Tuesday, December 11, 2007
When I started thinking of wishing WE readers the best of the season, it occurred to me that we have in a short time managed to reach a number of impressive milestones. First, WE launched a new and exciting magazine that our community can call WE own. Secondly, WE has printed and delivered over 145,000 copies to over 1000 locations across the GTA from Oakville to Ajax; and has been read by over 725,000 of WE people.
That these statistics are impressive in their own right for a magazine still in its infancy is a source of great pride. But the true source of astonishment was the discovery that the deep well of West Indians and West Indian-rooted talent, which I knew was always there, was not only deeper and wider than expected, but also contained such a variety of talent that WE's problem was not finding subjects, but how to choose from such a vast array.
I am pleased to say that WE is blessed to have this rich West Indian cornucopia drawn from the categories we proudly boast on the cover: Music, Culture, Art, People, Life. Because of WE's breadth of interest and willingness to test the boundaries of conventional forms of literary expression, a highly literate young generation of writers has taken up the challenge of writing for a West Indian readership in the rhythm and tempo of the Islands. So far the beat has attracted the attention of both critics, who hew close to convention, and praise from a larger segment, who is prepared to go with WE on a journey of West Indian entertainment and life seen through a West Indian prism. WE are more than pleased with the results; but knowing that a magazine is very much a living thing that grows from issue to issue, WE is not sitting on its laurels despite the early successes, but will continue to shape and craft itself as it evolves. In life, as in art, inertia is not an option.
In 2008 you will read more of the lives and accomplishments of West Indian artists in life and entertainment; you will also hear the stories of those who work in the background but live creative lives that make wonderful subjects for our talented team of writers.
In this, the final issue for 2007, WE puts the icing on a fine beginning, a beginning that would have little value without your careful attention and constructive feedback. WE deeply appreciates your contribution and in return wishes that the Christmas season finds you in a giving spirit and ready to accept with an open heart the goodwill for which the season stands.
On a cold winter evening, hundreds gather inside Shangri-La, a popular banquet hall in Toronto’s east end. Despite the cold weather, it’s hot inside. In here, no one is a stranger. It’s more of a “lime” than a concert (hence the name, Joan Alexander’s Annual Parang Lime), and the crowd is anxiously waiting to kick off the Christmas season with good friends, food, drinks, and of course—no Christmas lime would be complete without it—parang.
The house is packed, and one cannot help but get up and dance to the pulsating rhythms of the cuatro (a four-string small guitar), mandolins, and shak-shaks.
Los Pajaros, the Brampton, Ontario based parang group, is one of the many electrifying groups featured this evening. Their name, which translates to “The Birds” in Spanish, is a family-based group that has been performing since 1994. Their love for parang is nothing new, says Glen Cassar, a lead vocalist and cuatro player. He has been a “parrandero” (a person who plays parang), since his early teens in Sangre Grande, Trinidad. In 1973, he was a founding member of Los Tocadores, a local parang group which still exists in Trinidad today. After migrating to Canada in 1989, he married into what he calls a “parang-loving family” from Mon Diablo, Trinidad.
The idea to form an “official” band came when the group, then five members, went to Miami for Christmas in 1993. Cuatros and mandolins in tow, the group gave an impromptu performance to an enthusiastic crowd. The demand was so high, says Glen, that the group decided to make an official name for the group. “We thought, why don’t we become a bit more organized?” he says, recalling the day. The group has been popular ever since, performing at Christmas shows in Southern Ontario, Miami, New York, Ottawa, and Atlanta.
The members of the band, now 13 in total, pride themselves on being a family group, boasting 3 generations of family. “Bass, the eldest member of the group, has a daughter and a grandson in the band and there is a fair amount of youth in the group,” says Glen.
Los Pajaros prefers traditional parang—in the vein of parang queen, Daisy Voisin—as opposed to the ever-popular parang soca, which has been popular since the 1980s. Glen says, “Changes happen along the way with music, so the fusion of the parang with calypso is here to stay.” It’s not that they dislike the fusion, but he cautions, parang soca (sung in a combination of English and Spanish, unlike its Spanish language counterpart), often strays from the traditional Christmas message. The group also stays away from doing Latin music, which has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Los Pajaros released their first CD, aptly titled “Dance de Parang”, last month. The CD draws its inspiration from parang greats such as Voisin, Sylvestre Mata and Henry Pereira, and there’s also a bit of parang soca in there. The CD, released first to the Trinidad and Tobago Consulate office in Toronto, can now be found at Christmas shows, and online at cdbaby.com.
In terms of where he sees parang going in the future, Glen notes that while there is so little of it in North America, parang is very much alive in Trinidad, where there are lots of groups and parang festivals every weekend. The mission of the band, Glen says, is to promote parang music and to keep it alive. So far, Los Pajaros has done a great job of doing so.
For more information on Los Pajaros, and upcoming shows, log on to: www.myspace.com/lospajaroscanada or http://www.lospajaros.ca/
By Stacey Marie Robinson
Music is a powerful force. When you combine tight production, natural skill, positive messages, and an intelligent messenger, its power only multiplies. With all of those elements, and a vibrant talent behind the force, the possibilities for success are limitless.
The music industry in Canada is a difficult one to infiltrate, so those who have earned the respect and displayed the strength to break through barriers have a mighty responsibility to make their fellow Canadians proud. Reggae artist Blessed, aka Peter Skinner, has been ‘blessed’ with this power and with the release of his first full length album in September, was able to share his voice and represent Canada around the world.
“When people go out and support my album, it’s doing more than they would ever imagine,” said Blessed, 32. “It’s not just helping me, but it’s helping the Canadian reggae community and the Canadian music fraternity in general.”
Anyone that knows Blessed’s music can quickly conclude that he has a good heart. His respect for women, love for his country of birth, Jamaica, and awareness of life in general is evident in award-winning songs like “Natural African” and “Reggae Time,” as well as popular tracks like, “Jamaica Land of the Sun” and “Unexpected.” The track closest to his heart, “Final Road,” expresses that although the journey is tough, he will survive, and teach others as he learns.
This is the spirit that has encouraged Canadians to support him, and audiences to accept him at home in Toronto and Montreal, as well as across the ocean in Jamaica, where he performed along with Sizzla and other top reggae artists at, ‘Rise to the Occasion 3’ this past summer.
“I think they just love the energy I bring to the stage,” said Blessed. “They love the music I sing, and the fact that I make positive music. It is uplifting for the community.”
Although the road for Blessed has been a successful one, with two Juno awards, and recognition from the Urban Music Association of Canada, it has been a long journey. Entering the industry requires talent and perseverance, however one of the main obstacles to progress is the lack of money allocated to supporting Canadian music. Blessed was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to shine.
“I strongly believe things don’t happen in life unless they’re meant to be,” said Blessed. “The best part of the process to me was just hearing that the album was going to be released; there have been many false starts. Knowing that the album is out there -- it’s the greatest feeling.”
Blessed’s album is available at Wal-Mart, HMV, Best Buy and Music World; supporters can also connect with him at www.myspace.com/blessedvibes.
“I want people to remember that I did something to help the music go further in Canada. That’s my main goal. I want people to get the respect they deserve, and for people to live off of their music in Canada. I hope I can be remembered for helping to change that in Canada.”
The largest of the United States Virgin Islands, St. Croix is not only famous for it’s world class scuba diving with some of the world's finest dive spots, but is also a very popular wedding/honeymoon destination. The island offers beautiful landscape, gorgeous beaches, stunning historical architecture, and not to mention the intimate dining and shopping.
St. Croix has flown seven different flags. It has been colonized by Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, the Knights of Malta, Denmark, and the United States.
There are two distinct towns to visit: Christiansted and Frederiksted. In Christiansted, you can browse the many quaint shops filled with jewellery and clothing, or visit the National Historic Site within the one-time Danish West Indies capital. Frederiksted is well known for its tropical Rain Forest and the Whim Greathouse, a plantation restored to its original spender in the early 1700s. The towns of Christiansted and Fredriksted each have their distinctive style and are a must-see.
St. Croix scuba diving is some of the best in the Caribbean... if not the world. It nestles more than 20 dive sites within the largest living reef of any Caribbean island. The most popular being Buck Island Reef, Frederiksted Pier, Salt River and The Wall at Cane Bay.
St. Croix offers a host of activities within a very relaxed island experience, without the crowds normally found at many other Caribbean destinations. Fine hotels, great cuisine, sight-seeing, duty free shopping, beautiful beaches, warm waters, spectacular golf courses, watersports, night life and friendly Caribbean culture complete the menu for the perfect U.S. Virgin Island vacation of a lifetime.
St. Croix Happenings:
December/January - Crucian Christmas Festival
February - St. Croix Orchid Society Annual Show
April - A Taste of St. Croix (Food & Wine Festival)
September - Foreign Film Festival (Whim Plantation Museum)
November - Blue Bay Jazz Fest
December - American Airlines Charity Golf Classic
For info and accommodations visit http://www.visitstcroix.com/. http://www.stcroixtourism.com/ or http://www.st-croix-usvi.com/.
Scuba diving info can also be found at http://www.stcroixscuba.com/.
One thing that comes to mind is collaborations. More specifically, the collabos with artists from other genres of music. What if a Soca artist resolved to only do songs with an artist where the respect is reciprocal? I'm tired of seeing Reggae or Hip Hop artists in Trinidad for Carnival, but they would never invite the same Soca artist to share their stage at their concerts. The relationship really needs to work both ways, ent?
