Saturday, December 11, 2010

After a bit of a Hiatus...

I can finally see my head will be above water soon to resume my blogging. Perhaps after Christmas but for sure by the New Year I will be back into the swing of things with twice or more blogs churning out each week. I owe a long blog to recount the goings on in my life over the past few months, but that won't be coming just yet. Suffice to say that things are improving and I now have sufficient time in my day to look forward to a few things and as the weeks go by I will have time to get back to the things I love to do.  Not to say that there haven't been days filled with music and friends - I have managed to get out to a few concerts with friends and everyone has been so supportive during the difficult times I have been having.

The nicest part of what has been going on in my life is that I have possession of my new condo and I move there on December 23rd.  Not that moving is nice - it is not - but it is just difficult and maybe a wee bit stressful but not emotionally draining.    

Of course, the view isn't as nice as the one I have now, but those who have been following my blog know that the view is going to disappear with the construction of the condo between my currently occupied condo and the lake.  The good news is that my new place will still have a wee bit of lake view and also a view to the north west - and I will see summer sunsets.
This view from my bedroom window, to the south-west,  will remain after the new condo rises to my west.

This view due southwill be the best part of the view by this time next year.  Sadly, I lose my Toronto Island airport and beach view.

Out of this pit will rise 3 new Condos - King West Condos
This artist's rendering is from the opposite direction from the photo above.  My building faces the first one on the left, so you can see there is still a chance that I might get a view to the north west.

My current building is on the right. Guess what!  I bought another condo which will be built by 2016 and will be in the triangular area in the middle of the picture!  It will have a south unencumbered view of the lake from the 30th floor!  Hurrah!
The builder's vision for my new to be built condo.  The Liberty Place by CanAlfa is in the Centre of the Liberty Village development area and therefore the slogan is "The Centre of the Scene".  It will be 32 stories high.
Looking at my old condo from my new condo balcony.
This is my new Condo - as seen from my old condo.  It is still under construction even as they move us in!

I was listening to music today as I was packing boxes. I have grown quite the record collection in the past few years and I had my favourite 100 on shuffle on my iPhone and it was plugged into my home speaker setup. I had to stop and sit and listen to the buttery smooth sound of Melody Gardot as she sang "Undercover Lover".   I was swept away with the sultry sound.

Melody Gardot is an American jazz singer, writer and musician who lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I have blogged about her in an earlier blog and featured her song "Les étoiles".   She has a fascinating story - as she suffered serious injury to both brain and spine in her  late teens when she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle.  Music became a therapy for her brain to learn new neural pathways.  Check out the wiki link for more details.

Lover Undercover lyrics
Songwriters: Gardot, Melody;

I don't need anything more than I got
I'll make it simple when others may not

Whenever you need some company
Some love of a different kind
Come to your lover, undercover
And let me ease your mind

Whenever your heart beats heavy
And worry has got you down
Come to your lover, undercover
And I will turn your mood around

Why you wanna leave
When it's so easy just to stay?
Lying wrapped up in my arms
Until the break of day

Why you wanna leave
When it's so easy just to stay?
Lying wrapped up in my arms
Until the break of day

Whenever you need a soft touch
Know my demands are small
Make me a lover, undercover
Or don't ever love me at all

This blog was changed on Dec 12, 2010 to add the Artist's Rendering for both new buildings included after photo #3.   Sorry, was in a rush last night to get it out and get on my way to our Condo Building's Christmas Party.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Where have all my blogs gone? Elderly Parents Need Care and Remembrance Day

I am feeling quite sad in not having written in this blog for over a month.   I truly enjoy writing and have a treasure trove of half written blogs in various states but I have had to put my blogging aside a bit.   My apologies to those of you who visit me here regularly for not posting a note of explanation before now or at least an "ETA" when I might resume blogging.

There are a number of reasons I have not been able to write - a job which is leaving me mentally exhausted for one but aside from that I now have a family obligation which is/will take a lot of my time.    In this last month I have come to the realization that I need to parent my parents in a very active way.  Worst of all, it has taken my Dad falling ill to realize how vulnerable they both are and how much my parents, with slow and ageing mental faculties,  need me to take charge.

After a few weeks of frustrating Emergency Room and Family Doctor visits my Dad was finally admitted last Tuesday to hospital.  When admitted, he was suffering from renal insufficiency, his red blood count was half of what it should have been, symptoms of the hypercalcemia was causing him to be confused and extremely weak and tired and the removal of calcium from his bones had caused them to be brittle and with at least one compression fracture.  The Multiple Myeloma - a type of blood cancer -  had also resulted in bone lesions and terrible bone pain.   I am wondering if he will make it to see his 80th birthday in January.

He had gone to his family doctor in the summer complaining of this bone pain in his ribs and through inexplicable lack of follow up/confusion about the symptoms and potential diagnosis, his Myeloma went undiagnosed for months - in a disease which will kill most people within 6 months to a  year if not treated.   I hadn't realized that I needed to take charge of my Dad's health issues and that in the absence of an assertive/clear thinking patient, diseases can be left undiagnosed and untreated.

Not sure if I will be able to write much in the next while.   Dad's prognosis is not good, as his cancer is in Stage III and so he is a very sick man.   My Mom, who is also not in the best of health and as clear thinking as she once was, needs to be chauffeured to hospital to visit Dad as well as hovered over (but from a distance). We are a stoic lot and so it is not so much a time of high drama, but more of resignation and sadness.

