its life, and some actual tar deposits such as those that have been trapping animals for the past 40 000 years. For a more thorough understanding of that history of the tar pits, you can visit the George C. Page Museum (Page made his fortune in shipping oranges and other California fruit around the world) which is not only a museum complete with fossilized remains on display, but is also a working lab. Pit 91 of the tar pits is still being excavated, and the bones are cleaned and assembled right in front of your eyes in the glassed off lab area. Entrance to the museum is extremely reasonable, around $5 per person.

The Getty Museum had the best exhibits while we were there off all the galleries - but check things out for yourself.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre (formerly Mann's Theatre [1972-2000] ), 6925 Hollywood Bl. (on the corner of Hollywood and Orange) is probably one of Los Angeles' most famous historical and cultural landmarks. In fact, it was declared a landmark in 1968, and deservedly so, as it's the most famous movie theatre in the world. Opened with great fanfare in 1927, the 2200 seat theatre is full of artifacts imported from China; murals adorn the walls and the floor is done in red carpet - very appropriate, considering the theatre has been the site of more movie premieres than any other theatre in the world, and was, during the 1940s, home to the Academy Awards. As well, its equally famous forecourt is home to the hand prints and foot prints to the stars - there are ever a couple nose prints and profiles there, as well as Trigger's hoof prints. And just outside the forecourt is the Hollywood Walk of Stars where you can probably find the name of your favourite actor or singer. To walk around the forecourt is, surprisingly, still free, as is the Walk of Stars, and admission to the movie theatre is a very reasonable $10 ($7 for children). I visited this site in the late 1980s and was saddened to see that it had fallen into neglect; the construction of the new Hollywood and Highland almost next door (the new home of the Academy Awards) has helped to revitalize the area.

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2007 Inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

REM, Van Halen, the Ronettes and Patti Smith

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Contributed by Lezah Williamson

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I've always had a real soft spot for REM. Not only do I really like their earlier work, there's a personal connection there as well - or, at least the second cousin of one.

You see, way back in the old days, before Dave and I even knew each other, he began writing an alternative music fanzine. He started this in high school with a friend, and it was actually quite successful - the Vancouver Sun newspaper did a full page feature on these two young school kids who were writing this 'zine. Dave and his friend did all sorts of interviews with some of the big alternative acts of the day - X, Black Flag, and the like.

One particularly memorable interview occurred when somehow, these two underage kids got smuggled into the back of The Commodore Ballroom for REM's sold out show - the was during The Reckoning tour. They ended up doing an interview with one of the band members in the bathroom of the Commodore, backstage. Fast forward twenty years, the there's Dave standing in line at Chapters on Robson in Vancouver, when he happens to notice that the guy in front of him in line is no other than the same REM band member he had interviewed, lo those many years ago. They struck up a conversation and it turns out both remember the interview - or rather, the situation - very clearly.

Hence my soft spot for the band. So I was very pleased to hear that REM, along with Patti Smith, the Ronettes, and Van Halen, were to be this year's inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place March 12 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Warped - 12 Years of Music, Mayhem and More

at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Contributed by Lezah Williamson

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Starting Jan. 27/07 and running for six months, a tribute to the longest running touring festival, the Vans Warped Tour, will be on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

From 1995 to 2007, the Vans Warped Tour has held concerts showcasing the best of the punk rock and skate community.

The opening night party on Jan. 26 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame includes Paramore, Pennywise, Bouncing Soul and Bad Religion - sadly, it is already sold out.

Friday, January 12, 2007





GREEN DAY Kerplunk! (Arthur and the Invisibles sndtk) (image from

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VARIOUS ARTISTS Country's Got More Heart


PRETTY RICKY Late Night Special
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD 10 Days Out...(Blues From the Backroads)


ART GARFUNKEL Some Enchanted Evening
MADONNA The Confessions Tour
TRAVIS TRITT Best Of Travis Tritt (image from

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VARIOUS ARTISTS Chick Flicks: The Collection
VARIOUS ARTISTS From The Heart: The Classics



BLOC PARTY A Weekend In The City (image

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DISTURBED 10,000 Fists (Special Edition)
OST Daddy's Little Girl
THE USED The Berth


8 BALL & MJG Ridin' High (image

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CRIME MOB Hated On Mostly
BILL ENGVALL 15 Degrees Off Cool


BLACK LIPS Live In Tijuana



RY COODER My Name Is Buddy
METHENY / MEHLDAU Metheny & Mehldau Volume II
NOTORIOUS B.I.G. Greatest Hits
OST Music FromThe Motion Picture 300


MUSIQ SOULCHILD Luvanmusiq (image from

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OST TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
LAURA VIERS Saltbreakers




BILL ENGVALL 15 Degrees Off Cool DVD
MIKE JONES The American Dream (Chopped & Screwed)
JONI MITCHELL Covers (image from

