I Have Been a Bad Blogger

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Six Words of Truth

By now, I should probably have a whole category dedicated to “posts in which I apologize for being a lazy dilettante who wanders off from time to time, transfixed by something shiny”.

I don’t want to say I haven’t posted in a while, but there have been two – two! – Slug is Doug podcast episodes released since my last post.

I can explain away a week or two in August – kind of – because my MacBook was in the shop getting a flaw on the display screen fixed.  The other computers in our house were in places that were far too hot (no A/C in the house yet, long story, maybe I’ll tell you that one some other time) to even contemplate spending time in.

More than that, though, the summer has been a busy one.  Work, yes, and some work-related travel for both Spouse and I, but also some play;  a trip to Sudbury, a fishing trip, some writing projects (more on that in a moment), some music projects, a lot of yard-related chores (and yet the place is still a mess), a number of visits from family and friends (including the Second Sort Of Annual Founders’ Day Celebration)-  and lots of getting ready for an addition to our family.  That last bit, I think, explains a lot about why I’ve found it difficult to write extensively here for some time.

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Portrait of the Blogger as a Chastened Man, Now With 34% More Reformative Zeal

I have talked about it on Twitter a little, but here’s the skinny:  Spouse and I are expecting to be joined by Even More Junior Than Junior (EMJTJ), our first child, in about two and a half months’ time.  In this space, I’ve tried to strike a certain balance concerning personal matters;  I tend to include them in my writing because – for better or for worse – I think that I just write better when I bring the personal context into things.  I know, though, that Spouse is a more private person than I am, and I have tried to respect her clearly articulated (and reasonable) wishes not to have the minutiae of her life publicly documented across the Interwebs for time immemorial.  Similar concerns would apply for EMJTJ;  I have no doubt I’ll be documenting my soon to be sleep-deprived travels through the poop- and vomit-rich land of fatherhood, but I don’t want to make a public spectacle out of my son.   That will be something he can do on his own, no doubt in a licensed establishment, on some evening in the distant future.

Obviously, a lot of our energies have been focussed on the pregnancy over the last few months.  As we slowly get our home and our lives ready for the changes that are about to come, I think I have also been struggling with what, if anything, I ought to write here about the pregnancy.   As you can tell from the dearth of material hereabouts recently, I have obviously decided – I think mostly unconsciously – to edit that part of our lives out of the story that unfolds here.  There are reasons for my reluctance that go beyond the obvious privacy concerns. Neither Spouse nor I are what you would consider to be “youthful” first parents, so we’ve been a bit hesitant to allow ourselves to just enjoy the process, I suppose out of a sort of superstitious concern that we might be tempting fate to deal our child a host of medical problems to punish us for our hubris.  Writing it out makes explicit how silly that is, but I would be lying if I didn’t own up to using something like that thought process over the last few months.

Anyway, in general terms, all is well.  Spouse – and EMJTJ, so far as we know – are both healthy.  We have taken to referring to the little fellow as “Furious G”, thinking that it would do him well to get an early start on some street cred.  Since he is currently unable to knock over a liquor store, bust either a rhyme or a move and has no posse, we figured a hip hop name would be a good place to start.

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The 2010-2011 Maple Street Press Maple Leafs Annual

Aside from producing a human life, or at least a nascent one, during my digital estrangement from you, I have been doing some writing.  Much of this writing has happened at work and for work purposes.  It is boring and technical and awful and confidential, so I’ll tell you nothing about it.  The only reason I mention it is because that too partly explains why I haven’t been using my leisure time to write more and post it here.  In addition to the work writing, though, I also spent some time writing an article for the Maple Street Press 2010-2011 Maple Leafs Annual, which is available now in Chapters Indigo stores across Canada, as well as on many other newsstands in the Greater Toronto Area.   You can also order a copy online from Maple Street Press (just click the last link).

My article is an update on the rebuild of the Toronto Maple Leafs, exploring further the ideas I developed in last year’s edition of the Annual.  It’s called “Full Speed Ahead” and I am once again genuinely interested in hearing what people have to say about it.   Please drop me a note in the Comments below if you’ve read it (or last year’s article, for that matter).

