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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June 18th @ Free Times Café

As you will have doubtlessly observed, based on posters around the city and articles everywhere, it is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. And I’m sure there are some of you who are thinking “Oh no, not more Beatles, when will this ever end?” to which I can only say “Get over it, they were just the greatest band ever.” And before you go “No they weren’t, it was (insert name of band here)” stop and think for a minute about what you are about to say ———– OK, are we good now?

I get that the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s is a big deal; after all it was a really good Beatles album. Yes, I said really good. I understand that reasonable people may differ on what was the greatest album by the greatest band ever – although the answer to that question is Revolver.

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May 21st @ Free Times Café

In a bid to keep these missives contemporary and up to date with the latest important information, and as a public service, I am writing today to let folks know that the fastest rising boy’s name in the U.S last year was Kylo. The name has now entered the coveted top 1,000 boy’s names and occupies number 901 due to an amazing 2,368 point jump in popularity (I know I make stuff up all the time but even I couldn’t make this up).

One explanation for the rise is that Kylo is the name of a character in the latest Star Wars series and apparently many Americans (and probably Canadians too) look to Star Wars when deciding what moniker to saddle their children with for the rest of their lives. What makes this particular name significant however is that Kylo is a villain in the series, not a hero. I don’t recall a similar jump in the choice of Darth as a name for boys after the first set of Star Wars films.

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April 16th @ Free Times Café

It’s April and that means baseball is back. I realize that there are folks who think that baseball is dull, that nothing happens and that it takes too long. I get that and I respect the fact that there are people who don’t enjoy baseball. Those people, however, are wrong.

As wonderful as baseball is, and it is wonderful on so many different levels, it has become commercialized to almost the nth degree (and why the nth degree, what about the oth degree the pth degree all the way to the zth degree). There is almost no end of merchandise related to baseball – and not only related to baseball in general but also specifically to your beloved Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays will, for a price, add their logo to pretty much anything. Obviously jerseys and caps but also jackets, underwear, briefcases, lamps, wallpaper, toasters, carpets, towels, rocking chairs and caskets (I’m not sure if you can get all of these things with the Jays logo but if not, they’re coming soon). I was recently in an LCBO (for research purposes only) and saw little bottles of rum decked out in teeny tiny Blue Jay uniforms.

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March 19th @ Free Times Café

As you are undoubtedly aware, 2017 is the 150th anniversary of something to do with Canada. I am a bit vague on this because it’s actually not easy to figure out what happened 150 years ago that we’re celebrating.

It’s not the discovery of Canada, because the concept of discovery is of course a European conceit that depends on ignoring the obvious fact that there were people here when Europeans arrived – and anyway, Europeans have been in Canada for much more than 150 years (and you thought the folks who said they were visiting for the weekend and stayed a few extra days were a pain). It could be 150 years since Confederation but the whole country wasn’t actually part of Confederation in 1867– in fact most of the country wasn’t, so why would those folks who weren’t in at the time be celebrating?

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February 19th @ Free Times Café

So, here I am, thinking…WWJD (“What Would Jonathan Do?”) You know, each month he sits down and writes a rant about something relevant in the news and finds a convenient way to segue that into discussing the wonderful band he plays in, and then somehow finds a way to put down the bagpipes.

Unfortunately, however, this month, Jonathan will be in some far off place, on another of his walkabouts, trying to save the whales, or just save Wales. Nobody really knows for sure which, but we do wish him well in his adventures.

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January 15th @ Free Times Café

Happy New Year!

Having now wished you Happy New Year, I figure if I send this off to enough folks then I think I’ve managed to deal with that thorny question of when do you say “Happy New Year!” to folks, and as significantly, when do you stop saying “Happy New Year!”.

Obviously at midnight on New Year’s Eve you say/shout/exclaim “Happy New Year!” but while that gets the folks in the immediate vicinity of the sound of your voice (and that’s a pretty big vicinity in my case if I do say so myself) it still leaves many people unaccounted for. And this year, since I spent New Year’s Eve curled up on the couch with some generalized but unspecified illness (I’m better now, thanks for asking), other than my loving partner (who was not near the couch I was curled up on) and my cat (who was there because I wasn’t too ill to pet him and that’s all that matters to him) I wasn’t able to knock anyone off my list.

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December 18th @ Free Times Café

I admit it. I was getting worried in October and by the time November hit I was really concerned. I mean who wouldn’t be. It seemed like the world was off its moorings. How would we ever find our way again? I know that might seem excessive but really, how else could I have reacted? And then I stopped for a minute and I really listened, and many of my worries went away.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the pole stars that were wrong – and that would have been a huge issue because the pole stars are vital for navigation – but rather it was the pollsters who were wrong, and frankly how much should we even care about that.

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