What if bands and artists vowed to change up their performance routine? Once seen at their home countries festival, do you really want to see them perform that EXACT SAME set again here in Toronto and abroad for the rest of the year, until the next carnival season?
What if those with the ability to push music did so without bias towards allegiance or nationality?
What if everyone put their money where their mouth was and actually supported the artists and the producers as opposed to the pirates?
What if promoters and DJ's had a true love for the culture as opposed to a love for the almighty dollar?
What if artists wore their size? Not every male artist should take off their shirt, and not every female artist should wear the skin tight outfits. Not trying to be mean, just stating the obvious...not all bicycle wines should be done in spandex...lol
So with this year drawing to a close, what would your new year's resolution be for the Soca industry? Now THAT is THE QUESTION.
Dr Jay de Soca Prince welcomes your feedback on this topic at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Party Animal - Problem Child
2. Wukking Up - Patrice Roberts
3. Me & You - Don Trent
4. Go Down Low - Zoelah
5. Whining Season - Machel Montano
6. Pressure Boom - Ricky T
7. Whine Up Remix - Kat De Luna ft Elephant Man
8. Turn It Around - Umi Marcano
9. Never Leave Ya - Kerwin Du Bois
10. Right Dey - KES the Band
Top 10 Reggae Singles
1. Sticky - Jah Cure
2. Below The Waist - Queen Ifrica
3. Love & Affection - Pressure
4. She's Royal - Tarrus Riley
5. I'm Waiting - Ce'Cile
6. Blind To You - Collie Buddz
7. Umbrella Remix - Rihanna ft Collie Buddz
8. Tek Weh Yuhself - Mr Vegas
9. Stay With You Remix - Tarrus Riley & Queen Ifrica
10. You Gonna Need Me - Mr Vegas & Jovi Rockwell
Top 10 Parang Singles
1. Anita - Scrunter
2. Puncheon - Merc
3. Muchacha (original) - Crazy
4. Homemade Wine - Scrunter5. Gena - Connector
6. Bottle and Spoon - Lord Relator
7. De Whole Hog - Rebuscar ft Lima Calbio
8. Ay Ay Maria - Singing Francine
9. Black Cake and Sorrel - Da Spirit
10. Spread the Joy - Tocos
Top 10 Caribbean Music Videos
1. She's Royal - Taurus Riley
2. Love & Affection - Pressure
3. Tek Weh Yuhself - Mr Vegas
4. What I Want - Fireball
5. Impossible - Adrian Dutchin
6. On My Mind Remix - Da'Ville & Sean Paul
7. Nah Going Home - Biggie Irie
8. Move That Body - Umi Marcano
9. Mamacita - Collie Buddz
10. Soaking Wet - Lincoln Ward
Charts are based on hit stats from TORONTO-LIME.comPeriod Oct 15-Nov 15 '07
Legend to celebrate a great year with family and friends in Toronto
By Stacey Marie Robinson
It’s been a busy year for the mighty Baron. Since the beginning of 2007, he’s been on the road every weekend, traveling, performing for sold-out crowds, and making sure his fans are musically fulfilled as he keeps the vibes going well into the third decade of his career.
“It’s been very hectic,” said Baron, also known as Timothy Watkins, “since the year start, I’m on the street.”
No matter where he goes, he is greeted with warmth, and hundreds of fans who look forward to hearing his classics, and anticipate his new releases. This New Year’s Eve, he will perform a full 3.5 hour show in Toronto at the Lion Gate Lounge (1957 Kennedy at Progress) backed by Ossie Gurley & De Relatives.
He grew up in Bamboo Village, La Romain, South Trinidad, but Baron is no stranger to Toronto, Canada. He spent three years living in Toronto, and is looking forward to seeing his many friends, family – including his son Richie – and his loyal fans when he returns at the end of the month.
Fans can look forward to hearing favourites at the Baron New Year’s Eve Ball like “This Melody Sweet,” “Doh Rock it So,” “Somebody,” “Buss Up Shut” and his numerous parang hits including, “It’s Christmas.”
Many of Baron’s supporters have grown with him over the years; he’s been present in spirit for holiday celebrations, romantic moments, childhood memories, big shows, family basement parties, and his voice has filled their homes and lives for decades. This calypso crooner, also dubbed the “Sweet Soca Man” can sing anything from traditional Trinidadian songs, to American classics.
His beautiful voice and golden charm keep his career fresh and progressive. Along with touring the world, making frequent stops in fan favourites like Miami, New York, and the Caribbean islands, Baron has also been working hard in the studio. While his next album will not be released until 2008, he is preparing a couple of tracks to give to fans before the end of the year.
“I have two songs that I’m trying to finish, so I can get them prepared and have them played by the DJs on the radio so they can hear it before the album comes out,” said Baron. “Two songs for the season, until the CD is completed, so fans will have an idea of what it’s about, and what it’s like.”
Some artists get to a point in their careers where their accomplishments have been so abundant that even if they never write a new song again, they can still travel, perform the old hits, and entertain their audiences with nostalgic melodies. Baron, however, chooses to keep the momentum going and is dedicated to making new music on a regular basis, keeping him on top of his game.
“This is something that I have loved since I was a child. I grew up in it, singing in church, and singing here and there, and I’ve entertained the world. In another twenty years, once God gives me the health and strength, I’ll still be singing. I’ll still be performing.”
Tickets to hear Baron sing on New Year’s Eve are available for $30 at all Nicey’s locations, and various ticket outlets around the city. Sprinkled in gold and bundled up for the season, Baron looks forward to reuniting with those in Toronto who have helped to make his career a success.
“I love Toronto in the summer, but I can’t take the cold so I run back home. But I love Toronto, period,” Baron said. “I hope that when I get there I will be able to do the best I can, which I always try to do. I hope to see each and everyone of you there on Ole Year’s Night.”
Los Amigos is a Toronto-based parang group that is keeping Trinidad and Tobago’s traditional Christmas music alive. In Trinidad and Tobago, Christmas without parang would be like having a rum punch without the rum, or the traditional Caribbean “black cake” without the fruits.
Parang -- from the Spanish word “parranda” for merry-making -- is the music played by a group of singers and musicians who move from house to house in T&T, serenading family and friends while being greeted at each house with food and drinks. It is a melodic Venezuelan folk music that has rhythmic similarities to calypso. Los Amigos brings a taste of the music reminiscent of a Caribbean Christmas to expatriates in Toronto.
The 12-member band was formed in 2004, when a group of musician-friends who loved parang got together to preserve the art form here in Toronto.
“Our goal is to keep the tradition of parang music at Christmas alive, and to introduce parang to a younger audience,” says Jamal Ramsumair a.k.a. “Dubble Impack,” the band’s sound technician and spokesperson, who also DJ’s in between sets. “Right now parang is mainly for the older generation of Trinidadians and Tobagonians. They are the ones who grew up with parang and appreciate the music, but the older folks will eventually pass on, so we have to make sure that the tradition of parang music at Christmas is carried on.”
The band’s influences come from the traditional parang groups in Trinidad including the Lara Brothers, La Divina Pastora, San Jose Serenaders, and Daisy Voisin, among many others. They have also been influenced by soca-parang, a fusion of calypso, soca and parang sung by artists like Crazy and Scrunter. Some years ago, artists mixed chutney melodies (soca blended with East Indian music) with parang to create chutney-parang. Los Amigos plays all the different genres of parang, as well as some Latin tunes, and this year they have added some original music composed by one of the band members.
Bandleader and bass player, Fabien Torres, comes from a family of musicians and parang singers, known as “parenderos.” His father led the Unicos, once a popular parang band in Trinidad. Other instruments in the band include cuatro, mandolin, maracas and congas, which give parang its unique flavour. There is also a tenor pan, which adds a touch of steel to the musical ensemble. There are four vocalists including Toronto calypsonian Connector.
Ramsumair says the band’s music is aimed at not just Trinidadians who are familiar with the music, but their children, grandchildren, and people from the other Caribbean islands, and the wider community. “We want to make it so that everybody can enjoy the music,” Ramsumair says.
This year the band has as many as 20 bookings for the Christmas season, playing two or three gigs every weekend. “Los Amigos is the most hired parang band in Toronto,” Ramsumair says.
The band recently released its first CD, “Old Time Christmas,” and on December 15th, will host its own Christmas show at Northern Tropics, in Scarborough.
“We are bringing a real Trini Christmas with all the traditional Christmas foods: pastels, ginger beer, ham and hops,” Ramsumair says.
For more info visit www.myspace.com/losamigosband
At the table where we are gathered, sits saffron and green placemats, (reflecting the colors of the flag of India) while the tracks from a Bob Marley CD plays softly in the background, setting the mood for a chat with Terry Gajraj about Indo-Caribbean culture, Chutney Soca and “Berbice River,” his new album. Gajraj is one of the few Guyanese born musicians who have achieved success at the international level.
With lyrics that evoke memories of Guyana, his 1992 album “Guyana Baboo,” remains one of the best selling Indo-Caribbean albums of all times. Gajraj has topped Chutney charts worldwide and has performed for Indo-Caribbean communities in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Last year, Gajraj also made full-circle back to his Indian originals where he performed at the 7th annual Bollywood Music Awards, the Indian nation’s equivalent to the Grammys.
