A Review of “Morbid Stuff” by Pup

Toronto band Pup is back in style with their third studio album. This new project takes the group in uncharted territories in terms of sounds, but still manages to hold onto that Pop Punk sound. Pup immediately turned heads with their debut self titled album in 2013. They’re follow up album, The Dream is Over, expanded on the sound the punk rock sound they introduced in their debut. On top of that, their Sophmore album had better songwriting and a greater appreciation for hooks. This is especially true on what was their best single at the time, DVP. It seems that the band only gets better with each album they release. It’s promising to see a band grow and perfect their sound. The trend continued as Pup began to release singles to tease the upcoming album like Kids or Sibling Rivalry. The lead vocalist Stefan Babcock sounds almost in a panic when he rushes through his verses. This creates a type of Punk Rock energy the band is known for. All of these teaser tracks come with gnarly riffs, exhilarating guitars, melodic vocals and sharp hooks. It’s very clear that Pup takes inspiration from Punk Rock and Pop Punk of the ’90s and early 2000s.  They also add a splash of emo. It’s like listening to 20 different punk bands at once.

Dear Evan Hansen Comes to Vancouver

The hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen came to the Queen Elisabeth Theatre in Early March and was met with praise and applause. This was not shocking as It won six of the major categories at the 2018 Tony Awards, including best musical and best score, this amazing musical has wowed critics on both sides of the Atlantic and has won over audiences due to its ability to relate to so many young adults.

The good news with this touring production is that Dear Evan Hansen lives up to the hype. It really is a play and a production that dazzles at every turn from writing, composition, staging, and design to stellar performances.

Evan is usually played by Stephen Christopher Anthony, but for unknown reasons the understudy Sam Primack went on as the lead the night I saw it. The character of Evan is a very demanding role to play as he is portrayed as a high school student grappling with low self-esteem and anxiety which manifests itself in a host of twitchy, panicky mannerisms. He keeps fiddling with his fingers, wiping his face and eyes of perspiration and then wiping his sweaty palms on his T-shirt and slacks. His speech is rapid and jerky, punctuated with apologies. Sam did a wonderful job with this role and really did justice to the original actor who played Evan on Broadway (Ben Platt). Sam’s rendition of Waving Through a Window was very well done. Waving is an important song in the show as it’s Evan’s first solo song of the musical and introduces Evan in a spectacular way.

 

The plot picks up when Evan’s psychologist suggests that he write himself an encouraging letter every morning, but he can only find words that express how he really feels. He broke his arm on the last day of his summer job, so he has to start school in a cast. His mother Heidi (Jessica E. Sherman) suggests he ask people to sign it to make friends. The only person who signs the cast, in gigantic letters, is the misunderstood and aggressive, Connor Murphy (Noah Kieserman), who snatches Evan’s latest letter when they run into each other in the computer lab.

When Connor later commits suicide and the letter, addressed  “Dear Evan Hansen”, is found in his pocket, Connor’s parents assume the boys were best friends due to the wording of the letter. Shy, and anxious Evan not only refuses to tell the truth but expands and worsens the misunderstanding by piling lies on top of them. Evan paints a false picture of him and Connor being best friends and doing everything together. Evans fabricated stories bring Connor’s parents to comfort knowing that their troubled son actually had a friend. Evan even ends up dating Connor’s sister.

His presumed friendship with Connor and the heartwarming speech he gives at his memorial turns Evan into a social media superstar. He is thrust into a life he only dreamed possible. What makes, Dear Evan Hansen so brilliant and so tense is that the audience knows more than most of the characters. We’re always waiting for the inevitable conclusion. There is no way he can keep his lye going forever. It raises a moral question. He is clearly bringing the family peace and comfort with his stories, but it’s all built on lies. Is it right?

Dear Evan Hansen feels more like a play than a musical because the songs are an intrinsic part of the dialogue and always advance the plot. It never really feels as if the characters are stopping to sing a song. It seems more like this is one of the ways they express themselves. A particularly clever device has Connor’s ghost converse, and sing, with Evan in the song “Sincerely Me”. Another example is the song “You Will be Found” which closes out the first act. This is at the part where Evan is making his speech about Connor at the school memorial. His speech is the song and it’s very powerful.

There are so many genuinely moving scenes in Dear Evan Hansen, including one in which Connor’s father (John Hemphill) teaches Evan how to break in the catcher’s mitt his own son refused to use. In this scene and in the following ones, Pawick begins to soften or even discard many of Evan’s quirky mannerisms as he becomes more comfortable with his new life. Evan’s flirting with Connor’s sister Zoe is beautifully innocent especially in the song “If I Could Tell Her” where he cleverly confesses his love for her without her even knowing it.

Watching Connor’s mom buy into the whole new image of her dead son is as moving and compelling as it is tragic.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the second act in case you get to see it one day. Naturally, the story of teenage suicide and a lonely young man caught up in a web of self-devised deception has its sad aspects. But “Dear Evan Hansen” is anything but a downer; the feelings it stirs are heartfelt expressions of healthy compassion for Evan’s efforts to do good and his anguish that he may be causing more trouble than he can cure.

The intriguing plot mixed with the amazing score made by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul created makes for a touching story of a young man wanting to belong and the journey that brings him to be ok with the person he sees in the mirror.

