Why I’m addicted to BoJack Horseman and so should you

Features, TV, Uncategorized

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“Can everyone stop talking about people that aren’t me?”


 

What do you get when a talking horse adopts three kids? 9 seasons of popular ’90s sitcom Horsin’ Around. What do you get when you follow the life of the show’s lead star turned has-been celebrity? BoJack Horseman.

BoJack Horseman is slowly but surely becoming Netflix’s sleeper hit. A television show about a talking horse displaying near-unparalleled amounts of depth ? Yeah right. Then came the surprise. Instead of being just another mindless show, it made me face my depression head-on. I couldn’t hide. I realized it wasn’t the dumb, funny show I thought it was. Compared to some of the thoughts and sentiments expressed by Bojack, Brian from Family Guy looks deep for about a quarter of a second. With BoJack, I felt understood in ways I never thought would be possible with TV.

The show is one of the latest animated series targeted toward adults. Make no mistake, despite it’s animation and cutesy sound effects, it deals almost strictly with adult themes and content. The Netflix brainchild is rewarding if you can get past the fact that  anthropomorphic animals interact with humans and no one ever bats an eyelash. Don’t take it from me, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said BoJack Horseman is his favourite original series on the streaming platform.

Rest assured, it’s not all depth and doom in BoJack’s world. There’s also comedic relief in the form of BoJack’s best friend, the couch-crashing Todd Chavez, and Princess Carolyn’s beau Vincent Adultman.

Part of the genius of BoJack Horseman is in its various background gags, with some of the visual jokes being quite obvious, others a tad subtler. With repeated viewings you pick up on things that you’ve never observed before. There already exist lists that point out these gags such as this one.

BoJack Horseman received its fair share of criticism early on yet quickly became a darling among major publications and critics using words such as complex and melancholic — and accurately so — to describe the series.

Some of the criticism is valid. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much significance to a show about a has-been celebrity who also happens to be a horse. As such, I believe some viewers have given up on the show too early. It’s only as the show’s first season progresses that its viewers take the plunge, drenching themselves in this anthropomorphic existential comedy ( hold the comedy and replace it with melancholy). It’s comedy but it’s dark comedy.

If it doesn’t get you right away, that’s perfectly normal. BoJack Horseman is a grower, not a shower. It was around season one’s seventh episode when I decided that I was madly in love with this show. I never turned back and devoured season 2 and 3.

BoJack Horseman is funny, self-deprecating and satirical when it needs to be; it’s sad, aware and real when unexpected. It made me feel things in a way a cartoon should never make you feel. BoJack made me feel sad. It forced me to acknowledge depression. It made me examine the roots and cause of feelings. Darnit, TV! I got more than I bargained for when I hit play on that first episode. Damn you Netflix and damn you Will Arnett.

This existential comedy is a rare phenomenon in that it’s a critical darling and the people’s show without alienating one or the other.The viewer wants BoJack to find serenity perhaps with selfish hopes of finding possible comfort for oneself. At every turn the show takes the unexpected route. Bojack is miserable in season 1, gets what he wants in season 2 and deals with the repercussion of obtaining everything he dreamed of in season 3.

 

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“Great story Bojack you should put that in a podcast so l can unsubscribe.”

The show messes with the viewers psyche by making them wonder if they’re Zoes or Zeldas (watch season one then come back, you’ll understand), if they’re really good deep down or just emotional wreck. BoJack Horseman may be clever and funny, but its audience is smart enough that to know he is probably not meant to have a happy ending. In BoJack’s mind he is smarter than the people he encounters (sounds familiar?) but unlike them, he can’t figure out how to be happy and that’s part of what makes him so appealing and relatable.

“He’s so stupid he doesn’t realize how sad he should be,” says BoJack of the happy-go-lucky yellow Lab Mr. Peanutbutter.

The cherry on top of the Sunday is the soundtrack that accompanies and complements the cocktail of melancholy and depression served to us by Netflix. It is also the perfect backdrop to the show’s pop-culture references. Add a few catchphrases and choice celebrity guest spots such as Sir Paul McCartney and Daniel Radcliffe and you have a hit animated sitcom for adults.

