Friday, July 29, 2005

Mice that roar

The silly spat over a spit of land in the Eastern Arctic continues to percolate as Canada and Denmark trade oh yeahs, with each other.

Hans Island may be the most sought after piece of rock since the Skipper and Gilligan fought over the affections of the Island girls Mary Ann, Ginger and Lovey Howell. In a world that seems to be spiraling further and further out of control with real problems, here we are landing military personnel and leaving booze behind to stake our claim.

The Danes of course take offense to our militarization of a clump of rocks, though they recently sent their own battalion of Island claimants to plant a flag and leave some booty.

It's farcial to the degree of Monty Python or at least Rick Mercer, this tit for tat claiming of land of Hans, but there it is, we say it's ours, they say its theirs, the Americans probably laughing all the way suggesting that neither actually have the military to hold it.

At the heart of the claim of course is money, while previously unwanted and lacking in attention the possibility of mineral deposits in offshore areas of Hans if not on the island itself has everyone's attention and thus the sniping, snitching and spitting. For now the main battleground appears to be the internet where various websites, blogs and chat rooms have taken on the cause of Hansian fate.

One would assume that saner heads will eventually prevail, what with the likes of Al Qaeda and such out there to really seek our attention. But for now it's a nice little diversion and surely a movie of the week plot for some aspiring Canadian film maker looking for a quick Canada Council grant.

The Danes, if serious should strike fast though, with Canada's military including it's super secret JTF II folks tied up with work in Afghanistan, the time may never be better for a sneak attack. But if they aren't careful Canada will unleash a most powerful weapon, designed to render even the most belligerent nation a weak quivering mass of jelly, look out Denmark the troops may be out of country but we've got the Carolyn, any more crap from you and we'll send her to Copenhagen! Play nice Denmark we have way more wingnuts to send your way.

Be warned ye shall reap what ye shall sow!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ugly touristo/poor service Part II

Ah yes the letters are flying faster than anything the Gomery commission could ever have handled. Our little tempest in a coffee cup has once again graced the pages of the Daily Podunkian.

Here is an updated link to the entire saga, with the original complainant, the calm and collected defendant and your genial host of A Town Called Podunk all weighing in with their two cents.

We need Judge Joe Brown or Judge Judy to handle this one!!!

Ugly touristos or Poor customer service? You be the judge!

The Podunk Daily News published a letter to the editor today from an American tourist, a tad upset with our local retailers. Seems our recent cruise ship visitor dropped into a coffee shop for a latte and a shake and paid in the good ole American greenbacks, only to be shocked and bitterly disappointed when she received an assortment of Canadian change in return.

Our tourist from Arizona says that she saw American change in the drawer and expected that she would be receiving American coin in return for her purchase. The clerk of the coffee shop, backed up by the owner said that's not the way they do business. A reply that put her into full letter writing mode.

In her letter she said that she runs a small business in Arizona and would never treat a customer in such a rude fashion, she doesn't however mention if she keeps a ready amount of Mexican pesos in drawer to give back as change. She does state that in Mexican border cities the mercantile class always give American change back if paid in American money. She suggests that if our little burg is serious about attracting tourists here we should be more than willing to provide proper American change for their purchases.

Is this a realistic option for the local businesses? It seems rather much to expect each and every little store in Podunk to have a ready stock of American coins (not to mention other nations currencies) on hand just to make change for the convenience of a donut and a milk shake, or am I missing something from the Customer service bible? Do people expect to receive change from their home currencies when they travel to Brazil, Jamaica or Hong Kong etc? I always thought that was what banks were for. Please take a moment and let me know what you think in this great debate?

Here's the letter for your consideration.

Poor way to treat visitors

To the editor,

This letter is from a visitor, on board a cruise ship with the last stop on the trip being Prince Rupert, Canada. This was the only stop in Canada. Our group enjoyed our visit even though it was raining, until we went into a local coffee shop and purchased a latte and a shake.

We were given a total and paid for it with U. S. Money and was given change back in Canadian coins. We asked the cashier if she would please exchange the coins back for the U. S. Money that was right there in the cash drawer. We explained that we had nowhere to spend it or to trade it since were were reboarding the ship next.

The answer I received from not only the cashier but the owner as well was that they accept U. S. Money but they only give back Canadian change.

First of all, with the difference of exchange rates this is not an easy task for a lot of people, since most need the cash register to tell them the change or are they are lost. If they are going to accept U. S. currency then they should give change by the same method. But, the absolute worst part of it all was they also both laughed at us and said that it just wasn't the customary way they made change, but giving back like currency for change.

If we needed to spend it, we could just buy something else there. This behavior from a local business is not acceptable even if it is or was policy, because it reflects on everyone in the community. This is a port stop for a lot of cruise ships and the cruise lines and local authorities will be following through on this matter because the issue of change and handling of money is important and equally important to customer service, which was great everywhere else we visited. To have one "bad apple" in the barrel will affect each and every business and person in Prince Rupert, but also every visitor alike.

We are also business owners and wouldn't ever settle for an employee to treat a customer in that manner for any reason. We live near the Mexico border and if Mexico businesses accept U. S. Monies for payment they give the same for change. If you pay with their money they give you the same for change. If you can't provide proper change then just don't accept their money and then a means to do the conversions ourselves would have to be made available to the public to avoid the obvious issues that would arise from not accepting other money. This seems an easy fix and needed one if U. S. and tourists from all around the globe are going to be visiting your nice town on a regular schedule.

Rachele A. Kelley
Salome, AZ

From the Prince Rupert Daily News July 26, 2005.

***Update July 28, the rebuttal**

The owner of the "offending" cafe offered up his side of the story in a follow up letter to the editor, it is recorded below.

It was no laughing matter

To the editor,

I feel compelled to give a response regarding the letter from Salome, AZ. It was in my coffee shop that she expressed what she says was an unfair exchange and mistreatment.

We pride ourselves on friendly customer service. A smile and cheerful nature was misrepresented as being laughed at.

This is what happened that day:

The customer was given back $3.21 in Canadian coin based upon a rate of $1.23. We follow the rate weekly and adjust to the dollar as necessary.

We have had this system for nine and half years without any problems.

The customer immediately reacted to this and quickly became irate over the exchange. I explained to her in a calm, polite manner that this was our policy.

She wasn't happy, so I told her that I would be glad to refund her or that she could use an alternate form of payment. Since the order was made we offered her the drinks, the paper and her money back.

She refused this suggestion and walked out. Not once did my staff member handle this situation unprofessionally.

Tourists from around the world seek out our establishment at all times of the year and never have I had an altercation with currerncy exchange.

Our goal is to provide great customer service and leave a good impression with any tourist.

Judson Rowse

From The Daily News, July 28, 2005

Your humble servant from Podunk provides his two cents: I've been in the "offending" establishment a few times over my days in Podunk and have found the place to be a rather enjoyable spot to enjoy a cup of coffee and a treat, my impression is that the visitor has grossly over reacted.

This is Podunk's first year of dealing with a huge influx of cruise visitors and well some of em just aren't much fun to hang around with. There are those that are truly polite and easygoing, just looking to learn about a new location and its people and then there are those that seem to believe that we are here on this corner of earth to wait on them hand and foot, while they travel about the shore. Bordering on rude at times they seem to be of the opinion that the local podunkain people are on the payroll of the cruise ships and thus open game for all and sundry hostility.

Sorry to them, but you paid for the cruise not the land time, treat the folks on the street with respect and one suspects it will be returned ten fold in your direction.

And thus endeth the lesson!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hey Tommy boy!

