You Wanna Be Startin’ Something (Michael Jackson, Thriller review)

It’s difficult to find an album that feels timeless, because most of the time, we are in that time and have no frame of reference, but when you start cycling through the back catalogue of musical history it can become pretty obvious when something is brilliant.

And if you’re okay with it, dear readers, I’d like to call it a thriller.

Michael Jackson – Thriller
released November 30, 1982
********** 10/10


Michael Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, actor, producer and philanthropist. Known by countless fans as the King of Pop, he truly was a global figure in pop culture for just over four decades.

It’s incredibly hard not to talk about pop music and think of Michael Jackson, well for me anyway. I grew up on MTV, Much Music, and Much More Music videos. I must’ve seen the music video for Thriller more than a hundred times in my youth. And it was one of the only “cool” albums in my parents record collection that wasn’t influenced by country or christmas music, so writing about this album is of special significance for moi.

You know, I don’t think I’ve made this very clear yet. When I was a kid we listened to a lot of country music. A lot.

The radio in the kitchen was always tuned to country music, and whenever we went on the road, it was the same challenge. My dad was a heavy influencer of what was played in the house and it wasn’t until my early teenage years that I really started to spread my wings musically and try other stuff out.

I can partially thank Michael Jackson for that.

Thriller was Michael Jacksons’ most successful album and it remains to this day as the best-selling album of all time, with more than 65 million units sold worldwide. It helped transform the musical landscape of the day by bolstering the success of MTV and bringing more attention to music videos as a medium. The title track, Thriller has a music video which is almost fourteen minutes in length, more than double that of the song. Which should say something about Jackson’s creative vision and ability to correctly champion innovative ideas.

Unfortunately he died in 2009, just over seven years ago, but he left an incredible legacy which I largely attribute to the efforts of this album. What I mean is that Thriller is also a gargantuan effort in breaking down many challenges of race and segregation in the musical arts.  Well in general too, but this is a blog about the arts, so yeah.

Seven of the album’s nine songs became singles over a two year period – The Girl Is Mine, Billie Jean, Beat it, Wanna Be Startin’ Something, Human Nature, P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), Thriller.

Which should tell you that it was influential. And both Baby Be Mine and The Lady in My Life are excellent songs in their own right.

I choose to review this album, because for me Halloween will always be tied in with Thriller. The song was released as a single about a year before I was born, so it was always around. Not to mention the fact that it features zombies and Vincent Price – Who was also synonymous with horror. Thriller is a a certifiable piece of music history and dammit if it isn’t a fun listen. I must’ve spun it more than a dozen times this week in preparation for my review, and I still want to listen to it. For those of you living under a rock, do yourself a favour and listen to Thriller… it’s over 30 years old now and still relevant.




Happy Halloween my friends. It comes around but once a year, and though I hope you’ll get why I choose a classic record this time around instead of keeping up with the rhythm of releases, consider this. Sometimes providing a quality review is more important than a contemporary one. Which might be the case for tomorrows theatrical entry. But you’ll just have to see for yourselves.



Alienating Film Critics (Cross Talk Ep. 12)


Film criticism is one of my favourite skill sets, but it’s been a hard won battle to acquire it. Even more so to know when to use it.

Let me explain something dear readers – I haven’t always felt the love when I have shared my opinions on film. Even now I don’t always getting excited when an opportunity comes up to discuss what makes for good pacing, why certain actors are better role models, and why cataloguing films is a helpful practice when hosting your party.

I think it’s predominantly because of a perception on criticism in general that I’m cautious when talking about movies. I also think this is a safe place to make a generalization that almost no one wants to be corrected when it comes down to it – we would much rather be told that our work is excellent and well received. No matter what medium we choose to create in.


It’s important to contribute to the world, but as the saying goes there is a time and a place for it. It doesn’t matter if you are discussing sex, politics, religion or business, everyone has an opinion and it won’t always line up with the other person (or people) in the room. The arts are not removed from this either.

And that’s okay.

It just means learning to read the room.


Which is why we decided to focus on film criticism in general for this week’s episode of Cross Talk. We are going to explore some of our own experiences as film critics andtalking with other critics, ways that people alienate each other when it comes to film, and how to bridge the gap to create a healthier environment. Because the reality is that criticism is here to stay, and I believe that it’s a useful tool both for protecting your time and for experiencing great content. Which is why it’s time to consider how you can alienate others with a critical approach to film, both as an expert and a casual participant.

This is episode twelve of Cross Talk. We are going to make some mistakes, have some laughs, and getting incredibly personal with this conversation. Which reminds me, Cross Talk is exactly that, a conversation about film (and potentially other mediums), it’s a way for us to take the heady academic thoughts on this art form and bring it back into the realm of the everyday, because it’s not just professionals that consume this content. We all have a stake in it.