Ironic that Gajraj would find success as a Chutney Soca artiste after being heavily influenced by Guyana’s assimilation with the Western world’s culture, which included music. As a result, he learned to play the guitar, a stereotypical prerequisite for Country and Western singers, which is what he initially wanted to be.
However, in addition to learning to play the guitar, his family taught him to play traditional Indian musical instruments. He may not have thought it was hip at the time, but he says now he is truly appreciative of the fact that his family introduced the instruments to him. He said, “as I grow and mature I realize… it’s a good thing they taught me, cause I’m so much more into my identity cause this is who I am.”
Chutney he says is a combination or a blend of music from India and the Caribbean. “If you listen to it, it has the beat like Soca or Calypso, but then you have the Indian instruments like the harmonium and the dholak. We also sing in Hindi —not totally, but we do include a few Hindi words in the song[s],” Gajraj said.
Chutney music emerged in the Caribbean amongst East Indians who remained after indentured servitude ended in the early 1900’s. Through music, they recreated segments of the culture they had left behind in their native India using traditional instruments. Later, the tassa drum, which is an Indo Caribbean version of the Indian and Persian precursors, was introduced to accompany the traditional instruments and songs that were almost always sung in Hindi but in the distinctive West Indian dialect and accent.
In the early stages, the local music, as it was called, was mainly devotional songs, folk songs and wedding songs. The music remained confined to the temples and wedding houses until 1958 when Ramdeo Chaitoe of Surinam released an album of devotional music.
In 1960, Drupati released an album of traditional wedding songs, which along with Chaitoe’s music became pop hits in the Indo-Caribbean communities. The two albums united the East Indian communities and also established Indo-Caribbean music as a legitimate art form.
The turning point of Indo Caribbean music came in 1979, when Sundar Popo a Trinidadian, released the song, “Nana & Nani”. Unlike Drupati’s and Caitoe’s, Popo’s song was non-religious but used Hindi words and the traditional instruments in the composition. Thus, Chutney or Indian Soca as some call it, was born.
Gajraj says when he heard Popo’s “Nana and Nani,” he knew it was him. “ [His song] was about local life unlike the lyrics typical of those in Country and Western songs,” he said. He describes Sundar Popo as the Bob Marley of Chutney Music. “Reggae was there but Bob Marley made it popular and more internationally recognized. That’s the same with Sundar Popo,” he said. “The Chutney was there but he kind of brought it more to the forefront,” Gajraj said. Popo became Gajraj’s main influence and his lyrics are often compared with those of Popo.
“Berbice River,” Gajraj’s newest compilation, brings the count to 29-recorded albums since he released “Soca Lambada,” his first album, in 1989.
“Berbice River,” he says is slightly different than his previous albums. The traditional instrumentation of Chutney music can be clearly heard on the album, but influences of reggae, almost a Chutney Reggae flavor, can also be heard on some of the tracks. The reggae influence is unmistakable on tracks like “Guyana, Guyana” and “Bigan Farmer”. “Nasty, Nasty” promises to be a big hit in Soca clubs and “Ayi Yo, Ayi Yo” and “Dance the Maticore” are more traditional in nature, reminiscent of Dropati’s and Ramdeo Chaitoe’s wedding and devotional songs.
For more info visit http://www.terrygajraj.com/
Over in Brooklyn, there’s a couple mixing business with pleasure, and doing it very well. Shawn Noel and his no-nonsense bride, Natasha, are the dynamic duo behind Ma$tamind Productions. He composes award-winning Soca productions, while she handles the daily grind of management.
First founded in March 2005, the full-service music production and management company already boasts five albums in their catalogue. A Ma$tamind Christmas II is right on time for the holidays. “Ponche de Crème, which is the instrumental track, may be my favourite [on the album], because it reminds me so much of what I used to do growing up,” says Noel. Shawn who grew up in Siparia, Trinidad in a family of Parranderros remembers going house to house at Christmas time playing the cuatro with Dulzura Caliente. His brother, who is the artiste known as Mista Shak, played pan. Mommy sang lead vocals and Daddy played guitar. He’s come a long way from his parang-playing days, and that’s where Natasha comes in.
The couple met in 2003 when Shawn was the keyboardist for the band Asylum. At the time, Natasha Andrews was managing a Brooklyn-based band called Cloud 9. “I didn’t know who he was, but I was in the middle of a meeting and he just sort of barged in. I said, ‘I’m having a meeting, please leave.’ I was rude, as he puts it,” says Natasha about the day she met her husband and teammate.
It was business at first sight. “When I met her, I liked how she handled stuff. She was very business oriented. She’s always coming up with ideas,” says Shawn. “She’s very resourceful and knows how to use whatever is at our disposal to find some way to promote the company through it. Yeah, she’s really the mastermind.”
In the music industry Shawn is known as ‘Da Ma$tamind’, having produced music for Trinidad’s musical elite. That includes A-listers such as Bunji Garlin, Machel Montano and Shurwayne Winchester. Now operating from the US, he has lent his technical expertise to Grenada’s Sheldon Douglas, St. Vincent’s Bomani, and U.S. acts alike. In just shy of three years, the resulting resume is virtually endless.
The team will be releasing their latest CD this month. Da Mastamind Project 3 will be available on iTunes and in stores early December. The compilation is home to an impressive list 2008 Trinidad Carnival releases; from Crazy, to Rikki Jai, Leon Coldero, Pelf, Third Bass and 3Suns. On De Tail Gone, Shawn Noel offers his voice to a humorous poke at women who use hair weave. “We were just sitting here hanging,” says Shawn, “Natasha was on Facebook looking at a group called Save a Horse, Stop Wearing Weave. Patch went home and did some lyrics.” Shawn built the beats.
Natasha builds a healthy home and business by setting boundaries. “It’s very hard being married and running a business. Like Shawn says, ‘I don’t even know what I get into, if yuh is my wife or my manager,’” says Natasha. She insists on sticking to a schedule. The home-business operates during set hours, ensuring one-on-one time for the couple. Shawn praises this structure for preventing work from interfering in their relationship. However, the lines do get crossed sometimes. “A lot of times I just find out about these ideas, because Tasha would jump out of de shower and say, ‘I have an idea.’ I would be like, oh gosh, this means more work!” says Shawn.
“I pray all the time to ask God to guide us to make the right decisions,” says Natasha. Not all decisions come easily. The Noels just celebrated two years of marriage on November 25, but there are no plans to hear the pitter patter of little ma$taminds.
“We’re really not able to do that right now because we’re always busy, always on the go. She never wanted to either, it was me. I was undecided, ‘cause you see them. Oh gosh they so cute!” says Shawn. Even without children, it’s obvious that Shawn Noel and Natasha Andrews-Noel have a good thing going on their own. Shawn agrees, “They always say behind every good man is good woman, but my woman not behind, she beside, and she’s great.”
Alison Hinds - Soca Queen
Bajan superstar, Alison Hinds, just released her solo debut album, titled “Soca Queen” (1720 Entertainment/Black Coral) on November 6, 2007. “Soca Queen” is produced by Salaam Remi (Amy Winehouse, Nas, Fugees), Shelshok (Wyclef Jean, Machel Montano, Maximus Dan), Chris Allman (Rupee, David Kirton) and Nicholas Brancker (Shabba Ranks, Simply Red, Rob Flack.) The album is now available online at http://www.itunes.com/ and in music stores across North America.
A Mastamind Christmas II
The follow up to last years hit CD is a definite must have. The 15 track album includes all new music including Ron (Leon Coldero), Ponche De Creme (Da $pirit$), Cash For Christmas (Third Bass) and much more. For more info visit http://www.mastamusic.com/.
NEW ON DVD
Remy (voice of Patton Oswalt) is a little rat with big dreams of becoming a world-class chef. He makes a home under a fancy Parisian restaurant and forms an unlikely bond with a lowly garbage boy, Linguini (Lou Romano), who will take them both to new, unimagined culinary heights, that is if Remy doesn't get caught by the real chefs first.
Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his ever-expanding band of merry men plot their latest heist. Also starring, of course, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle and Carl Reiner. And joining the cast are Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin.
Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore aims his camera at the diseased American health care industry for his latest documentary.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare arms gamers with an arsenal of advanced and powerful modern day firepower and transports them to the most treacherous hotspots around the globe. For the first time in the series, Call of Duty moves away from WWII to the modern battlefield. As both a United States Marine and British S.A.S. soldier fighting through an unfolding story full of twists and turns, players use sophisticated technology, superior firepower and coordinated land and air strikes on a battlefield where speed, accuracy and communication are essential to victory. The title also delivers an added depth of multiplayer action providing online fans an all-new customizable and very addictive game play. COD4 is truly next gen. The story is engaging, the level of design shows amazing attention to detail including scripted cliffhanger moments that add a level of realism and immersion not seen in most games of the genre. This game puts you in the fight like no other.
Developer: Infinity Ward
Platform: Xbox 360
Rated: M (Mature)
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
By far the most challenging turn based rpg ever. This game is everything you want in a Fire Emblem game. Same strategy and tactics, but now with a save option, so you can save in the middle of battles. However, if you don't like strategy games, then stay away. This is probably the longest Fire Emblem yet with almost 40 missions!
