Tuesday, June 29, 2004

after the election

I slept better than usual last night. The Tories didn't win. The NDP got a balance-of-power position.

It'll be fun to read right-wing pundits in the next few days, as they try to figure out what went wrong with their dreams of a Canada with Stephen Harper at the driver's seat. Look forward to articles harping on the "cowardice" of Canadian voters to make a significant change, their failure to entirely turf the bums out. Maybe I should pick up a copy of the Post or Sun today, for a laugh...

OK, picked up the other papers. Here's the headlines in case you missed them:
Globe and Mail: ONTARIO RESCUES MARTIN
Toronto Star: MARTIN: WE GOT YOUR MESSAGE
National Post: LIBERAL MINORITY
Toronto Sun: There are plenty of...RED FACES!

The latter was especially sour in its mood, finding fault with voters who seemed crazy voting for a "tax-and-spend" government, disparaging voters for getting "the government they deserve". Howlers from the Sun include:

"Smug Socialists" - a columnist's term for Toronto city council, who they feel will be all too happy with a Lib-NDP combo.

"Laughing like a kid who had eaten too much birthday cake he marvelled at how the party earned more than four times the votes over last election" - a CP report on Green Party leader Jim Harris

"Traitor. Man of principle. Turncoat." - an opening description for a paragraph on Tory-turned-reelected Liberal Scott Brison

"As it turns out, there are still years of work ahead before we're going to get another crack at throwing these Liberal bums out." - editor Lorrie Goldstein

Most of the paper was devoted to "perv" stories or useless entertainment paragraphs, which reminded why I never rise with the Sun.

***

A few results flipped overnight, producing the potential for something we haven't seen since the pre-Confederation governments - political deadlock. Back in the early-to-mid 1860s, the representative count between the forerunners of the Conservatives and Liberals were so even governments crashed and burned regularly. As of 9 this morning, it looks like 154 in the Lib-NDP camp, 153 in the Tory-BQ camp, with 1 other who used to be an Alliance MP. If recounts don't shift the numbers around, it should be interesting to see how long anybody remains in power.

As for the Manor Rd sign count - things were on an even keel for the parties here compared to the rest of the riding, with Carolyn Bennett (Liberal-incumbent) having no problems walking away with the riding - here's the results.

I watched the CBC coverage on the net, which surprisingly didn't cause my machine to have a meltdown. Sounds like I missed verbal jousts on CTV I would have loved (especially reports of Brian Tobin really socking it to David Frum).

Monday, June 28, 2004

laughter and tears on the 51st floor

The long sequence of sequence of birthdays drew to a close with Jess's special day. Going in, the only thing I knew was that it was suggested one go in dressy mode. So I thought, what would be a hideous combination? The shirt and pants would have been OK on their own - a decent brown-patterned shirt and tan cords. Add on a 70s-era blue jacket and one of the most dated ties Dad owned (brown, with brown and orange flowers) and voila. Turned out everyone loved the tie, so it will be moved out of the oddball bag.

Things were scheduled to start at 8, but knowing my friends, I waited before heading out. Arrived at 8:30 to a near-empty bar, second person in our group to show up (Elaine was first - we're both earlybirds). Slowly, others turned up and wandered out to the balconies to gaze at the hazy city below.

Eventually, time came for the birthday girl to open her gifts. A wide range of items were unwrapped, from garden equipment to Beatles coffee-table books...but this wasn't the end of the gifts.

A red bag was left over, but it wasn't for the birthday girl. It was given to Janine, while the Truelove got down on his knee. Inside, a ring. Turns out they'd met at Jess's birthday three years ago, and this seemed like a good opportunity to pop question.

Janine broke into tears, along with several others. Rounds of clapping and cheering followed, which several nearby tables joined.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

on the air - show #3

The most relaxed show so far in this summer run - the old CD decks have been moved back into the on-air studio while the new ones are being rejigged (the buttons are too darn sticky). No technical snafus. I've got my groove back.

Strict Time - Elvis Costello
Opening song, figured it was a good, bouncy tune to get things rolling...

Go Go Trudeau - Les Sinners
Vote For Me - The Move
The Amendment Song - Jack Sheldon
Promises Promises - Dionne Warwick
Quimby Campaign Ad - The Simpsons
Election Special - Monty Python
Richard Nixon - Rod & The MSR Singers
Dief Will Be The Chief Again - Stringband

An election-inspired set, which would have included two more songs if (a) I had spent time at home digging for a tape (Political Science by Randy Newman) and (b) discovered the station had the album on CD, but only the case (Political by Spirit of the West). Could have used more Simpsons. The Python skit is too close to what coverage will be like Monday night - I wonder what the swong will say for, hmmm, let's pick a crazy riding, Toronto-Danforth.

