Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Night Videos:: Autolux

Autolux is a WFUV find and just finished a US tour. Thery're an LA art rock band with shoegaze tendencies. Here's an interview from TheAlternateSide and five videos from the band::

Twitterversion:: [videos] #FridayNightVideos Five from LA's Autolux, a WFUV find. @Prof_K

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ad Campaign:: Keeping the TTC Public

I just saw an ad advocating keeping the TTC public and voting along those lines in the mayoral election here in Toronto. The ads are from the Public Transit Coalition, consisting of Toronto Environmental Alliance, the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113, and community activists, which states it doesn't endorse ant one candidate. The only major candidate not advocating at least public-private transit partnerships is Joe Pantalone.

Group spokesman Franz Hartman, said in the Toronto Sun::
“In London, they set up a private-public partnership to operate the London Underground. It was a financial disaster, which the two latest London mayors both acknowledged...The [Toronto] (mayoral) candidates may not use the phrase ‘privatization,’ but public-private partnership is privatizing, outsourcing is privatizing. Those ideas have been put on the table.”

The Public Transit Coalition has a YouTube channel that has longer videos advocating for keeping the TTC as a public enterprise.

The TTC may not be perfect, but let's get some things straight. Privatization or public-private ventures will only be good as the organizations involved and the problems of resource-constrained actions within a dysfunctional planning trajectory won't be going away. One of the main problems of the GTA is its sprawl and the lack of a transit infrastructure that's cost efficient on a per-ride basis. I'm sure some see privatization as a way to shake up the existing power dynamic involving the City and the union, but what I know about institutional logics is that adding private enterprise into the mix without addressing the root problems will add costs and reduce service.

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] New ad campaign "Keep TTC Public" advocates voting for Toronto mayor on the basis of a public enterprise TTC. @Prof_K

Oh noes...cue panic! Facebook's Down

One of the few times I actually wanted to use Facebook's down. Here's the status according to downrightnow.

On another note, I was impressed with the teaser trailer for The Social Network::

directed by Fincher, but written by Sorkin [dislike button]. I'm just not a fan of Sorkin's "clever banter" school of dialogue that comes across to be as so forced it's likely to cause a hernia. Not that this will matter, given the type of buzz I've been hearing. The trailer is excellent with the choral rendition of Radiohead's "Creep" by Scala and Kolacny Brothers. In contrast, the ads I've been seeing are a whole lot of OK.

Twitterversion:: [blog] #Facebook down according to @Twitter & @downrightnow, cue panic. Also, trailer for The Social Network @Prof_K

Music & the Ad:: Hello Gumption & Excel Gum

I was looking for an ad and found this Canadian ad for Excel gum by Wrigleys. The band is Hello Gumption {CBCr3} from Toronto. Hello Gumption is David Arcus and Brendan Quinn, who started composing music for commercials in 2007. A full version of "Spinning as We Go" is on CBC Radio 3. This is part of a genre I call "Being Erica" music.

The pink donut in the commercial also has its fans. There's a Facebook page dedicated to its cuteness. This 2009 Fuddytv blog post talks about the pink donut and had more executions with the donut and links to this 2007 post on the Australian ads with the animated foods featured in Excel ads down under.

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] #MusicAndTheAd Excel gum Canada ad donut renown for cuteness & jingle by #Toronto's Hello Gumption  @Prof_K

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Betty Krawczyk Problem:: BC Attorney General Wants Civil Disobedience Considered a Form of Madness

image:: Betty Krawczyk, The Tyee

In the wake of the G20 débacle in Toronto, I've been following issues of free speech and civil liberties in Canada. I've stumbled across the interesting case of Berry Krawczyk, an 80+-year-old environmental activist who has gone to jail many times for her beliefs. In a Tyee article/interview last year, she freely admitted to being a fanatic. Here's a link to a MP3 of the interview, where she discusses her life, her philosophical stance on social change, and the consequences of her civil disobedience over the years. Using the term "fanatic" may turn out to be a mistake and if the BC Attorney General gets his way, there are grave implications for freedom of expression.

