June 17, 2011

White Stripes Covers week with Alex Robinson!

A couple years ago, I commissioned my favourite comic book artist/writer Alex Robinson to recreate the album cover of The White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan using Jane and Stephen from his graphic opus Box Office Poison. Recently I decided to complete the set by commissioning the rest of The White Stripes albums with various characters from Alex's works subbing in for Jack and Meg White. All this week, Alex has been revealing a new illustration daily on his tumblr site and, as an added bonus, he's digitally coloured these including my original commission from 2 years back! Of course, I'll be getting the original drawings in the mail once I get back from London. I can't even express how ecstatic I am at the results and brilliant little details hidden within for the true White Stripes/Alex Robinson connoisseur-- namely me, ha ha!

I absolutely encourage you to check out Alex's comics: Box Office Poison, Tricked, Too Cool To Be Forgotten, A Kidnapped Santa Claus, and the mini Lower Regions (a sequel to which he's currently updating weekly as a webcomic). Thanks a zillion, Alex!

Take a peek below at the mashed-up cover art (in album chronology) and click the thumbnails to see the larger versions on Alex's site.

June 13, 2011

T-Minus 6 days to London!

Next Sunday I'm off to London, England for almost three weeks. I've been there a couple times before but always for just a couple days max on the way to/from Europe, so I've hit most of the main highlights but will now actually have time to breath and visit at a leisurely pace. I have a full page of scribbled notes (and then some) from a combination of guide books and blogs (mainly Londonist) where I scoured for unique things to see and places to go while I'm there. Here's my Top 10 of most anticipated things:

1. The BFI National Library
The driving force behind this entire trip is my two-week library school practicum to be completed at the British Film Institute National Library. I had been trying for months to secure a unique practicum experience that aligns with my personal interests and goals (there are not a heckuva lot of dedicated film libraries out there), so I was absolutely thrilled when I found out I was accepted for this stint at the BFI Library!

2. John Barry Memorial Concert
My obsession with the world of James Bond theme songs started in grade 7 when a school friend gave me a Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary CD for my birthday and little did he know how influential that would become in my developing music tastes. When I checked the London concert schedule (always a vacation must), I saw that there was to be a memorial for the late, great Bond composer John Barry who passed away in January. I knew I had to be there if at all possible. Barry composed 11 of the first 14 film scores for the Bond series from Dr. No through The Living Daylights, including the signature James Bond theme, a source of never-ending controversy (it's officially credited to Monty Norman, but it's supposedly Barry who transformed the arrangement into what we all know and love). But there's not doubt, the big brassy, lush sound that permeates the Bond series is all John Barry who, in addition to the actual film scores, co-wrote the classic themes to Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, just to name a few. It cost a sweet (money)penny to score a ticket to to this memorial concert at the Royal Albert Hall(!), which will feature Dame Shirley Bassey, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Dodd, and tributes by Sir Michael Caine, Sir George Martin, and Timothy Dalton, among others. Should be brilliant.

3. Canada Day in Trafalgar Square
I won't even have been gone two full weeks at this point, but in case I get homesick there's a big Canada Day celebration (reportedly the largest outside Canada) for Londoners and ex-pats in Trafalgar Square. The all-day event will include some sort of Visit Canada pavilion, a street hockey tournament, mounties, imported Tim Hortons, and presumably overpriced poutine. There will also be a number of musical performances from the likes of Oh My Darling, Alex Cuba, Lennie Gallant, and more. I'm excited to see former Philosopher King guitarist James Bryan (apparently now based in London) who will be performing with jazz singer Tammy Weis. Plus, the reliably excellent Blue Rodeo will be headlining. As if that's not enough CanCon, the next day The Barbican is hosting Canadian Blast: A Celebration of Canadian Sound and Vision with Devon Sproule, Chilly Gonzales, Mantler, Ryan Driver, Sandro Perri, The Hidden Cameras, and Woodpigeon. Some of that is ticketed but other performances (such as the awesome Maylee Todd!) will be free.

4. Free museums & galleries
One of the amazing things about London is the glut of free (or rather, by donation) world class museums and galleries. The National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery (way cooler than I expected last time I went), Tate Britain, Tate Modern, British Museum, Serpentine Gallery, and so on. I also just found out a couple days ago that the Andipa Gallery is also having an exhibition of Banksy works while I'm there. Again, free! Of course, if I'm bored I can go on a free scavenger hunt for Banksy street art that hasn't been painted over or removed.

5. Phantom of the Opera 2: Die Harder
Ok, so Andrew Lloyd Webber's 20+ years later sequel to the Phantom of the Opera opened last year to mixed reviews and, really, I haven't actually heard anything good OR bad about it (simply nothing). But I'm morbidly curious and loved the original musical. Of course, throw in half-price tickets from the tkts booth and I'm there!

6. You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat Film Quiz
Over the past year, I've become enamored with the pub quiz tradition, which of course originates in the UK. They take things seriously over there (an estimated 22,000+ pubs have weekly quizzes), so I knew I wanted to take part and what better than an all-film pub quiz?!

7. Deathly Hallows, Part II world premiere
Yeah, I'm a bit of a nerd. It'll probably nutso busy (I've already read about people planning to camp out days in advance), but it'll be fun to see the spectacle, stars, and all that. The whole red carpet and all will be happening in and around Trafalgar Square. I'll be popping by after work, probably way too late but we'll see what happens.

8. Jamie Cullum Under the Bridge
Not long after my London dates were already confirmed, I caught word via Jamie Cullum's newsletter that he'd be playing an "intimate full band show" while I'd be there. At 2am on a Sunday, full details were announced and I was able to secure tickets to this late addition to the BluesFest London at the newly built Under the Bridge, a 600-capacity club under the Stamford Bridge stadium, home to Chelsea FC. Score!

9. Olympic Park
I am told there are free tours of the under construction Olympic Park. I'm particularly curious about Anish Kapoor's Orbit Tower (he also did the giant bean in Chicago).

10. London
Ah, who cares what I'll be doing. Knowing me, I'll simply be wandering the streets and riding the tube aimlessly until I stumble on something interesting. I'm in London!