Thursday, 28 March 2013

What is it about Christians? I know when things are bad they need to lie to keep their hopes up. But when things are good, can't they just shut the fuck up?

We already knew Mark Burnett and Roma Downey Jr. were contemptible assholes. To help develop their miniseries The Bible they hired Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor whose main complaint against the label "anti-gay activist" comes from the "activist" part. You know, when you're espousing your political opinions to 20,000 people on Sundays, you've pretty much got to take that title whether you want it or not.

Then -- surprise! -- they cast a Barack Obama lookalike as Satan. It wasn't intentional, they say.

Okay, fine: you didn't mean for Satan to be an Obama doppelgänger: you just wanted him to be a dark-skinned dude. There goes all our misplaced blame! Totally cool that he's on the opposite side of the color wheel as Jesus, though polls show 98% of Americans picture Satan as being red.

I'm sure B/DJ have a whole raft of explanations. They were filming in Morocco, so they hired a Moroccan actor. They couldn't afford to import a white Satan because flying in white Jesus, white Mary, white John, white Joshua, white Saul and white Abimelech totally sapped the travel budget.

They vehemently deny any untoward intent:

"This is utter nonsense. The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouazanni, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics -- including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President."
Um, whaaa? "Satanic characters"? What does that mean? Folks who aren't Satan, but are Satanic? That just seems to obfuscate matters, opening a continuum that runs all the way from lesser demons and harpies down to Donald Trump.

An IMDB search turns up no Satans in Mr. Ouazanni's past, though maybe he's Satanic as "Leah's Husband" in The Ten Commandments. In The Hunt For The Hidden Relic (original title Das Jesus Video) maybe he's a devilish "Hotel Manager." Either way, these epics proved he was perfect for B/DJ: they just gave him a promotion.

I'm not sure how The Bible ended up on the History Channel, but B/DJ are strongly religious so I'll bet God himself was involved. I'm picturing an angel appearing before B/DJ one night and saying, "I want you to film the Bible, but only make it available to people with better than basic cable."

And the Word was made HDTV.

The show was a smash, opening the floodgates of hyperbole. In today's paper DJ says, "By the end, we expect 100 million people will have watched."

Let's look at the ratings so far:

First episode ratings: 13.1 million
Second episode ratings: 10.8 million
Third episode ratings: 10.9 million
Fourth episode ratings: 10.3 million

The most likely explanation we can think of is this: In total there will be ten episodes, and considering the way ratings are dropping it's not farfetched to say they'll average 10 million viewers each. Ten times ten is a hundred million, just like DJ said.

However, that's making a weird assumption. See, we'd guess that the 13.1 million people who watched the first episode would also watch the second, third, and subsequent episodes, with a few dropping out along the way. That means 13.1 million people tops would see the show. DJ apparently thinks it's all new eyeballs every week. Which means either they didn't like the show or they didn't know it was continued next week. Like at the end of every episode the viewers all went, "Wow, that wasn't too bad, but the ending sure is different from the book!" And then they never tune in again.

Of course, those 100 million people are just the start. "There are 2.2 billion Christians," DJ says. "We expect in 15 years, more people on the planet will have seen this show than will not have seen it."

That might be a little harder to justify.

Three-quarters of America is Christian, yet (using DJ's optimistic estimate) less than one-third will watch The Bible. What hope does the show have in, say, China, where 4% of the population is Christian? Or in India, where it's just 2%? Does she honestly think TV stations will slap this stuff on primetime when odds are there are more viewers interested in sex with balloon animals, or scrapbooking? If people were genuinely curious about other religions, American TV would cover some topic of Amish life aside from how they always seem to get naked during Rumspringa.

I'm thinking the show will have legs in South America, Italy, and Vatican City, but it's all downhill from there. Looking at it optimistically, it's probably best the thing doesn't air in, say, Pakistan, because if Jesus is white and Satan is brown, those won't be donations Mark and Roma will be getting in the mail.

News Roundup (Danny Buzanko, Sean le Sage, Podcasts)




Blasts From the Past

Featured Videos 

Links: Overplayers (Danny's band), More Overplayers Stories, Video courtesy of Danny Buzanko

Links: Sean Le Sage, More Sean Le Sage stories, Video courtesy of Homegrown Hamilton

Previous (Kathleen Edwards and Stan Rogers on CBC's Top Canadian Singers List) - - - Next (Paul O'Toole@Brantford Station Gallery)

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Kathleen Edwards and Stan Rogers on CBC's Top Canadian Singers List

Some great local talent made it onto CBC Music's recent list of Top 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever.  The late, legendary, Stan Rogers and the amazing Kathleen Edwards were listed back to back (21 and 20, respectively).  They joined such luminaries as k.d. lang (who earned the top spot), Burton Cummings, Sarah McLachlan, David Clayton-Thomas, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot and many others.  Congratulations!

