Wednesday, 14 May 2014

New Reviews and Podcasts

Another one of my book reviews has been posted on the Descant Magazine Blog. Check it out.

I review the first novel by Toronto writer Claudio Gaudio, Texas, which is a prose-poetic look at the conflict between the U.S. and the Middle East. A diplomat is captured by insurgents as he awaits his death and occasionally has in depth conversations with a dead bird and mouse. It's a fun one.

My other reviews are on the blog as well, including a look at Kafka's Hat by Patrice Martin, and a joint review with Jack Hostrawser of Rove by Laurie D. Graham.

Also, a couple new Shot 4 Shot podcasts have been released, including a look at The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (drink: Spider-Mans) with special guest Daniel Espina, an editor and filmmaker working out of Mississauga; and another B.S. Session (drink: Beers) about the new Star Wars casting, The Raid 2, and The Justice League movie announcement.

As always, Brandon and Ryan are sharing drinks and laughs, all the while discussing the much-loved art: film. Be sure to leave them comments if you like what you're hearing, and even suggest themed drinks for their next podcast. Cheers!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Shot 4 Shot Podcast

The long awaited Shot 4 Shot podcast is up and running...finally.

The hosts, Ryan and Brandon, will be talking all things film and television (if it's on a screen, they will analyze and critique it) while eventually rotating through a number of guests as the third person. Each podcast may have a different topic, varying in how the hosts engage in the material, but the real treat is the one almighty twist: alcohol.

Every episode is marked by a different alcoholic drink that somehow relates to the film/show they're discussing. For example, in the Scarface episode, Ryan and Brandon drink Liquid Cocaine (and you can just imagine the effect). Don't get me wrong, though, these guys know what they're talking about. You'll learn more than just what drinks they like.

It's a casual show that is nothing more than a few friends getting together and hammering out the reasons why we all love movies so much - while getting hammered (of course).

I highly recommend it.

Slurred speech awaits you - check out the link:

Monday, 5 May 2014

Does An Artist’s Death Make You Interested In Their Work?

We’ve all heard the stories of artists gaining recognition for their work after they’ve died: Vincent Van Gogh’s work was known to only a small group of people up to his suicide; Emily Dickenson published only 7 of her 1800 poems in her lifetime; and more recently, Vivian Maier took 100,000 photographs while the children she nursed hardly knew she owned a camera. Sometimes, geniuses are unknown or unappreciated in their own time whether they desire fame or not.

Alistair MacLeod
There has been a recent onslaught of artists’ deaths: John Pinette, Alistair MacLeod, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Bob Hoskins, Mickey Rooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman – forgive me if I’ve forgotten another important name – which have caused slight ripples in appreciation for their work. A friend is finally reading 100 Years of Solitude, Pinette quotes were pinballing through a number of my circles, and I even recently attended a “literary wake” in Toronto to honour Alistair MacLeod.

I feel particularly bad about the latter death for two reasons: I had started reading MacLeod in university, loving every word I encountered, and wanted to read his entire works (which aren’t high in number); I also had the peculiar desire to meet the man. I don’t often have this desire, but reading his work, not knowing what he was like or how I might be able to contact him, I immediately wanted to know him (it attests to the power of his writing). Flash forward through the unproductive years of not chasing that goal to when I received the alert that Alistair MacLeod had died. I failed. I missed my opportunity. And I feel even worse for not having read his complete works before he died.

I mention this event in my life because it also brought into question why the death of an artist suddenly pushes people to give them the attention they deserve. Why is there this sudden desire to engage in an art, knowing the creator has perished? Why have I just now started to read through every MacLeod story?

Art has the stereotype of being entwined with tragedy and perhaps death elicits that long standing connection. But that alone doesn’t push me to be interested in something. I hesitate to say it, but strangely, I feel MORE connected to reading the remaining words or looking at the only photographs of a dead artist, knowing that there is never going to be any more. The growth has finished. The work is complete. There is only a limited number. It places a greater importance on what has been created already. It may even elevate the quality (yes, we live in a subjective world) since there is now a definable limit of the art. “Be careful with this,” my mind is saying, “there’ll never more added to it.”

I find it beautiful (as a way to honour) as well as saddening since it took the death of a creator in order to become reinvigorated. But I’m interested to know what others think, so I’ll restate the question this article started with: does an artist’s death make you interested in their work?  And furthermore, is that a good reason to appreciate them, or get someone else to appreciate their work?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Colbert Is In: The Late Show Changes Hands

Yes, Stephen Colbert is assuming the throne of The Late Show.

David Letterman announced his retirement last week and since then, there has been much speculation as to who will succeed the legend. Today, CBS confirmed that Colbert too will be leaving his show, The Colbert Report, in order to assume the vacant position on The Late Show.

The major question is this: are we losing one of the great late night presences in this transaction, or two? Letterman has been toting jokes for over 30 years at the desk and we all knew his retirement was coming soon. But will Colbert (silent t), the late night pundit of deadpan mockery, make way for Colbert (hard t), the intelligent and personable goofball? Are both Letterman and Colbert retiring? I hope not (at least not entirely).

Watching any interviews with Stephen when he’s out of character is always a real treat. It allows us to see his other side and become aware of how ridiculous his conservative alter-ego really is. But it almost seems as if the real Stephen is how he spends less of his time, and pundit-Colbert is what he needs to be (I have no issue saying Colbert is Batman).

If he is to take on a traditional talk show, there is the looming question of how Stephen Colbert will show up. Is he really leaving pundit-Colbert to exist only in the memory of The Report? Regardless of what he does, the man is endlessly funny. I hope he keeps the zany character that made him famous, perhaps in the background or during skits, but I think we all want that. It would be too much to bear to see the loss of Letterman and Colbert (silent t) in one week.

That said, while Letterman will be sorely missed, Stephen is probably the best possible choice on television today to replace him. I can't wait to see what he does, and how he'll grow as a comedian in the new position. Good luck to him and let the Nation enjoy.