Oh, Oh, nobody tell Tom Cruise this news, he won't be a happy little camper, just ask Matt Lauer at NBC. Then again if proven true, he'll at least be able to debate Brooke Shields on a level playing field I guess. The news may not make him any smarter, nor make him right but at least he could then walk in Shield's shoes before passing judgment.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Song in my head July 22

July 22, 2005-Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll-Long John Baldry. You hear that title and you thing of the veteran British (Est Canadian roots 1980) Bluesman, who sadly passed away Thursday night at the age of 64. Baldry's storied history reads like a who's who of the Kings of Rock and Roll, contemporary of Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Elton John to drop only a few names, Baldry's raw Blues sound set the stage for the British Invasion of the early sixties.

He had a distinctive rasp to his voice and stayed true to his musical roots throughout his career, a wild ride which took him to the farthest corners of the world, but led him to Canada's West Coast. Baldry is credited with influencing an entire generation of British musicians who were part of the burgeoning Blues rock scene of London in the early sixties. He recorded over 40 albums but had few pop hits over his years. His first was in 1967 with Let the Heartaches Begin, from then cover versions of You've lost that Loving Feeling and Come and Get Your Love would find chart success but his Boogie Woogie tale of arrest by London police while playing guitar became basically his signature song.

And while the United Kingdom can claim him as a British original, they for the most part seemed to forget about him as the seventies began, Canada has just as much claim to his talents as well having enjoyed his music and sense of life since he took out his citizenship. Baldry long toured the country from sea to sea, recorded for a Canadian label and was an influential mentor in the Vancouver Music scene for years, Vancouver has always had a rather strong Blues community and it certainly was made stronger by Baldry's presence over the years.

Don't Lay No Boogie Woogie down on the King of Rock and Roll is a wild ride of a story, told by a fellow who lived his 64 years to their fullest. When you listen to it, the song captures an illusion of good times, lived by a great guy filled with fabulous stories. And while it may be one of his less than classic tunes, it will probably be the one many casual music fans remember him by, but perhaps we can take some time to go through the Baldry library for a few more samples of his talents.

There will be many tributes to Long John Baldry over the next few days, as the giants of the music industry nod their heads towards an original pioneer. Canada was fortunate to have him homestead hear for the last 24 years, our music and society were richer for his involvement.

We're Number One, We're Number One!

Relax Canadians we still have what it takes. For all those naysayers that claim Canada can not compete with and beat the best of them, comes confirmation that indeed we are truly a Number One Nation.

Our success has been hard earned though for it takes a lot to be Number One. You need just the right atmosphere, a lot of money and a supportive public to gain such success. And well a Government that can make it all happen for us!

Take A Bow Canada, we are the cream of the crop!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Song in my head July 21

July 23, 2005--Life Is a Highway-Tom Cochrane. Long a staple on the FM band, Red Rider (in one form or another) tunes have been blasting out of a radio near you since 1979. Having spent that long on the Canadian music scene has seen Tom Cochrane find success, failure, interest and apathy as he traveled down the rock and roll highways.

One of the more infectious of his songs is Life is a Highway, from it's high energy opening with the harmonica riffs to the scatter like recitation of lyrics it kicked ass as they say. Which is more than appropriate for a song that came from an album called Ragged Ass road. Cochrane has been a master lyricist in Canadian music since those early days of White Hot and Don't Fight It. His songs were more of an entry in a novel, than the run of the mill quick hit pop song of the eighties and nineties.

Life Is a Highway is just a salute to life on the road, "from Mozambique to the Memphis nights, from the Khyber Pass to Vancouvers lights" the song kicks out the whistle stops in a nonstop pattern and you understand how busy a guy that Cochrane has been. In addition to his status in the music industry, he's become quite active in the African relief efforts, doing the hard slogging on the ground visiting the villages and trying to understand the hurt and need in those countries. In many of his songs those experiences are recounted in some form, sometimes subtly sometimes in your face, but his way with words certainly help to focus your attention on them.

With Life is A Highway we're treated to a high energy rocking work of art. The tempo starts fast and keeps its frenetic pace throughout, so as to show us the energy level needed to keep the pace. Over the years Cochrane and Red Rider were always in the pack of Canadian rock, they seemed to come close to breaking the barrier to American success but always seemed to come up just short. Which is truly a loss for that American music machine, Cochrane is a heck of a songwriter and can weave a tale with the best of them.

Long respected in his home country it's well worth a trip down the Discography and listen from the early days up to today's solo efforts. It was full octane Canadian rock at it's peak and even in these latter years, he has many gems just waiting to be discovered.

Space the final frontier, now a place where Scotty is near!

It's been a bit fascinating to see the large amount of tributes for James Doohan come across today, Doohan better known as Scotty from the Star Trek series, both TV and movie versions, passed away at age 85 Wednesday.

The Canadian born actor has been hailed as one of the touchstones for pop culture, his Scottish engineer character always the one to get the Enterprise out of a tough jam. Interestingly enough many of those tributes featured details of his time as a captain in the Canadian Army during the Second World War, Doohan was on the beach at Juno when Canadians landed at Normandy most likely a far more harrowing scene than any Romulan invasion ever offered up.

With his passing Star Trek fans have once again begun to focus on the characters that made the shows and movies a must see adventure and indeed a huge part of their lives. I never quite was captured by the all encompassing aspect of the Star Trek Culture, the TV shows were interesting for the time, providing a morality play in the guise of a science fiction program. Likewise the big budget movie epics offered another outlet for the science fiction genre and brought back the always favored characters for repeated curtain calls.

His legacy will be acting as a "miracle worker" in the engine room of the Enterprise and as we all remember, should you be in a jam on some uncharted planet, Scotty would make sure that transporter worked one more time to rescue you in the nick of time.

Beam him up, his work is done!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Song in my head July 20

July 20, 2005- Sympathy for the Devil-The Rolling Stones. A trip down the darkside of history backed with an almost latin rock beat, it is perhaps one of the greatest of Rolling Stones songs ever put out. Reflecting the tumultuous times of the day, Sympathy gave Jagger the platform to weave a tale that equally enthralled and frightened at the same time. From the time of Christ to the Russian Revolution, on past Hitler and to the death of John F. Kennedy and beyond, Jagger traced evil in all its forms in a world turning upside down.

From the opening drumbeats and Jaggers introductions, the beat and tempo of the song is one of building expectation. "Please allow me to introduce myself" it's the knock at your door and from that point on, the listener is captivated, listening intensely to the journey our narrator will take us on. As the guitars screech and the pace quickens, we feel the change that Jagger is crafting for us.

The song more perfectly than any other of the era captures the feeling that the sixties were drawing to their close in a most dangerous way. The era of love would give way to violence, hatred, war and cynicism, as though led by a dark Prince himself. Sympathy reviewed and with a sense of foreboding warned, that we could (and eventually would) see much worse.

In fact, the Stones themselves would find the final days of the flower power era in a cold, damp field in California at Altamont about a year later. The kind of night where a song like Sympathy for the Devil would truly appear to hold some sense of punctuation to a night and an era.

The library of the Rolling Stones includes many classics of our time, but this track from Beggar's Banquet stands out and stands the test of time. Douglas Cruickshank wrote probably the definitive review of the song for Salon magazine in 2002, he charts its formative stages and captures the effect that it had on the band, the industry and the fans. And really that must be the test of a great rock song, if people are still talking about it some 37 years later you know that it connected.

Urban myth or Urban reality?

Heard this on the CKNW 12:30 news today and have yet to find any form of link to confirm it. But it's a great story and should be repeated on the off chance there is some truth to it and frankly I tend to believe that this is happening.

