Tuesday, January 31, 2006

coming into focus

I won't bore you with the details but in my photography course at Holland college, I am begining to understand why a few things are out of focus with my pictures...and how the loss of focus on certain objects doesn't hurt the picture, just change the look.

By Sabrina - 9:56 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

ECUA / No-Cases Line-up - Updated: With Links

This is where the real action is going to be during the EMCA weekend.

Here's the official website: http://nocase.org/


ECUA 2006 Official Line-Up *


8PM: Meet-and-Greet Supper at Hunter's for bands, media, delegates, organizers, supporters, and the general public.


9PM: Kick-Off Show! at Hunter's with:
- B.A. Johnson (HFX)
- Stride (PE)
-The Robots (PE)
-Birmingham (PE)
-The Bad Motels (HFX)


2:30PM - 4:30PM Afternoon Show at Hunter's with:
-Mike Amelia (PE)
-Nate and Marcel (HFX)


5PM - 9:15PM: All Ages Show at St. Pius X Church Hall with:
-The Danks (PE)
-B.A. Johnson (HFX)
-The Establishment (HFX)
-A/V (HFX)
-Chara (PE)


10PM: Show at Hunter's with:
-Smothered in Hugs (PE)
-Laura Peek and the Winning Hearts (HFX)
-The Danks (PE)
- Tom Fun and the Tokyo Skypilots (CB)
-Gilbert Switzer (HFX)


2:30PM - 4:30PM Afternoon show at Hunter's with:
- elleputty (PE)
- Neil Conway (NFLD)


5PM - 9:15PM All Ages Show at St. Pius X Church Hall with:
-First Class Disaster (PE)
-HotShotRobot (HFX)
-Juan Love (PE)
-Be Bad (HFX)
-Windom Earle All Stars (HFX/PE)
-Gilbert Switzer (HFX)


10PM Show at Hunter's with:
-The Tragedies (HFX)
-Juan Love (PE)
-HotShotRobot (HFX)
-A/V (HFX).
-Lenore (PE)


11AM Acoustic Brunch Show! Wind down, have a beer, listen to some music.
- Rob Diamond Presents (PE)
- Joey Weale's Flag Wars documentary
- Ashley Gorman (PE)
- Alka Hogg (PE)
- Jill Porter (NFLD)

8:30PM Music Trivia!

After Trivia:
- On Vinyl (NB)
- Ditchpigs (NB)
- Shelter with Thieves (HFX)
- Shotgun and Jaybird (NB)

* Emphasis mine.
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By al - 3:24 p.m. | (7) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 30, 2006


I had it at the back of my mind to see this when I saw it was playing, but didn't get to read much about it beforehand, since I just went on a whim today as my cousin asked if I wanted to go. I went in not knowing at all what the focus of the movie would be, and my only knowledge of Truman Capote himself was from Breakfast at Tiffany's, so I had no idea what I would be watching.

The movie is actually about the interviews he did while writing the book In Cold Blood, the prototypical true crime novel. I haven't read it, nor did I know anything about it before today, so perhaps my experience of the film is entirely different from someone who would have, who would have the background as a given foundation on top of which to just envision Capote writing it. But without that I was left really wanting to see more of the process of actually writing.

There's a great old observation that authors only ever want to write about other authors. And in this case it's doubly true, since it's shown that Capote becomes fascinated with the subject of his book, a convicted killer, when he sees his journal and believes he sees something of himself in this person.

The film focuses on Capote's drawing out the story of the killing and the biography of the killer, relying very heavily on the contrast between the two men; Capote's fragilility next to implied savagery hidden by a mask of charm. Capote's fascination with this man is reproduced by the way the story of the actual murder is teased out through the film, so the audience wants to hear more from him while simultaneously being repelled by him.

Everyone else has remarked about the amazing acting job by Philip Seymour Hoffman, so I'll skip it, only saying that I agree. What I wished the film showed more of, though, is the process of writing down the content of the interviews and turning it into a story. Transforming something from the killer's account into the words on the page. The excerpts we hear, at a book-reading, are more airy and not directly to do with the actual events.

This is the usual problem with movies about writers, the fact that the act of writing itself is an excrutiatingly boring process of second-guessing, rephrasing and nitpicking. So the filmmakers are always left to show every part of a writer's life except for the writing, the thing that sets him or her apart as an interesting character. Without getting this window into the writer's mind, all we are left with is that this person is supposed to be interesting because the other characters around him seem to act as if he were.

The film was put together in a way that drew out the forboding story, with dull brown colour schemes and lifeless settings. The music was very stark and continued on the same tune through the movie, to reinforce the gloomy feel of the subject.

Excellent filmmaking, and a very good movie, but still frustrating that it leaves out such a huge part like Capote as a writer and not just a Columbo-like character becoming close to a criminal only to get some crucial plot twist out of him at the last minute.
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By al - 9:49 p.m. | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Google Censorship Illustrated


705 x 742 pixels - 141k - jpg
... on protesters in Tiananmen Square .
220 x 168 pixels - 13k - jpg
The Tiananmen Square photo
494 x 449 pixels - 23k - jpg


636 x 476 像素 - 37k - jpg
800 x 538 像素 - 24k - jpg
938 x 667 像素 - 125k - jpg

via Ask.MeFi.
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By al - 10:36 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, January 28, 2006

PEI Indie Rock to be Featured on "Atlantic Airwaves" Today

Stolen from PEILocals:

Tune in to CBC this Saturday at 5:05 PM.

This Saturday on CBC Radio One (96.1 FM in Charlottetown) tune in for the last in a four part series on the Maritime indie music scene. The episode airs from 5:05 to 6:00 PM and will contain a 20 minute segment on the PEI local scene featuring music and interviews with several of our local bands. Featured talent includes Officer Girl, Midnight Auto Supply, Smothered In Hugs, Pat Deighan & the Orb Weavers, James Phillips, Mars Hill, and Two Hours Traffic.

Update: OK, it's over. It was actually kind of lame. The presenter (not Stan Carew, just some girl) just played tracks from Well-Oiled, no audio of bands playing live. And the host's commentary was pretty awkward, with lines like "Two Hours Traffic will be heroes of their own sidewalks in Charlottetown soon." *shudder*

I'm just surprised that a show dedicated to Maritime music took this long to finally notice that people, you know, play music around these parts.

On a similar note, everyone should be sure not to miss the ECUA No-Cases shows during the ECMAs. This is where the bands that aren't seen as tourist-draws will be playing. It's not a part of the official EMCAs, but these sorts of 'guerrilla shows' have become a tradition now. No firm schedules or line-ups yet, but it looks like most of the action will be at Hunter's Ale House. I think it's something I'll be writing a lot about.

