Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Not My Fault I Turned Out This Way: RPM Chart, March 1975

I was born March 12, 1975. I've found a page - on a government website, no less - that indexes all of the RPM Canadian charts down the years. I looked at the chart that was current on the day I was born - the chart published March 1, 1975.

It's pretty dire. Music sucked when I was born. The Eagles were at #1, but it was the fifth-place song that told the tale, 'Have You Never Been Mellow' by Olivia Newton-John. This is a highly mellow collection of songs, and the Eagles' contribution, 'Best of My Love', is no exception. Barry Manilow's schlock masterpiece 'Mandy' is at #3. Helen Reddy, Linda Ronstadt, Donny & Marie Osmond, Frankie Valli and Tony Orlando & Dawn all feature.

On the other hand, you get a few great proto-disco tracks, including Gloria Gaynor's take on the Jackson 5's 'Never Can Say Goodbye' and Carl Douglas's 'Kung Fu Fighting'.

14 of the 50 songs are CanCon, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive's 'Roll On Down the Highway' is the highest-charting at #7. A Foot in Coldwater's timeless 'Make Me Do Anything You Want' is number fifty. As you might expect, there's a good deal I've never heard of: raise your hands, Ray Materick, Bond or Myles and Lenny.

Not the best moment in musical history, Canadian or otherwise. But an interesting time capsule.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Three Twitter Crown Jewels

I have a Twitter account. I don't use it very much - I can't say I really 'get' Twitter. But I keep it mostly because it seems like one ought to have a Twitter account. You know, as a social duty I guess.

So anyway, I have three crowning moments as a Twitter user. Or actually they really have nothing to do with my being a Twitter user so much as other people.

One is 'Sleeveface guy'. He's someone who has carved out a particular space for himself in the world by photographing himself or other people, and collecting photographs by others, in which the subject obscures his face with an album cover also featuring a face - the point being that it makes the person look as if he is the famous person on the cover. A Toronto radio station recently brazenly ripped him off in a media ad campaign.

Now 'Sleeveface guy' is no celebrity. But he does have a published book, one I'd flipped through in an Indigo. He was someone I could say I'd 'heard of', and it was quite early in my online adventures that he tweeted about my 'Better as a Single' blog. Seeing someone I'd 'heard of' tweeting about me was a serious trip, even if it's pretty small potatoes as things go.

The second jewel in my crown was much more recent. I'm a bit of a geek for election stats and polling info, to the point that I have a blog called 'Poll Vaulting' dedicated to it and also include a lot of polling references on this blog, 'A Proper Blog', when I fear my own political convictions will make whatever I'm writing a bit less than objective. Canada has only a few big-name pollsters, and you get to know all of them by name if you follow the business.

A particular favourite of mine is Frank Graves, CEO of EKOS Polling. EKOS is often accused of having an anti-Conservative bias, which I admit might be why I like him - it might be true that we're attracted to data that tells us what we want to hear. Anyway I additionally like his commentary, which I tend to find very intellingent and informative. Just a week or two ago I wrote a blog based on his own crow-eating post-mortem on his election results, and was honoured to find Graves himself tweeting my blog entry.

The third is probably the most awesome, though I'll never know how 'real' it is. Yoko Ono had tweeted that you could ask her questions by tweeting them to her and she'd answer some of them. So I did, asking her a question about Joe Jones, whom she'd performed with on the 'Fly' album.

Now I genuinely like Yoko Ono as a performer and a musician, and it might well be that not many people tweeted musicianly questions to her. As it was, i kind of imagine that a media consultant of one kind or another working with Ono would find her, in person or over a phone, and ask her preselected questions, which Ono would answer verbally. Someone would transcribe them, and voilà! Q&A interactivity. Still, I do imagine the actual words were Yoko's, so having Yoko Ono answer a question I'd asked was a rare fanboy honour that had me giddy in a way no man in his mid-thirties has a right to be.

The answer was posted on her website, not on Twitter. But it still counts, because it came from Twitter.

I bet I could stalk celebrities on Twitter and amass a portfolio of celebrity answers to my questions or celebrity references to me. But meh. Why bother?

Note: I've spent ages trawling through the archives at, looking for Yoko's answer to my question, and I can't find it. It might be there, but I'm bored of looking. Sorry...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Giving Up?

I might give up on my one-entry-a-day routine for A Proper Blog. It just takes more effort than I can afford. A result of it is that I've not been able to update any of my other blogs. Or, you know, have a life or anything. Okay, it's nmot that big of a burden. But it's still a bigger burden than I think I can bear. In particular since in the past few weeks I've taken a huge hit in number of hits. For whatever reason, Google isn't sending me traffic like thye used to. Not to say that this is a great blog worthy of too much traffic - it's not. But the huge cut has made me start questioning rather it's worthwhile. I'll try to keep the daily-thing going for a bit, but if I happen to crap out and miss a day or two... well, it won't be the end of the world, will it?

I mean, who's even out there reading this?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling is Hans Christian Andersen's Meisterwerk. Apparently he thought so himself, and during his lifetime few would have disagreed. It's survived down the generations.

And I don't like it one bit. Every time I'm exposed to it, I like it less. The Ugly Duckling teaches us that when we are rejected for being different, solace is to be found in leaving those who reject you and taking refuge among 'your own' - forget tolerance and diversity, only 'your people' can appreciate you. The Ugly Duckling does nothing to earn his victory at the end; there is no struggle against a foe or against the odds, it's merely that nature takes its course and he becomes what he always was. Which is no story at all, really. There's no reason to like the Ugly Duckling.

The idea of someone ostracised for looking different having the last laugh is a beautiful one. But in a world where people 'look different' amazingly often, the 'last laugh' isn't all that funny, really.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Wailers Alternative Discography #7: "Return of the Wailers"

Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were incredibly prolific in the 1960s, topping the local charts so regularly they became known as 'the Jamaican Beatles'. Much of what they recorded before meeting Chris Blackwell was magnificent, and almost all of it needs to be heard.

I'm presenting a series called 'The Alternate Wailers Discography' - a kind of imaginary discography of 'should-have-been' albums that didn't, and don't, in fact exist - though the songs on them do. There are two aspects of the Wailers' legacy that trouble me, and I aim to address both of them:

  1. In the 1970s and beyond, the name "the Wailers" became little more than a suffix to the phrase "Bob Marley and". While I'll not even attempt to deny Bob Marley's greatness, or even his primacy, the Wailers were a trio. The logo of their early record label Wail N Soul M showed three hands holding each other's forearm to form a triangle. All for one, etc. It's sad and insulting to see Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer presented as merely Bob Marley's early-years backup singers.
  2. Throughout the 1960s, the principal medium of record distribution in Jamaica was the 7". The hordes of songs they recorded that decade were almost all released haphazardly on singles, never to be collected until years later on cheap, chintzy compilations: incomplete, unannotated and often overdubbed. By the standards of the modern music industry, this dilutes the music's impact, allowing the Wailers' 1960 work to be seen as a minor prelude to Bob Marley's 1970s albums in Island Records. Island surely bears much of the blame for this - it is in their interest to promote their own property at the expense of material they don't have the rights to - but it is yet another thing that distorts our perception of this supergroup.
With the aid of a relatively extensive selection of recent compilations and the absolutely essential Bob Marley and the Wailers: a Definitive Discography by Roger Steffens and Leroy Jodie Pierson, I've gone about creating an 'alternate discography' of the Wailers - what their discography might look like if the Jamaican record industry in the 1960s had cared about the 12" album. While the albums are figments of my imagination, the songs that make them up are not, and the albums are perfectly compilable, provided you have the originals.

This is not a project designed to aid in the illegal distribution of Wailers music. I would love to allow you to listen to the albums I've put together, as I think they play very well as albums. But that would be illegal. The best I can do is tell you how to assemble them yourselves. I've also attempted to repect Steffens and Pierson's copyright by (a) not including every song the Wailers recorded and (b) not including certain discographical details. I have, though, trusted Steffens and Pierson implicitly and built the entire project around the details as they've presented them.