Heaven Is In Your Mind - Traffic
Making Time - The Creation
Rosalyn - The Pretty Things
Rockaliser Baby - The Bonzo Dog Band
King Midas In Reverse - The Hollies
Why Are We Sleeping? - Soft Machine

60s British pop set, veering into proto prog-rock at the end.

Good Morning and Goodbye - Hot Potatoes
We Come Here To Sing - The Two-Tones
The Sultan - The Squires
Back And Forth - Chad Allan & The Reflections
Hard To Cry - The Northwest Company
L'Amour C'est Un Jeu - Les Ingenues
Reste - Les Bises
Hello Goodbye - Les Intrigantes

The Can-Con requirement set, diving back into the 60s except for the first track, an ultra-obscuro 70s album I found lying loose in the library. Looked like it'd hardly received any play since its release in '73. Followed by three Canadian music icons in early incarnations - half of the Two Tones was Gordon Lightfoot (circa '61-'62), the Squires' guitarist was Neil Young (circa '63-'64, produced by a Bob Bradburn - wonder if there's any relation?), while Chad Allan & The Reflections evolved into the Guess Who (B-side of first single, circa '63). A quick trip out to late 60s Vancouver, followed by three late 60s Quebec girl groups. Reste is a cover of Stay (just a little bit longer...).

Needle In A Haystack - Jenny Whiteley
Right Right Now Now - Beastie Boys
The Late Greats - Wilco
Alone Again Or - Calexico
Ritmo Uni (Remix) - Cal Tjader/Eddie Palmieri
Everything Starts With The Seam - The Polyphonic Spree
Tres Tres Chic - Mocean Worker

A run through the new releases library, even if some of the material isn't new (a remix of a mid-60s Tjader/Palmieri tune, plus Calexcio's cover of the Love classic).

Touch Of Evil - Henry Mancini
The Electric Version - The New Pornographers
Bicho Do Mato - Elis Regina
She's Mad - David Byrne
Give 'Em Love - Soul Children

Mixing it up in the end - Mancini revisiting one of his earliest movie scores with a big band, recent Canadian rock, early 70s Brazilian pop, forward to the early 90s, then back to a late 60s Stax classic.

Hello Goodbye - The Beatles
Since I played a French cover earlier, thought the original would make a nice ending before switching to Auntie Beeb.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

menu picks

When checking out restaurants, I usually pick up a takeout menu. If it's from a city I've never been to, or won't be returning to for awhile, I keep them with other trip mementos. Most provide dry reading, but some prove memorable. The establishments the following descriptions were taken from shall remain anonymous, to protect their menu writers. I'm not intentionally singling out Indian joints here - I have a weakness for Indian cuisine, and their takeout menus tend to be more descriptive (it's still an alien cuisine to many folks - one I saw once compared lamb kebabs to hot dogs).

Chicken Vindaloo - "for iron-hearted only"
In other words, this dish should only be ordered by comic book industrialists with snazzy mustaches. Vindaloo doesn't rank up there among common sauces, especially if it's too fiery or vinegary - I prefer jalfrezi, rogan josh or tikka masala. Lived on the latter two while residing in England back in university.

Balti Shrimp - "Now this critic's choice has its beauty & taste for you to feel back at home. A classy dish w/garden vegetables"
Hopefully the classy garden vegetables in question are not fron the Green Giant's icebox (usually not, but it's disappointing when you do). Also, who's the critic and have you ever considered takeout food beautiful, unless a caterer/chef is part of the package? I suppose the taste could be considered beautiful.

Safed Murgh Korma - "A mild stew from the kitchen of Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal - a gourmand himself"
If it was used more often, "gourmand" would be a dirty word these days, since it means one who enjoys food to excess.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

random notes

Tragic Marketing Line of the Week
From a communication on taking care of plants:
"The plants should all be standing straight like soldiers."
Read into it anything you want. This has been a good week at work for editing groan-inducing lines, not to mention nasty e-mails I'm cc'd on (one of which was a terrific example of how to chew somebody out when you ignore their phone messages, but I'm not in the mood for a libel suit).

