Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Colin Minihan: Canada’s Gift to the World of Film By Christine Albrecht

Colin Minihan: Canada’s Gift to the World of Film
Interview By Christine Albrecht
Recent Award: MuchMusic’s Director of the Year




I determined two years ago that Colin Minihan is an artist, filmmaker ‘genius’, who has been pushing the boundaries of old-school video filming. Collin’s injecting quirky, hard-to-pin-down, visual collages using film manipulation, as well as (what appears to be to be) a layering of textural visuals over saturated colours. It wouldn’t surprised me if Colin’s name soon becomes an oft-used adjective/noun attached to a specific video style. A reviewer in the near future will be writing: “Clearly the director was aiming for a Minihan effect.”

My first "Minihan experience" was the band Mother Mother’s video, O' My Heart. I’ve never tired of this great video and tune. It appears my recent fave Minihan video is GOB's Banshee Song. Hmm, I think I am developing a 'mood' theme, here... Let's see, depressing look - check, goth appearance - check, very creepy pale kids - check, and so on...
This can't be a good direction for a writer/ researcher/ music reviewer/ and (clears throat) elementary teacher. Heh...

See the "behind-the-scenes" of O' My Heart I now appreciate the overwhelming amount of work involved by ALL those involved in a vid8o shoot,.

I began researching other videos/films done by Colin Minihan and was surprised to see how prolific this director is, without becoming stale or repetitive )or even known for that matter!). After viewing hours of film footage, I’ve just decided to quit attempting to track or compare his style to that of other directors' and/or cinematographers'. I have finally determined that Minihan is like ... Minihan. Furthermore, this 'most interesting' fact about Colin Minihan, could also be his most beneficial...

You see, with Colin being born on May 18, 1985... (Yes, he's 25 years-old) ... he's shown that he's accomplished more in his short career, than most 35+ year-old directors have in their lifetimes. Also, Colin was born at a perfect time. Young enough to witness a new format (MM/MTV) being birthed to millions of viewers, yet old enough to be one of the first video generational babies to actually cross the threshold into videography. I am impressed that Colin goes above and beyond when it comes to effort on his works of art. He's had to work hard to get to where he's at. He just happened to start earlier than his industry peers. It was fortunate that Colin Minihan knew what his passion was at a time when most of us are trying to decide whether to choose Algebra or Principal’s Math, during our high school scheduling.



Not only was Colin Minihan able to identify his passion, but he also pursued and honed it, and for that (among his numerous talents) he deserved the Director of the Year Award (2009).
I could get all artsy and described his camera-work; his interesting sparring between light and shadow; his use of unusual subjects, and/or his hypnotic juxtaposition of images I call them Minihanisms. But I’d rather you google his name, or go to his site and view his body of work. His work speaks for itself, saying something different to each viewer, much like a work of art does.

Soon Colin's name will be a reference point for filming; much like Tim Burton’s name speaks volumes about the quality of a film's artistic manipulation.



Colin's Lifestyle for the Cameras:



Colin's Real Life Style:



Here is a short, online interview with film director, Colin Minihan. I apologize in advance for the lack of more insightful questions regarding his approach towards filmmaking, If you have any specific questions regarding equipment Colin used, or are curious about his technical approach, please add your questions here, or contact him directly through his site.

Swanktrendz (ST) Colin Minihan (CM) I have divided the interview into two sections: Personal information and Work information.

Personal

Swanktrendz
: I have gleaned that you were born on May 18, 1985 in Port McNeill, B.C. Is this the case?

Colin Minihan: True.

ST: Did you live in Port McNeill all of your childhood? What was it like living in a small town located on the Northeast corner of Vancouver Island? Can you list the benefits of such an environment for a child? The detriments?

CM: Yes, I was born in Victoria and my dad took a teaching job in Port McNeill so I lived there pretty much from the get go up until I graduated high school and moved away (when I was 18).
Growing up on the northern tip of Vancouver Island required a two-hour drive, through the woods, to get to the nearest movie theatre. It was frustrating and I wished someone would reopen the movie theatre every day growing up. (It had been open, before my time, but sunk.) I used to visit my grandparents in Vancouver during the summer, but then my heart would sink when I saw the Port McNeill sign on the way back.



I think, ultimately, growing up in a small town was a good place for me because during high school I was allowed to turn the town into my own little movie set. The Port MacNeill Police Department would let me shoot in their jail cells, and I would use police officers in a few of my short films. I was making these anti-crime films at the time and I was learning a ton. It was hilarious closing down McNeill Road to film a police chase with digital 8 cameras strapped all sketchily to cop cars. This would never have happened had Kelly Carson, who worked doing community justice programs for kids in the town, hadn't seen a short film of mine years before and applied for a government grant, so I would be able to film more… She got the grant, and I just made these anti-crime movies throughout all of grade 11 and 12. I doubt this would have been available in a city. It was a rare opportunity and the experience definitely helped solidify the fact, without a doubt, of what I wanted to do with my life.
I’m not going to list benefits to growing up in a small town though, or make broad statements about whether you should raise your kids in a small to:wn versus the city. I think both places have pros and cons and that’s it. I was lucky.


ST: Do you have any siblings? If so what are their names, and are they older or younger? Are they artsy like you?

CM: My older brother Ryan is in the army and he just served in Afghanistan. We are very, very different, however, he was always good with a pencil and could outdraw me any day. My Aunt is also a pretty awesome painter and I had a great great-grandfather who was a relatively popular artist. We have a ton of his paintings, mostly landscape stuff, but they are great. I also have three younger half-brothers from my Dad’s side who live on the east coast.

ST: Mom, Dad or both? Together/ divorced? (I realize this question may appear odd, and I certainly am not looking for dirty details, but I have discovered that many talented men, who end up in the music industry, have come from single mother headed households. As well, all of these mothers were highly supportive of their son’s endeavors.) Were your folks supportive of your interest in filming?

CM: I'm not really in the music industry per-say, so this question probably doesn't apply so well to me, but I'll answer it anyways. My parents are divorced, and I stayed with Mom for the most part. She purchased my first camera (that had firewire) when I was around the age of 12 ... it was an expensive present. She witnessed me wear out her VHS-C camera (that I discovered at about age 8). She was very supportive of me using the house to stage epic gun battles with friends everyday, for camera.

ST: How old were you when you filmed your first ‘just for fun’ video? Was it of paintball, rollerblading, skateboarding? Did you edit and provide music/dialogue, or was it a silent clip? Was it a collaboration?

CM: I started reenacting scenes from movies when I was really young - probably about 8 years old, or so. I'd use the video camera for everything, including video replay for street hockey to judge whether or not the puck had crossed the line. I pretty much always filmed, and whoever was filming would direct. I think I was about 11 years old when I discovered you could edit on a VHS player and use the audio dub button on the camera to add Beastie Boys’ tracks to my chase scenes. This was an epic discovery. I remember being like, “No way!” then becoming much more obsessed at that point.

ST: Have you ever worked with Mac’s imovie software? If so, what did you think of it?

CM: No, but I know its similar to what I’ve learned to edit on for PC... Ulead Videostudio was my brand back in my pre-teens; then Media Studio Pro and Adobe Premiere when I was a teenager. I’m not sure imovie even existed at that time. The first computer I cut on was a Pentium, just above a 486 processor. It was brutal and would crash so frequently, after long days of work, I would get extremely upset.

ST: When did you start to enter filming competitions? What was your first competition, and how did you place?

CM: I used to enter a lot of little kid festivals (student film festivals). I won a few but I don't remember the exact first contest I entered.

ST: I noticed you in a clip, “Who is Your Hero?” and you stood out because a) you were so young, and b) you were so confident that you would be your own hero, through your actions in the future. (That would lead into a question – was service announcement scripted, or was that really your response “I want to be my hero… etc”?)

CM: This isn't me. I don’t know who that Colin Minihan is or why my name is linked to it but I do like what he said.

ST{ Here's the video that we're referring to, and yes the child looks nothing like Colin Minihan, but I could certainly imagine him saying things like this at that age, lol.

ST: I read you won the Willie Mitchell Classic when you were 19. Did this win provide you with much needed equipment, or was the Panasonic HD video camera ‘so-so’ in that it met only some of your artistic needs?

CM: It’s a camera I was happy to get it because I was broke, out of film school, and without the win, I would have been stuck shooting on SD for a little longer. I did my first Muchmusic breakout videos on that camera. It’s a great camera - pretty beat up now, but it stills works.