I realize that on the surface the show sounds like a roller coaster ride. You should you take the bait and go fishing? Absolutely. Did my analogy make any sense? Nay way José (Get it? Because it’s a thing horses say and… I’m not going to finish or live down this quote).

The show’s third season just dropped on us and season four was just announced by Netflix, yet there simply aren’t enough episodes of the show to binge-watch, just like there aren’t enough articles yet written about BoJack Horseman on the internet. In a culture where people want to feel good about themselves while doing nothing hoping it’s “not too late” — or insert other cliché — BoJack is a slap of much-needed reality.

          Bojack Horseman season 3 is now out Netflix.

 

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Steel Panther infects London (not that London, the other one)

Live/Concerts

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Glam-rockers Steel Panther have found themselves in a unique position where they hold the place of bands they once parodied and paid homage to. The band’s career mirrors the words of Mötley Crüe’s Kickstart My Heart, “When we started this band all we needed was a laugh. Years gone by, I’d say we kicked some a**.” Having previously opened for established bands like KISS and Judas Priest, Steel Panther is now more than capable of selling tickets on their own and that’s just what they did at the London Music Hall on Monday night. No, not that London. The Canadian town of London, Ontario.

“I’m going to smack the botox off your face,” says Satchel, Steel Panther’s brown-haired guitar virtuoso, as he glares at the band’s pink-clad bassist Lexxi Foxx.

That’s the essence of Steel Panther right there. If you don’t enjoy enjoy insults, political incorrectness, lewd acts and steady doses of Van Halen — get out. If it looks as if the sunset-strip Hair-Metallers are constantly touring, it’s only because they are. Fresh off Live From Lexxi’s Mom and an New-Zealand-Australia tour, the band are squeezing Canada by the balls before an impending 3 month-long tour of Europe (or European, as Lexxi calls it) and a brand-new album due later this year.

Steel Panther is no nostalgia trip. At least, not on this particular night. The crowd for the most part, looks to young to relieve the era of spandex, pooffy hair and big riffs. Prior to the show, Ratt’s Round and Round and Gypsy Road by Cinderella are blasting through loud speakers only to be met with little to no reaction. This is not a “Hair-Metal” crowd, per se.

There were very little amount of leopard print items to be found in the Canadian audience — they’re simply here to have their faces rocked like hurricanes. I lost count of how many Megadeth shirt I saw in the audience on this night. By contrast I observed exactly one wig-wearing Panther-lite individual (with zebra-spandex, of course). This was a heavy metal crowd and Steel Panther is some sort metal.

Charismatic frontman Michael Starr channels 50 shades of David Lee Roth. Starr is one of the rare metal singers who sounds as good live as he does in the studio. Court jester extraordinaire Satchel, formerly of Rob Halford’s Two breathes some life to the term “guitar hero”, mostly absent in the past decade. Bassist Lexxi Foxx, who tries his best to look like a glammed-up peacock, spends the evening pouting and touching-up his makeup in his mirror to the point where playing the bass is secondary. Aside from a gag involving his name, Stix Zadinia looks a little more quiet behind his drums, although it might be only because he’s busy providing the backbeat of the band’s sound.

Steel Panther played a 16-song set filled with the only the sleaziest songs from it’s catalogue —minus That’s When You Came In— the way it should be. There’s a only a small sample of the band’s latest album, All You Can Eat, the band choosing instead to rely on road-tested material from their first two studio albums Feel The Steel and Balls Out. Kicking off with Eyes of the Panther —perhaps the only “serious” song in their unique repertoire— the momentum never waivers.

From favourites like the sexist Fat Girl (Thar She Blows) to the racy matter in Asian Hooker bypassing the misogynistic number 17 Girls ln A Row, there is truly something to offend each and every one of your neighbour. The loudest reactions come during the ballads Community Property and Oklahoma Girl proving that while power-ballads may get a bad rap, in some settings they thrive. In what is clearly a touching moment during the band’s most popular song, Community Property, no Fanther in the audience can keep a straight face singing the lyrics like lead singer Michael Starr can and that’s strangely endearing.

Most of the comedy in the show is new, some is obviously recycled from the past such as this nugget (previously heard at Toronto’s Sound Academy a little over a year ago) : “[this girl] is of legal age, which is 13 years-old in Ontario,” says Satchel. “I know because I checked on Wikipedia.”