The good news is that they can treat this cancer to give Dad a bit more time.  We are not sure as yet how long he has but for sure it won't be more than a couple of years and it may be as little as a few months.   The doctor said we will have to wait and see how Dad responds to treatment.  The chemotherapy itself is not without risk.  For a while, I will be pretty busy figuring out how to deal with my new role as parent of my parents.   Over the longer term, there will need to be plans to be made regarding my mother - I am not sure how long she will be able to cope on her own.

My Mom has a saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  For sure I am not the one who is dying and working through the challenge of one's parent's mortality is something most of us are confronted with at some point in our lives.   It is sad, but it is the natural order of things.   I am just glad I am here to help my folks when they need it and to lend my Dad some strength when he needs it.

So, between work and family, I will be pretty busy until I get better organized and things settle down into a bit of routine and so I will probably not be able to write much in this blog for a while. 

Remembrance Day and Optimism during Times of Sadness

I wanted to end this blog with something both timely and uplifting.   Last Thursday was Remembrance Day.  I sat in silence for 2 minutes  at 11:00 and spent time listening to stories and remembrances of the Second World War which were featured in the media.  I was reminded me of a letter I read from a site called  "Letters of Note" last year at this time.  The letter was written by a soldier who was being sent off to the Pacific Front to fight the Japanese in 1942.  He was writing it to his 2 year old daughter to explain the situation in the event he never made it back.

Remembrance day this year caused me to think about the losses experienced families of our military and in particular of the children who did not/will not be able to see their father/mother grow old because they did not come home from War.  I am so glad I have had my father for all these years and for a little while yet, God willing.  My sadness is nothing when compared to the soldiers who even today leave their young children and set off for war - perhaps to their early and untimely death.

The letter is heart wrenching.  The full text of the letter deserves a read.    I would like to share with you the part of the letter which provided for me a bit of solace.  If you are facing a difficult time too, perhaps reading it might help you as well.

... Life too, Anne, is like the weather. Some days are so lovely, the happenings of those days so enchanting, you never can forget them. Some are so unhappy, you wish they never happened but, alas, they must for your life, your Mother’s, mine, everyone’s is so mixed up with joy and sadness that you never have one or the other for long. One replaces the other with a speed that is amazing.

But rain my little darling does not last for ever.
Through the blackest clouds a little piece of blue appears. The wind blows, and soon the clouds go. So too will peace come and then we can be all happy again.

I have to thank my friend Kathleen for finding the "Letters of Note" web site - it is a site where I have spent many hours wandering, utterly amazed at what the editor has found and posted.   Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Scans/photos are included if possible. It is updated every weekday with a new gem.  The Editor is Shaun Usher.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Toronto's Nuit Blanche

Last night the streets of Toronto was alive with thousands of people who were taking in the Nuit Blanche experience. Depending on your outlook and temperament, you might describe it as a night of avante garde art, or a all night party or even an all night circus. I think my friend Michael Golland, Liberty Village's official Artist in Residence, was right on when he remarked that it was Art turned into Social Commentary.  We were discussing the Fragments & Sightings project at Lamport Stadium. Certainly, past year's Nuit Blanche has stretched the boundaries of the art experience and this year was no exception.    This  I provided a bit of introduction to Nuit Blanche in my last week's blog, so I won't go into here.

I must confess my Nuit Blanche night was not an all night event for me - I tooted around for just a few hours before I retreated to warmer quarters chilled to the bone.  I present below some photos from the installations I was able to catch before I weakened. It is the first Saturday of the month, which was my cue to be at the Liberty Bistro to catch XOTEKA and Laura Fernandez Latin Jazz band.  
Things were hopping at the Liberty.  I enjoyed a nightcap there and listened to the some great music before I strolled home amongst the night's revellers not long after midnight.

I did not get to the downtown area that had some projects I really would have liked to have seen, such as Daniel Lanois' "Later That Night At The Drive-In" at  the Toronto City Hall,  the film "Up Up and Around" at the Ryerson University Kerr Hall Quad, and the stuff at Dundas Square.  I had such an awful time last year navigating the crowds downtown that I decided not to venture there.  As  an introduction to my question Art or Not, I submit a clear example, in my opinion of "Not Art", something new this year - the Nuit Market - a fully functioning night "flea market", set up for one night on Victoria Street.  Not sure what a market - day or night - has to do with art, but I didn't get there either.

Zone C - Liberty Village Nuit Blanche Projects

In previous years, Liberty Village was the hub of Zone C.  Not so this year.  Most of the events in Zone C were along the length of Queen Street West, save for a half dozen down in my neighbourhood.  In my opinion was a good thing - I really don't need to stroll cheek to jowl with hundreds of others as I did in previous years.  Somehow wandering alone in a thick crowd is not as much fun as it is when you are in the company of friends.  Truth be known, wandering thick crowds with/without friends is not most folks cup of tea.  While there were still lots of folks strolling the dark streets looking for "ART", it was not the wall to wall people zoo it was last year.  Leaving my condo and heading west along Liberty Street, the first Nuit Blanche event I came across was a strolling performer with the need to have audience participants set fire to small objects hidden inside the closed box she held in front of her.

