Today was the first day that I was homesick. And not homesick for Calgary or those friends or my family. But my Victoria family.
I’m quickly realizing how much the friends and relationships that I’ve made there really mean to me. With Thanksgiving coming up I’m hearing lots about everyone hanging out and all the fun they’re having. And part of me really wants to be involved. I miss having those friends around all the time to do things and talk and hang out and go to shows or go for a beer. The friends I’ve made here in Banff are good too, but it’s just not the same. We haven’t built up that repertoire yet that I have with the people in Victoria. My friends in Victoria are going to be lifelong friends, and I just haven’t found that in Banff yet. I don’t know if I will if I’m only here for three months.
That’s why it was so hard to leave that city. It was even harder to do on your own. I think it would have been easier if I had stayed for a year or so and left with everyone in April. Being the only one of my friends to have my degree finished and moving onwards with my life is tough. I don’t really have any friends to relate to since they’re all still in school.
It’s a weird position to be in. I absolutely love it here and I love what I’m doing. Even being an assistant engineer is great. I’ve been getting praise for helping the artists, my organization and memory and that feels really good to know that I’m doing a good job here. But at the same time, I’m seeing and hearing all the things I’m missing out on, and it really makes me miss my old home. And I think that it’s part of me that doesn’t want to be forgotten. I hear through people about everyone and how they know me and miss me, but it doesn’t get to me. I feel like I’m the one that usually has to reach out to anyone to get any kind of conversation or contact going. And it’s frustrating. It sucks thinking that people are close to you and find they’re not really that interested.
One thing that makes me really sad is how much I miss my old house. In such a short time, that place just felt right, and I fit there and I was happy. It makes me realize how much I missed out on in my three years in Victoria living with the same person. I never had the same kind of fun I did like when I was on my own. And it has everything to do with the people I surrounded myself with and the things we did. I don’t regret the four years I spent at UVic and the relationships I built and lost along the way, but I do wish that those three years were like the last six months.
I don’t know if this is a fleeting one day thing because of Thanksgiving or if the feelings will linger until my program is over. That is yet to be seen. I know that being here is important for me and that it’s really going to help with my career and future and everything. It just sucks.
And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs – Hello I’m in Delaware by City and Colour, which is where the title comes from.
Great article about the health care system in the States.
I Just Paid for Dick Cheney’s New Heart, Now Who Will Pay for My Daughter’s?.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) ended the insurance industry’s cynical practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. As soon as that provision of the ACA went into effect, my husband and I welcomed our 15-year-old daughter “May” to our private health insurance policy for the first time. For years May had been covered by an excellent plan provided by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), also known as Children’s Medicaid, because it is subsidized by state taxpayers.
It was only right and just that we assumed responsibility for our own daughter’s health insurance, now that the law allowed us to do so. After all, why burden other taxpayers with our family’s health insurance needs?
May’s heart defects are congenital, so one might say that her pre-existing conditions were God-given. All the years she was on a taxpayer-subsidized BC/BS insurance plan via CHIPS we had low premiums, excellent coverage and no worries, because her heart defects never manifested. The doctors told us they may never manifest, yet still the insurance companies rejected May from any health care coverage at all.
Since my husband is self-employed, we are limited to high-priced individual health care plans; no group plan price breaks, no employer-subsidized premiums. Ours is a high-deductible private family plan with limited coverage. But that coverage now includes all of us, because we did not want to encumber our fellow taxpayer with even one more CHIP participant.
Within eight months of moving her to our private plan, the dreaded consequences of May’s heart defects manifested with a vengeance. Suddenly we were walking on eggshells, and interrupting basketball practice to make emergency room visits wherein May was pumped full of three and four times the normal dosages of heart-rebooting Adenosine just to bring her back to a normal teenage rhythm. She’s a strong girl, but could only take so much of that.
At her cardiologist’s urging we scheduled outpatient surgery. This ended up nearly killing May, requiring several days in ICU and a week of hospitalization, and it did not work. So May was put on strong daily medication, medication that has unpleasant side effects for a child accustomed to being able to keep up with the focus and speed required of high school basketball, until something else can be done. May slipped from potential starter to last girl on the bench. Still, despite missing so much school, she worked hard to catch up and maintained her straight A+ academic streak for the 10th quarter in a row.
And of course, high as it is, we hit our health insurance deductible last year. In fact, under the circumstances we can expect to hit it every year for some time to come. We looked into applying for a lower deductible plan, but the application asks if we have been advised that any procedures are needed. Why yes, we’ve been so advised: we have been referred to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for a consultation about open heart surgery for May, and we’re going there next month. There’s no way to hide this from the insurance company, and there’s no way they or any other company is going to grant us a lower deductible plan with that on the horizon. As it is, they have already increased our premiums due to all the recent activity.
If we had stayed on the taxpayer subsidized BC/BS plan, our costs would have been contained. The costs to the rest of our state’s taxpayers would have increased, however, because in the last six months alone, May’s heart condition ran up nearly $200,000 in medical expenses. Each cardiologist visit costs $1000 and that’s before the inevitable tests are ordered. Of course, hospital and lab costs are phenomenal. There is seemingly no end to the medical bills already, and Mayo Clinic is not likely to change that trajectory.
Conservatives insist that children with severe health problems get born, regardless of the heartache, regardless of the pain and trauma, and regardless of the expense. I have no problem with that, and would not, of course, trade my May for anything in the world. But those same conservatives don’t support funding social programs to serve these children; they don’t support subsidizing schools that are burdened with paraprofessional and nursing expenses when these children enroll; and they don’t want to require, as the ACA mandates, that insurance companies cover these children. Given that, it is obvious that if conservatives get their way, CHIP programs nationwide would get the axe as well.
