The Stroumboulopouli

The Stroumboulopouli

The place to get the latest news on what’s coming up on #Gtonight. Find out what Canada’s boyfriend is up to. Share stories, pictures, favourite tv and radio episodes.

CBC TV & Radio shows plus HNIC

His work with Artists for Peace and Justice

UN Ambassadorship for The World Food Programme

Monday, September 29, 2008

Who'll Win the Dough? Who'll Get the Glory?

With my apologies to Polaris nominee Kathleen Edwards’ track “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory’ from her exquisitely crafted CD ‘Asking for Flowers’. If you are a viewer of The Hour, a listener of the Strombo Show or read Notpaidbythehour with any regularity – you’ve no doubt heard of the Polaris Music Prize. Polaris is a juried award for the top Canadian Album of the past year of any musical genre based on merit, not sales. Founded by former music Executive Steve Jordan in 2006, it’s a prestigious and financially lucrative prize - $20,000 goes to the Grand Prize winner. The winner will be announced at a Gala this evening hosted by Grant Lawrence, live from The Phoenix at 8pm EST- and broadcast on CBCRadio3 and Sirius Channel 86. All Shortlist nominees will perform live or via live video performance.

George Stroumbouolopoulos was among the initial pool of 178 Jurors (music journalists, arts reporters, critics, bloggers) who helped determine the list of 40. Once down to the top 10, a Grand Jury of 11 convened over this past weekend at Toronto’s Drake Hotel to commiserate and vote by secret ballot for their favourite of the Short list.

One of the illustrious jurors who may have OD’d on the Drake’s oh so tasty burgers or sweet potato fries is one Mr. James Reaney – unabashed lover of Canadian music, member of the steering committee for the Jack Richardson Music Awards and the Arts and Entertainment columnist for the London Free Press. He also has a Blog @ www, I have a couple of new vocab words courtesy of James that I can’t wait to try out! Polarisverse and Smash Fascism. More on that later.

James was kind enough to answer a few questions about the musical machinations of Polaris. Turns out we were ships passing in a very soggy Saturday night at the Home County Folk Festival cheering on Melissa McClelland and her partner in life and music, Luke Doucet and the White Falcon. Luke’s latest – Blood’s Too Rich – was an oversight for a nom. James’ vote for omission was Luddites 86-91 – a remastering of ‘the best rock recording ever to come out of London.’

London is my hometown and I’m proud to note that 2 of 10 shortlist nominees – Basia Bulat and Shad are Londoners. Diversity reigns – not only within my old hometown, but in the 10 Finalists. True - London Ontario isn't a Hip-Hop mecca but with Shad's success - who knows what the future holds?

So how does one end up on the Grand Jury? James speaks to that in his own words:

“ I sent in nominations for previous Polaris Music Prize years… sometimes my always Londoncentric choices weren’t eligible…before this year’s process started, Polaris founder Steve Jordan called and challenged me in a friendly way about my Londonness… he seemed passionate and intelligent about music & art…. two London artists Basia Bulat and Shad, from my original nomination list made the shortlist thanks to support from across the country… Steve got in touch again and asked it I would like to be on the Grand Jury. Would I? It’s an honour.”

What is the realistic impact a Polaris nomination has on an artist? Here, James and I are of like mind. The $20,000 is a ringing endorsement. James remarked that his father was a three-time Governor General award winning poet prior to any monetary rewards being attached – an irony not lost on Reaney Sr. Pride of accomplishment and acknowledgement of their efforts are the key benefit. Money isn’t the main motivator but for many artists, their recordings are often assisted by organizations like FACTOR or other sources of grant funding. Cash isn’t king but it sure does help.

Screwing on my rose coloured glasses, I can’t help but hope that many of you have found a new favourite or two in the nominees list – clicked on their Myspace, bought a CD, attended a live show… all in support of Canadian music.

Determining the winner over the weekend - Was blood drawn? Shouting? Doubtful. Deliberations are reportedly a civilized process and secret ballot is the weapon of choice.

If you haven’t already checked out the 10 Finalists – get on it! You’ll find an eclectic mix of genres, novice and experienced artists and a truly regional representation we can all celebrate!

Black Mountain – In the Future
Basia Bulat – Oh, My Darling
Caribou – Andorra
Kathleen Edwards – Asking for Flowers
Holy Fuck – LP
Plants and Animals – Parc Avenue
Stars – In Our Bedroom After the War
Shad – The Old Prince
Two Hours Traffic – Little Jabs
The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour

I loved James’ response to my challenge to - in 5 words or less, describe the state of the nation for the Canadian music scene.

Passionate. Intelligent. Witty. Beautifully Confident.

I’d see those 5 and raise you a ‘Wry. Unpretentious. Remarkable. World Class.’

So - that new favourite vocab phrase – Smash Fascism? A response to my query pointing out that Arts funding is a hot button election issue as is its’ censorship. Brilliant. I shall adopt it as my own. Actually – wouldn’t Smash Fascism be a stellar name for a band?

