Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered

December 1st, 2014
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How big was Bing Crosby? In the 40’s and 50’s he was the number one radio, movie and recording star. Fifty-million people turned into his radio show every week. He performed duets or performed with, among many, many others, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and David Bowie.

His style of singing is not so popular these days, to our loss. But he changed the way people sang. With the invention of the microphone, you no longer needed to belt, and Bing caressed the microphone, singing in a folksy, homespun style. He influenced everybody who came after him.

During World War II, he came home from touring Europe interested in tape recording. In 1947, he invested in Ampex recorders. He wanted to pre-record his radio shows. However, NBC balked, and he refused to work. The ensuing court case found his contract to be essentially “indentured servitude.” Crosby took his magnetic tape device to ABC and changed how radio was done. Later, he gave one of his Ampex recorders to his pal Les Paul, who would develop multi-tracking using it.

Crosby was so big, to answer the question, that he fundamentally changed everything he touched: movies, radio and recording.

All this and more is covered in exquisite detail in PBS’ American Master Series show, Bing Crosby – Rediscovered. The show covers Crosby’s career in about as much detail as you can cover such a diverse, lengthy career in 90 minutes. It features clips ranging from Bing in Mac Sennet movies to Johnny Carson.

Narrated by Stanley Tucci, and featuring interviews with all surviving members of Crosby’s immediate family, wife Kathryn, daughter Mary and sons Harry and Nathaniel, Crosby’s estate granted American Masters access to his archives, including never-before-seen home movies, Dictabelt recordings, photos and more.

American Masters: Bing Crosby – Rediscovered airs on PBS beginning tomorrow, and can also be ordered on DVD. American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered – The Soundtrack features songs heard in the documentary, including 16 previously unreleased recordings.

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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Consummating Like a Dugger Edition

November 8th, 2014
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorJust when Spotify makes it to Canada, Taylor Swift pulls her music from the streaming service. On the eve of releasing her new album, 1987, Swift refused to release the album to the streaming music service and pulled her previous material. The result: 1984 is the first Platinum album of 2014, selling 1,287,000 copies, 22% of all albums sold in the US.39010007_lg

So much for that whole pick a fight with Spotify strategy.

fluffincolorThe women of the English speaking world are, I am reliably told, suffering a mass heartbreak this week Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch has announced his engagement to to actress Sophie Hunter. Cumberbatch being, I am led to understand, somewhat handsome, this caused much gnashing of teeth and tweeting of Cumber-bitch jokes.

A quick survey of my own home led to tears and weeping, which I’m not sure what exactly that means, However, it seems some of womanhood is upset over this whole Sophie Hunter episode.

Tears or no, here at the Fluffernutter World Headquarters we wish the Cumberbatches every happiness.

fluffincolorIn one of the weirdest, non-fluffy but definitely nutty, stories I have ever covered, AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd’s arrest this week for trying to hire a hitman is among the top.

The story has yet to unfold in court, presumptions of innocence must be maintained and all statements here are alleged, however, it appears the “Hugh Hefner of Tauranga,” which is in New Zealand, likes the hired ladies. He does not like, however, to pay these ladies once they have offered their services, causing friends of the ladies to come looking for the money.

You’ll have to connect your own dots between the above and “attempting to procure the murder of two men,” a charge that was laid, and withdrawn within 48 hours.

Rudd still faces some less serious charges, but nothing that should stop him from touring with AC/DC next year.

fluffincolorThe Duggers are, apparently, a reality TV family of some religious bent. There are 20 or so of them, and the ones of marriageable age do not do any marriagy things. That is to say, kissing is out.

Daughter Dugger Jessa married herself off to one Ben Seewald last weekend. Once married, like most young couples, consummation was on the virginal young minds. As a Dugger, their responsibility is to “wait until the evening to pray and then consummate God’s marriage.” The Seewald’s however, had a peppier timeline than that. They, it seems, were seen to be consummating like bunnies in the church cloakroom immediately after the ceremony.