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WORLD CIRCUIT World Music Compilation (2 CD)

(Day not specified - March releases)

LEELA JAMES Live At The Fillmore
MURS Murray's Revenge
TOM PETTY Highway Companion (Special Edition)
STATIC-X Cannibal (image from

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NEIL YOUNG Live At Massey Hall



ASHLEY TISDALE Headstrong (Special Edition)
PAUL WALL Get Money, Stay True





(Day not specified - April releases)

TALIB KWELI Ear Drum (image from /

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MELEE Devils & Angels

Powell’s City of Books By: Lezah Williamson

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When we were in Portland, we went to Powell's City of Books - twice. On the same day. And even though we spent over three hours there, we only managed to see a fraction of what was to be had. And it turns out that Powell's now has expanded to seven stores. It's just short of being miraculous.

In case you've never been there (or heard of it), Powell's was started in Portland in 1971 as a used book store. It was so successful that it quickly expanded into an empty shop next door - they just knocked a hole in the wall. And then they expanded again, and again, and again, until the store literally took up a whole city block. By that time, Powell's was selling new books as well as used, and had the novel concept of putting the NEW books on the shelves with the OLD books. Amazing! Right there on the same shelf! Who'd a thunk somethin' like that would ever work? But work it does!

The store is a fascinating place, because it's like taking a trip to a foreign land. Different areas of the store are colour-coded based on the subjects being sold there (there's the Rose Room, and the Blue Room, etc.); there's a coffee shop that was absolutely packed to the gills the day I was there; and customers galore. It's not only a booklover's dream, but also a shop-owner's dream. I found a couple of great reads there, we bought some presents for friends , and Dave in particular found a new hard cover book on Dylan that retailed for over $60 in Canada - he paid just $17!

The original Powell's City of Books is within walking district of Portland's downtown core and Pioneer Square, at 1005 W. Burnside; there are additional Powell's stores at the following locations:

Powell's Technical Books, at 33 NW Park Avenue
Powell's Books at Cedar Hill's Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Bl., Beaverton
Powell's Books on Hawthorne, at 3723 SE Hawthorne
Powell's Books for Home and Garden, at 3747 SE Hawthorne
Powell's Books at PDX, at Suite 2250, 7000 NE Airport Way.

This is in addition to five warehouses and one of the world's most successful dot coms (

It's quite the place, and no visit to Portland can be complete without a stop at Powell's.

Lezah’s Best of for 2006

Best Concert: it's gotta be Sufjan Stevens. And I'm sure the adoring crowd who saw the show with me would agree... Sufjan is the man.

Best Party: hmm. There wasn't really a lot of competition in this category this year, sadly, but the honour goes to (drum roll, please...) Ian and Pia's wedding. Yup, a 1940s film noir theme, fantastic food, a great setting and more famous/semi famous actors, actresses and writers than you could shake a stick at.

Best Read: Just before Christmas, I finished Anthony Burgess's great book A Clockwork Orange. The movie I had seen before, but the book I had somehow overlooked. And what a fantastic story. The whole question of personal choice and morality was really something to ponder; the nadsat language was fascinating; and the whole message of forgiveness at the end was wondrous, especially in light of Burgess's personal connection and inspiration for the story.

Best Eats: This year I have travelled all over, and consequently eaten in restaurants, from as far north as Terrace, British Columbia, to as far south as Anaheim, California. I have eaten a meal prepared by Iron Chef Rob Feenie; I have eaten at McDonald's. And yet, for best meal of the year, I have to fall back on my perennial favourite, La Masia (Fraser Hwy, Surrey, BC), a very intimate Spanish/continental restaurant. It's not cheap - a meal for two (sans alcohol) usually runs in the $120-140 range - but the food is fantastic, the service impeccable, and the atmosphere charming. I, once again, give it two big thumbs up, and am looking forward to my next visit.

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James Brown by Lezah Williamson

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, died Dec. 25 of heart failure brought on by pneumonia. Sadly, the Hardest-Working Man in Show Biz is no more.

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Friends of mine were at the Apollo Theatre in New York the day after the viewing there; I was in LA and watched to proceedings on TV. The funeral received huge press coverage, rivalled only by the funeral of former President Gerald Ford.

With a career spanning decades that included countless hits, Brown's music influenced many different musicians and genres. His 1962 album Live at the Apollo is still considered to be one of the best live albums ever made, and his 'Funky Drummer' hip hop's one of the most widely sampled pieces.

Brown was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1992 was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

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Record Store by Lezah Williamson

Record Store

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As you might imagine, being married to a guy like Dave, I've been through my fair share of record stores. In fact, I can claim to be pretty intimately aware of the interior of a variety of record stores in at least five different countries. New, used, records, CDs - it's all the same to him. If it's music, that's what matters. Dave has even gone on record as stating that he'd rather hear a recorded version of most acts rather than the real (live) thing because, generally speaking, the sound quality is better. The man's a fanatic!