According to Murray Dobbin on, Michael Brundrett of the BC Ministry of the Attorney General {BC Liberal Party} is seeking in the Appeals court of BC to have Krawczyk declared a "chronic offender" and have her re-sentenced under the rules of accumulated convictions, citing cases involving repeat-offender pedophiles. On this blog post by Betty, she quotes the case that Brundrett allegedly is citing to increase her sentence, which may be as severe as life imprisonment::
"In appeal of the first case: (R. v. M. (C.A.) Jessup J.A. (appeal judge) expressed the sentencing principal in Hill, at p. 147: 'When an accused has been convicted of a serious crime in itself calling for a substantial sentence and when he suffers from some mental or personality disorder rendering him a danger to the community but not subjecting him to confinement in a mental institution and when it is uncertain when, if ever, the accused will be cured of his affliction, in my opinion the appropriate sentence is one of life.'"
Betty expressed outrage that BC Attorney General Ministry is equating civil disobedience with chronic pedophelia, invoking a moral panic and a foucauldian labelling her as a crazy person who needs to be isolated from society::
"But honestly, what annoys me the most is that the Attorney General of BC equates peaceful civil disobedience with the diseased minds of violent pedophiles who repeatedly rape their own children and in the second case, also sell the images. In other words, the Attorney General thinks I am a pervert who is rather the same as these two men and should be locked up for life."
The effects of this will be to institute tremendous normative pressure on behaviours and anything smacking of mental illness intersecting with the criminal justice system can be subject to severe sentencing. The Ministry is being short-sighted, in that the idea of proportionality should weigh in and not all crimes are created equal. Specifically, habitual civil disobedience should not be on par with violent sex crimes. Betty goes on to state::
"My mental or personality disorder that cries out for justice from the Attorney General, for protections of BC forest and streams is equated by the Attorney General with these two cases of men’s violence, incest, rape, and pedophilia. Could it be possible that the Attorney General doesn’t know the difference?"

Twitterversion:: [blog] Enviro activist Betty Krawczyk targeted by BC Atty General by equating habitual civil disobedience w/sex predators. @Prof_K

Weeeooowww!!!! "Cougar" Hunting Goes Mainstream

I thought this was a spoof, as did Remotepatrolled. This was on during Letterman's Late Show on WIVB-Buffalo, although the ad I saw was targeted for the Toronto/southern Ontario market, as it made the claim of being voted "the wildest dating service in Canada." The quality of the video is poor and it looks like is ordering take-downs of higher quality uploads of this most recent ad. The jingle is actually catchy. I think it would be hilarious if grade school kids heard this and started to sing it on the playground.

This takes niche to a new level and I could see this getting folded into one of the dating site empires saturating the market. Nevertheless, the president, Claudia Opdenkelter, is a proud cougar, dating a man 14 years her junior.

PumaCougarRoarScre AT016803 sound bite

Twitterversion:: [blog] ad looks like a spoof-dating site matching "cougars" & "cubs" w/ a catchy "date a cougar" jingle.  @Prof_K

Monday, September 20, 2010

newmusicmonday #61::Blue Hawaii

image :: Blue Hawaii, via MySpaceMusic

Genreelectro pop
MembersAgor (electronics, twangy guitar, howls) 
Ra (singing, loops, washy guitar)
CityMontréal, QC, Canada
Recent Release'Blooming Summer' on Arbutus Records, May, 2010 [purchase $5]                         

Blue Hawaii from Montréal is another band featured at PopMontréal and is this week's newmusicmonday. The dreamy synthpop of Blue Hawaii may remind some of halcyon summer days, but there's a dark edge to their sound. A good intro to the band is their "Dream Electrixra". The Silly Kissers remix is on MySpace {see link above}.

 Blue Hawaii - Dream Electrixra by Arbutus Records

Blue Hawaii is a side project of Ra's, whose better-known band is BRAIDS, formerly The Neighbourhood Council. Blue Hawaii's PopMontréal show on 30 September at the Arbutus showcase at the Rialto, while BRAIDS will be playing with Xiu Xiu and Valleys on 2 October at the Ukranian Federation. BRAIDS will also be opening for The Dears in Toronto at The Garrison on 15 October.

ABT011: Blooming Summer
Here's 5 more tracks that were posted on Soundcloud::

Twitterversion:: [blog+video+audio stream] #newmusicmonday features electropop of #Montreal's Blue Hawaii, playing at @POPMontréal,30 Sept @Prof_K

Sniff This!

{Hattip:: LQ} The "world's best" cat litter is made from corn. Cat owners are given the opportunity to sniff feline offerings of #1 and it's demonstrated that the product is edible. Ah, but is it truly "green"? One commentor on YouTube cites the shockumentary, King Corn::
"Trust me, the corn they make this stuff out of shouldn't be fed to anyone but they do! Watch the movie king corn and see what sort of crap they grow these days. No one can eat it, until it processed. The cattle they feed it to would die from eating it ,if they weren't slaughtered before that happens. Cat litter is the best use this corn can be! What they need to do is start growing real food again, then the world wouldn't go hungry."
Well, I think it would be interesting to put products to a green test, such as life cycle carbon assessments. As someone who recently lugged a 5 kilo bag of cat sand, this got me thinking of how much less transportation costs would be for corny litter.

