Monday, July 27, 2009

Toast BY: LANNON MCGREGOR



Here's to her,
That brown eyed girl.
The one who stole my heart.

The times we had,
The good, the bad,
Was a memorable piece of art.

Neither Da Vinci's Code,
Nor Michaelangelo,
Could create a greater masterpiece.

So i'll sit and wait,
For that special day,
When you finally draw it for me.

one love

Insomniac By Lannon McGregor



On my back, the ceilings cracks,
Taunting me with their numbers.
And even on my side, I still can’t find
Comfort under the covers.
Every creek and faucet leak,
Leaving me wide awake;
I just want to dream, so kill me please,
'Cause this is more than I can take!
My eyes are red in this sleepless bed.
As the dawn invites the sun,
It’s rest I chase at a zombie pace,
In a race that night has always won.

*yawn*

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Johnette Napolitano Shares a Piece of Herself with Scarred By Christine Albrecht

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Johnette Napolitano's (formerly lead-singer/guitarist of Concrete Blonde) solo-cd release, SCARRED (2007/May), surprised me because she bravely held up a mirror to her fans so they could identify, for themselves, her emotional progress during the last few years. Her raw and vulnerable personal stories/tunes and worldly struggles were imprinted into the Scarred CD grooves for all listeners to formulate their own conclusions. If you love Johnette's off and on band, Concrete Blonde, do not be upset with this veering from her band’s formula.

Buy Johnette’s Scarred CD here.

This CD is intensely good, as well as captivating (as you conclude after subconsciously playing it for the 8th time in a row.) When she sings Amazing, I feel as though I have been privy to some innermost confession of Johnette’s, and I am trying to honour the song by listening to the honesty in her voice. And I cannot leave this song, as it is akin to speeding past a tragic car accident. One is compelled to slow down, turn around and find out how it all ends no matter how squeamish we feel. (Fortunately the song, Amazing has a far better outcome - a more lifting outcome - than your average car upset.)

This album affected me and I didn’t know whether to roll my eyes, dismiss the occasional cliché, laugh or cry. So I decided to simply empty my mind, sit back and let the songs speak to me. Meanwhile, all my emotions were taking turns vying for the forefront, determining which mood should slip out first.

A lot of people appear to enjoy the track, The Scientist. However, I really enjoyed Scarred and Save Me despite my brief confusion (I assumed Johnette was covering Amy Mann’s Save Me. (Another great album.)

During 2007, I did a quick interview with Johnette (interview) while she was touring Canada to promote the release of Scarred, and I found her to be akin to a giant onion; composed of many layers; too many to be able to reveal during one interview - yet she welcomes the writer to give it a go.

Scarred is definitely an album worth your pennies, and Johnette's definitely a woman who demands you take the time to check out her views and voice. I enjoyed this CD and feel it is time for Johnette to turn out more. Bravo! 4.5/5

Sinderella's Last Sweep By: Lannon McGregor

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Midnight was marked by screams from their bedroom.

"I'm unhappy, John!" howled Sinderella, with her fury unleashed in his direction. John was confused.

Sinderella had been very happy earlier that day when she had told him how, unbelievably excited she was to be with him; and how she couldn't wait to find a job close to his house, so they could move in together, and get married!

Yes, John and Sinderella were deeply in love. They had met seven months prior and fell madly, deeply, and instantly in love.

Of course, they had their problems as most couples do, but Sinderella seemed unable to move beyond the general “couple bickering”. When the “bickering” got to be too much for her, she would denounce the feasibility of their relationship; leaving John begging forgiveness, while alternately declaring his undying love,in order for her to return.

John offered to act out these memorized scenes, as he truly didn't know how else to keep Sinderella happy.

In hindsight, he had quit his “bad” habits for her; he bought her nice, “random” gifts; gave her copious amounts of attention, and provided her with affection whenever he thought she might need it.

Despite John’s efforts, every once in a while he and Sinderella would have an argument which would result in her final assessment that she and John were not 'as happy' together as they had originally been led to believe.

Despite her occasional misgivings; John had never had any doubts. He knew the moment he met Sinderella, he wanted to marry her.

He often reminisced back to that day when he first saw her, sitting on a bench with this incredible, giant-white, aura reflecting about her. The aura’s blinding light merely highlighted the absolute perfection of Sinderella’s unconventional beauty.

John vaguely understood how relationships work. First rule he always told himself - It is natural for couples to fight. They are known for it - especially in the first year.

But by midnight, tempers were flaring at both ends, and at an all-time high.

"I don't know how to keep you happy!" John screamed, while Sinderella’s Dad continuing to snore loudly, oblivious, in the adjacent room.

"I have tried, Baby. I really have! I love you more than life itself, and I just don't know what to give anymore." He paused to gauge her reaction.

She exhaled a sigh, while simultaneously cracking a smirk, and announced in her 'little-girl voice' to John, “Are you going to Fix the shoes?"

"Fix the ... what? What do you mean? The shoes are fine."

Yes, she knew the shoes were fine; she was joking with him and when he realized the joke after her third: Fix...” repetition. This indicated the end of the spat. He was relieved that the fight was over, and relieved she loved him again.

