Archive for the 'friday fun' category

Best Jazz Albums 2017: A list of lists

Dec 21 2017 Published by under friday fun, music, music mondays, Uncategorized

A new bizarre obsession seems to have taken hold, to join the Best Science Books one. Sad! No, happy!

I've also done lists for 2015 and 2016 and look forward to doing another for 2018 in twelve months time!

This particular post collects lists of "best of the year" jazz albums I've found across various websites. For the purposes of this project, I'm not giving each list its own post and showcasing the albums that are part of the list. That's an awful lot of work, which I'm reserving for the science books project which is more core to the mission of this blog.

Note: I've included a few not-exclusively-jazz lists if they've happened to include either jazz sections or lots of jazz-ish items. If this project has any happy outcome, it would have to be my readers broadening their musical horizons by discovering great new music through these lists, the wider and more varied the better.

If I've missed any important list, please let me know in the comments. In particular, I'm really looking to expand my coverage beyond English-language lists. I've got a few in French and even on in Italian and I'd love get more. I"ll likely update this list of lists at least one more time, likely in the first or second week of January 2018.



Some additional resources: Metacritic Music Critic Top Ten Lists

My top 10 Albums? Not possible to come up with any sort of consistent permanents best list, but sure, here goes, in alphabetical order of course. And by "best" I really mean a few albums that made an impression. I'll also concentrate on maybe a few that didn't get as much attention in the lists above.

  • A Rift In Decorum, Ambrose Akinmusire
  • Eternal Stories, Michel Portal, Richard Héry, Xavier Tribolet, Quatuor Ebène
  • Far From Over, Vijay Iyer Sextet
  • Freedom Highway, Rhiannon Giddens
  • Infinitude, Christine & Ingrid Jensen w Ben Monder
  • Ladilikan, Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet
  • Live from the Fox Oakland, Tedeschi Trucks Band
  • Our Point Of View, Blue Note All-Stars
  • Signs LIVE!, Peter Bernstein Quartet
  • The Passion Of Charlie Parker, Various artists
  • Under the Influence Suite, Orchestre National de Jazz Montréal, Christine Jensen, dir.


Favourite concerts? A few of those too!

  • Coco Love Alcorn, Auer House (house concert)
  • Dave Liebman & Mike Murley Quartet, The Rex
  • Joel Frahm w/Turboprop, The Rex
  • Mike Downes Quartet, Gallery 345
  • DKV, The Burdock (TONE fest)
  • Christine and Ingrid Jensen / Infinitude, L'Astral (FIJM)
  • Joshua Redman Still Dreaming, Maison Symphonique (FIJM)
  • Lizz Wright, Monument National (FIJM)
  • Dave Young Quintet, The Rex
  • Lina Allemano Trio, Handlebar (KMJF)
  • A Tribute to Muddy Waters & Howling Wolf featuring Paul DesLauriers, Julian Fauth, Dylan Wickens, Guy Belanger and Jack de Keyzer, Danny Marks host, Hugh's Room

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Friday Fun: Is Game of Thrones an allegory for global climate change?

Aug 18 2017 Published by under climate change, friday fun, science fiction

After a bit of an unexpected summer hiatus, I'm back to regular blogging, at least as regular as it's been the last year or two.

Of course, I'm a committed Game of Thrones fan. I read the first book in paperback soon after it was reprinted, some twenty years ago. And I've also been a fan of the HBO series, which though a bit inconsistent and wobbly at times, has been quite worth watching.

And speaking of winter, has anyone else noticed that winter doesn't seem to be coming? Has anyone noticed the person most worried about climate-related issues, Jon Snow, is having trouble being believed? In fact, anyone who worries about the climate is having trouble being taken seriously. Sure, war is important, but the Army of the Dead will kill everyone, no matter who sits on the Iron Throne.

Sound familiar? Well, I'm hardly the first person to notice the link between our favourite apocalyptic TV show and our least favourite real life environmental apocalypse.

