The Other Side of A Christmas Story

So I'm going home as usual for Christmas next week (U.S. border guards permitting) and it's unlikely I'll be recording any festive podcasty stuff this time. You may remember last year I went with my friends Ron and Julie to "A Christmas Story House," the house in Cleveland which was featured as Ralphie's house in the movie. That trip served as the soundseeing tour for Description 49, which was about the connections A Christmas Story has to my birthplace and where I live now. While I did talk about the Canadian significance of director Bob Clark and mention how the most of the movie was shot in Toronto, most of the episode out of circumstance focused on the American side.

Now the beautiful people of Torontoist, whom I will miss dearly when they stop publishing on New Year's, are filling in the Canadian side. The latest (last?) edition of their awesome "Reel Toronto" series, pinpointing exact locations in made-in-Toronto movies, features none other than the adventures of Ralphie and his pals. So enjoy the historical and geographic trivia here to prime yourself for non-stop showings of the film on tv. And keep digging through Torontoist for excellent news, reviews, commentary and nostalgia about Toronto - for that old acquaintance should never be forgot.

(Update: Literally due to popular demand, Torontoist is staying alive! Woohoo! So I'll keep linking there as much as I can. You keep going there, so they can...er...keep going.)


Description 62 - Citizenship

To celebrate my 10th anniversary of being officially Canadian, I look through my old application, friends and family share memories of misplaced hats (goofy and otherwise), and the government implodes.

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Associated links
Feed for the QN Podcast
Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Applying For Citizenship
CBC Becoming Canadian: From Immigrant to Citizen
A Look at Canada
Shawn Micallef covers a citizenship ceremony at the AGO for Spacing Toronto
Town & Country Buffet is closed?
My initial post about the coalition thing
Rick Mercer on the coalition thing (pre-prorogue)
CBC.ca archive on the coalition thing
Canadians For a Progressive Coalition
Rabble TV on the coalition rally
The Tory site for winning hearts and minds

My humble thanks to Sage and Amit (my good friend going back to the mid-'90's and the TPOH mailing list) for their wonderful, thoughtful contributions. And of course, there are my parents...

I neglected to mention the singer early in the rally montage was Richard Underhill, sax virtuoso of the Shuffle Demons (Spadina Bus!) and member of the Kensington Horns featured in my PS Kensington video.

Here's a wacky thing: if I'd stayed in Oshawa, my local MP now would be Jim Flaherty, the guy who presented the budget update that started this whole mess! *shudder*

Shortly after he spoke at the rally, St├ęphane Dion stepped down early as Liberal leader (which he was going to do in May anyway) so the party could continue marshalling its forces for when Parliament convenes again January 26. To replace him, the Liberal caucus has chosen our star (at least in words) of Description 14, Michael Ignatieff. He has come a long way as a politician since that speech of his I read in that episode, going through much of that buzzsaw faced by fresh "philosopher kings" and still standing with some of his ideals intact. Those ideals factor into his statements about studiously reading whatever it is the Tories come up with for a revised budget update when Parliament meets up again before lowering the non-confidence boom. He's not saying coalition-no-matter-what, but also maintains the preparation to present a coalition if necessary. While that takes a little of the air out of the passion about a coalition, it is also definitely, prototypically Canadian (ah, "reason over passion" - Trudeau strikes again), holding out for compassion and compromise to the bitter end. We will see how bitter Stephen Harper chooses to make it.


6th Photo Meme: Yoko at the El Mo

Yoko at the El Mo
Originally uploaded by Valerie27
I'm back so soon because I've been tagged by Rob Lee of Unconventional Wisdom (and husband of the previously mentioned Katherine) for the 6th Photo Meme. Since he's such a nice, level-headed fellow and I don't want a dolphin to be killed, I'll see if I can pull this off (since it's my first proper meme).

So here's how this goes: when you're tagged and if you are on Flickr, you go to the sixth page of your photostream, pick the sixth photo and post it to your blog. Then you tag six more people to do the same thing. Yes, it's a chain letter, but somehow when it doesn't feel like a chain letter (like something I received recently and blew off), I'm okay with following along - though having to contact people to further it tweaks my anxiety.

