Amanda Palmer and Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil

Amanda Palmer and Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil

These are the responsible ones.

If you aren’t listening to this album, you will be. Soon.

If you were to take members of Garbage, The Clash, a forgotten 80’s pop producer, half an orchestra, possibly Brian Wilson… and then forced them to make out till they bled underneath a Brighton Beach boardwalk… you would get Theatre is Evil.

This is the brilliant cutting fractal edge of pop. Something old blended in with something new. At moments there is poodle skirts, and dance hall days, then drop into staccato Get To The Point questions that only a fearless independent artist can question. The tender parts of this album are brutally honest. Some chefs will recognize that bitter lemons will cook the stiffest of meats from marinating over a long time. Those few slow moments which stretch only reflect the long hours of passionate poetic lyrics. I wonder what she was laughing at in those few songs, you can hear it, that chuckle. And that’s the beauty of this album, its raw, and passionate. Any Hollywood producer would have asked for another take and redo it. That would have castrated the feralness of this work.

How long has Amanda Palmer been working on this content? I can only imagine a huge pile of crumpled papers, ink blots splattered, scratched out lyrics, back light crimson with an unused dressing screen. There is no ruler or math formula that can capture this.

My only regret is that I missed out on the original Kickstarter on this album, and had to pay retail for it. That, and there is no ukulele songs. The best part is this album will get better over time. Once you listen to it, you will know at least 2 people who need it. Buy 4 copies, so you can happily wear yours out first.

All things Amanda Palmer can be found on Youtube, micro blog style,  and her website,

I’m still here,

The Amazing Spiderman : The Movie

Warning : Contains Spoilers. Don’t read, go watch the movie, then come back and then read. Then post up comments.

So far,  people have been posting up blasé reviews. They don’t remember as the fans do.

They hit the nail on the head.

Andrew Garfield plays a perfect Peter Parker. Clumsy, awkward, the schlep that doesn’t fit in. This is the Peter that we’ve read. Forgetting things, messing things up in social situations, showing off his nerdiness. This is what the previous movie franchise needed.

And that’s the biggest problem. It became a franchise. Not a series of stories. Once you remove that vital function of this type of story telling, you destroy it with the marketing.

Hollywood, just, please. Stop doing that.

I did enjoy the previous movies. I said that. I had a couple of cringe out loud moments in the current movie where an unecessary story line was delivered a little too flat. There were a lot of those in Spider-Man 3.  But then again, I don’t consider that part of the series.

Other performances!

Emma Stone, plays a very good Gwen Stacy. But in order to get some character development, we all know what is going to happen to her, possibly in the next movie.

Doctor Kurt Connors, the malleable character portrayed in so many other ways. Hey, I’m a villain, no I’m a Doctor. Oh hey, I’m a husband and a father. Wait, I’m a drug addict, hold that. I’m a plot device. Great performance from Ryhs Ifan portraying this version of the character.

And there was one common theme throughout the whole movie. It took me back to the comic books.

Peter Parker, the everyman in tights. Smart talking humor during the big action fight scenes, still a schmuck screwing things up despite his huge intellect.

As I previously mentioned about Christopher Nolan and the Batman franchise, ‘not so much of a reboot, but more of returning the series to the roots of the primary readership.’ You keep the story to the true heart of the character, and it will fly.

Future hopes for the series!

Avengers? It’s been off and on that Spidey is an Avenger, no he isn’t… Wouldn’t mind seeing something along the line of ‘Rejected admissions’. But it has to be fun, in order for it to work.

Black Cat – Shouldn’t appear until Peter is actually in College. But, to totally geek out, here’s hoping that Felicia Day will play Felicia Hardy. Or perhaps Emilie Ullerup… just putting it out there.

Kingpin. I know primarily that the Green Goblin has been more of a villain for Spider-man, but some of the best confrontations are with villains that Spidey just cannot defeat. (See Batman and Rah’s Al Ghul. )

Venom. Okay, the reason why it works in the comics, as the symbiote is an alien from another planet. And Peter brings it back to Earth as the black costume during Marvels response to Crisis on Infinite Earths. Peter defeats the symbiote, only to have Eddie Brock get it. So once again, like in the movie, it’s Peter’s fault. Almost not necessary for Peter’s character development to have this villain… wait they turned Venom into an anti-hero?