ST What other contests/competitions have you entered and placed in? (Top three?) Do you ever get nervous or shy, or are these words not part of your vocabulary?

CM: I used to submit videos and shorts to all kind of little contests and film festivals when I was a kid, but since I've started working mainly in music videos the annual “contest” in Canada would be the Muchmusic Video Awards. It was a good time when I won “Director of the Year” at the 2009 MMVA’s.



I’m not that cool. I get nervous, but I deal with it. I don't get nervous about directing an artist or talking to executive types. I get nervous over stupid things like a driver’s test or doing an interview.


ST: What music/bands were you listening to when you were 15? What music do you listen to now? As a music fan, do you find that you become obsessed with a band for a few months and then move on, or are you loyal to a group, buying all their CDs?

CM: I was into all sorts of music at 15. I used to love Blink 182, Matthew Good, and Beastie Boys. I was obsessed with the “Freak on a Leash” video by Korn. I’m not going to lie, I downloaded so much music when Napster first came out, I totally f'd myself out of ever having huge budgets in music videos. The record industry could not recover. I single-handedly crippled them with my downloading using my 56k dial up modem.

ST: Given that you’ve been so busy filming throughout your teens, were you able to complete high school? How did you do, overall, within the confines of formal education?


CM: I Graduated from high school with good grades. I really wanted to get the hell out of Port McNeill so I worked really hard in grade 11 and 12 to make sure my grades would be good enough to do a film course at a university that would accept me. I was good at studying the night before a test, and then forgetting everything as soon as the test was done. This of course did not help when the final exams came, but by then it was too late because my grade was already high and couldn't drop that badly. I received a few scholarships that allowed me go to film school, pretty much for free, after high school.


ST: What wise words can you offer those students who may be 15 and may be stuck between their idea of freedom (driving) yet still too young to access anything extracurricular/ of interest outside of school?
What would you say to teenagers who believe the high school typecast forced upon them, by an overbearing clique, actually foreshadows their success as an adult? (Sadly, I have spoken to enough teens who truly believe their school experiences predetermine their futures. If their school experience is horrible, they accept it as a sign of a dismal future.
Perhaps someone young, driven, and successful, can show these teens that high school is only a blip in one’s life and not a predictor of the future. (hint, hint)?

CM: I honestly think hard work pays off more than talent, brains etc... Talent and brains may allow some students to shine in high school, but if you are willing to work hard, putting in the effort and working harder than anyone else you know, then your efforts WILL pay off in some way, shape, or form, in life.
This is a good habit to try and pick up on in high school, or at least during grade 11 and 12. Let’s say you have a friend who is going to get an A+ on an upcoming test, even though he doesn't study... Meanwhile, you’re an average student who will fail if you don’t study... So, study your ass off, and get that B+. Eventually your studying/ hard work ethic will pay off, and your slacker friend will end up playing video games all night while you go off and write and direct a feature film… or whatever... become a doctor… (Remember, drugs can hold you back, too.)


ST: Was there any one person, or several people, (teachers, relatives, friends, etc.) whom you can point to and say that person definitely helped me while growing up because…?

CM: I’m going to save my thank-you speech for an awards show.

(Swanktrendz couldn’t find a clip of Colin’s acceptance speech for his Director-of-the-Year. So I think we still deserve an answer. Hint hint, Mr. Minihan – forward a clip or send us an answer…)

ST: At what age did you officially leave Port McNeill?

CM: 18 years old.

ST: Were you ever into Nirvana, or Eminem, when you were younger?

CM: Both

ST: List five of your favourite movies, either for plot, or for filming style.

CM: I just finished my first feature film – a horror film Cold Spots. So instead of listing my all time top five films, I am going to list my favorite horror films in celebration of this.

1: ALIEN
2: The Thing
3: The Fly
4: The Blob
5: Halloween


Side Note: Colin also created a film titled, Choice. It took him two years to complete. He wrote the screenplay in 11th grade and filmed it in 12th grade. According to Colin, keeping the actors involved for that amount of time was a big part of the challenge. Choice received the Best Cinematography Award after a showing at the Mini DV festival in Hollywood, California.

Work Questions

ST: Do you agree with this comment: “Canada has a habit of eating and spitting out, rather than supporting, its young talent?” Do you agree the music industry/ media will not acknowledge Canadian talent until the ‘talent’ has been embraced elsewhere? For example, once Canada learns that Europe, and/or the USA, has become fond of our home-grown (yet ignored) talent, Canada suddenly welcomes these artists into our tightly-guarded cultural community; proudly introducing them as “Canadian Talent” to the ‘world’ (same world that originally accepted aforesaid artists). Your thoughts?

CM:
I had written a long answer to this but I’d rather not talk about our Canadian music scene in that kind of detail. All I can say is that there are a ton of big bands in Canada that remain only big in Canada.


ST: In what way do you feel Myspace has impacted the music industry (good or bad), and thus impacted the role of directors, producers, etc.?

CM: Myspace did not impact the industry to the same degree as file sharing did. I think Myspace is a much more positive place – one that coexists with the record industry. It allows very easy promotion of tour dates, introduction of new music, fan interaction, chats with the band, etc. Social media platforms, in general, are a huge thing for any band (for promotion) as is Twitter. It lets their fans feel involved, or closer to the band, and in turn, makes the concert experience more exciting for the fans, more profitable for the labels, and so on.
You can click one button and you’re in itunes, purchasing the music you heard off a Myspace site. Myspace also reinforced the importance of videos... it solidified the fact that the music video continues to have a place in the music business.
Now that everything is viral, you get a lot of bands who request more crazy and unique video ideas, rather than the ones Muchmusic or MTV play (the ones that are safe and formulaic). In turn, you get a lot more people and video makers pushing the music video envelope into really cool and new directions.


ST: I think your videos are intriguing, artsy vignettes which introduce overt and subtle techniques. I love your attention to unique framing (with regards to subject/object) Sorry, I have to resort to photography terms as my videographer/ filmmaker lingo is subpar… (okay… nonexistent). Your work also contains fascinating editing techniques: stop starts, etc. and you clearly have a firm grasp on playing with subject lighting.
I’m curious as to how you ‘see’ a scene unfold prior to using the light/shadows, black/white contrasts, etc.?

CM: I generally have a good idea as to the complete colour pallet, and style of lighting that I want to use for each video treatment that I write. This comes after some pre-visualization, or it can happen right away, pending on the feeling you get from the music.
Different approaches fit different concepts and I like to challenge myself, whether that means doing a video full of long choreographed takes; a video that is done entirely in stop motion, or one that has a more classical, cinematic feel to it. It all depends on the vibe I get from the music, and what I see when I close my eyes or stare off into space.
I would hate to limit my work to one kind of visual style - which so many directors do in this business... I think diversity, and being able to jump between genres, is an important thing. I have no two videos that look exactly alike. I’d be bored as hell, if I did.


ST: Did you ever considered yourself a guerilla filmmaker (not waiting on a studio – doing it for yourself)? I often think of Steve Martin’s panned (one I enjoyed) film, “Bowfinger”, as it shows a filmmaker desperate enough to work around the rules/ studios.

CM: I would never wait for a studio to green light something in order to make it. In fact I just co-directed and co-wrote my first feature film, Cold Spots, independently. We are in post-production right now. It’s a horror film and I am stoked that we were able to pull it off. My company (that I incorporated when I was 18) is the company behind it; as well as a few small investors, and off we went. It was one of those situations where we were just sick of waiting around, despite being capable of doing a film on a lower budget. So we said, 'fuck it' and off we went to prove to the Man we could do it. Now we gotta sell, sell, sell, SELL IT. After we finish post of course. See bottom of interview for a synopsis of Cold Spots.



ST: You ‘appear’ to be laid back and relaxed on your video shoots. Are you just being kind for the cameras or do you just take things as they come, and not sweat the small stuff? Are you secretly OCD? Are you up all night, correcting every little ‘perceived’ mistake?

CM: It just depends on how the video is going. I can be a stress case and yell for no reason, or I can be chill and relaxed. It just kind of depends on how the battle is going that day, and if we're losing light.