For a more detailed background, read this earlier blog post.

    Album #7
    Return of the Wailers
    (July 1967, Wail 'N Soul 'M)

    Side One
    1. 2:42 Bus Dem ShutBob with Peter, Bunny
    2. 2:43 HypocritesBob with Peter, Bunny
    3. 2:43 Nice TimeBob with Peter, Bunny
    4. 2:43 Lyrical Satyrical — instrumental
    5. 2:31 Bend Down Low — Bob with Peter, Bunny
    6. 2:47 Freedom Time — Bob with Peter, Bunny
    Side Two
    1. 3:08 Stir it UpBob with Peter, Bunny
    2. 3:29 Mellow MoodBob with Peter, Bunny
    3. 2:41 Hypocrites Version — instrumental
    4. 3:35 Thank You LordBob & Bunny with Peter
    5. 3:37 This Train — Bunny with Bob, Peter
    All tracks recorded June 1967,
    except "Bend Down Low" and "Freedom Time" November 1966.
    All tracks produced by the Wailers.

    The Wailers are: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

    Yes, it's a generic title I've chosen for the first 'freedom time' album from the Wailers, working finally on their own and not under the benevolent-dictatorship auspices of Clement Dodd. Yet I stand by my chosen album title: not only is it authentic in the style of album titles of the nineteen sixtied, but it represents a very genuine 'return' in three crucial ways:

    First, it is the 'return' of Bob Marley - and thus of the 'classic' line-up - back in Jamaica after a stay in Delaware, where he was saving up money to start a record label and, based on current evidence, writing songs as well. Second, it's a 'return' also inasmuch as there had been a gap, lengthy by the standards of the 1960s, between these recordings and the final Studio One recordings - a gap no doubt precipitated by the logistical difficulties in starting up a new label. Thirdly, though, it's a 'return' as in a return to form - musically. Armed with a new determination and focus, a new genre and a new superlative stash of songs, the Wailers set out to reconquer Jamaica and recorded a series of songs that, had they been brought together as an album like I'm doing, would have been one of their very best.

    That's no mere hyperbole: in 1992, Island Records put together a 4-cd 'box set' called Songs of Freedom that brought together highlights from throughout Bob Marley's storied career. Two discs are devoted to the Wailers era, and on those two discs the compilers find room for only four tracks from the Studio One era, an era that I devote six full albums to. And yet from this current crop of tracks, fully seven tracks are considered good enough to merit inclusion in this best-of-the-best overview. This material is that good.

    The collection holds together remarkably well, despite coming from disparate sources. The final two tracks on side one, 'Bend Down Low' and 'Freedom Time', were both sides of a 'transitional' record, one produced by the Wailers but produced at Studio One with the Studio One band, and released on the Wailers' own Wail 'N Soul 'M label, but distributed through Coxsone Dodd's channels. Though the genre is earthy rock steady, the sound is muffled in the lamentably classic Coxsone style. They're brilliant songs, but they feel different, and as such are kind of isolated in their own world at the end of side one.

    They're separated by 'Lyrical Satyrical', an instrumental that like the remake of 'This Train' that closes the album is recorded on acoustic guitar and nyabinghi. Sublime casual recordings, the fragile beauty of these pieces is tough to resist but makes these two songs further stand out from the 'core material'. And given that I also have included an instrumental 'version' (something I do on occassion on the subsequent discs), there remain only six 'core' songs. And every one of them is a classic.

    To be honest, for me the low point is perhaps 'Stir It Up', the song that would become an epic masterpiece a few years later when re-recorded for an international audience (on the back of Johnny Nash's successful cover, I hasten to add). Here, while the rocksteady pulse is quite wonderful, the song itself seems incomplete, improvised: a groove in search of a song. That's little to complain about, though, and on most other albums it would stilll stand as a highlight. For romance, 'Nice Time' and 'Mellow Mood', yearning works of beauty both, are far superior.

    Apart from those, the other tracks return to the other two main Wailers obsessions: religion and politics. 'Thank You Lord' is a sublime example of the former and 'Bus Dem Shut' and 'Hypocrites' great takes on the latter - the second song boasting a groove so hypnotic that I thought it bore hearing a second time, an instrumental buffer between matters of the heart and matters of the soul on side two.

    After two albums' worth of Peter and Bunny stretching out in Bob's absence, it's a bit of a disappointment to find them both firmly in the background this time, though I imagine it's because Bob returned from his exile itching with things to say. And who's to complain when confronted with material as undeiably great as this?

    Though they can be had elsewhere (none of these songs are exactly 'rarities'), every song here can be found on the Fyah Fyah box set. The Songs of Freedom tracks are arguably a bit cleaner and brighter sonically, but you miss out on 'Freedom Time', the 'version' of 'Hypocrites' and the two nyabinghi tracks.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    YouTube Discoveries #2

    Here are three more. I think I'll do this semi-regularly.

    'Must I Paint You a Picture?' by Billy Bragg: Not a discovery but a rediscovery. I was into Billy Bragg for the same reason everyone else was, for the politics. No one ever says that it's Billy Bragg's love songs they love and they don't care for the politics. Turns out it was those gooey sentimental pieces I found myself singing more than the strident paeans to revolution, but that's not my fault... Anyway, it's the love songs that stand up all these years later - this one in particular is gorgeous from start to finish. But here's a secret: the two aren't so different from each other. Lamenting the loss of a love, Bragg wails out in his most heartfelt normal-guy voice, 'oh we used to be so brave'. And hits a note that any teenage revolutionary in love with another teenage revolutionary instinctively feels: that love and revolutionary zeal both arise from the same desires and feelings, that both are felt with the same depth of passion and us-against-the-world romanticism. And then I saw it: the love songs are Bragg at his most revolutionary.

    'Ponta de lança Africano' by Jorge Ben: I might well have heard this song, with its thumping cross-cultural Brazilian/African/American groove and its irresistable singalong chanting, before. It's certainly familiar. Or it might just be that it taps into a very specific corner ofd universal consciousness and exploits it. I find it tough to imagine anyone on this planet, regardless of country, culture or education, who couldn't connect to this song and feel it on a deeper level. It's truly transcendent stuff, and even though I can't understand a word they're saying, I feel as if I understand everything I need to.

    'Yelverton Hill' by the Inbreds: I actually knew Mike O'Neill personally when we were younger. The Inbreds are my closest ever 'brush with fame', and it's fame only in the most relative of senses. Despite this, though, I never really bothered to listen to the Inbreds, content to appreciate them for their cool indie cred and nmoteworthy instrumentation, 'proud' as if I had anything at all to do with them above and beyond fleetingly knowing the singer/bassist. And that's just as well, I think, because time has been kind: looking back, it doesn't matter that there's no guitar or thatit's defiantly lo-fi. What matters is that it's a classic pop tune that the Beatles themselves, in an alternate universe, might have been shaking their moptops to. And it's way cooler than the White Stripes.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Poor Timing

    I was reasonably attractive when I was a kid. I mean, not ugly at least. I thought I was horrid, of course, but that's how kids are. I didn't know that what makes you attractive is thinking you're attractive - that it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anyway, it didn't matter all that much. I'd pretty much resigned myself to unpopularity. I didn't have that 'charisma' that teenage girls find so desirable. I didn't brood; I wasn't a 'bad boy' or a James Dean type or anything like that. I wasn't dangerous or unknowable. I was friendly, lighthearted and affable. I had no chance whatsoever.

    That was many, many years ago. Now if I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, it's the paunch and the white hairs that catch my attention. I've pretty much given up any chance I ever had of being 'sexy', no matter how I carry myself. And yet as the years have borne down on me, I've developed a kind of morose gloom about me; a kind of heavy-hearted Weltschmertz that would have rake in the babes had I had it in my younger, more attractive days. But that moment's lost: now my best chance is to be 'jolly' and loveable.

    Why could I not get my personality and my body in tune with each other?

