Back by popular demand, its the 5th Sorta-Annual Canada Day Quiz.  As in years past, simply answer the questions, check your score in the comments section, and then comment with your score.  If you comment anonymously, please make sure you include your name in your comment.  I tried to make this quiz a little more friendly to Americans.  While there certainly will be certain questions that will be easier for Canadians, I tried to include more questions to test knowledge about general subjects that just happen to have a Canadian connection.

Also this year there will be a prize for the highest score – a pair of Canadian Olympic sunglasses from the Bay (proceeds go towards the Canadian olympic team).  Of course, there is no way to stop anyone from cheating, but Canadians are honorable people so we will go by the honor system.  To be eligible to win, please post your score either in the comments or on my Facebook page by July 7, 2014.

Have fun and Happy Canada Day!

1. In what sport did Canada win the most medals during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games?

    • A Curling
    • B. Speed Skating
    • C. Figure Skating
    • D. Freestyle Skiing
    • E. Canada didn’t win any medals this year

2. Which is the only province/territory capital city with punctuation in its name? 3. Certain Canadian politicians have proposed that Canada form a union with what Caribbean island(s)?

    • A. Martinique
    • B. Turks and Caicos
    • C. Haiti
    • D. Saint Lucia
    • E. The government is secretly planning on invading all of these

4. What is the Burgess Shale?

    • A. A famous avalanche that occurred in the Alberta Rockies
    • B. A controversial oil shale mine in Manitoba
    • C. A rocky beach in Nova Scotia
    • D. A large fossil field in British Columbia
    • E. You just made this up

5. A large portion of the Canadian-American border runs along the 49th parallel.  If the border were changed tomorrow so that its entire length of the border ran along the 49th, which of the following cities would remain in Canada?

    • A. Victoria, BC
    • B. Ottawa, ON
    • C. Quebec City, QC
    • D. Charlottetown, PEI
    • E. They’d all be American

6. At what time of day would you likely see popular Canadian singer Corey Hart wear his sunglasses?

    • A. 8:00 AM
    • B. 12:00 noon
    • C. 2:00 PM
    • D. 10:00 PM
    • E. He has never been seen without sunglasses

7. Which of the following Major League Baseball players play 81 games in Canada each season?

    • A. Jose Bautista
    • B. Joey Votto
    • C. Buster Posey
    • D. Derek Jeter
    • E. There’s no MLB in Canada

8. Canadians love telling people how cold our country is.  What is the coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada?

    • A. -43 degrees celsius
    • B. -53 degrees celsius
    • C. -63 degrees celsius
    • D. -73 degrees celsius
    • E. +33 degrees celsius

9. Although it is likely that Vikings landed in Canada as early as 1000 AD, who was the first definitively recorded European to land in Canada?

    • A. Henry Hudson
    • B.  John Cabot
    • C. Jacques Cartier
    • D. Sir John A Macdonald
    • E. No European has ever landed in Canada

10. What is on the reverse of this bill?  (Don’t cheat – I know your wallet is stuffed with them)









    • A. The discovery of insulin
    • B. A sailboat
    • C. Canadian geese
    • D. Kids playing hockey
    • E. A mosaic of all of these images

11. In the Canadian science fiction television show, “Orphan Black,” protagonist Sarah Hawking is a “streetwise hustler” who finds out she is a what?

    • A. An alien
    • B. A clone
    • C. A robot
    • D. A ghost
    • E. An American (the worst of all)

12. Who was Canada’s first francophone Prime Minister?

    • A. Pierre Trudeau
    • B. Wilfrid Laurier
    • C. William Lyon Mackenzie King
    • D. Jean Chretien
    • E. None of these

13. Where would you most likely find a bluenoser?

    • A. In an arctic stream
    • B. At a hockey game in Alberta
    • C. At the Quebec Winter Carnival
    • D. At a park in Nova Scotia
    • E. You can’t see a bluenoser – they’re invisible

14. For what is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford most famous?

    • A. Serving a as mayor in both a Canadian and American city
    • B. Balancing the Toronto budget
    • C. Smoking Crack
    • D. Playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs before becoming mayor
    • E. He’s done all of these things

15. Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, posted a number of videos on youtube about space while living on the ISS, including a cover of which space-themed song?

    • A. “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra
    • B. “Rocket Man” by Elton John
    • C. “One More Astronaut” by I Mother Earth
    • D. “Space Oddity” by David Bowie
    • E. None of these because in space, no one can hear you sing

16. 100 years ago, in 1914, Canada attracted fully one-third of all British investment in its sprawling empire.  What Canadian industry received the greatest share of this investment?  (If you need a hint, you may want to ask Lord Grantham).

    • A. Railroads
    • B. Mining
    • C. Finance
    • D. The fur trade
    • E. Tobogganing

17. If modern political boundaries were drawn on the supercontinent Pangea, Canada would have some new neighbors.  Which of the following would NOT border Canada?

