Midweek Music Moment: Where the Streets have no name

It’s 1987.

U2’s fifth album, ‘The Joshua Tree’, has topped the charts in over 20 countries.


From Bono’s distinctive vocals to The Edge’s guitar hooks: everything U2 touches turns to gold as single after single is a hit off the album. 


They’ve spent a week fortifying the roof of a downtown LA liquor store roof in preparation for an 8 song set.

U2’s goal is to shut down the streets – to make a political statement and shake things up. There’s even a backup generator on the roof in case power is cut to the building.

The song is Bono’s dream of a place where the street you live on doesn’t reflect your income or your religious beliefs.

This is the official video for ‘Where the streets have no name’ and it won the 1989 grammy award for Best Performance Music Video.



(Although the video is of a live performance, the audio used is from the studio-recorded version of the song)

U2 have gone on to release 13 studio albums and are one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time, with more than 170 million records sold worldwide and 22 Grammy awards.

And for something a little different, here’s a recent Jimmy Fallon clip with U2 busking incognito in the 42nd St subway station in NYC.

Not only did U2 pull off the Beatles stunt on top of the building in 1987, but I’m pretty sure The Beatles could never have pulled off a live subway performance like this one without major rioting.


Movie Review: Hell or High Water

‘Hell or High Water’ is a 2016 bank-heist thriller set in a gritty and impoverished West Texas.

However, despite the plot this really is a story of two brothers – and the lengths they’ll go to to save the family farm.

With clever casting by Director, David Mackenzie (‘Starred Up’, ‘Perfect Sense’), the performances are stand out and drive the film through any moments where the script seems to languish.


Chris Pine gives a surprisingly subtle performance as straight arrow and quietly intelligent, Toby. While Ben Forster dominates his scenes as twitchy, loose cannon, Tanner.


Although this is a steady drama, there is a notably acidic humour throughout the film: the bulk of which comes from the partnership of old-grizzled sheriff Hamilton – played with great gusto by Jeff Bridges – and his patient deputy sidekick, Alberto (Gil Birmingham).


Jeff Bridges has been receiving great reviews for his performance as a crusty, about-to-retire US marshall. Personally, I thought he was good in the role – but would credit Ben Forster with the best performance in the film.


Although it’s labeled a ‘thriller’ this is a slower character driven film and I recommend it this for those who enjoy a modern western with some depth.

It’s currently playing second run theatres in Calgary – and given it’s atmospheric cinematography, get out and see this on the big screen before it’s too late.

Here’s the official trailer for you to check out:


Annual blues: my top 8 change-of-season helpers

Well this year the cold has come early, with the first snow fall arriving before Canadian Thanksgiving.

And although Calgary is one of the sunniest places in Canada, each year I experience a blue phase as the light fades and the temperature drops.

Unfortunately with the decreased sun exposure the brain produces less and less serotonin (the ‘happy’ brain hormone associated with mood elevation).

Yet the trees turn the most spectacular shades of gold, amber and red – then dropping their leaves in wild, giant, fun-to-kick, irresistible piles.











Waking up in the dark and the cold, pitch-black evenings are already getting to me, so here’s my top 8 of seasonal helpers:

1. A change of season = a change of food. It’s time to put away the tropical fruits and salads and eat earthier, more weighty foods. Eating seasonally helps give my body what it needs to adjust to the cold: in my case, root vegetables, cold weather fruits, dark leafy greens, whole grains and flavourful soups.

2. Get out a favourite scarf. Or hat or jacket or boots. Nothing sucks more than being cold in the cold. Long johns, a wooly hat, cute mittens: sometimes it’s the little things.












3. Cut down on evening social plans. In the Great White North, Fall and Winter are traditionally a time of renewal. I trim back my socializing and let my natural introvert stay home and rug up on the couch: it’s already dark by dinner time anyway.

4. This is a time to catchup on all of those wonderful hobbies that were swept aside in the summer heat-wave fever. Fall is a great time to start a new crafty project – or perhaps even prepare christmas gifts. Enjoying creative activities in the house has been essential to helping me get through the darker months.

5. Enjoy the cooler weather with plenty of tea. Some folks get excited for pumpkin spice beverages at this time of year, but I’m an avid tea drinker. At this time of year I switch focus from water to herbal teas.

6. Find something outdoors that you enjoy doing – even in the middle of winter. This latest one is my newest: last winter I spent time learning to ski, skate and play shinny. What a difference! Getting out amongst nature on a cold but sunny day not only lifts my mood, but produces all those good exercise chemicals.











