Monday, August 30, 2010

newmusicmonday #58::Kestrels

image:: Kestrels, MySpaceMusic by Riley Pearson
Genreindie rock
MembersChad Peck, guitar/vocals
Paul Brown
Kirstan Moore, bass
CityHalifax, NS Canada
Recent Release'Primary Colours' album {2009} and "The Light" 7" single {2010} on Noyse [streamed samplesstore]
"What Happens" {2010} streamed on The {29 Aug 10}

This week's newmusicmonday features a Halifax indie rock band, Kestrels, which got a shout-out on AUX this weekend. Kestrels have melody and harmony, but didn't forget the guitars. I was hoping to put some selected tracks on a player, but nothing's on Groovehark. There's plenty of music to sample though on CBCr3 and MySpace, as well as on their website {links above}. Here's a live version of "Our Velocity" from Gus' Pub in Halifax on 5 March.

There's an energy to their sound and I'm looking forward to checking them out live, although tour dates are forthcoming, according to a MySpace blog entry last month. I saw they had a date with DD/MM/YYYY {CBCr3} earlier this year, a band I was considering for a new musicmonday but their sound on a cursory listen made me feel like I was having an epileptic fit. I'll try to give them another listen in the future.

Kestrels might have a feel-good pop sound, particularly on tracks like "Seaside", but some tracks like "Primary Colours", ''The Light", and "I Am the Cancer" bring in the guitars and fuzzfactor reminiscent of Jesus and Mary Chain and are my favourites. Tracks like "On Our Time" seamlessly bridge that middle ground.

Twitterversion:: [blog] #newmusicmonday feat. Kestrels {@kestrelshfx}. Indie rock w/pop hooks fr. HFX. Looking fwd to seeing them live. @Prof_K

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What Happens in the States Stays in the States?:: Gordo & Fordo

images:: mugshots of Rob Ford-Toronto Councillor & Gordon Campbell-BC Premier

I'm not sure what the deal is with Canadian politicians getting popped for DUIs in the US other than a case of conservatives gone wild. BC Premier, Gordon Campbell, got into some DUI hot water in Hawai'i in '03 and Rob Ford has his run-in with the law in Florida in 1999. Personally, I'm not at all interested in a politicians' private life. One could say that transgressions are a proxy for character, but maybe a politician with character is a luxury in these days of diminished expectations.

I'm not sure why Rob Ford danced around his trouble with the law down south. Wouldn't the true renegade response regarding getting caught in his stories of what went down with his arrest be: "F*ck if I remember what happened. I was drunk and high."

An earlier Ipsos poll had Rob Ford opening up a lead against George Smitherman {32%-21%}, but an Angus Reid poll has Ford's lead close to the margin of error {42%-36%}. The same pattern is holding true with the suburbs supporting Ford and the downtown core supporting Smitherman. The undecideds in both polls are in the 20s. In the Angus poll, the top issues throughout the city are::
  • Public transportation (21%)
  • Municipal funding, services and powers (19%)
  • Government spending (16%)
The priorities are similar in the suburbs and the core, although spending is top-of-mind with Ford supporters, while transportation is for Smitherman supporters.

Song:: Beastie Boys-"Brass Monkey"

Twitterversion:: [blog] Rob Ford DUI PR Fail.Wouldn't the true renegade response be,"F*ck if I remember what happened. I was drunk & high!" @Prof_K

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the Matrix Trailer Mashup

Scott Pilgrim is still managing to be a Twitter trending topic in Canada & NYC, although being boosed by a "free iPhone" retweet. Nevertheless, from the Twitter feed, I came across the above Scott Pilgrim Matrix mash-up making the rounds. One of these days I'll post a review of the film. Thumbs up.

Song:: Plumtree-"Scott Pilgrim"

Twitterversion:: [video] Scott Pilgrim may be box office disappointment, but buzz is lingering on Twitter. Matrix mash up among top tweets. @Prof_K

The Viral Panopticon:: UK CCTV Footage Goes Viral

image:: Vidcap of CCTV footage of mary Bale trashing Lola in Coventry, UK

This story {hattip:: LinnyQat} has been going viral and the perpetrator of the offense isn't making matters any better. Mary Bale, a 50 year old bank worker, was caught on tape petting a cat and then putting her in a rubbish bin. The cat was trapped in the bin for 15 hours. While Mary allegedly is going through a rough spell with her dad in the hospital, the viral video {below} isn't winning her many friends and she has police protection because of death threats against her awash in the in social media seas. One comment in the defunct Facebook group, "Death to Mary Bale", said, "This woman should be murdered." The "Mary Bale Hate Group" doesn't condone death threats.

