Thursday, 7 January 2016

Enough of these things

I am sitting in one room of my apartment and I am making a mental inventory. I have the great good fortune to be merging households with someone special and that is a gift from the universe. However, we each have one of everything, so the other one of everything is going to be liberated.

The Danish Modern coffee table was reclaimed from a dumpster in Hamilton. At the time I was riding out the economic collapse caused when the bad men flew airplanes into office towers in New York and thereabouts. The table is funny because it has dark shadows that are surely caused by safety razor blades. It evokes more sordid times.

Next to it is the last leaf on an Aloe Vera plant. It is sad and not decorative. It was given to me when I had my cancer scare. I had cancer, and I was scared. Now I am four years cured. One year from now I will snap the last leaf off the plant, rub it on some bad patch of skin (I always have bad patches of skin) and thank it for helping keep alive for five years.

Then it will go in the trash.

Sundry other items in this room include an amusing 4 hub USB station shaped like an audio cassette, and a Peugot pepper mill that was a souvenir of someone's trip to Paris. In the late 1970's my ride was the legendary 10 speed bicycle the Peugot UO-8. When I put the aluminum racing rims on I would fly like Eddy Merckx. It was a fine ride. I wish I had it today. But then I wish I had 1970s me today. Then I could fly.

Immediately adjacent to that is a ceramic salt-and-pepper set with a Santa Fe glaze. Almost certainly purchased at Stokely's, the Kitchen Plus Stuff of their day. It matches a “lazy susan” spice rack. Same vintage, same shop. If you want them, they're yours.

The IKEA System 210 base cabinet dates to 1985. That was the apartment on Queen West, in Trinity Bellwoods Park. It fit perfectly next to the fridge, and gave us plenty of storage space that was otherwise absent. It was at that apartment that we had three aquaria. The one on the System 210 base cabinet was slowly leaking. We realized this when we saw how distended the top had become. We covered that up with some tape.

Between the System 210 base cabinet and the fridge is a microwave cart. IKEA, circa 1999. With a George Foreman grill, a bread maker, and a Danby microwave oven that still works.

There's also a rice cooker, an electric wok and a budget slow-cooker. The highlight is probably the dinner set that my father scrounged out of the dumpster when he was doing custodial service at that place on Glendale.


It's all up for grabs. I am moving on...

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Vintage Los Angeles

About a decade ago I acquired this silkscreen tabletop duster. I've never had a use for it. I'm moving house and I am downsizing. It's up for grabs...






Saturday, 19 December 2015

Top Google Star Wars Easter Eggs

First of all, this works in Google's Chrome browser.

Search A long time ago in a galaxy far far away



Or just go to https://www.google.ca/starwars/. Select Light Side or Dark Side. It will change everything.


In fact, here's a link to The Chive that gives a great overview.

Enjoy!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

We’ve noticed you're a good customer. If that continues, we will soon have to unsubscribe you.

On Friday the 1st I made a shopping list. Saturday the 2nd I loaded some tempting offers on one of my loyalty cards. On Sunday the 3rd I went on a spree and purchased 125 dollars of Health & Beauty Aids. Creams. Lotions. Ointments. Products that make your dull hair shiny. Products that make you shiny skin dull. Stuff that I needed. Because I had carefully chosen the promotional offer that suited my needs, I was rewarded with over 18,000 bonus points. Nice.

On Monday the 4th I went to pick up something at the post office of that same store. And I remembered I needed some bar soap. Cha-ching, another 120 points. Here, I thought, was a merchant who really gets it. I'm spending money I usually spend at other retailers here, at this store, because of the rewards. And, frankly – d'uh. That's how a loyalty program works.

So imagine my surprise later this week when I got home and opened this email:
“Are you still there?
Hello!
We’ve noticed you haven't opened our emails in a while. If there continues to be no activity, we will soon have to unsubscribe your email address.”
I was going to be fired as a customer. For using my loyalty card to buy hundreds of dollars of merchandise at their store!

How can they have created a stack where, even though I am loading offers on my phone from my emails into their app, and buying products on both a promotional-driven and a daily needs basis, there is some feed that cannot see any of those transactions and decides to fire me as a customer?

This is a retailer whose marketing department is staffed by people who are not in the first quartile of any cohort.

The moral of the story is “watch your stack”. Don't pull a data feed of customers to fire without parsing a feed that shows you customers that have just purchased. In fact, better yet – don't fire your customers using a loyalty program.

BTW worst of all, the only way to re-enroll in the program is to follow phishing-scam style links to dodgy login pages. Priceless.

And PPS. Of course I can't send them an email capturing the above information. Their loyalty campaign emails are do-not-reply.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Search for Genera Tso...


There's been a trend since the turn of the Century (or Millennium, if you prefer) to examine
the story of the Chinese diaspora in North America in terms of restaurants. Young Chinese
are exploring their own cultural heritage via the lens of a menu.

Here's a link to Karen Tam's 2006 Installation at YYZ Gallery: Shangri-La Café: A Division
of Gold Mountain Restaurant

http://www.yyzartistsoutlet.org/2006/07/karen-tam-shangri-la-cafe-a-division-of-gold-mountain-restaurant/

In Canada the first wave of immigrants from China built the CPR. Every navvy camp (to use the historically correct and fortunately ethnically-neutral term) had a group of men who cooked traditional meals for the work crews. Obtaining certain items was always an issue.