Hey, when the family tradition is twenty or something kids, there really is no time to spare.


John Bonham at the Speed of Sound

October 21st, 2014

Much like Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney has been re-releaasing the wings catalogue, with upgraded remastering and bonus material. One such bonus item comes from Wings at the Speed of Sound: Beware My Love with John Bonham on the drums.

Bonham played on the session for Beware My Love, but the track that made it to album was one that was done without John Bonham. The Bonham track was not known to exist before this past June, when McCartney announced it would be on the deluxe edition of Speed of Sound.

Yesterday, McCartney pre-released Beware My Love (John Bonham Version) on iTunes. It is, as of yet, not available for download from Amazon, but surely that is coming.

The full Wings At The Speed Of Sound will be available November 4th.

via Ramble On Radio

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Bob Seger’s Ride Out Looks Ready to Disappoint

September 26th, 2014
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cap028_bobseger_std_cover_rgbfin-300x300This morning I woke up to a third downloadable song from the new Bob Seger album, Ride Out. Those who pre-ordered on iTunes got Detroit Made and You Take Me In when they pre-ordered, and this morning got the Steve Earle song The Devils Right Hand. Frankly, I’ll take the Steve Earle version over the Seger by a wide margin (which is convenient as it’s on Copperhead Road, an album everyone and anyone should own).

With the three songs released, it is fair to start making some judgements on Ride Out, and the only one I can come to is it’s another OK Bob Seger album.

Bearing in mind that pre-releases tend to be the best songs, or at least the most commercial, Detroit Made, You Take Me In and The Devils Right Hand have to be seen as a disappointment. The first and last are both good enough rockers, but they’re both covers: has Seger even penned a really good rock song since Lock and Load 20-years ago? You Take Me In, on the other hand, is a ho-hum ballad, no better or worse than Wait For Me which he released as a single 8-years ago. Neither song stands out, neither song is really much of anything, either good or bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bough the album, as I have every Seger album, I’m a fan, a pretty big one. But Seger hasn’t released a truly noteworthy album since Like a Rock, maybe The Fire Inside if your being generous. He has fallen into a sound, a very specific sound since the early 90’s. There is no reason to expect Ride Out to be any different, but disappointedly anyway, it appears it isn’t.


Saturday Fluffernutter: The If This Blog is So Good, How Come He Writes it in His Underwear? Edition

September 20th, 2014
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorYaa, to Mayam Bialik, Seldon’s Big Bang girlfriend Amy. This week she took to her lifestyle blog to comment on a Billboard for Ariana Grande’s upcoming album, My Everything.fluff_2_2008

Noticing the Biillboard, which features Grande wearing very little, plus stilettos (nothing but her Keds, as the old song goes). Bialik asked first, what is she actually selling? then continued:

Why is she in her underwear on this billboard though? And if she has talent (is she a singer), then why does she have to sell herself in lingerie?

There’s more but… she’s profoundly right. If Ariana Grande had any kind of chops, she wouldn’t need to sell herself to sell her music. But the truth is, how you look in lingerie is far more important to the music industry than how you sing. We live in a world were Janis Joplin couldn’t get heard and Linda Ronstadt would be told to lose some weight and dress far less modestly. We, and the music, suffer for it.

As for Bialik, she makes her living in a Hollywood were the only unacceptable sin is the sin of prudishness. Sitting in judgement sits poorly by the people she surrounds herself with, and comments such as she has made could be career killers. Good on her.

fluffincolorKanye West is an idiot, full stop.

During a concert in Australia last week, West demanded – DEMANDED – that the crowd, every last person, stand up, or he couldn’t continue. He singled out a guy in a wheelchair, before realizing he wasn’t Joe Biden, and it’s not cool to demand wheelchair bound people stand.

The usual suspects, of course are outraged.

So am I, but for completely different reasons. Who the hell does this overpaid, under-talented dickwad think he is demanding anything of the paying customers?

