25 Perfect Xmas Songs: Christmas 2016 – The Playlist


Christmas 2016 – The Playlist Cover Art

Well, we’re just about at the end of 2016 – what a year it’s been. It’s been like some weird dream, really. I hope we all wake up soon. It was so strange, in fact, that I couldn’t bring myself to create the Summer Playlist. I’m sorry for that. But, there was really nothing wrong with the Summer 2015 Playlist. I found it hard to improve on that one whenever I thought about a 2016 Playlist.

But, Christmas is coming. And AFIRadio is not about to leave you stranded with nothing to mark the event! I’ve put together a collection of 25 seasonal songs that I think are unique, fun, and, I hope, take you on a little journey through the emotional roller coaster upon which we sometimes find ourselves riding over the holidays.

Think of it as a sort of aural sleigh ride; bounding over snow white hills behind galloping, snorting horses with sleigh bells ringing on their leather bindings, taking tight curves that swing the sleigh out in wild arcs, and then trotting mildly through deep woods and silent valleys. Yes, this is what I think I’ve concocted for you this season.

To Stream Through iTunes, Click Here —> Christmas 2016 – The Playlist

Here’s what you do: click on the link above. You’ll see a dialogue box somewhat like the one below. Click ‘OK’


Once you click ‘OK’, your iTunes will open and, Santa’s Your Uncle!, the music will play!

You may also download zipped file (123 Mb) HERE .

There are 25 songs on this one. I thought that was an appropriate number. I could have had more, but I would have been at it forever. And who wants that…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Let’s be glad we survived this year. Let’s remember fondly those who didn’t. Let’s do our best to make the coming year better for everyone.

Now, seriously. I want to know what you think of the playlist. What would you get rid of? What would you add? Does it work for you? Or… Do you have any questions about the list? I’d be happy to answer anything you ask.
And please let me know if you’re having trouble with getting the thing to play.

Posted in Art, Christmas, Culture, Music, Updates | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ghost in the Shell – Why Max Landis is Wrong

uh…. I’m really having a hard time figuring out what Mr Landisarguement is. We shouldn’t blame the studios because…. um… they are stupid? Stupidity clears one of blame? If, as Mr Landis says, it’s a cultural problem, one would think that those who create our cultural material (the film industry/studios) should be held responsible with fixing the cultural problem.

And yes. Ms Johansson should be held culpable in the Ghost in the Shell debacle as well. Surely, she’s in a postition where she could have said, “ya know, I get alot of work and have quite a bit of money. I don’t really need to make this particular movie. I’ll bet Doona Bae could do a good job in this role. You should try her.”

Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi

Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi

Doona Bae as Tilda in Cloud Atlas

Doona Bae as Tilda in Cloud Atlas

Mr Landis says there are no AList asian actors in America.

Um. Well.

Perhaps because the gate-keepers won’t give asian actors the exposure that might promote them to an AList? Maybe?

Or is Mr Landis saying that it’s OUR fault – the public? Well, the twitter response would suggest otherwise. It would suggest that the public is concerned; that the public cares and would go to the movie if Ms Johansson had not been cast in the first place, and probably won’t go because she has been cast.

So, how is the public to blame?

What do you think? If you haven’t listened to Mr Landis, you can watch it below.

And I found an interesting list of The Leading East Asian Ladies!

Posted in Art, Culture, Film, Opinion, Politics, Video | Leave a comment

This video saved my life!

Yes, we actors have to learn to do everything, even for just an audition!  And one of those things is … tie a bow tie!

So… I found a video that demonstrates how to do it so well that I just have to share.

Thank you to Youtique Bridal for an easy to follow, and really clear instructions and demo:

Posted in Film, Help, Television, TV, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Non-American TV Series You Must See!

Television Favourites

For Your Viewing Pleasure

I’ve cobbled this list together because I really think you need to watch these. A couple of them have been remade in North America and these remakes are not as good as the original versions. And that’s a shame. I had eagerly anticipated the re-makes but was regrettably disappointed.

