My Ignorance Knows No Bounds or What goes good with Crow?

After spending years being critical of a certain someone, I have now realized that just because someone does something you’re not a fan of, doesn’t make them a _________!

To me this person was just another non talented singer in a band and I hate that I’m such a judge of music. Give me Steve Perry or David Gilmour or Ben Bridwell, not this guy.

I have now learned so much more about this fellow. He was a board member of the Ontario Waterkeeper, played yearly for Indigenous children’s education. Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year 2016, and given the order of Canada 2017.

A husband, father, brother, uncle, friend and brain cancer victim.

After healing from an operation having taken out a big piece of his brain and knowing death was certain, he planned a farewell tour for a Country! WHO DOES THAT? After a quick time re- learning all the songs that he’d written The Tragically Hip went on a cross Canada farewell tour. Time was critical!

They weren’t splitting up, they weren’t fighting, there was however, going to be a death in the family and so did what they needed to do on their terms as a band.

The Tragically Hip went from writing High School finals to playing the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto the same night and then their ride started. Thirty years together, albums galore and worshiped by an entire country.

This singer I didn’t care for encapsulated Canadiana better than Douglas Coupland. Quite an accomplishment. Songs about Northern Ontario towns or the wrongly accused young man, imprisoned for years then freed. About Hockey. In particular Toronto Maple Leafs. A player disappeared on a fishing trip ending the teams run of Stanley Cups. Years later when they found his body, The Leafs won.

That’s the kind of shit I’m referring to. This man didn’t have a shred of vanity either. He wrote, sang and shared just who he was. Maybe not perfect in some eyes but Damn close in others!

My ex-wife selflessly refrained for 13 years playing the Hip around me. And I’m ashamed to say that if Gord Downie had not passed from brain cancer I would still know nothing of him. Except he doesn’t sing very well, to me. Respect

A writer; poet; advocate; singer; Canadian and all around crazy bugger.

*My Aunt Willie Canham was taken from us just as horribly. Brain Cancer affects too many!

Take it easy, s

Reprimanded over personal taste in music.

 

Seems strange being told or reprimanded for liking something you like, that someone else may not. “What’r ya stupid? They suck!’ I’ve even said it myself with bands I thought sucked. Popular bands too! Just because you’re popular doesn’t mean you’re good. i.e. Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift, One Direction (this last band represents all boy bands. Nothing good about any boy band.) I’m not talking a group of guys, I’m talking about, Simon Cowell making up troupes of awfulness over and over again. Stop it Simon!! See, all personal taste.

One Musician in particular I’m referring too, Yanni. I have so much respect for this dude.

Oooo, I can hear the escaping breaths and whines. He’s just a pianist that loves his hair.

Ok, that may be true, but there’s so much more to this fellow then you may not know.

Born in Greece, Yanni’s family wasn’t rich, but there was a family piano and Yanni had a portable transistor radio. He learned by playing the family piano while listening to his radio . That was the only way he could hear the songs he liked. Learn them and play them. Over time developing perfect pitch. Something every musician wishes they had!

Upon reading his Autobiography I soon learned that these difficult pieces he was writing came to him so fast that Yanni himself had to create a musical shorthand of sorts just to write it down. Traditional black dot notes took to long. Also, upon touring Yanni had to transcript his shorthand for the other instrument players to read. Violins; guitar; flute; horns even drums. And with Charlie Adams as your drummer, look out!

With today’s Digital Keyboards you can play every instrument that has been sampled and the sound input into the piano’s database. But get up on stage and try playing 30 instruments at once. Ha!

yanni

Over time Yanni’s shorthand technique of writing grew too slow, so he just memorized the songs, no need to write them down.

When Yanni left Greece for America, he stayed with a brother of his that had left years before to the States. Yanni’s father came to visit one year thinking Yanni was a trade worker. He gave Yanni crap for wasting his time playing that piano. Yanni sat his father down and played an original composition. To which his father replied after the song, “You need to keep playing piano!”

