month, it is time to get your mind off baseball. Take a break. Let someone else project players for you. Whether you use Bill James, Ron Shandler, ZIPS, STATS, Baseball Prospectus
or Ken Warren, they are all probably as good or better than what you would calculate
on your own. This year I have projected just my own players, along with players I have considered trading for, and players
people ask me about, or discuss in mcscoresheet or scoresheet-talk. However, I am going try to take December off and let Ken and BP come up with some numbers for the rest. The two of them
combined are a good compliment because they use completely different approaches. BP cranks up similarity studies. Ken measures
skill sets demonstrated mainly over the two most recent seasons and applies luck factors, aging, and other variables to them.
He does allow a little subjectivity such as assessing the effects of particular injuries to the player’s performance.
(See address on right side of this home page for Ken’s which will be out some time in February.) A BP study several
years ago rated Ken’s about as good as anyone’s except theirs. Another expert confided to me that their testing
method was highly flawed. Anyway, I don’ know many people who have the time to make better projections. And, if anyone
has a valid study which points to other projections as significantly superior, PLEASE, let me know through scoresheet-talk. You can talk to Ken and I directly there and his respectable doubters – and sometimes some of the BP guys (Ken Huckabay and Ben King, for example) or Rotowire guys (Jeff Erickson and frequent contributor John R. Mayne) chime in, too.
enough baseball for now. I’m serious. Let’s talk about music. A close friend of my daughter’s Ali Slaight is getting some air play here in Toronto (“The Story of Your Life”). She sings
beautifully in a wide variety of styles, and she is a big hearted fun girl. Although, she hasn’t taken the step of producing
a music video. I’m not sure she has the self confidence to be a star. If you can find her version of “Kiss From
a Rose on a Grave”, you will love it, I promise. However, her music is only available on special collaborative CDs.
There is an all girls CD, which “introduces her” among top stars coming out soon.
Canada is long known for its hockey players, of course, and recently known for its comedic
acting stars: Jim Carey, Mike Myers,
John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Eugene Levy, Katherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, etc. Heck, Canada’s best known “band” of recent years - Barenaked Ladies - to a large degree sings comedy.
I’ll take on any other country’s cache of female music talents – Canada can top them. Obviously living up here, I am exposed to much more Canadian
“talent”, so take this observation with that caveat. I am aware that the U. S. has thousands of gospell trained singers who could put to shame many famous
singers including ones mentioned below, but for various reasons remain doomed to obscurity. The reason I am inspired to write
this article is that my two favorite ipod/itunes choices of the past month are both Canadian and both Emilies: Emilie-Claire Barlow and Emily Haines (of Metric and Broken Social Scene). Here is another coincidence: both
of these girls went to Etobicoke School
of the Arts on the western edge of Toronto. Allow me to add
that both of my kids have close friends who went/are going there (but not Ali). Wow, so what? OK, let’s run down the
list of excellent female Canadian recording artists.
you like jazz? You must like British Columbia’s Diana Krall (and wife of real Brit Elvis Costello). I am even more fond of Holly Cole from the opposite Canadian coast
(Halifax). Her version of McCartney-Lennon’s “I’ve
Just Seen a Face” is a thrill every time I hear it. Every song on Torontonian Molly
Johnson’s eponymous CD is a gem. She exudes her seductive humor with her rich voice. However, this Emilie-Claire Barlow (another Torontonian) is an awesome talent covering mostly standards, nailing them with a
vibrancy you cannot believe. Try “Bye Bye Blackbird”.
you are into country. I’m not into country per se, but when it is blended with jazz and the perfect singing/songwriting
talent of Alberta’s kd lang, what could go wrong? You would likely get addicted to her masterpiece CD Ingenue or its showcase “Constant Craving”. That album is not country at all, really, but lang
gets categorized as such. Of course, one of the most popular female country singer of recent times and, perhaps, all-time
is none other than Shania Twain of mining town Timmins, Ontario. You might call the Rankins family country (with vocals led by the three sisters). It’s a style peculiar to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and they are the best. Listen
to “Fare Thee Well Love”, for a good example.