I observed what seemed to be a small paper replica of a table being ritually incinerated and then moved on - wondering what the point of this was supposed to be? Was it supposed to make me think or feel any certain way? Perhaps if I had a bit of pyromania in my psyche. Consulting the program guide, apparently I arrived at the burning part of the performance. It seems that participants would be asked to "eat, burn, smash or otherwise destroy small objects made of chocolate, paper or ice". I still wonder what the performer (and conceiver I presume) of this event, Lalie Douglas of Montreal, had meant for us to take away from the "performance".  Were we supposed to enjoy or to be dismayed at the destruction of the small items?   I continued to Lambert Stadium cursing my bad luck not to have arrived at the right time to eat the chocolate and mentally counting "art = 0, not art = 1".
I did not have to walk too much further when I came upon the Flux and Fire exhibit. This was the concept of Christine Irving & Site3.  It was billed as a "large-scale interactive fire experience that captures the idea that art can be made anywhere, temporary and articulated in flames."  I approached the area to watch the puffs of fire burst out of the gas jets.  In the centre of the ring of gas jets there was a platform.  For 5 minutes at a time pairs of individuals were accompanied to and hoisted up onto the platform and allowed to orchestrate the puffs of fire by waving their hands.  The puffs of fire somehow were controlled by the movements of the folks on the platform rendering each performance of fire puffs unique.  As I contemplated the interesting shapes of the fire and the movements of the various pairs "on stage", I decided that the score was now "Art=1, Not Art=1".

The further down the Lambert Stadium parking lot I spied what looked like a jungle gym climbing apparatus. There was Indian music playing to accompany the Goddesses & Gargoyles Group Exhibition of the Hercini Arts Collective. Titled "Night at the Indies", it featured an acrobatic dance troupe made up as various Goddesses & Gargoyles hanging out in what in your imagination you could think of as a cage.

There were 4 shrines set up with offerings to the 4 Goddesses and Gargoyles climbing in the cage. I liked Night at the Indies. It was right out there as far as performance art, but very interesting and well executed. OK "Art=2, Not Art=1".

In each of the previous years I attended Nuit Blanche there were quite a few uncurated events which just appeared on the street hosted by some unofficial effort. I guess anyone with an idea and motivation can do something on the street during the Nuit Blanche night, but that doesn't make it art. The next event was not listed in the guide, but there seemed to have been some money put into the project to acquire at least a tent and organization enough to arrange that the two dozen or so participants each (or mostly) wore white clothes and were equipped with something useful to a mobile musical group project.
 There was one lad who was carrying a sign "Nit Wit Marching Band". There was a motley crew of what I presumed to be University Students, kitted out in a way to be able to play their assortment of odd musical instruments as they marched around.  Given the tent set up, I wondered if much marching would be done except maybe in a circle around the tent. They were belting out Neil Young's tune "Helpless Helpless". I smiled as I wandered into Lamport Stadium to see the next exhibit. "Art=2, Not Art=2".

The next exhibit was very sobering and thought provoking. Titled "Fragments & Sightings" Allan Kosmajac, Diane Misaljevic,and Julie Steward trigger some major reflection on the social condition. The exhibit was well conceived and executed. Placed carefully on the playing field and aligned on a grid were several hundreds of small display boxes.

Each box was numbered and contained some personal fragment of a story that bears witness to an attrocity experienced by an individual caught in one of humanity's shameful historical events. As I walked the length and width of the field and examined the items, making personal the stories of the many shameful events in modern history I felt great sadness. "Art=3, Not Art=2"

In the Liberty Village Park, just outside my condo in view from my balcony, the project "The Exquisite Cropse LIVE" was set up by Alex Heidbuechel and Brian Durocher.  This was an interactive Video exhibit was set up to project live video bits of the audience participants onto a large screen set up against the old Chapel Heritage Building.  The program explained that the installation explores What makes you who you are? by proposing that each of us is a product of those around us.  An interesting thought as I watched my head get attached to someone else's bit projected up on the wall.  OK borderline.  "Art=3.5, Not Art=2.5"

The last set of exhibits were unmistakably Art. I was so delighted with the various photo-based displays mounted on the side of 10 shipping containers in and around Liberty Village, that I will leave that to a separate blog in order to do it justice. As an added note - this is part of a larger Art Event which runs from Oct 6-10th in Liberty Village - the Flash Forward Festival 2010. Stay tuned for my personal account of the 5 day event next weekend. If you are interested in photography you might want to plan to attend. Aside from the displays there are many free/lower cost workshops and panel discussions as well as gallery tours of this public space exhibit located throughout Liberty Village. You can get more information on the Flash Forward Festival here.

There were 3 separate installations situated within Liberty Village
"Art 6.5, Not Art=2.5"

What is Art?
According to
Art stimulates different parts of our brains to make us laugh or incite us to riot, with a whole gamut of emotions in between. Art gives us a way to be creative and express ourselves. For some people, art is the entire reason they get out of bed in the morning. You could say "Art is something that makes us more thoughtful and well-rounded humans." says a lot more about what art is - you can go there for a read to get the full discourse on that question.  That said, one could argue that if it is an official Nuit Blanche event then by definition it is a Contemporary Art project .  After all Nuit Blanche  is promoted as an all night contemporary -and curated - Art event.  I don't mean to argue with the Curators of Nuit Blanche, but there is art and there is ART.  In my mind, art must at least have some creatively and cleverly conceived content, a message capable to be taken away and evoke some emotion.  I need to be able to like or dislike it and there needs to be some point to the thing - even if just social commentary.

What do you think?  If  you were curating Nuit Blanche where would you draw the line between art and silliness?

