December 24, 2008

The Q on U2's New Album

"Q", the world's finest music magazine, was recently granted an exclusive preview of U2's upcoming album No Line on the Horizon. Described as a bolder, more testing collection more in keeping with Achtung Baby (1991), Brian Eno and The Edge say this could be U2's greatest album. Q previews many of the new songs as follows:

Classic U2-isms, echoes The Unforgettable Fire (1984) opening track "A Sort Of Homecoming" in its atmospheric sweep. 

"Crazy Tonight"
Straight-up pop.

"Stand Up"
Swaggering, wherein U2 get in touch with their, hitherto unheard, funky selves - albeit propelled by some coruscating Edge guitar work, a signature feature of a number of the tracks.  

"Get Your Boots On"
Instantly striking, a heaving electro-rocker that may mark the destination point the band had been seeking on Pop (1997)

Featuring a fine Bono lyric about a soldier in an unspecified war zone, surrounded by a deceptively simple rhythm track and an evocative string arrangement courtesy of Eno

"Unknown Caller"
Stately, recorded in Fez and opens with the sounds of birdsong taped by Eno during a Moroccan dawn. 

"Moment Of Surrender" 
A strident seven-minute epic recorded in a single take, sounds like a Great U2 Moment in the spirit of "One".

Eno suggests it is potentially both the best song the band had written and that he had worked on. 


December 21, 2008

Fa La La La La

We hosted our annual holidays party last night. This year's theme was "Fa La La La La" and we had a wonderful turn out of friends and colleagues that made for new frendships and great conversations. Here are some photos...

December 18, 2008

U2 on the Horizon

U2 announced today that their forthcoming 12th album will be called "No Line on the Horizon" and it will be released on March 2, 2009. 

Finally! It's been 5 long years since the Dublin lads released an album and I have been going slightly mad...The fans are expecting an imminent release of the first single from the album, rumoured to be called "Get on your Boots". In the meantime enjoy U2's just-released cover of "I Believe in Father Christmas".

Kickin' It Old School

I'm now on holidays and have been enjoying mindless hours justrelaxing and hanging out at home. I've been flipping through MuchMusic more often than I really should reveal, and I have noticed the considerable drop in quality of rap & hip hop music.  Makes me yearn for the days when the music video was born and a new identity and politic was created by blacks through the following essential "old school" tracks:

"Fight the Power" (Public Enemy)
Not only one of the best but one of the most important rap songs ever written. Simply outstanding.

"Push It" (Salt N Pepa)
Noticeable first for being a female duo in a notoriously male-dominated genre, Salt N Pepa delivered this gem and launched a thousand girls' dreams of rap stardom.

"It Takes Two" (Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock)
Surely one of the few rap songs that will last the ages. This one will be included in the box set for the best of 20th century music.

What can I say...Great beat, phrasing, and lyrics. A veritable gem.

You can hear the beginnings of electronica in this track, a sort of hybrid song on the fence between rap and early hip hop. It's more pop than political.

"My Philosophy" (KRS One)
A great subversive lyric matched to a funky backbeat. 

"Let Your Backbone Slide" (Maestro Fresh Wes) 
A solid Canadian hip hop contribution. A massive hit that made an impact on the dance floor.


December 15, 2008

Unhappy Homeowners

A new report from a Wharton professor entilted "The American Dream? The Private and External Benefits of Homeownership" dismantles the prevailing myth of the happy home owner. The author writes, "I find little evidence that homeowners are happier [than renters] by any of the following definitions: life satisfaction, overall mood, overall feeling, general moment-to-moment emotions (i.e., affect) and affect at home… They are also more likely to be 12 pounds heavier, report a lower health status and poorer sleep quality. They tend to spend less time on active leisure or with friends. The average homeowner reports less joy from love and relationships… Contrary to popular belief, I do not find significant differences in family-related time use patterns, family-related affect, number of normal work hours, indicators of stress or measures of self-esteem and perceived control of life by homeownership … Homeowners are happier on average only on an unadjusted basis. Once household income, housing quality and health are controlled for, they are no happier than renters. What’s more, they report to derive more pain from both the neighborhood and their house and home. This positive pain gap remains stable and robust when health, neighborhood characteristics and financial stress are controlled for. As for the most frequently cited channels of a positive impact by homeownership, namely self-esteem, stress, health and family life, again there is very little supporting evidence in my data… [H]omeowners spend less time on active leisure activities or with friends, which have been documented as some of the most enjoyable affective experiences."

