While doing a little online research I happened to come across this clipping about the incident that inspired Jim Croce. Daily.
While doing a little online research I happened to come across this clipping about the incident that inspired Jim Croce. Daily.
While I can’t claim to be terribly familiar with N.W.A., the others, In my opinion, are all worthy of induction. However I must admit that the overlooking of Joe Cocker – yet again – is something that baffles me.
One theory is that Cocker did not compose his own material, but instead did cover versions of others’ songs. The fact that he became legendary interpreting these songs, often overshadowing the original, seems lost on the Hall of Fame people.
The category is ‘performers’, not ‘performers of original material’. Does singing a song written by another somehow affect one’s ability to perform? I think not.
Sadly should the Hall of Fame selection body come to its senses and induct Cocker it will now be done posthumously.
The oddly mild and dry weather conditions that produced a green Christmas in the northeast are finally exiting. A high of some 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit) was recorded on December 24th in Montreal, making it the warmest Christmas Eve ever.
While many were thankful for the break from winter, allowing for easy seasonal shopping without coats and boots, others hoped in vain for a white Christmas. Kids who received new wheeled toys as gifts had the unusual ability to try them out immediately, rather than store them until the snow melted away in the spring.
Today, three days after Christmas, winter has finally made an appearance. However not with a blanket of white snow, but a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain. For many of us who were around in 1998, waking to the sound of tick tick tick on your window strikes fear of another ice storm into our hearts.
There is something calming and wonderful about a snowstorm during the week between Christmas and New Years when schools and many businesses are closed and a ‘down day’ or two is good for recharging one’s batteries after the holiday rush. Inches of fresh snow-globe type snow cast a serenity on the city that can be relished during this quiet period.
But an ice storm is a whole different kettle of fish. If you are ever unlucky enough to be caught out in one, the most unpleasant sting of pieces of ice pelting off your face is not soon forgotten. The candy-apple finish that builds up on all surfaces may look lovely, but can be deadly when sliding off the sides of tall buildings like falling window panes or bringing down large tree branches that can no longer support the ice.
A snowstorm is, for the most part, an inconvenience at worst. Everything slows down, or may even come to a halt. But eventually people get to their destinations and life goes on. When the precipitation takes the form of freezing rain, it builds up on electric wires and transformers. This build up grows in weight and often brings down the cable or other electrical apparatus resulting in power losses. In the 1998 storm huge sections of the power grid were rendered unusable and larges swaths of the northeast went for days without electricity.
In the days before Christmas many pointed out that the mild temperatures and lack of snow were exactly what we experienced in December of 1997 prior to the January 1998 ice storm. A little disconcerting to say the least. Stay posted!
As we come down to the wire, with Christmas peeking over the horizon, radio stations have switched to seasonal music. They never seem to know when to do this. Some stations start with weekends in December, reverting to their usual playlist during the week, then go all out for the last week. Others slowly transition, while some go wall-to-wall Christmas several weeks before.
While there are plenty of Christmas ditties being aired: traditional, oldies, new releases and humourous, I need to hear a few perhaps unconventional carols to really feel the spirit of the season.
The first is Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer by the Irish Rovers. A silly but catchy tune.
Then there’s Jacob Miller’s reggae We Wish You an Irie Christmas.
Keeping with my international theme, Australian kids get a visit from Santa Claus whose sleigh is propelled not by reindeer, but kangaroos. Not just any kangaroos, but Six White Boomers, as explained by Rolf Harris.
And what’s Christmas without the do-wop version of White Christmas?
Of course Bing Crosby’s Mele Kalikimaka (The Hawaiian Christmas Song) has to be on the list.
Below is a lighthearted letter I wrote to the Syrian refugees who will be arriving in Canada over the next weeks and months. Last Wednesday, December 16, I sent this to the Montreal Gazette for publication consideration. I have done this several times in the past and have always received some sort of reply; either an acceptance with publication date details, or an automatic reply. This time nothing. On Saturday morning the Gazette Saturday columnist Josh Freed’s piece was of a similar nature, offering some tips for the newcomers. Could this have affected my submission? Let me be clear, I am not suggesting plagiarism in any way, but rather pure coincidence.
Dear Syrian Refugees,
Let me begin by extending to you a heartfelt welcome to Canada. As you know, our government has pledged to accept some 25,000 of you over the next couple of months. We had hoped to have the entire contingent settled by the end of this month, but that proved impossible.
Many if not all of you have endured what have been described as nothing short of inhuman conditions. Most of us will never really be able to comprehend what you have experienced. But that is in the past now, and although scars have been left, you can start to look forward to better things. I believe you will find conditions here much more pleasant.
No doubt you are overwhelmed as you begin adjusting to your new home. I imagine the government has swamped you with handy instructions about housing, Medicare, schooling and the like. But I want to take a moment or two to bring you up to speed on some of the more mundane yet essential aspects of life in Canada.