Make no mistake about it: conservatives are NOT pro-life. They are merely pro-birth. After you are born they don’t give a damn about you, your child, or your family. Apparently that’s what they call “family values”.I regret leaving the CHIP program. But I was doing the right thing, wasn’t I? The thing conservatives say responsible people should do. I was thrilled when the ACA passed, because it also meant my daughter would not face loss of health insurance once she became an adult. Now I just hope she makes it that far. And that I’m not too broke to pay for her college when she does, because there’s not likely to be a Pell Grant for her, is there?
So how is it that I, as a taxpayer, helped pay for an aging millionaire bureaucrat to get a brand new heart, but I can’t even get my own child affordable health insurance to fix hers, so that she can even hope to make it as long as he did?
Here’s an irony I don’t think the conservatives have considered: If the Supreme Court throws out the ACA, my daughter and her pre-existing condition will go back on the state government-subsidized BC/BS plan that has far better coverage and costs me much, much less. In fact, CHIP program enrollment is likely to swell exponentially if the ACA is repealed, because these programs serve the uninsured and uninsurable.So do I hope that the Supreme Court votes this week to overturn the ACA so I can shift the enormous costs of my daughter’s health care back to the taxpayer? Or do I hope they uphold the law so everyone gets a chance to get the care they need?
If I were a conservative, I’m pretty sure I’d opt for the former, and then hope my party took just long enough to get rid of CHIP that my daughter would have time to get her heart fixed on the public’s dime. Then I’d apply the current conservative credo – “I got mine, to heck with the rest of you” – and proceed to make a big stink about how CHIP programs are socialistic plots to bleed taxpayers dry and ruin America. Because I wouldn’t just be a conservative, I’d be a compassionate conservative don’t you know.
This week conservative Christian churches have sent members of their congregations to camp out at the Supreme Court so they can be on hand to witness and cheer for the historic reversal of the ACA. Where were these people when their bible classes covered the lessons about the Good Samaritan, healing the sick, or doing for the least of one’s brothers? Were they out sick?
If so, who took care of them?
I went and saw the new Lorax movie in 3D yesterday. And while it was visually quite stunning, I’m not sure if it message of the movie coincided with the message of the book. Here are some more of my thoughts.
The movie is visually spectacular. Watching in, what feels like, HD you can really see how stunning it is. You feel like you’re able to reach out and feel the silky texture of Truffula Trees. The Bar-ba-loots (bears), Swamme-Swans (birds) and the Humming Fish are all adorable and cute and make you want one. The 3D elements weren’t over powering or scary, and done in a tasteful manner.
The story of the Lorax is one of conservation and preservation, and I don’t think the movie does a great job of spreading that message. To make a 20+ page picture book last more than an hour, there had to be some kind of backstory. In the Lorax book we never really meet the character that the Once-ler is talking to, but in the movie we meet Ted Wiggins.
Ted, voiced by Zak Efron, is a middle schooler and your normal boy in Thneed-ville. We learn about Ted and Thneed-ville and the evil and comically sized Mr.O’Hare who sells the town fresh air, since there are no more trees to produce it on their own. Ted is in love with Audrey, a tall redhead voiced by Taylor Swift.
One of the first things that bothered me about this movie is that Ted’s main reason to see the Once-ler is to get a Truffula tree for Audrey. That’s right, a story about the importance of saving your environment is prefaced only because a boy wants to impress a girl. I feel this completely undermines the entire message of the story.
So we flip between Ted’s story and the Once-ler’s story, and Ed Helm (voiced by Andy from the Office) does a great job as the Once-ler. As that story progresses we eventually meet the Lorax. Arriving from the stump of a felled Truffula Tree, the Lorax (voiced by Danny Devito) arrives. I do not think Devito was the right choice for the voice of the Lorax, he comes off too harsh and condescending, whereas I always pictured the Lorax to be wise and stoic.
Since this is a children’s movie, it has to have entertainment value for them. So there are lots of physical comedy parts in which Bar-ba-loots and the Lorax take part in. It’s cute and funny yes, but again, changes the characters into less serious roles. It’s hard to believe that the Lorax is the protecter of the trees and the animals when he’s eating marshmallows and pancakes with the Once-ler.
Instead of the typical rhyming nature of Seuss, we get songs. Again, I understand it’s a kids movie, but I think that the tone could have been altered if the actual text from the story had been used. There are 4 or 5 big song and dance numbers throughout the movie and while catchy and what-have-you, it doesn’t really add much to the movie.
All-in-all, I think it was an okay movie. I don’t think that it will replace the book in schools as one of the best kids stories with a message. There would have been many places for improvement, and some core elements needed to be changed.
We still see what a world without nature is like and the how the power of capitalistic greed can change people. I just hope that the kids watching it will see that too. Or at least as much as a kid can understand of that.
The main quote from the movie “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” still remains and I think has an odd application to what’s going on now. With the recent exposure of Kony and that whole debate of whether or not it’s a worthy cause – can be answered with this quote. No matter whether you think that the Kony campaign will be successful, it is making people care an awful lot. So as long as it’s making people care and want to make a difference, then I think that’s a good thing.
But that’s just a side note. Back to the movie, if you like Seuss, go see it. If not, wait. If you think you might not like it, go read the book again, and then see what you can do to care a whole awful lot.
EDIT ON MARCH 7, 2012: This post was originally written in 2006. As you read and comment, please consider that it has been over 5 years since I wrote my thoughts here. I personally still have the same concerns about IC that I did when I posted this and have chosen not to contribute to their cause. However, Uganda continues to hold a very special place in my heart.
Apologies for my stunned silence in the face of the Kony 2012 movement and the internet’s explosion of power. I’ve never felt like the whole internet has simultaneously pushed down the same keys at the same time. Not even the response to SOPA made me feel this level of solidarity. The LRA has been around, being evil, and making the world suck more since I was in college, and that’s when I first tried to raise awareness for stopping them…more than ten years ago. Sometimes it feels like there are so many terrible things in the world, it’s impossible to figure out what to focus on. But the LRA is getting that focus now. And I hope we can maintain it. (source)I too believe that there is a large possibility of #Kony2012 failing within 3 months as the attention span of the population wains. That being said, I'm still choosing to donate.