Predictions? A worthy nominee will take it home. Personally, I adore Kathleen Edwards but it’s anyone’s game. How much would it make the press sweat if Holy Fuck wins? Priceless. All the nominees deserve to be there. So - who ULTIMATELY wins from Polaris? Music lovers like you and I, George, James and the amazing artists across Canada who strive to do their best – for arts sake. For their fans. To satisfy their need to create and for the pure, unadulterated love of music.

Celebrate and truly support Canadian music. Go to shows! Pay for the music you consume. Check out the Polaris site for more on how you can score some exclusive downloads of the 2008 nominees.

If you’re in Toronto? Why not swing over to the Drake’s after party @ 10PM.

Maybe you’ll start compiling a list of nominees for 2009? I know I have.
So…please share your favourite Canadian Artists past, present and make your predictions for the emerging artists of the Future! Have you seen any of the Nominees live? Who are you passionate about? Who'd get your vote? If you attended the Awards - please share your highlights!
***Update*** And the Winner is - Caribou for their CD Andorra. Congratulations!
Click on the band's Myspace to hear more! Have a listen and comment!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What's Coming Up...A Whole Lot!

Sunday on the Strombo Show George & the gang brought you Montreal's Plants & Animals, who made it onto the short-list for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, where George will be a guest presenter at the Gala, Monday night.
Phone conversations withAuthor Mark Richardson of "Zen and Now - On the trail of Robert Pirsig and the art of motorcycle maintenance, published by
Knopf", and Pharrell Williams, of N.E.R.D. (stands for No-one Ever Really Dies).

*I also have to give a shout-out to my Vancity gal-pals of The Terminal City Rollergirls. They were stoked to hear that George received their t-shirt with his derby name: "Clobberlopoulos"
One TCR member on facebook stated; "We look good on him."

Listen every Sunday afternoon from 5-8pm EST (2-5PT) on 102.1 The Edge (Toronto), 99.3 The Fox (Vancouver), Power 97 (Winnipeg), Y108 (Hamilton), and FM96 (London).

Mon, Sept 29
Greg kinnear

Starring in the movie, 'Flash of Genius' to be released on Oct 3rd, based on a true story set in the 60's, about one man's invention and his turmoil in taking on the giant, that is the US Auto industry.

Jack Layton

As the Canadian Election nears, the Leader of the NDP made an appearance at a community centre in Toronto on Sunday, stating their platform is about putting families first and not corporate tax cuts:
“We’re making it clear with this platform today that our priorities are those of the kitchen table, not just the boardroom table. Canadian families have a clear choice: Mr. Harper’s corporate tax giveaways or New Democrats' investments in the priorities of families,” said Layton.
Other key elements of their platform include: hiring more doctors and nurses, a national children’s nutrition plan, investments in cancer research, and a plan to break Canada’s reliance on carbon with a plan for the environment that will work.
So lets see what else George can get out of him.

Tues, Sept 30
Irvine Welsh

Currently promoting his latest book, 'Crime', this controversial Scottish author of 'Trainspotting' will be appearing at the Harbour Festival in Toronto on Wed, Oct 1.

Larry Charles & Bill Maher

Larry Charles, director of Borat and a writer and producer for Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, is teaming up with comedian Bill Maher (HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher) for a new film about God and religion. They traveled throughout the Middle East, interviewing people to try and find humor amongst the tragedy.
This my friends, should be interesting.

Wed, Oct 1
Tony Campolo

This will be the 2nd interview with the Evangelical Baptist Minister, who heads up the Red Letter Christians (primarily working against political right & left-wing Evangelicals as a social issues movement, in focusing on the red texted words of Jesus Christ found in the Bible.)
Am looking forward to this one, for on his previous appearance, he somehow flew completely under my radar & temporarily eased my apprehension on religious philosophy.

Sean Avery

Touted as the "Most Hated Man In The NHL", and to the shock of some, is currently involved in the development of a romantic comedy based on his experiences interning for the fashion magazine Vogue, where he guest edited for Questioned on how much flak he's receiving from hockey players & fans, Avery replied; "I think it's great to be into something that you care about," he said. "But I'm still an athlete who likes to beat the crap out of people."

Thur, Oct 2
Now not totally sure, but the show might be bumped by The National, following the 2008 Federal Election English debate:
Thurs. Oct 2, 2008, 9 to 11pm EDT,
moderated by Steve Paikin of TVOntario.

