Archive for April, 2011

Cool For Cats Friday: Rule Britannia Day

April 29th, 2011
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It’s Britain day, starting with all that’s right about Britain:


They really do pomp and circumstance very well, don’t they?

And then, all that’s wrong with Britain. As the Daily Mail says, it’s the “death of common sense,” and the “police have lost the plot.”  In the age of home grown terrorists blowing up the tube, when police don’t even bother investigating stolen cars, the authorities do have time to investigate the racist act of singing Kung Foo Fighting.

Just in case anybody here in Canada agrees with the simpering morons of the Isle of Wight police, without further ado, Carl Douglas’ Kung Foo Fighting. If you find this offensive/racist, may I suggest you a) are not really very bright, b) don’t bookmark.

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The Freedom of Music: Splitting the Beatles

April 24th, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

April 11, 1970. It was a warm day, as I recall it. Quite warm for mid April. It must have been a weekend, else why else was I at home in the afternoon? My dad was working outside, and the windows were down on his old dodge while he listened to the radio, CFRB – radio for squares.fluffposter01sample1

The news came on and the announcer reported, “The Beatles announced yesterday they have officially broken up.” Paul McCartney had issued a press release.

My thought was, ‘Good. Now I won’t have to hear about Beatles this and Beatles that all the time. I don’t like their music anyway.’

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

In my defense, I was six, and all I really knew about The Beatles was from hearing people talk about them, and people seemed to rather go on about them. Bear in mind as well, I was living with people who listened to “radio for squares.”

It wouldn’t be too many years before I realized Ob-la-di Ob-la-da, a song I would run around the house singing, was The Beatles. And Octopus’s Garden, which I knew from a cartoon that was regularly on TV, hey that too was The Beatles. And before you knew it I discovered that in fact, I did like their music.

But at least people would stop talking about them.

When I was 12, I started learning to play guitar. Up the road from our house was a place with a Japanese family, including two guys who were late teens or early twenties. They were in a band and had a stack of amplifiers against their basement wall. I specifically remember a Gibson SG guitar, although there must have been other instruments. I became friendly with the guitar player, who blew me away with his ability to learn a song, by ear, in about half an hour – a skill I had never even imagined before that.

“The Beatles weren’t just a great band,” my guitar playing friend told me. “They changed the world: they changed how people dressed, how they cut their hair, even how they thought. And they introduced drugs into mainstream culture.”

Here it is, six years since the break-up, and people are still talking about the Beatles. Like I said, wrong, wrong and wrong.

In fact, as I moved into my rock and roll years, The Beatles individually would be as influential as they were collectively 10 years earlier. In the early to mid 70’s The Beatles were everywhere, making music that was comparable to their best. John Lennon did Imagine, Paul McCartney Band on the Run, George Harrison was big with My Sweet Lord and What is Life, even Ringo was singing Photograph – co-written by Harrison (although You’re Sixteen is kind of creepy in retrospect).

So much for the end of the Beatles. Despite Paul’s press release, and later the flying lawsuits, The Beatles were very much a going concern.

April 11, 1970. Marked on the calendar as the day I was wrong, wrong and wrong.

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Cool For Cats Good Friday

April 22nd, 2011
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The good: Nina Simone, Feeling Good:

The Friday: Steely Dan, Black Friday.

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What Took Them So Long to Notice?

April 20th, 2011
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I love Kate. There, I said it. It’s out there. I… Love … Kate.

There’s nothing more for it than to admit that up front. She has the best blog going, saying so much with one or two sentences, a subtle joke and a link. A video and a headline can say so much. And usually, she is right on top of things. And then there’s that picture of her working on a bike… in shorts…

This time, however, she is a year and a half behind the curve. And while it’s nice that NewBusters is on the environmental refugee non-event (“Rising sea levels, desertification and shrinking freshwater supplies will create up to 50 million environmental refugees…”), I was on top of this file in Dec, 2009, where I intoned, “… it’s going to be a hell of a month

But unlike The Guardian or Al Gore, I provided actual evidence of my theory, proof that environmental refugees were real and living among us. Yes, in December 2009, I ran Environmental Refugee Week. Here was my list of environmental refugees:

  1. Sarah Palin
  2. Sanata Claus
  3. The Phoenix Coyotes
  4. Barack Obama

It’s lonely at the bottom, but when your other true love can’t hear you yelling up to her on her pedestal, it makes for a long, cold 17 months. Thank God I had climate change to keep me warm.