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    A Few 2015 Election Scenarios

    So UBC has an election calculator for 2015. You key in vote movement from one party to another and it gives you a new seat count. Thought I'd play around with it. My 'the NDP performs well, the Conservatives perform adequately, and the others tank' calculation went like this:
    • The Liberals retain only half their vote, with 25% going to the NDP and the remainder split evenly between the Tories and the Greens.
    • The Bloc also retain only half their vote, with 25% going to the NDP and the remainder split evenly between the Tories and the Greens.
    • The Greens split in half, with half of their 2011 vote going to the NDP and the other half staying with them.
    • The Tories retain 90% of their support, with 10% shedding to the NDP.
    • The NDP keep every one of their 2011 votes.
    • One-third of 2011 non-voters starts voting NDP.
    This would be, as you can see, a great improvement for the NDP. Unrealistically great, you could say. In fact, it would result in a sad 3.0% for the Bloc, an improved 5.1% for the Greens, a horrid 9.5% for the Liberals, a pretty-similar 39.1% for the Tories, and an astounding 43.2% for the NDP - in first place by four percent.

    But here's the kicker: according to the UBC model, that would be a majority government... for the Conservatives. It would be a strictly bipartisan parliament with not a single Liberal, Bloc or Green MP, the NDP would bet 144 seats, anf the Tories would get 164, losing only three and maintaining a comfortable majority.

    Surprising, eh? One could imagine how loud the electoral-reform talk would be in such a circumstance. It'd look like this:
    • 19 CPC seats in the Atlantic (+5) to 13 for the NDP (+7).
    • An amazing 71 NDP seats in Québec (+13) to a pathetic 4 for the Tories (-2).
    • 72 Ontario seats for the Tories (-1) to 34 for the NDP (+12).
    • 21 CPC seats in Saskitoba (-3) and 7 for the NDP (+5).
    • No change in Alberta - 27 Conservative seats and one NDP.
    • 20 Conservative seats in BC (-1) and 16 (+4) for the NDP.
    Essentially, what would happen is that current Liberal and Bloc seats would subsume into NDP seats, while Tory seats would stay Tory (presumably, anyway - I'm not looking at a seat-by-seat projection).

    The NDP can't go anywhere without eroding the Conservative vote.

    So let's look at that: The CPC collapses and the NDP are one of several beneficiaries. So I imagined the Conservatives able to hold onto only 60% of their 2011 vote, losing 20% to the NDP and 10% each to the Liberals and the Greens. I don't know how it would calculate a 10% loss to the Bloc, since we're not talking uniform swing, so I skipped it. In fact, I disbanded the Bloc, giving half their vote to the NDP and 25% each to the Liberals and to the Greens. The NDP, Liberals and Greens retained all their vote, and non-voters stayed non-voters. The result? It's just as bizarre. With no BQ, we'd have the Greens at 9.5%, the Conservatives in 3rd place for popular vote at 24.0, the Liberals at 24.6% and the NDP as king of the hill at 41.9%. With this, the Greens would keep their one seat, the Conservatives would fall into a dismal third with 62 seats (-105), the Liberals would be the official opposition at 70 and the NDP would have a 175-seat majority. Region by region:
    • In the Atlantic: 16 Lib, 15 NDP, 1 CPC.
    • In Québec: 69 NDP, 6 Lib.
    • In Ontario, 43 NDP, 38 Lib, 25 CPC.
    • In Saskitoba, 15 NDP, 7 CPC, 4 Lib.
    • In Alberta, 24 CPC, 4 NDP.
    • In BC, 26 NDP, 5 CPC, 4 Lib, 1 Green.
    And then here's one more: the NDP rake it in, stealing votes from left, right and centre. I have the NDP getting 100% of the Bloc vote, 75% of the Green vote, 50% of the Liberal vote, 25% of the Tory vote, and 25% of the people who didn't vote at all in 2011. This would give the NDP 59.5% of the vote and a ridiculous 88.0% of the seats - 271, with a dismal 37-seat rump Tory opposition (28 of those seats would be in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba).

    One last one: here's 'The Liberals shift to the right': the Conservatives lose 25% of their vote to the Liberals, who lose 25% of their votes to the NDP. Nothing else changes. That would leave a total vote of 3.9% for the Greens, 6.1% for the BQ, 24.3% for the Liberals, 30.0% for the Conservatives and 35.7% for the NDP - that would be a loss of 10.0% for the CPC, split roughly evenly between the Liberals and the NDP. The seat count would be 1 each for the BQ and the Greens, 51 for the Liberals, 122 for the CPC and 133 for the NDP - an interesting hung parliament with the Liberals holding sway and able to decide who to support for PM, like we currently see in the UK.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Compilation!: Malcolm McLaren: "The Bad, the Good, the Simply Boring"


    So I'm trying a new thing here. I love making compilations - you know, mixtapes, playlists, etc. The problem is that I'd love to be able to include them here to be heard, and that's just not very easy, legally.

    Here's an attempt at a way around: a compilation made up of songs that exist on YouTube, where I link to the uploaded YouTube files. I'm not uploading them, no harm no foul? I think... I hope. I don't know.

    First kick at the can is the recently-deceased 'imp' Malcolm McLaren, more famous perhaps for his managerial role and for his dabbling in politics than what he's produced as a musician - largely because he very clearly couldn't care less about having a musical 'career' and was content to periodically release music whenever he felt like it - in pretty much any ol' genre he preferred, with a wild variance in quality.

    It turns out he does have enough 'greatest hits' for a full 70-minute CD, and one that's really quite listenably as it flits from genre to genre. This material probably belongs to a dozen different record labels, which would make it pretty difficult to have a physical form as a CD you can buy in HMV. And I'm not too sure who would buy a CD of Malcolm McLaren's greatest hits. Which is a pity, since it's quite a good listen. Don't take my word for it listen for yourself. Click on each song below and a window will open with the YouTube viewing screen for the song in question.

    » #1 - Buffalo Gals (3:43) «

    » #2 - Aria on Air (4:09) «

    » #3 - About Her (4:50) «

    » #4 - Double Dutch (3:50) «

    » #5 - Deep in Vogue (4:03) «

    » #6 - Madame Butterfly (6:23) «

    » #7 - Revenge of the Flowers (Todd's extended mix) (5:07) «

    » #8 - Magic's Back (4:35) «

    » #9 - Carry On Columbus (3:49) «

    » #10 - Eiffel Tower (3:44) «

    » #11 - Something's Jumpin' in Your Shirt (4:53) «

    » #12 - Chinatown (4:10) «

    » #13 - Paris Paris (5:24) «

    » #14 - Carmen (4:57) «

    » #15 - Waltz Darling (4:29) «

    » #16 - Operaa House! (5:54) «

    » #17 - Duck for the Oyster (2:55) «

    1983's Duck Rock was Malcolm McLaren's first kick at the can as a solo artist - and to a real extent his greatest accomplishment, not just because of legendary early hip-hop/square-dance 'crossover' Buffalo Gals (track 1) but also because of the amazing African-sourced jumprope song Double Dutch (track 4) - two brilliant songs the equal of anything else out there. Duck for the Oyster (track 17) is a silly little take on straight square dance music - a joke, really, but good fun. McLaren followed his début up with the modern-opera concept of Fans (1984), the source here of the magnificent Madame Butterfly (track 6) and Carmen (track 14). This 'situationist' reimagining of premodern music in a modern environment is the signature McLaren trick, something he'll return to again and again throughout his career. Swamp Thing, from 1985, is his last 'early years' release, and it's from this that we get McLaren's reworking of a Bow Wow Wow track, Eiffel Tower (track 10), sung by a pre-fame Neneh Cherry.