If not, The Hour's website shows:
Lauren Graham

This popular Gilmore Girl stops by to promote two movies: "Flash of Genius' and 'Birds of America', a comedy/drama with the tag-line: "Some families defy classification ", co-starring Matthew Perry.
CBC - Canada's Hockey Anthem Challenge Contest
Television viewers will be given a sneak peek at the five semifinalist submissions each night during The Hour beginning Sept. 29 through to Oct. 3 at 11 p.m. when George profiles clips from the original online submissions. Viewers will then get an opportunity see all five submissions in their entirety during the Hockey Night in Canada Anthem Challenge, a one-hour special co-hosted by Stroumboulopoulos and Ron MacLean on Oct. 4 (CBC, 9 p.m. ET local time).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

<<<< REWIND <<<<

It's our take on this week's episodes of The Hour... the best (and worst) moments of the week, the jokes that made us laugh (or groan) and the guests that made us think (or want to smack the television)... all this and more! It's our look back on another week of The Hour.

Leave us a comment, we want to hear what YOU thought of this week on The Hour.
I only caught glimmers this week - but here's my take on the week that was.

A highlight for me was Spike Lee. A true visionary - creative, provocative and skilled in his filmmaking. In his role as a 'spokeperson' for Black America - he's sought out to supply context and commentary on sociopolitical issues Spike is more deliberate and thoughtful in his statements than he was in his youth. Love his take on Palin.

Pink - love her. Unscripted. Uninhibited. Wildly creative. Who else but Pink would cast her ex-husband in her latest video? Mr. President is still one of my favourite songs off her last CD - a powerful and timely message. She doesn't take shit and I respect that. Stupid Girl? Not Pink.

My spit take moment? The Cold Open where George makes his pitch to the panel on Dragon's Den to open a Meth lab. This little gem was taped last season and I was so excited to finally see it. I knew it was coming since Dragon's Den will launch next week but I was still laughing through the theme music...

I leave you with the most disgusting item of the week - to PETA for suggesting Ben and Jerry's use human breast milk for their ice cream. Two Questions - What do you fill in for 'occupation' on your tax return and what would the flavour be called? Mammary Mango? Sick. Really sick.

- Tracy


It was a interesting week this week. Thursday's show was by far the best of the week, except for the Spike Lee interview on Monday, which I'd had the pleasure of seeing taped a couple weeks ago. It was interesting to hear what he said for a second time and I would definitely like to see what he'd do with a musical script. I also thought it was a nice gesture for George to recognise one of his former teachers.

I thought Tuesday's show really tanked after the news, though the "my spidey senses are SIIIIIINGIN' " was highly amusing. The show started off great with George's comeback to Harper's comments about the arts being above the "every man" . Declan Hill made some intriguing points about "the beautiful game" but I was unimpressed with the Pink interview. I don't know anyone who takes PETA spokespeople seriously and while the content of her message may be sound (except the PETA BS) her delivery needs work (which according to the interview will never happen). Also, the Cheech and Chong "Best Story Ever" didn't make any sense (granted I've never been a fan of theirs so perhaps that's the issue), so I was really disappointed with the back half of the show.

On Wednesday, or should I say "Happy Punctuation Day", I was happy to hear that George's favourite punctuation is the elipse... which is my favourite as well(I'm shocked I haven't used them before now). I enjoyed the Buzz Hargrove interview but still don't have a freakin' clue who the other guy is and why I should care.

Thursday... ah... Thursday. Best show of the week, by far. The cold open was fantastic and both Howard Zinn and Damon Albarn made some fantastic points. I've browsed through Zinn's work and absolutely agree with him that it's the little stories in history that make the big picture come together. I look forward to seeing his doc.


I am totally loving all the content found in the segment The Most Important Federal Election...0f 2008! The Cold Opens have also been funny...I do hope that the working conditions of The Hour's writing staff has improved since Mr. Hargrove's visit. ;-)

Howard Zinn...simply brilliant.

For me, the best segment of the week was the interview with Spike Lee. I have never really been a huge follower of his cinematic efforts. However, I truly appreciated his honest, outspoken views on the country he calls home. People who know me in my everyday life are fully aware of my feelings with regard to certain abyssmal aspects US history as it pertains to civil rights, as well as the current administration. Lee's comments comparing the US government's reaction time to the Sri Lanken tsunami versus that of the catastrophic hurricane Katrina were bang on. Like Mr. Lee, I too look forward to the results of the November election.

~ Steph

Mon w/ Spike Lee: Awesome.

Tues: Declan Hill reminded me of a politician. Interesting subject but seemed he was all about selling himself & what he's done, rather than having a real conversation.

On the polar opposite there was Pink. Completely comfortable w/ herself & George, making it seem like one of his interviews where you're a fly on the wall. Pink's music, I can take or leave, but I've always been a fan of her ability to stay true to herself, and that includes fucking up & making mistakes. I think she challenges her younger audience to try & think for themselves, to stand up for what they believe in, etc. Like she said, it's all about her lyrics, and she def has word penetration. Even if people don't believe in the same things she does, it gets them to think about what they might not have, and yes it's in your face, and harsh to some, but by forming opinions on her words, you are thinking about what she puts out there. Oh, and if you're interested, she has an amazingly
sexy performance from her "I'm Not Dead" tour in Wembley.