Global Warming, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment ,

Happy 65th Birthday…

April 19th, 2011
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Tim Curry has done it all: actor on screen and stage, singer and cartoon voice. His career has never made him a household name, but it’s been remarkable for it’s versatility and longevity.

His movie VC is long and varied: Rocky Horror Picture Show; Three Men in a Boat; The Hunt for Red October; Muppet Treasure Island. He has appeared on sitcoms, and done voices in Scooby Doo, Phineas and Ferb, A Sesame Street Christmas Carol and Garfield.

On Broadway he played in Rocky Horror, was Mozart in Amadeus, Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot.

In 1979 he had a top 40 hit with I Do The Rock, a fun song complete with quick rap verses.

For all that, there’s nothing there to make me mention Tim Curry.

In 1978 Curry released his first album, Read My Lips. On it, was the saddest, most depressing blues song you’ve ever heard. Angst runs through every word, every guitar line in Sloe Gin. It’s chorus, making liberal use of the F-word made sure it was never mainstream, but was more intense than any other rock song. Rock music sometimes rises out of ordinary, into true art. Sloe Gin is one of those moments.

So for Sloe Gin, Happy 65th Birthday Tim Curry.

Language Warning.

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Ezra Levin Starts with an Old Bang

April 19th, 2011
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h/t Kitty on Fire

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Mark Steyn on Michael Graham Show

April 19th, 2011
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I love podcasts. I listen to radio shows from all over Canada and America depending on my mood or who he guest is. If The Fans Bob McCown is being a tool one day, I move on or fast forward to what I want, then move on.

One of my daily listens is The Michael Graham Show out of Boston. This week, he had Mark Steyn on, always a worth while listen. Here’s the audio from the show.

You can subscribe to Michael Graham’s Podcast here.

h/t @kshaidle

Mark Steyn ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Talentless, Mundane and Boring Edition

April 16th, 2011
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorIn the past, Lady Gaga has dressed up as a nun and swallowed a rosary (which, completely indecently, I’d like to see). The Catholic Church, remarkably, disapproved. Now, however, she has really gone and done it.fluffposter01sample1

In the video for her new song, Judas, Gaga portrays Mary Magdalene opposite some guy as Judas. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is not happy, saying of Lady Gaga:

She is trying to rip off Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane and boring performances.

Hey, if she can swallow a rosary, she can’t be that talentless.

Notice how this all sounds so familiar. She is not only offending the Catholic League, she is blatantly ripping off Madonna’s schtick, who herself is talentless, mundane and boring.

fluffincolorSpeaking of Madonna, Andrew Lloyd Webber is trying to get her to star in a musical movie of Sunset Boulevard. He is trying to get her to play Norma Desmond, an aging, washed up former star.

The question is, why would Madonna agree to play on the big screen what she plays everyday in real life?

fluffincolorReview in Brief: Bob Seger at Air Canada Center

Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ Only forgetting a few of the words.

fluffincolorBeen a rough year for Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. Fresh from fighting his thought to be fatal throat cancer, a few weeks ago he was seen on video valiantly challenging a group of photographers after one of them seemed to hit his wife. Now, it is her who needs the medical attention.

Catherine Zeta-Jones has checked into a mental health facility to “seek treatment for bi-polar disorder.”

Lets be clear what this is: after a year of looking after a very sick husband, Catherine Zeta-Jones is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. That’s what happens to care givers. If there’s any suggestion we should infer from this, it is that Catherine Zeta-Jones didn’t farm out the job of looking after Michael Douglas, and took on too much of the strain herself. She deserves praise and our fervent hopes that she get well soon. Personally, I wish Hollywood had a lot more classy, dignified, decent people like her.

Then again, what would I write about?

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Cool For Cats Friday

April 15th, 2011
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If you are local to the centre of the universe and missed it, one of the greats came to town this week. Because nothing is good for the soul like rock and roll, some Bob Seger from Toronto.