Mary Jane/Kraven/Peters Dead story line. This would be an awesome trilogy in itself. Peter finally gets the nerve to go ask MJ for her hand in marriage. Kraven systematically breaks Spider-man down, buries him alive, and then replaces him in New York.

Please no clones. No alternate costumes/persona’s. This is where the smart-alec high flying wit of Peter’s banter ended, and one of the reasons why I stopped reading the series.

Cameos. Some of the most memorable issues in the series are the ones where Spidey makes cameos in other comics. Anyone else remember the Fantastic Four issue, where Johnny gives Peter a replacement uniform and a paperbag to wear over his head? I’d just love to see a scene with Peter and Sue Richards…

“So you could have just wrap the Lizard up with a force field? So why didn’t the police phone the Baxter Building reception and ask … Oh, that’s right, you guys were in space. Again.”

That’s it. Post is subject to future edits and additions.

You have been warned.

I’m still here,


Violent Kin

One of Saskatoon’s best kept secrets include a brother and sister team bringing an amazing array of talent. When I first asked people about Violent Kin, they got excited and couldn’t wait to tell me about them. “Great stage show.” “, The cd is on constant play in my car.”, “They’re amazing.” “Such a good show.”

And then came the question that no one could answer, “Who are they like?” No one could answer me on this. Which is quite strange for most local bands, as they take on a distinctive style that most mainstream bands play, which makes them the most identifiable. (Sheepdogs = Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young + The Band + Folk pop of the late 70’s.) That basic template makes it easier for people to go and see. It makes it easily marketable.

Unless they are really good.

There is no equal to this duet team. Maygen and SJ Kardash have put in their hours to the craft, and it shows. Influences on People, (and from what I can relate to) include British pop UB40, Roxette, any John Hughes movie from the 80’s with teen empowerment as a main theme, and so many others. The music itself takes that slice of late 80’s and early 90’s where the majority of People (now currently late 30 somethings) were clinging onto Pop, before the harder edge of grunge rock became the norm. They are that lost summer where you wanted one more year of teased hair, neon shirts, and being radical. It takes quite a bit of talent to take this, and not make it cheezey or false with parody.

The message and lyrics are subtle, working your way into deeper meanings that make you want to relisten again and again. And surprisingly the meaning of the songs really reflect these current times of information consumption and channeling the human spirit through these artificial tools. “We’re losing our instincts and in a state of unconsciousness we’re more machine than man.”
(Ironic? I write this on a hunk of plastic, electronic circuit, WiFi signal, and liquid crystals being anonymous in a cafe, while checking my social feeds as to what everyone is doing. Tell me this isn’t the future.) I keep replaying the cd, as like a good book it listens a little different each time.

The stage show at the 220 grand opening was amazing. I had forgotten about huge light shows. Just huge bright light that seemed to creep into every corner of the room. Maygen Kardash on keyboard, clad in Sgt Pepper uniform jacket, leaving stark Patrick Nagel outlines on my retinas. Her voice, clean and sweet, jumping up and declaring to be paid attention. SJ Kardash becomes that guy. Axe hung low, working the crowd with a taught guitar string and smooth trained voice, reaching for those lower depths, still able to harmonize in the upper range. If you were a teen in the 80’s and wanted to play guitar and become a rock god? Yeah, SJ becomes THAT guy on stage. (And you can tell they are siblings, the banter between them definitely shows. But once it’s done, the show is on.) Talented range between the two of them range from the avant garde stage show to an unrelenting driving beat that will take you back to when mesh, leather ties, and Alf ruled. And still not making it cheezy. And still making it relevant to what’s happening today.

So what are they like? They are a crazy talented band that you will tell your friends about. They bring an evening of amazing sounds and sights. This is Pop, perfected. And I’m not one for listening to much Pop. Go see the shows now. Bring extra cash to buy the albums from them. Check their tour dates.