Or the fan-favourite (again from Sound the Academy but two years ago this time) : “How about we lock the doors and play until 6 AM?”

After witnessing the Panthers live a grand total of four times, it was somewhat of a shock to see the action on stage slightly toned down this time around. Unsubtle innuendos and sex jokes are still a part of the band’s ever-expending repertoire. Girls are still invited on stage. However, in London there is little of the usual “shows us your t***” that comes with the territory of a Steel Panther concert. The girls onstage remained clothed and surprisingly, well-behaved.

Steel Panther knows how to put on a show, there’s not denying that. They’re fun, exciting and fascinating to watch. It’s impossible to look away when the Sunset Strip rockers take over the stage. The problem with putting on the best show possible for the fans is it requires a certain portion of the show to be choreographed. However, this time it seemed a little too planned. In fact, Satchel was wearing the exact same clothes as when l saw the band last year! Hair-Metal sin? You decide.

Let’s hope next time they visit Steel Panther bring fresh jokes and mix things up a little.

***.1/2 /*****
Setlist:

Eyes of a Panther
Tomorrow Night
Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)
Just Like Tiger Woods
Play Video
Let Me Cum In
Asian Hooker
Gold Digging Whore
Satchel Guitar Solo
Ten Strikes You’re Out
Girl From Oklahoma
17 Girls in a Row
Gloryhole
Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’
Death to All but Metal

Encore:
Community Property
Party All Day (Fuck All Night)

Guns N’Roses’ triumphant return to Toronto

Concerts, Features, Live/Concerts, Uncategorized

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The calm before the storm. Guns N’Roses July 16 at Rogers Centre, Toronto by: Morais, Tommy.

     Freshly reunited (sorta) rockers Guns N’Roses made the only Canadian stop of their ongoing North-American tour at the Rogers Centre on Saturday night.

The tour —dubbed the Not In This Lifetime tour— offered young generations of concert-goers the chance to catch the band they thought they’d never see while granting another opportunity for longtime fans to witness the gunners in a live setting once more.

The unpredictability of the band kept the packed Rogers Centre on it’s feet. Would the band breakup on this momentous occasion? Would Axl lose it? That uncertainty is part of the ritual that comes with attending a GNR concert. On this night there were no hints of tension or drama as Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan shared the same stage.

It was a far cry from the Guns N’Roses that played Toronto just two short years ago when they hit the Sound Academy stage with Axl the sole remainder of the band’s glory days. The lineup then consisted of Rose with several musicians who would be unknown to anyone who hasn’t kept up with the band in 25 years. Flash forward two years to a sold-out crowd of 50,000 as the current version of the band appears on the top of the world bringing rock to Toronto— and the masses.

Although members of GNR’s original lineup have kept busy with various projects over time —including notable absentees Izzy Stradlin (who isn’t a part of the tour) and Steven Adler (who briefly performed guest spots on the tour in Cincinnati and Nashville) — Axl, Slash and Duff looked to be right at home onstage at the Roger Centre with the band that made them household names and members of the Rock N’Roll Hall of Fame. It may not be the full-fledged original lineup, but that didn’t stop fans from buying tickets in ’92-93 during the Use Your Illusion/Spaghetti Incident-era when neither Izzy or Steven where around. Why should it now?

The lineup was rounded out with longtime members Dizzy Reeds on keyboards, Richard Fortus (who could very well pass for the son of longtime Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood) on guitar, Frank Ferrer on drums and fresh face Melissa Reese on keys and vocals. With a few shows under their collective belt, this lineup of the sunset-strip rockers brought a well-oiled production to Toronto.

The Gunners took the stage around 9:45 PM, almost on time —and practically spot-on by it’s previously established standards—and surprisingly early for a band notorious for being especially late. The machine that is Guns N’Roses had the audience in the palm of its hand with opener It’s So Easy. Welcome To The Jungle received the biggest pop of the night. “You Know where you are Toronto?”, announces Axl to roars from the sold-out crowd.  The song’s reception was rivalled perhaps only by that of Sweet Child O’Mine‘s and Paradise City‘s. Songs from Appetite for Destruction were played side by side with material from the Axl-lead Chinese Democracy —including Better and the new added, Sorry—along with classic Use Your Illusion I & II era favourites like Civil War and the long epic November Rain (complete with Axl on piano).

