Thursday, November 22, 2007
It is a cool autumn evening in Toronto, 2400 miles from the heat of Barbados and Alison Hinds is in town on a promotional tour for her new album Soca Queen. What a prime time to make a solo debut. Soca is rapidly gaining popularity among music lovers around the globe with its infectious rhythms and spirited spicy lyrics inspiring euphoric audience participation from waving hands and flags to swaying and gyrating hips. Although her queenly regalia has been put aside in favour of an off white turtleneck, dark blue jeans, and brown suede boots for this interview, she is nonetheless captivating with her brown upswept dreadlocks pulled into a tight bun and zero makeup on her still young face. Alison Hinds, past frontline singer for the successful band Square One has finally stepped out on her own.
Her journey as a solo artist came on the heels of personal life changes. Her marriage to Edward Walcott and subsequent birth of their daughter Saharan in 2004 marked a turn where important artistic decisions had to be made. She had been with Square One for almost 20 years and the time was ripe for her to step back and take a breather.
“At the time that I got pregnant it was a good time. I was ready to be a mother. I was ready to take a step away from de stage, de spotlight, and everything for a little while. I was almost feeling burned out and because you’re in it, you can’t really see things that you can improve about your overall performance. So it was good for me to take that step just being home adjusting to being a new mother and a new wife, and really checking the music industry with different eyes.”
Recent promotion of the new album has taken her across North America and the Caribbean. Being away from home for weeks at a time from her husband and daughter could have taken its toll but with a supportive family and strong unit, the stress is diminished.
Her husband who manages a 600-acre horse farm, which also doubles as the family residence, tries to stay far away from the spotlight. Raising their daughter and training racehorses are his passion. Edward’s own professional fulfillment has helped to engender a sense of understanding and built up a strong bond of trust between him and his wife.
“When we met”, Alison reflects, “I was doing what I do. He understands that it takes a lot of my time but he’s also busy with his job. He doesn’t freak out and think some guy is going to take me away from him. He’s not worried about those things. And communication is key. As much as I can, I make sure to let him know as soon as I get information about upcoming gigs and how much time I’ll be away just so that he knows and that he can prepare himself for the time that I’m not going to be there. And of course, love. We have that respect for one another and all of those things combined help to keep de marriage going and keep it strong. He has been to my shows in Barbados and overseas. I don’t have to edit my shows. I don’t have to decide well my husband’s in the audience so I can’t bring up anybody to wine with me. He understands that it’s a show and that’s a part of my job”. “Far as more”, she says with a laugh, “he’s be down in de crowd winin' and havin’ a time.”
Alison’s time off has benefited not only her fans in building up an expectation as to when she was going to return to the Soca scene, but has also brought payoffs to her as well. Her present manager and owner of Barbados-based Black Coral record label, Van Gibbs, had shown her the pros and cons and had let her know that not only could she really express herself more as a solo artist but she would be able to determine her own schedule.
“I had to think about it for a while because I had grown up with the band. That was my comfort zone, but I felt in myself that I had to be able to have more flexibility. I had to be able to say yes I can do this or that because it’s my daughter’s first day of school or it’s her first sports day. I couldn’t do it within Square One because it wouldn’t have been fair for me to say, well, I can make this gig but I can’t make that one. And also I wanted to stretch as a performer and really get into me as an entertainer.”
A new band, "The Alison Hinds Show", was formed in 2005 when Hinds returned to the Soca scene with the hit song "Roll It Gyal", hailed as a pride-filled and high self-esteem anthem for young women.
“With the Alison Hinds Show I have the freedom to develop my show in whatever direction I want to take it. I have very good musicians who are doing a really good job putting together the show musically, but I also have input in that. So now I am very hands-on and it gives me a sense of accomplishment because I’m really coming into my own, and I’m onstage and it’s just me, nobody else. There’s no guest act or anything – just me and de people are just lovin’ it. I can get into my songs and work dem. I can get into my audience and really pull everything out of dem.”
The immediate acceptance of Alison as a solo artist confirmed Alison’s belief in her destiny. “Everything I have done has been working towards this - to have the opportunity to make my own album and bring my music to my fans without watering down my sound or compromising what I am or what Soca is.”
Which led me to ask who was behind the naming of her album, Soca Queen. Could it be misconstrued as a little presumptuous especially for a solo debut?
“The thing about Soca Queen,” Hinds explained, “is that is the title that my fans gave me. It’s not something that was manufactured by some label or by me personally. That is how I became known within Square One and during that time my fans and supporters started referring to me as the queen and up until now in conversation people that know me call me “Queen.” So for my first album I felt that it would be appropriate. Naysayers and haters don’t bother me at all.” As a matter of fact, the thought of another female soca artist stealing her crown while she was on hiatus didn’t even cross her mind.
“While I was on maternity leave”, she says pensively, “and then when I left Square One there was quite a few female artists that were rising but I just felt like they do what they do, and I do what I do. There’s only one Alison Hinds.”