    • A. USA
    • B. Portugal
    • C. Norway
    • D. Morocco
    • E. They all would border Canada

18. One of the most beloved books by this Canadian author is based on a song s/he composed for his/her two stillborn children:

    • A. Robert Munsch
    • B. Margaret Atwood
    • C. Lucy Maud Montgomery
    • D. Yann Martel
    • E. None of these

19. According to a recent New York Times article, which of the following countries (most likely) has a richer middle class than Canada (measured by median per capita income after taxes)?

    • A. Netherlands
    • B. United States
    • C. Denmark
    • D. China
    • E. None of these – we’re number 1!

20. Which of these superheros is Canadian and, according to his backstory, even worked for the Canadian government?

    • A. Wolverine
    • B. Spiderman
    • C. Captain America
    • D. Hulk
    • E. All of these – Canada is actually the world’s leading producer of superheroes

21. Which of the following species is NOT on the Government of Canada’s Species At Risk Public Registry (which includes endangered species, threatened species, and species of special concern)?

    • A. Killer Whale
    • B. Burrowing Owl
    • C. Mallard Duck
    • D. Wood Bison
    • E. None of these animals even live in Canada

22. Where is this?










  • A.British Columbia
  • B. Quebec
  • C. Northwest Territories
  • D. Newfoundland and Labrador
  • E. Germany

23. Which of the following Canadian Movies was recently remade in Hollywood as “Delivery Man,” starring Vince Vaughn?

    • A. Starbuck
    • B. Upside Down
    • C. The triplets of Belleville
    • D. Fred Claus
    • E. There are Canadian movies?

24. This map shows the Provinces and Territories as they existed in what year? 800px-Canada_provinces_1898-1901

    • A. 1800
    • B. 1850
    • C. 1900
    • D. 1950
    • E. 2000

25. If former Alberta premier Alison Redford were to plan an upcoming vacation, which of these would be most likely?

    • A. A quick visit to England to see her birth-country
    • B. A rustic camping trip in one of the 5 new provincial parks she commissioned
    • C. A road trip to Ottawa to stay with her cousin, Stephen Harper
    • D. A luxurious, no-expense-spared vacation to South Africa
    • E. Nowhere, you can’t take a vacation from prison

canada day twenty eleven

Here it is again, the fourth annual Canada Day Quiz. You know the drill: answer the questions (no googling), check the answers in the comment section, then post your score in the comments.  There will be a prize for highest scoring Canadian and American (if you are a dual citizen you will be considered Canadian).  Have fun!

1.     The Stanley Cup really gets around.  Which of the following has NOT happened to the most famous trophy in professional sports

  • a. Used as a child’s toilet
  • b. Kidnapped and ransomed
  • c. Used to smuggle drugs
  • d. Drop-kicked by a drunken player into a canal (luckily it was frozen)

2.      The Halifax explosion of 1917 was the largest man-made explosion until the dropping of the atomic bomb. What caused this explosion?

  • a. A collision of two ships, one of which was loaded with explosives
  • b. The testing of a new variety of dynamite
  • c. A fire at a natural gas refinery
  • d. An attack by German U-boats

3.     Canada is the only country besides the United State to host a world series baseball game. What year did this first occur?

  • a. 1943
  • b. 1978
  • c. 1992
  • d. 2003

4.     The Canadian Rangers are Canada’s largest reserve military group. What is the main task of the Rangers?

  • a. Coordinating overseas peace-keeping missions
  • b. Stopping illegal immigrants from entering Canada from the United States
  • c. Keeping rats out of Alberta
  • d. Promoting Canada’s sovereignty in the arctic

5.     The first mission of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (then the Northwest Mounted Polices) was to bring order to this town and its infamous whiskey traders

  • a. Yorke Island Fort near Hardwick Island, BC
  • b. Fort Whoop-Up (present day Lethbridge), Alberta
  • c. Fort Fredrick (present day Kingston), Ontario
  • d. Fort Yukon, Yukon

6.      Which of the following was not the name of a Canadian NHL team (past or present)

  • a. Whalers
  • b. Jets
  • c. Nordiques
  • d. Senators

7.     Canada is NOT a member of which of the following groups:

  • a. OECD
  • b. OPEC
  • c. NATO
  • d. G8

8.     In 2006, Parliament passed a motion declaring what people to be a nation within a united Canada

  • a. The Quebecois
  • b. The Metis
  • c. The Inuit
  • d. The Arcadians

9.     The October Crisis was triggered by the kidnapping of and killing of government officials by which group

  • a. Al-Queda
  • b. The FLQ
  • c. The Sicilian Mafia
  • d. American revolutionaries

10.     Who wrote In Flanders Field, Canada’s most famous wartime remembrance poem?

  • a. Margaret Atwood
  • b. Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • c. John Macrae
  • d. Leonard Cohen

11.     Which of the following is NOT the flag of a Canadian Province or Territory?

  • a.  
  • b.  
  • c.  
  • d.  
  • e.   all of them are

12.     This famous Canadian actor is currently battling Parkinson’s Disease

  • a. William Shatner
  • b. Michael Cera
  • c. Donald Sutherland
  • d. Michael J Fox

13.      Hoping to improve their popularity in the United States, Dan Aykroyd convinced Saturday Night Live to invite this Canadian band to play on the show in 1995. The plan didn’t really work.