Links: Kathleen Edwards, More Kathleen Edwards Stories, Video courtesy of Maple Music Recordings

Links: Stan Rogers, More Stan Rogers Stories, Video courtesy of Linz Miller

Here is the complete list. 
  1. k.d. lang
  2. Maureen Forrester
  3. Burton Cummings (Guess Who)
  4. Joni Mitchell
  5. Feist
  6. Celene Dion
  7. The Weeknd
  8. Sarah McLachlan
  9. Rufus Wainwright
  10. Anne Murray
  11. Katie Stelmanis (Austra)
  12. Ben Heppner
  13. Bryan Adams
  14. Michael Bublé
  15. Shania Twain
  16. Bahamas
  17. Amber Webber (Lightning Dust/Black Mountain)
  18. Robert Charlebois
  19. Paul Anka
  20. Kathleen Edwards
  21. Stan Rogers
  22. Avril Lavigne
  23. David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat and Tears)
  24. Jully Black
  25. Gordon Lightfoot
Blast from the Past: Daniel Lanois and Luke Doucet on Top Guitarist List

Previous (New Paul O'Toole CD) - - - Next (News Roundup w/Danny Buzanko, Sean Le Sage, Podcasts, more)

Songwriter's Corner: "I Heard Your Voice In A Dream"

They say love is a wondrous island
but I'd always been floating downstream.
The current had just pulled me under
then I heard your voice in a dream.

You said, "I took a bus to Sea World
and a dolphin gave me a massage.
Then I chased a chicken burrito
into Simon LeBon's garage."

They say true love gives you shelter
and protects you with roof, floor and beam.
I thought I'd always be homeless
then I heard your voice in a dream.

You said, "I jumped off of the White House
using string cheese for my bungee cord.
Then I lost a fight to a piece of chalk
that rubbed me against a blackboard."

When warm spring turns into cold winter
and our bodies give way to time's schemes.
I know that no matter what happens
I'll always hear your voice in my dreams.

You'll say, "I saw a Nazi vampire
throwing tangerines at a T. Rex.
Then I got married to a rainbow
that shat gumdrops when we had sex."

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

New Paul O'Toole CD: "mistakes included"

Late last year, local singer/songwriter Paul O'Toole released "mistakes included", an astounding sonic journey.

The majority of the album is filled with slow and mid-tempo songs that reveal his vocal power and incredible guitar stylings.  There's a lot of raw emotion to the performances, which are enhanced by Paul's exquisite songwriting.

"mistakes included" is also home to some higher octane numbers like Point of View and the wonderfully-titled Creepy Coated Love Song (great rockabilly tune!).

Paul pulls it all off  with a little help from Russ Wilson (Junkhouse), Guy Westbrook, and others.  The late-great Willie P. Bennett contributed some mandolin to one of the tracks as well.

If your tastes run more to the louder side of things, his rock band Francis recently released an EP entitled Junk.

Both discs are available at his live shows.

Below are a few live version of tracks from the album.

Click here for more videos from the show

Links: Paul O'Toole, More Paul O'Toole StoriesMore CD Releases

Previous (News Roundup w/Podcasts, Kirby, Ryan Van Sickle) - - - Next (Kathleen Edwards and Stan Rogers on CBC's Top Canadian Singers List)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Overheard At Starbucks: The Coolest Conversation Ever Between Two Dads

I've been reading a lot about how supportive parents are to their unconventional kids these days, but I never really believed it. All the stories seemed just a little too good to be true:

  • The dad who overhears his son talking about coming out and writes him a note that says he'll love him no matter what.
  • The two construction workers on the subway who proudly talk about their gay sons.
  • The mom who walks in on her son having sex with his boyfriend and responds with a lock for his bedroom door and a note saying, "I always knew you were gay and I'm fine with it! Sorry to disturb your blowjob!"
Needless to say, I was totally surprised when I witnessed a scene that makes all of them look like Pat Boone eating cheese. I'd never have believed it if I hadn't seen it. Get the Kleenex ready as we fade in on the local Starbucks.

I was drinking a frappuccino and listening to music when two guys in white robes and pointy hoods walked in. Despite the fact they were covered from head to toe in starched white cloth, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt they were really racist, sexist Southerners -- the kind of guys who snapped towels at each other in the locker room and called guys "faggot" when they listened to Erasure over and over (even the new record!).

I always ignore people in costume since they usually ask me for candy, but this time I couldn't help myself. The tape in my Walkman jammed just as Sheryl Crowe was going to tell me what kind of a road a day is like, and I heard Guy #1 say this:

“My wife wants me to stop killing squirrels, but I don't feel right just turning them loose after I've cut off their skins."

It piqued my curiosity so I put a blank tape in my Walkman and hit RECORD. Ordinarily I don't have time to waste on meaningless strangers but I figured my Yelp review could wait.

Guy #2: That don't sound much like Wilma. She ain't one to spoil a good hobby.

Guy #1: She wants me to spend more time with our son Ralph, who's fifteen and plays high school football.

Guy #2: How is Ralph anyway? Haven’t seen him in awhile.

Guy #1: Oh, he's good. This year he's quarterback.

Guy #2: He’ll definitely have the girls hanging around him now.

Guy #1: Yeah if he had any time for them.

Guy #2: Focused on football?

Guy #1: Focused on terpsichory.

Guy #2: You’re shittin' me!

Guy #1: I kid you not. Last week he told me and Betty bold as brass that he wanted to join the Bolshoi Ballet.

Guy #2: Holy Jesus on the cross. I don't see how anybody can tolerate that parade of patriarchal cliché.

Guy #1: Amirite? Amirite? I tell ya, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Guy #2: Well, it don't surprise me none. He always seemed soft, even ignoring the tutu.

Guy #1: How's your son, sixteen-year-old Marvin Jr.?

Guy #2: Last week I caught him en pointe with his boyfriend doing a tour jeté. His sister told me he wants to sign with Martha Graham.

Guy #1: Hoo-wee! Well, we all saw that coming.

Guy #2: You’re the eighth person to tell me that. How’d everybody see it but me?

Guy #1: It was just a feelin', Elbert. In their class photo he's the only one pretending to be a tree.