That being said, the following titles have amazed with quality of writing, the bravery of the performances, the risks taken by all concerned. You’ll probably notice that some names crop up more than once in the list. It’s an odd thing, but you have to give the credit to people involved in consistently good projects and who bring their “A” game to each one.

One thing I really like about these European productions is that the people seem real. They look real. They’re like people I see every day in real life. American television seems to only use actors who represent some network executive’s idea of physical perfection. Don’t get me wrong: I do like some North American productions and I will probably compile a list of those ones in the future.

Inside No. 9
Inside No. 9

Be invited into very different No. 9s, where the ordinary and mundane rub shoulders with the extraordinary and macabre. From a grand country house where a game of ‘sardines’ leads to some chilling revelations in a wardrobe; to a very oddly haunted house; to a blood-soaked actor’s dressing room in London’s West End; to the flat of an apparently happy primary school teacher who becomes the victim of a good deed; these unpredictable tales feature high comedy and claustrophobic horror by turns.Created and Written by Steve Pemberton and Reece SheersmithAppearances by Timothy West, Oona Chaplin, Ophelia Lovibond, Sophie McShera, Paul Copley, Helen McCrory

My thoughts:
Some great writing here. A couple of the episodes – like “A Quiet Night In” – are bloody hilarious. They all have a sense of humour to them and they all have a positively cringe-worthy insights into human interaction. Mr Pemberton and Mr Sheersmith appear in each episode in some compacity, not always in the lead the roles.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

With magic long since lost to England, two men are destined to bring it back; the reclusive Mr. Norrell and daring novice Jonathan Strange. So begins a dangerous battle between two great minds.Based on the novel by Susanna Clarke

Starring Bertie Carvel, Eddie Marsan, Marc Warren and Charlotte Riley

My thoughts:
I was utterly surprised by this one. Fantastic art direction, a fun idea and mixture of history and fantasy. What if magic had been used to fight Napoleon? Great character work from everyone involved. The best thing about it for me? The question of redemption. Throughout the tale, the questions about who is evil and who is good and who has the best motives are continually in play.
Last Tango In Halifax
Last Tango in Halifax

Re-united after 50+ years apart, Celia and Alan decide to marry. At age 16, Alan’s late wife failed to pass on his letter with apology for missing first date and forwarding address. Both now have daughters with lover troubles.Written and Created by Sally Wainwright

Starring Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker

My thoughts:
Again, taken by surprise. This seems like it should be so boring and trite, but Ms Wainwright is so good at filling out her characters and making them as flawed as they are humane that the people are irrestistable. What is the most fun for me is that you just watch these people make horrible choices are mistakes or open their mouths at the wrong time, and most of the time they are doing it with the best of possible intentions. Just when you think everything is going to fine and they’ll all be happy… somebody says something so small and insignificant and it opens a wound in someone else. It’s cringe inducing and delicious. Oh… and some of the establishing shots? Jaw-dropping beauty of the Yorkshire country-side. I can’t wait to visit it.
Happy Valley
Happy Valley

Catherine is a no-nonsense police sergeant who heads up a team of officers in a rural Yorkshire valley. When a staged kidnapping spirals out of control turning into a brutal series of crimes, Catherine finds herself involved in something significantly bigger than her rank, but unknowingly close to home.Written and Created by Sally Wainwright

Starring Sarah Lancashire, Steve Pemberton, James Norton, Joe Armstrong, Charlie Murphy and Siobhan Finneran

My thoughts:
Wow.  I cannot express  to you how good this show really is. Don’t let the title fool you. Sarah Lancashire is brilliant, as is the whole cast. Steve Pemberton puts in a great version of one of his low-status characters and what a pleasure it is to see Alun Armstrong’s son, Joe, carrying on the family tradition with such skill. The story is down-to-earth, compelling and frightening. There are some real gut-wrenching moments here. Interesting to note that this was also created by Sally Wainwright (Last Tango…) and it’s also set in Yorkshire. Ms Wainwright may be one of the best things going in British Television right now.
Black Mirror
Black Mirror

A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.Create by Charlie Brooker

Appearances by Daniel Kaluuya, Rory Kinnear, Jodie Whittaker, Rafe Spall, Rupert Everett, Oona Chaplin, Lydia Wilson, Jon Hamm, Rakie Ayola,Hayley Atwell and Lenora Crichlow