Wed: Buzz Hargrove. Amazing what he's done for "the working man" and completely refreshing to hear that someone who's put in the hard work, the lobbying, the sacrifices and the determination to get things done, has enjoyed his long career so thoroughly.

Thur: Really, really enjoyed Howard Zinn. His interview reminded me of personalities such as June Calwood & Jane Goodall. Each of them so eloquently outspoken on their passions of driving home issues to the masses, on matters of integral importance, speaking to the soul and our hearts. One can only hope there are more individuals out there, such as these three.

Damon Albarn: "WaHoooo!" Innovative, to be sure. How many of his generation & talent would tackle such a project as a Mandarin Opera?

*On a side note: George mentioned on Monday that Jeremy Hinzman was granted a reprieve from his deportation back to the US. It was based on the assessment errors made by an Immigration official & I applaud Federal Court Judge Mosley in his decision.
From The Canadian Press:
~ In June, a non-binding motion passed in the House of Commons called for the deserters to be allowed to stay in Canada permanently as conscientious objectors. Following the court decision, the War Resisters Campaign called again on the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to act on the Commons' motion and to "cease deporting Iraq war resisters." The NDP's Olivia Chow, who introduced the motion, said Monday, "Clearly the courts are standing up when Stephen Harper won't and respecting the will of Parliament." ~
~ Jenuine

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Put on your favourite hard hat and steel toes... it's time for a party!

If you're in Toronto tonight, Habitat for Humanity wants to you to don your favourite hard hat and toolbelt and come out to one of Toronto's cultural landmarks, the Drake Hotel, for their 5th Annual Cement Mixer Philantroparty. Running from 5:30- 11:30, the Mixer hopes to raise 35 000 dollars, with all proceeds going to building homes for families in need.

With great drinks and food, a silent auction, the evening is hosted by model Monika Schnarre and many of Toronto's personalities are expected to attend.

Tickets are $40 dollars in advance and $45 dollars at the door. More information is available on the Habitat for Humanity Website. Suggested dress for the evening: "Construction Chic - hardhats and toolbelts optional."


Sunday, September 21, 2008

The goodness continues! What's on this week...

With summer days behind us and the colourful fall to look forward to, this week brings us a colourful mix of music, film and politics...

Sunday, September 21

Coming up on The Strombo Show...

The Creepshow

Fresh off their tour with Anti-Flag and the AKAs, The Creepshow creeps into the Strombo Show studios for a chat with George to discuss life on the road and their new album Run For Life that dropped earlier this month.

Coming up on The Hour...

Monday, September 21

Craig Glenday

As the Editor in Chief for the ultimate compendium of weird facts, obscure feats and some downright bizarre world records, it's probably safe to say that Craig Glenday has probably come pretty close to seeing it all. With 54 years and counting under their belts, the Guiness Book of World Records holds a certain strange fascination to readers...
Guess who is the world record holder in the category Most Searched on the Internet? No it's not George Stroumboulopoulos... it's Britney Spears who beat out Paris Hilton, last year's record holder.
Ever wondered what takes the distinction of Most Deadly Cheese ? That would be the Casu Marzu, a cheese from Italy, whose name roughly translates to rotten cheese. Don't google it. Trust me. Just... don't.

Spike Lee

Spike Lee was recently in Toronto to present his lastest film Miracle at St. Anna at the Toronto Film Festival. While here, he stopped into The Hour's studios to discuss his film, his career and he made some pretty interesting points about what's going on in the American election.

Tuesday, September 23

Declan Hill

For the past four years, Canadian investigative reporter Declan Hill has investigated match fixing in the world of soccer. The result of his work, The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, makes some pretty severe allegations... that most matches, even the Olympics and the World Cup have been tainted by the possibility of match fixing. Hill gets down and dirty with the underworld of professional sport in this book: from how matches are fixed, why they are fixed and that many of the world soccer organizations have been corrupted, in some cases right to the top.


Last week, Pink achieved one of those milestones that most musicians dream of... her new single "So What" became her first solo number one of her career on the Billboard 100. "So What" has burned up the charts, fueling the anticipation of the release of her new album Funhouse, which is slated for release on October 28th.

Wednesday, September 24

Buzz Hargrove

Earlier this month Hargrove stepped down as the head of the Canadian Automotive Workers union, after 16 years at the helm and over 40 years in the industry. He leaves behind a mixed legacy: on one hand he's known for his amazing bargaining skills and the ability to ferret out impressive last minute agreements, but on the other hand, he's raised the ire of a few with his alledged bickering with other labour organizations and with the NDP. Now that he's retired, Hargrove is writing a book and plans to consult and commentate on issues affecting the industry he fought so hard for.