Soca Queen carries the credits of heavyweight musicians and producers such as Van Gibbs, Terry Johnson, Chris Allman and Salaam Remi Gibbs who has worked with the likes of Kurtis Blow, Nas, Ini Kamoze, The Fugees and Amy Winehouse. Remi Gibbs produced “The Show” and “The More You Get”, which Alison says is “very modern and for the girls”.
The Alison Hinds Show will be touring Canada in the near future and the highly-anticipated ‘Soca Queen’ album is now in stores across Canada as well as available for download on iTunes and will be available in US Stores from November 6th.
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Brothers Ian and Robert Williams, known as Eon and Robby, are talented young artists
who are redefining Jamaica’s entertainment scene by bringing the art of body painting into the dancehall.
As promoters continue to seek creative ways to enhance and attract patrons to their events, it is not un-common to find the brothers at Jamaica’s party venues dressing the face, hands, thighs and torso of their live canvases, most of whom are females, with elaborate acrylic paint designs.
Over the last six-years, the brothers have carved their niche into the entertainment scene on the island by working at events hosted by the Hedonism and Beaches resorts, Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest beach party, Appleton, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, WATA, Digicel, Cable and Wireless, and Renaissance parties, just to name a few.
The brother’s art is not, however, limited to their live canvasses. Their mural “Hells Kitchen,” was featured in Baby Cham’s and Alicia Keys 2006 “True Ghetto Story” video
The two also recently collaborated with Jamaica’s Scorpio 21 video production company for videos featuring singer/songwriter Tina Nunezz and singer/songwriter/actor and comedian Iceman.
“Eon and Robby were very great to work with. They are extremely talented and I hope to work with them on other future projects,” Nunezz said.
Iceman, whose “Make Sweet Love to Me” video features two Eon and Robby BodyDesigned models is climbing the charts in Jamaica. “They made my joint look real poppin and the response has been tremendous to say the least,” he said.
The brothers say they were inspired by their mother who suggested that they paint young children’s faces during the Christmas holidays, six years ago, as a means of making extra money. The interest was overwhelming they said.
The brothers, Robby who was a Culinary Arts and Design major at Jamaica’s University of Technology, and Ian who after completing a two-year course at the Edna Manley School of Visual Arts before transferring to SUNY Brockport in New York where he completed a major in Theater Arts and Design, saw body painting as a viable means for generating income in job strapped Jamaica.
Body painting is one of the oldest art forms in the world. Unlike tattooing which involves the insertion of pigment into the skin, body painting is temporary, painted on the human skin, and lasts for several hours.
Body painting is very much part of the culture of the Carnival celebrations of the Caribbean and is used to enhance the display of the elaborate costumes worn by participants.
Body painting is also part of the tradition of J’ouvert where bodies are smeared with paint, mud or oil.
In order to separate themselves from the splashing of paint typically seen during J’ouvert, the brothers coined and trademarked the term BodyDesign™ which they still use today.
Depending on how elaborate the designs are, it takes anywhere from 5-15 minutes or even longer for a full design which is applied using a combination of skin paint, combined with different types of skin based materials.
In addition to their BodyDesigns, Eon and Robby also have a clothing line called FreeSpiritz, which they say is taking off on the local market.
The brothers are also planning on establishing themselves in the market as promoters whereby they would host theme based parties for “free spirited” outgoing people. .
After traveling over 6,000 kilometres from Copenhagen to Toronto, Atiba Hutchinson anticipated a warmer reception from Canadian soccer fans at the BMO Field. The stadium that was regularly filled with 20,000 supporters during the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer, only had a fraction of viewers when the Canadian national team challenged Costa Rica to a friendly match on September 11. The 9,300 spectators were dressed in black and noticeably somber, reminding Hutchinson and his teammates that the game going on with Canadian soccer was much larger than the one being played on the field.
With the recent resignation of the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) President, Colin Linford, the drama has been evident to all. In fact, Toronto FC fans and supporters of the Voyageurs soccer club would like the entire governing body of the CSA replaced, to ensure that the national team has a chance at the World Cup in 2010. Black t-shirts, sported proudly at the game, read: “Sack the CSA,” “Support Our National Teams,” and “Canadian Soccer Deserves Better.”
The national team is currently ranked 53rd in the world, with its first and only FIFA World Cup appearance in 1986. They have, however, had success in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) winning the Gold Cup in 2000, and gaining a third place finish in 2002. Under the leadership of head coach Dale Mitchell, they have also made the semi-finals of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Hutchinson reflected on his opportunity to play in Toronto -- the first home game for the national team in 7 years.
“I was expecting a better response, for my first game in Toronto,” said Hutchinson, surprised by the black-wearing crowd. “It’s nice to play at home, but it could have been a better experience. At the end of the day, it’s a good feeling to be home, and I was still happy to be out there.”
The game ended in a draw with Canada tying Costa Rica 1-1, with the Canadian goal scored by Dwayne De Rosario. By the following evening, Hutchinson, who succumbed to an ankle injury during the first half of the match, would return to Copenhagen.