Yeah, they are that good.

Don’t believe me? Please, see the show and prove me wrong.

All things Violent Kin can be found at their website at

I’m still here,

Beer! Innovation! Tasty!

Usually when one think of beer, the first image is of mass produced yellow fizzy stuff that large masses of people drink. Sponsors of so many sporting events, and more corporation than flavour. See a logo flash, you know exactly what the product is.

Then comes people who are curious, those who are willing to push boundaries for not only food, drink, art, technology. These are the innovators, the explorers, those who want to push the boundaries and get more out of life. Saskatoon is becoming more connected with these passionate people.

Call it a side effect from the recent boom in being the hottest economy in North America. Some would say it is a direct result of potash industry focusing on Saskatchewan. And some have been quoted as having sexier beer.

I call it momentum.

Innovation and passion for distinctive crafts are moving beyond the larger mainstream market. It just takes a matter of looking locally in the right places.

Saskatoon, downtown, and record breaking temperatures on a January evening. Mother nature getting confused if it was late March or January. There is a distinctive prairie brown dust and dirt that seems to coat all vehicles. Warm winds keep bringing promise of new change, people still have that little enthusiastic spring in their step. Strange considering that at this time of year, we should be getting through the coldest part of winter. A lot of people are smiling, there is something beyond the ordinary and routine happening everywhere.

Which is where I arrive. The comfortable Winston’s English Pub with its vast selection of beer. And the star of the evening, a new local crafted beer from Paddock Wood that has been produced for first tasting. Got in early as I wanted to get something to eat before the casking. Went with the crowd pleasing Sheppard’s Pie, not done to traditional recipe, but enough to satisfy my hunger. Happy to report that their menu has expanded since the last time I was in.

Met up with Rob from Paddock Wood, spotted him from the distinctive t-shirt as done by Hard Pressed Desk.  (Hope there will be more of these t-shirts available.) We talked about the craft and from being in a close community, the ‘I know you from’ conversation was inevitable. Definitely a sign of those who have grown up and lived on the Canadian prairies.

Some of the (un)usual suspects from Beer Lovers of Saskatoon group showed up, anxious to find out what the beer will be like. Some speculation, determination and investigation, brought forth that it was going to be a blend of Paddock Wood’s already two popular beers, the Loki and the 606. (Reviews per links, check them out!)

Tapping was done by the brewer of the distinctive barley wine of Mano’s in Saskatoon. He reported that it was the cleanest tapping that he had ever done and he had done hundreds. (I’ve got video of it, but it’s really dark, will post it up on this post later once I’ve fiddled with it. Stay tuned!)

Onto the brew! The aroma that I first picked up was pine nuts, other people reported that they could only get that distinctive citrus hop smell. Not much head at all, or large carbonation, but then realizing on quicker inspection, the bubbles were so fine you could not see them. Deep dark brownish mustard or a deep amber in colour. If you didn’t know, it could almost be considered a Red beer(link) upon appearance. Hops flower and sediment from the keg was very finely suspended, not noticeable at all at first. First taste, brought forth that pine nuts clean then kicked into the citrus spectrum moving from cool orange to pleasant grapefruit. The body and mouth feel was buttery creamy and gorgeous but not too heavy. The finish or back end taste switched from the Loki to the style of the 606. Malts came out, more mild warm tones of malt, but not caramel. No bitter end or dryness, just a hint of some sweetness. Definitely a brilliant transition from the double IPA of Loki into the English pale ale of the 606.

And that was the first sip.

As I thoroughly enjoyed my way down the pint, and the brew warmed with my hand. There was a little bit of change in the flavor. More of the 606 malt style became prevalent and less of the Loki character. This told me that the timing on this brew was absolutely perfect. Any more aging or waiting for this would have changed the overall character of the beer.