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Developer: Nintendo of America
Rated: M (Mature)
Tales from Icebox Land - by Queen Macoomeh
The Chancellor of Commess University, Queen Macoomeh, has been writing a rather spirited, weekly column – in dialect – in Toronto’s Share Newspaper since August 2001. At the behest of her legions of fans, she has compiled 37 of her best columns, with a few new stories, into one book - 'Tales from Icebox Land’.
The book was just launched in Toronto on Nov 23 and is now available online at http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ or at A Different Booklist (746 Bathurst Street, Toronto)
Born as a Sufferer - by Laura E. Johnson
'Born As A Sufferer' depicts the lives of two young people, Shelly and Bobby, who are fighting their own demons in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. They are travelling on different roads but going at the same pace and both up against death, love, fear and crime. It is up to the two of them to find their own way out of their situation. While finding their own footprints they meet and complete each other's journey. According to the Jamaican author and Iraq war veteran, Laura Johnson, the book was inspired by the Bounty Killer song, Born As A Sufferer.
The NOT GUNS campaign promotes non-violence. Targeted primarily at males between the ages of 14-35, the campaign specifically focuses on youth gun violence (hence the title, NOT GUNS). Some audiences may not view a 30+ year-old man as a member of the youth demographic however; this wide age group is responsible for the majority of recent gun crimes being committed in the GTA.
Business partners, Bruce Ramsay and Erue White, have been motivated by the recent increase of senseless violence in communities around the GTA. Gun violence in many neighbourhoods appears to now be a monthly issue. Innocent lives are being lost and many more are feeling the affects of those losses.
The NOTGUNS campaign sheds light on a serious issue in a way that youth can relate to. NOT GUNS uses humorous and catchy slogans to inspire conversation and increase awareness without being heavy handed or corny.
Their first slogan "Play With Girls Not Guns" has been well received by communities across the GTA. Youths have accepted their apparel as something cool to wear out to clubs and parties thus spreading the anti-violence message to more people than the campaign could ever reach directly. Their goal is to reach as many people as possible, starting with the Canadian market. Eventually, they plan on reaching out to the rest of North America with their message, which is basically, “Guns are not cool and not meant to be played with.”
For more information please visit - http://www.notguns.com/ & www.myspace/notguns.com
photo by Mike Brochu
Toronto-born Nadia Dawn is arguably one of the most versatile entertainers to come out of the city. Born to a Guyanese mother and an Indian father, a true renaissance woman, Dawn boasts skills and experience ranging from screenwriting and producing to modeling and hosting.
Though currently based in Los Angeles, Dawn reminisced on her hometown.
"I love Toronto for the culture," she said.
Dawn further explained that the levels of growth and opportunity aren't very high for her chosen career. "Being born there, I like the community, all of my family and friends are there. I love it, but I'd never live there again unless I quit this career and did something else. And even so, I might live somewhere in Europe or the States."
From a young age, Dawn was always at the epicenter of entertainment in her family.
"When I was little we would be driving and we'd see signs; I'd read all the signs out loud. When we watched movies with subtitles, I'd do the same thing. I never realized what I doing until I realized it was a career - it’s hosting."
Soon, young Nadia began to engage in modeling courses and over the years built the skills, and the strength of mind and body to become a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world.
Her breakthrough appearance came at a 2000 audition held for a video to be produced by Black Walk Entertainment.
On the day of the video shoot, the production team had both Nadia and another actress show up on set. Neither woman knew who would be chosen. Ultimately, Nadia won the role.
The artist was Shaggy.
The video was for the song that later became a smash hit, "It Wasn't Me."
Of the experience, Nadia said, "No one knew the video would have been as big as it was."
The role helped open the doorway to feature and lead roles in 30 other music videos, including Master P's, "Lay Low" and Pharrell Williams', "That Girl."
For a number of years there has been controversy over the sometimes objectifying roles women are relegated to in music videos. With videos like Nelly's "Tip Drill" and personas like Kim Kardashian, and Karinne Stephens being glorified, the ever-poised Nadia Dawn had profound insight into the matter.
"To me it's propaganda, women are being demeaned in every medium in society. It's segregation - black and white, male and female. I started seeing myself and I started wondering if I was wrong for the work I was doing but then I started watching films. Shaking your ass in a video is nothing. You'll see that on television or in the movies and that would be the least that you'd see."
Dawn further put the issue in context.
"I just watched Anne Hathaway in a film and in it her character was sleeping with all of these people. If you look at actresses and the roles that they play, they are far worse than women in music videos. Angelina Jolie has done simulated sex acts on screen. For people to put the onus on videos for demeaning women is silly; considering things that we see in the media, shaking your ass is a lot less provocative. In this industry it's the craft and it's the art, I've been able to say screw it and do the work."
Nadia further expounded explaining that she does have limits, "I won't do nudity but in the event that a role calls for something 'sexy', I act and I do it."
"There aren't many Guyanese people in the industry. My main focus is to give us exposure and portray urban women in a more positive light. We lack positive role models. There are a lot of things out there that are negative and it's a very fine line. You can be sexy, you can be funny, you can be cute, but be positive," explained Dawn.
Ms. Dawn has successfully broken out of the mold created for women who look the way she does. Clearly possessing both breath-taking beauty and brains, her latest credits range from producing and hosting the upcoming Supermodel Showdown, a show she describes "as a cross between America's Next Top Model and Survivor," to hosting the red carpet for the NAACP's 38th Annual Image Awards.
Supermodel Showdown is a 13-episode show and was filmed in Costa Rica. The show comes at a great time as many of the entertainment industry's writing staff is on strike.
"I started writing and producing Supermodel Showdown. The good thing about the writers strike is that it has created a need for content and shows that have already been made," explained Nadia.
It is not a matter of whether or not the show will be picked up, but rather when it will be.
"I hosted the red carpet portion of the NAACP Image Awards. It was amazing. This was the first time that I felt like I was at the right place with my career. When people think of me they probably think of a model, it was good for me to be seen in a different light," explained Dawn.
Dawn also completed a show entitled Unfinished Business, which featured the infamous Marion "Suge" Knight. For this opportunity Nadia beat out 300 other hopefuls.
Dawn and Knight discussed the murders of the Notorious Biggie and Tupac Shakur, and the allegations that Knight and his entourage hung Vanilla Ice off a balcony. Dawn is confident that the program will be picked up by BET, MTV or VH1.
Other upcoming projects place Nadia working with Mobb Deep's Prodigy. She will star in a short film called D.O.P.E, which will be released with Prodigy's album. Pairing with Prodigy again, Dawn will star in a feature length film entitled, H.N.I.C., after an eponymous Prodigy album. The movie will also feature Davida Sherwood and Rick Gonzalez.
Nadia has also recently finished a script for an independent film, Choice, to be produced by her company, New Dawn Productions. As the title might imply, the film delves into the topic of choice. Dawn proffered a simple explanation, "there are many paths that we can take in life, but it's up to us to take the right road."
Another facet of Dawn's career is her spirituality.
"In this industry you have to have faith, without faith you will be lost," she explained.
A regular attendee of Agape Live in Los Angeles, Nadia watched the much-talked about program "The Secret." Upon doing so, she affirmed her desire to interview Michael Burnett Beckwith, the reverend featured in the program. Not surprisingly, Dawn recently wrapped on an interview with the good reverend…in itself proof of the power of affirmative thinking and visualization.
Certainly a jack-of-all-trades, one begins to wonder if there is anything Nadia Dawn can't do.
"Directing, producing, modeling, writing, hosting… I've done everything that I've wanted to do. The only reason that I'm not doing something is fear and I don't want to leave life with empty hands. I want to be on my deathbed and not have any regrets," explained Dawn.
Nadia Dawn is definitely one to watch. I can guarantee you won't get bored or regret watching. .
For more info see www.myspace.com/nadiadawn / http://www.nadiadawn.com/
* A couple robbing a store caught on camera could not be identified until the police reviewed the security tape. The woman filled out an entry form for a free trip prior to robbing the store.
* A lawyer defending a man accused of burglary tried this creative defence: "My client merely inserted his arm into the window and removed a few trifling articles. His arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offence committed by his limb." "Well put," the judge replied, "using your logic, I sentence the defendant's arm to one year's imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses." The defendant smiled. With his lawyer's assistance he detached his artificial limb, laid it on the bench, and walked out.
* A man went to rob a bank. He demanded the clerk to give him all the money. They told him to go sit out in his car and they would bring him the bags of money. He agreed and went out to his car. In the meantime, the people in the bank called the police. When they got there the man was still sitting in his car waiting for the money and they arrested him.
* A Texan convicted of robbery worked out a deal to pay $9600 in damages rather than serve a two-year prison sentence. For payment, he gave the court a forged check. He got his prison term back, plus eight more years.
* A man was arrested and charged with the robbery—of vending machines. The man posted bail, entirely in quarters.
* A man robbed a convenience store and ran out with a bag full of cash. He got down the street and realized he had left his car keys on the counter. When he returned to the store, he was promptly arrested.
* People who laugh a lot are much healthier than those who don't. Dr. Lee Berk at the Loma Linda School of Public Health in California found that laughing lowers levels of stress hormones, and strengthens the immune system. Six-year-olds have it best - they laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults only laugh 15 to 100 times a day.
* Of the 206 bones in the average human adult's body, 106 are in the hands and feet. (54 in the hands and 52 in the feet)
* Approximately 16 Canadians have their appendices removed, when not required, every day.