ST: I’ve studied and I can’t seem to identify your filming ‘tag’. Most directors have a video tag, be it RT’s filmstrip intro, or Sigismondi’s unique jittery, jangly tag. Unless, your ‘tag’ is how you interplay light with dark and/or how you juxtapose the two. Perhaps it’s your use of water? I’m sure you and your close friends know exactly what identifies a film/video as a “Minihan”, but could you please enlighten the rest of us?

CM: Most directors do not have a tag. Not that I'm aware of. Honestly, I think it’s a bit silly to attach an intro, with your name on it, before every video.
Anyone who knows my style, or knows my work, can spot a video of mine within a good 20 seconds of watching it. Unless, of course, I’m being really experimental or something. Directors don’t need a tag to have an identifiable style. I cut all my own work and I think this is a big factor in being able to identify my work, I also am very hands-on with DOPs. Often times, I'll take the camera and operate it, myself, or I’ll DP the shoot, myself.
I think having a strong editing background is one of the most important things a director can have going for them. I don't want to put crazy film roll-outs and grain on every video I do, just to have an identifiable image or 'tag'. Like I said... diversity ....


ST: Do you choose the general theme/ storyline for the video and present it to the artist, or does the artist come to you with an idea and ask you to elaborate upon it by bringing in ‘the art’?

CM: I generally come up with the treatment plan for the video, but the artist might want to tweak it (or collaborate on an idea right from the get-go). It’s cool, either way.

ST: How many times do you listen to a song before a scene begins to materialize in your mind?

CM:
Sometimes 100 times, sometimes once. It depends on if a track is easy, and you get the idea you like right away. Others are harder, and you have to force it out, or pass on them. This is why every music video director ‘stock piles’ treatments that they have written for songs which they did not land the job for...
Funny, but true. You find yourself having a ‘stock pile’ of 20 video ideas you've written in the past, which can be adapted easily to a new track you’ve been given. It might seem a bit of a 'rehash' but, to be honest, these ‘stock pile’ treatments (that were originally rejected by a label or different artist) end up being adapted into some of my favorite videos that I have made.


ST: Do you hand select the extras that appear in the shots, or does a casting agency simply send the ‘type’ you’ve requested over? Does the band have a say in who appears? Do you ever get dreaded requests? (e.g. “I really want my girlfriend/ wife/ mistress/ boyfriend/ mate, whatever, to be in the video?”)

CM:
We do casting through agencies for actors or models. Generally speaking you get a ton of head shots sent over for the types you are looking for and then you meet or audition the top picks.
Sure, sometimes a band member will want their girlfriend to be in the video. I’m pretty cool with this kind of thing, though. It can only obviously work if the treatment allows for it or if they have the right look for it.


ST: Do you still use MediaStudio Pro for music videos, or could you please suggest better software and camera? What equipment would you suggest to others for a feature length film/movie?

CM:
Lol this is a funny question. I stopped using a PC to edit on when i was about 18 and I've been using Final Cut Pro ever since. Final Cut Pro is great... use that.


ST: Is the fish head Mother Mother’s tag, or was that something you thought of? I really enjoyed O my heart. Was it difficult to film?

CM: I think Mother Mother wanted to incorporate the fish somehow from the album artwork on the first video. It worked so well on ‘O My Heart’ that I pitched doing it again for the ‘Body Of Years’ video. Those were two really experimental and interesting videos to make, I had a great time on them - cool band, too!

ST: Who is Cody Mielke and how did the two of you meet and come to work together?




CM:
Sadly, Cody and I do not work together anymore. We met in film school and the relationship ran its course. He was my friend / producer.


ST: How many countries, locations, have you traveled to for your work? Any stand-out exotic/ fun locales? Could you please share some?

CM: I did a Hedley video in Barbados and I got food poisoning. It made what would have been an awesome trip a nightmare. I also shot a video in Cuba and that was pretty awesome. Aside from that I’ve shot in the United States numerous times, and pretty much everywhere in Canada - aside from Montreal. I want to go there.

Colin Minihan’s Random Videography

Here is a random videography of projects Colin Minihan has directed/ co-directed. Again, I must remind you this is only a sampling of this 25-year old’s body of work. I am sure I have missed many (so please feel free to add to this list).
A huge thank-you to Colin for being a good sport and allowing us our online interview. I do understand how busy he is, and hopefully his final consensus will be that the interview is fine, as is.

Random Videography:


Aaron Pritchett "How Do I get There"
Armchair Cynics “Ablaze

Cherry Bomb
Elise Estrada "These Three Words"
Faber Drive "Tongue Tied"

Faber Drive "When Im With You"
Faber Drive " Sleepless Nights

Faber Drive "Get up and Dance"
Faber Drive "Give Him Up"
Faber Drive "You and I tonight
George Canyon "Just Like You"

GOB – “Banshee Song”
Hedley "Don't talk to Strangers"
Hedley "Never Too Late"
Hunter Valentine “Revenge”

Jakalope "Witness"
Lillix – “Nowhere to Run”
Marianas Trench "Cross My Heart"

Colin and Josh - Having spoken/written to both of these artists, I can only imagine the laughs they must have when together. I would have loved to be on the set with Marianas and Colin Minihan (Hell, just a chat with Mike, Josh and Jon Simpkins had my sides aching for 2 days from laughing. Their expertise lies in the one line comeback/zingers/ I wish I could have written some of what was ‘really’ said, but alas not relevant.) Not only are these men talented, but they are extremely gregarious; both of them - personality personified!




Marianas Trench "All To Myself"
Marianas Trench "Celebrity Status"
Mother Mother "O My Heart"
Mother Mother "Body Of Years"
Obsidian "Ultimate Disaster"
Papa Roach "I almost told you that I loved you"
Protest The Hero "Divine Suicide of K"
Social Code "Bomb Hands"
Social Code "Satisfied"
Social Code "Everyday (late November)"
Social Code "The Shortest Line"
Ten Second Epic "Suck It Up, Princess"
Ten Second Epic "Count Yourself In"
Ten Second Epic "Life Times"
Ten Second Epic "Avenue Days"
Ten Second Epic "Old Habits Die Hard"
Theory of a Deadman "Bad Girlfriend"
Theory of a Deadman "So Happy"
The Flatliners "Eulogy"
The Set "Echo Head"
The Set "Survive"


Colin Minihan is interviewed on Urban Rush: August, 2010

Brief Synopsis for the movie Cold Spots

(New Film co-written and directed by Colin Minihan)


The film centers on the five-person crew of "Grave Encounters",a ghost-hunting reality show, which is shooting an episode inside an abandoned, insane asylum.

After interviewing numerous witnesses who claim to have had paranormal experiences there, they lock themselves inside the massive building and begin their investigation.

To their delight, strange things do begin happening - objects moving on their own, ghostly voices echoing through the halls - and they capture it all on camera. But they soon realize that the building is more than just haunted - it is alive - and doesn't want them to leave.

Doors that should lead outside only lead to more hallways, as if the building itself is changing. Time appears to pass, yet every daytime expected, reveals itself to still be night. The crew is confused and frightened.

The crew has found themselves trapped in an impossible nightmare, hiding from ghosts of crazed patients who haunt the building, slowly picking off the outsiders one by one.


As food and water run low and the crew desperately search for a way out ... but not before unearthing the truth behind the asylum's shrouded past ... Someone is managing to film their final close-up ... their demise, on camera!

Sounds positively creepy! Christine

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Monkey Trick - New Band Alert

I found Monkey Trick while watching the band, Temper Trap’s, video “Sweet Disposition” on youtube. (Great video, btw.)

Monkey Trick’s frivolous name belies their lyrical social awareness. I wonder why they arrived at such an inane name? Perhaps it their way of paying homage to Jesus Lizard’s popular song; or perhaps they see themselves as, literally, a mischievous prank?

Despite their contrary moniker, Monkey Trick’s music is not a joke and the band does have musical skills. The lead singer’s voice is reminiscent of Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and his lyrics are delivered with the same intensity as Vedder's. As well, the guitar work is stellar and the drumming is adept.

Scars is a great song/video because it reinforces that although people may have all the material comforts one could wish for; without emotional harmony, it’s all for naught. One must accept and process the traumas of one’s youth in order to enjoy the present.

One complaint - Monkey Trick’s videos follow the same format - lyrics are shown against accompanying still photos reflecting (or projecting) the song’s emotional intent. Then again, perhaps the band is too young to afford costly video production and engineering.

