Description 48 - Don't Expect Much

The Dalai Lama classes up an episode with two blizzards, official Canadian Football League turf, a lot of heavy breathing and an explanation why I don't sound quite as sad as I once did.

Click here to subscribe and go on the path
Click here to download directly and take one breath at a time.

Associated links
Toronto "blizzard" flickr set (by Robin Yap)
Zen Buddhist Centre
Edmund Bergler @ Quest For Self
DicksnJanes podcast
Allan Watts Theater!
Urban Dharma - the podcast
Pema Chodron
Ajahn Brahm podcast via Buddhist Society of Western Australia
Tengye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Temple
NOW Magazine on the Dalai Lama's visit to Toronto
Dalai Lama interview on CBC News Sunday

I'm posting this while sitting in the Kingsville Public Library, my nearest source of wi-fi happiness. Thanks, guys.

While all the podcasts I've linked up there are excellent, if you have any passing interest in Buddhism, your primary one-stop shop for a crazy load of info on this stuff can be found at BuddhaNet. From the simplest thing to the lists upon lists upon lists, it's really all there, and for free.

Being home for this long (it will be about ten days in total) is quite the tough proving ground for my nascent buddhist mindfulness. To paraphrase The Feeling, this place makes my head soft. But work like getting this episode together has helped. With tales of family selfishness, sniping and martyrdom (like with all families...and stupid judge shows that are on every frigging hour of the day around here), it wasn't a bad idea to sit myself down in the rocker/recliner in front of one of a half-dozen space heaters and strain to make out what the hell I was saying about inpermanence and unsatistfactoriness while tromping through the snow a couple weeks ago - not to mention trying to make out the echoes (literally) of the Dalai Lama. The much harder work here has been shutting up the chorus of judgements that roar in my head. Strangely, during my time here so far, I'm getting an idea where I got that chorus long ago. Maybe that will help the noise-reduction. We will see.


Help the victims of a bomb that did not exist

You may recall the times I've mentioned or been around the new Michael Lee Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum, which is not far away from me. A couple days ago, it was the site of a strange and stupid incident that has been in the news here ever since.

A student at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) put some batteries and circuitry in a little wooden box, left it inside the crystal not far from the entrance, then took off and youtubed footage of that action saying the box was not a bomb. Needless to say, someone eventually spotted it and everyone went nuts, bringing out cops and the bomb squad and dogs and whatnot, and the ROM closed pretty much for the night until they got it all sorted. Not surprisngly, the guy came out for a couple interviews saying this whole thing was an art project about recontextualization and stuff. (Note I'm not offering links to any of this, because he's gotten enough of the attention he was going for already.)

Now, usually I would be amused by something like this: some smart-ass, faux-pretentious kid making our authority figures freak out unecessarily. So why am I being all uppity about this incident? Well, that night, the ROM was hosting a huge fundraiser for CANFAR, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, one of those deals where rich people and corporations shell out tons of money to be there and tons more when they're there and where dozens of amazing volunteers give their time to help make it run well. This wacky little misadventure caused that event to be cancelled, basically taking away a good chunk of CANFAR's budget for the year.

Artist-boy says he had no idea about that event (nice research, dude - it was hardly an underground thing), and is sorry it was cancelled. Yeah, well, doesn't quite make up for the thousands of dollars lost that could've gone toward research, taking care of sick people, and helping with education that could prevent more deaths.

So this morning, I went over to the CANFAR site and donated 50 bucks, which is about all I can spare with no new money of my own coming in right now. I probably should have been donating to these guys for a while anyway, but this thing kind of kicked my ass that fewer rich people were going to be doing it for me at the moment. I think at least in North America, the general public doesn't think much about this issue/cause anymore except regarding Africa, but HIV/AIDS has not gone away anywhere, and the not-thinking-much provides a potential breeding ground for it. (Maybe artist-boy will fold this attention-raising into his "recontextualization" and look good from it, but whatever.)

So if you have a chance, please go to the CANFAR site, find out a little more about them, click the "donate now" button and give what you can. And of course, remember World AIDS Day is tomorrow.


Description 47 - Remembrance Day

Back in Ohio for U.S. Thanksgiving, I give thanks for Canadian soldiers past and present, and try to explain what the deal is with those red plastic flowers on our coats. Also features a tiny dog wrapped in a towel and guys in fluffy hats!

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Click here to download directly

Associated links
Remembrance Day @ wikipedia
CBC News In Depth on Vimy Ridge
The Royal Canadian Legion explains the poppy pin
LibriVox reads "In Flanders Fields"
The Suez Crisis and peacekeeping
Kandahar Journal from the National Post
CBC Kandahar Dispatches blog
Torontoist on Remembrance and Public Commemoration

The guy who spoke after Toronto Mayor David Miller at the ceremony was Dr. Ron N. Nickle, Padre (that's kind of like a chaplain) for the Toronto Fire Services. For a benediction, it was pretty strongly-worded concerning religion's relation to war, with the hope we will never feel our way is the only way. Pretty cool.

A few things in the ceremony I had to edit out for time. Shortly after the two minutes of silence at 11am, there was a fly-by of old warplanes, where one plane veered off to the side out of formation to honour those who have fallen. Soon after, we all sang O Canada, and near the end of the ceremony, it seems more people sang God Save the Queen (which I don't know how to sing without doing "my country tis of thee...").

And somewhere in the middle was the laying of the wreaths, where it seems every bloody group in this town laid a wreath - public services, reps from every consulate, unions, different sections of unions, and seemingly every little sub-group of every ethnic group and interest. It took forever. Okay, so it's great all these groups saw fit to honour our soldiers and their loved ones, but I had to wonder if there was something a bit political about it, i.e. "oh, if that group is laying a wreath, surely we must." I wondered if some of those groups could have just gotten together on some of those wreaths, maybe it would have demonstrated a little more of a sense of community that could contribute to some more peace in this world.

But y'know, that may be just me being cynical.


The Kevin Hilliard Retrospective

This is pretty much appropos of nothing, but I just got a myspace bulletin from my friend Kevin, who you may remember from Description 07 and Description 15.

Hey Massive Kevin Hilliard Fan,
You probably wont believe me but an awesome college radio station in Phoenix, AZ is doing a 2 hour 'Kevin Hilliard The Man & His Music' retrospective this Thursday, 2PM-4PM Arizona time (4-6 ET?). Which tracks from the Grace Babies 'Lure' record will they play? You'll just have to tune in to find out. www.theblaze1260.com. Gee, I hope I get SOCAN money for this.


He can make up some pretty cool stuff, but I don't think he's the right kinda crazy to make this up.

(Note to Blogger: I wish you'd quite screwing up my line separation after a blockquote. Grr.)

So what would such a retrospective entail? Well, Kev played drums and bass in the Grace Babies, who made two albums: Lure while still in Halifax and Frequency with Moe after moving to Toronto. Before breaking up, they snuck in another single, my favourite GB song "Wish On It," which can be found on a popguru compilation. I'd love to put some GB on the podcast, but many of the songs I'd like to include, like my fave, were at least co-written by lead singer Damian Dunphy, and I don't see him around much and don't have the balls to ask him when I do.

