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Archive for November, 2014

Two Reviews This Week: Keith Shannon’s Rock Nation Inc. Offers Entertaining Podcast / New Movie Review: Keanu Reeves Is Back in “John Wick”
by Staff Writer

One of the best things about the web is that there is an opportunity to do lots of online learning without ever leaving the comfort of your home.  You can learn for free from sites like iTunes University or sites like Coursera, the latter of which offers free courses in everything from public speaking, to philosophy or even entrepreneurship. One area that is gaining in popularity is podcasting which offers people an avenue to  listen to a radio program over the Internet at your convenience.

If you want to listen to a podcast that offers you tips to be successful in the music business and also gives you an insider’s viewpoints from the perspectives of successful rock musicians, be sure to tune into Keith Shannon’s Rock Nation, Inc. https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/rock-nation-inc-interviews/id939069186?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4. One of the best things about this podcast is  Keith Shannon himself. He’s the host of this rock-centred podcast which covers topics of interest to heavy metal fans, music students, and just about anyone who likes to hear established musicians  talk about the things they love: which is music and the music business.

If you think the infectious opening of the show is interesting, then you’ll be happy to know that as the host, Keith displays an incredibly earthshaking enthusiasm for his many guests, which include musicians from L.A. Guns, Varga, Killer Dwarfs, Anvil Lee, Headpins, Carrie Underwood, among others. Keith does his homework and it shows in his podcasts. He is knowledgeable, polite and darn right  asks questions the average person would want to know. He grills the musicians in a tactful way and listeners get to learn how these rockstars broke into the business and what the music world was like before Youtube and the digital age.

It’s really easy to get interested in his podcast and it’s a real treat to find out Keith likes to motivate his listeners and he often quotes from the motivational guru, Tony Robbins himself, in his  chats with his guests. One guest, Garret Godwin, Carrie Underwood’s drummer, reveals that if it wasn’t for his music teacher who told him at the tender age of 10 years-old that “he would never be a drummer,” Godwin would never have been driven to success. Keith is quick to chastise the teacher for being so insensitive and so quick to judge. But both agree that sometimes painful events experienced during childhood can be used in a positive way to drive a person to achieve success. And how did Godwin find success? For him, it was a question of being there at the right time and right place. You’ll also learn lots of fun facts from the musicians, themselves, including how the Killer Dwarfs got their name. Did you know that the fantasy classic, The Hobbit, is linked to the name of the band that shocked audiences by chopping off the heads of Teddy Bears? The shows are highly entertaining, fast-paced, not available on the CBC, and best of all it’s free.


Movie Review of John Wick
‎An old trick of thriller writers is to put a pet (the cuter the better) in peril. It’s a hackneyed trick that never fails. That peril and the loss of a cool black ’69 Mustang brings retired assassin John Wick out of self-imposed retirement. Still grieving the loss of his wife from an unnamed ailment, Wick has a painful first encounter with Iosef, the son of a Russian mafia head in New York. It”s a bad move for the son, who soon discovers from his enraged father that he’s inadvertently run up against not the boogeyman himself but the one who goes after the boogeyman. With such redoubtable myth-building, you can expect some iconic images of John Wick getting ready to take on a veritable army of Russian bad guys.
‎Keanu Reeves is John Wick, back in black and grey in a big way. Reeves hasn’t been in a mainstream movie for a while. Now bearded, more muscular and grim, he embraces his role with rigour, encountering firepower with seriously over the top weaponry, literally unearthing his arsenal along with a lot of gold coins he uses to buy access. He’s so lethal he can stride through a packed and pulsating club and hit all the bad guys and no bystanders. His reputation precedes him so much even neighbourhood cops turn away when they see him turn his own stylish beach home ‎ into an abattoir.
You don’t go to these movies expecting much profundity, but Reeves is turning into a new Clint Eastwood, curt of phrase, impassive, and relentless. The character actors do very well, notably Michael Nyqvist enjoying his role as the hapless Russian Mafia head, Viggo, watching helplessly as his Russian empire falls to pieces.  Other veteran actors such as John Leguizamo running a shady car business,Willem Dafoe as fellow assassin Marcus and Ian McShane’s drolly elegant fellow traveller are compelling but underutilized. I wanted to see more interaction, more backstory with these other characters, to find out why Wick is so feared.
Also noteworthy is Lance Reddick as knowing and refined manager at the mysterious hotel Continental, a veritable refuge for spies and assassins, while‎ Alfie Allen incarnate the punky, spoiled Iosef‎ who quickly loses his swagger once he realizes what his actions have released.
The one fault lies in the casting of Adrienne Palicki as another assassin who brings the fight and breaks the hotel rules at the same time – she is a kitten sent to fight a lion – and it shows.   This kind of arch role, both femme fatale and experienced killer, needs an actress with character, not a starlet with a pout.
Stylishly violent with some smirk-worthy bits, John Wick promises perhaps a reprise, if public attention ignites. I’m thinking for the next outing he could team with The Equalizer and really go to town. ‎  Or – just an idea – switch focus and concentrate on the Hotel Continental – there’s some good stories to be had there, I would venture.