Guy #2: I guess you’re right. But hell, Charlie -- Martha Graham? Critics say her Bacchanale achieves a subtle, sublime lyricism but to me it looks like Jackie Chan fighting off locusts.

Guy #1: It definitely eschews the traditional vocabulary of dance.

Guy #2: Shit, Charlie. We both have kids who adore the dance. What do we do now?

Guy #1: We act like normal fathers. We say their tights don't make their asses look fat and if anybody says their pirouettes are wobbly we jam potatoes into the exhaust pipes of their trucks.

Guy #1: Well, I guess Ralph and Marvin Jr. won’t be getting together like we thought.

Guy #2: I guess not. If they wanna be professional dancers, they're gonna need significant others who can pay the rent.


Guy #2: Hey Charlie, you thinkin' what I’m thinkin'?

Guy #1: I think I am, Elbert. Not here, though -- at my place. I just bought a new Scriabin polonaise and all this cotton dampens the poetry of my arms.

By that point I was holding back a little tear, but then they resumed talking about squirrels. I ran home and transcribed the whole thing and posted it here. I hope it brightens your day like it brightened mine. Maybe some day I'll post an actual copy of the tape but when I scan it it just looks like a beige stripe.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Spunky Little Girl Who Wants To Learn How to Write Computer Games Limits Higher-Level Kickstarter Donations To $63,750

Mackenzie Wilson's story has all the ingredients of a classic drama. A spunky little girl. Two mean older brothers. A supportive mom (I'm picturing Sandra Bullock here). She likes using computers, PS3s and KindleHDs, and desperately wants to learn how to create role-playing games using RPG Maker, a "massively popular RPG development tool [with] an intuitive drag-and-drop interface."

I'm thinking right now the corpse of Anton Chekhov is going, "Damn, I wish I'd thought of that shit!"

Why, it would make perfect sense for this budding feminist to go to sleepaway camp where they teach you how to use the totally intuitive RPG Maker. Too bad her parents can't afford it, maybe because they've bought computers, PS3s, and KindleHDs. What's the solution?


Naturally the story has a happy ending. Mackenzie only wanted $829, but generous souls have already promised nearly $15,000! Doesn't that just warm your heart? She can go to camp and buy another computer. Let's see Rex Reed criticize that.

Sure, the story needs a little editing. Mackenzie sounds a little too calculated spouting the obligatory wisecrack that her mom lies about her age. (Well, it's crap like that that makes those silly eBay sales go viral.) She says she's in third grade and already taller than her teacher, but there's a photo of her riding a Razor Scooter. Forget RPGs: I'm thinking we should raise money to stretch that poor working sap instead.

One place where she's made a serious mistake, though, is limiting the top-level donations. Where's that genius brain now?

Pledge $100 or more: limit 20 people = $2,000
Pledge $250 or more: limit 25 people = $6,250
Pledge $300 or more: limit 10 people = $3,000
Pledge $500 or more: limit 5 people = $2,500
Pledge $10,000 or more: limit 5 people = $50,000

GRAND TOTAL: $63,750

Is that ridiculous? I mean, what if you're the sixth person who wants to give her $500 so she can learn how to use a role-playing game program to write role-playing games? You're out of luck! You've got a Sophie's Choice on your hands: either bump up to the $10,000 level or drop down to the $300 level. If you had $10,000, though, you could raise your own little Kickstarter beggar. And for $300 you don't get the "personalized thank you letter from Mackenzie," because little girls just don't have three minutes and an envelope for anybody who hasn't got five bills.

Still, there's plenty of gifts that accompany the other donations, like hoodies, hats, t-shirts, mouse pads, and beer koozies, all with Mackenzie's own feminist-empowering logos:

Look at all those things a girl can do, though evidently two of them involve asking strangers for money. And look at those arrows pointing up, reminding you that's the direction you should go.

That's it. It's perfect. I'm writing the screenplay as we speak. For the sequel I'm thinking Mom can learn graphic design, so don't put that wallet away.

Maybe It Wasn't A Great Idea To Write A Broadway Musical Where The Characters Can't Take Their Hands Off A Truck, Critics Say


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sheesham and Lotus@Queen Elizabeth Recreation Centre (February 18, 2013)

Blast From the Past: Sheesham and Lotus in Townsend

Links:  Sheesham and Lotus, More Sheesham and Lotus Stories

Previous (New City and the Sea EP) - - - Next (News Roundup w/Podcasts, Kirby, Ryan Van Sickle)

We're Sorry For Showing You The Outline Of Jon Hamm's Penis, Says The TV That Brought You These


Should you ask your doctor about Barugon? I don't know: is he interested in monsters that can launch a rainbow ray that vaporizes steel on contact? Should you run screaming if you see Pradaxa coming at you? Definitely yes, if you're afraid of drugs that prevent blood clots.

For some reason sci-fi and pharmaceutical marketing have marked the same territory: choosing vowel-rich, weirdly-consonanted words for their names. See if you can tell which of the following are monsters and which are pharmaceuticals.

(a) Lovaza
(b) Dogora
(c) Gorgo
(d) Tarceva
(e) Mothra
(f) Humira
(g) Ghidorah
(h) Gilenya
(i) Atragon
(j) Matango
(k) Gammagard
(l) Gilenya
(m) Hedorah
(n) Zyprexa
(o) Pulgasari
(p) Xeloda
(q) Garuda
(r) Negadon
(s) Nasonex
(t) Gamera
(u) Celebrex
(v) Nuvaring

ANSWERS: a, d, f, h, k, l, n, p, s, u and v are drugs. b, c, e, g, i, j, m, q, r and t are monsters. If you got ten or more correct, congratulations! You're either a teenaged boy or a hypochondriac.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

New City and the Sea EP: Action Figures

Hamilton rock band City and the Sea have been through a few lineup changes since their last EP.  Their first release with the brand-spanking new band, Action Figures, brings a fresh, more aggressive sound. With amped up energy and more of an alternative edge, this collection is a great leap forward.

