Save Your Local Record Store

It was announced last week that HMV is closing all it’s stores. It wasn’t really that surprising but it marks the end of an era. In Canada, it’s one of the last standing chains where you can buy physical music, though this fact may be arguable since movies, video games and merchandise have taken over in the past few years.

Physical music still holds a special place for me. I still get excited looking at the packaging of music and the magic of pulling something randomly off a shelf. Playlists don’t really have the same magic. It’s actually fun when you are restricted to the things you own. There’s an intimacy with a record (I collect vinyl) that is super special to me.

I’m lucky enough to have a record store within walking distance from where I live. I visit it frequently and I even tweet at them to hold records for me to pickup. Independent record stores are becoming a rare breed, but it’s important to support the ones that are still living. Let our art, like books, still live in the physical realm.

Hosting my first show tonight!

The day is here! I am hosting my first show tonight at the Handlebar. I am nervous and excited but the support I have received from friends is overwhelming. 

I have also been seeing my poster around town, including a late night Poutine stop. 

I always have the paranoia that no one will show up but by the amount of friends that have messaged me in the past week I know that won’t be the case. 

Buskerfest 2013

On Saturday, I walked around Buskerfest. Here are some random photos of things I saw:
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013
Buskerfest 2013

Poorly Written Song Commercials

I’m not talking about jingles. 1-800-267-2001. If you’re Canadian, I just got that stuck in your head right? Anyways, this post is about poorly written songs in commercials that don’t rhyme, and aren’t¬†memorable in any way except for their suckiness. The most recent being this one which reiterates in different forms all over the Food Network.

Now did that entice you to buy chocolate in any way?¬†Side note: I can’t believe people in the Youtube comments actually inquire the name/artist of the song as if it is legitimate.

However, the most guilty culprit of horrible commercials lies not in adult products, but the ones directed to little girls. For example, watch ANY Barbie commercial:

Who gets hired to sing these things? Do they make a lot of money? If so, where do I sign? This does rhyme, but the song itself isn’t really doing anything except singing what they are doing. Imagine if I was going through my day singing what I am doing in rhyme.


To be fair Barbie used to have good commercials. For instance this first commercial ever seems to have a better song. Or maybe everything sounds better when it’s sung in 1959 swing style.

This doesn’t seem to be the case for toys targeted to boys. They get more epic sounding songs with very enthusiastic voice-overs.

That looks fuckin’ awesome. Girls have to deal with more of these:

FYI, I always thought boys had cooler toys. I think my disdain for barbies, dolls and ponies comes from the fact that my ears were pretty musically trained at a young age. My future children are going watch their television streaming so they will never have to suffer through these.

What horrible song commercial have you seen lately? Perhaps it is too terrible to remember.

I Cut All The Ropes

I spent a lot of time commuting lately and short-level games have been great for the ride. I finally I beat Chillingo’s Cut the Rope. I’ve had the game on my iPad for quite some time but I recently restarted it on my iPhone and within a month of commuting finally finished the game.

If you live in a box, Cut the Rope is a cute little physics game where you literally cut rope, avoid traps or use things to your advantage in order to get the candy to the cute little dinosaur. The game is only 99 cents in the iTunes app store and has over 300 levels.

Levels are arranged in “boxes” and each box has a certain type of theme that determines the types of traps in the level. Like angry birds you can gain up to 3 stars per level. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t get 3 stars for all the levels (and I think if I did that for every game it would take forever).

It’s definitely worth the money with the amount of levels and the promise of more to come.

JPod – Douglas Coupland

Recently I read Douglas Coupland’s JPod and thought that it would be more appropriately titled “I FUCKIN’ HATE DOUGLAS COUPLAND!!!”.

The reason for this is he writes himself in as one of the book’s most annoying characters. He makes references to himself at the beginning and then appears at very odd moments during the book. The plot in the 3rd part of the book revolves around the main character’s (Ethan) friends and family talking about this secret project with Coupland that is completely confidential. Ethan is left out of this investment until the very end. When you find out what it is (an electronic globe of some sort), it is an underwhelming end to the book. What does a globe have to do with a group of people who code and create video games?