John and Sinderella’s roaring laughter replaced the earlier hate-filled screams for the rest of the evening.

When John got off work the next day, he went home and tried to relax. Again, it had not been a great day. With a shitty day, comes a man’s need to talk to the woman he loves. He just needs to hear three-little-words to set things ‘right’ in his world.

Sinderella neglected to say those words. Purposely? John proceeded to sulk and spout off like a complete idiot. And so, the cycle continued.

This, in turn, sent Sinderella into a rage: "I am done with you!" she screamed. "You are toxic to me, and to our relationship!"

John was shocked and somewhat bewildered. After she left, he decided to switch off his phone; relax the rest of the night, and hopefully she would be calmer by the morning.

When morning came, he found that she hadn't tried to contact him at all. John is generally an impatient guy, but he felt it was important that he try playing this waiting game, (although she usually won). Of course, this time was no different, so a new approach would be needed.

He told her he was fine with her “breaking up” with him, and (gulp) he couldn't be happier (which was a total lie). In reality, the only thing he wanted was Sinderella. He wanted her attention; her affection. He worried that perhaps he wanted too much.

Sinderella's response? After she and John had fought the night before, she decided to go out with another man whom she was also starting to have strong feelings for.

John felt ruined and disillusioned. Never before had he felt a love so powerful, yet here he was, losing his grasp on it? He also wondered if he was also losing his grasp on life as he’d known before?

Yes, he determined, he had lost his grasp on his love, and on his life as he'd known it.

To John, Sinderella had been completely honest in the seven months they were together. When she told him how happy he made her and how quickly she wanted to marry him, he felt loved and accepted. But now, he felt betrayed and discarded. She couldn't even wait two hours to move on to another man? To say he felt 'useless' was the ultimate understatement.

John went home after work to an empty house; grabbed his roommate's gun from its hidden spot and blew his jealous brain all across the carpet.

As love seeped and trickled out of the fresh wound in John’s temple, his last thought was how he couldn’t exist in a world where people could abuse their power to randomly hurt others.

John felt this was the only way out - this was his end of the road. Now, if only he would have waited just one more day.

We all know that time heals all wounds.

Well, that is... except gunshots to the head.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Hitchhiker: By Lannon McGregor

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His soul has long been sold.
He walks close alongside death;
His legs are growing old.
In fact, getting older with each step taken.
His body shakes in waves of panic,
As he walks amongst the stars.
Calm twilight, sidewalk graves,
And the highway's hissing cars.

They said he'd appreciate a mile of sun,
When he had walked a mile of rain.
But lonely storm clouds can't be outrun,
And show little signs of change.
The wetness weighs him down,
And now he struggles with each step.
His heavy eyes loathe the sight of ground,
And his lungs draw tired breaths.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Japanese Rockers, FACT: Accident Cancels Concert Tour By: Christine Albrecht

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Both good and disappointing news were received by many FACT fans on April 14, 2009. On the same date the Japanese rock band's self-titled debut, Vagrant/Maximum FACT, was being released, they were involved in a serious van accident on Interstate 85. The band was on their way to an Altoona, PA. gig from Montgomery, AL. when they were struck by a Chevy 'Malibu' which had crossed the median. The two vehicles collided head on, flipping FACT's 15-passenger van onto its side. (Charges are pending against the driver of a third vehicle which allegedly forced the Malibu into the median.)

Drummer Eiji suffered a broken arm; singer Hiro sustained a concussion, while the other members received mild injuries. Relief was expressed at the news that tour manager, John Kim's, internal injuries were not as serious as originally reported. The most serious of the injuries were broken ribs (as reported by Elizabeth Richardson of the Times-Herald).

The band cancelled their final two US concert dates as well as cleared their Canadian bookings (to be rescheduled at a later date) in order to recuperate in Japan.

The members of FACT are:

Takahiro (guitars, vocals),

Tomohiro (bass, vocals),

Eiji (drums, vocals),

Hiro (lead vocals), and

Kazuki (guitar, vocals).

Drop the members of FACT a note at their myspace page.

Visit (Label) Vagrant's website.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Enjoyable Experience: The Goldberg Variations in the Sun by: Lezah Williamson

Ballet BC, Feb. 28, Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Following a scathing review on James Kudelka's World Premiere of The Goldberg Variations in The Sun, I went to the ballet with not just a little bit of trepidation. I knew, already, that the company had been through some hard times in recent months, with the almost-going-bankrupt hardship, and then having to cancel Korea Ballet's Swan Lake while restructuring the existing company. But the reviewer in question has been highly critical of Ballet BC before, so I took what was said with a grain of salt.

The crowd at the ballet was nowhere near as big as the crowds we experienced when the shows were at the Ford Centre, but then maybe the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is just that much bigger. Sadly, most of the upper seats were empty. Then artistic director John Alleyne came out just before the start of the performance, and he was noticeably more nervous than I've ever seen him. Usually he is the epitome of calm - cool and collected, but last night he was clearly rattled. However, as is the motto in show biz: the show must go on! And I'm glad it did.