This is a most interesting read, as I find that a subtle but palpable peer pressure exists around the topic of home ownership, supported so effectively by wall-to-wall programming such as HGTV and similar decor porn media outlets, "big box" home decor and improvement stores, and countless home magazines. The message we receive is that you only arrive once you've purchased a home, that you are somehow less responsible or that you are living carefree if you are a renter. I think home ownership is one of the most significant decisions any of us will ever make and it should be made for all the right reasons at the best possible time for the individual(s) involved. The subprime mortgage crisis reveals the dangers of selling the dream to those who should never have taken the keys in the first place.    

December 11, 2008

A Very U2 Christmas

I am shaking my head at the realization it was 24 years ago that a bunch of socially-conscious pop stars got together to record "Do They Know Its Christmas?". Bono's contribution was the accusatory line "Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you". I thought he delivered it so very well. He would contribute the same vocal again when a new generation gathered to re-record the song on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. The song-for-a-cause movement was born and U2 made a few more Christmas songs.

In 1987 U2 contributed a song to the charity album "A Very Special Christmas". I remember rushing out to by my copy of the cassette tape (yes, you read that correctly). It's been a favourite of mine for all that time, and the Christmas season always makes me want to hear it again for all reasons nostaglic. Thanks to the gift that is YouTube you can enjoy the playful video U2 made for the song "It's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". The song begins at 0:38 after an intro by a VJ with great '80s hair.

This past week, U2 recorded another Christmas song for (Red)Wire, an online music magazine that purchases aids drugs in Africa. The songs is a remake of a 1970s beauty called "I Believe in Father Christmas"

Bonus: Have a look at U2 circa 1987 covering "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)".

December 5, 2008

Oh, Won't You Stay Just a Bit Longer?

The results of a study led by the Monieson Centre at Queen's School of Business entitled "Creative Economy Challenges: Retention of Queen’s Graduates in the Greater Kingston Area" were released yesterday. Among the findings:

• Employment prospects are critical to retaining students locally.
• Students are more likely to stay in Kingston for summer jobs and post graduate employment if they feel they are part of the community.
• Students and alumni both indicated that employment prospects were the most important factor in deciding where to live post graduation.
• Students and alumni both expressed strong dissatisfaction with Kingston’s employment opportunities.
• Students and alumni both indicated “sales & service” was their least desired type of employment and they perceived sales & service to be the largest type of employment in Kingston.

As for possible solutions, the report recommended that Kingston should implement policies that generate new economic opportunities in several key areas including health, research, social sciences (education, government, religion), natural and applied sciences, art, culture, recreation, sports, business and finance. The City should also work to foster integration of students into the Kingston community. You can read highlights of the report starting on page 40 here.

December 2, 2008

Clash of the Coalitions

Here's what I awoke to on CBC news this morning:

Country 1

The country's top court has dissolved the government. The decision, which effectively dissolves the Prime Minister's government, follows months of opposition protests that have driven government officials from their offices. The Consitutional Court also banned at least one of the ruling coalition partners, effectively dismantling the government over allegations of vote-rigging. Adeputy prime minister from one of the remaining coalition parties will take over until the parliament could approve a new government.

Country 2

The head of state is cutting short a state visit to Europe and returning to the country in the face of a political crisis that could bring down the government next week. The head of state will be called upon to decide who should govern if the minority government falls in a confidence vote. Opposition leader announced Monday that he had informed the head of state of a formal entente between the opposition parties, and called on her to let him govern. The Prime Minister's minority government could fall Monday when the House of Commons votes on last week's economic update - unless the Prime Minister prorogues Parliament.

Fascinating times indeed. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. By the way, the first country is Thailand and the second country is Canada.

