Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Other Random Thoughts from the Void

CDs in Play: godspeed you! black emporer, YANQUI U.X.O. Iggy Pop, Lust For Life. Stereolab, Dots and Loops.

Being Green Made Easier With the Help of a Few Greenbacks

Ah... objects of childhood affections never die even when they are being whored out to Corporate America. Ford is using Kermit the Frog to promote their new hybrid using the tagline, "It's easy being green". Never mind how long it actually took Ford to actually go green in the first place...
Usually this sort of thing would be mildly off-putting, to say the least, but there is something about that frog that just pacifies me in a way nothing else can. If Kermit were PM, I might never complain about politics again. Sad isn't it?

gybe! A Long Ignored Album

For reasons that I am not going to get into, I have had a hard time listening to godspeed since my time in Montreal. Lets just say, idealists like myself are far too open to disappointments. Elijah bought YANQUI U.X.O and played it for me, since I had reservations about ever listening the band again. It was beautiful and moving with the usual spectacular packaging. I bought the disc. I listened to it for a while and then shuffled it off somewhere.
I rediscovered the CD going through my things. Still beautiful, though in many ways it is just as overblown as some of the prog bands they may deny listening to. Worth checking out though, along with the previous album Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven.
Click the different asterisks for reviews of YANQUI U.X.O: * * * * * *

Dave Chappelle's Block Party, Nochnoy Dozor

I saw an advanced screening of Dave Chappelle's Block Party today. If you have no idea who Dave Chappelle is then I urge you to run, RUN to the local video shop and rent season two of his acclaimed, and now seemingly defunct show for Comedy Central. Season two is much better than season one - featuring the famous Rick James sketch, (as recounted by Charlie Murphy, Eddy's older brother) the music sketch and the revenge of Wayne Brady episode.

I was reminded of documentaries Wattstax from 1972 (which PBS has aired a couple of times) and, to a lesser extent, Festival Express from 1970. Block Party is about an event and is not a comic/stand-up film per se, though there are is definitely humour throughout. I read online that someone was expecting Chappelle to perform skits - if that is what you want, you will be deeply saddened. Michel Gondry directs this affair, though don't go expecting anything like his ground breaking videos for Björk or his feature film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. (one of my favourite films in the last ten years) He films it straight up, documentary style.

The musical performances are solid with an assortment of hip-hop and modern R&B artists being backed by a solid house band with an occasionally shifting roster over the course of the day. Artists include Dead Prez, Kanye West, The Roots, Mos Def, Erykah Baduh and Jill Scott among others. The big surprise was that the Fugees reformed just to play this show. Lauren Hill had been scheduled to play the show solo, but her label (Columbia) would not allow any of her solo catalogue to appear in the film. Dumb move and more proof that the record labels don't actually care about the music and do not have their artists best interests at heart. So the Fugees reunited to play, which I understand was a hell freezing over sort of thing.

Even more surprising, was that I didn't mind the performances. Not a huge hip-hop/modern R&B fan, I like what I like but keep an open mind. I respect artists like the guys in Dead Prez, The Roots, Baduh, Scott, Wycliffe-Jean and Mos Def, but their music is not the first, second or third thing I think to put in over the course of a day. I have seen hip-hop done live and mostly it has left non-plused. The music is often canned and canned music is just a sore spot with me. But the band was really tight and the rappers and singers were dead on.

If you are a fan of the music, definitely check it out. Chappelle fans who don't like the music... if you are a curmudgeon or expecting a big screen version of Chappelle Show or his stand-up act - avoid the film, you won't be happy. I liked it however and am glad I saw it.

This Monday I will most likely be going to see a Russian, super-natural action flick called Night Watch . (Nochnoy Dozor) Pretty much sounds like a Russian take on a horrible Hollywood film, Underworld, but I am willing to give it a chance. It is the top grossing Russian film of all time, so it will be interesting to see for that reason alone. Usually, as my pal Pete has pointed out, we get the more artful and arthouse films from Russia - Russian Arc, Tarkovsky films, the odd classic Soviet era film, etc - but never do we get to see what everyday Russian cinema is like. Anyhow, the plot sounds better than Underworld's and it will also be interesting to see Moscow's cityscape amd St. Petersburg's subways.

Our Porcupine of a Prime Minister

Well, I was determined to allow Stephen Harper a certain benefit of the doubt - it is one of my major flaws. After his victory speech, given the fact he only won a minority and given all the doom-saying after election night, I figured he deserved at least that. The benefit of the doubt has now been retracted and the opinions I had of him before he won the election have been confirmed.

His appointments of Fortier and Emerson alone have earned my scorn, but now he has sacked his communications director two weeks into his term. I don't know why he sacked his Comm. Dir, but Mr. Harper should perhaps evaluate his personal style and choices if he is upset about the negative press he has been garnering. His last campaign did a good job of covering up his previously catcus-like persona.

He should also recognise his hipocrisy in calling for an elected Senate and then appointing an unelected citizen and personal friend (Michael Fortier) to the Senate in order to make said friend an unelected official capable of assuming the duties of the Minister of Public Works. Public Works is a major portfolio, responsible for handling and dispersing billions dollars - do want someone who is unelected and unaccountable to the electorate in a postion like that?

I said it before, but how can anyone how supported Harper coming up from the old Reform/Alliance Party see this as the same party they threw their support behind back in 1987 on up? Harper is showing himself to be as smug, as arrogant and dismissive as Chretien or Mulroney had ever been. Harper's cabinet appointments have largely been perfectly in-step with the old Conservative and Liberal styles - so what is the point?

I am not conservative, but there were ideas the Reform Party brought to the table that I thought were worth trying - such as Senate reform, ethical reform, greater electorate participation and accountability for MPs. I found a link to one of Harper's speeches from 1997 when he was working as a lobbyist. Click here ***


Blogger Geosomin said...

A friend gave us a copy of gsybe awhile ago and I was kind of underwhelmed by it. It wasn't bad...I was just ungripped by it. Good, there is just so much other music competing for my ears that I'd rather hear instead. I've only listened to it occasionally.

It is sad about kermit. He was my hero as a kid. I was actually nicknamed frog by my brother over the whole thing. Ah well, I suppose if Arnie can be a governor kermit can be a spokesfrog.

23 February, 2006 14:38  

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