Despite initially resenting the ‘sing along’ style of their videos, I am glad I was able to read the lyrics as I would have misheard some areas. Either I was spoiled by the lyrical hand holding, or the songs could do with better sound mixing.

Now, I’m not sure if I am off here, but as I was googling the band’s name, looking for more information, I came across a blog entry by an “Eddie Vedder” stating Monkey Trick was a new band of his. Is this real, or is it a ‘monkey trick’? I’m not sure at this stage, but I do know that the band is worth checking out - especially the songs, No Horns, no Halo and Scars.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our Lady Peace at The Vogue, May 13, 2010 By Christine Albrecht

Concert Review By: Christine Albrecht
Vancouver's Vogue Theatre


Our Lady Peace’s current tour is advertised online as the band’s attempt “...to recreate our Clumsy and Spiritual Machines records in their entirety on two separate nights. We have chosen some of the country’s most historic and majestic theatres to insure the sound and lights will be of the highest quality...”

Highest quality, indeed. Our Lady Peace chose a beautiful venue, Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre, and its updated acoustics, magnified every off-key note, as well as enhanced every mellifluous moment. In contrast to the venue’s historical architecture, was an added giant video screen. Images bombarded us throughout OLP’s set; images mirroring, sometimes enacting, the songs’ variety of emotions. (I suppose the screen was for those suffering with sensitivtiy-recognition-disabilities).

Released in January of 1997, Clumsy, was a beloved CD amongst young Canadians (selling enough units to garner diamond status). I effortlessly learned all “Clumsy's” lyrics due to innumerable, impromptu karaoke presentations, courtesy of the tweens I worked with in ‘97.

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amazon.ca image

I, and my co-reviewer, Ian Albrecht, had been eagerly anticipating this evening for weeks. With no opening act to politely tolerate, we were presented with Our Lady Peace on time, and the crowd appeared (translate - LOUD) thrilled to re-experience OLP’s Clumsy. To reinforce fan expectations, Raine Maida introduced the gig stating that Clumsy would be played in its entirety (enthusiastic response), followed by a brief intermission, then OLP would conclude the concert with a “free for all” (more enthusiasm).

True to his word, Raine Maida (vocals), Duncan Coutts (bass), Jeremy Taggart (drums), and Steve Mazur (guitar) played the Clumsy CD all the way through. To be fair, especially after you read on, We’d like to note the drums and guitar playing throughout the gig were incredible. It should also be noted that Taggart's drumming was especially outstanding during Car Crash and The Story of 100 Aisles. Mazur’s playing was consistent throughout the set.

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OLP site image

The first indication that something was amiss was during the first song, Superman’s Dead. Both Ian and I were uncomfortable with Raine’s distanced delivery. He was singing a set of songs that he clearly held no love for. Dismissing this as first song blip, we waited/waded through the entire set before delivering a mutual decision. Raine didn’t love Clumsy with the same intensity as his adoring fans.

To be fair, Raine Maida hasn’t used his so-called 'signature’ nasal/falsetto early-days OLP voice since the release of their 2002 album, Gravity. As I watched Raine sing into the mic, I noted each time a higher-pitch, nasal-falsetto “Maida note” was needed, we were met with distorted bass feedback. Initially, I dismissed the distortion as a sound hiccup, but its well-timed recurrence made it a gee, ‘it’s-hard-do-hit-high-notes” convenience. It must be frustrating for Maida to attempt a tone that had been forgotten for 10 years, in the name of nostalgia.

While Raine chatted about where Clumsy’s songs were conceived; which song he never liked, it became further apparent that he wasn’t receiving any pleasure performing Clumsy’s songs. The only time I noticed genuine warmth in that (very attractive) face of his was while the audience was singing his songs, or during the crowd applause/ individual interactions. Perhaps he was finally indulging OLP’s Clumsy fanatics, after years of ignored requests. Maybe he wants to remind fans that OLP’s still around, prior to releasing their next album. Online, OLP spokespeople have alluded that the next album will see OLP returning to their early roots. I don’t buy that. Not after watching this performance.

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When I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable for Mr. Maida, I was feeling indifferent (I suppose it was catching). Maida never spoke of a song that held significance for him; no song was mentioned that he was attached to. I decided I didn’t need OLP to share their favourite tunes or memories because I was more interested in the lives and experiences of those surrounding me. I bet I could find a book’s worth of material in OLP's audience.

The audience’s median age was 25, and they appeared to come from all walks of life. I was entertained with how a initially laid-back viewer would suddenly perk up, and lean forward as the first few notes of a song were played. I was impressed with the amount of men, and women, openly emotional with the lyrics of Carnival. I realized that this crowd didn’t care how Raine Maida’s delivery was tonight - they came to see OLP perform songs from an album, and an era, that held special meaning for them. Each one of Clumsy’s songs was ‘somebody’s’ favourite. For many, I think tonight’s concert was a cathartic release.

Both Ian and I agreed that the highlight of the evening was watching OLP’s fans. Listening to the crowd songs back to Raine made me re-examine lyrics I so robotically hummed in the past. 4:00 a.m. was the standout song due to audience participation. Our Lady Peace should be proud of producing a piece of art (Clumsy) that impacted so many people, in so many ways. I recall Raine mentioning that some filming was occuring; I hope the camera captured the crowd’s combination of responses from reflection, to misty-eyed recollection, to rapture.

We came to hear Clumsy, and after receiving what we came for, we left. We couldn’t be convinced that OLP’s ‘free-for-all’ would be worth staying for, especially since we felt disconnected since the first set. As well, Raine’s lackluster performance did not convince us Our Lady Peace were on tour to ‘”recreate the record” as advertised. The only thing recreated tonight, was the audience’s collective response to an album that deeply affected them back in 1997. And the highlight of the evening will always remain as the audience’s version of 4:00 a.m. when the crowd sang back to Raine, with sincerity in their voices, and emotion dancing in their eyes. The fans outperformed anything Our Lady Peace could have (and should have) mustered up.

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pegasus 2009 concert image

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Facebook Still Under Fire Regarding Lack of Privacy By Christine Albrecht



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Here’s an article I read an hour ago.

When I read articles such as this, I admonish myself for not trusting my ‘gut’. Every time I sign up for one of these ‘social networking’ sites, something inside tells me I am making a poor decision, yet I will push the hesitation aside and carry on.

Of course, if I feel too many personal questions are being unnecessarily asked, I will rarely sign on to a new site. I am always curious why they need that information for a site that merely wants to allow people to connect with each other? I understand EBay’s, or Paypal’s, need to confirm addresses etc. as they are a retail/money business, but why for social networking? I’d like to think I am clever enough to know that Raddim Naherlari, the wealthy banker from Nairobi, is not someone with whom I need to continue email correspondence. But in hindsight, considering the information that I have released online, I’m not that clever at all.

I have a Facebook account, in fact, I have two. One account I acquired simply for playing word games without any concern regarding the information I supplied and whether it is shared or not.. For those unaware, Facebook carries many third-party games, and activities. As soon as you attempt to receive a cyber ‘gift’, disclaimers pop up requiring you to release your information in order to continue. Well, my second account idea was not that clever after all, and my cautious approach has been in vain as any “friend” listed on my Facebook page may have inadvertently already released my information because he/she opted to sign onto a game. As soon as someone linked to my page, opens their page for scrutiny, I become a part of that scrutiny simply through default.

It’s a shame, really, as I like the social-networking premise of Facebook. The platform has allowed me to find old friends who had simply moved on - people whom I have always wondered about. I’ve also found people I‘ve needed to thank because of some impact they (unknowingly) made in my life. Facebook has allowed me these opportunities.

