REMEMBRANCE DAY: 2021

Today, as we remember those who fought and died in warfare, let’s reflect on those who died in World War 2, the last (and hopefully final) world war in which so many fought and died.

It was such a brutal war for so many millions of soldiers and innocent bystanders that anyone connected to it was a victim of its very occurrence, no matter how near or far. People my grandparents age traveled from Canada to Europe to fight in that war, and the stories they told make the worst horror films look very tame by comparison.

It is important to never forget how sick the Nazis were and the bravery of those who fought against them. So if you are young, ask your grandparents about World War 2 and they might be able to share stories about what your own great-grandparents did to stop the world from being covered in darkness and hate.

Remembrance also means taking time to enjoy the life you have as a way of honouring those who made sure the future was safe for you. They chose to stand up against evil so that you would never know what standing up to such evil is like, and they would want you to enjoy a/the life they might have had if not for the war. They would have wanted you to have ice cream, fall in love, listen to music, and all the other stuff that they lost in their own lives, because they died to protect those things… and you… even though they never met you. Even the idea of you was so important to them they ran into the line of fire, and we wear a poppy to say “Thank you for standing up for me before I even knew who you were; though I still don’t know all your names”.

My great uncle fought for you: he did hard things and made hard choices so you didn’t have to… and maybe one of your own relatives did the same thing for me. So let’s both be thankful, for all veterans, for all that had the courage to say, “You will not take away what is good, your evil ends here and now”… and did something about it.

God Bless Our Veterans… and God Bless You All…

Remembering Norm MacDonald (1959-2021)

One day in 1997, while walking down the street in New York I happened to run into eccentric Canadian comedian Norm MacDonald, yet another one of Canada’s iconic comedians that became famous in the USA.

He was hilarious and super-friendly, and we walked and talked for a good ten blocks before he announced he was off to a taping show Late Night With David Letterman, since he was one of the featured guests that night. Then all of a sudden he stopped and asked me if I wanted to hang out backstage while he was on the show. So of course I said yes. We were having a friendly chat, two Canadian strangers, and then he invites me backstage at the biggest comedic talk show on the planet at that time, an opportunity that led to being backstage a second time a couple of weeks later, which led to me eventually meeting David Letterman himself.

Norm was innovative, often controversial, and great fun to converse with, so it is with a significant amount of pain I must announce that he died yesterday after a 9 year battle with cancer, which he kept hidden from both the public and his peers, so as not to be defined by his fight with the disease. I don’t truly know him, but in that amazing afternoon I spent with him I got to know a generous, deeply funny, and wonderfully offbeat Canadian legend.

As with artists like David Bowie or Prince, the passing of someone like Norm MacDonald is such a huge loss. Many artists are original, but people such as these are so unique, there will literally be no one even close to being like them to ever emerge again. Norm was extremely intelligent, and yet he played off of his own image as semi-naive and slightly baffled by the goings on around him. But at any moment his ferocious wit would emerge and you knew Norm had thought long and deeply about what he was saying. He was also an absolute master of uncomfortable pauses, moments of unusually long or short silences after which he would unleash some of his funniest lines in that eastern Canadian drawl of his.

he was also not one to show emotions like fear or sorrow on stage, save for moments like his last appearance on the Letterman show, a perfect set of comedy and a beautiful moment of love. R.I.P. Norm… undoubtedly you are in Heaven now making God roar with laughter…

Fernandez!!!!!

WHAT A GREAT MATCH!! SHE DID IT!!!!!!!

Canadian teenaged tennis player Leylah Annie Fernandez (world ranking #73) beat World #3 Naomi Osaka the other day and just beat world #17 Angelique Kerber. She came back from early pressure and won the second and third sets to win a real match for the ages, a David vs. Goliath moment for the newly emerging Fernandez.

Kerber and Osaka are masters of tennis, so for this young Canadian to come out of nowhere and take them down is wonderfully shocking, a real treat for fans and a landmark in her career. She is now off to her first Grand Slam Quarter Final!