Go to my Picasa Album to see all my pics.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Black Dog and Rock meets Blue Grass

A pal of mine recently reminded me of a musical pairing that I have been meaning to check into for a while.  I heard one of the Robert Plant / Alison Krauss duets some time ago and for some reason did not follow up on it then, although I recall liking the sound a lot.  When my friend Kathleen posted one of the songs from the Album last week on Facebook a light bulb went off in my brain and I went to You Tube to hear more and was hooked.   As I was pulling together the material for this blog, I ended up ordering their album, Raising Sand, from iTunes.  I have now listened to it off and on all week and am even more impressed than I was upon first listen.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant 1974
Of course, Robert Plant is one of rock's charismatic rock-and-roll front men, vocalist and lyricist in the band Led Zeppelin.  He has also led a pretty successful solo career since the death of band member John Bonham and the band's break up in 1980.    Wiki talks of this Legend's influence on Metal Rock:
Robert Plant is one of the most significant singers in rock music and has influenced the style of many of his contemporaries, including Geddy Lee, Ann Wilson, Sammy Hagar and later rock vocalists such as Jeff Buckley who imitated his performing style extensively. Freddie Mercury of Queen also was influenced by Plant. Encyclopedia Britannica notes "Exaggerating the vocal style and expressive palette of blues singers such as Howlin' WolfMuddy Waters, [Robert] Plant created the sound that has defined much hard rock and heavy metal singing: a high range, an abundance of distortion, loud volume, and emotional excess".  Plant received the Knebworth Silver Clef Award in 1990.

Unless you are into bluegrass or country Music, you might not know of Alison Krauss. Wiki says:

Alison Krauss (born July 23, 1971) is an American bluegrass-country singer, songwriter and fiddler. She entered the music industry at an early age, winning local contests by the age of ten and recording for the first time at fourteen. She signed with Rounder Records in 1985 and released her first solo album in 1987. ...
She has released eleven albums, appeared on numerous soundtracks, and helped renew interest in bluegrass music in the United States. Her soundtrack performances have led to further popularity, including the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, an album also credited with raising American interest in bluegrass, and the Cold Mountain soundtrack, which led to her performance at the 2004 Academy Awards. During her career she has won 26 Grammy Awards, making her the most awarded female artist (and the third most awarded artist overall) in Grammy history.
So what is England's famous vocalist and legendary hard rocker doing with America's clear voiced angelic soprano Alison Krauss?  They have put out as fine a blend of rock--bluegrass-country -- Adult Alternative as you could imagine.

One great example of this wonderful collaboration and complementary vocal styling is the famous Led Zeppelin song Black Dog.  I remember wasting away many Saturday nights in my teen years listening to this song.  The song instantly transplants me back to 1971.   In 2004 the song was ranked #294 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Have a listen.  Isn't this vintage Led Zeppelin?  What were you doing in 1971 when this song was on the Hit Parade?

Black Dog - Led Zeppelin - Vintage 1971!

Black dog
by Led Zeppelin

Hey, hey, mama, said the way you move,
Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove.
Ah, ah, child, way you shake that thing,
Gonna make you burn, gonna make you sting.
Hey, hey, baby, when you walk that way,
Watch your honey drip, can't keep away.

I gotta walk, can't stand still,
Got a flamin' heart, can't get my fill,
Eyes that shine burning red,
Dreams of you all through my head.

Hey baby, oh baby, pretty baby,
Tell me would you do me now.
Hey baby, oh baby, pretty baby,
Move me while you groove me now

Take too long b'fore I found out
What people mean by down and out.
Spent my money, took my car,
Started tellin' her friend she' goin' be a star.
I don't know, but I've been told
A Big legged woman ain't got no soul

All I ask for, All I pray,
Steady lonely woman gonna come my way.
Need a woman gonna hold my hand
tell me no lies, make me a happy man.

Rock meets Bluegrass-Country
Now have a listen to the Plant-Krauss version.  What do you think?

Raising Sand is an interesting album.  The two vocalists harmonize wonderfully and their different musical background brings the best of both worlds to the album, but what about the musical selections on the album?    The album's producer, T-Bone Burnett is credited with giving the album its unique musical style.

There are no Led Zeppelin tunes on the album.  Plant and Krauss began an extended tour of the US and Europe in April 2008, playing music from Raising Sand and other American roots music as well as reworked Led Zeppelin tunes. It is from one of these concerts the Black Dog video was recorded.

According to Wiki:
Raising Sand is a collaboration album by rock singer Robert Plant and bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss. It was released on October 23, 2007 by Rounder Records.
The album was met with critical acclaim, earning an averaged score of 87 from compiled reviews on Metacritic. This album was #24 on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007. On February 8, 2009, the album won all five awards for which it was nominated at the 51st Grammy Awards: Album of the Year; Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album; Record of the Year (for "Please Read the Letter"); Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (for "Rich Woman"); and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (for "Killing the Blues"). Raising Sand was the second of three country albums to win Album of the Year, after Dixie Chicks's Taking the Long Way and followed by Taylor Swift's Fearless.

The album was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize in the UK.

In December 2009, Rhapsody ranked the album #2 on its "Country’s Best Albums of the Decade" list. The online music service also called it one of their favorite cover albums of all time.

The following Video featuring Please Read the Letter is from the album Raising Sand. It is a wonderful example of how well their voices harmonize.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Toronto Heats Up and Handle with Care

 This week has been a real whirl wind for me.  Lots going on.  As mentioned on a previous blog we have enjoyed the wonderful Harvest Full Moon all week and also the weather has been all over the map.  After posting my last blog I discovered that there are quite a few Harvest Moon events going on.  I would have like to get to see the  Mid Autumn Lantern Parade which is tonight at the Harvest Moon Celebration  at Harbourfront, but I opted to "get out of Dodge" instead.