While she offered an apologetic press statement, she added to the fail by wondering what all the fuss is over, adding, "it's just a cat." Bale also faces possible termination from her job at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

This instance of surveillance and informational ubiquity shows how these memes can take on lives of their own in  record time.
"To think this video is being seen around the world is unbelievable. I'm a very private person and don't want to upset any members of my family. I don't know what my relatives will think, but to be honest I think everyone's overreacting a bit.

"OK, I shouldn't have done it - but it's just a cat at the end of the day. I don't think I deserve to be hated by people all over the world, it was just a split second of madness."
If this doesn't hit home how privacy is dead, I'm not sure what will. Those seeking privacy and a private life cannot escape the panopticon. Relatively low cost video technologies are enabling surveillance so we all can watch each other and ostensibly watch the watchers. I don't see this as good or bad, as I view most technologies, but just "is".

Lola seems fine, basking in the bounty of branded treats sent over by The Sun {UK}::

which would be an interesting precedent, if newspapers started sending goodies to human victims of crimes or malfeasances. 

Songs:: The Weakerthans-"Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure" & Stars of CCTV

Twitterversion:: [blog] Viral video of Mary Bale's idiotic "cat caper" #fail goes viral & shows panopticon in action & how privacy is dead. @Prof_K

As Seen on the Daily Show:: Isabella Rossellini on the Secret Lives of Bedbugs

image:: La Bella Isabella, Sundance Channel

Jon Stewart was doing a piece on bedbugs just to show this clip. It's from Rosssellini's Sundance show, "Seduce Me", the spawn of her "Green Porno" show::

Song:: Orbison/Badalamente-Blue Velvet soundtrack-"In Dreams"

Twitterversion:: As seen on #TheDailyShow: Isabella Rossellini's depiction of the secret sex lives of bedbugs, fr.her Sundance Channel show @Prof_K

Monday, August 23, 2010

newmusicmonday #57::Caribou

image:: Caribou {2005} in Dublin, from MySpaceMusic

Genreprogressive neopsychedelic synthpop
MembersDaniel Snaith (recordings and live);
Ryan Smith (live);
Brad Weber (live);
John Schmersal (live)
CityDundas, ON Canada
Recent Release'Swim' on Merge [stream+purchase]

This week's newmusicmonday features an Ontario technopop band, Caribou {fka Manitoba}. I must admit I'm partial to the band's techno sound on this year's 'Swim' than their neopsychedelic tracks. Here's two tracks from that album. The first is "Odessa"::

The track took a while to grow on me. The intro gave me PTSD flashbacks of a churlish cockatoo that my friend's had until very recently. "Sun", below, is a great song with an infectious beat::

The band has plenty of content online at CBCr3 and on their website {links above}. Also, there are loops and remixes on Soundcloud. I'm also a fan of this track and video, "Bijoux", performed in The Pink Room::

the band is currently on tour in Europe, but hits North America in mid-September with 4 dates in Ontario, including a 17 September gig at Phoenix here in Toronto {$15/$16 at Soundscape [sold out], $16 at Rotate This. The Toronto date is with The Russian Futurists, a Toronto altpop band.

Twitterversion:: [blog + videos] #newmusicmonday feat. @caribouband. Alt techno synthpop w/tinges of psychedelia. 17-Sept in Toronto $15 @Prof_K

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fried Foodstuffs at the Ex {CNE}

image:: Vicky Skinkle, by Aaron Harris-Toronto Star

The Toronto Star had a "puff" piece on fried butter available this year at the CNE that starts today {hattip:: LinnyQat}. A few years ago, maybe 2004 or so, I went with my friends Matt & Ariana with their 3-year-old daughter to the California State Fair at Cal Expo, where I had a deep-fried Snickers bar. It was OK. Not bad, but not worth whatever they were charging...most likely a few bucks. 

