Monday, August 07, 2006

Why can't we get it right?

And by "we" I mean those of us on the left.

Thanks to AP.


At long last, the Borat movie. Brilliant.

Not the British children

More YouTube goodness...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Shuffle (for pre-dinner drinks)

Rise Up With Fists!! - Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
Train in Vain (Stand by Me) - The Clash - London Calling
Glad Tidings - Van Morrison - Moondance
End of the Line - The Traveling Wilburys - The Traveling Wilburys - Vol. 1
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Time To Move On - Tom Petty - Wildflowers
When The Day Is Short - Martha Wainwright - Martha Wainwright
This Is Us - Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - All The Roadrunning
Dance Me To The End Of Love - Madeleine Peyroux - Careless Love
Election Day - Lyle Lovett - My Baby Don't Tolerate
Romeo Had Juliette - Lou Reed - New York
That's Me - Paul Simon - Surprise

On shuffle, prior to dinner, with drinks and friends. Discuss.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Inexplicably left out of the movie

Fans of Leonard Cohen should check out "I'm Your Man," the tribute concert/documentary screening in theatres now. While the production values are subpar, the performances are decent and Cohen is candid and chatty during the extended discussion sections. Anyhow, the great Martha Wainwright performs "The Traitor" in the film (she also sings a verse of "Hallelujah"); she did my favourite Cohen song, "Tower of Song," on Letterman to promote the film and the upcoming record. The movie ends with U2 (ugh) backing Cohen on "Tower," which explais why Martha's (better) version was left out. Anyhow, enjoy.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Two important steps:

  1. Grow a beard.
  2. Visit Puck This!, a new hockey blog. Read the amazing EA Sports NHL 2006 tournament liveblogs and sit in awe.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Recently played:

Leonard Cohen, "Diamonds In The Mine" from Songs of Love and Hate. Rowdy, rambunctious, loud, everything you don't expect a Leonard Cohen song to be. Totally accessible and fun.

Johnny Cash, "Devil's Right Hand" from Unearthed II: Trouble In Mind. I've had trouble getting into these tunes since I picked up the big box set a couple of years ago. I loved the individual American Recordings albums individually, but five discs seemed somehow impenetrable. Here Johnny accentuates Steve Earle's tune with a crunchy electric guitar. Great tune.

George Harrison, "Brainwashed" from Brainwashed. Fucking brilliant. Harrison's last tune before his death (though rumours of oodles of more material, including what can only be a terribly depressing take on Paul Simon's "Run That Body Down," recorded in George's last sick years have been around for a few years). Straight ahead power chords, direct lyrics, a great line about Bullshit Avenue, a tabla and slide guitar break and a minute and a half of George's mantra. So bittersweet.

Van Morrison, "Glad Tidings" from Moondance. Fucking brilliant too. Immortalized at the end of the last Sopranos season, as Johnny Sack is hauled down by federal agents while Tony runs for cover in the snow. The bassline grabs you and won't let go. And those horns. How come nobody writes decent horn parts anymore?

Rick Moranis, "Nine More Gallons," from The Agoraphobic Cowboy. Great non-rhyme:
Working nights
I'm always tired
I hope my boss
Doesn't get me laid off
Rick, you had me at the title. Who else could write a credible bluegrass song about inadequacy that's utterly convincing?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Atrios is right. Hopefully Billmon is wrong. Someday someone will ask me what was the news story of my twenties. Instead of America's desire to fuck the whole damned world, I'll mumble something about Scott Pederson, shark attacks and BradJenLina.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Paul Simon returns with "Surprise," the singer's first new album in six years, due May 9th. Read more about it at Lasers In The Jungle.

The Associated Press notes that "Surprise" comes twenty years after the mammoth "Graceland" and forty years after "The Sound Of Silence."

Not a bad streak - even better than the Habs.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Heather Mills Has Really Let Herself Go

Yet another reason not to watch CNN.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Buy my computer

One of a kind. For sale here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Day of Good News

A couple of items today:

  1. According to the Los Angeles Times, Paul Simon's long-awaited new album, apparently called "Surprise," is due before June.
  2. Bob Dylan spent last week in the lovely burgh of Poughkeepsie New York, rehearsing for recording sessions in Manhattan.

Monday, November 28, 2005

This is news?

I thought PM PM declared the election with his bold address to the nation last June. Today's special from Ottawa has only brought the vote closer by, oh, seven-eight weeks. Whatever.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The problem of the false dilemma

Ask an entertainment company executive or an American politician about the problem of file-sharing and intellectual property rights and you'll get a classic false dilemma response That is, that file-sharing inherently enables copyright violation and therefore must be stopped, lest the entertainment business suffer ad inifinitem.

The great Matthew Yglesias points to a study concluding that file-sharing does result in fewer album sales, that file-sharing allows less popular artists to earn a greater market share and that the "gain to society" resulting from file-sharing is worth three times the loss of sales to record companies.