Update 2: Gabrielle and Kelly, who are organizing this yeear's no-cases, used to host a radio show for Radio@UPEI, called "The Mixed Tape", and they did a show about last year's No Cases in Sydney. You can listen to it here.
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By al - 4:27 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Now That's Effective Teaching

Cait says:
And at a catholic school, it was not appreciated by our teacher

Cait says:

Wolf Blitzer says:
haha, catholic

Wolf Blitzer says:
you're gong to hell for worshipping mary and the pope

Cait says:
I think I'm probably going to hell because I don't

Cait says:

By al - 4:44 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Memos: Haven't done this in a while

  • Going to see Mark Bragg tonight at Baba's. He's from Newfoundland and is one of the most original rock acts around. Should totally be on the order of fame of a Joel Plaskett or a Matt Mays. He's up for an EMCA for Alternative Recording of the Year, which looks like some damn tough competition with Buck 65 and Wintersleep among others.

  • I've been feeling a little restless here on PEI. But it's a nice little rut at the same time. There are some things that are making staying here a little painful, but the same things are probably testing my humanity more than I might feel comfortable with.

  • I still need a new pair of headphones. My iPod earbuds just don't cut it for proper music listening, and I'm scared about the stories I've read that they might damage your hearing. Not a risk I should be taking lightly. I should go check out not-Radio Shack. God it's creepy to have the single most stalwart fixture of every single shopping mall suddenly torn out and replaced with this unknown entity.

  • I'm reading various rumours around the Canadian press blogs to the effect that the National Post is on the brink of being put out of its misery. So much for ushering in a golden age of Canadian conservativism. I guess cutting staff and budget wasn't the best way to boost readership and revenue after all. The Post needs a proper US-style conservative sugar daddy like Sun Myung Moon or Richard Mellon "You fucking communist cunt" Scaife to pour tens of millions of dollars into a money-losing ideological rag to keep it afloat as a voice for cranky right-wing opinion and corporate propaganda. Thankfully most Canadian conservatives are still Canadians, and as much as they want to be Americans, they're still wimps compared to that.

  • Apparently this website is blocked in China. So, Memo to the Nation of China: Democracy is better killed in the dead of night than out in the open. Better to tell people they have it and that an external enemy is trying to take it away, then they won't know what to protest against.

  • I'm hosting trivia at the Churchill Arms again in 2 weeks. Hopefully it will be as much of a nerd-fest as last time. My MO seems to be that if your personality and interests are close to mine, you'll do well. I think a contest where the person who is most like me wins is an utterly brilliant idea.

By al - 9:11 a.m. | (6) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Prediction

A whole lot less will change than most people think.

That is all.

By al - 11:31 a.m. | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 23, 2006

I miss my hometown

I miss Nova Scotia some days:


If you note the age of person who did it is 56. The last time something like this happened in 2000 the man who did it was 51...

Just the beginning of an interesting night.

By Peter - 7:34 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Charlottetown / 74 - Park West Lodge: Worst Polling Place Ever

If I hadn't voted there before I'd have had no idea from the outside that this is where I'm supposed to vote. As of 10:00am there were no signs on the outside of the building. To get to where you have to vote you have to go inside, down a set of stairs at the back of the building, down a hall and around a corner and into a room in the hallway that doesn't look any different from any other room.

The voting process was slow, just one person taking your name and giving you your ballot, and there didn't look like much more room for another table if they needed more pople by the end of the day.

This isn't specific to this polling place, but the uniformly-sized ballots mean that i n Charlottetown where 6+ parties are on the ballots, the print size for party affiliation is very very small.

The best part, though, was upon leaving, to get out the front door you had to push on two silver buttons to get the door to open. I think this is a way to keep the residents of the home from escaping.

When I was in Fredericton in 2004 everyone in the city had to go to the exhibition grounds to vote, which was a half hour walk in the hot Summer sun each way for me. But on the plus side everything was clearly marked and well-organized.

But on the bright side at least they didn't lose a page in the voters list.

By al - 11:02 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Liberal Tax Policy Creates More Conservatives

This was a post I made on a message board that I thought I'd repeat here. Quoted text is Taylor with my reply below. The subject was the fact that the poll on the PEILocals.com front page showed overwhelming NDP and Liberal support.
I would guess the Majority of PEILocals fall into the 'Liberal for now' where as younger more idealistic people we see the positives and more 'fair' side of things.

But I would be willing to bet that the VAST majority of NDPers/Liberals on this board will definately move towards a more Central viewpoint. You'll have a family and stop carrying about the world and start focusing on Your world, ie kids, bills etc. So REALLY Liberal ideas seem too expensive or illogical. It's just what happens, people make conessions in their lives and accept a lot more middle of the road ideas because that is what is easiest.

So I bet while everyone is left now if you took that poll in ten Years there'd be a LOT less NDPer's and a bunch more Liberal in name only, Liberals

Or I could just be OVERLY cynical tonight
Or to be more blunt, everyone loves doing wonderful thigns with someone else's tax money. Cynicism aside, this is a very real problem, and income taxes really are fucking ridiculous. Especially when you compare them to dividend and capital gains taxes which are slowly disappearing (this is how wealthy people earn their money.) I'm not even getting into corporate taxes here, which is another mountain entirely. We're inadvertently creating more tax-resenting conservatives than we need to by putting the majority of the tax burden on the middle class.

And Paul Martin is just as guilty of this as any large-C Conservative ever was. And frankly the NDP weren't making this an issue either. But there's a simple bell-curve-looking chart you could make to show average taxes paid per real amount of income earned that would be an instant election-winner. I think the NDP have been cowed out of it for fear of having the entirety of the business lobby focusing its guns on them and blowing them out of existance.

I should also add that Conservatives have no interest whasoever in altering this tax burden distribution. One look at the corporate tax cut-heavy budget that the Liberals and Conservatives had agreed on before the NDP stepped in will tell you that.
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By al - 7:13 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, January 21, 2006

“Real Poeple”?

In their campaign speaches you generally hear Paul Martin use the word "Canadians" in sentences like "teh values of Canadians" and "Canadians want this or that". Jack Layton uses "people", as in "the NDP is looking out for the interests of people". The implication that I take from this is that in a business vs. people scenario, the NDP would tend to support the individual. That's all well and good, and expected from them.

On the other hand, I was watching a Stephen Harper campaign speech today in a Toronto riding and he kept using the phrase "real people". What exactly does he mean by that?

Who is a "real person" in his mind? And more importantly, who isn't?

What sprung to mind was the long-time use of the phrase "real Americans" to essentially mean white americans.

Surely Harper's speechwriters deliberately chose this phrase. Who are they aiming this to, and why?

A lot has been made of Harper's rather more middle-class family life than Martin's. Stories of him getting up early and driving his kids to hockey practice seem to be a favourite of reporters and teh Conservative party.