Thursday, September 25

Howard Zinn

Best known for his book A People's History of the United States, Howard Zinn is known for two things: his outspoken views on war and that he taught Americans to look at history with a fresh outlook. His newest project based upon his book, The People Speak, was screened at the Toronto Film Festival. Using well-known actors like Viggo Mortensen and Matt Damon, the film brings key moments of dissent in American history and how these moments are relevant today.

Damon Albarn

It was announced over the weekend that a third Gorillaz album is in the works. Despite previous announcements that there would be no future Gorillaz albums, the duo of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, decided they knew exactly what they wanted to do... including possible makeovers for most or all the animated members of the band.

If you haven't already, make sure you check out the facebook pages for The Strombo Show! and The Hour.

Tickets are available for tapings during the first week of October on the The Hour's ticket website.

Friday, September 19, 2008

<<< REWIND <<<<

It seems that The Hour has brought back/added some new segments to this season's show:
Similarly, we at the Stroumboulopouli would like to add our own segment to the blog, with a new weekly feature:

Playing back The Hour's best moments from this week, or the week in review, if you will.
Our POV's, comments, fave moments/worst moments, or whatever......and we'd like to encourage you to participate!

'Cause change is okay. what's the point in staying the same. Regrets, forget what's dead and gone. If you could rewind your time would you change your life?'
- Rewind (Stereophonics)

Perhaps you'd missed an episode. You want to throw something at the screen. You want to kiss the screen...Tim Robbins anyone? Let us know what you think. What did you like? What did you not enjoy?

I love the Cold Opens. Mansbridge - the Puppetmaster uttering the phrase 'Mansbridge doesn't do dairy' Awesome. George in a precariously affixed fake moustache - looking like a reject from a 70's porn flick? Scary. Best of all perhaps was the sweater vest a la Stephen Harper. Geeky. Yes, I wanted to barf too. Nicely done guys!

In coming weeks I want Stephen Harper to have the stones to appear on The Hour. He's been invited and will NOT come on. Mr. Harper - how can you speak FOR Canadians when you won't speak TO them?

The miss of the week? New Kids on the Block cancelling. I can't imagine George asking them even a single question with a straight face. So... when you sing. "Oh oh oh oh oh. Oh oh oh oh. Oh oh oh oh oh. The Right Stuff" is your perspective more enlightened now that you're like.. 40?
Oh... Snap!

-- Tracy

"In life, there is no pause button, no rewind, and definitely no replay"
-Author unknown

Biggest LOL for me was George explaining that an ex of his was bang on, 18yrs ago, that her friend Russell Peters was very funny & would one day be a huge comedic star.
To which he added, "If she was right about that, what else was she right about?
Am I a selfish lover?
Oh no, I'm not!"
I'm pretty sure that there's a few hundred women out there (and a few guys), that would like to test that theory....

I don't know about anyone else, but I would like the recipients of the 2:20 friend test, to actually try & finish the questions. Hard to interrupt the person when they launch into a story, but the highlight is when the answers are fired off & you get a sense of what the guest is really like.

Difficult not to be outraged by Jeremy Hinzman's plight. Yeah, yeah.....he signed a contract, he fled his country, opens a can of worms for the Canadian govt if they let him stay, yadda yadda....but regardless, the Supreme Court refused to hear his case, he's going back for an undetermined punishment - likely jail time, for standing up for his morals, by refusing to kill for a war he doesn't believe in, and it can only be imagined what life will be like for his wife and two small children. Bah!

Fave interviews: Toss up between Tim Robbins & Stephan Dion.
Fave slam: Sarah Palin being a Klingon.

~ Jenuine

I always look forward to premiere weeks and this week was no exception. So many little things amused and engaged me over the past few nights...

Good things: George's Kylie Minogue interpretation, George wanting to spread cheese on Ritz, the Gervais interview... and the moustache in the Layton Cold Opener.

Slightly Disturbing Things: Kid Rock's Best Story Ever, Russell Peter's 2-20 (yes, the stories were interesting but the questions are supposed to be fast and quick, I would have liked to hear more Q&A)... and the moustache in the Cold Opener.

I'm feeling the election fever as well (or maybe it's just an inner ear imbalance). I hope that Harper and Duceppe return The Hour's calls and get their butts into that red chair along with the other leadership candidates.

As a political junkie, all the election talk is great. The fact that the art of campaigning has been worked into the Cold Opens is fabulous. My favourite so far? George and his fictitious children.

I really LOVED The Awkward Situation Room! I hope that this feature continues throughout season five.

The Bob Lutz interview was interesting to me, as I have always driven General Motors' Pontiac and three Buicks. As a longtime GM customer I have my own take, in part, on the problems facing the manufacturer. Of course Mr. Lutz did not touch upon this, as his focus is on the future. However, in my experience, good customer service AFTER the vehicle has been purhased is also an issue that needs to be addressed and improved upon.

And finally, a huge highlight of the week for me was that the NKOTB did NOT appear on The Hour! That was awesome!