Enjoy, or at least seriously ponder, some of the links below.


Is “Game of Thrones” an allegory for global climate change?

Just as the White Walkers are being ignored by the houses fighting over the Westerosi throne, so too are the major producers of carbon emissions struggling to succeed in an economy that will, in the end, render the planet uninhabitable.


Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen's Face-to-Face Shows the Myopia of Climate Change Denial

How do we confront an enemy no one believes in because no one can see it? That's the question Snow leaves us with. We can see iceberg calving thanks to patient videographers positioned at the planet’s edges—a relative term, of course, as circles don’t have edges. But at this moment most would rather watch the videos on their screens rather than give up the behaviors that are part of the problem that’s causing calving. We tend to choose the superstitions that benefit us, not the ones that point at our destruction.


Like it or not, Game of Thrones is out biggest analogy for climate change

And what did Tyrion do with that information? What did he do when he learned that all of mankind was at risk? Did he beseech Daenerys to forego her quest for the Iron Throne and head north with her dragons? Did he explain to her that it was Jorah’s father who first told him about the White Walkers, in a desperate attempt to make her accept the existential threat they all face?

No, he did nothing more than convince her to give away some some worthless dragonglass as a show of good faith. He probably does believe Jon, but taking the Iron Throne is far more important to him, so the White Walkers will have to wait for another day.


Game of Thrones is secretly all about climate change

Swap climate change for White Walkers and "countries" for noble houses, and it starts to sound a lot like the real world.

Specifically, it sounds like the problem of international coordination on climate change. No one country can prevent catastrophic warming on its own: Every country that's a major greenhouse gas emitter is part of the problem.

Yet the biggest emitters, like the United States and China, are also geopolitical competitors: Both are wary of the other's intentions, making it hard for them to see any kind of deal that limits their emissions as win-win. And even if you get over the US-China hurdle, you have to get a deal that's acceptable to most every other country in the world — including developing ones that need cheap energy to fuel economic growth.

The big wars in Game of Thrones — the Baratheon-Targaryen-Stark-Tyrell-Lannister free-for-all — are basically supposed to stand in for these complications. All of these noble houses are focused on their short-term interests, but pursuing them is blocking the real problem: stopping the White Walkers and their zombie army. Likewise, CO2 emissions skyrocketed in the past 100 years — with potentially catastrophic consequences for the human race.

Summer is coming.


And a few more...

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Friday Fun: Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

Apr 28 2017 Published by under around the web, friday fun, music, music mondays

Like with La La Land a few months back, here we have a jazz-themed documentary that I haven't seen yet but have read an awful lot about.

Unlike La La Land, I actually intend to see Chasing Trane and actually have tickets to see an upcoming showing at a Toronto theatre.

The reviews seem fantastic, with more or less unanimous opinion that the film does justice to Coltrane both as a person and as a musician.

Some of what I've been reading...

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My new job: CEO of the United States National Parks Service Library System

You know, I'm the best librarian. Just the best. My collection is huge. The very very best collection. Such a great collection. I love collecting. I'm very good at bibliographic instruction. Nobody does bibliographic instruction like me. Students love it. I can talk for hours. I have long, beautiful book stacks. Look at those book stacks, are they small book stacks? I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee you.

And since I'm the best librarian, my pal The Donald, the President of the United States, has hired me to be the Chief Executive Officer for the National Parks Service Library System.

We all know how much he loves books, right?

Now I know that following my various job changes over the years seems a bit wearying, even for me, especially since I can't seem to stick with anything for more than a year. Every April, like clockwork, there seems to be a new announcement. Whether it's a group blog for revolutionary librarians, Chief Science Librarian for the Canadian Federal Government, launching a new journal, IJUST-CANT or JAPE.

Before making this historic announcement, I definitely wanted to get a management team into place. A better group of people could not be found to make the National Parks Services Library System great again! I am so proud to name my new team!