Why is this relevant (the last point in particular)? Contrary to what your favourite D.C. lobbyist might suggest, copyright laws, as spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, exist to ensure competition. In other words, to protect the consumer from monopolies and a lack of meaningful choice. Copyright was envisioned to promote innovation by allowing providers to secure the rights to their product for a limited time, not to give music business executives a handy excuse for developing an untenable business model.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The semi-colon; use it

Writing in the Times, Ben Macintyre delivers a ringing endorsement of the semi-colon. Read it; use it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Finding ways to win

A tip of the hat to Bob Gainey, Claude Julien and the Montreal Canadiens, who find ways to win that excite their fans and keep fingernails trim. Unlike the ignoble Ottawa Senators, who would rather score four goals in the first five minutes, the Habs have been squeaking out one-goal victories and come-from-behind rallies, acccepting defeat only in OT, once a handy point has been secured.

Firewagon hockey it's not, and though it might be nice to win by two, the Habs are back. Courage!

Amos Lee

Man, is this overdue. Amos Lee put in a solid performance at La Tulipe last month, performing just about all of his eponymous album plus a bunch of new tunes before a fucking annoying crowd. The guy in front of me couldn't decide if he should sing along or talk to his ass-ugly girlfriend, so he did both. Despite awful sound (way too much bass; that sort of thing shouldn't happen at a small venue like La Tulipe) and the superficial crowd, Lee and his band played from the heart. New tunes, in particular one about doing coke on a night train (felicitations, M. Boisclair!), whet the appetite for a follow-up record (with a little more bass and drums and a little less sleepy Norah Jones - who has appeared on stage with Willie Nelson, Paul Simon AND Bob Dylan this year - kudos).

The higlight of the night was a gorgeous cover of "A Change is Gonna Come," the Sam Cooke standard Lee performed when I saw him in Chicago, which managed to shut up the chatty Cathy all around us. Lee took some time to come out of his shell on stage, but the band was tight from the first note. Opener Mutlu was a blast (one cannot omit mention of his Justin Timberlakeesque ode to board games) who probably gets straight A's at college.


Liev Schreiber's adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's "Everything Is Illuminated" is a charming, tender account of intergenerational and international rapprochement. Foer's novel weaves together several stories. That of our hero, Jonathan Safran Foer, and his "very rigid search" for the woman who saved his grandfather from the nazis (aided by his translator, Ukraine's finest playa, Alex; his grandfather, also named Alex, who is both blind and the only one capable of driving; and grandpa's "seeing-eye bitch," Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.) is played out on film. Schreiber has kept out the parallel story of Trachimbrod, the shtetl home to Jonathan's grandfather (his namesake, Safran), which is perfectly understandable, since it wouldn't work at all, and too bad, because it's the most imaginative part of the story.

The film offers some unlikely pairings: Jonathan, an obsessive collector in constant fear of forgetting to remember, and the sister of Augustine (the woman who saved Safran), who heartfully announces that the search for Trachimbrod is over ("You are here. I am it.") before displaying her extensive collection of Trachimbrod mementos (wedding rings, photos, dust, etc.).

The film works best, though, because of the excellent duo of Alex and Alex, who occupy all the empty space emitted by the little boy lost Elijah Wood. Jonathan's search is really (young) Alex's search - to the heart of his own family history. Foer lovingly and sharply gets to the heart of a grand intergenerational divide. The twist at the end of the story isn't a big surprise, and Schrieber treats it well.

"Everything is Illuminated" is funny and visually stunning. It deals with a ticky subject lightly enough to merit a hearty endorsement.

You're a shmuck

If you don't read Paul Wells. His Maclean's blog, Inkless Wells is a daily first stop. His column in this week's issue would be worth the price of admission alone were it not available free online.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ballot blues

Pollsters are expecting very weak turnout at tomorrow's election, owing to the lacklustre campaign (equally the fault of a couple of ho-hum mayoral candidates and a lazy press). Unfortunately, I'll be among those not voting, not because I choose not to, but because I'm not registered. Basically, I changed my address after the registration deadline (which was in September), and am in electoral limbo: I can demonsrate my citizenship well enough, I'm listed in the Quebec election file, but I won't be able to speak my voice at a polling station tomorrow. It should be noted that the federal government will allow citizens to register up to the last minute; only the Province of Quebec won't tolerate "late" registration (the woman who explained it to me attributed the regulaiton to fraud prevention).

In any case, I'm still not entirely sure who should be the next mayor. Being disenfranchised hasn't exactly inspired any desire to compare election platforms and past records. The general shittiness of the campaign - and the media's inability to lift it out of the doldrums, partially by ignoring Projet Montreal's Richard Bergeron - makes you want to support the unconventional choice, i.e., the guy who hasn't been mayor. Then again, having looked at the PM platform, I'd be reluctant to cast my ballot for Bergeron.

That leaves Bourque and Tremblay. Tremblay seems to be a superwonk (not at all a bad thing) who can't seem to get a grip on the horrid crappiness that is municipal government in Quebec. While he's not impressive, he does have a grasp of the city's main challenges, if not an efficient way of overcoming them. Bourque helped validate the Parti Qu├ębecois agglomeration of the city with his endless "One Island, One City" blather. If only the results were disastrous; I'll leave it to the municipal policy experts to figure out if properly governing the greater Montreal region will ever be possible. Bourque also seems to be arrogant as hell, but you shouldn't really hold that kind of thing against a politician - the ones who seem humble may just be better at hiding their contempt for others.

So call it a very, very modest endorsement of Gerald Tremblay. Here's hoping yours truly is on the voter rolls come the next election. Lord knows the city won't be giving me a break on my property taxes.