Step 1: Watch This Video. Now.
Instead of clicking through some pictures of cats, watch.
You have a half hour, you can sit and just watch.
Step 2: Make a difference.
I know I tend to get caught up in these idealistic kind of things that promote world change and using the mass to make a difference (there was the AIDS dog-tag campaign with Aldo that springs to mind) – but I have faith in this one. Why? These guys have their shit together. They have a plan. It’s set out, clear as day. The objective is to make Joseph Kony famous. And by the end of this year, he will be.
People rag on me all the time for the amount that I use social media. Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and Skype and MSN and the list goes on, but now is when these networks will come to my aid. I tend to be a pretty passive activist, choosing to stay anonymous and help out where I can. Retweet’s and blog posts are of my usual do-gooding habits. So if I can use all the people who I have a constant contact with – who I talk to half way around the country and have never met, if I can get them to be passionate about this too – then I will consider myself successful.
For those of you who want some more background:
Joseph Kony is the leader of the LRA – a rebel group out of Africa who abducts children to increase the numbers in his army. He forces the boys to murder, the girls into sexual slavery, and is the number 1 on the ICC’s (International Criminal Court) list of war criminals still at large. (link)
Joseph Kony claimed to be a distant cousin of Alice Lakwena’s and the natural successor to lead the Holy Spirit Movement. Soon after Joseph Kony assumed management of the group, he changed the name to the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. Joseph Kony wasn’t able to maintain the group’s number or regional support, so he started stealing food and abducting children to fill the ranks of his army. Subsequently, he lost any remaining regional support. What had started out as a rebel movement to end the oppression of the north became an oppression of the north in itself.
Joseph Kony’s tactics were—and remain—brutal. He often forced children to kill their parents or siblings with machetes or blunt tools. He abducted girls to be sex slaves for his officers. He brainwashed and indoctrinated the children with his lies and manipulated them with his claim of spiritual powers.
At the height of the conflict in Uganda, children “night commuted.” That is, every evening they would walk miles from their homes to the city centers. There, hundreds of children would sleep in school houses, churches, or bus depots to avoid abduction by the LRA.
Kony and the LRA abducted more than 30,000 children in northern Uganda.
So hopefully you do something. We here in the Canada and the States are the luckiest people on earth, and we should be trying to make that reality for everyone else we share this space with.
So will you?
”There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time is now.”
http://c3424386.r86.cf0.rackcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Kony2012_digital_kit.zip (Digital Download Kit)
Music Track Day was yesterday. It was one of the most ambitious things I have ever done. It was also one of the most successful things I’ve ever done.
The concept is crazy and I am still in awe about how we pulled it off. Inspired by “Hack Days”, which is where people get together and spend the entire day hacking a project and then they show it off at the end. You’re in a room with lots of people and you spend the entire day – usually 10am – 10pm just having fun and interacting. Our Computer Music Course Union (http://uvicmucs.wordpress.com/) had done a “Music Hack Day” at the beginning of the previous semester, and I had wanted to do something similar with recording.
I wanted to get in as many bands as possible, spend all day recording them, and have one or two songs done to show off to everyone when we were done. The concept is the same, but we quickly learned that the logistics of a Track Day vs a Hack Day are very very different.
In the works since October of 2011, Thor and I have been planning out just about every thing we can think about. We contacted at least 10 different bands to gauge interest in our idea. I wanted to get a range of sonic groups, so we settled on Bucan Bucan, Ben Parker, the UVic Jazz Combo, and Amy Wood.
The bands had been locked down, and now the logistics of how everyone would flow came next. We were able to book three different rooms for the entire day of Saturday the 14th, so this gave us some options. We decided to do bed-tracking in our Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, doing piano, drums, guitars, and the entire jazz band there. The second room was used for overdubbing and the third for mixing. The biggest challenge was planning how each group would rotate from room to room.
We slotted 3 hour sessions in each room, and surprisingly each group was finished before their allotted time was up. By keeping the drums set up in the hall, with the mics adjustable for each group, we were able to quickly switch from group to group – this turned out to be very helpful in keeping the day flowing.
The schedule went as follows:
9 – 12 – Jazz
12 – 3 - Ben Parker
3 – 6 - Amy Wood
9 – 12 - Bucan Bucan
12 – 3 – Bucan Bucan
3 – 6 – Ben Parker
6 -9 – Amy Wood
9 – 12
12 – 3 – Jazz
3 – 6 – Bucan Bucan
6 -9 – Ben Parker
9 – 12 - Amy Wood
The bands and the plan was in place. We had 4 lead engineers, 12 people who were interested in being involved. Each lead engineer was assigned 2-3 assistants to help with their session. Once the sessions got going, people were able to flow and see what was going on in the other sessions happening simultaneously. I was there at 7:45 to set up our 100 foot snake from our mixing studio to B037 where we did overdubs. Unfortunately the session I was running wasn’t until 3pm, so I was a little tired when that came around.
Bucan Bucan did a rambunctious track with loud horns and shout choruses, whilst the Jazz Band laid down some great tunes. Ben Parker brought in soulful blues song and Amy Wood played a lovely ballad for us. So much great music and great musicians in one place.
I got to work closely with the fantastic Amy Wood as she recorded a beautiful piece. I’ve listened to Amy’s music before and will hopefully be providing a review of her CD “Cinnamon Heart” (which you can get for free – here) shortly!
I can not imagine how an event like this could have gone better, all the people I worked with made things so easy. The bands were great, and were incredibly patient with us as we moved mics and tried out new things. The biggest problem we had was that the coffee I had brought wasn’t ground fine enough, and we had the wrong filters. Other than that, the entire day was great. Our mixing engineer spent 6 straight hours mixing 2 different bands and did a great job with all of that.
