Archive for August, 2008

The Best of This Week on my i-pod: Music to Die For

August 31st, 2008
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Whenever I sit and write this feature, or anything else, there’s a style and voice I’m aiming for. I rarely seem to fully find it, but when I do, I like the results. Music to Die For from August two years ago is one of those times when I hit that voice exactly the way I like. Going over it again there are changes I might make, the kind of thing an editor would do for me. But I wouldn’t change the tone, the style or the voice one bit:

Sunday, August 06, 2006
This Week on my i-pod: Music to Die For

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I play guitar: I know because it says so in my profile at the top left corner of this page (I play Guitar, mostly classical because that’s easy to do in the basement after the kids go to bed:)). Classical mostly, although lots of other styles as well. I didn’t start a classical player; in fact many people who know me would be surprised to hear me call myself a classical player. I have done the rock band thing, became quite a folk/children’s music picker when my daughter was young and I would sing to her every night, play slide poorly, and dabble in mandolin. But mostly I play classical, practice it every day in fact.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

I have been thinking a lot about death this week. Specifically, my own. Not for the usual reasons that someone I know died, or they found something in my tests. It’s not even because of Fidel’s intestines that I have been pondering my mortality this week. A couple of years ago someone, in a drunken conversation around a kitchen table, asked what music I would want played at my funeral. I had no idea.

I consider myself a music aficionado, very specifically rock and roll. But what rock and roll really belongs at a funeral? Dust in the Wind? Please, I want people to weep knowingly, not gag. Stairway to Heaven? Yea, because my funeral should resemble a grade eight dance as much as humanly possible. See the problem? Even the serious rock and roll stuff just doesn’t cut it here. Nick Hornby, in his defense of Pop music “songbook” says he wants Van Morison’s Caravan. Problem is, it’s the live version, with an extended string section, where “the sax weaves gently in and out of the cute, witty, neochamber strings…” Anyway, it has a part where Morrison introduces the band and, “isn’t that too weird?” So rock and roll presents problems, unless your sense of humour is far more interesting than mine (Jamie’s Cryin’ or No Particular Place to Go sproing to mind here).

But Classical guitar! As I play (did I mention that?) I thought I should know a nice classical guitar piece or two that’s appropriate. But the more I thought about it, the less I came up with. Nothing I knew would fill the bill. So for the last few years I have been wondering, what song? And who would play it? Surely a live performance is in order, not a CD recording of, say Segovia, who’s already been dead 19 years, and I’m only 42 (OK, OK 43 -honest I forgot I had a birthday (again)), and how long will Segovia have been dead by the time my turn comes (more than 20 years, I hope).

Which brings me to another problem. I don’t belong to a church. I don’t have any great desire to give up my Sunday mornings, except when I attend a funeral. Any funeral I go to is in one of two places, a funeral home, in which case I always think, I want my funeral to be so much more. Warmer, gentler, a minister who has met me, dealt with me, understands why there’s a guy in the corner playing classical guitar. The second kind is in a church, in which case the deceased, having been a member, gets a proper send off. Real music, by musicians, A nice organ sending heavenly air breathing through it’s pipes, imploring the Lord to accept my poor sinning, carcass.

I want, however, the kind of church that are hard to find anymore. One with a large choir box, and a large, talented choir. A proper organ, with pipes rising up the wall, imploring God to Hear thy Music (can’t expect Him to accept my carcass with less), and a proper organist, playing the great music written in His name. No folk musicians need apply at my church, please. I could even contribute to the music once in a while, if I could just have the place when my funeral comes.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

I won a book from a radio show, “Classical Guitar Alive.” It’s a real show, mostly on PBS stations, but I listen to it as MP3 downloads after the fact. The book is an autobiography of Classical Guitarist Christopher Parkening, called Grace Like A River. My review is here. The long in short is, as an extreme Christian, Parkening is as annoying as he is talented. And talented he is: the book came with a sampler CD, with Jesu Joy of Man Desiring; Albeniz’s Rumores de la Caleta; and the Adagio from Joaquín Rodrigo ‘s Concierto de Aranjuez.