What an incredible year for Canadian women!!!!!

Charlie Watts (1941 – 2021).

It is with great sadness that I am passing along the news that Charlie Watts, the drummer for The Rolling Stones, has passed away at the age of 80 yrs. old.

Watts was always a personal favorite of mine, playing straight-ahead beats on a small, jazz-style drum set, never playing a single bit more than what was right for the song. This “unassuming” approach made him the perfect rock drummer: making the beat (rather than his own playing) the point of his career. He also had a unique way of playing: using the traditional grip favoured by jazz musicians (in the left hand), and skipping part of the beat on his (right hand) hi-hats, leaving more physical space for his left hand to hit the snare while also opening up the sound for a lighter, bouncier kind of beat. Though he did not use it all the time, this signature style of playing was often ridiculed by untrained musicians who thought he couldn’t play an ordinary rock beat with the hi-hat playing continuous eighth notes. But Watts proved his point: his style was perfectly fantastic and truly unimitible when it came to creating the flowing effervescence he added to the Stones bluesy rock.

He was also known (amongst drummers with good ears) for his taste; for the things he could have but chose not to play in the interests of the song. As songs like “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?”, “Emotional Rescue”, “Moonlight Mile”, “Dance (Part 1)”, “MIss You”, and “Mixed Emotions” progress, Watts opens up his drumming and practically disappears in the tapestry of sound. He is so expertly woven into the mix his drumming almost seems like an afterthought. “Emotional Rescue” as well demonstrates Watts’ penchant for this economic artfulness, playing a hi-hat ‘hiss’ on the “and” of beat 3 rather than the usual “and” of beat 4 one hears in disco music. Clever little touches such as these make Watts the giant that he was and will always be: thoughtful, tasteful, economic, buoyant, and wonderfully musical.

Charlie really got out of the way of the music, which was as turbulent and raw as the times in which it emerged: the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the assassination of people like JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Rolling Stones own disastrous free concert at the Altamont Speedway (in Tracy, California), which many consider to be the place and time where the hippy spirit of 1960s faded away. It is no surprise that bands like The Rolling Stones and AC/DC have lived as long as they have. The sound of straight-up blues-influenced rock and roll has been the grounding soundtrack both figuratively and literally of successive generations: what humans have listened to to make it through such times as teens became parents, and parents became grandparents. When the world seemed upside down, you can always throw on a Stones album to deal with and escape your situation. This is the power of the blues influence and/or blues base of the Stones music, the base of Watts’ effectively simple approach. Feeling sad never felt so good when Charlie kicked “Satisfaction” into gear…

Nothing is permanent but change itself, so as the inevitable arrives, we mourn and celebrate this towering icon. R.I.P. Charlie… and thank you so, so much for a lifetime of great rock n’ roll. In Art less is more, but now that Charlie has passed, less is REALLY less, and we drummers will miss him forever.

More Canadian History!

Well, as the Olympic games were coming to a close on its final day, Kelsey Mitchell won Canada’s second ever track cycling gold medal. Four years ago she was working as an Alberta county weed sprayer, and hadn’t even owned a bicycle since the age of 12, and now she is the Olympic gold medalist, beating out Ukraine’s Olena Starikova. What an Olympics we have had: great performances by so many women, men, and Quinn, the first transgender non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal (soccer gold).

Farewell, Tokyo… 楽しかったですね!

CANADA WINS!!!!!

Is this Tokyo 2020 logo better than the official design? | Creative Bloq

YES!!!!!!!!! It is kind of hard to believe but Canada has beaten the USA in the Olympic women’s soccer semi-final!!! We haven’t beaten them for a long time (20 YEARS!!!), and the Canadians played almost no offence in today’s game. But thanks to great goaltending by Stephanie Labbé and a penalty kick, Canada went up 1 – 0 late in the game and kept the Americans at bay until the end.

