{fv_addthis}

Latest Blog Posts

by Lara Killian

23 Feb 2009

image

This week marks the 25th celebration in Canada of Freedom to Read week (22 – 29 February 2009). Promoting awareness of censorship and the theme of choice in reading materials, events across the country acknowledge banned books and books that deal with uncomfortable issues.

Writing workshops are being held to discuss difficulties in writing about issues that are sometimes censored. Above all, honesty and openness is a part of the festivities. Some locations are holding used book sales of challenged material, and others are providing a space for community members to get together for a cup of coffee and the discussion of controversial volumes that have impacted their lives in some way.

I particularly like the idea of the initiative “Bookcrossing: Free a Challenged Book”, where people across Canada (and around the world) are invited to consult a list of challenged books, find examples on their own shelves or perhaps in a used bookstore, and then to “release” the book into public, leaving it on a public bench or café counter, for someone else to find. Participants have the option of ‘tagging’ the book using a printed label, and registering the individual book with the website, then logging in to see where their book has been found. It’s all about spreading the word and refusing to let words be censored.

by Mike Schiller

22 Feb 2009

This is it, people.  This is the week we’ve been waiting for, the week that’s been on our minds since last year, the week we sit outside the GameStops and GameCrazys of the world waiting impatiently for the doors to open as we finally have the de facto game of the year within our sights.  For many, the tears of joy have already started.

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand arrives on Tuesday.

(long pause) Too much?

All right, so perhaps I’ve allowed my own preconceptions to get in the way of, I don’t know, journalistic integrity or something, but there is no way I can take 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand seriously.  Here’s the plot, courtesy of Wikipedia:

“50 Cent and his G-Unit crew finish completing a tour of shows in the Middle East. Rather than receiving cash, G-Unit is offered a diamond-embedded skull of legends. When attempting to return home, 50 Cent and his entourage are attacked, and the skull is stolen by local gangs. 50 Cent will risk whatever it takes to get his skull back.”

I have got to think that the ridiculousness of this whole premise is intentional, because the sheer ridiculousness of it is what’s got everybody talking about it.  Nobody is taking it seriously, really, but everybody seems to want to play it, because let’s face it, it actually sounds kind of fun romping around the desert as 50 Cent, taking out thugs and trying to find the

Crystal

Diamond Skull.  If Indiana Jones makes a cameo, I’m totally buying it, and I wish I was less serious than I actually am.

If I wanted to be totally truthful, it’s Killzone 2 that sticks out on this particular list.  It feels at this point like Killzone 2 has been out forever given that they lifted the embargo on reviews a full three weeks before the game is actually going to arrive on store shelves, but FPS fans who’ve had about enough of Resistance on their PS3s are about to be loving life.  Word is that the latest Killzone is pretty light on the whole “story” thing, but it gets the shooter mechanics pretty much perfect.  Here’s to finding out.

The Wii has a Dead Rising remake on the way, the 360 is seeing the new Star Ocean, and the DS gets Ys, the new Puzzle Quest, and Peggle!  It’s a light release week, but there’s truly something for everyone on the way.

Who else is oddly transfixed by the Blood on the Sand phenomenon?  Who’s going to finally turn off Flower in favor of some Killzone?  Let’s hear from you in the comments!  The full release list and trailers for Killzone 2 and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand are after…the jump.

by Thomas Hauner

22 Feb 2009

The epochal South African protest singer and songwriter Vusi Mahlasela played an engaging show before a docile but erudite audience in the sprawling Walt Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College—a tiny collegiate oasis deep in Brooklyn. The diverse but reserved crowd almost came across as too reverent, passive towards the poet and musician. Only by the end of Mahlasela’s set did they finally muster the courage to indulge in his group’s propulsive polyrhythm and guitars.

Mahlasela will forever be associated with the soundtrack of the anti-apartheid movement. But he is still decidedly a protest singer. (Broadly, that is considered “African folk” music). His defiant, peaceful, and artistic resistance to injustice makes it impossible for him to ignore continuing calamities. However, given the serious subtext of his songwriting and singing his music is not cloaked by the surrounding darkness he endured in the past. Rather the prevailing harmonies of life—love and family—are at the center of his message.

“Everytime”—a track featuring Jem on his 2007 release Guiding Star—was a beautiful flowing song about a devoted lover. Lucid African imagery articulated Mahlasela’s universal sentiments: “Your beauty burns the grass like fire.”

Musically, he and his four-piece band played a brilliant mixture of global sounds, perfectly balancing blues and soul with traditional South African rhythms, melodies and language. “Thula Mama” dedicated to his grandma for thwarting the police when trying to arrest Mahlasela as a young activist—blended scat singing and vocables into a smooth homage to mothers. During the bridge Mahlasela traded a cappella verses as the band perfectly transitioned in-between. Finally the song drifted away in a jubilant, but faint, sing-along: “My song of love / My song of life”.

Purpose is never far from Mahlasela’s mind. It is his guiding principle in life and music, and so everything he does must resonate with a positive and humane message. He took a moment to speak out about the marginalization and forced relocation of Botswana’s indigenous San people, or Bushmen. Remarkably, he never sounded preachy or forceful or hippy-dippy. Instead it was an earnest reproach of an unjust policy, never undermined by segueing into a song introduction. Rather he emphasized his point with a poignant ethical and rhetorical question: Where are they to go?

Mahlasela was not all serious, though. While tuning his guitar he joked, “this is a Chinese song called Too Ning… it’s over now.”

Ending the show with Miriam Makeba’s iconic “Pata Pata” was a well-received homage, Mahlasela spinning, twisting, and shuffling to the song’s rhapsodic refrain.

 

by Matt White

22 Feb 2009

The Pet Shop Boys accepted the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music this week at the Brit Awards and also performed a medley of their hits (along with their excellent new single “Love etc.”). Even brief appearances from Lady GaGa on “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” and the Killers’ Brandon Flowers on “It’s A Sin” couldn’t ruin the seemingly endless stream of pop perfection. Is it possible that their music sounds more contemporary and relevant now than it did in the ‘80s?

Their upcoming album Yes hits stores on March 23rd.

by Bill Gibron

22 Feb 2009

In a little less than 12 hours, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will finish up the 2008-9 awards season with the handing out of their precious, publicity-oriented Oscars. In preparation for the critical shoulder shrug to come afterward, SE&L offers these articles written about the coveted little gold statues. They range from reaction to the nominations, a discussion of the Dark Knight snub, and an overview of the multiple times when the Academy got the winner wrong. So put on your designer duds and get ready to walk that torn and tattered red carpet. It’s time for the movie biz to pat itself on the back - and as usual, we can’t resist being spectators.

The Race is (G)On(e): Oscar Surprises and Snubs

The Darkest (K)Night

Critical Confessions: Part 14 - The Art of Backlash

Who’s Number 2?

And the Winner Isn’t…10 Oscar Blunders Revisited (Part 1)

And the Winner Was WHAT?...10 More Oscar Blunders (Part 2)

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Stone Dead: Murder and Myth in 'Medousa'

// Short Ends and Leader

"A wry tale which takes in Greek mythology, punk rock and influences of American suspense-drama, this is an effective and curious thriller about myth and obsession.

READ the article