It seems that the current heatwave in Ontario has the air conditioning pushing through at Arctic levels as Ontario homeowners and office workers try to keep their cool. In fact things are apparently so cold in some offices, that office workers have taken to turning on space heaters at their desks to keep things comfortable. Putting power consumption to the brink, as they fight over the comfort zone during the day.

As the province waits for a weather system to arrive to cool things off they have home made weather systems on every floor!

He'll stay Wright where he is!

The guessing game is over for another year as CFL Commissioner Tom Wright, signed on for a one year extension to his contract. Having presided over a rather unusual bout of stability for the normally stormy league, Wright chose to accept the terms offered and stay on the job for a little while longer. With his contract set to expire with this years Grey Cup game in Vancouver, Wright decided that he'd like to continue his work on through the 2006 season.

The terms were not particularly as Wright may have wished for, he basically has taken on his job for another year without an increase in pay. But at a reported 400,000 dollars a year it's not like he's going to be selling off old autographed footballs to get by.

Three teams are reported to have been against a longer term deal (originally Wright wanted a two year deal and a pay raise) and that will give him cause for thought. As it stands at the moment 1/3 of his owners group aren't showing complete support for his efforts. Rumored to be Montreal, BC and Hamilton it will be interesting to watch how Wright handles the three malcontents over the next two years. He has big plans he'd like to put in place and enforceable salary cap and expansion eastward with a fifth franchise for the East division. The nine CFL owners rarely can agree on what to have for lunch, so it will take all of his diplomacy to get everyone on the same page on these issues and more.

Since Wright took over the television ratings have rebounded nicely, the marketing of the league seems to have finally found some success and of course troubled franchises have all been placed into the hands of those with a more progressive way of thinking.

But this being the CFL, old habits die hard and Wright can look forward to a few more battles along the way as he carries on with his duties. If nothing else it may be shrewd move by Wright to collect one more year of salary and prepare a soft landing for himself should the band of three grow to a majority of five!

The above posting first appeared on my Twelve Men on the Field blog, to find more articles about Canadian football check it out!

Sanity rears its head at the NHL offices

With a media backlash threatening to sink the happy launch of the new NHL, Gary Bettman and his crew of marketing geniuses finally gave in and have decided that showcasing the Sidney Sweepstakes may actually be an ok idea.

Originally the plan for the Lottery draft (that bouncing ping pong ball of fate) was to be a closed event. HockeyNation had visions of a darkened room, the proceedings led by a High Priest named Gary and featuring hooded GM's chanting in an unknown language. Upon the sacrifice of small animals and retrieval of a ping pong ball, young prospect Crosby would be offered up for indentured slavery to a maniacally smiling GM.

Realizing that this would not be a positive image for a sports league, they have now chosen instead to hold a televised form of the lottery draft on Friday afternoon at 4pm EST 1pm PST . All thirty GM's will be in attendance, someone will be tasked to record each drop of a ping pong ball and the results will be broadcast to possibly millions of Canadian homes in a half hour special broadcast exclusively via TSN. Of course this just proves that Canadians may watch anything to do with hockey, so we anticipate Dave Hodge to be tasked with the reading of the NHL roster list in his own prime time special some time before training camp!

It's a small reversal of the week of mis-steps so far by the NHL who seem intent on blowing the window of opportunity to rekindle interest in their absent product line. The decision to show the lottery draft is a wise choice, even if the event itself seems a tad boring, the excitement of hyping the possible franchise player that Crosby may be is something the league really can't afford to throw away!

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Song in my head July 19

July 19, 2005- Someday-Steve Earle. He looks like (or once did) a biker and has breached the gulf of country to rock in his career. He's been addicted, convicted and some of his music at times restricted, but he's still out there putting the tunes out. When Earle first came out on the music scene his was more of a country sound, with a look like Waylon and sound of a David Allen Coe, he seemed to be the new wave of the outlaw music scene. His tunes were straight ahead country with flashes of rock thrown in to show what may lie ahead.

1986 launched him on the scene with Guitar Town, backed by his band the Dukes his first commercially successful album gave us a number of hits. The title track had the catchy guitar riffs that automatically grabbed your attention, as did Hillbilly Highway another of the songs that found success for him. But it was Someday that gave a glimpse to his songwriting abilities and reflected his ability to stay in tune with the audience he was starting to attract.

Someday brought out the theme of a young man pumping gas at a small town gas station, Earle brought out dreams that had gone wrong, people who had moved away and a hope that soon his chance to leave would come soon. Anyone who has ever lived in a small town can relate to the opening lines of Someday "There ain't a lot that you can do in this town, You drive down to the lake and then you turn back around". Instantly he hits a chord with the quest for something, anything to come along and take the drudgery away. A chance to like Steve jump into the car and get away as the final line goes, "Someday I'll put her on the interstate and never look back"

Images that have worked well for Mellencamp and Springsteen also found a home through the years with Earle, who is as passionate about the issues off the stage as anyone out there. Long a favorite in Canada he has tackled Canadian folklore at times in his music, the most famous being his examination of the Donnelly saga on his 1990 album the Hard way, Justice in Ontario brought this controversial time in Ontario history to a wider audience.

Guitar Town however, was the start of road for Earle, there were many potholes along his way and he stumbled at times, but he's still keeping at it. And while he's been considered counter culture and anti establishment at times, we find (with a bit of trepidation) his music now the theme to Chevy Trucks new revolution of products. It seems a tad out of character for our troubadour (as pointed out in many blogs but captured intensely here) but as Dylan once said "The Times they are a changin'." Somehow the establishment came a courtin' and he took the money and followed in the footsteps of Bob Seger in product placement, once Seger went commercial his monster sale days began to dwindle, one hopes it doesn't suggest that Earle's recording days may now be winding down!

His latest the Revolution starts now (beyond the commercial endorsement angle) is just as vital as the early days with Guitar Town. We can even check out his work in the blogsphere with his blogsite, where he puts out his thoughts on politics, music and anything else that comes to his mind (though he seems to have been quiet since March).

Someday he may put it all aside, but for now it's full speed ahead, long may he keep on driving down that interstate!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Gullible Colin Farrell

Surprise! Uh, ok Colin, she said she wouldn't, but now she has. It seems that you just can't trust anyone anymore! When will these Hollywood folks ever learn their lessons? Farrell is listed as one of the Sexiest men alive according to People magazine, but no one said he was the smartest!

Song in my Head July 18

July 18, 2005- It's Too late-Carole King. Long before Alanis shared her angst and Avril blasted out her first rock operetta, there was Carole King. While not of the hard edged female rocker style that we've become accustomed to of late, she did hold more than her own when it came to telling it like it is or in this case was.

It's too late is that perfect song about love gone wrong, wrong, wrong. With a lyric like "stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time, there's something wrong here there can be no denying", you get the feeling that one of them indeed was changing and the change included address cards.

The Tapestry album was one of the biggest selling albums of all time and very much defined King as a singer/songwriter. As the sales reached those record heights King had multiple hits off of the record. But none of them told a story like It's too late. The piano chords accent the feeling as King puts the final nails in her failed relationship. It was an era when women's rights were just beginning to take hold, there was a sense of empowerment at the time. This hit could almost be an anthem for the broken hearted, who dust themselves off and move on to other things and apparently other people. Good times again were promised just not with Carole and her former friend. You can almost picture her helping him pack the car and leave the driveway.