  • a. The Tragically Hip
  • b. Our Lady Peace
  • c. The Bachman-Turner Overdrive
  • d. The Barenaked Ladies

14.      Natural resources account for seven per cent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Rank these three types of natural resources, in terms of their share of Canada’s GDP: energy, forestry, minerals

  • a. energy, forestry, minerals
  • b. forestry, minerals, energy
  • c. energy, minerals, forestry
  • d. minerals, forestry, energy

15.     Put Canada’s official political parties in the order of number of seats in the current federal government, from most seats to least

  • a. Conservative, Liberal, Bloq, NDP, Green
  • b. Conservative, NDP, Liberal, Bloq, Green
  • c. Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Bloq, Green
  • d. Conservative, NDP, Bloq, Liberal, Green

16.      What city is this?

  • a. Vancouver
  • b. Calgary
  • c. Toronto
  • d. Montreal

17.     In the 2011 Federal Election, the NDP won a number of victories with untraditional candidates. One of the most talked about was NDP Candidate (now MP) Ruth Ellen Brosseau of the Berthier – Maskinongé riding. Which of the following is NOT something the media criticized her for?

  • a. She speaks weak French in a predominantly French riding
  • b. She spent a portion of the election campaign in Las Vegas
  • c. She had never been to her riding
  • d. She started her political career as an Alberta Conservative

18.     Which of the following provinces shares a land border with the United States

  • a. New Brunswick
  • b. Nova Scotia
  • c. Prince Edward Island
  • d. Newfoundland

19.      This Canadian/Australian couple were photographed kissing in which riot-torn country?

  • a. Egypt
  • b. Syria
  • c. Greece
  • d. Tunisia
  • e. None of the above

20.     What was the Avro Arrow?

  • a. A hockey play perfected by the 1989 Montreal Candiens
  • b. A famous archeological find that provide evidence that Native Americans originate from Asia
  • c. A high-tech airplane that was made in Canada
  • d. The boat that is on the Canadian dime

21.     Everyone knows that the only country Canada shares a border with is the United States, right? Well, one country would disagree with this. Han’s Island is an arctic island that is claimed by both Canada and this other country:

  • a. The United Kingdom
  • b. Denmark
  • c. Iceland
  • d. France

22.      Where is Canada’s technology Triangle?

  • a. Waterloo, ON
  • b. Toronto, ON
  • c. Ottawa, ON
  • d. London, ON

23.     Tommy Douglas was famous for starting universal health care in Canada. In which province did he first introduce Medicare?

  • a. Quebec
  • b. British Columbia
  • c. Saskatchewan
  • d. Nova Scotia

24.     What is the name of the speech given by the Governor General at the beginning of each parliamentary session?

  • a. Opening statement
  • b. The invocation
  • c. Discours d’ouverture
  • d. Speech from the throne

25.     Acadians are decedents of 17th Century colonists from France who speak a distinct French dialect. Where is Acadia located?

  • a. The Martine provinces
  • b. Ontario
  • c. Manitoba
  • d. Yukon

Canada Day Twenty Ten: The Quiz

So, it seems like this blog’s only purpose now is to post Theresa and my annual Canada Day quizzes.  So, get ready for our fourth installment.  2010 was a big year for Canada, since it hosted the world during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.  So, to commemorate, this year’s quiz features five bonus questions about the 2010 Olympics.

But lets get started with some general Canadian Knowledge.

1. Canadians love naming their towns after animals; which of the following is not the name of a town or city in Canada?

  • A. Horsefly, BC
  • B. Moose Jaw, SK
  • C. Wolfville, NS
  • D. Caribou Crossing, NWT

2. Which is the most common religion in Canada?

  • A. Catholic
  • B. Protestant
  • C. Muslim
  • D. Jewish

3. AA Mine’s beloved children’s stories featuring Christopher Robin and his animal friends was inspired by a bear that was donated to the London Zoo from which Canadian City?

  • A. Edmonton, AB
  • B. Toronto, ON
  • C. Winnipeg, MB
  • D. Victoria, BC

4. Canada has the more lakes than any other country in the world.  Approximately what percentage of the world’s lakes are in Canada?

  • A. 10%
  • B. 25%
  • C. 40%
  • D. 60%

5. Toronto holds an annual music and film festival every June that is similar in many ways to Texas’ South by Southwest festival.  What is the name of this festival?

  • A. Musiqueplus
  • B. North by Northeast
  • C. MapleMusic Festival
  • D. T.O. Culture Fest

6. Which of the following was never the Prime Minister of Canada?

  • A. Wilfred Laurier
  • B. Alexander Mackenzie
  • C. James Polk
  • D. Brian Mulroney

7. In 2010, Randal and Theresa settled in the San Francisco Bay area, which was the site of a major gold rush.  In the late ninteenth century, Canada experienced its own gold rush in the Klondike region of which Province or Territory?