Yanni is no different from Beethoven or Mozart. The pieces aren’t as dry as Classical music but every bit as detailed & structured.

I have a few Facebook Friends that are musicians. And very good at that. Can Attila is a Turkish Musician; Paul Lawler out of the UK; Paul Speer; Paul Haslinger (ex of Tangerine Dream) or Mari Voile (drummer extraordinaire) of the United States,  but in the early 80’s liking someone like Yanni was met with comments or jokes (Yawnie) and that was ok. I can take it.

You think Yanni is some long hair loser. Or, you have no clue who he is. Check him out.

Later, s.

*Images: Top; Yanni in concert Lower left; Traditional sheet music Lower right; Yanni shorthand sheet music

What ever happened to…that’s terrible!

Being a tween – teen in the 70’s, Television and pretty girls went hand in hand. Laugh-In had Goldie Hawn and Judy Collins; That Girl, Marlo Thomas; Farah Fawcett and the Angels; Suzanne Sommers and Joyce Dewitt, Daisy Dukes.

I had two beauties that were vying for  my affection, Connie Stevens and Carol Wayne.

Connie Stevens: a singer, actress (stage & screen); wife & mother, still alive today.

connie stevens

Carol Wayne actress, comedian wasn’t so lucky.

carol wayne

On January 10 1985 while on vacation in Santiago Bay, Mexico. Her fully clothed body was found floating in 4 feet deep water. Carol was not a swimmer and actually feared the water.

Carol worked on the Tonight Show with Jonny Carson as a recurring character. It was later that Jonny wanted a shorter show length. From 90 minutes down to 60 minutes, Carol’s character was gone. But on the bright side, it made room for Letterman right?

It was reported that depression made her resort to drugs and booze, later only to escort for rich men.

She was vacationing with her companion Edward Durston. But by the time Carol’s body was found Edward had checked out of the hotel. It had been reported that there was an argument between the couple. Carol went for a beach walk to cool down. She was found the next morning by a local fisherman floating in the shallow bay.

What exactly happened to my teen crush? Her death was ruled a suicide. Not a fitting ending for one so lovely.

As an aside I’d like to mention the death of Art Linkletters daughter Diane. Reported as a LSD induced jump from a sixth floor apartment in 1969. Diane’s companion the night she died was Edward Durston.

Take it easy, s

The times, they keep on a changing…

My parents were generous to we three boys with the purchase of a family cottage in 1984/5 just North of Minden, Ont. It is on the waterfront of Lake Boshkung. We adore our cottage and the times spent with families and friends and friends’ families and so on.

My buddy Jeff Austin and myself would frequent the cottage as much as we could. If there were a free weekend, we were there. Let me set the mood…

Mid 80’s, two males late 20 something, same taste in music, sports teams and leisure time activities. We’d arrive late on a Friday evening, after work, just enough time to unpack and start a fire. Have a few beer, whatever and talk about where to fish tomorrow. Always the same place, Bridge Witch Bay! Breakfast consisted of two eggs; over easy; yolks broken; Filet Minot with a Pepsi chaser & toast.

Now, this bridge witch I mention was in reality at that time, a woman in her mid-forties (rowr). Remember this is the 80’s; She’d have on Leopard skin print spandex pants, huge hair; and start barking if you came near ‘My’ bridge on a walk. Anyway, she’s for another time, the bridge witch has no territory over the lake.

After the sun was damn near down, we’d head for the boat and navigate in the near dark toward Bridge Witch Bay. Only a five-minute motor boat ride and we were 2 to 4 foot deep in weedy water. Perfect for small mouth. When it got near midnight looking out toward the open mouth of the bay, the stars would outline the shape of the tree-lined hilltops. Beautiful.

IMG_20170821_064713085

Our cottage view. Bridge Witch Bay to the left.