From the opening notes to the final it's too late, the song weaves a story perfectly leaving the listener stronger from the experience. It's therapy for the masses tied up in a 3 minute pop song, all the theatrics of the current popsters don't evoke as much emotion as this simple bit of closure to a relationship. Sometimes simple really is so much better!

Vacation, everybody wants one, Vacation everybody needs one!

Pope Benedict XVI has decided it's time to kick back and get some down time. The pontiff has begun his summer vacation in the Italian Alps and from his retreat suggests we all should do the same. Stating that we should use our holidays to recover from the frenetic pace of our daily lives, leaving little time for silence and reflection.

As he commenced his summer break he offered up some holiday suggestions to those seeking some downtime of their own. In his first public address since his arrival, he urged thousands of faithful to use holidays for "prayer, reading and meditation on the deep meaning of life, surrounded by family and loved ones".

While the Pope is on his break he plans on many activities. Including hiking, writing, praying, studying, piano playing and reading.

We're not sure what books are on the Pope's summer reading list, but we're pretty sure these ones are nowhere to be found.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

How do you lke me now?

Well the good news for the NHL is that Canadians still seem to give a damn about their product and the game it represents. CBC One featured the return of NHL Hockey as it's question on Cross Country check up, and there was no shortage of commentary from the Canadian hockey fan. The question was "what will it take for you to come back to NHL hockey" and the replies were varied from coast to coast to coast.

Bernard St. Laurent, who is sitting in for the vacationing Rex Murphy interviewed Steven Brunt of the Globe and Mail, the legendary Jean Beliveau and former referee Bruce Hood to name a few, seeking out their comments on the state of the game and what beckons ahead. Over the course of the two hours, the callers set the pace as we took the pulse of this Hockey nation.

Phone calls from Newfoundland to British Columbia seemed to welcome back the players and their bosses without a great deal of acrimony. In fact rule changes, draft options and the fate of Todd Bertuzzi seemed to dominate the 120 minutes of Hockey talk.

You can check out the program here from the CBC Archive site, it's a fascinating examination of the importance of the game to Canadians and just how much it seems to matter above the 49th parallel.

The fans were passionate about their game and showed just how much they missed the sport over the last year. The good news for both the NHL and the players is that despite the horrid treatment they received in 2004-05, they still seem to care. They may not have forgiven both sides for their folly, but they seem ready to welcome them back into their homes.

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items about Canada's favorite sport check it out!

Song in My Head July 17

July 17, 2005-My Way, Frank Sinatra. The Voice, Chairman of the Board, lead Rat of the Rat Pack. Frank Sinatra incorporated those personas and many more in his storied career. His recordings through the forties, fifties, sixties and into the seventies became anticipated showcases of style and verve. His shows were sell outs wherever he went, he owned Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and much of the world.

His stylings on such classics as Love and Marriage, Strangers in the Night and New York, New York to name a few speak on their own terms. He could take a song and mould into a creation that he brought much passion to. It's been said that in his time, Sinatra was the definition of American Pop Music.

While it is impossible to probably pick one Sinatra song that highlights his talent, it is rather easy to pick one that defined the Man himself. And that was My Way, written by Paul Anka, Sinatra took the song and made it his signature. If ever a song was to explain a guys career this must be the one.

You can sense the spotlight shining as it begins, the strings increase in intensity as does Sinatra. Interestingly enough it may have seemed like the punctuation of a career but instead he continued to sing long after Anka handed him over the lyric sheet. But for certain when you hear the opening keys to it, you automatically think of gin joints, gals and a guy named Sinatra.

Over the years his legend would grow and his persona became larger than life, yet you look back at any of his performance video and there was a relationship with his audience that seemed to go beyond the books, magazines and films.

As he closes out on My Way, "The record shows, he took the blows and did it his way"! It's how everyone would like to exit the stage isn't it?


Technical Luddite that I am, I must admit I've become fascinated with the latest rage on our little wired universe. Over the weekend I discovered the crazy little world of podcasting, I know, I know I'm a tad late to this party, but hey I'm old and thankful I can get the clicker to the VCR to work somedays.

Part of my hesitation to embrace the pod generation is the fact that I don't actually own an Ipod yet, they're a tad out of my budget range at the moment so I'm an Ipod less soul roaming the world. If the folks at Apple wish to help me join the wave I can be reached For the moment I'm using the Ipodder software as a pretty fancy little computer jukebox, transferring my CD collection over for that day that I too joing the Ipod gang. The Podcasting portion of the program is new to me but offers a great variety of options to dedicate ones time to.

The interesting aspect of the Podcasting idea is that it gives anyone the chance to become their own radio station. Yes every Tom, Dick, Harry, Judy, Bob and Sally can put toghether their own ideas for a show and share with the world. This of course may not necessarily be a good thing in some instances, but every positive step must suffer from some overkill one suspects.

But with Apple ruling the world with the Ipod of late, Podcasting seems to be a wave that won't be denied, so best to try and get onboard in its infancy I guess. It kind of reminds of the Napster days of a few years ago, when the wild west atmosphere prevailed how many folks spent countless hours downloading obscure tunes from long forgotten artists, just because they could.

Of course those days are almost gone I guess, as the downloadable tune becomes the balliwack of Itunes, Walmart, Future shop and such, but for a while there it was a wild ride that made you feel like part of the revolution.

Podcasting seems to have that same kind of feel right now, Friday night I spent a few hours "subscribing" to a variety of Podcasts, some good, some brutal, some entertaining and one even educational. Where else would one be able to find a two hour lecture from Noam Chomsky on American in Iraq, short of attending the lecture I guess.

Since then I've discovered podcasts from the CBC Radio Three a pretty entertaining cast of new independent music, some podcast content from Slate magazine, MSNBC and the BBC to name a few. All of it free and rather easy to download and not particularly complicated nor time consuming. As the podcasting revolution carries on I suspect the latter two items will continue to be streamlined, but once the corporate types clue in I imagine the free aspect will begin to be reduced.

As the process becomes more widespread and attainable I wonder what the future of the over the air radio stations will be and more importantly where the audience share for them will go. With the ease of downloading a podcast onto ones Ipod for instance you can suddenly arrange your own type of programming. News, Sports, Commentary and Music will be what you want when you want it. It must give radio executives nightmares to think yet again they may rendered to the end of the media parade line.

It surely does seem like a brave new world in communications though so to find out more check out this article courtesy of Slate magazine, then pick up your own Ipodder software for your computer. After that check out a few of the directories listed below, on them you'll find content for every interest imaginable.

Of course you too can joining the revolution as well with your very own podcasts, I haven't quite progressed that far in my education yet, so the world is safe from my spoken word ramblings for the foreseeable future, but I had not delay too long I figure, cause it seems that this revolution isn't going to wait for long. It will be interesting to watch and see where podcasting goes though, whether it's the next big thing or simply a fad that will burn out. Is it the next step evolution from Blogging or simply a diversion for folks with a lot of time on their hands, we shall see over the next year.

For those who like me gently wade into the technological revolution the news is good, this is a pretty simple thing to learn, it took me less than fifteen minutes to get a handle on setting up my Ipodder and pulling in the information. So if I can get a grip, most others should have no problems at all. At the right in my links sections I've developed a place for podcasting information, I've listed the directories I've found, where to get the software for the program and a few of the sites I've found interesting, I'll update it as time goes along.

