burt-reynolds1 Opinion By James Pavel Half an ounce of Butter Ripple Schnapps and half an ounce of Captain Morgan’s spiced rum poured into a single shot glass. In the U.K they call it a Werther’s Original because it tastes like the candy. In Canada, but more specifically Alberta, it is called, ordered, shouted, projectile-vomited out, and order again, as the “Burt Reynolds.” It is hands down the most popular alcohol-induced shooter in the business by a massive margin. Shots of Patron, Sambuca, or porn stars, can’t touch this shot that is so lionized, it is often ordered simply by a patron placing an index finger under the nose, which ridicules the classic moustache of the burly actor, Burt Reynolds and also signifies that they desire another round of Burt. But a new shot may finally be worthy of dethroning the almighty Reynolds. A young man with an ironic moustache, a straight-brimmed baseball cap and a grin only an 18-year-old in a bar could muster, approached me a month ago. “Can I have a James Franco?” he barked. I immediately assumed this was some toxic creation he had conceived in his friend’s parent’s basement, but I am polite and professional so I asked him to explain himself. And so he did. It contains .5 oz. of Jameson’s Irish whiskey followed by .5 oz. of Frangelico liqueur. The James from the Jameson and the Fran from the Frangelico – and so it is called the “James Franco.” How insanely brilliant. Before me was no longer a drunken man/boy but a complicated genius who I wanted to applaud for such alcoholic wizardry. I slapped his hand and told him it was coming right up. The Burt Reynolds took over from the iconic, douche-bag worshiped Jägerbomb. The bomb stole the show from the Gladiator. And now I believe the Burt Reynolds may finally succumb to the great James Franco shooter. Not only is Irish whiskey witnessing a heroic comeback, but James Franco is a much more culturally-relevant celebrity than Burt Reynolds, a point that holds significant weight in our celebrity-obsessed world. It may take a year, potentially two, but I believe the great transition from Burt to Franco is upon us. Enjoy!


By James Pavel 

20. Fever – The Black Keys

They are the definition of commercial success. Not since Moby has an artist been featured so prominently in the repetitive interruptions between our favourite TV shows. It is the greatest case of “selling out” if that term still held any significance. Bands, just like mom and pop, work to make money and since album sales generate roughly the same amount as the cost of a lawn mower, bands like the Keys have evolved and in their case, prevailed with finding new avenues for their marketable medleys.

The Black Keys are an excellent band that seem to have no problem being liked by as many people as possible. Staying true to your fans is overrated, especially considering how much music your supposed die-hard audiences are inundated with.One minute they are rocking a “The Black Keys are my brother” t-shirt and next week they’ve devoted themselves to Jack White’s seven nation army.

The Black Keys have a fever, and they don’t care how many people they infect.

19. Brother – Gerard Way

His band, My Chemical Romance, the godfathers of modern-day emo music, did a lot more for the past decade than anybody will ever admit. The dark and the gothic will always require a map and MCR was more than welcome to serve as the compass.

No, they were not as sinister as Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie, but they made up for it with dare we say, much more relatable music. The cornerstone and literal poster boy was of course the MCR genius, Gerard Way. So here he is, releasing a solo album that almost nobody even pretended to give a fair listen.

18. Jealous – Nick Jonas

It only took Bieber fever to knock the entire trio of Jonas brothers off their pop throne, but does it not seem that the Jonas family tree may get the last laugh? Bieber, who has an incredibly hollow discography for someone so immensely popular, seems on a path to mayhem while the most talented Jonas is having a real go at providing a fresh face in the male pop department. Jonas sounds like what Prince would sound like if he remembered how to make catchy pop hooks, with a bit of Justin Timberlake’s future, sex, love-funk garnished heavily from start to fin.

17. It’s Alright Now – Bombay Bicycle Club

For a brief minute, we thought they could be the next Coldplay, but they’ve instead completed a U-turn towards a destination unknown and the view is surprisingly pleasant. They are somewhat a U.K-version of Vampire Weekend, meaning they are a hipster’s dream, sliced with enough different cultures to host a United Nations pow-wow.

Their new album is unmistakably weird, perhaps to a fault. They forged so many tranquil rock antidotes on their breakthrough album, So long, see you tomorrow, that we were expecting their version of Viva la Vida and death to all his friends to follow suite.

Instead we got an album more on par with MGMT’s psychedelic experiments of late that will leave fans either musically challenged or defiantly bored.