Perhaps you have heard about our winters. When people think of Canada they often imagine a cold, icy tundra. You have the advantage of arriving here during what is called an El Niño year. Usually by December our streets are covered with snow, and frigid air has descended upon us. And, unlike the ‘calendar winter’ these conditions can last six or seven months!
You see our weather is affected by the ocean off the coast of Peru. I kid you not. An El Niño year means we tend to have a warmer winter, perfect as an introduction to the season for newcomers from warm places. But don’t be fooled, please do not assume this is a normal Canadian winter. Enjoy the mild weather while you can, think of it as a transitional phase, and brace yourself for next year. As an aside, if you do find this winter to be unbearable, you have almost a year to figure out how to deal with the problem.
Speaking of ice, you may be familiar with our love of hockey; if not, you soon will be. In some cities, right here in Montreal for instance, this worship of our beloved Canadiens has often been likened to a religion. As you get settled and take care of the necessities, take some time to relax and watch a hockey game or two. There are seven National Hockey League teams based in Canadian cities, and countless junior and other teams across the country, so it may be difficult to miss. Many of you will be living in the Toronto area. A word of warning: given almost fifty years of futility in the chase for a Stanley Cup, many fans of the Maple Leafs get downright cranky when their dear Buds are eliminated. Just give them a wide berth for a week or so. But you won’t have to worry about that for a couple of months!
As you get to know us you will discover that we tend to apologize frequently. Saying sorry is often depicted as a national pastime in Canada: bacon, hockey and apologizing Our neighbours to the south find this most amusing. But frankly they just don’t understand. Let me enlighten you as to the true nature of the Canadian apology as they can be very subtle in nature – often more empathetic than apologetic.
Let’s say a Canadian and a non-Canadian turn a corner and bump into each other on a sidewalk. The Canadian will probably be the first to say cheerily “Sorry about that” even though both were equally at fault, or no fault existed. The other person may also apologize, just as cheerily, resulting in what is known as a civilized exchange. Then again he or she may seize upon the Canadian’s apology to feel superior and reply “You certainly should be sorry” or some other witty retort. In this case the subtlety of the sorry masks its true intent, which is actually along the lines of: “Sorry, I didn’t realize you are a total lout unable to function in normal society”. Now you know the secret.
I hope these little bits of advice help you to get acquainted with your new home and neighbours. Considering the upheaval in your lives I have a feeling you will have no problem fitting in here. Again, welcome.
Oh dear, here we go again. Why is it so difficult for some to understand the difference between ‘parking’ and ‘stopping’ a car? Last evening, during the height of the holiday shopping season with retailers pleading for trade, my significantly better half and I stopped by a local mall. We pulled into a drop off point, she got out and was going to run to the grocery store in said mall, while I waited at the wheel for her return. We were ‘stopped’, not ‘parked’.
Before she could even get in the door a mall security guard appeared bellowing that this was a no parking zone. I politely informed him that I was fully aware of that, and therefore would stay in the car, stopping it rather than parking it. I was ‘stopped’ in a no ‘parking’ zone. No problem; should the need arise for my car to moved, I would gladly do so. I’m in the car therefore I am ‘stopped’, not ‘parked’. Clearly this fellow had no grasp of the concept and ultimately cost the grocery store a client, as we moved along to the next mall just down the road, which was much more accommodating.
Let me elaborate. A bus zone is a ‘no stopping’ zone. It is against the law for me to stop my car and wait in it while my passenger dashes into a store to buy milk. A ‘no parking’ zone is one in which as long as I am in my car and ready to move it if the need arises, I am breaking no laws.
On several occasions I have had discussions with ticket agents who suggested I must put money in the parking meter even though I was sitting at the wheel of the car. My usual response is to inform them that when/if I park the car (i.e. get out of it), I will feed the meter. This tends to put an end to the debate. Never accept a ‘parking’ ticket while you are in the car in a position to move it.
Put simply, I can stop without parking, but cannot park without stopping.
I wonder how many clients will take their business elsewhere before the mall catches on and either educates its staff, or dismisses this one guard?
For the last few Decembers the political correctness folks have been having a field day deeming it incorrect to refer to religion when wishing people happy religious holidays. Huh? Yes indeed, no Merry Christmas, no Happy Hanukkah, ‘season’s greetings’ is the way to go. This year coffee giant Starbucks came under fire for not having Christmas-related cups, opting instead for the politically correct plain red.
While this is just nonsense it has had a rebound effect inasmuch as the term Season’s Greetings has become the whipping boy of the non-politically correct. Wish someone Happy Holidays and you are often branded as a far-left nutter going out of your way not to mention the actual offending holiday. But sometimes that once perfectly acceptable term just works best.