Managed to get a taste of what came off the bottom of the first keg, and it was super sweet in flavor. Almost Paddock Wood Pic-a-Pop. (Yes, I’m dating and regionalizing myself with that mention.) The second keg after the tapping from the brewer seemed a bit more carbonated and slightly different off the top, bigger lacing and cleaner sized bubbles. Seemed to be a bit spicier with the active bubbles than the first cask. Overall the distinctive characters were still there, the big hoppy creamy boldness of the Loki, finishing with the well balanced malt of the 606.

Other people reported that if this was available for the refillable growler sized jugs, they would be “fired up” for it. (You know who you are.) And it was funny to see the pattern. People lined up for the first pint, took a couple of sips, then suddenly everyone started texting or updating their status on Facebook or Twitter, or texting people they knew to get them to come for a taste. There was quite a lot of laughs and smiles after that first pint had been quaffed. A good groove had been set, and as someone mentioned, that was the hops flower setting the mood. The staff at Winston’s were equally happy and pleased to share stories and reviews of other beers that were not the standard. People who never met before jumped in and talked with complete strangers about how great it was. Definitely a distinctive friendliness and handshaking that the crafted brew put on the crowd.

For a first casking at Winston’s of a locally brewed beer, it’s is quite satisfying to see that the standards are being raised. Not only with the beer but local awareness.

So what was this beer called? Some called it a Super 606, which in some cases could be with the larger body provided by the Loki. But then again, it could be called a Super Loki as some of the characteristics of that brew were replaced by the malt finish of the 606. I called it a Chimera, a creature with multiple parts from different animals; a bionic brilliant brew of tastiness. (We have the hops, we can rebuild him… it… err…) Or overall Damn Good Beer, the DGB. For official information, ask at Paddock Wood.

But what is next? If anything I can see this as a regular event, as there was appearances from other brewers from Saskatoon. As for Paddock Wood, there was mention of a couple other different brews that may come about. Including possibly a barrel aged brew in the style of Innis and Gunn, and my suggestion of  my latest favorite  Red Hammer being aged in Dark Rum barrels seemed to be a great idea. Also mentioned possibly of batches featuring regional hops to show off their individual flavors. Definitely great ideas to further the experience of already seasoned beer aficionados.

Just keep your taste buds, palette and pint glass open and ready. And keep an eye on the websites and feeds for Paddock Wood and Winston’s There will be tastiness and smiles for those who are driving innovation and passion for craft brewed beer.

Aren’t we lucky?

I’m still here,


Saskatoon Artist : Natalie Struck

The first thing that you should know about Natalie Struck is that she maybe short in height, but she is taking giant strides towards becoming bigger talent. The second thing, you should know is that she has no fear. She puts her heart and soul into belting out her music. Her EP release Try Being Yourself brings 7 tracks which cross a year of her life and the emotional turbulence therein.

For a first EP, it shows her determination that she is going to be good at this. No matter what. The music is very pop, reminescent sometimes of a very young Lisa Loeb, playing around the beat and some soulful moments on some tracks. We’ve all been through the moments that she sings. Of desperation against monotony and wanting a change. The empowerment anthems we repeat to ourselves to make sure that no one can stop us. The little anticipation of waiting to see that special someone. Unfortunately the poetry of the lyrics sometimes gets lost in the candy floss of the pop. But given time this artist will grow and take on the industry.

No matter if you like it or not, she’s putting this music out there. Much like Seth Godin’s analogy of the Street Performer, she literally is out there performing her music. Putting her art out for all to listen to, and getting immediate feedback. Not many artists besides musicians can say they can do that.

If you haven’t caught her live yet, Natalie Struck is performing at the Saskatoon Farmers Market on Sundays, 11-Noon busking her clear sweet voice. Dec.11 and 18th. You can also hear her occasionally on open mic night at the Fez. The EP release party is Dec.23 at Mystic Java in Saskatoon.

For all things Natalie fit for the net, please go to

Buy her EP, tell friends, go to her website, support local artists.