November 27th


This Week: Lest We Forget! Remembrance Day Honours The Soldiers Of The Past And The Present
by Staff Writer

An essay about war and peace

This week, millions of people will remember fallen soldiers and their families on November the 11th.  Sometimes, a passing moment, and ordinary one can strike a chord, as it did this week when I went out for lunch. Heading to my car, I was stuck by the young men who looked smart and alert and were quietly selling poppies in the chilly November air. As I passed by, I was overcome by an urge to salute one of the cadets, and since I am not from a military background,  this action is all the more surprising but it didn’t seem to faze the young cadet. As I did so, I said out loud, “Lest we forget,” which seemed to prompt a young couple to request a few poppies for themselves.

Although the poppies stayed on only a few hours and somehow fell off, (due to the pins which don’t adhere long to material), it seems wise and appropriate that we forever remember the sacrifice of soldiers fighting battles of oppression around the world. This small gesture from us, –the buying of poppies –is a strong message that we stand for freedom and democracy and honour the sacrifices made by the soldiers and their families who fought and continue to fight to make the world a better place.

Even if many of us cannot make the traditional Remembrance Day ceremonies held on November 11 –due to work or other reasons –we must not and should not forget this important day. While we remember the wars of the past and the present, we should also pray for peace and a world in which we do not need to have any soldiers or wars. We should and continue to take the education of the mind of the young who should be taught that bullying, conflict and fighting are not  solutions. We should preach peace and solidarity, after all there is only one earth. Since flying is so cheap nowadays, compared to a few decades ago when only the rich could fly,  many of us have the opportunity to witness the fragility and the beauty of this planet. If only we would take the time to look outside the window. Not too long ago, on  a recent flight, I recall a moment forever etched in my memory.

While many tried sleeping, read books or played games on their iPad, I focused my gaze outside the window of the plane and as we flew higher and higher above the clouds, I looked down a little and could make out the roundness of the planet. I looked out in awe and for a moment, I could see what many people a hundred years ago could not see. Looking down, everything seemed serene, beautiful, harmless.  Everything also looked tiny –the cars, houses, people. As we disappeared above the clouds, I could not see anything anymore –earth had vanished and I was left seeing the vast blueness of the skies. Many passengers chose to bring down the blinds, but for myself, I gazed outwards and beyond –silently praying that I would once more touch the good earth and be back to seeing civilization. But on the plane, I could not help thinking how small we all are and somehow this vast land, both separates and unites us. As I write this, I cannot help thinking about John Lennon’s song, “Imagine” which was a favourite  song of mine during my childhood. If we could only have one giant mindset –to protect this planet and all the people in it.

For all travellers worldwide, I hope that this essay encourages you to look out the window now and then. See earth the way the ancients never saw it. It is round, glorious, vast and peaceful. It is only the people on this planet that makes the earth what it is.

If you happen to be in Europe, do make a visit to a museum which offers information about wars where young men and women fought for freedom. Try to find a museum in your hometown where you can learn about the First or the Second World War or any war. If you are a teacher, don’t teach kids to learn only about important dates in history as I did in high school. Put the humanity in your lessons. Bring in guest speakers.  Teach kids not to remember just the dates but make the kids remember that war is not pretty and kids their own age died on the battlefield. War is horrible, life-changing, devastating for the soldier and their family members. Make children read and reread The Diary of Anne Frank. Learn to meditate. Pray for peace, not war and if you can, buy a poppy.

Lest We Forget. Let’s all blog about it. Facebook it. We all need to write an essay about this topic. For humanity’s sake.




Above, a cadet sells poppies outside a supermarket.



November 10th

November 2014
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