Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral:

June 27th, 2014

They must have rocks in their head Editionspiral toronto

Government-funded agency Waterfront Toronto is defending its decision to spend $529,800 on… two large granite rocks trucked in from the Laurentians and painted with candy-coloured stripes that adorn its signature urban beach… it spent $470,000 to clad a pavilion at neighbouring Sherbourne Common in zinc shingles — some of which now have to be replaced at the city’s expense because they were damaged by pucks fired from an adjacent ice rink (which doubles as a splash pad in summer). It was intended for skating, not hockey.
This being Canada, hockey was played.

But wait, it actually gets more absurd. Waterfront Toronto was given money, $1.5-Billion worth, and told go spend. No councilor voted for half-million-dollar rocks and $12-thousand umbrellas.

Then it gets even better:

But for Waterfront Toronto to continue its mission, it says it needs more money. The $1.5-billion startup fund will run dry by 2017, and the organization is asking for permission from the three levels of government to borrow money.

The one thing that troubles me, though. Why paint the rocks “with candy-coloured stripes”? Well…

The red and white stripes hide the seams where the rock was reassembled.

Even if I get the $529,000 for the rocks, the $800 won’t buy some mortar and a guy who can apply it?

And these guys think their a laughing stock because of Rob Ford.


Brian Gardiner Uncategorized

Saturday Fluffernutter: The If This Isn’t Nuts, What Is? Edition

June 21st, 2014

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorNow where was I? Ah yes, just before the unexpected Fluffernutter hiatus, Justin Beiber had a spot of bother. Something about eggs and a neighbours expensive panel work as I recall. fluffernutterNow I know some of you thought I must have been too tired, busy or lazy to write the Fluffernutters, but really, I couldn’t possibly write any more while this story was unresolved. As proof, I offer that Fuffernutter is suddenly, unannoucedly back, and TMZ Monday reported “D.A. to File Vandalism Charges Today in Egging Case.”

This all leads to the one inescapable question: whats worse, a 20-year old who eggs his neighbours house? A D.A.’s office that investigates an egging, never mind taking six months to do so? A prosecutor who says “If this isn’t a felony, nothing is,” about throwing eggs? Or a media that uses the phrase “egging case” without irony?

To paraphrase “a prosecutor in the case,” if this isn’t nuts, what is?

fluffincolorMeanwhile, A-1 cutey Selena Gomez, aka the former Beib-friend/current Beib-friend/former Beib-friend is, once again, on Beiber’s arm. This has friends and family worried that Beiber is a bad influence on the nice girl Gomez.

On cue, in the fashion of young ladies from time immemorial, Gomez set out to prove them right. On Tuesday night police were called to Gomez’ house after neighbours complained of a loud party. Because neighbourhood relations are something you go to Justin Beiber for advice on.

fluffincolorI hate talking Miley Cyrus. From cute little girl singer to hopelessly crass skank in one short step, it’s just so disappointing. This week in Spain she put in a concert in which she wore a one piece money suit, and yanked it up in wedgie fashion, showing far more than any sane human wants to see. Oh yea, and she was sticking her tongue out in that german shepherd with it’s head to the window way she seems to think is sexy.

Funny thing about the last three stories. Notice Selena Gomez is the nice girl here. Notice too, the story is her friends and family are worried about her. Now consider that Justin Beiber’s dad was one of the posse when Beiber was busted for racing on the Florida streets a few months back and Miley Cyrus’ dad, Billy Ray, has previously declared himself proud of her skank-shenanigans. A family around who’s worrying about your welfare, instead of enabling your stupidity is such a difference in a young stars life. Here’s a prediction: Gomez will be fine, but I’ll be writing about Cyrus and Beiber until I get sick of them and put them on the Paris Hilton/Kardashian list of people who, short of murder, I just won’t write about.

fluffincolorHarrison Ford is said to be “on the road to recovery,” after having an accident on the set of Star Wars VII: The Infinite Sequel. The 71-year old Ford, who is reprising his role as smuggler Hans Solo, broke his leg when his ship, The Millennium Falcon, fell on him. While initially reported to have broken his ankle, Ford had surgery on his broken leg, and will begin rehab shortly.