My thoughts:
This is bloody great. There was only one episode that didn’t really do it for me, but the rest are absolutely perfect. Every story takes current technology or cultural trope and just tweaks it a little bit – pushing it a little further ahead in our possible time-line. They all seem like entirely possible futures that are just a year to a decade away. Take each one as a warning. No preaching is going on, more positing. Watch it with people with whom you like to discuss ideas, because there is tons to chew on here.
The Syndicate
The Syndicate

Season 1 is about 5 poor workers in a supermarket in Leeds whose lives turn upside down after they jointly win the lottery, and then in Series 2 it’s the turn of a team of hospital staff.Written by Kay Mellor

Season 1 Starring: Lorraine Bruce, Timothy Spall, Matthew Lewis, Matthew McNulty, and Joanna Page

My thoughts:
Such a simple idea. Each season takes a different group of people who chipped in together to buy tickets in Britain’s National Lottery. We watch as Ol’ Dame Fortune spins her wheel. It’s painful, joyous, funny, surprising, shocking. So much could have gone wrong with this series. I was delighted with how well the creative team kept the quality up. There is, apparently, a USA version… I shudder to think. If you dare watch that one, let me know how it goes…
Äkta Människor

Äkta Människor – Real Humans (Swedish)

In a parallel present new technology and advancements in the field of science have made it possible to manufacture a product – a kind of mechanized servant – that is so similar to a real human that it can often be considered a perfectly good substitute. As an ever growing number of people form relationships with their Human Robot (HUBOT), the boundaries between human and machine become blurred and thorny legal questions begin to rise: Who is responsible for the actions of a hubot? Do hubots have some form of “hubot rights”? Should they be paid for their work? When humans make copies of themselves which are so close to the real thing they form emotional bonds, the questions arises: What does it really mean to be ‘human’?

Created by Lars Lundström

Starring: Lisette Pagler, Pia Halvorsen, Johan Paulsen, Anki Larsson, Alexander Stocks, and Måns Nathanaelson

My thoughts:
I watched the first two episodes of the english language version that just started up and was disappointed. Not sure why, exactly. I think perhaps because the swedish version took the time to set things up and wasn’t so worried about jumping right into things. It’s a much more leisurely pace that ends up making us care more about the characters. And I prefered the performances in the swedish original as well. As much as I like William Hurt, there was something so off-kilter about his analogous character in the swedish version and the relationhip with his hubot (Odi) – it becomes hilarious and frightening at the same time. I missed that in the USA verion. Also, the swedish version does more showing than telling. Mimi’s relationship with the family (Anita in the US verion) is very enigmatic and tentative. The changes in the dynamics between the family members are so well observed – nothing is rushed, we watch it happen beat by beat. I find it so much more satisfying when questions linger.


The misadventures of an Anglican vicar, his wife, and a small but odd group of parishioners in London.

Created by Tom Hollander and James Wood

Starring: Tom Hollander, Oivia Colman, Steve Evets, Miles Jupp and Simon McBurney

My thoughts:
This is terrific comedy. What’s interesting is that each season has a story arch and each episode has guide posts. For example, at a certain point in each episode, Adam sits down on the bench outside the church and commisserates with Colin. There are about 4 of these guide posts. It’s a formula. But it works. Adam is a guy who struggles to do the right thing, really wants to think the best of his fellow man/woman, wrestles with his humanity as he tries to be godly. It’s really quite beautiful and real, and the comedy is, at times, uncomfortably painful. Just the way I like it.


A seemingly calm and friendly seaside town becomes a town wrapped in secrets when the death of an eleven year old boy sparks an unwanted media frenzy. As the town’s locals start to open up about what they do and don’t know, it falls upon the police to catch the supposed killer.