I am playing at a friends wedding in October, and I have started working some music for it. Lots of basic stuff, Romance, another Romance by Nikita Koshkin (Classical composers tend to lack the Led Zeppelin knack for interesting titles), Jesu Joy of Man Desiring, and the Bach/Genoud Ave Maria (not the more typical Schubert, which translates to guitar awkwardly). As well, I found an interesting composition called Canco trista on the internet, which I’m working up, and a rather lousy Russian reduction of the Adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez.

When the Parkening book came in, I threw on the CD and realized, the Adagio, while possibly the most stunningly beautiful for any instrument (go to your library and rent a CD with it on, trust me it is shivers up the spine beautiful, even when poorly done), it’s quite sad. There’s a reason they play Ob La Di Ob La Da on the organ before a wedding, cause weddings are happy occasions.

Legend has it the Rodrigo was writing the Concierto de Aranjuez while his wife was pregnant. The first and third sections where written, but the slower middle section was leaving him a touch befuddled. His wife lost the baby in childbirth (or miscarried it, or the baby died an infant, I’ve read different things on this) and, upon returning from the hospital wrote the adagio. It shows! If ever God chose to put his touch on a piece of music, ever the Divine intervened for the strict purpose of entertaining man, this was the moment. It is a haunting, mesmerizing piece of music.

So I thought, my funeral. That’s it, that’s the piece I want played at my funeral. But how? The logistics are a nightmare. It’s a guitar Concierto, for crying out loud. For those that don’t know, that means guitar with orchestra. This will never work in one of those tinny funeral homes, so you see; I really must find a proper church, with space for an orchestra.

Then who? There’s a reason only the best in the world play this concerto, it’s very difficult. And the one thing I don’t want (are you listening honey?) is a lame version of any music at my funeral. My God I’m dead, I deserve the music to be well done. Then there’s the problem of rehearsing an orchestra and guitarist in such a time frame. I expect my demise to be somewhat of a surprise. Let’s face it, unless you’re Hunter S. Thompson, you don’t plan your dying down to the day. Even if you have a protracted illness, the exact day isn’t a known variable. And I don’t really want to be kept on ice for two weeks while the musicians work up their parts up. So a live performance probably isn’t going to work.

But, does a CD really cut it? It will have to and, fortunately I have a number of performances of this piece on my MP3 player. John Williams, Julian Bream and Paco DeLucia come to mind, as well as Parkening’s. I have spent the week listening to them to decide, and frankly can’t. Williams is my favourite player, but his Adagio leaves me a touch cold, and lets face it, I’ll be cold enough. Parkening’s is nice, but not preferred. Bream does a lovely job of it and DeLucia’s while superbly performed, is a touch flamenco-y for me. So I guess I need to keep digging, to find the person who captured my death perfectly.

The truth is, I would really like to have the whole concerto performed, but it’s a good half an hour long. I suppose I could request no eulogy, just play the music. The Priest could say something about me, then announce the piece, much like a DJ would, and everybody could hear it. The exciting Allegro con spirito, followed by that lovely 13 minute Adagio. People would cry, I know they would. They would cry because it’s a sad piece, but also they would cry because it would prove, when it is most wanting proven, that God exists and I am with him. Of this I am sure, more than anything the Priest or my forlorn family could utter, That Adagio would say to all, he is with Him now. Finally the Allegro gentile, quicker and quirkier, somewhat like me. Something for people to dry their eyes to, before the Reverend DJ announces there will be “tea and cakes at such and such a place after the interment.”

But it’s probably not feasible, the priest might even not approve of being usurped in such a way. Probably best is having the lovely Adagio playing when people came in and took a seat. People could sit, marvel at the sheer beauty of the music, and know that they weren’t just at a funeral, but they where at a celebration of life, and that the life lived was touched by beauty, and knew a good piece of music when he heard it.

That’s it for best ofs, in fact that’s it for this feature. Starting next Sunday there will be a new feature, with new title and format, but an expanded repertoire of musical possibilities.

This Week on my I-Pod

Happy 55th Birthday…

August 27th, 2008

Alex Lifeson.