We had the first day of Fall officially arrive on Wed morning.  We were confronted with  a torrential storm on Tuesday night, which downed trees and left great swatches of the GTA without power and unseasonable hot temperatures, made it a weird weather week.  We set temperature records  yesterday when it reached 30.5 degrees Celsius.  No fear that it will last, it is September and the temperatures do drop to the low teens at night. Today we are expecting the day time high to be a more conventional 16.

I decided to trek up to my Collingwood Shangri-La for the weekend, my condo in the city is on the market and it is just easier when there are showings going on.  The good news is that I have had a bit of action and there are some indications of an offer might be in the wings.  I have my fingers crossed.

I will be staying in town over next weekend - Saturday night is Nuit Blanche!  The history, concept and venues included in this annual Toronto all night arts event is described in the 2010 Nuit Blanche promotional website.  From the City of Toronto Message:

As the fifth edition of Toronto's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche approaches, it's clear that what began as a new concept for a free, all-night 'contemporary art thing', has become one of the most important and anticipated contemporary art events in Canada.

It all began at dusk on a rainy September evening in 2006, when the first Scotiabank Nuit Blanche was unleashed on an unsuspecting city. Since then, the event has been a platform for more than 600 official art installations by nearly 2,000 artists, representing more than 15 countries worldwide
 It is a bit of a circus but lots of fun and so much to see and do!  Artistic venues are open all night and vast swatches of the city are, for one night only, turned into outdoor exhibit spaces as art installations dominate every green space and other spots temporarily borrowed for the occasion.   Many streets are closed to traffic as the crowds wander the streets taking in the visual and interactive exhibits and partaking in the revelry in support of the arts.    Public transit runs all night and there is a hop on hop off Nuit Blanche ticket you can buy for $10.  -- which I will avail myself of.  Liberty Village is one of the neighbourhoods promoted as an event hub.  This year I am going to try to get up to see Zone A, which is in the central part of Toronto, just north of Bloor Street.

I have attended this event in each of the last 2 years.  Go here to read my blogs on previous year's events. 

Handle With Care and the Power (and disappointment) of "I'd Like That"
When I woke up this morning and turned on my usual, CBC Radio 2, the song Handle With Care was playing.  Whenever I have the opportunity on a weekend day morning I listen to Molly Johnson who hosts their morning program over the weekends.   I am never disappointed with the song selections and her morning chat is particularly interesting since she is a fabulous musician in her own right and a contemporary (and friend of) many of my favourite Canadian musicians.  The song was perfect for my mood and got me launched into my morning blog and wandering through the content for this next section.

According to Wiki:
"Handle with Care" is the first track from the Traveling Wilburys 1988 album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, and the group's biggest hit. Writing credits are shared by all five band members, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan.

The single reached #45 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, #21 on the UK singles chart and #3 on the ARIA Chart.

The story goes that the  musicians were sitting around having dinner and George was casting about for song ideas for the B side to go with his single "This is Love".  Interestingly, a beat up box was the inspiration for the title "Handle with Care" and the line "Been beat up and battered 'round".  The song was written collaboratively and was deemed too good for a B side.  The song became the impetus for the Travelling Wilburys to form as a band and was on their debut album, Traveling Wilburys Vol 1 released in 1988.

I am not sure I am imagining it, but I seem to recall that this song was included in the Tom Petty concert I attended in the summer.  It is a great song.

(The Traveling Wilburys)
Been beat up and battered 'round
Been sent up, and I've been shot down
You're the best thing that I've ever found

Handle me with care
Reputations changeable
Situations tolerable
But baby, you're adorable
Handle me with care
I'm so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won't you show me that you really care

Everybody's got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I've been fobbed off, and I've been fooled
I've been robbed and ridiculed
In day care centers and night schools
Handle me with care

(Guitar Solo)

Been stuck in airports, terrorized
Sent to meetings, hypnotized
Overexposed, commercialized
Handle me with care

I'm so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won't you show me that you really care

Everybody's got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I've been uptight and made a mess
But I'll clean it up myself, I guess
Oh, the sweet smell of success
Handle me with care

The Power of "I'd Like That"
Whilst casting about for information on "Handle with Care", I came across this John Mayer song -it has a line "I'm Tired of Being Lonely", just as the Traveling Wilburys song does.    In it he gives a neat intro which pretty much sums up the reason why we have to  "Handle with Care" our relationships.  Most will probably go south.  (Do I sound cynical?)  It also nicely expresses the my state of mind this weekend, given that the early stages of an "I want to be with you" relationship, which had looked like it might be something that would last at least a season, went down the tubes for me this week.

lyrics to Love Song For No One / John Mayer

Room For Squares (2001)
Staying home alone on a Friday
Flat on the floor looking back
On old love
Or lack thereof
After all the crushes are faded
And all my wishful thinking was wrong
I'm jaded
I hate it

I'm tired of being alone
So hurry up and get here
So tired of being alone
So hurry up and get here
(get here)

Searching all my days just to find you
I'm not sure who I'm looking for
I'll know it
When I see you
Until then, I'll hide in my bedroom
just staying up all night just to write
A love song for no one

I'm tired of being alone
So hurry up and get here
So tired of being alone
So hurry up and get here

I could have met you in a sandbox
I could have passed you on the sidewalk
Could I have missed my chance
And watched you walk away?
Oh no way

I could have met you in a sandbox
I could have passed you on the sidewalk
Could I have missed my chance
And watched you walk away?