16. Seasons (Waiting on You) – Future Islands

The lead singer is blessed with the voice of a draconian monster, but thankfully he has put his demonic syntax to good use. He sings about the seasons changing, but blissfully that is where the banal humdrum ceases and the synth-funk takes over.

15. Style – Taylor Swift

Although her country twang will never quite abandon her enunciation abilities, she has surrendered her cowboy boots and Levis’ with this latest offering. It should be more of a difficult transition except Swift barely broke a sweat when she tore the queen of pop throne off Katy Perry’s brunette main. Of course, she never meant to do it, as nobody pretends to be more innocent and care more about everyone else than Swift does. She is the first to claim to be Ed Sheran’s biggest fan or applaud Rihanna for behaving like a hungry porn star at the MTV Awards, but sometimes it seems like she might not be faking it. Is she actually this kind? Is that even allowed in 2014? Maybe that’s the idea behind her album being titled 1989 – she has recognized that nobody could get away with her actions in today’s sick, twisted, Kardashian worshipping world.


14.  Blame – Calvin Harris feat. John Newman

This generation could look back at this unnamed decade and potentially declare it as the period where electronic dance music completely ran the radio and music festival circuit. Nobody has played a more pivotal role in this EDM reign than the great Scot, Calvin Harris. In 2014, he challenged human intelligence by releasing a song called “Summer” in the summer with all of the sounds one would expect in the summer.

It was one of the most offensive attempts at solidifying a sure thing, and thankfully the world responded with an indifferent shoulder shrug. He came back with an actual song this time, called “Blame,” where a person points the finger at alcohol, seductive women and everyone besides the mirror for his inability to keep his trousers on.

13. Give me Something Good – Ryan Adams

He’s what Ben Gibbard should look like after Zooey Deschanel kicked him to the curb. He’s also what Gibbard would sound like if he rolled around the mud, shot Jack Daniels and loved jamming out to Tom Petty. This is the most classic-sounding song of the entire year. If this was 30 years ago, this would be a song that we would still be singing right now when your parents went out of town. Now will we be singing this in 2044 on planet 3C0D8T? Probably not. But can we sing it for the next few years before all hell reigns down? Absolutely.

12. Feel the Effect – Tokyo Police Club

It’s their worst album carrying maybe their best song. “Feel the Effect” has universal synth brilliance, meaning that you could sing anything to it and it will still sound tip-top which is actually what the whitest people claiming to work in the Tokyo police force manage to do. “I’ve got a friend with a limo,” and other nonsensical lyrics accompany this perfectly-arranged pop-rock, bubble bath wave of pleasure.

11. Best Friend – Foster the People

Can anyone host a party better than Mark Foster and his peeps? They crowd-please with the same precision as puppies and new born babies, except they make everyone want to dance and shout, old people included. This song is about your drug addict friend that you predominantly want to abandon, but you still find yourself saving room for him or her in your wedding party.

10. Alex – Nicky Blitz

Jenny, Mandy, and now finally Alex, that stunning dame, finally has a song to call her own. What is wonderful about Nicky Blitz’s single, a song that has crystal meth-like addiction rates, is that Alex can be the name of a boy or a girl, meaning twice as many people can hear this song screamed to them until the end of time. Aleeeeeeeeeex…why? Because you gave me yooo’ number.

9. Not Such a Bad Thing – Justin Timberlake

Leave it to JT to recognize that instead of saturating the radio with a lethargic EDM fist-pumper, he releases a throwback to the N Sync*/BSB domination days, where falling in love to pop songs happened every other music video. He hasn’t forgotten his roots, except maybe the macaroni curls and full-piece denim suits. He is a mainstay on late night television and sometimes stars in the year’s biggest films but this hasn’t stopped him from writing songs about everyday implications that “Not Such a Bad Thing” discusses.

8. West Coast – Lana Del Rey

This is what sex and violence sound like. Del Rey is brake-slamming beautiful, but she’d rather be the girl smoking cigarettes on the back of a Harley than settle for being crowned pageant beauty queen. In regards to her track “West Coast,” has anybody sounded more rebellious singing about the west side since Tupac? No she isn’t contorting her fingers into a W or plotting a stomach-wide Thug Life tattoo, but she certainly possesses the same level of crazy that made Pac so lionized. Now am I saying Del Rey is the new Tupac? Of course not. But is she what Marilyn Monroe would have sounded like if she was open about her drug use, her man-eating and feeling half-insane 24/7? Potentially.