Chair of the Board: Yevgeny Zamyatin
Associate Director: Winston Smith
Associate Director, Branch Libraries: Aldous Orwell
Head of Collections, Fiction: Emmanuel Goldstein
Head of Collections, Non-Fiction: Julia O'Brien
Head of Reference Services: Offred Atwood

What's JOB ONE you ask? Making our collections great again! To that end, I am directing our Heads of Collections to immediately and with full force to set our collections budget to zero dollars. We will no longer be purchasing any materials for our libraries and will only be relying on our deal-making abilities to fill our shelves with freebies from all the most famous American and foreign authors. You'll love these books. You'll love them like you've never loved a book before.

As of this moment, we will only be stocking books by the following authors:

  • Donald Trump
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Ann Coulter
  • Roger Stone
  • Sean Hannity
  • Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.
  • Michael Savage
  • Bill O'Reilly
  • David Horowitz
  • Glenn Beck (classic books only)
  • Sarah Palin
  • Rush Limbaugh

Effective immediately, anyone who can prove they have read the timeless classic, The Art of the Deal, will be allowed free entrance into any National Park.

All music CDs held by our libraries will be by Ted Nugent. No exceptions. Except for whoever it was that sang at the inauguration. What's-their-names.

I'm still looking for people to appoint as Heads of the various individual branch libraries in the various national parks, although I will personally be based at Badlands National Park and will serve as the head of that library.

As mentioned earlier, we will be removing all books currently in stock and replacing them with new improved ones. Here's a list of all the books we will be removing from our collections.

I'd also like to mention a few more recent books which we will not be acquiring for our collection. Don't read these books. They are fake news books.

As usual, I'm happy for suggestions about what books we should not purchase for our libraries!


Here's a list of my previous blog posts about how Donald Trump is going to make science and libraries great again!

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Friday Fun: We all believed in science at some point...or did we?

Mar 24 2017 Published by under friday fun, Trump war on science, Uncategorized

The world is going to hell in a hand basket. But at least we can laugh as we're sucked relentlessly into the Hellmouth.

Maybe if we all collectively understood science and evidence better, the path to Hell wouldn't be quite so straight and narrow. So maybe that's what's making me think of these particular funny bits today. And by funny I mean so funny in hurts.

First up, we have retired basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal, who apparently really and truly believes the world is flat. He has a doctorate in Education, by the way, which I just can't even.


Shaquille O'Neal agrees with Kyrie Irving, believes the Earth is flat

At this point, you might as well just assume that your favorite NBA person fundamentally rejects a basic tenet of astronomy, and believes that the Earth is in fact flat, and not a sphere. You can now add Shaquille O’Neal to the list of people who buy into the theory that Kyrie Irving revealed he subscribes to over the All-Star Break.

Other Cavaliers have backed him in this belief, and other players have hinted at it. Maybe it’s just one big marketing stunt. Maybe it’s just players toying with fans and the media.

Or maybe they really believe this, rejecting accepted scientific principles and the first-person accounts of those who have, you know, actually been to space. As this mindset willfully ignores and rejects evidence accepted as fact by the entire scientific community, there’s no real way of arguing against it. We’ve reached a point where basic elements of human existence in the universe are subject to interpretation and subjective reassessment. Whatever that says about the state of the world, at least it shows a level of intellectual curiosity and contemplative thought from NBA players have that has been absent in years past.


On the other hand, it wouldn't be such a bad idea if some really bad news scientific facts were in fact hoaxes or conspiracies or fake news. Right? Right? In any case, leave it to The Beaverton....

World’s climate scientists now cling to hope that global warming is Chinese hoax

GENEVA — Some of the world’s top climate scientists have penned a letter to the International Journal of Climatology, Friday, expressing their belief that humanity’s only hope for survival is the accuracy of Trump’s global warming Chinese hoax connection.