The band played a massive minute set clocking in at just under 3 hours, comprising 27 songs including a guitar duel between Slash and Fortus and a 4 song encore. The last time I saw Guns N’Roses live circa 2010 they played a set that was just as long at 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Unlike the notorious frontman’s wardrobe changes (Roses loves his hats; cowboy, Crocodile Dundee-inspired, sombrero-style, it’s all good in his book), interactions with the crowd were kept to a minimum except for some Canada-related banter. Until Axl shared the woes experienced by the band at the Canadian border, that is. According to the frontman, someone from the organization brought a gun with them delaying their entrance in the country.

“They were very nice, they were very understanding. You know, it happens: You can forget you have a fucking gun,” said Rose just before a rendition of the bad-boy anthem Out To Get Me“It wasn’t my gun”.

The matter wasn’t made public before the show, as such, fans in the audience got the “scoop” firsthand.

Was it worth the hype?

While it wasn’t the full-on Appetite for Destruction-era reunion many had hoped for, the 3/5 classic Guns members experience definitely brings a bang for the buck with their lengthy performance and expert musicianship.

Axl’s voice was in excellent shape throughout the concert as he displayed the wide vocal range he is known for. The only signs of wear in his voice happened during the closing encore Paradise City at the end of a complete near 30 song set. Judging by visible panting and the expressions on his face after hitting the high notes, Rose truly gives his all for the fans.

The enthusiastic crowd was also delighted to see Slash, the ever cool top-hat, leather clad guitar slinger. SkyDome was buzzing when the fuzzy-haired, Les Paul-clad guitarist played the blistering solos to songs like Sweet Child O’Mine, but admittedly it looked slightly out of place when Richard Fortus played the solos created by Slash.

Bassist Duff McKagan even got his share of the spotlight as he sang lead on Attitude as the gunners covered punk outfit The Misfits.

I will gladly tell anyone who will listen that I was at Guns N’Roses 2016 . I’ll proudly add, “I survived Guns N’Roses 2016, including scorching heat and a tight, rough crowd”.

****/*****

Setlist:

It’s So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Chinese Democracy
Welcome to the Jungle
Double Talkin’ Jive
(with Slash intro solo)
Estranged
Live and Let Die
(Wings cover)
Rocket Queen
You Could Be Mine
Attitude
(Misfits cover) (with “You Can’t Put Your Arms… more )
This I Love
Civil War
(with Voodoo Child Outro)
Coma
(with band introductions)
Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
(Andy Williams cover) (instrumental, Slash guitar solo)
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Sorry
Better
Out Ta Get Me
Slash & Richard Fortus Guitar Duet
(“Wish You Were Here” with “Layla” outro)
November Rain
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
(Bob Dylan cover)
Nightrain

Encore:

Jam
(“Angie” by the Rolling Stones)
Patience
The Seeker
(The Who cover)
Paradise City

Tweets:

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“Country is the new rock’n’roll”-Steven Tyler

Music reviews

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We’re All Somebody From Somewhere, Steven Tyler, Dot records, 2016.

“Country music is the new rock ’n’ roll, it’s not just about porches, dogs and kicking your boots up – it’s about being real.”-Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler gone country? Get Joe Perry, quick! Aerosmith, the bad boys of Boston, are best known as rock’n’rollers with strong association to blues music, not country. In all seriousness, it is not surprising that Steven Tyler decided to branch out with a solo album (his first ever) but it is a little odd to imagine him doing country, yet that’s precisely what he does with We’re All Somebody From Somewhere.

Steven is an ambassador of rock who takes pleasure invading whichever territory he sees fit; one day it’s being a judge on American ldol, the next it might be a role in a movie or yes, country music. Perhaps we should be accustomed to the unexpected with Steven Tyler by now.

Can we really blame Steven Tyler for trying his hand at country music? Bon Jovi took the country route with Lost Highway and the album was met with commercial success. Steven’s take on the genre is less formulaic, not as produced and ultimately, more honest. Part of the project ends up sounding very similar to Aerosmith which comes as little surprise because, after all, Steven’s voice is Aerosmith. I had my doubts initially, but it sounds like something the demon of screamin’ really wanted to put his heart and soul into.