* Men have more blood than women. Men have 1.5 gallons for men versus 0.875 gallons for women.
* The human brain stops growing at the age of 18.
* It takes 72 different muscles to produce human speech.
* Blood is red only in the arteries after it has left the heart and is full of oxygen. Blood is a purplish, blue colour in the veins as it returns to the heart, thanks to having picked up carbon dioxide and other wastes from the body's cells. In fact, your blood is red throughout only half your body. When cut, of course, the blood always appears red because it is instantly exposed to oxygen outside the body.
* During his or her lifetime, the average human will grow 590 miles of hair.
* The average human bladder can hold 13 ounces of liquid.
* Although your system cannot digest gum like other foods, it won't be stuck inside of you forever. It comes out with other waste your body can't use.
WHEN WORDS ARE SPOKEN
@ Cervejaria Restaurant & Lounge - 842 College St W, Toronto, ON
Info: 416.629.4079 email@example.com
SOCA UNDER DE MISTLETOE
@ Embers Banquet Hall - 781 Warden Ave, Scarborough, ON
Info: 416.871.9650 Set.Ent@gmail.com
COLLIE BUDDZ LIVE
@ 77 Nightclub - 77 King William St, Hamilton, ON
Info: 416.723.0740 http://www.paradise2demax.com/
THE SAGITTARIUS BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
@ Island Mix Lounge - 1050 Brock Rd, Pickering, ON
Info: 416-245-6411 firstname.lastname@example.org
TARRUS RILEY LIVE
@ The Jamaican Canadian Assoc. - 995 Arrow Rd, Toronto, ON
Info: 416-841-8326 http://www.actionpromo.ca/
@ Libra Lounge - 391 King Street West, Toronto, ON
West Indian Vibez
@ Zoom Nite Spot - 2829 Eglinton Ave E, Scarborough, ON
Info: 416-884-8425 416-723-0740
Friday December 7th, 2007
RETRO 1 Year Anniversary
@ Kool Haus - 132 Queens Quay E
December 7th-9th, 2007
THE TORONTO MOTORCYCLE SHOW
@ Metro Toronto Convention Centre (South Hall) - 222 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON
Saturday December 8th, 2007
JINGLE JAM 3 - ft Machel Montano, Patrice Roberts & More
@ The Docks - 11 Polson St
Info: 416-833-5374 email@example.com
@ Trilogy Nightclub - 83 Kennedy Rd (Brampton, ON)
THE 4TH ANNUAL UNION CHRISTMAS PARTY
@ UNION NIGHTCLUB – 240 Richmond St. W
Info: http://www.jusblaize.com/ VIP@JusBlaize.com 416.451.6016
Friday December 14th, 2007
SOUL KITCHEN 4 YEAR ANNIVERSARY - ft. Glenn Lewis
@ TRILOGY NIGHT CLUB - 83 Kennedy Rd S, Brampton, ON
Saturday December 15th, 2006
THE 4TH ANNUAL SOCA SUMMIT - D'ENFORCAS ANNIVERSARY PARTY
@ PALAZZO Entertainment Complex - 99 Peelar Rd. (Jane & 407)
CARIBBEAN PARANG SOCA LIME
@ Embers Banquet Hall - 781 Warden Ave, Scarborough, ON
THE 2ND ANNUAL REAL TRINI XMAS DINNER & DANCE
@ Northern Tropics - 880 Ellesmere Rd, Scarborough, ON
TEMPTED TO TOUCH - FT RUPEE LIVE
@ Big Sexy Nightclub - 39 King St, Oshawa, ON
MUSIC IS MY LIFE
@ The Great Iron Pot - 55 Nugget Ave, Toronto, ON
Info: http://www.startingfromscratch.com/ http://www.11thhourent.com/
Friday December 21st, 2007
AMNESIA CHRISTMAS EDITION
Saturday December 22nd 2007
THE 3RD ANNUAL CELL CHECK
@ Palazzo Entertainment Complex - 99 Peelar Rd @ Jane
Info: www.myspace.com/djsocasweetness 416-806-3383
TRIBAL KNIGHTS XMAS PARTY
@ The Great Iron Pot - 55 Nugget Ave
Tuesday December 25th, 2007
DR JAY DE SOCA SANTA
@ Island Mix Lounge - 1050 Brock Rd, Pickering, ON
BLACK CAKE AND RUM
@ Metro Lounge - 296 Richmond St W
Info: 416-500-7464 647-341-7990
Wednesday December 26th, 2007 (Boxing Day)
WINTERFEST ft Tre Songz, Mario and Omarion
@ Massey Hall - Downtown Toronto.
Monday December 31st, 2007 (New Year's Eve)
@ Palazzo Nightclub - 99 Peelar Rd
Info: 416-854-1306 416-999-3999
DREAM Glamour & Glitz
@ Double Tree Int'l Plaza Hotel - 655 Dixon Road , Etobicoke , ON
LUSCIOUS - New Year Eve
@ Afterlife Nightclub - 250 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON
TH 7TH ANNUAL 'STROKE OF MIDNIGHT'
@ Fortress North - 90 Nolan Court, Markham, ON
Info: 416-806-3383 www.myspace.com/djsocasweetness
THE BARON NEW YEARS EVE BALL
@ Lion Gate Lounge - 1957 Kennedy Rd @ Progress, Scarborough, ON
Info: 416-833-5374 firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YEARS EVE CLASS AFFIAR
@ Atlantis - 955 Lakeshore Blvd WInfo: 416-378-3278
photo by Richard Daniel
As I read about all that I can expect if I attend one particular all-inclusive event over the others from the ridiculously long line up of fetes for the Carnival 2008 season, I wonder to myself if these party planners have any idea of the grandiose statements they make when they advertise their party with absolutely insane promises!
When the promise is that there will be “gourmet” chefs, does that mean Wolfgang Puck himself will be providing foie gras, escargot and smoked salmon for my dining pleasure? Will the cocktails be expertly blended and accessorized and not include the generic drinks such as a screwdriver? When I read about “cocktails” being offered at an event in Trinidad, I am yet to have a mojito or cosmopolitan. The most I have ever gotten at a Carnival fete in the way of a cocktail was a daiquiri and a margarita.
What does an “ultra-inclusive fete” mean by the way, am I to guess that placing ‘ultra’ before ‘inclusive’ means this particular party will be a step above the rest? Maybe that’s why they dare you to “indulge”! Indulge in what really? Will it be ultra-inclusive food, drinks, and music? Now I have visions in my head of some decadent food and drink orgy. I’m expecting to arrive and see the entire venue shrouded with marquee tents, all littered with huge beds so I can lie and indulge while some gorgeous stud feeds me grapes and wine all night!
You know what, I don’t need insane promises to get me to a fete; the one thing that is guaranteed to get me shelling out the big bucks for an all-inclusive party is the performer carded to appear. All I need to see is Machel Montano and Xtatic and I am already sold. Add to that a nice little menu of what to expect in the dining options, a drinks list and a little notice saying, “Secured Parking Provided” and I am there! What would be really nice is having enough room to move as well, as I don’t like small or cramped venues. Other than that, every single all-inclusive fete I have been to has been the same, with varying degrees of variety in food, drink and performers which sets the better ones apart from the rest.
A few fetes have stood out to me as offering a little “extra” such as Amnesia, which offered massages and free photos, V.I.P. Friday with a dedicated cocktail bar and Salybia with makeup artists touching up your makeup if you so desired. However, these fetes cost more than the average all-inclusive with just the basics, so you are paying for those niceties anyway, it’s not like they are “complimentary”. As a patron I really don’t pay much attention to the themes or even names of some of these parties, so I am clueless as to why the over exaggerated marketing trying to sell me a promise that in my estimation they would never be able to deliver.
So here is hoping that the emphasis is placed on what is most important when it comes to an all-inclusive party: a good venue with adequate parking, food that tastes good as well as caters to a mélange of palates, premium liquors used for all drinks (please no cheap Scotch!) and a few live performers that can set the party on fire (Xtatic anyone?). After all is said and done these are the things people remember about a party anyway; do you really think anyone is going to review a party and say “I had a SUPER massage! It made the night for me?” NO! All these fancy adjectives and empty promises are not needed really, the best advertisement for any fete is word of mouth; bet your bottom dollar if people have a great time the world will know about it!
After years of Canadian victory with Carnival Nationz and numerous Caribana King and Queen titles, legendary bandleader Curtis Eustace and his partner, the equally celebrated Faried Carvalho, are counting down the months until their Carnival debut in Trinidad, February 2008.
An overwhelming turnout at a Trinidad night club, Club Zen, during the September launch set the tone for their exciting new band, Evolution Carnival, portraying, Colours of Imagination. Based on the section titles alone, revellers and spectators alike can expect a dynamic display of colour to highlight the spectacular costumes. With section names like Raspberry Ice, Orange Appeal, African Gold, Tantalize in Teal, Purple Rain and Quicksilver, there is no doubt that there will be a colour and style to appeal to everyone.
There are a total of 12 sections (10 unisex sections, and 2 female sections) in the band, with African Gold and Tantalize in Teal catching the majority of the attention for those registering. Eustace anticipates they will sell out by the end of November.