To get this straight, Han Solo is now 71 and the Millennium Falcon is falling out of the sky. I’m thinking maybe I’ll take a pass on lining up dressed as a Wookie for opening night of this one.

fluffincolorActor Michael Jace appeared in court this week in the April shooting death of his wife. On May 19th Jace was charged with murder and is being held on $2-million bail in LA. Jace called 911 at the time of his wife’s shooting saying he had killed his wife.

Appearing today, the month in prison has not been good to Jace. The 52-year old star of The Shield (and black panther in Forrest Gump) looks like a 70-year old man. He has aged dramatically in the month since he first appeared.

Jace faces a 50-year sentence if convicted, but don’t look for him survive anywhere near that long.


fluffincolorCasey Kasem (1932-2014)

Up until a couple of years ago, “who is the voice of Shaggy in Scooby Doo?” made a great trivia question at a party. Nowadays, however, everybody seem to know that DJ Casey Kasem voiced the Great Dane’s hippy pal.

Kasem was known primarily as the host of America’s Top 40, a radio show that ran from 1970 to 2009, although it is primarily remembered nostalgically for it’s heyday on the 70’s and into the 80’s.

In his final years he suffered with Parkinson’s Disease, which ultimately took his life, and were marred by fighting over his treatment between his wife of 34-years and his children from a previous marriage. The disagreements sadly prevented Kasem form having some dignity in death, something he always projected in life. None the less, he will be remembered for his silky smooth voice and wonderful way of introducing songs through stories. May he rest in peace.

Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter , , , , , , ,

Lord Stanley’s Candy Dish

June 16th, 2014

Times sure have changed from the beer at the strip club days. Friday night last, or more technically Saturday morning, the LA Kings arrived at the North End Bar & Grill in Hermosa Beach, the same club that they celebrated their Stanley Cup victory 2-years ago, with the Cup in hand. As part of the evenings proceedings, they filled the bowl of the cup with M&M’s (Plain, Peanut and Peanut Butter).

Here’s the video:


Brian Gardiner Hockey, Sports ,

The Freedom of Music: Kiss 40

June 15th, 2014

freedom-of-music-header

One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush - Spirit of Radio.

“I just heard Slade’s Cum on Feel the Noize on the radio,” a friend texted me the other day. “I felt 13 again.” Yea well, I’ve had Kiss 40 playing on my iPod for the last four weeks, so I know what you mean.

sidebar-6Kiss 40 is a new compilation in celebration of Kiss’ 40-years as a recording band, featuring 40-tracks, one from each album released (live, studio and hits collections) plus some bonus demos and live material from the past ten years. The collection is a fairly complete set of Kiss songs that ultimately leans heavily on the early years and satisfies an original member of the Kiss army, even if I haven’t been in good standing for 37-years.

The first thing you notice on listening to Kiss 40 is that the sound on the songs from the first three albums, Kiss, Hotter Than Hell and Dressed to Kill, are greatly improved from the original. Widely considered in music geek circles to be albums that suffered under spotty production, Kiss’ early albums get a major sonic upgrade here (presumably the same upgrade the re-released vinyl albums got), and Nothin’ to Lose, Let Me Go Rock and Roll and C’Mon and Love Me all sound fabulous, allowing the quality of the songs and performances to come through.

Moving into the Destroyer, Rock & Roll Over, Love Gun era, the bands professionalism and songs improve, although understandably, some of the youthful fun and energy from the early albums seem to fade. But material like Beth, Hard Luck Woman, Christine Sixteen, as well as a demo of God of Thunder and live Shout it Out Loud remind you the band was at it’s peak commercially and artistically in the mid-70’s.

Offering something from every Kiss album, (the four 1978 solo albums included) means music from every era from disco, to 80’s hair metal to the modern era. You will learn Kiss were, if nothing else, a band that adapted to it’s surroundings (perhaps Gene Simmons is really a lizard). Some of the material can be spotty (Paul Stanley’s Hold Me, Touch Me or Shandi) some can be very good (Ace Frehley’s New York Groove, Gene Simmons Radioactive) but most is just good, serviceable rock and roll.

Compliation albums like this really should be easy to listen to in the modern age, yet nostalgic. Listening should be visceral experience that takes you back to being 13. Kiss 40 succeeds spectacularly at that.