The soulfulness from their previous work is a little understated here but it's still in the mix thanks to Nick Cino's amazing vocals.  He's joined by returning bassist Dave Marini and new members Jon Daly (guitar) and Joe Piccolo (drums). Former member Dano Stajduhar plays drums on one track.

Videos below courtesy of City and the Sea

You can stream the entire album below

Links: City and the Sea, More City and the Sea Stories

Previous (News Roundup w/King Biscuit Boy, Harrison Kennedy, Iain Leslie & more) - - - Next (Sheesham and Lotus in Oakville)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Any discussion of the worst movies ever made has to include Moonraker. While the rest of the Bond series is so good it makes one doubt the existence of a clunker, it's like enjoying button and Shiitake mushrooms and assuming Death Caps must be tasty too.

The problem starts with the title. Rather than sense danger, we guess the world's best secret agent is being sent on a mission involving interstellar leaves. In our minds we imagine the opening scene:

M: Bond, you need to get to Cape Canaveral immediately. Your country desperately needs you for a mission we call "Moonraker."

BOND: Are you serious, M? Sent into outer space? Why me?

M: We couldn't find a Mexican with a leafblower.

Problem #2 is the casting. I must have missed it, but evidently there was a time in the recent past when Roger Moore was considered hot. It doesn't take a scientist to disprove. Here, for instance, is Roger Moore after he's finished swimming.

And here's Sean Connery.

I mean, wasn't there anybody else willing to play Bond? Was Kelsey Grammer busy?

The fatal flaw, though, is the budget. You sense problems when the villain ejects fifty canisters of toxic gas from his orbiting space station to annihilate the human race. Look, there goes one! It's chilling seeing it emerge from the pod doors and coolly slide into space. Look, there goes another! I guess all pod doors and nerve gas canisters look alike, because that shot looked remarkably similar to the first. There goes the third! OKAY, WE GET IT, GUYS. YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE.

While you can't really fault the producers for making a film before the invention of competent special effects, they clearly could have rewritten the film to dodge their requirement. For instance, maybe they could have cut a thirty-minute laser battle after they realized it looked a lot like angry people squeezing silver pineapples while green crayon lines spluttered out of the other end. And maybe they could have moved the climactic battle back to earth after they realized their anti-gravity effect looked a lot like people swinging in slow motion on wires.

No gravity. Bummer. Look, there's somebody stuck to a wall.

In a familiar moment, an ominous space structure is blown up by a plucky hero who has a joystick and just enough time to squeeze off one shot. You expect someone to urge him to use the force. Anyone who got a passing grade in High School Biology will note that, in the absence of oxygen, there probably aren't a lot of fiery explosions in space. It must be cheap to superimpose fireballs on top of film footage, because it looks like a gas tanker exploding every time somebody farts.

Regular WCS readers know I hate those "Oh, okay" moments where people suddenly make ridiculous U-turns in behavior, but that's the path toward Moonraker's end. The villain -- a vaguely ethnic entrepreneur who lacks the ominous chill of my dentist -- wants to create a master race on the moon. An entire civilization of tanned, lithe bleached blondes, and some chicks up there as well. His Herman Munster-lookalike hitman never pieces the obvious together, though, until --

BOND: I know you've been trying to kill me for nearly two hours, but frankly I don't get it. Your boss intends to start a master race of perfect humans on the moon. You really think you'll fit in?

JAWS: Well, once I get my braces out --

BOND: -- you'll still be tall and ugly. Join my side and fight him!

JAWS: Okay, sure.

We're almost relieved when the movie finally slides toward the inevitable "around the world" joke. (Did that used to be a sex act? It's not an attractive metaphor, unless I'm the only guy in the world with two Singapores and a giant Darfur.) Still orbiting earth, Bond claims his prize: the wooden Dr. Goodhead. While the credits roll we note the film's final mistakes: blankets apparently aren't affected by weightlessness, and chick should have been dubbed Settlefer Missionary.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Pasta-making comes naturally to Melissa Muller Daka. Though her expertise is on display at Eolo, her two-year-old restaurant in Chelsea, it’s at Pastai, her compact new restaurant nearby, that the pasta takes over. Pastai also has a retail counter where fresh pasta is about $3.50 for three ounces.

Oh. $18.67 a pound for flour, water, and salt. Okay.

You know, I'm kind of on a budget. I'll have the foie gras instead.