Food issues were often the cause of work stoppage and job actions. Some Chinese would drop off the rail\road and open a restaurant in whatever prairie town they happened to be in. Stepping out from that center, those millennial artists observe that Chinese-Canadian
cuisine was the first Fusion cuisine. Also, these restaurants were seen as a tasty window on the exotic East. In that sense it presages

the fascination with all things Egyptian that occurred after the successful Howard Carter-Lord Carnarvon opening of Tut's tomb.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Cover Song Wednesdays - James Last- 17 Apr 1929 to 9 Jun 2015

I encountered James Last on a hot summer evening when the townies were getting their groove on at some country club. By prior arrangement I was there to help with the equipment. And in case you're wondering, that's "Last rhymes with Lost" not "Last rhymes with fast". Deutsche, don't cha know.

James Last and his Orchestra were beyond camp. They took bright, poppy hits of their day and arranged them into even brighter, poppier orchestra arrangements that drew you into a "Get Happy" mode that just won't stop.

Your first impression on encountering a James Last track is "Oh no, I've bought a recording of elevator music!" But after listening to enough of his work, you realize that the musicians in this band are cats with some really great chops, man. Including muttonchops, by the 1970s. They're so "out there" they're orbital. Great arrangements, great players. Wall to wall camp.

But don't believe me. Listen to the YouTube of the great James Last...

Judy in Disguise (With Glasses). This song is a Buggles-style parody of the great Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. How hip is it? According to Wikipedia "Jello Biafra released a live version as part of his 2015 live album of New Orleans rock and soul covers, Walk on Jindal's Splinters."


Note: This clip goes on for an hour, so watch as little or as much as you want.


Non-Stop Dancing! Live in Berlin in 1982, non-stop medley of Can't Stop the Music, El Dorado and Xanadu.

For me this whole thing has such a Wes Anderson feel. The band is wearing random and vaguely matched outfits. "Blue, with piping - sure. You're in the horn section. Plum? Swing by strings".




Live At The Royal Albert Hall, London 1978
Hey- That's Star Wars a la disco...

Note: This clip goes on for an hour and a half, so watch as little or as much as you want.

Mamma Mia. James Last and ABBA. It's like a gold-plated black-velvet painting in a champagne fountain infinity pool. FYI the Saxophonist is Matthias Clasen.


Dancing Queen. James Last and ABBA. It's like a Rolls-Royce drenched in Nutella in a Louis Vuitton double-wide trailer home. FYI the Saxophonist is Matthias Clasen.



Orange Blossom Special. The whole show band on Ocean Drive in Miami. So Miami Vice. In 2001. That's PEAK James Last.



MacArthur Park. Are you frickin kidding me?! Have you even been listening to these tracks? James Last was born to orchestrate this cover. Jimmy Webb meets "Hansi" and kicks major butt at 5 minutes 40 seconds...

Derek Watkins on the melodic flugelhorn solo in the early part, and then switches to trumpet.



Live in Vienna 17th april 2013.


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Boyhood circa 1942

In 1942 my father is now 11 years old. When I was 11 all I could think about was the moon landing. Projecting that back to my father's childhood, WWII must have dominated his boyhood daydreams.

And 1942 was action packed. First of all, the 128 Thorold Flying Dragons Air Cadet squadron was formed on April 29, 1942. Although my father was not old enough to enlist even as a cadet, I can only imagine the thrill of seeing the unit of boys only slightly older than him in uniforms. And the air service would have been impossibly glamorous - the moon shot of its day.

According to their website "Though no longer a High School Squadron, 128 still parades in the City of Thorold with their local headquarters out of the Trinity United Church and are proud to serve over 70 years for and with the City."


From April 4 to 18, 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings are the Stanley Cup finalists. According to Wikipedia- "After losing the first three games, the Maple Leafs won the next four to win the series 4–3, winning their fourth Stanley Cup. It was the first Cup Final in history to go seven. Leafs win the cup"



The naval history of WWII is often seen as a series of military engagements, which it was. But the merchant marines are also caught up in the maelstrom of destruction. In some ways a ship carrying cargo is a more attractive target than a frigate or a corvette. And on February 22, 1942 the steam ship SS George L. Torian of St. Catharines, Ontario was torpedoed in the Caribbean by U-129. Depending on the source, 13 to 15 souls were lost in that encounter. Only one has a memorial on the WWW - In memory of Master John Allan February 22, 1942. But, there is a U-boat website that gives the crew roster...

Here's the story of U-129.

Skip Gillham writes "George L. Torian headed to the Caribbean to load bauxite at inland river ports for delivery to the transshipment center at Trinidad and then north to the aluminum mills. The vessel had a full cargo and was en route from Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana, when it was torpedoed and sunk by U-129 off the coast of British Guiana seventy-two years ago today. This was one of seven ships sent to the bottom by that infamous German submarine prowling in the area over a two-week period.

And in Esquimalt on 2 May 1942 at Yarrows yard the hull K325 is launched. More on HMCS St. Catharines later...

Note - My father recently passed away after 83 years on this earth. I'd like to commemorate his life with a memory project by featuring some milestone events from each year he lived.