Unless indicated all selections are album versions
CD 1
1.     Nothin To Lose
2.     Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
3.     C’mon and Love Me
4.     Rock And Roll All Nite (Live)
5.     God Of Thunder (Demo)
6.     Beth
7.     Hard Luck Woman
8.     Reputation (Demo) – PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
9.     Christine Sixteen
10.  Shout It Out Loud (Live)
11.  Strutter ‘78
12.  You Matter To Me (Peter Criss)
13.  Radioactive (Gene Simmons)
14.  New York Groove (Ace Frehley)
15. Hold Me, Touch Me (Paul Stanley)
16.  I Was Made For Lovin’ You (Single Edit)
17.  Shandi
18.  A World Without Heroes
19.  I Love It Loud
20.  Down On Your Knees
21.  Lick It Up
22.  Heaven’s On Fire

CD 2
1.     Tears Are Falling
2.     Reason To Live
3.     Let’s Put The X In Sex
4.     Forever (Remix)
5.     God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II
6.     Unholy (Live)
7.     Do You Love Me? (MTV Unplugged)
8.     Room Service (Live)
9.     Jungle (Radio Edit)
10.  Psycho Circus
11.  Nothing Can Keep Me From You
12.  Detroit Rock City (Live)
13.  Deuce (Live 2004) – UNRELEASED COMMERCIALLY
14.  Firehouse (Live – 1999/2000)
15.  Modern Day Delilah
16.  Cold Gin (Live 2009) – UNRELEASED COMMERCIALLY
17.  Crazy Crazy Nights (Live 2010) – UNRELEASED COMMERCIALLY
18.  Hell or Hallelujah


Brian Gardiner The Freedom of Music ,

Tim Hudak Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Resign

June 13th, 2014

I said he had to go almost 2-years ago. It was obvious then; it was obvious the previous October. But he refused to go, his people insisted he’s the guy, simply has to be. Richard Ciano even sent out an email explaining how big a win it was to lose two different by-elections. Two! On the same day!! As I pointed out then, what a concession speech. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Signage outside a polling station, Hespeler, Ontario.

Signage outside a polling station, Hespeler, Ontario.

Hey Tim, you wanted to stay. Stay. Act like a man and face the party. Let your ass be unceremoniously fired, and all of your advisers with you. This is your mess, own it, explain yourself, and then take your march to the guillotine with dignity.

Meanwhile, Doug Ford is 100% right on this:

I’d give that PC party an enema from top to bottom.

It need a thorough cleaning out, and it needs to start offering a sellable message now.

******************

Related: Former Liberal Cabinet Minister and Mayor of London Joe Fontana found guilty of fraud, forgery and breach of trust. Note how quiet this is. The day after a government whom nobody is denying committed an illegal act was re-elected, it tells us something about where we are as a province, and it’s not a good place.




Brian Gardiner Elections have consequences

Who’s The Guy in the Big White Hat Talking to Sam?

June 13th, 2014

By now, everyone has seen the picture. The dog is by the coffins, a ramrod straight Mountie standing to attention in front of them. My Facebook page lit up with this picture Tuesday afternoon, half-a-dozen Facebook friends posting it within’ minutes of each other. The combination police coffins and Police dog was too compelling for people not to respond, so they posted.

danny_at_mountie_ross_funeral

What did you see when you saw it? The Coffins? The Dog? Me, I saw the at attention Mountie in ceremonial uniform. But then, I’m getting used to seeing pictures of Rob.

That Mountie is my friend and former neighbour, Rob (no your not getting his last name). Every once in a while you get the morning paper and there he is. “You’re on the front page of the paper today,” I’ve texted him at 7:00 in the morning before. The Blue Jays opening night ceremonies once, saluting President Obama coming off the helicopter another time. One November 11th at the cenotaph I looked to my left and was standing beside him in full red serge.

My two favourite Rob stories involve my son. One day when the boy was about 10, Rob came over and knocked on the door on some neighborly business or another (likely borrowing a tool). He was just getting home and was in uniform.

“There’s a policeman at the door! There’s a policeman at the door!” my son came running into the room.

Answering the door I turned to him, “It’s Rob!”

“Oh,” he says, and walks away pleased that nobody in the house will be going to jail on this day.

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The other time happened last summer, when the Mounted Police were in England as part of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. A picture (above) hit the Facebook page of a mutual friend. Rob, about three feet from Her Majesty, engaged in a formal salute. It’s a close up, Rob’s from the shoulders up, the Queen’s head. We passed it around the table when it first appeared. “Who’s the old lady with Rob?” my son, now 16, asks.