It's too bad such a question would be so easy to dodge with platitudes, but I still would like to hear an explanation of why they chose to identify some unknown subset of Canadians as "real people".
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By al - 12:06 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, January 19, 2006

OK, I just saw the new NDP ad with former Liberals who say things like "I felt tricked by the liberal party."

And again I'm seeing the same problem at the core of the NDP's structure that has been dogging them for a while. Eveyrone in the ad seems helpless and powerless and sounding like victims. This was probably done to somehow stress how awful it is that the Liberals aren't doing what they promised. But the overarching fear people have about the NDP is that their vote won't count for anything, and that the NDP representatives won't be effective. Painting NDP voters as unsure of themselves sends people the message that voting NDP is for disaffected wimps.

Any political consultant worth their paycheque would tell them to put some gruff, manly farmers and auto workers into those ads. And have them talk like they're kicking the Liberals' ass, not wimpering from having received an ass kicking.

COnvey the message that voting is doing something, and people will do it. Advertizing is about instilling the illusion of empowerment. And voting is about real empowerment, so a well-executed ad that speaks to people's inner dissatisfaction without turning them off could have tremendous results.
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By al - 4:22 a.m. | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I've just been challenged by Kayla, here we go.

Four Jobs You've Had In Your Life:
1. Independent software developer, mobile neurons
2. TA / marker - UNB
3. Software drone, various
4. Substitute trivia host

Four Movies you Could Watch Over and Over Again:
1. Princess Bride - since I got it on a 6 hour VHS tape with Willow and Sleeping Beauty and AN American Tale
2. The Iron Giant - Amazing
3. Princess Mononoke - Incredible art, lots of detail, really good story.
4. Chasing Amy - Juvenile storyline but has tons of gold lines.

Four Places You've Lived:
1. Charlottetown, PE - Where I grew up
2. Fredericton, NB ~ university and periodic short term working life
3. Cornwall, PE - Where I lived before I turned 4. In a pink house with a yellow kitchen and a blue bedroom. And one of those height-measuring strip posters you got from McDonalds. That's basically all I remember.
4. Saint John, NB - Ixnay on the uclearnay echniciantay

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch:
2. Jeopardy ~ When I can find it on
3. Kenny vs. Spenny - the only remotely reality-type TV show I can stand
4. The Colbert Report - "So, Mr. Robins, a two part question, what's it like working with Clint Eastwood, and would you rather have Saddam in power?"

Four Places You've Been On Vacation:
1. Maine / New Hampshire
2. San Francisco (took a couple of extra days from a conference trip, so it counts)
3. Magdelaine Islands - Very windswept
4. Newfoundland

Four Blogs You Visit Daily:
1. Daily Kos - If I didn't pay close attention to American politics I might start to feel good about the world, can't have that.
2. Cyn - Thoughtful and good writing and wide subject matter.
3. Gabrielle - When she updates, anyway
4. boingboing

Four of Your Favorite Foods:
1. Pasta ~ starchily
2. Poutine - starch + grease == even better
3. Greek salad - olives are like little black treasures
4. Curry - great way to get rid of leftover ingredients. Just say you're experimenting, and cover it with so much spice no one can tell what you threw in there.

Four Places You'd Rather Be:
1. At jussy's place like old times
2. anywhere warm
3. anywhere that is not wet
4. Europe, but only if they spoke English or French

Four Vehicles You've Owned:
1. bad-ass orange and black tricycle
2. BMX - I got replacement chinpads that had 'BMX' written on them just to drive the point home.
3. Mountain bike - for all the mountains one would come across on the way to school.
4. Two feet and a heart beat

Four People to Be Tagged:
1. The other Hallway denizens
2. Gabrielle
3. Taylor
4. Moe

By al - 6:36 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Memo to Paul Martin

If you look like you don't want to be there when you're answering a reporter's question or in a debate or making a campaign appearance, Canadians will be happy to oblige you.

By al - 1:55 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 16, 2006

Just My Luck

Weekend was pretty interesting as it panned out quite different that expected. Went over to the Island to play some hockey and play some D&D. I was having a pretty good hockey tour except for the injuries. Blocked a shot, it nails me in finger where there is no padding. Busted a blood vein, can't feel my finger because of poor blood circulation, from the knuckle to the end of that finger is swollen black/blue. Blocked another shot off the side of the skate. Left foot is brusied and swollen, having some problems walking. Third blocked shot, off the cup. It stung for a while, but at least piece of equipment works. On the offensive side, trying to screen the goaltender, missed the tip and got a puck in the arm, again no padding there either. It's a bit tender, but the other injuries hurt more so I don't notice it.

Found a XBox 360 premium system package at the Walmart in Summerside. So I picked it up along with DOA4. Opened it up at Jody's place when we got back. Found out it was a returned unit. It's missing all the manuals, XBox Live trial subscription, and the batteries for the controller died after about an hour of use. Not exactly happy about the whole used feeling especially since I paid full price for it.

Well, D&D was good.

By Ming - 2:17 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

For Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is a much greater depth to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s character and commitments than you will be hearding about on the morning news shows' obligatory segments today. King understood that a commitment to the civil rights of blacks in America was also a commitment to the poor, and not just in the United States, but the poor throughout the world.

You probably won't hear anything about his opposition to the war in Vietnam, nor to his signalling of non-violent resistance and trusting one's enemies as the way to achieve peace.

Here is a sermon he gave at Riverside Church in New York City in 1967 in which he states that the struggle to end the war in Vietnm is in united purpose with and inescapable from his fight for civil rights in the United States. Go read the whole thing. Link.
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" "Peace and civil rights don't mix," they say. "Aren't you hurting the cause of your people? "they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church-the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate-leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.


For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:
O, yes, I say it plain,America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath-
America will be!

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954-in 1945 rather-after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China-for whom the Vietnamese have no great love-but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.


How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam, and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will not have a part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them, the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of a new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.
When I mention historical events I often find it almost unnecessary to point out the parallels to today, but in this case I think one ought to see so plainly that we in the West have learned nothing from failed adventures of the past. Canadians are not innocent of this sin by any means, standing by and letting the invasion of Iraq happen without more than a 'no thanks' on our own participation, while obediently taking over for the U.S. in Afghanistan so they could send those troops over to Iraq is complicity that only we don't see. Juan Cole has a point-by-point illustration of how King would have viewed the invasion of Iraq here: Link. "A revolution in American values away from consumer materialism and militarism is needed if we are not to go on having one Vietnam after another[.]"