My Rush fandom has suffered from diminishing returns since A Farewell to Kings back in 1977. While I still enjoy the early to late 70’s Rush, and have a lot of time for later songs like Spirit of Radio, Limelight, Tom Sawyer and Freewill, none of those is why I salute Mr. Lifeson here today.

Alex Lifeson is one of a group of guitarists who shaped Rock and Roll in the latter 70’s with their versatility. Along with the likes of Jimmy Page, Steve Howe, Rik Emmet and Steve Morse classical, jazz and country guitar playing was added to the rock guitarists repertoire. It was that influence that I sought in my own playing that made me take up classical guitar, a pursuit I would come back to 20 years later and still do daily.

So happy birthday for all the songs mentioned above, certainly. Happy birthday for the albums 2112 and A Farewell to Kings, absolutely. But most of all, happy 55th birthday Alex Lifeson for the small instrumental intro to the song A Farewell to Kings. A piece that I just had to learn and which, along with others, began me on a long, albeit crooked path, which I follow still.

Birthday Wishes, Guitar Greats, Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin'

BBS Blogging Tories Site of the Week

August 27th, 2008
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The Blue Blogging Soapbox Blogging Tory Site of the Week for the week of August 24th is:

Return of the Trusty Tory

Popularity’s bad for you. I avoid it like the plague

Blogging Tories Site of the Week

Dion Obama and Why Can’t the Media Read My Posts Correctly?

August 26th, 2008

Yesterday I pronounced on the reasons why the Conservative Party would want an early election. Three of them, said I: the Liberals are stalled on the Green Shift; a possible budget deficit; inflationary pressure causing possible interest rate increases.

Today the National Post ran an article in which James Cowan reiterates two of my three points:

The federal budget is back in the black, but who knows how long it will stay in the black, they [The Conservatives] may decide they want to pull the plug before interest rates rise.

Strangely it’ a story about Dion getting an Obama bounce. How Cowan got that from what I wrote I’ll never know, but I’ve rarely heard such preposterous ideas.

How any sane person thinks Canadians will look at Barack Obama and imagine Stéphane Dion I will never know. Obama is a handsome, well spoken, populist politician. Dion is a nerdy stumble-bum who’s one policy is a major new tax. Obama is the first African American Presidential candidate, Dion yet another in a too long line of Quebecer’s vying for the job of Prime Minister.

Of course when you use a source like Stephen Clarkson, former husband of Liberal appointed Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and author of The Big Red Machine: How the Liberal Party Dominates Canadian Politics, it is possible you will get a Liberal-tilt in your story.

I don’t buy any of it. Canadians elect based on Canadian candidates, not based on who’s on the U.S. ballot. If this logic applied in the real world how did the Liberals win a majority in Nov. 2000, just two weeks after George Bush squeaked out an electoral college victory? (Albeit losing the popular vote). Four years later in the Spring of 2004, the Liberals were reduced to a minority losing 3.2% of the popular vote. Meanwhile, that fall George Bush increased his popular vote by 2.8%. Other examples include 1980, when Republican Ronald Regan and Liberal Pierre Trudeau both won (PC Brian Mulroney won in 1984 and 1988, both Republican victories in the U.S.) Liberal Trudeau won in 1972 and 1968 while Republican Richard Nixon was winning Stateside.

The thesis just doesn’t hold water, but of course it was never meant to: it was meant to put Stéphane Dion’s name in the same sentence as Barack Obama.

At least James Cowan, however, got those other two points right.

I've Seen Barack Obama and Stéphane Dion is no Barack Obama, Stephane Dion, The Media Following My Lead.

Election Season

August 25th, 2008
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Now that summer is all but over and the kids are spending their last few days of freedom with weepy eyes and furrowed brow, it’s time to think election. Specifically a federal fall election. PM Harper has announced that he will summons Stéphane Dion and insist he actively support the Conservatives fall legislative agenda, instead of passively supporting it by declaring the new holiday, Confidence Motion Day, a statutory holiday for all Liberal MPs. Expect Dion to refuse his support. Expect a scary October 31st with politicians knocking on your door offering tricks and treats.

I’m of two minds on this one. As an ideological conservative I’d rather an election call be on issues. Let Stephen Harper decrease the excise tax on diesel fuel, or put forth his bill on Senate Reform and let it fall or pass as it may.