I am sure there is another social net-working program right around the corner, waiting to be launched. We’ll all jump on the bandwagon and Facebook will become less used, much like Myspace; still useful, but not relied upon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Warner New Releases as of April 16, 2010: Reported by Christine Albrecht

NEW RELEASE DATES – As of April 16, 2010
ALL DATES ARE TENTATIVE


APRIL 20


CIRCA SURVIVE Blue Sky Noise
GRATEFUL DEAD Crimson, White & Indigo: Jul 7/89, JFK Stadium (3 cds & dvd)
JON & ROY Homes
RATT Infestation
SEVENDUST Cold Day Memory (CD/DVD)


APRIL 27


B.o.B. aka Bobby Ray The Adventures Of Bobby Ray
BORIS, TREVOR Over Easy (DVD)
K’MARO 01.10
KEELOR, GREG Gunless: An Original Soundtrack…
LABELLE, JESSE Perfect Accident
MESSINA, JO DEE Unmistakable Love


MAY 4


BRAXTON, TONI Pulse
CURRIE, JUSTIN The Great War
DEFTONES Diamond Eyes
FLAMING LIPS… ..& Stardeath & White Dwarfs..doing Dark Side Of The Moon
RUTLEDGE, JUSTIN The Early Widows
ZAC BROWN BAND Pass The Jar….Live from Fox Theatre In Atlanta (2 cd & dvd)


MAY 11


A-HA The Singles1984-2004
BROWNE, JACKSON &
DAVID LINDLEY
Love Is Strange
CHARICE Charice
DEAD WEATHER, THE Sea of Cowards
EVEREST On Approach
GREEN DAY Orig. Broadway Cast Recording of “American Idiot”
MEATLOAF Hang Cool Teddy Bear
SOUNDTRACK Drawn Together

Thursday, April 08, 2010

HAIL THE VILLAIN LAUNCHES UNIQUE INTERACTIVE WEBSITE Posted by Christine Albrecht

HAIL THE VILLAIN LAUNCHES UNIQUE INTERACTIVE WEBSITE



Band to hit the road in the U.S. with Sevendust prior to release of debut album, Population: Declining

Elektra Entertainment

Hail The Villain
has emerged out of Oshawa, Ontario (the automobile epicenter of Canada), to unleash the band’s master plan on an unsuspecting population with the launch of one of the most creative and technologically advanced websites ever built for a band – Click on article title for band's url.

The band isn’t satisfied with just writing songs, making an album and going out on tour. They want to create an entire Hail The Villain universe that includes not only the music, but a dynamic live show, animated videos, a comic book and their unique website.

Designed and built by RUNE Entertainment and GRAND Creative Studios, the website opens with family man and steel factory worker Drake Carter ending his affair with seductive co-worker Thea Landa. This sparks a chain of events that leads to Drake's murder at the hands of his former lover and secret Villain as she moves to claim his soul.


Freezing time in that brutal and savage moment, the website allows users to navigate through the scene to unlock character back-stories, clues and downloads, to participate in the story by becoming Villainized and to share messages with the band.

“This is one of the most interactive websites that we’ve ever seen,”
enthuses Hail The Villain singer Bryan Crouch. “It truly brings our fans into our Universe and allows us to have direct communication with them through our video channels, and the Book of Souls. It’s a site where you can lose yourself for hours in the story that we created. I wish more bands were doing things like this.”

The concept for the website grew out of a series of sketches the band had created as a rough draft for a comic book inspired by the sounds of their new album, Population: Declining which will be released throughout North America on June 8, 2010. Armed with the band’s ideas, RUNE and GRAND set out to design a website with a difference, building a range of engaging features to plug into and enhance a story crafted to showcase the band’s music.

"When we met the group they told us that they were looking for an atypical band website and essentially gave us carte blanche to go off and create something unique,
" explains GRAND co-partner Luke Canning. Taking that brief as their starting point, the challenge for us was to build a site that would set Hail the Villain apart from the cacophony of acts populating the pages of MySpace and Facebook.

Taking the point-and-click concept to a whole new level, HailTheVillain.com presents a series of artfully illustrated environments to explore, with clues and hints, character bios and Easter eggs hidden at every turn. Numbers scrawled in matchbooks unlock audio content when punched into a phone booth, while a map hidden in the glove compartment foreshadows a darker plot twist that will be revealed in one of the upcoming comics.

To drive audience participation, users are invited to activate their webcam at the start of the experience. As they journey through the site, visitors will uncover various opportunities to upload and modify pictures of themselves, record and share videos with the band and other fans, and stumble across several other surprises.

Hail The Villain’s debut album, Population: Declining was produced by Darryl Romphf and will be released on June 8, 2010 by Warner Music Canada, while Roadrunner Records will be releasing the album on the same day in the United States. The album’s release is preceded by the album’s first single, “Take Back The Fear,” and its accompanying animated video, produced by RUNE Entertainment.



Prior to the album’s release, Hail The Villain hits the road in the U.S. for a month of dates opening for Sevendust:

April 21 Knoxville, TN Valarium
April 22 Louisville, KY Headliner’s
April 25 Ladson, SC Ladson Fairground
April 27 Fayetteville, AR Majestic Lounge
April 28 Huoma, LA The City Club
April 30 Atlanta, GA The Tabernacle
May 1 Orlando, FL Tinker Field
May 4 West Springfield, VA JAXX
May 5 Richmond, VA The Natonal
May 7 Clifton Park, NY Northern Lights
May 8 Allentown, PA Crocodile Rock
May 9 Syracuse, NY Westcott Theatre
May 11 Wantagh, NY Mulcahy’s
May 12 Lancaster, PA Chameleon Club
May 14 Sounth Bend, IN Club Fever
May 15 Kenosha, WI Eagles Ballroom
May 16 Flint, MI The Machine Shop
May 20 Ft. Wayne, IN Pierre’s
May 21 Traverse City, MI Ground Zero
May 22 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Ballroom

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The End of Louis XIV... For Now By Christine Albrecht

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Bands often remind me of hockey teams. You can hire the best and the brightest performers available, but if the individual players don’t gel as a ‘team’, then they can’t get ahead - regardless of the combined talent. That analogy sprang to mind when I heard that Louis XVI had parted ways to pursue their individual musical careers.

They got out of the game rather early, considering they have only been a group since 2003. Perhaps they could see the writing on the wall better than most bands. Louis XVI was fortunate enough to receive ‘just discovered’ status, but for some reason they weren’t able to sustain the public’s interest. As a journalist in Manchester wrote, Louis XIV had been “criminally overlooked”.

Louis XIV consists of singer/guitarist - Jason Hill, guitarist - Brian Karscig, drummer - Mark Maigaard, and bassist - James Armbrust. (In 2007 they added violinist, Ray Suen for tours.) They formed in April of 2003 and released several EPs. In 2004, local California DJs began sampling songs from the band’s Myspace page which prompted a quick release of yet another EP. They were quickly signed by Atlanta, in the Fall of 2004, and they released the album The Best Little Secrets are Kept. The album sounded raw and gritty, as though they had recorded in their garage, using a reel to reel. The effect worked - The Best Little Secrets are Kept is an album worth owning – each song brings its own eccentric sound to the finished whole.

These were not young, inexperienced musicians, but rather high calibre performers. Both Hill and Karsig performed on The Killer’s lauded album, Sam’s Town. Karcig, a music producer, also owns Nervous Productions. Hill is known for working with The Killers, The Virgins, David Bowie, as well as others. A formidable list of talented musicians seek Hill’s assistance, which begs the question, why couldn’t Hill propel his own band into a higher musical stratosphere? What happened to 2005’s wave of adulation, with Bowie generously dropping their name during interviews; Rolling Stone magazine and MTV deemed Louis XIV as one of the “top ten bands to watch”?

With the release of The Best..., Louis XIV came controversy. Most notably (and humorously) being known as the band who was banned in Hoover, Alabama. Regarding the Hoover incident, Hill was quoted in an interview as saying, “...but in some ways, the most negative press can also be the biggest compliment...” If this is the case, then 2005 was Louis XIV’s banner year for both accolades and ‘compliments”.


Hill in 2005

Specifically, the song, Finding Out True Love is Blind caused a stir. It was a top 10 hit, but it also prompted a knee jerk response from various special interest groups. These groups were calling for radio censorship and even going so far as to plead with the public not to buy the CD. It is a great song, and yes, the lyrics could be viewed as crude, perhaps even misogynistic, but no worse than top-selling rap albums. Why was this band being targeted by these groups, and why was Hill publicly being called chauvinistic, lewd, and racist? Ironically, the family-oriented Wal-Mart sold the Louis XIV CD, and made no effort to remove it.

Songs are akin to books; the publication of a book or song does not immediately reflect or indicate the writer’s innermost beliefs. It’s just a song/book, period. And since the public is given the gift of choice - either buy the CD, or don’t.



It appeared that Louis XIV was going to approach their zenith again when they released their 2008 album, Slick Dogs and Ponies. Favourable media attention was received when they toured with The Killers in 2009, yet the general public continued to overlook the band. Their recent songs, Air Traffic Control and Guilt by Association were gems, yet received little airplay, aside from occasional college radio stations. The public’s indifference to Louis XIV will remain a mystery. One can only fall back on the hockey analogy – perhaps these talented musicians simply weren’t able to “gel” as a unit.