Like most, I know people who celebrate different holidays, and some who mark none. If I am in a mixed group, upon taking my leave, rather than say Merry Christmas to you guys over there, and Happy Hanukkah to you fellows, and you folks have a great Kwanzaa, I’m more likely to say Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays, thereby encompassing all. Think of it as a convenience rather than a deliberate attempt to not mention the individual holidays. Perhaps I’m just lazy, or anti-social.
And for those who opt to mark no religious holidays, I can’t take seriously any claim that they would be offended. The intent behind extending the greeting is kindness. As a Catholic, if someone mistakenly wishes me a Happy Hanukkah, I am in no way offended. It’s a nice gesture, even if wrong.
So I’m all in favour of putting the religion back in religious holidays, but also see no problem with a ‘carpet’ greeting that covers all.
Last Sunday was a tense day around my place. My significantly better half, of Venezuelan origin, was glued to several social media apps – Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp in particular – in an attempt to get up to the minute information on the parliamentary elections in Venezuela.
Advanced polling had given the opposition a substantial lead over the government of Nicholas Maduro, the hand-picked successor to the late Hugo Chavez. A victory would signal a change in the country, a majority would lead to improvements, and a super-majority of 112, or two-thirds,would mean a sea change in the country.
As an interested observer I had seen this all before; hopes raised only to be dashed by voting irregularities that the ruling government employs. Tears shed abroad by families split trying to flee years of corruption and violence in Venezuela. I held my breath not only for the results, but for the reaction to same.
Late in the day it was announced that the polls would be open for an additional hour. I thought this was a good thing; the more voters casting ballots the more chance for a legitimate election. But it was soon explained to me that this is one of the tactics used by the government if they sense they are in a bad position (or know their actual support, as voting is done by machine, and no one believes a running tally is not available to Maduro). The next word was that buses were arriving at polling stations. This is also a bad sign as often these are full of government supporters who have already voted and will now cast dubious ballots – often those of dead people.
Then with the voting over, the tension built and social media went crazy. The official announcement was not made for some five hours – was Maduro going to stage a Coup as had been rumoured? Then finally official word of a 99-seat majority with several more too close to call. It now seems that the coveted super-majority has been achieved. Interesting times are in store for Venezuela.
Tears of joy were the order of the day not only in Venezuela, but in Montreal, Costa Rica and Spain where family members have relocated.
I was pleased to see the following statement from the Canadian Government.
December 7, 2015 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the parliamentary elections that took place in Venezuela on December 6, 2015:
“Canada congratulates Venezuelans for exercising their democratic right to vote in a peaceful environment. We encourage all parties to engage in productive and meaningful dialogue to ensure that all branches of government work together in the best interests of the country’s citizens. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Venezuela to consolidate and strengthen our diplomatic relationship.
“With full respect for Venezuela’s sovereignty, Canada looks forward to working with the Government of Venezuela to uphold the principles of respect for human rights and democratic governance enshrined in the charters of the UN and Organization of American States, as well as in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
“In every society, a government’s first responsibility is to ensure the well-being of its citizens. Canada believes that with mutual respect and compromise among Venezuela’s political leaders, peace can be maintained, allowing the country’s social and economic challenges to be properly addressed.”
In an attempt to encourage healthy eating, a neighbouring borough is in the process of reducing the number of ‘fast food’ outlets allowed. This has spawned great debate among those who favour a free market and those who applaud the effort to cut back on fast food. As an occasional consumer of the odd Quarter-Pounder or Whopper, I don’t have a problem with restricting the number of fast food emporia, but I do have a gripe with the term ‘fast food’.
There was a time when the food, unhealthy though it may be, was at least fast. You could pop into a local McDonald’s and, unless you had a special request – no onions or hold the cheese – you were chowing down in mere minutes. All the server had to do was turn around and place the requested items on your tray or in a bag and off you went.
There were always several counter people ready to take your order, often urging you forward before you had even decided what you wanted. Shouts of ‘next please’ and ‘can I help someone here?’ kept the process flowing smoothly.
Now there really is no ‘fast’ food. Arriving at one of these places consumers are often faced with many closed cashes while patrons line up at the one or two open ones. Unlike the old system where after placing your order you got your food from the person who took the order, you now are asked to move aside and await your order. It’s like a burger lobby, a waiting room filled with people hoping to get their order before they get a ticket for double-parking while keeping their fingers crossed that they get the right order.
I imagine this new method has allowed for a reduction in staff; after all, it is all about profit.
So if my neighbours enact a law reducing the number of fast food outlets, I think they should also take advantage and initiate a means of insuring the food is indeed fast. I foresee inspectors dropping in at different times with stopwatches to determine whether the establishment is meeting the requirements – prompt service, no closed cashes when line-ups exist – outlined in its fast food license!