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If you haven’t seen the Broken Circle Breakdown you are missing out on a truly amazing film. It’s on Netflix. This live performance doesn’t actually do justice to one of the most heart wrenching moments you’ll ever see on film.
A sunny day led to a trip to Steveston and a visit to Finn’s Slough in Richmond which is one of my favourite places to stop.
News of Carrie Fisher’s death today more or less melted my phone with notices of condolence. I never met the lady, but of course she was always my favourite Princess. Witty to the end she provided a sense of continuity through the original trilogy through the Star Wars: The Force Awakens and even in the recently release Rogue One.
Naturally I’m watching the first film again in the Harmy restored edition which I love. One day, I hope Disney releases official unedited original cuts digitally—they would mint a pile of money by doing this—but for now, this is the only way to watch what I actually saw as a kid. Two things worth noting—Princess Leia is the first of the major stars to actually shoot at a Stormtrooper and hit, and there is absolutely no doubt that Han Shot First. Greedo never got a blaster bolt out.
I wrote about music for a very long time, and a lot that focused on Canadian music. I’m pretty firm in my belief that some of the greatest songwriting talent in the world comes out of Canada — Justin Rutledge, Kathleen Edwards, Del Barber, Jenn Grant and Whitehorse are just a few examples of the new generations of talent that follow in the footsteps of Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young.
Sometimes though it can be frustrating. Canadian musical careers are heavily skewed by CBC radio airplay. Get enough of it and you have a steady gig going in Canada without too much trouble. Without it? Probably nothing.
So it’s interesting to me when I see the CBC promoting its own. The screenshots above is a pretty good example. I don’t have a problem with Matt Fisher and don’t want to pick on him, this just happened to be a particularly obvious instance. Matt wrote for CBC Music for quite a while, so it’s a bit disingenuous for the CBC Music twitter account to be actively promoting him. For all I know, Matt wrote that tweet about himself.
That’s our tax dollars at work. I love the CBC and want to see the whole network go commercial free as has been recently proposed—but I also want to see a level playing field for artists so that the talent wins at the end of the day. At the very least, a clear conflict of interest needs to be declared—and that’s even more important when it’s a publicly funded institution.
I spent my teenage years working in Bowling Alleys in Toronto, and though I didn’t particulary love bowling that means that it has a special place in my heart. The Big Lebowski is as much a documentary as a comedy in my life and for what it’s worth I’ve seen the business slide and come back before. This Atlantic video paints a nice picture of the current decline—here’s hoping it doesn’t go away.
Somehow, the existence of the riverside cabins at Sunwolf Rafting in Squamish had managed to escape me in the last sixteen years. I learned about them earlier this year and when I was looking for a short winter getaway I figured this might be just the thing. Naturally, there were eagles about.
It’s old news by now, and more column inches of paper and bits have been spilled since the election about Donald Trump’s win than anything else this week—there’s not much to say and it’s certain that whatever I say will sail into a meaningless void.
Two short thoughts then.
First: I always argued that Barak Obama was elected because he made everybody he met feel like he was actually listening to them. Whether he was or not isn’t the point—he engaged people, and connected to them. That’s a powerful thing when you’re looking for 300 million votes. I ran an election for a candidate once who couldn’t remember people he’d met the previous week and who turned every meeting into something about him. He didn’t win, mercifully.
Donald Trump tapped into the same sentiment, but he did so without meaning. He essentially ran a campaign that was a straight line for people who were angry, and frustrated to vent every racist, misogynist and mean spirited thought on the national stage. He listened, and he parroted everything he heard.
That’s not leadership and it shouldn’t be rewarded.
Second: there are a multitude of those voices—almost 50% of the people who voted supported Trump (and, yes, almost 50% of Americans stayed home.) That means that almost 50% of the people who voted supported a buffoon, a tyrant, an egomaniac, an outright liar, and an overt racist and a man who so clearly hates women that it’s unbelievable that he had the nerve so even say “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”
That, friends, is a pretty sure sign that America is a broken place—and I fear for its future because that hatred and loathing now has a voice and power that it hasn’t had for years. A world where Ronald Reagan now looks like a moderate, intelligent leader is a frightening world, and it’s not one I’m looking forward too.
The current election climate in the U.S. may make Dylan’s 1980s masterpiece Political World more relevant than ever.
We’re living in times where men commit crimes / And crime don’t have a face
This Hour Has 22 Minutes does a nice job every once in a while. (For the record, Tempest is an astonishingly good album.)
Adam West’s Batman was light and fun and in stark contrast to Frank Miller’s turn on the character which launched the darker interpretations that we’re now used to (most notably in Christoper Nolan’s Dark Knight films.) Hearing West read Miller’s original groundbreaking comic should leave you with no doubt that Adam West is Batman, in all of his glorious incarnations.