When I finished the article about a month and a half ago, I got in touch with Alec Brownscombe (the editor of the publication) and asked him to send me certain information so that I could help him promote the thing.  As busy as he was, he did send along the info I asked for – and it sat in my inbox waiting to be developed into a blog post.  While I was distracted, the magazine was made available for pre-order online in August, and I promised myself that I’d have something up the day before it was scheduled to appear on shelves in stores.  That day came and went too, lost amid the excitement of the arrival of my newest niece Clara.  Now here we are, half way through September and I am re-calibrating my target for “before the opening of NHL training camps.”

I hope to have a little something for you tomorrow on what’s in the Annual.  Until then – I missed you.  I’ll try to keep in touch.

Hi, Remember Me?

Yes, I understand. You’re upset with me.

Like the man said, “it’s been a long time since I rock ‘n rolled.” Things have been more than a little busy at work over the last month or so. I know you don’t care about the particulars, so I just erased a whole bunch of crap that I typed, the sum total of which boils down to this: over the last little bit, I’ve felt like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, and between things going on at work, groundskeeping chores, a series of (most welcome) house guests, and some other new developments here on the home front, I have been unable to devote any time whatsoever to you, my virtual friends. Pity.

Please feel free to sue me for failing to provide you with your usual level of comfort and support.

In the meantime, I have a few moments right now, during which I’ll share with you one of my latest projects. I went out today and bought a USB turntable. I am converting some of my old vinyl records into digital format so that I can load ’em on my iPod and rock out 1980s style while I’m cutting the lawn. Also, Spouse and I have become very tired of the music we’ve been listening to over and over again in the car recently. It is hoped that the new (old) music may provide some much needed variety, being as it is the spice of life.

I have crates and crates of records in the storage room downstairs, and this conversion project will take some time. In the interests of generating some posts around here (especially in the absence of Maple Leaf hockey), I thought I’d try writing a little post about some of the records I’m converting. The only rule I’m making for myself is that I must write the post while the record is playing.

Today’s entry: The Cars – Heartbeat City

A Scantily Clad Chick, A Green Duster and Some Crappy Music

Look, first of all, I don’t want to hear about how it’s an outrage that I chose a mediocre album by a band that you don’t like as the subject for this first post. I know, The Cars weren’t exactly as talented as the Beatles, and 1984’s Heartbeat City , although no doubt the band’s most commercially successful effort, does not represent their best work.

But seriously, I had to learn where to do this conversion stuff starting somewhere, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to start with some music that is truly meaningful to me. Actually, that last sentence is more than a little disingenuous; this music does matter to me, in a way. As I sit here and type, I’m finding myself sorely tempted to separate myself and my musical tastes from this record; I know it is crap, and I guess I do not wish to be judged by you for being associated with it. Nevertheless, to be honest, I would be lying if I did not admit that listening to this record is, to me, highly evocative of a certain something.

A quick contextual review: The Cars burst on to the “New Wave” scene in the late ’70s . Their stripped-down, straight ahead and vaguely techno sound was a part of a whole reactionary movement in music, an attempt to answer some of the serious excess that had become part and parcel of mainstream rock in the middle of the decade following sprawling and epic works from artists like Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Peter Frampton, etc. By far the best part of The Cars’ oeuvre comes from their first three records: their eponymous debut, Candy-O and Panorama, all three of which were released before the seventies were over. By 1984, The Cars had definitely jumped the shark and had ironically become in many ways a mid-80s version of the very thing they had started out opposing. Case in point: John “Mutt” Lange produced (and produced and produced, and yes, I’m saying “over produced”) Heartbeat City. Edges are polished, everything is musically letter perfect and there are harmonies that pop and sparkle. All of the edges, though, have been softened. Don’t believe me? Listen to “Good Times Roll” or “Touch and Go” from those early records and then follow it up with “Drive” from this album. If you want to move right past “unbelievably saccharine sweet” and go straight to “diabetic coma”, check out the version of that tune that the band performed at Live Aid in the summer of ’85.