Enter 1989-90; Jeff and I are out one night on the lake and while anchored at the mouth of Bridge Witch Bay among the starry tree-lined hilltop outline there stood a vertical row of red lights. Flashing off and on like a stuttering exclamation point. A repeater tower, because city people needed to use cell phones at the cottage. That view was forever ruined by Technology. It wasn’t stopping.

Fast forward to 2017 and everything has changed again. Not so much the scenery as cottage technology.

To me cottage technology was creating a mock fishhook to tie a peanut to and go squirrel fishing.

For the first time this year (2017) I gave a guest our cottage WiFi access. Our cottage used to have mice; now we have Wifi. I thought it was great getting the dishwasher put in. Clearly there is no end to these changes!

So may I put forth a slice of personal opinion on what we need in this world; Affordable Transporters. Right?

Star Trek already gave us automatic door opening, flip phones, GPS tech…

You’re at the cottage in seconds. No traffic. No stopping to pee or eat or even get gas.

The 60’s movement of hitch hiking would be no more. Just walk to your corner 7/11 or Petro-Canada; the Transporters are usually right, beside the ATM. How convenient.

We can worry about Food Replicators and Holo-Decks in the 2030-40’s. Right now transportation is the issue.

star trek meme                        star trek holodeck

I’ve begun to stop resisting Technology growth as strong as I have in the past and trying to learn how it may service me. If not, swipe right Right?

Back to the cottage, even with WiFi as long as there is a fireplace; refrigerator; friends and family I suppose technology hasn’t interfered too much. Plus, now I could post an image of us fishing in the bay on my blog or Facebook as we’re actually fishing! Mind blown! Gonna try and make it happen.

IMG_20170916_210046964

2017 Tony playing Atari 2600 Flashback Space Invaders while Natalie is on her tablet at our cottage. We also played cards as well. 

Take it easy, s

 

What’s in a name…eh?

You may have a cool name, like Boris Worm or a fun name like Phil McCracken or Sandy Beaches. I find the name reflects the owner in most cases, but in some cases a name and others with the same name, exude no doubt that any power that name has, it has to be in the name itself. A couple of examples:

Take my name; Steve or Stephen. Now that being my name, when I hear it, wherever randomly, I just somehow hear it. But on television or movies that runs the gamut.

Steve Earkle; Steve Sanders; Col Steve Austin; Steve Harvey; “What does the box say?” “It says, ‘Shut up Steve.'” In movies there’s really only one Steve and that’s McQueen no wait I mean Spielberg no wait Buscemi. Or Hawking or just King without the Haw? Or Jobs or Tyler; Perry and Allen.

That’s funny, Tyler Perry is a real person but we’re talking Steve’s. So I’m with some pretty good company, you probably are as well. Maybe not you Sirpa Green*.

Another example: Back to the Future III

After Marty arrived in the old West he found himself in a Saloon with Biff’s Great Ancestor Mad Dog. Mad Dog is the size of a wall to Marty and asks “What’s yer name?” to this Marty replied- trying to look all tough- “Eastwood, Clint Eastwood.” Mad Dog and his crew all laugh. To anyone not knowing Clint Eastwood, wouldn’t feel intimidated by the name. 

So some names are common and versatile and some more proper names instill fear; think Dr. or Snake.

And some may represent a Country: Clark Kent U.S.A.; Paul Hogan/Keith Urban AUS; Bono IRE. Diana GTB.

Canada has a name. It’s Gordon. Canada has plenty of Gordon’s.

Pinsent; Lightfoot; Howe; Sinclair; Martineau of course Downie and personal favorite, Elkin.

Pinsent; actor, director, writer.

Lightfoot & Downie; two musicians able to capture the feel and meaning of being Canadian, wonderfully historical songs, complete with shipwrecks or dead hockey players and hornets! Mr. Downie however is having the fight of his life battling brain cancer (which has affected my family recently).