    In 1989, McLaren released Waltz Darling, perhaps his hast attempt at 'chart success' the conventional way. It's a lush album, a perfect soundtrack to Paris fashion week, and we take three tracks from it: Deep in Vogue (track 5), Something's Jumpin' In Your Shirt (track 11) and Waltz Darling (track 15). The next year saw Round the Outside, Round the Outside, a kind of return to past hip-hop glories, but the lead single Operaa House! (track 16), a track less awesome than its title suggests it should be, was completely outshone by its b-side (and significant source material) Aria on Air (track 2), perhaps the most recognisable song on this disc due to its usage in British Airways marketing.

    At this point, McLaren seems to have realised that conventional albums were not the way to go. The next two tracks we have here are both from soundtracks: 1991's Magic's Back (track 8), featuring Alison Limerick, from 'The Ghosts of Oxford Street' and 1992's Carry On Columbus (track 9), from the 'Carry On' film of the same name and released under the alias Fantastic Planet.One last 'normal CD' release in 1994 was called Paris, and featured Paris Paris (track 13) with Catherine Deneuve, and also the original version of the song that I include here in a Todd Terry remix: Revenge of the Flowers (Todd's extended mix) (track 7), featuring Françoise Hardy.

    A few random releases here and there followed before McLaren showed up, mysteriously, on the 'Kill Bill Volume 2' soundtrack in 2004 with the odd version of the Zombies' 'She's Not There', retitled About Her (track 3), which also showed up a year later on a rare CD Tranquilize, from which I've also taken the very strage mashup Chinatown (track 12), a fittingly bizarre 'final song' from the man, a track which was never a single but which I felt added more than a little to this most curious of compilations. Available here for your listening pleasure, until YouTube takes them down...

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    The People We Give the Car Keys To

    So I stumbled across a list on Wikipedia - well, it's most of a list. Whoever compiled it seems to have gotten bored near the end of the alphabet. It attempts to list all the political parties currently forming governments worldwide, either by themselves. And a careful scan reveals that there are some parties out there who really know how to name themselves.
    • Argentina seems to be ruled by a two-party coalition: one with the exciting name 'Front for Victory' and the other with the clearly made-up name 'Justicialist Party'.
    • For Belarus, Wikipedia just describes the coalition as 'parties loyal to the president'. clicking through that link, though, reveals that one is quite awesomely called the 'Belarusian Socialist Sporting Party'.
    • In Benin, the ruling party is called 'Cauri Forces for an Emerging Benin'.
    • In Chad, the ruling party has the decidedly dramatic name 'Patriotic Salvation Movement'.
    • In Colombia, we've got the rather bland 'Social Party of National Unity', but their other name, 'Party of the U', is pretty cool.
    • In Comoros, we've got the rather bizarre 'Camp of the Autonomous Islands'.
    • In the Czech Republic, they've clearly got no idea how to name parties, as we get the well-whatever 'Civic Democratic Party', but in addition we get 'TOP 09' and 'Public Affairs'. What?
    • In Estonia, one of the two partners has the esoteric name 'Pro Patria and Res Publica Union'. They like the Latin langugae in Estonia.
    • If you happen to know about Finland, it's not actually as strange as it seems, but superficially 'Swedish People's Party of Finland' is one odd name.
    • In Guatemala, they've got the very optimistic 'National Unity of Hope'.
    • Iran's not exactly democratic, but their one real party has a charming name: 'Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran'.
    • It's only slightly cool that in Kenya there's the 'Orange Democratic Movement'. What's cooler is this quote from Wikipedia: "The name 'orange' originates from the ballot cards in the referendum, in which a 'Yes' vote was represented by the banana and a 'No' vote was the orange. Thus the parties claim successorship to those who did not support the referendum at the time."
    • I was curious what Latvia's 'ZZS' stood for, so I clicked the link. Turns out it's the rather incongruous 'Union of Greens and Farmers'.
    • In Malaysia, the dominant party has the rather unforunate name 'National Front'.
    • In Poland, the party in power has the rather Czech-like name of 'Civic Platform'.
    • In Samoa, the dominant party has the classy name 'Human Rights Protection Party'.
    • The Serbian government appears to be a coalition of six (!) parties, but two are noteworthy: 'Party of United Pensioners of Serbia' and 'Hungarian Coalition'.
    And these are just the parties in government. Just think how many awesome party names there must be out there, waiting for me to find them...

      Monday, June 20, 2011

      Synapse to the Beat: Frank Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year"

      The briefest of high school flashbacks: I and three other students are locked into a smallish room in the library. We're required to record our voices for some reason or another, and one of the students - John was his name - has a cassette tape for the purpose.

      Thing is, it's not blank. We're to tape over the music that his mother had recorded on the tape for her own personal use.

      It was Frank Sinatra, music as foreign to us as a Gamelan orchestra. I'd certainly never heard Frank Sinatra before, or if I had I wasn't especially aware or having done so. Background noise, I guess.

      In that tiny room, desperate to seem hip, we were amused by the swelling strings of this growing-old classic. "When I was seventeen," Frank slowly intoned, "it was a very good year." He sounded pitifully uncool, with his deep morose voice, heavy with the bittersweet retrospect of a man growing old, something again completely alien to us kids. John snickered and pressed FFWD. I'm not sure if it was merely a morbid curiosity about the dreadful Frank Sinatra or an admonition not to tape over the Frank song that had us searching for its end on the cassette. But through sheer luck, when John pressed play, the tape had fast forwarded through the first verse and the first instrumental between-verse melody. "When I was twenty-one," Frank intoned immediately, in that same grave voice, "it was a very good year."

      This was hilarious to us, an old man running down his life, seemingly year by year. Another fast-forward, and as luck would have it John timed it exactly so that, through sheer coincidence, he pressed play just as the third verse was starting. Third verse, third age: he was now on about when he was thirty-five.

      Now that I'm a year older than Frank Sinatra's era of dalliances with blue-blooded girls (and have yet ot ride in a chauffeur-driven limousine), I admit I truly love the song. A bit wiser, maybe - better able to appreciate its wistful sense of not-quite-regretful nostalgia. But back then, far younger than seventeen, I couldn't have imagined anything more ridiculous and hilariously uncool that some old guy singing in an old-guys' genre about growing old.

      Sunday, June 19, 2011

      YouTube Discoveries #1

      S lately I'm been listening to a lot of music on YouTube. It's really become a great resource for checking out stuff. Since I'm an old fart, most of my 'discoveries' are actually twenty-plus years old, but they're new to me. So every now and then, let me share some discoveries. Here are three:

      'Young, Gifted and Black' by Bob and Marcia: This song's a bit of an obsession for me, lately. It's certainly not that I can relate to it: I'm precisely zero for three, after all. It's the exuberance of it. I'm really loving Jamaican music lately, and I've been excited to learn that rocksteady - which I had always brushed off as a mere transition between ska and reggae not worth consideration on its own - happens in fact to be an amazing genre itself. Affirming, in this present case, when drenched in one of the greatest things ever: happy strings. Too often, strings are used outside of chamber music merely to create a morose sense of sadness. It's amazing when they're used to cheer people up - like in so much disco. Here, the strings bear the optimism of empowered youth entirely successfully.

      'Baby I Love You So' by Colourbox: I came to this song bit by bit - first, Augustus Pablo's "King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown", which I've heard a million times down the years. It was through the kind people at YouTube that I discovered that dub's 'original version' - "Baby I Love You So" by Jacob Miller, an amazing song and an amazing track in its won right. From there it went to here: all I knew about Colourbox was that they were half of M/A/R/R/S, who made "Pump Up the Volume". Turns out their own work is pretty great, too - and here's a perfect example, a symphony of 80s studio-overdubbing, my perhaps all-time favourite soundscape, pulsating behind a breathy female vocalist like Massive Attack would do a few years later. If there is a heaven, this is what music sounds like there.

      'Tarantula' by This Mortal Coil: Heaven can't sound like this, though, or people might think twice before going there. Colourbox were a 4AD group, which led me to This Mortal Coil, less a 'group' than a project that periodically brought 4AD signees together for Golden Palominos-style projects. Collaborative, but obviously not 'jammy' - this is 4AD, after all. And being 4AD, it's hauntingly gorgeous and evocative, while being cold as ice and emotionally distant. It's a brittle statuette, liable to shatter into pieces at any minute. It's heart-stopping, but you'll never cuddle up with it to keep you warm. Turns out, oddly enough, to be a cover of Colourbox. How circular life is, eh?