I'm tired of being alone
So hurry up and get here
So tired of being alone
So hurry up and get here
You'll be so good
You'll be so good for me

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Centurion Weekend at Blue Mountain

 This weekend was the Centurion Cycling Event at Blue Mountain.  I haven't the time to do really do justice in this blog about the event, however did want to post some pictures and to tell about the free concert which was held at the Village of Blue late yesterday afternoon as part of the weekend long event.  

I slipped up to the Village to have a listen and hang out to watch the band.  It started to pour rain just before the concert started, so I did not venture out until an hour after the start and so did not catch the opening act, The Watchmen.  I did catch the headliner, 54•40 who are  a well known Canadian alternative rock group from British Columbia.

I captured a few bits and pieces of the Concert on my admittedly "almost good enough" camera, which will capture videos as well.  It is just over 6 minutes long and offers up the flavour of the event.  We were happily rocking at the event despite the rain.

For those who are not familiar with Canada's 54-40 the following is the complete version of one of the tunes they did at the concert.  The  quality of my little Video is pretty bad - gives you an idea of what was happening but you will have a better appreciation of the band if you watch this You Tube.

Some Photos from the Centurion's, 100 Mile Gran Fondo or Cyclosportive event, which was held today. It took a bit of doing to figure out what point would put me ahead of the pack and in position for some good photos, given I decided not to get up and out the the Village to see the start at 7:30.  I hit the route at three different points and finally got a postition ahead of the race and took some shots as they approached me.
The Leader (#49) is well ahead of the pack as they approached Highway 4 on County Road 63.

Second in the Race flashed me a smile as he flew by.
The Leading Pack is just behind #558.
They fly by.... the 2nd pack is 10 minutes behind.

For the full set of pictures check out my Picasa Album Blue Mountain Centurion Sept 18 & 19 2010.  
If you know someone who was in the Centurion, go here for the list of partipants in order of completion time.  The best time was for Ed Veal of Queensville,  with a time of 4:52:43.3.  Pretty awsome for a distance of 100 miles / 160 KM of up and down.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gabriel García Márquez, Franz Kafka and Magical Realism

Magical Realism in photography

This week we had some interesting weather.  Fall is definitely in the air and it has been a week of getting used to wearing a fall coat.   We had a few days of very heavy rain in Toronto  and one early evening of spectacular pink/grey clouds, which I have salted amongst the paragraphs below.     The days are noticeably shorter - getting up in the dark now and I don't like it one bit.  The sun starts to set just a scant hour after I get home after work which is equally disturbing.

Yes, I am working late and most days not getting out of the office until 6:30 or 7:00 after putting in 10 - 11 hours.  I am drained at the end of the day, but in a good way - I am enjoying my new job.   I also watched the moon this week, a waxing crescent well up on the horizon in the southern sky long before sunset. As darkness fell that night, the moon shimmered on Lake Ontario and I wished that someone special was there to share the wonderful view with me or at least that a photo could do justice.
Last year I read the first 300 pages of the 400 page novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez' - "One Hundred Years of Solitude". I had previously read his novel Love in the Time of Cholera (right to the end LOL) and enjoyed that novel immensely.  I recall writing a blog about it, but it seems I did not tag it so can't get my hands on the link.  I noticed the 2nd Marquez novel sitting on the bookcase this morning at my Collingwood Shangri-La and made a mental note to move it up a bit in my reading queue.

Before I continue on the subject of this blog, let me digress.

I used to read a lot of novels, B.C.   (Before Children).  I spent the first 28.5 years of my life (that is when my oldest son Jeff arrived on this planet), reading several books a week.  I would routinely get so engrossed in whatever novel I was reading that I could not put it down until it was finished.  I tended to pick up a book and read it to the end without interruption then wait a few days (whilst getting on with my life) until I picked up a new book and then the cycle would start again.  There were many nights I dragged myself into work with only a few hours sleep since I could not put down the current read.   I had to stop that once my babies started arriving.  I still do read voraciously during vacation and can consume a dozen books in a week's vacation, if on my own - but generally now find it difficult to find time to read even a chapter or two of a novel in any given week.

Mostly it is because I spend much more time reading bits and pieces online, blogging and the other dozen hobbies/habits developed in this last decade.  Of course in the 15 years following the birth of Jeff and my other 4 children I had no time at all to even think, let alone to devote to reading.   Now that I have no children at home I have instead a very mentally demanding job and I need to be at the top of my game during the 10 or so hours each day I work.  I find I need a solid 7 hours of sleep to function well and with a tired brain at the end of the day I am just not able to read in the evening.  So my "wanna read" list grows.   
In this last year or so  I seem to be collecting books to be read but not doing any reading to speak of.  I have counted now 7 "paper" novels or books of non fiction I have "in progress" and at least a dozen  I have on the "to be read" pile.  I did not bother going through my book list on my Kindle - I know there are probably a few dozen unread books loaded into the device and I have at least 5 on the go in that medium.   I have got to have to look at my routines and find some time to earmark for reading. 
Waxing Cresent Moon from my balcony at 7:30 PM
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

So back to the topic which was sparked by me picking up again (after a long pause) Gabo's One Hundred Years of Solitude.  FYI, Gabo is the name that Marquez is affectionately known as in Latin America.
This novel is a multi-generational account of the Buendía Family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founds the town of Macondo which is a metaphor for Colombia in this novel.