New York Real Estate Licensing Test

1. How would you describe this room?

a. "A perfect example of the havoc drunk construction workers can wreak"

b. "A damp basement for short people who don't mind wearing hardhats 24/7"

c. "A large recreation area"

2. How would you describe this outdoor space?

a. "An expanse of cement and dirt just perfect for whatever you're dumping"

b. "Where green plastic slats and cyclone fencing meet rotting old wood"

c. "A peaceful large garden"

3. How would you describe the apartment as a whole?

a. "Put your workout bench just outside the security bars and it's like you never left Rikers"

b. "I promise you, it'll look brilliant when you bring your stackable plastic chairs"

c. "Beautiful and filled with light"

ANSWERS: Give yourself 1 point for every (a) answer, 3 points for every (b), and 5 points for every (c). If you scored ten or above, like the person who wrote this ad, call your local Corcoran office, because they're looking for somebody just like you. If your score is 5 or under, welcome to New York!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

News Roundup (Biscuit Boy, Iain Leslie, Tam Kearney)

Blasts From the Past
Featured Videos

Links: Iain Leslie, Video Courtesy of RickyJoe27

Links: Tam Kearney, Video courtesy of Laurence Stevenson 


Previous (New Episode of Ensemble w Adam Bently, Max Wray, Sarah Beatty, Dylan Hudecki) - - - Next (New City and the Sea EP)
The selection of Pope Francis I was roundly applauded today by New York's Timothy Cardinal Dolan. (Yes, if the Catholic Church were in charge, our children would be playing with Potato Mr. Head.) Still, he warned progressive Catholics that they probably won't see any changes in the church's message. What the new Pope can do, he said, is change the way that message is delivered.

The Church, apparently, is like Kmart. A couple thousand years ago somebody decided what they were going to sell, and now they just occasionally dust it off and wait for the world to suddenly appreciate six-carat gold jewelry designed by the star of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Nothing changes except what the chick at the cash register is eating while she's helping you. No, the new leader's job isn't updating the stock to reflect a change in culture: it's trying to convince you that you need a Mars Needs Moms sleeping bag.

We won't just wish the dude luck, though, which he's obviously going to need. We'll also offer him four simple ways to make a suspicious populace more open to the same old tune. Pope Francis I would be wise to:

Acknowledge the change in culture. Pope Benedict was 78 when he was selected, so Francis is a whippersnapper at 75. If he's smart, he'll add a fresh new spin to the Vatican that shows they're keeping up with the time. Look for the capitol of Turkey to be called Constantinople rather than Byzantium, and for Gregorian chants to be replaced by Patti Page.

Use populist language. I don't know about you, but I'd rather watch a baseball game than go to church, so I'd love it if the Pope used sports metaphors to get his point across. "Say Derek Jeter hits a ground ball to left field," he could lecture, "and starts rounding the bases. Is he going to stop and bang the dude at third? No, he most certainly would not."

Make jokes! Everybody loves Jerry Seinfeld, so Francis could imitate that kind of observational humor. "God doesn't just hate contraception because it's an abomination to his natural law," he could say. "You ever try putting on a rubber when you're banging? Talk about going flaccidly among the noise and haste!"

Get a rap name. Now in da house? Pope Boogly Oogly I.

Second choice: Ole Wheezy

Panda porn? It's just like regular porn except the ugly dude is delivering eucalyptus leaves.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

I don't know about you, but I'm really loving the new miniseries The Bible on the History Channel. Mark Burnett has proven himself to be a programming genius with shows like The Apprentice and Survivor, but who knew he could reach back into history for more blockbuster fare?

Killing two birds with one stone, Burnett has also found the perfect acting job for his wife, Roma Downey. Her career had definitely seen better days before she catapulted back into the spotlight as Jesus' mother Mary. Of course, the script had to be tailored just slightly for her, as evidenced by these scenes:

The Anunciation:

ANGEL: I bring good tidings about the impending birth of the Savior of the World! Where is the woman called Mary?

MARY: I am she, kind visitor. What is your news?

ANGEL: Um, whaa? God has described you from on high and verily you look different.

MARY: I am just back from a vacation in the Promised Land. My worries have been erased and I am much relaxed.

ANGEL: Yes. That's definitely it.

The Crucifixion:

MARY: My son! My poor son! Why has your Father forsaken you?

JESUS: Who are you, strange woman?

MARY: Why, Jesus, I am your mother! Do you not recognize me?

JESUS: Aha! Fear not: I recognize thy voice. The lighting is totally bad around here. Mother, are you not touched by what you witness here?

MARY: My son, I am bereft! My heart is full to overflowing with anguish. It just doesn't bubble up to my face.

JESUS: That's what I suspected. Actually, it calms me to see your forehead smooth with peace, your eyebrows raised with hope, your lips plumped by fresh water and dairy products.

MARY: I'm staying strong for your sake. But sobbing has totally reshaped my nose.

The Miracle at Fatima:

SHEPHERD GIRL #1: Look -- what is that? It's brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun!

SHEPHERD GIRL #2: It's a giant spinning apparition of some woman!

SHEPHERD GIRL #3: It's Jessica Lange!

MARY, MOTHER OF GOD: No, it is I, Mary -- mother of the fruit of Christ!

SHEPHERD GIRL #1: You're not Mary. We'd recognize her. You look completely different. Your eyebrows are higher. Your nose is different. You don't have any wrinkles.

MARY, MOTHER OF GOD: I've been on a cruise. But now I've come to tell you children three secrets about the future of your world!

SHEPHERD GIRL #2: Seeing as how you're not Mary, why don't you just write them down and mail them to us?

MARY, MOTHER OF GOD: But I am Mary! Perhaps my face is distorted by atmospheric anomalies.

HIGH SCHOOL GIRL #3: Okay. I guess that makes sense.

Hamilton's Ben Caplan a Rising Star at the East Coast Music Awards

A few months after winning a Nova Scotia Music Award, Hamilton-born Ben Caplan has earned the "Rising Star Recording of the Year" honour at the 2013 East Coast Music Awards.  Thanks for showing the East Coast what a Steeltown boy can do!