Hutchinson, 24, started his career in his hometown of Brampton with the Braves, continuing to play with the York Region Shooters, the Toronto Lynx, and then across the Atlantic to Sweeden’s Osters IF and Helsingborgs IF. Along with playing for the Canadian men’s national team, the midfielder also represented his country in the Men’s Olympic U-23 and Men’s Youth U-20. In January 2006, he settled in Denmark with the F.C. Copenhagen in the Danish Superliga, for 4.5 years.
“Denmark is a nice place; very friendly;” said Hutchinson of his new home. “It’s a different lifestyle though, very laid back and easy going, so it was easy to adjust to.” After a slow start, Hutchinson adapted well to the country, and enjoys the camaraderie of his teammates, mainly Englishmen.
While his love for soccer has managed to follow him around the world, unfortunately the joys of his Trinidadian culture are nowhere to be found, once he touches down in Denmark. Hutchinson, who hasn’t been able to attend Caribana festivities in at least five years, said he often longs for West Indian people, flavours and customs that were always accessible growing up in Toronto.
“I miss it more than I can even describe,” he said, explaining his gratitude for the times his mother is able to visit him, and cook his favourite dishes.
This is the reality for many of Canada’s soccer stars who travel abroad for professional opportunities, rarely having the chance to enjoy the game in their own country.
Although he hopes to one day play in England, following the footsteps of Trinidad’s Dwight Yorke, a player he has always admired, Hutchinson believes that he will one day come home. “I do want to eventually come back to live in Canada,” he said. “I would like to retire here.”
Many fans of Hutchinson and Canadian soccer also hope that sooner than later, the Canadian national team will develop a strong enough foundation to support athletes like Hutchinson and countless others who will also benefit from a tight national system and generous internal maintainance. It is the dream of many that Canada’s soccer stars will one day find it lucrative to simply, stay in Canada.
The simple, infectious lyrics of St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2007 road march strike a chord with everyone who has ever experienced the boundless energy of carnival.
No more sleep ‘til Carnival done (yea ah)Ah jumpin’ up in de burnin’ sun (yea ah)And I don't care if de rain come down (yea ah)Dat can’t stop me from havin’ fun
Penned by an American-based artiste who crams his love for making music into a chaotic schedule of full time employment, Problem Child’s Party Animal is a musical tribute to the tireless efforts of its author.
He released his first professional soca recording for Vincy Mas 1998 with the help of producer Cherry Ince, formerly of the band Touch. Position was a commendable rookie offering featuring aggressive dub-style lyricism over a bed of zouk-flavoured instrumentation and rhythm. Nearly ten years later, zouk would prove to be the ticket to his first-ever roadmarch title and all the unwanted pressures that go along with it.
“If they hate it, they have their reasons. There’s a lot of people hating it because they didn’t come up with the idea, although they would never admit that’s why,” said Problem Child.
The song, which samples Kassav’s 1996 breakthrough hit Zouk La Sé Sèl Médikaman Nou Ni, was met with criticism at home and abroad due to what was perceived by some as a lack of creativity on the part of its creators. DJ Scratch Master of St. Vincent’s Hot 97.l FM begs to differ: “The main reason for Problem Child’s success was not the sample, but the fact that at carnival all of us are indeed party animals. The no sleep factor, plus the manipulations that were done to the music by producer Fryktion cannot be ignored either. Play the Kassav first. Watch the response, then play the Problem Child after – night and day difference. Never in my 16 years of playing music have I seen a song in any genre do the damage and create the havoc this did, and I mean this in a positive way.”
Problem Child says he appreciates the support of fans who see the bigger picture and insists that he meant no disrespect. “The original is a classic, but not too many people can sing along with it. My version is in English. It’s very simple. Yeah, I’m not lyrical on this song and that was done purposefully, because a lot of my other songs people can not sing along to, ‘cause it’s just too deep,” said Problem Child.
One of his most lyrically exhausting songs was his 2005 come back tune, Mad on the Great Zeee’s Flood Storm riddim. Its rapid fire verses describe the anticipation of returning home for carnival after a long absence. Having lived in the United States for almost 10 years, Mad foreshadowed the atmosphere of euphoria that would fully take root two years later when the cliquish Vincentian soca fraternity could no longer deny its native son.
Party Animal was never expected to win any titles, but its producer isn’t surprised that Problem Child was able to make it happen. “Problem is the most creative artist I've worked with. He's the same like me, we don't stop till it's the way we want it,” said Fryktion.
Fryktion permitted Problem Child to record on the track after an earlier release called Gladiator failed to get attention from DJs, due to its unmixable quick tempo. “So, that’s how I ended up using that beat in particular. It wasn’t a plot or a ploy. It was just sitting there. It wasn’t even my beat. So, I guess everything happens for a reason,” Problem Child laughed.
