Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Perils Of Reviewing

For the most part I really enjoy the reviewing game, whats not to love about free stuff, and getting to talk with the occasional famous person? In fact even if they are not famous it is usually fun. I can only think of one interview that went 'south' and that believe it or not was with a Professor of Communications from the University of Calgary, the guy could barely manage to mumble monosyllabic answers!

OK, now onto the downside. I do a lot of reviews, and seeing as to how I don't get paid for most of them I like to pick and choose what I tackle. Unfortunately once your name gets known, stuff just arrives. Often with absolutly no information about who sent it. The indy movie world are the worst offenders, with indy music being a close second.

Oh well, I guess it's just the way it works!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dropping Stuff!

I have discovered the one really fun aspect of 'Not having a stroke'. You get to drop stuff, usually when you least expect it. Today I have managed to drop at least 3 beers, and god knows how many other items! I am so glad I bought cheap beers!

I suspect that Jan has hidden all the good breakable glass ware, and other stuff!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Four Days Not Having A Stroke!

You might have noticed that I have been a bit lacking in the post area for a few days. It was all due to NOT having a stroke! In what has to be the worlds oddest medical adventure, I spent an exciting day at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary.

Now I am not a medical expert, but I have heard tell that numbness in the hand and arm is not a good sign, it smacks of a stroke. So when I found myself with these symptoms, I was to say the least a little concerned. The lack of fine motor skills in the right hand has made for a bloody nightmare when trying to type or use the damn mouse.

After four days of this hell, I decided to try doctor hell! So we got to spend 8 hours at my local hospital. I have heard many bad things about Canadian health care, and the log waits for even the simplest of procedures. I found it quite the opposite, I walked up to the window, explained my plight, and within a few seconds the machine went into action! Blood pressure monitors, (I clocked in at a Guinness Book of Records 240/139, this elicited a comment of "WOW, those are some really big numbers" from the ER nurse), EKG, CT Scan, X-Rays, IV's, these guys n gals pulled out all the stops!

Then the Neuro guys turned up! A whole gaggle of them, and they looked disappointed! Oh Oh I thought, here comes some bad news! Apparently the neuro guys only get their jollies from new strokes, and the scan shows that I had not had one, but it showed that at some time in the past I have! Now I have no recollection of such an event.

So with the Neuro guys disappointed. it was at the whim of the ER doctors. Well, ER is only fun if you are dealing with near death, and they had fixed that earlier in the day. So, after giving me a Stern talking to about my lifestyle they let me escape!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Smoke Detector From Hell!

This story started a few months ago. Jan and I were minding our own business when we noticed a bloody great fire truck stop right outside the house. This is not something that happens on a day to day basis, a quick check revealed that the house was not burning down, I could not imagine what these guys were up to.

My curiosity peaked when the door bell rang, well at least they didn't attack it with their axes, so that was a good thing. It turned out they were going door to door to ensure that everyone had a working smoke detector. Well I had to admit that we did not, the battery was dead (because the stinking thing kept going off!).

Two burly firemen came inside to 'fix the issue' whipping out a brand new 9 volt battery they had it fixed in seconds, and off they went to annoy the neighbors. It soon became apparent that the new battery and the old detector were getting along like Goths and Skinheads! About every 30 seconds we would be entertained by a short, but very loud squawk!

Luckily the fire truck had only moved a couple of houses up the street, so it was pretty easy to track em down. Back they came, they whipped out a cordless drill and before you could say 911 we had a brand new smoke detector! The $0 price tag was most acceptable.

Of course all is not well with this new one, you can't boil a pan of water without it going off! The good news tho is it has a quick release mechanism, a quick twist and you can take it off and bury it underneath a couple of cushions. This is way easier than the old one where you had to extract the battery!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Strange Request

You just never know what bizzare thing is going to happen next. A while back I did a series of reviews about a weekly show on the Sundance Channel. Well TV show rewiews are not usually terribly exciting events, so I decided that one way to spice things up would be by including some short interviews with the people featured on the show.

It turned out to be a very successful format, and everyone involved seemed to be pretty happy. On Friday I got an email from the PR company, they are 'repping' a movie that is coming out shortly. I know nothing about it, I have not seen it, I have not even read the synopsis, but they want me to interview one of the stars!

This should be interesting!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Movies Close To Home

One of the amazing things about the reviewing world is that you never know what is going to happen next. As some of you know, in the real world I work with the homeless. Last week I received an Email about the upcoming Calgary Film Festival, and in particular one movie that is premiering at the festival 'Downtown Dawgs'.

Believe it or not there is a World Cup of soccer for homeless people, and in 2006 it was held in South Africa. This movie follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Team Canada, some members of which came from Calgary. I noticed that a couple of names on the 'coaching' side were people that I knew. I could not resist jumping in on this one.

So today I am going to be interviewing a couple of people, including the movie director. Alas I have not been able to view a screener yet, the movie is still in post production, and they need to hustle on that, it premiers in 8 days!

I have to admit that I like dealing with the Indy arts world, everyone is so much more approachable, they are always delighted to have a reviewer interested in their work. The MSM (MainStream Media) on the other hand could care less about any movie that didn't cost the national debt of a small third world country to make.