This book left me a bit conflicted. While it was a very and fun read, the plot left me underwhelmed and disliking the author. I’m not sure if that was Coupland’s intention, but if it was than he was successful. It was really fun to follow jPod’s office antics. The characters themselves were all damaged and unique in their own special way. The things that happened were extreme and took really unexpected turns. Some things were blown out of proportion though and in some ways I wish the story was more believable. Maybe he was aiming for that “WTF” factor but it resulted in the book having very little substance.

Ethan’s mother runs a marijuana grow-op and gets herself into trouble with men (and women) who fall in love with her. His father is a wannabe actor who has an affair with Ethan’s schoolmates. His brother sells sketchy real estate. They all become friends with an Asian mobster kingpin in charge of human trafficking. Entertaining, but bizarre. I just wish the end had more meaning or point to it. In the end I was left unsatisfied.

Board Games: Blokus 3D, Q-Bert and Formula D

Here’s another round of interesting board games from Snakes and Lattes.

Blokus 3D Game was 3 dimensional take on the original game of Blokus. The difference was that in this game you had to touch the sides of one of your blocks (where as in the original you can’t) while building the required 3D shape.

The game comes with a few templates of 3D things to build and diagrams of how they look depending on the amount of participants. The object of the game: to get rid of all your blocks. The challenge came when building the 3D object, not all pieces were the right fit.

Next we found this Q-Bert Board Game. It dates back to 1983, and totally looks that way.

The goal of the game was to take turns being Q-Bert and getting more pegs than your opponent. Your opponent played all the nasty characters such as Coily, Slick, Ugg, green and red balls. The game was complete with flying discs that would take Q-Bert to safety.

I grabbed a random racing game called Formula D.

The game worked like a regular roll-the-dice and move type of game except with cars on a road. It also involved shifting gears and protecting your car parts from dying. There were enough pieces for up to 8 players. The first one to get to the finish line, or the last to be destroyed was the winner.

That’s all for now, I’m sure I will explore some more board games soon!

Board Games: Starcraft, Mille Bornes, Crocodile Dentist, Pop-Up Pirate, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

On Tuesday we got really bored of the CNE after 2 hours so we decided to waste the rest of the day at Snakes & Lattes. Since we had an unlimited amount of time we started with a rather complicated board game.

Sitting high on a shelf was Starcraft: The Board Game. I asked one of the employees to lend me a hand and his words were: “You don’t want to play that game. I’ve never seen anybody finish that game. They’d take 1 hour to read instructions, and another to set it up.” I wasn’t going to give up though and part of me really just wanted to prove him wrong.

There are around 60 pages of instructions but we read and setup the thing at the same time. It took around 2 hours to get through one game. The game actually plays a lot like the video game. There’s resources, units, fights and areas to take over. It’s like a card game and a board game in one. I don’t think there’s an easier way they could have written the instructions but it did take a bit to figure out. Once you play it once though, the second time is easy peasy. The game allows up to 6 players and it would have been even better with more than 2 people but explaining the game is the challenge.

After the Starcraft game we needed something a bit more brainless. Nash taught me how to play Mille Bornes.

The goal of the game is simply to get up to 1000 mph. There are distractions such as flat tires, red lights and other things that you can hinder your opponent with.

Then for some reason we went completely brainless and opted to play some children’s game starting with Crocodile Dentist.

It’s one of those games I really wanted to try as a kid because of those enticing YTV ads. It’s actually not that fun when you’re a grown up though because there’s a way of pushing down on the teeth to ensure that he won’t ensnare you.

Pop-Up Pirate did not require any brain power either. However, the first time through it scared the hell out of me when Nash poked a sword through and sent him flying. It was unexpectedly loud as it popped up.