7. Copper Thief – Case Conrad

Stealing copper is a crisis Alberta electricians can easily relate to. Every month, pounds upon pounds of copper are stolen from job sites and exchanged for money or used illegally on other job sites. Case Conrad is not from Alberta nor is he an electrician and is likely not singing about the plight of electricians across western Canada, but he has potentially and unintentionally released an anthem for journeymen and women across the great white north to use in informational campaigns. Oh did I mention this is a fantastic track?

6. Song for Someone – U2

It’s four decades of gaining, losing and then attempting to retain rock n roll glory. U2 was the most criticized band of the year and had their latest offering, Songs of Innocence written off by smug iPhone users before the album was even allowed one listen. What a world we live in that individuals freely post pictures of themselves half-naked and list their most in-depth thoughts for hundreds to view, yet when one of the most celebrated bands of all time give them an album for zero dollars, people are up in arms over privacy issues. This is one of U2’s most complete albums not just of the past ten years, but of their entire career. It’s all killer and no filler, with “Song for Someone” being one of five or six standouts. It’s combines all the elements that make a U2 song a spiritual journey. Bono’s swooning and soul-searching, Edge’s piercing axe and lyrics that manage to include the whole world.

5. Midnight – Coldplay

Crisis fell upon Coldplay in 2014. Songs about yellow, Charlie Brown and skies full of stars could not save the nicest guys in rock n’ roll from their first public fluster with controversy. Chris Martin’s divorce from Gwenyth Paltrow was boring and lacked the drama the tabloids yearned for, but it allowed Coldplay to finally sing about true pain or as one of their best tracks on their album Ghost Stories was called, “True Love.” But the real battle cry, the howl of pain that we needed to hear came via “Midnight,” Coldplay’s paralyzingly-dark, moonlight meditation.

4. Blue Moon – Beck

The hipster godfather that no one would ever admit relation to (that is the hipster way) has managed to take on a whole new context of music without any real transition period. “Blue Moon” is a request for company, a plea for someone to join Beck at his lonesome tea party under the dark skies.

3. XO – Beyonce

Bae isn’t just a cheerleader of love, but one of its glowing champions. She isn’t done shaking her booty or boasting her independence. No, she remains as strong as a prized ox, and doesn’t shy away from allowing herself to become completely consumed with pure and unfiltered hugs and kisses. She demands relentless and pertinacious affection till the lights go out and anything less will not satisfy the Queen bumble B.

2. Chasing the Light – Sam Roberts

Teeny boppers may remember 2014 as the year of Sam Harris and not Roberts, but for the rock n’ roll loyal, it should be reviewed as the year Sam Roberts took his sound to expansive and profound new depths. When Sam chases the hot, fizzy flow, he chooses to open with a spiralling synth before drums hammer down like hot lightning reigning down over a summer village. “Chasing the Light” is about turning dreams into reality, without forgetting who and what made those dreams possible.

1. Bullshit Ballad – Kevin Drew 

He heard your guilt-loaded lies on the radio, and Drew wasn’t buying the goods. He knows your words are intended to sound sincere, that they are supposed to coerce him to view kindred pleas as peace offerings, but K-Drew instead rips up today’s radio love letters like Simon Cowell waking up on the wrong side of the hay. He torches the transparently vague and contrived pseudo-love songs with his compelling and vigorous roar, spliced with a turbulent and majestic guitar spot that blasts away the fake and makes room for only the realest in 2014.


By James Pavel

The much discussed film, The Interview may or may not be released.

It is a highly contentious film and since we are all talking about it, let’s continue the discussion, but let’s flip the script.

Let’s pretend a North Korean production company released a movie depicting two of its lovable clowns plotting to murder the leader of the United States of America. They also do not alter the appearance or name of the US leader. They actually make a movie where American leader Barack Obama is the target of a secret operation, with his demise serving as the ultimate goal.

How exactly would this be reported by American media? Would it not be viewed as an act of war? What if this was the Prime Minister of England? Or Canada’s own, Stephen Harper?

Hollywood is upset over Sony’s hesitance to release the film without acknowledging the obvious and direct assault this film may have on a country we know little about. Kim Jong Un is reported as a megalomanic, modern-day tsar. The US media portray him as a massive threat to North American society, but what nation has currently been at war for over a decade? What nation has dropped bombs over 14 different middle eastern countries since 1980? As much as North Korea may or may not be a threat to planet Earth, it is the Americans that continue to engage in acts of war.

