Description 29 - le défilé du Père Noël

In Montreal, Santa Claus has roadies and a secretary, but I learn the guy works hard to entertain at his big downtown parade. Enjoy not-exactly-festive music from Loco Locass, along with face-painting, more mouth-noises than ever and someone twirling long socks like nunchucks.

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Associated links:
défilé du Père Noël
The official site of Père Noël
where he hangs out in Quebec
Loco Locass
Complexe Desjardins
Radio Énergie
Viva Marina! (Orsini, that is...)
Wikipedia on Annie Brocoli (that woman in the parade everyone knew but me)

Seriously, sorry about the mouth noises. I should've had some water sitting around.

The little hymn at the start of the episode was something I recorded at the Centaur Theatre while seeing a play called "Assorted Candies," the English version (translated by Linda Gaboriau) of the Michel Tremblay play "Bonbons Assorties". It's a funny and often melancholy collection of remembrances M. Tremblay has about being a kid at Christmas when his family was poor. You can find a book version here.

I mentioned a show Marina Orsini was in called "The Last Chapter / Le Dernier Chapitre". It was a miniseries about biker gangs in Ontario and Quebec, and Marina played the steely wife of the ambitious Ontario leader (Michael Ironside). I guess it should go without saying that our old pal Roy Dupuis was in it too. Actually, it was two miniseries - four, if you count the sequel - because they filmed in both languages simultaneously. Okay, obviously, it wasn't completely simultaneous, but they would film a scene in one language, then do the same scene in the other language, and on they went down the line. Freaking wicked. Granted, a couple of the Anglos who couldn't quite get their pronunciations down like me :-) had stunt-French-talkers who were dubbed in for them. But still, I think it was a great achievement, and I wish more tv shows and movies were done that way. Yes, I know it's a pain in the ass to make any domestic piece of entertainment in English Canada, much less twice in two languages, but a gal can dream.

Guess that's all the stuff I'll put on the podcast from Montreal for now. I have my perspective, but there are plenty of podcasts and blogs based in Quebec where people actually know what the hell they're talking about. I think #1 for me is Vu d'ici (Seen From Here), but there's also BandeÀpart (part of Radio-Canada), the legendary in over your head, Quebec en Baladodiffusion, and if only in retrospect if they don't get their crap together :-) The Bob and AJ Show. And of course there are others, but that's as far as my brain's going right now.

And while trying to figure out that Loco Locass song, I decided to bounce it off a friend of mine in Second Life who happens to be French (like, French French). Of course, he couldn't get a lot of local references, but got that while Quebec has been accused of fascism and censure in the past, plenty of those accusers would do well to check out the skeletons in their own closets. But my friend found another possible very cool reference. The title, "La censure pour l'échafaud," reminds him of a Nouvelle Vague film from the '50's called Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, which can be translated to "elevator to the gallows" or "elevator to the scaffold". Louis Malle's first feature film, it's about a guy who plots with his lover (Jeanne Moreau, of course) to kill her husband (his boss), and while the murder does happen, something gets messed up and stuff really starts to unravel. And it happens to have an amazing soundtrack by the late Miles Davis. Doesn't get much cooler than that.


Description 28 - Mode d'emploi

Finally, I get into why Canada has two official languages, yet many of us (including me) suck at least one if them. Featuring great music with sub-par sound quality by Mes Aïeux, tasty new cookies, and a church that became a mall.

Cliquez ici et abonnez!
Cliquez ici et téléchargez!

Associated links:

That convention-fresh Liberal Party
CBC Archives: "The Road to Bilingualism"
Wikipedia takes on bilingualism in Canada
Parlez-Moi with Sol (from the Rick's TV site)
Histori.ca on the October Crisis
The Rocket/Maurice Richard now on sale on DVD
I first discussed that movie and some of this stuff in Description 16.
Mes Aïeux Official Site (in four languages!)
"Dégénération" video on YouTube, a great homemade video with old home movies, and another cool homemade one with family memorabilia.
(Update: March 30, 2007: now you can see the original video with English subtitles!)
Farewell to the Montreal Forum
The Bell Centre
Guide de la Petite Vengeance (no matter the language, it's an excellent movie site!)
Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen

This is an episode I've wanted to do ever since started thinking up what I could do on a podcast. The French/English thing has been a source of fascination for me. Hasn't helped me pronounce any better, mind you.

Something I probably won't have a chance to mention on these Montreal episodes is another way I would try to learn French: watching La Fureur on Radio-Canada (that's the French CBC-TV). There are versions of this show all over the world, where celebrities/media personalities compete in teams based on gender in games based on music. The defining game is where they play a popular song and everyone sings along, then they stop the music for a short time but the team must keep singing the song so that when it comes back on, they haven't missed a beat. Actually, every answer in every game is some sort of pop song, which everyone then sings for a few bars. So everyone can do that on the show and watching the show, they have the lyrics running at the bottom of the screen like for karaoke. For me, that means I can hear what the words on the screen are supposed to sound like. Makes sense...but then pop songs have a lot of slang and stuff, and lyrics can have a ton of contractions to the point I'm asking "what the hell words did they just smush together? How the hell would I know that from hearing someone?" Still, it's fun to sing along like I know what I'm singing. After all, isn't that what everyone around the world does with English pop songs?

In researching the links, I was amused to learn that the guy who wrote the movie The Rocket (en Français, Maurice Richard) also wrote the movie I saw in this episode, Guide de la Petite Vengeance. So thanks, Ken Scott, who is way more French than his name suggests. Btw, the plot to that movie goes like this: This guy is an accountant at a fancy jewelry store, and his boss, Vendome, is kind of a dick. Not a total asshole, but one of those guys who says subtly nasty things and is super-passive-aggressive and who doesn't really yell at you, but is never really satisfied with anything you do. One of those bosses, who, if you're a generally good person, veeerrry sloooowly sucks out your soul.

C'mon! Who can't relate to that?

So our put-upon hero, Bernard, happens to meet a guy whom he replaced at the shop several years ago. Robert totally understands his pain, and ropes Bernard into a plan for a little vengeance: stealing just a couple small trinkets from the jewelry store. Of course, that's not all there is to the movie - there are all sorts of twists, some I saw coming and some I didn't, and those kinds of movies are rare. And it says some nice things about love and letting your life kind of slip away from you when you're busy working. So if you have a chance, check it out.

Oh, btw, when I was talking about that Maurice Richard movie when I saw it, I was speculating about how well it would do in the box office in English Canada. It did well, but not well enough to really be a big deal. (Though then again, we're not good at making anything a big deal.) But a few months later, a movie that really fits this subject came out: Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a prototypical buddy cop action movie, only the crime in question happens on the Ontario/Quebec border so one cop is Anglo while the other is Francophone. Violence and hilarity ensue. Not being a big violent action movie-type person, I didn't happen to see it, but it has become the highest-grossing domestic film in Canada ever, beating out even Porky's (yes, that movie was done in Canada). Still, most of the money was made, quelle suprise, in Quebec.


Description 27 - Doodlescription!

Okay, so what's this "movies for the blind" thing? I finally explain and demonstrate with help from one of the hottest bands to come out of Canada - just ask your four-year-old nephew. Don't let the kid listen in, though, unless you want him to learn some nasty language.

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Associated links:
VoicePrint Canada (our sister company, where you can hear some of our stuff)
The Canadian Government tries to explain what I do.
The BBC explains how to get it in the UK.
What the heck is SAP?
The Official Doodlebops Site
Together Forever, the best Doodlebops fansite

For video examples of described video we've done for the NFB, scroll down to the end of the listing for Description 24.