I’m about theoried out for now friends, but I’ve got a Halloween themed album review lined up for your tomorrow. I think you’ll enjoy this one, it’s a thriller. Otherwise, please comment, subscribe, and share this video with friends. We want to hear your feedback!


It’s Mr. Dressup, Stay Classy (Halloween)

When most people think of Halloween, they think of trick or treating, costumes parties, parades, bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, pranks, haunted houses, lots of monster related activities, and in my case, horror movie marathons as a teenager.

But the thing is that Halloween has history reaching back almost two thousand years. Many believe that it originated with the ancient festival of Samhain, something the Celts practiced every November 1st to help ward off ghosts and other spirits. They would dress up in costumes and light bonfires to achieve the proper ritual.

It wasn’t until the eighth century or so that the Catholic Church decided to change November 1st into a day to honour saints, effectively known as All Saints Day, and it even took on some of the elements of Samhain. Which, a lot of Christian holidays have been prone to do. Incorporate a pagan holiday into its fold, to help the people digest the practice better. But that’s something I could spend more than a whole post unto itself on, so we’ll move on, for now.

With that change over, the preceding night became All Hallows Eve and it was celebrated as such until the Reformation in the sixteenth century.

All Hallows Eve-olution

With the puritanical element introduced, the theology of All Hallows Eve was redefined and the ghosts came to represent evil spirits. After all, many Protestants believe that there was no purgatory, only Heaven and Hell, thusly spirits were demons and incredibly threatening.

As people immigrated to North America in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the Irish and Scottish peoples brought their version of Halloween with them, watering it down and assimilating it into the mainstream of secular holidays.

Because of this practice, people focused instead on the symbols and rituals as acts of entertainment, maintaining the elements of fear and acknowledgment of the unknown. When the age of adulthood shifted from 13 to 18, more observances shifted towards children and their development, and thus costuming, craft, and activities became a celebration for them.

Let’s be clear for a second, my dear sweet treats, costuming eventually became the focal point and with that shift towards creativity, the tone of the event shifted to one of creativity and inclusion. It’s kind of amazing when you think about it. Out of the unknown and fear developed an event that celebrates the supernatural.

Which is why you probably shouldn’t dress in racist attire. Yeah, that’s right you thought this was gonna be a informative post, but I twisted it around on ya.

I’m not going to wax a ton of poetic on this but consider avoiding the following before you decided to embark on a party or three this weekend.

  1. Turning a racial stereotype into a costume
  2. Hyper-sexualization of women and hyper-sexualization of male genitals
  3. Mockery of a group of people or individuals


There is absolutely no reason to offend or induce harm on others during this holidays, no one wins when you do it, and in fact it reduces individuals into debased identities which they are forced to accept or react violently against. It’s super uncool and perpetuate the flaws of culture without helping us to move forward. But that’s just a theory after all.

Enjoy your weekend friends, and I’ll be back on Sunday with something rather stimulating.


The Great Digitization (Lucien X. Polastron)

Labels are a double-edged sword, if you ask me. They can provide you with valuable information about products, people, and places. But sometimes they are too simple and limiting with their direction.

Specifically when it comes to imposed labels we make for other people and ideas. What many call common sense, I call limiting perception. When we think on these labels of society, we might gain better perspective into our own assumptions and the world around us. Which is why I chose to read a book in the LABEL category this month. I wanted to think on something we are definitely taking for granted.

As always I’m going to offer up some information to remind of this ongoing process of mine, also known as the The 5 L’s of Language –

I will read one book a month from the 5 groupings below, slowly expanding the number of books read so that I reach the point of 5 books a month. A book for each group

  1. LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  2. LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  3. LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  4. LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  5. LEET– The Internet

My goal with this of course is to share information with you that might help you avoid mistakes, stimulate your mind, and encourage you to think outside of your typical modus operandi.

Lucien X. Polastron, The Man Who Read Too Much?

Lucien X. Polastron is a French writer and historian who has focused his attentions on paper, books, the process of writing, and the history of libraries. When the National Library of Sarajevo was destroyed in 1992, it triggered his research into the history of libraries and the many examples of libraries which have been destroyed. This is something he had previously observed while working on research of history of paper.

His two most famous books are Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries throughout History, a historical survey of the destruction of books from Babylonia through to modern society, and The Great Digitization and the Quest to Know Everything, which examines the consequences (both good and bad) of the digitization of books.

Polastron posits that while the digitization of books is an excellent way to move forward the exchange and breakdown of knowledge, it can very easily creates parallels between book burning by restricting access to books and destroying their autonomy. Effectively removing the idea of free books altogether. For instance, if internet service providers charge for their services and publishers hold the rights to books, who polices the quality and authenticity of the information being shared.

After all, if libraries become obsolete, that means that local governments will have to fund services which they cannot control or leave very easily. It is up to us to not only move forward with technology but to also be conscious of and protective of the accuracy of these words.