For a crazy and outlandish idea, I was so amazed at how well it went over. I will add some of the mixes of the bands as they get posted.
Thanks to everyone who was involved, the bands, the techs, the assistants, Kirk McNally, Shawn Trail and a host of others who had their hands in on this. You can see all the tweets from the day with #MusicTrackDay
I saw this photo on the tumblr of a friend of mine a few weeks ago, and I’m just getting around to writing about it. It’s part of a bigger series of weird interesting facts about the body, but this one stuck me as the most prominent. (The rest are here if you’re curious - http://www.icanhasinternets.com/2011/10/mind-blown/) And I feel like this is not only true physically, in terms of all our cells and stuff, but also in terms of who we are as a person and emotionally. We all know we go through different stages in our lives and they happen at different times for different people. But would it be too far of a leap to assume that maybe these changes occur every seven years when all our cells from our “previous self” have finally disappeared?
Seven years ago, I was 14. I was in the 9th grade and was in the middle of maybe my second style cycle. I had ridiculously long hair, thought I was hot shit because I wore pink, played drums in a shitty junior high band and listened to Sum 41 and Blink 182 all day. I had had some random “girlfriends” but not a first kiss, and had played hockey almost all my life. I had dropped out of band class because I had hated it the year before. And I think this was about the time I got my first Facebook page. It was a few years later that my brother graduated and went to Australia, and my parents went to meet him shortly after, leaving me alone on my first week of high school. Getting to band practices in October in Calgary by bus at 6am was not fun.
If you know me know, I’m sure you’ll hardly believe that that’s what I used to look like. (Aside: Part of me wants to retake this picture when we get back together at Christmas time. Kind of like these ones – http://irinawerning.com/back-to-the-fut/back-to-the-future/)
Somewhere in my grade 12 year I went through another shift. I think it a big part of it was during my trip with the high school band. It was during this trip that I discovered the rewards and the hardships of the career path I was slowly beginning down. I got thrown into a huge leadership role and kind of reveled in it. In grade 12 I was also playing and coaching hockey, had a few more girlfriends, had a first kiss, made a Grad Film, played a solo for our entire graduation class + families, and got accepted to my first university of choice. My musical tastes branched out more, I now liked screamo and emo and acoustic and punk and rock. I had almost mostly given up the drums and picked up the guitar and a mixing board. I even made a CD (Granted it’s terrible and I never want to have to hear it again – but those of you with a copy! Hold onto that sucker, you can sell it for millions later). I fought with my parents a lot – mostly about my current (and as I found out later, crazy) girlfriend.
I also cut my hair short for the first time in a while. You can always tell when a guy is ready to move onto the next stage of his life when he cuts his hair short and gets rid of the mop top shaggy teen look. Some guys keep it going out of high school, but it usually gets cut eventually. So far, the 7 year trend isn’t coming true, it seems to be closer to 3 or 4 years for me at least.
And this is where I’ve kinda plateaued. I haven’t changed much since then. Still super tall and skinny, 6’5″ 150lb, a broomstick some have said. One or two more girlfriends, maybe a bit more experienced. My style hasn’t changed all that much, I’ve grown into my “professional hipster” mentality and have learnt to rock it. University kicked my ass in my first two years, calculus almost killed me. I met one of my best friends and girlfriend here and learned a lot from her. I’ve had the same recording job now for 3 and a half years. I’ve become “that recording guy” in the school of music. Music has become one of the biggest factors in my life. Not only is it becoming my job, but I am always discovering more things about it and more styles that I am enjoying. I breached the 10 000 song mark this summer. I don’t fight with my parents anymore, or my brother – I think the distance was good for us. And I’m almost done my degree. Hopefully two more semesters and that’ll be it.
So now, it’s been 4 years since that last “style shift” in grade 12. Hold on.
It’s been 4 years since high school.
That’s kind of gross. Most of my friends now are people I met when I was in high school. I still talk to all those people. I always wanted to be that guy who made all these great friends in University and went to all these parties. I always told myself I wasn’t going to be like my dad and never go out (at least he tells us he never went out – except for the one time he threw up over a bridge into a river – he does like to tell us that story). But I didn’t go out. Well, I didn’t go out A LOT. I mostly stayed in, I was content staying in. Partying was never my thing. I have met some great friends here though. I’ve got some Bro’s who I hope I’ll keep in contact later. And really, that’s what I’m thinking about now. What’s later? What’s next?
I’m almost done my degree.
What am I gonna do after? I’m feeling like that’ll induce another “style shift.”
Where am I going to be in four years? Who am I going to be in four years? Who are you going to be in four years?
(Also – a little more Nicole Byblow for your listening pleasure)
Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay – 2011 – EMI
With their fifth album, and latest since Viva La Vida… in 2008, Coldplay picks up where they left off in their experimentation from Viva. For people who enjoyed Coldplay of olde, with songs like “Yellow”, “The Scientist” and “Sparks”, I would advise you to immediately stop reading this review and go listen to A Rush Of Blood to the Head. You will not like Mylo Xyloto. The album blends styles of funk, dubstep, pop and almost everything in between for an interesting en-devour from this supergroup.
To start, the title Mylo Xyloto has come under quite a bit of scrutiny in the press even before its release. Martin, a man who has named his kids Apple and Moses, is quoted as saying
“It is pronounced My-low Zy-letoe… and even the lads admit the title doesn’t mean anything. Chris says: “At the moment it seems a bit ridiculous and I accept that. “Something about it feels quite fresh. The title doesn’t have any other meaning. I think we’re a band with a lot of history now so it’s nice to come up with something that doesn’t have any history at all. We’ve had that title for about two years on a board and any other potential titles had to be written next to it. Other ones made more sense but we just liked this one, that’s all we can defend it with.”
