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Archive for May, 2011

The Freedom of Music: Your A Riot Alice

May 29th, 2011

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

The headline in yesterdays entertainment section said, “Alice Cooper cancels first concert in 30 years.” sidebar-7

Hmmm… Alice Cooper…cancelled concert… 30 years ago… it all sounds so familiar, as if it’s there somewhere in the memory bank just waiting. Alice Cooper…cancelled… 30 years… 1980…

Ah yes!

The headlines on August 20, 1980 read, “Alice Cooper cancels concert, fans riot.” The concert was at the CNE Grandstand, and I was underneath the stream of folding chairs that told the world, riot on. At 17, they were the best concert seats I ever had at that stage of my life: sixth row floors, slightly stage right. For a guy like Alice Cooper, who does so much in a show, it would be great to be that close to the action.

At the approximate starting time, local band Zon came on, and did the usual opening act thing, that is to say they were completely ignored for about half-an-hour. The truth is, we had no idea it was Zon playing, a band who’s album, Astral Projection, got played late in the night at parties. (Side note: Christmas Eve a few years later at a girlfriends house, I talked about the Alice Cooper riot of 1981 with the mother of Zon bassist Jim Samson).

Zon left the stage and the roadies took over, changing the equipment out. Drums were moved into place, props set up, guitars put on stands and microphone’s check, checked. Everything was ready, the pump was primed, the crowd cheered every time some roadie triple checked that the snare drum was just so. Surely it would be any minute now, any second even.

Watching news reports from the day now, I’m struck by a number of things: how primitive CNE stadium really was, how skinny we were, and that the decision was made at 10:00PM that Alice Cooper couldn’t go on. About 90 minutes after Zon left the stage, and hour after the last roadie tweaked the last bit of gear, and Alice Cooper was just then deciding it wasn’t going to happen.

They announced from the stage, long after the crowd had lost patience, that Alice Cooper would not be performing. Zon, however, would be happy to come back on and play some more songs for you, said Cooper’s lead guitarist (Dick Wagner?), who had the unenviable duty of ducking the first chairs to start flying.

If you see footage, and want to know where I was, I was under the flying chairs. My best ever concert seats suddenly turned into the worst ever concert seats. They were about to get worse.

Here’s what none of the reports from the time mention. The police arrived on horseback, entered the floor area of the stadium at one end, and slowly forced the crowd through one open gate at the other end. We went form ducking chairs to trying desperately not to fall and get trampled.

How bad were things? Here’s a line from a news report at the time:

…they tore out 200 seats welded to steel posts and bolted to concrete.

It’s possible PCP was involved but none the less, 200 seats welded to steel posts ripped out.

I stumbled home that night in a drizzling rain, mascara running down my face (we had done the whole black eyes schtick). Within’ days t-shirts would pop up: “Your a Riot Alice” and “I Survived the Alice Cooper Riot of 1981,” being the ones I remember. I never bought one, having actually survived folding chairs flying over my head, I didn’t need the t-shirt. I was just glad to be alive, and what else can you ask of rock and roll?


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Saturday Fluffernutter: The You Know You Have a Problem When Britney Spears is Manlier than James Bond Edition

May 28th, 2011
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorOprah Winfrey signed off the air this week, finishing her long running TV show, which is arguably the most successful show ever.fluffernutter-2

Winfrey signed off with a quiet show, just her and her audience, reviewing best of clips through the years. The day before, she put on the “really big shoo,” featuring a multitude of celebrities paying homage to the Queen of daytime talk.

The big O is moving on to running her own TV network, which will feature… a show of her own.

Plus a la change

fluffincolorJeffery Deaver released his new novel in London this week at St. Pancras Station with champagne, a red Bentley and royal marines rappelling from the roof.

The Book?

So nice to get some new Bond material that doesn’t involve that pouty, wimped out man child Daniel Craig.

fluffincolorSpeaking of James Bond, Casino Royale director Martin Campbell has blasted it’s follow-up, Quantum of Solace, as “lousy”:

The truth was it was a lousy film. Casino Royale really set the table for them and I felt they blew it completely. I’m sure Sam (Mendes) will do a good job (directing the next Bond movie). I just hope to God they don’t mess it up..

Look, the truth is, they are both lousy films, and it has nothing to do with directing. God herself could descend from the heavens to direct the next Bond movie, and as long as she keeps Daniel Craig in the lead role, it will be inferior.

fluffincolorOh, God, she’s back!

Britney Spears is a talentless hack who uses auto-tune on record and lip synchs live.

Somehow though, she just won’t go away. Last weekend at the Billboard Skank and Hoe Awards (hilariously called the Billboard Music Awards), Britney started the show performing with Rihanna. They synched Rihanna’s song S&M by pole dancing in leather bodices while handcuffed.

Pole dancing and handcuffs? Sure sounds like Britney.

