Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wobbly Sanity

Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”; loaded.

Talk about daunting; there are so many of my compact discs I still haven’t got around to loading.

I’ve learned my lesson, though; iPods do not last and I won't be fooled again. I had loaded most of my CD’s into my first 160GB iPod Classic, which I got as a gift from my wife and son ("An Apple A Day" Aug. 12, 2010). I might have been under the impression the awesome gadget would last an eternity.  It didn’t even come close.

Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall”; loaded.

That’s not to say I didn’t get immense and immeasurable pleasure out of it while travelling, waiting, resting or working out!

A few months ago, still carrying close to 7,000 of my preferred songs, it just stopped working (“Giga Bites” Aug. 4, 2014). I hadn’t kept the songs on my computer because I thought they’d take up too much memory and, as a result, slow it down.

“Ultimate Barry Manilow”; loaded. 

My wife bought me a new iPod Classic for my birthday a few months ago and, after reluctantly throwing out my broken Classic, I’ve just recently begun loading some of my collection into the new device. This time, I won’t be deleting the songs from my memory-bolstered computer.

Alan Parsons “The Turn Of A Friendly Card”; loaded.

I’ve been going through boxes of compact discs in our basement and finding the ones with songs I enjoy! I tend to load my favorite CD’s before lesser favourites. Duh.

Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”; loaded.

It’s pretty amazing to have access to all of the songs I enjoy in one small little device! The morning show shift has me programmed to wake early, before the rest of humanity, so, Sunday mornings, with my Bose headphones on, I scroll through my music collection and listen to whatever my mood desires. I tweet out the playlists using the hastag #BOE (Bose On Ears). Anyone interested will soon realize I like pretty much all types of music with an unapologetic bias toward up-tempo, percussion-laced, drum-fueled tracks with great vocals, nice hooks and creative, clever lyrics.

“The Very Best Of The Bee Gees”; loaded.

I hope some of my twitter followers, or tweeps as we hipper sorts like to say, might discover great songs as a result of seeing them on my tweeted playlists.

“Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section”; loaded.

There’s so much great music out there! I am (“Podaholic” Jan. 28, 2011 & “Somebody Stop Me” Aug. 25, 2010) a self-confessed iTunes junkie! I’m always sniffing out great songs and artists. My iTunes account is currently down to pennies but, not to worry, Christmas is right around the corner and since I’ve grumbled naughtily about getting neckties and socks, I’m counting on a few iTunes cards from Santa!

“Led Zeppelin One”; loaded.

I heard the 160GB Classic isn’t being made anymore because Apple can’t get the parts. At least when this iPod Classic bites it, I’ll still have all my records loaded into the computer. Of course, there’s the burdensome and worrisome possibility of the computer itself breaking down. Once I get my records loaded, I’ll have to find out how to back up the music.

Bryan Adams “18 Till I Die”; loaded.

Maybe I can load them onto a USB key or something for safekeeping. Having to dig through dusty, buried boxes again and tediously load compact discs one-by-one into another computer would cause my sanity to wobble. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fewer Drivers Driving

I don’t get it.
What’s with cars being able to think more than the people who drive them?

No doubt, many of the latest features, such as inflatable seat belts, mobile phone integration, adaptive headlights and back up cameras and rear sensors, are all about safety and accident prevention.

It’s other, more disconcerting features, such as lane departure warning systems and self-stopping vehicles, that have me asking, “Just how dumb do you think I am?”

One automaker wonders aloud why cars can’t do more of the worrying so motorists can do more of the driving.  I wonder why motorists can’t do more of the worrying that comes with doing all of the driving! Isn’t worrying part of driving? Aren’t road awareness, attentiveness, anticipation and vehicle control, responsibilities that come with driving?

Heck, cars can park themselves now!

Still, if you can’t do something as basic as park your 3000 to 6000 pound vehicle, should you really be propelling it and your passengers into traffic?

Checking blind spots and parking used to be basic skills required for passing licenses. What changed?

Drivers should be checking their blind spots, although I suppose a case could be made for the added safety that comes with blind spot detection systems; an extra pair of eyes and all that. I worry, will drivers who have blind spot detection systems no longer give their blind spots even a perfunctory glance?

