Archive for April, 2009

Life Without A Lens

Tomorrow is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day! An interesting way to challenge the typical way of taking a photograph in the era of digital point and shoot cameras. Shooting digital or analog, people around the world will take part in this free international event created to promote and celebrate the art of pinhole photography.

I’m going to try and shoot some pinhole shots with my Lomography Diana+. I’ve been too busy (lazy) to drill a hole in an old camera body cap and fashion a pop can “pinhole lens” on to it. There are no “rules” but I thought keeping the my personal challenge on analog film would be fun.

The idea of taking pictures over several seconds (or even minutes) will be a change. A chance to sloooow down. The best part will be viewing pictures taken around the world using a tiny hole for a lens. The organizers encourage everyone around the world to submit images. Last year participants from over 60 countries submitted images to the gallery.

So try your hand at pinhole photography, be it a pop can, cigar box, old SLR, or modified digital camera. Pic your favourite image taken Sunday and share it with the world.

This is not a photo contest. There are no good or bad pictures. Every pinhole photograph is unique. Have fun!

Tunes At The Tranzac

muskox

The Tranzac always has a warm and cozy vibe. Looking forward to checking out a great double bill tomorrow (Sunday). Muskox and Jeremy Strachan (Gus is due back from Montreal so perhaps Feuermusik will be playing too?).

The Tranzac continues to be a hidden gem. Easy on the soul and the wallet with great music and cheap or PWYC shows.

Muskox and Jeremy Strachan
Tranzac – 292 Brunswick Avenue
Sunday April 26th at 10pm
Pay what you can!

Bombardier vs. Siemens Canada – Who Won?

The TTC announced today that Bombardier beat out Siemens Canada for a bid to replace Toronto’s aging streetcar fleet. The estimated billion-plus-dollar contract will provide the TTC with new streetcars and replace nearly all of the 30 year old streetcar fleet. There will also be an option to build another 364 cars as light rail service expands.

Siemens Canada had tried to sweeten their deal by pledging to build their streetcars at a local plant. Bombardier, though based in Montreal, already have a factory Thunder Bay (though most if not all of their light rail manufacturing is in Europe).

In the end Toronto really won. By focusing on best practices and the needs of its Toronto riders, the TTC has done the right thing. We may soon have greener, cleaner and more accessible streetcars. A move in the right direction and at a fraction of the cost of a subway.

Porter Air Looking To Push For More Expansion

The battle for the Island continues as Porter Airlines pushes to grow. Robert Deluce, the founder and CEO of Porter Airlines will likely reveal Porter’s expansion plans Monday as federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and other top officials visit Toronto.

Community AIR and other advocacy groups are upset that efforts are being made to double capacity at the island airport. Porters current fleet of 8 planes is due to be increased by at least 10 aircraft. Groups sight noise and environmental concerns with the airport as short haul flights are of the most polluting form of travel.

With billions of both public and private sector money in waterfront development at stake you can bet that Toronto’s fight for the Toronto Island is far from over.

The Beginning Of The End For Cometic Pesticides?

Public health will trump the need for the perfect front lawn. Starting today Ontario is banning the sale and use of about 250 pesticides and ingredients, including 2,4-D and malathion.

The health risks and environmental impacts of these toxins are well documented (even blogged here). The science behind limiting widespread use of synthetic chemicals is mounting. For once it appears that Ontario is doing its citizens a good service.

Internet At Full Throttle?

The debate continues. Groups like Save Our Net have been advocates for changes in legislation. Currently internet providers appear to be charging for high speed connections then throttling down user connection speeds. “Traffic shaping”, the providers argue, is necessary to allow some users from monopolizing the network. In principal the only time resources would be minimized would be to reduce the threat of viruses or malware. Many see ISP measures like these as efforts to steer the internet away from the essence of net neutrality; core principals of democratic participation and free speech.

With digital TV already replacing analog in some jurisdictions one can see that a new digital media battle is being waged. Will your internet service become yet another version of cable tv? Could traffic shaping and user fees limit access to information, social networks or the number web pages visited per month? Could shaping help fight piracy or make it thrive?