Brian Gardiner Uncategorized ,

Mark Steyn, Broadway Baby

May 21st, 2014

“What do you want for our anniversary,” my wife asked in mid-April. Number twenty-three was coming up, and as hasn’t happened in about twenty years, I had something I actually wanted: a $100 gift certificate to the SteynOnline.  I want to support his fight against that loon Michael Mann, and for free speech, (which took yet another hit in Toronto this weekend *). So by mid-morning on April 27th, I had already spent most of my $100, and bought 3 Steyn offerings, America Alone (hardback edition), Passing parade and Broadway Babies Say Goodnight.

img_1336-copy1

While I worked through Passing Parade first, and having bought America Alone on my Kobo when it first came out, I am now about two-thirds through Broadway babies. I simply cannot say enough how much I am enjoying it. Steyn is, of course, such a good writer, but Broadway is an obvious passion, and his knowledge on the subject is frightening. For myself, I’m a big music fan who has lately grown to enjoy the musicals, show tunes, and jazz standards that are covered through the book. It is a book I looked at for years at SteynOnline and decided no, finally bought, albeit reluctantly, and is one of the best books I’ve read in ages.broadway-babies

One thing I keep thinking, I would love if Steyn updated the book, being more than 15-years out of date and things on Broadway have, naturally enough, changed since the mid 90’s. Or have they changed? It’s a question I’d like to see Steyn answer.

If you prefer e-books, Steyn has made his books available in various formats, more dead people than ever version of Passing Parade. But really, just go to SteynOnline, order some books and support his fight against big climate bully Michael Mann.



Brian Gardiner Mark Steyn

Freedom of Music: California Breed

May 18th, 2014

freedom-of-music-header

One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush - Spirit of Radio.

It’s an easy temptation to compare California Breed to it’s predecessor, Black Country Communion. To look upon Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham’s new power trio as BCC minus Joe Bonamassa and Derek Shirinian, as their debut album as the fourth BCC studio effort. Easy, but wrong. A far better comparative would be Hughes 70’s power trio, Trapeze, with the California Breed album slotting itself musically in a natural progression after 1970’s Medussa and ’72’s You Are The Music… We’re Just the Band.

California Breed is in fact exactly as advertised, a power trio of the old school. As much as the narrative on Black Country Communion was a band out of the 70’s, there was always something about that story that rang false. California Breed is far closer in feel and mood to a 70’s band, with the twist that guitarist Andrew Watt often sounds straight out of the 90’s grunge movement.

The problem is, the power-push rhythm section is missing the tempering quality of Bonamassa, his instinctively melodic lines that make sense of the rhythm sections natural inkling to roll with power for the entire album. While Watt is a good guitar player, he is too inclined to join the raucous fun, with the end result being an album that is thunderously rockin’ and entirely forgettable.

That’s not to say that there are no softer moments, no ballads. But even the ballads, such as All Falls Down and Chemical Rain, are driven by a distorted guitar instead of defaulting to an acoustic (Breathe being the exception, using an acoustic throughout). The Ballads however, along with Sweet Tea, despite it’s obvious similarity with Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love, and Spit You Out are the albums highlights.

The problem falls in a number of heavy (as in plodding) numbers that sound more or less alike and are meaningless, loud and otherwise boring: The Grey; Days they Come; Strong; Invisible and Scars are interchangeable and boring in spite of their volume.

The reality is I want to like this album, I like Glenn Hughes and, as a loyal Led Zeppelin fan am cheering for Jason Bonham to do well. I want to like this album, but I just can’t. It has it’s moments where it’s good, but it has far too many that detract from the good within. I want to like it, but I know the truth is, having reviewed it, I will probably never listen to it again.



Brian Gardiner The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod

The Freedom of Music: Divas

May 11th, 2014

freedom-of-music-header

One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush - Spirit of Radio.

I’m not one for the current crop of pop stars. In the best imitation of my parents that I can do, it often occurs to me ‘that’s not really music.’ Over-reliance on computer tricks, double-taping the vocals and too many dancers on stage make a guy wonder if they’re hiding what they don’t have by spending a fortune on show. sidebar-1 But less face it, I write on music because I love music. As much as I have my fair share of the miserable old bastard about me, if somebody who I previously dismissed manages to blow my socks off, I’ll not stand there saying, “but, but…”

Nobody hides on a Broadway stage. You either have the stuff, or you die up there while the critics in the pit rip you apart. So when my daughter and I went to see Carly Rae Jepsen as Cinderella in Rogers and Hammerstein’s stage variation on the beloved fairy tale, I was skeptical. Jepsen, the Call Me Maybe hit-maker, is cute as a button and perky like Tigger. But can she sing with the auto-tune in the off position?