As a follower of the game of politics, however, any Conservative Party of Canada faithful wants an election now. The Conservatives chances of winning an election next fall would appear to be much less so than they are right now. There are various reasons why this is so, why the Liberals may want to wait a year, the Conservatives less so.

First there is The Green Shift, which hasn’t won the hearts and minds of the nation outside of the editorial offices of The Toronto Sun. Meant to be Dion’s jumping off point for a platform, it appears to have fallen flat with voters.

Second is the budget surplus, which is rumoured to be heading into minor deficit this year. While a small, temporary deficit during bad times doesn’t bother me too much (far less than not paying down debt during good times), it’s not a position a government seeking re-election wants to be in. The Conservatives may or may not be there this year, but better to go to the polls now and explain a deficit from the position of newly re-elected government than one seeking re-election.

A third reason for wanting an election now is inflation. It has reared it’s ugly head around the world and is expected to hit hit 4.3% by early next year here in Canada. The Bank of Canada has an inflation target of 1 – 3%. If the rate stays above 3% interest rate hikes are inevitable. But what if rate hikes don’t work? Or as Maclean’s pondered a few weeks ago, what if inflation goes higher? It is possible in that a year from now we could see borrowing costs 2, 3, 4% higher. That starts to hurt families trying to make ends meet. And it starts hurting Conservative chances a year from now.

That all said, The Conservatives brought in fixed election legislation for a reason: to stop governments going to the polls for their own political advantage. The dissolving Parliament clause may make it legal but clearly Harper would be breaking the spirit of the law by calling an early election. An argument can, I think, be made that minority governments constitute a different situation than a majority, but for Harper to set the precedent of violating the concept of fixed dates renders the law meaningless. It would be better if he lost a confidence motion. We all know Stéphane Dion is loathe to vote the Conservatives down, but if the Conservatives abstained 1 for 1 with the Liberals, sit 95 MPs out of the next confidence motion, they should have no problem losing a motion based on the NDP and Bloc’s vote. Harper could get the fall vote he wants without violating the intent of the fixed election date law.

Personally, I’d rather he kept on governing like he had a majority and let the chips fall where they may, but Stephen Harper leaves nothing to chance, and he doesn’t look like he’s about to start now.

Fall Election, I don't have confidence in any of them, Parliament, Stephen Harper

Jimmy Page at the Olympics

August 24th, 2008

Video clip of Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis performing Whole Lotta Love at the closing of the Olympic ceremonies:

It’s unbelievable that the French TV commentators can’t shut up for the 4 or 5 minutes that someone is singing a song. That’s right, the world tuned in to hear what you dunderheads think, en francais, of Jimmy Page/Leona Lewis/Led Zeppelin.

None the less, it’s a good performance, and Leona Lewis handles the song very well.

olympians I love, The Mighty Zep

The Best of This Week on my i-pod: More Bob Seger

August 24th, 2008
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Sometimes on this feature, I have fell into sheer review. It’s a mistake. This was never meant to be, “what a great CD.” It is much more about the effect music has, the feel I get from listening, how life is improved through the sheer act of music. This was one of the moments when I almost fell into review, but escaped through expansion of the original idea. Thus one of my all time favourite musicians, and people, Bob Seger, got some Looking Back:

Sunday, September 17, 2006
This week on my i-pod – More Bob Seger

With the new album out, I have spent much of the week with Bob Seger playing. Whether the new CD, or a classic album I have covered a lot of Seger ground this week. By Friday afternoon, I decided to pick a bunch of songs and have the MP3 play them randomly. It’s always interesting to pick songs instead of full albums, as it gives you a closer look at what is moving you.

On this week, I picked two of the new songs: Wreck This Heart and Wait For Me, the first two tracks on the album. Working backwards, there is only one song from the last album, “It’s a Mystery”, that I bother much to listen to, but it’s one of the greats. Lock and Load is a great Seger rocker, possibly even the best in the last 30 years.

Of course The Real Love from “The Fire Inside”, Like a Rock and American Storm from “Like a Rock”, and Even Now from 1982’s “The Distance”. The mid 70’s is his best years and was well represented. However, it was one old and one new (fairly) that where the true gems of the listen.

