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

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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

cover-low-resGoodbye Yellow Brick Road 2014 ReMaster
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

gbyr-exploded

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 , ,

Fluffernutter Friday: Elton at the Movies

March 21st, 2014

Last month, Lady Hespeler and I braved the cold, and hwy. 6, and trundled off to Hamilton to see Elton John. Our last minute cheap seats, with a behind stage view, turned out to be gems, some 16 rows up and staring at the piano player’s face all night - and no, I didn’t shoot. While John’s voice is hardly in 70’s form, he was nothing short of excellent.

Promoting the reissue of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, he opened with side 1 from that masterwork, and spent the next hour and a half or so playing hit after hit.  He had a tight little four piece band with him, including long time members, Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson.

Next Wednesday, Elton brings his Las Vegas show to the big screen, for a Front Row Centre Event, The Million Dollar Piano.

Track listing for The Million Dollar Piano:

  • The Bitch is Back
  • Bennie and the Jets
  • Rocket Man
  • Levon
  • piano excerpt “Planes”
  • piano excerpt “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”
  • Tiny Dancer
  • Your Song
  • Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
  • Better Off Dead
  • Indian Sunset
  • Blue Eyes
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
  • Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • I’m Still Standing
  • Crocodile Rock
  • Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
  • Circle of Life

Freedom of Music, meanwhile, returns this Sunday with a review the Deluxe Edition of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.


Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter, Friday, musicians , ,

Tell Us What You Really Think Mr. Harper

March 16th, 2014

Diplomacy

The so-called referendum held today was conducted with Crimea under illegal military occupation. Its results are a reflection of nothing more than Russian military control.

This “referendum” is illegitimate, it has no legal effect, and we do not recognize its outcome. As a result of Russia’s refusal to seek a path of de-escalation, we are working with our G-7 partners and other allies to coordinate additional sanctions against those responsible.

Any solution to this crisis must respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine as well as the constitution of Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s reckless and unilateral actions will lead only to Russia’s further economic and political isolation from the international community.

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Brian Gardiner Uncategorized , , ,

The Rise and Fall of the American Empire

March 14th, 2014

or

Dear Artiststic Community: These People only Pretend to Have Your Best Interests in Mind

From the League of American Orchestras:

guitarI’m writing to make you aware of an urgent policy development. If your orchestra engages international artists, or your musicians travel internationally as individuals, this will matter to you. If your orchestra tours internationally, this development will most certainly concern you.

On February 25, 2014, new strict limits immediately took effect for traveling internationally with instruments that contain African elephant ivory. Following a new Obama Administration effort to protect African elephants from poaching by combatting illegal trade in ivory, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) ordered strict enforcement procedures related to the Endangered Species Act and the African Elephant Conservation Act.
According to the order, many instruments containing African elephant ivory will not be allowed into the U.S., even if a musician is simply returning to the U.S. with instruments in their personal possession, not intended for sale. Under the rules, a musical instrument that contains African elephant ivory may only be brought into the U.S. if it meets all of the following criteria: Was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976; Has not subsequently been transferred from one person to another person for financial gain or profit since February 26, 1976; The person or group qualifies for a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) musical instrument certificate; and The musical instrument containing African elephant ivory is accompanied by a valid CITES musical instrument certificate or an equivalent CITES document.

A great many professional orchestra musicians, particularly string players, perform with instruments that contain small amounts of ivory, most frequently found in the tips of bows. Most of these musical instruments, while legally manufactured and acquired, would have been purchased after 1976, and will now be prohibited from entering into the U.S.

Still others that have not been sold since 1976 may be missing key documentation. While the timeline for strict enforcement of this policy at U.S. borders is uncertain, it could occur at any time. The League is in ongoing dialogue with federal officials to seek a solution that addresses wildlife conservation goals while also protecting international musical activity that requires musicians to travel across borders with the essential tools of their trade.

We need your help. Please complete this survey to provide us with information that will help us make the case. Become aware of the rules for travelling with instruments containing endangered species material. We have posted background on the new ivory ban as well as detailed guidance on the existing CITES rules for travel with items that contain other protected species, such as tortoise shell and rosewood. Contact the League’s Washington, D.C. office with questions. We are working to get all of the answers we can. Thank you for your attention to this matter, and your ongoing partnership as we work on your behalf.