Adam and Eve and Steve (The Goldberg Variations, side 2) was danced to a recording. The trio of Jones Henry, Simone Orlando and Shannon Smith danced to a backdrop of Corps de Ballet. The two groups were quite disparate, stylistically.

Later in the evening, Carmen was danced with Marianne Bauer-Grobbelaar in the lead role. I had seen Carmen about two years ago, but this particular one seemed so much more vibrant. I really enjoyed it.

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Annie: Theatrical Review By Lezah Williamson

Vancouver: The Centre for the Performing Arts, March 5, 2009

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We went to see Annie on March 5th; not being a fan of the original comic strip, I certainly wasn't familiar with it from its print format, and although I will admit to having seen the movie, I must have been on drugs or something, because I had the story completely wrong.

In case you're not familiar with the story, here's a brief overview:
Annie is set in the depression in New York. Annie is a resident in an orphanage, but unlike the other ‘abandoned’ children, Annie was dropped at the door with a note stating that her parents would be back for their darling daughter as soon as they had some money to support the family. The parents left Annie with half a silver locket; the other half would be produced by the parents as proof that Annie was rightfully theirs when they came to claim her. Because of this, Annie was far more independent than the other orphans, and was a frequent runaway. Miss Hannigan, an alcoholic who runs the orphanage, was constantly on the look out for Annie's next escape. Annie does successfully manage to run away, but is caught and returned to the orphanage. Meanwhile, Grace, the assistant to the very rich Daddy Warbucks, has shown up to 'borrow' an orphan for the Christmas holidays. Annie is spotted, and the deal is set. Similar to the Ann of Green Gables story, it was a boy he had in mind, but he begrudgingly agreed to keep the girl - only to decide to adopt her. Complications arise when Annie reveals that she has a 'real' set of parents out there somewhere; further complicating the issue is Miss Hannigan's unscrupulous brother and his girlfriend Lilly, who decide to pretend they are Annie parents in order to get the reward posted by Daddy Warbucks.

Being a story for kids, this has a happy ending. 'Nuff said.

We saw the Broadway production that is currently touring North America. So, understandably, the sets and costumes were very professional looking.

Annie is being played by Madison Kerth, and although she acted well, her voice just grated - alternating between a scream and bellow. On the contrary, AnnaLisa Leaming, who plays Grace, has an absolutely lovely voice. Another standout was Lynn Andrews as Miss Hannigan.

Glowing Review for Vancouver’s Glowbal Grill and Satay Bar By Lezah Williamson

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Glowbal Grill and Satay Bar is a restaurant located in the Yaletown district of Vancouver (1079 Mainland Street).

Situated in an area that had previously been a warehouse district and is now filled with trendy shops, restaurants and luxurious condos, Glowbal is a perfect fit with its neighbourhood.

My friend and I popped in on the last night in February; we had just had snow two days previous, and when the waiter asked if we wanted to sit inside or out, I must admit I looked at him a little askance. However, he led us out onto the patio, and I have to admit, it was the right choice. There was plenty of street ambience, so much so that it took me back to my trip to Paris last year. But unlike Paris, at Glowbal I was warm!

We were there for two full hours, and I was comfortable and warm the whole time - in fact I not only shed my jacket, but also my sweater. (That rarely happens anywhere for me between the months of November and March!) And the outdoor patio was lovely in other ways, too - the decor was upscale casual. Inside, it was a little more nightclubby, and so that patio fit our mood better.

Next came the food: my friend decided she wanted to share appies rather than eat an entrée each, and that suited me fine. We ordered sweet potato fries first - and they weren’t even on the menu, but the chef was kind enough to accommodate us. Next we had a Baby Spinach Salad with warm pancetta vinaigrette ($12), oven-dried tomatoes, saffron egg, buffalo mozzarella and candied pecans. This was not at all overwhelming in size, but it left me feeling very satisfied. The melding of the sweet and the savoury was fantastic. Next up was the lobster mashed potatoes ($10) and the grilled lamb chops ($15), which the waiter brought to us on a long plate for our convenience. While the lobster mashed potatoes was fine, it wasn't something I'd order again; the lamb, on the other hand... I haven't stopped thinking about it!

Between you and me, I haven't eaten lamb since I owned a pet lamb, and I was somewhat reluctant to try this. But it was lovely and tender - absolutely delectable.

Finally, dessert: in keeping with our sharing theme, we chose the Pastry Chef's Dessert Selection (($12), which gave us a pot of creme bruleé (the best I've ever had!), a warm chocolate coffee cake (which I had misread on the menu as a lava cake, so was a bit disappointed with at the time - but I got over that!), and a white chocolate mousse (smooth!! creamy!!). Truly the best restaurant dessert I've had in a long, long time. On top of that, their coffee was great. For me, that's the all-important crux that is missing in many dining establishments.

And for all you single ladies out there: Glowbal has what is undoubtedly the finest stable of male employees I have ever laid eyes on. It looked like they had raided the files of every modelling school out there to come up with their wait staff. These guys are hot! In fact, I don't recall even seeing a female employee there, although I could be mistaken.