Marquez, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982, is known  for his experimental approaches to reality in fiction and his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is just one example of his various different styles which tinker with conventional novel approaches.  In this novel he uses Magic Realism, described by Wiki as:
An aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality.
It has been probably 8 months since I put this novel down having read 3/4 of it.  The novel is really engaging - busy - full of life - an epic novel, really sort of Latin version of  Forsythe Saga with some interesting bends in the fabric of reality to keep you on your toes.

The defining characteristic about this style is that fantastic and unbelievable things occur in an every day setting and are totally believed and in incorporated as normal within the context of the novel.  As an example,  the character Remedios the Beauty is hanging out her laundry to dry one day and the angels from heaven arrive and she suddenly  ascends to heaven.  The suggestionis that she is both too beautiful and too wise to continue to live on earth.   This is incorporated in the novel in the same way as if the story line was that she had gotten on a train and had left town on a long journey.   Every chapter contains several fantastic "magical" events recounted in the same manner.    There are many metaphors to ponder when reading this novel.  It is not a quick read.
The skyline was the result of a  master painter at work

This novel is a literary giant in the Latin world and is an exemplar of a  novel in the magical realism genre.  The most notable part is that it is just not any story with magical bits inserted - it is the dominent theme of the novel - - and the mythical setting and what it represents which makes this novel such a giant in Latin Literature.  From Wiki:

 One Hundred Years of Solitude illustrates that contemporary Latin America has resulted from the absence of purposeful political organisation and will required for progress. The tragedy of Latin America is the lack of a definitive national identity, without which there is only self-destruction, not preservation. This might be partly attributed to five centuries of Spanish colonialism; nevertheless, the continual violence, repression, and exploitation, rob the Colombian of a definite identity. The historical reality of Latin American countries occurs as the recurring fantastical world of Macondo. The desire for change and progress exists in Macondo as in the countries of Latin America, however, the story's temporal cycles symbolize the nationalist tendency for repeating history. 

... The desire for change and progress exists in Macondo as in the countries of Latin America, however, the story's temporal cycles symbolize the nationalist tendency for repeating history.

While I recall enjoying the novel, I guess I got busy and put it down and another one had captured my interest by the time I had was able to find some more reading time. 

The Works of Franz Kafka

Although the term Magical Realism was first identified as a genre associated with Latin American literature, it may not have originated there.  A German author,  Franz Kafka, writing in the 1920s, is arguably the founder.   According to Wiki:
Franz Kafka was one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century, whose works came to be regarded after his death as one of the major achievements of world literature. The term "Kafkaesque" has entered the English language. ... His body of work—the novels The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927), short stories including The Metamorphosis (1915) and In the Penal Colony (1914)—is now considered among the most original in Western literature. Most of Kafka's output, much of it unfinished at the time of his death, was published posthumously.

 As you can see from the "Now also reading" panel on the right, I also have have a Franz Kafka work on the go.   My Kindle tells me I am 38% finished reading "The Works of Franz Kafka", which contains 3 of his best known stories plus a few others. I can't tell you how many pages this is - Books on the Kindle do not have pages, however for a comparison, Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" is ends at "location" 1570 while this ends at "location" 4960 - so I have read a good piece.   As I recall, I left off reading "The Trial", which seemed to be almost dream like in its mixture of reality and fantasy.  I believe that is the most definitive feature of Magical Realism - it reads like you are in a dream.   As evidenced by me putting down two of this style in the last year with major portions read but not finished, they are not pot boilers, but gentle simmers even when written by the best of authors.
Doesn't this look like a big set of lips?
I'd like to go back to the original definition of Magical Realism, which according to Wiki is "an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality".   I am wondering what deeper understanding of reality is possible when a novel, otherwise constrained to reality as we know it, lets loose those boundaries and allows fanciful notions to become ordinary?  I think the answer to this might be found by considering the value of dreaming. Reading these novels is a bit like reading a dream.   Answers to deep questions can arrive in your sleep - when your mind is allowed to make otherwise illogical connections to events, thoughts and desires and perhaps these novels will let our minds do likewise when reading them. 

 In any event, to conclude, I will make a very obvious observation - I seriously need to find  some reading time and catch up on all the novels I would like to read!  I think my answer may be in spending less time writing these long thoughtful blogs!  :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September - Last of the Kayaking Weather?

Life has been in the fast lane for me of late. Lots of things going on in my corner of the world. Life is really really full and busy and that is not a bad thing. However, there are days when I wish that it weren't so. Today is one of them. Time flys by and before you know it one day flows into the next, weeks fly by and so do seasons and years... and phases of life. I feel I am on the precipice of a new phase, but somehow still on the treadmill wanting to step off but unable to since it is moving so fast and to some extent because I do enjoy "the fast lane".

While it might sound like I am complaining - I am not. Life is fabulous and wonderful. I am finding my new job challenging and rewarding, my colleagues have both impressed me with their competence and supportive manner and my new boss has made several comments that she is pleased with my work. I finally have my condo on the real estate market and a late November move in date for my new digs seems likely. None of my adult children are having serious issues.   I am in the early stages of a dating relationship and it is so nice to have a bit of spice in that area of my life even if for a while.  I could not ask for more. Certainly, I have everything in place for a great fall and winter and should be happy with that. 

Somehow though I am thinking of the next phase - when I can ease off work and spend more hours at play?  There is so much more I want to do and see and with 50+ hours a week at work there just is not enough time.    I really do work too hard.  But I am doing this for a reason.  I am saving my shekels for my sabbatical.

