March 18th @ Free Times Café

You may not be aware of this, but 2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism – pretty exciting isn’t it? And this is serious – there’s even a logo – a kind yin-yang thing with a polar bear on one half and a panda on the other (of course). And there’s a hash tag too with a few posts, mostly pictures of pandas (of course). The hashtag, if you’re interested is 2018CCYT. That’s actually a kind of clever hashtag because both Canada and China can lay claim to the first C so that lowered the tension in the room when the idea was first discussed. While I wrote that it was the Canada-China Year of Tourism (and that’s what the government of Canada calls it) if you go to China’s Canadian Embassy webpage it’s the China-Canada Year of Tourism. Everybody’s right (or as the Buffalo Springfield sang so long ago, perhaps everybody’s wrong).

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February 18th @ Free Times Café

Don’t you hate rhetorical questions?

I could stop now but let me push on…

As much as I dislike rhetorical questions, I can’t stand them when they made are by a machine. Let me give you an example.

On days when I am driving in the city I sometimes need to park in a parking lot. Parking lots these days are increasingly automated. You get your ticket and then pay on your way out. Recently I parked at the Eaton Centre. I dutifully got my ticket and, at the end of my day, as instructed, went to the “pay station” to get ready to leave. I put in the ticket, inserted my credit card, and on the screen it said “$456 – OK?” (I may have exaggerated the amount on the screen, but it seemed like a lot).

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Robbie Burns Night @ Free Times Café

27th Annual Robbie Burns Celebration

Please join us for another evening of kid and adult friendly fun!
There will be some Burns, some Scottish music, lottsa whisky,
your neighbours and, of course, the Haggis!

The Bar Celebration will be at
The Free Times Café -320 College at Major
8:00 pm till closing

January 14th @ Free Times Café

For the last few weeks I have returned to the winter of my youth. The snow remains white. You have to make sure to wear sunglasses when you go walking during the day. When you do venture out the snow crunches under your feet with a sound that is unique to winter in Canada. Shoveling snow at night the sky is clear and the sound of the shovel against the pavement bounces off the darkness. The air has its own special feel and even taste. When you go out and breathe deeply the fine hairs in your nose stick together. If you decide to drive you start the car ten minutes early to warm it up.

Yes, this is the winter of my youth. And I’ve had enough of it.

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December 17th @ Free Times Café

Like many people (not everyone, but many) I have a smartphone. To be precise I have a Blackberry, and one that is more than a few years old. So, while I may technically have a smartphone, how smart I am to have that particular smartphone is a discussion for another time (but I do love that physical keyboard).

As you know from watching TV commercials and ads running whenever you try to search anything on the Internet, the smartphones we have today (even my Blackberry) can do lots of amazing things. But when I’m on a bus or subway or train or plane you know what I see most people do with their smartphones – they use it to play solitaire. Now I admit this is not the most scientific survey ever because when I am on a bus or subway or train or plane I am often playing solitaire on my smartphone so it’s not like I’m spending all my time checking out what other folks are doing – but whenever I do look up that’s what I see – people using their incredibly sophisticated smartphones to play solitaire.

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November 19th @ Free Times Café

I have to admit I was a little freaked out a few weeks ago when I received an email from my e-reader. Yes, I have an e-reader, and yes I know that there is something magical, nay transcendent, about turning the pages of a real book, and yes, an e-reader can never give off that ineffable – if musty – book smell – although I hear Febreze is working on something like that – but it’s not like I hate books and won’t ever read them, I just like my e-reader so can we just leave it at that please (can you tell I’ve had this discussion before).

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was defending my use of an e-reader and trying to get to the scary e-mail part. Now the email itself was not particularly scary. It’s not like the e-reader threatened to tell everyone what I was reading (not that I have anything to be ashamed of in that regard, really) or even to make up what I was reading – but it could have. The actual email just told me what I had read the past month and how much time I had spent reading on the e-reader. There is nothing particularly frightening or sinister about that, but nor does it give me any information I don’t already have.

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October 15th @ Free Times Café

I am sometimes asked whether I have a list of possible topics for my missives, rants, and pensees, or do I think up a new one every month. The answer to this is – a bit of both. I do keep a small unlined notebook covered in a fine leather (or faux leather for vegetarians) and once an idea comes to me I stop, unscrew the top from my exquisite fountain pen, and in an impeccable script, jot down a line or two that will help me recall the topic later. Or at least that’s what I’d like to do but instead I scribble something on a piece of paper that I can’t read five minutes later or just type a note in my phone. Some topics can sit there for a while and are ready for the world to see at some later point but others are time sensitive – they don’t make much sense if they’re not discussed in the appropriate month. Such is the case with this month’s topic, which could only be the topic in October. Why? Because the subject is pumpkins.

A field of pumpkins in the fall sunlight is a lovely thing to behold, but as we know from great works of literature the pumpkin patch at night can be a very scary place (I am here referring of course to the much lauded and esteemed author Charles Schultz who gave us the incredibly complex and richly detailed lives of the Peanuts crew over many decades). Essentially Linus was right (but you knew that all along).

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September 17th @ Free Times Café

I am writing this little missive from Dawson City. That’s Dawson City in the Yukon, not Dawson’s Creek the titular location of a popular late 90s TV show that was shot in the U.S. but not in a place called Dawson’s Creek (it was shot in Wilmington, North Carolina) or the real Dawson Creek which is in B.C. I am in Dawson City which is a long way from pretty much anywhere (but don’t worry, I’ll be back for the September Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room show, which will be discussed in greater detail a bit later).

Dawson City is a pretty cool place – which is literally true. As I write this the temperature here is 2 while in Toronto its 17 so cool is perhaps an understatement. For a town of about 1,500 people there is a lot to do and see, much of it of course, based in the incredibly beautiful surroundings in which the city is nestled. Continue reading

August 20th @ Free Times Café

You might have heard that George Romero passed away last month in Toronto. Romero was the writer and director of Night of the Living Dead and other zombie horror films (to distinguish them from zombie rom-coms). Night…, which was made for $114,000 in 1968, ushered in the current wave of interest in all things zombie. While Romero died of cancer, I think what actually killed him was learning that Sony Pictures spent $50,000,000 making The Emoji Move (and this is all I will say about a film whose very existence speaks to the utter bankruptcy of mass popular culture – OK now that is all I will say about it).

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July 16th @ Free Times Café

There is really annoying car commercial I keep seeing on TV. Now I realize that pretty much all the car commercials on TV are annoying and if they’re not annoying then they’re just boring and forgettable. The same thing goes for the truck commercials too, of course. Except those that feature Sam Elliott doing the voice over. It’s not that the commercials are any good, but that Sam Elliott has just the greatest voice and so when I see those commercials I just think about how cool it would be if I had his voice (I mean he makes the word ‘truck’ seem almost mystical). On the other hand, he doesn’t have a very good singing voice (and that’s being charitable). And you probably don’t believe me because you think I’m just jealous of a guy with such a cool voice and so, if you want proof, you can hear him croak through Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” – but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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