December 1, 2008

Madame Secretary

Hilary Clinton has been named as America's next Secretary of State, the most powerful cabinet position in Obama's administration and fourth in line to the Presidency according to the Succession Act. In many ways, this will be a much better use of Mrs Clinton's talents than would have been the case had she been selected as the Vice President. Assuming she can corral her erratic husband she should be an indomitable force for diplomacy.

November 26, 2008

Tears for Mumbai

The Times of India is reporting that at least 80 people have been killed and 900 injured in terrorist attacks in Mumbai, including an attack on the famed Taj Hotel (1903). This story has special resonance for me as I stayed at the Taj in 2004 during my memorable trip to India. I fell in love with Mumbai and this historic hotel made such an indelible impression on me. I feel so sad for this great city and for the people who are suffering the senseless and incomprehensible slaughter of innocents. My heart goes out to all of those affected. 
Launching December 1, (RED)WIRE is a digital music magazine with one very important difference. It not only changes the way music is discovered, it provides medicine for people who need it in Africa.  
Every Wednesday, receive your new exclusive music via the (RED)WIRE player – which also places each song automatically in your iTunes. Half of your $5 monthly membership fee goes directly to The Global Fund to help buy and administer medicine to people in Africa living with HIV. It costs just $12 per month to provide someone the two pills a day they need to stay alive. So every five (RED)WIRE members generate enough money, every month, to help keep one person living with HIV in Africa alive. Simple. Powerful. Learn more here.

November 13, 2008

The Problem with You

Apparently the music and fashions of the 1980s are making a serious comeback. How fitting, since we are living in round two of the Me generation. Sadly, Time put "You." on the cover of its 2006 Person of the Year edition. This was well-received by the narcissistic self-entitled masses, their egos pumped with hourly visits to their Facebook and MySpace pages, stacked with their global "friends". This is a generation obsessed with rights and the blithe assumption that all opinons are valid and that everyone is entitled to share their opinions (Might as well throw me on the pile, if you are actually reading this blog). But this is a bastardization of democracy, for democracy is not solely about rights but also about responsibilities. Yes, you have a right to free speech but you have the responsibility to make sure it is informed free speech. Witness the endless cascade of comments at the end of nearly every article on the web. It matters little whether there is an ounce of intelligence in the comments. Somewhere along the way we confused free speech with graffiti. No, that's not fair. Graffiti has artistic merit. The primary school ramblings in most comment boxes are not worthy of the locker room let alone websites of news organizations. We learn that a majority of U.S. university students expect a B for either showing up or reading the course materials, and that professors should reconsider their marks because the students try hard. This reminds me of when I used to work in university admissions--parents would plea that their beloved child should be admitted because they really want to get in. What happened to authority? What happened to the idea that you should know something before you contribute to the conversation, that the wise speak of only what they know, and that a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing indeed? (Sigh...)

November 12, 2008

Connecticut Allows Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

In the looming shadow of California's Proposition 8, hope emerges from the east coast, where a Connecticut judge has just opened the door to marriage for same-sex couples. See the breaking news at CNN.

November 11, 2008

Got Milk?

With the passing of Proposition 8 in California, banning marriage for same-sex couples, the timing could not be more sadly ironic for the upcoming biopic on Harvey Milk. Played by Sean Penn the movie "Milk" tells the story of the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. Elected in 1977 as a city supervisor for San Francisco Milk was a passionate advocate for civil rights for gay people. Tragically, he was assassinated by a fellow city supervisor two years later. View the trailer here.

Lovers in Japan (please click on arrow)

November 5, 2008

Yes we can!

 If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palinfor all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States,Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady,Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.


October 25, 2008

Sitting at the feet of a master

I just returned from seeing Daniel Lanois live in Ottawa. It was a relatively intimate setting at Ottawa's Centrepointe Theatre. Lanois, known for his incredible production of U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris (and others), has a legion of fans in his own right based on his great solo albums. He offered his magnificent sound scapes and sonic architecture from his debut album "Acadie" (1989), to"For the Beauty of Wynona" (1993),  "Shine" (2003) and his most recent release "Here is What Is" (2008). It was a marvellous concert, and I was thrilled to finally see a man whose personal music I have enjoyed for years and who is largely responsible for the most important albums in my life--the best albums of U2.