“I will definitely be a busy man,” said Eustace. “When I was doing the King alone, I was busy, so producing a band on top of that is even more hectic.” Even with his tight schedule and ongoing list of tasks, Eustace’s concept for Caribana is already safely decided with the designs almost completed. “We will definitely be going for an early Caribana launch in 2008.”
The premium all-inclusive Evolution Carnival mas experience will feature music on the road from Toronto’s Dr. Jay, Marxman, DJ Bad Lad and Soca Sweetness. DJs from Trinidad & Tobago accompanying the band will include DJ Rene, Jugglers Sound and DJ Sophie Ghany.
“Trinidad is going to be a big stepping stone. It is the next step in the Eustace name,” said Curtis, whose father, the late Tedder Eustace, was a three-time Carnival King in the seventies and eighties. “I have a nice committee with me, and with their help, I think we should be successful.”
Evolution Carnival’s busy Woodbrook mas cap on Aripita Avenue in Trinidad, is a long way from Toronto, however Eustace and Carvalho’s legacy will be enough motivation to draw Canadian participants to the island this winter.
Eustace’s advice for those planning to attend the Carnival for the first time includes mental as well as physical training. “Prepare to put your body through a regime that it has probably never encountered; five hours on the road for Caribana is no comparison to two full days,” he warned. His other piece of advice: “Be prepared for the time of your life!”
Registration info and Evolution Carnival costume photos are available online at http://www.evolution-carnival.com/.
The genre of music synonymous with the Christmas season in Trinidad and Tobago is the distinctively Latin rhythm known as Parang. The word Parang is derived from the Spanish word “parranda” though Trinidad and Tobago is predominantly English speaking. Thus, the popular opinion is that parang was introduced to the twin islands by Venezuelans who worked on the Cocoa Estates in the 19th century. One would think therefore that to fully enjoy and appreciate parang, knowledge of Spanish is essential. However, Trinidadians have adopted parang giving it a characteristic local flavor which sets it apart from parang music throughout the Caribbean. From mid October to early January it is the music that dominates radio, television, office parties and even a trip to the mall, clearly Spanish not being the first language of these islands does not diminish the appeal of parang which is now a Christmas tradition.
With my paternal grandfather being from Venezuela, parang holds special meaning to me since as a child my first memories of parang music are of the paranderos (a parang band), which often comprised several of my uncles playing various instruments, invading our home on Christmas Day. The custom is to welcome the paranderos with a feast of food and drinks; in return your home is blessed with song for as long as the refreshments keep coming, when it has been exhausted the band moves on to serenade another host. Today this tradition is all but lost except in smaller rural communities, and when friends “give you a parang” for Christmas it is usually to a raid the Christmas victuals and grog!
Parang’s popularity has increased in the last twenty eight years with the advent of “soca parang”, a melding of English limerick with the infectious tempo associated with the cuatro, mandolin, box bass, scratcher and chac chac which together produce the beat that is parang. The champion of this brand of melody being Calypsonian Scrunter, renowned for producing several soca parang hits each Christmas season, even though critics have lambasted some Soca Parang artistes for the sexual innuendos used in the lyrics. Also infusing verve into an old tradition is marrying melodies of other cultures such as the East Indian Chutney songs into the harmony of parang. It is this revolutionizing of parang which makes it even more popular today as there is an established National Parang Association in Trinidad with parang competitions held nationwide from the month of September culminating in the grand finals in December.
For the advent of innovative parang, exclusive to Trinidad and Tobago, the established mode of parang is still prevalent with paranderos whose themes are hinged on religion and Christianity. This is the parang music one associates with the late Parang Queen, Daisy Voisin, who always performed with a plastic bouquet of flowers, which became her signature. To attest to the esteem still placed on conventional parang, there are 82 established parang bands performing in Trinidad and Tobago, among them eminent paranderos such as the Lara Brothers, La Divina Pastora and Los Ninos del Mundo.
Parang to Trinidad Christmas is as much a staple as black cake, ponche a crème, sorrel and pastelle, and remains a popular art form illustrating the Hispanic heritage which is part of the multi-ethnic populace of Trinidad and Tobago. Even as I sit at my desk, writing this article, the strains of Es El Tiempo's “Chinee Parang” drift through the windows from the neighbor’s radio playing at full blast. And I think to myself, where else in the world can one enjoy an English song, sung to a Spanish Beat, infused with local soca music and the subject a pun on native Chinese people! Trinidad parang has clearly developed over the years, but for all the progress I would one day hope to see a resurgence of the traditions of the past where paranderos would spread the joy of Christmas from one home to another, just like my uncles did when I was a child.
The holiday season has officially begun. Christmas is a time for family and giving, but here in the north, most of us expect only maxed credit cards and blustery cold weather. For Vincentians living in Canada, the idea of going home for Christmas costs more dollars, but makes more sense!
“Many people are excited about going back home for Christmas so that we could try to relive the early days. Celebrations at home are different from here so there is that excitement,” says Gideon Exeter, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Toronto.
“Obviously Christmas has a different flavour in the Caribbean. There's no chance of snow and you're more likely to be topping up your tan than basting the turkey. Nevertheless, celebrations are taken very seriously, with traditional food and cultural presentations getting locals warmed up for the big day,” says Steven Veira, a graphic artist living in St. Vincent.
He’s talking about Nine Mornings. It is a holiday festival that cannot be found anywhere else. “Christmas celebrations begin early in St Vincent. From December 16th people get up in the early hours and parade through the streets of Kingstown in seasonal attire. There are also bicycle races, roller-skating, caroling, string band serenaders and dancing at nightclubs to keep everyone busy and thoroughly exhausted,” says Veira. Then, it’s off to work for 8 a.m.
As the name indicates, Nine Mornings is celebrated before sunrise for nine days leading up to December 25th. Its true origins are in debate. It is uncertain whether it began before or after Emancipation. One local myth traces the festivities to the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church in the 1920s. Parishioners celebrated the religious novena by gathering to pray daily for nine days preceding Christmas. Each service ended with processions either home or to the beach for a morning dip.
Once in the hands of the citizens at large, the festival grew from a religious observance to a community party. “In the earlier days, Nine Mornings was fun. The young people in the village got up early and walked the streets, often with our young lovers. It was a time to just stroll through town with friends. Later, it became commercialized with the staging of fetes,” say Exeter. The sounds of flutes and drums accompanied the impromptu street parades, and strolling became dancing over the hills and valleys.
For youth, Nine Mornings is akin to Carnival. Huge concerts at Victoria Park draw upwards of 8,000 people each night. In recent years, the Ministry of Culture has stepped in to sponsor free outdoor performances, featuring storytelling, carol singing and steel pan jump-ups, beginning daily at 9 a.m. In the face of a constantly evolving festival, the faithful of many denominations gather for early morning mass all over the country.
Drunk driving is the leading cause of criminal death in Canada, which means, according to Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), that you are more likely to lose your life to impaired driving than to being murdered. A startling 187 people are injured each year as a result of drunk driving.
With the holiday season fast approaching, people tend to be more “festive” by indulging a little extra in that holiday cheer. While there is a need for people to drink responsibly, the SafeT Ride program provides a bit of leniency not only during this festive season but all year around.
SafeT ride, a designated driving service based in Scarborough, Ontario, takes the pro-active precautions in keeping impaired drivers off the streets.
The service allows those in a festive mood to enjoy themselves, without the dire consequences of drunk driving. “We like to think of SafeT Ride as a positive alternative to impaired driving,” says Mike Toussaint, who founded the service just over two years ago. “Our goal is to keep intoxicated drivers off the street”.
The unique service differs from a typical cab service in that the impaired driver has the luxury of being a passenger in his or her own vehicle, and avoids the hassle of having to pick up your car the following morning. “We’ll pick you up from anywhere that alcohol is involved”, says Toussaint.
“We go out drinking, and don’t have to worry about getting home… with the RIDE program being around,” says Toussaint, referring to the roadside spot-check program on the lookout for impaired drivers. The service allows you to party without worrying about losing your license, losing your vehicle, or worse—losing yours or someone else’s life.
There is a high demand for the service between Halloween and New Year’s Eve, yet not much of a demand for the service during Caribana time, when people tend to really party. “Perhaps people are not aware [of the service]”, says Toussaint. This is something that he hopes to change.
The service is also reasonably priced—certainly cheaper than a DUI ticket. The team of safe drivers will pick you and your car up, and take you home. The service is provided within the GTA and it surrounding areas. To echo MADD, if you drink, it’s your own business, but when you drink and drive, it become’s everyone’s business.
For more information, call SafeT Ride at 416-438-8356, or email safeTride@bellnet.ca
On Saturday, November 17, eleven beautiful young ladies representing various tropical destinations competed in the First Annual Miss Caribbean Tourism Pageant.
Presented by Niagara, Ontario based Kool Katts Caribbean Restaurant, the show was held at the Toronto Botanical Garden located at the popular Edwards Gardens site. Opening ceremonies began with a performance by Gospel Pannist, Winston Dayal and a colourful parade of flags.
The contestants represented the following hotspots: Antigua & Barbuda; Barbados; Cayman Islands; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; St. Kitts & Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent & the Grenadines; and Trinidad & Tobago.
Ranging in ages from 18-26, the contestants practiced for several months leading up to pageant night. For many of them, it was their first pageant experience.