Short answer: oh yes, she can. Jepson as Cinderella was a) cute as a button b) perky like Tigger and c) sang the Rogers and Hammerstein score flawlessly. I may never be a Call Me Maybe fan, but I’ll tell you what I know: Carly Rae Jepsen can sing.

But when it comes to female pop singers, nobody’s bigger than Beyonce. She has it all, the designer clothes, multi change stage show, half-naked dancers, celebrity rapper husband and Time Magazine cover. But it’s easy to see the pictures of the celebrity couples baby, Ivy Blue, in the celebrity magazine’s and the Pepsi sponsorship and forget she came out of a vocal group, Destiny’s Child.

Watching the 2008 movie Cadillac Records, about the success of Chess Records, Beyonce, starring as Etta James sings an astounding version of I’d Rather Go Blind. It is a performance of a classic song that sends chills up the spine. If you haven’t seen it, it is a must watch, just so you can put aside whatever bias you have against Beyonce, she’s that good in this movie.

At the risk of repeating myself: Beyonce can sing.

No, I’m not running out to buy Beyonce, or Carly Rae Jepson’s records, and because the evidence suggests these two women can sing, doesn’t mean Lady Gaga, Madonna or Brittany Spears automatically can. There’s still too much trickery, not enough relying on talent. But it’s useful to remember that just because talent isn’t immediately evident, doesn’t mean it’s absent.


Brian Gardiner The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod

The Freedom of Music: The Kiss Circus

April 27th, 2014

freedom-of-music-header

One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush - Spirit of Radio.

A couple of weeks ago I went digging through some old boxes and emerged with my 1976 Kiss Army package: five 8×10 colour glossy pictures; Kiss Army sticker; Kiss Army iron on t-shirt transfer; Kiss tattoos; Kiss Bicentennial drum and fife poster. A years worth of quarterly newsletters, invariably designed to sell you product, were also in the envelope. This is to say, when Kiss first created a fan club called the Kiss Army, and I was in. When Kiss re-released their first three albums as The Originals, I bought my first box set. When Destroyer and Rock and Roll Over came out, I was a release day buyer and I saw them on the Destroyer tour. I was, in short, a big Kiss fan.

sidebar-2 I still listen to them once in a while, Alive, mostly, simply because it’s heads and shoulders above everything else they’ve done. They’re live DVD set, Kissology Volume 1 (1974-1977) sits in my home gym, getting the occasional play while I’m working out. Of the time, Kiss is a hungry, hard working band with some decent, pop oriented rock songs, performed by a group of serviceable musicians. they were, in short, a decent band. But a Hall of Fame band?

The Rock and Roll Hall of fame rules allow a group or artist to be inducted 25-years after the release of their first record. Kiss was then eligible in 1999. Fans of the band spent the next 15-years complaining that if anybody belonged in, Kiss did. Based on some of the selections that were made, they had a point. But the nominating committee was unmoved. “Kiss is a circus, not a top tier rock and roll act,” was the attitude. “Call us when your the latter.” This year, fans became eligible to vote and the Kiss Army got out the vote. Kiss then spent the time leading up to the induction proving the Rock-Hall right: they were a circus.

The vote for Kiss was so much higher than the next artist, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had no choice but to induct them. However, they caveated, original members only. “If that blogger from Hespeler doesn’t have an album with you on it in his basement,” Hall President Terry Stewart might have told Kiss’ publicity department, “you’re not in.” A quick check of my records and congratulation Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The rest of you? Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John and Bruce Kulick? so sorry; Eric Carr? A tragedy, but no. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer? The band won’t let you go onstage as yourselves, so why should we? No, said the Hall, new rule: original members only.

Paul Stanley then spent the next month putting to rest any reputation he might have had as a nice guy. He would, to paraphrase an old George Carlin joke, play with guys who look like Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, but he would not be seen on stage with them. He detonated a devastating blow to irony meters around the world, complaining the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is some private, capitalist organization run by private individuals. (Kiss, on the other hand, apparently is all about their altruism and artistic integrity.)