It seems to be pretention bordering on idiocy, which some might say is a decent way to describe the band as a whole, but one cannot dismiss the fact that they have created some powerful music for quite some time now.
The title aside, the album unfolds in a continuous manner, with songs blending into each other as is the style with CD’s for some time. What is unusual about the Coldplay CD is that they have a few shorter tracks that sort of divide the CD into three almost equal parts. These short tracks play as “soundscapes”, and show direct influence from producer Brian Eno. Eno is famous in the music world for his work with legendary bands such as U2 and David Bowie, as well as being the composer for the Windows 95 introduction sound. Eno’s background in electronic and ambient music has a large impact on the band’s overall sound and these smaller soundscapes.
Specifically speaking, a few tracks stand out against the rest, but there is nothing that feels like a stand-out hit. The first single “Paradise” quite nicely reflects the direction that Coldplay is heading. Lushly filled with strings and synths, the half-time tempo of this track just begs for a dub-step remix (Oh wait – they already exist! See the end of the video). This emphasizes the departure from the bare bones of what Coldplay became known for when they first emerged. With Eno’s production, it sometimes becomes hard to find the skeleton of the band beneath all the foliage of sound.
The track “Charlie Brown” stood out to me as a song that many who liked Viva La Vida will latch onto and enjoy. The similar four on the floor beat throughout makes for a driving song with a return to the guitar based tracks. The track ends with a nice little piano homage to the yellow striped character for which the track is named. If you listen closely, you can almost begin to hear the beginning of the “Christmas Time” song in Chris Martin’s final piano lines.
A track that feels like it’s off in a whole new direction is “Major Minus”. Once it broke into the meat of the song, I immediately felt like this should be a Red Hot Chili Peppers hit from the 90′s. The chunky guitars and the “Ooh ooh’s” just scream “Higher Ground” off of Mother’s Milk. “Major Minus” doesn’t have the same energy as the early Peppers did, but the song doesn’t suffer either.
Another foray into the synth driven pop world, and bound to be their next single, ”Princess of China” feat. Rihanna is the last stand out from the album. Mostly due to the combination of Martin’s and Rihanna’s vocals, which at times can seem over produced, this track catches the listeners ear. The bridge kind of lags on, but the energy is quickly brought back with a drop leading to the final chorus and hook.
Lastly, it pains me so much to listen to the song “Up In Flames”. The simple piano and vocal track is ruined by a digitized drum set. Martin’s reverberant vocals and harmonies would be so much better suited to a real drum set. When the strings, back-ups and guitar solo comes in, the drums move out of focus and the track finally sits in a really nice place. This track could have been a hidden gem without that drum sound. I think with a few more listens, it might grow on me and become my favourite number on the album.
To conclude, Mylo Xyloto is more so removed from the Parachutes, Coldplay’s first album, and much more similar to Viva La Vida. Hopefully this distinction helps people decide whether or not to pick up the album. It’s definitely worth a listen for its production and thick sounds and interesting experimentation on the band’s part. For those who want Chris Martin to just record himself at a piano singing, avoid this one.
And now for a dubstep remix of “Paradise” – as promised!
This is why the 99% are mad. They’re the orange line. the 1% is the blue.
Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys by Nicole Byblow (Shiny Nickle Music 2011)
Manitoba born, British Columbia educated, and now calling Ontario home, Nicole Byblow brings a sound that all of Canada can love. The young singer/songwriter who is finding her footing in the national music scene has embarked on a tour to promote her latest CD, entitled “Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys.” She made a stop in Victoria where I saw her play and met with her to discuss music, school, life and even a little fashion. Nicole and her piano are packed and ready to go back east with a few more stops in the prairies before heading home.
Over the years, we have seen enough examples of “boys playing guitar”, and Nicole falls into the female opposition of “girls playing pianos” which seems to be a common theme in recent musical trends. Starting with Alicia Keys and Vanessa Carlton, this movement led the way for the likes of Sara Bareilles, Sarah Slean and more.
Slean is one of Byblow’s biggest influences for the career path she chose. The Canadian Juno-Nominated singer was one of the reasons Nicole started playing piano and writing songs when she was just 16. Luckily, Nicole was able to meet her other idol at the 2011 Juno Awards Dinner and Gala in Toronto in March of this year. The spontaneous introduction initiated by her sister and singer Matt Dusk left Byblow both wide-eyed and starstruck. It’s nice to know that even people who make CD’s and tour get a little speechless every once in a while.
When listening to Nicole’s music, you can immediately hear the impact of her influences in her vocal and piano stylings. Citing Ben Folds as one of her biggest inspirations, Nicole told me of how she spent many hours trying to learn his songs. When things weren’t going well, she would write to Ben via email. She assumed that her angry rants about the difficult of Folds’ songs went unheard, until she received a reply from an artist who has sold over 3 million records in his career spanning almost 2 decades. The two pianists continued emailing and eventually Nicole was invited to meet Ben at his show in Seattle. Fully expecting to be turned away at the door, Nicole was shocked when two tickets had been left under her name. The evening concluded with a conversation at the hotel bar where Folds was staying.
Now, I think this is enough background for you, what you’re really here for is to know what her CD is like and whether or not Nicole Byblow is worth a listen. But before I give you that answer, I’ll do my best to break it down for you.
Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys actually comes with one of the “Parental Advisory” stickers commonly found on albums from Eminem, NWA and 50 Cent. This is rather unexpected from the girl on the cover with a white background and staring at a red balloon. Nicole’s been described as “hyper-feminine” and “delicate” and for me; this is one of the first things that grabbed me about this music: Nicole’s unabashed attitude towards profanity is rather striking. When hearing her drop an “F Bomb” for the first time in a small coffee house on a rainy night in Victoria, I instantly looked up from whatever it was I was doing and started paying attention. Not many singer/pianists of this genre have the guts to swear on their records. You’ll never hear Sara Bareilles say “I don’t give a shit” about her former job in a hospital, but Nicole is unafraid to tell it as it is. She speaks the way in her songs the way she does in her normal life and that translates to her songs. She’s not trying to beat around the bush or use a clever metaphor to say she doesn’t care; she just doesn’t give a shit.