It seems to me many of the latest features only tend to make bad drivers worse. There are too many drivers driving who shouldn’t be, and no amount of technology can foresee the dangerously unpredictable maneuvers and countless routine oversights of an incompetent driver.

Shouldn’t you be the one stopping your vehicle? Shouldn’t you be making sure you stay within lane markers? Who in tarnation is so unaware that they need to be told they’re leaving their lane; dangerous drifters using smart phones while driving and drunk drivers? Convenient.

Automakers are also advertising cars that can sense imminent accidents.

Where is it all leading? How far away is the driverless car? Is the idea to encourage drivers to think less?

Surely not.

Methinks the only logical explanation for such smart cars is that automakers are trying to protect intelligent drivers from dumb drivers by making cars that think for dumb drivers.

I’m not a perfect driver and there’s no way I, or any other motorist, can think for all the other so-called drivers out there, but some drivers actually drive! They  pay attention and make responsible vehicle control decisions based on real time, fluid second-by-second road circumstances and situations.

That’s driving the way driving was meant to be. Would I steer you wrong?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Giga Bites

I worked out at the gym Saturday July 19th, listening to music. It helps pass the time, somehow easing the strain, sweat, exertion and strangely slow-creeping moments spent rowing, running, walking or pedaling on any one of a number of infernal gym machines! I drove home and, on the way, stopped for gas. Somewhere in there, after hearing it on the radio, I decided to buy the Calvin Harris song, “Summer”. I got home and bought it off itunes. A few minutes later when I tried to play the song on my ipod, the device stated simply, “no songs”, “no music”.

I inhaled a series of deep breaths. I remained calm, fairly certain all my music was still in the device and fairly certain I’d be able to access it again in the near future.


In the hours and days that followed, considerable effort was made by friends and family to retrieve my music and while we came close, we weren’t able to resolve the problem. Later that week, quite resigned by now, I made an appointment to have someone at the Apple store look at my ipod. Apple employee Guillaume nonchalantly chalked it up to “a hard drive error”, “a random file problem”, concluding my music was irretrievable. I had lovingly crammed nearly 7000 songs into this little device and they were no longer accessible!

My ipod Classic had been a birthday present and, for me, a revelation of unbridled fun! It’s been the subject of several blogs, from “Somebody Stop Me” (8/25/10) to “Podaholic” (1/28/11) and from “An Apple A Day” (9/12/10) to “Song 5000” (5/29/11).

I had made a rather large personal investment in this device temporally, financially and musically. It’s pretty frustrating to have technology inexplicably and unapologetically fail, an experience not lost on my wife, Susan, who is repeatedly frustrated by a series of faulty Fitbit fitness monitoring devices.

My wife and son had warned me about this in the past. They had sagely tried to prepare me for this kind of eventuality. I brashly insisted that if and when it happened, I would deal with it. Evidently, I had more faith in technology than it deserved.

There was good news and bad news. All the music I’d bought on itunes was still available in my library or, in the case of purchased songs I’d blown out of my library, through icloud.
The albums I had loaded into my ipod were another story! After loading them into my ipod, I would blow them out of my library, fearing storage of all those songs would slow my personal computer’s memory and processing. The music from those countless albums was gone; dust in the wind.

That's all she wrote

Throughout this process, I had been warned several times restoring the device to factory settings would definitely destroy all the stored data in the ipod but, what the heck, I wasn’t able to access the music anyway. On Thursday July 24th, I restored my ipod Classic twice, always encountering the same problem.

Are you mad; it’s unthinkable! I can’t possibly use the rowing machine at the gym for 20 minutes without my music. I can’t run on the treadmill or walk uphill on the idiotic machine without my music! Music makes it practically palatable.

How can I sit at the dealership waiting for my car to be ready without music? It’s just not possible!