 

A Review of “Welcome Home” by Aries

2019 was filled with incredible music from start to finish. Every major genre had some of its premier artists release new projects that were made to be an instant classic. 2019 was especially important for a certain reason. We got to see a lot of young, new artists get the spotlight for the first time. One artist that has been creating a small buzz amongst his loyal fanbase is Aries. A Southern California artist who blends Pop, Alt Rock and Hip-Hop for a sound that is intricate and unique. Aries started a Youtube channel at 17 years old. Most of his videos showcase his producing skills. He can replicate digitally produced beats used in popular songs in minutes or take a song and change it into a completely new genre, showing right off the bat that he has a clear talent for songwriting and producing. He can also play a variety of instruments. One of my favorite videos is of him remaking This is America by Childish Gambino into a lo-fi melodic Hip Hop tune.

Here is the finished product.

Clearly he has an ear for melodies and notes. He also built a persona of not showing emotions in his videos even though his music is quite emotional.

Along with these entertaining videos Aries was also working on his own music. While usually classified under Hip-Hop and Rap, Aries incorporates instruments and melodies you would not typically find in a young Hip-Hop artist song. His songs take a softer approach to the genre. Aries often takes a more vocal approach to his rapping, making excellent use of his incredible voice. After a few viral music videos, Aries was finally ready to release his debut EP Welcome Home. This project featured a mixture of songs that had been previously released on his Youtube channel and brand new songs. Aries had two goals in mind for Welcome Home, one, give his long time fans new music and two, put his songs on streaming platforms in order to reach a bigger audience. There was a lot riding on this EP and it delivered.

The project starts with Bad News, a song that’s music video debuted the same day as the album. It’s a great kickoff for the project. The piano intro that effortlessly transactions into a pop guitar riff, mixed with Aries’s melodic vocals makes you even wonder if you’re listening to a Hip-Hop song. We are then treated to the chorus, this introduces the hip-hop inspired heavy bass and fast high hats that bring the rhythm and energy you would expect. Aries is known for layering his sounds with different instruments and custom loops to give the track more depth. The sounds are subtle but they make a huge difference in the final product. See if you can hear the Harp on this record. The song is titled Bad News, yet most of the song feels upbeat and carefree. This intro record also introduces you to Aries’s misleading lyrics. His lyrics sometimes allude to death and tragedy but in a playful way that comes off as humor. Encouraging us to keep optimistic in hard times. “My death be regicide, that’s if I’m ever gone”

Regicide is the act of killing a king. Here, Aries both calls himself a king but also doubts the fact that he would ever leave this earth. This is in contrast to the carefree theme of Welcome Home where Aries writes about him leaving and not caring at all. The next line lightens the mood “If you pop me in my face, please spare the better side”

Continuing the theme of his death with this tongue-in-cheek bar, Aries requests that, if anyone is to shoot him, they spare the “better” or more attractive side of his face. Putting a humorous twist on a rather serious situation.

Sayonara is the follow-up song to Bad News. This is the song that shot Aries to the next level. It currently sits at 23 million streams on Spotify and 3.1 million views on Youtube. It carries with it another catchy guitar riff with some melodic vocals harmonizing on the intro, then we are again hit with that hard bass and fast high hats. The chorus in this song is so catchy it will be stuck in your head after the first listen. The vocal progression and melodies Aries is able to create are the reason he is an artist to look out for. The verses on Sayonara are sung beautifully over a striped down version of the instrumental we heard during the chorus. It keeps us hooked until we are hit again with that unforgettable chorus. The number of sounds and layering he has on his tracks is quite impressive. My favorite thing about this song is you can see how he made it on his Youtube channel.

The body of the album contains Aries showcasing his many different styles of writing and producing. He also stays true to the song formula that his loyal fans are used to by now. Songs like Diety and Pony take a more acoustic approach to the Lo-Fi Hip-Hop we come to expect from him. It feels authentic knowing the artist is also playing the instrument. These tracks are welcomed switch from the high energy songs we were introduced to the project with. The smooth mellow acoustic guitar mixed with some great storytelling through his patented emo boy band vocals makes for a great listening experience.

Songs like Racecar, Carousel and Santa Monica carry right on with that golden formula that Aries always has in his back pocket. It’s good to have a consistent sound on your debut project. People need to get an idea of what kind of artist their listening too. Changing up the formula too much would throw people off. Amy’s Grave stands out on this tracklist. The instrumental and composition of the song may seem upbeat, but the subject matter that Aries’s lyrics bring to the table suggests otherwise. Aries seems to take a rather carefree approach to his mystery friend Amy’s death. He expresses that he doesn’t care for anyone. including himself. A bit of an odd track in terms of storytelling.

The album concludes with Home. A song that says to everyone that Aries is finally home and he’s not going anywhere. While Aries seems to have opened up and poured his heart out on this EP he ends his final verse with “Heart still numb, access denied” After all this, are Aries’s emotions still getting the best of him? This may be the final song for the project but it is just the beginning for this insanely talented young artist.