The reasons are becoming clear. Finally people are taking notice. “I’ve done nothing really! OK, roadmarch I won. I’m grateful for that,” said Problem “That’s a notch. But that’s about all.” And so it begins, the party continues, but the hard work never ends. Problem Child expertly juggles his gigs, musically and otherwise while considering the possibility of compiling an album in 2008.
For more information on Problem Child, visit www.myspace.com/johnnyfontainne .
Last month our city was in the middle of a musical controversy inspiring anger on all sides. The last minute cancellation of the Elephant Man show that was scheduled to take place on September 28th at Kool Haus was a result of calls from advocacy groups to the government and authorities. In a similar circumstance, Sizzla was scheduled to headline a concert on October 5th and even though that show still took place, it was without Mr Kalonji.
The controversy stems from music lyrics that were deemed to be offensive and inflammatory to particular groups, particularly to homosexuals. The media described the issue as artists who promote hatred and murder through their music being granted admission to the country for the purpose of performing. Meanwhile, others called it a threat to musical liberties and freedom of speech.
This is a difficult and deeply sensitive issue. Rooted in some of our music and parts of our culture, the issue of homosexuality being presented as a sin is not new. The purpose of this column is to pose both sides of a question, so to see this matter clearly, let us simply focus on the issue of music being used in ways that certain groups deem offensive.
Music as a form of expression should be limitless, right? What about when the music contains lyrics calling for violence against a group of peoples? There are countless musicians out there who promote hate in their music. Groups such as white supremacists openly present their message of hate through music and claim freedom of speech. How is this situation different? How is it the same? What about artists who make music that is self-destructive and is hateful towards their own race?
Several sections of both our federal and provincial Human Rights codes and acts disallow expression that contains discrimination. Additionally, there are sections of our Criminal Code that clearly make it an offence to promote hatred against identifiable minority groups. Thinking of the issue from this perspective, was it right to cancel the Elephant Man concert? Was it acceptable to stop Sizzla from performing? What about the artists who have come and performed with no consequence, yet their music objectifies and can be deemed hateful towards women? Isn't discrimination based on gender just as reprehensible?
On which side of the issue do you stand? Should artists be denied entry into Canada for the purpose of performing based on the content of their music? Or should we allow the artists rights to free speech to reign free? And remember, while we may wish for "our" artists to be able to speak freely – there are many others in the music world that spread messages that are directed against our peoples. At the end of the day is this a case of freedom of speech or an instance of denial of hate?
As difficult as it may be to look at objectively, THIS is The Question.
Dr Jay de Soca Prince looks forward to getting your answer to this question at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juggling family, work, school, and extra-curricular activities, often prevents us from taking some pampering time for ourselves. And, while a day or two at the spa to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul may sound appealing, a limited budget may deter a visit to a spa facility. However, with a little bit of time and a few inexpensive but essential products, you can create your own energizing at-home spa experience.
Allocate anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour where you will not be distracted by telephones ringing, children, pets or unnecessary noise. It's "you" time, your opportunity to enjoy and pamper yourself.
Aside from using a bathtub or whirlpool, it's recommended to keep the lights dim, and have access to soft and soothing music. Nowadays, there are lots of light-tempo tranquil moments cd's that you can purchase with sounds of nature or running water. Or, just tune in to a mellow radio station, ensuring that the radio is far distance from the water.
Before you get started, you need some specific items. Some may already be in your home, but others you may have to purchase in advance. Ideas include: four or five scented candles that can be set in the bathroom and/or along the bathtub; a loofah sponge or nylon net scrubbing puff; terry cloth washcloth; bath and shower gel/body wash; body scrub or sea salts; bath and body oils; body moisturizer; an inflatable pillow; a towel; a bath robe; slippers; green tea; and chilled water.
Once you've gathered all of the necessities, you can create an aromatherapy environment by filling the bathtub with tolerably hot water and adding essential oils. This has become very popular over the last decade as aromatherapy uses flower, herb and tree extracts also known as botanical oils, to promote well-being and good health. Good products can include oils with lavender, peppermint, lemon, and rose. These essential oils can relieve stress, tension, fatigue and pain as well as comfort the skin.
You can add a bath and shower gel or body wash to the water and scrubbing puff, washing the skin thoroughly. Use a body scrub or sea salts with the loofah to exfoliate the dead skin cells all over the body. You can even use your hands to massage it into the skin. Whenever possible, try to use organic spa products to ensure that you are getting a quality, all-natural experience. An inflatable pillow is optional, but either way, lay back and relax your head.
If you feel that you want to go all out, this is also a great opportunity to incorporate a facial treatment. Cleanse the skin first with products for your skin type, then use a facial scrub to remove dead skin cells or a mask treatment to pull out toxins in the skin and follow up with a moisturizer. This will help your face feel fresh, relax the facial muscles and make your skin glow. You can even wash and treat your hair with your favourite products, then wrap it into a towel.