A lifelong dream come true for Founder, CEO and Executive Director, Heather Christian-Simmonds, this pageant focuses on offering young women scholarships to further their professional and educational goals, while giving them an opportunity to act as ambassadors and promote the beauty of the Caribbean.
The contestants first introduced themselves to the audience wearing black tank tops and white shorts. Next, they appeared in cultural costumes reflective of their heritage. They spoke about the person who they considered to be their own cultural icon and their favourite places to visit in their homeland.
Most of the young ladies expressed that participating in the Miss Caribbean Tourism Pageant gave them a chance to learn about other islands, while expanding their knowledge of their own culture. They also felt that it would allow them to gain experience, improve their self-confidence and communication skills, allow them to become role models to other young women and give them opportunities to network within the community.
The beachwear segment gave the contestants a chance to display their well-maintained physiques, while the evening gown competition showed their elegance, grace and personal style.
The top five finalists where then chosen with Charity Lyons (St. Lucia); Semica Pascal (Grenada); Kimi Iola Holloway (Antigua & Barbuda); Simone Skinner (Barbados) and Falesha Raquel (Jamaica) vying for the Miss Caribbean Tourism title with just one final question to answer.
As the judges deliberated, Toronto-based recording artist, Glen Ricketts, serenaded the ladies.
This very tight race had a climatic and surprise ending with Antigua & Barbuda's representative, Holloway, taking the second runner-up title, and an unexpected tie for first runner-up between Pascal (Grenada) and Lyons (St. Lucia).
In the end, Falecia Raquel (Jamaica), whose presence and articulation stood out through the competition, was crowned the First Miss Caribbean Tourism. The 20 year-old Dance Instructor, will receive a $1000 scholarship sponsored by Lasco Foods Jamaica, a trip to the Caribbean courtesy of Air Jamaica, plus other special gifts.
Semica Pascal, an 18 year-old college student and Charity Lyons, a 21 year-old Personal Support Worker, will share the $500 Clorice Burrel-Christian Scholarship in honour of the pageant founder's mother who was in attendance. Second-runner up, Kimi Iola Holloway, will receive the $500 Alwyn Barry Scholarship.
Heather Christian-Simmonds is an active Jamaican-born volunteer and has spent many years working in the modelling, beauty and entertainment industry. Her passion for assisting in the development of the Caribbean community paid off with the tremendous positive feedback and outpouring of support for this show which she was able to pull off with a limited budget and the generous support of sponsors. She indicated that she is "grateful to all of the participants, judges, volunteers and everyone who contributed to making this first year a tremendous success."
For more information regarding the Miss Caribbean Tourism Pageant, visit the site at: http://www.misscaribbeantourism.com.
It’s just about that time where someone in your office suggests getting into the Christmas festivities with organizing Secret Santa secret Gift Exchange. Always a tough one, buying for your co-workers that you really don’t know that well…especially when you’re working on a $20 budget…
Here are a few gift ideas that can fall under your $20 price range:
For ladies in the office, you can never go wrong with accessories; costume jewelry is fashionable these days, or even a nice scarf. Brighten up your co-workers outfit with a richly coloured pashmina found in just about every clothing store this winter.
For those who enjoy relaxing on a Friday night with some friends head straight to the liquor store… Bottles of wine come cheap 10-15 dollars, and if you wanna go all out you can add in some Cheese and crackers - Make it a wine and cheese night.
You can also pick up some large wine glasses. Bowring has many fancy wine glasses for good prices. A few extra wine glasses always come in handy.
And with the winter hitting us with full force, some flavoured coffee baskets from Starbucks can always warm the heart. Teas and Hot chocolate is also an option for the non-coffee drinkers. Portable coffee mugs are always appreciated.
For the a passionate readers, getting them a novel by their favourite author may mean more to them than you realize, and now that books and magazines are sold at the US list price you can even pick up two!
One of my personal favourites is the sweet scented products at The Body Shop. There’s a wide range of Body butters in many exotic scents, or you can also pick up one of their heated oil burners which will fill their home with the holiday spirit.
Sweet tooth anyone? Stop by Laura Secord and check out one of their decadent chocolate trays because you can NEVER go wrong with chocolate.
If the person you are buying for is a smoker you can always visit any smoke shop and pick up one of their many Chrome Lighters and don’t forget some fuel.
Or even drop by any convenience store and grab some lottery tickets. Give your co-workers a chance to dream, who knows, if they win you may also get a little something out of it.
With 2008 around the corner, you can help your co-workers put a little structure in their lives. Purchasing a Personal Agenda may be just what they need to get organized!
For the sports addicts you can never go wrong with some sports memorabilia. They would love something as simple as a key chain, calendar or cap, with the logo of their favorite team.
And if none of the above appeals to you, don’t feel that gift certificates are not an option. For many it’s the best gift they can ever receive. This way they can choose exactly what they want and maybe use it to help pay for that special something that they may have been eyeing. One of the safest ways to go is the Cadillac Fairview Gift Certificates. You can purchase certificates at any of the guest services in any Cadillac Fairview mall, which can be used at nearly any of the mall’s stores. For locations check out: www.shops.ca
Let me leave you with one word of caution; do not get too personal with your gifts. Stay away from gifts that may be considered ‘crossing the line’!
Have fun being Santa this year!
The holidays are just around the corner and chances are, you may be invited to at least one or more parties. But, are you worrying about how to pull off a party-perfect look? Don't stress over it. Here are some basic steps to steer you in the right direction.
Start with using a skin care line daily to cleanse, tone and moisturize your face to achieve your best results. Hide blemishes or dark circles under the eyes with a concealer. Use a sheer-formula foundation with long-wearing even coverage, and blend downwards with a sponge. If necessary, mix foundations to achieve the right tone. If your face is close to flawless, skip the foundation and try a face bronzer for radiance. Highlight the cheekbones, brow and neck to help your natural beauty shine through while accenting your features.
Give the apple of your cheeks a brush of colour using a quality blush brush. Blend to the hairline to enhance the cheekbones.
Brows need to be well-groomed. If yours are sparse, use a mascara close to your brow colour and stroke the wand lightly to fill in and even out. Or, comb them up and out with a brow brush, and fill in with a taupe or brown eye pencil or powder eyeliner. A professional shaping is always another option for unruly brows.
Create a smoky eye by selecting warm hues such as plums, chocolate or mahogany. To make them stand out, use one colour on the lid with a darker shade in the crease of the eye and a light highlight or touch of gold shadow just under the brow. Use a dark eye liner pencil or powder liner with a liner brush on the inner bottom rim of the eye to define the eye and make the white of your eyes pop. Create intensity with liner on the outer corners, keeping the inner corner narrow.
Lovely lashes can add drama to the eye. Give your natural length a boost by applying false eyelashes available at most beauty outlets. Or, visit a professional to get an eyelash extension which lasts about three to four weeks with minimal touch ups. An electric heated eyelash curler can give long lashes a nice curl. And, mascara is always an alternative, especially those that have a lengthening and plumping effect. Separate the top and bottom lashes and curl them first with the wand, then apply the colour from the root to the end for definition. Enhance the drama with disposable coloured contact lenses, but consult a licensed eye specialist first.
For luscious lips, apply a lip moisturizer to smooth out lip lines, prevent cracking and dryness. Outline the lip with liner close to the lip colour, then fill in the lips with the liner before applying the lip colour to help it stay on longer. Darker colours can make smaller lips appear fuller. Use a lip brush to apply the colour which should complement your evening wear. Try to use long-lasting lip colours that have nourishing ingredients to hydrate and soften the lips. Add a touch of clear or coloured lip gloss for emphasis making sure that it smells good and is not too thick or sticky.
Give your smile a boost by using a tooth whitener. There are several inexpensive brightening toothpastes and kits on the market, but if you have some extra cash to spend, seek out the help of a cosmetic dentist for a professional solution.
Finish off the face with a light dusting of translucent powder to alleviate any shiny areas or to tone down the overall appearance.
Carol Allen is a Skin Care Consultant and Make-Up Artist for Aloette Cosmetics.
You can book a personal consultation by calling (416) 410 7556 or by email to email@example.com
Mention fruitcake (aka blackcake, rum cake, Christmas cake) to an American, and you are sure to get the yucky face along with a laundry list of suggestions of what else should be done with it other than eating it.
For the record, 1) I will not use it as a doorstop; 2) I will not suggest to the town councilors to try using fruitcake as an alternative material for patching potholes; and 3) I do not plan on attending your annual fruitcake toss.
Americans also fear fruitcake because of its ability to err… persevere. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of fruitcakes that were gifted to a family and then re-gifted to the giver the following year and so on.
In Waukesha, Wisconsin a man discovered a fruitcake, originally sent to him in 1962 by his aunt while he was stationed in Alaska. Apparently, the fruitcake was shipped home with his belongings where they sat in an attic until it was found in April of 2006. No word on if he tried a slice or if he placed it back into storage.
The most unbelievable fruitcake story broke in 2003 when Jay Leno of NBC’s Tonight Show tasted a 125-year-old fruitcake after which he exclaimed, “it needs more time!”
While Americans scoff at fruitcake, the holidays just wouldn’t be the holidays to West Indian people without it.
Like the American version, ours, which we call blackcake (well, blackcake if you are from the other islands and Christmas cake if you are from Jamaica) is also chock full of raisins, citron and candied fruits.