This is also why I'm not losing sleep over the possibility of our dithering middle-managers in our government might be replaced. The neo-liberal trade policies Canada benefits from are a stronger force for injustice than American bombs. And it also can't be fought effectively with violence. The real, insidious force for inequality and injustice in the world, our own blindness to the consequences of our sheltered lifestyle, must be countered only with those principles espoused by King, who saw that they applied universally.
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By al - 6:28 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Positive Hardcore Dance-Rap

Taylor and I were all over the place yesterday. I got to the all-ages show at the Arts Guild just as Windom Earle was starting. I can never get enough Windom Earle, but I have to say I'm starting to get blasé about "Beef Chow Mein." It's sort of turning into their "Smells Like Teen Spirit," not in that the song isn't fun or good, but that the band is kind of bored of it and doesn't give it the full enthusiam they used to. That said, the rest of their Arts Guild set was as good as I've ever heard them, they had the video screen going with images from movies and old cartoons and crap grabbed of the web flashing in synch with the music. It was almost enough to get the kids moving around a little.

The Maynards came on after that, they were as much fun for their between-song banter as they were for their actual songs, pop-punkish and fast-paced songs with lots of humour. Again people were kind of unenthusiastic, so they offered a 'dance prize' for whoever could put in the best effort. It ended up being a contest between 3 or 4 people.

After that, though Ninja Highschool started. (note: best website for any band, ever. Dig those animaget gifs). The title of this post is how they describe their music. I had no idea what kind of stuff they did, so whe nthey started shouting into the mics and calling out each other's names I figured they were just screwing around and testing out the sound, but nope, that's their act. I always love pleasant surprises. The songs were all really positive, too, if you paid attention to what they were singing about. (Well, maybe not "it's allright to fight / I'll send you home in an ambulance", but I probably missed a deeper meaning.)

They wanted people to come up on stage with them, but the terribly well-behaved crowd admonished them about the rule about people coming on stage. So they just jumped down and mingled in with the crowd. One of the members wasn't in the matching red t-shirt, so she totally just blended right in. It was lots of fun.

Taylor bought a ninja highschool t-shirt, after asking me if he should. I told him to give me one good reason not to, and of course he couldn't.

After that we went over to Baba's to see Tala from Montreal, who were doing a CD release show. Now Tala are an amazingly talented and innovative band, for 3 guys they can make all kinds of sound and really keep your ears occupied, but I guess I wasn't quite in the right mood last night. And Tay, who isn't big on jam bands, let alone self-described 'psychadelic' bands, was pretty well bored out of his mind by the end of their first set. I said that to enjoy that kind of music you ahve to be either a musician or stoned, and so I totally didn't blame him. We went over to Hunter's in time to see Windom Earle's nighttime show. No video projector this time, but the crowd was way more into it. (Partly because of our good friend Mr. Alcohol, and partly because teenagers are lame to begin with.) Also, the Ninja Highschool guys were in the crowd lvening things way up. After Windom Earle the Maynards were going to play. I was talking to the bassist from the Maynards about Superchunk and doing radio shows (she's got a show on CKDU on Mondays that she wanted me to plug. She also got me to give her the address to my podcast.)

The Maynards' Guild show didnt' at all do them justice. This was the liveliest I've ever seen a crowd at Hunter's. Everyone was up jumping around and bouncing off of each other and having a great old time. A certain little fella we hang out with had his pants off for a while, after the band said they'd give a prize to anyone who kept their pants off for an entire song.

The best part of the night was when I super-duper pwned someone when she was on her mobile phone with mer mom and I said "who's that baby? .. Come on baby, come back to bed." and no one else ruined it by laughing. So good. I almost didn't go out last night for not wanting to spend money and for being generally cranky but am I ever glad I did.

By al - 2:58 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, January 13, 2006

28 eh?

Happy Birthday Ming...

By Sabrina - 7:52 a.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, January 12, 2006

How to frame the childcare debate

Issue: Canadians want childcare.

Liberal, NDP position: Let's implement a childcare program to people can have the option of working and not have to leave their kids at home alone.

Conservative positiion: Let's do something that won't help the people who need childcare, but will give the 905ers something to smile about.

By al - 11:03 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Strategic Voting on PEI Unnecessary

Here's an interesting site: a strategic voting calculator.

What you do is you pick your preferred party and your riding, and it will tell you if you should vote for that praty or your second choice, based on the predicted closeness of the election.

Here are the results for PEI, if you are an NDP supporter. Whether your second choice is the Liberals or the Conservatives the recommendation is that it's not close enough to worry about voting for your first choice.

There are NO P.E.I. ridings where voting strategically might be effective.


1 = NDP could win. Vote NDP.
2 = NDP cannot win, but riding is close. Vote your second choice.
3 = NDP cannot win, but riding is not close. Vote NDP.


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By al - 6:05 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Gordie Howe Hat Trick

What an amazingly useful term, I can't believe I had to find out about it in Wikipedia.

Gordie Howe hat trick

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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In ice hockey a Gordie Howe hat trick is a variation on the hat trick, wherein a player accomplishes the following in a single game: scores a goal, gets an assist, and wins a fight. It is named after legendary NHL/USHL/WHA/IHL player Gordie Howe who was known for both his scoring ability and his truculence.

San Francisco Chronicle - Brad Stuart gets a Gordie Howe Hat Trick

By al - 3:13 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

What happens when you jump up to answer the phone

I am kryptonite to headphones.

By al - 11:02 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dear CityFilter

I don't see any contact email link at charlottetown.cityfilter.org, but I would like to point out that the clock they use to stamp the dates on posts that they link to is set to GMT, so the two posts I made after 20:00 today are showing up as being dated on January 11th. Since the blogs it aggregates are mostly located on PEI, and most of the audience are also islanders, I think it would make more sense to have its clock set to Atlantic time.

On a side note, it's kind of to obad that the MetaFilter-clone version of CityFilter died off. I think it had a lot of potential as a group blog rather than just one imaginary islander's bloglines subscription. (albeit with a fairly slick interface for quickly scanning a few blogs.)

By al - 9:15 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

How to afford an Apple computer

Buy Apple stock in 1996.

In other news, I think the best part of Macworld so far, for me, we hearing that Apple's stock closed at $80.86 on the day they unveiled Intel Macs.

The new TV ad is also pretty funny.

The thing I do feel kind of bad about is that a friend of my parents asked me specifically when Apple was going to introduce the Intel-based macs and I said, following what Apple had announced at WWDC 2005, that it wouldn't be until at least the Summer. So she went ahead and bought a brand new iMac, about 6 weeks ago. Yikes.

On the other hand, the professional applications like Photoshop and MS Office and Final Cut Pro don't have universal (fat) binaries out yet, so waiting a few months for the kinks to be worked out of these models wouldn't be too bad an idea.