For about 30 - 45 minutes, you just want to clear your mind, enjoy the soothing sounds and scents around you and the warmth of the water. If you have jets in the whirlpool, take full advantage of it's massaging capabilities. Take a few deep breaths and incorporate relaxation techniques if you desire. Drink sips of green tea, which increases antioxidant activity in the blood, or chilled water to maintain hydration and eliminate toxins.
Once you've finished and rinsed off, be sure to put some kind of moisturizing body lotion or body balm on the skin to keep it soft, smooth and nourished. Wash the mask or scrub off the face with the washcloth and follow-up with a toner and facial moisturizer. Throw on your slippers and wrap yourself into a robe which you may want to put into your dryer for extra warmth ahead of time.
Once you've completed your special pampering time, get comfortable, go to bed, or do absolutely nothing. Remember, you may only get to treat yourself like this once in a while, so make it special.
No food is synonymous with our Carnival more than pelau, and it is quite fitting that a one pot mélange of ingredients and flavors would represent a festival that embraces one and all into one big melting pot of colour, spectacle and merriment.
Pelau to Carnival is like coconut milk to pelau; you might get away without using it but the end result will never be the same! Nothing to me is more the food of Panorama than a plate of beef Pelau with some mango chutney on the side; I think more Pelau is consumed at Panorama semi finals in the North Stand than any other day in the year. And there are so many varieties that you can sample from your neighbor’s pot and have a dish that does not remotely resemble yours.
Some people love pelau with plenty meat, while others like lots of peas, some swear by pumpkin and carrots, while others add corn, some use black eye peas while other use beef, chicken, pig tail or even crab! Just as there are many ways to enjoy pelau so too are there diverse side dishes that complete the meal. One of the most popular compliments to pelau is cole slaw, while zaboca (avocado) is what does it for me; I have been known to bubble a pot of pelau simply because someone gave me a zaboca! My girl friend’s sister makes mean mango chutney that goes oh so well with her beef pelau, you know, the kind where the cubes of beef melt in your mouth! A simple watercress and tomato salad is perfect for pelau as well, see pelau is a humble dish, you will not find it on the menus on those gourmet restaurants, but it is the one dish that every Trinidadian can identify with.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had pelau on a Carnival Monday or Tuesday, those were the days before the all-inclusive lunch fare of fancy Arabian dishes and wraps. I remember never having a bad pelau, even though it might have been a bit too dry or skimpy on the meat it was always satisfying! My earliest memories of going to the Savannah to view “pretty” mas, was of my mother packing a picnic basket with the essentials of the day, which of course included pelau. Pelau is that one food for Carnival that can be served up all fancy at an all-inclusive party or straight from someone’s cooler, at Calypso Fiesta in Skinner Park on a paper plate.
My first foray into cooking pelau was somewhat of a disaster as I forgot the most important ingredient, coconut milk! So after many, many tries and phone calls to my mother I can boast that my pelau is simply divine. I now keep my recipe secret since my perfection came after lots of hard work, but the following is a very good recipe for pelau. Enjoy!
2 cups Rice
2 lbs chicken or beef (marinated)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or margarine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ½ cups water
1 tablespoon of sugar or 1 tablespoon caramel browning
¼ cup minced onions
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
¼ cup celery stalks
¼ cup chopped tomatoes
1 hot pepper (green)
1. Heat oil - Add sugar, and heat until black, (or use caramel browning).
2. Add chicken or beef.
3. Stir and cook for 10 minutes in covered saucepan over low heat.
4. Add onions, celery, finely chopped garlic, tomatoes and rice. Stir.
5. Add water, soy sauce and hot pepper (whole). Bring to a boil.
6. Covered saucepan for leave to cook, about forty minutes.
7. Serve with chutney, pepper sauce and other condiments.
A Jamaican patty or pattie is a beef filled turnover that contains various fillings and spices baked inside a flaky shell.
As its name suggests, it is commonly found in Jamaica where it is a popular snack food among skoolaz and adults. It is also eaten in other areas of the Caribbean and is growing in popularity in the West Indian enclaves of North America.
However, not all patties are created equal. This is especially true for these foreign made patty clones which look like the real thing, but tastes far from it.
Wray Williams, a Jamaican ex-patriot living in Scarborough, Canada agrees. “The patties here are horrible,” he said. You know what good food tastes like, he said and these foreign made turnovers just nuh mek it.
Recently, after spending days sampling the Cuban dishes on Florida’s South Beach art deco community, I was more than ready for anything Jamaican.
Images of oxtail and stew peas with pigs tail danced through my head as the Tri-Rail commuter train winded its way northbound from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale. It was mid-day and I knew a patty, with co-co bread and a cream soda would be just the thing that would hold me over until my evening meal.
At the Ft. Lauderdale stop, I piled my rolling suitcase and knapsack onto the back seat of the little SUV. I hopped into the front seat and announced that I was starving.
We turned into a Plaza in Lauderhill, or little Jamaica as they call it, and my eyes glazed over when I saw the line of people in front of the bakery waiting to get inside. I thought for sure with a line like that the patties must really be good.
