Archive for March 31st, 2009


Jack Ketchum

March 31, 2009

Warning: this article contains videos with violent imagery and language.
If you’re at work and really need to see them, turn your volume down.
If you’re at home and kids are around, wait until they go to bed.

Jack Ketchum is one of my favourite horror writers. His books never fail to surprise and challenge me, and even when they veer into territories I don’t often like — such as gore and ultraviolence — I keep reading. He has a master’s touch with plain language and knows how to craft fully realized characters with just a few sentences. He’s incredible.

I won’t say much more. If you like horror, and you haven’t heard of Jack, you should read some of his books.

A movie was made of his book The Girl Next Door last year. It was modelled on the story of Sylvia Likens, and thus bears a similarity to last year’s An American Crime, which was also the Likens story.

Hey, someone made a movie out of Offspring! I didn’t know anything about this. Warning: the trailer is violent. Strange that this book was filmed first, as it’s a sequel to Off Season.

Holy crap, someone made a movie out of Jack’s novel Red, too. This is incredible. Hmmm … spelling alert: “Based on the best-selling novel by Jack Ketchmum?” Come on, people. Oh, but it has Kim Dickens in it. She’s a great underrated actress (Zero Effect, Lost).

Wait, what? More Jack Ketchum movies? How is it that I’ve missed these? Here’s the trailer for The Lost, one of his more interesting books. I loved this one; I’ll have to see the movie.

Three Jack Ketchum movies … I really should pay more attention to what’s going on in modern indie cinema. Anyway, here are some links.


Music Review: Wolfmother Howls Again

March 31, 2009

I listened to a lot of Wolfmother a couple of years ago. It isn’t often that I like new bands that come along; the only actual CDs I’ve purchased new since 2006 are The Killers, Wolfmother, the last Cult disc and the latest from Loreena McKennitt. Other than that, I buy the odd song online, but really, I have tens of thousands of songs archived, and I’d rather listen to any of that older stuff than most new crap.

Wolfmother is a real oddity: three young Aussies who channel Hendrix, Zeppelin, Ozzy and Blue Cheer, solid, deadly guitar rock. It’s hallucinogenic, furious and cosmic, and I just loved it two years ago.

It’s been a while since Wolfmother got any play around here, though. Until tonight. The new single, Back Round, from the album of the same name, is currently available as a free download at Go download it if you like classic hard rock. If you have a mullet or own a pair of jeans more than 10 years old, downloading this song is mandatory. Note that the site asks for your mobile number; I didn’t enter mine and I was still able to get the song.

Back Round is great. It doesn’t have the epic hookiness of the songs I loved on the first disc — my favourites include Colossal, The Joker and the Thief, Woman (I have a great remix of that one) and Dimension. But it comes close.

Wolfmother isn’t for everyone. And it isn’t always for me. But sometimes I like to bang the old head a little when there’s nobody around. You know, this music makes me miss my old speakers, the five-footers that used to make my whole house rattle and thud whenever I listened to Electric. It just isn’t the same with these little white earbuds.

Here’s the video for Woman, their first big global hit.


Black Wednesday?

March 31, 2009

Rumours are roaring that tomorrow, April 1, will see another devastating round of cuts to Canadian newspaper jobs. As you may recall, I was let go in December (the so-called “Black Tuesday”) after close to 20 years on the job as our parent company downsized its workforce by 10 per cent.

The alleged cuts set for tomorrow are supposedly part of a plan to streamline operations, leading to regional production centres being set up to supply content and create pages for several other papers.

This would mean the need for each newspaper in the chain to have, say, a World editor, an Entertainment editor, a Business editor, etc. would be negated; those pages would be created hundreds of miles away and FTPd around the chain like a particularly funny LOLcat.

We’ve already seen it happen. All the papers in the chain I used to work for were recently redesigned with a common look, common layout and shared fonts and graphic elements. The old individuality is gone. I live within an hour of a dozen or so papers in this chain, and I know what they look like. They look like the one that gets hurled into my ditch every morning.

That kind of production means fewer people are needed. Six months ago, I was part of a 22-person newsroom. That’s down to 15 or so now, with more cuts tomorrow. Canadian dailies could soon become little more than bureaus of a larger parent paper, a national USA Today idea.

I understand that this is a business reality. I get that. But it still saddens me. I grew up in newspapers. I’m most at home in a dirty old room that smells of hot wax and newsprint (not that modern papers are like that, but I’m nostalgic). But the world is changing, changing quickly, and the “end of newspapers” may well be approaching.

For years, I’ve insisted newspapers had at least 20 more years, perhaps more. Now I’m not so sure.

If you’re reading this, and you work at a Canadian daily, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.


Lost: What?

March 31, 2009

I love Lost. But the person who made this not only loves it, but knows every moment of it. Imagine, for a moment, the work that went into cutting this video. Knowledge, patience and skill: Amazing.