I also find it funny that Apple has instantly jumped to the front of x86 processor adoption, becoming the first hardware maker to have a product based on the brand new Core Duo processor. If this Apple-Intel partnership gets any cozier, the Dell/AMD rumours might come true sooner than expected.

And Microsoft might just be left in the cold, relegating to powering boring little white boxes on accountants' desks while the rest of us get to work with something a little less user-hostile.
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By al - 8:50 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Who wants to run?

This is a copy of a post I made to an otherwise worthless PEILocals message board thread that I'm not going to link to.
i've often wished i had the ambition and knowledge of politics to do so. but i find politics dumb and confusing. or i should say, the corrupt political banterings of today i find dumb and confusing. and boring.

politics in general are very intriguing. i just wish that the polititions running today had a genuin interest in governing our contry and not lining their own pockets and forcing their twisted views on us.

i'm scared as hell going to vote this time. i have no idea who the fuck to vote for this time.
I think the best coup against good government has been the stigmatization of politicians as shiftless scum. 40 years ago if you asked the brightest, most popular kid in a class what he wants to do, and he said he might like to get into politics some day, people would think that was sensible and proper. Now, aside from the fact that these days, the brightest kid is rarely the most popular, you would also feel immediately distrustful of someone who would say they want to be a politician.

A massive, radical movement of intelligent, motivated people who are willing to fight hard to get into office, and treating it like a real profession, is something I would love to see and maybe help happen in my life time.
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By al - 8:32 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Even American Conservatives Know They're Marginal

This post at the Washington Monthly blog about the American revolutionary conservative movement caught my attention. Link.

THE CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION....In their book Off Center, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue that although the Republican Party has moved far to the right of the political center, it has nonetheless managed to hold onto power by adopting a variety of hardnosed and cynical electoral strategies. The problem with this thesis is that, in practice, Republicans haven't actually moved all that far to the right. Charlie Cook sums it up this way:

There is a growing divide between those members of the GOP Conference who want confrontation with Democrats and those who seek compromise. According to one influential Republican, "We cannot govern from the right," but added, "you cannot control this caucus from the center."

I think that's just about right. As Cook's source puts it, the Republican caucus has indeed moved radically to the right, but at the same time they all know perfectly well they can't govern from there lest they be tossed out of office en masse. It's just another piece of evidence that the "conservative revolution" is, and always has been, a myth.

In the U.S. this is more apparent in the state legislatures, where even Republican governments realize that you actually have to govern and occasionally raise taxes when it's necessary to pay for basic services, with ideology taking a back seat.

In Canada we're hearing all kinds of threats from the Liberals about how awful the Conservatives will govern based on what the crazies among the movement-leaders say. I don't think the Conservative party would be exactly like the Liberals, but they know already that Canadians won't accept the more strident social policies advocated by their base.

The solution the Americans have found for this is to just not do anything to advance a social conservative agenda at home while continuing to make a lot of noise to stir up voters. It keeps the megachurch-goers pissed off and voting, and keeps the rest of the country asleep. The stir about the potential for Judge Alito maybe striking down the decision legalizing abortion in the U.S. is a distraction from his darker habit of always finding for the side of power.

The large block of voters out West who suddenly formed the base for the Reform / Aliance party share many of these social values. The difference is that they largely didn't vote before Preston Manning came along and courted them specifically. Will they be able to be taken along by the Conservatives of today without getting any real payback?

It's a definite Catch-22 for the Conservative strategists. Give them anything on same sex marriage or abortion and Ontario will revert to solid-Liberal territory for another 15 years. But if they don't give their base anything, will the West fall back to feeling alienated yet again, but this time by their own team?

To be fair, the NDP's strongest supporters are often the most embarrasing elements of the party's membership. If I were an NDP strategist I would lock every librarian with dreams of revolution in his bungalow and try and pursuade more farmers and auto workers and front-line social workers representing the party. (actually maybe there is a use for the Green Party after all. Moonbat flypaper.)

The Liberals escape this somewhat thanks to their bland-as-plywood ideology.

My prediction for the United States political near future will be a return to practicality. But Canada's balance between those who seek power for the sake of it and those who actually want to govern well and make the country a better place is starting to wobble wildly. The NDP doesn't take the process of campaigning and trying to really win seriously enough, and the Liberals and Conservatives are much better at running for office than they are at governing.
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By al - 6:56 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

McLaren in Orange

Future's Bright for McLaren

The McLaren F1 team doesn't have a title sponsor at the moment, having lost the sponsorship of the West tobacco company. They have a deal with Vodaphone starting in 2007 but right now Vodaphone is still involved in a deal with Ferrari. The neat thing about these temporary colours is that they are the traditional McLaren colours back when they ran in Can-Am races in the 60s.

But since that was way before my time the Orange reminds me more of the Arrows F1 team that died a few years ago. I always liked McLaren's black / white / grey colour scheme, it set them apart from the brightly-coloured competition, made them look a little more futuristic and intimidating.

No idea what their final colours will look like. The other major sports team that Vodaphone sponsors is Manchester UTD, whose bright red uniforms were around long before Vodaphone's, same with Ferrari's red (though these days they changed their traditional deep red to a Marlboro orange, to the chagrin of purists.) Maybe a white background with only the logo having a red background might set them apart from Ferrari. But it would make them look close to Toyota's colour scheme.
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By al - 4:13 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Post-Debate Thoughts

  • Did anyone else notice that creepy smile Harper had the whole time? Like, even when it was kind of inappropriate? It's like someone told him to smile more often, but he doesn't know what smiling means or what it's for, so he just twisted up his face and kept it that way.
  • No one seems to want to say that there was a clear 'winner'. People who are mad at the Liberals for the scandal accusations don't want to think too much about what it is they're voting 'for'. Meanwhile, Martin isn't giving people much of anything to remember him by. Remember when we had people like Pierre Trudeau in these things? (OK, saying 'people like..' isn't quite right since he was unmatched as a speaker, but still..) Hell at least Chretien was clever.
  • Harper said Canadians are 'worse off than they were 12 years ago.' Martin kept saying that 'Canada is doing better than any other country.' Both were irritatingly thin with their sources, but it sounds similar to what has happened to the United States through the 90s. The aggregated measures of the economy, like the stock market and real-estate values and raw numbers, all went up. But the gap between the rich and poor also went way up. Inequality has a lot of negative consequences for a society, look at the riots in France for a good example. Or the disasters that happened in New Orleans and Kashechewan when we see that people are left without the extra resources to handle emergencies on their own.
  • Gilles Duceppe's francophone voice is naturally used to speaking in a slightly higher normal range, this is true of a lot of people who grow up speaking French. So when he speaks English a lot of people find it slightly annoying, I think. In French speaking quickly and with a light touch is a good trait, in English it seems to be a sign of insecurity.
  • All of the leaders seem like very hollow people. The US media is incredibly tenacious at getting into people's lives and painting a picture of a politician's past. You also have those idiotic Katie Couric type interviews where they ask a candidate and his wife to talk about their home life. In Canada it seems that we find that sort of thing distasteful, but we seem to go the other extreme where we don't have any insight into a candidate's motivations for doing or saying what they believe in. In the US someone has an entire publicly-known biography of why George W. Bush is an utter scumbag. All we know about our leaders is the vague speeches they make and, if we're lucky, some amount of achievement in the public sphere to track their basic feelings of the role of government in our society.
  • I still think Martin should have raised the issue of Iraq more. He did mention it, but he should have hammered the issue, enough to make the press have no choice to talk about it afterwards. Liberals need to be better at framing, i.e., setting the terms for a discussion.