I stretched my neck around the line to get a glimpse of the menu that awaited me. The menu looked slim, but there was no mistaking the little orange mounds that laid in waiting behind the heated glass encased displays.
My stomach roared in anticipation and I did a little jiggy dance, licked my lips and wondered which one of the established patty franchises these patties would emulate.
Would it taste like Jukie Chin’s, Juici Patties which as far as I was concerned was the best patties that I had ever tasted? Pity that no retail stores are present in Canada or the States, even with the presence of their North American based manufacturing plant in Ontario. Jamaicans wanting a taste of Juici beef have to pick up a frozen package from their local supermarket chains or convenience stores and reheat it at home.
Would it taste anything at all like the Hawthorne’s Golden Krust, whose franchisor unleashed the patty formula and freed Jamaicans in the States from foreign patties?
Would it taste like Randy’s or Allen’s who some people in Toronto swear are the best patties north of the border?
Surely in a community called little Jamaica the patties would be extraordinary. I was imagining that I would be boasting for days of the lightness of the crust and the savory meat whose flavored seasonings would dance across my tongue.
We inched our way towards the counter where I was finally able to order one patty, hot, not mild and of course the co-co bread and cream soda.
After paying, I skipped to the SUV with a smile on my face that was broader than a pig in…well you know. I laid the patty down on the co-co bread, took my first bite and stopped in mid chew. I squeezed the meat into the bag and ate the crust alone. Foreign patty!
Idleness is a hell of a thing! Coupled with curiosity, it can be even worse. So now you have nothing to do and the desire to do basically anything. Enter member of the opposite sex, who you find interesting on several levels. You develop your friendship but then your relationship begins to morph into something you don't quite recognize. You begin to question yourself. Where do you draw the line between settling and compromise? Are they really different? Where does give-and-take end? How much does knowing what you want factor into what you're willing to concede?
For this installment of the Rules, I'm going to switch gears a little bit. This is probably the first of many times when I will paint myself as sacrificial lamb...or goat- whichever does take curry/jerk best. This month there will be no "rules," ah just want yuh eyes.
A few years ago I developed a friendship with a man whom we shall call Xavier. Literally one of the most intelligent, nice and downright hysterical people I know. After six months, I somehow managed to change the course of our relationship from a platonic one with a little tension to a friend-with-benefits sort of thing, which that at that time was an altogether unfamiliar phenomenon for me. My first physical experience with X was decent - nothing inherently life-altering about it. Round two was quite awhile in coming…something was always coming up. I got tired of being placed on the back burner; as a result, we fell out. Some months later we reconnected, and round two finally ensued. When it did happen, honestly, it was slightly disappointing. Granted people have off days, and you say to yourself (and to this person) that you will give it another go. More time passes.
Take three…same deal…more disappointment… I was putting in some serious work - giving in to the man's every whim. I wasn't disappointed because I was walking into it with aspirations of having an out-of-body experience - it was because I mistakenly expected my partner to completely reciprocate and care about what I wanted. I'm give-give-giving, he's take-take-taking and I find myself wishing and hoping to feel some semblance of an orgasm.
Obviously I don't believe in the three strikes rule…so another "interesting" experience…no phone call. Why am I still doing this? I DON'T KNOW! What am I really getting out of this situation? A couple of laughs? A conversation if I'm lucky…
Eventually, my passive aggression builds up and bubbles over and I resolutely decide that I'm going to nip this thing in the bud. I make reference to the way I feel about his "not-calling," and him not doing whatever else he's not doing. The man tells me to respect his time – and he not so delicately - explains that that was a part of the reason that he is hesitant about me to begin with.
Talk about a revelation! Respect his time?!?!? Nah dread!!! He couldn't possibly be serious! Was I calling him everyday? I don't even call my mother everyday let alone someone who was giving me an occasional orgasm. That was the last straw. How much of myself had I conceded by indulging with this man (though sometimes I wonder how much of it was his and how much of it was my indulgence). Considering the amount of energy and time I wasted with X, one of the first things that I consider is the number of potentially great relationships I missed out on - vexing, at best. Not for nothing, there were a few moments with X when I was pleased to the point of not knowing what to do with myself, but these segments of our "relationship" were not in the majority. I would much rather consistency…
Release Date: November 21, 2007
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Xavier Gens
Screenwriter: Skip Woods
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko, Robert
Knepper, Ulrich Thomsen, Michael Offei
Genre: Action, Thriller
MPAA Rating: Not Available
Official Website: Hitmanmovie.com
Based on the top-selling, award-winning videogame franchise, the “Hitman” is a genetically engineered, elite assassin known only as Agent 47. His hallmarks are lethal grace and unwavering precision. Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) has been educated from birth to become a professional assassin for hire, whose most powerful weapons are his nerve and a resolute pride in his work. 47 is both the last two digits of the barcode tattooed on the nape of his neck, and his only name.