Turning to the Arts

During this time the world seems to be a standstill. People all over the world are inside staying safe and protecting themselves. It can often be difficult to pass the time after being inside for day on end. Movies and television have always kept humanity entertained through some of the toughest times. Even before television, radio kept people sitting in their living rooms, escaping the troubles of the outside world by Immersing themselves into the story. The arts have always been there to aid humanity through hardships through storytelling and entertainment. War, economic depression, terrorism, and injustice have all plagued our world countless times. Few things can lift spirits when facing oppressive circumstances but the arts always seem to do just that.

During the Second World War, Comedy shows on networks like NBC to help people laugh a little bit during a time of destruction. Entertainers would do everything they can to distract people from what’s going on in the world, it truly is a noble act. Radio was more commonly used amongst the general population. Film and television were on the rise, but the radio was still considerably more affordable. Radio station programming would be a balance of music, storytelling and propaganda. The government regulated most radio programming at the time. The air was constantly filled with advertisements urging people to contribute to the war efforts in any way they can. I guess that is the equivalent of us getting a youtube ad pop up? Too bad they didn’t have an adblocker. When TV finally did start becoming more common in households, the film industry took off and carried a lot of the same storytelling magic that radio had kept for many years prior.

When tragedy struck the USA in September of 2001 many people couldn’t move on. People didn’t know how to recover from such a horrible attack. Saturday Night Live is a live sketch comedy show that has been on the air since 1975. After the attacks everyone wanted to feel better. SNL allowed people to do that with a touching tribute to the first responders that risked everything that day. This is exactly what people needed to begin the healing process.

The recent global pandemic is leaving a lot of people fearful of what the future holds. With social distancing measures in place for most of the world and all non-essential businesses and services closed, it can feel like the world is ending. It’s no wonder why humanity is turning to the arts once again.

When I say “the arts” I’m not just talking about radio and TV. I’m talking about every creative process that exists. Now more than ever we need different outlets to help us be creative while we are stuck at home. Museums are giving virtual tours and guides. Puzzle sales have gone up dramatically in the past couple of weeks. Of course Netflix and all streaming platforms have seen an increase in usage. We can always count on these things when we are down.

Yet left and right here we are cutting funding for arts programs.

The USA is in Trouble

I often find myself as a Canadian, being more interested in American politics and news rather than Canada’s. Justin Trudeau’s policies are not always popular with Canadians but when it comes to priorities during times like these, he is spot on. Our political leaders are far more stable right now compared to the United States. Compare a Trump press conference to a Trudeau press conference. In his briefing about he COVID 19 virus Trudeau focuses on helping Canadians first and worrying about politics later. Trump is constantly going off track using filler words and making irrelevant points. Trudeau’s address is sincere and honest, I’m proud of the work Canada is doing to aid Canadians. Trump does not seem focused on the issues at hand. Listening to him speak is entertaining, yet troublesome at the same time. The US is losing its citizens by the thousands to this virus and its president is constantly saying the situation is under control.

The US has the most active cases of COVID 19 of any country in the world. Over eighty-six thousand positive cases according to John Hopkins University. So much for the “beautiful timeline” that Trump had for the country. It seems his predictions were just a little bit off. Trump tried to put a spin on it by saying “it was a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing”. Vice-President Mike Pence said coronavirus tests were now available in all 50 states and more than 552,000 tests had been conducted nationwide. COVID 19 has been shown to be especially lethal to people with pre-existing conditions. Obesity is a major problem in the US. From 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity increased by 12% and the prevalence of severe obesity increased by 5% in the adult American population. That extra potential risk factor is something that a lot of other countries don’t have. It could be a contributing factor to the large number of cases currently in the country. Along with this persistent health risk, America is also experiencing an economic crisis due to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID outbreak.

Oil has always been something that we associate with money. Growing up I was always told the oil tycoons were the ones with the most wealth in the world. As of today the price of oil per barrel is under twenty dollars. That’s the lowest price we have seen in over a decade.

 

Yesterday, President  Trump announced an extension of the social distancing protocols. The guidelines are now enforced throughout all of April. Trump, has now back down from his statement earlier in the month, where he claimed to have a plan for opening the country back up by Easter. It’s not a surprise that Trump lied, but this announcement has huge implications for the entire country in the coming month. With people quarantining themselves for another month America will feel the repercussions in many ways, including an economic downfall.  Less activity on construction and roads means oil prices get negatively affected. Oil is getting especially hit hard because Russia and Saudi Arabia have decided to ramp up production.

These “Stay at Home” guidelines are going to persist into April and who knows what could happen. Gas prices are already so incredibly low. I remember ten years ago seeing 93.7 at the local gas station and thinking that was pretty high. Now those prices have returned in a much different economic state,  now these prices seem incredibly low. Who knows when the economy will recover from this devastating loss. Experts are starting to predict this economic meltdown could be greater than the one seen in 2008.

There is one statistic that has always blown me away. The state of California has a larger population than the entirety of Canada. Sometimes I think Vancouver is crowded. I cannot imagine what it’s like to be on lockdown, trying to avoid people, when there are more people in your STATE than an entire country. Thankfully the Governors of both New York and California are doing a great job of controlling their states and making sure their citizens are safe. Unlike in Canada, the US does not have universal health care. This means that people who contract COVID 19 might be looking at very large medical bills and no way to pay them. It appears that New York has the highest number of cases of COVID 19 out of any state. The situation is getting so dire, they need to send medical boats to major cities in need of immediate aid. These boats come equipped with medical gear and beds.