If Sony had produced a movie that actually provided unheard information, cold-hard facts and a glimpse into the leadership of Kim Jong Un, perhaps it would easier to defend this false sense of victimization that Hollywood is conveying. But it is instead two actors that have starred in some of the most half-baked productions over the past ten years, now taking their stoner antics to a grander scale without any thought of how it may be perceived by the subject.

Free speech and believing what we wish are pillars of the western world. But pumping out a film about murdering the leader of a nation across the planet is a classic American bully tactic that is being met with obvious resistance.

If the tables had been turned, the American upheaval would have been ten-fold.

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One

By James Pavel

Unforced errors, lackluster back checking, and the ability to go invisible for an entire 60 minutes are traits that have come to define no. 64 in Oil City.

The 2014-2015 season has vividly demonstrated that Edmonton Oiler forward Nail Yakupov is the most over-rated and grandest bust of the first overall decisions made over the past ten years.

The Oilers organization have managed to sink to the bottom of the West once again, a stat almost as incredible as Detroit’s ability to make the playoffs for 23 straight seasons. The Oilers seem poised to tank for rumoured super-kid Connor McDavid especially since it is painfully obvious that their first overall selection in 2012 was a dreadful error.

Yakupov currently has 10 points this season but the number may as well be in the negatives. He has been a glorified Soviet pylon all season and has only made an impact when he commits a defensive blunder to the benefit of the opposition, which seems to happen on a bi-nightly basis.

When compared with the other first overall choices of the past decade, one begins to quickly recognize just how underwhelming this Russian ghost has been.

Since 2005, the first overall selections have been: Crosby, Johnson, Kane, Stamkos, Tavaras, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, MacKinnon, and Aaron Ekblad.  While Ekblad has not had sufficient time to prove himself,the only player that comes close to the anti-climatic performance of Yak is Erik Johnson of the Colorado Avalanche. That said, Johnson plays an important role on the Avs blue line and with top tier back-end players at an all-time premium, he is certainly fulfilling a vital requirement.

Where does Yak fit? He has yet to gel with the Nuge and Taylor Hall and placing him on a line with David Perron has resulted in sub-zero chemistry.

Yak isn’t just stagnant, he appears to actually be digressing as a player. While rookies can often undergo a sophomore slump, the third season is where future stars begin to glisten.

But Nail has not glistened – No, he has rusted like an old pick-up truck. When he is not completely absent, he is missing the net by 20 miles or begin caught horribly out of position. He has unwillingly surrendered the skills he demonstrated in his junior career and seems destined for Alexandre Daigle status.

Current rookies and second-year first overall picks have already rocketed past him in terms of value. Yak has performed so poorly that he is currently untradable. What could the Oilers possibly get for him? Another draft pick? That would be borderline insanity. Of course the way the Oiler management has operated over the past seven years, madness may be the only solution.

sam roberts band

By James Pavel

5. No Sleep

His rustic gruff saves Sammy from going full indie, but even if he did, even just for this track, we would still adore him. It shows off his ability to romanticize tragedy, as he mournfully swoons about the realities of growing old despite feeling like a young chic. The addition of French to the second verse is gorgeous, a trick borrowed by Arcade Fire frequently throughout their own respective career.

4. Canadian Dream

No other track of Sam’s does he bluntly reveal exactly where he stands on the political spectrum. He doesn’t hint or mince with metaphors – he literally spells it out for you:  Socialism. Sam represents what a modern-liberal is, or perhaps what a modern socialist should represent – a tri-lingual, artistically-driven musician who contributes music that speaks to the social conscience and not to personal gains, unlike the way the majority of current pop music deems fit to behave.

3. Never Enough

After navigating through the crunchy, bluesy raucous that defined the album ‘Collider,’ his latest endeavour steers back to heart-melting, sun-hailing guitar riffs. “Never Enough” is not a complaint, but a revelation. The wonders of Roberts’ life never quench his desire to explore more in depth and to love more intensely. Roberts’ practically pinches himself mid-song at his great fortune, but it is the fans that have gained the greatest from the spoils of Roberts’ superb musical collection.

2. Brother Down

It’s the track that would come to define not only his overall sound but also his coherent, progressive ideas for a utopian Canada. He is not a blinded hipster but an awakened and evolved force of pacifism, preaching the importance of seizing the moment without infringing on the lives of others. “Brother Down” captured the campfire sing-a-long harmonies that were in full force at this moment, essentially the Jack Johnson era, and as easy as it would have been to remain in this cavalier position, he would use this track as a catapult to grimier and yet more polished sounds in the years to come.