The executive chef at Glowbal is John Crooks, and yes, reservations are recommended.

GreenGo readies for April Release ‘Borders’ by Christine Albrecht

Audio Blood Media readies their clients for public consumption.


Here's one for the dance floors. Guelph, Ontario's dance funk band, GreenGo are releasing the GreenGoRemix Project Vol. 1.

Exciting remixes of everyone's favorite Canadian indie rock tracks from Born Ruffians, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Women, Gentlemen Reg and The D'Urbervilles.

Five tracks will be available on their myspace in a couple of weeks.

GreenGo are gearing up for release of their debut full length,Borders, this April/09. 2008 saw them play many gigs and release a 3 song sampler, the Ghosts of the Future EP, which was quick to chart on campuses across Canada.

Although defining their sound isn't the easiest task, it hasn't stopped people from trying. Toronto Star's Ben Rayner was quick to get behind the band,
"Darting funk fretwork and synth-driven anxiousness to keep the adrenaline up throughout...these co-ed cats really start cooking when they betray a bit of a prog fetish and suspend their frantic calls to arms in a spacier shimmer."

Aside from constantly confusing critics, GreenGo have managed to sell out of their self-titled debut EP, headline Steamwhistle's Indie Unsigned showcase, and share stages with the likes of Think About Life, Woodhands, the D'Urbervilles and many more.

Though the stages and the audiences are rapidly expanding with every performance, it will be awhile before GreenGo give up the turf that they tear up best: sweaty, dimly-lit house parties. The Trepid House in Waterloo, 276 Nelson street in Ottawa, and the attic at 447 Woowich in their hometown Guelph are only some of the properties whose residents have risked permanent structural damage in order to host the unparalleled electro-dance implosion. As a live review once suggested, "you might want to bring a change of clothes."

The Art of Racing in the Rain (novel Review) L. Williamson

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What is it about Seattle that breeds both great baristas and writers? Garth Stein is not a native son, but he was raised in Seattle, and still makes his home there; his novel The Art of Racing in the Rain is also set in the Emerald City.

The narrator for this story is a TV-watching dog named Enzo who is almost as obsessed with opposable digits as he is with maintaining the integrity of his family. Although at times frustrated by his limitations in the communication department, Enzo knows his problems are only temporary: he has, throughout his life, educated himself by watching TV, and a documentary on Mongolia has him convinced that he will be reincarnated as a human.

Enzo lives with Denny, a talented race car driver who has had to make many sacrifices in his life. Over the course of the story, the dynamics of Denny and Enzo's family changes. Enzo, however, remains stalwart and loyal to the end, despite every curve that he encounters on the road.

I'm a sucker for a story about animals, and a dog as philosophical as Enzo - well, my heart was stolen! The Art of Racing in the Rain (2006) is now published in 23 languages. I'm sure nothing will be lost in the translation.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Megan Hamilton’s Canadian release of See your Midnight Breath in the Shipyard April 7, 2009 Christine Albrecht

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Toronto sweetheart Megan Hamilton will release her second full length album, See Your Midnight Breath in the Shipyard April 7th, 2009 across Canada. The album will be released on the artist-run Familiar Music, which Hamilton founded with Steve Puchalski, Gary Peter and Shelby Lamb in 2006.

Hamilton plans to release the album in her hometown of Toronto at the Rivoli on April 9th with friends Olenka and the Autumn Lovers. As well, Toronto comedienne Kathleen Phillips will be opening the evening.

She will spend the rest of the Spring and Summer touring with her band, The Volunteer Canola, in Quebec, Ontario and beyond.

SYMBiTS marks the third collaboration between Megan and Mark and was recorded differently than her critically acclaimed Feudal Ladies Club and How We Think About Light EP. Where previously it was a homemade studio, now there was a fully rehearsed band in a professional studio. I

The session players include label mate Steve Puchalski (Deromantic) on keys; Adam White on bass; Andrew Sadoway on drums; and Craig Browne on lead guitar and back-up vocals. Megan played acoustic and electric guitars, some keys and layers of vocals.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Water for Elephants By: Lezah Williamson

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A friend of mine loaned me Water for Elephants by former Vancouverite Sara Gruen. It's a love story filled with animals - what could be better, I ask you?

Set in the Great Depression (I'm a sucker for Depression-era stories), Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob Jankowski, a young man who, a week before he sits his final exams in Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, has the rug pulled out from under him. His life, both as he knew it and as he envisioned it, is gone; in a fit of despair, he runs off and jumps the first train out of town.

Jacob has leapt, unknowingly, into the lion's den. He finds himself hooked up with a second rate circus that criss-crosses the country, looking as much for the next score as for other failed circus outfits to cannibalize. The cast of this ragtag crew is probably more entertaining than the pathetic illusions their circus act offers: Al, the boss, envies Ringling Bros. to the point of obsession; Marlena is the beautiful wife of the alternatively abusive and charming August; Rosie is an elephant who can only understand Polish; Blackie, is a brute whose sole purpose seems to be 'redlighting' employees who have outlived their usefulness; Kinko is a dwarf who puts up walls around him so high that no one can get in; and Camel is an old drunk who paves the way for Jacob.