  • A. The Northwest Territories
  • B. British Columbia
  • C. Yukon
  • D. Manitoba

8. Which teen pop superstar hails from Stratford, ON?

  • A. Miley Cyrus
  • B. Justin Bieber
  • C. The Jonas Brothers
  • D. Hanna Montana

9. What has been Canada’s best showing at the FIFA World Cup?

  • A.  Ha ha, is this a joke question? (i.e. Canada has never been to the world cup)
  • B. Showing up (i.e. Canada has played in the world cup, but has never won a game or even scored a goal)
  • C. Canada made it to the round of 16 in 1964
  • D. Canada won the whole thing in 1986
10. Who makes the best doughnuts in North America (no, this is not a matter of opinion, it is a fact)?
  • A. Dunken Donuts
  • B. Krispy Kreme
  • C. Tim Horton’s
  • D. Happy Donuts

11. During the first half of 2010, in what range (USD) did the Canadian dollar trade?

  • A. 70 – 80 cents
  • B. 80 – 90 cents
  • C. 90 cents – 1 dollar
  • D. 1.00 dollar – 1.10 dollars
12. What song by Canadian rapper K’naan was featured as both an Canadian All-Star Haiti-relief single and Coca-Cola’s official World Cup theme song?
  • A. A Helping Hand
  • B. We are the World
  • C. Find Your Love
  • D. Wavin’ Flag

13. In what province or territory is the majority of Canada’s controversial tar sands operation located?

  • A. Alberta
  • B. Saskatchewan
  • C. Yukon
  • D. Quebec
14. This picture, from between Jun 25-27, 2010, was taken in which Canadian City?
  • A. Toronto, ON
  • B. Regina, SK
  • C. Victoria, BC
  • D. Fredericton, NB

15. What is the name of the elected lower house of Canadian parliment?

  • A. The house of commons
  • B. The senate
  • C. Congress
  • D. The house of lords

16. How many time zones are in Canada?

  • A. 3
  • B. 4
  • C. 5
  • D. 6

17. Which of these Cities is furthest from St. John’s Newfoundland (as the crow flies)?

  • A. London, England
  • B. Hamilton, ON
  • C. Vancouver, BC
  • D. Miami, FL

18. On December 13, 2009, Edmonton AB (where Theresa and I were living at the time), was officially the coldest place on earth.  What is the coldest tempurature ever recorded in Canada?

  • A. -46.1 degrees Celsius (-50.9 f)
  • B. -56.7 degrees Celsius (-70.1 f)
  • C. -63.0 degrees Celsius (-76.0 f)
  • D. -89.2 degrees Celsius (-128.6 f)

19. To whom is the Polaris Prize Awarded?

  • A. Musicians
  • B. Snow Machine Pilots
  • C. Novelists
  • D. Hockey Players

20. What is the title of the highest elected office in a provincial government (i.e. like the governor in the USA)?

  • A. The Governor
  • B. The Prime Minister
  • C. The Premier
  • D. High Lord


21. How many gold medals did Canada win in the 2010 Winter Olympics?

  • A. 14
  • B. 9
  • C. 26
  • D. 1

22. In the Olympic Sport of Curling, what is referred to as the “button”?

  • A. A nickname for the stones that are thrown across the ice
  • B. The center of the bulls eye
  • C. A shot that involves throwing one stone between two others
  • D. The name of the last player on a team to throw a stone

23. In what sport did Canada earn its first ever gold medal won on Canadian Soil?

  • A. Cross Country Skiing
  • B. Figure Skating
  • C. Moguls
  • D. Hockey

24. Who scored the overtime goal to win a gold medal in ice hockey?

  • A. Scott Niedermayer
  • B. Roberto Luongo
  • C. Jarome Iginla
  • D. Sidney Crosby

25. What American TV personality sponsored the US Speed-skating team and heavily criticized Canada’s “Own the Podium” campaign?

  • A. Larry King
  • B. Stephen Colbert
  • C. Glen Beck
  • D. Anderson Cooper

As always, the answers are posted in the comments section.  I invite everyone to post your scores in the comments as well, so we can see who has highest score (both for a Canadian and for a non-Canadian).

Check out our past quizes here here and here

Party Like it’s 2009: My Favourite Albums of the Decade

Everyone else is making decade-end lists, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon.  Well, actually, I have been thinking about this list for a long time, and am excited to finally write it up.  As always, this is a list of my favourite albums, not necessarily the albums that I think were the best of the decade.  Naturally, it contains genre bias and idiosyncrasies, but to be honest, so does every other list.  Enjoy.

10. Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago

For me, this album was a what is known is the business as a grower.  Although I had a song from it early on, I didn’t even pick up a copy of this album for over a year, and then, I didn’t give it the attention I now know it deserves.  In fact, although For Emma, Forever Ago was released in 2007, it wasn’t until this year and my newfound love of folk did I realize what a gem this record is.  Of all the albums on my decade list, this one is the most sparse – most songs simply consist of Justin Vernen and his guitar.  In this sense it is timeless – these songs could have realistically been written in the early twentieth century.  But this is not saying that there is anything missing: in fact, Bon Iver makes a very good case against the increasing electronicification of modern music.


