Thursday, September 30, 2004

And so back to the real topic of discussion. The music.

It might just be me but I've already heard and read enough about the "new" Brian Wilson album "Smile". Take a look at the following:

Allmusic (4.5/5) - a remarkably unified, irresistible piece of pop music

The Guardian (4/5) - the songs Wilson wrote for Smile still sound like nothing else rock music has ever produced

Pitchfork (9/10) - The end result is a great album

Eye (4.5/5) - Has any pop album ever attained this level of melodic sophistication or invention?

Now (5/5) - Smile turns out to be a deeply considered reflection on what it means to be an American

Stand back, that wave of hyperbole might just be about to engulf you all. So what does it all mean? 5 guys out of 5 billion really, really like this record. What I would like to suggest for the next CD club which should be coming up shortly is that we each go out and buy this record (its available for $13.99 at Sam's so not a huge investment for something so grand) and give it several spins prior to our next get together and discuss the legitimacy of the hype. Sort of like a book club spin on a CD.

I only suggest this as I am a big cynic at heart especially where the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson are concerned and need to hear the input of those that I trust and respect on matters musical.

Any takers?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

So you liked the Lovano disk??

Next Kyle dead?

Oh right, hockey.

My point is that, no matter how much the assholes who run the game fuck it up, and I don't deny that they're capable of that, the game itself is still marvellous, and I love the hell out of it. There's no other sport that I feel this way about. I don't know if you've ever played hockey, but that's a big part of the connection that I and so many Canadians have with it. And I do get a little tired of people saying that the game is sick blah blah blah. The fact is the players now play far far better than even half a generation ago. Look at an Oilers game from their classic period in the eighties, or the Islanders before that, and even some of those legends look like ankle skaters. I don't believe that the talent pool has dwindled despite expansion, since twenty to thirty years ago there were very few Europeans and Americans in the fact the talent pool has grown tremendously.

I think the game would benefit from a few minor rule changes, taking the red line out, consistently calling holding, and (yes!) regulating goalie's equipment - again, take a look at what Billy Smith wore when the Isles won four straight. Ridiculously different.

The economics of the game are fucked and I don't give a rat's ass who wins and loses in this negotiation. The owners are moronic but it's their money. Definitely 82 games are too many, but I love to watch it, so would never want it cut it in half? People who don't like pre-Christmas hockey can tune in in January, that's their call. For me, I wouldn't want to wait much longer than the chilly winds of November (so, let's say 70 games). And sure, I'd prefer to see hockey leave places like Nashville, Columbus, Phoenix, etc, and I think it will eventually, the way things are headed. Either way, get it over with and let the boys play hockey.

And, to finish off the rant, I mean, riposte, I thought the World Cup was damn exciting; even the final, which was played a little too defensively for most of us, was still too close to call, and featured some very exciting plays. The Canada-Czech game before that was a classic, played at a very high level.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Very disappointing riposte to my "diatribe" there Mr. Doyle. I think perhaps you've been watching too much Fox TV. Why do I feel like Linda McQuaig to your Bill O'Reilly. Nothing I can say I suppose that will change your thinking in any way. It's the sort of reaction I'd expect from both Bettman and Goodenow who obviously know far more than I do about what's good for the game.

Believe it or not I was a hockey fan for the better part of 20 years and sadly the NHL has gone out of its way to lose me as a spectator. As Damien Cox in a pretty good column last week pointed out:

NHL: "Upon further review, our game sucks right now."

Why pretend? The Stanley Cup final was an artistic disaster, the World Cup wasn't much better and 50-goal scorers are more rare than bona fide big leaguers in the Toronto Blue Jays lineup.
Radical change is needed. Admitting a problem is the first step

Here's the link to the column in its entirety.

I realize that my so-called solution to the problems facing hockey are rather over the top but the brilliant ideas bandied about by the NHL are a joke. (eg limiting the size of the goalie's equipment). If 2-1 and 1-0 continue to be the recurring scorelines I don't expect too many US based teams to thrive given the American fan's penchant for scoring. Remember the NASL? Me neither.

So I leave it in the capable hands of you and the extremely m.i.a. Kyle to offer up something more productive than "nyah, nyah you suck, hockey rules." I promise to say no more on the subject.
Yes indeed, Derek it's very sleepy in BlogLand. Never fear, my man, I am always able to find time to blog when I should be preparing financial forecasts, or some such mind-numbing activity.

First off, I'll mention that I am simply ignoring your hockey diatribe....I'll excuse it as the words of a man who doesn't like hockey (god forbid). You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but since this particular one doesn't mirror my own thoughts, I'll dismiss it. I need hockey, and bah fooey to you.

OK let's focus on music. The fall is all about getting serious. See you later Beach Boys, helloooo Pet Shop Boys...I mean, Brahms, Coltrane, and Sonic Youth.

I liked your list of "Derek spins", particularly the Henderson which I know and love, and the Ives, in whom I'm very interested. I've been tripping on some classical stuff (mentioned in my last blog), plus a few new releases by tried and-true-bands - Bjork, Guided By Voices, and the aforementioned Sonic Oldies. Each of them is very good, with the Bjork likely to be the one I'll keep listening to. As for GBV, their previous (Earthquake Glue) seems to me to have a few more instant classics than this (sadly) final effort. Curious to hear the differences, if any, between a Bob Pollard solo record and GBV.