Then, of course, the Kevster started his own band with fellow Grace Baby (and award-winning Rivoli bartender) Chris Loane, the mighty National Anthem, who also did two CDs, Sing Along If You Know the Words and Radio On. You've heard tracks from those records on Description 02, Description 13 and Description 38 (the Music episode). On and off and on and off, he's played bass alongside Barry Walsh in Galore, who I also played on that Music episode, as well as Description 07 and Description 20. And for the last while, he's been clapping up a storm with his landlord Thom in Small Sins (previously The Ladies and Gentlemen), who are now touring to promote the new CD. They're actually on a label and stuff, so my chances of getting that on the show are slim. Oh, aaannnnnd when not touring, he's recently been playing with The Holy Fields, who've already been on a couple podcasts, so I'm guessing it's just a matter of time.

Only after looking over all this do I realize just how much this bastard's been doing for more than 10 years. So yeah, let those weird kids in the desert give the boy his props. And if you liked any of that music - and the video below - you might want to check it out.


Description 46 - Location Support

So what have I been doing for money? Standing around so Hollywood North can make its magic. Enjoy great rock from The Left and join me for tales of parking battles, cans of snow, mysterious crystals, cardboard-covered walls and the eternal search for a place to urinate.

Click here to subscribe, because it's your permit.
Click here to download directly and pretend your permit hasn't expired.

Associated links
My new podcast!!
The movie I was working on
A location support company I don't work for, but has a website
The Left: on myspace, on iTunes and on CD Baby

A couple days later, I did get a folding chair - not one of those deals with the back and the beverage holder like some of the other guys have, because I don't think I can sit in those and look like I'm working. After another more arduous shift (and a sit-down lunch), I went to the Canadian Tire featured in Description 02 and got a folding three-legged stool, which must be made for hunters because the slip of fabric where you put your ass is in camouflage. (Otherwise, of course, the deer will see you.) Very light, very cheap and therefore losable. It served me very very well a couple days later when I had to watch trucks pull out of a base camp in thick fog at 6am behind a Hamilton mental hospital. Yes, I know - you wish I'd recorded that day.

When I went to Showline to pick up my cheque, a woman in a familiar orange vest was watching the parking lot. Turns out that same film was starting filming in those studios. I realise that's less work for folks like me, but it was nice the actors and the crew were finally working in some more comfortable environs made for folks like them.

For what I did record, I didn't have the chance to mention that across the road where I was, on the huge, forested bank of the conservation area, there are two spectacular houses - real Frank Lloyd Wright kind of stuff. One seems only accessible via a long set of wooden steps (and some sort of ramp/pulley system for deliveries) from the garage on the side of the road; the other accessible via a long, perilous-looking driveway. With about an hour left in my shift, I sat on the location house's steps to the sidewalk watching an Audi pull into that driveway when it stopped. Stepping from the passenger side was a very well-kept woman in her 70's with glasses and her lustrous silver hair cut in a bob. She bent down to me.

"Excuse me, dear - do you need any help?"

I glanced around. "No, ma'am, I'm fine, thank you."

"Oh, all right. You see, we live across the street and have been seeing you sitting here in the cold, and we were concerned someone was supposed to pick you up and never came. We wanted to check to see if you needed anything, like to make a call or something."

I chuckled and smiled. "Sorry, I understand how you'd think that. No, I'm working security for this film set here, guarding the equipment for when they film here tomorrow, and someone else will be here soon to relieve me. It won't be long now."

She nodded, a little embarrassed. "Ah, I see. That's fine then."

"Thank you so much for asking, though. I appreciate it."

"Thank you, dear. You have a good night."

She wrapped herself back in her taupe pashmina and got back into the Audi, which then crawled carefully down that driveway.


Description 45 - Nuit Blanche Plus Tard

The mega-success returns, but can the art really hold out 'til the break of day? I get answers from a church, from under an iceberg and inside a port-a-potty. With cameos by The Gap Band, Clint Eastwood and manicurist furries.

Click here to subscribe to some sort of groupthink.
Click here to download directly and say you meant to do that.

Associated links
Official Nuit Blanche website again
blogTO review
Torontoist photo album
The real Leonard Cohen quote about the ROM Crystal
The Crystal itself
The Word on the Street
Gardiner Museum
Queen's Park @ Wikipedia

As I'd noted briefly, Nuit Blanche actually started at 7pm the previous night, which was when I got off work. Hobbling up Queen's Park to Bloor, I saw coming in my direction a small group of young people in formal clothes, like they came out of the movie Metropolitan. They were trying to dance, but were somewhat restricted by the fact they were attached to each other by the chest or shoulder, so they were this modest, happy mass of limbs toddling down the street toward me. Fortunately, I had read somewhere there'd be this group "dancing" throughout Zone A, so I said aloud "And so it begins," wished them a good night and went on my way.

I hope you around town heeded my recommendation to check out Nuit Blanche yourself. For me, at that time of morning in my little corner of my zone, it was lamer than depicted in the episode (and I know that's saying something). I cut my trip through a piece at St. Thomas' church that was pretty well finished and cut my discovery that a piece on the front of the Bata Shoe Museum had been taken down by the time I'd gotten there. But I hear other zones were still hopping, and that in the end, the event attracted way more people than last year, which I guess would put the attendance over half a million.

Man. Can you believe that?

I do. I don't think they're lying. But that just blows my mind.

When I got to my work location at the Christie Mansion, the guy I was relieving asked me whether I went to the piece in Lower Bay Station. D'OH! I really wanted to see that! But I later learned that the line to get in was every bit as long as the line to go down there during Doors Open, which was give-up-your-day long, so I wouldn't have made it in anyway. However, those kids at Torontoist (to be exact, Tony Makepeace) did a wicked 360-degree panorama of it! So go here and dig it with QuickTime VR. And one of these days, maybe I'll finally make it into that mysterious abandoned subway station known for its appearances in movies. Ha - maybe I'll have to be on a film crew to get there.


Avant Nuit Blanche Encore

Yeah, okay, so it may be just one episode for September. I'm working on starting another podcast series (no, not replacing this one) and sort of trying to get paying work.

You might remember last year, I had an episode about Toronto's first Nuit Blanche event, which was pretty cool (if you don't remember it, go here). That event was so successful, they decided to have it again this Saturday (almost literally at the expense of the Toronto Street Festival, the baby of the previous mayor, the wacky Mel Lastman. I don't think that fest was all that great, and was maybe a bit too earnest, but it did have bouncy castles and roasted corn for just-folks who like that, and I'm not sure about taking that from them. Anyway...).

Unlike many annual events here, I think I'm going to take the iRiver around it again and do another episode about it, because also unlike most annual events here, it's going to have aspects to discover different from last year. I'm also going to try to do it later in the night - things were so busy at 10pm-1am, and I don't think I really took advantage of the whole overnight thing it had. I do think I'll stay in my local Zone A, around Yorkville and the U of T, although there are two other zones with all kinds of stuff going on.

So if you're in Toronto, or like the idea of coming here for the weekend (please like that idea!), I highly recommend you check this thing out for yourself, live and in person, without my babbling and bad audio (which you can enjoy a couple weeks later). Nuit Blanche is really about presenting art, especially conceptual-type avant-garde art, as something anyone can get into, literally and figuratively. It's probably the least pretentious modern art event in existence, and Toronto is one of the very few cities who puts it on. So come take advantage! You can find much of the info (maps, descriptions, etc) you'll need at the official site.

Update: I knew Torontoist would have a nice Nuit Blanche preview, but they waited until I posted. :-P Here ya go.


Description 44 - Okay Blue Jays

My (usually) annual trip to watch my two hometown baseball teams inspires plenty of memories of better days. Still, we can enjoy music from Great Big Sea, browse some "Yorkville Yummies", hear two cowbells and walk through the airport of the apocalypse.