Sunday Night Live
No, that's not a typo. After the wedding murder-mystery, a group of us made our way over to the Poor Alex to catch Sunday Night Live, a weekly sketch show with a few things borrowed from the other SNL (guest hosts, bands, a news segment). I'll be back some future Sunday - though there were some misses, the laugh ratio was higher than most recent SNLs. On highlight - a children's show set in Parkdale (complete with math-teaching hooker and coked-out giant chicken). Here's a couple of reviews from the local weeklies: 1, 2

Down At The Ranch
Went out for a walk downtown Friday night, ended up on construction-scarred College. Ran smack into a festival in Little Italy, but didn't hang around long (I suspect the real reason I headed out that way was to check out what was new at Soundscapes, previewing what I might pick up as a birthday-present-to-me). Headed east, ran into a couple of AH alumni I hadn't seen for awhile, made an awkward stop (more on this topic, but not this incident, coming soon). Jusr past Spadina, noticed a pylon pointing to a walk-up, with a paper sign for the DK Ranch. I'd read about it awhile ago, and was acquainted with one of the organizers. With nothing else planned for the evening, figure I'd check it out.

Wandered up to their outside deck, with was set up with several rows of chairs (procured for a ludicrously low price from the Royal York). Soon, a couple of familiar faces showed up - Nile and Dee, armed with Slurpees. We hid out in the back row and watched the show, though we couldn't see the sideshow apparently going on across the alley (involving Toronto's finest and young ladies - 'nuff said) that became the butt of jokes all night. A mix of entertainment followed - stand-up, clowning, sketch comedy and bluesy singing - a good ending to a beautiful June day.

Friday, June 18, 2004

warehouse music annex



I'm Not Sayin' - Nico
Immediate single, 1965
available on many Immediate compilations and THE CLASSIC YEARS (Island 1998)

It's dark diva Nico covering one of Gordon Lightfoot's career-establishing tunes. Go ahead and do a double-take - your ears will when you hear how bouncy this rendition is. The uber-Germanic ice goddess vocals are already evident, but don't clash horribly with the music. It doesn't hurt that the backing band includes Jimmy Page and Brian Jones. It was Jones who brought Nico to the attention of Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, then launching the Immediate label (later home to many Small Faces classics).

Monday, June 14, 2004

on the road again: montreal

The Drive Down
No problems on the way. I was surprised that I stuck to 401 most of the trip, except for a trek down the Thousand Islands Parkway, once destined to be 401 - see here for the story. The too-wide bridges for the bike path give away the location of the old westbound lanes. Headed into Montreal at the start of rush hour, but found a way in that didn't trap me in traffic for eons - Rte 20 through Dorion, then along Cote-de-Liesse, then backstreets to Decarie. Anything to avoid the insanity of everyone merging onto the Trans-Canada.

Dropped my stuff off at the U of M, then headed downtown on the subway to spend the rest of the day wandering along Sainte-Catherine. Filled up on Indian food, bought a sweater and didn't see anyone sitting on the sidewalk pelting passers-by with pop cans (narrowly avoided that last time down).

One thing I noticed on the subway throughout the trip: if New York is the city where everyone shows their affection by yelling at each other, Montreal is the city where mushiness reigns supreme. Never seen so many people in need of a hotel room on public transit (especially the under-25 set). It'd be heaven for peeping toms, who wouldn't have to peep.

A Taste of Quebec...and Essex County
First stop the next morning as Marche Jean-Talon, a large outdoor market in the Little Italy neighbourhood, mostly sitting under a concrete frame intended to be a bus terminal. Beautiful looking goods, which I might have purchased if I was headed back that day. Lots of fresh fruit samples. The source of some of the produce was interesting: giant crates with Essex County addresses.

On the south side of the market, stopped in a store that specialized in Quebec-made food. Le Marche des Saveurs du Quebec. Lots of curios, some too weird for novelty value (cedar jelly anyone? pickled cattails?). Tons of preserves, maple-enhanced everything and bizarro booze. Fell into temptation with the latter, walking out with mead, black currant-infused mead and saskatoon berry-flavoured cider.

In Search of Smoked Meat
After a quick trip back to the university to drop off the bottles, headed down to St. Laurent to look for lunch. Felt like smoked meat, saw the lineup at Schwartz's was too long, so headed across the street to The Main. Decided to go for the gold, with a smoked meat platter. Feling adventurous, I went for medium (usually go for lean, not a big fan of chewing fat). Wound up being too fatty for my liking (which would have led most smoked meat fanatics to nirvana), but there was still plenty of tasty, well-spiced meat. Skip the bathroom.