I’m not ready to buy another Classic and pack all those albums back in it. Perhaps once my PDBT (People Disappointed By Technology) group therapy sessions end, I’ll be able to get back there again. Systematic desensitization dictates I start with a smaller ipod that I can use to get myself through gym workouts, long car rides and dealership appointments. Yesterday, I bought an ipod Nano. I can use it for my BOE (Bose On Ears) tweets, although I won’t have access to the same massive range of songs that I did with the Classic’s 160 gigabyte memory. We’ll see after that. My therapist tells me it’ll take time. Right now it’s about learning to keep my expectations of technology, realistic.

I don’t blame Calvin Harris.

Now, tediously, every time I sit down at my computer, I load another album into my itunes library.

I’m dealing with it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Psych-Out Queen

Last week was last week; I tried to let it go. Today was just too kooky and I decided I couldn’t let it go!

At one point during our separate workouts at the gym last week, I informed my wife I was heading to the bike section to do some HIIT. A few minutes after I started my trademark frantic pedaling, she just happened to appear in a puff of smoke on the treadmill right beside the bike I was using.

Up until her appearance, I had been under the impression my workout was grueling. She cranked that poor treadmill up to a speed where it was wheezing and blowing dark smoke as she sprinted along at what sounded like 30 miles an hour! I could feel the breeze generated by her blazing speed!

I had the distinct feeling she was making a point. In fact, every time we’re active, whether it’s touch football, jogging, walking or hiking, I have the distinct feeling she’s making a point!

As I pedaled the bike, I turned to her between gasps and heaves and explained that I felt like I’d been unwittingly registered for a competition I was destined to lose. Sweat-free and breathing evenly, she calmly and sweetly insisted she was not trying to compete with me. She just wanted to be with me.

Aw, isn’t that nice?

I tried to focus on my own high intensity interval training even though all I could hear was her higher intensity interval training! As diligently as I could, I focused on my pedaling. Then, I heard her machine stop and watched as she stepped off and began to leave, on her way, no doubt, to some other impossible fitness feat. Suddenly, she stopped, wheeled around and came right up to my bike and offered the glee-steeped comment, “I’d just to like to point out I’m not sweating or breathing hard at all.” I couldn’t see whether she was smiling because the waterfall of sweat dripping down my forehead was stinging my blinking, squinting eyes!

Last month, we did the Spartan Race up at Mont Tremblant. Not my idea. The obstacles are one thing, but in the middle of the confounded race I was faced with a never-ending uphill climb! I’d get to what appeared to be a crest only to discover the course veered left and disappeared yet again into the clouds!

That, Spartans, is not sweat; those were tears.
My dear wife waited for me, which proved to be both a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to have the company because then one’s whining isn’t wasted, but it’s less gratifying when the person waiting for you has her hands on her hips and is tapping her feet impatiently on a moss-covered rock every time you finally catch-up!

Today at the gym, as I dutifully climbed on a bike to do my weekly installment of HIIT, there was no sign of my wife. Relief. By the time I was into my fifth sprint, I spotted her walking toward me. She stated, sweetly, as she approached, “I’m just walking on the treadmill.” More relief. 

The next thing I know, I turn my head to see her walking and running backward on the treadmill! After that, she ran on the treadmill hopping side to side! 

I’m beginning to feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football Lucy pulls way. Susan's become my Psych-Out Queen! There was the time, while participating in last winter's Santa Claus Run, she told me she'd let me cross the finish line before her. We don't need my blog to know how that ended ("Go Deck Yourself" December 16, 2013)! I want to believe her love for me is as enduring in or out of competitive contexts, but the reality, my reality, is that she appears to love kicking my butt more than she loves me.

Last week as we left the gym, she suggested we workout together next time. I raised my eyebrows and looked back at her, nodding blankly as I suppressed a shiver. I may not fall asleep again.

Pardon Me Shazam

What’s that tune? It’s got a great groove to it!

We were in the card store at Central Station and the song was seeping through the speaker in the store ceiling.

As Susan perused the “Thank-You” cards, I strained to hear more, hoping I was hearing the groove I thought I was hearing over the ambient noise.

I told my wife I’d like to know the name of the song and the artist performing it.
She reached into her purse and pulled out her phone and told me she’d “Shazam” it!
I scoffed, suggesting Shazam might be equipped to identify current pop songs, but it surely would not be able to identify what might be a more obscure electro-jazz number.