Click here to subscribe and have your season's ticket.
Click here to download directly and pick your game.

Associated links
Official Site of the Toronto Blue Jays
Official Site of the Cleveland Indians
Lovely SkyWalk photo by Snuffy on flickr.
Porter Airlines
The Rogers Centre (Skydome) in wikipedia
Pizza Pizza!
Great Big Sea
(and thanks again to the Podsafe Music Network)
Toronto's Sports Radio, the FAN 590
Tom Cheek, RIP
Toronto Mike remembers Tom Cheek with streaming audio of his greatest calls
Batter's Box Q&A with Jerry Howarth
Toronto Blue Jays history
The "OK Blue Jays" song! (via Toronto Mike again)

The stars of that night's game...
Vernon Wells, who hit that home run:

Roy Halliday, who fell short of winning us pizza:

I'm giving those guys props because I've learned in all the years I've supported teams who suck, it's really important to support and praise the guys who are still awesome and are working their asses off no matter how crappy things get.

For the record, Toronto won that game 8-6. Time of the game was two hours and fifty-seven minutes, and the attendance was 28,526.

(And yes, I know Left Behind was originally a book. Shudder.)

My favourite baseball memory does not involve the Blue Jays, but the Indians, and it's not something they'll have an exhibit about at the Hall of Fame. Back when I was a kid, Dad and I would go see the Tribe one or two times a year at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and often these games would involve the Yankees. These were the great and universally despised Yankees of the '70's, the subject of that ESPN miniseries we didn't get to see here, The Bronx Is Burning. Indians fans hated the Yankees, with the exception of the late Thurman Thomas because he was from nearby, and regaled them during games with hardy chants of "YANKEES SUCK!" or "REGGIE SUCKS" (for Reggie Jackson) or "BILLY SUCKS" (for manager Billy Martin). Hearing 70,000 people doing that at once is pretty cool. Anyway, we happened to choose that night to sit in the bleachers, but early on in the game, it started raining, and it rained for long enough that we were allowed into the main section of the stadium to wait it out.

Time passed, it kept pouring rain. Sometimes back then, some drunk guy would try to run across the field, and inevitably, the Cleveland cops would catch up with him and beat the crap out of him with clubs. (What can I say - it was the '70's.) I noticed a group of about a half dozen guys in the front row of box seats along one foul line, and wondered what that was about. They suddenly jumped over the little barrier and sprinted to the centre of the tarp on the diamond. Of course, the cops were on their way. Then, the group of intruders all took off, each one going in a different direction!

There must have been a bet on for who would make it back off the field without being caught. I thought in its way, this was brilliant. Sure enough, the cops were initially perplexed, but adjusted themselves as best they could. The chases were on.

One by one, each guy was caught and pounded, then my eyes would dart to the next one, and the next one. As you're picturing this in your head, remember this is in pouring rain, and people on both sides of the law are sliding everywhere. The crowd would cheer and laugh and go "awww" when someone was caught. One intruder had drawn the short stick of running to the outfield fence (which at the time didn't have fancy LCD screens on it), which was maybe six feet high. It looked like he was going to make it - I cheered and yelled for him - but then he had to climb that fence. He reached and scrambled as best he could...but didn't make it. Poundpoundpound! One of them did actually make it, getting back into the box seats on the other side of the field where they'd started. It was euphoric, except for the fact he was running into the welcoming arms of more members of the Cleveland Police, who smacked him around and dragged him off to where he and his friends would dry out (in more ways than one) in a lovely local jail cell.

Yes, that is my great baseball memory from my childhood. Kinda shows you I've been this way all my life. Of course, though, there are lessons to be learned about divide and conquer, working as a team, and knowing that no matter what, eventually we all face an end of getting smacked around by cops and getting thrown in a drunk tank, so run as well and as far as you can.


Description 43 - The Opera House

While listening for fighter jets, I talk about another immigrant who did great things for Toronto and then visit one of the greatest things he did. Yes, there's opera, as well as a steel drum band playing U2. But there are no frosted glass escalators.

Click here to subscribe and pay way less than you'd have to for a COC subscription.
Click here to download directly, knowing rush tickets are subject to availability.

Associated links
Canadian International Air Show
Canadian Opera Company
Four Seasons Centre For the Performing Arts
The (other) Opera House
CBC Arts on Richard Bradshaw and what he meant to the COC
The Toronto Star article I read, by John Terauds
Atom Egoyan talks about Bradshaw (Sorry, it's Real Player.)
National Ballet of Canada
Toronto Life on architect Jack Diamond
World Partnership Walk (I kept saying it wrong.)
Aga Khan Foundation
My opera house photos on flickr (take that, camera cops!)

*Update! (Nov. 8, 2007) Tony Makepeace's wicked QuickTime VR panorama of the National Ballet rehearsing West Side Story in the opera house (take that again, camera cops!)

In this vast world of the internet, there must be an mp3 floating around of Anna Russell's legendary and freaking funny "Analysis of Wagner's 'Ring der Nibelungen'". The best I can find is a transcription someone kindly did. But you don't get her classic, Bob Newhart-level pauses that just make the piece. Sigh...

Okay, Blog Day. I'm supposed to share 5 blogs I like. Again, I barely ever read blogs back when they were the thing before podcasts - no real reason - and I don't think I'm very voracious now, but I have a pretty long list of feeds on bloglines, so that must count for something. Everybody reads Boing Boing, right? Okay, I won't count that...

First, I must note there's a huge list/feed of Canadian blogs at publicbroadcasting.ca, the domain (literally and figuratively) of my podcast landlord Justin, so you should really stop there first. It also has its own group blog here, and it's pretty darn good, though I'm often too lazy to post anything to it. That's where the "group" thing comes in handy. :-)

Now, finally, for my list, which is mainly comprised of places where I can actually learn something.

You've pretty much figured by now that I like Andrew Dubber's blog New Music Strategies. Even if the guy hadn't inspired me to buy an iRiver two years ago, I would still recommend his thoughtful, passionate yet not-bossy opinions and findings on music and musicians online. Required reading for any musician trying to make a living today, but not the equivalent of eating your vegetables. (btw, he's looking for somewhere to stay while he's at CMJ in New York in October, so email me if you have any ideas for him that do not involve putting up a mortgage or needing vaccinations.)

Still on the subject of music but getting a bit muckier, No Rock'n'Roll Fun can be catty and whinge on a bit, but that's part of why I like it. It's simple, constantly updated and takes absolutely no crap. It's really more about the media coverage of music and what gets said there than it is of the music itself, and unfortunately we seem to be in a world where the media does take precedence - at least in the mainstream. But that also means it gets savaged here all the more.

My fave Toronto blog is Torontoist, which is of course part of the "ist" clan. It still feels authentic, it has a little bit of everything, and I like the writing and attitude. Wish I could give an honourable mention to Antonia Zerbisias' media blog for the Star, but it seems it is no more, as the muckety-mucks got all nervous and shuffled her off to the Life section. She still has her columns, though.

Instead, I must be content with the TV Newser blog at mediabistro. American and very level-headed, its strength is not in presenting a snarky opinion, but in delivering the stories that make you come up with your own snarky opinion.