Oh, and before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, no tax payers money was involved in this project! There are lots of misnomers in the what people think of the homeless. They are not all panhandling, dirty bums who hang out on street corners, most are people that you would not glance at twice, they are just like you and me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Music Madness!

So what would you do with a dozen not just Metal, not even Heavy Metal, but Death Metal CD's?
I tried a couple. But this is not my style of music. I hate it! It is a wall of damn noise. It is aural warfare. It contravenes the SALT agreements!

I am pretty sure I could end the problems in Iraq by shipping this lot to Bin Laden, he would be begging for mercy after the first couple of tracks.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Under Seige!

I am scared, and I don't scare easy. Today is Friday, and Fridays are always an exciting day for deliveries of boxes of stuff.

I was just looking at the list of stuff en-route, and it looks pretty daunting. As best I can tell there are going to be at least two boxes of video stuff. And I am sure each box will have 20 DVD's in them. There are also at least 5 books somewhere in the system.

It is always good to have a plan, and my plan is to close the curtains, turn the lights off, and not answer the door! I still have at least 20 CD's and DVD's to deal with!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Alice's Adventures In Interview Land Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I was playing online. There should be no big surprise there, I do a lot of that. Anyway, I have been in a 70's prog rock music kick of late. I am not sure that I sought it out, it just kind of found me.

I was Googling around and discovered that one of my favorite prog rock bands of that era are still alive and well. Hawkwind may not be a name that is well known in North America, but it certainly is a name that is well known with European Prog Rock fans.

As a teenager, these guys were my favorite band. I would sit and listen to their albums for hours on my not quite stereo record player. This annoyed my mother no end! She could see no redeeming features in the band, and referred to them as 'Those Wind People". Her favorite was to bang on my bedroom door and scream "Turn those bloody wind people down". She had very little appreciation of music back then!

Anyway, yesterday I heard back from 'The Wind People' and they are happy to do an interview. I would love to tell my mother this good news, but she is in her eighties, and suffers from dementia, so I am not sure she will fully understand. Of course my problem is to find out what 'Those Wind People' have been doing for the past 30 years so I can ask some sensible questions.

Who said this reviewing gig was easy? They should be taken out at dawn and shot!

Alices Adventures In Interview Land

The one thing that you can guarantee in the world of reviewing and interviewing is that you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next. Yesterday was a fine example, two unrelated but very interesting things happened.

For the first time, I was on the receiving end of a grilling! A while back I sent off for a review copy of an Indian influenced band. Indian as in sub-continent, not as in indigenous people. I also discovered that they were slated to play a gig here in Calgary, so I decided to go for press credentials and an interview. In for a penny, in for a pound, is my motto (that's an English saying by the way). This group has the worlds most complex PR setup, with different reps dealing with different parts of the world! Anyway, as a result of this complexity I am now the proud owner of two complementary CD's of their latest creation, and another CD that came from god knows where. I have an interview scheduled for 'after' the concert, and quite honestly this is all in my version of the 'Distant Future', it is at least 2 weeks from now!

You can imagine my surprise when last night I received a phone call from the local sponsor. I am still not exactly sure what he wanted, but we had a nice chat for the best part of an hour! I can only assume that he wanted to talk to the guy that he was giving two $50 tickets to. I think he was pretty happy though when I talked him through a couple of Google News searches and showed him my #1 articles! hahaha maybe free tix is not such a bad deal.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Life Is Not Always Easy

This reviewing business is over rated! Yup, you get free stuff, but boy it gets old. It is 8:15 am and I have punted out 4 or 5 five already. The done pile is almost to the ceiling, but the 'to do' pile is still measured in Boxes! I am scared to even look, I just know there are more boxes of stuff hiding.

My poor wife Jan has to suffer through all of this. We did a couple of Thrash bands this morning, Jan took the easy way out and disappeared into the shower. This woman has the look of a 'Deer in the headlights' when I tell her we are going to review stuff! I am sure that Judge Judy would give her a divorce based on the grounds of mental cruelty!

After a morning of Thrash, and I have plenty more, I put on some Al Stewart. The French use bread to clean the palate between wines, I use Al to clean the ears between CD's.

I guess everyone has their own 'palate' cleanser.

Anyone need a few Kilos of music? If you do, just let me know the weight that you want. I don't do genre, I just do pounds!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Oh Crap Part 2

Well, we tried all of the CD's in that damn box, and it is no wonder I had them buried. Every last one of them is Prog Metal from an outfit in Poland! Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Prog Metal, but I just don't need 20 of them!

I don't know enough Prog Metal words to come up with 20 reviews, hell I used em all up on the two I did review!

Oh Crap!

I had really good intentions this weekend. I knew I was a little behind on the CD and DVD reviews. So my plan was to listen and watch them all. I was doing really well, and I thought I had the beast under control, and then I found another box. It had been opened, and then the flaps closed back up, I assumed that this was a 'done' box. You can imagine my horror when I discovered that it contained another 20 items that I had not yet tackled!

I was damn glad that I had some beer left from last night!

It is going to be a busy time in the Barrett household.