But for now it's over to you. So get busy seeking out those gems of the Podcast world and if you find something drop us a line either in our email below or here in the comments section.

iPodder software site

Podcast Alley Directory Directory
NPR Podcasting Directory
iPodder Directory
Odeo Directory

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Song in my head July 16

July 16, 2005- Share the Land-The Guess Who. Ah those heady days of the sixties, a new generation expressing itself and offering up new ways of doing things for the ultimate good of the whole. Where did those days go? With a war in Vietnam about to explode on a television set near you and civil unrest below the 49th causing alarm in the peaceful Queendom (Liz in charge you know!) above, came the warblings of some wheatfield soul. From the corner of Portage and Main (actually a couple of neighborhoods to the north but were looking for imagery here) came The Guess Who, Canada's offering to world of rock and roll of the sixties and seventies.

With a great harmony came the strains of Share the Land, who can forget "Maybe I'll be there to shake your hand, Maybe I'll be there to share the land, that they'd be giving it away, when we all live to together". It was a favorite with my airband of the day, The Collies (named after the breed of dog that roamed our house those days) But if memory serves correct Frankie, Barry and I did not resemble Burton, Randy or Kyle in any form of vocal talent. Especially that Shake your hand, Share the land part, which I remember deteriorated into fits of laughter by the end.

Regardless, Share the Land is one of those pivotal Canadian songs, it expresses a sense of community and sharing that Canadians seem to fancy of themselves, even if half the time we're as self absorbed and self serving as the next guy.

Alas, the caring and sharing days of the sixties would quickly come to an end and as if to punctuate that fact, The Guess Who had a monster hit with American Woman which of course evoked the violence of the day below the 49th. A song that many feel and rightly so, is one of their best, but Share the land holds its own as well.

In 1969 it was all about togetherness, sharing and good ole rock and roll and a monster hit for The Guess for 1970!

Another good friendship ruined by a vacation

It happens every summer, good friends get together map out a plan and head out on a vacation. A vacation that turns into a living hell. If you thought your shared weekend at the cabin with the neighbor's was bad listen up to this!

Two pals headed out a year ago to see the world by foot, by bike, by boat and such only to find that one year later they can't stand each others guts. Colin Angus and Tim Harvey had high hopes for their around the world adventure, but somewhere along the Siberian muskeg it all began to unravel.

Mr. Angus has become so annoyed with his traveling companion that he's already put 4,000 kilometers between himself and Harvey and probably figures they're still too close for comfort.

Harvey who is still cooling his heels and temper in Siberia, recounts the hostility (in his opinion) of Mr. Angus as they're relationship began to unravel. Dirty tricks and nasty comments seem to have poisoned any goodwill for these two over the last year. In the end it may be that a woman came between the two at the pivotal moment of distress. Angus and Harvey picked up a translator for their travels in Russia, one who apparently could not keep up with the punishing pace of set by Mr. Angus, causing Mr. Harvey to lose his patience with the stern taskmaster.

So now Angus has moved on to Moscow and recruited his fiancee to help him finish his adventure. Harvey is resting in Siberia taking care of the translators open blisters.

It's not all bad vibes and temper tantrums though, Harvey says that Yulia Kudryavtseva, 24, who has grown so close to Mr. Harvey during the journey that he now describes her as a potential "life partner". Love can blossom in the direst of circumstances one assumes.

For those wishing to follow the Bickerson's world adventure, there are two websites (no kidding eh!) to track their progress (or lack thereof)

The original website, back in those carefree halcyon days of departure

The website with Mr. Harvey's contribution purged from the memory banks!

Happy Trails to you, Until we meet again!

Going to General Quarters!

Canada's Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier has ruffled a few feathers and sent a few hearts faint with his tough talk on our upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. But for the most part his candor has been welcomed as a long overdue expression of just what it is a military is supposed to do.

General Hillier who certainly doesn't sugar coat his words, has been the focus of attention for two days now after his briefing to the media on the Canadian Army's plans for Afghanistan. With 250 troops set to embark to Kandahar shortly, to set the prep work in place for a larger battalion of 1250 the General felt it was time to let Canadians know that heavy lifting may come with a heavy price.

One week after the London bombings, the General used possibly some of the strongest language ever heard from a Canadian military leader in preparing this nation for possible casualties. By proclaiming that "the Canadian Forces are not the Public Service of Canada", the General probably did more for esprit du corps in the military than all the recruiting commercials could ever hope to achieve. The General also confirmed, that the JTF commando group would be sent into Afghanistan "to hunt down detestable murderers and scumbags." Strong words that we just aren't used to hearing, but considering the world situation at hand these days, quite possibly they are the best thing we could have heard.

His comments on behalf of his troops have been long overdue, as our military languished in the bottom tier of government importance over the years. For far too long successive Generals and Admirals have quietly saluted and said yes sir, no sir to their political masters, leaving the troops, airmen and sailors not sure of what will come next. Now with a world seemingly going a little mad, it might be a good thing to have some folks around that are willing to stand up for them and us in dangerous times.

There have been a few that expressed shock at the General's outspoken comments and bellicosity, but for the most part one suspects that the majority of Canadians will be standing behind this General and his troops.

In fact the politicians in Ottawa were tripping over themselves to fully back the General as his words resonated across the country. Editorialists for the most part have praised the General, proclaiming that it's about time Canada stood up and said it was time to make a difference and the no nonsense General from Newfoundland, has hit the right note as we prepare to rejoin the battle in Afghanistan.

For far to long this country has taken our Armed Forces for granted, shortchanging them on equipment and support, far too often sending them off to dangerous missions with a shrug instead of a salute. With General Hillier on watch that is all about to change. And it's about time!

Aye, Ready Aye, never had truer meaning than it does today. Whatever may come our way, at least we know that the person in charge won't be turning the other way.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Who would have thought that in this era of computer games, Ipods, Gameboys, XBoxes, DVD's and such that books would still become a major story.

But the creative marketing machine behind the Harry Potter books seems to have managed to make reading as cool as cool can be. With parties and late night openings all geared to midnight tonight and the release of the sixth of the Harry Potter series.

J. K. Rowling may never imagined that her franchise would weave such a spell over the young people of the world, but if anything the mania over Harry seems to grow with each release. Even here in Podunk, the town's two books stores have brought in their load of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and plan on a midnight release. Go figure, Friday night and everyone is talking about books. Mr. Gutenburg would be so proud!

On the other side of the country is a young 10 year old boy from Windsor, Ontario who has been flown to Newfoundland by Indigo books, winner of their Harry Potter contest. Curtis Holden, stands or most likely sits, ready to make North American history as he cracks open his copy of the Half Blood Prince. Curtis' only worry, that he may fall asleep before the midnight hour, letting history pass him by. One suspects he'll be wide awake as the clock strikes twelve, the only question is will he finish the book in one sitting or save a few chapters for another day.

Song in my head archives

Below are the songs I've reflected on in my Songs in my head feature.

July 22 Don't Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll-Long John Baldry
July 21 Life is a Highway-Tom Cochrane
July 20 Sympathy for the Devil-The Rolling Stones
July 19 Someday-Steve Earle
July 18 It's Too Late-Carole King
July 17 My Way-Frank Sinatra
July 16 Share the Land-The Guess Who
July 15 Hurt-Johnny Cash
July 14 Born to Run-Bruce Springsteen

Song in my head July 15

July 15,2005-- Johnny Cash-Hurt. Cover versions are always a dangerous proposition for an artist. As things turn out the re-makes never really do justice to the original, though there are some rare occasions where a re-make takes on a life of its own. This is the case with Hurt, the Nine Inch Nail song from Trent Reznor, which Cash captured perfectly on his AmericanIV Recording "The Man Comes Around".