Anyway, here in Vancouver, I've got to say that if I'm going to spend my time in a record store, that store had better be Zulu Records (1972 West 4th, Vancouver - Zulu is a fantastically funky store that has a fabulous selection of records in a number of different genres, always has the hippest choices available, and yet still seems to be a throwback to the 1970s with it's 'futuristic' mismatched furniture and old video games. They even sell tickets to all the best shows there - the ones I actually want to go to!

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Well, you can imagine my surprise and Joy when we found Zulu's big cousin, Amoeba Records, when we were down in California. We heard of Amoeba through Dave's friend David M. of the band No Fun. David had recently been in LA and visited tower Records, but found Amoeba a little further down the road (6400 Sunset Bl., Amoeba is like Zulu in a funky, individualistic sense; it's into all the hippest of the hip, and offers a stunning selection. But what is absolutely mind-boggling is the size of the place. It's like a big box store in size, if not larger, and is packed to the gills with music of every type imaginable. They have buyers who specialize in each type of music, and the expertise of these people shines through. While in San Francisco, we visited the Amoeba there - 1855 Haight Street. It's not as shockingly large, but still filled with tons of music and people who know their stuff. Turns out there's a third Amoeba, as well, in Berkley - 2455 Telegraph Avenue.

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So if you're in California, definitely look this place up.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Carolina Herrera- Spring 2007 Ready-to-Wear By: L. Brown

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Carolina Herrera is well-known in the fashion world for her designs which are at the same time simple and detailed. Her Spring 2007 Ready-to-Wear collection is no exception. She uses fabric patterns as the structure for the garment, designs menswear for women with a feminine twist, and places surprising additions into otherwise established styles. All of this while maintaining simple, classic, and elegant designs.

The very first garment down the runway is one of her strongest pieces. There is nothing terribly unique about the design of the gown. It's a simple shift dress with half-length sleeves and a wide collar. But what makes it so noteworthy is that the pattern in the fabric has given shape to the whole dress. The dress is red with an Asian style print, and is especially vibrant along the hemline. But along the bodice, this fades to a muddy peach colour. Then, right above the bust line, it returns to the vibrant pattern seen at the hem. This makes it seem as though the garment is a silk shirt tucked into a strapless dress to provide more form. It is so delicately sewn at the bust that it's difficult to tell at first glance whether the fabric or the sewing is responsible for the switch in tone at this area. The fabric pattern establishes a line and gives it form, all because her designer's instincts told her to place that detail there.

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Herrera truly shines when she does menswear. What other designer can take a woman, place her in a menswear look, and have it be so feminine that it's hard to establish what makes it menswear? One such example is a pair of shorts with an accordion fold pleat at the bottom, and a shimmery, lacy top, complete with ribbons. Nothing about this sounds like menswear, but there is a decidedly masculine feel to the shorts. They look like a pair of perfectly tailored men's trousers, cut to a fairly short length. The excess material would have been used to make the accordion detail along the hem. And with the shirt, if any other fabric were used, and the details were removed, would make a perfectly acceptable shirt for any man's business wardrobe. Throughout, it is the feminine details that make this design a winner. There is a band of ribbon along the hem, as if it is a belt, and along each side of the front and collar. It saves the outfit from being too bland, and the bold black and white striping contrasts well with the more delicate fabrics.

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Which brings us to the final strength of this collection. Herrera has some amazing details. Throughout several of the pieces, including the last one, the buttons are not evenly spaced, but are arranged in groups. On one of her skirts, black lines are sewn into the skirt to form a pattern. The spacing is perfect, and the effect is very masterful. It creates art deco sort of arrows that come to a point at the widest part of the hips. But because the lines run vertically, they do not accentuate the hips in a bad way, but instead provide a very subtle, graceful look. Although it looks straightforward, there are several things that make this an extremely complicated piece. First, the human body is not merely straight vertical lines. She had to work around the curves of the hips and thighs with straight lines and arrows. To get them so evenly spaced is quite an achievement. To make it beautiful in the process is almost impossible. Second, the lower arrows are much more complicated than they appear. There are darts sewn into the skirt exactly where the stitching for the arrow is. As such, it opens to provide an illusion of a fuller skirt near the hemline.

The fabric is kept simple because of the decoration of the stitching. Unfortunately, she uses this same effect elsewhere, such as a white dress with black lace inserts, and the result there is a disaster. It appears as though the dress is coming apart, and is barely held together with tape at the neckline.

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All in all, this is quite a stunning collection, and fortunately, Herrera knows her strengths. She has been quoted before as saying that she likes intricacy hiding within simplicity. She certainly knows how to master that.

Even when there is a rare misstep in her collection, it seems she still keeps this goal in mind, and therefore probably achieves exactly what she was hoping for all along. She always finds ways to keep her designs looking fresh and trendy, and yet classic at the same time.