“My Own Worst Enemy” starts the album softly. Not exactly the country I anticipated and not quite rock. Nor is it a ballad, but it slow-paced nonetheless. It’s surprising how good Tyler sounds for his age, most his peers haven’t aged nearly as well in the vocal department.

The title song “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” is like Tyler; proud, loud and in your face.

“Hold On” features delicious guitar licks. Unfortunately, they stand in the shadows of unnecessarily loud percussions and the love-it-or-hate-it “radio” effect on Steven’s voice, both proving to be too much.

“Love Is Your Name” is well justified as a choice of single. With it’s southern vibe and summer feel the song has an authentic flavour.

The soft country-pop “Gypsy Girl” is the sleeper hit here as it will probably overlooked in favour of other tunes.

I’m fond of “Somebody New”, one of the most country-sounding songs of the album. It sports a hearty chorus with especially effective backing vocals.

Like much if the album, “Red, White & You is rooted in Country and Americana. The song has summer nights listening to the radio written all over it.

It should come to the surprise of exactly 0 people that Steven tackled Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart”. The song became one of Joplin’s most enduring songs, but it fits Tyler so well you’d think it was tailored for him. The Loving Mary Band backed him on this number as well as his last solo tour.

Tyler even takes a shot at covering his own band, Aerosmith, on “Jani’s Got A Gun”. Perhaps because it is acoustic, the song’s melancholic and dramatic qualities are more prominent in contrast to the classic version. It doesn’t touch the original, but I don’t dislike this version.

It’s sad to think of Steven Tyler without Aerosmith, but if we get there —and rumours of an impending farewell tour suggests it will— the 68 year-old has no problem reinventing himself and embracing a completely different musical style. I could see Tyler continue down this path or try his hand at any musical style he desires, and do so with success.

We’re All Somebody From Somewhere was met with much apprehension from fans who saw it as a roadblock for more Aerosmith. The album wasn’t made with Aerosmith in mind, or rock for that matter. Rather, it was a chance for Steven to jam with other musicians and satisfy a craving for something new and different. It is very much an experiment. Maybe not one that will be held with high regards by purists, but one that offers a few good songs and a detached, relaxed pace.

It is beneficial to listen with an open mind because there are really good songs to be discovered. A few of the songs on We’re All Somebody From Somewhere are better than some of the material on the last few Aerosmith albums. However, the die-hard Aerosmith fan might just have repeated spins of Toys In The Attic or Rocks to forget it exists.

rating: ***/*****

An Idol strikes Rama

Live/Concerts, Music reviews

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Image: Billyidol.net

Armed with all the black leather in his closet, signature snarl and trademark bleached punk-hair, Idol rocked Rama on Wednesday night. 2016 marked the “White Wedding” singer’s return to Casino Rama stage for the first time in three years.

Idol showed no signs of slowing down at age 60, only pausing briefly for wardrobe changes and to take off his shirt.

The band opened with “Shock to the System”, a bold choice, before launching into a string of songs from all eras of his career ranging from new tunes such as the fist-pumper “Can’t Bring Me Down” (off Idol’s 2014 effort Kings & Queens of the Underground) right down to classic Generation X-era crowd-pleaser “Dancing With Myself”.

Idol, the man, is possessed on stage. With facial expressions that would make Linda Blair circa The Exorcist blush, he proved himself once more to be quite the ringleader. Even when the paces slows down and during weaker songs he remains in complete control, with his every move captivating the audience. His voice today is not quite what it was during it’s peak as Billy struggled with some of the higher notes but gave a commendable performance nonetheless. Idol’s energy and charisma more than made up for vocal limitations.

Idol, the band, worked as a tight and well-oiled cohesive unit after wearing decades of touring on their collective sleeves, and it shows. For far too long guitarist Steve Stevens has been an unsung hero of rock’n’roll, behind Billy Idol’s world-famous face. The raven-haired guitarist had the chance to show off his talents on multiple occasion with intimate solos spots as well as bits and pieces of Top Gun and Led Zeppelin to the delight of the crowd.