Twitterversion:: Sniff This! Corny cat litter riding a green wave of feline #1 & #2. @Prof_K

Sloan on Sloan

{via} Andrew Scott drummer of Sloan [website] talking about their trajectory and the evils of major labels on SideB.

Here's 5 from Sloan::

Twitterversion:: [blog+video+streamed audio] Andrew Scott of Sloan on Sloan & evils of major labels. Via @auxtv @andpopsideb

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Night Videos :: Neko Case

Twitterversion:: [video] #FridayNightVideos Neko Case: Maybe Sparrow, People Got a Lotta Nerve & This Tornado Loves You {Live on Letterman} @Prof_K

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Giant Kitty Plush Couch

image:: Collect3d, via Craftzine

A few years back, I had a futon couch but the batting had seen better days, so I decided to just put it on the floor and create a large loungespace. No back support, but with a pile of pillows, one could make do. I spied this, which reminded me of loungespace, but had the bonus feature of being cat-shaped. I think this would be a total winner if a heavy tail can be positioned for back support. Of course, the irony would write itself with photos of cats clawing the giant cat couch.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Giant Kitty Plush Couch.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Meg Whitman Scrambling for the "Buy It Now" Button

Republican billionaire Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, broke the record for personal spending on a campaign at $119M. The previous record was held by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg who spent $108M on his third-term bid last year.

After a rough primary against Steve Poizner, she blitzed the California airwaves over the summer, while her Democratic rival, Jerry Brown, spent nothing. The result was a slight edge, but the latest Rasmussen poll has the race to be a toss-up. California doesn't have a problem electing Republican governors, but I have a feeling the handful of undecided voters who may well decide this election might be turned off by a total political outsider and ex-CEO doing battle with the California legislature.

Meg's spending is easy fodder. I thought I'd do a bit of Photoshopping for fun, riffing on eBay's "buy it now" feature, but Calitics beat me to it::

It will be quite embarrassing if she loses this election, but I don't think she did enough homework to develop a credible platform to make inroads into moderate and conservative Democratic voter territory.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Meg Whitman Scrambling for Buy It Now Button.Spent $119M on CA gov.race vs @JerryBrown2010 Up only 48-45% in polls. @Prof_K

TIFF Notes:: Hjem Til Jul/Home for Christmas

image:: Q&A at screening of Hjem Til Jul/Home for Christmas, Bent Hamer & Nina Andresen-Borud, Kenneth M. Kambara

Hjem Til Jul premiered at TIFF and I saw the Monday screening. I've heard of Bent Hamer's Kitchen Stories {2003}, but never managed to see it::

I must say I was looking forward to an absurdist comedic film, or at least one with those elements, touching upon the theme of dysfunctional families. The film is adapted from a set of interconnected stories from Norwegian author Levi Henriksen. It's a somber film and was shot well...all of the scenes are at night, occurring during the course of a few hours on Christmas Eve. All of the characters seem to be in a "winter" of their own, seemingly "stuck" in a circumstance that evokes the cold and foreboding character of the season. I wanted more from the stories {and perhaps more absurdity}, which seemed to be introduced, but only showing a snippet of what's going on during those few hours on Christmas Eve. So, it was reminiscent of indie films like Jarmusch's Broken Flowers {2005}, where there is this absurdist meandering and nothing gets resolved. The journey is the reward.

What was truly irksome was the Q&A from the crowd. The most mundane questions were posed, like where was the film shot {listed in the end titles}, was it based on Hamer's life {er, no, based on Hendriksen's stories, also mentioned in the credits}, and the "shoot-me-in-the-head" question of "what did the film mean?" While it's great that TIFF is attended by the moviegoing public, the questions were embarrassing. My interests were more along the lines of the technical and the financing {it was a German, Swedisn, & Norweigian film}, which would have probably bored the pants off of many there, so what can you do. I'm pretty sure the film will get a North American distribution deal and has a chance to find an audience.