The story is told from the perspective of Jacob as an old man. Either 90 or 93 years old (what does it matter when you're that age?), he recalls the story while suffering the indignities of old age as they play out in his nursing home. The story explores the bizarre subculture of the circus world, and throughout the book, black and white photos illustrating aspects of the circus world evoke the difficult life those people led.

Water for Elephants was on the NYT Best Sellers list for over 55 weeks. Fox 2000 has acquired the movie rights to the novel, and is said to be fast-tracking the project. Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) has signed on as director.

Who's Watching the Watchmen? Movie review by Lezah Williamson

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The filmed in Vancouver movie Watchmen broke the 2009 box-office record with a $55.2 million take on opening weekend. This Warner Brothers film, however, cost $100 million to make, so it's got a way to go before any profit is to be had. But, all in all, not bad for a movie that was said to be impossible to film by many.

Based on the award winning cult graphic novel of the same name written by Alan Moore, Watchmen chronicles the lives of a group of free land vigilante super heroes. Set in an alternate 1986, where Richard Nixon is in his fifth term in office and the Coldwar Doomsday Clock is set at five to midnight, the movie shows us, through a series of flashbacks, who the Watchmen were and how they came to be where they are now - outlawed.

The film opens with the death of the nihilistic, misogynistic character, The Comedian (brilliantly played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan). We are then introduced the rest of the cast, including Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), and Adrian Veidt/Ozymandium (Matthew Goode). Unfolding like a murder mystery, the film goes on to examine power and its use in our society. It shows us what type of people choose to hide behind a mask to fight crime, and shows us how far they will go to protect humanity.

Clocking in at 2 3/4 hours, the film is riveting. We made the mistake of going to the midnight show the first night it opened, however - not always a great idea with a film as long as this.

Overall, I give it two thumbs up.

Different photo supplied by editors: (How is this one? ANON:)

WonderCon By: Lezah Williamson

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Dave attended WonderCon down in San Francisco on the weekend of Feb. 27 to March 1. It was held at the Moscone Centre South, which was a great location within walking distance of many of the city's great attractions. This was Dave's first WonderCon, and he came back raving.

WonderCon is the West Coast's second biggest comic/popular culture conference, and featured a wide range of activities. In addition to the usual comics, comics and more comics that you will find at a conference of this sort, he was also able to see a 20 min. preview of the long-awaited Watchmen film that opens later this week. The director was there, and he had exciting news about the Director's cut DVD that will be out later (there's to be a film within a film based on the pirate comic that the boy at the newstand reads throughout the graphic novel).

On top of that,there were a number of celebrities of various sorts present, including Shirley Manson (of the band Garbage), Alec Baldwin (and the rest of the cast of the show Chuck), Summer Glau (of Firefly), Sergio Aragones (of MAD magazine),... and the list goes on. On top of that, there were numerous wares for sale all over the place, and a masquerade on Saturday featuring Super Heroes, goths, and steam punks.

Read Wondercon Interviews

Monday, February 23, 2009

Beautiful British Columbia By: Lannon McGregor

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Beautiful B.C.

It's the rainy days

that are swept away,

when the sun cracks through the clouds.

It’s the haunting way

in which the beauty's saved,

from the city’s smoggy crowds.

It’s the way the world

hides precious pearls

on the shores of the roaring sea.

It’s yours, it's mine,

in rain or shine...

It’s beautiful B.C.


A piece of advice...

Next time you’re stuck in a rut of self loathing; when you feel like nothing can possibly get better because things could never be worse than they presently are. Whenever you think others, in far off tropical lands, have it so much better than you...

Take a look out your window and breathe it in; cuz you live in British Columbia - the greatest fuckin’ place in the entire world.

Images: ecotoursvictoria.com/, vantoptours.com, farm1.static.flickr.com, whale-images.com

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sasquatch Festival By: Lezah Williamson

Once again, the Sasquatch Festival is running on the May 23rd to 25th long weekend down in beautiful George, Washington.  If you've never been to The Gorge at George - well, it's worth a trip in itself, and if you have some great music to make the weekend even better... heck, that's a no-brainer!

You can find out all the information about the line-up yourself at
the Fesitval’s site, but here's just a sampler:

Saturday, May 23 - Kings of Leon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Decemberists;

Sunday, May 24 - TV on the Radio, Calixico;

Monday, May 25 - Fleet Foxes, Loch Lomond.

There's a comedy stage as well, and featured there is the oh-so-lowkey Zach Galifianakis ("starts with a gal, and ends with a kiss").

Not to be missed.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sola Caritas By: Lezah Williamson

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I'm all for things that make our world a better place, and simply by googling Sola Caritas and watching a couple of ads, you too can help to make our world a better place.



Sola Caritas is the brainchild of an amazing young guy I know, David Wen.  Along with some partners, he has created a website where you can help send money to charities - and it doesn't cost you a red cent! Gotta love that!