Oh, and I have to be a girl and give props to the Rabbit Blog, where wicked Salon TV critic Heather Havrilesky turns into Dear Abby on crack to dispense very real, very funny and very verbose (see how I can relate) advice to the otherwise-smart lovelorn. Since her baby was born, she slacked off on the posts, understandably, but she's been revving her engines throughout August.

My favourite blog of all time (still a dubious honour coming from me) was the one by "Rance," supposedly an A-list movie star sharing bemusing tales of life in Hollywood. Part of the fun was trying to guess who this guy was - the most popular guesses were George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Owen Wilson - but for me, the attraction was just fantastic writing. As so often happens with the best blogs, Rance found it harder and harder to keep up the posts, and while some very able readers did their best to carry on in his stead at his request (because he respected their writing), the magic had gone. To this day, not even the Museum of Hoaxes is sure of who Rance was, be he actual celebrity or mere insider, though theories remain. It may be just as well to let it stand as the cracking piece of interactive fiction that it was.


Description 42 - The Duty Free

After some screw-ups, we finally go to a store without a country and without taxes. Featuring rawk from Iron Giant, wine by golfers vs. wine by fishermen, moose stuffies and me calling Bonnie Hunt "f-ing wicked awesome".

Click here to subscribe and save on bandwidth duty.
Click here to download directly and hide your smokes under the back seat.

Associated links:
Peace Bridge Duty Free
Town of Fort Erie, Ontario
The Shopping Bags
LCBO (that's Liquor Control Board of Ontario - sounds fun, huh?)
Mike Weir Estate Winery
And who is Mike Weir again?
Bob Izumi Wines from Coyote's Run Estate Winery
Ice Wine in Wikipedia
Iceberg Vodka
Iron Giant on myspace, at underdogma (buy the album!) and playing live on YouTube!
Transcanada Transpondency Part 3 (with the Steam Whistle Brewery tour)
What the hell is Clamato?
Tim Goodman eulogizes Tom Snyder
NBC's tribute (where I got the opening)
Flash opening for Snyder's defunct colortini.com
Tom Snyder and Bonnie Hunt's last time on the Late Late Show: part 1 and part 2 (with her song)

The chili ended up okay...or at least I thought before I got violently sick, sicker than any food has made me. So much for that recipe.

For the opening, I couldn't find a clip of Tom Snyder's complete trademark line, "Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air," so I went with the truncated version on his CNBC show. Consistent with the main subject of the episode, a "colortini" was an alcoholic beverage one may choose to imbibe whilst watching television at that late hour. Also, I don't think Bonnie was on Tom's last Late Late Show, but on the last week. Other classic recurring guests on that show were Dennis Miller (before he jumped the political shark), the author Dean Koontz - and maybe towering over them all, Robert Blake, who spun the most remarkable tales of Hollywood, destruction and redemption. It makes what happened to Blake (or what he did, depending on your point of view) several years later that much more unfortunate, yet somehow fitting into the whole epic.

Chris of Iron Giant offered to send me the new album, but asked if he could snail-mail me a CD because he hadn't quite figured out this mp3 conversion thing. :-) We take a lot for granted, gang. I think they've got it sorted, since new tracks are popping up around the net, so I'll get something postage-free in my gmail one of these days and will play it for you. Thanks again, Chris...and you may want to download iTunes.

Here's my greatest PJ memory (which may not be precisely correct detail-wise). About 10 years ago, PJ, Derek, Steve and Ken were The Monoxides and in Toronto to make their fortune. (When The Darkness first hit, I thought, "hmmm, somebody got some Monoxides records in England.") Not surprisingly, Moe produced their major label album and so the boys became part of the Berg posse, and that's how I got to know PJ. Q107 put on a huge concert at The Docks with The Pursuit of Happiness, Headstones and Honeymoon Suite, with The Monoxides as one of the opening bands. I had brought shirts for Steve and PJ from the first KISS comeback tour (which I'd gotten from my friend Julie, who had done the merch), and they were like kids finding cool bikes under the Christmas tree. The band did their thing and rocked as usual, and soon after, the Suite came on. I dug them back in tha day, and Julie and Gord had worked with them while still living here. By this time, that band had kind of started to run on fumes - only Johnny and Derry remained from the original lineup, I think - and it was becoming clear their hit-making years were behind them. No sin in that (and in fact they have continued, touring successfully), but needless to say, they could not be considered even remotely hot or trendy at that point. So we're being all cool and stuff near the back of this cavernous space, and they start playing...I want to say it was "Burning In Love," it could've been "Feel It Again." It definitely wasn't "New Girl Now" yet in the set. PJ, Steve and Kevin (Hilliard, did you think he wouldn't be there?) suddenly whooped and ran, RAN across the club to the stage and went nuts, jumping up and down and singing along at the top of their lungs with fists aloft. I followed them. I'd never seen such absolute joy in my life. That may be how I always remember PJ, while he will always know me as that girl who gave him that wicked KISS shirt.


Description 41 - Fringing

Theatre, theatre everywhere as I take the iRiver through four productions in this year's Toronto Fringe. Featuring a navigation triumph, a dance contest that never happened, flyers from textile stores, and a Marillion song.

Click here to subscribe, even better than a Buddy Pass!
Click here to download directly, "At the door"

Associated links
Fringe of Toronto Theatre Festival
Theatre Passe-Muraille
Walmer Centre Theatre
Tarragon Theatre
Factory Theatre
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
the brilliant Edinburgh Fringe Show podcast
Fringes in Winnipeg (about to end at post time), Edmonton (in August!) and Vancouver (in September!).
Also Ottawa, Calgary (in August!), Montreal, Regina...and others, but I'm tired.
The Melbourne Fringe is more about art, but there are Fringes in Adelaide and Sydney.
Quirky Nomads
some Young Ones

The featured shows
(um, which I recorded some of without permission...but hey! Links!)
The Fugue Code
Like, Omigawd! (with music!)
Curriculum Vitae (actually, Jimmy Hogg's myspace because there's no site for the show itself, strangely)
Dickens of the Mounted

And yes, there are Fringes in the U.S., more than a dozen of them. Just think of a city, google it with the word "fringe" after it, and there you go.

I think you can tell something about a person by the Fringe shows he/she attends. It's clear here that I have a penchant for guys with British accents who perform alone with humour and pathos. That seems fair. :-) There are many other Fringe shows that involve more than one person (some of whom aren't men) who don't have British accents and are very very dramatic. I just didn't happen to see them. There was also math in my favour in that because of the economics of putting on a Fringe show, lots of them just have one actor, often playing more than one character. I can think of three right off the bat from past Fringes: one last year had Brian Froud doing the Swiss Family Robinson story only with characters from "Family Guy" (Fox later made him cease and desist - drag), one a couple years back was this British guy detailing the history of football (soccer) in England, and one of the first Fringe shows I ever saw was comedienne Brigitte Gall as a young female hockey goalie in Quebec in the 1970's who is told by God to try out for the NHL (it later became a tv special). Now that I think about it, she did have an accent, albeit a Quebec one.

My thing about British/UK accents, along with me just having a thing for them, is probably about me wishing I could go to the Edinburgh Fringe someday, damn Ewan Spence and his addictive podcast with entertaining people. :-) At the moment, it looks pretty impossible to get a flight to Scotland without coughing up thousands or hiding under a wheel rim. Much like a male athlete preferring to be interviewed by an attractive woman so he has something nice to look at while being grilled, I seem to prefer looking at men while getting my theatre messages delivered to me. In all media, I always pick comedy over drama, since drama is inherently a part of good comedy anyway.