Turn the Page is the Seger song. All other pale in comparison. Not just Turn the Page though – Turn the Page from the “Live Bullet” album. I have the “Back in ’72” album that the song comes from originally, have quite a few bootlegs and have seen him numerous times. I can assure you, that one performance of “Turn the Page” is heads and shoulders above the rest. It’s not really surprising. He was playing the mid-west bar circuit, travelling club to club. Then he came home to Detroit to sell out Cobo Hall on two consecutive nights; 10,000 people a night. And you sing this song:

Say, here I am, on the road again. there I am, up on the stage.
Here I go, playing star again.
There I go, turn the page…

Out there in the spotlight your a million miles away,
Every ounce of energy, you try and give away,
As the sweat pours out your body like the music that you play.
Later in the evening as you lie awake in bed,
With the echo from the amplifiers ringing in your head,
You smoke the days last cigarette, remembering what she said.
Now here I am, on the road again. there I am, up on the stage.
Here I go, playing star again.
There I go, turn the page.
Here I am, on the road again. there I am, up on the stage.
Ah here I go, playing star again.
There I go, there I go.

Is it any wonder the song had a little something extra in it. After all the years of living the song, finally he wasn’t playing star, he was a star. Yea, that night was special and it came across in one of rock and rolls greatest moments. Turn the Page is a good song – even Metallica couldn’t ruin it (God help them, they tried though. They tried!) – but on this night a great song was born.

The other song was 1998’s Chances Are with Martina McBride, from the Sandra Bullock movie “Hope Floats”. I don’t have much time for country music, mostly because I can’t take the whiny twang of the singers. But there’s a couple of the lady singers I like: Shania Twain is one; Martina McBride the other. Martina McBride might just have the nicest voice in music. It is stunningly beautiful, clear as a bell and pitch perfect note for note. Bob Seger, on the other hand, has a “smoke too much, ah hell it was close” kind of voice. A singer I have always loved, a distinctive interesting voice, but let’s not kid the troops. Like Seger himself, it is a working man’s voice, a voice not presented upon birth as a gift from the Gods, but a voice that is solid only through hard work and years of performing. And when McBride and Seger put them together, it’s magic.

I have discussed my wife’s romantic dances on the deck before, how I’m responsible to a) attend and b) supply the music. I have decided that Chances Are belongs on our deck next time, is a song that I can comfortably sing to my bride, knowing she would appreciate it:

Chances are you’ll find me
Somewhere on your road tonight
Seems I always end up driving by
Ever since I’ve known you
It seems you’re on my way

All the rules of logic don’t apply
I long to see you in the night
Be with you ’til morning light

I remember clearly how you looked
The night we met
I recall your laughter and your smile
I remember how you made me
Feel so at ease
I remember all your grace and your style

And now you’re all I long to see
You’ve come to mean so much to me

Chances are I’ll see you
In my dreams tonight
You’ll be smiling like the night we met
Chances are I’ll hold you and I’ll offer
All I have

You’re the only one I can’t forget
Baby you’re the best I’ve ever met

And I’ll be dreaming of the future
And hoping you’ll be by my side
And in the morning I’ll be longing for the night
For the night

Chances are I’ll see you
Somewhere in my dreams tonight
You’ll be smiling like the night we met
Chances are I’ll hold you and I’ll offer
All I have

You’re the only one I can’t forget
Baby you’re the best I’ve ever met

It’s the kind of song you expect Bob Seger to write. According to Greatest Hits 2, he wrote it in 1990. There where rumours at the time of an album that got mostly scrubbed because the centre-piece was Tom Waits’ Downtown Train. He told Rod Stewart about it, Stewart recorded and released Downtown Train first, so Seger returned to the studio and released “The Fire Inside” in 1991 instead. If 1990 is the date for Chances Are, then we can assume it is from the lost album, and we can are left to speculate how good an album we missed.