09. The Rural Alberta Advantage: Hometowns

My inclusion of the RAA is made possible by this post’s title.  If I were making a list of the “best” albums of the decade (whatever that means), I don’t know if I would have included Hometowns.  But this list is not of the “best” albums of the last 10 years, it is of my favourite albums, and with that being the case, the RAA certainly deserves to be on it.  The songs on this album are passionate, they are driven, they are catchy, they are honest, and they are about my home province.  There are some things that I don’t like about Alberta, and I don’t see myself living there in the future, but there are some pretty wonderful things about the wild rose country and this album really highlights them in a profound way.  The album is like a love note to a person from you past that you no longer want to be with, but still miss terribly.  And that is how I feel about Alberta.


08. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion

You might be thinking it odd that on my 2009 list, I ranked Merriweather Post Pavilion lower than an album that did not make the decade list.  The reason that I choose MPP over Bruce Peninsula here is because Animal Collective also put out a couple of other amazing albums and, as a whole, the band deserves to be on this list.  Another reason is that MPP seems like it is an incredibly important album.  Listening to it, I cannot help but think that this is what music is going be like in the next number of year.  The way that AC manage to create such inviting melodies with cold electronic instruments makes me question my somewhat Luddite musical tastes.  It can also be credited for changing my music listening habits: a few years ago, I used to lie in front of my stereo listening to OK Computer, but whenever I put this record on, there is no standing still – I’ve just got to get up and dance until I can hardly breath.  (Maybe this could be the answer to America’s obesity epidemic.)


07. Modest Mouse: The Moon and Antartica

This selection was academic.  Most of these albums are on this list, at least partially, because I have an emotional connection to the music.  But not in this case.  I do have memories associated with Modest Mouse: listening to their subsequent album, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, instantly transports me through memory into Theresa’s old apartment in Garneau towers, blowing bubbles out of her 20th story window.  Consequently, I was fully prepared to include that album on this list.  However, in the end I didn’t include Good News because I couldn’t get over the fact that The Moon and Antarctica is just so much of a better album.  Its music is just that much more frantic, and Issac Brocke’s yelp is just that much more… um… yelpy?  Anyways, there was a time when I favored chaotic, almost cacophonous music, and there is no better example of this style that Modest Mouse (well, maybe Frog Eyes would be a better example, but lets leave things the way it is).


06. Stars: Set Yourself on Fire

Speaking of music with emotional connections, I present to you Stars.  Stars music is inherently emotional, to the point of melodrama.  This, of course, is attributable in a large way to Torque Campbell, the male lead.  Torque is the biggest diva in indie rock today, and Stars’ songs are some of the most heart-on-your-sleeve sappy.  But my emotional connection with this album is more than just because of its sentimental themes: in my mind, Set Yourself on Fire is intimately married to my courtship with Theresa, which is actually pretty ironic, considering this album is much more about falling out of love than falling into it.  But, as the case may be, I bought this album at about the same time as Theresa and I started dating, and we went to a Stars concert less than a week before I proposed.  So Set Yourself on Fire is certainly a favourite of mine, but I don’t want you to think that the only reason it is on this list is because of some random connection with my life – the music is really good.  The song, Your Ex-Lover is Dead is exquisite.


05. Radiohead: Kid A

If Bon Iver makes a case against electronic music, then Kid A is the strongest possible counterargument.  After  their masterful OK Computer, Radiohead pulled the classic rock and roll bait and switch by abandoning everything they had done before to make themselves the greatest rock and roll band of our time with a record that sounds nothing like rock and roll at all.  The irony, of course, is that Kid A, if anything, simply solidified that very title.  To a degree greater than any other album I can think of, Kid A sucks in and completely envelops the listener:  from the opening bars of Everything in its Right Place, you are not just listening to the music, you are inside the music.  There is no doubt that Kid A is one of, if not the, greatest rock (?) albums of our time.  So then, why the number five finish?  Well, this record can be a little heavy for my tastes.  This list is of my favourite albums of the last 10 years, and when it really gets down to it, there are certain other albums that I more often turn to.


04. Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary

This album is fun.  It is upbeat, it is cool, and it features maybe my favourite song ever: I’ll Believe in Anything. Although I once read an author who though this song is depressing, I think that it is in fact a hopeful and poignant love song.  I can relate to the idea of going “where nobody knows us and nobody gives a damn.”  On of the other wonderful things about Wolf Parade is a trait that it many other bands is a liability: the presence of two dueling frontmen who couldn’t be more musically opposite to each other.  I personally am a bigger fan of Spencer Krug, the Proggy, D&D playing weirdo, but the ability of Dan Boeckener to rein in Krug’s more fantastic impulses really make this the amazing album that it is.  It is amazing how well Wolf Parade is able to turn Krug’s nerdy prog rock tunes into driving area-worthy anthems.  And Boeckener’s songs are nothing to scoff at either – I still remember staying up late in our apartment watching the video for Shine a Light on the Wedge.