New York has also announced that it will begin testing trial drugs on healthy volunteers this week. Promising to see how the state of New York responded to the situation.

I don’t want to sound anti-American. I’m honestly worried about what the future holds for them. I worry about Trump’s leadership, he clearly doesn’t have a solid plan for the coming month. It seems that the situation is only going to get worse before it gets better. At the end of the day Canadians and Americans are in this together. We are all neighbors and friends. Let’s work together and overcome this virus. I have hope for you America.

My Relationship with Punk Rock

Picture this, it’s 2004 and Green Day has just released “American Idiot”. Maybe you run to your local record store and grab a physical copy. even just buy it online, burn a CD or download it to your iPod. The point was, you wanted to listen to this album as fast humanly possible. Now, the twist here is that at the time of “American Idiot” being released I was only 7 years old. In my early years I would go to an after school daycare. One of the fellows working there was, in my 7-year-old mind, super cool. He showed me card games like Magic The Gathering and got me into rock music like Blink 182 and Green Day. I remember he had an iPod, which was fairly new at the time so again, he was the coolest guy ever to a 7-year-old. He came in with his iPod in hand and said that one of his favorite bands came out with a new album, he was so excited. I was just as pumped as he was, he had shown me some of Green day’s older songs from “Dookie” and “Insomniac” and he always played the clean version as to not soil my pure 7-year-old mind. I would still look up the explicit versions later at home by sneaking on the computer, nothing can keep me from that sweet explicit language. We listened to almost the entire album and I can honestly it was one of the best 45 minutes of my life.

After that day my Punk Rock phase was in full swing. I can’t say I listened to all bands the genre has to offer but I was young, I was easily impressionable and I enjoyed almost every song I heard. My Dad would always play bands like Blink 182, Jet and Rage Against the Machine on the way to school after I told him I was really into Punk Rock. I told him that Green Day was my favorite band. While he was very happy I was into this type of music, he didn’t think Green Day was the best band of that genre. This brings me to my next greatest discovery of all time, Blink 182. I had heard a couple of their songs, but I never really took the time to listen to the real golden tracks. For a very long period of time “All the Small Things” was my favorite song of all time and would be played no less than 15 times by me throughout the day. The energy of Punk Rock is second to none. I know Blink 182 was more Pop Punk than Punk Rock. Their sound has more melodic hooks mixed with the face-paced instruments you would find in traditional Punk Rock. They blend the two genres very well. Today every time I throw on a song from any of these bands I immediately feel the freedom and empowerment that I felt when I was a young kid jamming out in the car with my Dad or at daycare. My obsession with Blink 182 continued throughout elementary school. Every night I would throw on their self titled album to pump myself up for school. I was a shy, nervous and sometimes over-emotional kid. These songs made me feel good about myself and the world around me. It made me a bit rebellious, but looking back I think it’s good to have that spark of mischief when you’re young, many people lose it as they get older.

Moving into high school I started to branch out to different genres. My daily playlists started to become filled with all types of new songs from HIp-Hop and even some Alternative Rock like Rise Against and Linkin Park. Even though I was experiencing many new avenues of music I still had the Punk playlist ready to go. It’s ironic that some of the most chaotic songs bring me peace of mind. No matter what, whether I was getting ready for a big game (I was a soccer player) or a big test, I would always have this one playlist ready. I would throw it on shuffle to keep it fresh. I looked forward to “Holiday” by Green Day and “Rock Show” by Blink 182. Both of which have amazing music videos that are severely underrated.

There’s something about the low budget quality of an early 2000’s Punk Rock videos. It’s the perfect blend of art and chaos. That’s a good way, to sum up, Punk Rock in my opinion “artistic chaos” kind of has a nice ring to it.

Some of these bands I grew up listening too are still making music today, some are not. Blink 182 did go through breakups and tough times throughout their years and unfortunately all the original members are no longer together. Blink released a new album with different members and new producers in 2019 titled “Nine” and it was actually very good in my opinion. Green Day released an album this year. They still play live shows and sound great. I think the music industry is going through big changes, regarding what gets mainstream attention. It seems Punk Rock and Pop Punk are getting thrown to the waist side for more alternative rock that is even softer and more consumable for radio play. You see former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker branching out to these other genres and bringing the punk styling drumming that he is known for with him. He has collaborated with Hip-Hop and Electronic artists.

I hope we never see this genre die out and one day I can share these amazing songs with the next generation and maybe they will feel as empowered as I did.

 

 

Music: How So Much Has Changed Yet Stayed The Same

Music has always been a big part of my life. It’s crazy to think about the science of what makes us, as humans, enjoy the sounds that we create. And with the amount of fresh new ideas that each genre brings to this ever-expanding art form, it’s not hard to see why the music recording industry is one of the highest-grossing entertainment industries in the world. How powerful really is music in our society? It’s around us every day. We all listen to the radio, we have the one playlist on our phone that we throw on when we want to party or maybe when we feel down. Music has been around since cavemen were banging on rocks. All throughout history, in almost every recorded time period there has been some form of musical entertainment that was always enjoyed by the people. Music is universal, whether you’re young or old, man or woman, it doesn’t matter, everyone has the music that speaks to them. Music is always reflective of the society and world we live in. Like our crazy world, music is always changing and evolving. The power of music can bring people together but it can also lead to division.