I haven't been posting a ton of photos to Flickr lately, so this goes back to October 2007. As part of my unofficial series of photos taken in reflections, this is in the women's restroom of the legendary rock club the El Mocambo in Toronto. Since the men's restroom is called the "John", the ladies' is called the "Yoko". (Ha! Rock comedy!) IMO, it's one of the nicest, most spacious rock club restrooms in the city, though I think it does still have two stalls.

Now to tag those six people - man, I hope this works out. Sorry in advance...
Justin Beach (my Podcast Landlord and lord of publicbroadcasting.ca)
Bob Campbell (longtime listener and blogger of Note to Myself)
Adam Gratrix (of Transpondency, Foreskin Radio and whatever else he comes up with which upsets whatever balance I possess)
Ninja (of Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters, Ninja Radio and many a supportive Facebook comment)
Dan Misener (of Jim Dupree: Enthusiast, Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids, CBC's Spark, etc.)
Rob Winder (recent photo blogger, promoter of the great band Jackdaw4 and friend going back to the TPOH mailing list)


When everyone started caring

Before I get to the meat here: the next episode is probably coming next week, and I've set a deadline for calling the Description 62 comment line. Please call 206-376-1528 before the end of December 8 with your comments about what Canada or Canadian citizenship means to you, and it'll likely get in the episode. I'd really love to hear from you.

And for the last few days, Canadians have been thinking A LOT about what Canada and citizenship means to them. Some extremely complex and I think damn interesting stuff has been happening in Canadian politics that, believe it or not, has started to make the machinations of the last U.S. Presidential campaign (hell, even Bush-Gore 2000!) look a little pale in comparison. By the time that deadline for your phone call passes (and you will have called by then, RIGHT?), it's possible, though not definite, that we'll have a new Prime Minister under a coalition government. Like that presidential campaign, it has been every bit as depressing as it's been wildly fun. And it's all been packed into a week. Man, I love this country!

I'm not going to even try to explain all this stuff to you as I try to explain other Canadian stuff - and believe me, part of what makes this so awesome is how Canadian it is, and what makes the debate about it so sad is how many people don't get that. Fortunately, another blogger has explained it for novices (and we all sort of are) in as complete a fashion as I could ever imagine. Her name is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and she has a blog called Yarn Harlot, which is most often about knitting and her life. (She was referred to me by my friend Katherine Matthews, who runs in similar circles as Stephanie, and I thank her.) If you have several minutes, please go to this post of hers and stick with it, because this stuff is very very key to what Canada is about. If you've ever thought there isn't much difference between the U.S. and Canada, and I haven't done much to convince you otherwise, Stephanie will.

I can only add this: through this trial, the ruling Conservative party has become only more American in their attitude and language, and what tears it for me is that their American-ness now defines assumptions they have made about the Canadian democratic system. Seriously. I can hear it, I can smell it. And to me, it is absolutely intolerable. So we will see what happens.



First off, in case it hasn't come up, I wrote an update in the post for Description 57 regarding the death of Kenny MacLean of Platinum Blonde, just so you know.

Now for something more fun. November was National Podcast Post Month (NaPodPoMo), where podcasters post a new episode every single freaking day of the month. I can see how that would be a great experience for someone...who isn't me. There's also the point that "National" may not include Canada, so I was probably exempt anyway. Still, I saw an opportunity to maybe stretch my listener muscles (ouch) and look for new podcasts I'd never heard before. And so I invented National Podcast Subscription Month (NaPodSubMo, or NaPoSubMo when I'm feeling lazy or forgot how to do the proper truncation), in which every freaking day, I would subscribe to a podcast I had never heard/seen before. If you follow me on Twitter (not a requirement, I assure you), you may have seen my daily mini-reviews of each one. It took some doing, and maybe I didn't find all the podcasts you may think are best, but whatever - it was still a very good experience.