Headed over to Mont-Royal and St. Denis next, to begin browsing the used CD stores. Didn't go overboard like last time, but still managed to fill my backpack. Cheap multi-disc sets reigned, with the best bargain a four-disc Blue Note jazz collection for only $16. Dodged the Middle East protests by the Metro station. Dithered on a few DVDs but ultimately bought none (came this close to picking up Limelight, but figured I'd wait to purchase either of the Chaplin box sets someday).

After a vegetarian dinner (to compensate for the meat overload at lunch), headed back to home base, hopped in the car and went for a drive. Headed over the St. Lawrence on the world's screwiest bridge, the Pont Victoria. I once used it in the dark and couldn't figure out where I was going, other than in circles. Daylight doesn't improve matters - this bridge should be considered an amusement park ride, not a route for commuuters. Whee, look at me go round and round! Don't go flying over that metal bump!

Once on the south shore, I got lost. Somehow, I wound up halfway to St. Hyacinthe. Oh well. After shopping for Quebec-only groceries at a Metro store, I returned to the university and snapped some shots of the artwork in the residence. No residence is complete without a shrine to the intense late German actor, Klaus Kinski.

Ottawa

Next day, up bright and early again to drive back into Ontario, to visit some of my former co-workers at the Ontarion. Nice to see Cherolyn, Marshal and Jay again after a year. Had brunch at a diner with a bowling alley attached to the back and discussed life in the nation's capital and the civil service. I arrived in Ottawa early, so I thought I'd kill time by driving along the river and past Parliament Hill. Bad idea - tons of detours due to cycling events. Wound up being the last one at the diner.

After a quick drive around, met back up with Marshal to join in part of a road hockey game on a dead-end street. Only the odd bicycle caused cries of "game off!" It's been awhile since I played road shinny and I felt it, losing steam after an hour (and I was the youngest one there!) Figured I'd better get back to Montreal before my energy totally vanished. It was fun though - maybe we can do it again next year.

A Step Backwards In Time
Back in Montreal, I didn't feel like going straight back to the university for a pit stop, so I wandered aimlessly around the island, looking for any interesting dinner possibilities. Wound up out by Olympic Stadium and remembered a place Amy and I had passed on a previous trip, Jardin Tiki. Later research on the web reveal it was a true dinosaur - the last authentic tiki bar/restaurant in Canada.

The highbacked bamboo chairs, fake tropical plants, tiki idols and layout of the drink menu added to the feeling that I'd jumped back 30 years. This wasn't post-modernist retro, this was the real thing. Since I wasn't in the mood for downing anything coconut-based, which ruled out most of the over-the-top containers. Settled for a simple Rain Maker, made up of orange juice and various forms o' booze.


The food is standard Chinese buffet, though it wasn't greasy and didn't induce heartburn or acid attacks. Top items: curried shrimp that weren't drowning in sauce, tender roast beef and stir-fried (not battered) frog legs that would have made my mother cringe.

Links to other tales of the Tiki: 1, 2

Drove around some more. Feeling thirsty, stopped at the giant orange near the university - the Orange Julep stand on Decarie.


Smoked Meat, Part 2
The last morning around Montreal involved stops for bagels (a dozen at St. Viateur, a dozen at Fairmount, to cover all the bases) and a last look at CDs on Mont-Royal (bought nothing, but discovered street parking's dirt cheap - 50 cents/hour). Headed back to Decarie in search of another smoked meat palace I'd read about Snowdon Deli. Great find - went for the lean smoked meat platter, which was tastier than the plate I had at the Main. A much more attractive place than the smoked meat shops on St. Laurent - bright, clean interior and waitresses that looked like they'd been there since the dawn of man. Good note to end my visit to Montreal.

The Road Back
Rather than sticking to freeways on the way out, hopped onto Rte 342 in Dorion (what I'm guessing might have been the old continuation of Hwy 17 into Quebec). Got thirsty, then got lost searching for something to drink in Hudson. Found this though...

My Favourite Quebec Road Sign

When Amy and I drove along the south shore of the St. Lawrence from Quebec City to Montreal a few years ago, this graphic sign greeted us upon entering every town. If you miss the point, you shouldn't be on the road. Hudson was pretty, but confusing, and I eventually found my way back to the highway.