From the haunting piano which resonates with urgency as the song progresses, to Cash's perfect delivery of lines, this is a song that Cash took and made his own. Aided by a remarkable video which captures the tone perfectly, you can sense this ownership in his line "my empire of dirt, I will let you down, I will make you hurt", feeling the weight of a life lived and tragically soon to come to an end.

Johnny Cash recorded many songs over his lengthy career, many of which defined country music for decades. With country radio seeming to push him aside in the later years, it's a tad ironic that as his days dwindled down, he found perhaps one final burst of recognition with a cover of a rock song. But one listen to Hurt will leave you searching for more of Cash, one listen to Hurt and you realize that no one else can do this one again and do it justice. Cash nailed it as perfect as one can get!

Lager louts should not spill their beers!

I found this little diversion courtesy of the United Irelander blog, considering it's Friday and a few of our podunkian visitors may find their way into a bar or pub tonight here's a training mission for you.

Help Mr. Vegas keep his ale from hitting the floor.

My first attempt only registered in at 23.9 seconds, so I'm obviously quite out of practice and should probably stay at home til I can properly keep my beer from spilling sadly to the floor.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin', get them bovines rollin'

Wow! Two days of big developments for Canadians in a row, first we have peace in our time in the world of hockey, now pending further appeals one assumes, we have peace in our time in the cattle war between Canada and the United States.

The ninth circuit court of appeals set in motion the wheels of cattle crossings, when it overturned the ruling that had closed the border to Canadian cattle for more than two years now. The Mad cow crisis had visited much discomfort to Canadian cattle producers over the last two years and finally there may be some light at this rather lengthy and dark tunnel, which while couched in terms of health protection at times seemed to reek more of protectionism by cattle lobbyists in the USA.

While we're probably not clear of the back fourty just yet, things seem to be moving in the right direction and for that we say Yeehaw! It's about time some common sense entered this cattle debate and not the rhetorical jingoism that the American side of the discussion used to stall and delay the inevitable. For more about the entire cattle crisis check out seanincognito, who has done a remarkable job of recording the various points and counterpoints over the last two years.

Now if we could just get the softwood lumber problem out of the way, yet another irritant between the US and Canada would be removed. Two for two on crisis management this week, one can hope that the trend continues.

*UPDATE-July 15*--Word has it that meetings to resolve the Softwood lumber dispute will resume on Monday morning. All of a sudden Canada is on the US radar, all this attention on old irritants my my, what should we think?

A song in my head

A bit of blogsite maintenance going on over the next little while. I have decided to revise some of the blog site, taking out those links of old to the favourite CD, book, magazine and movie, etc.

Instead as I go along with my recreational pursuits I shall do a blurb about them as I'm reading, listening, watching and such. A few days ago I did a blurb on the Atlantic magazine article I was reading, I think that's a better way of approaching this sort of thing.

At any rate with a lengthy pre-amble as that we get to the music. I have always been a devoted fan of most forms of music and even earned a living at one time back in the darkest ages of my working life as a radio guy, playing songs (some of which I even liked!) for countless hours. My interest in the tunes though went back long before those days, so I figured here I'll list some of the tunes I have listened to over the years and found enjoyment in.

Taste is in the eye or the keyboard of the blogger I guess, so you may agree, disagree or disregard at your leisure. However, if something pops up that you may not have heard before, go find a copy and give it a listen who knows you may even like it as much as I did!

July 14, 2005-- Bruce Springsteen-Born to Run. There were many songs I'm sure that I listened to before, especially in those pre teen bubblegum group days. But this one seems to be the one I go back to time and time again, more or less my entree into the real word of rock. I bought up and listened to anything by Springsteen in my teens and continue to this day to find something in each and every one of his songs, but it was Born to Run that blasted out of my radio in 1975 and wore out many a needle on my record player! The opening is of pure rock and roll power, the message was freedom! What was there to resist?

Next week she planned on toilet papering the front lawn!

Well this Deputy Mayor in Northwest England may as well have resigned, since it seems her concept of taking it to the people needs a little finesse. Perhaps this is one lady that has taken glad handing just a little too far!

Mommy, Daddy? What did you do during the Great Hockey War?

Well while many hockey fans turned their attentions to other sports and interests over the last nine months or so, there was a decidedly different approach in Prince George BC. At the northern British Columbia hospital, officials are looking at some stats and they have found that the 301 day absence of the national sport did a lot for the national birth rate.

Prince George Regional hospital released their roster and it shows that the maternity ward of PGRH was busier than a penalty box at a Senators/Leafs playoff match up.

201 babies were born in Prince George from April 22 to June 16 of 2005, up quite a bit from the normal levels of 160 over a two month period. Now keep in mind that we're counting backwards here, so those numbers are just the start of the season babies. One wonders what kind of a boom will hit Prince George next March when all those playoff babies make their appearance!

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey (and babies I guess) check it out!

Anyone remember where we left the pucks?

After 301 days and 82 mostly acrimonious meetings our leaders of the hockey world have finally brokered a peace treaty. General Gary and General Bob finally signed off on the terms of surrender and the members of each side will check their pulses and ratify the deal by next week.
There are still many issues to clear up for the average hockey fan, the final terms not to be officially announced until the raftification votes. But as you can see in the following links there's enough rumour and innuendo to keep us going for the next seven days.
Eric Duhatscheks' report on the deal
What will happen with Sidney?
Draft Day dynamics
Preparing for the salary cap.
Who has a contract and who is up for grabs.
The players reaction
A lower starting wage
Casualties of War
The Wrath of Grapes
When the deal turned
Worry over the fan reaction
Collapse of the PA?
Now the GM's must earn some pay
Christmas in July!
A free agency free for all?
Fear at the CBC? Cherry's ready to roar again?
The rich will still be the rich!
Buy and sell days ahead for the NHL
League heads for a recovery period

Yet there are still some questions for us to ponder. What will the amateur draft look like? Will the Rangers be given enough bouncing balls to successfully claim young Sidney? How many of your favourite players will be changing uniforms as each team tries to fit things under the new salary cap? Which of our old warhorses will find that the new NHL has no place for their weary bones and quietly they shall go off to their sunsets? Will Bob Goodenow survive as leader of the Players Association with his rank and file taking some sizeable pay cuts and having lost an entire season of pay.

Then there are the rule changes that are supposed to be coming our way. Smaller goaltender equipment, Floating red lines, another bid to cut down on the clutch and grab, some added overtime and increased playoff participation to name a few of the trial balloons we have heard about in the last 301 days. We soon shall find out what is fact or fiction.

But for now, yesterday's announcement that hockey is almost back on the ice was greeted by Canadians like Victory in Europe day, the sports networks dedicated enough air time to the announcement to qualify as a mini series. Sports radio finally had a topic to keep the lines jammed all day long. For the Canadian sports media the return of the NHL was greeted with the joy of Christmas, for finally some advertising may begin to pick up there is a huge gap in revenues thanks to the absence of hockey from September to the all important June Stanley Cup ratings bonanza, if even half the viewers and listeners return in September they still will be far ahead of most of the other programming that had to be offered up to fill time.

In the States it may be a completely different story however, there the game is a mess media wise. ESPN dropped the game after waiting in vain for the NHL and NHLPA to get their act together, that leaves the NHL with a cobbled together coalition of local pay tv channels and some strange lend lease arrangement with NBC where the NHL may get some cash after all the expenses are paid off, that knocks the NHL down to second or third tier sports.

So while the NHL celebrates it's version of peace in our time, there is now much work to be done to return the game to some semblance of its past glory. 301 days went by without hockey, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the game to bring recapture and build upon its fanbase!