My grandfather had told me about Jazz music from the 1920s when I was young. Recently, I began to appreciate it more through research and learning a little bit about it in school. Jazz music was quite upbeat and happy even as the US was in the prohibition era. There were parties and dancing all night long, this was just the beginning for the music industry and it was glorious. These happy tunes made people forget about the destruction and death of the first World War and helped people move on into a more prosperous future. Memorable artists quickly emerged from this era such as Louis Armstrong and Sophie Tucker. Unfortunately, the great depression hit in the late 1920s which in turn influenced the music at the time. This is when Blues and Country rose to the surface to reflect the hardships that people were feeling themselves.

Skipping ahead to the 1970s. Disco became the music for the masses. Some of the most influential recording artists of all time emerged in the disco era. so I think we can all agree that the ’70s might just be the most important time period for music… ever. Disco was incredibly popular, yet at the same time it stirred up much controversy during the decade. You either loved it or you hated it. It was so pervasive that many established singers and bands came out with disco songs to keep up with the trends, including rockers like Blondie and Rod Stewart. Heavier rock music and punk rock also emerged during this decade, some of it as retaliation to disco. I’m going make a list here, only to show you how many insanely talented performers (not just Disco) started their journey during this period The Doors, The Who, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, Diana Ross Elton John, Billy Joel, and Queen. I’m blown away by this star-studded roster.

Let’s take a look at the Billboard top 10 songs in 1970.

An eclectic mix of amazing different artists and groups.

Now let’s jump ahead again to the early 2000’s and up to the present day. The music is drastically different.  Growing up I was exposed to quite a bit of HIp-Hop music and it’s something that my friends and I gravitate towards when we are looking for music to listen to. In recent years Hip-Hop music had started to become more and more mainstream. This may be due to more artists starting to genre bend and become more Pop focused. Quickly, Hip-Hop and Pop started dominating the top charts in the early 2000s with artists like Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, and Ludacris.  This is also around the time when songs began to be mainly produced digitally. The digital era has brought so many new sounds and sub-genres to the table that it seems that the music industry is going through a revolution. Of course, live instruments are still recorded quite often, however, a lot of the highest-grossing and the most-streamed songs are engineered almost completely digitally. Let’s take a look at the Billboard top 10 most streamed songs in the world from 2 weeks ago.

Right at the top, we have 2 Hip-Hop songs followed by pop (and even some Korean Pop in there from BTS). Maroon 5 is the only “band” on that list and with the exception of the KPop boy band BTS. Solo acts seem to be a trend. Fewer bands make it on the chart as opposed to the years I have discussed previously. Let’s take a closer look at the #1 song, “The Box” by Roddy Rich. Why has this song been #1 in the world for 15 weeks straight? It’s honestly hard to say, have a listen what do you think? What does this song reflect on our society today? Honestly to me, “The Box” is just another feel-good song with a nice digitally produced beat with a talented vocalist and rapper over top of it. Many have come before it and many will follow.  Are songs losing their meaning and passion with the new digital era? I don’t think we realize that we are going through a music revolution right now. When we look back at this time in 20 years, we will recognize that this was the time music was changed for the rest of history. It’s safe to say that music today may have been influenced by previous decades. It’s taken that influence and turned it into something almost completely new.

 

What Does “Stay at Home” Mean for the World?

With COVID 19 beginning to finally solidify itself as a global pandemic it is interesting to see the reaction the world is having to these unprecedented circumstances. Different parts of the world are experiencing different severity levels of lockdown, but almost everyone is trying to practice social distancing. We are all going to be sick of that term by the end of all this. While some are taking all the precautions needed to keep themselves and others safe, some are not doing quite the same.

As Canadians we don’t usually feel the effects of the controversies and misfortunes that often plague the world. With this newest pandemic it seems Canada is not watching from the sidelines this time, as we have experienced many cases. Yet here we are, frolicking about on the beach like it’s no big deal. It’s been 100 years since our last pandemic… It’s a big deal. We are Canadians, we like to be optimistic and carefree I get it, it’s one of the many reasons I love living here. However, it is definitely not a good idea to be near people right now with such a highly infectious virus in our midst with already almost 400 cases reported just in BC. For the first time in my life I see Vancouver setting a bad example instead of leading the world in a positive direction. Stay safe Vancouver we really need to get a grip and start doing better.

While the cases keep growing in Canada which brings a lot of fear and anxiety to the population we certainly do not have it as bad some parts of the world such as Italy and China

Italy has the largest senior population in Europe and this virus is especially deadly to the elderly as they sometimes have pre-existing medical difficulties that make it hard to recover from the virus. Most of Italy is on complete lockdown which is just heartbreaking, but it’s always nice to see the videos of people having fun from their homes. Hard to think that it’s a possibility that a lockdown similar to this could happen in Canada as well, hopefully, we can make the best of it like the people of Italy are doing.