(Things That I Learned When I Worked in the Hospital)
My favourite track from the album is “Things I Learned When I Worked in the Hospital.” Starting with the toy piano, and the rolling drums chugging along, Nicole’s witty lyrics bring you a real insight to the life of a hospital. Lyrics like, “Patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance, but you’d be surprised how accessible that information is when you have to sweep the room it’s in”, are the kind of sarcastic backhanded lines that riddle this song. The chorus reminds us “who cares what we do in the mean time, it builds character doing the things we hate all our lives,” which, in out of context is rather quite depressing. But in the nature of the song, it’s understood that this is a sarcastic inflection of the songwriter and just an excuse for her to get through her shitty job. The bridge of this song builds follows the typical pattern of most pop songs, with one slight deviation. We have all come to expect the key change going into the last chorus of songs (think “You Raise Me Up”, “My Heart Will Go On”, etc.), and thankfully, Byblow doesn’t go this route with this song.
Once you get past the occasional expletive, the music itself is simplistic in its nature. All the songs only feature piano, drums and bass guitar, with the occasional splashes of violin and the toy piano from the CD cover. It’s Nicole’s song writing and melodies that stand out musically. Some of her lyrics are complex and compact, not unlike the rap counterparts who share her “Parental Advisory” sticker, which is juxtaposed by simple melodies and hooks that make the CD a treat to listen to. The track “February” has a particularly catchy “Ooh ah” section, that later features the range of Nicole’s vocal in the bridge.
Aside from the first single “They Didn’t Think So”, which Nicole describes as a song about what would happen if Jesus came and let every person on earth ask him a question about life, the lyrical content of the album is mostly what you would expect from the genre of girls playing piano. “A Song About A Lover” and “If I’m Lucky” may not have different thematic content, but are striking and beautiful in their own right. The production quality of the entire CD is superb. Ben Nixon, who was the bass player, recording engineer and co-producer of the album, did a fantastic job in a “garage turned studio” to produce The White Keys. I can only hear one minor slight throughout the whole album, but overall I have been impressed throughout.
You will be happy to know that Nicole does play in keys other than C major and A minor, utilizing more of the piano than the album title implies. I hate to use the buzz-word “up-and-coming” to describe Nicole and this album, as I think it gets thrown around too liberally these days, but I feel that you hipsters out there need to latch onto this girl so you can say that you liked her “before she was mainstream.” Byblow’s album is a melting pot of the fairy tale wonder of Cinderella, the epic storytelling of the Princess Bride, with just a sprinkle of Tarantino-esque profanity. If you love “girls with pianos” but are missing something with a little bit of an edge, Nicole Byblow Plays All the White Keys will be able to fill that void for you. No matter what kind of music you enjoy listening to, I would highly recommend this album for anyone (even if there is a Parental Advisory on it).
This is what Canadian music is all about and I look forward to everything else Nicole Byblow has to offer.
You may have seen what it’s like to fly over the earth from the view of the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this week. This is the same thing – but of the stunning Aurora Borealis (or Northern Lights). Super cool.
Amid all the ceremonies and what not about this day 10 years ago, I am going to post this one picture. To be honest, September 11th didn’t mean a lot to me. I was only 11 at the time and I had no idea of the implications of it for the future. I remember my grade 6 teacher pulling in the TV so we could watch it during class. But the weight of the situation didn’t hit until I was much older. This is going to be the defining moment of our generation, as the generations before us had World Wars and nuclear bombs.
So we all remember Isaiah Mustafa, just Google “Old Spice Guy” if you need to refresh your memory, and the ads he did for Old Spice. They were funny, original, and made men want to buy their product. Even though the ads pandered to the ladies as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like“, most of us guys wanted to be that guy.
Even if it meant just smelling like him. Some people rank him next to the Dos Equis as the Two Most Interesting Men In The World.
The YouTube campaign was unprecedented in it’s use of social media like YouTube and Twitter. and resulted in an increase of sales by 107% for Old Spice (see here). The video has almost 34 million views on YouTube. I’m sure at least a few of us out there edited together the phone message video to have the Old Spice Guy on our answering machine.
Things were going great for Old Spice. Until now.
The new Old Spice Guy is now Fabio. Fabio? Are you kidding me?! Practically no one from my generation even knows who he is! We were all babies when he was gracing the covers of adult “romance” novels throughout the 80′s & 90′s.
One of my friends has a Tumblr dedicated to appreciating Fabio in his once great glory (ironic hipster appreciation of course – http://fabioisawesome.tumblr.com/) So why Old Spice wanted to pull him out of nowhere and start using him for their ads is beyond me.
This is the first Fabio Old Spice ad that I saw. This is definitely not the kind of guy I want to be buying deodorant from. Rolling around on a piano like that? Rubbing his face against the stick of deodorant? No. This is not cool. I tuned out as soon as he started rolling back over to the second girl.
Here’s the second one:
Great, Fabio has long hair. And again with the rubbing on his face?! What is this?!?!?!
What happened to the great single shot ads? Ones that knew they were being ridiculous and fantastic. These new ones were trying so hard that they just end up looking silly.
Hopefully the community explodes with hate for Fabio and brings back the man we all loved.
Look at your new man, now back to me, now back at your new man, now back to me.
Sadly, he isn’t me.
- Meet Your Newest Old Spice Guy: Fabio (Yes, That Fabio) (adweek.com)
- Fabio: The NEW Old Spice Guy? (celebs.icanhascheezburger.com)
- The New Old Spice Guy Is an Old, Familiar Face: Fabio [VIDEOS] (mashable.com)
Graphs of each country in relation to the colour of their flags.