Could've put this up earlier, but I was on my holiday in Montreal, where I racked up enough audio for probably three shows. I did do most of the editing for this episode (what? there was editing?) on the VIA train when I should've been listening to my Fodor's French For Travelers on my nano. Yeah, that would've made a ton of difference. :-)

Props to The Doodlebops: Lisa J. Lennox plays pink-haired keyboard player Deedee with a voice like a bell, Chad McNamara plays Rooney the blue-dreadlocked guitar gearhead with that touch of musical theatre flair, and Jonathan Wexler plays the impetuous breakdancing drummer Moe, whose hair colour has always been a source of frustration for me (is it red? orange? red-orange? How can there be so much Doodlebop trivia, yet no one's settled on this?!). The legendary Jackie Richardson plays manager Jazzmin. You didn't get to hear John Catucci as Bus Driver Bob, which is a drag, because my favourite part is when he comes out at the end of the Get On the Bus song with "Hey! Yeah! We're gonna take a bus ride!" Frickin' hilarious. Really. Okay, so maybe you have to be there.

Anyway, on the rough DVD version I get of the show initially, when the band first performs the featured song for the episode, they sing it live on set to a very minimal backing track while doing their dancing, and it's very impressive. Now those three kids have been touring their colourful little asses off for months with their wigs and makeup and oversized fingers, so God bless them.

I've learned that when I get back to work Monday, I have to start describing this year's edition of Stars On Ice. Yes, for the first time, we describe figure skating for the vision-impaired.

So you wonder how the hell I'm gonna do that?

I'm wondering too. Stay tuned...


Epilogue to the Epilogue

So I emailed our Board of Elections friend Katie with that bit from the Ohio Voter Information site linked in the previous post, and here's the reply I received:

Ok Valerie,

Please vote for the Federal Offices.
Thank you for your concern.
Also, I am sorry for the confusion!

Have a great day!

So when I got my big manila envelope for non-service people that she'd promised, I took my big ballot and only filled in the little SAT circles for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, and off it goes via courier to Jefferson. Will it also meet the fate of the Boo-Boo Box? Only time will tell...or maybe not.

But if you have been properly warned by my little tale of intrigue, and you're a U.S. person who'll be in the U.S. voting on Election Day and you happen to have a video camera, the fabulous Arthur Masters tipped me to something you may want to consider doing, a little something called Video the Vote.

Yes, here's another embedded video. I promise, no more for the rest of the year.


Description 26 - The Boo-Boo Box

Go inside the actual 2006 ballot of the key state in the U.S. elections...and why do I have that ballot? Fortunately, we have some Canadian rock from Danko Jones to help get our frustrations out.

Click here to subscribe and get on the list.
Click here to download directly and cut through any red tape.

Associated links:
Ashtabula County Board of Elections
Absentee voting info from the Ohio Secretary of State
Overseas Vote Foundation
Margie Bort and Joe Pete (Jr.) at a county auditor meeting (sorry, you can't get the full effect of Joe's mustache in the photo....)
That photo came from The Star-Beacon.
Danko Jones: .com, .net and myspace!
Thanks to the Podsafe Music Network
And zefrank explains voting! (QuickTime)

the show with zefrank

Whew. Seriously, this is one of the very few shows I've done in the apartment totally off the top of my head. I didn't know what was going to happen or how much I'd be blathering when I got the iRiver rolling. It should be clear I'm not the most informed person about the local politics from where I grew up, and have no pretense to be some sort of pundit (what? like not being informed stops real pundits?). These days, I am paying more attention to the municipal elections here in Toronto, which will happen shortly after this U.S. whoop-de-doo. As usually happens (already my concerns about Michael Ignatieff's trajectory are coming to fruition), David Miller had good ideas when he got voted into the mayor's gig and not all of them have worked out. He's certainly screwed up at times. But having the ideas (himself or from others) and pulling off some of them is enough for me to vote him back in. And then there's the matter of finding someone to fill the councillor's seat Olivia Chow left when we sent her to Ottawa. Adam Vaughan seems a worthy successor. If he is not a Philosopher King, he definitely is a Philosopher Prince, with all the risks implied that I'm usually willing to take.

Okay, enough of that. Making an effort to do silly crap next time. Oh, man - I'd been intending to make a promo. We'll see if I ever do that.


Description 25 - Nuit Blanche

The city stays open all night for the sake of contemporary art, and lots of people actually show up! Including me! Enjoy music made with water, reading pieces of paper tied to tree branches, and learning how to walk the right way through fog. And remember: positive energy!

Click here to subscribe and accept the microclimate.
Click here to download directly for a more immediate expression.

Associated links:
Official Nuit Blanche Toronto site
Torontoist Does Nuit Blanche, Has Stories, Is Sleepy.
Spacing on Philosopher's Walk
An explanation of Taddle Creek
University of Toronto Faculty of Music
Bloor-Yorkville @ toronto.com
That carrot episode of "Good Eats"

The featured exhibits were: Carl Beam: The Whale of Our Being, Fog in Toronto #71624, Son(ic)ambulism, Hold That Thought, I Am Curious - Yorkville, Leif Ostlund and Raphael Montpetit @ Hollander York Gallery and One Garden One Night One Wish.

It's a long episode, but man, I cut a lot of stuff out. Sorry there are things I made reference to that ended up on the virtual cutting-room floor. After my first bit, I walked down bpnichol lane, where there was supposed to be something going on on the way to Sussex, but I must have been too late for it. In a nook of Yorkville, huge, inflated capsules were floating for Pharma©opia by Toronto art legends of the '80's General Idea. At the Royal Ontario Museum, there was some great work imported from the Nuit Blanche in Havana, Cuba - particularly the work of Carlos Garaicoa. Also, outside of the ROM in the contruction site for the Crystal, an interesting projection was being shown. And I didn't end up dragging my ass across the street to the newly renovated Gardiner Museum.

Again, that was just part of Zone A! There were two other zones with swimming and 10-year-olds DJ'ing and dramatic pup tents and cops dancing and whatever the hell. Once folks finally wiped the sleep from their eyes, it was determined about 450,000 people experienced this thing. That's pretty damn cool. But y'know, Montreal is having one of these deals next spring - they're supposed to be the artsy ones. That event just may have enough power to fortify all the overpasses in Laval. But for now, the art community of Toronto and the plain old shmucks like me can be kinda proud of what went down Saturday night.


Description 24 - King of Kensington

The King is dead; long live the neighbourhood. I try to figure out the significance of one of the only Canadian sitcoms anyone bothered with, then walk through the rain to get my haircut where it took place. Includes a globe on a chair 20 feet in the air, saffron-wasabi truffles and George Clooney's head used as graffiti.

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Click here to download directly because you'd rather serve yourself.

Associated links:
King of Kensington on Wikipedia
Remembering the King in Forget Magazine
Northern Stars bio of Al Waxman
"Welcome to Kensington" from the Kensington Market Community Site
Rice Bar Online
Shampoo Hair Studio in Toronto Life
Alchemy Baking (where the wierd shortbread cookies are)
Toronto Life's picks on Augusta.
Tom's Place
[murmur] in Kensington
Twitch City is coming to DVD!
Scenes from Twitch City on YouTube
(And here's how the whole series started!)
Photos and video of the Kensington Festival of Lights (for the winter solstice)
Corner Gas

Seeing those youtube clips of Twitch City reminded me how awesome it was to have two of (imho) the hottest guys in Canada, Don McKellar and Callum Keith Rennie, in the same show. I once saw McKellar's film direction debut, Last Night, and there's this one scene in an apartment building lobby that caused me to say, "All right - I've now seen everything I ever wanted to see in a movie. I don't have to see movies anymore." Yeah, I've gone on to see other movies since then. But mmmmmmmmm, that was sweeeet.