This is a great victory because our star player Christine Sinclair did not score, so the entire team rose to the occasion and made sure Sinclair’s awesome talents were not necessary for victory. The team played great, Labbé was fantastic, and Canada has gotten sweet revenge for our loss to the USA in the 2012 London Olympics.

I have said it before and I will say it again, Canadian women are setting the pace and kicking major amounts of ass this year. Next up Australia will be playing Sweden to see who plays us, but for now…for the first time at the Olympics…WE’RE OFF TO THE GOLD MEDAL MATCH!!

GO LADIES GO!!!!!!

CANADIAN WOMEN’S SOCCER!

AND THE GREAT CANADIAN WOMEN KEEP ON SHOWING UP!!

Canada defeated Brazil in a penalty shootout to advance to the Olympic Women’s Soccer semifinals!! We are not exactly a nation known for soccer, so for our women to step up and play for a medal yet again is a fantastic achievement.

Unfortunately for Brazil, this is not the first time they’ve lost to us. In 2016 at the Rio Olympics Canada beat Brazil to win the bronze medal… even though Brazil’s team (then and now) included the legendary Marta (full name: Marta Vieira da Silva), possibly the best female soccer player of all time. To move past a team containing Marta is a sure sign Canada’s soccer programs are developing players of the highest quality.

Next up we will be playing the USA in a sequel to the 2012 Olympics in London where Canadian Christine Sinclair scored a hat-trick (3 goals) but we still lost 4 – 3, thanks to a controversial decision by the referee (who called a foul for what she thought was a delay of the game through time wasting). Many on the Canadian team thought they were robbed of a medal via that call, so this upcoming match between Canada and the Americans is going to be a chance for us to get a little revenge.

Sinclair, by the way, is the world’s all-time leader for international goals scored by a woman (or man) with 187 (!). She is also the second footballer of either sex to score at five World Cup editions, preceded by the mighty Marta herself. So congratulations to our great Canadian women for another great accomplishment in sports!

We have had many great heroes. Now look at this new wave of great Canadian she-roes!!…

More Canadian and (Ukrainian) Success!

The other day Canada won its first ever Olympic medal in women’s judo, a bronze awarded to world champion Jessica Klimkait in the under-57-kilogram division. And if that wasn’t enough 24 hours later now Canada’s Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard too has won a bronze medal in the women’s under-63-kilogram division!! Two historic Olympic medals in the same sport in 24 hours… Canadian women just keep on rising to the top!

We have been competing in judo for years, and the Russians and Japanese have been the dominant competitors for decades. They are absolutely brilliant at this sport, so to rank near them or become an Olympic medalist is a huge deal.

GO CANADA !!!

And while we are at it, what a great day for Daria Bilodid as she won the Ukraine’s first women’s judo medal (bronze) after the country became independent. She attacked aggressively using her ground fighting techniques and achieved a great result for their national judo team. Then, Ukraine’s Anzhelika Terliuga went on to win silver in women’s karate (55kg division of karate, so another great job by Ukrainian women too!

Великий день для України!

Congratulations, Daria!!

Hooray For Canadian Women!

The other day Canada won its first ever Olympic medal in women’s judo, a bronze awarded to world champion Jessica Klimkait in the under-57-kilogram division. Though she lost a semifinal which would have given her the chance to go for gold, she rose to the occasion, and won the bronze medal match by receiving a half-point (waza-ari) in “golden score”, a period of extra time where the first point(s) awarded wins the match.

Judo is a tough sport and though it may look easy at times it is really hard to do well, thus Klimkait’s victory is a major feather in the historical cap of Canada’s national judo program. World champ and now Olympic medalist? Canadian women just keep on setting the pace!

UPDATE:

And if that wasn’t enough 24 hours later Canada’s Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard too has won a bronze medal in the women’s under-63-kilogram division!! Two historic Olympic medals int he same sport in 24 hours… Canadian women just keep on rising to the top!

GO CANADA !!!