To the untrained ear, the catalogue selection would consist of somewhat obscure songs until the concert staples (save the best for last of course, of course) : “Rebel Yell”, “White Wedding”—performed acoustically in it’s first half with only Idol and Stevens before an electric finish with the full band— “Eyes Without a Face” and “Mony Mony” arrived much later in the set. The devoted fan knows that Billy played selections from new material, classic hits, and middle-day era Idol, effectively covering his entire recording career. Kicking off the show with “Shock to the System” from the underrated Cyber Punk album was pleasantly unexpected , well done Billy.

On this night two obvious favourites in the Billy Idol cannon —“Hot In The City” and “Flesh For Fantasy”— went missing from the setlist, nowhere to be seen (although the band did play Flesh the very next night in Ottawa).

The man with the perpetual sneer even found time between and during songs to sign the occasional records, book and piece of memorabilia for a some lucky fans in the first few rows.

Next time, I only ask Billy ldol to rightfully put “Flesh for Fantasy” in the setlist.

Setlist:
Shock to the System
Dancing With Myself (Generation X song)
Pumping on Steel
Scream
Can’t Break Me Down
Prodigal Blues
Eyes Without a Face
Steve Stevens Guitar Solo – Zeppelin Solos
Don’t Need a Gun
Cradle of Love
Blue Highway
Steve Stevens Guitar Solo
Rebel Yell

Encore:
White Wedding
Mony Mony (Tommy James & the Shondells cover)

Relatabe, self-depricating and humorous

Book reviews, Uncategorized

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It Gets Worse, Shane Dawson, Keywords Press, 2016.

 

Wouldn’t you know it, there’s more self-deprecating humour where that came from! I rarely, if ever pre-order books, but I pre-ordered It Gets Worse by Shane Dawson on the basis of how much I enjoyed his first book.

Shane was one of the first YouTubers l truly paid attention to. He has become synonymous with the very word “YouTuber”. I found Dawson to be very relatable and engaging in his New York Times best seller I Hate Myselfie and by the end of the book I found myself wanting more. Well, more has arrived in the form of Shane’s new volume, It Gets Worse.

Despite its rather depressing title, it is not a negative book and it offers a glimmer of light for all struggling teenagers. While I can’t relate on a personal basis to every (or even most) events described by Shane, he has the ability to be personable and connect with his audience. As proven with his first volume, his ability to reach his audience begins, but doesn’t end behind a computer screen. Dawson is witty, charming and displays surprising dept. He’s watchable but also happens to be highly readable as well. Whether it’s stories of his family pretending to win the lottery or a difficult heartbreak, the book is hard to put down.

I must say I like Shane’s second book more than the first. While I Hate Myselfie was a funny collection of first experiences and essays of embarrassing stories, It Gets Worse picks deep at the metaphorical scabs on the YouTuber’s skin.

We find here a more mature Shane Dawson —that’s not to say he gets all philosophical on us plans to stop making Galaxy videos— he’s just more comfortable with himself and aware. There are some darker moments and references to suicide and Dawson wanting to die as a teenager, but those are not including for comedic purposes. They are honest thoughts he had as he went through adolescence.

The beloved YouTuber has won his battle with depression and perhaps his tale can inspire his following. When Shane tackles his confused feelings about his own sexuality, unrequited loves and life lessons learned he allows himself to be completely exposed.

Most adults would likely gain very little from reading It Gets Worse as they may not completely grasp Shane’s brand of humour. I believe reading about these experiences can be truly beneficial for a teenager going through the hardships that come with adolescence. It gives them a sense of understand and tells them that they are understood. Besides, it’s not all gloom and doom, there are some laugh-out-loud moments in these pages!

For the record, I’ll still watch every Galaxy video you make, Shane. 4/5 stars.

Chuck Klosterman in “The art of questioning everything”

Book reviews, Uncategorized

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But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, Chuck Klosterman, Blue Rider Press, 2016.


By now Chuck Klosterman has left, perhaps ironically, his imprint on pop-culture with his books dissecting popular-culture. He also holds the distinction of being one of the most renowned writers in his genre of literature. In his latest effort But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past he examines how future generations of humans may view us and the culture surrounding us. Klosterman raises questions such as “What if what we believe about everything is inaccurate?” and “How will we be perceived in a hundred years? Three-hundred?”.

