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.

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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".

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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.