Oh, there's some noise during my blathering in the first part of the episode, which I think is some neighbour knocking his pipes for some reason. Or maybe the pipes themselves were knocking, as pipes can sometimes do. Whatever.

I think I've said pretty much everything I wanted to say in the episode, so I'll take some space for a Day Job Plug for something everyone can check out if they have broadband and QuickTime...uh, which I guess doesn't mean "everyone"...sorry.

This time last year, we were working our asses off describing dozens of films of varying lengths and types for the National Film Board of Canada, for a huge project of putting their catalogue online. That project is finally coming to fruition. We have a few films on their Focus on Animation site (specify "films + described video" and specify QuickTime as opposed to Flash), longer films on their Aboriginal Perspectives site (same deal with QuickTime spec; it's hit-and-miss finding the movies we did; try the films Riel Country and Incident at Restigouche).

That all sounds kind of hard, and it is, really. It's even harder getting into the motherlode, which is their CineRoute site, though, granted, it is a pilot project. To really get in there, you have to sign up for the NFB Film Club and get invited to CineRoute, blah blah. However, I got in and I have links that go straight to their embedded QuickTime Player - yay! So here are some examples of what I do for a living, one click away (I hope...). The first example is only one minute long.

For the described version of "Canada Vignettes: Faces" (if you lived in Canada in the '70's, you'll remember seeing this on tv), click here.

For the original undescribed version (to find out what we added), click here.

And here's more described fun stuff:
Neighbours (classic Norman McLaren, but a bitch to describe)
The Motorman (funny day in the life of a Montreal streetcar driver)
Adventures (a kid watches a racoon get into trouble - too cute!)
EyeWitness (a newsreel that would play in movie houses to keep folks up with the times).

Email me if you have any comments or questions on the NFB programmes and what the heck we do with them.


Another Cinderella Moment

So I crawl back into work after a fast and furtive Labour Day weekend in San Diego (for all I'm about to say, that's probably the thing you'll be most curious about. "Soooo, what about San Diego, hmmm? Winkwinknudgenudge saynomore?"), and there's a gmail from Sue Campbell, one of the producers of the big-deal CBC Radio extravaganza Sounds Like Canada. She wants to know if I'd be part of a panel on podcasting on the show the next day.

Yeah, that would be the national show hosted by the beloved (and well she should be) Shelagh Rogers, who I quoted in Description 6 and who I was too gutless to talk to at Podcasters Across Borders.


Uh, yeah, I can do that.

And so I did, with Shane from Shane and Tom's Squeezebox (the guys who did those wicked t-shirts at the conference!) and Tim from The Twisted Wrist. We talked with Shelagh about what we do in podcasting and why, and by all accounts, I kept my heart from pounding into my throat. Whew. You can find my recording of that half hour here. (Excuse the redundancy at the beginning for the benefit of the subscribers who didn't get to read this.)

Then after going off the air, we chatted some more, and that's ended up on the Sounds Like Canada Digital Extra podcast. Even before all this, it was my favourite of the new rash of CBC podcasts, so being on that is about as much of a thrill as being on the main show. Go here to subscribe or to download directly.

Thanks very much to the Sounds Like Canada folks and the Podcasters Across Borders guys for steering them my way. Also congrats to Shane and Tim for a great job.


Description 23 - Honest Ed's

So you say you want a digital clock with a 3D painting of the Last Supper? Follow me through a mansion of discount wonderment (founded by another American expat!) and listen to me whine about how heavy a bottle of bleach is. Also featuring wicked new music from The Supers, 40 cent espresso shots, and the return of Les Pierrafeu!

"The nicest people in the world click through this link: our subscribers."
Or click here to download if you'd rather serve yourself.

Associated links:
The Official (we guess...) Honest Ed's site
Mirvish Productions (the theatre stuff)
The Wikipedia listings for Honest Ed's and Ed Mirvish
These German guys did this cute site about Honest Ed's!
The Supers on myspace and Maplemusic
(and don't forget Graham Powell and Sho Mo and the Monkey Bunch!)
Peter Rukavina explains the Tim Horton's Iced Cappuccino
Ontario Science Centre

Sorry about the weird mic popping - this was the first time I'd clipped the lapel mic to my new snazzy and massive Swiss Army bag I got in Kingston when my old bag broke at Podcasters Across Borders, and it kept moving funny on the strap. Always something...

A good example of the Honest Ed's dichotomy cropped up when I was researching links. The mirvish.com site is about the productions running in their theatres, and it's very lavish and detailed. But the site for the Honest Ed's store itself? Just a basic thing connected to toronto.com, like hundreds of small businesses with barely enough coins to rub together to prop up an internet presence. I guess they figure no one going to Honest Ed's is impressed by Flash and Java. And they're probably right.

When I was first dreaming up what I'd talk about on a podcast, I considered a rant that I ended up doing this episode. I try to take a bag or bags with me when I'm shopping - a cloth one, a heavy nylon one, maybe recycling an old plastic one. I've been doing this for at least 5 years now. I have enough crap cluttering up my place, I don't need more plastic bags piling up here or in some landfill when it isn't necessary. Every once in a while, a store will search a bag if there's stuff in there already, and they're more than welcome to search or hang on to my bag at the front desk or inspect a receipt. The bigger problem is at the checkout, especially at Dominion down on Bloor. They start to check stuff out and immediately start running it into one of their own fresh bags, and I have to stop them and say, "That's okay, I brought my own bag," and set it down in front of them to use. Sometimes, most frequently at Dominion and at Honest Ed's during the soundseeing tour, the cashier takes out what may have been bagged in the new bag and continues checking stuff out...then won't put any of it in my bag. They just let it sit there. I haven't come up with a good way to actually ask, "could you put all that in my bag, please?" although now I've taken to asking right off "Could you use this bag, please?" But if I get this standoff thing happening, I'll just kind of get all passive-aggressively huffy and end up bagging it myself.

Okay, I realize this is not the end of the world here, but I just don't understand why i shouldn't have the same service as everyone else. One girl gave me the explanation that people who bring their own bags usually prefer to do it themselves anyway (read: they're picky difficult control freaks). Another said there'd been "trouble" and no one wanted to get involved with a bag someone had brought - like there had been stolen stuff in the bottom or something and God forbid a girl check it out first. I don't know...it still mystifies me. So that's why I got a little pissed there. People are just so locked into their routines supposedly for the sake of efficiency, any change is some provocation of the delicate balance of life - which of course explains a lot of damage we've done to each other and the planet (er, sorry, let me get this granola bar out of my mouth...ahem!). I don't want to make trouble, but just want to exercise some common sense. What am I missing here?

Btw, in the last couple weeks, Dominion has suddenly become more receptive to crazy me and my bags. One cashier even praised my wanting to help the planet. Er...okay. I don't want to be terribly cynical or anything, but could this change of heart have anything to do with the fact that Dominion is now selling their own re-usable bags?

You think I'm gonna buy one?