“I can’t do this show until everybody stand up[sic],” he told the crowd (note, none of the press reports I saw indicated the grammatical error.) Oh, yea? Is that in your contract: no show unless everybody stands? If not, then shut up and sing.

Look, it’s one thing to encourage the audience to stand, but to actually single out a paying customer and demand he do so, or else I don’t sing, that’s beyond absurd.

Those people paid good money, money, unlike West, they worked hard for, money, unlike West, they don’t have an unlimited store of. West, on the other hand, was being paid a lot of that money to entertain the folk. If the folk decides he should sing show tunes while balancing teacups on his nose, then West should make like Flipper, not the other way around.

fluffincolorThe laziest trick in entertainment journalism is combining celebrity couple names to save typing a few letters and the word “and.” Typing Bennifer instead of Ben and Jennifer is about as lazy as you can get. Worse yet is the talking heads, who throw out Brangelina without so much as a knowing blush that they sound like idiots. Heaven forbid you speak all those letters.

The worst however, the absolute positive proof that the dumbest, most unoriginal, most uncreative people on the planet all go into entertainment journalism is “Chavril.” When Chad Kroeger and Avril Lavigne surprisingly married fourteen months ago, columnists and Ben Mulroney’s alike were quick to show just how dumb, how uninteresting they really were, and quickly dubbed the couple Chavril. No more!

It appears the couple is heading for divorce. After a year-and-a-half marriage and one creepy Japanese video that bordered on kiddy porn (which is the natural outcome when you combine kiddy punk and pop metal). Kroeger has reportedly been parading around L.A. telling people “it’s over.”

Not to overly amuse in other peoples misery, but thank God to see the end of the linguistic horror Chavril.

fluffincolor“Hey Martha,” you imagine Willard from Iowa saying on the first of two days of the holiday of a lifetime to the big city, “lets go see that there Times Square first.” Heading out of their fancy hotel (with a coffee maker in the bedroom, for gosh sakes), over to Broadway and south towards 42nd street. “Look at all the lights,” Willard says walking south on Broadway. “Look there, that’s where that David Letterman fellow does his show.” Approaching Times Square Willard and Martha are surprised to discover it’s closed. “Closed?” says Willard. “How do you close an intersection?”

Answer: you be a narcissist TV star, and you pay to have it shut down. If Willard and Martha’s two days in the city get disrupted, well sucks to be them.

Ryan Serhant, narcissist and host of Million Dollar Listings did just that, shutting down Times Square to propose to his girlfriend. Being oh, so important, and a bended knee over dinner not obvious enough, Serhant enlisted the help of the Mayor’s office (because that’s the Mayor’s job!?!?) and the NYPD to propose to his fiancé, nee girlfriend Emilia Bechrakis.

Professional camera crew being in tow (the scene will appear on his TV show), pictures quickly made it to various media outlets. So nice for Narcissus and Emilia, but what of Willard and Martha? Oh well, they’ll get to Times Square on their next trip to New York… in the next life.

fluffincolorI’m not a big Jack White fan. Nothing against him per se, just find I don’t like his voice and his production style. That said, he’s something that used to be common, but has become very rare nowadays, he’s a musician who’s in it for the music. He’s one of those guys who thinks being able to make great music is why he’s in the making music business, money is a side benefit.

This week he had an onstage rant against some of his peers. Noting that lots of acts lip synch nowadays, he turned his guns on fellow rockers The Foo Fighters who, while not accused of lip synching, do carry as third guitarist onstage to, according to White, cover up mistakes.

He then set his sights on Rolling Stone magazine, “mocking them for running articles such ’15 outfits that will blow your mind that Taylor Swift wore this month…'” Interesting, I suppose, that he didn’t note teh Rolling Stone has also become the official tabloid of the Democratic Party, but you can’t have everything in one rant.

Good on Jack White. The music business has become a joke, Rolling Stone leading the demise, and lip synching epidemic (Beyonce being the latest to be caught out in Paris this week), and should be a career ender . But he’s also dead right on bands padding the lineup, thereby saving the performers your paying to see from actually having to create music while performing is just as dishonest.