I told her I’d ask the store clerk to tell me what radio station they were listening to so I could consult a playlist on-line. I waited in line at the cash and when it was my turn, told the clerk I would like to know the name of the song that was still playing. She explained the music was from a collection of songs assembled specifically for the store chain. She was pretty sure she could find the name of the song and artist and then disappeared into the back room.

As I waited at the cash, Susan joined me with a card in one hand and the answer from Shazam in the other.

We waited. Then, we waited.

I asked Susan how she could be sure Shazam had identified the right song. She played the Shazam version for me and it was the very same song!

She wondered how I could have doubted.

Several minutes later, the very accommodating woman emerged with the song and artist names scrawled on a small piece of paper; “The Trade” by Kevin Yost and Guy Monk.

I thanked her, we bought the card and headed out into the train station crowd. I must admit I’m impressed at what Shazam can do and I’m far less impressed by the surfacing of my own somewhat Ludditic tendencies.

Yet another lesson learned.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Look Me Up

So, Dan Kanter came in on Monday.

For those of you who don’t know, Dan is Justin Bieber’s musical director, the man who makes Justin’s music happen; helps make it pop brilliance! He is also guitarist for The Beebs, and my wife, son and I have watched several films and television specials where Dan and Justin have performed acoustically, in front of wildly devoted Beliebers.

Late Sunday afternoon, Dan sent out a tweet saying he was headed to Montreal to chat with me on Global Montreal.

The instant he tweeted, the chime on my phone kept sounding, over and over and over and over again, non-stop for a freaky forty minutes straight! Dan’s tweet kept being “retweeted” and “favorited” by Bieber fans! I had the fire extinguisher poised over my dumbfounded smart phone in case it spontaneously combusted. Many of the tweets pleaded to meet with Dan, or simply gushed their love for, and adoration of, Justin!

I've had a few fun moments since joining Twitter! One was my choice of “handle”, or Twitter name. Nathan, a family friend, just happened to be in the Global Montreal newsroom with my son one night as I was being urged by my boss to join Twitter, in order to follow police tweets detailing the whereabouts of “red square” demonstrators.

Nate suggested the twitter handle, ”Dagenator”, which I thought was awesome then, and still think is friggin’ awesome!

The next fun moment on Twitter was hitting 500 followers. Of course, Dan has 1.3 million, but you gotta start somewhere!

My next fun moment on Twitter and the biggest by far, was having my Twitter account verified, a development which my son still hasn’t been able to cognitively process. He apparently believes it lends me far too much credibility on social media. He may have a point; after all, others in the Twitterverse with verified accounts include Chris Hadfield and Justin Bieber.


Sunday was my next fun moment on Twitter, as I got a tiny taste of intense, irrational superstardom. Obviously, I wasn't the target of tweeted adulation, only an incidental observer!

Dan Kanter visits Global Montreal Monday
When I met Dan Monday for an interview on our morning show about his new role as a judge on Season 7 of YTV’s “The Next Star”, I told him the phone story. He patiently nodded, as if to say he understood what I was excitedly blithering about. 

It’s Tuesday afternoon and his tweet is still being “re-tweeted” and “favorited” on Twitter!
Let’s see, as of this moment, 142 re-tweets and 280 favourites. Kinda frightening; kinda fascinating.

Twitter’s fun! It’s a great way to promote our show and to get quick messages and comments out to people who care; my twitter peeps, "tweeps"!

It even provides me with incentive to workout at the gym. If I work out, I can tweet a truth; namely, that I worked out.

If you haven’t tried Twitter, give it whirl. When you do, look me up!

I’m right behind you, Dan!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pass The Bag Please

I’ve lamented about this before and now I lament about it again, as usual, on behalf of all wonderfully sensitive men. These are men who can and must relate to the bittersweet, tender, poignant, desperate and noble with their hearts on their sleeves, for all to see.

These men, at least publicly, are few and far between. I know of only one other who works in the Global Montreal office and his identity is safe with me! 

I salute you anonymous sir, soiled tissue in hand.

It’s a curse we carry. Some appreciate us for it. Some, like my wife and son, appreciate us purely for our entertainment value.