The above post first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Rove Tuesday

The Bush White House continues to try and figure out how to handle the media storm revolving around the unfortunate Karl Rove. With George Bush refusing to cashier his chief advisor (for now anyways) the media is having a field day in making all of the Presidents men feel a tad uncomfortable.

Rove who seems to be a lightning rod for discontent with the Bush agenda has been on the hotplate for a number of days now, chiefly because of his outing of a CIA operative who just happened to be married to one of the administrations main critics. The CIA member Valerie Plame found her name splattered across the newspapers courtesy of a Robert Novak piece, which outlined the path taken by her husband, retired diplomat Joseph Wilson who was charged with seeking out Iraqi weapons of mass destruction back in 2002.

Wilson would go on to be a harsh critic of the US Governments involvement in the war in Iraq over the WMD issue. Ms. Plame's moment of fame came in one simple line outlining her role as a CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction. And with that one assumes her role as an undercover seeker of WMD's, nuclear fission and stray buckshot has come to an end. Rove had involved himself in a background piece two days earlier with Time magazines Matthew Cooper, so his chances of plausible deniability seem slim to say the least.

The outcry has been vociferous that Rove must go, in fact he may find himself in violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection act of 1982, which if he is convicted under may send him off to a federal establishment of pentinence, though one suspects not one on an American portion of an Island that starts with a C ends with an A and is famous for cigars. As Timothy Noah writes in his entertaining examination of the issue with the wonderful title of Turd Blossom must go, Rove should be gone today, indeed he should have been gone a number of yesterdays ago for his abuse of power to smear a political rival while at the same time endangering a member of the US Intelligence community.

For his work in assisting the Republican friendly media with their talking points, Rove has found himself in the midst of an uproar that very well may end his occupation of a West Wing office. At the moment a Grand Jury is considering the evidence to decide if any member of the Administration acted improperly in the entire affair. Republican operatives have been steadfast in their support for the architect of Bush's two consecutive terms, claiming that the uproar is nothing but a Democratic smear campaign on a great Republican. But one wonders how long they'll stand by their man should Rove start to take on water and begin to list. (most likely to the right if one was to take bets)

Loyalty is apparently a quality that the Bush crew take seriously so there may still be some strategy to come out that will save the day for Rove and keep his seat at the Presidential inner office. But when push comes to shove in the past, Bush has distanced himself from those caught up in uncomfortable situations. Just ask Kenneth Lay who once thought of himself as a Bush intimate and found himself off the public radar when he ran into his Enron troubles. He may still make some calls to the President and offer advice, but you'd be hard pressed to find a log of any correspondence between the two.

Will Karl Rove follow in Kenny boys footsteps? If the Democrats and an answer seeking media who don't like to be ignored have their way, Rove will be off the Administration depth chart in short order. Rove has made many enemies (most recently with his Liberals and 9/11comments) while shepherding his student through the governance of America, his political skill able to deflect many messy problems from his boss. With the Wilson/Plame story, Rove finally he may have made that one step that he can't undo.

Shrove Tuesday is traditionally a day of atonement for ones sins and a chance to repent for them, providing an opportunity to commence with a more ethical life. Rove Tuesday is just another day of denial, with nothing to apologize for and nothing to accept blame for.

Repentance and ethics apparently have no place in the office of the deputy chief of staff in charge of policy.

Is the CFL in danger of not getting it Wright?

CFL Commissioner Tom Wright has been given the terms of his one year extension and he should know them very well, they're the exact terms of the contract he's been serving under since taking on the job. Wright is apparently to decide this week whether he will accept the offer from the CFL's Board of Governors, but apparently there are a few who are hoping he tells the CFL to take a hike. From day one Wright has been under a microscope and in fact was almost not hired in a Grey Cup week mess that detracted from the leagues showpiece game.

Wright who has overseen a rebirth of sorts of the CFL has come under pressure from a number of sides for his desire to have an enforceable salary cap in place on all nine franchises. It seems that BC Lions owner David Braley and Montreal Alouettes owner David Wettenhall are both firmly on the side of those wishing to see the Commish vamoose.

Despite solid television numbers, increasing attendance figures and some intriguing sponsorship deals the always fractious CFL owners club continue to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot. Many of the CFL's current sponsors are suggesting they may review their investment plans with the CFL should the execution squad get ready to stand in line.

So far the only group to come out in favour of Wright retaining his job and growing with it are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who seemed to find some time while wondering what's wrong with their club to offer up support to the embattled commish.

The rest of the six are somewhere in the middle neither overly enamored of Wright, nor really willing to put the league through another search for a Commissioner, seeing as Wright replaced Michael Lysko as Commissioner in one of the bloodier of CFL coups.

The sage editor of this Twelve Men blog, suggests that the owners group take a good hard look at their present situation and find a way to make peace with Wright and lock him up for a couple of years more. He's done a pretty impressive job of returning the league to a semblance of respectability and most of his mis-steps seem to stem from conflicting messages from the gang of nine that think they have the right to dictate their own terms of operation.

The CFL which has returned to the sports fan radar after a number of rudderless years should not do anything to mess up it's current rebirth. Dismissing Wright with the smell of interference and duplicity wafting through the air, will only highlight for fans that it may be a new wrapping, but inside maybe that old CFL mindset still exists. The gang of nine should do all they can to show that forward momentum includes Wright as commissioner, to do otherwise tempts the fickle fates that may lead them back down the same side of the mountain they just climbed!

The above item first appeared in my Twelve Men on the Field blog, for more items about Canadian Football check it out!

Monday, July 11, 2005

All I got for my sixteenth birthday was a couple of record albums, a football and a football helmet!

My Mom and Dad were apparently behind the parental curve. As they neglected this part of my growing up phase, of course with this present behind them. One wonders what the kids parents had planned for his eighteenth birthday!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

9 dollar a gallon gas, Bin Laden captured and America adrift!

The current issue of the Atlantic Monthly (July/August 2005) has a fascinating bit of sooth saying courtesy of James Fallows. In an essay complete with intriguing foot notes Fallows paints a painful picture of economic decline that resonates with the headlines from today.

Fallows examines the upcoming economic crisis by looking back at America from the election of 2016. In his treatise, the strength that once was American industry and commerce seems smited by world events, much of which seem to be playing out in 2005.

Gas of course continues it ever upward spiral peaking at the articles end at 9 dollars a gallon, so one assumes our Sunday driving days are soon to be gone. Gone will be GM and Ford, apparently debt loads and poor sales (yikes that's from the headlines!) turn it into a fat acquisition target for Toyota.

The war in Iraq will continue to rage on by 2016, but possibly only as a sideshow to the real activity in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where American troops will be bogged down in their quest to track down terrorists. Speaking of which, Osama will finally become a trophy, captured by American commandos in 2011 just before Christmas. The will quietly attack, rousting Bin Laden from his sleep in the Saudi desert. The General in charge of the mission, in fact will join in on the extraction, gagging the Al Qaeda leader and taking him into custody, leading his crew into the heroic battle he will then parlay the Ike moment into a bid for the Presidency. Shades of Tom Clancy with your Paul Krugman.

It's a comprehensive piece this bit of future shock composed by Fallows and does seem to cover the current financial machinations in the US which are leaving quite a few feeling very uneasy about the nation's financial health. 11 pages in total it brings forward many of the current players on the World scene, bad news for Fidel as his days apparently will soon be dwindling, but for fellow traveler Hugo Chavez the future is not so dire. The Venezuelan leader will strengthen his hold on the South American oil industry, denying America over 8% of its oil requirements, which will be transferred over to soon to be new nemesis China.