03. Radiohead: In Rainbows

It is no secret that I love Radiohead.  I consider them the greatest band of my generation.  But, as I mentioned earlier, some of their work can be a little to depressing for my usually sunny personality.  It’s a good thing, then that In Rainbows is what it is:  lighthearted, fun, and even a little bit romantic.  I love that there exists Radiohead music that I can dance to, and more basically, that doesn’t make me feel like the world is a horrible place.  I think that this time around, Radiohead slackened in their quest for constant innovation, which may at first seem like a bad thing, but really is not.  From the sounds of In Rainbows, the band was more relaxed then on their previous albums, and consequently made some really lose, enjoyable music.  Oh yeah, and there was that whole “revolutionize the music industry” payment scheme.  If you want to know, I paid one pound for my download.  But then I later went out and bought the vinyl, which just goes to show, if the music is good, I have no problem paying for it.  It’s just that there is so much music that isn’t very good.


02. Arcade Fire: Funeral

It seems funny that right after I wrote a piece about how I don’t like my music to be too depressing, I choose an album called Funeral. But despite its bleak themes, this album doesn’t seem depressing to me. Instead it seems passionate and moving.  One of its main themes, coming of age, is often portrayed through art as a horrible experience, but for me, it is just the opposite.  Sure, entering adulthood is frightening, and sometimes sad, but if you carry with you a positive attitude and hold onto a youthful spirit, becoming an adult can be a wonderful time.  And that is what I take away from this record: worry, yes, but also possibility.  My feelings towards my teenage years are similar to my feelings about Alberta, and this album really brings those emotions out.  And it doesn’t hurt that the music is just so amazing.  A lot of my favourite music is very emotional and sincere, and it is hard to believe now that before Funeral, there wasn’t a lot of music like this.


01. Broken Social Scene: You Forgot it in People

Reviewing what I have written so far, it has occurred to me that this list says at least as much about me than it does about music.  It seems fitting, then, that my number one pick is a favourite of mine both for its music, and for the place it inhabits in my psyche.

First lets talk about me.  After I returned from my mission in 2001, I experienced a musical crisis. I grew out of the alternative rock that scored my teenage years, and I was left without any music that really excited me.  I tried classic rock for a while, to limited success, before I started testing the indie rock waters.  One of the first indie bands that I remember listening to was Broken Social Scene, which I downloaded from Kazaa onto my minidisc player (remember those?  I didn’t think so).  Well, the sounds that I heard streaming out of my headphones were unlike anything I had heard before: I was enchanted.  The songs on You Forgot it in People reignited  my love for music.  The years 2003-2005 were like my musical renascence, and a number of albums from that period are on this list (Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Stars, Modest Mouse).

Another reason why I love BSS so much is what the band represents.  BSS basically broke the Canadian Indie scene.  And anyone who knows my musical tastes know that I love Canadian Indie Rock.  I also love the idea of a band as a loose collective.  I don’t know why people have the idea that the same group of 4 or 5 people have to always make music together.  I love that BSS is home to dozens of musicians, who all bring something unique to the table: this is how I think all music should be made.

But after all of this ranting about my own personal musical journey and the idea of Broken Social Scene, I cannot forget the music.  Independent of all that I have already written, the songs on You Forgot it in People are all wonderful.  I think at one point of time or another, each of the songs on that album has been my favorite track.  I guess maybe this shouldn’t be too much of a surprize, since every song is unique in a way that wouldn’t be possible for any other band.  Really, You Forgot it in People contains something for everybody.  Just listen to it.


favourite albums 09

You didn’t think that my complete cessation of blog entries for the last 7 months would prevent me from posting my favourite albums of the year, did you?  Well, if you did, you were wrong.  In previous years, I have always included a long introduction to my list, but this time lets just cut to the chase:

10. japandriods: post nothing

Lo-fi had a big year.  I have not considered myself a fan of fuzzy distorted guitars for a long time, so the fact that I really enjoyed Post-Nothing is quite an achievement for Japandroids.  This band is composted of just two guys from Vancouver on drums and guitar, playing fuzzy anthems about love, the city and  growing up.  Seems pretty straightforward, but there is just something infectious about these raucous tunes.

download i quit girls

09. various artists: dark was the night

I’ve never included a compilation CD on my year end list before: there is something about them that seem antiquated in the digital music, shuffle-all age.  But the thing is, Dark was the Night was just really good.  It featured track after track of amazing songs from some of the decades biggest indie artists.  Sure, it may be a little on the easy-listening side of things, but everyone needs some chill-out music once and a while.

download train song (feist and ben gibbard)

08. dan mangan: nice nice very nice

In a very short post about a band that did not make this list, I mentioned in passing my deepening interest in simple, folk music.  There is something very comforting and relaxing in songs composed with just a guitar and voice.  And this years album that reflects this simplicty best is Dan Mangan’s Nice Nice Very Nice.  These are simple songs, but they tell detailed, compelling stories that I just cannot get enough of.  I also enjoy that this disc of folk ballads pulls more themes from urban life than from rural.