It’s true what they say, Rock and Roll Never Forgets:

On the same day, it was announced, are you ready for this boys, that the Lingerie Football League is coming to Toronto. As much as I hate to do it, I have to throw my support behind a new sport coming to Toronto. So Gentlemen, meet the ladies of the Lingerie Football League:



Bob Seger, Cool For Cats, Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin' , , , ,

Liberal Star Candidate in Cambridge

April 14th, 2011
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Occasionally I join in on the fun over at the Cambridge Citizen. Here’s my latest:

During elections, parties struggle to get name candidates, people who have had previous success and can use their name to help the cause along. Based solely on their past, these star candidates often get responsibilities beyond what a rookie politico normally would. Liberal MP Ken Dryden and Conservative MP Julian Fantino are both examples of this phenomena.


Here in Cambridge, the Liberals have stepped up and nominated Queen guitarist – and, not unimportantly, Doctor of Astrophysics – Bryan May. This is a brilliant choice which, frankly, the Liberals don’t seem to be capitalizing on.

On the campaign trail Michael Ignatieff could come out to the faithful giving him the We Will Rock You clap, and Bryan May could step up and play the solo. That would pump up the crowd.

Ignatieff, instead of quoting Bob Dylan, should be sprinkling Queen quotes through his speeches:

Stephen Harper says he is for families.

I’m here to tell you, if he gets the majority he craves, he will tie your mother down, tie your mother down, lock your daddy outdoors.

That‘s not good for families.

Staying with the same song, instead of his tired speech about “that guy being in contempt of the house,” how good would Ignatieff sound if he said:

You’re such a dirty louse go get outa’ my house’.

When Prime Minister Harper attacked during the debate, Mr. Ignatieff could have sung back:

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single little civil word from those guys… (waves his arm n the general direction of Stephen Harper)

Take that American Canadian idol.

Now, if I can improve Michael Ignatieff’s speeches and debate performance markedly, imagine what professional speech writers putting actual effort into the project could come up with.

After Bryan May wins the riding of Cambridge – and the Doctor of Astrophysics will undoubtedly beat the Chiropractor because he is, after all, a much better guitar player – think of the benefit to Canadian’s as a whole. In an effort to reach across the aisle and work with the other parties, Bryan May could play guitar when Stephen Harper gets the itch to gig.

This has the double benefit of improving the band – because Bryan May is one of the best half-dozen guitar players in the world, and he’s a waaaaay better singer than Stephen Harper – and improving relations between the two parties.

In fact, I think other parties should join the trend a create a truly great Commons House Band. The NDP for instance could get Police drummer Stuart Copeland to run in Regina. This would have the double advantage of giving the NDP a strong criminal justice spokesman. The Bloc could put up Who bassist Jean Entwistle in Mink DeVille, which is, I believe, part of the townships. The Green Party could confuse the hell out of everybody and nominate Mama Let Him Play singer and guitarist Gilles Doucette in Vancouver. With a band like that, The House would certainly be rockin’.

Excuse me, the phone is ringing…

Hello?… Yes… Uh-huh… not the same guy… Queen guitarist spells his name with an I… M-a-i?…

Oh, B-r-i-a-n… Yes, as my name is Brian with an i, I suppose I should have noticed that… Does this mean Bryce Springsteen won’t be running for mayor?

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The Freedom of Music: Presence 35 Years On

April 10th, 2011


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

“Their first two albums are OK,” said Rick, a casual friend who was older and patiently explaining Led Zeppelin to me. “3 is great, 4 is the best, the next two good as well.”

It was 1980, and I had just mentioned that Led Zeppelin where the greatest band in the world. “Presence is crap, In Through The Out Door I never even bothered listening too.”imgp1295

I cringed. “I’m not so sure about Presence being crap,” I said.

“Don’t tell me I don’t understand it,” he interrupted me sharply. “I was there, I bought it on the first day. I understand it, and it’s crap.”

The fact is, it’s not that I disagreed with him, but I didn’t agree either. “I wasn’t going to say that,” I answered him defensively. “I don’t really like it either, but off hand, I don’t know why I don’t like it.”