It's brilliantly simple:  businesses team up with the Sola Caritas website, which in turn runs ads for said businesses.  Every time you watch one of these ads on the Sola Caritas website (for free, I remind you!), 50% of the ad fees get sent to a charity.  The more clicks, the more money. This brilliant idea found Sola Caritas take 1st Place at Dalhousie University’s EcoVenture 2008, (Canada’s first ever green business plan competition.)



Easy peasy.



Saturday, February 14, 2009

Earl Emerson By Lezah Williamson

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Lately I've had a hankerin' for all things Seattle, and my jones didn't let up at all once I started reading my latest Earl Emerson novel. Now, in case you've never heard of him, Earl Emerson is a Seattle-based writer (he actually resides in North Bend, Washington, where they filmed Twin Peaks, for all you fans of the quirky out there) and has a day job as a lieutenant with the Seattle Fire Department.

Emerson's the author of two series, the Mac Fontana books and the Thomas Black mystery stories; it's one of his Thomas Black books that won the Shamus award (Poverty Bay was the first novel of the Regan era to deal with the topic of homelessness). Early in 2009, the first Thomas Black book in ten years, Cape Disappointment, is being released.

The book I'm currently reading, though, is the 2002 thriller, Vertical Burn. It's all about life in the world of the modern-day firefighter. Just the information alone is interesting, but Emerson strings along a pretty good story on top of that. Add to that the rush of familiarity you get when he mentions places you've been to, and you end up with a great way to spend a dreary winter weekend.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Steampunk By Lezah Williamson

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Steampunk is currently undergoing a resurgence especially in the areas of culture and lifestyle, with the steampunk aesthetic being explored in fashion, home decor and music. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book and movie helped to popularize steam punk, as did the book Steampunk (2008), an anthology of steam punk fiction.
Steampunk is also known as neo-Victorianism and is often associated with cyberpunk. It takes works set in the Victorian era and combines them with modern technology.

Photo of steampunk band, Outlanders from coffeeandteashow.libsyn.com

Ballet B.C. -The Goldberg Variations - Side 2: Adam & Eve & Steve

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Ballet BC, BC's premiere company, is known for bringing both traditional and contemporary dance to its audiences. Not only does Ballet BC feature its own company, but it also invites other dance troups from around the world. At Christmas, the Moscow Ballet was here dancing in The Nutcracker, and in January we were supposed to see the Korean Ballet.

Unfortunately, the financial crash during the Fall came at the worst possible time for the ballet company, and the resulting drop in ticket sales put Ballet BC into receivership. The media attention that was drawn to this, in the end, saved the perennial Christmas favourite, The Nutcracker, but the Korean Ballet Company was cancelled for January.

In the meantime, restructuring was taking place behind closed doors , and the good news is that Ballet BC is back on its feet with much firmer footing.

You can look forward to them performing The Goldberg Variations - Side 2: Adam & Eve & Steve, a world premiere by James Kudelka (along with Carmen) on Feb. 26-28 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Cultural Olympiad II By Lezah Williamson

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Whistler Film Festival Snow Screen

What could be better than being outdoors at the site of the 2010 Olympics - and watching movies for free? On Feb. 21 and 22, you can go up to Whistler and do just that as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Cultural Olympiad : Broken Social Scene and Tegan and Sara

By: Lezah Williamson

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As part of the Cultural Olympiad, on Feb. 6 you can go hear the atmospheric, bombastic sounds of Broken Social Scene; opening for them are the boundary-bending punk/folk/pop/rock twins from Alberta, Tegan and Sara.

Image from villagevoice.com

The Bob By: Lezah Williamson

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I was quite surprised - one might even say floored - when I read a quote from celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe on the next big hair trend for 2009. Her prediction?

The Bob.That's right, Rachel Zoe, who ends up with all her clients looking like the same little size-zero, straight-centre-parted, blond-haired, oversized-sunglasses-wearing waifs that Rachel Zoe was saying the Bob is the next big thing.

Frankly, the bob is so far away from the look Rachel Zoe promotes as to be from another planet. So I guess, if that's the case, it must be true...

Image from www.dailymail.co.uk

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Watchman (Worth The Wait?) By: Lezah Williamson

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One of the most highly anticipated films for spring 2009 must surely be The Watchman. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, it is directed by Zack Snyder. Legal battles over distribution rights between Fox and Warner have pushed back the release date, but that looks to be settled now; rumours last year had fans worried when the movie was clocking in at just over three hours. Likewise, a fantastic first trailer was followed by a much weaker one. Add to that a storyline and cast of characters that many feel will be hard to translate to the big screen in a meaningful way, and you've got a whole lot of people waiting with bated breath until March.

My prediction: it'll be worth the wait.

The story, set in an alternate 1985 America, where superheroes are a part of everyday life, is a strong one. Writer of the graphic novel, Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Swamp Thing) is a legend. The film's director Snyder has vowed to stay as true to the graphic novel as possible. He has also, apparently, worked some CGI magic with main character Rorschach's mask which can only add to the overall effect.

All in all, this film will be a good one to watch for.

Lie to Me - Best on TV Emmy, Anyone? By Lezah Williamson

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The best new show out on TV now is Lie to Me, starring the fantastic British actor Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs).