And my penchant for solo shows reflects my abilty to understand individual expression better than the dynamics among people. So it goes here.


CBC Museum: get there before it's gone

In Description 39, I went through the CBC Museum at the Broadcast Centre and found it a pretty cool place I'd ignored all these years. If that made you wonder about visiting it yourself, you might not want to wait very long like I did. Tod Maffin's Inside the CBC blog (manned by Paul Gorbould for the moment) suggests the museum's days might be numbered as The Corp considers how do re-do the whole ground floor possibly for more of a Citytv storefront situation. Check out the post here.

Sure, maybe they'll really figure out how to present CBC's long and rich history in a wonderful and engaging way that improves vastly on the little closet we've been given so far. But can you count on it? Believe me - no. So if you're in Toronto for one reason or another, think a bit harder about setting aside an hour to go look around.


Description 40 - Sam the Record Man

A couple eras end in Toronto, so I go to Gould and Yonge, where the end was a long time coming. But I still play music I found there, wonder where the hell the chess tables went and find videos involving Dana Carvey and Richard Grieco.

Click here to subscribe like Columbia House, only without the rip-off part.
Click here to download directly with that "technology" Sam's says killed them.

Associated links:
Torontoist on Honest Ed...
...and on Sam the Record Man
Yes, the Belleville Sam's is in the Quinte Mall.
Canadian Content rules
CBC.ca on the Sam's auction
Why there was a rack just for Blue Peter
Goin' Down the Road in the Canadian Encyclopedia
Buy Jennifer Foster's Speedyhead from Maplemusic!
Ryerson University, the guys who'll probably get the building

While Speedyhead was mostly produced by Moe Berg (try to contain your shock), Ukelele Dropout was one of the songs produced by Paul Myers, known to some as former leader of The Gravelberrys, journalist, author, talk radio host and witty pundit with lush white hair; known to others as Mike's brother.

I still haven't quite gotten used to Ryerson being a real university. For most of my life, it was just the most glamorous art and tech school in Ontario, and as an art and tech school, it gave me little-to-no chance to get into their big-time TV/Radio programme because I was American and therefore was low-priority for a school sponsored by the province. (But I'm not bitter...) In the time since I lived in the area, the place has expanded into quite expensive land surrounding and nearby with very snazzy buildings whose architectural merit is considered a bit dubious. This is why I am equally dubious about the future of the Sam's building and the precious neon on its facade.

Often I walked through the original campus to and on Gould past Sam's, where those several stone (I thought) tables stood with chess/checkerboards cut into them. Usually there would be at least a couple games going on, almost always involving men, while other tables would be taken up with people just chatting and maybe a few homeless folks (often from Seaton House, behind my apartment) resting their feet. So maybe you can see why I was more disturbed seeing those tables gone than I was about Sam's closing.

A couple years ago in the old job, I got to work on describing Goin' Down the Road for Citytv (so if you see it turn up on City or Bravo, try to turn on the Secondary Audio Program and maybe you'll hear me). Oh, btw, if you don't know the movie, you may remember the parody SCTV did in their all-Cancon episode (hint: in the original, the guys are not doctor and lawyer and a CBC guy doesn't try to revive a dead woodchuck). Anyway...so as I worked on the movie, I noticed the boarding house Pete and Joey had to move into with Joey's knocked-up wife as they continue their downward spiral. To this day, I'm almost positive it was the same boarding house as the one on Pembroke, just up the little street from my apartment. Not much had changed in 30 years - people come here thinking it's a city of opportunity, they find they were wrong, and they get desperate. We'll see where I am a few months from now.


Description 39 - Resignation

A simple brunch gets over-analysed as I review some life changes and how they relate to Podcasters Across Borders - because doesn't everything relate to Podcasters Across Borders? Includes music by Mantler, a wind machine and a rooster in a bag.

Click here to subscribe
Click here to download directly
(the flu has left me too weak for snappy link similes)

Associated links:
Future Bakery (reviewed by the King of Kensington's real life widow!)
Podcasters Across Borders (Is that enough mentions, guys?) :-)
Mantler: at tomlab and on myspace
CBC Museum
Why CBC has Mr. Rogers' first trolley.
Foster Hewitt @ Histori.ca
"Sesame Park" @ the Muppet Wiki
Remembering Mr. Dressup
A history of CBC English radio drama
Cart machines!
The Friendly Giant
CBC Broadcast Centre
Castella @ Wikipedia
Poko kicks ass!

Man, I sound so weak in this episode, like I'm just getting over the flu or something.

And okay, it's been more than 10 years since cart machines were the main means of playing stuff on the radio. The first time I dealt with digital spots was in the fall of 1995 in Belleville. The music was still on CD, but in this elaborate computerized digital jukebox thing, which would provide much comedy when it screwed up - even more so when I had already recorded my bits digitally (voicetracking, the first nail in radio's coffin) and would outro the wrong song. Ah, modern radio...almost like being there...

At the beginning of that year, I was working away at CKDR in Dryden, Ontario (holy crap! they have FM now!), and here's how that system went: every week, all the music came from head office in order on eight full-size reel-to-reel tapes - four for day, four with more hip and happenin' stuff for evening (and I was usually the lucky gal who switched them). Each tape had one category of music, and the "clock" (what category got played when) was pretty much pre-programmed - we only stopped it to do our short bits and fire off the commercials, which ran on...wait for it it...NINE CART MACHINES! A three-cart deck for central Dryden, and a deck for each repeater station in Red Lake and Sioux Lookout. And did I mention the live phone-in Shop'n'Swap show I had to do middays? Yes, it was an I Love Lucy episode waiting to happen. And it happened.

Damn. Now that I think about pulling that off, how hard can this new life direction possibly be?


Dubber Takes the High Road

You may have noticed in the last episode and post, I mention Andrew Dubber, one of the people who inspired me to start podcasting and an otherwise funny and clever guy who recently released a free .pdf e-book that anyone who is or cares about a musician should read and share (which he encourages). His ideas in that book originated in his blog New Music Strategies, which is basically about how new media can help people who are passionate about music; whether they make it, listen to it, share it, or sell it.

Recently, Dubber linked to an editorial in Download Squad (and now, so have I) about someone bringing legal action against the RIAA. He blogs about stuff like that, so cool.

Ah, but maybe not. A few days ago, he got an email from a label guy who's a member of the IFPI and BPI (somewhat equivalent organizations in the UK) which went like this:

Looking at your site I do think allowing indiscriminate criticism of the RIAA is inappropriate for a Government funded institution.

This started an email conversation that Dubber reprinted with permission here. You really should check it out. A whole lot of other people did, because it got noted and linked in Boing Boing and other big-shot blogs. So suddenly, my friend became a little bit of star :-) but his host account got suspended for half a day before it got fixed. I like to think it was from too much traffic so fast; others may want to think other things.

For their part, the Download Squad kids responded to all this in a big way, and garnered even more attention. The differences in tone are interesting. DS's Grant Robertson is all-guns-blazing toward the IFPI/BPI dude, which frankly feels good to me, because I don't like when my friends get threatened, and that's how that email exchange ended. Then again, I come from the U.S.A. Of course, it's inspired a ton of go-get-em vitriol that I'm not as quick to spew. Dubber (a New Zealander living in England), meanwhile, is an academic at heart. He's been nothing but classy, and the only bias he's expressed in laying this stuff out is symbolised by how he started talking about the temporary suspension:
...I’m determined to salvage some sort of lesson for independent music business out of all this. That’s what I do.