It was as true as far as it goes. Why didn’t I like it? I couldn’t think of a song I didn’t like. Sure Achilles Last Stand was 10 minutes long, and who did 10 minute songs anymore? So too was Tea For One, which was a pale imitation of Since I’ve Been Loving You anyway. For Your Life was a hard song to grasp: it was heavy handed with lots of stops and time changes throughout.

On the other hand Royal Orleans is a great rocker, Hots on for Nowhere and Candy Store Rock are both good fun rock and roll. And Nobody’s Fault But Mine was destined to be a classic, that was obvious even then.

So why the ambivalence? What’s not to like?

I suspect the answer is that Presence was a dark album. It was heavy not musically, but in character. It weighed on you, almost oppressively. That means, I’m sorry to say Rick, that if you don’t understand it, you will never get it.

Presence, however, has aged well. Knowing what we know now, the darkness that was beginning to surround that band, it’s easier to understand Presence. No longer being affected by current styles, the length of a song is not so important. Thus, we return to the point, what’s not to like?

Achilles Last Stand is an epic masterwork: Jimmy Page at his very best, both creatively and as a guitar player. His layered lines, chromatic runs and one of the best guitar solos of all time all contribute. The unbelievable rhythm section, Jones and Bonham simply pounding behind Page’s layers, is a tour de force. Lyrically, Achilles Last Stand is brilliant. Robert Plant’s sense of humour, which baffles and frustrates fans to this day, is all over this elegant and poetic opus.

The year before Presence had been a tough one for Led Zeppelin. Their 1975 American tour didn’t go as well as hoped, drugs had crept into the Zeppelin family and were taking their toll. From the balcony of the Hyatt House hotel in Los Angeles, Plant yelled out during a photo shoot, “I am a golden God.” The remark was well reported and much maligned. After returning in triumph to England with five nights at the Royal Albert Hall, Plant had a car accident on vacation in Greece. He suffered a severely broken ankle while his wife suffered life threatening injuries. That’s the backstory behind Achilles Last Stand, Plant’s ode to himself, the golden God with the broken ankle.

For Your Life is, as noted earlier, a musically complex song. Stops and starts with time changes throughout, set to a dirge tempo that makes it ponderously heavy. It is a hard song to like: not a bad song, possibly even a great song, but inaccessible on casual listening. A song about drug addiction, couched in Plant’s more usual sexual innuendo, it is a song that reveals itself upon repetitive listening.

For it’s heaviness, Presence has a group of songs that are almost pop. Heavy handed and demanding, yes, but with definite pop sensibilities. Royal Orleans, about bassist John Paul Jones encounter with a transvestite at the Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans is the first of these. The other two, Candy Store Rock and Hots on for Nowhere center the second side. Candy Store Rock is a 50’s style straight up rock and roll number. Hots on for Nowhere features one of my favorite lines in a Led Zeppelin song:

(On the) corner of Bleeker and nowhere,
In the land of not quite day…

Every time I go to New York, I can’t help wandering down to Bleeker Street and singing this line to myself.

Those two songs are sandwiched between some standard blues, Nobody’s Fault But Mine and Tea for One. Tea for One is an original Led Zeppelin slow blues in the style of Since I’ve Been Loving You. Written by Plant in a New York hotel while on tour, Tea for One has a literal meaning: the lonely Plant, away from his family.

Nobody’s Fault But Mine is an old blues that has been covered by many artists since the 1960s. Other than the title and lyrics, Led Zeppelin’s version is unrecognizable as the original.

Presence, the first Led Zeppelin album without an acoustic guitar son, was a backwards album for Led Zeppelin. When it was released 35 years ago this week, the critics liked it, the fans less so. Every previous Led Zeppelin album had been received opposite to that: loved by the fans, hated by critics.

It has also aged very well, improving on listening through the years. A powerful, dynamic album, it was Led Zeppelin at their best. It has aged well and has become over the years, my personal favourite Led Zeppelin album.

No Rick, it is not crap and yes, if you just understood it you would know that.