The show, which started airing this week (Wed. Feb. 21) is inspired by a real life deception specialist - in other words, a human lie detector. The main character works for a private agency that is contracted to the FBI, but you also see the more human side of Roth's character in his interactions with his peers. Overall, this show was well written and, with Tim Roth on board, really, you can't go wrong.

Dollhouse: TV Show By Lezah Williamson

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Here's a new one to watch out for... Dollhouse.

Originally, Dollhouse was to start airing in January of 2009, but has been pushed back. Written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) and starring Eliza Dushku ("Faith" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the show is set around a group of individuals whose personalities have been wiped clean so that they can be parachuted into new lives, where they gather information and help create 'situations'.

They return after each assignment to the Dollhouse; complications arise, however, when the FBI starts sniffing around. Likewise, main character Echo (Dushku) starts to remember - it turns out the memory erasing didn't stick with her.

Passages (1932 - 2009) - John Updike By: Lezah Williamson

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"The great thing about the dead, they make space.

quoted from: Rabbit is Rich, by John Updike). And so it goes. John Updike died today, Jan. 29, 2009, once again, proving himself right.

Updike was born in Pennsylvania in 1932; was a Harvard grad who twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest. He is best known for his Rabbit series, as well as his chronicling of suburban adultery in small-town- USA, as seen in novels such as The Witches of Eastwick.

But Updike was also a poet, short story writer, art critic and literary critic. Altogether, he wrote 25 novels in his career, while working for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. In addition to these accomplishments, he was featured in an episode of The Simpsons, and he also enjoyed writing childrens' books.

Although Updike had suffered from a skin condition for years, it was lung cancer which determined his final ending.

Image from s.matrix.msu.edu

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pick Ton By: Lannon McGregor

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A few police in ol' B.C.

Searched Willy's farm,

and found some teeth.

The rivers swelled,

As numbers tolled

and ANGELS fell

Where HELL runs cold.

See the hate in Willy's eyes,

See all the twisted ways to die.

Ask the pigs

Fed and big

Oh, if only they could talk.

They'd sniff at the mud

in thirst of blood,

and tell you of the meat Willy brought.

They'd watch the Mounties' patience boil,

While digging deep through Willy's soil.

They can't wipe their hands from the stench of shit,

They've seen a lot, just not this sick.

They've seen rape; they've seen dead,

But they can't see the HATE in Willy's head.

Rot In Hell!

L.M.

Remember The Women.

Modern Pirate: By Lannon McGregor

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Pirate man,

Is using hands,

While digging cities' garbage cans.

Sucking Blood,

Rolling Mud,

Eating - Breathing,

The cities' sludge.

There he sleeps,

On cracked concrete

Wakes up wide-eyed, incomplete.

With a shopping cart,

He's modern art,

Grudgingly fed

from the bottom of our hearts.

Worn out souls

In both heart and shoes.

But never stole,

That he can't use...

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button :Movie Review and Critique Christine Albrecht

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Read Fitzgerald's Original Story

Directed by David Fincher


Original Story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Starring:


Brad Pitt (Benjamin)


Cate Blanchett (Daisy)


Julia Ormand (daughter)

Before launching into a nit-picking, plot questioning critique of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I wanted to share some theatre observations, as well as acknowledge several of the film's merits. The original short story was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and the movie's screenplay (long held by Ray Stark) had been purchased and directed by David Fincher.

I purposely went to the 4:30 viewing at Colosseus Cinema on Boxing Day, during a hefty snow storm, with the smug assumption I'd have the theatre to myself. Well, apparently everyone felt smug that day as the theatre was packed and I was just able to grab the last few seats. I understand The Curious Case... had just opened the day previous, but I hadn't anticipated this faithful attendance.

While watching this movie, I mentally hummed the chorus to The Faces' song, Ooh La La. I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger. Benjamin Button represents those "What ifs..." we all experience from time to time, while reminiscing those mistaken beliefs of our youth. A brief yearning to go back in time, yet still be empowered with current knowledge.

After viewing "The Curious Case..." I was unable to gauge any kind of audience reaction, as this movie threw a blanket of silence on everyone, myself included. I have never attended a show where the audience didn't verbally assess the experience on their way out. If quiet introspection was capable of sound, like a car horn, our exiting would be akin to a New York Taxi Drivers' convention. A cacophony of deep thought.

Both the book and the movie version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button contain the line "I was born under unusual circumstances..." and that is where the similarities end. I readily admit that I understand the purpose of the differences as I am not fond of Fitzgerald's main character.

We all hate getting older, but who would actually want to get younger as they progress through life? To be have the agonies of painful adolescence ahead of one? The powerlessness and dependency of early childhood, while cognizant of the lifetime one has experienced? No thanks. Yet that is what Brad Pitt has managed to portray to viewers, while maintaining a thoughtful and quiet acceptance of his situation.

I have glanced through critics' reviews of the movie, and I am confused by their disregard of the glaring discrepencies between the book and the movie. I will volunteer to point at the elephant in the room because, after all, he's huge!