1.Uprising Down Under

If you have ever been to Australia, which is every third, red-blood celled westerner between the ages of 20-35, you can appreciate a song dedicated to the wonders of down under.  Roberts paints a vivid and flush fusion of love and Australia, the waves of Byron Bay moving in synchronicity with his unwavering patience for pure harmony.

fit in picture

By James Pavel

“Fit in or fuck off” is a miss-led and uneducated slogan ordering anyone not subscribing to the white man’s world to find the nearest exit.

It is also a fear-induced reaction from a small number of Canadians resulting from the shootings in Ottawa, Ontario this past week.

The murderer identified with the Islamic religion, which is the most contentious spiritual group in western culture for over a decade.

But “fit in or fuck off”? Fit in to what exactly? This is Canada, a country that has proven to be the greatest multi-cultural experiment in history. There is no “fitting in.” You are who you desire to be in the great white north.  We ask that you respect Canadian traditions and conduct yourself in a harmonious and peaceful fashion, while respecting the beliefs and cultures of others. Clearly, the criminal involved in this week’s shooting broke these vows. But we shall not suddenly wipe our hands clean of middle-eastern religions and cultures because the violence of war briefly infiltrated our nation’s capital.

“Fit in or fuck off” can only exist as the mantra of a scared individual, a person who is willing to surrender the Canadian cultural landscape that we have cultivated for two centuries because of the actions of violent lunatics.

Events such as the shooting should bring us closer. Not provoke the solicitation of bigoted stickers that suddenly call for foreigners to immediately remove themselves.  We have become a tremendous example of how embracing our differences can make a nation stronger not weaker. This should serve as a test on how devout we as Canadians are to the near-utopian society we have developed. This is not Ferguson, Missouri. This is a country that judges one by their character and not by their religion, skin, or potential turban on their head.

Canada is engaged in yet another controversial war, and we have managed to avoid any violence on our soil. This week proved that we are susceptible to these dangers. What will transpire over the next few months will give us a clearer idea of how severe any incoming threats are and if this was indeed, a singular act.

The Islam religion is witnessing radicals use their religion as a misguided cape to flaunt during sprees of violence. But it is not all those who practice this religion that are suddenly to blame. It’s a complex and maturing scenario, and one that requires the patience and respect that Canadians are endowed with.

If you’re really a Canadian, then you know that “fit in or fuck off” does not follow the national mandate.


By James Pavel

-This is rare, but the author (Jason Porter) looks exactly the way I pictured the narrator. I found this somehow comforting (p.s. I am not sad).

-Do you wonder if people find you attractive? “Stop staring in the mirror and do some pushups,” was one of my favourite answers.

-What does it feel like to get out of bed in the morning? I can’t imagine how gloomy some of the responses could be to this. I generally feel like I could continue sleeping for about another 10 hours. But the guilt of a potential sleep-in rapidly seeps in and I come to life. It’s amazing how difficult getting up seems until you are up. Then that’s it. The idea of jumping back into bed doesn’t even arise. The second I am on my feet, is the second my day turns productive.

-I admired the following idea: The tines of the rake are the different paths available to us in the future.” This satisfies the two predominant theories about the future. Yes, our future is pre-determined (by the direction of the tines) yet we have the ability to determine what tine we follow. Essentially, destiny is calling you, but destiny has finite options.

-The following is one of the most hilariously cynical answers I’ve read: Is today worse than yesterday? Yes, because one of those two I still have to live through.  I might be the kind of guy that laughs at a funeral.

-Although I enjoyed this book, mostly for placing a much needed refreshing spin on a dreary subject, but I partially disagree with one of the central themes of the book. One of the overall thesis’s is that we have never been worse off as a society because nobody bothers to ask or understand how they themselves or anyone else is doing. We live in a world where we have almost everything we ever dreamed of as a society. And yet here we are sulking in the corner like we haven’t gotten our way. Are we the depressed generation? Or are we the spoiled-rotten generation that are inept at sacrifice and are nothing more than professional pity-party throwers?

Do you think people will remember you after you die? I think I’ll die after people remember me. The perfect rebuttal. Do you believe in God? I think God is a placeholder for the anxiety created by unsatisfying answers to unanswerable questions. Is this the first commandment of atheism? What an incredible response.


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