2010 - the band is no longer, having sputtered out after several attempts to ignite excitement over their releases. Seven years is enough time to know whether staying together is worth the effort required. However, the band’s sporadic efforts will be missed as their music was worthy of attention. Here’s hoping that each member quickly tires of individual pursuits, and they once again unite to show the world that they are, as Rolling Stone once noted, a band to watch.



Louis XIV in 2009

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Music Releases From Warner’s Reported By: Christine Albrecht

Here are a few dates to look forward to:

March 23rd


Soundtracks from the movies: Hot Tub Time Machine and The Runaways
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The White Stripes Under the Great White Northern Lights (boxed set)
Disturbed – The Sickness 10th Anniversary Edition
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Devil Makes Three – Do Wrong Right

March 30th

Bjork
– Voltaic
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Duke Squad - Infamous
Inner Circle - State of Da World
Joe Rogan - Talking Monkeys In Space
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Sarah Silverman – Songs of the Sarah Silverman Program
Speed Caravan - Kalashnik Love
Various Artists performances from Memphis: A New Musical

April 6th

David Byrne and Fatboy Slim – Here Lies Love
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Jeff Healey – Beautiful Noise DVD and Lasg Call
Flatfoot 56 – Black Thorn
Madonna – The Sticky and Sweet Tour
The Doors – When you are Strange Movie soundtrack
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April 13th

Jeff Beck – Emotion and Commotion
Sarah Blackwood – Wasting Time
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Foxy Shazam – Self Titled
Jon & Roy - Homes
Kaya Project – Desert Place
The Spill Canvas – Realities
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Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep
Zac Brown Band - Live From The Fox Theatre

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Concert Review: Cancer Bats, Against Me, AlexisonFire, and Billy Talent By: Christine Albrecht

Where and When: March 6, 2010 Interior Savings Stadium - Kamloops, B.C.


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At 6:45 sharp. Cancer Bats took the stage at Interior Savings Place (stadium home of the notable Kamloops Blazers). The band came out with guns blazing; they've could have been playing for 10 people, or 10,000 - either way, they gave it their all. Four songs into the set, the singer actually stopped and formally apologized to the natives of Kamloops for having never toured in their city before. I think it dawned on him that the packed mosh pit was for them, rather than the usual ten rockers, determined to hold their spot until Billy Talent appears. Cancer Bats' biggest crowd pleaser was their rendition of the Beastie Boys', Sabotage. Was this band my type? No, but I could appreciate their talent: the shredding guitar, stage presence, and good vocals. My co-reviewer concluded that Cancer Bats' act came second, in talent, only to Billy Talent. Quite a compliment. The Cancer Bats hail from Toronto, and consist of: singer Liam Cormier,guitarist Scott Middleton, bassist Jaye Schwarzer , and drummer Mike Peters. They were clever enough to continue promoting the band by having merchandise for sale, as well as offering a free sample CDs. The members appear charismatic and Liam, especially, has good stage presence. Well done, gang.

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Second on the bill was Against Me (my favourite band, second to Billy Talent, and with exception to Dallas Green whose voice leaves me speechless). Gainesville, Florida native,Tom Gabel, began his music career as a 17-year old solo acoustic act known as Against Me. He soon invited on board the others who make up the band (please realize, this band's been around since '93). The Vocalist/guitarist is Tom Gabel, bassist/vocals is Andrew Seward, drummer is Warren Oakes, and guitarist/vocals is James Bowman. Mind you, we did see a fourth unnamed rhythm guitarist playing throughout the set.

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They finished their set with Thrash Unreal, which seemed to wake the whole stadium out of its stupor into an "...oh, I know this one...", and then the crowd thrashed about .'Against Me's' song list included: From Her Lips to God's Ear, Stop, White People for Peace, and White Crosses, amongst others. Their set was fast-furious, no pausing, no chitchat (they had to fit ten years of music into 36 minutes). But hands down, they had most socially-current, politically aware, and intrinsically-accountable set there was. The lyrics were complex; making you want to “Google”, when you get home in case you missed a lyric. Yes, I recognize Ben (of Billy Talent) also writes great songs, but these lyrics demanded from us, a social conscience, and hence, was lost on many in attendance. Of all the bands, Against Me were the ones who stood out as not being 'screamo' enough. They didn't seem to fit the genre bill, but they did fit the social conscience bill.

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Not to make light of a horrific incident, and I am being sincere when I say that you know a band has “arrived” if fans are getting randomly trampled during the rush to the stage. During their gig for the Olympics, Alexisonfire had to stop only 10 seconds into their gig. Welcome to Alexisonfire.

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Alexisonfire took the stage at 8:22 and delivered exactly what the crowd expected, and no one left disappointed. Hailing from St. Catherine's, Ontario, the band consists consist of: vocalist George Pettit, guitarist/ pianist/ vocalist Dallas Green, vocalist/ guitarist Wade MacNeil, bassist Chris Steele, and drummer Jordan Hastings. Alexisonfire are also clever lyricists, as heard in songs : Cardinal, Rough Hands, Born and Raised, Boiled Frogs, Old, Crows, and This Could be Anywhere in the World, amongst others. I'm not much for screamo rock, but the absolute contrast between Dallas Green's voice and George Pettit's somehow makes it work. As for Dallas Green, his voice is so achingly beautiful, for lack of a better description, makes me want to cry with appreciation. His talent is stunning.

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(Image of Dallas, Ben and Chris is from Much Music Awards, taken by George Pimentel/WireImage)

When I looked around, I was surprised to see how many inner-child, male seat-rockers there were - you know - those kids who rock back and forth violently in order to find some form of comfort. Well, Alexisonfire, brought out the literal seat-rockers in a lot of men sitting in the bleachers. While Alexisonfire was performing on stage, I'd like to thank George Pettit for having the best fan/mosh-pit control I have seen in ages. And he did it all without actually mentioning behaviour or expectations. He was just very good at diverting attention.

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At 9:30 sharp, our men of the hour - Billy Talent - came out to rock us. Opening with, Devil in a Midnight Mass, my first reaction was, Uh Oh.! I wasn't confident that Ben could maintain his vocal high and low pitches, nor keep his strong, sustained notes, judging by his vocal struggle/straining with his first tune.

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But only Ben Kowalewicz knows the true secret in maintaining his voice, especially when songs demand so much from a singer… Voila! In Kamloops Bizarro World, the reverse occurred! Ben's voice actually got better and better as he belted out tunes such as: Honesty, Surrender (which he jokingly dedicated to Dallas Green’s voice), Red Flag, Rusted from the Rain, Nothing to lose, amongst others, until we could no longer tell the difference between his voice and his voice on a good stereo system. Ben's voice was in peak form by the time be got to the encore, Devil on my shoulder and Fallen Leaves. I can only shake my head, and wonder, how does one become so talented?

Ian D'Sa

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was in fine form - looking good and sound great. He and Ben complement each other, and my co-reviewer noted that it is like Ben is responding (in song) to Ian's guitar. One of these days, I would love Ian to shave his head, just to see what the response would be. With some fans, how much is music driven, and how much is trend driven?

As well, bassist, Jonathan Gallant

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and drummer, Aaron Solowoniuk
at their best which reinforced the band's worth ethic (that they put forth their best effort regardless of where they're playing, and how many they are playing to.) Another trait I enjoy about this band is their awareness of various charities, without calling attention to themselves for doing so. Look at each member, and you will be impressed with the level of education they've reached as well as fundraisers they've spearheaded. The quintessential Canadian band.

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Final verdict:Amazing! 9/10

They would have scored 10/10 if they hadn’t ‘forced an encore” (many readers have heard me rant about this before).

Obviously Ben is going to sing his top two hits of all time, Fallen Leaves and Devil on my Shoulder, so to say Goodnight and saunter off the stage was off-putting to me. I stuck around long enough to see if the roadies would pack up... but no. So off we went into the Kamloops’ evening

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Oscar dust-up: He got Kanye’d

I have to share an article I read online by Lauren Beckham Falcon. I found it to be highly amusing, as well as timely because I had just finished a conversation with a friend during which I referred to an Oscar incident as being a “Kanye repeat”.

