Friday, December 23, 2016

It's All About the Bass (Number Ten)

CJ's note:  This is the first in a series of eleven or twelve posts.  Please refrain from commenting until the final post! 

The early 90s were a period of experimentation (musically) for me, as I've noted previously.  During my high school years, I listened to my parents' music (50s-70s), classical music, AM radio, and was really into the band Dire Straits... a decent but safe mix of music.

In my late teens and early twenties, I began to emerge from my shell and started listening to things outside of my comfort zone, mostly rap, commercial metal, then punk.  From punk, I branched out to goth, industrial, and eventually to electronica.  My favourite bands tended to be the people who blended different styles and genres... sounding sort of like one genre and not quite another.

One such band was the Infectious Grooves, a funk-influenced side project of Suicidal Tendencies' front man Mike Muir and bassist Robert Trujillo.  It was this band that taught me an appreciation for the bass guitar, and one track in particular stood out.

Ladies and gentlemen, coming in at the number Ten spot is Do the Sinister!

My theme song for a few years, Do the Sinister was prophetic in a way, as my musical explorations led me to a number of sinister places (some of which I still visit on occasion).  Join me for a drink tomorrow to see one of the more interesting places.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's All About the Bass (Prologue)

I had a great deal of fun writing my Ten Famous People series back in September.  While it was chiefly an experiment in writing and scheduling and less about the content, it still managed to garner some degree of praise.

But what do I do for an encore?

While waiting for my connecting bus this morning, I found myself groovin' along to the bassline of one of my favourite songs... I had to suppress my natural urge to play "air bass" in order to avoid embarassment!  I say "natural urge" because I've always found myself strumming along to the bassline of my favourite songs (unless there's a superior guitar or synthesizer riff), which has prompted a number of friends to tell me I'm a natural bass player.

(Despite my never having learned to play)

While reliving these happy memories, I thought to myself, "CJ, why don't you write a new series showcasing your favourite bass lines?"

A fine idea!  Please join me over the next twelve days as I do just that.  My musical tastes are varied, to say the least, so there may be a few surprises on the list!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Epilogue)

The Bucket List has been a fun experiment.

So far, the most popular post in the series by traffic was Number Five (Gretzky), while least popular was Number Eight (Merkel).

The drinking angle was really an outgrowth of the excitement I felt about Modern Drunkard's new Clash of the Tightest drinking contest. The famous (living) people angle took a bit of work, but was kinda fun, too.  I was being  genuine, and really had to think about who made my list, and why.  Hell, it was probably more thought than I've put into my blogging in ages!  I kept each entry short (by my standards) and to the point, didn't go into a lot of detail, and tried not to presuppose character.

The real experiment was the writing and scheduling.  If you've been following my blogs or websites (any of them) for any length of time, you'll know that if a post ends with the words to be continued, it probably won't be.  I lose interest, run out of time, get sidetracked, etc, and it's rare to see a series completed.  That's not to say I haven't accomplished that:  my Blog Action Day series "The Power of We" was written over the course of a day, a vacation day I had set aside specifically for Blog Action Day.  My series "A Tale of Entitlement" took a while to complete but eventually got done, thanks to the prodding of a couple of my regular readers.

My original plan was to write The Bucket List as one complete post, in much the same way I wrote the Honourable Mentions list.  But as I started writing, I thought to myself, "CJ, why rip the Band-Aid off quickly when you can slowly pull it off over a period of several days?"

As usual, I had a point.  Anyone who's followed me for years is probably used to the pain, so I decided to present it as a serial.

This time, however, I planned ahead and wrote the whole series ahead of time.  It took a couple of lunch hours to write, and another to steal the pictures from Google Images.  I scheduled each post for 6 AM, which is shortly before I leave the house to catch my bus for work, so I could read it and make changes after the fact during my commute.  On the weekends, I'd read that day's post while I had my morning coffee.

I like the way it turned out, schedule-wise, and am going to employ this method in the future.

Do you know what else I liked?  Not having comments enabled.  I don't know that I'm going to re-enable them, will have to mull it over.  One gets tired of spam and morons.  Of course, I usually announce my new posts via social media (Google+, Twitter, and even Facebook) so, for the time being, if you feel you really must comment, do it there.  Just remember, I'm only polite and respectful to a point.

Join me next time as I (finally) present The Cone of Silence, a piece on distraction-free writing.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number One)

CJ's note:  This is the Eleventh in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final synopsis post (which I suppose would amount to twelve posts), as I don't feel like re-enabling them at the moment...

So here we are at the top of the list.  Number One.  The winner.  In my mind, I already knew who would top the list.  Out of the hundred or so people in the running, one name kept standing out whenever I went to trim the list.  There's nobody who could have beaten this person out.  There's nobody in this world alive with whom I'd rather sit back and enjoy a drink or two, even if it would never happen.

So who is our winner?  Who beat everyone else on my list?  Whom shall we send victorious, happy and glorious..?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the world's longest reigning Monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II!