The Freedom of Music, The Mighty Zep ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Truth is Not an Option Edition

April 9th, 2011
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorHaha, you decided. Charlie Sheen is coming to town, puttin’ on a show, Andy Rooney style. Gonna get me a ticket to that – cheap at $80 – put on a “winning” t-shirt, drop $20 on parking an have me an entertaining evening. Just like the folks in Detroit.39010007_lg

The folks in Detroit beg to differ. Sheen opened his “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat in Not an Option” tour is losing fashion. Defeat was not just an option, it was a reality as fans booed, walked out and demanded their money back.

Sheen arrived on stage to various, disjointed video clips and semi-coherent rants quoting such diverse sources as Bob Dylan and Robert Plant.

Couldn’t have just used those two 50’s for kindling?

fluffincolorWhat’s that line about two bad guys having a gun fight? Don’t pick sides.

Courtney Love and Kelly Osbourne are having a knock ‘em down, claws out, kitty kat fight. Love is upset that Osbourne referred to her as a crack addict. ‘I’ve been clean since 2005,’ meowed Love back. ‘And I’ve seen Kelly Osbourne having an Overdose. In fact, I’ve saved Kelly Osbourne’s life,’ she purred angrily.

If fur was pointy sticks, a guy could lose an eye around here.

fluffincolorReview In Brief: Lincoln Lawyer

Made in Detroit meets A Time to Kill

fluffincolorMy Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option: Day 2.

A complete make over of the show in Chicago seems to have save the Vatican Assassin from the horror of more bad reviews. Chicago fans enjoyed, and gave a standing O. The show featured Sheen and Toronto’s own Joey Vandetta in an Q & A format. The change seems to have brought focus to the show, allowing Sheen to shine through.

$80 plus to watch someone be interviewed, and these people are happy? And what’s this about the crowd giving a “standing O?” What was it, a crowd of gymnasts?

fluffincolorDespite her criminal lack of talent, Madonna denies claims she is being investigated by the FBI.

Madonna’s charity, Raising Malawi, was created to produce a girls school in the poverty stricken country – because what young girls without food or clean water need is lessons in fake Jewish mysticism.

A couple of million dollars was raised through her celebrity connections. The money is gone and penny one has not been spent on building a school. Neither a classroom nor a mud-hut dormitory has been built.

Yet despite that, despite the fact cheques were cashed, receipts issued, despite the fact the people running the charity on the ground were treating themselves to golf club memberships and other lavish expenses, neither the FBI or IRS have any plans to investigate.

Madonna remains committed and focused on what matters: helping the children of Malawi.

Dear children of Malawi: the cheque, and the membership, is in the mail.


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Cool For Cats Friday

April 8th, 2011
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The Band From Far Out does The Gong Show. The 70’s at their cheesy, campy best:

Cool For Cats

Why Would the Conservatives Remove Possible Voters From Their Rally?

April 6th, 2011
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Three years ago I attended a rally in Guelph to hear Prime Minister Harper speak. Outside where a bunch of university students taking pictures of and generally harassing people entering the event. On the roof, two protesters climbed around, hoping to do who knows what.

Guelph March 19, 2008

Guelph March 19, 2008

They were dumber than they were stealth and the Prime Minister’s security removed them in hand cuffs.

Later, protester Izzy Hirji was quoted in the local media.

Question: if you were on the Prime Minister’s security detail, would you let Izzy Hirji into an election rally for the Prime Minister?

Or, would you allow the person who wrote on a Facebook Enviro Club wall:

stephen harpers plan is ridiculous, 40 years without results, and death to Kyoto!?!?!?! OMGWTF im ready to like go to Ottawa myself an take him down.

You got it, Izzy Hirji again.

The Black Rod has done a great job finding out who these “kids” are that Stephen Harper won’t let in, and it looks like there may have been good reason to keep them out.

But I’m guessing you won’t read that on Bourque:


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The Tough on Crime Agenda…

April 6th, 2011
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Is not about putting pot-smoking teenagers in prison…crime1

They planned in advance to sexually assault and kill Miss Proctor. They chose her because they thought she was an easy target, not necessarily because either of them had ill will toward her.

… it’s about making sure a “sexual sadist” who is “aroused by the physical and psychological suffering of others,” and is a “high risk to re-offend violently and sexually for up to 40 years,” with “little chance they can be rehabilitated,” get more than 10 years.

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