And so, two weeks ago, The Originals stood on stage, thanked Bill Acoin, the other members, Neil Bogart and various others who helped Kiss through the years. Then they walked off stage, not a note of music to be played by any member of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band. By the time the E-Street Band had finished thanking half the population of the continental United States, and went onstage to play, the circus had left town.


Brian Gardiner The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod ,

Well, I Won’t Be Cheering for the Leafs this Year

April 18th, 2014

The Playoffs are on, and, like every other year, my team, the Maple Leafs, are out. Although, it must be said, the Leafs left the playoffs in the most spectacular fashion, providing lots of entertainment, if not entertaining hockey, along the way. Hey, if you’re going down anyway, go down in a fiery crash I say: or as Neil Young put it, better to burn out than fade away.

But frankly, the way the Leafs treated the one goalie who has gotten them into the playoffs in my now 16-year old sons memory, the moronic bait and switch of hiring Brendan Shanahan and pronouncing problem solved, just the overall uselessness of the organization, have me rethinking my life-long affection.

zdeno-chara-hitBut then, who to cheer for? I’ll tell you who it won’t be, it won’t be “the only Canadian team in the playoffs,” as I’m regularly told it must be. To set the record straight, I will cheer for the Taliban before I cheer for the Montreal Canadiens.

Boston wouldn’t be high on my list either. It wouldn’t, at least, until this winter.

My son’s senior football team, the Jacob Hespeler Hawks, had their best season ever this year, winning the WCSSAA championship, after losing that game the two years previous. They came within’ a game of the all Ontario Championship (CWOSSA final).

The team is coached by teachers Greg White and Mark Hatt. Mr. Hatt is also one of my son’s teachers and a good one. In chats with him through the years, both formal and informal, he is obviously one of the good ones. And now, he’s sick.

Mr. Hatt had a bad cough in February - well, who doesn’t. After a couple of days off work, he went to the doctor to have it checked. Precautionary stuff, maybe get a script, that sort of thing. By the end of the day he had a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer which had metastasized to the lining of the heart. It was not good.

The school rallied around. A “Hatter Strong” campaign was organized and one of the students had the idea to make supportive t-shirts and sell them to raise some needed cash for treatments &tc. The shirts were to be black and yellow in the colour of Hatt’s favourite team, the Boston Bruins (he is a known Bruins fanatic). They created a logo based on the Bruins with a stylized “H” where the Bruins “B” would normally be. T-shirts sold out in a day. Then someone contacted a friend who knew a guy within’ the Boston Bruins organization. The Bruins responded.

1920014_1445372805697684_176465766_nLast month Mr. Hatt and his family were guests of the Bruins at a Maple Leaf game vs. Boston at the Air Canada Centre. He has had regular phone contact with their captain, Zdeno Chara, whom I have previously rather not liked, and has also had regular phone calls from Bobby Orr, his childhood idol. Paul Henderson, who has been fighting his own cancer battle, has been in daily contact.

So this year, and maybe future years, will be easy. The Boston Bruins and their big, hard hitting captain, reached out to a good, very sick man. If it was Leafs vs. Bruins this year, as last, I might just cheer for the Bruins. Boston and Detroit start their first round play-off series tonight, and I’m all in for Boston.

As for Mr. Hatt, his cancer had a “ALK mutation.” There is a 2%-5% chance the cancer will have this mutation, and it is very good news. Chemotherapy can now be given orally (which is much milder) and his prognosis improves considerably. Along with his wife and two young sons, Mr. Hatt, Hatter as absolutely everybody calls him, they were thrilled by the news, calling it “a gift from God.”


Brian Gardiner Hockey , , , , , ,

Ontario, We Hardly Knew Ye…

March 31st, 2014

“This is a premier who talks a big game about accountability… but she chose not to show up,” Howarth told reporters.

However, Howarth dodged questions on whether her party would support the Liberal budget…

This has been a regular feature of Ontario politics since the last election. Howarth supports Wynne on the only votes that count, then spends the rest of her time complaining about her politics or ethics.

And, oh yea, PC leader Tim Hudak will still be hard pressed to win any election that may or may not be coming. That is, to put it bluntly, a scathing indictment of Hudak and the party that simply doesn’t have the guts to put up a leader with a chance to win.

