Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Does anyone else think that the three guys running for Ontario Premier have odd names? We have Ernie, Dalton, and Howard. OK, so Howard is not that strange, it's just a bit boring. Ernie? Well, it reminds me of Sesame Street. I can't see how anyone can have any respect for a leader called Ernie. He should just wear a striped shirt and be done with it. Dalton? The only other had Dalton I am aware of is (was) Dalton Camp. Does any nation have room for more than one Dalton?

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Monday, September 29, 2003

Man, they are dropping like flies: Robert Palmer, Warren Zevon, John Ritter, Johnny Cash, George Plimpton, Elia Kazan. It makes me feel mortal.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Waiter Boy Wins Canadian Idol (my last word on Canadian Idol)

Congratulations to Ryan, winner of the manufactured-pop-idol-of-the-moment award. The fact that this was the most popular Canadian television show of all time is depressing and alarming. What is the viewing demographic anyway? I imagine that those people drooling over Ryan are either pre-pubescent girls or middle-aged women? Am I wrong?

He was not the best singer. Gary Beals could out sing him, and so could Billy Klippert. But, I suspect that Billy is thanking his lucky starts that he didn't win. He was saved the embarrassment of having to sing that inane piece of fluff that will be the first single. It's an abysmal example of song writing. It's boring, stupid, and, as Farley Flex said, "Walt Disney-esque." Is that the best they can do?

Oh, and how the hell did Tyler Hamilton get into the top 11? He is the most nasal singer I have ever heard. He has zero musical skill. He makes me cringe.

That's enough on that topic. Let's hope that the worldwide Idol craze dies very soon.


Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Love You Forever makes me puke.

My dislike of Robert Munch's children's book "Love you forever" is total. I wondered if it was intended to be some kind of dark comedy. In some ways, it is very funny, and I laughed the first time I read this story about the most dysfunctional mother-son relationship ever portrayed in children's literature. The last segment where the grown man sneaks into his mother's house to cradle his elderly mother in his arms is perverse and freaky. If one reads this book seriously, it is downright creepy. Has the author never heard of privacy? Perhaps there is something else going on. A few pages earlier, it is the psycho/stalker/mentally unstable mother who drives across town with a ladder strapped to the roof of her car. She climbs the ladder to sneak into her son's bedroom, crawls across the bedroom floor, and rocks him in her arms. I wonder what the man's wife had to say about that. Creepy is too kind a description of this bizarre book.

The scariest thing about the book is that it has sold 15,000,000 copies! What's wrong with you people?

If you don't believe me, believe my daughter. She will bring the book over and ask me to read it to her (I guess she is an eternally optimistic two-year-old). Part way through, she will beg me to stop. "I don't like that one," she says. In ten or fifteen tries, we rarely get past the first three or four pages, and I am relieved when she says she doesn't like it.

Oh, and the art sucks too.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2003

The fact that Arthur Koestler has faded into relative obscurity, while contemporary authors, such as George Orwell, are well-known, has always baffled me. In addition to Koestler's fiction masterpiece, Darkness at Noon, he wrote on a wide range of topics, managing to be controversial, entertaining, and very original. His volumes of autobiography are considered by many to be among the best of the 20th century. Some may remember that the Police used the title of Koestler's Ghost in the Machine for one of their albums.

I had high hopes for David Cesarini's biography (Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind). While it does cover Koestler's life in detail (some of it excruciating), it renders Koestler as a sex-obsessed drunk and possibly a rapist. We need more scholarship on Koestler, and so this book is welcome. But, I am ambivalent about the book and am left to ponder its purpose. Reaction has been mixed. Edinburgh University moved his statue to a safer location, fearing vandals would deface it after having reading about Koestler's attitude to women.

In hindsight, I regret not tallying the car crashes and the mistresses. Both lists would be very very long. His appetite for sex somehow managed to keep pace with his ability to seduce or persuade. I agree that these details are necessary, and it reveals Koestler to be very much unlike the man I had imagined. However, these forays into drunken parties and the endless stream of girlfriends almost overshadow the portrait of the man as a very influential thinker, and author of some of the most important books of his time. I got the hint that Koestler was a terrible driver (largely because of his drinking) early in the book. Why do we need descriptions of his serial automobile accidents?

