Jeff Bridges by Jeff Bridges
Actor Jeff Bridges’ debut album suffers from seriously bad packaging. The cover features Bridges cradling a guitar, while a digitally aged photo in the liner notes has him rocking out, axe in hand. Considering that he never so much as touches an instrument on the record, this reeks of an actor straining for credibility as a singer-songwriter. To make matters worse, the opening track and single, “What A Little Bit of Love Can Do,” is a wisp of candyfloss nü-country that’s just one electronic drum sound away from a Shania song. The posturing is frustrating, since the remaining nine tracks are actually pretty good. Bridges’ modestly pretty voice and T Bone Burnett’s rustic-yet-squeaky-clean production lend the conventional songs enough style and honesty to sustain interest. Worth checking out: the subtly beautiful ballads, “Everything But Love” and “Nothing Yet,” which make great use of a weeping pedal steel and moody baritone guitar. — Dan Berube
Darkmarket by Misha Glenny
Misha Glenny’s latest non-fiction book, Darkmarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You, reads like a William Gibson cyberpunk thriller — except it’s all true. The reader is taken all over the world in this compelling account of the life and death of Darkmarket, at one time the world’s leading English language forum for cybercriminals to swap credit card information, sell PIN reading devices, and basically talk shop. Glenny also gives a short history lesson on the rise of cybercrime, and illustrates the strange intersections between history, technology, geek culture, and the new criminal underground.
Hackers like Iceman, JiLsi, Cha0, and Lord Cyric will remain with you long after you’ve put the book down, as will the special agents, tasked with hunting them down in a realm of deception and lies. Glenny’s cybercriminals make the hacktavist collective Anonymous seem like child’s play in comparison and you’ll become more than a little paranoid the next time you find yourself in front of your computer. — Alex Ross
The Second City’s Dreams Really Do Come True! (and other lies)
The Second City is a Toronto comedy hot spot, known for its alum who went on to perform on Saturday Night Live. But if SNL isn’t your favourite, you probably won’t go into this Second City number with high hopes. Even so Dreams Really Do Come True (and other lies) is guaranteed to exceed those expectations by far. Although the MC was irritating and unquestionably the weakest part of the show, nearly every sketch was wonderful. All had hilarious lines, which easily made up for this minor annoyance. One particular character, a teenaged boy exasperated with helping his mother navigate technology, was played by Nigel Downer and relied significantly on punch-line humour. One might think this would eventually get old (like a bad SNL sketch that recurs every week), but somehow it never did. The show mixed topical sketches with classic comedy, ultimately opening it up for a wider audience. — Goldie Poll