Sincerely,

Jesse Rosen President and CEO, League of American Orchestras


Brian Gardiner musicians

I Would Vote for the NDP…

March 14th, 2014

General James Wolfe: The Hero of Quebec

… if they were the only party that said they wouldn’t allow an independent Quebec a seat at the Bank of Canada.

This is the lesson that Brian Mulroney simply refused to learn. In a post-Quebec Canada, the party that learns it fastest will rule the day.


Brian Gardiner Wolfe Kicked Montcalm's Ass , ,

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before

February 15th, 2014

Venerable Canadian institution collapses: Jean Chrétien in the middle:

The stunning collapse of Heenan Blaikie LLP, once one of Canada’s largest and most prestigious law firms, stemmed from a “loss of trust” in management over international business activities including dubious forays into Africa, where former partner Jacques Bouchard and former prime minister Jean Chrétien lobbied governments on behalf of clients, former Heenan partners and associates say…

Question: if a former Conservative Prime Minister (say Brian Mulroney), and a former cabinet minister in a Conservative government were this highly involved in this much of a racket, would Steven Harper be asked questions about it? So will Justin Trudeau, considering both men in question sat at his father’s cabinet table, and considering the relationship between Roy Heenan and the Trudeau’s, be asked a multitude of questions? Or will, once again, the media once again be unwilling to use the words “Jean Chrétien” and “bribery scandal” in the same article?

Brian Gardiner Silly Liberals , ,

Swimming Helmets?

February 12th, 2014

I must have spent five minutes looking at this picture this morning. Police in Surrey, England on rescue patrol amongst the terrible flooding they have been getting there.

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Helmets to walk around in a foot-and-a-half of water? Can we assume swimming helmets are the next must have safety equipment for our kids?

And what’s with the 8′ aluminum poles with the primary coloured stripe? Are they expecting to rescue some stranded pre-schoolers, one of whom may have done a crayon drawing of a pointy stick?

Quick, someone throw a pencil sketch of a shark in the water, and watch the freaking out when they realize they aren’t wearing their shark-bite helmets.


Brian Gardiner Uncategorized

Friday Fluffernutter: Wait… What? It’s Saturday? Edition

February 8th, 2014

In honour of doing Friday Fluffernutter on Saturday, I offer Thursday, as done on Friday…

On Thanksgiving 1976, November 25th - a Thursday - The Band performed a farewell concert which they filmed and released as The Last Waltz. The final piece on The Last Waltz was shot later on a soundstage, having The Staples Singers join them on their classic, The Weight. Here it is…

Last night - a Friday - Jimmy Fallon said farewell to his TV show, and had some friends join him to sing, you guessed it, The Weight, exactly as The Band did it 38-years prior (well, almost).


Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter, Friday , , , ,

#dogsofsochi

February 6th, 2014

National Post writer Christie Blatchford is in Sochi to cover the Olympics. A report this week says Russian officials were rounding up stray dogs and euthanizing them.Dog lover Blatchford has started tweeting pictures of dogs in sochi.

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It’s worth noting that Blatchford is new to twitter, and somebody needs to show her how to use hashtags as this is a series that is crying out for one. It’s also worth noting that if this series does nothing else’ it shows why Blatchford became a writer and not a photographer.


Brian Gardiner columnists.

Sophistry…

January 16th, 2014

—noun, plural soph·ist·ries.

1. a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.
2. a false argument; sophism.

inigoNDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar

They set up a false choice and put it out there that if you’re not with us, you’re against us. And if you’re not with the government sworn in in Israel, you’re against the people of Israel.Which is nonsense. It shows a lack of sophistry.*

The question is, is Paul Dewar having an Inigo Montoya moment, or does he believe Canada’s foreign policy should be fundamentally dishonest?

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*Note: The Canada.com version of this article removes the key sentence from the Mark Kennedy story. Below is a screen shot from the digital edition of today’s National Post showing the full quote.

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Brian Gardiner Uncategorized , , ,

Kathleen Wynne…

January 16th, 2014

Premier of all Toronto

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Celebrating the Niagara grape harvest in Toronto.


Brian Gardiner It's Easy to Wynne When You Don't Have to Run, Toronto, Uncategorized ,