The authors wrote that with Trump’s plans to tear up the Paris Agreement, install a climate change denier as head of the EPA and crank the heat in government buildings while opening all of the windows, climate change being a hoax was the only way the authors could avoid crying at the sight of their children. The close to four hundred esteemed scientists who signed the letter added that this far-flung hope was also what was keeping them from “replacing their dietary water with pure grain alcohol.”


Of course, there's also the Borowitz Report point of view, in which we're basically all fucked.

Nation apparently believed in science at some point

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—Historians studying archival photographs from four decades ago have come to the conclusion that the U.S. must have believed in science at some point.

According to the historian Davis Logsdon, who has been sifting through mounds of photographic evidence at the University of Minnesota, the nation apparently once held the view that investing in science and even math could yield accomplishments that would be a source of national pride.



Previous Donald Trump War on Science Related Posts

The posts are all tagged here.

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Friday Fun: Celebrating Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 20

Mar 14 2017 Published by under friday fun, Uncategorized

OK, I admit, Friday Fun a few days late...

In any case, last Friday marked the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, March 10, 1997 marked the very first episode of one of the greatest TV shows of all time, and certainly my personal favourite. Although I didn't start watching until the mid-2000s (I had two young kids in 1997 and was not watching much TV. We heard a lot about how great it was, but weren't in any space to be adding new shows to what little we were watching), once I did start with the DVDs, I was hooked. I've watched the whole thing through twice and seen some episodes three or four times.

I don't have a particular obsession about a favourite season (probably season three, if pushed) or a favourite episode (Conversations with Dead People, maybe?) or even a least favourite season (season four? I actually quite like six and seven which are more popular choices for least favourite). And I'm definitely neither a Spuffy or Bangel obsessive either, feeling that Buffy as a grown woman has probably outgrown her teenage and early twenties weird boyfriends.

How to celebrate? With a list, of course. Here's some of the recent articles I've seen online celebrating the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


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Friday Fun: The five diseases of academic publishing

Feb 24 2017 Published by under friday fun, scholarly publishing, Uncategorized

My library's Hackfest was yesterday so I'm feeling kind of burnt out today. Today's linked post cheers me immensely, in a side-eye, gallows humour kind of way.

This recent Retraction Watch post is funny and you should read the whole thing: Got “significosis?” Here are the five diseases of academic publishing.

  1. Significosis
  2. Neophilia
  3. Theorrhea
  4. Arigorium
  5. Disjunctivitis is a disease that is about a collective proclivity to produce large quantities of redundant, trivial, and incoherent works. This happens because of several reasons, but primarily because quantity of publications is usually rewarded. In addition, researchers have to stake a name for themselves; given that novelty, significance results, and new theory are favored too means that a lot of research is produced that is disjointed from an established body of knowledge. Instead of advancing in a paradigmatic fashion, researchers each take little steps in different directions. Worse, they go backwards or just run on the spot and do not achieve much. The point is that the research that is done is fragmented and is not helping science advance in a cohesive fashion. Findings must be synthesized and bridges must be built to other disciplines (e.g., evolutionary biology) so that we can better understand how the world works.

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Friday Fun: National Park Service Temporarily Ordered To Stop Tweeting: Reactions From Wildlife

Jan 27 2017 Published by under friday fun, Trump war on science, Uncategorized

This one from Samantha Bee is so funny, I don't know whether to laugh to cry.

On second thought, mostly cry. Lots and lots of crying. The only thing that will save me is singing a rousing chorus of Bruce Springsteen's Badlands in honour of the crazy wonderful park rangers at Badlands National Park. It's not hard to imagine a recent meeting going down like that famous scene from Casablanca -- "Play La Marseillaise. Play it!"

Anyways, back to Samantha Bee and National Park Service Temporarily Ordered To Stop Tweeting: Reactions From Wildlife.

Rock Squirrel, Zion National Park
“This may just seem like a ​tiny moment in the larger unfurling of Trump’s autocracy, but for those of us who live in the parks — who mate there, who forage for stems there — it is a chilling reminder that no habitat is beyond the reach of a​ determined despot.”