Adam writes: “A blind U2 fan near the front of the stage held up a sign ‘Blind Guitar Player, Bring Me Up!’. At the end of the show, Bono asked the guy to come up and handed him his guitar. He and his wife danced to All I Want is You at their wedding so he played it while Bono sang. While attempting to hand Bono’s guitar back to him, Bono refused and told him to have it.”
“It took me a second,” 32-year-old Adam Bevell of Pheonix later told the Sun Herald. “I had no idea what was going on because in my mind they had left and walked off. I had no idea Bono was still there. Instantly, I was lifted over that front rail and hoisted on stage by the security guards. Before I knew it, I could hear Bono’s voice saying, ‘what do you want to play man?’”
More proof that Bono is one of the greatest rock stars ever.
Can I just say that I am really loving Will and Kate? All the articles I’ve read about their trip to Canada have been great.
He flew one of our helicopters when he got here, they raced each other in PEI, and now he’s playing hockey and giving speeches in the native languages of the territories? This guy is impressive. It’s good to see a Royal visit that’s actually interesting and they’re ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING! As opposed to his grandmother, the Queen, who just walks around and looks at stuff. Granted he’s probably 50 years her junior, but still!
I might actually make an effort to go see them when they come to Victoria just because of things like this.
Well hello there, how are you doing today? Good? Then good.
Hopefully you have seen my video for Operation Unplugged and enjoyed my song. If you’re super duper interested – it can be bought off my bandcamp for $1 CDN. I’m not looking to make a lot of money but I think that’d be cool if SOMEONE out there bought it. Anyways, it’s that video that brings me to writing this blog. Maybe it was that video that brought you here – doubtful, but it’s a possibility. If you want to download the track and help me out – you can go here!
Looking back on that video – I wish I had made two versions, one with the intro and end bits, and one without. The one without would have just been my rap and that was that. I could show this video to my family and coworkers and stuff that I don’t really want involved in my online presence. Now that I’ve sent out that video to my parents, they’ve sent it to all my family, who are undoubtedly going to stumble upon this. I try quite hard to keep myself anonymous on the internet. I try not to connect my name to any of my accounts – twitter, this blog, etc. I have quite high privacy settings on my Facebook, I am unsearchable to anyone who isn’t a friend. All in all, I just don’t like having my name out there.
But now with this video, I can’t do that anymore. My parents know now I have this blog and a Twitter amongst other things, and not that that’s a bad thing, but these are places I go to write about without having to censor myself or what have you. I try to censor myself on Facebook and Twitter as is – just for professional reasons – you never know who might stumble across that. But this blog in particular is something I like to leave for ranting and raving about my life and what’s going on and what not. Where am I going to go to complain about stuff if I know the people I’m complaining about can read it? Isn’t that defeating the purpose? Do I have to set up another blog or something where I can go to post stuff and neglect this one (more so than I already do)?
In short, no. I am not going to set up anything else to have to censor myself here. Parents, if you’re reading this and don’t like what you read? Tough – don’t come to me about it, if I didn’t bring it up with you to deal with it, then I don’t want to deal with it. That’s that. So I’m going to try and keep this as a safe-haven for me. Seeing as not that many people come here anyways – it shouldn’t be a big deal.
I’m actually really starting to come around to using Twitter a lot more. Since I’ve upped my usage lately, I’ve been in contact with people all over that you wouldn’t normally come in contact with. I asked Matt Good a question one morning, I got a shout out from the host of Operation Unplugged about my video, I’ve contacted two studios in Vancouver, one would give me an internship once I’m done my degree, and the other would give me a tour of their space if I was ever in town. So that’s been really cool.
Anywho, in other news, Girlfriend got home from Europe on Saturday. It’s been quite nice having her around again. Living alone is definitely not something I enjoy too much. Her schedule is still really wonky – this is the first day she hasn’t slept for about 14 hours – so we’re still kind of adjusting. She went to bed at 8 tonight and I’ve been up playing video games and watching YouTube videos and writing this blog. We did have a long day out and about today just hanging out – so that was really nice. I’m gonna be cracking the whip on her a little harder too now that she’s home. Things need to be cleaned and put away in a more timely fashion and I’m just not going to let as much stuff slide as I usually do when she’s got school and stress and what have you. No more Mr.NiceGuy.
I suppose I need to take a photo of myself with my new glasses for here – since I still haven’t done that. I’m actually getting a new new pair sometime this week since the guy who cut my lenses did a terrible job, and the technician at the glasses store said they’d just re-do them entirely for me. So that’s really great, it just takes a while because I have such shitty eyes. I’d like to try my old ones on for a day and actually see if the new ones make a huge difference. Sometimes I wonder if they actually did anything or not. Except my new ones are cut in such a way that switching really gives me a bad headache.
allas has put out. I’ve kind of drifted away from C&C since I met him at the AOF meet and greet, but this new album is quite good. I’ve actually pre-ordered it twice – once in a hard-copy and once digitally (with 4 extra tracks) - I would have preferred just to do the digital, but I ordered the hard copy first. Oh well. I also just started listening to the new Matthew Good album – the few tracks I’ve heard so far are really good! The new Moby has yet to grow on me though…
So with June 1st starting as of right now – the day literally just turned over as I write this – I am going to be starting a 30 day challenge. I got this idea from Phillip Defranco – one of the most famous YouTubers, who I’m subscribed to. The idea is that you set a goal and focus on it for one month. At the end of that month you assess and move on from there. My Project30 is going to be packing a lunch for work. And I know it’s not a big goal or whatever, but I’m really starting to notice a dip in my spending money from buying stuff from the food court every time I go in to work. It’s at least $10 maybe $15 a day. I usually justify it by saying “it’s only one more hour of work” – but really, that’s $50 a week (at least) that I could be saving. I’m going to be trying some new recipe ideas and keep it more interesting than just ham and cheese sandwiches all day. I somehow managed to survive on that everyday in junior/high school, so I think I can do it again. At the beginning of each week – or whenever I have a day off, I’m going to make a whole bunch of sandwiches and have them in the freezer so I can just pull one or two out and bring them to work. I think I might do pasta’s and salads that I can microwave or keep cold too. I’m going to try and keep my progress updated here and do my best to stick to it!