For China it seems that some areas are getting better, after all it is where the virus had initially begun. Recent news has reported that China has closed down its last coronavirus hospital due to a lack of new cases. Hopefully that means that the virus will begin to die down as the weeks and months go on here in Canada (but you can never be sure so stay cautious). It seems like the recipe for success right now is a perfect mix of optimism with a side of caution. China has been through so much, with the massive protests demonstrations, followed soon after by COVID 19 outbreak, it’s hard to imagine some of the hardships people are facing over there. The United States seems to also be on high alert as just the other day the Governor of California issued a warning for all California residents to remain inside unless absolutely necessary.

Same warnings are in place for many other states, good job America.

For Canada it’s hard to say what the coming weeks and months will bring us, but we have to stay calm. Don’t go hoarding supplies from grocery stores making it harder to acquire for people who really need it, it’s OK to stock up because you don’t know what could happen but just try not to go overboard like some people.

It kind of feels like the apocalypse when seeing some of the things people are doing out there. It’s important to remember that we are all in this together and selfish actions will get us nowhere. Times like these can stir up a lot of politics and division between us and I know that we as Canadians value each other more than most other populations. That is where we are going to get our strength and compassion to help one and another so that we all can look back on these hard times and see the amazing things that the human race can do. We have been battling nature, disease and even each other for so long, we always find a way to keep going. Sometimes we break ourselves down, but we always manage to pick ourselves back up again.

Ending on a brighter note, it’s nice to see far fewer cars on the road, boats in the sea. Mother Earth is finally getting some time to heal. The economy may be in a bit of trouble, but I think the world really needs a break from the constant abuse we put on it. Maybe after all this is over we can see that we don’t need all this overproduction. We can just dial back a bit so we can make sure the amazing thing called the Human Race sticks around for as long as possible.

The Corona Virus in Canada

With COVID-19 (better known as the Corona Virus) still very much on the minds of most people in the world I thought it would be important to talk about how the infection is being handled by the world. Firstly I think a lot of people are in panic mode or about to be, this may be because the news is constantly posting about new cases, presumtive cases and outbreaks. Sometimes these news outlets are legitimately trying to relay important information the masses, but sometimes it’s people just fishing for a headline and you can’t go wrong with a Corona Virus headline these days. Just take the steps provided by the World Health Organization and make sure your washing your hands. I learned that 80% of Corona Virus cases are mild and will go away after some bed rest. Lately I’ve been seeing people go crazy, like stocking up on water and toilet paper at their local Costco. It has also been really disheartening to see people acting racist towards Chinese people because of the Virus’s origins. People have to realize that the virus could just as easily be with anyone at this point and discriminating will get you no where. Good news is that  As of 27 February 2020, although China, particularly the Province of Hubei, has experienced sustained local transmission and has reported by far the largest number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the outbreak, lately the situation in China showed a significant decrease in cases. As long as we take care of our hygiene and avoid hand contact for the next little bit. This virus will hopefully quickly be a thing of the past.

The CFL Rant

Now I don’t want this to be a CFL rant and stir and kind of controversy, I just want to give my opinion on why I choose to watch the NFL a lot and the CFL… Not so much. Pretty much everything in this article sums up why I don’t care for the CFL, besides the player salaries of course. While I can look past most of these differences there are two that I don’t particularly care for.

Playing 3 downs is the first one that really strikes a cord with me, some argue that it makes the game a lot more fast paced and fun to watch, well I beg to differ, removing 1 down may not seem like much but it takes a lot of tactical play calling away from the game. In my opinion 4 downs allows for a mix up of passing, running and tricks plays to be experimented (with varying degrees of success, but hey that’s what makes it entertaining). Anything less than 4 downs makes play calls safe and predictable and it also allows for A LOT more punting, and if there is anything football fans hate more it’s a game with whole lot of punting and not a whole lot of scoring (I’m looking at you Superbowl 53)

My other problem with CFL is the single point rule. Why do we need single points? Imagine a game being decided by this? Seems like a silly unnecessary rule, rarely will a game be decided by one point, so whats the point (no pun intended)

Thank you for listening to this little rant about the CFL. I still have big love for the B.C. Lions and have huge respect for everyone that participates in the CFL these were just funny little things that kind of grind my gears.

The Invisible Man and How a Trailer Can Ruin a Movie

If your anything of a movie buff like I’am you will know that the director Leigh Whannell, the mind behind the expertly done “Upgrade” is back with another psychological thriller titled “The Invisible Man”. This director has just been on a tear of making, great, deep and thrilling movies for the past couple years so the hype surrounding this movie is pretty huge. “The Invisible Man” follows a woman who was the victim of spousal abuse for many years, her abuser was a genius inventor by day and horrible person by night. After breaking free from her relationship and getting a court ordered restraining order on her ex boyfriend she starts to slowly find that things are strange and out of place like shes being watched by an invisible man (hence the title). Now here is where it gets a bit messy, I think it would have been cool to explore the possibility that the main woman was just going crazy and there actually was no invisible man, that would be a super interesting way to throw you off the main plot of there really being a invisible man. Maybe i’m just being nit pick but I really thought that this movie could have been so much more if it wasn’t for this stupid trailer. This is just another classic case of a movie trailer revealing WAY to much, honestly who ever made this trailer needs to re consider his choices. Sorry for the rant but i;m sure most of you have had a similar experience with movie trailers… you can’t trust em.