The hunter becomes the hunted when 47 gets caught up in a political takeover. Both Interpol and the Russian military chase the Hitman across Eastern Europe as he tries to find out who set him up and why they're trying to take him out of the game. But the greatest threat to 47's survival may be the stirrings of his conscience and the unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a beautiful, damaged girl...
This film has drawn criticism from hardcore gamers. Rumours say the director submitted an "explicitly violent, very bloody cut of the film that apparently included a number of head shots and extreme gore moments that would have guaranteed the film a hard R rating". Although this comes as no surprise to anyone who’s played the game, it was to the studio, which opted for a toned down version for theatre release.
That being said, it’s unrealistic to expect the kind of over the top violence and bloodshed that you’ll find in a video game anywhere. It just won’t happen. “Hitman,” which is suspiciously similar to The Bourne Identity, delivers what most good action/thrillers do; plenty of kick ass action sequences, conspiracy theories and gratuitous violence. Throw in a sexy love interest and you’ve got the makings of a sequel.
I went on vacation with a girl I met about 3 months ago, we thought we would be spontaneous and travel together. When we got there she ignored me and was hanging out with other people and the locals, we didn’t see each other most of the trip. I asked her what we “were” and she said that while we were on vacation we were not together and when we go back then she would be my girl. What is your take on this? We are back now and she is acting like nothing happened?
Dear Wake Up,
That is ‘slut’ behavior. If you decided on going on a trip ‘together’, well then why weren’t you together? What would she be able to do with you by her side that she couldn’t do without you there? Re think this girl- actually don’t waste your thoughts- send her packing ……this time without you.
I went out and met this guy at a club, all night we were flirting back and forth and I gave him my number at the end of the night. That same night he called me to wish me a good night. We have been talking every day since. I went out with my friend another night to a condo party and the host had some pictures up on her fridge…one with the guy I was talking to with his arms around her! Should I tell her? Or should I just tell him and let her deal with him?
To tattle or not to tattle,
I wouldn’t mess with other peoples relationships. You do your part to let him know what you know and move on. There are certain situations where you should tell (i.e if she is a friend of yours). The worst situation is one where the couple is still together and looking at you as the trouble maker. Sounds to me this guy is a pro, he will be called out sooner than you think. Don’t get yourself mixed up in the drama.
For the past year, every other month on a Friday evening, a trendy Queen Street West hotspot in Toronto known as the Drake Hotel becomes a haven for an uplifting and positive event called Soul Sessions. The event unites some of Toronto's best vocalists who perform classic soul tracks of the 1960's, 70's, 80's and 90's.
A sampling of the artists who have been covered at the event includes: Prince, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Jacksons, Diana Ross, The Supremes, Al Green, Lenny Williams Tina Turner, Stephanie Mills, etc.
Founder, promoter, and host, Andrae Ennis (also known as “D.C”), is a 2002 Graduate of Centennial College's Business and Marketing program and former member of the 1990's Toronto-based R&B group 95C. He created Soul Sessions on the premise that "music used to be a certain way...it used to move you, the lyrics were deep and even today if you hear an old song it still moves us."
Ennis, who was born in Toronto to Jamaican parents and sang in the church from the age of seven, says that Soul Sessions came to him in a dream. He chose the name because "everyone has a soul and there is no colour, no race, no creed...all you think about is the music when you are there at my show and how it moves your soul." After a number of shows he found that only one or two performances would stand out and not everyone was into it, so he decided to create an event that would "encompass people who are from all eras, so when they get into the music, they really get into it. They don't think of anything or anyone else around, or any other problems they may have."
Soul Sessions format begins with a one and a half hour warm-up called Soul Case--one band, one mic, one performer and the audience in the upstairs lounge of the Drake Hotel. Then, the event moves to the lower part of the Drake called, The Underground, featuring artists performing a showcase of older songs. Ennis says that 50 percent of the music for the show comes from audience and email requests, while the other half are his suggestions and those of other performers.
It takes about two to three weeks with a couple of rehearsals utilizing rotating bands Music for Life or 88 Keys, to format the showcase. Event Co-ordinator, Keisha Whylie, plays a big role in keeping everything together, before and during the shows.
If number and variety of those who attend are any measure, Soul Sessions is undoubtedly one of Toronto’s leading outlets for artists. On any evening you are likely to meet entertainment industry managers, musicians, to those just looking for something different from the regular party scene.
The most recent showcase on October 12th featured an all-female line-up of Canadian performers like Amoy Levy, Toya Alexis, Kim Davis, Lorraine Reid and Patricia Shirley, who is currently signed to an Atlanta-based label, DJ Melboogie, host of "Droppin' Dimez," Canada's only all-female hip hop radio show on community radio station CKLN 88.1.
In 2008, you can look forward to Rock Sessions, Jazz Sessions, and Millenium Sessions, celebrating Canadian talent. They promise bring the same good vibes as Soul Sessions, and will also honour amazing artists who currently shape our music.