One thing is for sure. Public consultations with the CRTC will determine whether traffic shaping should continue or in what form. Petitions and opposition up to this point have provided this avenue for public input. Speak out or get throttled.

Random Johnathan Thomas Sighting

jt-for-double

Searching for some CD’s and came across a strange ebay posting. Grade or some other Burlington band must have hawked this CD for food or ??? on tour in Indianapolis. Could the seller have done something more than check the CD for scratches? Did they venture a listen to both bands on the split CD? Both bands made decent recordings here in Toronto (at Umbrella Sound and Signal to Noise). From the listing the seller has no idea “who” these bands are. That’s what makes it cool and funny at the same time.

Sprucehill / Johnathan Thomas is a 1990’s emo CD. It’s not horrible but it was hardly a fan favourite of the HeartAttack crowd or those looking for the next Earth Crisis or Chokehold. Chokehold are (were) amazing but diverse tastes meant my first band sounded more like to Braid, Christie Front Drive and other emo bands emerging at the time. More melodic than heavy. The fact that a CD webstore is offering it up is interesting but they are charging quite a sum for their jurassic find.

Pretty shocked to see this old “local hero CD” selling for more than double what it sold for back in the day here in the GTA. I’m sure Kyle Bishop would get a laugh and a half. He of course played in Johnathan Thomas (his first band playing guitar instead of focusing on only vocals). Kyle’s artwork is on the cover too. Perhaps if this were known the CD would go for even more…haha!

If Burlington/Toronto post-hardcore, GRADE side projects or musical curiousity is your thing, hit ebay. That or perhaps dig at the bottom of the used CD bin for your glimpse of Sprucehill and Johnathan Thomas.

Record Store Day – Tomorrow!

recordstoreday

April 18, 2009 is Record Store Day! What is Record Store Day? It was originally conceived by Chris Brown, and founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding independently owned record stores. A day meant to celebrate the few, true local record stores. The one’s that don’t merely pander to the payola and fickle tastes of corporate types “trying to move units”. These are the stores which promote local shows (even host them), sell a variety of great music vinyl as well as CD, and are types of businesses that enhance to the community (both the music community and the ones they inhabit).

Several venues in Toronto are part of the action including Soundscapes, Sonic Boom, Penguin Music and Criminal Records. You can expect the usual greatness from these epic Toronto independent record stores as usual. Tomorrow there will be some treats too. Sale items? Live performances? Local musician apparences? Special Limited Editions up for grabs? Perhaps all the above!

Record Store Day
April 18, 2009
Many participating Independent Stores Internationally and Toronto including…

Criminal Records
493 Queen Street West

Penguin Music
256-A Queen St W. (downstairs)

Sonic Boom
512 Bloor St. W

Soundscapes
572 College Street

Toronto Man Arrested Trying To Export Transducers

A man is being held under the on charges under the Customs Act and Export Import Permits Act . The Toronto Star has reported that a Toronto man is being held for trying to export nuclear technology. Transducers, while not always innocuous as a lab beaker, can be used for legitimate as well as mad scientist purposes. Caution is not a bad thing but it will be interesting to see whether these charges stick and the intent of this man was to export weapons or restricted goods.

Billy Bob’s Joaquin Phoenix Moment

It was unfortunate to see Billy Bob Thorton’s meltdown play out on Q. In a strange parallel to Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman Billy Bob was offended by host Jian Ghomeshi references to his other work (both on the screen and his screenwriting talents). Unlike Letterman, Jian Ghomeshi was not belittling or condescending. He well recognized the Billy Bob’s catalog of music to date. Jian was rightly impressed and inquisitive about the Boxmasters output in such a short time together. The resulting meltdown was shocking and disappointing to say the least.

Jian Ghomeshi remains one of CBC jewels. His show Q remains one of the best programs/podcasts CBC offers up Canada and the world. Hopefully Billy Bob Thornton and Boxmasters, recover from this public pouting fit. As an artist, actor and writer Billy Bob Thornton is exceptional despite this behaviour.

Well the dust has settled. Boxmasters play Massey Hall again tonight (April 9th) in support of Willie Nelson.

WILLIE NELSON with special guests Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters and Ray Price
Massey Hall
April 9, 2009 7:30 PM
$125.00 – $59.50

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