It reminds one of the old Brittany Spears line, when asked by a young fan what was the hardest part of her job, she answered “singing and dancing at the same time.” So she eschewed the singing bit, farming out the job to an MP3 file, and upped her ticket price so you could watch her dance. It’s what they all do, when there not sitting around wondering why their business is dying.


The Freedom of Music: You Too?

September 14th, 2014
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

So did you get screwed over last week? Turn on your iPhone, iPod, iPad and discover somebody put free music there? Granted, it had the little cloud symbol beside it, requiring an actual download (or, you turned on automatic download and therefore, got what you asked for), but really, who wants a free U2 album, brand new to boot? Who would accept it as a gift when it could otherwise be bought for just $9.99? sidebar-3

When U2 released their new album as a free giveaway to all iTunes users last week, the level of complaint was astounding. People who didn’t want it complained that it was automatically put in their account, even though a)you still had to actively download it and b)if you didn’t download it by Saturday, it disappeared off your account. This week will sure to be filled with complaints iTunes took away their U2. Except they didn’t: they made it available, then they made it unavailable.

The complaints didn’t just stem from the manner of the giveaway, but a fair complaint against U2 could also be heard. Haven’t had a good album since the 80’s/90’s/ever, complained some. Giving away their music is proof they are a has-been band/corporate band/no good. All, more or less false.

I’m not a U2 fan, haven’t bought an album by them since The Joshua Tree and have never seen them in concert. Not my band, although I don’t automatically switch off the radio just because it’s U2. I really can take them or leave them, and am not sure I’ve even heard anything off their previous couple of albums, although I suppose I must have. But what the hell, Songs of Innocence was being given away, why not give it a listen.

If you didn’t download it because it pissed you off that they gave it to you, or you think U2 is a has been band, then you should know you missed out on something good. This “not a U2 fan” has listened to it a number of times, and like Songs of Innocence very much.

It opens with The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone) a complete rocker that U2 doesn’t do enough of, and doesn’t get credit for doing then they do. Credit or no, The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone) is an excellent song, maybe their best since 2000’s Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of or even 1998’s Sweetest Thing.

But Songs of Innocence is not a song song album, and there’s a lot more good stuff than just The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone). California (There is No End To Love), Iris (Hold Me Close), Raised By Wolves and The Troubles are all excellent, while This is Where You Can Reach Me Now intros like a great, unheard 70’s era Stones song.

Oh sure, a band that has been recording and touring together for 35-years with the same four guys, without a single lineup change, are going to have “a sound.” Bono will always sing like Bono, and The Edge has a definitive guitar style. So yes, Volcano or Sleep Like a Baby Tonight may suffer from being U2-ish, and a Cederwood Road is probably about Aids in Africa or Ghandi or some other important topic that can’t be discerned by merely listening to the lyrics, and yes, Bono still hasn’t found a rhyme for Nicaragua. All excellent reasons, I suppose, to not listen to a free album. But if you let your distaste for the way it was distributed stop you from getting Songs of Innocence, then you let yourself miss a great album.


Saturday Fluffernutter:

September 13th, 2014
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorI’ve never heard of him, but Steve Bauer is apparently a celebrity, apparently on some TV show called Ray Donovan, and apparently is 57 and dating an 18-year old called Lyda Loudon. pinkfluff

To give you an idea of the age difference, he was Manny Ribera in Sarface in 1983, she was born somewhere around 1996. She looks, however, young for 18, which makes the romance all the more creepier.

fluffincolorWe lost one of the real classics this week when Richard Kiel died at age 74.

Most will know Kiel as Jaws, the Bond Villian so good they cast him twice, first in The Spy Who Loved Me, then two years later in Moonraker. But us real aficionados remember Keal also as the Kanamit alien in the Twilight Zone episode, To Serve Man.

He is survived by a wife, 4 children and 9 grandchildren. May he Rest in Peace.