Description 22 - The Last Spike

Live (uh, a month a half ago) and direct from a VIA train from Kingston, I try to figure out what to say about what rail travel means to Canada. We also do a soundseeing tour of Toronto's Union Station with someone who knows what she's talking about, yet can't steal one of those neat goody bags with William Shakespeare's picture on it.

Click here to subscribe and be treated like you're in VIA1 to Montreal.
Click here to download directly like you're curled up in coach to Winnipeg.

Associated links:
VIA Rail!
Official Kingston, Ontario website
The Last (Canadian) Spike in Wikipedia
Silver & Blue class on The Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver
Doors Open Toronto
Toronto Railway Historical Association (who took us on our tour, so support them!)
Ninjalicious (RIP) infiltrates Union Station
Steam Whistle at the Roundhouse
Stratford Express

Holy crap, was I zoned on the train. I must've had 8 hours sleep in the previous two days. And many of those awake hours were not always sober. But hey, to be in Tod Maffin's suite at 1am watching Shelagh Rogers play some crazy-ass card game? What the hell. Did I mention I didn't even talk to to her, even though I'm a fan and took something from one of her lockout podcasts for Description 06? Er...yeah.

(Update: March 30, 2007:When I go up the stairs into Union Station, a cute '80's song runs through my head, which pisses me off. The song is "Every Little Tear" by Paul Janz, and it runs in my head because much of the video was filmed in Union Station. So admire the architecture and try to get the hook out of your head. I'm sorry in advance.)

Some useless trivia: I recorded my own uneducated soundseeing tour of Union Station before I took a train to London to The Pursuit of Happiness' New Year's show last December, but somewhere along the line, I lost the file. So when I heard Doors Open snagged the station for the 2006 edition, I said, "hey!" Off the top of my head, I think I have at least 3 other Doors Open soundseeing tours, so we'll see if I can wring themes from them.

Since Taste of the Danforth came and went last weekend, I looked back and found that Description 01 (which featured Taste of the Danforth) was dated August 18, 2005. So I guess we can call it a year. YIKES. I gotta say, I have been from the depths to the heights in the last 12 months, and not much of it had to do with having a podcast. It had a lot to do with why I only squeezed out 22 episodes, though. I've gone from depression to having to finish this post quickly in time for a Yahoo Messenger video chat with my boyfriend in San Diego (!). I have a boyfriend! That's pretty f'd up. But I'm very thankful for the remarkable things that have come my way, and I'm thankful for you for bothering with this little dog-and-pony show I put on.

I'd be more thankful if you can tip me to any software where I can do video and audio chat from Mac to PC without Skype and without a frigging firewire cam (like iChat requires). :-)


Description 21 - Cleveland

It's the North Coast, it's the place Ian Hunter said rocks, it's where I was born - which I'll mention way too many times as I stumble around the debris of my lame-ass youth. Includes music by the Michael Stanley Band, a movie theatre that became a bakery, a life-size photo of Dan Marino and a band playing Outkast on an old freighter ship.

Click here to subscribe like you're on the Innerbelt.
Click here to download directly like you gotta take the 480.

Associated links:
University Circle
Cleveland Clinic (who took care of Mom!)
The Michael Stanley Band discography for download
The Cool Cleveland blog/podcast
PopMatters visits Cleveland Heights
Coventry Village
Cleveland Free Times
Cleveland Scene
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
The Goodtime III

As I was recording the intro, it was early that morning, and saying the date, I realized it was my brother's 45th birthday. Mentioning that, my voice had a bit of melancholy to it because we haven't spoken for a few years. It's one of those long, stupid stories families have, unfortunately. When I was home, I only heard his voice on a voice message on my parents' cellphone giving a contact number in case of emergency, as he and his current wife were camping.

Editing, I noticed two main themes people might get from this episode: 1) I'm an old person obsessed with how things have changed or stayed the same, 2) no matter how significant certain places might be to me, they're not terribly distinct from places like them in many other towns. There are a lot of Coventrys out there, I suspect, just waiting for angst-ridden pseudo-intellectual kids like I was. I hope you had (or still have) yours.

The MSB track was taken from a greatest hits collection called Right Back At Ya', and the song was originally found on the album You Can't Fight Fashion, both of which you can find at the link on the list above. To give another idea of the band's popularity at the time, MSB eclipsed Bruce Springsteen to set the attendance record at the local major amphitheatre, Blossom Music Center, which holds a little under 20,000 people. And sure enough, classic rock station WNCX is still around and Michael Stanley is still on afternoon drive, God bless him and his rich, low voice.

Oh, and the mixtape? The song before the MSB track is "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)" by Mint Condition, and the song after is "Justifed and Ancient" by the KLF featuring Tammy Wynette. Those were the days, man....


Great Big Day Job Update!

So I was just perusing Boing Boing as I often do, and there's this story from Cory Doctorow about the National Film Board of Canada putting many of their legendary short films online for free. Of course, that's great news for most people, but for me, I had to go over there to see if any of my day job stuff was up there yet.

Y'see, starting last fall, in my day job - described video for the vision-impaired - we started doing A TON of work for the NFB, describing a big chunk of their catalogue. It was done for this huge online project they're undertaking. Well, it's finally coming to fruition, and it looks like they're starting with the animation. The hardest films to do, not surprisingly, were some of the legendary films of Norman McLaren. Considering his groundbreaking animation techniques and the utter lack of dialogue in them (much less linear narrative), you may wonder how the hell someone could describe it all for the blind. Well, we wondered too, as did the NFB and the McLaren estate, which is why we went through months of meetings and focus groups and yadda yadda. And in the end, we all decided to do a little more description than we usually do, adding a tiny line about the techniques used to give people an idea why this stuff is such a big deal. In the end, we're pretty happy with how it all turned out, and evidently so is everyone else - a movie or two showed at Cannes this year as they gear up for the release of a DVD box set of McLaren which will include our work, and now the films are starting to appear on this new part of the NFB/ONF website here (for the French, click "Francais" at the top).

When you go there, in the drop-down menu, select "films+described video" and you'll have your choices. Also select described video in the preferences when it asks you whether you want high-speed and all that stuff. (Note: this whole thing is Quick Time only.) Play what you want, and for the English versions, you'll hear me saying what's going on if you're vision-impaired (btw, I think the site is supposed to be accessible to screen readers, but i'm not sure), or if you just want to listen while you're surfing somewhere else or don't feel like looking. Neato!

Coincidentally, the website for my day job is alive and open to all. I wasn't directly involved in putting it together - way more patient people than me pulled it off. So head to www.audiovisioncanada.com for the final word on what the hell it is I do, with info other projects you can hear (on tv in Canada or VoicePrint online), how to buy more of it or have it done for your tv show or movie.

Okay, back to editing the Cleveland podcast. Ain't it amazing what you can learn by procrastinating?


Description 20 - NXNE '06 part 2

From my balcony, I offer the last Podcasters Across Borders review in the podosphere while trying to listen for race cars. Then it's time for Saturday night at North By Northeast, with music from Kate Schutt and Galore after we don't stand too close to Stewart Copeland.

Click here to subscribe and have your canary in a coalmine.
Click here to download directly if there's too much information.

Associated links:
Podcasters Across Borders
dicks&janes podcast
The Sniffer podcast
The Ottawa Local Podcast
Molson Grand Prix of Toronto
Official Stewart Copeland Site
Interview with cbc.ca about Everyone Stares
Kate Schutt and at myspace (please check out her sites and buy stuff - I didn't ask her permission to record her!)
Crash Kelly
Galore and at myspace and buy the new album!

