Friday 29 May 2015

Karaoke Memories, Part 3

Picture it -- Japan. 2012. A busload of Canadian tourists driving through the Japan Alps. Not just any bus though. A bus equipped with a karaoke machine! Everyone singing at the top of their lungs. The bus rockin', rollin', bouncing off all four tires. Mariachi horns blaring. Mariachi horns? Yes, it's Ring of Fire!

I'm proud to say that Ring of Fire was my selection from the karaoke catalogue for our group singalong that day. The key to picking a great group karaoke song is to make sure it's very fast, catchy and something everyone knows. No dreary folk songs or weird slow stuff -- that just brings down the energy and the mood.

They loooooove karaoke in Japan, of course, because they invented it. Karaoke is everywhere in that country! We had such a blast that day on the bus. It sure passed the time and made the bus ride seem shorter. And how many people can say they've sung karaoke in the very Homeland of Karaoke?

Here's my one known factoid about karaoke -- it means "empty orchestra." It comes from "kara" ("empty") and "oke" (an abbreviated form of "okesutora" which is the phonetic Japanese imitation of our English word "orchestra"). It refers to the missing lead singer track in the otherwise fully recorded music. Now you know!

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Karaoke Memories, Part 2

About 10 years ago, My Rare One and I attended a friend's great 50th birthday party. She had rented the premises of the Old Bastards Club in the Edmonton Armouries for the occasion and what a blast we all had! Lots to eat and drink and then . . . karaoke!

My Rare One and I, along with a couple more friends, did our best Supremes imitation of this song, including their classic choreography --

Just call me Miss Ross!

But the true karaoke highlight of the evening came later, when one of our friends who is a professional singer sang "Unchained Melody." You know what a barnburner of a song that is and man, she gave it everything she had! We grabbed the candles off the tables and held them up along with any lighters we had, all swaying together for her moment of concert greatness, LOL!

Yes, we all had brain cramps the next morning. Why do you ask?

Next post -- Karaoke in its Homeland

Monday 25 May 2015

Karaoke Memories, Part 1

Do you like karaoke? I enjoy it every once in awhile. Over the years I've had three memorable karaoke experiences which I'm going to share with you this week.

The first time I ever experienced karaoke was in The Peg about 25 years ago. The karaoke fad had just come to Canada and was all the rage. So when Winnipeg's local lesbian bar, Ms Purdy's, advertised a karaoke night, a friend and I made sure to attend. We got there early too because the joint was packed!

Speaking of Ms Purdy's, here's a photo I took of it around the same time period. It wasn't quite as seedy inside as it looked from the outside, LOL! Ms Purdy's was a small place but managed to pack in a pool table, a good-sized stand-up bar, about a dozen tables and chairs and a small mirrored dance floor. Its windows were, of course, unbreakable one-way glass so we could see out but no one on the street could see in. The front door led into a security foyer where you'd first have to run the gauntlet of a couple of big dyke bouncers before being allowed into the bar itself. The purpose of that was to keep out gaybashers, religious nuts seeking to condemn us and/or save our souls, irate husbands/boyfriends looking for their AWOL wives/girlfriends, and men of all descriptions.

[Photo © Debra She Who Seeks, 1990]

Anyway, back to karaoke . . . .

A number of women got up and sang a few songs. OMG, they were dreadful! But everyone, being Canadians and members of the Sisterhood, clapped politely and did not boo them off the stage. Finally, at the end of the rather desultory evening, a chunky middle-aged lez with short salt & pepper hair went up to the front. She grabbed that mic and proceeded to just blow everyone away with an absolutely rockin' rendition of "Old Time Rock & Roll."

The whole bar erupted sky-high with clapping, stomping and cheering! She shut the place down too because no one had the nerve to follow that act at the karaoke machine, LOL! Later I heard that 10-15 years earlier, she had been one of the lead singers in a popular Winnipeg tribute band. And man, she still had it, baby!

Next post -- Karaoke at the Old Bastards Club

Friday 22 May 2015

Monster Chiller Horror Theatre

Hello, kids! Count Floyd here. Be prepared to be frightened to death by this week's monster chiller horror offering! Now give a big howl of welcome to our guest host, Debra She Who Seeks!
On my "Ask Me Anything" post, Dr Theda and/or Stacey of Dr Theda's Crypt inquired: "Who are your favourite Villain and Monster?"

While I'm awfully fond of existentially-tormented Marvel villains like Magneto and Loki, I must confess that there's a special place in my heart for a certain old timey musical villain, as cosplayed here by various cats --

Now, I suppose there could be an argument that the Phantom is not only a villain but also a kind of monster. But why quibble?
Listen to the music of the night . . . .

As for my favourite monster, I'm a big fan of Japan's gift to the world, Godzilla! But poor Godzilla is a very misunderstood monster, you know. He's really just a regular kinda guy who likes an occasional drink, good snacks and a fun time like anyone else --

Some even see a kind of . . . spiritual . . . significance in Godzilla. Are we misinterpreting Godzilla's message? God knows it wouldn't be the first time that ever happened!

Hey, if Scientology can be a tax-exempt religion, why not the Church of Godzilla? Send all donations c/o this blog, my children, that you may be greatly blessed, yea verily.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Bunnies Behaving Badly

It's not a well-known fact but rabbits swear like sailors. Especially when they miscalculate and things don't go their way.

Rabbits can also be bloodthirsty little savages. Don't be fooled by their cutie-pie sweet features.

Rabbits are also notorious thieves. Never trust them!

Of course, their sexually inappropriate behaviour is well known.

Time to take stock, Bugs. Are you sure that you're headed to heaven?

Monday 18 May 2015

Happy Victoria Day!

For Canadians too, it's ALL about having a paid day off work when it comes to celebrating the Royal Family. And today is a favourite statutory holiday in Canada -- Victoria Day! So let's go camping, have a BBQ and drink beer! "Queen Who?" Who cares?

But we should feel sympathy for Victoria's unfortunate descendant, Queen Elizabeth II. It's hard to be Queen these days. The world is so full of upstart wannabes --

Even poor little Prince George isn't safe from the mockers and pretenders.

But even if the Queen doesn't like our disrespectful attitudes, she can't stay downhearted for long . . .

. . . because she has a cunning plan! Yikes!

So all together now, let's hear a rousing chorus of --

Thursday 14 May 2015

Slaveowner Ancestors, Part 2

John Green, my 4x great-grandfather, was born in New Jersey in 1740. During the American Revolution, his Tory family remained loyal to England. John and his four brothers all "joined the Royal Standard" and fought to keep British control of the Thirteen Colonies. Having lost that struggle, John and his brother Adam emigrated in the late 1780s to the Niagara region in Canada as United Empire Loyalists. John brought along his wife Mary, seven children and a slave named Tom.

Slavery was perfectly legal in Britain and its Empire at that time. It took British abolitionists many decades to convince people that slavery is morally wrong, repugnant and should be abolished. Change came slowly, in small incremental steps. Initially, abolitionists succeeded only in having legislative reform measures passed to undermine slavery's viability and usefulness, not to end it completely.

The first such measure was taken here in Canada in 1793 at the behest of abolitionist John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. He persuaded the legislature to forbid any new slaves from being brought to Canada after that date. While slaves already in Canada remained enslaved, any children born to them in Upper Canada would be freed at age 25.

In 1807, Britain passed its own incremental reform statute and abolished the slave trade (although not slavery itself). It took another generation of political and social agitation before slavery was completely abolished at last in Britain and throughout the Empire in 1833.

John Graves Simcoe

Simcoe and his wife were good friends with John Green and his family. I suspect it was Simcoe who persuaded or pressured John Green to voluntarily free his slave Tom now that they lived in Upper Canada. It is said that after being freed, Tom chose to stay in the employ of the Greens for wages.

John Green prospered in Upper Canada until his death in 1830. In addition to owning a farm, saw mill and grist mill, he was also appointed as a surveyor, road builder and justice of the peace. His family name was given to the village of Greensville. Today it is part of the suburban neighbourhood known as West Flamborough on the outskirts of Hamilton, Ontario.

West Flamborough's Christ Church Anglican and its old graveyard sit on land provided by John Green in 1817 for that purpose. John Green and his wife (as well as my 3x great-grandfather Samuel Green and his wife) are all buried there apparently, although their tombstones have long since deteriorated and been lost to mortal view.

[Final two photos by Debra She Who Seeks, 2013]

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Slaveowner Ancestors, Part 1

Do you like watching those TV shows tracing the ancestry of various celebrities? I do, because both history and genealogy are interests of mine. Recently there was a news story about how Ben Affleck had persuaded the makers of PBS's Finding Your Roots not to mention his slaveowning American ancestors which the show had uncovered. He felt ashamed about his family's connection to the odious institution of slavery and did not want it to reflect negatively on him and his image today.

But facts are facts. In my opinion, it does an injustice to history (both national and personal) to hide or deny the truth. I suspect there are very few white Americans from old families who would not find slaveowners among their forebears. Descendants have to come to terms with the terrible way in which slavery benefitted their family's material well-being and advancement.

By way of contrast, I just finished watching the current season of TLC's Who Do You Think You Are? which also featured a couple of celebrities who discovered slaveowner ancestors -- Tom Paxton and Melissa Etheridge. They handled it very differently than Ben Affleck. Both were subdued and saddened to learn of slave ownership in their families but recognized that such hard historical truths were common in the times under investigation. They did not attempt to suppress that information being made public. Neither one celebrated this shortcoming of their ancestors but (quite rightly) also did not take the blame or shame of it upon themselves.

This issue is of personal interest to me because I have at least one slaveowner ancestor of whom I'm aware. I'll tell you his story in my next post.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Alberta and the Orange Wave

Well, I can die a happy woman now because I have seen it ALL. Seen the unthinkable. Seen the unbelievable.

True-blue, right-wing, conservative Alberta, home of hidebound political dynasties lasting decades at a time, has turned its back on the Progressive Conservative party! Alberta, of ALL places, has elected its first left-of-centre, majority NDP government. In Canada, this is the political equivalent of an earthquake, a tsunami and sharknado all rolled into one.

Many years ago, I read an article (written by someone whose name escapes me now) saying that Alberta truly lives out the quintessential cowboy stereotype of being strong, silent and stoic. But when Alberta's patience finally runs out, it doesn't yell and scream and carry on to let you know it's upset. No, Alberta doesn't say a word. It just puts its hand on its belt buckle, sets its jaw and narrows its eyes under its cowboy hat. That's when someone's gonna get his ass kicked.

And Alberta delivered one hell of an ass kickin' last night to the Conservative party.

Monday 4 May 2015

Short and Sweet

Today, some more questions from my "Ask Me Anything" post, all with succinct, pithy answers that cut right to the chase.

Aunt Mary of Easy Way: A Blog for Children asks: "Would you like to visit my blog?"

Knowing of my fondness for the noble Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, Brewella Deville of Fort Kickass inquires about a notorious cad from one of Jane Austen's other novels: "Willoughby's explanation of his behaviour in Sense and Sensibility: Bollocks or utter bollocks?"
Utter, utter bollocks.

Joy Christi of Comfy Town Chronicles asks: "If you knew you could have a book published and not have to worry about selling it, what kind of book would you write?"
Porn, of course. Isn't that where the real money is? Just ask E.L. James! Here's a photo of me already hard at work on my novel . . . .

From Anne Johnson of The Gods Are Bored comes this question: "Where do you find the hysterical memes you post?"
They come from countless hours spent aimlessly pissing around on the internet. And I steal only from the best, by the way. So don't hate me, anyone from whom I've swiped stuff.

Val of Miss Val's Creations wants to know: "What's your greatest fear?"
Like many women, I fear ending up as an impoverished bag lady in my old age. Or a crazy cat lady. Or both -- GAAAAAAAAAH!

Jackiesue of Yellowdog Granny says: "When are you coming to West for Westfest?"
Unfortunately I can't come this year, YDG, because I'll be at the Shaw Festival in Ontario that particular weekend. BUT My Rare One and I are seriously planning on coming to Westfest NEXT year in 2016! Just to doublecheck -- it's always held on the September Labour Day weekend, right? Eating a skunk egg and meeting you are right up there on my bucket list -- so Texas, prepare yourself for a couple of Canaderians abroad, eh?

[Photo of actual West TX skunk egg by

Friday 1 May 2015

Beltane Blessings to All

Okay now, you know what to do! Get going!