October 17, 2008

Canada's banks rated world's soundest

Amidst the cacophany of the global economic turmoil Canadians can look ahead with some extra confidence as The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009 has ranked Canada as first in the world for the soundness its banking system. As a result, the Washington Post reports, the world financial crisis has largely bypassed Canada.

October 16, 2008

This image, from the final presidential debate on Wednesday, seems to say everything we need to know. McCain looks like Gollum trailing behind Frodo on the long journey to Mount Doom. One is half-crazed, yearning for his precious power, while the other is serene, accepting of his role in a great destiny...

October 15, 2008

A new journal is being launched by Queen's University graduate students entitled Shift: Queen’s Graduate Journal of Visual and Material Culture. The journal "welcomes submissions dealing with visual and material culture from any discipline in the humanities. Papers may address a full range of topics and historical periods. Topics may include, but are not limited to, art and propaganda, patronage, gender and identity, spirituality and art, nationalisms and regionalisms, modernism and modernity, performance art, photography and film, perspectives in theory, methodology, and historiography, collection and representation, art and technology". The fascinating inaugural issue is now available on their website here.

October 9, 2008

Stacy's Guide to Networking

What is the most effective way of presenting yourself to future employers? Improve your networking capabilities and watch your future grow!

WHAT: Backpack to Briefcase – Networking Essentials
WHEN: Thursday, October 16, 2008
TIME: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
WHERE: Goodes Hall, Room 301
COST: Free
DRESS: Smart Casual
Back by popular demand, Stacy Kelly, Artsci ’93, Office of the Vice Principal (Advancement), will provide anyone entering the job market with tips and advice about appearance and etiquette. From shaking hands to business cards, this lecture will provide valuable information that will smooth the transition from student to professional – brought to you by the Queen’s Student Alumni Association (QSAA).

Click here to register.

October 8, 2008

Guitar Porn

The BBC is now offering 2 wonderful short clips of The Edge sharing some of his guitar magic. Check out Clip 1 and Clip 2. Sweet!

October 6, 2008

Etsy besty Mara...

My dear friend Mara works at Queen's but, like so many of us, holds her enduring passion for something way outside of her office space. In her case it's handmade stained glass jewelry. In her spare time she works away in her home-based studio to create one-of-a-kind pieces that are simply delightful and sweet (just like Mara). Please check out her creations at her online store.

September 28, 2008

Finally, the reunion I've been waiting 11 years to see...My two favourite actors are appearing in Revolutionary Road this December. Based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Richard Yates (and the inspiration for the TV show "Mad Men") this film, directed by Sam Mendes, promises to be memorable and poignant. I think it will prove to be an excellent counterpart to Mendes' "American Beauty" (1999). In a 2000 re-review of the novel, the New York Times reviewer writes, "Mostly 'Revolutionary Road' is just so smart and keen and shockingly inventive about everything it turns its imagination to: about being young and blissfully rudderless in New York City before the responsibilities of marriage and family cloud the sky; about entertaining the awful neighbors; about long, long business lunches; about being 30 and feeling middle-aged; about fearing change when you know change is likely to save you; even about the pink light seen through a poor man's earlobe, palely summing up all of humanity's frailty and failure."

September 22, 2008

I came home tonight to learn that a paper I authored this past August on higher education philanthropy has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming issue of the Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education. I was pretty blown away by this news and I look forward to working with the Journal to create the final version for an expected February 2009 publication.

September 15, 2008

I am so sad to announce that my uncle Robert (Bobby) Kelly passed away yesterday at home. He was surrounded by his wife of 36 years, Margaret, and his two wonderful sons, Chad and Liam. My dad and my other uncle, Glenn, were there a great deal in the last few days.
I joined the Kelly family in 1978 when my Mom and I moved in with my Dad (he later adopted me). Uncle Bobby welcomed me warmly and instantly and both he and my aunt Margaret were so very supportive of me and my drama productions during and after high school. I used to babysit their boys when they all still lived in Aylmer back in the old homestead. I have a rush of nostalgic and bittersweet memories. He was a lovely and good man, and I will miss him dearly.