pop is more your thing? What have ‘70s icons Joni Mitchell and Anne Murray wrought? (Don’t overlook the ‘70s’ under heralded McGarrigle Sisters. Just listen to the original “Heart Like a Wheel” and try not to cry.) There wasn’t
much to choose from in the 80s, but if I had to pick a female favorite, it might be Toronto’s
Jane Siberry who’s originality and genius with vocal arrangements sets her
apart. Listen to her team up with kd lang on “Calling All Angels”. In 1995, Ottawa
born and bred Alanis Morrisette completely rocked us with an entire CD of great
songs Jagged Little Pill. With her songs and Shania Twains’ looks,
you can forgive Canada for foisting Quebec’s
Celine Dion on us, but you can’t deny she is a great singer. Another Halifax girl Sarah McLaughlin
emerged in the late 90s as a brilliant recording artist. Her great song “Sweet Surrender” might only be topped
by her contribution to a Canadian new age group Delerium “Silence”. Around the end of the century another Canadian
female songwriter blew me away with her songwriting and singing: Chantel Kraviasuk.
First, she knocks me out with her cover of John Denver’s “Jet Plane” more famously covered by Peter, Paul,
and Mary. Then her own “Surrounded” and “Blue” completely tie up my soul. Kraviasuk was a child piano
prodigy from Winnipeg.
my 6 favorite CDs of the year 2000 – maybe not one of the best years - three are by English groups. As Beatles, Led
Zeppelin, and Yes are my all-time favorite groups, that is not unusual. In 2000, Radiohead was my favorite band, although,
I felt Kid A was a disappointment compared to their previous two CDs, but
what wouldn’t be? Coldplay debuted that year with Parachutes. A group
led by English female singer/songwriter called Goldfrapp made a spellbinding CD called Felt
Mountain. The one American CD in my top 6 that year was probably
the best: The Dandy Warhols’ Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia. The
other two were by Canadian women: Molly Johnson and You Were Here by Sarah Harmer a native of southern Ontario’s urban corridor. The songs on the latter CD were so
simple, yet so haunting, they were immediately enjoyable and left you yearning to play them again and again. You may have
heard “Basement Apartment”. The following year, my top 6 would again include two Canadian ladies. It also includes
(just barely) a Radiohead CD Amnesiac, an Icelandic female singer of spellbinding
virtuosity (Bjork, of course, with Vespertine), and Scottish female singer
fronting the American group Garbage with Beautiful Garbage, another top-of-the-list
CD made in the USA (Rockin’ the Suburbs by Ben Folds), and my favorite
Christmas season record - Holly Cole’s Baby It’s Cold Out There.
The other Canadian CD is Nelly Furtado’s Whoa, Nelly! Furtado is proudly of Portuguese descent from a terribly English Canadian small beautiful
city of Victoria, British Columbia.
Now Furtado and, yet, another Canadian female pop star Avril Levigne are two of
the biggest singing stars on the planet. I have to confess, however, “I’m With You” is the only Levigne
song I’ve heard which I found touching. Still, she’s quite an impressive young talent from Napanee,
Ontario (think of a vast stretch of farmland three hours from either Toronto or Montréal). The biggest rising female pop star of 2007, at least among music critics,
just might be another Canadian: Feist. Leslie Feist grew up in Western Canada:
Regina and Calgary. She joined
Broken Social Scene in 2002 and won a Juno (Canadian Grammy) for You Forget It in People. Back on her own “My Moon My Man” may have mugged more FM time this
year. Finally, we come to Enily Haines who has made excellent music as the frontwoman
for Metric as well as with collaborations with Broken Social Scene with and not
with Leslie Feist. My favorite music of hers, though, goes by Emily Haines & the
Soft Skeleton, which is essentially just Emily and her piano. Play “Our Hell” a couple times, then try to
stay away from it. You can’t do it. I don’t know why, but you can’t. Haines’s childhood took her from
New Dehli, India to the summer cottage region of Peterborough, Ontario, to Entobicoke/Toronto.