Yup. That's exactly what he does. And he's nice about people bringing meat-laden pizza into his family's home. So keep an eye on this guy and be kind to him.


Description 38 - Music

It's all about the music, playing some of the greatest hits of the podcast while I hang out at a North By Northeast event and talk about how I got to play those songs - and why shouldn't all podcasters be able to play whatever the hell they want?

Click here to subscribe like you got your wristband.
Click here to download directly like you're going club to club.

(Update, July 6: Finally figured out how to make my .mp3 44.1kHz and 96kbps, so a new version is now up that won't sound chipmunky in Flash players.)

Associated links:
Moe Berg and TPOH mp3s and CDs on sale at Maplemusic
Incompletely Conspicuous: The Pursuit of Happiness and the Press
Galore: offical site and on myspace
Kevin Hilliard is "The Clapper" (go bug him to get that National Anthem album I mentioned for you)
Memory Bank on myspace (with new music!)
Jennifer Foster: on myspace and CD Baby
The Supers on myspace
Danko Jones
Podsafe Music Network
North By Northeast
The Diodes: on myspace and on BongoBeat

Download Andrew Dubber's The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online free as a .pdf
For more info and to give feedback, go to his blog New Music Strategies

Don't worry, the Duty Free episode is coming (in case you were actually worrying about a Duty Free episode).

While I was hanging out at the Indie Market recording, I blew not one, but two chances to snag some sweet music for the podcast. I ran into New Brunswick's own lovely and talented PJ Dunphy, previously known for proto-retro rawk of The Monoxides but now known for the mighty sludge metal of Iron Giant. Some buddies were kind enough to bring him in from Moncton for a week of debauchery, and he was looking around for them. Not long after, I exchanged hellos with the charming Thom D'Arcy of the terribly cool and frequently touring Small Sins (a band for which Kevin is "The Clapper"). Did I ask EITHER of these guys if I could play their stuff on the podcast? OF COURSE NOT! Why? Well, this time, it's not so much a matter of being a pussy as just being a dumb-ass and not thinking of it.

So hey, dudes! How about it? Huh?

(Keep in mind, though, that Thom's stuff is on a label, albeit an indie one, and I think they still get along, so I'm not sure about the chances there.)

I give big props to music podcasts in general for going through stupid crap for doing what they do, so I should mention some. To be honest, I don't listen to a lot of them, but I admire what they do and know what good they do for musicians and listeners. The biggest music podcast in Canada and probably the world is the CBC Radio3 podcast, which is now past 100 episodes and has spawned a couple spinoffs. However, they're the CBC and have lawyers and stuff to help out with the rights business. Still, they make the best of the advantages they have. The brilliant digital music store/label Zunior.com has their own fine podcast, though they have the advantage of being, well, a digital music store/label. The godfather of all music podcasters IMHO is Julien Smith of In Over Your Head, which keeps gliding along as its creator happens to approach social networking guru status. Then there's the less-glamorous but equally-busy Bob Goyetche, who besides doing the Canadian Podcast Buffet and The Bob and AJ Show (soooo, now you think you're gonna make 100 by PAB?), also shows his knack for music that doesn't suck with mostlytunes. Look for more shows fighting the good fight of music podcasting in the music category of the directory CanadaPodcasts.ca - which Bob also has something to do with, but whatever... :-)

One more thing Bob is involved in is trying to get some of the muckety-mucks in charge of publishing and related copyright organizations in Canada to turn up at the upcoming Podcasters Across Borders conference in Kingston. From what I could tell from the Buffet this week, at least one person agreed to come, while another has "scheduling conflicts" (on a Sunday. okay-doke.). It's a noble effort, which I hope is a first step toward getting these guys to understand that indie podcasters mean no harm, but wish to help with a promotional reach that goes far beyond anyone they've ever dealt with. If you look at situations in various countries around the world, there are many, many steps to be taken.

Meanwhile, artists who aren't Danko Jones who I played on this episode: would it KILL you to throw a couple songs up on the PMN?!?


Description 37 - The Drive Home

You've heard Toronto, you've heard Ohio - now hear what's in between as I take the Subaru on its zillionth trip across the border. Featuring music from The Ambers, mashups, service roads, mysterious medians and the anti-Tim's.

Click here to subscribe and take that thruway (only free!)
Click here to download directly and enjoy every exit

And if you want pictures, there's the enhanced version!

Associated links:
Country Style
680 News
The QEW on list of Ontario Provincial Highways
(about as geeky as it sounds)
Thorold Tunnel
Jordan Village
Anna Olson's bakery
(okay, so she's in Port Dalhousie now. Close. She was here.)
Anna and Sugar on Food Network Canada
The Ambers on myspace
(the only other place you can hear "Endless Summer"!)
The Peace Bridge
Consulate General Buffalo
WGR SportsRadio (was listening to the Sabres/Senators game)
New York State Thruway Authority
Angola Travel Plaza

Yes, on part of the trip, I was playing mashups from my nano. Let's see if I can keep track of them... Air 52's by ToToM, Electro Punk (Iggy vs. Bloc Party) by Electrosound, Last Minute Man (Missy vs. NIN) by Hidden Signal, Crazy Logic by Arty Fufkin (who I met on SL a while back), and Highway to Hell & Back (AC/DC vs. Kelly Clarkson vs. John Cougar vs. Green Day vs. some other things) as well as the absolute classic Juke Box Hero Project (Foreigner vs. Seger vs. others) by DJ John. Mashuptown and the BootieSF site are excellent places to get brilliant mashups, and I know they would appreciate your support. My two-year love affair with mashups was fostered by Adam Curry, so I'm very happy to hear he's back to playing them on the Daily Source Code, having ceased giving a crap.

I've tried a few times to record my visits with US customs on the other side of the Peace Bridge. The sound was always too bad (and coming from me, that's saying something) because I'd be there in the car and the officer would be in his/her little booth - the distance was too much. I got lucky this time with a cop who got off his ass to check around. Also, I keep trying to have the iRiver going in case one of them gets smart-assy, which sometimes happens but hasn't happened lately. I get asked the usual citizenship question and I answer as usual "dual - US and Canada", and once the guy asked "which one do you want to be now?" Hmmm. Sometimes they just want to know what set of questions to ask ("how long have you been in Canada" or "how long will you be in the US").

A few months before the 2002 US election, a customs officer said, "but you come from America, right?" Right.

"Okay, so you're American." Well, partially.

"No, if you're a dual citizen, but you're from America, that's the only thing we care about. You're a US citizen. The other one doesn't matter." Hmph.

Technically, this is pretty much true. But I kinda wanted to ask, "would it matter if my other citizenship was...say...Syrian? Or Iranian? Maybe Pakistani? Or maybe if I wasn't a blonde white girl fluent in English with no suspicious accent? Then would my other citizenship matter?"

But of course, that is not the time to ask questions like that, unless you want to pull over to that nice building over to the right and hang out for a little while. I just nodded with understanding, answered the rest of my questions and went on my way. And I decided that since I was such a US citizen, I'd vote in that damn election and the one after that. For all the good it did. Oh, well.