download robots

07. natalia lafourcade: hu hu hu

When I was living in Mexico, I had a strange obsession with buying pirated music cds.  I bought a tonne.  But there is only one that I still occationally listen to six years later: a debut, self titled album from a young chilanga named Natalia Lafourcade.  Well, this year, Ms. Lafourcade is back with a new disc that surpasses her debut by leaps and bounds.  Her music retains a hint of mexican influence, while expanding her sound in to the much wider field of indie singer-songwriters.  Her songs are beautiful, even if you don’t understand spanish.

watch azul

06. phoenix: wolfgang amadeus phoenix

I will admit now that I did not give Phoenix much of a chance (either this album or their last), until Theresa and I vacationed in San Diego for a week in August.  There, our good friend Daniel Harker blasted the same two Phoenix songs over and over at full volume in his car.  The fact that I was not completely sick of those songs by the end of the week is the best testament I can give of their quality.  This album is full of songs that are so upbeat and joyful and danceable and I still get excited when any come up on my iPod (although 1901’s overuse in commercials is testing my patience for the song.)

download lasso

05. dirty projectors: bitte orca

A lot is said in the music press about how complex this album is, with its 2/3 time signatures and all of that.  Well, I am no music expert, and I wouldn’t be able to tell a 2/3 from a 6/8 signature.  All that I know is that I really, really like this album.  One of its best qualities, like Phoenix, is the joy that it expresses.  I also enjoy that these incredibly complex songs are all about everyday experiences in suburban life: it is cool to hear music that paints common experiences so vividly and uniquely.

download two doves

04. rock plaza central: …at the moment of our most needing, or if only they could turn around, they would know they weren’t alone

Yes, that is the title of Rock Plaza Central’s latest album.  If I praised Dan Mangan for playing simple folk ballads, I must complement RPC from their over-the-top, complex folk ballads.  This collection of songs feature a number of instruments, all packed together to back Chris Eaton’s evocative  storytelling lyrics.  A number of my favorite bands came out with albums that did not quite live up to my expectations, but RPC, whose last disc was featured on my 2007 list managed to pull off an album even better their their highly-praised Are We Not Horses.

download them that are good and them that are bad

03. grizzly bear: veckatimest

A few years ago, Theresa and I saw Grizzly Bear open for Feist.  At the time I thought the band was good, if a little boring.  Now my opinion of the band has changed.  Veckatimest is a wonderful, beautiful album that is still downbeat, but not at all boring.  These tunes are meticulously crafted, which each layer of sound complementing each other the same way that the band member’s voices complement each other in their multi-part harmonies.  This is Theresa’s favourite album of 2009.

download two weeks

02. animal collective: merriweather post pavilion

It seems like with so many year end (and decade end) lists coming out with Animal Collective featured prominently at or near the top, this band is experiencing a sort of hipster backlash.  This is a shame, because Merriweather Post Pavilion is a masterpiece.  As I mentioned in my album club post, AC have managed to make electronic music warmer and more human that I have probably ever heard.  At at a time of economic turmoil caused directly by debt and overly-lavish livestyles, it is great to hear Panda Bear explain that happiness only needs four walls and adobe slabs for his girls.

download my girls

01. bruce peninsula: a mountain is a mouth

What is this?  Once again Randal has chosen an obscure Canadian album over the most critically-praised album of the year?  There must be some sort of conspiracy going on here!  Well, perhaps there is some subconscious patriotism at play here, but I can honestly say that A Mountain is a Mouth was my absolute favourite album of 2009.  Its unique gospel-choir-turned-indie-rock-band style is like a breath of fresh air.  At it is so captivating – when I put on my big headphones and turn up the volume, BP carries me away to a different place: one that has a big sky and big trees, and is untouched by man.  No other album this year (or in recent memory) has produced as strong as emotional reaction in me as A Mountain Is A Mouth.

download steamroller

The Third Annual Canada Day Quiz!

Canada Day is upon us again! Which means its time for Theresa and Randal’s annual Canada Day Quiz (Now 33% easier). After review, we think that our quiz last year was a little too difficult, which might make some of you Americans think that us Canadians derive some sort of pleasure from showing you how little you know about your northern neighbours. But really, this isn’t our intention at all. Basically, our quiz is meant to be fun, and to help us learn a little more about Canada (and Americans, don’t feel bad if you don’t know much about Canada – before we moved, I honestly didn’t even know where Virginia was). So, this year we have endeavored to make the quiz a little more manageable, without being too easy on you, of course. So enjoy. And Happy Canada Day!

Remember, you are not to look up answers on the internet. The correct responses will be given in the comments section. I invite everyone who takes the quiz to report your score in the comments section. The highest reported score will win a prize.

1. Canada has 2 national symbols. What are they?

  • A: Beaver & Maple Leaf
  • B: Maple Leaf & Moose
  • C: Hockey Stick & Grizzly Bear
  • D: Caribou & Salmon

2. Which of these were not invented by a Canadian?

  • A: Walkie-Talkie
  • B: Instant mashed potatoes
  • C: Toilet paper
  • D: Push-up bras

3. What Canadian television show is set at the Possum Lodge?

  • A: SCTV
  • B: The Red Green Show
  • C: Corner Gas
  • D: Kids in the Hall

4. What is the best selling album of all-time by a Canadian songwriter?

  • A: Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill
  • B: Celine Dion, Let’s Talk About Love
  • C: Shania Twain, Come on Over
  • D: Bryan Adams, Waking up the Neighbours

5. Unfortunately, this year’s Stanley Cup champion team is not Canadian. However, their captain is. Who is he?

  • A: Nicklas Lidstrom
  • B: Alexander Ovechkin
  • C: Wayne Gretzky
  • D: Sidney Crosby

6: Current Opposition leader, Michael Ignatieff, has been criticized for spending most of his career at a foreign college. Which college was it?