Overall, the book is a remarkable portrait of a man who deserves more scholarly attention. It's probably the best book we will get on Koestler for a long time.

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Monday, September 08, 2003

Election Fever

Finally, we get the chance to get rid of the Tory government in Ontario. The Common-Sense revolution is dead. It made no sense anyway. I hope the people of Ontario will see through the Conservative Party's self-serving promises, like the $500 per year mortgage interest deduction. They have to be kidding. They know the only way they can hope to win is to offer stupid incentives like that, while they continue to dismantle public education and destroy the health care system. The electrical system is a mess. I say, vote Public Power. It's the only real choice. The NDP has a real platform that makes sense: public health care, public education, public water, public hydro, reasonable tuition, a fair minimum wage, affordable housing, good pensions, public transportation, child care. By contrast, the Tory platform is a carrot on a stick.

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Thursday, September 04, 2003

CD Prices Falling

The good news is that Universal is slashing CD prices by approximately 30%. EMI shares immediately plummeted. This is the best news I have heard in long time. CD prices are artificially high, and I feel like I have be robbed over the years. Don't forget that recent class action suit. I did not turn to illegal downloading. I think there is a strong collector in me (perhaps that is why I am a librarian). I am looking forward to other companies matching or beating these prices. It's about time. Now, I wonder if there are any good artists in the Universal catalogue...

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I have no top ten lists. I don't have a fav song or band or singer or movie or tv show or book. Is that weird? I used to. Years ago, I could list my top ten songs, just like that guy in High Fidelity. What was in the top spot? Well, I remember thinking that Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus was awesome. I still appreciate that one. I went through a phase where I really identified with How Soon is Now?, but didn't everybody? And then there was Kate Bush, Lou Reed, John Cale, The Clash, Brian Eno, Joy Division, Adrian Belew, My Bloody Valentine, The Pogues, The The, XTC, Shriekback, The Cure. Now, I listen to Labradford, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Do Make Say Think, Bill Laswell, etc. I gave up on the 3 minute pop song a long time ago. I have almost had it with lyrics, unless they are good ones, like those of Leonard Cohen, Bruce Cockburn, and Jeff Buckley.

If we go way back, into my pre-adolescent days, I was into Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. It was the legacy of my older brother, and I find that I still have a softspot for the Zeppelin. I even bought all of their CDs.


Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Canadian Idol sucks

After being somewhat amused by the first few episodes of Canadian Idol, mostly because of the parade of truly terrible singers (who can forget Konnichiwa by Tarcisio Tancredi?), I have to say that the show has degenerated into a complete disaster. It is based on the flawed premise that a good voice is all one needs to be a star. There is no interest in talent. It's clear that the producers think that Celine Dion and Mariah Carey are talented!

The show's producers should have paid more attention to Global TV's Popstars. Where are the winners now? I saw Sugar Jones CDs in the delete bin (where they belong).

Some of my favourite singers have weak or unusual voices. I refer to people like Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Billy Bragg, Lou Reed, and Bob Dylan, none of whom would have had a chance of winning a contest like Canadian Idol.

I think Jake and Farley's criticism of Gary Beals said everything. He didn't sing the song exactly like Percy Sledge, so it was a bad performance. In other words, they want singers who imitate the artist they are covering. So much for artistic license.


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Lord of the Rings Makes me Sleepy

OK, so I watched the first two movies (part of 'em) on video, which, I realize, is not the same as the full theatre experience. I fell asleep during both with more than one hour left in each movie. The first time, several months ago, I thought it was one of those things. But, there can be little doubt that the Lord of the Rings bores me silly. It may be the most boring film ever. Is it just me? Maybe it would have helped if I had read the books. I fear that would also put me to sleep. If I ever get insomnia, I'll just make a trip to the video store.

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