      Saturday, June 18, 2011

      The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Non-Voting

      Frank Graves, the head honcho at EKOS, has gone from a meticulous analyst of Canadians' opinions to a meticulous analyst of the meticulous analysis of Canadians' opinions in little more than a single month. Good for him - if nothing else, he's a very thoughtful, intelligent person.

      He's come to the conclusion that the main reason pollsters were so far off on their election predictions this year is that they could not accurately predict who, among people who said they were going to vote, actually would vote.

      And past that there's nothing very surprising: the young vote way less than the old, the undereducated vote less than the educated, NDP supporters vote less than Conservatives.

      That is to say, a larger percentage of people who told EKOS or other pollsters before May 2 that they would vote NDP didn't actually bother to go vote on May 2 itself. Larger than the percentage of people who said they were going to vote Conservative.

      So someone who supports the Conservatives is more likely to actually vote than someone who supports the NDP.

      How much so? Well, if you trust Graves's numbers, among the 40% of voting-age Canadians who didn't vote, but whose voting intentions can be extrapolated by comparing EKOS's polling numbers ot the election day results, fully 32.1% would have voted NDP. Now, that's not far off the 30.6% the NDP really did get (which explains why while EKOS's numbers overall were a disaster, their NDP numbers weren't half bad), but the yawning gap between what could have happened on May 2 and what really did is best illustrated by looking at the Conservatives' numbers:

      Merely 24.8% of Canadians who registered an opinion on party preference but didn't actually go and vote on election day preferred the Conservatives. In an inverse election where those who voted found their opinions ignored and only those who didn't vote were able to choose the government, the NDP would have come in first by almost eight percent over the now neck-and-neck Conservatives and Liberals. And combining those numbers (meaning that every voting age Canadian actually voted) would have brought about the seat count Graves predicted on May 1: a Conservative minority with ample legroom for an NDP-led majority coalition with the Liberals, had they been able to work that out.

      The Conservatives didn't win this election: we lost it. Or rather, both are true, because the Conservatives are blessed to have a voting bloc who realises that you get the people you want elected elected by electing them - by going out and voting for them. And congratuations to the Conservative voting bloc for having the energy to go out there and vote in numbers great enough to secure a majority government for your party.

      After all, this is what ensured that; not any real shift in the overall support that the nation feels oward the Conservative Party. Throughout April and up to voting day, our country experienced a distinct leftward shift on an almost unprecedented level: the Conservatives showed only the most minimal of an increase in support while the NDP went through the roof. What was the result of this? A distinctly rightward shift in our House of Commons.

      No small blame for this must lie with NDP supporters nationwide, who got out the vote in numbers significantly smaller than did the Conservatives. I know NDP doesn't exactly correlate with youth doesn't exactly correlate with disenfranchised doesn't exactly correlate with 'didn't vote'. But there are overlaps here too great to ignore. Disefranchisement, especially among the young, is a vicious circle, and it is a very real phenomenon. Young Canadians don't feel Ottawa represents them, so they ignore it. In feeling that the governmnet is out of touch, they effectively ensure it remains out of touch. It's frustrating as hell to think we could have had the government that Canadians want to have if only we had gone out and made it happen. To think that a certain percentage of Canadians - a measurable number and probably a number large enough to determine the state of Canadian politics for the next four years - said, effectively, 'not enough people vote for my party for them to win, so I won't vote either'.

      Which is not only patently ridiculous but is also self-defeating. We're having the rug pulled out from beneath us as a party with the support of a distinct minority of Canadians gains more and more control in this country. Our getting frustrated enough by the process to tune it out is exactly what they want. Just think of how well it's worked for them so far.

      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Googling Me

      What do you get if you Google ""? Not much, really, in 12,600 results: mostly vsrious entries in this blog itself, or weird trawling sites. A few odd places my url shows up:
      • On, some page advertising "Images: sexual infantilism".
      • A virus-filled site called (url altered to prevent accidental clicking) seems to have a few of my entries copied in 'forums' that nobody ever looks at, with a claim that a certain 'download' link will somehow 'download' my blog entry - instead, it downloads a virus.
      • 'Boys Butt - find to shar boys but free image download', which is awesome. I get the odd person coming to my site looking for 'boys butt' - all because I quoted Shakespeare!. How awesome is that.
      • claims that 'personal information' about early Smiths producer Troy Tate can be found on my site - which is certainly can't.
      • A forum devoted to the band Ween mentioned me in a page about 'albums with female nipples on the cover'. I got a lot of hits from there at one point.
      • A link that rather excitingly claims to be about 'Kung Fu Fighting and Other Love Songs', but when I click on it find no such thing. Pity.
      • A shoutout on the nicely frequented, talking about horrid flags. Someone in the comments links to my entry on same.
      • Something in... er, Malay perhaps, called copies a random image that I copied from some random place on the internet, but it much more generous than me, linking to the source. I just grabbed it and ran.
      • 'Readers pick best webcomic Frogger joystiq' and 'Endless funeral a second beginning', which sound intriguing but are both hosted at a .cc domain that I fear to click.
      • And my Alexa page! Which tells me that this is, amazingly, the 16,719,533rd most viewed site on the internet (woohoo!) and apparently (though I've never noticed this myself) 'death by captcha' is my highest-impact search query, responsible for over 10% of search queries. I doubt that somehow. Overall, according to, these are my highest-impact queries:
        • death by captcha
        • death by
        • don't touch my junk
        • long distance calling
        • flags of the world
        • street view
        • greatest hits album
        • party names
        • with animals
        • my junk
        • in the world
        • long distance
        • political party
        • red stripe
        • album cover
        • the world
        • dolphins
        • streetview
        • usenet
        • the borgias
        • movies
        • google street view
        • gilmore
        • control
        • political blogs
        • google maps
        • adsense
        • adam sandlers
        • of the world
        • jailbait

      Thursday, June 16, 2011

      EKOS and the Wild Ride

      Beating a dead horse? Nah. The 2011 Federal Election was way too important to just suddenly stop talking about. I'll be talking about it for years to come.

      But this time out, it's not me talking. Rather, it's Frank Graves, head honcho at EKOS, one of Canada's bigger pollsters. I've been looking back at his 'analyses' which accompanied each of his press releases with new sets of numbers. They're interesting in that, with the benefit of hindsight, you can see what a really wild ride Election 41 really was. I've picked out salient soundbites from the analyses pertinent to the NDP and their come-out-of-nowhere surge that, merely five weeks on, has already started to feel permanent. Note as the election progresses that the frequency and urgency of the press releases increases, and that Graves goes from including parenthetical observations about the NDP for the sake of fairness to letting the NDP entirely dominate his discussions. Whatever Graves's own politics happen to be, his commitment to making polling interesting has him toward the end almost breathless with admiration for the NDP and their surge. Here it all is, taken from his PDFs which I'm too lazy to link to individually but which you can find at

      MARCH 10: "The NDP are now within the margin of error of the Conservatives in Quebec. Coupled with other findings in the survey, there is evidence that the NDP could be poised for something of a breakthrough in Quebec."

      MARCH 25: "While the Liberals and Greens are poised to make some minor gains at the expense of the Conservatives and the NDP, there is little chance that we will see any major changes in the balance of power."

      MARCH 28: "Do the NDP really think that the Layton Liberals will flock to their leader when the chips are down?" "The NDP are not far off from their position going into the last election (although they are short of their 2008 election performance). But they are doing best on second choice and have the most liked leader so they have plausible aspirations for matching if not eclipsing their last performance."

