Monday, January 29, 2007

The Cylons have nothing on this guy

The first kid is good. But the second kid... oh, my sweet game of fizzbin... this teenager is half T1000 and half James Brown.

Kung fu vs. Yoga

Who could possibly fight and defeat expert Chinese martial artists? Why not someone from the land that gave birth to those arts? According to legend, Bodidharma (known to the Chinese as Da Mo) brought the basics of kung fu to Chinese Buddhist monks who were too sleepy to meditate.Who knows? But if the story is true, it makes watching this video even more interesting.

Beware: the yogi's contortions are nauseating.

Oh, those wacky Japanese....

This game show is a suppressed scream.

Friday, January 19, 2007


All movie buffs love watching the Oscars. Tonight, why not come down to the U of A campus to watch THE MOSQUERS?

On Friday, January 19, join eager young film and video makers from Edmonton’s Muslim-Canadian community to celebrate their stories on the big screen.

The MOSQUERS video contest features the talents, insights, comedy and show-biz razzle-dazzle of young Edmontonians exploring the experience of being Muslim in Canada, whether in skateboarding or scholarship, halal dining or hip hop music.

The event is hosted by CITY-TV’s Paul Mennier, with celebrity judges including MLA David Eggen and CBC News host Portia Clarke.

Come out to THE MOSQUERS this Friday at 7:30 pm on the SUB stage of the Students Union Building on the U of A campus. Admission is free with a donation to the Edmonton Food Bank.

The Mosquers is produced by Axis of E-Town and sponsored by the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities and the Northern Alberta Alliance on Race Relations, NAARR.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

CJSR legend Bruce Stovel, 1941-2007

I knew Bruce Stovel a little because his radio show, CJSR FM88's popular and long-running Calling All Blues, followed mine on CJSR on Wednesday nights. He was a kind and gentle man, thoughtful and respectful, and passionate about blues music, CJSR, and from what I could see, his son and co-host, Grant.

In the most recent (and obviously the final) conversation I had with Bruce, I asked him, since he was my elder, if he had any advice for me because I'd just become a father. He told me that having kids is the biggest thing there is. Sometimes it's the biggest anxiety and fear, but mostly it's the biggest love. The fact that he and Grant worked for so many years together on the same show (a relationship that I imagine is rare, if perhaps unique, in Canadian radio), speaks to how close the two of them obviously were (and are).

I hope that my relationship with my daughter, and my children yet to be born, will be as close as was Bruce's and Grant's.

Grant Stovel writes: "Joseph Bruce Stovel, "Ph.D. Magna Cum Laude in English at Harvard University in 1970, Bruce was Assistant Professor at Yale University 1970-75, Associate Professor at Dalhousie University 1975-85, where he served as Department Chair, and Professor of English at the University of Alberta, where he twice served as Associate Chair and Supervisor of Graduate Teaching Assistants. He retired on June 30, 2006, as Professor Emeritus, to become, in his own words, a patron of the arts.

"His special area was literature of the eighteenth century, particularly fiction and comedy. He published essays on Richardson, Sterne, Smollett, Burney, Austen, Lennox, Scott, George Eliot, Kingsley Amis, Margaret Drabble, Brian Moore, Mordecai Richler, and Margaret Laurence, but his special love was Jane Austen. He co-edited two collections of essays on Austen and contributed to The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. He co-founded the Edmonton chapter of the Jane Austen Society, co-hosted a Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting at the Chateau Lake Louise in 1993, and contributed to many JASNA AGMs and local chapters in Edmonton and elsewhere.

"Bruce was a dedicated teacher, and was awarded the Students' Union Teaching Award, the Faculty of Arts Teaching Award, and the University of Alberta Rutherford Teaching Award. As much as he achieved academically, his greatest impact was felt at a personal level. He was a beloved husband and father, teacher and colleague, musicman and friend. Bruce was an enthusiastic presence on campus and on the local arts scene, and he was a generous volunteer in academic, artistic, and humanitarian causes.

"Bruce loved blues music as much as literature, and he worked as a volunteer at the Yardbird Suite, where he organized Blues events. Beginning in the mid-1990s, he co-hosted with his son Grant "Calling All Blues," a weekly Blues program on CJSR, the University of Alberta radio station, as well as contributing to CKUA. Following his early career as a journalist reporting for The Montreal Star and Canadian Press in the early sixties in Montreal, he wrote a Blues column titled "Long-Distance Call," and reported on the Edmonton Folkfest, the Edmonton Bluesfest, and the Chicago Bluesfest.