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By al - 2:21 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 09, 2006

Live Blogging the Debate

Instead of making lots of posts in backwards order, I'm just gonna re-edit and add to the end of this post. Keep that F5 finger flexed.

Paul Martin is proposing to somehow do away with the notwithstanding clause. This is the dumbest shit I've heard so far, unless he wants to change the constitution. He's trying to prevent a future governemnt from carrying out some action. But there's nothing stopping a future government could just reverse that. It's stupid.

There's a bit of a gangbang going on with the Conservative financial backers thing. The moderator went around to each of the other leaders and asking them if they knew who Harper's contributors were. They all took turns kicking harper on cue.

Paul Martin always looks flusterd.

Gilles Duceppe is in his usual position of not having much to lose so he can take the high ground and make the others look like children. The questions he's being asked are things like the nature of parliamentary government and Quebec's role in it.

Martin: "Do I think the current government needs fixing? Yes I absolutely do." -- that's an out of context quote waiting to happen.

Jack Layton said flatly "Canadians want their electoral system fixed." Funny how Canadians haave consistently voted against such measures. Sure there were reasons, but to divine the will of "Canadians" is pretty disingenuous.

Social Policy Debate

Harper is repeating the word 'criminal' over and over. He must have been told that that word gets focus groups knobs twisting.

Good for Duceppe for talking about the root causes of crime. Though the particular cases cited have more to do with organized crime and drugs than poverty.

"Concrete steps, not more press conferences, somethign that would produce real results." Layton. Talking about arming border officers is just a little too out of place.

Martin is playing the "we all agree on everything" game, hoping people will just vote for the Liberals by default. Paul Martin just compared Toronto to Detroit. He's not mentioning that Washington, D.C. has a handgun ban as well.

Harper is talking about 'deterrent effects' of tougher sentences and mandatory minimum sentences. Duceppe is pointout out what bullshit this is. Talking about what police officers in his own community are doing is bringing a noticeable amount of reality into the discussion.

Can I vote for the Bloc?

This 'patient guarantee' business is such crap. Which two cities in different provinces are close enough together to allow for this free flow of patients to better hospitals? Pretty much just between Ottawa and Hull. Maybe people in Lloydminster will think this is a practical idea.

Layton's pharmacare program proposal seems like it's necessary but he's not saying what a clusterfuck the American system is.

He's asking Jack Layton about legalizing 'swingers clubs' because they don't cause harm. He's not dignifying the question by answering it. Good. It was a no-win question where either you're in favour of smut or repressive government.

Harper wants to get back into the bedrooms of the nation by saying he might pass a new law to deal with this court decision. Though he was correct to say that it's not a constitutional matter.

The leaders are now realizing that they're going to have to not bother with the questions to get their digs in. "I don't believe that Canada was built on American conservative values... America is our neighbour and not our nation." Not bad.

Duceppe is good about bringing up the fact that you can't legislate against a changing society.

The 'I'm more Canadian than you' debate has been played out previous to this debate. They have their answers to each accusation already prepared. Layton is a good foil for the fact that Martin is the one taking Canada's economy closer to the US.

"It's election time, you can always tell the way [martin] approaches these issues with so much passion." - Layton. "He wanted to give money to the big oil companies and the big banks, and not a cent for aboriginals and poorer families. .. It was the NDP who got the results for working people." Very nice quote.

I kind of like teh way Duceppe and Layton are realizing almost by accident that they agree on the social democratic platform. I'd totally go v for a BQ / NDP coalition government.

Anyone who's ever paid for childcare knows that $100 a month won't pay for a babysitter for one day a week. This is garbage.

I like the flexible debate format, where the moderator can bring people back to things that seemed to spark interesting debates. The limited response is better than the last debate, but still kind of insulating.

Layton is making sure to smack each of the two major party leaders at once, good job. "It's a shell game" referring to the Conservatives' plan to cut the GST and hike other taxes.

Harper is trying to avoid the fact that he's raising income tax by saying "The lowest income-earners in teh country don't pay income tax." That's the same line George W. Bush uses to avoid the fact that his tax cuts screwed over the middle and working classes.

Martin takes a question about the tough times faced by individual farmers and talks about international trade. Makes him sound removed from actual farmers' concerns. Layton is jumping on this, telling a story about an individual farmer. The fact that the agricultural economy is just untenable is totally true.

"The Liberals were too ashamed to vote against the farm bill proposed by the Bloc."

It sounds like Harper is just supporting an income band-aid for farmers.

The 'supply management' duscussion is a bit too jargonified for most voters.

Layton pointing out that Martin and Harper got together to propose a budget with a huge corporate tax cut is another good swipe at both. The Conservatives were livid when the NDP knocked that down. He's intimidated by the social democratic-sounding other three leaders in this debate. (the two real ones and martin the fake one.)

This is a bit esoteric but I'm kind of creeped out by Martin's citing the Bank of Canada's statement that children should be put into institutionalized learning environments as early as possible. I'd rather they talk about the fact that families need two incomes to support themselves these days and thus a universal child care system is needed so badly.

Good for Gilles Duceppe for holding Martin to the cuts he made as finance minister that he's making promises about to try and fix in this election.

The equalization debate is a no-winner for anyone. Harper's raising a good point about the fact that provinces and cities are having a hard time covering services while the federal government has huge surpluses.

"Municipalities are a provincial jurisdiction." Good on Duceppe for not jumping on the federal power creep bandwagon.

Layton should find a way to talk about cities more, he's the only one with any real credibility on the subject as a city counsellor, etc.

Talking about quebec as an 'asset' and not a socity is going to turn off some people.

Martin's and Harper's insisting that Quebecers share the same values as the rest of the country is pretty condescending. You wouldn't say that Albertans or any other province is a clone of any other, and objectively speaking Quebec is certainly more different than the others.

Dear Paul Martin: Canada doesn't have a 'national government', it has a 'federal government'. There's an important difference between the two and it's kind of creepy that he wants to call it 'national'.