When I read Lauren’s article, I realized I was not alone in my habit of creating new jargon, based upon pop-cultural events. I do not have permission to reproduce this article, so don’t be surprised if it is gone tomorrow, but the purpose of this post is purely complimentary. Here's Lauren's article:

Today’s vocabulary lesson:

Producer Elinor Burkett didn’t interrupt “Music By Prudence” director Roger Ross Williams when she grabbed the mike during his Oscar acceptance speech Sunday night.

She Kanye’d him.

Kanye: v. To steal someone’s spotlight by interrupting them during an acceptance speech. (Origin: the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when Taylor Swift won for Best Female Video and rapper West stormed the stage, took her mike and said, “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.”)

As for the Burkett/Williams Oscar beef, it’s reportedly been brewing for a year.

Burkett, the producer of the award-winning documentary short, says she and Williams disagreed on the creative direction of the film, so she voluntarily removed herself from the project. Yet she insists she should have accepted the award. Williams disagrees, claiming she didn’t belong anywhere near the stage.

Either way, we’re all winners. They have their gold statues. We have a new way to describe misconduct.

But why stop with Kanye? He’s not the only celebrity whose behavior deserves a place in dictionary.com.

Mayer: v. To say too much. (Origin: John Mayer’s Playboy interview in which he called Jessica Simpson “sexual napalm,” used the N-word and revealed he won’t sleep with black women.) Usage: “I totally Mayered my job interview when I said I can’t really get my act together before 10 a.m.

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Bale: v. To lose your mind with a co-worker. (Origin: Christian Bale’s 10-minute “Terminator” rant.) Usage: “Rahm really Baled when I told him we didn’t have enough votes to pass the bill. It was crazy awkward and people left the room.”

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Lohaned: adj. Having so thoroughly abused yourself that you look like an 87-year-old, heavy-drinking sunbather from Miami at age 23. (Origin: Lindsay Lohan. See also: Dina Lohan, Michael Lohan and Ali Lohan.) Usage: “All the booze and sun from my week in Cabo has left me Lohaned. I need an intervention and microdermabrasion immediately.

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Katie: v. To be brainwashed by an older man and his money and power. (Origin: Katie Holmes.) Usage: “Jen has been completely Katied since she started dating that crazy investment banker. He’s a jerk, but he just bought her front-row seats to Taylor Swift and is taking her to the Vineyard next weekend.”

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Farrah: v. Overshadowed and ultimately forgotten. (Origin: Farrah Fawcett, who died a few hours before Michael Jackson, expunging her obit from the front pages; and she wasn’t even mentioned in Sunday’s Oscar tribute to stars we lost last year.) Usage: “I got a B-plus on my book report, but was Farrahed by my older sister, who scored a full scholarship to Stanford.”

- lbfalcone@bostonherald.com

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rant on, RageBoy (aka Chief Blogging Officer)... and do it again! By JargonTalk

Do The Bombast Transcripts and The Cluetrain Manifesto mean anything to the ‘Net as we know it today?'



I've liked reading Chris Locke (aka Rageboy, aka Chief Blogging Officer) since he and fellow authors Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger showed how the Internet was turning business upside down with their original 
publication of The Cluetrain Manifesto a decade ago. They had argued that commerce should be about conversations, no matter what the medium, and should not be about transactions. This was pretty heady stuff a decade ago, and this book did cause a number of CEOs to examine their own businesses... but maybe not enough of them.

I was working for a now-defunct "Internet Super Carrier" (And here's Christine's partial addition)
ASHBURN, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 13, 2000

PSINet Inc. (Nasdaq:PSIX), the Internet Super Carrier, today announced that in response to customer demands for greater bandwidth, it has increased its network capacity with OC-192 circuit connections on the U.S. East Coast and entry points into Canada.

Four OC-192 wavelengths, or an aggregate of 40 gigabits per second speed, will connect four PSINet hosting centers located in Toronto, New York City, Herndon (VA) and Atlanta. The upgrade was necessary to satisfy…

located in Northern Virginia about the time of the paperback release of that title

2001: My associates and I quoted regularly from our copies as we watched our 'Net worlds sinking around us in that strange financial collapse of so many of the telecoms and ISPs during that year.

Shortly after getting and reading my original hardbound copy of Cluetrain, I found that Chris Locke had a number of regular online journals to be found, especially his Mystic Bourgeoisie and his Entropy Gradient Reversals. (The author of these is also the Chairman Emeritus of The Titanic Deck Chair Rearrangement Corporation NASDAQ:TDCRC, but that's another story in itself.) Chris was already quite experienced at publishing on the Web when some were asking "What's a blog?"

He provided diversionary enlightenment to a number of us as we watched the collapse our so-called 'Net empires that year. Many of the thoughts that the author was noting on his various Web pages and blogs proved to be prophetic.



When The Bombast Transcripts: Rants and Screeds of RageBoy came out in early 2002, I bought my first hardbound copy, one that became the merciless victim of a yellow highlighter and numerous Post-It tabs as I furiously noted sections that I felt were worth referencing for future use. All of this was taking place during a frantic search for a new IT project management leadership position and a complete personal domestic relations meltdown.

That book was "borrowed" by a colleague last year and never returned. As it's a critical one on my IT reference shelf, was pleased to find it still also listed here as a Bargain Book. I grabbed it, and reading it again has proven to be a pleasure as I've become quite accustomed over the years to RageBoy's gonzo-journalist style.

As Publishers Weekly once put it, "Resurrect William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and , add a dash of Dilbert and that's RageBoy." I'll add a dash of Hunter S. Thompson to that, though Kat Herding may have other points of view.

But now authors Chris Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger have released The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition, with a new introduction and chapters by the original authors, and commentary by Jake McKee, JP Rangaswami, and Dan Gillmor. A decade after its original publication, their message remains more relevant than ever. The Cluetrain Manifesto began as a Web site (cluetrain.com) in 1999 when the authors, who have worked variously at IBM, Sun Microsystems, the Linux Journal, and NPR, posted 95 theses about the new reality of the networked marketplace. Ten years after its original publication, their message remains more relevant than ever.

I am personally finding this new book to be truly essential reading for anybody interested in the 'Net and e-commerce, and it's especially vital for businesses navigating the topography of the wired marketplace.

If you want an even broader understanding of Cluetrain, try The Bombast Transcripts: Rants and Screeds of Rageboy as a companion volume of sorts. It's not for everyone, and some may even find him irreverent and slightly offensive. This reader did not. He'll either charm or alarm you, but Chris has a way with words that is unforgettable. And just be aware that despite the fact that he lives in Boulder, Colorado, he has never recanted anything.

I'm calling this one a 5-star read. And apologies to the author for again bringing up the TDCRC.
]

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Closure (The Good Kind) By Mike Gillis

Okay.

I haven't been here in eons.

But I should let all of you know what I am doing now.


• Visual Webcomic!
• boat-misser
• multiple daily Twitter nonsense!!
• bindle party


Also, I have done the 'film' version of a post that lies within these very pages!
(Beachcomb Revue) has been accepted into the Brooklyn International Film Festival. Yes... in Brooklyn!

Also... also... more exciting new-projects to come. To get updates on those, you have to check Twitter for updates on those, check the Twitter. I think my blog, Sneakin' out of the Hospital is fine just the way it is, so I'm going to leave it exactly like this. Forever.

Thanks for all your comments, encouragement, and high fives over the years.

Peace, Love and Mirth;

Beachcomb Revue

Mike Gillis

Jargontalk's Review: Magellan Triton 2000: not ready for prime time



Amazon Review by Jargontalk

To purchase Magellan Triton 2000 Handheld Navigation System - go to this link.

Price: $399.99

Availability: Usually ships in 1 to 2 months

I was excited when first offered the Magellan Triton 2000 Handheld Navigation System, since I had been looking at a number of hand-held units that could be used for cycling. I had considered the more basic Magellan Triton 500 and the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx, but had ruled it out the Magellan product due to its mediocre reviews on Amazon. Then came the offer to get it as an "Amazon Vine participant", and I figured that I would try out the Triton 2000 GPS, figuring that maybe some of the reviewers just hadn't taken the time to check out the documentation and learn the product.

Must admit right now that I was wrong, and that most of the reviewers got it right.