Earlier this week, I saw this in the CSM::

a Krispy Kreme cheeseburger. Oh, it gets better::
"The Machine Shed, a restaurant with a food concession at the Wisconsin State Fair, told the Milwaukee Journal it expected to sell about 3,500 Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers over the first three days of the fair. About a quarter of its customers were pitching in an extra buck for the side order of chocolate-covered bacon."
I have a penchant for the strange, but chocolate covered bacon? Anyway. Perhaps concessioners at The Ex will see that CSM article and consider running over to Tim Hortons and concocting various offerings, such as a Timmyburger or Monte Cristo made from a doughnut. My idea...Toronto is dying for poutine, so how about getting some fresh cheesecurds and a decent gravy and injecting them into Timbits. Ah, thoughts of La Banquise in the Plateau.

Fairs and expos always remind me of Templeton in the 1973 version of Charlotte's Web. Due to takedowns on YouTube, only the Spanish version is available. Sorry, no voice of Paul Lynde gorging on midway leavings::

English lyrics::

A fair is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord orgasbord
After the crowds have ceased
Each night when the lights go out
It can be found on the ground all around
Oh, what a ratly feast!

Melon rinds and bits of hotdogs
Cookie crumbs and rotton cotton candy
Melted ice cream, mustard dripplings
Moldy goodies everywhere

Lots of popcorn, apple cores
Bananna peels and soggy sadwiches
And gobs of gorgeous gook to gobble at the fair

A fair is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord orgasbord
After the gates are shut
Each night when the lights go out
It can be found on the ground all around
That's where a rat can glut, glut, glut, glut! 

Song:: The Smiths-"Rusholme Ruffians"::

Twitterversion:: TheEx {#CNE} opening in #Toronto w/deep fried butter,but how about donut burgers w/choco-covered bacon or poutine Timbits? @Prof_K

Friday Night Videos :: The Stills

Three from The Stills' 2003 album, 'Logic Will Break Your Heart'. The first one is courtesy of NYC artist Chuck Raymond, "Still in Love Song"::

The second requires a hattip to LinnyQat who sent this to me back in the day::

Finally, here's "Changes Are No Good"::

They have two upcoming shows in Toronto, including the Lexus Live series in the Distillery District {55 Mill}—27 August @7PM. 

Twitterversion:: [videos] #FridayNightVideos Three from The Stills' 2003 'Logic Will Break Your Heart' @Prof_K


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Did Rob Ford Open the Door for 905-Bashing?:: A Modest Proposal

image :: Rob Ford, Toronto mayoral candidate

Ford responded::
"We can't even take care of our 2.5 million people. I think it's important that we take care of the people now before we start bringing in more."
The logic here is that Toronto as a "city-state" is overwhelmed and cannot take on outsiders, with the implication that such outsiders would be a drain on the city. Let's think about this line of thinking in a Swiftian fashion...

Toronto is high on labour attractiveness, but is lagging in terms of the overall economy. Some think that an underfunded GTA mass transit infrastructure and high commute times are warning signs for the city's future. In terms of cost-effectiveness, the TTC is far more efficient than the GO-Train on a per-ride basis {subsidies after fares accounted for:: TTC - 415M rides at a cost of $0.47/rider, Go Transit - 44M rides at a cost of $4.71/ride}, so bringing in outsiders with mass transit is costly. So, shouldn't the "outsiders" of the 905 who commute into the city adding to the road congestion and commute times be scrutinized as possible drains on the city? Sure, one could argue that there's human capital commuting in from the 905 that adds to the economy, but shouldn't this be empirically addressed like so much tallying of city hall free perqs and waste. Shouldn't we be more concerned about 905 outsiders adding to Toronto's problems, adding to the disposable coffee cups littering our downtown core, and clogging our freeways and mass transit. Toronto might not have a say about what the federal government does regarding Tamil immigrants, but maybe we need to examine drawing a line in the sand at suburban lifestylers commuting in from Whitby with their lower property taxes and statistically bigger carbon footprints.  I suppose some people think they're too good to gentrify large swaths of the city with their addiction to sprawl. I suggest Queen's Park commission a million dollar study to address this and I'll await the RFP.