Hey, you see my Yahoo avatar? (On my blog, for those of you getting this from an rss reader.) Cute, eh? My thighs are just that small and my eyes are just that big. It does effect my balance as I walk down the street. :-)

While Kate Schutt was listed in the NXNE grid as being from Boston, I have learned she has been living in Guelph, Ontario. (Go ahead. Say "guelph". GWELF! Isn't it fun to say?) Perhaps another ex-pat then? The kismet just doesn't stop! Btw, Kurt Swinghammer joined Kate at the end of her set for a terrific cover of Sheila E's "The Glamorous Life." Just a wonderful thing to stumble across. I wonder if this is making up for not asking her permission yet....

Of course, I also didn't ask Stewart Copeland for his permission either, but I did give him lots of time to promote the movie, which for the record is titled "Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out". The Police was the band who changed how I think about music. I'd always been into just whatever was on K104 or FM96, maybe showing early signs of loving dense vocal harmony by digging Daryl Hall & John Oates (hey! don't judge!). Then I ran across The Police - I don't even remember how anymore - and they blew my mind. It was all these aesthetics mixed together and put out with such high musicianship (especially Andy Summers, who Copeland admits is the star of this movie). Sting was of course compelling and could write a hell of a song, and there was Stewie, all wiry and cute and jumping around and beating the crap out of a drum set. Man, it was awesome. And a couple years later, they gave me my primer on my favourite band breaking-up-but-not-quite-breaking-up, wisdom I'd use with The Pursuit of Happiness. I loved Sting's first solo album, bought the second one, then my interest started to trail off. I peek in on Andy's work and Stewart's work on scores (you can just tell...) and work with Oysterhead. People grow up and their loves evolve, and it's cool. But to see these guys jumping around on a snowy hill, to see Stewart at a big show playing his drums but chatting with his camera over his shoulder about how cool it is? I'm a giggling schoolgirl with a scoliosis brace again.


Description 19 - NXNE '06 part 1

We appreciate the 3 nights everyone comes to Toronto to rock and talk. Enjoy the distorted music of Stella Panacci, C'mon and White Cowbell Oklahoma - and the metal picnic tables of the new Pennsylvania Welcome Center.

Click here to subscribe like you have a wristband.
Click here to download directly like you're paying the cover in each club.

Associated links
North By Northeast official site
ChartAttack's NXNE video blog (with clips of C'mon and WCO! Also check out the legendary Report Cards
Stella Panacci
C'mon - The Official Site of Rock!
White Cowbell Oklahoma
Opening of the new Pennsylvania Welcome Center on I-90 at the New York line

Sorry much of the music is distorted, but you're only just supposed to get a feel for the stuff anyway. Hear that, lawyers?

The first time I saw the Cowbell, it was about 4 or 5 years ago at the Reverb (a club we'll visit in the next episode). There were 9 guys on the fairly large stage; most of them slinging guitars and wearing fu-manchu-ish mustaches and beat-up cowboy hats. One guy not slinging a guitar was dressed like a sheriff, wearing mirrored shades and toting a shotgun. The remaining guy was behind the keyboards: called "The Wizard," he was clean-shaven with a conical wizard's hat and cape, and wore a Washington Wizards (NBA) t-shirt. The Wizard was the only one allowed to play the titular white cowbell.

There was some wrestling match later - I can't remember who was in that one. Elvis, I think. Elvis and Santa Claus? Or did Santa Claus wrestle Satan later? They all glom together... So anyway, you can tell now that the Cowbell is the kind of rock show that could fit in just fine at a Fringe Theatre festival. The guys in Edinburgh should check them out. And if you're a long-time listener (seriously? God bless you, dude!) and find this Cowbell stuff familiar, in the 6 Ross episode, someone had just come from a White Cowbell housewarming party. Yes, the mind does reel. :-)

And yes, Mom is doing very well now, thank you.


Description 18 - Valerie Takes the Streetcar

(Note: this blog post has an update at the end.)

Dubber, Spoons and Queen Victoria: three members of the Commonwealth worth a tribute, and that's what I give while riding a Red Rocket. May include a possibly illegal amount of music from The Supers, a sting-y little wasp, and the Mystery of the Missing Golf Course.

Click here to subscribe, so your podcasts come automatically like the Spadina streetcar.
Click here to download directly, chasing after episodes like an Entertainment District cab on a Saturday night.

Associated links:
Victoria Day!
Dubber and Spoons Take the Bus
Dubber's blog, The Wireless
Spoons' photoblog
Spoons at DeviantART
The Supers
Graham Powell of The Supers on tour in Europe
Graham's myspace (with amazing solo demos!)
The Spadina Streetcar in Transit Toronto
Harbourfront Centre

Yes, we Canadians have the sense to start summer with a three-day weekend a whole week earlier than the Americans. For those new to Canadian culture, it's known as the "2-4 weekend" for three basic reasons: 1) while we celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday on the fourth Monday in May, her actual birthday was May 24, 2) Victoria Day weekend often includes the 24th anyway, 3) a "2-4" is a case of 24 beers, and taking those cases up to the cottage is as much a part of this holiday weekend as...well, as blowing up fireworks you bought off the back of a truck in the local Dominion parking lot. I still haven't figured that part out yet.

Y'know, The Supers is not all about Graham, although I played two songs he wrote and sings lead on. It's actually the collaboration of him and Maury LaFoy, who I first knew from playing bass in Danny Michel's band in those unforgettable gigs at C'est What. In fact, I had gone to see Danny play at the Hillside Festival a few years ago, and after his set, I wandered to another pavilion, which was where The Supers played, and I just fell in love with their stuff. Maury writes some of the songs, which he sings, and Graham writes some, which he sings. Maury's kind of the Lennon (rocky, sardonic) to Graham's McCartney (smart, but pretty). And I guess I'm just in more of a McCartney mood these days... Btw, the guys are finally putting out a new album soon, so keep checking that gorgeous official site of theirs, with designs by local art/music hero Kurt Swinghammer.

When I first moved to Toronto, there was no Spadina streetcar, but a Spadina bus. So beloved (or reviled by some) was it, The Shuffle Demons did a song about it. You can hear a sample of it on CDBaby, and I highly recommend you do. Where it cuts off, they're singing "77B, on the TTC / Now 77A, well I guess that's okay / give me 77B / on the T-T-T-T-T-T-C!" Those were the different routes. The streetcar line I ride in the episode has only been around since 1997 (the Queen and King Red Rockets are way older), but it's MY streetcar line.

Update Dec. 4, 2006: Hey, look! It's the "Spadina Bus" video! I found it on the Shuffle Demons' myspace page when they asked to be my friend! Thanks, guys! Isn't Web 2.0 awesome? :-)


Description 17 - Jane Jacobs and the Annex

Celebrating my neighbourhood and another American immigrant who helped make it what it is. Featuring music by Jennifer Foster, little boys play-wrestling, and the unwelcome strains of James Blunt.

Click here to subscribe, so it can download automatically as you go to a park with your kids.
Click here to download directly as you drive your gas-hogging SUV to a big box store on the outskirts of what used to be your town.