Anyway, my point is that I know: this record ain’t exactly Dark Side of the Moon, or anything monumental, meaningful, or even necessarily “good.” By 1984, Ric Ocasek was more interested in trying to figure out, like everybody else, how the hell he managed to hook up with a 19-year old Paulina Porizkova and why she would ever be interested in a – let’s face it – homely fucker like him. The band’s performance at Live Aid was proof positive that its best years were in the past, and established without a doubt that sappy, synth-driven pieces of dreck like “Magic” would remain popular forever because God essentially hates human beings.

I know all of that. But some albums (look it up, youngsters – we had them before iTunes came along) just evoke certain points in time and space, and for me personally, this is one of them. The second I put this record on the turntable, I was transported. It was 1984 again and I was in the basement of my parents’ home working on some program or other that I was (forever) writing on the Commodore 64, occasionally dumping the code out in printed LIST form on the dot matrix printer. True story: when typing this post, I knew what year this record was released without even looking at the dust jacket. I spent a lot of time in that basement, as my pasty skin in any period photographs will attest, typing away on that little keyboad, trying to fix my little electronic creations with 10 REM FILE HANDLING PROGRAM comments and switching between this album and David Bowie’s Let’s Dance or Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense on the turntable, or (if I happened to be rocking the cassette deck instead) the Violent Femmes‘ or Specials‘ debut. Truth be told, though, although I prefer the music from any one of those other albums, when I close my eyes and think back to what it felt like to be loading a 5 1/4″ floppy disc in to the dogshit brown disc drive* of that computer, the music I hear is The Cars’ Heartbeat City.

I suppose there’s some justice, then, to that music being the soundtrack as I sit here 26 years later, still tapping away on a keyboard on yet another summer day, starting another epic digital project.


*the technically advanced 64 had a disc drive instead of cassette tape storage. The discs held 360 KB of information


VERY busy at work at the moment. Lots of other things going on around the homestead too. No time to spend with my online peeps, at the moment I’m afraid. Here’s a picture of the newest member of the Juniorvanian fleet for you all to see. I hope to have a few moments to do some writing on the weekend; if not, probably it will be a few days after that before I can post again.

George's New Sibling, As Yet Un-named.


I know I promised to try and post some odds and sods that didn’t make it in to my Maple Leafs Annual article.  I haven’t had a chance just yet to go digging through the digital archives, because I’ve been working almost literally all weekend (aside from a spin on the lawn tractor and a brief visit with my family) on this charity event that’s coming up in two weeks.   Spouse and I have helped with the organization of this event every year for many years now, but this year’s  a little different:  for one reason or another, we’re down several members of the organizing committee, so much of the work has fallen directly on our (Spouse’s) shoulders.

We’ve also been crazy busy at work, and it’s been very difficult to manage to find the necessary time to put together an event like this during working hours, and to remain focussed on the necessary details.  For example, I did some work a few weeks ago to get some media exposure for us, and managed to get a live radio interview with our Honourary Chair (a young woman who at one time made use of the very services we’re fundraising for) on a local station.  It took a bazillion phone calls and emails to get it all set up and to arrange for another committee member (someone who knows the necessary details) to participate in the interview too.  The last thing I had to do on Friday was confirm all these details for all the participants – and I came damn close to completely forgetting to do that.  I was so busy with other stuff in my real job that it very nearly entirely slipped my mind.  That would have been bad.

Anyway, cross your fingers and hold your breath.  Here’s hoping we can pull this together and raise some money for the kids.

I’m donating a signed copy of the Maple Leafs Annual to the charity auction, in case anybody is interested.  I’m going to sign it with my hockey player autograph (#17 inscribed beneath my name).

Victoria Day: Dave’s Not Here, Man

I promise I will post something about last weekend’s bizarre gardening accident soon;  I really did mean to put the finishing touches on the tale today, but – for reasons that will become apparent when you read the story – I have been taking some pain killers that make a nice sunny day a sort of Woodstock-type of experience for me.  The effect is somewhat enhanced by the addition of Robaxacet – check – and, in the end, I been feelin’ groovy all right.  I’ll be damned though, if my fingers will work properly and I’m having trouble thinking of that what do you call it, that…um…”word.”  Which makes it hard to write coherently, or at least as coherently as is my usual custom here.

You’ll just have to get on without me today.

Happy Victoria Day everybody!  Now, speaking of bizarre gardening accidents…