Bob Seger, This Week on my I-Pod

Saturday Fluffernutter: That Dog Snoop; Someone Tell Bono To Turn Down the Damn Music; Ya-Ya Sisterpants; Jerry Wexler 1917- 2008

August 23rd, 2008
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Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

In the movie “Dodgeball,” Ben Stiller’s creepy character White Goodman is always saying something inappropriate, then following it up with, “just kidding… not really.” i.e.:

Kate Veatch: [outside Kate’s house] White? What are you doing here? How do you know where I live?
White Goodman: It’s called the Freedom of Information Act, Kate. The hippies finally got something right! Ha-ha! Just kidding. But not really.

Apparently P. Diddy, Doggy Dog has been studying up on his White Goodman:

Diddy claims that if he were in the Olympics, he would win a medal for having sex the longest.

“I think that’s an event I can do well in. And probably (I can) stay up the longest,” Diddy told New York magazine, reported.

“Just so you know, that’s supposed to be funny. Even though I am serious.”

Creepy, and not very funny. No, really.

At Home in Hespeler is pleased to bring a new feature to Saturday Fluffernutter: Review in Brief. This week, it’s a movie review – The Sisterhood of the Ya-Ya Pants movie, part II:

“It’s pretty good Dad.”

Your welcome.

Four songs from U2’s upcoming album, No Line on the Horizon, were leaked onto the internet this week. Lead singer Bono was apparently listening to the tracks at his villa in the French Riviera when a passerby recorded them on his phone.

Which leads to the question: how loud was he playing the music that an audible recording could be made from outside the home? And if the owner of the music chooses to play it so loud, has he not placed the music into the public domain?

RIP Jerry Wexler (1917 – 2008).

Wexler helped run Atlantic Records during it’s early years when it was producing some of the most enduring records of the rock and roll era, including the Atlantic catalogue of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Wilson Pickett. He along with Ahmet Ertegun, signed Led Zeppelin to Atlantic Records. While working with Billboard magazine in the late 1940’s, early 50’s he coined the term Rhythm and Blues and was portrayed by actor Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler on The West Wing) in the Ray Charles biopic Ray.

Jerry Wexler died last weekend at his home in Sarasota Florida of Congestive Heart Failure at the age of 91.

Fluffernutter, Thank God I Wasn't Born a Rap Fan

Gloria Kovach Acclaimed in Guelph?

August 22nd, 2008
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Apparently so, according to the Cambridge Times:

But as a candidate vying for re-election, surrounded by other Conservative candidate hopefuls, including the newly elected Conservative Guelph MP, Gloria Kovach

As Gloria Kovach is the Conservative candidate in the Sept 8th Guelph by-election, the only explanation I can come up with is everybody else resigned from the election, acclaiming Kovach.

That, or the Times made a major mistake, and we all know that doesn’t happen.

Cambridge Times, Gloria Kovach

Why Can’t I Buy Beer With My Groceries

August 22nd, 2008

It’s done everywhere else in North America that I have ever been to. It’s done in Europe. In Paris you can buy vintage wine in the corner store. Stop at the corner store for a few quick items, grab a six pack of Guinness while I’m at it. Beer at the grocery store is hardly some new, untried concept. It is used, and has worked in hundreds of jurisdictions in the world, and there’s no reason it can’t work here.

I’ve posted before on this, back during the Ontario election where John Tory was tentatively prepared to study the idea:

Now granted, nothing drastic from our man Tory. Just a few trial locations, study the question: as if Quebec, Alberta and B.C., the U.S.A. and Europe are not test location enough. Really, the data exists, the idea works. But from baby steps like this comes full fledged working policy, so I’ll take what I can get.

Now, Halton Conservative MP, Ted Chudleigh, has a petition to allow beer to be sold in grocery stores, and is prepared to present it at Queens Park. There is an on-line petition, however according to MP Chudleigh’s blog: “Actual paper signatures are necessary to ensure authenticity.”

Ending the Soviet style marketing approach would lower prices, increase convenience of both purchase and bottle return, increase accessibility to the market for small brewers especially in local markets, and would bring Ontario into the 21st century.

The petition is here, print it off, sign it (and get others to), and mail it to:

Derek Forward, 2000 Appleby Line, Suite232, Burlington, ON L7L 7H7

It’s time that Ontario joined every other jurisdiction in the 21st century.