Created by Chris Chibnall

Starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buckan and Arthur Darvill

My thoughts:
Don’t even bother with Gracepoint. I have friends who appeared in Gracepoint, and I think they did a great job, but the US producers just don’t understand what it is that makes Broadchurch the fantastic thriller that it is. And really, it all comes down to casting. Compare the following: Olivia Colman (UK) versus Anna Gunn (US) or Arthur Darvill (UK) versus Kevin Rankin (US). Now, I’m not comparing their acting ability here. What I’m comparing is look. The thing about film and television is that what someone looks like is very important. ‘Look’ is part of how the story is told. US casting tends to be so obvious. Kevin Rankin looks a bit shady so we suspect him, especially because he’s a priest and we all know what priests are like around little boys. Yes, the story does put the priest out there as a possible suspect but … ugh … can’t we suspect him because of circumstances rather than because he looks like a wierd bad guy? The UK casting is so enigmatic. Everyone looks like a normal person. Our heroine isn’t blonde and beautiful and possible a model in her spare time; she a little frumpy (No offense Ms Colman, I like you that way) She’s had baby after all. The local priest actually looks like a nice fellow: what a relief! He wouldn’t do anything baaa…. Wait a second… what did he just say???? We much more likely to be surprised by word and action in the UK version. Also, the cinematography of Broadchurch leaves Gracepoint far behind. Broadchurch is so creative with its camera shots, angles and lighting, that at times it takes away one’s breath. Gracepoint? blah. Routine. And just wait til you get into the second season of Broadchurch. Oh my! It’s a ride and a half, my friends.


After a group of people, who meet online, discover a bizarre graphic novel which seems to hold mysterious answers, they find themselves being tracked down by a merciless organization known merely as ‘The Network’.

Created by Dennis Kelly

Starring Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Alexandra Roach, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Adeel Akhtar and Neil Maskell

My thoughts:
I have no idea how I stumbled upon this series, but I’m glad I did. It’s got a great sense of humour, fantastic ‘down the rabbit hole’ feeling, and a good yarn to drag you along. And the sound-track! I could listen to the sound-track by itself and be happy! Some highlights: Neil Maskell’s characterization of ‘Arby’ is chilling, and disarmingly sad. Alexandra Roach displays amazing comic timing with her Welsh accent; I got giggles everytime she sayed “EE-Yun”. Great camera work and colour palette. I think you should have to take a shot of whiskey everytime someone gets shot in the head. Someone just delighted in squibs exploding out of people’s heads – it almost gets funny in a horribly surreal way. And finally, Fiona O’Shaughnessy is delicous to watch; you never know what to expect from her and she gets pretty eerie at times. Watch it. Don’t know if they are coming back for another season, and I’m not sure I want them to. I can’t imagine how they could possibly keep things up to the level they’ve sustained over two seasons.

So there you go. Ten series you must see.

I’d love to hear what you thought of them once you’ve seen them, and what series have work on you the way these have on me.

Posted in Culture, Lists, Opinion, Television, TV, Uncategorized, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Now Streamable! 50 Perfect Songs for Summer 2015

Anthony's Playlist for the Summer of 2015

2015 Summer Playlist Cover Art

Okay. I know I’ve already posted my Summer 2015 Playlist. But here’s the thing: I know you. You’re lazy. You don’t want to have to click here and there to hear those songs. That’s just too much work. And then, some of those links have those damned ads you have to endure.

Well, my friend. I have a treat for you. Call it Radio-AFI, call it AFIRadio, or just call it crazy! Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can listen to the Summer 2015 Playlist through iTunes on your very own computer!

And – as an added bonus – there are 4 bonus tracks! That’s right. The original playlist consisted of only 46 songs, but this special streaming edition is padded out to a perfect 50! AT NO EXTRA CHARGE!

Click Here —>  Summer 2015 Playlist Stream Here’s what you do: click on the link above. You’ll see a dialogue box like the one below. Click ‘OK’ download Once you click ‘OK’, your iTunes will open and, Bob’sYourUncle, the music will play!

Now, I would suggest you put your iTunes on random. In standard play, the stream will play the songs in alphabetical order – except for the bonus tracks at the end.  Nothing wrong with that. But I find Random the fun way to do things. And just so you don’t feel like those bonus tracks are just padding to make a nice round number, I have to tell you that I was ashamed that they weren’t in the original list of songs. So— Enjoy!