Associated links:
Jane Jacobs' house in Flickr
Jane Jacobs via the Project For Public Spaces
cbc.ca on Jane Jacobs
(and video from shortly after she moved to Toronto!)
Ideas That Matter
Robert Fulford interview
The Annex in Wikitravel
Jennifer Foster (and on Maplemusic and myspace)

Jennifer Foster was also mentioned in Description 05 when I missed her opening for MonteForte. Koop called her "J-Fo". :-)

As usual, there was a lot to cut from the soundseeing, so most of it is spent among the tree-lined streets and old houses. I'll have to do another one where I walk Bloor Street proper and talk about the stores and stuff. I didn't mention the Bloor Cinema, Trinity-St. Paul's Church (the home base of the world-famous Tafelmusik baroque orchestra and chamber choir), not even The Tap where Moe and Dave do their DJ thang.

And then there's Future Bakery, where I wrote the essay for this episode. I'd been having some writer's block and also needed a late Sunday brunch, so I went over there to take care of bizness. When I got there, I noticed that across Brunswick Ave. at the side door of the Brunswick House, a group of people were standing around, one of them sitting on the steps with a laptop. I recognised that these were members the improv/sketch group The Sketchersons, who I think were waiting to be let in to rehearse their Sunday Night Live show for later. One of them was the stand-up comic Fraser Young, whose work I admire and on whom I've had a persistent crush for about two years. I admitted as much when I added him as a friend on myspace, and he took it well. So I got a table by the window at Future, had my bacon and eggs (and those spicy home fries!), nursed my coffee and basically stared at the guy from across the street, with his emo windbreaker and soul patch and laid-back non-stoned-Mitch-Hedberg delivery, being all patient and stuff. Well, it's not like I was stalking! I didn't know the dude would be there! And I got my writing done - stalkers aren't very productive while they're stalking, are they? No. So there.

Did I go over and say hi? C'mon, you've been listening to this podcast long enough to know I wouldn't. I just ate and wrote and hawked until some kid finally let the Sketchersons into the Brunny. So thank Fraser for sort of...but not...helping me get my podcast done.

Damn, I love my neighbourhood.

Addendum: Great news from the Tony nominations in NYC: The Drowsy Chaperone, which started here at the Toronto Fringe, has been nominated for a crapload of awards, including Best Musical and Best Book for another crush of mine, the ubiquitous Don McKellar. Meanwhile, a young actress I worked with on my description day job once, Alison Pill, has gotten a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Play for her work in The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Yay, everybody! And don't make Elaine Stritch kick you in the shins!


CBC podcasts, Grits and Danny Michel

Well, here comes the big CBC podcasting coming-out party, several months after we were all hunkered together at a downtown Casey's with unformed dreams inflating our heads as the guy with the biggest dreams, Tod Maffin, was poking away at his Sidekick.

For those who don't feel like going over there right now, it kinda goes like this: you have a new best-of-the-week podcast from a favourite show per day all week, then there are various not-all-radio-content (uh, I think...) shows with various release frequencies (CBC Radio 3 is in that group, along with a version of Sounds Like Canada), then you have weekly shows covering each region.

I've tested a couple of these. My favourite CBC show, Definitely Not the Opera (updated Sundays), had lots of original host content from the always fabulous Sook-Yin Lee, but mainly featured an interview FROM FEBRUARY with Ricky Gervais. That may have been a pilot episode, since the whole schmeer just started. I'm hoping from here on in, the content will be from the previous day's show. However, the As It Happens podcast, to be updated each Friday, did have content from the past week, including a fine interview with former Toronto mayor John Sewell about the late great Jane Jacobs (more about her next podcast episode). So far, then, a well-intentioned but mixed bag. Dig in there and see what you can come up with. Oh, and Tod or whoever: why not link the show photos on the podcast page to the show's main site so new listeners can find out more? And btw, congratulations on making it this far, Tod. It's a major achievement.

Another update: Michael Ignatieff has been joined in the Liberal leadership race by a couple other guys who could qualify for his category of smart-guys-you-wish-would-run-for-office-but-then-what. Ken Dryden is known for two things: being a legendary hockey goalie and being a verbose egghead. (obviously I can relate to the verbose part) Posing probably a more serious challenge may be Gerard Kennedy, who has a couple provincial government years under his belt, but who I know best as being the guy who ran the Daily Bread Food Bank for a while. If Scott Feschuk writes his speeches, I'm afraid my heart may head for a fall. :-) So anyway, now there may be too many aspiring philosopher kings in this fight. Let's see which one gains his senses first.

And now for Danny Michel. Sigh. I've been an unsettlingly big fan of this guy for several years. I have made THREE attempts to do a podcast episode about him, and aborted all of them. Why? If I could explain here, I would've finished one of those podcasts by now. But this much I can do. Or maybe I can't, but I'll do it anyway.

Danny's FINALLY releasing his next album next month, stocked mainly with songs I've been hearing him play live for about two frickin' years. He and his people (he has a couple of them at least) have started the promotion thing going for it with a welcome redesign of his site, including a "sampler" of many of the album's tracks. So if I don't have the balls to ask him if I can play one of his songs in full someday, you can hopefully enjoy this skip tra-la through this upcoming opus Valhalla. Pay particular attention to one clip near the end for something called "Midnight Train", which is such a single, I can barely contain myself. Then go to his site's free mp3 page and download everything, then go to his space at Maplemusic and buy all the damn albums. Thank you.

Now here's the sampler for download.

(Note: I realised the podcast subscribers would have no idea what this thing is when it pops into their feed, so I added a little intro reading the last two paragraphs of this post. To avoid the redundancy, you can fast forward about 3 minutes in to get to the juicy music. Thanks!)


Description 16 - Le Rocket

It's about a great hockey player, a guy who finds his voice and inspires millions to find theirs. We (yes, we) go to a movie that shows how much better the Quebecois are at telling and listening to their own stories, while the Anglos may be better at matching NHL team colours of paint.

Cliquez-ici pour abonnement!
Téléchargez ici!

Warning: I have no pretentions that my French is any good.

Associated links:
"Rocket" Richard exhibition at the Museum of Civilisation
The Rocket/Maurice Richard @ IMDB
Playback Magazine on the English Canada release
Roy Dupuis @ IMDB
Roy Dupuis @ Canoe (Francais)
Official Montreal Canadiens site
Les Pierrafeu!

Already I know I screwed up because I pronounced it "pierrefeu" when it's "pierrafeu," which is a truncation of "pierre à feu" which pretty much means "Flintstones". Yet Fred and Wilma (Délima) do not have the last name Flintstone, but Caillou! What the-?

I could go on for days on that one, and thankfully, I won't.

Okay, back to The Rocket. I want to give some props to the actors you hear in the clips. Of course, you have Roy Dupuis as Maurice. The Anglo actor Stephen McHattie plays legendary Canadiens coach Dick Irvin (whose son became just as legendary for calling hockey games on Hockey Night In Canada). And a guy even more ubiquitous in Quebec than Dupuis while looking entirely different, Rémy Girard, played Maurice's barber to provide the voice of the people. Art-film snobs may remember Girard as the dying professor in one of the most globally successful Quebec films ever, The Barbarian Invasions (a sequel to another massive Quebec film, The Decline of the American Empire). He was also the coach in the more-than-massive series of Les Boys movies, which made more money in Quebec than any Hollywood film up against them. I don't think anyone in Quebec is allowed to make a movie without Girard in it. Also, I totally edited out Julie LeBreton as Maurice's wife Lucille because I already had too much. She does a very good job for having not much to do, a there's a nice love story in there. Just letting you know it's not entirely a Guy movie.