Blast From the Past: Ben Caplan Wins Nova Scotia Music Award

Video below courtesy of Martin Hickey

Links: Ben CaplanMore Ben Caplan Stories

Other wins of note:
Video below courtesy of George Canyon

Video below courtesy of Rose Cousins

Click here for the full list of winners


Previous (Stompin' Tom Connors Passes) - - - Next (New Episode of Ensemble w Adam Bently, Max Wray, Sarah Beatty, Dylan Hudecki)

Friday, 8 March 2013

Am I easily irritated? It seems like every day I read the world's stupidest article. Today's is the New York Times' class-obsessed ode to a cruise on the Queen Mary II.

"Dwight Garner" spends seven days crossing the ocean with his wacky wife Cree. (I'm guessing they left their kids, Navajo and Chocktaw, at home.) As usual for the Times, the piece is all about pretension, sprinkled with liberal doses of sexism. Mr. Garner's lifestyle, it seems, is evidence of the "American male psyche," which he claims is responsible for cruising dudes' frequent visits to the ship's "groaning" buffets. Women? I'm guessing they're just pigs.

It's probably that same psyche that prompts his self-consciously deprecatory remarks about dancing aboard ship.

I was in black tie. She was in an extraordinary little black dress. We’d been flailing about, in the ship’s ballroom, to an adroit orchestra.
Here's a picture of that "flailing about."

Obvious his butch psyche is unaware of the more fitting "prance."

The icy wind heartlessly X-rayed us, but it was impossible to pull away from the railing. The North Atlantic in January is no joke; its heaving beauty is mesmerizing. It’s a volcano of sorts, one that seems to demand an offering. Better a Champagne flute than to leap over the railing yourself.
I'm left rather breathless here, the affronts to the sensitive piling waist-high. Better to toss a glass over the railing than jump? Well, I'm glad somebody has captured those words of wisdom for prosperity. Sure, crystal stemware could harm sea life, but it could also enable dolphins to toast. I think dude wandered off the "chilled to the bone" cliché with that "x-ray" crap, but sadly it just makes us picture tuxedoed seniors on the Promenade Deck checking each other for lumps. And yes, the ocean is like a volcano, because it's hot, it exudes poisonous gases, and it frequently erupts.

No, wait. I'm thinking of my boyfriend Raoul.

[T]here is the Bergmanesque beauty of the ocean, more entrancing to fixate upon than a fire.
Which Bergman is he talking about, Ingmar or Ingrid? I think Ingmar is more like a volcano, though I wouldn't throw a virgin at him.

You do begin to forgive the Queen Mary 2 its dowdy sensibilities. It is, you realize, nothing less than a floating distillation of English inclinations and values, a watertight container of cask-aged nostalgia. It has been built for survival, not speed.
Well, yes -- that's definitely true. I remember when John Jacob Astor crossed, he rarely stood on the prow of the ship yelling, "Faster, you bastards! FASTER!"

Mr. Garner goes on and on about how old the passengers are, like it's a surprise to him young people don't often cross the Atlantic while eating caviar and prancing in tuxedos. "There was an abundance of wheelchairs, walkers and canes, so many that if everyone had tossed theirs overboard at once they would have created an artificial reef," he whines. And then a minute later he says he attended a shipboard screening of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," which is a bit like me complaining that kids today have no respect for elders, because every one so far has refused to let me give them a massage.

As with most pretentious idiots, food and drink is Mr. Garner's downfall.

There are many bars aboard the QM2; we drank each night before dinner in the Commodore Club, below the ship’s bridge, where a whole wing of the cocktail menu is devoted to gin and tonics.
Got that? Yes, the ship is dowdy and the patrons are old but I say this gin and tonic menu is a truly smashing read.

The wine list was pleasantly esoteric, and packed with inexpensive as well as dear bottles.
You know why the non-pretentious don't use the phrase "dear bottles"? Because it sounds like an alcoholic writing a letter to his wet bar.

I’d spent the previous sixth [sic] months losing 20 pounds on a low-carb thing I was doing. I gained nearly a third of that amount back while on the QM2, to my enraged vexation.
A low-carb "thing"? Yes, that "American male psyche" is now refusing to acknowledge the word "diet." He lost the weight on a low-carb diet he was "doing"? As opposed to a low-carb diet he wasn't doing? As for "enraged vexation," well, I'm too puzzledly irked to dwell on that.

Everything was delicious, except for one small detail:

[W]aiters had that beatnik habit of removing plates before everyone at table was finished.
Yeah, beatniks are famous for that. Beatniks used to be all, "Hey, man, can I borrow your bongos? Kawabanga, surf's up! Here, I'm taking your plate and I DON'T CARE WHO'S FUCKIN' DONE."

Though you were on the edge of your seat, it turns out to be an unforgettable cruise on a world-class cruise line.

A cynic will point out that the QM2, launched in 2004, was actually built in France. This person might also note that the ship’s registry, in 2011, was switched to Bermuda, ending 171 years of British registry for Cunard ships. He or she will disclose that since 1998 Cunard has been a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation, and that the Queen Mary 2’s crew is international.
Then he or she might divulge that the tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. He or she might blab that the groundhog is neither ground nor a hog. Finally, he or she might yell, "Wait! Where are you going? I'm still talking to you!"