Go away!

fluffincolorAmy Winehouse is back in the news, and back in rehab. The super soulful songstress with a voice like Marianne Faithfull and habits to match, checked herself into the Priory Clinic in the UK.

Reports suggest this time out the singer, who’s had a big hit in 2006 with a song called Rehab, is drinking too much.


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Cool for Cats Friday: What is and What Should Never Be

May 20th, 2011
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Haley Reinhart got voted off American Idol this week after performing Led Zeppelin’s What is and What Should Never Be. Conventional wisdom is she lost out because she slipped and fell on the stairs while performing. I say, it’s because she cut the slide solo out of the song – although in fairness, Jimmy Page is a much better guitar player than Haley Reinhart’s dad.


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Goodbye Al Quida’s Rose

May 19th, 2011
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I’ve never been much of a Martin Short fan, but real kudos to him for this one.

h/t SDA


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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Jet Lag is a Bitch Edition

May 15th, 2011

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorAn old joke, but a good one:

Upon the news that Paul McCartney was splitting with his then wife, Heather Mills, McCartney was asked whether he would ever go down on one knee again.fluff2

“She doesn’t like to be called that,” he answered.

It’s tough being Mrs. Paul McCartney, just ask Nancy Shevell, the next Mrs. Paul McCartney. Here’s the front page from yesterdays Daily Mail:

Murder, the Mob and the New Lady Macca.

Bet New Jersey trucking magnate Shevell wishes the most plasticized Beatle stuck with one-knee.

fluffincolorYou think you have a problem mother-in-law? Uber Chef/Big Bully Gordon Ramsay is being sued by his, as well as his father-in-law, brother-in-law and nephew.

It all relates to Ramsay dismissing his FIL last year, after he ran Ramsay’s company for years. The rest of the family were subsequently let go. They are all suing for unfair dismissal, as well as claiming a variety of employment breaches.

Things are so bad the family has told Ramsay’s wife, the beautiful and long suffering Tana, not to bother with them. They, in fact, sent her on her 44th birthday that reads, in part:

Tana, you are not welcome anywhere near our door… until you dispose of hat man (Ramsay), you are not welcome back.

Maybe if the Chef just kicked the garbage can, that would fix everything.

fluffincolorActress Sienna Miller took a £100,000 payout from British tabloid New of the World. She had sued for £400,000 after the paper hacked her cellular phone and published a story based on the “breach of confidentiality.”

The tab settled with Miller, admitting a full admission of liability. Problem for News of the World is, Miller’s is the first of at least two-dozen breaches to go to court.

Hmmm. Two dozen x £100,000…


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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Failing a Field Sobriety Test Edition

May 7th, 2011
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorIn season three of Californication Rick Springfield had a brilliant part, playing… Rick Springfield. The fictoional Rick Springfield was a hard partying, cocaine snorting, hard drinking, over sexed celebrity, living hard off his former glory.fluffernutter

Rick Springfield the real guy was pulled over this week, and after smelling alcohol, had to submit to a field sobriety test, which he failed.

Talk about taking your work home with you.

fluffincolorLindsay Lohan can’t catch a break. After expressing an interest in playing Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks in a biopic, Nicks has nixed the idea, at least until Lohan pass a field sobriety test. said Nicks:

I was completely messed up for a long time and I got it together… If she could get it together, she could have a really big career and she could do great things.

fluffincolorFall Out Boy’s (they’re a band) Patrick Stump has spoken up about the reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden:

The thing that’s hard for me as an American is that… obviously it’s a symbolic victory for the War on Terror but at the end of the day I don’t think it’s cool to celebrate any one’s death. I just don’t believe in that.

I’m guessing they should just change the name of the band now to Fall Out, Boy!

Other celebrity reactions to bin Ladens death:

  • “I guess I won’t be invited to any more bin Laden weddings.” – Elton John
  • “The death of Osama bin Laden is a prediction of the Global Warming models.” – Al Gore
  • “Why didn’t they call the Vatican Ninja Assassins if they had a job to do.” – Charlie Sheen
  • “I want to play him in the movie.” – Lindsay Lohan

fluffincolorRicardo Chavira, who plays Carlos on Desperate Housewives, was arrested Tuesday Night for “suspicion of driving under the influence.”

Chavira was being held on $25,000 bail after, “failing a field sobriety test.”


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Cool For Cats Friday.

May 6th, 2011
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It turns out I’ve been married for 20 years. Seems strange that someone so young, fit and with such a nice full head of hair could be old enough to be married so long, but I have been. And lady Hespeler, who honestly looks the same as when I met her, how she could be married 20 years is beyond my limited imagination. Where does the time go anyway?

For our anniversary, we are off to Paris for a celebration in style (or a holiday on the cheap – your choice). (**warning: if you are thinking, “oh good, now I can go and rob the Hespeler towers,” think again. I have left an attack mother-in-law behind. Seriously, you want to wait until I get back).

As my anniversary gift, the Lady Hespeler got me a pair of tickets to see Jimmy Buffet when he rolls into Toronto. In honour of Jimmy Buffet and Paris, here is “He Went to Paris.”

I used to sing my daughter to sleep with that song, followed by Tom Cochrane’s Avenue A:

You know, the daughter would love to go to Juilliard (and Paris). Makes you wonder how much they absorb.


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Post-Election Thoughts

May 5th, 2011
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Now that the election is over, some Hesplerian thoughts:

liberal-3I agreed back in February or so with Gerry Nicholls that a Conservative majority was coming. Why? It struck me that Michael Ignatieff had lousy political instincts and would be terrible in a hard election. Contrary to the media meme that he ran a good campaign, he was terrible. On day one he wouldn’t answer a simple question about coalition, all the while insisting he was answering it. It was obvious to anyone watching he was evading, and he wasn’t good at evading.

By the end of the first week, we had the absurd, red door blue door quote to make fun of. By week two it was “Rise Up!” which we on the right were busy making fun of, but the Ignatieff campaign kept repeating. The Liberal candidate in my riding was using a #riseup hashtag on his tweets. Guys, when they are laughing at you, stop making the joke.

Then there’s the debates. Jack Layton clearly knocked out Michael Ignatieff in both debates. Not speaking french, I’ll leave discussion about that to others. The english debate, however, was in hindsight all Jack. It wasn’t the suggestion that Ignatieff doesn’t show up to work, although it was a good shot, but Ignatieff’s response that killed him. Here’s the right response:

First off Jack, your numbers are wrong, I have not missed 70% of the vote. Secondarily, as leader of the opposition, I have responsibilities beyond normal Parliamentarians. Those responsibilities reasonably keep me out of the house sometimes. It’s far more reasonable for the leader of the opposition to miss some votes than the leader of the third place party spend almost $1m of taxpayers money transporting himself and his wife all the way to Toronto.

Here’s what you don’t say, especially when the label the opposition has placed on you is arrogance:

I don’t need any lectures on democracy from you.

Ignatieff went for the latter response, and today the Canadian Forces are dumping the corpse of his political career over the side of a frigate off the coast of Peggy’s Cove.

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Stephen Harper’s best move was one he was heavily criticized for. He offered to debate Ignatieff one-on-one, then withdrew the offer when Ignatieff jumped at it. At to that Ignatieff’s response to Layton in the debate that (and I paraphrase) he should stop acting like he has a chance at forming government. The opposition groups were working together, trying to unseat Stephen Harper. What Harper did by offering the one-on-one debate was put the fox in the hen-house of the coalition. Ignatieff confirmed that indeed, some pigs are created more equal than others in any possible coalition/co-operation. The game was on, and the NDP helped take down the Liberals.

logoChampagne notwithstanding, the NDP has a real problem. It is now the party of Quebec, having gained only 8 more seats outside of Quebec. Half their caucus is from one province. Quebec voters have long memories and don’t forgive perceived insults. So what do you call it when a party runs a bunch of inexperienced kids? If some of these very lightweight politicians emerge to show what they are not made of, Quebec voters may well turn on the NDP. And controlling political amateurs who have nothing to lose by going off reservation is going to be a Herculean task. The expression herding cats comes to mind.

Beside that, Quebecers will expect Layton to stand in the house and speak for Quebecers. It’s what is done. When he goes in to his “I speak for all Canadians,” schtick, Quebecers won’t be happy. But if he stands and starts doing Gilles Duceppe’s old “I speak for all Quebecers,” schtick, the rest of the country will notice and note. He will also now have to make up his mind on a number of issues where he said one thing on Quebec and another elsewhere, particularly out West. You can’t play two sides of the fence in Parliament. It will be a delicate balancing act, and one if he gets wrong, could be very bad for the NDP next time around.

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Note: Ruth Ellen Brosseau is already a problem

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What’s next for the Liberals? If I were the Liberal Party of Canada, here’s what I would do.

First off, disregard any talk of Liberal/NDP merger. Not this time, not with the NDP having the trump cards. A Liberal/NDP merger only works for Liberals if it is the NDP being absorbed by the Liberals, not the other way around. Like the PCs before them, they will need more than one drubbing to get the hint.

That said, the goal is rebuild. And like a hockey team, the best rebuilds are youth movements. I am not a Liberal, and I don’t pretend to know everybody in the party. Insiders would be better informed on the talent within, but I would shoot with a guy like Justin Trudeau. Yes, I know what the detractors say: his father’s charisma, his mother’s brains. That may be so, it may not, but I would risk it all on him, or someone like him.

To be sure I’m talking about a long-term project. Your new guy has to be willing to go riding to riding, Liberal to Liberal and shake hands, discuss what’s important to them, and convince them to leave a few dollars in the collection box on their way out. Every riding, every Liberal need to shake your guys hand, look him in the eye and connect (note: I am using the masculine here, but it could just as well be a woman. The prose was just getting too bloody awkward trying to neutralize the gender).

This strategy depends on one uncomfortable fact: you have to be prepared to lose the next election. Not that you can’t win it – 4 years is a long time in politics – but that winning it is not your aim. Rebuilding the party, developing policies, improving the finances, those are the goals. Two election from now, and we are talking 6 – 8 years, you are looking to win. By then you have a veteran leader who has been through the wars, he has made his mistakes, and he’s ready to lead. That’s the route I would take and it is, I think, the only way to avoid the end of the Liberal party.

Of course, you could disagree and make 64 year-old Bob Rae your leader, just as the PC’s went back to Joe Clark. That worked so well for them, after all.

logo Ruth Ellen Brosseau lives in Ottawa and works at a student pub, does not speak french and has never been to Berthier-Maskinongé. During the campaign, she went on holiday to Las Vegas, and had to be called in Vegas and told to come back, because she was winning. The voters of Berthier-Maskinongé elected her to Parliament anyway: can we now do away with the myth that Quebecers are more sophisticated voters?


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The Duke of Hespeler

May 2nd, 2011
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From the Cambridge Citizen
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The meeting of the Hespeler Town Council was called to order. The mayor (unofficial, unelected) took the chair.

“You all saw it,” the mayor said, thumping the table, spilling Jim Hillis’ double-double. “My wife got me up at 4 o’clock, so I know damn well I saw it.” The mayor was clearly angry and frustrated and was warming to his theme. “A royal wedding is supposed to be a happy thing, a joyous occasion. I wanted to declare it a holiday for all of Hespeler. What the point is of being mayor if I can’t declare a holiday, I’ll never know.” The mayor, in his white suit and white top hat, looked like a man who should be capable of declaring a holiday.

“I got up at 4:00 AM to watch our future King and his consort be married, and what’s the first thing I hear: The Queen will make Prince William and Kate Middleton The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after the wedding. Bloody Cambridge,” he swore. “We all know what that means,” he pointed around the table. The assembled mass nodded, knowing what was next, what was always next. “Might as well call them Duck and Duchess of Preston and Galt for all we’ll see of them here in Hespeler. ‘Oh no,’ they’ll say when the couple come to visit, ‘you can’t go over there. The roads are too small, the downtown too dangerous.’”

The meeting threatened to descend into havoc for the volume of the agreement. “The Prince of Breslaw he’ll be calling himself next,” was heard above the din. The mayor banged his gavel, which was really the butt of a broken Hespeler hockey stick, to restore order.

“What’s needed,” continued the mayor as if he was never interrupted, “is a Duke of Hespeler.” The volume of agreement was almost as loud as the volume of disdain had been moments earlier. This time the mayor, a practiced orator who knew when to quiet a crowd and when to speak over one, yelled above the council.

“Which part of town, after all, has a bar called the Duke and Duchess?” This was a masterstroke, which almost brought the assembled meeting to fever pitch. If not for the mayor’s practiced audience control, the meeting would have been over, with a round of drinks at the Duke and Duchess on the taxpayers of Ayr an almost certain ending, if only Hespeler town council (unofficial and unelected) had any taxing powers, in Ayr or otherwise.

“Who should it be,” asked a councillor (unofficial, unelected), who was well coached by the mayor and hoping for a seat on the Hespeler Senate, if and when they could ever establish a Senate in Hespeler.

“Kirk Maltby,” yelled someone in a Detroit Red Wings shirt.

“Tim Brent,” yelled another, dressed in Maple Leaf blue.

“Kirk Maltby has 4 Stanley Cups,” said the first. “What has Tim Brent done?”

“Anybody can win Stanley Cups playing for Detroit,” said the second. “Tim Brent scored 8 goals for the Maple Leafs. You know how many guys play for the Leafs and never score 8 goals?”

“That guy who rights that Home in Hespeler blog,” said another.

“Too political,” answered one. “Too conservative,” said a third. “Too ugly,” said another, finally creating unanimity.

“It occurs to me,” said the Mayor, “that it doesn’t have to be someone local. It may even be too our advantage to have an outsider. What about Prince Harry?”

“Your brilliant Mayor,” the councillor/Senator-in-wanting up-kissed.

“Perhaps he’ll bring that Pippa with him,” said another.

And so it was that when Jim Hillis returned with his coffee, he was told he had been volunteered to approach “that blogger fellow,” who would be asked to write to Prince Harry informing him he had been chosen Duke of Hespeler.

The meeting, then being adjourned, retired to The Duke and Duchess to discuss the inequity of not being able to impose a tax in Ayr.


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