I think that’s enough for one night, if you stuck through til the end of this, here’s that photo I promised! Hurray.
- Iran Plans to Unplug Internet, Create Its Own (newser.com)
- Matt Good’s bittersweet symphony (canada.com)
- Social media case study: How ” nobodies ” become famous on the Internet by standing out using their outgoing personalities and their communicational skills: the Philip DeFranco case (ajmstudents.wordpress.com)
Here’s the video for my Operation Unplugged Audition! Hope you enjoy! Take a minute to like it and comment it if you want!
Here’s a nice Calvin and Hobbes related tattoo, and my first version of my song for Operation Unplugged! Have a good night! Enjoy! And since I didn’t show you the rest of my man cave the previous post – check it out after the song!
The Smithsonian will definitely get a huge boost from these posters. Even though they weren’t actually created for the institute.
- Art Project of the Day: Historically Hardcore (thedailywh.at)
- “Historically Hardcore” Posters Compare 50 Cent, Bret Michaels to Famous Figures (crushable.com)
Article from the Globe and Mail. If this bitch gets away with it, I will lose hope in humanity….
Is it play time or Harvard prep? A New York mom is suing her daughter’s preschool, claiming that the place was no more than a “big playground’ teaching mere shapes and colours and therefore damaging her kid’s educational future.
In court papers, Nicole Imprescia suggests York Avenue Preschool jeopardized her daughter Lucia’s chances of getting into an elite private school or, one day, the Ivy League, according to the Daily News. Mom is demanding a refund of the $19,000 (U.S.) tuition and class-action status for other toddlers who weren’t properly prepped for the standardized test that fancy elementary schools use to judge children.
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“This is about a theft where a business advertises as one thing and is actually another,” said Mathew Paulose, a lawyer for the outraged mom.
“They’re nabbing $19,000 and making a run for it.”
The case raises a number of issues. Most educators will agree that shapes, colours and playgrounds are, actually, the kind of education the under-5 set need and thrive in. And though $19,000 sounds like a lot of money, that figure’s not far off what many Canadian parents of children are paying for daycare. Most alarming, then, is the promise of grooming for tests that set the trajectory of a young life. On this point, even Harvard alumni are dismayed at the news.
Under a news story on the case at The Harvard Crimson, Sandy comments: “Unbelievable. I went to Harvard. I didn’t even go to preschool. Instead, I played with friends and somehow made it through kindergarten and beyond. This woman – actually, the entire culture she represents – is nuts.
Finally, going to Harvard is no guarantee of anything. There are as many jackasses per capita in Harvard as out.”
- Ivy League-minded Mom sues preschool for $19,000 (theglobeandmail.com)
So tonight I went to the Hey Rosetta! concert, and I was a little apprehensive at first, as I was going alone and the night seemed like it wasn’t going to turn out great. But boy was I wrong.
I’m going to try and write as much of this as I can now before I forget it all, so here goes.
The indie darlings of Canada were nominated for the Polaris Prize last year and are riding high off the release of their newest album. Seeds came on out the 15th of February, and the band is currently touring to promote the new tunes. Seeds has been rumored to be the one that is their breakout; the one that gets noticed and is the final step to international stardom. Personally I don’t agree with this. I think that Into Your Lungs, the band’s sophomore album is more rounded and balanced record. Not that Seeds isn’t up to snuff with what is to be expected from Hey Rosetta!, I just prefer Into Your Lungs.
And this band knows how to put on a good show. It was probably one of the best I have seen in the past few years, if not in my life. Their sound is impeccable and their presence immaculate.
It’s not just the mass amount of people on stage: with usually two, sometimes three guitars, a bass, piano, cello, violin, viola and drums. There is a lot of sound produced by this band. And it’s their balance and reign of that power that which makes them a great band. Although the live settings doesn’t allow for the best mixture of sounds, it still exists and is a wonderful thing when you can hear it. There are plenty of moments like in “I’ve been Asleep for a Long, Long Time” where you think the song is about to end and the lights fade, and then the back is back in with a huge last chorus.
Hey Rosetta! is one of the only bands in this day in age that I know that really uses dynamics effectively. Their range of volumes is captivating and are a huge drawing factor for me. In particular “There’s An Arc” has a perfectly executed crescendo through the first 2 and a half minutes of music. Another thing about Hey Rosetta! that strikes me is their sheer musical talent. The cellist, sometimes holding his cello with his knees, guitar around his neck playing chords and then switching back to the bow and playing with the strings in the same song is awe-inspiring. The string players themselves are very skilled and use extended techniques to extend the musical lines. The band as a collective also has the ability to nail syncopated lines and complex off-beat rhythms that shatter the typical four-to-the-floor beats of the Top-40 today.
But the biggest and most important thing about Hey Rosetta! that makes them a great band to see live, is that they look like they’re enjoying and really feeling the music. Tim, the lead singer appears almost in pain singing some of the lyrics and the rest of the band is moving and reacting to each other. As the band came out for a 3 song encore, playing a moving rendition of “Time After Time“, the sparklers came out as well. A feat that I have never seen done at a live show probably had the security guards shitting their pants, was a homage to the band’s video for “Yer Spring” and a nice way to end the evening.
If you haven’t already heard Hey Rosetta!, I highly recommend you give some of their songs a listen and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
- In a new music world, Hey Rosetta! rises to the occasion (theglobeandmail.com)
- Hey Rosetta! is full steam ahead (arts.nationalpost.com)