"He died suddenly on January 12, 2007. He will be much missed and deeply mourned by his loving wife of forty-two years Nora Foster Stovel, his son Grant Foster Stovel, and his daughter Laura Elizabeth Stovel and son-in-law Rod Girard, as well as his brother Robb Stovel and his sister Margaret Surridge and their families.

"A celebration of Bruce's life will be held at the University of Alberta Faculty Club on Thursday, January 18, beginning at four o'clock. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a scholarship in his memory. If you do wish to do so, please contact Elisabeth Whitlock at the Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta, at 780-492-9473. A musical tribute to Bruce will be held at the Yardbird Suite at 11 Tommy Banks Way on Sunday, January 28, 7-10 in the evening. All are welcome to attend."

A Love Supreme: Alice Coltrane, 1938-2007

The brilliant jazz keyboardist and harpist Alice Coltrane died yesterday. She was John Coltrane's widow, and as far as I'm concerned, Coltrane's two greatest students (his wife and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders) exceeded him, building upon his foundation of what I call "Supreme" to create a cosmic, ethereal, intellectual, yet also passionate music.

Procure a copy of the strangely-titled but superbly assembled album World Galaxy. It's got a bizarre version of "My Favourite Things" as lead-in (which I like), but the rest is all Supreme. The final cut is a cover version of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" which is superior to the original, featuring a rambling (yet interesting) Swami named Satchidanada discussing love in Pauline terms.

I'm going to miss Sister Coltrane. Her work deeply inspired me and my writing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Manning Marable on Living History

Recently Manning Marable spoke before Harvard’s
W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research on the topic of why oppressed peoples must be not only the characters inside, but also the narrators and illustrators of, their own living history.

Dr. Manning Marable is Professor of History and Political Science, and the Founding Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University. He’s the author of twelve books, including The Great Wells of Democracy, Black Liberation in Conservative America and How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America.

As a public intellectual, Marable lectures widely and also teaches a masters degree programme for prisoners in New York’s Sing Sing penitentiary. One of the founding members of the Black Radical Congress, Marable heads an annual Malcolm X seminar and hosts an online “e-seminar” about Malcolm X.

WHEN: Wednesday 6 PM Mountain Time

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Requiem for James Brown

Few musicians can hope to achieve the stature or impact of the late James Brown. When Brown died of congestive heart failure at age 73 on Christmas Day, 2006, the outpouring of tributes and elegies and the sheer spectacle of his funeral in Harlem seemingly put him on par with kings and presidents.

(Get Minister Faust's "REQUIEM FOR JAMES BROWN" podcast HERE.)

Widely acclaimed as the “godfather of soul,” James Brown was a highly influential musical pioneer whose work shaped the development of rhythm and blues in the 1950s, rock and roll in the 1960s, funk and disco in the 1970s and hip hop in the 1980s. He was a guest at the White House; he toured the United States, Nigeria and the world; he modeled business ownership for African-American musicians so that they might be owners instead of merely the owned. He was truly a titan.

Of course, as is fitting for someone whose life ended on the mythic date of Christmas Day, James Brown began humbly. Born May 3, 1933, in Barnwell South Carolina, James Brown was abandoned by his parents when he was only four years old, leaving him to be raised by relatives. But by his mid-teens, Brown went to prison for armed robbery. With the help of the then-unknown Bobby Byrd and his family, Brown returned to civilian life and became a gospel musician and ultimately a rhythm-and-blues man. By the time “Please, Please, Please” had become his first big hit, Brown was already known for his supernova stage performances. His popularity soared at precisely the time that the African-American freedom struggle was transforming from the self-definition of civil rights to that of Black Power, leading Brown to record such classics as “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” at a time when the words “negro” and “coloured” were commonplace.

Despite musical and financial low-points in the 1970s, Brown found renewed gravity with the advent of DJ mixes and digital sampling, which took the musical refrains or breakbeats from his songbook and looped them to form backing tracks for the dawning recording art of hip hop music. That foundational presence, combined with three other events, helped James Brown return to the Top Ten. The first of the three was recording the song “Unity” with hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambatta; the second was being caricatured by a young Eddy Murphy during Murphy’s Delirious tour, album and concert film and in the classic Saturday Night Live parody, “James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub;” the third was recording “Living in America” for Sylvester Stallone’s jingoistic retread Rocky IV. While the song was no more jingoistic than Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” (if less critical), like Springsteen’s song, it was adopted uncritically as a patriotic anthem.