I’m still here,

Broadway Cafe

The Broadway Cafe in Saskatoon is one of my favorite places to eat. It reminds me of the small town diners that haven’t updated their decor, but still deliver food that satisfies deep hunger. You find a lot of these across the prairies, but in the middle of broadway district amongst specialty shops, you’ll find the place. Great for a quick meal, hot drink, and in the summer the milkshakes are the best. Weekend brunches are a very busy time, recommend the huevos ranchero burrito or the eggs benedict special. Also be on the lookout for Professor Awesome, a gentleman in his 60’s or 70’s with the best goatee a guy could ever achieve in a lifetime.

But for a biting cold January evening, there was a small crowd inside, slight frost on the windows and entrance doors. Valentines decorations are already up around the retro cafe. Neon and chrome along the long counter in the back. Kitch decorations of Elvis, Marilyn, James Dean adorn the walls. Music playing 50’s from satellite radio, waitress with tie-dyed hair wrap is singing along under her breath,’Put your hands up and Shout’. Memories of the Blues Brothers movie bring a smirk to my face, it’s been a good day.

I’ve already devoured my breakfast burger (slices of ham, fried egg, swiss cheese) and delicious cubed fried spuds. Tempted to get a coffee for an after meal drink, but caffeine this late does not help my insomnia. Tempted to get one of the famous milkshakes, I’m good with my mint tea and water. My daughter being a slower eater is thoroughly enjoying all of her food, including the bacon which she was craving earlier. I should learn from her habits, but old ones are hard to break. She does have a method of peeling off the top layer of a pancake which may sound gruesome, but is definitely tasty.

Usually when we are out, people are surprised to find that she is my daughter, she looks more mature for her age. All I see is my kiddo. Preparing her brown toast, she stares intently at a small package of peanut butter and one of jam, almost manic look on her face. Holding them up to her eyes she looks back and forth between the two plastic packages.

Me, soap opera voice : Doctor, what have you found?
Kid : One is deeper than the other… weird.
Me : Fascinating, did you use… the science?
Kid : Ba-Hoo-wha?

Both of us crack up at the sound of the mixed up words. When we finally get it togther, I go on to explain that in B movies sometimes would actually skip over the explanation of how things work, by calling it ‘The Science’. Or just satisfy a question like how the raygun is going to stop the lava… and it will because the main hero is a SCIENTIST.

I nudge her again with the line…

Me, soap opera voice : Doctor, did you use the science?
Kid : Uh-HUHHAA!

More silliness and laughter ensue. We both get looks from our outburst of obvious silly fun, but we don’t care. It’s not what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it. By having fun. And Broadway Cafe is a great place to make memories.

I’m still here,

Christmas! Food Misdemeanor! Silly Wrapping!

Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! Happy Ho Ho! And whatever you celebrate!

I have many amazing hats.

As usual, the food fest for Christmas was huge! But I got a little creative on the wrapping for gifts.

Ho Ho Ho! It's Santa Time, Bitches!

And more…

Ho Ho Ho! Look at my enormous sack!

And another…

Ho Ho Ho! Stand back! I only come once a year!

It’s true… Santa has an enormous sack and he only comes once a year.
(Just remember, 32 percent of people suffer from a dirty mind, the other 58 percent enjoy it.)


Tribute to saturnalia and walls of plants everywhere...


Unusually full of decorations this year. Usually my mother goes for the simple decorative version, elegant, but this year, everything was loaded up, including the antique birds from 2 generations back. Somehow, it balanced and didn’t come across as gaudy or overdone.

And now onto the Nom-Fest of Food Misdemeanors!

Warning : Carnivore friendly pics ahead.

The usual slice of coldcuts, but with a little more care…

Chunks of Ma’s garlic roast chicken, ham sausage, smoked ham slices.  All ready for devouring with fresh baked buns.

Which lead to desserts and Veggies! Round 2 of stuff that was brought out…

More food... will it ever end?

Photo courtesy of Tim Holtorf, check his stuff out at the following websites. WordPress here and Tumblr here.  Home made poppy seed and lemon loaf, plate of desserts, chocolate chip cookies, PICKLES! veggies and dip, and…

Enough shrimp to choke a lower suburb of smurfs.


Now onto the really fun stuff!