September 9, 2008

The New U.S. Executive?

It seems my recent caution to Democrats not to underestimate Sarah Palin was very well-founded. A CBS poll released today shows that "when asked directly what helped them to choose a candidate, 28 percent of these previously uncommitted voters volunteered Sarah Palin". She is also polling very high with uncommitted voters, well over Biden. All-in-all this points to the fact that more uncommitted have moved to the Republicans than Democrats since the end of the conventions. And they mourn, and weep, and fast till the evening (2 Samuel 1:12).

September 8, 2008

Star Gazing

On Saturday night Mark and I attended a gala screening of Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married", starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Debra Winger. The screening was preceded by a cocktail reception hosted by Queen's University for alumni and friends. As this was the North American premiere the director and stars were in attendance. As we were about seven rows back from the stage I was rather star struck! Ms. Hathaway is tall and stunning, and she seemed so very sweet. It was a treat to see Debra Winger. I have been a fan of hers for years. We were addressed by Mr. Demme, which had me pinching myself as he is a legend in his own right.
The film was uneven but the performances were stellar. Ms. Hathaway was superlative as the recovering drug addict Kym returning to the family homestead for her sister Rachel's wedding. There is no doubt she should receive an Oscar nomination. It's pretty clear that Kym is not especially welcome, and a dark part of the family's history is revealed. The film is raw, and there is a sense of voyeurism as the scenes were entirely filmed by a hand-held camera (which was quite annoying at times). There were moments where you wanted to leave because you felt you were intruding into some very painful moments in this family's ongoing story. This is a dramatic movie at all turns but it does not become maudlin, which would have easily happened with less capable actors. Debra Winger's scenes are few and between but she strikes the perfect note each time. The film is grounded by the hapless father Paul, played by Bill Irwin. This is a beautiful, moving, honest, and affecting film.

September 3, 2008

"But I was going to be the first female..."

As I watch Governor Sarah Palin address the Republican National Convention I can't help but think of Senator Hilary Clinton. Surely she is also watching, and she must be pinching herself. She must be finding the scene on the television incredulous. I wonder if she is harbouring a bitterness as she contemplates the past year and the decades of her public service and where it has led her--to watching instead of being in front of the camera setting the agenda.

Tonight's messages from Rudy Giuliani and Governor Palin have been barbed and vicious. Both have come out on full attack mode with their gloves off. For example: "This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign". Ouch! They are slicing and dicing Senator Obama for his lack of executive experience and they are positioning him as being all about style and little substance. The word "experience" has been used in almost every sentence, and while Palin is veering on too much sarcasm for my taste, Democrats are very wrong to discount her or the Republicans. Still, I wish she would actually tell us why she would make a great VP instead of spending her time deifying McCain and denigrating Obama. Read Palin's speech here.

As of last look there was only a one-point gap between the parties. This tells me that the so-called "battleground states" and the undecided will determine this election. We should expect one of the most barbaric displays of party rhetoric, stinging criticisms, tabloid-style attacks, excess negativity than in the last two elections. The "Us" and "Them" quotient will rise exponentially. The key will be to see which party can mobilize feet to the polls, and who can win over the fence-sitters. Palin's straight-shootin', small-town hockey mom persona fuels the Republican base, and perhaps will pull in many others. Obama will need Hilary Clinton more than ever to work the stumps and pull in support for the Democrats.

September 2, 2008

Ivy League Leaders

I am amazed at the influence of Harvard and Yale alumni who have made such an indelible impact on American politics at the highest level. These two schools have made a disproportional impact on the United States (and by extension, the world):
President William H. Taft. Yale 1878
President Gerald Ford, Yale 1941
President George H.W. Bush, Yale 1948
President George W. Bush, Yale 1968
President William J. Clinton Yale 1973
Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, Yale 1973
President John Adams, Harvard 1755
President John Quincy Adams, Harvard 1787
President Rutherford Hayes, Harvard 1845
President Theodore Roosevelt, Harvard 1880
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harvard 1904
President John F.Kennedy, Harvard 1940
President George W. Bush, Harvard 1975
Senator Barack Obama, Harvard 1991