7. Take Vitamin D daily. This magical nutrient helps the body absorb calcium. It also helps muscles, nerves and the immune system work properly. If you live in Canada, you’re likely Vitamin D deficient which can really affect mood. (Aussies, you can probably skip this one!)

8. Perhaps best of all is to remember that it’s transitional and impermanent – and truly only here for a short period of time. Deepak Chopra says that however we perceive an event to be, is how it is. In other words, attitude is perhaps the most important thing to enjoying your whole year without complaint.

What could you do to make these darker months easier and more enjoyable for yourself?


Midweek Music Moment: Sirens of Jupiter

Today’s Midweek Music Moment is the lush and soulful tune ‘Sirens of Jupiter’ from The Olympians debut, self-titled album.

Laid on the major soul foundations of artists such as Sharon Jones, Lee Fields and Charles Bradley, each track on this instrumental album tells a story of the Greek Gods.

Released on the Daptone label just two weeks ago, this is the only available track so far – but if the rest of the album is as good as this first release, it’s going to be dynamite!



The Olympians is a ‘melting-pot’ band featuring Thomas Brenneck (Menahan Street Band, Budos Band, Charles Bradley) Dave Guy (Tonight Show Band, The Dap-Kings) Leon Michels (The Arcs, Lee Fields), Nicholas Movshon, Homer Steinweiss (The Dap-Kings), Michael Leonhart, Neal Sugarman (The Dap-Kings), Evan Pazner (Lee Fields), and the creative mastermind of Toby Pazner.

And while we’re getting funky, let’s get your toes-a-tapping to this Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings tune ‘I Learned the Hard Way’ (this is the title track off her 2010 album).



Movie Review: Deadpool

‘Deadpool’ is a 2016 Marvel action-comedy film based on the comic book hero of the same name.



Although ‘Deadpool’ has a strong fan following, it’s a newer comic (first published in 1991) and you might not have heard of it until now.


Starring Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool: a wise-cracking mercenary who is given accelerated healing powers after a rogue experiment – the film is propelled by his energy, sass and cynical delivery.



Ryan Reynolds first played a freakish version of Deadpool in 2009 in’ X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ as a side character and eventual villain. (Wolverine and Deadpool went through the same Weapon X Program)


With solid direction from first-time Director, Tim Miller, the film’s only real downfall is it’s predictable storyline.



Although this is Miller’s feature film debut, he is known for the opening title sequences in ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘Thor: The Dark World’.


Given Deadpool’s wild commentary and over-the-top behaviour, there is an opportunity here to push the plot far more out of the mainstream. And perhaps it will show up in a sequel?

Despite the standard superhero storyline, ‘Deadpool’ was really entertaining and is certainly worth a viewing.

Note that it’s rated R for it’s extreme violence (which it is) and over-the-top obscenity (that didn’t bother me so much), and is definitely not suitable for kids.

Available on Netflix and here’s the official trailer for you to check out:


Hoping and Wishing: what’s the difference?

I was recently challenged with understanding the difference between wishing and hoping.


Quotes like these only served to confuse me more. I would wonder where does dreaming fit in to all that work?


Even before fully understanding how dreaming turns into action, I would have already described myself as more of a hopeful person than a wishful person.

What I’ve learnt is that although the desired outcome is often the same, the preceding activity is what makes all the difference between these two.

Wishing is a mostly cerebral activity akin to daydreaming. Almost a random, pie-in-the-sky idea with no actual basis in day-to-day actions.


I don’t believe that wishful sounding so much like ‘wistful’ is a mere coincidence


Hoping on the other hand is wishing’s hard-working cousin: it involves action and footwork.

The reward of putting in all of the action required, is that my pie-in-the-sky idea has now become a goal.

It certainly doesn’t circumvent my natural human powerlessness over the eventual outcome, but I’ve fed the soil, watered the seeds and actively and consistently shown up.




What a gift to step out of the ineffectiveness of random wishing and to be able to rest easy knowing that I’ve whole-heartedly committed myself to my dreams and hopes.



Watch out dreams: I’m in with both feet!

Midweek Music Moment: Perfect word

Grammy and Juno award winner, k.d.lang, is as much known for her soaring vocal range (she has the same range as an operatic mezzo-soprano) as she is for her passionate left-wing politics.

Canadian-born, k.d.lang came to international recognition in the late 1980s with a series of performances, including a duet with the late Roy Orbison – who chose her to record a duet of his standard ‘Crying’.

On a personal note, her 1990s performance on the Concert Hall stage at the Sydney Opera House was one of the best live performances I have ever seen. She exuded charisma and talent as she worked the audience with an energetic, 3 hour performance.