I wrote about this in my blog of January 4, 2012, titled "Blubber-Free Zone".

On Friday, movie columnist Eric Cohen reviewed three movies, one of which was “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”.

I had rented it the Friday before but, in the end, did not have time to watch it. After Eric’s positive review, I decided to rent it again and, today, made time to watch it. Also there for the viewing, my lovely wife, Susan.

The last time she cried in a movie, a horse stubbed its hoof.

As I watched the movie today, there were a couple of times when she shot me a glance to see whether I was crying. Why a man can’t cry in peace in his own home without fear of ridicule from his significant others, boggles me!

As she shot me those probing glances, I’d glance back at her with as emotionless an expression as I could possibly muster, fighting not to betray the emotion inevitably welling up inside me as a result of a scene in the movie.

My fight was going pretty well, but the end of the movie proved too much. I didn’t sob the way I allegedly may or may not have during and after “The Bridges of Madison County”, but tears did fill my eyes. They never rolled out, just filled my eyes to the brim.

Listen to me, struggling to defend myself.

As the last scenes of “Walter Mitty” unfolded, Susan exclaimed, merrily, “You’re crying!”

The battle was lost. My secret was out.

The movie continued a few seconds more and, next thing I know, my son instantly appeared in front of me, as though beamed directly from the Starship Enterprise! He was grinning delightedly, as I sat there on the couch.

My wife had sent him a text message that I was crying and he came running from his room to gawk!

What’s a man to do? What’s a sensitive, thoughtful man to do?

All I can do is keep my head up and, as we discuss movie choices, push for the action movies, although even some action movies have included overly stirring and touching scenes.

I think the safest option for me is a bag over my head.

Not a paper one, obviously; it would get too soggy too fast.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Against All Odds

Just a few minutes ago, I got back from walking the dog with my son.

As we headed out the door, I suggested, optimistically, vehicle traffic would be down since most residents were likely watching the Habs game.

We walked a few blocks to discover a couple of kids, undoubtedly eager Raptor fans, shooting a basketball into their roadside hoop in the darkness by the light of a streetlamp. Naturally, that’s the spot Spike decided to stop and drop!


Why not choose a spot that was spectator-free?
Whatever. Perhaps I’m projecting my own inhibitions.

He circled briefly and, ingloriously, proceeded to do the doo he had to do.

I pulled a bag out of my pocket as he finished, but before I could stoop to de-poop the road surface, we saw headlights coming over the hill toward us.


What are the odds Spike had to stop here? What are the odds a car had to approach at the exact moment Spike finished? What, pray tell, are the odds the car rolls directly over the dog’s mess? We were about to find out.

As soon as the car passed, I bent down to find the poop had been pressed flat into the pavement.


Through the inverted bag, I diligently tried to clutch and grab at something, but there was nothing! I wasn’t about to stand there and scratch matter free with my fingernails, so we simply walked away.

As we left the freshly-stained spot, my son remarked, “That’s probably either really good luck, or really bad luck”.

To the young basketball players and all who walk by that spot tomorrow shaking their heads, disgusted by some delinquent dog owner, I can only insist I am a responsible citizen who did all he could against all odds.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Let Me Count the Chickens

When Moose is prescribed medication, we need only wrap it in a piece of cheese and it is promptly inhaled. Done.

Somewhere along the line, our younger dog, Spike, has transformed himself into Sherlock Westie! He recognizes the sound of the pill packaging as it’s opened. If the temporal lapse between the sound of the packaging and the presentation of food is not sufficiently extended, he will snootily refuse to eat what’s placed in front of him.

If the pill is wrapped in food, he usually manages to somehow ingest the food, without the pill!

The vet suggested inserting the pill in a hot dog. No dice.
We have surrounded it in ground beef. Nothin’ doing.
It’s been wrapped in cheese. Not a chance.
We’ve tried a slice of turkey, a chunk of cold chicken and salami. Nice try.