~ Steph :-)


Monday, September 15, 2008

Season Five Kick-off...Simply Awesome

Last year around this time I was lamenting the fact that work commitments would prevent me from attending last year's season opener. I was bound and determined that this year things would be different! And so it happened...the moon and stars aligned and indeed I was able to attend today's taping and watch the start of The Hour's fifth season unfold in person.

By the time you read this, I assume most have already watched today's show. For those who have not yet seen it (and why not??), I will not provide many spoilers. Here are a few observations from today:

  • Peter Mansbridge was a good sport in playing along for the Cold Open.

  • A new theme dog will be happy...he really disliked the old one.

  • Both the Tim Robbins and Ricky Gervais interviews were FANTASTIC. Gervais, in particular, was, as always, a riot. What a way to launch a new season.

  • The staff of The Hour are all extremely friendly and pleasant people. I met a few new faces today.

  • It was freakish to me that another audience member identified me as one the Stroumboulopouli bloggers...she had been at the last public taping in June when one of the writers pointed us in the crowd. My fellow audience member, you have great facial recognition skills! :-)
As someone who has attended quite a few tapings in the last year and likes being an observer, it is always interesting for me to witness people on their 'virgin' trip to The Hour. This afternoon Mich, Lisa (friend-of-the-blog) and I met a young woman who made a solo trip from northern Ontario to see the taping and meet George Stroumboulopoulos. I had told her while we waited in line that she would not be disappointed.

Without a doubt The Hour lives and breathes primarily on the charisma of the host. As I wrote in my inaugural post [July '07], it is George's genuine nature that draws people in. I witnessed it yet again tonight...long after the cameras have stopped rolling and the audience is free to go, people sit in their seats listening to the impromptu Q & A. What goes on 'behind the scenes' is as interesting as the finished product. I cannot over-emphasize that if you are in the Toronto area seeing a taping of The Hour is a MUST.

Steph :-)


Season Premieres have always held a special place in my heart, so I'd been looking forward to today since... well, since season four ended in June. Wanting to kick of the new season with a bang, the gang at the Hour brought in two powerhouses in the entertainment industry, and both definitely made an impact. Tim Robbins is always interesting to listen to and Ricky Gervais is just freakin' hilarious! It's always interesting to people watch at tapings, and today I really noticed the cross section of people who watch the show... young and old, male and female... you could really see how the show can appeal to everyone.

There's one big change this year, the opening credits have a new song, "The Good in Everyone" from Sloan. There are other subtle changes, the background guest titles have a new look, along with a variety of little changes. The season's kicking off in style, and it will be interesting to see what interesting little things will pop up over the season.

The Kingston Whig-Standard published an article today about The Hour, which focussed on George's interview "style":

"I don't have a set plan when I walk into an interview," Stroumboulopoulos said. "I'm just trying to connect with somebody and see if I can get them to open up, and the only way to do that is to have people skills. Hopefully the older you get, you learn more about listening. And it's also learning to not try to conquer the mountain in every interview.

The rest of the article is available on the Whig-Standard website.

Don't forget to check out The Hour's website to watch last night's show again or to get tickets to a taping or to find out who's coming on the show in the near future.

Let us know what you think of the season premiere. Anything you really liked? Really hated? What do you want to see on The Hour this season?

Welcome to Season Five!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's baaack!!!

The wait is over...
The Hour
returns for its fifth season this week!!!

Guests scheduled to appear include:

Monday, September 15th

"I'm from a little place called England - we used to run the world before you."
~ Ricky Gervais, 2003 Golden Globe Awards

Whether it's his stand-up routine, or his portrayal of memorable characters on the BBC series The Office or Extras, British comedian, actor and writer Ricky Gervais is one funny man. This Friday, Gervais' new movie Ghost Town opens and he makes a return appearance on The Hour. If you missed his first visit, check it out here.

"If I'm a commodity, it wouldn't be a wise idea to buy stock in me - although, in the long run, maybe I'm a slow growth investment."

~ Tim Robbins

Bull Durham. The Shawshank Redemption. Dead Man Walking. Mystic River. Cradle Will Rock. These are just a few of the projects credited to actor, screenwriter, director and activist Tim Robbins. Tim was recently in town for the Toronto International Film Festival to promote his latest movie The Lucky Ones.

Tuesday, September 16th

“There is a lot of pressure put on me, but I don't put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel if I play my game, it will take care of itself.”

~ LeBron James

Once upon a time there was an 8 year old boy who played basketball in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Fast-forward sixteen years and that little boy, who now stands 6' 8", is referred to as "The Chosen One". LeBron James, is the superstar forward of the Cleveland Cavaliers. As a member of the US Basketball team at the Beijing Olympics, he can also add gold medalist to his list of accolades.

The story of "King James" and his friends has been chronicled in Kristopher Belman's documentary More Than a Game, which won the first runner-up People's Choice prize at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.