We finished the day off with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pizza Power Board Game. It was probably the most “board game” like thing we played the entire day with the exception of how you kill the bad guys. There was this dice bouncing seesaw thing where you had to bounce it into the right square. It was challenging.

I seriously wish I lived near at (or atleast near Snakes and Lattes). I don’t think you could ever get bored there with the HUGE selections of games they have for you to play. I’ll definitely be back, even if it’s to eat this prosciutto and brie sandwich again:

Cavalia’s Odysseo = Beautiful

For our anniversary, Nash bought me tickets to Cavalia’s Odysseo. I’ve never seen the original Cavalia so this was my first time at the horse-show. If you’re from Toronto, you’ve probably seen the ads with beautiful white horse everywhere: on the subway, the streets, even in online banner ads. Whatever they did definitely worked. It is the extended running of the show here and yesterday it was pretty much sold out.

The show took place inside the Cavalia tent situated near Cherry Beach. The stage was huge. It’s something like 27,000 square feet. It was elevated slightly so parts of the show would look like horses were coming at you from a distance. The visual aspect of the entire show was thought out ingeniously. The lights could change the ground from green grass to dry land, and could even create the illusion of a path. The background projected moving landscapes on screens that look like they could be 2 or 3 times the size of a regular movie theatre screen.

Crappy iPhone photo makes it look farther than we actually were

What I love most about the show is that the horses seemed happy. They were even allowed for moments of impromptu performance. The audience laughed in delight and how adorable it was. They applauded when it went the right way. It’s amazing how lovely they made a line of horses look. I also didn’t understand how some of the riders didn’t fall off when performing some of their tricks. There was plenty of rest between horse-tricks as well. African American dancers did plenty of neat tricks and interacted with the crowd. There was even some call and response singing to lyrics we didn’t know how to say! I later learnt that the group was part of the Kalabante which raises money to build schools in Guinea. Therefore part of your ticket is supporting a great cause.

Near the end of the show, the ground filled with water to create a lake where the horses splashed and danced majestically in the water. What I didn’t realize until halfway through the show was that the music was live! They had musicians in boxes at the top right and left of the stages, but it was only when they were purposely lit up that you could see them.

I loved Odysseo and it was definitely an anniversary to remember.

An iPhone Without 3G Is Like Popcorn Without Butter

Without 3G you might as well blend it.

I went over my 1GB data plan today. I decided to turn my phone off instead of incurring any more fees. I’ve only had a smartphone since Christmas but I already feel like a cripple without it’s data-eating ways. Having an iPhone without 3G is as pointless as popcorn without butter.

Here are some things you can’t do without 3G:

iMessage:¬†By default, iPhones running iOS 5 and higher send iMessages. I couldn’t receive messages from any one with an iPhone or send any without manually clicking “send as SMS” first. In addition, without data you can’t sent people pictures of your dog.

Social Networking:¬†Can’t tweet, Facebook, Pinterest,, Tumblr or Foursquare what I’m eating.

Find Out Where I am: I had to go pick something up in an area I’m not so familiar with. I took a streetcar, but didn’t get off on time. I even turned on my 3G (getting lost seems like a valid reason to).¬†However, the service must disable itself after you too much over your data plan, because it¬†would not work. I was stranded and had to ask Nash where exactly I was in relation to where I wanted to go.

Without internet to distract you, here are things you end up doing:

Looking at people on the bus: Since my head is not down and immersed in some sort of social network, I have to focus my eyes somewhere. Looking out the window resulted in a lot of sand in my eyes so I started looking around inside the bus. There’s a ton of funny looking people in the world.

Reading other people’s things:¬†I ended up accidentally reading part of someone’s erotic novel.

Listening to brown people talk in circles:¬†“you know?” They seemed to be having something delicious for dinner though.

Thinking to yourself:¬†Sometimes I write blog posts while I’m on the train, but today I thought this one up in my head.

Thank goodness my cellphone billing period restarts tomorrow. One day of this nonsense was enough.