Cephalopods in Love

The things we do for love...have a look at the best animated film of 2007, Oktapodi

Kingston ranked 7th smartest city in Canada

The Canadian Council of Learning has ranked Kingston 7th overall out of 4,700 cities in their ranking of Canada's smartest cities. The ranking is based on 25 indicators that are grouped into UNESCO "pillars" of learning. They include, "Learning to Know", "Learning to Do", Learning to Live Together", and Learning to Be". Kingston shares the number 7 ranking with London and Oshawa. Ottawa and Victoria tied for the top spot. In the indicators ranking, Kingston came in as the 2nd most caring city in Canada, and the 19th most cultured city.

September 1, 2008

Go Gaels Go!

Queen's has unveiled its new visual identity for all things athletic, and is the first Canadian university to partner with adidas for its team apparel line. Soon all varsity players will be sporting the new uniforms and the campus bookstore will be stocked with sportwear featuring the new look. Queen's interuniversity competition dates back to 1873 and there have been many incarnations of the "old Queen's sweater". But through all the years a few things have remained: the signature tricolour and the symbolic "Q" have been refreshed and will launch another era of Queen's athletic spirit.

August 31, 2008

John McCain's Master stroke?

The Democrats are wrong to write-off Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin. I am likely a voice in the wilderness and just might be the only liberal who thinks that John McCain may have made a smart decision in choosing his running mate. Everything being equal the overarching priority is on winning the election, and a general election is about winning the votes that count in the so-called swing states. Indeed, general elections are not about what the Beltway pundits and east-coast intelligentsia want or expect. Of course they predicted Romney or even Lieberman but the electorate doesn't need or want either one of those names on the McCain ticket. Palin is the perfect choice of gender, politic, age, and profile to put in front of those who are still smarting over Hilary's defeat and those who like their politicians on the right-hand side of the issues. The United States has an enormous and well-mobilized evangelical movement and Governor Palin might just be the ticket for their aspirations.

The Best of Unknown U2

Here is my list of the top-10 U2 songs you've likely never heard. Here are 10 essential U2 songs that you would have never heard unless I pointed them out. In no particular order they are:
Mercy (2004)
Bono referred to this as "a six-and-a-half-minute outpouring of U2 at its most uninhibitedly U2-ish" in an interview with Blender magazine. A beauty, with some of Bono's finest lyrics.
A wicked collaboration. Lyrics by Salman Rushdie and music by U2. This song haunts me. My, oh my...
A song for a hot summer night. Love and hate collide in an electrical storm. A little gem.
From the "Achtung Baby" outtakes, no one can quite fugure how this didn't make final cut. From 4:36 onward I just want to fly forever.
Scarlet (1981)
This song reaches deep inside your heart and makes you want to believe again.
A song for their daughters, U2 break my heart. You'll sing the chorus for days.
I have always loved those moments when U2 figure out how to blow you away without much noise. This song is one of those moments.
Yes, yes, it's a cover of Cole Porter's timeless classic but U2 make it their own. Their best remake, hands down.
Heartland (1988)
From their juggernaut "Rattle and Hum", one of their finest recordings.
The Edge considers this one of of the most successful recordings U2 has ever done. I agree. A song that was overlooked when "War" was released.
Bonus: check out The Edge's guest performance on guitar at a Wyclef Jean concert. The magic begins at 4:50. Wow!

August 29, 2008

Mullet the Blue Sky

Finally, U2's iconic 1983 performance at Red Rocks, Colorado is being released on DVD in September. This is a must-have for fans, and is a nostalgic look back to the era of political preening and one of the best mullets to grace the stage...You can enjoy a preview of this classic concert here.

August 15, 2008

Why I Love Geeks

I stumbled across a hilarious video of a bunch of that re-enact a pivotal scene from "Star Wars: A New Hope" at their office. I just love this video because, dear readers, I spent most of my childhood acting out various "Star Wars" scenes, sometimes alone and other time with friends. Now I haven't pretended to be Han Solo since I was about 14 (no, really) so watching this video made me think that perhaps I've been missing out on alot of fun...Check out these wonderful geeks here.