When your hardened technical crew are melting in the wings (as we all did), you know you’ve got a powerhouse talent.

Her 2011 song, ‘Perfect word’, is one of my current high-rotation faves, and this pared down acoustic version is today’s Midweek Music Moment:



And here’s k.d.’s original 1987 duet with Roy Orbison that was rerecorded for the movie soundtrack ‘Hiding out’ and won that year’s Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.



Movie Review: ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’

‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is a 2004 adventure comedy film from the Lemony Snicket series (authored by Daniel Handler).

The story follows the journey of the Baudelaire children: 3 newly-orphaned siblings, and their quest to find a new home and loving family.

Warning the viewer right from the start that it’s ‘an extremely unpleasant story and best to stop watching now’, only adds to the fascination and sets the stage for a wonderfully dark, foreboding movie with a subdued humour.



The orphaned Baudelaire children are Violet (Emily Browning), Klaus (Liam Aiken) and the ever-chomping infant Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman), who rise to each looming disaster with tenacity and resourcefulness and steely wits.


Featuring a strong ensemble cast that includes Meryl Streep, Jude Law, Billy Connolly and Timothy Spall, it’s Jim Carey’s performance as evil Uncle Olaf that really steals the movie.



Carey is in his element with plenty of larger-than-life characters and physical comedy.


Beautifully shot, the movie looks great. With the talented team of Production Designer Rick Heinrichs (‘Sleepy Hollow’) and Art Director John Dexter (‘Planet of the Apes’), the locations are superbly creepy.









If you enjoy comedies with a dark tinge, I highly recommend this movie but warn parents that ‘An Unfortunate Series of Events’ could be a bit too scary for younger children.

Available on Netflix and here’s the official trailer for you to check out:


Mammalian Caregiving and how it helps us

I was reminded this week of how unpleasant it is when my reptile brain flips into the Stress Response of fight-or-flight.

It happens when we feel threatened, unsafe or even criticized.

In my case – depending on the severity, my heart races, my throat gets dry, sometimes I can’t see properly or my voice gets loud, and I will often get the shakes.



It’s not just an external trigger: did you know that you can trigger your own stress response from self-criticism?


It’s the effect of cortisol and adrenaline that’s being released in an effort to help protect ourselves. And the true underlying problem of this stress, is the multitude of health and mental conditions triggered by these kind of hormones.

So lately I’ve been taking comfort in the fact that we are actually mammals. Not reptiles.



Mammals include the largest animals on the planet, as well as some of the most intelligent. We also nurse our young and (most of us) carry our young in a placenta until born.


I’m pleased to report that one of the many great things about being a mammal is the Mammalian Caregiving Response.



It evolved from our young being born so early in their development – and babies having to rely on the nurturing of their parents to reach maturity.


Over the centuries, this has left us with a biological part of us that is wired to respond positively to caregiving: soft touch, soothing voice, kindness and calm nurturing energy.

Kindness feels so good because it releases the relaxing hormones of oxytocin and opiates – which are the opposites of fight-or-flight. It puts us in a relaxed state, which means that we feel safe and comfortable enough to grow and thrive.

And the truly great news about the Mammalian Caregiving Response?

We don’t have to wait for someone else to be loving towards us, we can trigger it ourselves.

By changing the way we nurture ourselves; through gentle self-talk, soft touch and self-kindness, we become our own caregiver and feel safe and supported enough to live our best life.




Midweek Music Moment: The Partisan

Leonard Cohen’s prolific volume of work spans over 40 years and fuses music, poetry and full-length novels.

Love him or hate him, Mr Cohen always knew that he didn’t have the best vocal chops in the business: but took up a singing career in the mid-60s after finding that he could convey his poetical and political ideas to much greater audiences, if he sang them.

Today’s Midweek Music Moment is Leonard Cohen’s cover of the 1943 French song ‘La Complainte du Partisan’ – also known as ‘The Partisan’.

Covered by a diverse range of artists, I’ve chosen three wildly different versions for your Midweek Music Moment!

This initial version is where I heard it first: with Mr Cohen’s gritty vocals setting the tone for the incredible talents of the National Ballet of Canada’s Principal dancer, Heather Ogden (if you just watch one, watch this one):



The second version is a gentle, folksy ballad that’s very much a sign of it’s times, from Joan Baez in 1973, Paris.



And the third version is this heavily orchestrated, almost-metal version from Aussie’s Mick Gordon and Tex Perkins.



It’s a great song: which style do you prefer?