Song:: Arcade Fire-"The Suburbs"

Twitterversion:: [blog] Rob Ford's immigration quips cause stir, but perhaps logic can be extended to sprawl-enabling commuters from 905.  @Prof_K

Blagojevich Verdict:: Where Does the Prosecution Go from Here?

allowscriptaccess="always" allownetworking="all" allowfullscreen="true" 


Ending weeks of speculation in the family, yesterday's verdict unveiled the fact that my uncle, James Matsumoto, was on the Blagojevich jury and was also the jury foreman. I've followed the case, but not that closely, but I wasn't surprised when I heard the jury was possibly deadlocked last week and that there was only one guilty verdict out of 24. I didn't have access to all of the evidence, but my take was that a jury might have a hard time taking Rod Blagojevich's outlandish conduct seriously. Rod Blagojevich seemed like he was out of touch with reality with his schemes. My thoughts were that the government's case hinged upon providing specifics about a deal about to go down. If I were on that jury, I think I'd be one of the jurors wanting a "smoking gun" or some compelling evidence that a real deal was about to happen, so I'm curious about the specifics of what evidence the prosecution presented, i.e.,  was the Santiago proffer sufficiently damning?

Rod Blagojevich went a bit over the top with his taunting of the prosecution, but in a way he's being true to type. While U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has already vowed to retry the case, it would make sense to streamline the charges and make a more clear and concise presentation of the evidence. CBS' post-mortem on the case cites overconfidence on the part of the prosecution with their shock and awe strategy and how they might have a tough road ahead. Jan Crawford of CBS offered::
"When they played those tapes, they assumed the jury would just be shocked and really what the tapes show is that Blagojevich was a profane loud-mouthed guy. That's not exactly a shock to jurors in Chicago politics. And the defense did a really good job of getting back to the simple concept: Follow the money. And there wasn't a dime the prosecution showed went into Blagojevich's pocket, it was all talk. So is he a bad governor or a criminal? The prosecution didn't show how the tapes translated into criminal conduct."
How I see it,  the prosecution {in the retrial} needs to demonstrate the criminality of the "speech act", i.e., the performative of Rod Blagojevich's words with respect to using his position for personal gain. The challenge will be convincing a jury that his illocutionary acts {pay for play} are illegal and resulted in further illegality with perlocutionary acts {getting parties in close proximity to making a quid pro quo deal} as consequences. The defense will try to poke holes in this connection and any illegality by continuing to focus on the money {or lack of it changing hands}. How about a plea deal to spare the expense of a trial? Doubtful. I think the prosecution wants a conviction and will feel the need to save face. I think that even if offered a deal, Blagojevich would take his chances.

image :: Juror #135, ABC7-Chicago
Song:: Treepeople-"Bigmouth Strikes Again" {rockin' cover}

Twitterversion:: [blog] Blogojevich verdict 1 for 24 w/a complex prosecution, retrial imminent. Can Rod's "speech acts" be deemed illegal? @Prof_K

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blue Is Back:: Smarties Commercial in Canada

I've been seeing this commercial here in Toronto a lot lately, featuring a talking blue cat and a product tie-in with a win a Apple's MacbookPro contest. The longer 30" spot doesn't have the MacbookPro contest tie-in, but ends on the humourous note when the guy reaches over to pet the blue cat, who ducks his had and says, "No touching."

Here's the French 15" spot::

While a bit offbeat, I find the ads to be effective. The blue cat {looks like a colorised British Blue} reinforces the message that blue Smarties have returned. The funny accent is memorable and the Mac is mentioned twice and Apple logo is prominently featured in the ad.

Song:: Cat Power-"Blue"

Twitterversion:: [videos] Smarties "Blue Is Back" spots in English & French featuring talking blue cat. Longer 30" spot in English. @Prof_K

Monday, August 16, 2010

Red Light Cameras :: Safety First or a Cash Grab?

image :: red light cameras in East Bay, CA,

ABC News ran a story on pushback on red light cameras that give drivers tickets for moving violations. Several issues are surfacing. One is the constitutionality of the cameras that put the recipient in the position of proving their innocence, rather than the state showing evidence of guilt. Another is the lack of public input or voting on the matter. Jurisdictions are often quick to point out the safety factor and the fact that running red lights tends to lead to T-bone {perpendicular} crashes with a greater tendency to be deadly. The research points to muddier waters, where T-bone crashes were reduced, but rear-end collisions increased. Websites such as are using crowdsourcing to create maps of the locations of red light and speeding cameras. Finally, some are arguing that the red light cameras are a cash grab being used by municipalities in need of revenues. The article notes that in some parts of Texas, the red light violations are a civil, NOT a criminal violation. In Toronto, the situation is similar, with no demerit points taken from a camera violation::
Q: What is the penalty for running a red light based on evidence obtained by a camera system? 
A: As of January 1, 2010 the set fine for running a red light detected by a camera system was increased to $260., plus a $60. victim surcharge and a $5. court cost. The total payable is now $325. Prior to this increase, the set fine was $155., plus a $35. victim surcharge, for a total payable of $180. Demerit points are not issued with violations detected by the red light camera system.  
Q: What is the penalty for running a red light if caught by a police officer? 
A: The set fine for running a red light when caught by a police officer is $325.00. Failing to stop for a red light where a police officer issues a ticket results in three demerit points.
The same policy is in effect in Hamilton and Ottawa. So, getting caught on camera can be an expensive lesson, although one that won't affect insurance rates through demerit points on one's driving record. This seems to set a precedent where technology-based enforcement is categorically different than when an officer is present and issues a ticket.