Some of those podcast subscriptions have been chucked in the bin already, not because they're necessarily bad, but because for some reason, I just didn't connect enough to them to sustain a commitment. There are others I like enough to hang onto a bit longer. And then there are those I fell in love with, look forward to spotting in the podcatcher and will commit to for a good long time...which in podcasting, is maybe at least another month or two. And it's those podcasts I want to share with you now. They're in no particular order.

MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show (video)
For those who know, you're saying "duh!".
For those who don't know, this is a current-affairs show on the U.S. cable news channel MSNBC (which I don't get here), which like many such shows is hosted by someone known for being more pundit-y than journalist-y. Unlike those other shows, it does not make me want to hunt the talking heads down and punch them. While I don't always agree with Rachel Maddow, she's smart, funny, talks like a normal person, isn't spoiling for a fight and isn't annoying. I usually watch this while I'm having lunch at home, but the audio version is perfectly fine too.

Ken P.D. Snydecast
I tried this for the same reason most people do: because the super-awesome SModcast (with Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier) hasn't put up a new episode in a while. The guy who picks and edits the music for that podcast, Quick Stop Entertainment editor-in-chief Ken Plume, does his own two-hander with Adult Swim voice star Dana Snyder (you may remember him from such shows as Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies). Like SModcast, it's two guys jabbering about whatever for about an hour, but has less of that crazy "what if?" stuff and is usually more confrontational. Funny on its own terms.

Speaking of podcasts where guys sit around and talk...

Talking Canadian
...Which I tried while waiting for new episodes of The Bob and AJ Show. Three friends in the Ottawa area - the producer of the Sens Underground hockey podcast, a guy from Sudbury and a guy from Newfoundland - "get together twice a month, have some beers and just shoot the 'stuff'." (Note: on the podcast, they would not say "stuff" in that context.) It's basically like sitting around at a non-chain bar in a medium-sized Canadian town waiting for the game to start on the tv. Funny, natural, good-natured, not pushy. After all, they are Canadian. :-)

East Meets West
Another two-hander, CNET's Tom Merritt and noted geek Roger Chang talk mainly about current affairs, sometimes associated with tech and science stuff. This is one of those deals where I don't know why I like it besides being comfortable with these guys and their rapport. Notable, though, is how much of their discussion is fueled by discussions in the blog comments.

Zen Is Stupid
The subtitle is "Everything Wrong With Western Buddhism", but it actually feels more like a couplecast just shot through a Buddhist prism. Usually meeting up virtually from far distances, Gwen Bell and Patrick Reynolds talk about what's been going on in their lives and eventually (if at all), incidentally relate it to general Zen Buddhist concepts. Just a nice, smart chat.

Is it Just Me?
Two people shooting the breeze about life again, but this time they're Australian media veterans Wendy Harmer and Angela Catterns. Their 16-week season ended recently, but it's well worth revisiting while they hope for a renewal from ABC Radio (home to many great podcasts).

Dinner Party Download
From California public radio station KPCC, fun info to use at your next dinner party. Each show includes a joke, a drink recipe inspired by history and the same two questions asked of a very cool guest (Irvine Welsh! Robert Wagner!). You'll wish the next dinner party you attend would be as classy and entertaining as this.

The Digested Read Podcast
That podcast monolith known as the Guardian newspaper presents John Crace satirically summarizing hot books in the style of the author. Sneaky funny, and funnier the more you know about the author or book.

Zunior.com Podcast
A monthly podcast featuring a great variety of excellent new music (most of it Canadian) available from the pioneering digital music store Zunior.com. Utterly painless promotion.

The Zygiella Podcast (RSS)
Maybe the next generation of something like Zunior, Zygiella is a Toronto-based online music community with a music player, gig calendar, and links to band sites and merch, all with a brilliant design. The podcast is simple: it "discusses shows in Toronto over the coming week that cost $10 or less and play songs from the bands and performers featured on that week's list." It's as enjoyable and unpretentious as you can get for something this cool.

And that's it! Not a bad harvest for a month. Hope you find something in there you may like, or just be content that they're out there.