In our version, we blend out those un-aesthetically pleasing to the eye fruits and we add a key and very important ingredient, rum. In our version, the blended fruits soak for months in the rum bath until its time to make the cake.
Perhaps it is this not so subtle over proof ingredient courtesy of Jay Wray and his nephews, or uncle Appleton V/X which makes our version cherished and not scoffed at.
As a result, you would be hard pressed to find any jokes about fruitcakes amongst West Indian people and it will be highly unlikely to find one of those glossy flyers advertising something like a St. Elizabeth reunion and blackcake toss.
And we love the fact that it…ahm, perseveres. Just douse it with your favorite rum or wine and it’s good as new.
Caribbean Fruit and Rum Cake recipe
2 cups currants
3 cups raisins
1 cup prunes, pitted
2/3 cup mixed citrus peel
2 ¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons rum, (add more if needed)
1 ¼ cup sherry, (add more if needed)
1 lb/2 cups softened butter
10 eggs, beaten
1 lb/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 10-inch round baking pan
1) Wash the currants, raisins, prunes and mixed peel, then pat dry. Place in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a large jar, add ¾ cup of sugar, the mixed spice, rum and sherry. Mix well and then cover with a lid and set aside for 2 weeks to 3 months.
2) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and line a 10-inch round cake pan with wax paper.
3) Sift the flour, and set aside. Cream together the butter and remaining sugar and beat in the eggs until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
4) Add the fruit mixture, then gradually stir in the flour and vanilla extract. Mix well, adding 1-2 tablespoons of sherry if the mixture is too stiff.
5) Spoon the mixture into the 10-inch pan, cover loosely with foil and bake for about 2½ hours until the cake is firm and springy.
6) Allow to cool overnight. Sprinkle the cake with more rum if it is not to be used immediately. Wrap the cake in foil to keep it moist.
Recipe by Rosamund Grant, Taste of the Caribbean (New York: Smithmark Publishers Inc. 1995) pg. 82
Made from the sepals of the sorrel flower, this delightful Trinidadian Christmas drink becomes even more heavenly with the addition of some rum.
3 - 4 lbs fresh sorrel
1 gallon water
2 lbs sugar
Discard the sorrel seeds.
Rinse the sorrel and place in a large deep pot.
Cover with water and bring to a slow rolling boil.
Turn off heat and allow sorrel to cool overnight.
Remove the sorrel and strain the liquid
Add sugar and Angostura bitters.
The Trinidadian version of egg-nog, with the addition of some 150 proof rum!
2 cans (7 oz. each) evaporated milk
1/2 can (7 oz.) evaporated milk
1 can (12 oz.) condensed milk
1 glass puncheon rum
1 piece of orange or lime rindgrated nutmeg
1 tsp. bitters
Beat eggs well with the rind.
Add rum, nutmeg and bitters and mix thoroughly.
Sweeten with condensed milk.
Chill and serve with crushed ice.
Try this powerful ginger flavoured drink, popular in Jamaica and some parts of Africa. Real ginger beer is actually a fermented drink made with yeast (just like regular beer), but you can also make a quicker version if you are looking for something with a little less hassle.
1 pound ginger
8 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 1/2 quarts water
Puree ginger and water in blender.
Let mixture sit (covered) at room temperature for 24 hours
Add sugar & mix
Best served with crushed ice.
Taking instruction is one of the things that is paramount throughout our education process- from primary school to the university level. So why is that it's oh so difficult for so many people to do it in the bedroom?
I don't know how many times friends have recounted incidents of sad encounters to me. For instance, years ago, one of my male friends - bless his little Bajan heart - told me of an experience in which he repeatedly made a woman think someone was walking into the room that they were having sex in - thus making her rise and fall as opposed to the rocking action that she was engaging in. It may sound like a mamaguy based on the amount of gall and interest in exhibitionism required for such an act – a. Considering that this was a semi-public space that someone could have walked into and b. Visualizing the possibility that she didn't figure out what he was making her do - but my friend is a bold sort of fella so it's actually pretty reasonable for him.
At least the woman in our last example could take instruction (however underhanded the manner in which they were given), some people just can't follow directions. According to several reports, for some reason many men seem to think nipples are like thumbs and lollipops and can just be sucked accordingly. As a public service announcement to the world's men from all the world's women: they are delicate, sensitive appendages; please treat them as such! There is a human being on the other side of that breast and I hate to break it to you but she may not be enjoying what you're doing.
All comedy aside, is it that people really think that what they've done with one partner will work for every person that they ever encounter? That is utter nonsense. It is a given that in the beginning of any relationship you get to know your partner. That "getting-to-know-you" process should extend to getting to know what does or does not physically gratify this person. If you're letting someone into that part of your space why not take the time to turn and ask two simple questions: what do you like? and how do you like it? If you don't ask it could mean sentencing yourself to an indefinite period of protracted sessions (not in the good sense), faked noises and, worse yet, " what the hell are you doing?" facial expressions and if the person is bold or annoyed enough they might just ask you.
So now for this month's rules:
1. Be Gentle in giving your directions. Try your best not to make your partner feel as though they are inept. Make sure that they understand that you are enjoying being with them but that you could possibly enjoy it a bit more if they tried it a different way.
2. Be Open to trying new things. Push the envelope a little, make your relationship interesting and take a step into the unknown. But granted, everyone has a comfort zone and sometimes the "unknown" can be too unknown. Scenario: Your mate wants to be choked and slapped during intercourse. You're not exactly comfortable with this; what do you do? Do you indulge just to save face or do you tell them that you're uncomfortable doing it? Everyone has boundaries and if you feel that yours have been compromised say so. Try not to completely crush your mate's hopes; if they cared enough to ask you why not try working your way up to it, you might like it.
3. Be Grateful! If your companion is really giving you rope, try your best not to hang yourself with it. Give your partner the gift of trying some thing that they might like to show your appreciation.
It seems, to my delight, that we have quite a lot of cricket fans who tune in to the WE Sports column regularly. Judging by the feedback I’ve been getting, cricket and the plight of our beloved Windies remains an obsession for most West Indians, even in the cold white North. Though the intent of WE Sports is to deliver general sporting news, not solely cricketing bulletins in our worthy Caribbean/Canadian sport scene, ah have to give de people what dey want!
So for the many of you that requested, and even those that didn’t, here is what’s in store for the West Indies cricket team leading into 2008. Beginning on November 30th a squad consisting of Christopher Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Fidel Edwards, Runako Morton, Rawle Lewis, Brenton Parchment, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Devon Smith, and Jerome Taylor, will battle Zimbabwe in the first of five one-day internationals. The Jamaican Gayle, will captain in the absence of the injured Guyanese, Ramnaresh Sarwan, while his vice-captain will be the newly appointed 24 year old Trinidadian, Dwayne Bravo. Clive Lloyd will be the manager, while David Williams and Barbadian Henderson Springer will provide coaching functions until not long added Australian coach, John Dyson, unites with the squad.
Subsequent games in Zimbabwe will be played December 2nd, 5th, 7th and 9th.
Following what is expected to be a successful tour of Zimbabwe, the West Indians remain on the African continent to face much stiffer competition from South Africa.
Whilst the leadership and management remains the same as in Zimbabwe, there are two adjustments to the squad. Narsingh Deonarine and Ravi Rampaul have been substituted with Pedro Collins and Daren Ganga.
Against South Africa, three Invitationals, three Tests and five ODIs will be played, with the first being a day/night tilt against a Makhaya Ntini Invitation XI on December 14th.
Test dates are Dec 26-30, Jan 2-6, and Jan 10-14. ODIs are Jan 20th, 25th, 27th and Feb 1st and 3rd.
Regionally, the Carib Beer Series runs from Jan 4th to Aril 28th, the Sri Lankans arrive in March to challenge the West Indies in two tests and three one-dayers, followed by the exciting Australians from May 16th to July 6th.
Tons of cricket to look forward to, so make sure to check WE Sports every month for full results and commentary.
Starring Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones. Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald.
Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.
122 minutes. / 14A
This festering Western where hard men surrender soft values and morality is on the run.
Bardem's Anton Chigurh, chooses victims at random and decides their fate on a coin toss. He kills with a cattle stun gun and makes no difference how they die. He proceeds from a personal belief system, twisted by his view of a world that has lost all meaning. Chigurh is one of the most interesting screen villains in years.
Ed Tom Bell, the small-town West Texas sheriff, is played by Tommy Lee Jones,who sets the stage with a weary narration about changing times. Jones speaks of past days when violent crime wasn't the norm. Days when a sheriff didn't have to carry a gun, because even troublemakers respected the law.
Sheriff Bell is pondering retirement. He's chilled by these winds of change. You either stand against them or let yourself be flattened by them, but your soul remains in jeopardy regardless.
The movie is set in 1980, a pivotal moment of societal rot. A drug deal has gone sour. Bullet-ridden bodies lie in the hot sun.
Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) a Texas cowboy, doesn't plan to stick around to sort things out, especially when he discovers a briefcase containing $2 million. He's as stubborn as a raccoon. But deep down, a heart beats beneath his dirty shirt. He loves his devoted wife, Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) and he's capable of humanity but insists on carrying $2 million of somebody else's money, when more than one person is looking for it.
The familiar Coen humour is there but remains muted. The brothers are more intent on making a serious observation about the decline of the American spirit and a lament for the loss of common civility. No Country for Old Men may just be the year's best picture.