Toronto goes to great lengths to defend the use of the cameras, which cost $100,000 to install, but I'm wondering if there's a better solution to reducing the running of red lights. Here's a map of Toronto's cameras and a listing from the city website.

Years ago, when I was driving in the lower mainland of British Columbia, I recall flashing amber lights warning drivers that a green light was about to change to red::

image :: The City of Richmond website

I found this to be quite helpful, particularly on roads with higher speed limits, and just like the sign says, it prepared me to stop. From a safety perspective, I see value in installing these "prepare to stop" flashers and it would be an interesting and relatively low cost experiment to see if these reduce the number of red light violations captured by the cameras. I'm in favour of good policy and/or traffic design that addresses the actual safety concerns, as opposed to using technology to snare violators.

As it turns out, even from a cost perspective, the red light cameras aren't necessarily a license to print money. Some jurisdictions are pulling them, which may be due to not being cost effective or questions about their legality. According to, 15 states have banned them. 

Song:: Dead Kennedys-"I Fought the Law"

Twitterversion:: [blog] ABC story on red-light cams w/constitutionality concerns & allegations of cash grabs, but is safety the real issue? @Prof_K

newmusicmonday #56:: Library Voices

image:: Library Voices, from MySpaceMusic

Genreart pop
MembersMichael Dawson (Synths, Organ, Theremin, Misc. Noises, Guitar);
Carl Johnson
Vocals, Guitar);
Mike Thievin 
(Drums & Percussion);
Karla Miller 
(Synths, Vocals);
Eoin Hickey-Cameron
(Bass, Acoustic Guitar);
Amanda Scandrett 
(Glockenspiel, Melodion, Vocals);
Paul Gutheil 
(Tenor saxophone, Trumpet, Vocals, Tambourine);
Brennan Ross 
(Guitar, Vocals)
CityRegina, SK, Canada
Recent Release'Denim on Denim' on Young Souls [purchase]

This week's newmusicmonday features a Regina, SK pop collective, Library Voices. The band blends styles from over the decades with a multitude of instruments, but the emphasis is on easy like Sunday morning.

Library Voices - Drinking Games (music video) from Young Soul on Vimeo.

This late 2008 CityTV article on the band details a bit of their background and early notoriety, opening up for BSS and The Weakerthans, having the chops to  pull off a strong live presence. This recent Now article, before their NxNE show in June, has a quote by Michael Dawson on their motivation::
“Our motivation to play in a band came from growing up going to shows and supporting indie music, so it’s reaffirming to see other fans and musicians doing the same on our behalf. It reminds us why we got into it in the first place, and why we spend so much money each year on our little hobby.”
They formed in the spring of 2008 and was receiving buzz for their 'Hunting Ghosts' EP. The band {with their current motto being, "Pop as fuck!", are known for smart, introspective lyrics and with an accessibile sound {infectious at times} is bound to make waves.

There are 11 tracks on the CBCr3 link above that show off their range. Two of my favourite tracks, "Insider Trading {On Outsider Art}" and "Party Like It's 2012" evoke The Kinks circa 1977. Every so often a few bars of carnival music creep in. "Hunting Ghosts" reminds me of my other fave "library indie" band, Minneapolis' The Owls. I have a suspicion that if this band were located in Brooklyn they would be Pitchfork's next big thing, particularly when listening to tracks like "The Lonely Projectionist" and "Model City". Unfortunately, I missed them at NxNE and there are no upcoming tour dates.

Twitterversion:: [blog + video] This week's #newmusicmonday is @LibraryVoices, indie pop from Regina, SK w/ sound crosses decades & styles.  @Prof_K