It’s books that feature intelligent content and do not dumb down their theories for the reader which allow for proper mental exercise. And while this book is now a decade old, and we still have access to free information, the thoughts which echo throughout are still cautionary and relevant for a globalized marketplace.

Let’s close out this post without resorting to simple labels. Of course digitization has great many benefits. It opens up the world and creates a level playing field of information for many who don’t have access to money. Our education levels are increasing all over the world as this technology flattens and creates transparencies. With that said, I’m going to leave you with this thought.

If knowledge is power, then who is holding all of the cards?

I’m out of theories for today friends, but check back tomorrow when write something timely about Halloween. Should be spooky.


Posh and All That (Cafe Society review)

Cafe Society was a New York city nightclub opened in the late 1930s in the midst of Greenwich Village. It featured mostly African American talent and was intentionally set up to challenge the ideals of the rich club goers of that era.

It was set up as a place for political events, fundraisers and considered to be a staple of liberal ideals. But what about the movie that took it’s name?




Cafe Society (2016)

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively
released on blu-ray October 18, 2016
******* 7/10


IMDB: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%, Audience Score 62%
The Guardian: ***/*****


Ah Woody Allen. An American actor, comedian, film director, and sometimes theatre director. He’s eighty years old and has been making movies for fifty years. Just consider that for a second, fifty years worth of movies and forty-eight turns at directing. And I think I’ve seen somewhere between ten to fifteen of them all by myself.

Cafe Society is his most recent foray into the world of film and ironically or not, it’s a movie about the film industry.

Set in 1930’s Hollywood, we are quickly introduced to Phil Stern (Steve Carell) one of the most prominent agents in the business. At a party he takes a phone call from his sister Rose (Jeannie Berlin), who tells him that her son is moving to LA from New York and that he wants to find a job working with Phil.

Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) lives with his family in town, and is the youngest of his two siblings. His sister Evelyn (Sari Lennick) is a schoolteacher who is married to intellectual Leonard (Stephen Kunken), while brother Ben (Corey Stoll) is a renowned and murderous gangster. The family turns a huge blind eye to Ben’s criminal proclivities.

When Bobby initially arrives in town, he attempts to make an appointment on several occasions but is completely ignored by his uncle for several weeks before Phil finally decides to see him. When they do discuss the possibility of a job, it resolves with Phil deciding to get his nephew in with some pseudo-bullshit type arrangement. He then asks another secretary of his, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) to show Bobby around town.

Of course Bobby is instantly smitten with Vonnie, but when he asks her out, she tells him she is dating a journalist named Doug. We later learn that Doug is in fact a codename for Phil, and that Vonnie is having an affair with Phil behind his wife’s back. Phil claims to love Vonnie, but is unable to leave his wife, and breaks it off with her at the one year mark, just as Vonnie has given a letter from Rudolph Valentino to him. When Vonnie confides the breakup story to Bobby she leaves out no detail, with the exception of Phil’s false identity.

Bobby and Vonnie slowly begin a romance, and Bobby plans for them to leave to New York and get married.

At this point Phil decides to leave his wife and confides in Bobby that his mistress even gave him a letter from Rudolph Valentino. Once Bobby pieces it all together, he confronts Vonnie, and she decides to leave him and instead marry Phil.

Years later, Bobby is a successful nightclub owner, which is a front for his brother Ben’s criminal activities. Bobby meets and marries Veronica Hayes (Blake Lively). And things continue on positively, until one day Phil and Vonnie come to town.

But that’s all I’ll say about that.

Pros: Kristen Stewart delivers as Vonnie, the set pieces and cinematography are gorgeous, and though the story is somewhat stale and obvious, that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining.

Cons: At many points that film feels like an autobiography of Woody Allen as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg. The self-indulgence is ever present and the drama can’t seem to find a way to properly raise the stakes

Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes

Points of Interest: This is the first digitally captured Woody Allen movie ever. And it’s the first time Woody Allen has narrated a movie since 1987’s Radio Days.

It all feels all too familiar, Allen draws on his hometown experiences, referencing the perspective of a New Yorker, covering off the challenges of being Jewish, reflecting on the plight of the neurotic, and even addressing the facade that is Hollywood film culture. Cafe Society appealed to the artist in me, and I’ve said it before, but I’m a sucker for Woody Allen’s introspective nature. Is it for everyone? No. But it is entertaining enough for most.

Cafe Society the movie never quite reaches the same aspirations as the club on which it was based – it asks questions, and considers it’s timeframe, but it is a story driven by emotions and nostalgia for an aesthetic. It never reaches a place of self-awareness, effacement or even acknowledgement. But dammit if it isn’t full of beautiful people and places. This really is an excellent role for Kristen Stewart, and if you like Woody Allen, even when he’s lazy, you’ll drink from this cup.