I don't know about you, but I have a real energy problem. I move like a whirlwind -- working, running errands, finding dinner, partying -- but no matter how much forward momentum I get going, I always collapse on my bed at 5:15. Thanks to the incredible new 5-Hour Energy drink, though, dudes like me can accomplish so much more. Just take a look at their commercial:

Look at what this seemingly-average dude accomplished in just five hours. He:

  • played a round of golf
  • read a book while learning how to play guitar
  • wrote a novel
  • taught himself Spanish
  • ran ten miles while knitting a sweater
  • wrote the sequel to his novel
  • jumped out of a plane, and
  • became a ping-pong master while recording his debut album.
Is that incredible? I mean, I realize it's semi-tongue in cheek, but it totally speaks to the ambitions of every man in America. Play guitar! Jump out of a plane! Record an album! Those would totally be on my "To Do" list if I didn't get exhausted folding laundry.

Needless to say, 5-Hour's sales went stratospheric after this commercial came out, so it was inevitable they'd release a female version. It's a cliché that women can't have it all, but it looks like this chick comes pretty freakin' close.

Now that's unbelievable. I mean, what a breathtaking new world this wonder drug has opened up. A hundred years ago your grandmother would have made a sandwich, cleaned up after her children, and then collapsed on the bed in exhaustion. But now, after the Industrial Revolution and women's liberation, a lady can actually vacuum too! I think the seismic shifts in society's attitudes are plainly evident here, because in any previous generation if a woman had successfully achieved such stratospheric goals and then changed a diaper she'd have been burned as a witch.

Is it too much to hope that a third commercial will bring these two fabulously fulfilled people together? I think so, but maybe it's for the best. The woman still needs to Swiffer and double-check her daughter's homework, while dude is trying a double ollie on a Jetski and teaching a chipmunk how to high-five.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Stompin' Tom Connors Passes + Local Reaction

Canadian icon and music legend Stompin' Tom Connors passed away on March 6, 2013 of natural causes at the age of 77.  He was a beloved musician who trancended genres and generations.  Our condolences to his family, friends and fans.

The singer/songwriter left a letter to his fans to be released after his death:

Hello friends, I want all my fans, past, present, or future, to know that without you, there would have not been any Stompin' Tom.

It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world.

I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the Patriot Canada needs now and in the future.

I humbly thank you all, one last time, for allowing me in your homes, I hope I continue to bring a little bit of cheer into your lives from the work I have done.


Your Friend always,

Stompin' Tom Connors


Ronnie "the Hawk" Hawkins was interviewed  on CHCH about the superstar.  He told a story about worrying about Tom when he played to university kids who don't usually like his style of music.  Tom earned a standing ovation from them.  "I haven't worried about him since." The Hawk exclaimed.

Click here for the CHCH video report

Click here for a photo slideshow from the Spec


Local reaction came quickly on social media.  Here are a few highlights:

David Crossley (Deacons): "You can't really explain to people in other parts of the world who (or how important) Stompin' Tom was, because there really is no equivalent in other cultures"

Dave Gould: "Tom Connors has inspired me more than almost any singer/songwriter in my life. His lyrics got me through elementary school geography. I owe a big part of my appreciation for Canada to him. I am sad he is gone. R.I.P. Tom."

Tia McGraff: "Thank you Stompin' Tom for all your great music, and honoring Canada!
You are in our hearts and music forever."


Hamilton Cartoonists Graeme McKay toon about Stompin' Tom


Here are a few live videos of Tom from Hamilton Place, courtesy of PeterRabbit59

Click here for Stompin' Tom's web site. 


Previous (News Roundup w Clapton, Mike Almas, John M Crawford, more) - - - Next (Ben Caplan Wins East Coast Music Award)
Cosmopolitan magazine conducted a survey of 1,000 men about their body-grooming habits, and they report that a whopping 95% of American men manscape to some degree.

Below the belt, most men just want “a manicured patch,” but then there are creative types. “I had one client who wanted his favorite football team’s logo waxed into his crotch,” said Jane Pham, owner of Ted D. Bare Salon in San Jose, California.

He forgot to tell his girlfriend about it, and when she asked, "What's up with the Redskins?" he said, "I swear that's just chafing."

News Roundup (Mike Almas, John M Crawford, Clapton)

Blasts from the Past
Featured Videos

Links: Mike Almas, More Mike Almas Stories, Video courtesy of Stephen Shelton

Links: John M Crawford, More John M Crawford Stories, Video courtesy of Stonecrafter01


Previous (New Ensemble w/James Anthony, Al Lukas, Mary Simon & Barry Mac) - - - Next (Stompin' Tom Connors Passes)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A man in China was ordered to pay $300 in damages after sending a bottle of his sperm to a woman under the guise of face cream.

19-year-old Zeng Lin had already used the substance before her roommate recognized it and revealed the shocking truth.

Actually the label should have tipped her off, since it said, "Oil of Ohyeah."

Second choice: L'Occitaint

Man With Soul Patch And Teal Hoodie Finds Something To Criticize

I get a lot of email from creative types who want me to post their stuff. Graham Gremore is really nice and incredibly talented but I'll share his work anyway.

A 28-year-old Arkansas woman was charged with disorderly conduct and driving with a suspended license after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car crash in a battery-operated toy truck.

Police say Jamie Craft was drunk and half-naked when she crashed her Grand Am into the side of a mobile home. With her car immobilized, she jumped onto the Power Wheels truck and sped off.

To apologize for the incident she made a cake for the police, but she's still waiting for the lightbulb to heat up.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Steve Strongman Finalist in International Songwriting Competition.

Hamilton's Steve Strongman continues to rack up the kudos for his incredible work.  His duet with Suzie Vinnick, Leaving (co-written by Rob Szabo) has landed him a spot as one of the finalists in the International Songwriting Competition (Blues category).  He will be up against musicians from around the world including Canadian blues performers 24th Street Wailers, Layla Zoe, and Bob Tunnoch.  Good luck Steve!