The next Soul Sessions, will be a Christmas Special in December at the Drake Hotel, located at 1150 Queen Street West, Toronto.
For more information about Soul Sessions, visit the site and join the mailing list at http://www.soulsessionsent.ca/.
Jamaica unseated Trinidad and Tobago as KFC Cup champions in Cave Hill, Barbados with a thrilling 28 run victory for their first regional title in 8 years
Seeking their third one-day crown in four years, T&T skipper Daren Ganga, sent in to bat his counterpart Chris Gayle, in the first day/night tilt to be played at the 3Ws Oval. The Jamaicans saw their fortunes sway back and forth during their inning, ending with a testing total of 230 all out in the allotted fifty overs, after being in trouble at 3 for 36, and 7 for 167.
Brenton Parchment top-scored for Jamaica with 52 while Danza Hyatt and Carlton Baugh contributed 28 and 25 respectively. Of the Trini bowlers, Sherwin Ganga picked up three wickets at a cost of 31 runs, while Samuel Badree’s three cost him 37.
In reply Trinidad and Tobago got to 202 before running out of wickets. Lendl Simmons stroked a match high 64, with 48 offered by Denesh Ramdin, and 27 by Kieron Pollard. West Indies opening batsman Gayle picked up a useful 3 for 32 in the wet conditions, while Jerome Taylor bagged 3-37 including the prized scalp of captain Ganga. With his useful late inning knock of 18, Taylor copped the Man-of-the-Match award.
Jamaica got into the final as a result of defeating Guyana by 7 wickets in a game which saw Australian born Brendan Nash starring for the Jamaicans. In the other semi-final, the Bajan home crowd was cheated of the opportunity to see their team battle in the final when the match was abandoned due to rain, thereby putting Trinidad through by virtue of a better run-rate. Both Jamaica and T&T entered the final unbeaten in the tournament.
Closing costs are merely a list of charges payable upon the closing of your new home, nothing to be unsettled by. Here now is a list and brief explanation of major charges to be aware of before you get possession of your new home.
A purchase price of $275 000 is assumed, and of course some charges will increase or decrease depending on property cost.Legal costs vary from $650 to $1200, a lawyer will charge a fee for their professional services involved in drafting the title deed, preparing the mortgage, calculating and collecting closing costs, and conducting various searches. Disbursements are out-of-pocket expenses incurred, such as registrations, searches, supplies, etc. in preparing your closing.
A Mortgage insurance premium of $9800, payable to the Canada Mortgage and Insurance Corporation or Genworth to insure your mortgage against default. This cost can be avoided by applying a downpayment of at least 20%, or can be paid by combining it with the amount borrowed and paid over time. The CMHC application fee is $165.
A Land Transfer Tax of $2600 is payable to the province, first time homebuyers however, get a partial rebate. Also, note that as of January 1st 2008, the City of Toronto will begin charging an additional transfer tax, so if you’re considering buying in Toronto, now would be a good time!
Closing Adjustments are charges for bills that the seller has prepaid such as property taxes, utility bills, and other charges.
GST is not applicable on resale homes but on the purchase of a newly constructed home. Make sure you know who pays this, you or the builder. As well, this tax is charged on all professional fees.
Other costs to be mindful of include home inspections $300 +, Title Insurance $250 - $400, home and fire insurance $500 yr, Estoppel certificate in case of condos $100, and appraisal fee $300.These also don’t include other expenditures like cable, phone set-up fees, hydro new-account fees, or your moving expense. This is why I would recommend having at least 2 – 2.5% available to cover closing costs.Coincidentally, the value of home-ownership is priceless.
There is no shortage of attractions on Dutch Sint Maarten (pronounced "sintt martine") and French St-Martin. So much so that the island offers both luxury for the few and low prices for the masses, a rare feat in the Caribbean where it is usually one or the other.
The downside of that popularity is that St. Maarten can be too busy for relaxation seeking visitors. Yet there are isolated, intimate spots like Dawn Beach. New hotels have not spoiled the beauty of what the locals consider the best beach on St. Maarten. If people watching is your thing, large, very public nude beaches are a "spécialité" of the French side, St-Martin.Where to eat?
In addition to sun, sand and surf, St. Maarten has all the creature comforts. Dining is one of life's greatest pleasures, especially on this tiny Dutch/French island that boasts more than 350 restaurants. Dating back to the centuries of discovery when the Dutch claimed and cultivated land, the island's colonial past is reflected in ethnic flavours.
St. Maarten's reputation as the Dining Capital of the Caribbean is richly deserved, given its diverse menu of regional French, Italian, German, Argentine, Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines - not to mention Caribbean and Creole cooking. Ingredients, fresh from Europe and North America , combine with Caribbean indigenous flavours to create unforgettable meals.
Heineken Regatta - March 6-9, 2008
St. Maarten's Carnival - end of April 2008
St. Maarten/ St. Martin Annual Regional Tradeshow - May 2008
St. Maarten's Day - November 11, 2008