In general, I quite like Apple’s Calendar. Compared to Outlook’s calendar it’s like a dream and don’t even get me started on Google…that’s a whole different thing.
Apple has a reputation for sweating the small details in interfaces, and while Calendar is pretty good there’s a couple of areas where it still comes up short. For one, the times of events can’t be entered in 24 hour time and there’s no indication of AM or PM when it pops up. This despite the fact that I have my time preferences set for 24 hour time and Calendar shows me the time of event in 24 hour time. Sigh.
There’s a more subtle problem when you select a date: I have my preferences set to start the week on Monday, which groups the weekend together at the end. This is actually an old habit from the days of carrying around a Filofax with week to two pages diary in it. The problem is when I select a date, the little tiny popup calendar doesn’t work that way—it runs from Sunday to Saturday.
This is a small thing, and it took me a very long time to notice it. It’s an interesting subtle miss though. If we were talking about a Microsoft product, I wouldn’t even be surprised but this is the kind of tiny detail that Apple has a reputation for catching, and they didn’t…and that’s interesting.
David Pogue (as usual) had one of the best reviews which concluded that “…the emperor had no clothes.” Neil promised us all a musical nirvana but, as it turns out, nobody could hear the difference (and if they could, they often thought the iPhone was better.) Go figure.
The Pono store’s been closed for a while online and the devices are nowhere to be found at retail. Neil Young’s most recent album can’t be bought for the Pono, and debuted on Tidal. Despite this, there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much coverage of the demise of Pono as there was of its rise.
At the end of the day Pono seems to have failed for the same reasons that a lot of things fail: a focus on building technology that people didn’t want or need. Ignoring the science tthat suggests that Pono’s “high resolution audio” claims provided benefits well outside the range of human hearing is one thing; ignoring the reality that most people aren’t focused on an “audiophile quality” portable solution is quite another.
Portable music needs to be good enough. What that means can change from person to person but look around at a world where people are using Apple’s bundled headphones (or Beats, and don’t get me started on those) and it’s hard to see a world where enough people are looking for an audiophile portable experience.
Need more evidence? Compact Cassettes were never fantastic for audio quality but their portability, durability and size led to the development of the Walkmen and the entire concept of highly portable music was born. I had thousands of Maxell XLII’s in the 80s (and, according to my friends, almost as many Walkmen.)
Pono? To even hear the theoretical benefits I’d have to repurchase all of my music at twice the price.
Pono was a product looking for a market. Sometimes, that just doesn’t work
(Inbox Negative One)
Apparently, I’ve read email messages I haven’t even gotten yet.
I actually find watching these types of effects reels a bit exhausting but this one’s Star Wars, so…here it is.
To be honest the best thing about this is that it shows how much of the film actually used CGI effects. There was a lot of press when the movie came out that focused on the fact that the movie relied on practical effects and the fact that made them “better” than the prequels. That may be partly true, but it was also a bit overstated.
At the end of the day movies rely on storytelling to succeed. The Force Awakens was no different, and it’s a better movie than the prequels because it had a better script and a better director—one who understands the fundamentals.
Great effects didn’t hurt though.
Kubo and the Two Strings is an exquisite movie to watch made with a story that’s just as compelling. The stop motion animation that defines the movie is so exquisitely well done that it’s easy to mistake it for traditional cel-based animated work.
The video above does a nice job of showing how far stop motion animation has come since the early days of film making. For what it’s worth I’d rather watch the original King Kong than that horrendous Peter Jackson remake from a few years ago any day.
Over the last few months I’ve leaned on my car more than usual for a variety of reasons—all of them good. Over the next little while it looks like that’s going to continue.
This makes these Swedish bike oriented apartments all the more interesting to me. It would be nice to see a project like this in Vancouver, but I think it’s going to take a good long while.
I joke, occasionally, about wanting to open a Jai Alai Fronton in Vancouver (or various other places that I visit) as part of a retirement plan. I had no idea the sport was in so much trouble. Gone are the heady days of Miami Vice and the Most Interesting Man in the World—Jai Alai, at least in the United States—appears to be dying.
Maybe…just maybe…it’s time for a revival?
As places go, Quarry Rock in Deep Cove ranks fairly high on the list of favourites. It’s a short, somewhat steep hike (one that, weirdly, I’ve always started from the top and not the bottom.) It was pouring in Vancouver today, so instead of the bike I opted to put boots to earth—a decision I haven’t made often enough lately. As it turns out, the smell of a wet rainforest was exactly what I needed.
New Multitudes is a couple of years old at this point, and it seemed to pass largely unnoticed at the time. That’s a shame, because it’s as fine a collection of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie material as the Mermaid Avenue sessions and worth checking out. Jay Farrar’s vocals provide most of the highlights but there are fine performances throughout.