Howe; Hockey Great, AKA Mr. Elbows  gordie howe

Sinclair; Journalist, writer, commentator. gordon sinclair

Martineau; City TV everywhere. gord martineau

Gordon Lightfoot: musician/singer/songwriter. AKA four cord Gord

Gord Downie: musician/songwriter/singer/author.

gordon lightfoot gord downie

This last Gordon is an Uncle passed.  To any reader of My Stories in Paragraph’s knows my Dad, Ron and his brother, my Uncle John were both born in India. Well my Dads Mom; Nana to me, had a brother Owen that married Dolly and then they had Gordon. All in India as well. So Gordon is  really a cousin to me, but because of the age difference we just called him uncle. Gordon as like my Dad and John and Joyce, (I’ll discuss at a later date) were all sent to school in Nanital, India (located at the base of the Himalayan Mts.) Sherwood was the name of the school. Boys & Girls separate dorms.

gordon anne wedding

Gordon & Ann wedding day

I remember my Uncle as a wonderful, entertaining natural character with a dashing pencil thin moustache not unlike Don Ameche’s. A little about Gordon; From India to England to Canada by 1957. Worked Insurance and enjoyed performing. A member of The Civic Light Opera Company & Amicus Productions.

Uncle Gordon could speak – very comfortably – in front of anyone. And usually did. At a birthday or anniversary of someone’s he may whip out a piece of paper and very dramatically with a hint of real British accent begin reciting his minuet to the guests.

I can clearly see but not remember the words or contexts, but Gordon standing up in front of everybody, he would have the floor. His wit with the English language knew no bounds. He could find a rhyme for Calcutta or Baboo, even inconsequential.

I have Gordon in my own personality too. Things I know I can do because I’ve seen him do them for years. I draw from my memory of him. I myself have written/read clusters of Limericks to tell a story for an unsuspecting someone or just spoken in front of a crowd. A crowd is 5 or more people right?

The following Christmas season after Gordon had passed, Deb and I were doing decorations. She handed me a card. Last years x-mas card from Gordon. How I cried remembering he’s not around any more, as I do writing this.

So he may never have elbowed (Howe) someone in the corners or read the News (Martineau) on TV or become an Canadian Music Icon (Downie) through such good and terrible circumstances. But he’s another Great Canadian Named Gordon!

A family man, a grandpa; a cousin; an uncle. A brother.

john and gordon peeing

That’s the humor when you put 2 Canham’s & 1 Elkin in the same washroom.

Photo credit: Ronald Canham

Images stars: John Canham; Gordon Elkin L-R

*Sirpa Green is a friend and ex-coworker. Beautiful lady, Finnish proper name. Green is her married name. Her maiden name has too many groups of double vowels I’ll screw it up

What’s special? I can tell you, if you’d like…

On Sundays it was a ritual to go to Nana & Popa’s house for dinner. If it wasn’t Curry & Rice then it was Roast Beef with all the expected sides of pan roasted potatoes and in that pan alongside those potatoes would be roast carrots. Gravy was made from those drippings, which could be poured over Yorkshire Pudding just popped from well used muffin tins. Did I mention Horse radish?

After dinner brother Craig and I would go to the basement and play. We were maybe 7-9 years old at the time of this memory; and we would have on these hand-knitted pull on slippers that Nana had made, and on the basement tile floor you could acquire some speed. In a nook of that basement a mock fireplace with mantle and ornaments was constructed. It was a raised floor only about 3 feet square, so 9 square feet in total for you Canhams, we wouldn’t go on it, just around it. I remember the ornaments as being 2 full size coconuts with faces carved into the husks (a souvenir) when shook you could hear the milk/water; a variety of pictures and a little stick monkey that hung in the mantle corner.

Fast forward to the mid-90’s, I’m with my partner at that time in Aurora, Ontario at my parents place. It was wintertime so maybe a Christmas get together, and whatever went on in the evening went on, and we go to leave as our drive home at that time was Kitchener Waterloo; we put on our coats; say our good-byes and hopped in the car.