Having exhausted all other options, my wife gently explains to Spike that the pill must be swallowed. As they continue their heartfelt nose-to-nose exchange (his part is mostly darting eyes and blinks), she ever-so-sweetly but emphatically expresses her exasperation and elaborates on all the different ways we’ve tried to disguise the pill. Once her patience is spent, she pries his mouth open and plants the pill in the back of his throat until he gags and then holds his muzzle shut, until he swallows. Love and devotion only go so far. Still, Susan’s conscience tends to flare with guilt.

Even the ruthless “rear throat plant” option has backfired! Certain the pill had gone down the hatch, Susan has even rewarded Spike for swallowing the pill only to have it tumble conspicuously from his mouth onto the floor after he happily crunches on a treat!

Don’t ask me; I don’t know where he hides it.

The one exception to this exercise in futility is a steaming, hot, pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store! These chickens are not entirely cheap, or, in this case, cheep. 

If Susan places his pill in a small chunk of piping hot chicken, he inhales it! Done. Flowers bloom, bees buzz; life is good. 

So, every now and then, instead of flowers, I bring home a piping hot chicken to profess my love to Susan.

How do I love thee? Let me count the chickens.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beast Unleashed

Really, he's pretty unbelievable!

Last month, Mikael Kingsbury won his third World Cup moguls championship and the month before, under unimaginable pressure delivering the final run, he took home the Olympic silver medal in the moguls event! This morning, he was at our Global Montreal studio, back home after two months of intense international competition.

When he is back home, his Mom drives him to all his media stops, telling me, gratefully, it's her chance to finally spend some time with her son!

What it took Canadian moguls skier Jean-Luc Brassard 11 seasons to do, collect 20 World Cup wins, Mikael has done in only 4 seasons! On the World Cup circuit this season, at age 21, Mikael broke Brassard's record, collecting his 21st World Cup win and, of course, clinching the coveted Crystal Globe for a third time!

My hashtag for Mikael is #bumpbeast.

When we were done the interview, I asked if he'd be willing to snarl like a "bump beast" for an Instagram picture. Always up for fun, Mikael agreed. I'm not going to lie, the intensity of his roar freaked me out a little!

Of course, it didn't take long before we both started cracking up!

When he was a little boy, an already determined and ambitious Mikael put a poster of the Olympic rings above his bed with the words, "I will win". As our interview ended, I asked about the poster and he told me, until he wins Olympic gold, it's not coming down.

His dream and his goal remains Olympic gold.

People who know him, know that poster is as good as gone.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

One Year And Counting

A year ago today, Global Montreal Morning News made its modest debut. At times during those early days, we felt like we were in the driver’s seat and to go along with those moments of supreme confidence, there were many more moments when we felt like we were flying by the seat of our pants.

And our pants were on fire.

A year later, we’ve got a show we’re proud of and it’s a show Montrealers appreciate and enjoy for a variety of reasons.

Thankfully, Camille, Jessica and I haven’t throttled each other yet, which means the initial chemistry is largely intact and our on-air energy, ever-present.

One year later
Admittedly, there have been tweaks and, based on your preferences and ours, there will continue to be tweaks. We continue to strive for perfection because we know it's out there!

There have been breathtaking high points and difficult low points for all of us working on the show. In the end, we all care very much about the product.

I always have a hard time believing I get paid to do some of the things I’ve done in broadcasting and this past year came with plenty of relevant examples. I got to meet James Blunt, Jason Derulo, Murray Head, Sarah Brightman, GinoVanelli, Matt Dusk, Steve Hill, Jonas and many more incredibly talented musicians. I met amazing athletes like Mikael Kingsbury, Travis Gerritts, Sebastien Toutant and, last week, Anthony Calvillo. Yes, I danced the twist with Chubby Checker and, of course, I got to sit down with former ISS commander, Chris Hadfield.

I’m fortunate to work with such sincerely passionate contributors as Jay, Eric, Marc, Micaela, Pearle, Iris and Vanessa!

The guests who come in for interviews on our television show put so much trust in you. I’m always honored. Many people who come in for interviews would rather jump out an airplane, as one reluctant interviewee frantically explained!

We do want to hear any comments viewers have to offer. Our show belongs to our viewers. Global Montreal Morning News continues to grow, but I’ve got news for you, Montreal; we’re just hitting our stride, baby!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Leading Edge Of Fashion

Scoff though you may, I know where I play.