      APRIL 1: "Joining the Conservative Party in forward movement is the NDP who saw a significant bump up in support, largely at the expense of the Green Party and, to a lesser extent, the Liberals." "There would appear to be opportunities for the Liberals and NDP in Quebec, as the confidence in the current federal government has virtually evaporated in the province. But so far, there is little evidence of any rallying hub for federalist forces in Quebec."

      APRIL 6: "Contrary to the erratic impression from reading the welter of various polling reports out there, the race appears to be evolving in a relatively orderly pattern with a clear logic."

      APRIL 8: "The regions are all in different stages of flux as well. British Columbia sees a Conservative lead, but they are in close pursuit by the NDP and the Liberals, with the Green Party showing enough strength to possibly signal a breakthrough for Elizabeth May." "The Atlantic Provinces aren’t very happy with the federal government and they are showing low enthusiasm for this election. They are oscillating between the Conservatives and the Liberals, and the NDP have some chances there as well." "Overall, it appears that both the NDP and Liberal Party have the most opportunities to grow, although a fair bit of that would be cannibalizing each other (according to the breakdowns of second choice by current preference)."

      APRIL 13: "The other main story of this poll is that the claimed demise of the NDP is clearly premature. The New Democrats are showing important new strength, particularly in Quebec and British Columbia where they now lead." "Women voters are defecting from the Conservative Party and there is now a very large gender gap. The NDP, meanwhile, is doing very well with women and has broadened its demographic constituency."

      APRIL 15: "The NDP does very well in British Columbia and looks surprisingly strong in Quebec. It is also attracting women’s votes. Less auspiciously for its prospects, the party attracts the highest number of voters who would consider changing their minds."

      APRIL 18: "The NDP, meanwhile, continues to follow an upward trend line and, at 20.0 points, they are the only party to have clearly demonstrated upward momentum throughout the campaign (which they began around 6 points below their current standing)." "While support for national direction has improved, support for the current government in Canada has reached a low point for the campaign. So far, it is the NDP who have tapped into this growing disaffection for the incumbent government, but it could be a force in the final stages of the campaign."

      APRIL 21: "Building on a solid if unspectacular rise from the outset of the campaign, Jack Layton’s NDP party is scaling heights not seen since the NDP’s salad days under Ed Broadbent." "On March 24th, the NDP stood at 14.2 points. Since then, they moved up steadily to around 17 points, then they started closing in on 20 and, in this poll, they find themselves at 24.7, tying themselves with the Liberals and only 9 points shy of the once-distant Conservative Party. This steady progression from “also ran” to contender has been a smooth and steady. It is very uncertain whether it will be sustained or whether it could even advance further." "Shockingly, the NDP have how eclipsed a clearly faltering Bloc Quebecois (down nearly 15 points)."

      APRIL 25: "After several years in a political rut characterized by trench warfare between the Conservatives and the Liberals, Jack Layton and his NDP party appear poised to reshape Canada’s political landscape." "These results, if they were to hold, would produce a profound transformation in the Canadian political firmament, tantamount and arguably more far reaching than the Reform explosion in 1993." "The NDP have experienced an unperfected doubling of their poll support from 14 to 28 points since the writ was dropped. They now have a large lead in Quebec and are poised to gain the lion’s share of the 75 seats there (up from their current single seat). They also now lead in the Atlantic and are within the margin of error of the lead in British Colombia." "They may not have reached the ceiling of this JackQuake which is shaking the country."

      APRIL 26: "The NDP has captured new voters from across the political spectrum in a remarkably eclectic fashion. Looking at how 2008 voters have migrated, we see the Conservatives almost entirely intact whereas the NDP is now an amalgam of defected Conservative, Liberal, and Green supporters. In particular, the NDP surge has been driven by a wholesale transfer of Bloc Quebecois supporters in Quebec."

      APRIL 27: "The Conservatives remain at 34.0 and the NDP is at 28.1. The Liberals have not been able to reverse their fortunes and are now at 22.9 which may be a new nadir in our polling for the Liberals." "It is unclear whether the electorate has truly grasped the significance of the sweeping changes that the NDP surge (now plateaued) has produced. The chief remaining question is how Ontario will deal with these new realities in the closing portion of the campaign."

      APRIL 28: "As for a massive NDP collapse, that likely isn’t going to happen. Jack Layton’s orange train has left the station and it’s just a question of how far it will take him. With a very slight uptick, he could see himself arriving at not only Stornoway, but even Sussex if the new government were to be defeated promptly. Heady stuff for a party that entered the race at a mere 14 points."

      APRIL 29: "The NDP, who began the campaign at a scant 14 points, have now more than doubled their support and at 29.7% and are breathing down the necks of the stalled Conservative Party." "The NDP now have significant strength in British Columbia, and have risen sharply to tie the Liberals in Ontario. They have a huge lead in Quebec and are tied for the lead in the Atlantic. The Conservatives are strong in the west and, due to a newly split NDP and Liberal vote in Ontario, have a 12-point advantage over the Liberals and the closing NDP." "While the Conservatives remain very strong with older Canadians and males, the NDP are showing strong connection with the Gen X and Gen Y, where they now lead. The NDP have also seized much of the university-educated vote from the Liberals and have significant representation in all regions and demographic groups, outside of over 65 voters who are the lynchpin of Conservative support."

      MAY 1: "The Conservatives are at 34.6 points, while the NDP is three points back at 31.4 and the Liberals at 20.4." "Using these numbers, and we will reserve the final forecast until later this evening, we would see a Conservative minority where the NDP were within 20 seats and the NDP and the Liberals combined would have a narrow majority between them. This means that if there was common will between the NDP and the Liberals, they would have both the legal (and according to our recent polling on the topic) the moral authority to swiftly dispatch Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party." "Quebec is abandoning the Bloc Quebecois even further and the NDP could virtually sweep that province in a breathtaking development." "The NDP ceiling is now 55 points, fully 11 points above the Conservative Party." "Quebec is painting itself orange in a remarkable display of unanimity. The Atlantic provinces remain locked in a tight three-way struggle but the NDP are showing a late spurt there which has placed them in the lead."

      MAY 3 (POST-MORTEM): "While we believe EKOS did a very good job in charting the direction of the election and some of the historical shifts that occurred, we were caught flat footed in capturing the majority victory for the Conservative Party." "EKOS correctly noted early in the campaign an important shift to the NDP which we correctly estimated would see the NDP as Official Opposition with over one hundred seats. We were roundly pilloried for this prediction from those who claimed nothing was happening in the campaign and that the NDP vote would collapse." "There was a late movement of Liberal supporters to the Conservative Party which shifted about three points to the Conservatives (half of our shortfall)."

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Writing Credits for The Wailers Alternative Discography #1 - #6

      So I've been doing my Wailers Alternative Discography project off and on for a few months now. I haven't been including writing credits, because they'e confusing, and my main source for the project, Roger Steffens' discography, is quite iffy on the subject itself.
      Having recently come across another discographical resource, however, I've decided to reconsider that: I don't consider that resource infallible either, and I've taken a few liberties and made a few approximations myself. The end results are interesting, though, showing that in the early years the Wailers were far from self-sufficient as songwriters, Peter Tosh in particular, and that they loved Curtis Mayfield and Smokey Robinson (actually, black American music as a whole).
      In any case, here are songwriting credits for the first six 'albums' I compiled - the Coxsone years.