Now here's a person whom I admire, a woman of grace, humour, and dignity.  Someone who has weathered storms and controversies, who has borne the weight of the Commonwealth on her shoulders.

Being of predominantly English descent, my choice of first place belies my roots.  As a Canadian, and part of the Commonwealth, the Royal Family (love them or hate them) has been part of my life from day one.  We've watched all the Royal Weddings, followed them during Royal Visits, cried at the funerals, and laughed at their foibles and missteps.  We sang God Save the Queen at school (the traditional song, not the one by the Sex Pistols), and pledged to "Do our best, do our duty, to God and the Queen" in Cubs.

So, it seems only proper that Her Majesty take the top spot.

I understand that the Queen is a gracious host, has a wicked sense of humour, and drives like a bat out of Hell.  I would love to ride shotgun as she drove us around in her Range Rover, touring the English countryside, before settling in at the Palace for a nice gin, talking politics, English history, kids these days, and soccer.

This concludes my bucket list.  Join me tomorrow for the recap!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Honourable Mentions)

CJ's note:  This is the Tenth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

Before we move on to my Number One, I'd like to call your attention to five people who very nearly found a place on my bucket list:

Tom Waits:  Singer, composer, actor.  Tom and I would close down one drinking establishment before looking for a bootlegger so we could continue drinking and drowning whatever sorrows/demons come to mind.

Jim Heath, aka The Reverend Horton Heat: Jim and I would rock the joint, closing down one drinking establishment before leaving through the side door to avoid the cops and/or jealous husbands, hopping into a Cadillac convertable to escape.

Pope Francis:  That the first Jesuit Pope isn't on my Top Ten will be the source of anguish for years to come.  As a Catholic convert, I would love to sit down with His Holiness to learn, pray, and talk about the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius and the Summa Theologica.  All while drinking Trappist beer.

Ben Stein:  Sometime actor, game show host, writer, pundit, and Penthouse correspondent Stein would have at least as many stories as Peter Mansbridge, but also some from The Inside.  Would consume brown liquors and close down the place while talking recent history and politics.

Ron Jeremy:  Speaking of stories, I'm sure The Hedgehog would have several doozies...

That's my list of the also-rans.  Join me tomorrow to discover the badass who beat everyone else on this list, to take the number one spot!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Two, Runner-Up)

CJ's note:  This is the Ninth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

It was a difficult task, putting these ten people (and five honourable mentions) into a ranked list.  Before I started writing these little blurbs, I agonized over who went where, what ranking each of them got - only to rearrange them as I wrote their entries.

Gretzky moved down a notch, Heenan went up several places (he was originally Number Eight), and Putin was supposed to be in third.  But despite all the agonizing, I knew all along who would be in the top two spots.  The problem is, I wasn't sure which of the two should take the top spot!

It took more agonizing and hand-wringing, but it soon became clear.  With that, I give you my Runner-up:

Tonight:  The voice of The National, Peter Mansbridge!

If I were to pick my favourite news anchor of all time, Mansbridge would still be in second place... to Walter Cronkite.  Both anchors were consummate professionals, and both men exuded great dignity and bearing.  However, as Mansbridge is the only one of the two who is still alive, he's the only one who can be on my list.  (Lloyd Robertson was on the list, but was cut early on).

Mansbridge isn't just masculine dignity and a sexy voice, though.  Anyone who's watched Mansbridge One on One knows of the man's interviewing (and conversational) skills!  I'd like to hear his stories about the people he's met and/or interviewed, the news stories he's covered and witnessed, history, Canadian politics, and sports.  While drinking Canadian.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Three)

CJ's note:  This is the Eighth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

Unlike the previous two entries on my list, Number Three is an athlete in only the broadest sense.  In his profession, one is less an athlete and more a performer, a dancer, a showman, or in his case, Greek Chorus.  While certainly capable of holding his own in a physical capacity (by cheating), in his heyday he was more famous for his strategic and vocal contributions to his sport, and his ability to incite a crowd to madness.

He is simultaneously one of the most beloved and reviled representatives of his sport.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you... Bobby "The Brain" (or "The Weasel") Heenan!

Confession time:  I grew up watching wrestling.  I loved wrestling as a kid, when my dad, brother, and I would sit around watching AWA Wrestling on TV.  Eventually, the WWF/WWE supplanted the AWA, but I remained a fan well into my twenties.  Even now, I find myself tuning into a match, or watching old ones on YouTube.

Bobby Heenan was always one of my favourites.  You could always count on his doing something underhanded during a match to propel his charge to victory, and the hilarity that would ensue whether or not the trick was successful.  His pre- and post-match interviews were always something special.

Sadly, I may never get the chance to have a drink with The Weasel, as he isn't in the best physical shape these days.  But if we could, I'd love to have a few beers and reminisce about the old days of the AWA and the early days of the WWF/WWE.

I'd also like to find out if we have a distant familial connection... I used to remark, as a kid, that, at certain angles, The Brain sort of looked like my paternal grandmother.  I found out later that my granny's maiden name was Heenan... that would be odd.  But cool.