The Best New Spot in North Vancouver

North Vancouver has always been a bit of an outsider when it comes to Vancouver. Not close of enough to the hustle of downtown Vancouver but just out of reach across the bridge. It sometimes feels like a small town in the big city. If you go all the way down Lonsdale Avenue you will see nothing out of the ordinary, a couple fast food places and some random shops, but it’s when you get to the bottom that you really see the beauty of North Vancouver. The Shipyards were nothing more than a just that (a yard for ships to be stored and repaired) but after Seaspan moved their operation further down the bank it allowed a giant open area to be bought by the city and changed into the “The Foot of Lonsdale” not a super flattering name. Shortly after the Shipyards were re purposed an entrepreneur came around and bought out the main building and turned it into his flagship restaurant Tap and Barrel Shipyards. That restaurant quickly became one of the busiest spots in all of North Vancouver. The unbeatable view and location made it one of the most sought after spots in Vancouver period. Tap and Barrel was just the beginning, after seeing how well Tap did the city is now expanding the rest of the Shipyards area into a community hub. This is going to have shopping centers more places to eat and, to top it all off, a all season skating rink. So if you live on the North Shore, or maybe you just live over the bridge some check out the Shipyards, the new place to be in North Vancouver

Sonic the Hedgehog Movie: From Mockery to Fun Family Movie

Sonic the Hedgehog transcends many generations of kids who grew up playing those iconic games from the Sega Dreamcast all the way to the consoles and newer content that is being put out today. The point is Sonic has been around for a while and I’m sure most of us grew up with him in one way or another. Now finally in 2020 we get a live action Sonic movie featuring Jim freaking Carrey as the lead Antagonist Dr Robotnik. Now i’m a little old for sonic nowadays but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited to see what the live action movie would bring to the table, I owe it too 13 year old me. After only hearing news about it for a while we were finally hit with this trailer on August 19th 2019. Notice anything? Sonic looks absolutely atrocious beyond belief. Naturally, the internet went absolutely crazy over the terrible design of Sonic. You really can’t mess something up that has been apart of so many childhoods. If there is one thing you don’t mess with… it’s nostalgia. After the severe backlash from the trailer the director announced on Twitter that they were doing an overhaul of Sonic’s design and delaying the movie.

It’s not often that studio and director actually listen to audience feedback, but this time they did and they were committed to getting Sonic right. Months followed of anxious waiting and then we got the new and improved trailer. They did such a good job fixing it and all is right with the world again. I ended up seeing the film a couple days ago, and while it’s not ground breaking it’s still a nice family movie that has some god fan service and is overall a great adventure. Can’t wait for the sequels!

 

Why I Don’t go to Concerts at Rogers Arena

Rogers Arena is the premier stadium venue in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It’s the home the Vancouver Canucks and is also home to thousands of concerts from all types of high profile artists. Going there to watch a Canucks is amazing and if you live in Vancouver and haven’t gone to a Canucks game I highly recommended that you do, because it is unforgettable experience. When you first go up the stairs and walk into the isle, your face is lit up with the lights and the white of the ice. The atmosphere of a NHL arena is second to none, it truly is surreal. However going to concerts at Rogers is not the same kind of experience. Going to a concert for almost any artist at Rogers comes with a MASSIVE price tag if you want to have any half decent seat. With how stages are set up these days if your not on the floor (where prices can reach up to 1000$ for some big names) or in a lower bowl section then you are pretty much watching the screens on either side of the stage for a majority of the time. Even if you buy a floor ticket it;s not general standing area, it’s assigned seating on the floor so you can’t even move from your seat (the security makes sure of that). The point is that I like a concert for the intimacy of being close to your favorite artist or at least able to see them with your own eyes. Rogers is a stadium venue but you won’t catch me there blowing boat loads of cash to sit on the floor at the next concert.

The Joe Rogan Experience in a Nutshell

The Joe Rogan experience is one of my favorite podcasts of all time and here is a breakdown of the show. This podcast has a little bit of everything (which is why I love it) so it can fit in to many different genres. Theme of the podcast is a (most of the time) impartial host (Joe Rogan) chooses a topic for that specific podcast and brings in a guest that is experienced in that topic to have an in depth look at that topic to give listeners more insight through comedic banter and storytelling. It also carries a theme of being informative as Joe is knowledgeable on many topics he discusses such as marijuana and UFC MMA. Joe Rogan is a comedian/actor from Newark, New Jersey. He has a major background in acting, as he was a host of fear factor and was on MADTV. He is also a stand up comedian, as well as color commentator for the UFC. He now primarily focuses on UFC and his podcast. The form of the podcast is a sit down discussion about a certain topic usually with a guest, this style is great to get across information but it sometimes can drag on and people can lose interest due to length but usually joe keeps it interesting. Joe has a friend Jamie that looks up stats, videos and images that are relevant to the discussion.

