Archive for January, 2009

Honouring Doug Gilmour

January 31st, 2009

It’s hard to remember the Maple Leafs of the early 90’s now. Harold Ballard was gone and the Maple Leafs wound up in the hands of Steve Stavro, owner of Knob Hill Farms grocery chain. The transfer of power was not without it’s drama and the first hiring of the new regime, GM Cliff Fletcher, was at one time in doubt. He was hired by Donald Crump, and Stavro originally wanted Fletcher out. Finally allowed to get on with the job, Fletcher wanted to build a team that was “strong up the middle.”

That summer he pulled a coup when he hired coach Pat Burns mere days after Burns parted ways with Montreal. Goalie Grant Fuhr was procured from Edmonton. Then came the deal. One of the most lopsided deals in NHL history, as Fletcher picked the pocket of his replacement in Calgary. It was a ten player deal but make no mistake, there was one important element in the deal: Doug Gilmour was coming to Toronto.

I am 45 years old and have lived in the Toronto area since I was three in 1966 – we arrived the summer before the Leafs last Stanley Cup season. I was a Leafs fan starting in 1969 or 1970, up until a few seasons ago. Nobody in that time who wore the Maple Leaf was a better player than Doug Gilmour after coming to Toronto. Steve Simmons had a piece on Thursday which covered it well: Time of his Life.

For two years, for the first and only time in my lifetime, the Leafs had a player who was among the very best in the NHL. It’s amazing that both Gilmour and Burns have won Stanley Cups with other teams, but cite those two years as favourites. Especially the 1993 playoffs: this town was alive like I have never seen, this team a real contender for the Stanley Cup and virtually all the credit goes to Doug Gilmour.

As this is posted the Leafs will be feting Gilmour and for the first time in five years, I will take my throwback Leaf jersey out from it’s dark, lonely vigil in the back of my closet. I will turn on the TV and I will watch the Toronto Maple Leafs. I will no doubt struggle to explain this to the kids, how good he was, how great it was to be along for the ride.

Then they will drop the puck and I’ll turn off the TV for God only knows how long, until they honour who? What player since would come close to what Doug Gilmour did in those two season? No, me and the Leafs are done with. But that 1993 playoff run, that is something I’ll never forget. That kind of magic is reason enough to be a sports fan and tonight at least, I’ll play the fan and remember a great spring.


Saturday Fluffernutter: Amy’s Divorce Letter; No Abba Cat Fight; Iron Chef vs. Potty Mouth Chef – may the best meatball win.

January 31st, 2009

Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

fluffincolorThe Abba girls, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, gave a rare interview this week in which they disputed long held claims of personal dislike for each other. melissa-glick-warhol-fluff-for-webThey claimed there is no truth to the rumours that they “fought and quarrelled with each other.”  Abba without the cat fights? Is there any other reason to care about Abba?


I have long had cutey Molly Ringwald on the “whatever happened to” file. It turns out, however, that she hasn’t been abducted by aliens or in fact been gone much at all. She is on the TV show The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and this week announced she is pregnant with twins. The twins will be Molly’s 2nd and 3rd children with husband Panio Gianopoulos.

The pregnancy will be written into the storyline of The Secret Life.

fluffincolorAmy Winehouse’s husband is looking to divorce her, and will reportedly use a love letter sent to him by Winehouse to prove that he was instrumental in her career and he’s entitled to half of her estimated $15 million. As for Winehouse, she has vowed that she will not let him divorce her.

Lets see, he’s a junkie, who just got out of jail, who will use a love letter you sent him to pry $7.5M out of you.  Really, why would any one want to divorce him?

fluffincolorHeather Mills approves of Paul McCartney’s new beau, Nancy Shevell, and says the ex-Beatle has great taste in women: not judging by his last wife, I’d say.

Meanwhile, the ex-Mrs. McCartney brags that she does better with the men than her stunning New York girlfriends. Why? “Maybe it’s because I’m comfortable with myself.”

Yea, that and the $45M she got out of McCartney.

fluffincolorThere’s nothing like a good celebrity spat: Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer; Elton John and George Michael; Paris and Nicole. Now the food is flying at Food Network HQ, as Gordon Ramsey and Mario Batali are apparently chucking the cream pastries across the restaurant at each other.