I opened the box when it arrived, expecting to find a product that lived up to the specs listed on the product description. And it did... after a fashion. Immediately noticed that the documentation was a bit sparse, so I went to the Magellan site, registered the product, and downloaded the most recent 66-page manual in .PDF format. I then sat down with a cup of coffee, GPS in hand, and proceeded to read it in its entirety. Upon following the directions is when I found two things that became quickly apparent:
(1) that the Magellan 2000 really loves to eat AA alkaline batteries at a surprising rate, and (2) what other users and reviewers had reported about the unit crashing was an understatement, as it did lock up or completely crash... a lot.


Still I wasn't going to be deterred, so I installed the CD and its programs on my PC, and then hooked up the GPS with the supplied USB data cable, a device that was quickly recognized by the PC. I updated the supplied VantagePoint software and the unit's firmware to V1.71, as per the suggestions from the manufacturer. All went well there - except that the unit locked up again immediately after installation, so I reinstalled the firmware upgrade, and all was well... for the time being.

First Impressions:

Other than the observations I've already noted, I found that the Magellan 2000 appeared to be very well made. It had a rugged rubberized orange and black case, and had a number of interesting features that to a mountain bike cyclist were appealing. It's said to be water submersible, and though I didn't want to try dunking it in a sink to test that feature, a subsequent sojourn in unexpected rain proved that to be seemingly true. I have no doubt that it's shock resistant and not flimsy at all. Its built-in LED flashlight adds to the list of handy features, as do the integrated 2Mp digital camera and the MP3 player. They included a few spare stylus units, which I felt was a nice thoughtful touch.

Field Use:

If you buy this GPS, my suggestion is to take the time to read the sometimes-confusing documentation before you go out, as you'll likely be lost without a bit of understanding what the unit will do and how to use it. You'll also need to buy and download a few maps and load them before you go, as the pre-loaded base maps are useless for a beginner. You can get uploadable detail maps which will identify major roads, bodies of water and various geographical boundaries and features, and the best of these appear to be the TOPO! National Geographic USGS Topographic Maps (Pennsylvania, for example).



You view these first (in 3d, no less) on your PC, opt for the map areas you want, and then upload them to your Triton 2000. Be warned that you'll spend an hour or two doing this the first time, and that since this is optional software, be aware that you can spend a few bucks (about $100 or more, depending on the maps you get) doing so. You'll also need a Flash Memory Card on which to store your maps, MP3 music and any photos you may wish to take. As I said, be prepared to spend a few extra bucks before you hit the trails or roads, and that's with out considering a case (or Magellan Triton Handlebar Mountif you're a cyclist such as I am).

Now let's get down to some specific issues regarding the Magellan Triton 2000:

Screen:

The unit's 2.7 inch touch screen is a good feature; it's bright and easy to see, though in bright sunlight it often doesn't seem quite bright enough. It dims automatically to avoid draining the batteries, and you can adjust the screen timer if you find it dims too quickly. A simple touch on the screen makes it brighter. I was able to use a fingertip for many selections. The protective bezel surrounding the screen doesn't allow for selection of some items in the corners, but the included stylus takes care of that. It can be tricky to pull the stylus out of the base of the case, but as noted above, Magellan included a few extras in case one is lost.

User Interface:

The user interface is somewhat clunky to operate. The navigation buttons on the unit don't provide feedback, so it's tricky to know if you entered the buttons or not. I also had repeated issues with the unit locking up and/or rebooting. It's not particularly user-friendly, but it does get the job done. The data transfer speeds between the PC and the GPS are respectable. The supplied VantagePoint software for loading maps is just adequate, and is PC only, so Mac users might wish to check with Magellan before purchasing this unit. In fact, according to Magellan's support site when queried in January 2010 about Macintosh compatibility, I received the following response: "At this time, Magellan products do not support Apple or Macintosh. It may be possible to connect your GPS to a Macintosh computer by searching [...] for connectivity plugins under COM ports or serial ports."

Sensitivity:

The sensitivity of the Triton 2000 is said to be improved over some Magellan models, and this is attributed to their use of the SiRFstar III chipset. While overall sensitivity is improved, it's said to be not quite as good as that in some of the newer Garmin GPS units which uses the same chipset. The Magellan's smaller antenna may be the cause of this, but the difference probably won't be a nuisance for most.

(Garmin)

Batteries:


The product specs simply call for 2x AA batteries, so I installed a fresh pair of AA alkaline batteries. The specs also list "Battery Life: 10 hours." I have an issue with that, as I've never gotten half of that, even without using the LED flashlight, the digital camera or the MP3 player. I was confused by this, until I read of quite a number of other users having the same problem, and more expensive high-capacity lithium batteries only gave me an extra hour over the alkaline cells. Surprisingly I got the best life out of a pair of Sony AA rechargeable NiMH batteries rated at 2500 mAh, but whichever you choose, be sure to carry some spares.



Maps:

Most GPS units of this type come only with base maps, which are maps that only have major roads listed. In the case of the Triton 2000, it's only capable of displaying your location on the base map between interstate highways. These are really out of place for true navigation, especially in this case, as there are no street names. I really got this unit to use for cycling and casual walking, and found that if one wanted to really make use of it for such purposes, then it requires the extra purchase of map software such as those from National Geographic as noted above. And in truth, those are not as detailed as I might like, though some may be satisfied with them.

Geotagging:

In truth I never looked at this unit for geocaching or geotagging, so it's not fair for me to comment on something I've never tried. Just being honest here, but there does seem to be a strong focus on this built within the unit. Others will offer more valid opinions on this topic that this reviewer is qualified to do.

Compass:


The electronic compass is a nice feature, and is visually appealing in all of its ways of display. However if you change the batteries, you must recalibrate it by placing the unit "on a flat, horizontal surface away from any metal objects," then follow the instructions displayed on the screen. That's also true for finding the true north (or magnetic north) on the GPS. It's a nice feature, though it does take a few moments for the compass to find north, and if you use the compass many times, you'll drain the batteries even more quickly. The directions tell you to disable the compass if a GPS fix is available. Go figure.

Digital Camera:


The integrated camera is a pleasant addition, but it's not well implemented. It's a 2 megapixel camera, and the quality is reasonable for simple snapshots, but it is a bit difficult to take photos. You first have to locate the correct menu screen before you can take a picture, then you muse press the "enter" button, then pick the correct menu item to store it. It's a somewhat clunky process, and you can forget about taking quick snapshots.

MP3 Player:

The sound quality is decent, but to use the MP3 player, you'll have to navigate through several menu items first. Since the unit's battery life is so limited, you may not wish to add the extra load on the battery, but just take your favorite MP3 player along if you want music.

Flashlight:

The embedded LED flashlight may help you find your way at night, though it's not as bright as one might hope. And that's probably not really a bad thing, as this reviewer suspects that the flashlight function contributes to the units excessive battery consumption.

Summary:

The Magellan Triton 2000 is a seemingly capable GPS with a lot of nice features. The big 2.7 inch touch screen is a definite plus. It's easier to perform some functions than other GPS units that I played with, but the battery life is not good by any stretch of the imagination. The MP3 player and digital camera are good to have, but they're really not stand-ins for having a decent music player or camera with you. The basic functionality of the unit is OK, but the Triton's firmware could use a good bit of additional tweaking to make it operate reliably.

This reviewer is no GPS expert or geotagger, but just a casual GPS user. In fact, my BlackBerry Curve has a basic no-frills GPS package that responds faster for my basic needs than the Triton 2000, which really surprised me. This has made me consider the Garmin Mobile for BlackBerry package, which seems to have an excellent interface and good features, from what I saw in their trial version. The Magellan Triton 2000 with its rubberized housing is probably more rugged, but there are those of us who just don't need all that this unit seems to be capable of, if they would just get the firmware and software right. Further, the product did not come with a printed manual, only a condensed reference guide, and one that was woefully inadequate considering the price.

Have looked at a number of other GPS units over the past year, and some of these are excellent, highly rated products, as can be seen from some of the user reviews. But this GPS is not that usable right out of the box, and by that I mean that the software costs are steep to just get it to have major roads with street names as reference points.

I really wanted to like this product; in fact I held back on posting a review in order to try and use it with all of its features, but with its excessive battery usage and constant lockups and/or crashes, found it to be more frustrating than I might have ever imagined.

At this price point I have to imagine that you can do a lot better than this particular device, and in good conscience cannot recommend the Magellan Triton 2000 due to the price vs. the issues I have already encountered. All in all, it's a 3-star product, and that's the best that I can do.

Original Amazon Review at