I play on the leading edge of fashion. Those of us who play here, know it’s not always a popular place. It takes time before bold new trends are adopted by the mindless masses, but those masses will inevitably follow our brave, trail-blazing steps.

I have owned my Pumas for so long, they went out of style decades ago and then came back into style! History happens in circles and that’s something the great fashion trend setters, like myself, wholly understand. It’s all a question of patience and perception. Wait long enough and you will find yourself riding that familiar leading edge again.

It’s happened with my Lacoste sweater and now, I find myself with several articles of clothing, along with many coats, that are no longer in style. I wear them anyway because I understand it’s just a matter of time before they dazzle Paris and Milan once again.

Welcome back, fair bell bottoms. Where have you been, Adidas Gazelles?

It takes nerves of steel and unshaking focus in your fashion convictions. That’s how I roll. People may scoff and point, shocked, possibly even revolted by the severity of my outdated fashion statement, but know that in a decade or two, they will be coughing up considerable cash for what I’ve already owned for far too long.

I have been wearing LL Bean Duck Boots for decades! The same pair. I was mocked by family and friends. Ostracized. Ridiculed. Unfriendly chants hailed me. Did I waver? Not one iota. For years, I have been steadfastly wearing them to the grocery store and the local arena. Fearlessly, I wear them to work. I stand by their comfort, but most of all, their convenience. As an inherently lazy human, they are right up my alley! I need not bend down to lace them, snap them, or zip them.

Step in. Step out. End of story.
Palpable excitement as new boots arrive
They rock in winter, spring and fall! Though modest in appearance, they soar with practicality.

A few weeks ago, my son asked if he could wear my duck boots to the store! Gasping with excitement, I agreed! I sensed he was beginning to summon the rare, steely nerve required to be a true fashion icon. Like me, he was willing to go where no one in their right mind had willingly gone before.

Our duck boots may cause others to quack up, but when it comes to this footwear item, perhaps it's better that ducks of a feather, flock together.

Some might argue my duck boots have overstayed their welcome. Their insides are fraying, the rubber soles are virtually treadless and, on one side, there's a hole in the sole! It’s been that long. When I walk on the wet linoleum floor at the supermarket, I’m Bambi attempting to stand on a frozen pond, legs shooting out unpredicatably, straining joints, tendons and ligaments yet to be discovered by anatomists.

Last week, mostly for reasons of self-preservation, I decided to order myself a new pair of duck boots. Halfway through dialing the boot company, I stopped and, on a whim, asked my son if he wanted me to order him a pair. He said yes! Now he owns a pair of unpopular duck boots. He wears them in public! He enjoys their comfort, but most of all, their convenience.

Old pair on the left, shiny new pair on the right
You may dismiss his decision as a sign he’s as lazy as me, but I have learned that in a matter of decades, he will find himself on the leading edge of fashion, as others reluctantly and tentatively join in and begin wearing them, too.

I brim with pride. This is the leading edge, son. Welcome to it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Last Cupcake

It’s a trap and a toss-up, all at the same time.

Two possibilities. I can win by taking the last cupcake for myself, or I can lose. It’s a stress-infused, high-stakes gamble!

Susan occasionally cooks and bakes all sorts of tasty treats, including peanut butter, shortbread, or chocolate chip cookies. There’s also banana bread, sinful nanaimo bars and her family-famous oreo wafer cake! Over the holidays, you can add cherry cake to that list, along with mincemeat or lemon tarts. The cupcakes appear, unannounced, at any time of year.

These treats she prepares can usually be found assembled or stacked neatly on a foil-covered plate on top of the kitchen counter. From what I’ve been able to deduce, our assignment is to consume all prepared treats so that none of Susan’s kitchen talent and effort goes to waste.

I’m always happy to oblige! The problem arises when there’s only one remaining lemon tart or, in this case, one last cupcake.

There are times I lift off the foil to find a last slice of banana bread, or a last cookie.