The New York Times reports that Batali has banned Ramsey from his restaurants. Ramsey says he’s not banned, but why would he eat there anyway? After all the food is embarassing.

Word of the wise for Mario Batali: your not in a spat with Gordon Ramsey until they have to bleep what he says about your food.

fluffincolorLast week I stated that the crying over Dark Knight not getting an Oscar nod was strange considering it was a terrible movie. The real crime of the Oscar nominations is that The Secret Life of Bees didn’t get an Oscar nod. It is a moving, compelling movie highlighting racism in the American South in the mid-1960’s. It is loaded with drama, although sadly lacking in any humour. It is a far better choice for best movie than Dark Knight. I haven’t seen any of the five nominated movies, but I would be willing to wager that all five are not better movies than Bees. So why the lack of nod for The Secret Life of Bees? And why the lack of protest from the critics?

fluffincolorBilly Powell (1952 – 2009).

The story goes that Billy Powell was roadying for Lynyrd Skynyrd. After setting up the band in an auditorium, Powell sat at a piano that was there and began to play the intro to Free Bird, which until that time the band had been playing on guitar.

As Powell always told the story, the band didn’t know he could play piano and their jaws dropped to the floor on hearing him. They then asked him if he wanted to join the band, and it was his jaw that fell to the floor.

RIP Billy Powell, who died of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday.

cookin' with Ramsey, Fluffernutter, Uncategorized

ShutterBugging Picture of the Day – Bridge for Sale

January 29th, 2009
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Billy Powell 1952 – 2009

January 29th, 2009

When rock ‘n’ roll fans think of the Lynyrd Skynyrd sound they usually think of the three guitar assault, the voice of Ronnie Van Zandt.  But a key element in the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd was the piano playing of Billy Powell. Powell was one of the best rock and roll piano players ever and played with Skynyrd from before their first album until his death yesterday of an apparent heart attack at his Florida home.

Powell survived the famous Skynyrd plane crash into a Mississippi swamp that killed Van Zandt, Guitarist Steve Gaines and back-up singer Cassie Gaines with just a facial laceration, although one severe enough that he almost lost his nose. He was the only member of the band able to attend the funerals of his band mates.

In the end, you can’t beat a bad heart, and yesterday Billy Powell called 911 complaining of difficulty breathing. Paramedics found him in the bedroom, apparently still holding the phone. He was 56 years old.

Piano solo at 2:32

RIP, Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin'

Liberals will Pass Budget

January 28th, 2009

Just in:

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff plans to move an amendment to the budget requiring periodic economic status reports to Parliament starting in March.

Sources say that’s the price of Liberal support for the budget which Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brought down on Tuesday.

Ignatieff has said there are some good things in the budget, but the sources say the Liberals want to keep a close eye on how the money goes out.

Periodic economic status reports? That’s a housekeeping issue, and actually, a sensible one. There is no way the Conservatives let the budget fail on such a minor amendment: this budget will now pass.


But What Does Linda Leatherdale Think?

January 28th, 2009
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For years whenever a fiscal event occurred in Canada, one of the pundits I would read the next day was Linda Leatherdale at the Toronto Sun. Linda was let go by the Sun in their mid-December bloodletting, but has not been waiting around for opportunity to knock in the interim.

Linda now has her own blog, and if your Jonesing for her budget commentary this morning, she has it:



Cash-strapped Canadian families, who are losing jobs and struggling to put food on the table, are getting a tax break in the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ “Make it or Break It” budget.

But will they ever pay for it.

After a decade of sweet surpluses in Ottawa – which made Canada the envy of the world particularly now in this biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression – we’re heading back into the red “big-time.”

Well, you didn’t think she was going to like it, did you?  Be sure to read the whole thing.

Economic Fundamentalism, writers

Blue Blogging Soapbox Blogging Tories Site of the Week

January 28th, 2009
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The Blue Blogging Soapbox Blogging Tories Site of the Week for the week of January 25, 2009 is:

The eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr. Brain has long since departed.

Blogging Tories Site of the Week

MacBooks for Bloggers

January 28th, 2009
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I really had my hopes up on this one. It seemed such a natural. Hey, these are hard times for bloggers. We labour away day after day; basements get cold in January. People don’t hit your tip jar, they don’t click on the google ads. Up there in Ottawa they are throwing money around, our money, both higgeldy and piggeldy.