Benjamin Button had the misfortune (or to some, good fortune) to be born an old man. Our character enters this world as a baby, albeit an arthritic, slow moving, cataract impaired newborn. The movie dramatically shows Benjamin being rejected by his father (after his mother dies during his birth) and subsequently abandoned. The book has Benjamin being emotionally abandoned, but nonetheless, remaining at home where his old-man behaviours are a source of embarrassment to his father who constantly demands that Benjamin behave more child-like.

Aside from peripheral characters entering and leaving Benjamin during his formative years (which helps explain his varied education and philosophies) the book and movie differ in many other areas. The most serious digression from the original is in Benjamin's aging process. Fitzgerald has his protagonist born with an 85 year-old's thoughts, behaviour and attitude whereas Fincher's movie has the character physically representing an 85 year-old, but mentally on par with a newborn. As the book-Benjamin becomes more immature, in keeping with his age defying appearance, the movie -Benjamin becomes more worldly and wise while physically regressing.

I understand the reasoning behind Pincher's version of Benjamin Button's aging. Overall, Fitzgerald's original character is not a likable guy; meanwhile there's something bittersweet in watching movie-Benjamin experience his first drink, first love, etc. as an 18 year-old man housed in the body of a 65 year-old senior. Movie-Benjamin is more appealing to the average viewer than 7 year-old, book-Benjamin smoking cigars, cursing, and leering at woman.

The movie contains a few changes that I didn't understand as necessary. Why is Benjamin abandoned at an old folks' home in the care a single, financially strapped, black woman (Taraji P Henson)? Henson delivers an outstanding performance as Benjamin's adoptive mother, Queenie, but how necessary was this change to the story's telling? I am grateful for the entertainment of the old folks' home setting as it allowed for a nice introduction to the developing love story between Daisy (Cate Blanchett) and Benjamin (Brad Pitt).

As well, some of the seniors residing alongside Benjamin at the home, provided the much needed comic relief during an otherwise somber movie. For example, the comedic, intermittent presence of 'The General' whose self-introductory line to Benjamin is consistently, "Did you know I've been struck by lightning 7 times?" We are then given a visual of The General being struck.

I wondered if the writer(s) felt Benjamin wouldn't have been able to explore his 'firsts' during early manhood if his parents were around, or more vigilant? (However, that implies adoptive/foster parents are less aware of their children's behaviour or whereabouts.) As well, why couldn't his movie father have maintained the book's hardware business? Why did the movie allow a simplistic 'button manufacturer' family business? As well, if they wanted Benjamin to be perceived as an abandoned orphan, why reintroduce his father (aside from to explain an inheritance)? Finally, although less melodramatic, the movie's ending would be equally touching to view baby-Benjamin nestled in bed, near his Nana in the home of his son, Roscoe (book), than in the arms of his lover, Daisy (movie). I will admit I was sucked into the movie's predictable moment when infant Benjamin and aged Daisy lock eyes, and exchange a fleeting moment of complete recognition and love. Like a silent farewell. So corny, yet so wonderful, necessitating the folded arms, stare-at-the-ceiling-and-blink-rapidly, stance.

I have always enjoyed Brad Pitt's acting yet I sympathize with him as his undeniable good looks immediately discount any acting talent he possesses; forcing him to work three times harder than the likes of Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, or Jack Nicholson. Cate Blanchett is a perfect counter-partner for Pitt, visually and in spirit and timing. The make-up/ visual effects artists responsible for the characters' aging demonstrated remarkable talent, as they allowed us to witness the characters realistically age, or de-age in Benjamin's case. Daisy gracefully ages from the feisty, stunning dancer to a bedridden senior resisting removal from her hospital care during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.Julia Ormond's character (as Benjamin's and Daisy's daughter) was so milquetoast, she could have been invisible. She was simply the vessel whose questions allowed Daisy to recollect and share her untold youth. Throughout the flashbacks of Daisy's recollections, I had difficulty determining which time period showed Pitt's and Blanchett's characters as they are in reality. The make-up effects should merit an Oscar nod.

I suppose, in order to make money, it was decided that The Curious Case... should evolve as a love story, one which supports the "love can surpass both time and age" rather than keep with F. Scott Fitzgerald's razor-sharp, sardonic look at society's celebration of youth, and open disdain towards aging. If that story had been kept, there wouldn't be much to love as book-Benjamin figuratively holds a mirror up to a class-conscious society, thus reflecting the absurdity of placing importance upon appearance and material accumulation. Both the book and the movie do drive home the importance of character. It's what inside that counts. Movie-Benjamin has 'character' in spades.

I enjoyed the movie, just as I enjoyed the short story (see link to story above), and I am grateful that never the two did meet. The two versions are so vastly different; combined, it couldn't have worked. Perhaps someone will come forth with a modified 3rd version; one which nicely melds the original and movie version. I have heard there is another story out which offers more depth to Fitzgerald's original plot. Perhaps this is the third view I am searching for. It is also titled the The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and is written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir (with illustrations by Kevin Cornell).

For scenic views, Pitt's and Blanchett's artistically balanced acting, masterful make-up (10/10), and for allowing Benjamin to be portrayed as a likable character, I give the movie 8.5/10.