Locked into vinyl

As background to where and when I work, a favourite LP on my retro turntable.

It happens about 15 minutes and 30 seconds in. It’s happens after the flugelhorn introduction from the leader of the band, Chuck Mangione. It follows the entry of the full Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the spontaneous applause. Just about the time soprano sax player Gerry Niewood comes in. Right in there, kind of unexpectedly, there’s this short stutter in the recording. No, not in the recording, but in my pressed version of it.

“It’s a locked groove,” I once explained to my daughters, “an imperfection in the pressing of the vinyl disc.”

Play like a girl

Team White shakes hands with Team Blue at end of 2017 Canadian Women’s Hockey League All-Star game at ACC.

Their faces suddenly lit up. One of the cameras in the arena caught them cheering and dancing all in a row. And there they were jumping up and down in unison to the sound of a Spice Girls pop tune. They were thrilled to be up on the jumbo screen at the Air Canada Centre. But most of all they loved showing off their team jerseys, the North Durham Blades hockey team. And the camera cut to a makeshift placard another young female hockey player was holding.

“Play like a girl!” it proclaimed proudly.

Trump’s ban, Canada’s boon

Refugees from the Baltic at Pier 21 immigration hall in 1848. Photo Halifax Chronicle Herald.

A number of weeks ago, neighbours and friends gathered in the basement of the United Church in my town. The church auxiliary served sandwiches, cakes, cookies, coffee and tea. A Syrian family had finally arrived in this community and the gathering at the church allowed townspeople to greet and meet them. They kept thanking the town for its generosity and initiatives to help. One thing the couple said that first day we met has stuck with me.

“Thank you for this welcome,” they said.

Surviving: A Life

Overseas during the War, Ed Carter-Edwards served with 427 Sqn in the RCAF.

His smile remained as infectious as ever. The twinkle in his eye was still bright during my visit with air force veteran Ed Carter-Edwards this week. When his son-in-law Mike and I lifted him, so that Mike could scratch a nagging itch on Ed’s back, I could feel the muscle in his shoulders that had served him a lifetime.

Now 94, Ed battled this week not just for life, but to stay connected to a hospice room of family and visitors as long as possible. Across from his bed, his son Dennis nodded and summed up his father’s life in a sentence.

“If there was ‘quit’ in his life,” Dennis Carter-Edwards said quietly, “he never would have made it.”

Being there for history

Angela Davis has spoke up for concerns of women in America for a generation. Davis Facebook photo.

She and her friend walked among the multitudes, it seemed for hours. Some in the march were chanting, but she said it wasn’t particularly tense. Besides the obvious aspects of it being demonstration, she said she didn’t sense the men and women around her were targeting their frustration at anybody. And then the group came upon a stage, where Angela Davis, the American University law professor, was speaking.

“This is ground zero in the struggle for social justice,” Davis told thousands during her speech to the Washington Women’s March last Saturday. “Women’s rights are human rights all over the planet, (and) this is just the beginning.”

An address, not an email

President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inauguration address trying to put the one aspect of his first term to rest. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The first one used just over 1,400 words to do it. That was George Washington. The most recent one, Barack Obama, took about 2,400 words. The one who took the longest to do it, with over 8,000 words, was William Henry Harrison in 1841. The first one to do it in the third week of January, did so in 1937, setting the precedent for every inauguration to follow; and that was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And the president-elect who spoke the fewest words at his inauguration, Abraham Lincoln, chose among the most eloquent 700 words to do it.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all,” Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, “let us strive on to finish the work we are in…”

The price of renaming

Just over a year ago, some of our Centennial College student reporters were assembling the latest edition of the East York Observer newspaper. One reporter had been assigned to cover a media conference at the regional hospital in the area. She returned to explain that the hospital, which for probably half a century was known as the Toronto East General Hospital, was now going to be called the Michael Garron Hospital, in honour of the son of long-time hospital donors, Myron and Berna Garron. Michael Burns, the chair of the old TEGH, explained it to our reporter this way.

“If you’re lucky, once in a lifetime a truly extraordinary philanthropic gesture transforms an institution and care for thousands of people,” he said. “We are humbled and beyond grateful that our hospital is in receipt of such a remarkable and historic gesture.”

Promises, promises, promises

When they’re everywhere, this time of year, how do you swear off these as a resolution?

One of my friends recently announced to me that he was going to get fit in 2017. Another promised she would eat more sensibly starting this week. And I read about others who proclaimed this next calendar year they would be kinder, more forthright, better listeners, less ideological, more philanthropic and take up volunteering – all noble objectives, I should add. Eventually somebody asked me if I’d made any resolutions. Well, I chickened out. I chose a kind of joke, one of my father’s regular Jan. 1 comebacks to the question.

“Yup,” I said. “My resolution is to … not make any resolutions!”

Gifts money can’t buy

It took my dad far too long to set up his B&H movie camera and light rack, before allowing us near the Christmas tree.

It was a time before cell-phone selfies and video. Heck, it was even before video. Each Dec. 15 morning, our parents wouldn’t allow us into the living room where the tree sat until the time was right. My sister and I had to wait until Dad wound up his Bell & Howell movie camera, and turned on the powerful electrical lights so that the camera would register an image on his 8-millimetre motion picture film.

“OK, I’m rolling,” he would say finally. “You can come in now!”

Whereupon, my sister Kate and I, blinded by the movie lights and unable to see a thing until our eyes adjusted to the bright lights, would stumble into the living room.

All the news that’s fit to fake

Very much alive, but nobody bothered to check. Courtesy GordonLightfoot.com.

As I recall, it was an afternoon in February a few years ago. One of my journalism students came to me with a cell phone in his hands – you know the pose, with head bowed, eyes mesmerized, phone illuminating his face – and a look of incredulity. He looked up at me and announced the news.

“It says here Gordon Lightfoot is dead,” he said.

“What?” I said, then added with a tone of say it ain’t so in my voice “No.” Then, I asked him where he was reading such news.