Twitterversion:: TIFF Screening notes from Bent Hamer's Hjem Til Jul/Home for Christmas. @Prof_K

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

newmusicmonday #60:: Forest City Lovers

image :: Forest City Lovers, Artel, Kingston, ON, via MySpaceMusic

Genrefolk pop
MembersMika Posen Violin, vocals
Christian Ingelevics drums/percussion 
Kat Burns guitars/keys/vocals
Kyle Donnelly bass/percusison/vocals
Tim Bruton organ/guitar/vocals
CityToronto, ON, Canada
Recent Release'Carriage' on Out of This Spark July, 2010                                               [purchase + merch]

This week's newmusicmonday is a day late, thanks to TIFF, featuring a Toronto indie folk band, Forest City Lovers. I'm trying to fit PopMontréal into my schedule at the end of the month, so I'll be featuring bands slated to play on this blog, including Forest City Lovers.

The band's beginnings stem from a Kat Burns solo project in 2006. They have 3 albums, including The Sun and the Wind {2006}, Haunting Moon Sinking {2009}, and Carriage {2010}. There are quite a few songs streamed on the CBCr3 site {link above}. Their music may have a folksy sound, but they are squarely in a genre I call "blue state folk" evoking bands like Brooklyn's Hem. There's an urban sensibility and layered arrangements with strings and an indie pop hooks. "If I Were a Tree" is a 7" single from 'Carriage'::

"Pirates {Can't All Sail the Indian Ocean}" is from Haunting Moon Sinking and shot in glourious 8mm::

This is a live version of one of my favourite songs of theirs, "Country Road", from 2007 at The Townehouse in Sudbury::

The band's currently on tour with dates in Ontario. Here's their upcoming tour dates, including their last show in Toronto at the Horseshoe on 5 November and their PopMontréal show on 2 October at the Out of this Spark showcase at Divan Orange.

Mika Posen, Kyle Donnelly, Christian Ingelevics, Kat Burns, Tim Bruton

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday features indie alt folk of #Toronto's Forest City Lovers {@forestcitylovrs}. @Prof_K

Monday, September 06, 2010

newmusicmonday #59::Elk

image :: Elk, via MySpaceMusic

Genregarage pop/post-punk
MembersMichael Price (Guitar / Vocals)
Kyle Connolly (Guitar / Vocals)
Benjamin Pokol (Bass / Vocals)
Josh Korody (Drums / Vocals)
CityWelland, ON, Canada
Recent ReleaseSelf Titled - Self released in February, 2010                                               Balm Beach - Recorded May, 2010, Currently unreleased [purchase & free downloads]


This week's newmusicmonday features an Ontario band from St. Catharines/Welland, Elk.  There's quite a few songs streamed on the MySpace, CBCr3, and Bandcamp links. The sound is a bit of a throwback to post-punk, with a hint of surf punk, that begs to be played loud. I envision their music getting snapped up for a soundtrack in the future. With fairly short songs {>3min.} that emphasize guitars and a gritty feel, the band also has a knack for pop hooks, which become increasingly evident as you listen to all the tracks on their début album, 'Self Titled'. Check out "Shaking Hands" off of their forthcoming album, 'Balm Beach', and "Sometime Together" off of 'Self Titled'. I'm also a fan of "Only When We Sleep", which has gothic rock elements {in a good way}.

There's an upcoming tour date in Welland:: 11 Sept., Illuminaqua Stage/Merritt Park.

Twitterversion:: [blog] #newmusicmonday features garage rock by Elk fr.Welland/St.Catharines. Links to streams & free downloads on Bandcamp @Prof_K

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Shamwow Auteur:: Part of a LiLo Comeback?

image:: Lindsay Lohan in Underground Comedy 2010, Hollywood News

While Lindsay Lohan's current film, Robert Rodriguez's Machete, dukes it out for first in box office with The American, her forthcoming film with the "Shamwow guy", Vince Shlomi is due out this fall.

Schlomi wrote, starred, and directed Underground Comedy 2010 {an update of his 1999 film}, which is meant to be the paragon of tastelessness and features Lohan dressed like Marilyn Monroe shooting paparazzi, while wearing her court-ordered SCRAM bracelet. Here's the trailer::

In an interview, Vince said she was definitely interested in the cash and that he couldn't get her when he originally shot Underground Comedy about a decade ago. Her people said LiLo isn't desperate and believe in the myth that any publicity is good publicity. I don't think this is bad publicity for her, but reframes her career in light of where she's at these days. Joanna Krupa also signed on to add extra footage to the film, albeit without a SCRAM bracelet.

Song:: Black Flame 13-"Lindsay Lohan"

Twitterversion:: [blog] Machete's doing well & Lindsay Lohan to appear w/Shamwow guy comedy. Comeback for a queen bee or queen of the Bs? @Prof_K