That said, Hudak deserves kudos for what he said this weekend, and it bears repeating since Wynne has threatened to sue him for saying it, thus letting us know she doesn’t want us hearing it, and Hudak has all the stones of a post-pubescent soprano in an all male choir and is likely to retract at any moment:

Now we know that since this happened during her time in the premier’s office that she oversaw and possibly ordered the destruction of government documents as part of the cover-up

As Kate over at SDA points out, our man Dalton is hiding at Harvard. Fortunatly, it turns out the internet revolution has,in fact, come to Harvard and they have email there now. She thinks emailing him there might be something worth doing, but I kind of think emailing Harvard themselves with your concern over their choice of Fellow and his ethics might have more bang for the buck.


Brian Gardiner In Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario… , , ,

Union Propoganda Sheet, Read as News

March 31st, 2014

Turned on my local news station, 570 News, this afternoon, only because they usually carry the Blue Jays, and heard the 4:20 news update, including this item (not verbatim):

Toyota workers in Cambridge and Woodstock will vote next week to join Unifor, Canada’s largest union. For workers, this means greater job security and productivity improvements…

That, I repeat, was the news, not somebody from Unifor citing talking points. Unionizing means job security and productivity improvements: this apparently is now a fact, not an opinion.


Brian Gardiner unions ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Conscious Unhinging Edition

March 29th, 2014

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolor

I know I’ve been away a while, but some news is just too important to leave to others: and besides, I’m so darn verklempt over the Gwyneth Paltrow/Chris Martin split I can’t work.
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This week Gwyneth and Chris, ten years married, announced they would have a “conscious uncoupling,” which apparently means they are splitting.  It is interesting that when you use a phrase like “conscious uncoupling” you’re really unconsciously telling the world you have disassociated from reality. As marriage (and parenting) is the ultimate reality test, it’s kind of hard to make a marriage work when you’ve uncoupled from reality.

Normally, this blog would take the attitude that we are pleased that a stunning beauty like Gwyneth is back on the market, available to discover the joys of a sarcastic, yet loveable, scribbler of bad celebrity jokes. Somehow, however, I think it would  take about 9-years, 11, months, 30 days and 20 hours less time than the 10-years it took Chris Martin to discover she’s a complete whack job.

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Good news out of Washington: Chris Brown may be taken from his cell in Los Angeles, shackled and sent to Washington to stand trial for assaulting a man.

Meanwhile, Brown has discovered he doesn’t like sitting in jail, telling a friend he “feels like a caged animal.” Let it be said, here and now: Chris, we’ve seen the pictures of Rhianna after you beat on her, and you are.

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Kanye West, meanwhile, slipped in and out of an LAPD station on Thursday in less than an hour to be processed for misdemeanour battery for beating on a photographer at LAX. He has been ordered to not have any more such issues and attend anger management therapy sessions.

Or, he could be given the opportunity to visit Chris Brown for a few weeks, and learn first hand why you don’t go beating people.

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Not to be outdone, Justin Beiber has two assaulting photographer cases on the docket, one in LA, and one in Miami. Interestingly, Selena Gomez is a material witness in the LA case, and she’s being questioned about the assault, of which she was there, but also about Beiber’s after the fact comments and his overall opinion of paparazzi. And, the Miami photog. wants Gomez to testify under oath, even though she was not there for that particular bit of tomfoolery.

Must be some sweet nothings the Beib likes to whisper.


Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter

The Freedom of Music: Review: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

March 23rd, 2014

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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush - Spirit of Radio.

In May, 1973, Elton John and his band abandoned recording sessions in Jamaica and journeyed to France to have as second go at recording their sixth album in three years. Seventeen days later they had a seventeen-song double album, mixed and ready to go. 70-2527b

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road may not be Elton John’s best overall album, I give the nod to Captan Fantastic or Madman Across the Water myself. But with an opening four songs that consists of Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Candle in the Wind, Bennie and the Jets and the title track, it’s hard to argue there’s a better collection of songs, by anybody, that isn’t a greatest hits album. If reduced to a single album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road would consist of those four songs (which is all of side one, and the first song of side 2), add Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting and Harmony, and have Grey Seal, I’ve Seen That Movie Too, All the Girls Love Alice, Your Sister Can’t Twist but She Can Rock and Roll to pick between for the last song or two. Instead, Elton went for a double album masterpiece, and almost succeeded.