Of course a petition from an opposition MP is hardly the stuff of government policy, but if enough people sign the petition, it becomes harder to ignore. It may not be policy, but maybe it’s the start of something.

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, pimply minions of bureaucracy

Prague ’68

August 21st, 2008
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On this, and other blogs, there’s often talk about freedom. We fight for freedom, or we want freedom or we want to maintain freedom. But what gets lost sometimes, is what we are really talking about. People in Prague, or Warsaw, or Budapest know: they lost their freedom to the Soviets (Warsaw to the Germans, then the Soviets) during the 20th century. Free nations now, they know what freedom means.

Forty years ago today, August 21, 2968, Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, Czechoslovakia to eliminate the “Prague Spring,” an early form of Glasnost introduced into Czechoslovakia when reformist Alexander Dub?ek came to power in January 1968.

Peter Worthington, who was there, has a fine piece on the invasion in today’s Sun: The Death of Prague Spring. He has far more knowledge on the subject than I do, so I will defer to his column on the subject.

Prague Spring was about freedom, real freedom for real people. The invasion in August ’68 was about repression, about the glory of the state over the glory of the person. A real fight, for real freedom.

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy

Happy 60th Birthday…

August 20th, 2008
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Robert Plant.

Despite the fact that Plant is the remaining member of Zeppelin who doesn’t want to do that tour, who is keeping us Zeppelin fans from getting what we want (what we really really want), and keeping Jason Bonham from his millions, happy birthday.

Plant career spans 40 years, first with Led Zeppelin and, since 1982, as a solo artist. He has 8 solo albums, 9 Led Zeppelin albums, one six song EP, and his most recent effort, last years Raising Sand, in collaboration with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss.

Happy Birthday Robert Plant, and may there be many more releases… and at least one more tour.

Birthday Wishes, The Mighty Zep

BBS Blogging Tories Site of the Week

August 20th, 2008
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The Blue Blogging Soapbox Blogging Tory Site of the Week for the week of August 3rd is:

Al MacDermid and Mike Brock have created a fantastic live weekly show. In it’s second season, they have also begun streaming live using UStream. They’ve invested in some good quality hardware that produces excellent sound quality and allows for call-in guests and live callers. The show features various guests as well as discussion on current politics and general news events…

Blogging Tories Site of the Week

The Non-Olympics Story

August 18th, 2008
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I was hoping to get through the Olympics without posting on the subject. This story, however, was too good, too nice to pass up on.

Nova Scotia’s Tracy Cameron and her rowing partner, Melanie Kok, claimed the bronze in lightweight double sculls early Sunday morning, narrowly beating the fourth-place German team by just 0.04 of a second…

After the race, Ms. Kok was whisked away to complete her drug test while Ms. Cameron was free to go. She was planning to go to the grandstand to meet her family but met her brother along the way — ordering a round at the beer tent.

After a few hugs, she asked if she could deliver the dozen or so suds to the grandstand.

“It was like, ‘OK, they don’t know I’m coming, so let me do the delivery,” Ms. Cameron said with a giggle. “He took the flowers, I took the whole tray full of beer, and I’m like, ‘Anybody thirsty here?’ They went crazy!

Minutes after winning a bronze medal in the Olympics, Tracy Cameron delivered a tray of beer to the rabid Canadian rowing fans. Truly a gracious act, and a new favourite Olympian here in Hespeler.

olympians I love

It’s an Emergency! Quick…

August 18th, 2008

Somebody call the politicians!!

In all the fuss I have heard about David Miller, Joe Pantalone or Maria Augimeri being missing in action during the exploding neighbourhood crisis, nobody has explained what they would actually do to improve anything. It’s astounding to me that nobody – NOBODY – has suggested they are better off out of the way of the productive work.

It is time, past time, for the people displaced by the explosion to return home and back to some form of normality. There is no way, none whatsoever, that David Miller and his band of merry counsellors can speed that along. Therefore, they are better off getting out of the way of the guys in hazmat suits and letting the guys with hammers and screwdrivers get on with their work.

There’s plenty of time for finger pointing, blame fixing and responsibility denial in September. Meanwhile the rest of us can have some peace from it all.

pimply minions of bureaucracy, Toronto