On the jazz front, I recently resurrected a Joe Lovano record which, in Derek-like fashion, I bought six months ago and never listened to. It's "On this Day at the Vanguard", a live record, and is a wonderful blend of large-band energy and small-group soulfulness.

When's the next CD Club? Sometime in November would suit me.

Friday, September 24, 2004

It's oh so quiet!

Apparently many of you are suffering from a surfeit of blogging during the film festival. Thankfully I suffer from no such affliction so I'll proceed. Just thought I'd weigh in on how much I enjoy this time of the year. My interest in all the art forms gets rejuvenated what with the new seasons in theatre, dance, opera, chamber music etc. Add to that the slate of new releases in literature and pop/rock music and it doesn't get much better than this for a cultural junkie.

I think what makes it even sweeter in 2004 is the absence of our national pastime. And I'm not talking about the Canuck need to whinge about health care, the weather, the price of gas... With no "NHL" hockey to pester us for the forseeable future we may rediscover our love for the outdoors, long forgotten family members and my god "the arts".

Do people really miss the banality that is the NHL regular season anyhow? My suggestion is that hereafter the season start in mid-January and they be handing over Lord Stanley's Cup by the end of May. With the best weather of the year coming in the fall, all the social activities that accompany the new chill in the air and then the move into Christmas festive mode nobody's going to miss hockey until January anyway and then it will come as a perfect antidote to the most miserable part of the calendar. Then when the first warm day of the season arrives in May it's time to wrap it all up and let us get back on to the patios of Toronto. Where is it written in stone that a professional sports season has to last 8-10 months. The NFL seems to thrive quite nicely on a 4 month season leaving their fans in a state of high anticipation during the long off-season.

So cut the number of teams to 16, with 4 groups of 4. Play each team in your division 4 times and the rest of the teams twice. Presto a 36 game season. Enough to get the players in to prime game shape but not so many that they've got nothing left to give in the playoffs. Cut the teams making the playoffs to 8 (quarters, semis and finals) and you're finished by May. People will ask well where's all the foregone cash going to come from.

Well in cities like Toronto in their ilk I don't think we've come anywhere close to the threshold of what people are willing to pay to watch a hockey game. Let the high rollers and corporations pony up even more to watch what will be a vastly improved product with a much reduced playing schedule that leaves much fewer opportunities to schmooze with your clients. That and reduced salaries (only 36 games after all) will go a long way to covering up a revenue shortfall.
Sorry, didn't mean to turn this in to sportsblog.

Currently spinning on the Mercer turntable: "Blue" by Joni Mitchell, Puccini's "Turandot", "Inner Urge" by Joe Henderson, "Destination Out" by Jackie McLean, Bernstein's take on Ive's 2nd & 3rd symphonies, "Funeral" by Arcade Fire and the latest Sadies release. All well worth a listen.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

No qualms from BMO Man. Sounds like a good use of the space. My first film is Thursday night, so you can expect long, indulgent, rambling reviews beginning sometime Friday. Incidentally, as a mind-set preparation exercise, I rented Ingmar Bergman's "Persona" a couple of nights ago. To me, Bergman is one of those directors who moved film forward as an art form. This one was eerie, quiet, imponderable, quite sexy, and slightly hysterical. Classic Berman, I s'pose. It'll stay with me for a while.

As for new CD's, well, it's the fall, so I'm back into "serious" music - recent purchases have been 20th century classical (Charles Ives, Elliott Carter, and Harry Somers), plus my fave of all, and technically a jazz recording, Eric Friedlander's "Maldoror" on which he creates solo cello interpretations of Comte De Leautremont's surrealist poetry from the mid 1800's. Sounds impressive, eh? Truth is it's beautiful, even with the pretentious trappings.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Yeah, we certainly nailed that decade though how we failed to appreciate the genius that is R Kelly I'll never know. Any qualms with using this space in the coming two weeks for sharing thoughts on films from the festival?
I could create another blog (sounds complicated but amounts to a series of mouse clicks totalling ten minutes) but it seems easier to use this one. I haven't bought any new music lately other than the Iron & Wine disc, which I really like (great for saturday mornings, coffee and paper accompaniment). I was going to pick up the k-os disc but it has that annoying copyright controlled technology on it, which makes it unplayable in most rental cars, where I listen to a lot of music, and impossible to transfer to my portable music devices!! Very annoying.

Any thoughts re: tiff postings, new discs?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Ok I thought you all covered the best stuff with your selections. I would have to underscore Fake plastic trees as probably my favorite song of the decade, if not period. Since most of us picked this song we must be a pretty pathetic bunch, but there you have it. I would have added Oasis Live forever, from definately maybe. If you dont know it , it is pure unadulterated youth that somehow still rings true to my aged body. Finally I would add Losing my religion - REM.
Theses last 2 picks are mainstream enough that they could have made it. Like Brian I could pick a bunch from Yo la Tango, Red House Painters, Bjork, etc......, but none likely to make the list.