Night Music: The Unthanks, “King of Rome”

November 30, 2014

If you love great singing and you love silver bands as I do, and if you love working class heroes, then this is really hard to beat.  If you are not from the north of England you may have trouble understanding all the words, but it rewards two or three listens.  You could even print out the lyrics and sing along.

I love this with a passion.

Happy Times

November 30, 2014

We spent some of this afternoon saying goodbye to Australian planner and irreverant wit Wendy Sarkissian who returns home on Wednesday after a busy three months here teaching at Langara and UBC.  The goodbye party was in the bar at the Sylvia Hotel, with a fine fiery sunset colouring English Bay.  Good to see Wendy again, plus lots of good discussions about planning and a lot more.

To get to the Sylvia, of course, we had to pass through the A-maze-ing Laughter, better known as the Giant Laughing Statues.  The everloving had wanted to come down here for a while, so Wendy’s party was the perfect opportunity.


Wise Words

November 30, 2014


“Count no day lost in which you waited your turn, took only

your share, and sought advantage over no one.”

— Robert Brault

The Evil of Television Recognized Early

November 29, 2014

As most people reading this blog will know, I wrote a history of Commercial Drive.  In the midst of the research for that I found an editorial in the Highland Echo, Commercial Drive’s local paper, that took a prescient view of television.  They described it as:

… just one more of the influences currently being brought to bear on the American people to render them incapable of independent thought and independent decisions.”

Not much to add to that really.

The date of the editorial?  30th November, 1950.  Sixty-four years ago.

Image: Turban

November 29, 2014

turban 1

Cult Books

November 29, 2014

The book critics at the Telegraph have produced a list of The 50 Best Cult Books.

What is a cult book? We tried and failed to arrive at a definition: books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula ” whacko”; books our children just won’t get…

Some things crop up often: drugs, travel, philosophy, an implied two fingers to conventional wisdom, titanic self-absorption, a tendency to date fast and a paperback jacket everyone recognises with a faint wince. But these don’t begin to cover it.

Cult books include some of the most cringemaking collections of bilge ever collected between hard covers. But they also include many of the key texts of modern feminism; some of the best journalism and memoirs; some of the most entrancing and original novels in the canon.

I find I have read 32 of the 50. Does that make me a cultist? And have I really missed out on the other 18 books? Most of all, I am astonishingly pleased to see “A Confederacy of Dunces” on the list. Years after we both read it, my wife and I still throw Ignatius-isms at each other on a regular basis.

First published in May 2008

Night Music: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

November 28, 2014

Completely by chance, we caught a TV concert of theirs.  Just outstanding energy!