Scenarios abound. If I eat the last cookie and someone else had plans for it, I lose. If I eat the last cookie and Susan had hoped it would be enjoyed by our son, I lose. If I don’t eat the last cookie and no one else ever does, I lose. I win if I eat it and no one had plans for it. I win if I eat it and no one else was ever going to eat it!

These dilemmas are toss-ups. They can go either way. Generally speaking, I’m not at liberty to conduct a poll in those moments when I lift off the foil to discover one last cookie, or cupcake. Everyone’s asleep. Everyone’s gone. Everyone’s busy. It’s hit or miss. If I leave the last cookie or last slice and it’s never consumed, Susan wonders, with indignation, why we didn’t finish her cookies.

In the past, I would hesitate to take the last cookie or banana bread slice, thinking, what if someone else wants to eat it. I would leave it and, inevitably, several days later, I would have to explain that I left it on the plate in case someone else wanted to eat it, or bring it to work, or school, as a snack.

The other day, I lifted off the foil to find a last cupcake. The sweet smelling vanilla cupcake was covered with icing and dotted with sprinkles. Frustrated by unfounded accusations I might not fully appreciate her cooking, I’ve recently begun to consume last cookies, tarts, bars and slices with reckless abandon and with little thought about who, if anyone at all, may have planned to eat it. It’s been working well for me.

Until last week.

Without hesitation and living dangerously, I popped the last cupcake in my mouth and went about my day. I had foolishly left the foil over the empty plate and when, hours later, I overheard Susan ask Tristan whether he wanted the last cupcake, I froze. As a bead of sweat lurched toward my eyelid, Tristan responded, saying a cupcake sounded yummy.

I thought I coud fit under the couch, but I was wrong.

During the subsequent interrogation, concepts such as greed and thoughtlessness were discussed, although most of the interrogation seemed to be rhetorical.

There will be another plate and, with it, another moment will arise where I’m forced to weigh my options. Better I weigh them than myself.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Playing Piccolo

I’ve been many times to many different recording studios, but hanging out at Studio Piccolo always seems to stand out. It’s a nice place, with nice people. Thanks to Rene for setting up my latest session there and thanks to audio engineer, Pierre Messier, for making the creative process the very best experience possible.

One of my work buddies was part of this latest session. Alain Marcil is an engineer at Global Montreal, but he’s also an accomplished musician. He played bass, mandolin and ukulele on the tunes I recorded. Also along for the first time was my son, Tristan. It was incredibly special to have him record at Piccolo!

Making music
The cover tune I posted on youtube this summer, “Mad World”, seems to be getting more attention than the two original songs I posted, so I decided to prepare a couple of new cover versions. I had recorded a version of Chantal Kreviazuk’s awesome song, “Invincible”, during my last session, but didn’t make a video. At Piccolo this time around, I decided to do a video of my version of the song and Alain contributes bass and a jovial, grooving ukulele to the track!

I’ve always appreciated Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain” and decided to do a version of it at Piccolo. Alain plays bass and mandolin on the song.

I had asked my son if he’d contribute a rap to one of my original songs. He said he would, so I wrote a tune last month called “Cool Beans”and we just recorded it. It’s a lighthearted romp based on a phrase my son has occasionally and mystifyingly dropped on me! I've loaded the track into my ipod, where the listing reads, "Cool Beans (feat. Bobby Button)"!

Including prep and mixing time, we were at Piccolo for twelve hours straight! For musicians like myself and Alain, the time goes by in the blink of an eye! I have a feeling it doesn’t go by at quite the same speed for Pierre and yet, through it all, he was patient, professional and happy to lend his production genius to our project! He has a great sense of humor and witnesses will confirm he’s quite a dancer!

Alain, Tristan and, on my left, Pierre
I always want to do too much when I go in the studio and, typically, due to budget and temporal restrictions, the finished songs are not quite what I had in mind but, thanks to Alain, Tristan and Pierre, an absolute delight to create!

Under Randy's watchful eye
One of Tristan’s buddies, Randy Satandrea, contributed his creative eye for pictures and eventual videos, which I hope to post to youtube in the coming weeks!

If you’ve given my stuff a view on youtube, thanks, it's always gratifying to be able to share the music.