Of course, James Brown’s rediscovered popularity did stop Brown from assaulting his wife or from serving two years in prison for that crime. But his star never truly set, and shines still in the music and performances of the many people he influenced, from Michael Jackson and Prince to Chuck D. and many, many White musicians as well. He even had an impact on Nigerian superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, whose own band in turn had a major influence on Brown’s arranger David Matthews and thus the resulting James Brown sound, part of the 800 songs Brown recorded.

Last week, tens of thousands paid tribute to James Brown, filing past his coffin in Harlem and attending events in memoriam including a three day wake at the Apollo Theatre. Brown’s body was returned to Augusta, Georgia last Friday, where it lay as if in state for last Saturday’s public viewing at the 8,500-seat James Brown Arena, awaiting an evening public service also led by Brown’s surrogate son, the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Tonight on The Terrordome, we’ll hear many voices in praise of James Brown, from an elegy by Michael Jackson to parodies by Eddy Murphy, from documentary footage of Brown teaching viewers how to dance, to a rare Japanese miso soup commercial featuring Brown, a television appearance in which the late Sammy Davis, Jr. asks Brown to teach him how to dance (and in which accomplished mimic Davis does a spectacular job), from rare documentary material on the man (see below), plus, of course, music by James Brown himself. That’s all on the first 2007 edition The Terrordome: The Afrika All-World News Service.

Many, many thanks to WMFU's Beware of the Blog for providing the link to so many valuable clips.

In 1980, US filmmaker Jon Alpert of Downtown Community Television began filming a documentary on the hardest working man in showbiz after Brown claimed that he was being muscled out of American performances, and thus a living, by organised crime, which had a stake in the US recording industry. The clip is courtesy of Democracy Now!, which featured Jon Alpert as a guest on December 29th. In the clip, which had never aired before the Democracy Now! broadcast, we’ll see Alpert interviewing James Brown and Reverend Al Sharpton as the three of them drive through Harlem and later converse in a hotel room.

Harry Allen, Public Enemy's Media Assassin, on how James Brown created a revolution in music through rhythm-and-blues to rock-and-roll to funk to disco to hip hop and wrote the anthem to the Black Consciousness Movement in the USA.

Part of the impetus for James Brown’s return to the spotlight in the 1980s was Eddy Murphy’s caricaturing of him during his Delirious tour, album and concert film and in the classic Saturday Night Live parody, “James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party.” Right now, let’s hear both.

James Brown’s surrogate son and protégé, the Reverend Al Sharpton, delivering a eulogy for Brown, and joined onstage by singer Michael Jackson who, perhaps in grief, drops his falsetto just long enough to let loose a whisper of his genuine voice.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Local Sister helps soon-to-be AIDS orphans in Ethiopia

"Elizabeth Sumamo and Melanie Meardi each received a degree at the University of Alberta’s recent Fall Convocation 2006. Although they each completed different programs in the School of Public Health – Sumamo finished an MPH (Global Health) and Meardi earned an MSc (Health Promotion) – they share a passion for working with marginalized populations to improve their health and completed the practicum component of their respective programs abroad -- Sumamo in Ethiopia and Meardi in Tanzania.

"Sumamo spent nearly six months working with the Hiwot HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Support Organization, a non-governmental organization founded in 1999 to motivate, educate, and empower Ethiopians to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. She served as an intern on the International Memory Project, an initiative aimed at supporting children who were facing the prospect of losing their HIV-positive parents.

"'My role was to help with memory work training for HIV-positive parents, their caregivers, and their children,' says Sumamo. One aspect of memory work, which is an element of the International Memory Work Project, involves parents and children working together to develop a memory book that includes important information about family and friends, parents’ beliefs, ideals and hopes for their children, traditions and special family memories. 'The aim of the project,' explains Sumamo, 'is to promote open communication between parents and their children and to give them the opportunity to discuss important subjects that will help them to them prepare for their futures.'"

"Commenting on the value of her practicum experience, Sumamo indicated that she views it as an essential component of her MPH program. 'I learned a lot in my classes and my coursework provided me with a good theoretical foundation, but the practicum really reinforced things for me,' she stated."