The closing statements were pretty uninspiring. Layton should still acknowledge that, even though it might not be likely to happen, that the NDP would still make, in his view, the best government and he the best prime minister. And the Bloc's attacks on something most people haven't heard of at the very end are just confusing to most people.
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By al - 9:21 p.m. | (6) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nothing's Ever as Good as it Used to Be

After watching one of the new episodes of "The Simpsons" tonight I was left feeling rather empty. I know, I'm about the last person at the door to the "The Simpsons aren't funny anymore" club, but here we finally are.

Cheat notes on the episode is that homer gets an old piece of mail that was supposed to be for his mother in 1968 from someone claiming to be the father of her unborn child. (Noting the passage of time, this would make Homer 19 years old when the series started on the Tracy Ullman Show.) Of course he turns out to be much more interesting, rich, adventurous and fatherly than Abe Simpson, and we have all the usual random event causing some kind of crazy adventure, before everything works itself out in the end.

What was missing was the freeze-frame fun that you used to get from signs on walls or above doors, or credits and disclaimers on television, or really any subtlety whatsoever. There was very little to look at in Homer's new father's house that wasn't mentioned explicitly in the dialog.

What it felt like was the voice cast getting together to improv a story around one new character and a basic plot twist, with the game being to have everything wind up back the way it started. They even did the unthinkable and stole a hidden sunken treasure-seeking adventure bit from "Family Guy" (*spit*) When you're down to lifting bits from a show who's only contribution to the world of animated comedy is a way of drawing characters falling down really fast then you know you've hit rock bottom.

From what I've read of the production process of an episode of "The Simpsons" it sounds like such a smoothly-running machine now that the writers and producers and voice actors can just phone in their bits and everything gets assembled in South Korea and packaged back as a slick-looking episode. Whatever condition of being under a creative gun that inspired writers or directors to insert some subtle hint of a joke in the background of a scene just isn't there anymore.

I can't blame them for keeping it going, though. The whole operation is one big ATM for the people involved. I just think Matt Groening should take his name off of the show in protest.
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By al - 11:13 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment


Last year I blogged a lot about the federal election, posted a lot of links to analyses of the parties' policies and felt like I was on top of everything. This year I couldn't even stand to listen to the leaders debate. I don't know what's changed so much as that so little has changed. The Liberal party are the utterly frustrating in that their mode of making promises upon promises totally oblivious to the fact that as the governing party they should be touting accomplishments and talking about the promises from the last election that they kept. Now there would be something different.

Instead they try and match the tories bullet point-for-bullet point on promises in each area and forget that they have a record they should be running on. Maybe they realize their record is less than stellar, who knows. The promise to take away the head tax on new immigrants when it was Martin himself who brought it in was just emblamatic of the way they continually insult voters' intelligence.

The Liberals are starting to remind me of the Republican party in the US, where their only focus is on trying to get elected, but they have no idea what to do with themselves when they're actually faced with the task of governing.

The only thing that saved them last election was that the entire CBC got spooked about 2 weeks before the election that the Tories might actually win the thing and that they might put their favourite whipping-boy crown corp on the cutting block, so their coverage swung way in favour of the Liberals very suddenly. This time around they're still managing to do fairly balanced coverage, from what I've actually seen. I wonder if they'll lose their nerve again this year.

It's sort of a similar situation to the last British election. The Labour party basically won by default because the Tories have become a regional party that doesn't win seats outside of the South of England, and the LDP don't seem to show up on most voters' radars, even though they were the only major party that was against the Iraq invasion, a position that most Brits agreed with.

Any party that's been in power for a long time will start to rot the way the Liberals are. The Democratic Party used to have a stranglehold on the U.S. House of Representatives up until 1994 and became as corrupt and cronyistic as one sees the Republicans now. Granted it took them way longer than 10 years to get there, but in the end power attracts the power-seekers, and they will poison any institution.

And I think that's where we've arrived, we've got a governing party who's focus has changed from accomplishing something to preserving its own place in an institution.

I don't like saying how I vote, or telling people directly to vote for a certain party. But I will say, that limiting your choice to evil or stupid will get you the same disaster in the end.

By al - 1:07 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Well-Oiled CD Track-by-Track

Well-Oiled is the name of a compilation CD that came out at the end of 2005 featuring a bunch of independent Prince Edward Island bands. It's pretty easily the best $10 I spent all holiday season. Here's a decent backgrounder on how the CD was made in the Guardian: Link.

Since I'm pretty uselessly stuck in bed with a bad cold this morning I might as well listen through it again and write whatever crap comes to my head as each song plays.

The first little 30 second intro thing is idiotic. If I import this into my iTunes I'm skipping this track.

Officer Girl - "A Physician A Day"

This is one of their best, and it sounds like it's better-recorded than their first few four-tracked songs which is what I've heard of their stuff so far. They're definitely the class of the album's indie-rock superstar aspirants. I don't know if the extended interlude in the middle is the and thus longer song is the best choice for a compilation, if I'm not in the mood it sort of drags, but the song has a great hook and otherwise is excellent.

OK, I liked, I paused the CD so I could finish up that last paragraph. Back we go.

ROBOTS - "Open City"

The vocals in this song are nice and clear, not overcrowded by the instrumental tracks. The words aren't anything out of the ordinary but not having to strain to listen to figure that out is an advantage. This is an indie-rock tune with some electronic effects in the bridges and fairly straightforward but quick and fairly dense drumming. I've never seen this band live before, but I'd definitely check them out after hearing this song. The keyboard sort of takes the place of the bass in the parts where the instrumentation takes centre stage, where the bass becomes an accentuator to the drums, and the keyboard takes over the foundation melody in the background. The main guitar bit is catchy and the 10 second refrain of it at the end is a bit long in coming and then the song ends just when you're remembering it.

Pat Deighan and the Orb Weavers - "Whiskey Stars"

I've always liked this band for the great guitar playing and the theatrics of the drummer, but they tend to play so often around town that you inadvertently hear them enough to start to find them a little repetitive. But on the recording they've got a great sound that doesn't get fully shown off in their live performances. The vocals are clear and steady, instead of sounding weak. There are a lot of nice little guitar lines in the background, and all the parts are very nicely balanced. Also the lyrics are among the more clever of the songs on the album.

Johnny King - "This Fire"

I've never seen this guy play live before, so this is my very first exposure to his sound. The song starts off with a guitar solo that could be from any blues jam, but it transitions nicely into a pleasant walking melody. Actually that's a good description for the lyrics as well. More guitar-driven rock but with a couple of places where the drums do assert themselves.