Sometime in the next few years I will take 4-6 months off and do a bit of a travel sabbatical. Today my thoughts are on that day. I am envious of my blog sphere friend Fram, who sits in his lake house in his "command centre" writing, reading and thinking and plotting where he might like to go for the winter - I am sure it will be Poland, but for how long? Anyway, me - I will be doing the 9 to 5 thing for sure all of this year (actually it is more like the 8 to 6ish thing, but you get the idea.)

Today, as I busy myself with chores at my Collingwood Shangri-La having just come back from my little paddle around White's Bay, I am wistful for summer and wishing I were in my next phase and planning some adventures. Instead I will make do with planning some smaller holidays and also some other adventures in my personal life which seem to be on the cook. (wink, wink, say no more!)

I tried to coax Bella into going out on the lake with me. She got in the kayak just for a moment and then decided the dock was a better place for a dog. I guess she was right. She waited patiently on the dock while I did my thing.

The water is really very warm this year and while there was a bit of a breeze it was not cold. I had a great paddle and got both some exercise and some mental R&R.

This song by Metallica really suits my mood.  Particularly this version with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.  The lyrics resonate with today's mood.

Nothing Else Matters
Songwriters: Hetfield, James Alan;Ulrich, Lars

So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
and nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say
and nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
and nothing else matters

never cared for what they do
never cared for what they know
but I know

So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
and nothing else matters

never cared for what they do
never cared for what they know
but I know

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us, something new
Open mind for a different view
and nothing else matters

never cared for what they say
never cared for games they play
never cared for what they do
never cared for what they know
and I know

So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
No, nothing else matters

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labour Day Weekend at Cordova Lake

I have to apologize for lack of blogs in this last week. Too much on my plate and something has to give.  I am afraid I will probably have another week  of no week day blogs, like the last.   I have been getting my Toronto condo ready for sale (I am moving across the street, if you wonder why ready this blog  and/or this blog which explains all).   I have a move in date now of Nov 24th and I have to get the one I am in now sold. I have been quite the busy beaver painting and getting things in tip top shape. Showings start on Friday! Hopefully I will find more time in the coming weeks, as the demands of my job even out and I get my place sold.

View from the cottage road
Also, I was kindly invited to spend a weekend with some new friends at a cottage in the Kawartha Lakes area of Ontario. It is about 2.5 hours north east of Toronto, maybe half way to Ottawa. The weather was pretty cold and rainy, but we did have a bit of sun and was able to don coats and go for a long walk to the end of the lake which featured a dam and a bit of a waterfall.
The main cottage is hidden a distance from the water, but you can see the dock and the tiny Cove Cottage on the left.

We also did a boat tour of the lake, which is about 3 km long and maybe 1 km wide and dotted with smaller islands.  The photo above shows the dock area of the main cottage and the little cottage at lake's edge where I got to sleep in a bedroom which was  only feet from the water!  If it weren't for the cold nights I could have heard the water lapping onto the shore from an open window, which would have been heavenly.

This is typical Ontario cottage country Canadian shield landscape at it's best - pine, oak and birch trees and fairly rocky and  hilly terrain. Lake Cordova is named for the Cordova Mines which is now an official abandoned site, according to the Ontario Abandoned Places website:

Cordova Mines is a semi-ghost town in Halelock-Belmont-Methuen Township of Peterborough County just at the border with Hastings County, NE of Havelock. It was one of Ontario's goldrush boom towns circa 1892.
According to the Ghost Town Pix web site:
The mines at Cordova remained idle from 1917 to 1938, when another company, COMINCO (Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada), decided to give it one last run. COMINCO, now Teck Cominco Ltd., operated from 1938 to 1940, producing about 150 tons a day, which yielded a total value of $474,548. Following the company's departure, the mines were closed forever and all the mining buildings were dismantled. The dam and raceway were later used by the Deer Lake Fish Hatchery for many years, until it too shut down.
In our walk to the other end of the lake we went to he top of the dam mentioned in the note above, if I had known that the buildings beyond and the area was actually the remnants of a ghost town, perhaps I would have asked to explore further!

Maybe I will get to go back another time and can go on a bit better exploration of the area - it would be kind of neat to wander the around knowing it's history.

The Cove Cottage on Cordova Lake

Aside from a 3 km walk down the private road which services all the cottages on this part of the lake, we also did a boat tour around the lake, but ended up soaked to the skin when a torrential downpour decided to let go.  The photo above is the tiny lake edge cottage which rocked with music on both nights.

The temperature has sure dropped from last week's high 30+ degrees Celsius.  We had a high of about 16ish on each of the days and last night it dropped to 9 degrees!  As a consequence there was a lovely mist coming off the lake this morning which I was able to capture on a few pictures.

Great friendship, food, drink and music!  The evenings were spent listening to/singing along with Pat and Brian who had a great thing going - Pat on guitar and Brian on harmonica and both contributing vocals.  I was even able to provide a bit of accompanying harmony. I think we covered all of the important songs of our era - Neil Young covers being every one's favourite.  Many thanks to Kathy and Pat for their wonderful hospitality.  And thanks to Brian for being so kind as to invite me along in this extended family gathering.

Today is the last day of the CNE (which I blogged about a few weeks ago). Normally there is an air show on the last 3 days and it is usually fabulous.  Go here to read about the one from last year.  They had to cancel it as the weather was windy and rainy - the tail end of the hurricane which hit our east coast this weekend.  I took this photo as I noticed that the wind was blowing hard enough to make the giant Canada flag to flap in the wind.
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