Links: Steve Strongman, More Steve Strongman stories

Blast From the Past: Steve Strongman plays acoustic@Slainte

Multi-instrumentalist Yiannis Kapoulas from Hamilton is a finalist in the intrumental category as well.  Great job!

Winners will be announced in April.  Judges includes James Cotton, Martina McBride, Tom Waits, Jeff Beck, Bernie Taupin, Bruce Hornsby, and others.

Here are a few highlights of the finalists. Click here for the full list.


25 Places - Tim Lothar (Denmark)
Devil In Me - Oli Brown (England)
Don't Blow My Cover - William Troiani, Haykon Haye, Ian F. Johannessen, Alexander Pettersen(Norway)
High Gas Prices - William Morganfield - Big Bill Morganfield (Stone Mountain, GA,)
How Long To Heal - Nicolas Toussaint (France)
I'm So Shallow - Darren Watson (New Zealand)
Leaving - Steve Strongman, Rob Szabo (Hamilton, ON)
Let's Get Crazy - Layla Zoe, Henrik Freischlader (Montreal, QC)
Longtime - Ash Grunwald (Australia)
Love Spell - Teeny Tucker, Robert Hughes (Columbus, OH)
Nothin' In Your House - Gina DeLuca (Baltimore, MD)
On A Mission - Lindsay Beaver (24th Street Wailers) (Toronto, ON)
She's Trouble - Bob Tunnoch (Toronto, ON)



Be Kind To Boston - Thomas Smith - An Atlas to Follow (Knoxville, TN)
Before My Time - J. Ralph (New York, NY)
Blood And Bone - Wes Carr (Buffalo Tales), Eric Silver (Australia)
Burning Daylight - Sam Eliot (England)
Dreams And Country Lanes - Russell Joslin (England)
Festival Song - Tim Easton (Nashville, TN)
Fire Escape - Matthew Mayfield, John Paul White (Birmingham, AL)
Golden Hearts - Teejay Terblanche (Black Handed Kites) (South Africa)
Happiness Comes In A Box - Joshua Hanson (Yellow Red Sparks) (Yellow Pine, ID)
Hell And Back - J. Ralph (New York, NY)
Hit Me With Your Heart - Sam Buckingham (Australia)
Jesus Was A Rollin' Stone - Tony Villiers (Ireland)
Mercy - Ben Kyle (Minneapolis, MN)
Monsters With Misdemeanors - Joshua Hanson (Yellow Red Sparks) (Yellow Pine, ID)
One Little River - Clare Bowditch (Australia)
The Calendar - Kara Francavillo (Nola Wren) (New York, NY)
Tinman - Andy Brown (Fredericton, NB)



All I Recall -  Catherine Britt (Australia)
Audrey's Song - Harry Hookey (Australia)
Circus Comes To Town - Sara Petite (San Diego)
Collide With Me - Rebecca Haviland (Mamaroneck, NY)
Dangers Of The Night - Matt Ellis (Australia)
I Can't Stop Thinking About You - Marshall Chapman (Spartanburg, SC)
La La Blues - Pokey LaFarge (St. Louis, MO)
Learn Those Lessons - Kieran Glasgow (Australia)
Love Inside A Jar - David Garnham - (Australia)
Not In Kansas Anymore - Jokull Jonsson (Iceland)
Pieces Of My Mind - Philip Beach (Southbury, CT)
Roots - Brandon Clark (Cumming, GA,)
Sally Bones - Catherine Britt (Australia)
The Devil Drives - Stuart Earl (England)
When You're Dreamin' - Ed Romanoff, Josh Ritter (Brooklyn, NY)
You Might Come Around - Dale Boyle (Dorval, QC, Canada)



Anonymous - Rachel Honza (Nederland, TX)
Bone Dry - Marc Christian and J.C. Andersen (Brother Slade), Victoria Shaw (Franklin, TN)
Car That Runs - Lisa Torres, Karleen Watt (Nashville, TN)
Classic Rock And Jesus - Jon D'Agostino, Jason Eustice, Adam Searan (Holmdel, NJ)
Cold October - Savannah Berry, Zac Maloy, Kevin Griffin (Houston, TX)
Coming Home - Paul Cowderoy, David Carter, Jane E Robertson (Australia)
Find A Way To Fly - Bill DiLuigi, Mark Carson (Nashville, TN)
He Said - Tiffany Kuenzi, Liz Rose, Keith Follese, Adrian Follese (Silverton, OR)
Home - Troy Cassar-Daley (Australia)
I Wish I Could Hate You - Jaylene Johnson, Heather Longstaffe, Wendy Wills (Winnipeg, MB)
I'm A Dreamer - Lee Bowman, Paula Bowman, Julian Sammut, Simon Ross, Jason McCoy - Jetty Road (Australia)
It Gets To Me - Kirsty Akers (Australia)
Prove You Wrong - Chelsea Gill (Grand Ledge, MI)
The Suitcase - Liz Hengber, James Dean Hicks, Anthony Smith (Franklin, TN)
This Ain't A Love Song - Denis Dufresne and Lynae Dufresne (Pear), Bryan Wayne (Calgary, AB)
Wings - Brad Cunningham (Columbia, MO)


Previous (News Roundup w/Brennagh Burns, Colin Linden, Magic Slim) - - - Next (New Ensemble w/James Anthony, Al Lukas, Mary Simon & Barry Mac)

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