Countdown to a Meltdown is a pretty frightening glimpse at the future, one which can be changed according to the author, but only if steps are taken quickly and messages not missed at key times.

Check it out at your local news stand or library or if you feel the urgent need to review it, you can always subscribe to the website. Regardless, it's a must read. If nothing else it will bring the current financial state into perspective and leave you with a very nervous feeling as you watch gas and interest rates rise and housing prices and employment rates drop. Hopefully Fallows prognostication will remain in the fiction category and not one day hailed as something worthy of George Orwell.

Right now though, after reading Countdown to a Meltdown I'm feeling awfully 1984ish!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

London Blogging!

The terror bombings in London gave bloggers around the world an instantaneous snapshot of current events and a moment in history. And by all accounts the bloggers of London held up their part of the bargain quite nicely!

Newsweek on the MSNBC website offers up and inside look at how the Blogging revolution has transformed the gathering and dissemination of news and how the networks and news agencies will have to react to the new face of participatory journalism. Slate also took a look how the Blogging community handled the bloody developments of last Thursday.

It's an interesting examination of our little community and how it reacts in time of crisis and such. The technological revolution that we are all part of certainly has changed things for us, I know that when I first heard of the bombings in London, the first thing I did was to e mail my nephew who teaches school there. Within minutes of my e mail I had received a reply to reassure me that thankfully, all was well with him, though his city seemed a tad un-nerved at the moment. It certainly made me feel a bit better being able to be in contact with him so quickly and seamlessly.

From there I surfed all the usual suspects the BBC and Guardian websites to name couple of faves and then I moved a little further along to some of my favourite blogs. One in particular an Irish blog called Slugger O'Toole, featured a number of first hand reports from readers and contributors who lived in London. It made for a fascinating sense of history as updates were provided through the day.

In the end I did become a spud of the couch though, my clicking finger working out the different combinations to bring me CNN, Newsworld and CTV Newsnet as they all kept up with developments as best they could. I must admit that the newsjunkie in me started to wish I'd broken down long ago and bought that satellite dish, just for the sake of picking up BBC Canada but we made do with the domestic news services for the day.

However, for the sense of immediacy, fear, worry and even hope, the bloggers seemed to have a niche carved out nicely for themselves as well.

A jackass is a jackass!

David Ahenakew can blame the media, a racist judiciary and a vast Jewish conspiracy all he wants, but simply put he authored and spoke the words that have caused him his current distress. No one forced him utter blatantly racist comments and thus no one should feel any sympathy for his fate with the judiciary and the court of public opinion.

Rather than appear contrite and look for a way to make amends, Mr. Ahenakew has instead chosen to wrap himself in the blanket of persecution himself. Suggesting that it's racism that is at the heart of his troubles. An approach that does a disservice to all first nation's people that have suffered at the hands of racists.

Mr. Ahenakew needs to look in a mirror and take stock of his past comments and as a service to himself he should refrain from making any more public pronouncements.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Evil we seem capable of

I've started a blog item a couple of times now on the Bombings in London. Started yes, but I have abandoned the project each time, since I couldn't really think of a proper way to express my horror.

Almost two days have now gone by and I feel no wiser, nor more capable of expressing a sense of frustration at what seem to be escalating scenes of terror. Suffice to say I have those same uneasy feelings that I had after September 11th, when I heard of the bombings of Madrid, the Bali attacks, the frequent suicide bombings of Israel, the continual carnage of Iraq and Afghanistan and the countless years of horror of Ireland North and South. These are not natural disasters which leave us puzzled about a caring deity, instead these are all the machinations of humans, done in the name of a belief to which no one can truly comprehend.

What possible achievement will come from the callous destruction of lives we witnessed on Thursday. It boggles the mind how the snuffing out of over 50 lives and the ruination of many others will aid the troubled parts of the world. It's doubtful that it will cause England or any other free thinking democracy to pull into a shell and let the world be carved into little niches of hatred. The English who are made of rather stern stuff it seems, have suffered at the hands of violent people for many years. From the waves of bombs in World War II to the urban attacks from the IRA in the seventies, they never caved in to the demands of terror then and one suspects they shan't this time either.

The message delivered on Thursday is one of fatalism, that of a religion not steeped in Islam but instead steeped in hatred. It was designed to splinter a country into factions suspicious of each other, perhaps to drive neighbors to harm each other. And while there will probably be some extremists who will take this horrid event to their cause and look for retribution, the vast majority of Britons will continue on with their lives. Fully realizing that the deeds of misguided followers of evil, do not reflect those that have lived side by side with them over the last half century. The victims in London, like those of Madrid, Bali and New York before, came from all backgrounds and all religions, united now in disgust at the cowardice of their attackers and who now share in a common goal of showing that their way of life will not be taken down the path of destruction followed by the likes of al-Qaeda and their splinter groups.

There is much that needs to be done in our world, real problems that must be addressed. The Israeli and Arab worlds must find a way past their differences, to craft a society that can co-exist. Likewise the troubled landscape of Iraq must quickly give those people a sense of hope, the Middle East is very much a tinderbox these days, ancient hatred and current geo political alliances have that part of the world teetering on the brink. The temptation is there to just wash ones hands of the area and let them have at it, but of course oil fuels the current problem and will for the foreseeable future. It drives the economies of the world and no one can see the industrialized nations abandoning an area so vital to their common interests.

How we approach that area is in need of some refinement however, the people who live in the cities, towns and village are the ones suffering the most. Sickness, unemployment, hopelessness and despair are the breeding ground for the likes of Bin Laden. Whether it's a camp in the Palestine areas, the suburbs of Baghdad or the hills of Afghanistan giving the residents hope for a better life will go a ways to changing the dynamic.

This does not mean that prosecuting the architects and operatives of the terror of London, Madrid and New York should be scaled back. Rather than resigning ourselves to having to live with the concept of a terror filled future, we should redouble our efforts to hunt these despicable people down and bring them to justice. Stuck in the bog of Iraq it seems that the US has forgotten the hunt for Bin Laden and his acolytes. When the twin towers were attacked the world was united in revulsion and lined up alongside to prosecute those capable of such horror. As the years went along that mission somehow got put off into almost an incidental prosecution, as the President took on the task of removing Saddam Hussein it was as though the chase of al-Qaeda was abandoned. It may not have been by design, but by reducing involvement in the hunt and allowing the jihadists to continue with their plans, the blueprints for London were long ago drawn up. And so now we line up with England sharing in the revulsion of such evil.

It's too simplistic and naive to think that we will shortly wave a wand and return to simpler and more peaceful times. Sadly for now, this die is cast and similar attacks as those on Thursday will no doubt fill our television newscasts in the future. In our little corner of the world, so far thankfully free from the atrocities we've seen, we sit back and wonder how we can contribute to making a difference before it is too late. This mindless terror knows no boundary and could very well strike us at any time. Our way of life is a threat to the purveyors of hate, our society exhibits a certain freedom of choice, a place where we are free to worship in our faith if we have one, live without fear of harm, treat each other as equals and seek out a better life for our families wrapped in the adventure of a common cause. Those traits are alien to those that planted bombs of hatred on Thursday, and perhaps those traits are our greatest strength.

The process of changing a mindset and breeding ground for terror will take a long time. And so we will again be forced to confront the evil that we seem capable of inflicting on each other. At our peril the lessons of the past will be ignored, our hopes for the future are now tempered with the reality of today. A reality that at this moment includes prayers for those so brutally murdered and hopes for those survivors to find a sense of peace after such a horrible ordeal.