MacBook for Bloggers: 24-carat gold MacBook Pro

MacBook for Bloggers: 24-carat gold MacBook Pro

Alas! I have been searching through the budget documents: toilets and sinks; roads and sewers; paint for Gods sake;  shipbuilders and car builders; builders of flying saucers and hewers of wood;  sports, culture, newspapers, magazines … wait a minute…


New media. There’s a new media fund!

The Canada New Media Fund, administered by Canadian Heritage, encourages the production of Canadian interactive digital cultural content, and fosters the development, production, and marketing/distribution of original, interactive or online Canadian cultural new media works.

In recognition of the contribution of new media to Canadian culture, Budget 2009 confirms funding of $28.6 million over the next two years to the Canada New Media Fund, and $14.3 million annually thereafter.

Well, this is embarrassing. This was supposed to be a joke piece: they gave something to everybody, including the kitchen sink, what about us bloggers? Turns out, the joke is on me. And you, assuming you pay taxes.

MacBooks for bloggers appears to be a go. Sure hope it doesn’t fall in that nice new kitchen sink.

Ottawa, Parliament, pimply minions of bureaucracy, Showing the proper feudal spirit, watergate - shawanigate - profligate

You Can’t Take God Out of the Convocation

January 28th, 2009

A repeat post from March 2006. Then it was University of Toronto athiests who wanted to take God out of the convocation ceremonies. This time it’s University of Alberta, who is changing the charge for grandaunts to use their degrees, “for the glory of God and the honour of your country.” The atheist/agnostic community, the same people who don’t want you to think about such issues, objected. Instead of expelling them for being obviously too stupid for a university education, the University of Alberta will change the the charge for the grandaunts to use their degrees “for the uplifting of the whole people; to inspire the human spirit; for all who believe, to serve your God; and to pursue more steadfastly whatsoever things are true.”

Here’s what I wrote back un 2006:

Being a practicing Agnostic, a great undecided in the poll of life, people like this make me cringe:

A student group wants to do away with prayer at the University of Toronto’s convocation this spring, saying it is “disgusted” that graduates have to listen to words like “Eternal God” during the process.

“The prayer refers to God as the source of power, hope and aspiration,” Toronto Secular Alliance president Justin Trottier said yesterday. “As an atheist, that’s a depressing source of aspiration. It takes away from individual, personal effort and attributes it to a deity.

The U. of T. students complaining of the word God in their convocation ceremonies are probably better off skipping the ceremonies altogether. Much of the customs they will witness and engage in are mediaeval in origin and have much to do with God.

The ceremony itself, the “convocation for the conferment of degrees” – convocation itself means a calling together – has been done , and called that since the beginnings of universities.

A student attending convocation wears a gown in the university colours. This gown is modeled after the same gowns worn by students of past eras. In the Middle Ages the gown would have been worn as every day clothes, often the only outer clothes the student would own. He would use it to keep warm in the unheated university. The gown itself is insignificant to the ceremony, it is the hood they place over your head that means something. While our atheist friends think they have gone to school for the degree, it is the hood that they are truly being honoured with today. It confers placement upon them, shows them to the world as graduant, instead of mere student. It signifies ascention within the university structure, and the student will kneel in front of the Chancellor to receive the hood, as the Chancellor is superior to them. Sure hope the students atheists aren’t also socialists.

In mediaeval times a grad student had earned the right to wear the hood, and would have done so as every day clothing. It may have been the first hat that the student had owned, and the right to study with warm ears was earned by virtue of the first degree, while poor undergrad students would have worked with frosty lobes.

Of course, their student ancestors studied God, that is what the university was formed for in the first place, because to have knowledge of God was to know God. Without the God that the U of T atheists find so disgusting, higher learning wouldn’t exist. In those early days they would have been studying for the church, to find God, not to eschew Him. That is why the gown they will wear so closely resembles a priest’s vestments or a Monk’s robe: because they are. The garments worn by church officials and the garments worn by students and academics evolved from the same churchly roots. Taking God out of the wording of the ceremony will hardly take Him from the ceremony itself. The students should remember as they receive their degrees, they are dressed as Priests. God will be ever present in their day, whatever their beliefs.