I go to put on my seat-belt and there’s something stuffed in a breast pocket of my coat. I reach in and pull out the little wooden monkey. I’d forgotten that Craig for a while was living  with Nana & Pop, and once both of them were in old age facilities their property would be sold. He’d asked me once ‘if there was anything in Nana & Pop’s house that I wanted.’

Now, Nana & Pop loved and collected Royal Doulton; figurines, mugs, faces you name it. Pop also had a 15′ length of Boa snake-skin that he’d brought with him to Canada from a kill in India, he would bring it out on occasion in front of company. The company was all like, “Wow” when he would roll out a fifteen foot flattened to one foot width Boa snake skin. Only to chop off a few feet to give them. Happened so many times I don’t even know if there was any left, so I could be bull-shitting right now. I’m not!

But the only thing I could think of was that little monkey hanging in the corner on a fake fireplace mantle.

DSCN0834

The little monkey has hung from my chandelier in many residences since I found it in my breast pocket that Christmas season.  And behind the little monkey is a picture of Pop when he was a Major in the Indian Army.

So when I look around my place and see that monkey hanging from that chandelier cord I can flash remember  my grandparents.

I’d forgotten that little monkey and Craig’s question so long ago now. Nana & Pop have been gone what feels like forever, has only been 20 years. I was blessed with my grandparents on both sides, to have had in my life till I was in my late 30’s.

So, phantom brother Craig remembered my answer to his long forgotten question and what could have been months later, stuffed it in my winter coat pocket and let me find it.

Now I have, what we all should have, memories of missed family and Debra’s too, around us always.

That’s special right?

 

Tarzan, a friend of the family.

My Dad was born October 1930 in Calcutta, India. He was placed in a boarding school in Nanital, India at the base of the Himalaya Mountains, when school age was reached.

He had kid brother John there with him and cousin Joyce was in the girls section of the school. The school in Nanital was named Sherwood and Dad has always had an attachment to Robin of Sherwood Forest or Robin Hood because of that, but it was really Errol Flynn that hooked him.

Dad’s Errol Flynn is my Kurt Russell. Just replace Robin with Snake.

So when my older brother Craig and I were of age to view TV shows we were introduced to a show called Daktari starring Clarence the Cross-eyed Lion and Tarzan starring Ron Ely.

1324593951_4

79f80e43f1c0729efe219a50d4b02259--vintage-tv-vintage-photos

My Dad’s parents Dolly and Theo whom met each other in India also lived in Toronto now and on Sunday’s we would go over to their house, have dinner and watch Untamed World and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

Nature and Wildlife was a huge part of my growing up as was Tarzan.

Dad’s first influence of the character Tarzan was competitive swimmer turned actor, Johnny Weissmuller. In black & white Johnny’s films were old by my standards as a tween film critic and I didn’t learn till later that Weissmuller was the only actor to portray the young Lord Greystoke that could do the yell for real. The yells are used in the film.

002-johnny-weissmuller-theredlist

For Dad being in a boarding school, a treat of a Tarzan movie had all the boys swinging from vines and yelling his yell throughout the next days.

Remember this is in India 1940’s.

So I now know of two Tarzan, one B&W film star who talk like he no speak good and one in Technicolor that was educated and through personal choice went back to the jungles of Africa.

Enter the 80’s and Christopher Lambert starred in Legend of Greystoke Lord of the Apes

3b0bc715f48cdf75b6b94b75d2dc15ca

This told the story closest to Burroughs novel. Young John Greystoke’s soon to be parents were shipwrecked, set up camp…and so on.

It wasn’t till I worked part-time Christmas of 2012 at my local Chapters, that I found the Centenary Edition of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes. All 6 original first novels in one big, honking soft cover trade pb!

Black cover, Gold flake Tarzan riding on back of Lion.

41o3e8RfnFL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Let’s face it – you don’t know the real story unless you read it yourself. But getting to know Burroughs Tarzan is not unlike knowing James Bond or Jason Bourne, Matt Helm or Jack Reacher. Like any story of fiction you buy into it.

Unless the trees talk, that’s just stupid.

Take it easy, s