Wednesday, September 17th

"Do you remember, Or should I rewind, To that summer when you caught my eye, I played it cool, The weather was hot, You had the beauty and the beach on lock."

~ From "Summertime", New Kids on the Block

The popularity of New Kids on the Block is...well...undeniable. Their first collaboratation in fifteen years has debuted at #2 on the coveted Billboard 200. And if that were not enough they are ALSO going to be on The Hour! So as not to upset my friends who are huge NKOTB fans, that is all I am going to say about that! Moving on...

Thursday, September 18th

"Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad..."

~ Russell Peters

If you are a fan of Canadian Russell Peters, then you know what the aforementioned quote is all about. If you have have never caught his act, you can check it out here.

Currently, Russell is hosting the nine episode Comics Without Borders series on Showtime. At the end of this month his latest dvd/cd entitled Red, White and Brown will be released through Warner Music Canada.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Other stuff...

  • If you are in the Toronto area be sure to check out a taping of The will not be disappointed!
  • If you are not already a member, be sure to join both the "I Love The Hour" and "The Strombo Show" Facebook groups!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Before we arrive at Season Five

The Stroumboulopouli Blog turned two this year and gave out some prizes...
I don't know if you remember that?
On June 1st of this year, we concluded the Hour trivia contest to celebrate our second anniversary. George was kind enough to draw the contest winners names live on the Strombo Show. The Hour was kind enough to provide the swag bags.
Why am I bringing it up now on the eve of season five?
Well I made a little podcast slide show to commemorate that event.
We hope to do more of these little podcast projects for this blog in the future. Hope you like it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Final 2:20.....with Michelle

Before I begin the final edition of this summer's 2:20 with the girls of the Stroumboulopouli, we hope we've brought you a bit of info & humour during the off season & wholeheartedly give a shout-out to our summer-time readers who've popped in from time to time: Thanks!

So here goes......Michelle's turn:

1. If you had the chance, which person would you most like to interview?
~ On the newsy side, Romeo Dallaire. On the entertainment side, Rick Mercer.

2. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate?

~ Dark.

3. What was your favorite childhood toy?
~ I don't recall a particular favourite toy.

4. Hypothetically, if you stumbled into a fairy ring, what era would you teleport to and why?
~ Victorian or Edwardian as I've spent so much time researching events in those eras and it would be interesting to experience it first hand.

5. What culinary creation would you whip up for Gordon Ramsey's discerning palette?
~ Maple cured, cedar planked Pacific salmon with a wild rice pilaf and fiddleheads.

6. What is your favorite thing to photograph?

~ Unscripted everyday life.

7. Karaoke....if you had to choose: solo, duet, or group song?
~ Definitely a group song.

8. If for one night, you were asked to be part of a band, who would you pick?
~ Colin James' band.

9. If you were chosen for a walk-on role in a current/recent TV show, which show would you be most excited to be on?
~ ReGenesis or Slings & Arrows.

10. What achievement would your parents be most proud of?
~ Making my own path in the world and not feeling forced to follow the expected societal expectations placed on women.

11. What holiday do you full on, go absolutely nuts over?
A tie between Christmas and Hallowe'en.

12. What holiday drives you nuts?

~ Valentine's Day, if that can be considered a holiday. If not, then American Thanksgiving.

13. What's your favorite nut?
~ Almonds.

14. If you were to substantially win the lotto, what charity would you donate the largest sum to?
~ The Alzheimer's Society and/or scholarship programs for students attending the post-secondary programs I graduated from.

15. Cheesy horror movies or fluffy romantic comedy?
~ Neither...

16. Where would would you go for your dream vacation?
~ The North Shore of Vancouver Island, Prince Edward Island or The Netherlands.

17. Marilyn Monroe or Bettie Page?

~ Bettie Page.

18. What would you most like to be remembered for?
~ Leaving my little corner of the world a little better than when I found it.

19. Who's gravestone do you have a desire to see, in person?
~ Any of the three Dionne Quintuplets that have passed.

20. If every man on earth, except one, were to be wiped out by an alien invasion, who would you choose to survive?

~ That, my friend, is a top secret answer.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Final week to see Season Four shows

For the week of
Sept 07 to Sept 12

The Strombo Show is a question mark this Sunday. George is doing pre-tapes all weekend and most of this next week for The Hour while the TIFF stars are in town promoting their projects and he may or may not have pre-recorded his radio show earlier in the week. It will be fresh but probably not interactive.

A couple of pre-tapes I have seen this weekend so far....
you will see them soon in the coming weeks.

Lebron James

Evangeline Lilly

James Cameron

and Spike Lee

There are lots of interviews going on this week and here is a partial list

One name not mentioned on that list that we saw interviewed by George today wasRobert F Kennedy Jr.
That was an amazing interview and a wonderful surprise.