Debates like this make me think that the university should make a course on University history and traditions mandatory before graduation. That way those who might be offended by those traditions can stay home and have their degree conferred upon them by Canada Post. Alas, then they wouldn’t have the opportunity to prove how little of value they got for their education.

Personally, if I was their mediaeval history professor, I would retroactively fail the lot of them!


Lorrie Goldstein: I Agree With Hespeler!

January 27th, 2009

There is a long time feature in this blog called “the media following my lead.” It takes inordinate credit when I write something one day, someone else, who gets paid to do these things, writes something suspiciously similar a day or two later. I condescendingly suggest these writers have been reading At Home in Hespeler.

Yesterday something interesting happened: Lorrie Goldstein read my mind instead of my blog.

Around noon I sat and wrote the following:

…it is based on the flawed theory that government can, as we Ontario conservatives laughed when Bob Rae did it, spend itself rich. The Bob Rae analogy, by the way, isn’t superfluous: stimulus of the kind we are dealing with here is exactly what Bob Rae did, and we mocked. We mocked because he was wrong and because it failed miserably.

So what happens? I get to work, open the Toronto Sun, and there’s Lorrie Goldstein with the lead editorial, This budget a scandal in the making:

does anyone remember what happened to the last politician who tried to spend his way out of a recession?

That would be the guy who would probably be Liberal leader today — Grit MP Bob Rae — were it not for his disastrous 1991 budget when he was the NDP premier of Ontario. And Harper is about to make Rae look like a skinflint when it comes to deficits.

Goldstein takes it to a different place than I do. I suggest Conservatives be leery, this could be there ticket to a long stay in political purgatory. Goldstein is worried about inevitable scandal when money is thrown around without proper oversight.

Different conclusions, but close enough that if he wrote it today I would be suggesting I know what blog Lorrie Goldstein reads.


Select Company

January 26th, 2009
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A commenter on a piece on Gerry Nicholls’ blog wrote:

You are in select company Gerry.
Neither you or Jack Layton have seen the budget, but you are slagging our Prime Minister for it just in case it might contain something you dont like.
It is quite tiresome.

Add me to the company. Here’s what we do know about the budget: it will put Canada in a massive deficit position for the first time in ten years; it is based on the flawed theory that government can, as we Ontario conservatives laughed when Bob Rae did it, spend itself rich. The Bob Rae analogy, by the way, isn’t superfluous: stimulus of the kind we are dealing with here is exactly what Bob Rae did, and we mocked. We mocked because he was wrong and because it failed miserably.

If you are a conservative in philosophy, you cannot possibly support this budget because it is wrong headed and based on bad political philosophy. If you are a Conservative Party supporter, you should not support this budget because it could banish the party to the political wilderness, just as spending themselves rich did to the NDP in Ontario.

What Jack Layton has against the budget I can’t tell, it has all the makings of an NDP budget. But we know enough about what is coming, enough has been leaked that we know it is going to contain a lot that we don’t like.

Economic Fundamentalism, Gerry Nicholls, Jacobian Piece of Impertinence, Stephen Harper, taxpayers, The Layton world view, watergate - shawanigate - profligate

The Freedom of Music

January 25th, 2009
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freedom-of-music-headerOne likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

A friend lent me the Stephen Davis Book on The Rolling Stones, Old Gods Almost Dead. For such a high profile writer, it was really a poorly written book. Led Zeppelin fans have long complained how bad his Zeppelin tome, sidebar-4Hammer of the Gods, was, how sloppy his research, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

I have an older brother who is a huge Stones fan. Saw them in Buffalo in ’79 & ’81, saw them in Oshawa when Keith was ordered to give a benefit concert for the CNIB in lieu of prison for a heroin bust. (Surprisingly, he chose to do the concert). In 1977 when they released the live album that included the El Mocambo recordings, Love You Live, I picked it up. I was fourteen, just getting seriously into music and decided it was time to give these Stones guys a try. It was an awful album, and I never fully got into the Stones thereafter.

That’s not to say that I don’t like them. I actually think their late 60’s and most of the 70’s work is brilliant. Gimme Shelter, Ain’t to Proud to Beg, It’s Only Rock and Roll, Beast of Burden, Angie &tc. There’s a huge catalogue of great material. I even saw them in 1991, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. But I never fully bought into the Rolling Stones myth of the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band and I suspect the reason for this is Love You Live.