Newly remastered by one of the industry’s best, Robert Ludwig at Gateway Mastering, and hitting stores this week, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road gets a major sound upgrade, bringing clarity to the music and energy to the groove. The new mastering, to put it simply, rocks. Add to that a tribute/singles disc, plus a two-disk live show from 1973, and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is good enough to buy again. The Deluxe Edition features the original remastered album, a bonus disc with cover versions of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road songs, two discs of a live, 1973 show from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tour, a bonus DVD and a 100 page hardback book.

Appearing live at Hammersmith Odeon in December, 1973, John was at the top of his game as a musician, singer and performer. He was, by then, in the superstar pantheon with a superb, well honed band. The concert, in short, as presented here, is excellent. John has always been, and still is, a superb live performer, but he may never have been better than he was in the mid-70’s. The Hammersmith Odeon gig, given over to disc three and four in this Deluxe Edition is presented as exhibit A.

elton-john-8bThe second disc in the four disc set is the weak link on this edition. Starting with nine of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’s seventeen songs performed by modern artists, the tribute shows John and writing partner Bernie Taupin’s songs as being versatile and mouldable and most of the performances are very good: Hunter Hayes’ Goodbye yellow Brick Road and The Band Perry’s Grey Seal were notable, as was bluegrassers Zac Brown Band’s stunning version of Harmony. Ed Sheeran’s alt- rock acoustic guitar version of Candle in the Wind works surprisingly well and had he opted for a ukulele instead of guitar, much like Clem Snide did with Journey’s Faithfully, it might be the highlight of the album. Even Miguel’s version of Bennie and the Jets, featuring a rap by Wale, surprised with how well it works.

Had they followed the tribute disc idea through to the complete album, this may have worked better. Instead they opted for half a disc of tribute and half “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Revisited.” Featuring alternate versions, outtakes and, weirdly, a couple of non-album hits from the era. The net result is the second disc feels unfocused and at times confusing.

As an overall package, however, the new remastered Deluxe Edition is simply excellent and well worth picking up for any Elton John fan.

Tracklist
Disc 1

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1 / Funeral For a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
2 / Candle in The Wind
3 / Bennie and The Jets
4 / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
5 / This Song Has No Title
6 / Grey Seal
7 / Jamaica Jerk-off
8 / I’ve Seen That Movie Too
9 / Sweet Painted lady
10 / The Ballad of Danny Bailey [1909-1934]
11 / Dirty Little Girl
12 / All The Girls Love Alice
13 / Your Sister Can’t Twist [but She Can Rock ’n Roll]
14 / Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
15 / Roy Rogers
16 / Social Disease
17 / Harmony

Disc 2

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Revisited

1 / Candle in The wind performed by Ed Sheeran
2 / Bennie and The Jets performed by Miguel, featuring Wale
3 / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road performed by Hunter Hayes
4 / Grey Seal performed by The Band Perry
5 / Sweet Painted Lady performed by John Grant
6 / All The Girls Love Alice performed by Emeli Sandé
7 / Your Sister Can’t Twist [but She Can Rock ’n Roll] performed by Imelda May
8 / Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting performed by Fall Out Boy
9 / Harmony performed by Zac Brown Band

Beyond The Yellow Brick Road

10 / Grey Seal – Piano demo
11 / Grey Seal – Version 1970
12 / Jack Rabbit
13 / Whenever You’re Ready [We’ll Go Steady Again]
14 / Screw You [Young Man’s Blues]
15 / Candle in The Wind – acoustic Mix
16 / Step into Christmas/Ho! Ho! Ho! [Who’d be a Turkey at Christmas]
18 / Philadelphia Freedom
19 / Pinball Wizard

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Elton John Live at Hammersmith Odeon, December, 1973

Part 1:
1 / Funeral For a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
2 / Candle in The Wind
3 / Hercules
4 / Rocket Man
5 / Bennie and The Jets
6 / Daniel
7 / This Song Has No Title
8 / Honky Cat

Part 2:
1 / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
2 / The Ballad of Danny Bailey [1909-1934]
3 / Elderberry Wine
4 / Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
5 / I’ve Seen That Movie Too
6 / All The Girls Love Alice
7 / Crocodile Rock
8 / Your Song
9 / Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting

Also included in the Bonus Edition a DVD: Elton John And Bernie Taupin Say Goodbye To Norma Jean And Other Things plus a 100 Page Hardback Book - packed with rare photos, memorabilia and a new essay containing interviews with Elton John and Bernie Taupin.


Brian Gardiner The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod , ,