What Is Facebook Anyway?

Is it a platform which began as a place to share but has become more of a sponsored ad bulletin board? Is it a place for the voiceless to espouse political doctrine? Is it a place to promote unabashedly? Is it a place to put publicity into ones otherwise closeted past time? Is it a place to “troll” other’s opinions and activities for discovery in place of a phone call and meaningful relationship?

Although the platform continues to appeal to my curiosity and sincere interest in other’s lives as well as a place to share my blog and thoughts, I do marvel at its plasticity. I’m amused at how polite people can be in public but obnoxious and rude when on line. I’m perplexed by the degree of engagement by some in the context of actually making a living. I’m grateful for its convenience in connecting to relatives at physical distance. I’m exasperated by the vanity expressed by some.

There’s no question in my mind that “social media” has had negative consequences for the sociability of mankind. Net negative? Hmm. Reminds me of a story to share.

This past Wednesday, I headed down to McHugh House to take in some live music and witness first hand roots of the local music scene. To my disappointment, the band played excessively loud for the small venue and if one wasn’t equipped with ear filters (I was prepared), the discomfort would be intolerable. The most intriguing aspect of the performance was how transfixed these young people were to embracing the act instead of embracing each other. This was not an auditorium environment. It was actually a restored heritage home. As expected, on arrival prior to the opening number, folks stood silent with heads bowed over their phones.  I made it through one set and recall one relatively decent tune by this band called “Heavydive”.

Respectfulchild Plays Studio Bell

Harmonics, loops, original licks all layered in front of your eyes by this native Canadian lass demonstrating solo mastery over her violin. She’s taken pedals typical of the electrical guitar and applied them to this exquisite instrument.  She starts quietly by laying down a beat and then amplifies. The groove takes hold and she moves into a bass line all the while calculating the best portrayal of her unique style with the pentatonic follow on.  The mood is thick with anticipation. The venue is fitting for the swings in sonic amplitude. You’re with her as she carries you. I’m somewhere else ‘cause I saw her last year and I have her CD.  Friday night at the Performance Hall.   

Jermaine Gresham and American Airlines

In spite of the gesture being relatively small in the big scheme of things, there is a succinct take away. A young lady was going to miss her flight for $50 over the cost of a new American Airlines policy of charging for carry-on luggage. Her credit cards weren’t working because of an international restriction and American Airlines wouldn’t take cash!

This behemoth of a corporation was about to deny a woman her flight because they wouldn’t take a perfectly legal form of payment in lieu of a new charge policy.  This good Samaritan football player, Jermaine Gresham, not only saw through the ridiculousness of the situation but stepped forward in generosity.

There is way too much of this idiocy happening at all levels of human interaction.  Workers want to feel empowered but when they’re put into a position to showcase the corporate image of customer service and goodwill, they inevitably fail for reasons of misplaced ego, stubbornness, closed mindedness, or unfortunately the ugliest of reasons –  rigid staunch policy dictated from aloof management teams. 

These large corporations patronize from their oligopoly and expect you to forget instances of brain cramp. On the one hand, these corporations want to empower their people but when the unique situation arises to display sensitivity at just the right time, companies and employees fail.  On the one hand it’s amusing to witness the faltering as an expected response to a digital faceless world but on the other hand, it’s disappointing to see the so called professionals lack professionalism at every turn.

Should a corporation be required by law to accept cash as a means of payment when cash is the purest form of money? Oh, it’s not the purest form you say? Hmmm…..a topic for another day.   


Talking Canadian Women’s Tennis

Tennis Canada is making headway in player development. Upon taking the Instructor Level One course in 2014, I sensed that the curriculum for the introductory player was strong. There have been advancements in addressing the needs of the young players. This year at Roland Garros, four Canadian women have merited entries into first round qualifying with No. 120 ranked Francoise Abanda leading the charge. In fact Ms. Abanda was seeded 16 in the qualifying tournament. 

Indeed, Ms. Abanda has ruffled some feathers of late in her claim that race has played a role in the context of her lack of exposure on the tennis scene despite her rise in ranking. She could be right. She could be wrong but she’s allowed to feel the way she feels. One can label her as a “victim” or a grandstander. In a facebook post just yesterday, I wished luck to the Canadian men vying for the French Open title but I did so having first checked the first round of the women’s draw having concluded that no Canadian woman made it through qualifying. I am sensitive this way knowing full well the current state of Bouchard’s game and the past history of Canadian women’s tennis. Bianca Andreescu just missed by the way.

I’m willing to cut Canadian sport reporters some slack given Canada’s tennis track record.  The most decorated Canadian tennis player, Daniel Nestor, did in fact move out of the country (for good reason due to our exorbitant tax system) and his residency would have been relevant in our sports reporters refrain from covering him. Have you heard of him?  Canada’s attention to the sport has paralleled the relative lack of players at the top level but it’s good to see that things are changing. More indoor facilities and grass roots programs will further improve the sport’s appeal.   

Apology Sincerity Amidst Brash Political Climate

Leave it to the teeny boppers from Parkland to contend with the holy-roller Charlton Heston idolaters armed with professional lobbyists over at Capitol Hill. They have been better gun control advocates in a mere month compared to years of muddled politicians sitting in halls of legislative power. Yes, Laura Ingraham of Fox News is eating crow having witnessed advertiser backlash upon referencing what was in her view one eloquent gun control advocate and  Parkland survivor’s “whining” about college rejection letters. To his credit, he mustered the forces of social media via twitter storm which in mere hours exerted material financial pressure on the network. Her apology seemed to lack the contrition necessary to ameliorate the damage not dissimilar to apologies nowadays which oftentimes are infused with conditional premises attached to them. Her apology started out with “in the spirit of holy week”. I guess it’s kind of a way for the over indulged ego to be salvaged when apologizing. Apparently, there is this hope that the craftiness of the apology can serve the purpose while saving face and even perhaps pass on sincerity depending on the intellect of the receiver. I know you’ve seen it before when watching the news. It’s sad because it’s patronizing but it’s also humorous because of their naivety and disdain for the acuity of their fellow man.   

Classics Albums Live Does Fleetwood Mac Rumours

It was touted as a note for note cover of Rumours. I thought, I’m definitely qualified to be the judge of that. I’m going despite hearing of the event a mere hours before show time. Lo and behold, there was a single ticket left in upper deck of Jack Singer upon navigating Calgary’s Art Common website.

With the opening of Second Hand News, I could immediately tell that this was no joke. This group of eight were spot on and certainly would have been unimpressed by two apparent mixing mistakes during this track one of side one.  Dreams arose next and was performed in perfect tempo and rhythm despite a somewhat undramatic delivery by Stevie of this sauntering classic melody.

Precision note for note playing was acutely evident in Never Going Back Again and Don’t Stop and a calm affirmation was developing throughout the hall. However; by the end of Go Your Own Way having witnessed the accompanying exquisite guitar solo, the audience was stirring in delight.  

Christine McVie next makes her appearance with Songbird.  One now contemplates the voice characteristics and personality similarities of original artists and portrayals on stage. McVie’s modesty was a bit overshadowed by the confidence of this particular mature professional musical imposter.  With exception of the tonal voice difference, it would have been tough to distinguish from the recording. 

Onto the flip side with The Chain. Obviously the bass player gets a mention here with the classic bass line on full display. What bass player hasn’t played it? The trick was not to screw up. He succeeded. As for the solo, in my glee I’m watching a pretty woman in fish nets laying into a Les Paul. The young couple next to me is providing more feedback than the 100 watt Marshall at stage center.  She’s got her groove on and realistically there was embellishment beyond the actual bends vibratos of the recording. 

I frankly thought that “Oh Daddy” here was better than the recording with some subtle acoustic scale over lay to add fruitfulness.  Golddust Woman showcased more of the real Stevie in action. The hip sway and draping witchy aura was broadcast with more verve than earlier in Dreams. I was impressed by the deep low tone voice quality similar to the Queen of Rock herself.     

I’d be amiss in not closing with the powerful voice of the lead male singer. Not only did he stay in key, and never waver but he sang with authority and charisma. Unsurprisingly, two accomplished guitarists exchanged rhythm and lead roles here and as we know it was a combined job of one underrated guitarist Lindsey Buckingham back in the day.

At break I shared the Peter Green story with some lonely looking soul. Certainly, 90 per cent of those in attendance would not have known of Green’s influence on Fleetwood Mac during the early days blues roots.     

After the break having finished up Rumours, the band moved on to other Fleetwood Mac favourites and particularly gelled as a group in a nuanced version of Tusk. The drummer took the stage with fury in a thunderous solo and reminded all about his ever present skill set as the back drop of the evening’s performance. I was looking forward to what they’d do with I’m So Afraid but was mildly disappointed by the guitar solo. The Rhiannon intro had everyone abuzz and Stevie nearly missed her last line of Landslides while the audience drew breath.

The night finished with a rhythmical escape and surreal sense that this has all been experienced some forty years after those junior high school dance memories.               



Who Is Andrew Neeme?

He is a down to earth poker player in Las Vegas who started making video productions related to Vegas lifestyle and poker sessions. Why am I writing about him? Well, he’s a good guy and deserves a little notoriety for bringing a vacation destination to home computers in the thousands. He wasn’t really the ultimate ground breaker on the youtube vlogging scene but he put a twist on the activity with his unique laid back charm. In fact, his popularity earned him a nomination and victory at the 2018 American Poker Awards gala held recently.  Whether it’s game nuance, Vegas cocktail bar suggestions, interviews with poker Joes, hand breakdown, or destination highlights from tournament play abroad – there’s a little something for everyone blessed with a little competitive spirit and sense of adventure. Andrew’s success in the vlogoshere has had much to do with his genuine sense of courtesy and goodwill coupled with poker ambassadorship. The game has indeed been in need of positive rebranding efforts of which Andrew stepped right into the void. Go ahead and subscribe to his channel and see for yourself.              

Linkedin Satire

 I love LinkedIn because it’s fun to see people profiled as their very best. You know, without the nose hairs or perspiring pits.  A little resume padding or subtle embellishment takes us unto the realm of the wannabe versus the actualized being – for some anyway. I’m always wondering about the five year question. What do all these perfect people expect of themselves in five or even ten years? To define oneself professionally via computerized profile just seems pretentiousness enough to not give the exercise much merit. You can’t help but be impressed by those with enough idle time to actually put up posts  or regurgitate business news in hope of garnering a “following” and even soothe the ego by witnessing feedback alongside.  It’s just too much for me to digest with a straight face but the phenomenon is still no match for the textomaniac in between sets at the gym.        

What Gary Moore Had Goin’ On Guitar

The thing about Gary Moore was how masterful he was at identifying the right note in the scale at the right time with feel and distance. Distance you ask? Yes, the blues requires delay for effect.  You just can’t rush a riff if the mood doesn’t call for it.  Yes, he was fast but only used his gifted fast fret work during connected movements or outros.  Although a rocker back in the day with Thin Lizzy, it’s fair to say that his best work was done with the Blues. In fact, he may have covered Hendrix’s Red House better than anyone and duplicating the Hendrix style was no easy feat.

This was a guitarist who could sing, keep rhythm, and break out into melodic solos at will. Moore understood time and enraptured audiences with intervallic breath. His bends were precise, vibratos pristine, and always came home to the “one”. He may not have carried the stage presence of a Prince or Slash, but in fact his modesty was enamouring. His expression was always one of feeling the music as he played which ultimately brought you into his auditory canvass. Gary Moore was a very talented musician but may not have grasped the extent of his gift leading a lifestyle attributable to his death. Thankfully, YouTube channels have catalogued the man with flavourful selections of his playing over the years. Of all guitarists, his playing has been most instrumental in aspiring my learning and practice. 

Songs of note, “The Loner”, “Still Got The Blues”, “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”, “Parisienne Walkways”, “Redhouse”          

Those Applauding The Budget

Imagine sitting in the House of Commons as an elected representative watching your colleagues clap to the conclusion of a budget speech which has implied yet another large deficit and no plan for paying down the national debt. Your projected national debt will be going up while your household cuts and compromises.  I never actually saw the speech because I was tending to taxpayers but I can just imagine that there was some peer pressure at work amongst liberals inciting smiles and applause. There is this justification of relative debt to GDP which apparently provides the rationalists with comfort. 

Our society has morphed into a “me first, where’s the gravy train” mentality with victimization as the root cause. Strident individualism has been superseded by “group think join the cause” deference. In apathy of a justice system unworthy of amicably resolving civil matters expeditiously, it’s now bestowed upon you the taxpayer that society through wealth redistribution will right all wrongs.

You, the taxpayer, have become a conduit for wealth redistribution. That’s really how your government views you. You are patronized by your government if self employed having taken risk. If you win, you’ll be penalized for victory through increased taxation. Hence; your aspiration may be muted thereby tempering the national pulse. In fact in time, government surmises that since it has sucked the wind out of free enterprise that it may need to invest commercially in the face of subdued capitalist interest despite banking profits at record highs.

The human spirit takes notice. It heeds the subtle intrusion of a civil liberty here and there.  It watches ego at work on the big stage. It digests impudent behaviour by those in the spotlight who dismiss legitimate claims of misconduct. Gratefully, the well endowed human spirit void of chemical inhibitors continues to elicit presence manifesting a message amidst aberrant policy.