First impressions count, we know that. They matter when you meet a possible future spouse, they matter at a job interview, they matter when you meet new people. And they matter for rock bands. Here’s a tip for any would be rock star: never let inferior product out the door, no matter how big you get. It may be your one bad album in ten, but for somebody, somewhere, it’s going to create a bad first impression.

So while nosing through a large part of the Stones catalogue while reading, I decided to re-familiarize myself with Love You Live. I haven’t listened to it in years and, in truth, probably didn’t listen to it twice even back then.

Second impression? I wasn’t fair the first time. This isn’t awful, neither is Jagger, whom I always remember singing terrible in this album. It’s not a work of genius, not a mind blowing live album, but it captures something.

During the recording of Love You Live in Paris, after two of three shows, Keith Richard’s eleven week old son suffocated in his crib at home in Switzerland. He continued on, and reports from the third Paris show were that Keith came to life on that third night. “Most of the tracks used on the concert album Love You Live were taken from this show,” according to Davis. He “played long and luscious blues guitar solos on Hot Stuff and a painful crying aria on You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

What I hear is a pretty sloppy band. Not a bad one as first impression dictated, but a sloppy one.  And that aria in You Can’t Always Get What You Want? I hear it, but would need to hear another night to compare how painful and crying it was. It’s no Since I’ve Been Loving You, but there’s something there.

Overall, a better album than I remember, a better live band than I remember, and a fine piece of history. But the World’s Greatest Rock and Band? Not a chance.

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

ShutterBugging Picture of the Day: Winter’s Arbour

January 25th, 2009
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Winters Arbour

Winter's Arbour

via ShutterBugging


GM Doesn’t Need Our Stinking Money

January 24th, 2009

GM has said they don’t want, nor need, Canada’s short term loans, for now:

General Motors Corp.’s Canadian arm says it may not use $3-billion in emergency aid pledged by the Ontario and federal governments several more months, stating it is focused instead on long-term restructuring talks to ensure it keeps operating.

It seems innocuous enough, but other media are reporting this story as GM has refused Ottawa’s money:

General Motors of Canada has turned down an offer by the federal and Ontario governments of emergency short-term aid, a move that has stunned some analysts and left negotiations on a highly touted auto bailout in limbo.

Count this analyst along with the stunned if this is true.  There are only two reasons to turn down the money. One is that they don’t intend to continue in Canada – perhaps new American money from the new American administration comes with a “no jobs leave America while you have jobs elsewhere,” clause.

The second possible reason is that the CAW is not playing ball refusing all concessions. GM would then not be eligible for the money. However, if that was true I would expect GM to say so, thus putting pressure on the CAW to compromise.

Whatever the reason, one thing is clear. GM wants the flexibility to leave it’s Canadian operations, at least in the short term. A company who wasn’t expected to make it through Christmas doesn’t leave $3B on the table. This one looks like bad news for the Canadian auto industry.

Auto Industry, CAW

Saturday Fluffernutter: Dexter Marries his sister; Keep dreaming Bruce, you’re not getting my money; Dark Knight for an Oscar? Try a Razzie

January 24th, 2009

Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

fluffincolorBarack Obama trivia: fluffernutter-2The number one movie during Barack Obama’s inauguration? Paul Blart Mall Cop.

fluffincolorIt just seems weird to me. It shouldn’t, they are, after all just actors. But after seeing them play brother and sister Dexter and Debra Morgan for three seasons, it’s weird seeing Michael C. Hall Jennifer Carpenter as real life man and wife. The two eloped on New Yeears eve, and have started appearing as a couple in public this week.

fluffincolorReview in Brief: Bruce Springsteen Working on a Dream. The first Springsteen album I won’t be buying (due to his increasing politic affiliations), and there will be no regrets.

fluffincolorThe 2007 Oscar nominations where released this week. There has been questions about why The Dark Knight did not accrue a best movie nomination. How about this for an answer? It’s a terrible movie. Granted, Heath Ledger was very good as the Joker, and I would have no qualms about a best supporting actor nod for him, which he was nominated for. But it’s a performance wasted on one of the worst written movies I’ve seen in a long time. Short on plot, long on really, really stupid. It’s an awful movie, a complete waste of two precious life hours. Best movie? If Love Guru wasn’t so bad it would be my nod for a worst movie Razzie.

Fluffernutter, Uncategorized