  • A: Yale
  • B: London School of Economics
  • C: Harvard
  • D: Ecole Polytechnique

7. Finish this line: “Skinnamarink e-dink e-dink, skinnamarink e-doo…”

  • A: How do you do?
  • B: Coo-coo-cha-cho
  • C: Kan-g-roo
  • D: I love you

8. Which of the following does Canada not have the largest of?

  • A: Coastline
  • B: National Highway
  • C: Completed freestanding structure
  • D: Shopping Mall

9. In the midst of the global financial crisis, the economy of one province is reported to be the best in North America. Which province is the only one projected to see Economic growth in 2009?

  • A: Alberta
  • B: Saskatchewan
  • C: Ontario
  • D: Nova Scotia

10. Where would you most likely see this:

  • A: Vancouver
  • B: Regina
  • C: Montreal
  • D: Halifax

11. When did the United Empire Loyalists come to Canada?

  • A: 1602 to 1608
  • B: 1775 to 1783
  • C: 1860 to 1870
  • D: 1945 to 1960

12. Which Document Made Confederation legal?

  • A: The British North America Act
  • B: The Dominion Act
  • C: The Declaration of Independence
  • D: The Statute of Anne

13. The Canadian Government has recently begun negotiating a free trade agreement with which country/region?

  • A: China
  • B: Africa
  • C: The European Union
  • D: South America

14. Which of these is not one of the three parts of the Canadian Parliament?

  • A: The Senate
  • B: The House of Commons
  • C: The Prime Minister
  • D: The Queen

15. Which of the Prarie Provinces has the largest area?

  • A: Alberta
  • B: Saskatchewan
  • C: Manitoba
  • D: They are all exactly the same size

16. Which Canadian Indie Rock band is comprised of a loose collection of musicians, including members of Stars, Metric, Apostle of Hustle, and Feist?

  • A: The New Pornographers
  • B: Broken Social Scene
  • C: The Arcade Fire
  • D: Godspeed You! Black Emperor

17. What was the name of the ingenious combination of dried meat and berries that First Nations and Metis people produced to feed the fur traders during their long voyages into and out of the Canadian interior.

  • A: Pemmican
  • B: Beavertail
  • C: Bison Burger
  • D: Bannock

18. Canada is part of the voluntary association of countries which used to belong to the British Empire. What is this association called?

  • A: The G8
  • B: The Old Empire Club
  • C: The Commonweath of Nations
  • D: The EU

19. Which Canadian won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his work establishing the first UN Peacekeeping mission to resolve the Suez Crisis?

  • A: Kofi Annan
  • B: Robert Borden
  • C: Geddy Lee
  • D: Lester B. Pearson

20. Who is pictured here on the right?

  • A: Sir John A McDonald
  • B: Pierre E. Trudeau
  • C: Jean Chretien
  • D: Che Guevara

BONUS QUESTION: Which of the Garneau District Album Club’s album selections have been Canadian? (For this – and only this – question, feel free to look up the answer by visiting the album club website)

New Album Club Activity

Hey everyone.  Head over to the album club website to read our reviews of last month’s album, Grizzly Bear’s Vecktamist, and add your own thoughts.  We’ve also added a new poll, so you can let us know what you thought of the album with one click.  And of course, make sure you visit the album club to find out what July’s pick will be!

Theresa’s New Blog

After remaining firmly aloof from the blogosphere for so long, Theresa has recently jumped on board.  The reason?  Well, since I am busier with my Bar exam preparations than I have probably ever been, Theresa has taken up a few hobbies, mostly of the crafty variety.  So, in order to show off her projects and share how she did them, she has undertaken the maintenance of her own DIY blog.  Head over to check it out at:

I Hate BarBri

I hate my bar review course. Not only is it a tonne of work without a single day rest, but it is a tonne of incredibly boring and tedious work. But it will only be for a couple of months, and there are occasional moments of mirth. This video is actually not that far off the real thing:

So yeah, if you are wondering what I am doing it is studying. Studying like I have never studied before. I’ll try to get a post or two up when I have time, so don’t give up on this blog completely (or on the new Album Club Website, which I will be updating throughout the month with music related posts)

Album Club’s New Website

So, the Album Club has grown up and moved away from home.  Peter and I are pleased to announce the Album Culb’s New Website:  We invite everyone to come over and check it out.  Not only will it continue to post the introduction and analysis posts about each month’s albums, but Peter and I will also be posting regular pieces about music in general: new music that we like, songs that we would like to share and things of that nature.  And remember to listen to this month’s artist – I’d love to hear what you all think of it