Once back in Ontario, drove down to old Hwy 43, which looked like a decent bypass of Ottawa and a direct route to the Hershey factory in Smiths Falls. It is that, but also boring and full of pokey drivers (50 in an 80) you can't pass due to lots of curves. It's also full of Beer Store trucks whose drivers may have sampled their cargo. Not a recommended route.

Friday, June 11, 2004

on the air - show #2


Back to the airwaves...

Your Mind and We Belong Together - Love
A much smoother ride this time out, as the problems with CD player prompts have been fixed, though the one deck still sticks when attempting to eject a disc. Grabbed the disc on the top of the stack, featuring the A-side of the last single by the original incarnation of Love.

There's A Guy Down At The Chip Shop, Swears He's Elvis - Kirsty MacColl
Yesterday's Wine - Willie Nelson
Docteur Jekyll et Monsieur Hyde - Serge Gainsbourg
Summer Sun - Koop featuring Yukimi Nagano
Steven Smith - The Organ
Sissyneck - Beck

The opening set, playing hopscotch with several eras and genres. Kinda like the Organ disc - what is it about acts on the Mint label I'm attracted to? The Koop track is from a compilation thrown together to tie-in with the Pink Panther DVD box set, mostly loungey remixes.

WKNR Newscast June 20/66 - George Hunter
Remington Razor ad - Frank Zappa
Pata Pata - Miriam Makeba

Playing a taste of mid-60s AM radio. The newscast is about suspicious blazes in Detroit, reported in a stern style on one of Detroit's top stations of the era. I believe the Zappa ad won an award, and wouldn't have sounded out of place on an album like Absolutely Free or Uncle Meat.

RAY CHARLES MEMORIAL SET
Mess Around
Mary Ann
Hallelujah, I Love Her So
Bye Bye Love
Busted
Let's Go Get Stoned
Eleanor Rigby

R.I.P. Brother Ray.

Laughter - Bruce Cockburn
Bring My Father A Gift - Royal City
Pedalictus Rag - Mainline
Hockey Night In Canada Theme
A City Box - Barmitzvah Brothers
King of Kensington Theme
Je Cherche - Les Lutins
This Wheel's On Fire - Ian & Sylvia

Canadian Corner time, with tunes ranging from 60s Quebec rock to Guelph locals made good.

Jimmy Carter Says "Yes" - Gene Marshall
I Lost My Girl To An Argentine Cowboy - unidentified singer
City's Hospital Patients - Teri Summers & The Librettos
Fun in the Fundus (excerpt) - Rev. Fred Lane
Hot Cakes & Sausage - Ernie Kovacs & the Tony DeSimone Trio
Brush Up Your Shakespeare - Tony Randall & Jack Klugman

First three tracks are song-poems, followed by a bunch of crazy artists let loose in the recording studio. End the set with TV tie-ins. R.I.P. Tony.

Don't Be Denied/The Bridge/Last Dance - Neil Young
Show ends with side two of Time Fades Away.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

parts of childhood fading away department

One of my regular childhood vacation haunts appears to be on its last legs. As mentioned in past entries, my family vacationed in Toledo at least once a year to play around at the Holidome, stock up on glassware at the Libbey factory store and shop at Southwyck Mall. The centre of the mall was a huge sunken pit that Amy and I ran up and down while the parent not watching us went into the Lion department store. We ate kiddie meals at Friendly's or stopped at the only McDonalds mall location I'd ever seen. Samples galore at Hickory Farms, in the days before they set up holiday kiosks everywhere. Stops down the road at Centre supermarket or a meal at Bill Knapp's. Losing a shoe at another Holiday Inn nearby (don't remember, but Mom will never let me forget).

Over time, trips to Toledo grew less frequent (replaced by trips to Ann Arbor). I doubt I've been in Southwyck over the past decade, content to read about its decline rather than witness it. One anchor went belly-up (Montgomery Ward), while the Lion department and home stores were swallowed up by the Dillards chain. Mom and Dad made the odd trip there, but stopped aftet they found the place too depressing (and Dillards a comedown from Lion). Over the past couple of years, read about the other stores trickling out, other proposed shopping centres, the closure of the old home store and general disinterest from the current owner. The final nail appears to be the total pullout of Dillards, leading the Toledo Blade to treat its doomed condition as a police case.

The family's heading down to Toledo next month for a stock-up trip at Libbey's. If there's any time (and security isn't too observant), it's tempting to bring the digital camera along to snap some shots before it joins the annals of dead malls.