Fugato - "Green Eyes"

One of my favourite live bands around town, ever since they played through an old 8-track player for an amp in what used to be a chicken coop and still put on a sweet show I've always been impressed with the way they can keep a crowd going. They're the standard bearers of the dancy-funky-rock contingent on the album, with a slow paced beat, irregular bass and repeat-pedal-heavy guitar chords accenting the bass rather than taking the centre until the choruses.

I think they're better as a live band, the recording is a bit thin on the ground for variations in melody. Great to move around to but a bit flat when you're sitting in your chair with headphones.

The Mystery System - "Western Sky"

These guys are even further into the dancy-rock spectrum. A keyboard's lower notes provide the base for the song with the bass accompanying. The guitar has a clean sound while the keyboards sound distorted, an interesting reversal of what you usually hear. Drumming almost takes a back seat as it's confined to seemingly one track in the centre of the stereo spectrum, outflanked by the keyboard and guitars. I really like this song. It's got a Slowcoaster feel but smoother rather than the stoccatto stuttery guitar sound they have.

Lenore - "The Epic"

I swear this starts out sounding just like an Officer Girl song. There's a girl doing background vocals but she's almost turned down too low, to the same level of the crowd shouting backing bit that they're using. I've mentioned before that the guitar tone they have is sweet as hell, with distinctive sound differences between the two guitars, and smart use of tone. The bass has a percussive sound that I never noticed in their live shows, but that might just be a result of the sound systems.

The song itself has a bit of a scattered feel to it, like it needs to be coiled a little more tightly around a core riff or two. Expectations are really high for this band, partly because they took so damn long to put on their first show, but I think there's a bit of a case similar to J.K. Rowling's later books where the editors were afraid to tell her to cut stuff out.

Smothered in Hugs - "Young Flare"

This is by far the catchiest song on the album. The keyboard and guitar bits reinforce each other very nicely, one reminds you of the other. I'm warming to this band more lately, getting to hear them play in places with better sound systems so you can hear the singing and the bass better. The keyboard sound is one you hear all over the place in rock these days, that sort of blue-coloured electric piano sound that a lot of people seem to be using. The guitar chords don't change that often, letting the bass and keyboard do most of the up and down work. I don't really like the keyboard sustain at the end, but I do like the little melody part just after it.

The Danks - "Automocar"

There's a breaking glass sound at the beginning of this that I kind of enjoyed. The singing style really strongly reminds me of some non-specific other band or bands. Very generally familiar sound, but with the keyboards being a little more springy than you usually hear. This is another band I haven't seen live yet but would like to now that I've heard one of their songs.

Two Hours Traffic - "Purple Eyes/Yellow Lights"

Two Hours Traffic have the advantage of having worked with Joel Plaskett producing their album. It sticks out as a song that would be totally ready for prime time. From the intro guitar bit that's just the right length to the way the other instruments come in in succession, you can tell that this was made with an ear for the audience. I haven't heard their album yet, and the shows I've seen them at were strictly bare-bones affairs, but this song and the one they have a video for on Much Music are as good as they can be, I think. And it's nice to take a break from the keyboards on this particular CD.

The Bush Doctors - "The Danger Lurking"

I've never heard of this band before. They're after the rock-funk sound, but that's one of those things that's easy to get mostly right but hard to make it sound natural. The singing is a bit messy, sounds like it's trying to keep up with the song during the choruses. This is one of the weaker songs on the album, but I still haven't found myself skipping over it yet.

Double Ought Buckshot - "Drive Away"

Back to the guitar / bar rock. (This isn't a slam by any means, just to say that they haven't succumbed to the temptation to throw some keyboards in there and they keep the guitar playing as the most prominent part of the sound.) The singing has a bit of a gruff edge that sounds a little forced, but it fits the gritty rock sound they're going for in the song. The guitar playing is very tight and you can tell they've been playing together almost forever.

Out From Under - "Either Way"

Here's another band that plays live 2 or 3 times a week every week it seems. The closest thing to country on the album, I get to raise an eyebrow or two whenever I use the "c word" to describe them, but it's true and the upbeat sound is why they're great. There's a part in the middle where the harmonica gives away really smoothly to a pretty sweet guitar solo, while a clean guitar plays rhythm. They're better than most bands at letting instrumentalists play over top of each oher and not step on each other's sacks. This is a more mellow song than the general tone of their shows, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's actually a good transition to the last song.

Mars Hill - "Sleep Walker"

Not sure what to call their style of music other than spoken word over top of mellow pop keyboards and bass. The vocalist has a bit of a monotone, rather laconic delivery. The sound of the instruments is better than most of the other bands on this CD. Crisper, fuller keyboards and bass and clearer drums. You can hear the drum being hit by the player instead of pounded on.

It's a good song to end the album with, since it slows everything down. Maybe that's why they were slotted in as the last act after the dance DJs on Saturday night at the Shoreline festival. I wonder what kind of sound they'd adapt if the entire band was shot full of caffeine before working on a new song.

So overall the album is a great representation of what's going on in Charlottetown recently. Bands that are experienced show their polish, newer bands bounce around the walls a little more, but it makes for a good mix. I picked it up for $10 at the last Officer Girl show and you can get it at Back Alley and CD Plus here in town, if you're out to make a new music acquisition it's definitely a great choice, both as a primer for which local shows you may want to come check out and as a sit down and listen for the sake of it album.
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By al - 8:11 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 02, 2006

SuprGlu is SuprSweet

It seems like every time I start some idea or another there now seems to be the overwhelming need to give it its own blog. Between that and guest blogging on other people's sites my blogger.com dashboard is bigger than anyone else I know, and I also have my company's blog running on WordPress and an account on TypePad for the now-derelict Community Broadcast Centre. That's not even mentioning my Podcast feed, flickr photo feed and del.icio.us bookmarks RSS feed.

In short: Web 2.0 is a big, disgusting mess.

Thankfully there's suprglu.com now, (I'll forgive the cute spelling as superglue dot com is probably happily in the hands of some late-90s domain squatter.) What it does is it collects all the different feeds from the various web services you have accounts with and combines them into one nice-looking web page, so someone can keep updated on everything you might be up to without the flurry of cross-posting and self-promotion a lot of us seem to enjoy so much.

I made up one for me here:


And of course it goes without saying that this digest page also has its own RSS feed, so you can have all of your doctor-recommended dose of Al's sweetness spoonfed to you without even typing in a URL each day.

(Subscribe to this page via RSS!)
When I'm feeling less lazy I'll fix the RSS and Atom icons on the sidebar and stick this feed in a prominent location. The suprglu generated page also contains one of those retarded tag clouds that nobody likes but is easy to code so everyone makes them. Live by the bandwagon, die by the bandwagon, I guess. At least it'll give me a reason to keep putting in those technorati tags at the bottom of my posts.
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By al - 5:34 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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