 

This podcast in available for free online at http://podcasts.joerogan.net/podcasts/ or on any major streaming platform

The Golden Days of American Idol

Growing up I always watched American Idol with my mother. American Idol first aired in 2002 and that was a time where “searching for a star” shows and reality TV overall was fairly new. Needless to say the first couple seasons were amazing. Yeah i’m sure you all remember that while the performances and voting in the main show were good, it was the auditions that made the show what it was and it was the reason I was so hooked on it. Every episode was a different city (I always wished they would come to Canada even though it’s called AMERICAN Idol) and every episode there was always a few auditions that were just plain hilarious like this one.  That’s what kept me coming back, what poor poor human is going embarrassed themselves on TV next. I know it sounds cruel but no one wants to see everyone being great and killing their audition that would not entertaining at all. Deep down I always had aspirations of going on thew show (as I’m sure we all did at some point) but it of course it never happened. I still cannot believe the show is still going. They always bring on new judges every couple seasons but noting will ever top the unbeatable trio Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. Canadian Idol did come around some years after but it never had the same impact as it’s american counter-part. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that American Idol will go down in Infamy as one of the best reality contest shows ever.

 

The Houston Astro’s Cheating Scandal

Time for some baseball gossip/news/conspiracy which is rare from me, but I thought you might be interested. during the 2019 season the Houston Astro’s were performing rather well. There RBI% and overall offense was rivaling some of the best in the league. That season the made it all the way to world series so they were a good team all around but their offense was very strong. The term “Pitching Tips” refers to telling signs or movements that pitcher or team might do right before they throw a pitch that could indicate to the other team what kind of pitch is about to be thrown, which can really benefit the batting team. Picking up on pitch sings by just watching the play is fine, however it seems the Astro’s were picking up on pitch signs very fast against the Chicago White Sox. The Astro’s were picking up on some of the movements of the White Sox Pitcher. Every time they would signal for a change up (type of pitch) the Astro’s would bang on the batting rack twice to let the batter know it’s coming and to swing accordingly. The only way the Astro’s could see the pitch signs and relay that information to their batter is if they had a camera of some sort watching the back catcher make the signals. The rules are still a bit foggy on if this is actually full blown cheating or not. You can watch a bit more of an in depth video here and come to your own conclusion. Either way… This is bad for baseball

Finding The Best Pizza in Vancouver

Pizza it’s that one universal food we all love. Some like it plain with just the sauce and cheese and others like lots of toppings including weird ones (like Pineapple gross). Point is everyone loves pizza. Now here in Vancouver we have all the run of mill pizza places like the Pizza Hut’s and the Domino’s and the Panago. But the real question is where can I get the best slice of pizza. I’ll tell you right now look no further than Nat;s Pizzeria on Denman. Right in the middle of the hustle and bussle of Denman Street there is this little place called Nat’s. Nat’s New York Pizzeria’s thin-crust, Neapolitan style pizza originated in Nat and Franco’s Great, Great, Great Grandmother’s kitchens in Naples, Italy, in the 1900’s. Eventually, the pizza made its way, as many Italians did, to the Big Apple, New York City, New York. In November 1991, Nat and Franco traveled to Yonkers in New York to learn the 100-year-old family secret behind hand-tossed pizza and the famous sauce. They returned to Vancouver and proudly introduced their family’s thin-crust pizza to Kitsilano in April 1992, and to the West End in January 2000.

The Kitsilano location was the original but the place on Denman has some of the nicest people working and it’s in a bit of closer area but both locations are great, the Denman place is the one I grew up. So next time your in the mood for a slice go to Nat’s Pizza I guarantee you won’t be disappointed

The Vancouver Titans and E-Sports coming to Vancouver

I don’t tend to talk about video games to you but more and more everyday I see that a lot of people actually have an interest in at least one game or two. Whether it be on your phone, console or computer video games have been only growing in popularity and the money and interest has been flooding. A lot of money is being put towards competitive league for a lot of these more popular games like League of Legends, Call of Duty and more notably Overwatch. Overwatch is competitive fantasy first person shooter developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The game launched on May 24th 2016 to player and critical praise and quickly became one of the most played online games in the world. A while after Overwatch launched Blizzard announced the Overwatch League. Similar to traditional sports like Basketball and Football there would be teams in major cities that would sign some of the best players in the world to compete for title nationally and internationally.

Vancouver made great decision in buying a spot in the league and creating the Vancouver Titans. Vancouver picked up some of the best players in the world (most coming from Korea) and they made a 19-0 run to start the season. That’s a feat not a single team could even get close to doing. The Titans do meet and greets down at Rogers Arena sometimes so check for news on that. If your looking for another team to cheer for in Vancouver then maybe give the Vancouver Titans a try. You never know you may end up loving it.

Dear Evan Hansen in Vancouver Review

The Tony award winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” had its opening night at the Queen Elisabeth Theater on February 25th. This is one of the many stops this show makes on it’s national tour. There is a lot of hype around this particular musical as it won numerous Tony’s the year it came to Broadway including Best Musical. The story follows a young boy in highschool who has SEVERE social anxiety (something a lot of us can relate too to some degree) and he lies about about being friends with a kid who had just recently killed himself. The story follow the boy as he comforts the grieving family and tries to keep a close relationship with his mom and deals with everyone thinking that he was best friends with someone he did not even know.

The message of the musical is about knowing that you are not alone and that one day you will be found. Everyone’s life has meaning it’s really beautiful and I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to go see for themselves. The music is this is amazing, the national tour cast is obviously not the same as the original Broadway cast but they an amazing job. “Waving through a Window” “For Forever” “Sincerely Me” and “You Will be Found” were the highlight songs for me in a 16 song production. Whether your male, female, young or old this musical has something for everyone is a true masterpiece. You can still see this amazing show until March 1st.