American Alligator, Everglades National Park
“This was a real wake-up call for me. I think we all drift into complacency. We all get so caught up with hunting muskrat and sunning ourselves on logs that we forget that what happens in Washington affects us all, maybe now more than ever.”

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Friday Fun: Trump To Require All Science Article Peer Review Reports to End with the Word “Sad!”

Jan 13 2017 Published by under friday fun, Trump war on science, Uncategorized

Or "LOve!" Or "Scooped!"

One word peer review! A game you can play at home!

  • Sad!
  • Love!
  • Changes!
  • Scooped!
  • Redo!
  • Copied!
  • Not!
  • Even!
  • Wrong!
  • Cite!
  • Me!

One word peer review is going to be Huuuuugggggggeeeeee!

Trump To Require Reviewers To End All Reviews With the Word “Sad!”

Washington DC – President-Elect Mr. Donald Trump has tweeted that he will require all reviewers for all journals and grant agencies to end all reviews with the word “Sad!”

Trump tweeted that all reviewers should be required to select the wording for their reviews from an approved list of words.

The approved list of words includes “Stupid”, “Dumb”, “Weak”, “Loser”, “Politically Correct”, “Moron”, “Tough”, “Dangerous”, “Bad”, “Lightweight”, “Amazing”, “Huge”, “Tremendous”, “Terrific” and “Out of Control”.

Read the whole article! It's funny! Add your own one word peer reviews in the comments!

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Music Mondays: Best Jazz Albums 2016: A list of lists

Dec 18 2016 Published by under friday fun, music, music mondays, Uncategorized

Another annual obsession to add to the list, along with the listings of best science books? Look like it, if last year and this year are anything to judge by.

This particular post collects lists of "best of the year" jazz albums I've found across various websites. For the purposes of this project, I'm not giving each list its own post and showcasing the albums that are part of the list. That's an awful lot of work, which I'm reserving for the science books project which is more core to the mission of this blog.

Note: I've included a few not-exclusively-jazz lists if they've happened to include either jazz sections or lots of jazz-ish items. If this project has any happy outcome, it would have to be my readers broadening their musical horizons by discovering great new music through these lists, the wider and more varied the better.

Enjoy! And happy listening!


There are certainly many more lists to come, probably many of them only popping up well into the first week of January. I'll probably update this post a few more times up until that point. In particular, there are not too many Canadian lists yet so I'm looking forward to catching up with some of them.

If I'm missing any lists, please let me know in the comments.

Related, from last year here's a huge list of lists of lists covering jazz, even very marginally. I'm looking forward to this year's compilation. Avant Music News is collecting lists for jazz and experimental music. Eric Alper is doing the same thing for "best of" lists across a wider range of genres.

For a much more comprehensive 2016 "list of lists" for jazz and other kinds of music, try this one from Dean Minderman on St. Louis Jazz Notes.

As for my own "Best of the Year" list, given how much I love reading and aggregating such lists, I'm surprisingly not so much into making one for myself. That being said, here are a few albums from the jazz & blues world that I found particularly wonderful in 2016.

  • Take Me to the Alley by Gregory Porter
  • Let Me Get By by The Tedeschi Trucks Band
  • Blackstar by David Bowie
  • A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke by Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith -
  • Ride the One by Paul Reddick
  • Perfection by The Murray, Allen & Carrington Power Trio
  • Emily's D+Evolution by Esperanza Spalding
  • Heal My Soul by Jeff Healey
  • Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny by Cuong Vu Trio with Pat Metheny

(Yeah, I know, it's not quite Monday as I'm posting this, but close enough...)


Update 2016.12.22. Added a bunch of new ones since the 18th as well as filling in some missed ones.
Update 2017.01.06. A bunch of new ones, of course, and a few ones I missed before. I'm unlikely to update again unless there's a gap needing filling such as discovering a bunch of non-English language posts that I've missed. If you know of any such posts that I've missed, please let me know either to dupuisj at gmail dot com or in the comments.

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