Wait…. What? You don’t… you don’t want to stream them? You just… you just want to have them??? Some people are never happy… well… alright… Tracks 1 – 10 Tracks 11 – 20 Tracks 21 – 30 Tracks 31 – 40 Tracks 41 – 50 Each Zip file is about 50Mb. Don’t say I never did nuffin fer ya. But take advantage quick. The stream will stay up, but the zips will only be here for a couple of weeks.

Now, seriously. I want to know what you think of the playlist. What would you get rid of? What would you add? Does it work for you? Or… Do you have any questions about the list? I’d be happy to answer anything you ask.

Posted in Art, Culture, J-Pop, Lists, Music, Personal, Radio, Summer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer 2015 Playlist – Yes! It’s here already!

Yes, I know it’s not technically summer yet. But I can’t wait.

I’ve been pining for golden heat for weeks now like a norwegian blue pines for the fjords. So, in an effort to push things along, I sat down and put together my 2015 Summer Playlist. And I’ve been listening to it non-stop for a week now.

Put it on random – that’s the best way. There’s a number of tunes that have been kicking around the lists for a while – I call them perennials; you know, like the flowers. There’s a couple of real old tunes and some new ones. It’s all very ‘UP’ music. What I like best is when a song just makes you want to open your chest and let the warm world in. Most of these songs do it for me.

So… Here you go – in alphabetical order by artist name.

Let me know if you give the list a try and what you think of it.

updateokay, someone asked for UTOOB links to songs… so I’ve added those I could find.

Anthony's Playlist for the Summer of 2015

2015 Summer Playlist Cover Art

1. Anya Marina – Miss Halfway
2. Anya Marina – Not a Through Street
3. The Beatles – It’s All Too Much
4. Blue Lu Barker – Don’t You Make Me High
5. Bob Dylan – Narrow Way
6. Bob’s Your Uncle – Closet Door (link not available)
7. Danny Michel – Another Love Song (link not available)
8. David Lindley – Mercury Blues
9. Electric Light Orchestra – All Over the World
10. eX-Girl – E-Sa-Ya
11. The Flaming Lips – Turn It On
12. The Flaming Lips – Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
13. Hans Conried & Chorus – Dressing Song (Do-Me-Do Duds) – from the soundtrack of ‘The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T’
14. The Kinks – Harry Rag
15. Klaatu – Perpetual Motion Machine
16. Klaatu – Sub-Rosa Subway
17. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Elenor
18. Mickey Gilley – The Power of Positive Drinkin’
19. The Mighty Sparrow – Drunk and Disorderly
20. Molly Johnson – One Hundred Cigarettes (the video in the link is NOT Molly Johson)
21. Mose Allison – If You Live
22. Paul McCartney – Another Day
23. Peter Gabriel – Big Time
24. Petty Booka – The Tide is High (link not available)
25. Pink Turtle – Sultans of Swing
26. Puffy AmiYumi – Boom Boom Beat
27. The Pursuit of Happiness – Looking for Girls
28. Ringo Starr – Snookeroo
29. The Rubinoos – Surf Trek
30. St. Vincent – Cruel
31. Holly Partridge (Streets & Houses) – Dear Hilary
32. Holly Partridge (Streets & Houses) – Come Back Radiator
33. Talking Heads – The Big Country
34. Timbuk 3 – Grand Old Party
35. Tom Waits – Lucinda
36. Tom Waits – Young at Heart
37. U2 – Wild Honey
38. U2 – Paint It Black
39. U2 – Everlasting Love
40. U2 – The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)
41. Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians – Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee
42. XTC – All You Pretty Girls
43. XTC – My Train Is Coming
44. XTC – Hold Me My Daddy
45. XTC – Let’s Make A Den
46. XTC – I’m the Man Who Murdered Love

Posted in Lists, Music, Personal, Summer | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

My Answers to 4 Questions about ‘The Whipping Man’

Pacific Theatre’s publicity folks sent me some questions about the show I’m about to direct for them. The great thing about this sort of thing is that it helps me focus on the play in a different way than just visually. Hopefully, something in my replies will tempt you to come see the show.

