Saturday, December 26, 2009

KQED: Curiously Arbitrary Music Awards 2009

As yet another year stumbles drunkenly to a close in a similar fashion to one of Lady Gaga's weird death dances, it's time to take a look back at some of the highest highs and lowest lows from the world of music in 2009.

Most Obviously Self-Sabotaging Band Name:
King Kong Ding Dong

Killjoys of the Year:
California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

Best Album that Should Have Sucked but Didn't:
Karen O and the Kids, "Where the Wild Things Are Motion Picture Soundtrack"

Special "The Music Industry Is Killing Music" Award for Encouraging the Illegal Downloading of Music:

Biggest, Silliest, Deluxest, Specialest, Most Limited Box Set:
Pixies, "Minotaur"

Hat of the Year:
Aretha Franklin

By Keith Laidlaw. Read the full article here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chow: Gordon Ramsay's Live Nightmare

Billed as “the biggest cooking event America has ever seen,” Gordon Ramsay’s Cookalong Live on Fox last night was certainly an exciting televisual challenge. But the toughest part wasn’t keeping up with the pace of the onscreen culinary endeavours (as we were encouraged to do at home), but to endure Ramsay’s weirdly uncomfortable agitation for more than a few minutes. What was wrong with the man: Hasn’t he ever cooked and talked at the same time before?

Granted, he was juggling a stack of studio guests and multiple live satellite/Internet feeds from around the country while simultaneously demonstrating how to knock together a three-course dinner in less than 60 minutes. But he’s also a Michelin-starred chef who has (presumably) endured far more stressful cooking environments than this. The nonexpert guest participants seemed positively laidback next to Ramsay’s bouncing bundle of nerves.

You could put it down to first-time jitters, except El Gordo has already done a whole series of similar shows for Channel 4 in the UK. Maybe it was just the strain of making it through a live broadcast on American TV without losing his temper and dropping the F-bomb. Or perhaps Ramsay just needed to pee really, really badly. Regardless, his performance was possibly the most uncomfortable thing to appear on TV since Glenn Beck went public with his experiences of hemorrhoid surgery.

By Keith Laidlaw. Originally published at

KQED: Home is Where The Rural Alberta Advantage Are

When a Canadian indie outfit is touring the U.S. to promote a record called Hometowns, the temptation to turn to matters geographical is almost overwhelming. But The Rural Alberta Advantage's folk-tinged debut can also be viewed from a more scientific perspective. As the plural in the title implies, this record is concerned with both place and time, and the two don't always interact in a straightforward fashion. Like Einstein said, time can stretch or contract depending on where you are and what you're doing, and all distance is relative. Of course, he was interested only in the laws of the physical universe, whereas these songs aim to examine how movement interacts with our inner, emotional lives.

The one constant according to The Rural Alberta Advantage is that hometowns are places to leave rather than return to. Some of their songs are written from the point of view of the person who has escaped but can't shake off the past; in others, the perspective shifts to the one left behind in abandoned stasis after events have overtaken them.

By Keith Laidlaw. Read the full article here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dragon: Just Say the Words

The new Dragon Dictation app for the iPhone is incredibly impressive. It even understands my strange foreign accent. You want proof? Well here it is. This post was dictated within a single mistake. Okay, without a lot of mistakes. But for a free application it really doesn't get any better than this. Download it now (before you have to pay for it).

Originally published at