Description 37a - The Enhanced Drive Home

When a podcaster gets a hold of GarageBand and a digital camera, an enhanced podcast seem inevitable. So while recording for Description 37, I took pictures of stuff along the way, as you will hear by the annoying pauses and programmed camera noises. So while there isn't anything useful like, oh, say, chapters and compression in there (I just found compression in GB near the end of editing this! Genius again.), there are nice photos that kinda sync up to what I'm describing. As this .m4a will make evident, I'm really an audio person at heart, and too many photos/video sort of defeat my purpose of podcasting, but this was a fun experiment that I may mess with from time-to-time.

The regular, photo-less, compressed .mp3 version is on the way, but for now, if you have iTunes or something that will read this kind of thing (seriously, otherwise this is gonna screw you up), enjoy!


Monte-freakin'-forte video!

For all of you who have made Description 05 one of most popular episodes here, and even for those who have no clue what I'm talking about, I bring you the first video I ever shot with my new digital camera: Monteforte at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern last Friday.
I dig your rock.


Description 36 - Janes and Jane's

We walk through The Annex again, but this time we're led by someone who knows what the hell he's talking about - like why's it called The Annex? And what's that lady doing across the street? May include chalk drawings, but no tv shoes.

Click here to subscribe so the episodes can form an ecosystem (er...okay)
Click here to download directly if you like things organic, spontaneous and untidy.

Associated links
Doors Open Toronto 2007
Jane's Walk
Angus Skene's Architours
Structures on Rogers Television
Our first stop at the Medical Arts Building
Our second stop at the York Club
Madison Manor Boutique Hotel (part of our third stop)
The Jane's Walk gallery
Spacing Wire blogs about it.
The book Angus recommended about Robert Moses
Jane Jacobs @ Project for Public Spaces
Good ol' Description 17
the TTC's moment of silence

I gotta get a handle on how to read levels in GarageBand. If the start of this episode doesn't blow your ears out like the last episode, you can thank my Australian friend in Second Life. We were in-world together when he got to this blog from my SL profile and started playing Description 35, then said "ouch".

When you look through some of those photos of the walk and you see this person looking kind of uncomfortable in a long black coat accented by a white cable strung across her, that would be me. Move along...

The post in Spacing Wire estimates that a couple thousand people participated in Jane's Walk. Again, the people's interest in their own city without a ton of promotion never ceases to amaze me. If it didn't amaze me, I guess I wouldn't be a proper Torontonian. :-)


Description 35 - Kraft Dinner

In the kitchen, I contemplate the significance of elbow macaroni with frighteningly orange powder; and in a Canadian grocery store, contemplate the significance of tomato soup with cheese portobello mushroom ravioli. With music by The Pursuit of Happiness, Danny Michel in the background, and a certified parking lot freak-out.

Click here to subscribe like you're in the express line.
Click here to download directly to pick and choose in the market.

Associated links:
The Official Kraft Dinner site
CBC Midday does Kraft Dinner! (with Brent Bambury!)
Danny Michel: official, MySpace and the fansite.
Buy Danny's new DVD/CD combo! Or get that new album on vinyl or digital download!
Oh, and this was the album I was playing.
Time to plug my TPOH site again.
The Daily Bread Food Bank
SModcast, via Quick Stop Entertainment

Okay, I admit: no one will give their right arm for wild mushroom risotto.

Note that my freak-out was not about losing a huge amount of food, but that I was going to have to talk to someone about it. That should give you an idea about my social nature.

Listening back, I wondered if I was inferring that a lot of immigrants use food banks. Coming from Ohio, I can tell you that folks born and raised are every bit as likely to need them. Anyone can fall on hard times. I guess the points I was trying to make in that wrong inference start with Toronto being such a multicultural place, and that's reflected in the grocery stores. People could be second or third generation Canadians, and carry on the culinary traditions their family taught them, and this isn't easy with peanut butter and no name mac'n'cheese. But beyond that, it isn't even a matter of ethnic food or culture or whatever. It's a matter of quality - of food, of life. Everyone deserves that.

And what are my culinary traditions? Er...Swanson Fried Chicken and Hostess Ho-ho's?

Don't laugh, Yanks. You can't get Hostess Ho-ho's here. Seriously. And Canadians who think they're no different from Swiss Rolls? Just as well you keep thinking that...


Save Sons of Butcher

While I'm thinking up the new episode...I've learned that our cartoon network, Teletoon, is not renewing one of my favourite shows I've worked on in the day job, Sons of Butcher. This sucks because it's funny, has the rock, and is a fine representation of Hamilton, Ontario (since they're ditching CHCH after a zillion years and replacing it with the fricking E! channel, it may be the only way that town gets represented!). So to give a little bit back, here's part of the last regular episode (from youtube, because to use what I got from work might be illegal or something...). As Doug might say, maybe y'all can get viral on they ass. To check out the rest of that episode, go here, and to see more wigged stuff and find out how you can sign a petition to save the show, go to the SOB myspace page.


Description 34 - Formerly Known as Hull

What is this town with two names? Why does everything look closed? And what the hell was I doing there? Features music by The Hundreds and Thousands, a contemplation of nigiri vs. galettes, two waterfalls and a very special cameo by Maurice Chevalier.

Click here to subscribe, conditional upon licence renewal.
Click here to download directly, like you're just here for the later last call.

Associated links:
Hull in Wikipedia (where we learn I was wrong about "Chaudières" meaning "rapids")
Cool stuff to do and see in Gatineau
Official site for the CRTC
The tv station we were proposing to the CRTC
Me in the application hearing the next day - yikes!
The Hundreds and Thousands
Hour Magazine reviews L'Argoät, and digs them too.

L'Argoät was the restaurant where I ended up, and it was really great. I had a savory galette (which is really a crepe) which had these roasted potatoes and camenbert inside; and the traditional drink with galettes in Brittany (I learned), "un bolle du cidre" or a bowl of this alcoholic apple cider. Then, once my server told me that I could pay by interac (whew!), I had a dessert galette just with chocolate sauce, but the best chocolate sauce EVER.

So you see, Gatineau - formerly known as Hull to everyone but the cab drivers - isn't as bad as I made it sound. Pretty close to the hotel was the vast Gatineau Park, across town is the Museum of Civilisation (like a Canadian natural history museum - its architecture is so cool, it totally sticks out like a sore thumb), and in the other direction is Casino Lac-Leamy, which I still call by its original and way-less-glamorous name, Casino d'Hull. That's right - casino dull. Genius.

It turns out the Quebec election that day was pretty damn interesting. Jean Charest and the Liberals held on to power, but only got a minority government. The Parti Québecois stunk up the joint, so the cute and gay André Boisclair is probably going to lose his job. The big shock winner was Action démocratique du Québec (see, told you there was a "democratic" in there), who've gone from not even being an official party to being The Opposition. So things in Quebec become as hard-to-predict as ever, just in a whole different way.

Something I didn't get to do while I was in the area was meet up with my friend Gavin, who I've known ever since we were smart-ass writers for our college paper at York University. He lives in Ottawa, but had business out of town most of the time I was there. We've had our ups and downs, and go in and out of touch, but I've always found him a remarkable, funny guy with my favourite voice in history. Late last year, an email came from him out of the blue about this thing he was doing: he was running a marathon and a half (literally) at Disney World to raise money toward building a school in Kathmandu, Nepal. Okey-doke. It was a great cause of Sean Egan, the man who led Gavin's first expedition up Mount Everest - an expedition that Egan did not survive. So Gavin ran what's left of his ass off (I think the last time I'd seen him, he was running the marathon in Ottawa) and raised thousands of dollars. These folks have just about made it to their goal of $150,000 to build the school, so why not help get them over the top by going to the Ad Astra (which means "aim high") site and coughing up some coin.