U2 on iTunes

September 11th, 2014
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738aa476U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, is now available to download on iTunes free. The free download is part of Apples iPhone 6 (/iWatch) launch campaign.

The album is free for iTunes users until Saturday, exclusively from iTunes.

Personally, if it’s any good at all (review coming in the next day or two), I want that LP in plain packaging.

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Music Review Melodime: Where the Sinners & the Saints Collide

August 25th, 2014
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It’s a good sign when the first time through a new album by a band I have never heard before, I stop the album to figure out the lyrics to one of the songs. But by the time I got to Unconditional, the thirteenth song on this eighteen song collection, I was not at all surprised to find myself doing so: I had already stopped what I was doing to listen closely a number of times; already played back one of the songs a second time; already noted a number of lines.

Melodime’s Where The Sinners & The Saints Collide feels like a folk album, and pressed I might even call it so. But the Virginia quartets fifth album in as many years has such gritty, rock hard guitar playing throughout that folk seems inadequate. Yet the songwriting sensibilities, the vocals and the lyrics often seem downright folk.

Where The Sinners & The Saints Collide is simply chock full of good, listenable, memorable songs with elements of rock, pop and the aforementioned folk sprinkled throughout. It is, quite simply put, an excellent album from first to last, good enough to make me want to hunt down their back catalogue and see what I’ve been missing.

Where The Sinners & The Saints Collide will be available September 2nd on Rock Ridge Music.


1. The Call, Pt. 1
2. Halo
3. Two Strikes
4. Framed Love-Suicide (Let You Go)
5. Lullaby
6. Little People
7. Love Songs and Lies
8. Outlaws
9. Red Light, Green Light
10. Madman
11. Ruby Reds
12. City of Nothing
13. Unconditional
14. The Half of It
15. Exit Signs
16. Criminal (Let me Go)
17. Brothers
18. The Call, Pt. 2

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Fluffernutter Friday: Different Shades of Blue

August 22nd, 2014
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Joe Bonamassa has announced the release of his latest album, Different Shades Of Blue. If the title track is any indication, this will be a “Holy Mother of God!” album. The song, video below, is the best thing I ever heard out of Bonamassa, possibly the best new song I’ve heard in years.

Bonamassa is offering a download of the single for the small price of your email address (mailing lists have value, &tc.). Go here to get a free MP3 download of the song Different Shades of Blue.

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August 14th, 2014
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Changes. David Bowie sang of them. So did a young Olivia Newton John. Here at At Home in Hespeler, the times, as Bob Dylan might note, they are a changin’.

It has been some time since politics has taken center stage here, and I have, to be blunt, become completely disinterested in the politics. In a world in which Rob Ford might just be the best choice for mayor, the question of whether Toronto is in a death spiral seems absurd. The fight at all levels, however, has become so boring, so partisan that there’s no joy in doing it.

On the other hand, i get regular offers to review new music, by both established artists and new ones. As well, book review offers have started arriving, many on subjects in entertainment. The Saturday Fluffernutter has long been a favourite feature here, even if it’s dropped of the radar a bit as other activity has diminished the last while. And that’s the problem: as long as I see this as a primarily political blog, lack of political writing stops me writing other stuff. I try to limit the fun writing, until I have written something I have no interest in writing.

No More.

I don’t know what form these changes will take, but I do know that At Home in Hespeler is no longer a political blog, and hasn’t been for some time really. There will be more music reviews, and possibly some movie reviews. As I go along I except, hope, to add books, particularly ones on music and movies. But whatever face the changes take, one thing I know, there’ll be damn little, if any, politics.

To those who have read this as a political blog over the years, thank you for taking the time to read. There was a time when I enjoyed it immensely. However it’s time for this rock ‘n’ roller to CH-Ch-Change.


Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral:

June 27th, 2014
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They must have rocks in their head Editionspiral toronto

Government-funded agency Waterfront Toronto is defending its decision to spend $529,800 on… two large granite rocks trucked in from the Laurentians and painted with candy-coloured stripes that adorn its signature urban beach… it spent $470,000 to clad a pavilion at neighbouring Sherbourne Common in zinc shingles — some of which now have to be replaced at the city’s expense because they were damaged by pucks fired from an adjacent ice rink (which doubles as a splash pad in summer). It was intended for skating, not hockey.
This being Canada, hockey was played.

But wait, it actually gets more absurd. Waterfront Toronto was given money, $1.5-Billion worth, and told go spend. No councilor voted for half-million-dollar rocks and $12-thousand umbrellas.

Then it gets even better:

But for Waterfront Toronto to continue its mission, it says it needs more money. The $1.5-billion startup fund will run dry by 2017, and the organization is asking for permission from the three levels of government to borrow money.

The one thing that troubles me, though. Why paint the rocks “with candy-coloured stripes”? Well…

The red and white stripes hide the seams where the rock was reassembled.

Even if I get the $529,000 for the rocks, the $800 won’t buy some mortar and a guy who can apply it?

And these guys think their a laughing stock because of Rob Ford.


Who’s The Guy in the Big White Hat Talking to Sam?

June 13th, 2014
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By now, everyone has seen the picture. The dog is by the coffins, a ramrod straight Mountie standing to attention in front of them. My Facebook page lit up with this picture Tuesday afternoon, half-a-dozen Facebook friends posting it within’ minutes of each other. The combination police coffins and Police dog was too compelling for people not to respond, so they posted.


What did you see when you saw it? The Coffins? The Dog? Me, I saw the at attention Mountie in ceremonial uniform. But then, I’m getting used to seeing pictures of Rob.

That Mountie is my friend and former neighbour, Rob (no your not getting his last name). Every once in a while you get the morning paper and there he is. “You’re on the front page of the paper today,” I’ve texted him at 7:00 in the morning before. The Blue Jays opening night ceremonies once, saluting President Obama coming off the helicopter another time. One November 11th at the cenotaph I looked to my left and was standing beside him in full red serge.

My two favourite Rob stories involve my son. One day when the boy was about 10, Rob came over and knocked on the door on some neighborly business or another (likely borrowing a tool). He was just getting home and was in uniform.

“There’s a policeman at the door! There’s a policeman at the door!” my son came running into the room.

Answering the door I turned to him, “It’s Rob!”

“Oh,” he says, and walks away pleased that nobody in the house will be going to jail on this day.


The other time happened last summer, when the Mounted Police were in England as part of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. A picture (above) hit the Facebook page of a mutual friend. Rob, about three feet from Her Majesty, engaged in a formal salute. It’s a close up, Rob’s from the shoulders up, the Queen’s head. We passed it around the table when it first appeared. “Who’s the old lady with Rob?” my son, now 16, asks.

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Tell Us What You Really Think Mr. Harper

March 16th, 2014


The so-called referendum held today was conducted with Crimea under illegal military occupation. Its results are a reflection of nothing more than Russian military control.

This “referendum” is illegitimate, it has no legal effect, and we do not recognize its outcome. As a result of Russia’s refusal to seek a path of de-escalation, we are working with our G-7 partners and other allies to coordinate additional sanctions against those responsible.

Any solution to this crisis must respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine as well as the constitution of Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s reckless and unilateral actions will lead only to Russia’s further economic and political isolation from the international community.


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Swimming Helmets?

February 12th, 2014

I must have spent five minutes looking at this picture this morning. Police in Surrey, England on rescue patrol amongst the terrible flooding they have been getting there.


Helmets to walk around in a foot-and-a-half of water? Can we assume swimming helmets are the next must have safety equipment for our kids?

And what’s with the 8′ aluminum poles with the primary coloured stripe? Are they expecting to rescue some stranded pre-schoolers, one of whom may have done a crayon drawing of a pointy stick?

Quick, someone throw a pencil sketch of a shark in the water, and watch the freaking out when they realize they aren’t wearing their shark-bite helmets.