Here’s a brief blurb about the play:

The Civil War has come to a bloody end. On the eve of Passover, a critically wounded Confederate soldier returns to his ruined home – where two family slaves wait, and the three men must sort through the sordid legacy of slavery.
Featuring Tom Pickett, Carl Kennedy, and Giovanni Mocibob
“Haunting, striking, and powerful.” New York Times
“Masterfully grapples with issues of family and freedom during an era of uncertainty and fear.” Huffington Post

And here’s the Q&A:

What excites you about this story?
As Canadians we generally consider ourselves free of racism. We’re quite smug about the racial tensions that bubble up within the USA, thinking that we’ve gotten over that sort of sordid squabbling up here. But really, our form of racism is more insidious and subtle. It expresses itself through entitlement, cultural segregation and appropriation, and a laziness with regard to exploring and understanding other cultural perspectives. And I see these themes being scratched at in this story where people of two minority groups are struggling with how to deal with each other once a new regime has been announced. Through a simple story – and there is really nothing remarkable about the story at all – we’re giving a multi-faceted look at racism on both a personal and systemic level. The story is framed – both historically and ritually – within events of reconciliation; yet, there’s a tenuousness and fragility that is really quite frightening.

Slavery is often seen as a historical issue, how does this story connect to current issues?
I think slavery is really only a symptom of one of the worst of human characteristics: this tendency to separate into distinct groups and demonize those other groups; and slavery is just one step away from genocide on the demonization spectrum. The fact that some Canadians are delineated as Asian-Canadian, Afro-Canadian or Indo-Canadian and yet, for some reason, I am entitled – as a person of northern european descent – to be delineated as “Canadian”. Why are these hyphens necessary for some people and not others? Why can’t every Canadian citizen be called “Canadian”? This, in my mind, is an example of the notion that “some are more equal than others”, and it’s an issue I wrestle with myself. I think that as long as we have this notion of difference, we are still subject to sliding down that spectrum of demonization.

Another part of slavery is the issue of rights. We’re a culture that’s big on “rights”: free speech, religion, privacy, the list goes on. However, we often demand these rights at the expense of the rights of other people. We forget that with every right comes a responsibility: a responsibility to afford those same rights to all others and consider how exercising those rights affects the lives of those around us. If I have a right to carry a weapon, I have a responsibility to ensure that no-one is threatened or harmed unduly by that weapon. I have a right to express myself in any manner I desire – but I also have a responsibility to recognize the effect my words may have on how others think, feel and act. I think this is quite relevant to the here and now – especially in light of terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and media outlets deciding whether or not to run potentially offensive cartoons. As a society, and in a world that keeps getting ‘smaller’, we’re still trying to figure out how to balance this tension of rights and responsibilities – and the characters in The Whipping Man are just starting that journey.

Tell me about the creative team – what are you looking forward to about working with this group?
Drew Facey always brings in an amazing sense of place and artistry to a production. I’ve not seen a design of his that didn’t serve the script beautifully – even when the production as a whole seems to fail, his designs succeed. Laughlin Johnston has worked deft magic with lighting and he’ll do the same with this one. I get to try out a new costume designer in Amy McDougall and that’s always a frightening and exciting prospect. Jeff Tymoschuk is a master of cinematic soundscapes and this script, with its historical setting, will give him huge scope within which to play.

What do you foresee as the biggest challenge for this play?
I think balancing the personal histories of the characters against the larger historical setting will be something that we have to be very aware of. We think we know what the story is about. It’s about slaves getting their freedom. Well, yes, but that’s merely a generality. We’ll have to be more specific than that. We have to get into what this new set of rights means to these specific people and what responsibilities are conferred to them along with those rights. If the production is to be immediate and relevant, it’s in that struggle that we need to engage the audience. Otherwise, it becomes a mere historical piece.

The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez opens February 27 2015 at Pacific Theatre. Purchase your tickets here.


Posted in Art, Culture, Opinion, Pacific Theatre, Quotes, Theatre, Vancouver, YVR | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment