Throwback Thursday – #tbt – Shea and Her Grandma (Early 1980’s)

There needs to be a new word for when you take a digital photo of an old print photo.  Anyhow, Shea recently took a snap of this picture to mark the 15 year anniversary of her Grandma’s passing.

Most people say that Sasha looks like me but she’s definitely got a lot of her mom in her too!

Gord Downie Taught Me To Dance: Memories of A Band That Defined Me and My Country

So I woke up today to the very sad news that Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip, has terminal brain cancer.

Obviously, as you age, it’s natural that your own heroes and icons will age ahead of you.  But 2016 has been a rough year where we lost some top-shelf music icons – David Bowie (okay, he was in 69’s so that’s not entirely unexpected, especially for someone who presumably indulged in the rock star lifestyle for most of his time on earth), Prince (57) and now we’re faced with losing Gord Downie (currently 52 years old).

(Side note: there are lots of reasons it may seem more celebrities are dying than ever before – we have more of a celebrity culture, more “levels” of celebrity, social media magnifies the impact of each death, and like I said, as we get older, the people we idolize also get older ahead of us.)

Of course, the biggest difference is Bowie & Prince were worldwide superstars whose influence and impact seemed distant and remote whereas Gord Downie *was* the Canadian rock star.  (To put it in perspective, every year or two, you could expect to see the Gord Downie playing in Regina, Saskatchewan, alone or with the Hip, in a concert hall or hockey rink or as part of a festival or whatever.) To see Bowie or Prince, you basically had to travel to Winnipeg or Edmonton or a much larger centre.

So many people are sharing their Gord Downie memories today (must be weird for him if he’s surfing the Internet to read all this – but probably nice in a way too.  What do they say?  We should have our funerals while we’re still alive so we know how much we were loved?) and I’m no exception having had a long history with the Tragically Hip…

  • I probably got into them around the time of “Up to Here” in 1989 or so.  I’m pretty sure “New Orleans is Sinking” is one of those songs that you hear then put on repeat and listen to multiple times in a row.
  • I’ve seen the Downie and/or the Hip live multiple times – in Regina, Saskatoon, as part of the “Another Roadside Attraction” festival (also in Saskatoon), a Gord Downie & the Miracles show at the Regina Folk Fest.  Shea and I even did a road trip to see their free Canada Day show in Winnipeg in support of War Child in 2000.  And of course, there’s even a review I posted on a Hip fan board sixteen years ago still kicking around – wow!)
  • I also got to see an interview with Gord Downie at Calgary’s WordFest around 2002 maybe?  He did an interview and even answered my go-to Q&A question – “What are you reading right now?” Plus I don’t think his poetry book, “Coke Machine Glow” had come out yet but he did a couple acoustic songs from the album of the same name.
  • I think the Tragically Hip are the only band I went to a midnight album release party for the night that “Trouble at the Henhouse” came out in early May 1996.  Still remember going to the CD shop on north Albert St. (can’t remember the name) which was the only one doing a midnight launch, standing in line excitedly then listening to the album on the drive home.
  • The Hip released a documentary on VHS (!) called “Heksenketel” and a highlight is one scene where their tour bus driver is being interviewed as he drives across the bald prairie and he mentions the upcoming towns you’ll pass through – including my hometown of Indian Head.  (Side note: working at the IH Esso in high school, we’d occasionally have celebrities come through and – security fail – we used to pin the unused third copy of their credit card receipts in the office.  We had the Harlem Globetrotters, Aerosmith’s tour bus (but no Aerosmith – they flew I think), and a couple guys who we found fascinating because they had motorbikes they’d flown over from Japan to go across Canada and had Japanese license plates!)
  • As referenced in that 2000 review above, I was fairly big into the Tragically Hip Tape Trading Community where various fans would record and distribute tapes (and later CD-Rs) of concerts.  In hindsight, this experience helped shape my view of online communities & culture and also the open-source, helpful nature of the early mainstream Internet.
  • In the days before you could carry a library of music in your pocket, I was on a semester exchange to England but hadn’t brought *any* music with me on cassette or otherwise as I thought a Walkman and a few cassettes would be unnecessary weight for my travels. When I got to the college, I ended up buying a cheap (ten British pounds) clock-radio-cassette player at a nearby pawn shop.  Luckily, one of the other Canadians on the trip wasn’t as stupid as I was and had brought a mix tape of Tragically Hip songs.  He also had gone all in with a dual-cassette player at the same pawn shop so I was able to dub the cassette and along with a couple other mix tapes he had (Blue Rodeo, maybe 1-2 others) the Tragically Hip became a direct connection to home for me.
  • That time Dan Ackroyd pulled strings to get the Hip a coveted spot on SNL but (if I’m being honest) the performance was a bit lacklustre – the Hip not really being a “flip a switch”-type of band that can be instantly “on” and instead, always seemed to need to build up their energy and momentum.
  • I’m a huge fan of that style of book that’s an album-by-album review the stories behind the songs along with other biographical elements.  These books exist for bands and artists like U2, REM, Bob Dylan, etc. but I always thought somebody should do one for the Tragically Hip.  (In fact, somewhere in the deep recesses of my computer, I bet there’s even notes and an outline for what a book like that might look like.  Unfortunately, I’ve always been better at starting book projects than finishing them so that never happened.  But maybe now, someone will take it on!)
  • I have a minor connection to Gord Downie – in the earliest days of Facebook being open to members of the general public (after being only for University students at first) and before the current situation where there were official pages for bands/organizations/corporations/etc., I tried a “six degrees of separation” game to see who the most famous person I could find on the site (and be relatively sure it was the actual famous person, not an imposter.)  I think it was a writer friend who led me to “Friending” Dave Bidini from the Rheostatics which, in turn, led me to getting a friend invite to Gord Downie accepted!
  • I titled this post “Gord Downie taught me to dance” and that’s sort of (unfortunately) true.  As you can see in the clip that leads off this post, Downie had a very unique style on stage – “spastic” might be a politically incorrect way to describe it.  Of course, as an awkward kid in my late teen years, I thought it was (and it is) incredibly cool and unique.  So, to this day, I do a Downie-derived spastic dance when I’m busting a move on the dance floor (although his style is fluid and cool and engrossing and mine is just…grossing!)  ;-)

Music Monday – “We’ve got real def rhythms and fresh new jams/And ya think we got egos but we’re just hams/Scott plays stickball and likes to skate/Frank is never on time he’s always…Sleeping! ‘Late!'”

I loved this song when I was in college…

I’m The Man” – Anthrax

Happy 9th Birthday Pace!

Pace had his (real) birthday last Thursday on May 19 and it’s been a crazy, fun-filled weekend since then.

(Speaking of “crazy, fun-filled weekends”, Shea and I live in dread of having a kid who has his birthday on May long weekend when he gets older!)

On his actual birthday, we had a nice lunch with a small cake he’d picked out himself and gifts from the immediate family (we did it at lunch because dad was working the 1-9pm shift at the library.)

Friday, Pace, mom and aunt Sandi got ready for his big party on Saturday – getting cupcakes ready, putting together goodie bags and various other things we’d need for the party.

Then on Saturday, we held a party for all his friends at the parkour gym Pace attends.  Today, he went to *another* friend’s birthday just down the block then we picked him up early so he could go to the mall and buy a couple gifts with his birthday money including a skateboard and a pogo stick!

Good times…

There Are Many Facts About #elbowgate That Most People Are Ignoring (Or Are Ignorant About)

I’ll start with a “disclaimer fact” before I get to my real list of facts about #elbowgate.

I’m on record as saying I don’t like *any* of the childish shit that happens in Parliament from any party and wish it wasn’t that way.  I also think the NDP reaction to this situation was very poor from both a public relations/political perspective (not sure how different those two things are but I mention both anyhow.)

Now, having said that, here are a few facts to correct much of the misinformation I’m seeing online (such as this genius who treats what happened like the Zapruder film while missing the biggest point – which I’m sure you’ll figure out in my list below)…

  1. It’s a fact that this whole thing got mislabeled as #elbowgate even though it escalated to something unprecedented in Canadian history only after the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!
  2. It’s a fact that the NDP and Conservatives were doing nothing against the rules of Parliament by briefly delaying the vote although after less than a minute of delay, the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  3. It’s a fact that the vote could’ve proceeded with one party whip in his seat even if the other wasn’t which means that even if the NDP were blocking the Opposition Whip, it didn’t matter and yet the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  4. It’s a fact that the MP who was manhandled did not want to be touched and immediately told the Prime Minister “Let go of me…now!” after the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  5. It’s a fact that no one can know for sure what happened and why – whether Trudeau accidentally nudged Brosseau or she leaned into him; whether his elbow was unintentional or “accidentally on purpose” in the heat of the moment;  whether she changed from laughing to wincing as an honest reaction to an unexpected elbow to the breast or once she realised that she could embarrass the current Prime Minister of Canada who chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  6. It’s a fact that no matter the intent, severity or even whether a person is likely to be charged, when a person “intentionally uses force on another person without their consent” that is the legal definition of assault which is what occurred when the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out the way!”
  7. It’s a fact that the elbow in question did not occur on a subway train or in a soccer match or on Boxing Day at the mall or anywhere else where apologists are making (poor) analogies to downplay what happened in the highest office in the land after the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  8. It’s a fact that in most workplaces if someone makes aggressive, bullying physical contact with another co-worker while swearing at them, there would be a real risk of discipline or even dismissal which is unlikely to happen in this case even though the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  9. It’s a fact that the current Prime Minister was both a teacher and a bar bouncer in his past life but in no way does that give him either the right nor the skills to deal with this situation and it actually frightens me that, in a predicament he felt frustrated by, a former teacher such as the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  10. It’s a fact that this scandal took away from the real work of MPs or actual news and events for a few days but only because the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  11. It’s a fact that this “born on third, thinks he hits a triple” politician who claims to represent a new civility and a new way of doing politics had what was essentially a temper tantrum when he didn’t get his way and yet the working class, single mother and former bartender who has already overcome derision and mockery once (much of it based on her gender and socio-economic status) is once again being pelted with unbelievably vile abuse for something that only happened to her because the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”
  12. It’s a fact that both the NDP and Conservatives are trying to score political points over what happened only because that’s what any politician (including a Liberal one) would do in a situation where the current Prime Minister of Canada chose to leave his seat and aggressively put his hands on another MP while saying “Get the fuck out of the way!”

Some more reading on this topic if you’re interested.

Friday Fun Link – Hillary’s “Venn” Diagram

It’s actually mind-blowing that a mistake of this magnitude was made by the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Tru(deau) Colours? #PrayForSophie #OuttaTheWayForJustin #elbowgate

So it’s been a pretty bad week for William and Kate, I mean Justin & Sophie Trudeau.

Ms. Gregoire-Trudeau sparked outrage on the left and the right with her comments about how tough her (unofficial) role as First Lady (but not really) of Canada is and how much she could use an extra assistant to help manage all the requests coming her way.

Never content to let someone else have the spotlight (even his own wife apparently!), Justin Trudeau threw a hissy fit in the House of Commons when members delayed a vote by *less than a minute* and ended up storming in the aisle, physically grabbing another MP while also accidentally elbowing a female MP in the chest as he tried to move things along.

I was initially planning to do a post with my thoughts about Sophie Gregoire’s request for more help in her official (but not really) role as “Prime Minister’s Wife”.  In fact, you can read a few of the points I was planning to make in this post I put on MetaFilter.

But then, given yesterday’s events, I thought I should do a post with my thoughts on the Justin Trudeau incident. But again others (and again from left and right) are doing a fine job of pointing out the many problems with this whole situation.

So instead, I thought I’d do a twofer and outline the similarities in these two situations and what I think it  portends for the future of Mr. & Ms. Sunny Days.

  • Both situations reveal people who have a strong sense of entitlement and a lack of awareness of their own massive privilege.
  • Even more than that, both situations show people who think they are in a special category – Justin by thinking he has the right to put his hands on another person in the workplace and Sophie by thinking she deserves help for all the hard work being asked of her (not required mind you) while the Liberals have repeatedly, for over twenty years, failed to deliver *real* help to millions of mothers across Canada who work harder for less and need government support more than the wife of a Prime Minister who’s pulling in $300,000+ and already has an existing staff complement.
  • Both situations reveal, at their core, hypocrites.  Trudeau got much mileage out of his comment “Because it’s 2016” as justification for his (supposed) gender-balanced Cabinet (“supposed” because it’s only gender-balanced if you don’t count Mr. Trudeau who also holds portfolios) and how he proudly admits to being a feminist.  But that statement seems to be more about his personal branding and self-image than anything.  After all, even though it was a man who got his physical attention in this altercation, the sudden move towards hostility and conflict is something I don’t equate with the men I know who identify as feminists.  Beyond that, there’s the fact that Trudeau defends his government selling arms to an anti-woman repressive regime.  So unless his dictionary defines feminism as “something that only need be applied within the borders of western nations”, he’s not really a true feminist as I understand the term. Sophie (and I guess Justin too) are also hypocrites for saying during the election campaign that they didn’t need government support for their children since they did very well for themselves.  Then, when they won the election, they not only took all the help that was offered but are now, in Sophie’s case, asking for more.

Those are a few quick thoughts on this situation but there’s a ton more I could say.

(To be fair, I should also admit that I think the NDP was equally childish in blocking the Opposition Whip from getting to his seat in the first place but given that Parliament is full of childish acts, that’s sadly typical.  I think the NDP probably also overplayed their reaction in a way that actually deflected attention from what the PM did instead of focusing attention on it.  Again, this should really about what *he* did which was an unprecedented physical act in the House – not about how Ruth Ellen Brosseau reacted or what Niki Ashton said.)

I’ll end by admitting that I’ve never been a big fan of Trudeau even though I really want to be (and I mean, kudos for getting rid of Harper.  That’s awesome!)  But whenever he does something I like (low hanging fruit like bringing back the long form census or the diverse and (mostly) gender-balanced Cabinet, etc.), he goes and does something *incredibly* stupid.

And then I go back to thinking about how Trudeau strikes me as one of those privileged rich kids who gets by on his family name, an elitist upbringing and an unerring ability to “fail into success” repeatedly even while being widely thought of as a pretty dim bulb.  (Oh my god – I think I’ve just described Justin Trudeau as Canada’s George W. Bush!)

Part of my frustration is how many of my friends, many more progressively minded than myself, bought into Trudeaumania 2.0 during the election, even though I kept telling them that he’s got a better sheen on it than most politicians but I feared a Liberal win would lead to the old “Liberal?  Tory?  Same old story” situation.

Of course, he’s not as bad as Stephen Harper.  And we’ll never know if Thomas Mulcair would’ve been any sort of a progressive icon or a Liberal in an orange suit.  But so far, I’m not seeing much to make me think Justin Trudeau truly is some harbinger of a new age of civility and progress for Canada.

Some Nerd Tracked His Drinking For A Full Year

And no, it wasn’t me!

But it’s got me thinking about what a full project this could be!   (This guy was more focused on consumption but I think it’d be more interesting/useful to track what you drink as as well as how much!)

(via r/dataisbeautiful)

Music Monday – “Our house had the biggest patio/Our house had all the summer shade/We had patio lanterns “

Really enjoying our back yard patio as Shea and I continue to make more and more improvements – the most recent is the addition of some lattice and and a new gate…

Now we only need a theme song for our new favourite place!

Patio Lanterns” – Kim Mitchell

Saturday Snap – Monster Truck Flag

Pace was pretty excited when he got home from the Monster Truck & Motorbike Stunt Show last night…