Description 33 - Voluptuous Panic

Still not in Canada, but in London (England) to walk across a bridge, sit on some rubber and go down a slide. Not exciting enough? How about a creaking door?

Click here to subscribe, guaranteeing your spot in line.
Click here to download directly and just jump on for now.

Associated links:
Millennium Bridge
The new Globe Theatre
The Tate Modern
Watch the live webcam at the base of the slides, or watch video of the ride down each of them (I was on Slide 2).
Gilbert & George: in Wikipedia, their exhibition at the Tate Modern, and them discussing the exhibition

Originally, this episode was going to be called "Art For All," which is Gilbert & George's credo. In their manifesto What Our Art Means, they put it this way:

We want Our Art to speak across the barriers of knowledge directly to People about their Life and not about their knowledge of art. The 20th century has been cursed with an art that cannot be understood. The decadent artists stand for themselves and their chosen few, laughing and dismissing the normal outsider. We say that puzzling, obscure and form-obsessed art is decadent and a cruel denial of the Life of People.
While the slides have no nudity, bodily fluids, or run-down house (though possibly the odd cute boy in a hoodie), I think they express this intention pretty well. I'm not a huge fan of modern art, because I can't always relate to it - which for some, is the point. But it is nice to have some art that can be quickly understood on a visceral level by anyone, which pretty much forces you to participate in its themes and prove them...and while having fun. Very skillful stuff.


Description 32 - Rue Mouffetard

There is a nice town called Paris in Ontario, but it is not the Paris where this show was recorded. It includes me buying toothpaste while listening to Boney M - do I really have to say any more?

Click here to subscribe for prix fixe.
Click here to download directly for à la carte.

Associated links:
Rue Mouffetard featured in the Project For Public Spaces
Mon ami Xavier: his publishers and a gallery of some of his work. (please allow pop-ups and click on "book")
The Tabacaria blog gives love to Xavier's comic Les Indégivrables
Musée Marmottan
That Monet painting I remembered from childhood.
Fondation Le Corbusier
OChef makes duck confit!
Petite Anglaise blogs about Paris driving

I've since determined that the cheese-and-potato thing I ate that night was not cassoulet, since that is a way to use white-or-other beans, and no way were they involved in that dish. It was more like a gratin, but I know that's not what they called it on the menu - I could have sworn the word was "cassoulet" or "cassoulette", but I guess I was wrong. I'll have to ask Xavier...

You'll notice the link that talks about Rue Mouffetard is from a site about public spaces. This is something I didn't discuss while blathering this episode: that there are many, many places in Paris for people to gather. Because it has this ersatz network of odd corners and roundabouts and streets that emit from a centre, there are dozens of spots like where I stood at Place de la Contrescape, with a fountain in the middle and a little area around it, then the small roundabout surrounded by cafés and shops where people sit out front. And I wasn't even around for what is the best-known thing about the area: the open-air market at the other end of the street at Square St. Medard, nearer to my hotel. I was always either too early or late to check out the vendors there. And as the name suggests, it starts in a sort of square, which is yet another area where people walk around or hang out. And most of these areas are very focused on pedestrians - which may have something to do with the fact that when all this got started hundreds of years ago, you had your feet and maybe a horse or a cart. Still, I think that's part of what makes it such a "vibrant" city, to use the parlance of purple travel prose. I think it's really hard to plan for something like that, but those carrying the Jane Jacobs torch will do what they can.

Oh, and the toothpaste I bought? Would you believe...it was made in Canada!


Biggest Day Job Plug Ever

Hi. No, I don't have a new episode, but I'm editing...occasionally. I was on vacation, so here's a flickr set (yay! my first flickr set!) to give you some idea where I was and perhaps provide a preview of the next two shows - if of course I ever get them done.

Now, on to the business at hand.

You know that my day job is producing audio description for movies and tv shows so the vision-impaired know what the hell is going on. Description 27 is about that, and if you heard it, you'll recall I explained that it isn't easy to access our stuff on tv - I demonstrated turning on the SAP (Secondary Audio Program) by navigating a mess of buttons and menus and crap on my particular tv and vcr. You can imagine how fun that process is for someone who can't see.

When I've posted day job plugs on this blog, they've usually been for CBC stuff we've described, because we have a deal with them where first-run CBC shows of an hour or more that air prime-time can be simulcast on our sister station VoicePrint, which you can get in an online stream. Still, that's not many shows, and the vision-impaired should be able to hear all the described programming available (even stuff we didn't do - gasp!) as easily as possible.

So the company where I work has applied to the CRTC (big-shot regulators) to get a tv station with nothing but shows with open description, meaning without all of that SAP nonsense. The description is just there. Frickin' cool, huh? The vision-impaired can enjoy or hate tv just like the rest of us without all that dumb technical hassle.

Part of the process of applying to the CRTC for this station is that the public can submit their opinions on this idea, whether they think it's great or stupid and why. And it does make a lot of difference. That part of the fun is going on now until March 8.

So if you have a minute, head over to this page:
...which tells you how to submit your letter of support (or non-support, but you wouldn't do that, right? right?), and even provides some more info on the station if you want it. You can submit by snail mail, fax, email, filling out an online form and even by phone.

Thanks in advance for helping out, and really for just bothering to read this. Now, back to that day job of mine...and eventually editing that next podcast.


Description 31 - WinterCity

Sitting smack in front of a space heater, I talk about what's great and not-so-great about winter in Canada, then check out how Toronto does its damndest to celebrate it, with help from The Bicycles, some Royal Conservatory of Music bassoon players, and lots of people of stilts.

Click here to subscribe for regular heat delivery.
Click here to download directly like activating those hot shot things you put inside your gloves.
(Man, I could use those right about now.)

Associated links:
City of Toronto WinterCity 2007
Peyton Manning: "Cut That Meat!"
Tandoori Doritos @ Snackspot.org.uk
Toronto's "Snow Management" page (bastards!)
Dryden, Ontario
Nathan Phillips Square
Buckley's Mixture and the Bad Taste Tour
The Podcast of My Discontent (Tristan's fine video podcast)
The Ontario Travel Snowglobe
the freakin' awesome Dave Bidini
Royal Conservatory of Music
The Bicycles!

From what I understand, the pre-eminent winter festival in this country is Carnaval de Québec. It is HUGE. Okay, so Ottawa has Winterlude with the skating on the canal and the Beaver Tails and stuff. But do they have Bonhomme? No stay-puff marshmallow man voyageur snowman mascot? Then I rest my case.

Then again, can Bonhomme play bassoon?

Uh...yeah, I guess he probably can.


When I rambled with Russel

In my meanderings in Second Life, I've met a fellow named Russel who not only is from the Lindsay/Peterborough area (uh, somewhere to the northeast of here a couple hours) but also a podcaster. A couple days ago, Valerie Bethune was shopping for clothes as usual in SL when Russel IM'd me asking if he could interview me on Skype for his show, as it's weekly and he was hurting for content. (See what happens when you make these shows regular?) So I took him up on it and we shot the breeze for an hour or so. Now, it's part of his new episode (35), with me re-hashing the Dubber and Spoons story, giving a preview of my next episode, dissing Global Television, and basically blathering about stuff podcasters blather about when they get together. Russel was a great host (despite the fact he's calling me a "lady" in his episode description), and also has a good audiobook review in the show. Oh, and his opening theme music is wicked! So feel free to check it out.