That night after the film, I went to the GTA Podcasters Meetup, which was pretty fun. Big thanks to Craig of the Tangents podcast for putting it together. Some great people there I already have links to over on the right. I think what really struck me was how great the video podcasters were. Not that they weren't supposed to be great...I just haven't gotten into video podcasts (mainly because I'm such an audio person and I have a hard time with .m4v) and didn't know much about the people making them. Last week I finally got into Jim Dupree: Enthusiast, which is hilarious, and met "the other guy," Tristan, at the meetup. I also met Kim and Patrick from Cooking Kitty Corner and Michael from Life's a Journey, and now from what I've seen, both podcasts are as funny and real and - dare I say - sweet as their creators.



Video: TPOH @ the Indies

If you liked that last piece in Description 15, here's the video version, which I think has much better sound anyway (I could only get my iTunes to play the audio). As I don't have a snazzy video iPod, I have to take the word of our friend Peter, and the word of our favourite drummer and pub manager Dave Gilby, who converted it and was kind enough to send it along.

See why Bob Lefsetz said, "Moe Berg, in his cardigan that nobody would wear, and seemingly polyester tight-pegged pants, was alive with the spirit of rock and roll." Although I must disagree about the cardigan part.

Download here!
(and tell me if I've screwed this up, because I've never put a video in the feed before.)

Update, June 19, 2007: Bah. Let's just do this. Sorry, they edited out the cardigan and the F word.
Though really, Moe Berg is all about the cardigan and the F word.


Description 15 - The Pursuit of Happiness

A long time coming and a long time listening (almost an hour!), I explain what the deal is with me and Canada's greatest power-pop band, including some exclusive live recordings - not to mention tales of slinging drunk girls over roadies' shoulders, post-show dog-licking and pants that match someone's couch.

Here's where you go if you wanna ride the big wave and subscribe.
Here's where you go if you wanna open up the bomb bay and download directly.
(Don't know those references? Check here.)

Associated links:
Incompletely Conspicuous: The Pursuit of Happiness and the Press (yes, my site)
TPOH @ Maplemusic (buy CDs or downloads of the last two albums and Moe's solo album and book)
Buy Love Junk and When We Ruled from EMI
TPOH with The Management Trust (Jake Gold's agency)
Canadian Indies Hall of Fame
TPOH Loveslaves Yahoo Group
Actually, the first podcast about TPOH was on Zaldor's World.
jazz.fm91 (Brad's beautiful jazz station - go listen when you're done with the podcast!)
The Populars, the great opening band whose beers Kevin stole.
Off the Record on TSN

Seriously, I'm NEVER doing a show that long ever again. But I had to cram about 20 years worth of stuff in one show to get it all over with. Then when I mention one person or another later on, you can check back here and remember what I'm on about.

Renee mentions Tim Mech saving her from a night of debauchery long ago. Tim was the guitar tech for TPOH for most of the time I was going to shows, and he continues working on some of the best crews in this country when he's not working on his own very cool nasty music with Tim Mech's Peep Show - with Ron Koop, who you'll recall from Description 05 at the Monteforte show. Oh, and singing lead with Brad in Monteforte is Tam Amabile, who you hear in this episode singing on the original "I'm An Adult Now". See the tangled web?

Other great people I've met because of the Pursuits include the ones I've met on the mailing list, as we used to call it back in tha day. After a show in '95, Kris suggested I check it out (likely in the hopes I'd find a new outlet other than writing them letters). I didn't have a computer back then, but a couple months later I lived in downtown Belleville a couple doors down from the Quinte Arts Council, who had an ad hoc internet cafe of one computer, so I went over there and took my first steps into the glorious cyberspace. Once I figured out the whole listerv thing, I was part of the Loveslaves mailing list (or listslaves), a global bunch of usually nice and perpetually frustrated people (considering Moe's typical subject matter, that was appropriate) - frustrated because information or promotion of or about the band was always hard to come by. Jaap who ran The Downward Node site and Tina who led the list at the time did their best, but the band was never great at marketing themselves (the initial video aside) and no one else around them was very good at marketing them either (although that was their damn job!). That's one reason why I started my site 4 years later, after Jaap had to quit because life took over and when the band had sort of unofficially finished. I had these articles and reviews that when put together, told an interesting and sometimes maddening story of some nice folks who made amazing music but got screwed around by circumstance, bullshit and the typically Canadian lack of ability to sell one's way out of a paper bag. That series of articles forms the backbone of the site. It's a cautionary tale for young bands (especially Canadian) coming up, although today, there are many more ways to work around the path that used to be the default.

Okay, that's talking about the site out of the way as well.


Description 14 - Michael Ignatieff's First Date

Why the hell would some globally-respected writer and egghead human rights specialist run for Canadian political office? Why the hell would I read one of his speeches in a podcast? Get the answers and some wicked-sexy Danko Jones to boot.

Here's what you click if you want to subscribe for unity among all the podcasts you want downloaded automatically.

Here's what you click for downloading directly, like someone who digs decentralization.

Associated links:
Official site of Michael Ignatieff, MP (with text of the speech, so you can read along!)
Canadian Press story on the speech via canada.com
The reason the anti-torture protesters were there.
Danko Jones!! (and on myspace)
Danko's fabulous radio show The Magical World of Rock (From RocketFM, Sweden)
And the Danko track was graciously provided by the lovely people at the Podsafe Music Network

As I write this, I'm listening to an archive stream of Danko's radio show last year where he's hanging with Jay Ferguson of Sloan, and it's amazing. Jay said when Danko first told him that he'd gotten a radio show where he could play what he wanted, Jay was a bit jealous of him. Jay's radio dreams finally came true: he and his cohort Chris Murphy host a big chunk of CBC Radio 3 on Sirius Satellite Radio and very late on the weekends on CBC Radio 2 online and on plain ol' radio.

I was listening to Daily Source Code last week, and usually Adam Curry starts with some podsafe song. Usually they're okay, sometimes actually very good, sometimes they sound about 15 years old - not that there's anything wrong with that. But this time the song was REALLY good. Ungodly wicked kick-ass. And then in the middle, the guy starts talking, and I think, this sounds like Danko Jones. And I'll be damned, that's just what it was. Adam Curry said their name, and I had some kind of That Thing You Do moment: "HOLY CRAP! I KNOW WHO THEY ARE! I KNOW PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEM! THEY'RE FROM HERE! AND THEY'RE ON THE FRICKIN' DSC! COOL!"

So it'll be interesting to see what good comes of Danko going the myspace/podsafe route. My indie band friends seem to have gotten onto the myspace thing, but aside from CBC Radio 3, they haven't yet gotten their heads around putting out podsafe tracks that podcasts can go nuts on. I've seen Sianspheric on the PMN, but that's about it, though maybe I'm missing something. But EVERYBODY indie knows Danko, so if the podsafe thing does them good, it could start something.

Btw, if you don't know much about Danko Jones, you'll not know that it's weird the song asks if you kiss on the first date. It's the only aspect of the song where they're holding back.

Oh yeah. Wasn't this episode actually about Michael Ignatieff's speech? Uh...well, yeah. But I talk about that in the show for 10 bloody minutes or something, so there's nothing left to put here.


Description 13 - Partial Pussy

What happened to the Canadian Tire Guy? What was I doing under Chautauqua's Athenaeum Hotel? How do you pronounce "athenaeum" anyway? And why should I care if those people in the car see me? Featuring music from National Anthem, true confessions and objects of guidance.

This is what you use to subscribe like the Canadian Tire Guy, who would always employ new and useful technology to make life easier.