      Simmer Down and Other Hits
      (August 1964, Studio One)

      Side One
      1. 2:50 Simmer Down (B. Marley)
      2. 1:56 Climb the Ladder (B. Marley)
      3. 2:32 Straight and Narrow Way (B. Marley)
      4. 3:05 Maga Dog (P. Tosh)
      5. 2:31 Your Love (B. Marley)
      6. 2:30 Go Jimmy Go (D. Pomus, M. Shuman)
      Side Two
      1. 2:50 Do You Remember (B. Marley)
      2. 1:59 Destiny (B. Marley)
      3. 2:11 Habits (B. Marley)
      4. 2:12 Tell Them Lord (B. Marley)
      5. 2:38 Amen (J. Pato)
      6. 3:40 I Am Going Home (trad., adapted by B. Marley)

      The Wailing Wailers
      (December 1964, Studio One)

      Side One
      1. 2:28 Dance With Me (B. Marley, B. Mann, C. Weil, J. Leiber, M. Stoller)
      2. 2:45 True Confessions (B. Marley)
      3. 2:54 Lonesome Feelings (B. Marley, N. Livingston)
      4. 2:44 There She Goes (B. Marley)
      5. 2:42 Teenager in Love (D. Pomus, M. Shuman, B. Marley)
      6. 2:42 It Hurts to Be Alone (B. Marley)
      Side Two
      1. 3:04 Nobody Knows (trad., adapted by C. Dodd)
      2. 3:09 Love Won't be Mine This Way (B. Marley)
      3. 3:28 Where Will I Find (H. David, P. Hapton, B. Marley)
      4. 3:07 I Need You (B. Marley)
      5. 2:50 Don't Ever Leave Me (B. Marley)

      One Love
      (August 1965, Studio One)

      Side One
      1. 3:19 One Love (B. Marley, C. Mayfield)
      2. 2:13 Playboy (B. Marley, B. Gordy)
      3. 3:04 Shame and Scandal (trad.)
      4. 2:11 Diamond Baby (B. Marley)
      5. 2:20 Do You Feel the Same Way (B. Marley)
      6. 2:38 Love and Affection (B. Marley, N. Livingston)
      Side Two
      1. 3:02 Hooligan Ska (B. Marley)
      2. 3:06 And I Love Her (J. Lennon, P. McCartney)
      3. 2:48 I Made a Mistake (C. Mayfield)
      4. 3:15 Where's the Girl for Me (B. Marley)
      5. 3:35 Jumbie Jamboree (trad., adapted by P. Tosh)

      More of the Wailers
      (January 1966, Studio One)

      Side One
      1. 3:39 Where is My Mother (B. Marley)
      2. 2:21 Rude Boy (B. Marley)
      3. 2:24 Jailhouse (N. Livingston)
      4. 2:59 Somewhere to Lay My Head (B. Marley)
      5. 3:16 Wages of Love (B. Marley)
      6. 3:09 I'm Still Waiting (B. Marley)
      Side Two
      1. 2:59 Ska Jerk (A. DeWalt, B. Marley)
      2. 2:59 What's New Pussycat (B. Bacharach, H. David)
      3. 2:44 Cry to Me (B. Marley)
      4. 2:57 Another Dance (C. Mayfield, B. Marley)
      5. 2:32 Lonesome Track (B. Marley)
      6. 2:15 This Train (trad.)

      The Toughest
      (August 1966, Studio One)

      Side One
      1. 3:12 The Toughest (L. Oldham, D. Pennington, C. Dodd, J. Mittoo, P. Tosh)
      2. 2:42 Let Him Go (N. Livingston)
      3. 3:09 That Ain't Right (R. Anderson)
      4. 2:28 Jerking Time (N. Livingston)
      5. 2:55 Lemon Tree (W. Holt)
      Side Two
      1. 2:42 A Deh Pon Dem (R. Anderson)
      2. 2:53 Rock Sweet Rock (N. Livingston)
      3. 3:05 Who Feels it Knows It (N. Livingston)
      4. 2:34 Friends and Lovers (W. Farrell, B. Burns)
      5. 3:07 Sinner Man (trad., adapted by P. Tosh, N. Livingston)

      (December 1966, Studio One)

      Side One
      1. 2:47 Dancing Shoes (N. Livingston)
      2. 3:13 Making Love (P. Tosh)
      3. 2:59 What am I Supposed to Do (N. Livingston)
      4. 2:53 Treat Me Good (J. Higgs)
      5. 2:54 Dreamland (A. Johnson, N. Livingston)
      Side Two
      1. 2:42 Can't You See (P. Tosh)
      2. 2:42 Rolling Stone (B. Dylan, N. Livingston)
      3. 1:52 Don't Look Back (W. Robinson, R. White)
      4. 3:05 I Stand Predominant (N. Livingston)
      5. 2:34 When the Well Runs Dry (trad., adapted by N. Livingston)
      6. 3:07 I Need You So (W. Robinson)

      Tuesday, June 14, 2011

      My Japanese Kit-Kat Experience

      So I've finally lost my Japanese Kit-Kat virginity.

      Ever since stumbling upon a site on the internet enumerating the crazily large number of flavours of Kit-Kat chocolate bars available in Japan, I've wanted to give them a try. I had a friend returning to Japan for a one-minth stay, and I asked her to pick up some 'unusual Japanese flavours' of Kit-Kat.

      I should point out that from a Canadian perspective any flavour of Kit-Kat is unusual. All we have is... well, Kit-Kat flavour. Chocolate and wafer flavour. So, you know, I'd have been impressed with banana flavour.

      My friend seemed to take the phrase 'Japanese flavour' literally, bringing back a handful of Kit-Kat bars flavoured with tastes quite unique to that island nation. Well, one was 'melon flavour' (and quite realistic that one was, too), which is perhaps not overly Japanese. In addition, there was 'sakura flavour' (which tastes nothing like strawberries, really - it didn't taste like much of anything, though it was nice), 'matcha flavour' (which really did taste like that powdery green tea - but not overpoweringly so), 'edamame flavour' (which tasted a bit like edamame, but I'd have never guessed that without looking at the label), and the infamous 'wasabi flavour' - yes, a chocolate bar flavoured like wasabi. And it was - a grace note of wasabi that you didn't notice until after you swallowed the chocolate. It was very mild and, honestly, not too bad, really. Still very much a 'dare-you' thing, for my Japanese friend as much as for myself, but the result was not offensive. Which is not the strongest of praises, I accept.

      Wikipedia lists plenty of other flavours that I... well, never say never, but that might come low on my list of 'things to try before I die'. To whit: 'soy sauce flavour', 'sports drink flavour', 'hamburger flavour', 'sweet potato flavour', 'beet flavour' and 'grilled corn flavour'.


      Monday, June 13, 2011

      Decapitation Classic #3

      So I think I'm just going to dump Decapitation Classic in toto onto this blog here. It's happier here, I daresay.

      What am I talking about? Here's an entry that explains it. And here are two more of the, ahem, 'poems'.

      “A City is Destroyed”

      A city is destroyed in every part:
      Pregnant women artists come here to appear angular
      Serving naked in Paris, then adhere fully to the devil,
      but only white is right, and streets bright as gold
      Metal, charming and full of energy almost under the eyes
      Of the summer sun, one or two of rest in the chair
      Or consider a new eye color to judge the world
      According to its feet with female characters in the knee
      To avoid elimination from the Slider to work free.
      Better yet, in lottery revenues and the fear of God
      Some people say, "The secret devil here and abroad
      Dusts the Bible before going past the door."
      But for those brave people who sacrifice their pride,
      It seems a shame, gold, silver and precious stones.

      I have shoes that are Marie Antoinette,
      And walk on hot stones and burning sun.
      We would set about to shoot him, and I got very light
      And magic, and jumping rope to reduce the occupation.
      But often your mind, as well as the deck, is empty,
      with the ceiling removed pink light can not skim through.
      We care little for the church records: we had visited Paris
      Where they discuss the cutting of the Saints
      And women without the veil here in the clouds:
      scores of women, most are young and happy, and patient.
      All disappear from the window and fly to the site
      Representative for the fire, His name seems to have escaped
      With their deeds, the four pillars falling on horns,
      And a pillar of stone in Egypt, and the twisted snake.

      When we entered the door to pay for a night,
      An angel seemed to play the guitar, and I'm sure
      The dolls vary greatly; their device is more interesting items
      In any system of celestial beings, the environment and land
      Are well guarded, as are children under the trees before them.
      what a wonderful victory here, and I can not understand.
      If it was under the shirt, he was transferred by air to the right,
      And her thin face wore the old meetings in the gates.
      Three main colors hang in disputes over the environment,
      Even the shadow of snow in Russia now only leads to the meat.
      With arms spread and mouth open wide, all is great boredom.
      the right mix to pull, mouth open when the clock started.
      Fly girl, rich colors and dust, and the link with cabbage white.
      including a really good horse, and a really good woman
      who can give the child a fear of horses.