August 11, 2008

I want my, I want my MuchMusic

[from the Queen's University NewsWire]

New research by a Queen's University musicologist examines why Canadians are so attached to their music video station, MuchMusic, and why Canada is the only country in the world that has withstood the American MTV invasion.

In a new book, Coming to You Wherever you are: MuchMusic, MTV, and Youth Identities, music expert Kip Pegley compares content on MuchMusic and MTV, where she looks at the national, gendered, and racial constructs of the two stations. “When scholars – especially American scholars – talk about music television, the assumption is that they mean MTV,” says Dr. Pegley. “But after watching endless hours of MTV and MuchMusic, I realized that they were quite different and wanted to explore why MuchMusic was unique.” Dr. Pegley documents evidence to support why the MuchMusic audience feels more connected to their station than their MTV-watching counterparts: MuchMusic viewers feel like they’re taken in as a collective, rather than individuals.

August 7, 2008

When material just presents itself...

This is an actual store sign in Salem, MA. We drove by and did a double-take and we just had to go back and take a picture. We laughed for a good half hour. The average age inside car dropped to 11. I nearly crashed the car. Ah, good times...

July 31, 2008

Great, great poster. Rock on Canadian filmmakers!

July 27, 2008

Psychic Pilgrims

I've recently discovered MGMT, a New York duo that produces sonic magic. Here's music to live by; to cry, dream, hope, and fall into oblivion with. Climb into the tub, shut yourself in your room, or get in the car and never stop driving...

July 26, 2008

Queen's Webcam Tease

For those Queen's University friends who live far away you might enjoy taking a peek at campus as it continues to undergo a massive multi-million dollar revitalization.

University Avenue: peek here (gone is the double boulevard)

Tindall Field: peek here (swapping the original Tindall behind Vic Hall with a parking lot and replacing the Mac-Corry parking lot with an artificial field)

Queen's Centre: peek here (Jock Harty Arena is gone)and here (this used to be a whole block of houses just behind JDUC)

Cape Cod Shorts 1

July 8, 2008

School's In for Summer

I started my first course of my Master of Education program last week. It's called "Comparative, International, and Development Education" and there are only 10 students in the class, including myself. Talk about intimate learning! I have to present a paper written my another author and lead a seminar, and then I have to present my own paper toward the end of the course. I have really enjoyed the class discussions so far--they are very intellectually demanding, quite intense and each class lasts 3 hours. I must confess I was anxious to begin graduate studies after being out of school for 12 years but it's been great so far.

July 3, 2008

400 years ago today Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City. Bonne fete!!

New Job...Old Office

Well, I am on day 2 of my new job. Please forgive the image duplication. This is the nicest photo I have of the building where I now work, Summerhill. Built in 1839 this is the oldest building on the Queen's campus. However, although Queen's had opened in March 1842 it did not purchase Summerhill until 1853, having moved around various rented spaces in Kingston.
Prior to Queen's purchase Summerhill was used as a residence, school, and even rented accommodations known as "Sydenham Inn" for members of Canada's first parliament, who met across the street in June 1841 in the original Kingston General Hospital building (circa 1831).
For those first 5 years (1853-1858) in the new permanent building Summerhill housed the entire university, being home to Arts & Theology, Law, Medicine, and the young college's professors and administration. Since 1867 the east wing has been the official residence of the Principal of Queen's, although it has not been occupied since 1984. It is now used for receptions of honoured guests. The centre block (where I work) and the west wing are now home to the Office of Advancement, the University's alumni relations and fundraising team. It is an honour to be in a building with so much history and grace.

July 1, 2008

Provincetown, Oh Provincetown

Mark and I have begrudgingly returned from our week at our cottage in Provincetown, on the northern tip of Cape Cod. The town's motto is "Like Nowhere Else" and this was so very true. For decades, P-Town has attracted LGBT travellers because of its unique ambience and friendly atmosphere. It was amazing to see gay and lesbian couples everywhere walking hand-in-hand without a worry. It was a magic place, full of laughter, quaint beauty, and the vitality of the sea air. I am homesick for P-Town, a bubble of acceptance and creativity. More pictures from Cape Cod to come...