Oftentimes, certainty appears to be a given until we are forced to reconsider what we thought were universal truths. Established truths? Certainly. Factual? Questionable.

Before Isaac Newton, the world thought about gravity on certain terms —or not at all— after sir Isaac’s theories, he went virtually unchallenged in his assessments for two centuries. Until Albert Einstein came along that is, and changed our understanding of gravity. The principle behind But What lf We’re Wrong About Everything? is that time is the one true unit of measurement valid when it comes to determining the cultural value of discoveries, ideas and art.

Just because you’ve been taught to believe so and so doesn’t make them right. The author says certainty is all but illusion. Concepts and opinions develop and change over time, altering the fabric of society. To this point, Klosterman makes the case for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick becoming a literary classic despite being shunned by critics in its era.

Essay topics range from which books will transcend time, TV as art, the merit of established ideas and “facts”. I love Klosterman whenever he talks about music and still slips some music-related themes. Here he ponders who history will depict as the ultimate rock band -Beatles or Stones?- the answer isn’t as easy as you’d think. He also tackles football and the NFL and why realistically the sport might not be around in 25 years —successfully, I may add—among others. It never ceases to amaze me how Chuck Klosterman is able to make sense of just about anything using popular-culture.

It’s hard to justify the amount of what ifs a such book encompasses, luckily the author is more than up to the challenge. Klosterman makes a lot of cohesive points backed by clever arguments. He’s effectively able to hold an idea together with the added benefit of being an engaging writer. This is especially important for a book that holds no definite answers to the questions it ponders.

Not every thought or sentiment expressed in But What If We’re Wrong About Everything? is a gold nugget, yet some are thought-provoking enough that they warrant making the reader question what he or she knows.

But What If We’re Wrong About Everything? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past only slightly tainted when Klosterman announces that it might be destined to be forgotten and quote-on-quote, hopeless. It is after all the concept of the book to question which aspects of science, popular-culture, arts etc. will hold lasting power, and which ones will ultimately be forgotten.

Until the release of his next works it’s hard to determine where this volume ranks on the Klosterman scale. Is it his most accomplished work? No. Did it need to be written? Probably not, but Chuck is just so darn likeable and readable. 3/5*

Le magnifique est le meilleur, mais pourquoi?

Book reviews, Uncategorized

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Mario Lemieux: Le meilleur joueur de tous les temps, Michel Brulé, édition Les Intouchables, 2015.

Le meilleur joueur de tous les temps. Le Magnifique. Je partage l’opinion de l’auteur, Michel Brulé mais Mario Lemieux est le meilleur joueur de tous temps sans raisons apparament. Selon Brulé il s’agit plutôt d’un fait qu’il ne reussit pas réellement a expliquer dans un livre dédié au cinquantième de Mario Lemieux.

Dans son livre Brûlé retrace la vie de Mario Lemieux; son enfance, les tournois, la LMJHQ, la LNH, ses problèmes de santé et bien d’avantage. Mr. Brûlé affirme avoir écrit la biographie la plus complete sur Mario Lemieux. À ce point, son ouvrage couvre toute la carrière professionelle de Lemieux mais de façon très honteuse.

L’auteur s’archarne sur les anglais —les canadiens-anglais plus précisément— avec tellement d’ardeur qu’il est difficile de ne pas se croire à lire de la propagande pro-Québecoise.

Il a aussi des mots de choix à l’égard de ceux qu’il considère assimilés comme Mark Messier. C’est comme si Brûlé n’aime que les français. Il cherche constamment des excuses pour défendre Lemieux tout en rabaissant chaque joueur anglais qu’il mentionne. Il en passe même une au Suédois lorsqu’il affirme que ces derniers “se pensent les meilleurs au monde.” Il y a une difference entre faire des points valides et attaquer un peuple au complet. Selon moi, plusieurs de ses commentaires manquent de classe et de goût et n’ont aucunement place dans un ouvrage sur le hockey.

Pour quelqu’un qui défend supposément l’honeur des canadiens-français, son oeuvre est bourrée de fautes d’orthographe des plus embarrassantes. Mots manquants, lettres déplacées et fautes de frapes sont abondantes dans ce volume. Je peux en supporter jusqu’a un point, certes, mais trop c’est trop. Vérifier les faits n’est pas le fort de Brûlé non plus.