      He turned around, without making any progress,
      While fifty of the dolls were a window period.
      As it will end up trying to understand Infinity,
      I must admit that I got up quickly.
      His example seemed to melt into the walls,
      Setting the black river in his hands.
      It was big and dark, and solved our problems seriously
      In my eyes, I felt cold in my bones.
      How many people smile for a day, eyes full of tears' colors?
      Point your face from us, risk his hat in public,
      Show a very sensitive issue behind her bald head.
      He was very nice and love the country illegally
      His name was written in blood without epitaph.
      The candles are still hot in his grave.
      "I want my ashes to rest on the bank of the Seine
      At the heart of the French people that love you."
      Details about 'A City is Destroyed' can be found here.

      “The Death of Jesus”

      Now, the death of Jesus: I and others should fight for God.
      It's a miracle, but close our eyes and breathe: body parts down to the eye.
      It was night, when teachers come to know from birth on our roads.
      However, hate can not eat; he can not force them to try.
      New forms allow any sun to know. I fear teachers. But do not fear me.
      Stop God and use a voice. Ready to talk about wolves, because we have guns.
      A series of falling glass we see around us. Other pipelines and dreams of profit.
      Perhaps a depreciation, for the murder of snow is full of fear.
      Weapons? No knife to kill a wolf howling in front of Rome.
      Blood will dance with your fingers, follow your fingers deep down.
      He and I are a large Bowie knife through security, through the mirror I think.
      I do not understand men in the basket, creating a problem.
      I cry because I see things have changed: I threw away the sun.
      Flash has won the way they should; the left fingers were burned in the blood.
      Smile and say, we witnessed the suffering of my heart.
      Discomfort and pain with a smile. And a quiet, elegant gentleman died.
      Details about 'The Death of Jesus' can be found here.

      Sunday, June 12, 2011

      Across The Political Divide

      I recently read something rather bizarre - that apparently while speaking to someone, you can tell their political persuasion merely by looking at something else while speaking. Apparently, the leftist will follow your gaze to see what you're looking at while the conservative will carry on unfazed.

      Probably dodgy pop psychology at its finest. But it resonates with something that has been crossing my mind a lot lately - that a left-of-centre mindset and a right-of-centre mindset are merely incompatible mindsets that most people, some 'swing voters' in the centre notwithstanding, more or less subscribe to wholesale. That entire political philosophies can, in many cases, spring fully formed as a result of basic, fundamental approaches to the individual's place in society - approaches that are probably formed at a very young age and are more or less immutable, the rightward drift associated with aging notwithstanding.

      Or let's look at it this way: when a leftist exasperatedly exclaims, 'I can't understand conservatives at all!', that's probably not mere hubris: it's probably the truth. Because complex political philosophies spring from simple perspectives on life, there probably is a fundamental disconnect between 'how lefties think' and 'how righties think'. Never the twain shall meet, except of course for those centrists, God love them, who can be persuaded one way or another.

      If this is true, the implication would seem to be to 'draw battle lines' - most starkly of course in the resolutely bipartisan United States of America, where lately partisans on both sides are inclined to view politics as a battle between good and evil.

      You could argue, though, that the opposite should happen: that one result of an incompatibility of ideology could be to put down weapons and learn to embrace difference. After all, if we have no chance at all of 'converting' a certain segment of the population - not due to stubbornness but merely due to this 'difference in mindset' - then we would do well to learn to accept them, to figure out how to accommodate 'both sides' to the extent possible. After all, 'they know not what they do' - people on both sides of the line are driven by a sense of righteousness that they believe fully in their hearts: it's not a lack of empathy that prevents them from walking a mile in the other side's shoes so much as a simple inability to make their minds grasp the fundamentals of the other side's philosophy.

      I consider myself a perfect example of this. Conservative politics seem absolutely crazy to me - really. I've given a lot of thought to them and I can't for the life of me understand why people embrace them. And yet they do - intelligent, honest, decent people somehow manage to come to radically different conclusions about man's relationship to man and the importance of the individual in society than me. I get frustrated that people seem unable to see the world as it appears so crystal clear to me, and I gnash my teeth at what seems like a usurping of power whenever enough of the populace cast their lot with conservatives that they are able to form a government at one level or another.

      Which, of course, is ridiculous: our winner-takes-all system of government not only is entirely the wrong system if people's political outlooks are more or less encoded within them in stone but additionally is probably the root cause behind the adversarial way we view politics.

      Political outlook can't be 'genetic': people's politics change with time, and with geography too, in that some places are resolutely left-of-centre and others incurably right-of-centre. So there is a 'learned', environmental aspect to it. And it stands to reason that people can be swayed - gradually, over time. But it seems that the best way to sway someone's mind is by engaging with them, not by shouting at them over an insurmountable gulf.

      After all, there's nothing wrong with conservatives or with progressives: they merely are who they are.

      Saturday, June 11, 2011

      "The night air"

      The night air so still,
      The distant crack of thunder
      Adds tranquility

      Friday, June 10, 2011

      Woe is Me

      I'm kind of drying up at the moment with the blogs. It's not that I have nothing to say - it's just that for some reason I only have things to say when I'm not in front of a computer. When I actually get a chance to sit down in front of a computer and get some work done... my mind wanders. I hate it, but there's not much I can do about it. I'm still going to try to maintain my one-post-per-day pledge, but I think I need to look into ways to get that done with, well, with minimal effort. For the time being. Disapponting to me, but that's the reality. Haikus?

      Thursday, June 9, 2011

      The Hollywood Career-o-Matic #1

      So Rotten Tomatoes keeps track of what critics have to say about movies. It looks at as wide a range of reviewers as possible to attempt 'general critical consensus' about the quality of a movie - ultimately, whatever the reviewer's own rating system, classifying each review merely as a praise or a pan. Valuable resource. has taken that information and used it to chart the 'career trajectories' of directors and actors. I might add more later, but at the moment, here are five of its findings:

      Steven Spielberg still, all these years later, carries around a reputation as a maker of user-friendly blockbusters whose successes are more commercial than critical. But Rotten Tomatoes makes a lie of that: Spielberg's critical performance has been as good as anyone's over the past 25 years: only one movie in 17 drops below the 50% mark (Hook, with a sad 26%). At 97%, Schindler's List is an obvious career peak, but Catch Me If You Can is a rather surprising follow-up at a nearly-equal 96%. And how on Earth did Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull get 77%?

      James Cameron, by any reasonable standard, probably out-Spielbergs Spielberg by now as a maker of blockbusters. And yet his critical standard is also sky-high, with a 69% for True Lies being his worst performance in the last 25 years. Mind you, he's about as prolific as James Joyce, so perhaps it's tough to make bombs when you're not really making much of anything at all. He tops Schindler's List twice: with Aliens at 100% and with Terminator 2: Judgement Day at 98%.

      Ang Lee's chart is remarkably consistent, with only one dip below the 50th percentile - and that's surprisingly not Hulk, which got 61%. Instead, it's Taking Woodstock, with a not-too-shabby 48%. Top of the pack is Sense and Sensibility at 98% and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at 97%.

      Clint Eastwood's been remarkably consistent as a director down the years: 19 films at or above the 50% line, only two below: even those 'bombs' (Absolute Power and Hereafter) are hardly stinkers, at 46% apiece. His career highlight since 1985 is, unsurprisingly, Unforgiven (96%). But Pale Rider, The Bridges of Madison County, Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jiwa (whatever that is) all get 90% or more.

      Uwe Boll, in a brief five years as a director, has totally reset the bar for 'bad'. Blackwoods, the first one here, scored 11% - and that's a career best. Alone in the Dark gets an impressive 1%. His overall average is less than 6%.
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