Sorry about the photo quality. I try to get the shots but balance it with enjoying the interviews...

On The Hour this week

Monday Sept 08
George interviews Bryan Adams and Catherine O'Hara.

Tuesday Sept 09
George interviews Ryan Phillippe and Jenny McCarthy.

Wednesday Sept 10
George interviews Morgan Spurlock and Gordon Ramsay

Thursday Sept 11
Best of the Week with John Cusack and Doris Roberts.

Friday Sept 12
Best of the Week with Cyndi Lauper and Barbara Walters.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

2:20 with Steph!

1) You can invite three people, dead or alive, to a dinner party. Who would they be?

(photo used with Steph's permission. Actually, it was her idea!)

My maternal grandparents, both of whom passed away far too early.

The third? Maybe my father.

2) Parallel park or drive around the block?
I learned how to drive in my dad's three-quarter ton pick-up truck modified for off-roading. In the words of my Young Drivers of Canada instructor

"If you can parallel park that, you can parallel park anything!"

3) Which would you prefer: a dozen roses or a box of chocolate?
ALWAYS roses...preferably orange ones.

4) What's the most unusual thing you carry in your bag or purse?

In celebration of Chinese New Year, a little boy I know gave me a lucky red envelope. I keep it tucked away in my wallet.

5) MySpace or Facebook?


6) Ultimate Travel Destination:

For a weekend: Ottawa. Far off destination: Greece.

7) What do you do when no one's watching?

That all depends on WHO I'm with...and that's all I'm saying!

8) Favourite television show (either currently on the air or off):

I loved Street Legal. I am currently in withdrawals over 24. And of course, The Hour.

9) Vancouver Island or Prince Edward Island?


10) At the movies: butter or butter topping?

The real deal...butter. Layered so it is dispersed throughout the bag.

11) Can you change a tire?

YES! And the oil, air filter, and if need be, also the serpentine belt! I also pump my own gas and put air in the tires. This is what happens when parents raise their daughters to be capable and self-reliant.

12) What's your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?
Sleep or read.

13) Phone, text, or email?

Without a doubt, email. No one ever answers the telephone anymore thanks to answer machines. Texting just takes too damn long.

14) Poutine: gift from the gods or what the hell were they thinking?

I like french fries and cheese, but not together. I'm not a big fan of gravy. For me, it's a little of both.

15) Favourite season:

Autumn. I live in the country where the fall colours are simply stunning.

16) Favourite cartoon character:

Charlie Brown.

17) Truth or dare?

18) Have you ever sent yourself flowers?
No. Who does that?

19) Ginger or Maryann?

Neither. Refer back to my answer for question 11.

20) Can you roll your tongue?


Monday, September 01, 2008

Random news from the Strombo World!

There's a lot going on in the world of Strombo in the last couple weeks leading up to the launch of the fifth season of The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos, so here's a quick run down of a few things that have popped up...

Former Hour guest, Dr. Jane Goodall, will be honoured at a Tribute Dinner, at the Royal York in Toronto on November 16th. Hosted by former Hour guest, Michael Budman, and his Roots co-founder Don Green, the dinner will pay tribute to Ms. Goodall and help raise funds for the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada. The honorary dinner chair for the evening will be Dr. David Suzuki. George will play emcee for the evening. All proceeds from the evening will benefit three programs: the expansion of the "Roots and Shoots" program in Canada; to establish Jane Goodall scholarships in Environmental studies; and a "Roots and Shoots" program at the University of Haifa.

Heading out for a night on the town in Toronto? You may want to check out one of "Strombo's Top Five Toronto Bars", as seen in The Strand, the student newspaper of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. According to the article, the bars include:

The Communist's Daughter (1146 Dundas st w.)
Tuesdays at The Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen st w.)
Wednesdays at The Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington ave.)

To find out which Toronto watering holes are in George's Top Two, make sure you check out the full article.

And finally, who could forget Margaret Cho's appearance on The Hour in season four?

Well, it appears that the message that Margaret Cho left on Kevin Drew's answering machine during that interview may have actually succeeded in getting her in the band. According to Rolling Stone, Broken Social Scene will be saving a space on stage for Cho sometime in the near future. According to Rolling Stone:
“Broken Social Scene is the best thing happening in modern music. Kevin Drew is a genius and I am so excited about joining them onstage,” she tells Rolling Stone (the collaboration hasn’t happened just yet, but is in the works). “I told him I wanted to just sneak my way into the band, like walking backwards onstage while playing the triangle. This is total proof that The Secret works because every time I would listen to their music, I would say to myself, ‘I wanna be be in this band. I must be in this band. I am gonna be in this band.’ And then it happened!”
And those are the latest snippets of news from the world of Strombo. Stay tuned later this week for another edition of Stroumboulopouli 2:20 and don't forget to book your tickets for The Hour's Toronto Film Festival pretapes. Some tickets are still available, but the tapings are selling out fast.