This is where you download this one podcast like the new Canadian Tire couple, who just go for what they need for the moment.

Associated links:
CTV.ca story on the Canadian Tire transition
Maclean's beats up on the Canadian Tire guy last fall
Canadian Tire Guy Fan Club
National Anthem @ myspace, and buy the records from notlame!
Athenaeum Hotel at Chautauqua
Ninjalicious obituary from Torontoist

(Update: April 6, '06: Thanks to John in Indiana for telling me that Athenaeum is pronounced "ath-a-nay-um," derived from Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom. Says John: "Athenaea were widespread as meeting places for the discussion and debate of 'great ideas'. We have one in Indianapolis and they are particularly associated with christian denominations which expressed secular attitudes with respect to governing....Like your show." Cool. Looks like the States could use a hell of a lot more Athenea. Anyway, thanks very much, John. Love how it all fits together.)

That Canadian Tire family helped me through many a holiday. It seemed just when I had to come up with something to get my parents (especially my dad) for Christmas or a birthday or something (made more difficult by them not wanting anything), there would be that guy with a cool wrench you can turn like a screwdriver for hard-to-reach places, or an air compressor the size of a lunch box to have in your trunk for emergencies, or - God help us all - that laser level thing. Frickin' brilliant.

The phrase "I ain't no Ninjalicious" was in reference to the man who was at the forefront of "urban exploration" in this town. He would sneak through old and/or abandoned buildings (or "places you’re not supposed to go") as other more plebian explorers would go through caves or caverns in search of ancient civilisations. Unlike many of those other guys, he made a point to leave as small a footprint as possible - it was about adventure and knowledge and appreciation, not acquisition of land or objects. Dude could've eaten that hotel for breakfast. Much of his legacy remains in his Infiltration site.

And holy crap - I was on Dawn and Drew 275! I've dug their show for quite a long time (in podcast years), and something came up where I considered phoning on their comment line about the use of the "C" word, but I sort of let the moment pass. But then Drew started talking about a solar eclipse of the thumb (you had to be there...), and that damn Bonnie Tyler song got stuck in my head. That did it. I changed some lyrics and phoned, and added the bit about the "C" word. A day before my comment ran, they ran some other girl singing the first line of the original song, which then made me seem not quite as original, so I figured I was too late. But then there I was in the next episode! Absolutely bizarre. So thanks, D&D, and hello to any Minions who have happened by.


Another Day Job Plug

While I'm blogging today, a heads up that you can catch a couple other examples of the day job for which the podcast is named: description, or described video, or...whatever. These shows will air on CBC, and that means they'll be streaming on VoicePrint's website everywhere in the world (click here and then click "listen now"). All times are eastern, Toronto time.

Tomorrow night (Thursday) at 8pm, the great Canadian opera Filumena will air on CBC-TV as part of the "Opening Night" show. For our description for the vision-impaired, my voice gets to say stuff like when our Italian-immigrant heroine grabs the gun from an aspiring politician, only to have him grab another one to aim at the constable that may have killed his son with whom she was having an affair. Uh, only I say it more succinctly while the stuff happens.

Then, this Sunday and Monday at 8pm each night, one of my favourite things we've ever worked on: the two-part miniseries Prairie Giant: the Tommy Douglas Story. This is about the guy who won a tv election for "The Greatest Canadian" a couple years back. And why was he voted first? Well, besides the fact George Stroumboulopoulos presented an awesome argument (as he usually does), Douglas helped make happen a lot of social policies that sort of define Canada as a country: universal health care, old age pensions, labour reforms...the list goes on and on. In fact it literally does at the end of the second night; I got to read that list, and I actually found it the most moving part of the show, and that's saying something because it's rife with moving moments. But the establishment of those social policies was the culmination of a pretty amazing story, and Michael Therriault (best known as Leo in the Toronto production of The Producers) does a remarkable job of bringing this tenacious and funny guy to life again. No matter where you're from, this is a great story, but if you're a Canadian living outside the country, you may want to check it out to remind you of where you came from.

By the way, The Tommy Douglas Story was originally supposed to air in January, but when the federal election was called, the CBC postponed it, which I and other people found veeeery suspicious. Here's a movie explaining the events and compassion that led to the establishment for the New Democratic Party. Was anyone actually nervous the NDP could've eclipsed the Tories and Grits with the story fresh in the voters' heads? The world may never know...

Description 12 - Chautauqua On Chautauqua

What is this strange yet painfully quaint place where I spent my birthday? An asylum? A cult headquarters? The model for Stars Hollow on "Gilmore Girls"? I crunch around the melting snow and try to explain my history and Canada's history with the "Institution".

This is what you use to subscribe like an a Gate Pass holder.
This is where you download directly like some visitor who sneaks in off-season like me (that's actually not a good metaphor, but whatever).

Associated links:
The official site of Chautauqua Institution
The Institution in Wikipedia
Heather's Inn
Notes on the Chautauqua Movement (with the answer to what CLSC stands for)
Buckeye Local Schools (my old school district, where, I learned from this site, still has Project Allegro, only it's called "Allegro Enrichment.")

The title is a reference to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, in which a "chautauqua" is an oral essay working through various thoughts and ideas for education and sometimes entertainment. It was sort of a 19th century podcast, now that I think of it.

In this podcast, I didn't finish my story about Project Allegro, the program that took me to Chautauqua in the first place. You'll notice listening that I didn't sound very positive about the program. It did have its merits, and I do appreciate the opportunity I was given to be exposed to some new things. I just had this nagging feeling throughout that these opportunities should have been given to kids who were having a harder time with school, including kids who lived in beat-up trailers in the country and were in the school lunch program.

Anyway, a couple weeks into it, I was riding on the school bus from Kingsville to Jefferson one morning, and it occured to me that it was summer and I was getting up to go to school just like I had during the school year. Why? Sure, it was a good program and everything, but I still had to get up to go to school and I was doing it in the middle of summer. It just felt wrong. If they really wanted to be innovative, they should have started classes at noon or 1pm so we could sleep in like kids are supposed to do in the summer. But no. So I just decided it wasn't worth it, and I quit. I wrote a very nice letter to the director of the program thanking him for the chance and the experience, but that I just wanted to enjoy my summer and pursue what I wanted to pursue on my own time without the schedules and obligations. The reaction was pretty amusing: the people running the program were very concerned that I'd quit because of something that had gone wrong there - perhaps I'd been bullied or abused somehow. Was I okay? :-) I had to get my parents to write a letter saying no, she's just fine, there was no ill treatment, she just doesn't want to have to go to school in the summer.

That's something that sort of annoyed me when I was a kid. Adults, especially those at schools in positions of authority, didn't really give me much credit for thinking and making my own decisions based on my logic and feelings. They knew I was "smart," but didn't really consider what that meant beyond scores and needing to be challenged according to their well-studied ideas of what challenges a smart kid. There's a little human being behind that test score with a network of thought and gut processes that never shuts off (though sometimes wishes it would). Then again, I look at kids the age I was then, and I probably don't give them much credit either. Then again again, one day last summer when I was hanging with Dubber and Spoons, I was lucky enough to also hang out a little with Dubber's son Jake, who is a little older than I was then, but is very bright without being annoying (though that may have changed since he's reached teenage). I found myself talking to him like talking to a normal person, as I'd wished to be talked to back in tha day, and he gave good and often better than he got. So maybe it just depends on the kid...which maybe was my point about the whole Allegro thing.