Deceivingly good, and spicy hot popcorn.

I call this popcorn insidious… deceiving, and almost too good to feed your children. My mother made candy popcorn by melting butter, sugar and corn syrup together, then lightly drizzled it over the popcorn. I know, not that interesting, so what… it’s just candy popcorn right? WRONG! She dusted the popcorn with finely ground cayenne pepper. And that addition makes a world of flavor difference. The heat and spice from it makes you want to get another shot. The sweetness of the sugars plays off the heat.


So very good… but as per a high protein household has, I cannot omit the inclusion of the bacon.

So much goodness right there. Hotter jalapenos this round, must be from a different batch.

And a variation from a Kraft recipe.

The original recipe called for blue cheese, almond slices wrapped with bacon then baked. I could see how this would work for a single taste with a really good red wine to counter the taste… but in other testing of this version, it was “Like eating hot mould that ruined a good piece of bacon.”

So the variation above was brought up, with the maple bacon, the inclusion of honey or syrup is a natural progression. So the maple bacon was wrapped around honey date, but it seemed too sweet and needed a tangy counterpart, the addition of 5 year sharp cheddar stuffed into the date made the absolute perfect combination. Bake and watch as these are so small you could almost get away with prebaking the bacon, then using the hot pan to heat through. Smaller than the size of a golf ball, all you need to satisfy flavor crave is one or two of these AMAZING morsels. Can substitute maple bacon for smoked bacon if the honey and maple doesn’t suit your tastes.

And so with last nights food fest came to a close. Late night as well, talking about other things. More Christmas moments including my stepsister complaining to her father about his threadbare shirts and how it was nice to have a Christmas without having to see his nipples. Also the inevitable end of jokes about Uncle Joes Mint Balls.

And hence after all that, food hangover… We didn’t eat all of it, there is a lot of leftovers, enough for a week.

This morning, I ran my daughters backpack over to her, got a hug (best christmas present out of all the swag I got) then got back home to have my coffee in my DAD mug, enjoy my new Pook and start the recovery from last nights foodfest. Tonight, it’s rumored that there will be beef wellington… I must nap this afternoon.

Coffee in Dad mug, Pook, and Food Hangover

Oh yes, I’ll be doing a lot of geocaching on foot in the next few weeks. As long as the weather holds out. So be on the lookout for new blog postings…

One more blog post for the year, and it will be a little different, so stay tuned!

I’m still here. To you and yours, I raise my mug,

Book Review – Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

I’ve been a fan of Gaiman since the days of DC comics Vertigo series Sandman. I’ve also tried to study his work, to break it down and see where he gets his genius from. And here’s what I’ve determined.

He’s just that good.

Eventually one of these decades, I know that with constant practice and application, I could maybe equal a sliver of his talent. If one could whittle off talent from an amazing writer like Mr. Gaiman.

The Graveyard Book is a journey back to kids books written in a style that reminds me of the classics. Robinson Crusoe, Wizard of Oz, and the like. They were also called Chapter Books as the general formula is much like any tv series, the main story of the week is prominent, with the main larger story in the background. Further chapters bring more of the main story into the foreground.

There is some grim and dark scenes in this book, not for all readers, so Mom and/or Dad, give it a read first. You will definitely enjoy it, if you were a reader in your youth. And I’m envious of how much visuals Gaiman can present with such brevity.

The story is about Nobody. Literally. That’s his name. The general premise is a boy who gets raised by ghosts in a graveyard. How he got there? You’ll have to find out. How do ghosts raise a real live boy? You’ll have to find out.

It’s a nice light read for advanced readers. The general pacing and themes will take you back to your youth. Reminisce with great stories. For those of you who have not read Gaiman, its a light introduction. Looking for some humor in the vein of Monty Python? Check his collaboration with Terry Pratchett – Good Omens. Looking for something a little deeper? The Sandman series is a good long read, something you can really get into. The series is like an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time, you are glad to see it again and want to spend time with it.

Check it out, go to your local library. Definitely a tale for Halloween.

I’m still reading, and here,