Il me semble aussi qu’il n’est pas un grand amateur d’hockey. Les erreurs s’accumulent à un tel point qu’elles sont embarrassantes pour les lecteurs qui a fait l’achat de ce livre de bonne foie. Il a tendence a vouloir épeler les nom russes de façon différente de la LNH. Ovetchkine au lieu d’Ovetchkin, Kovaliov au lieu de Kovalev. La plupart des noms mentionnés dans le livre sont massacrés. Sellane au lieu de Selane. Izerman au lieu de Yzerman. Moguilny au lieu de Mogilny, et j’en passe… Les “Devills” du New-Jersey, l’Avalance du Colorado. Où alors “la gardien”. Une partie s’est disputée en 2015 au lieu de 1992 lorsque l’auteur retrace la saison 1991-92. Les Penguins “gagne” la coupe Stanley au lieu de “gagnent”.

Même conjuger c’est trop demander. La liste s’aggrave. Brêf, des fautes des plus élémentaires tâchent ce livre.

Monsieur Brûlé aurait peut-être du passer un peu plus de temps sur l’orthographe et un peu moin à s’acharner sur les Canadiens-anglais. Quoi qu’il en soit, monsieur se proclame tout de même “éditeur”. Difficile a croire mais vrai. Commencer un chapitre pour ensuite changer de sujet et critiquer une personne pendant dix pages avant de revenir son point original c’est d’y aller trop fort.

Le livre se lit comme une véritable pièce d’opinion ce qui me dérange particulièrement. L’auteur insiste à offrir son opinion comme fait. Au contraire Mr. Brûlé, votre opinion n’est que cela, une opinion. Je crois certe que Mario Lemieux est meilleur que Wayne Gretzky mais ce livre n’à rien fait d’utile pour representer mon opinion ni convaicre qui que ce soit. Il accuse Gretzky d’être jaloux de Mario Lemieux un “maitre de la tricherie”, ce qui est completement ridicule. Un peu plus de réflexion et de recherche lui aurait sans aucun doute aidé. Peut-être que ce projet aurait été mieux proportionné en tant que lettre d’opinion dans un journal.

Ses rapports de matchs et de saisons semblent tirés tout droit de journeaux. Ils choisit des matchs aléatoires où il discute des performances de Lemieux et il en ignore d’autre. Quelques faits saillants, un peu de contenu lors des series, occasionellement des commentaires intéressants de la part de Mario sous forme de citations.

On apprends à l’occasion, on mémorise, mais rien d’extraordinaire. Lire les exclamations et commentaires —parfois déplacés— d’un fan n’est pas aussi excitant que de l’objectivité, de bonnes recherches et des faits justes. Michel Brûlé ne démontre pas comment Mario Lemieux est le meilleur joueur de tous les temps. Il aurait pu decrire la finesse de Mario, son physique, sa vision du jeu. Niet. Nada. Pas important.

Retour en arrière parfois plaisant? Oui. Surtout lorsqu’il s’agit se l’enfance de Lemieux, des ligues mineures et de ses premiers exploits dans la LNH. Ouvrage exceptionel au sujet de Mario Lemieux? Non. Les opinions et commentaires exprimés par Michel Brûlé sont décevant. Il rate son but. Le résultat est une biographie médiocre bourrée de contenu et de fautes. C’est un livre écrit bien trop vite, avec peu d’arguments et un travail d’editeur des plus honteux.

Je ne suis pas convaincu que l’auteur voulait réellement prouver que Mario Lemieux était un meilleur joueur de hockey que Wayne Gretzky. Je pense plutôt qu’il s’agit ici d’un désir compulsif de prouver que les français sont meilleur que les anglais. Il est juste de dire que Brûlé rabaisse presque chaque personne qui n’est pas québécoise. Un livre rédigé très rapidement, sans éditeur, avec des unes de journeaux, et des faits bien choisis.Si seulement j’aurais un dollar chaque fois que l’auteur utilise l’expression “Le p’ti gars de Ville-Émard”.

N’achetez pas la salade de Michel Brûlé. À éviter. 1.5/5.