Sunday, December 14, 2008

Margin Notes: Fireworks, Leaders, and Batman


Fireworks lit up Toronto's City Hall during the Cavalcade of Lights fireworks on 13-December-2008

TORONTO, ONTARIO - One of the better free events during the holiday season in Toronto is the Cavalcade of Lights concerts in Nathan Phillips Square. At 7 pm on Saturday nights, a free concert takes place on the stage, followed by a short but spectacular fireworks display over Toronto's City Hall and a DJ leading skating on the nearby rink. I attended Dragonette's concert last night, finding it odd that lead singer and Timmons native Martina Sorbara (yes, the daughter of politician Greg) spent a lot of time complaining about the cold when it was only about -2 C, but really enjoying the fireworks display. One more concert remains--Serena Ryder next Saturday--along with one more red-and-green-dominated fireworks display.

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The political fireworks continued in Canada this week; as predicted, Michael Ignatieff became the leader of the Liberal Party as all other candidates stepped aside. The best take on the transition may have come from the CBC's satire team, which came up with the Iggy Leadership Doll presented at the end this week's edition of The House on Radio One--pull its chain and hear vocabulary not heard outside of academia.

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I have someone different in mind for Prime Minister, though. Before the prime-time speeches during the crisis two weeks ago, the group I was with decided to tune in CBC Television, and soon as we saw Stephen Harper on-screen, we'd turn up the volume and start paying attention. Soon, a figure behind a podium appeared on screen, but it wasn't Harper. The CBC now carries the "Jeopardy!" game show at 6:30 pm, and the man behind the podium was host Alex Trebek. That prompted some thinking--Trebek is Canadian, after all. He would probably make a pretty good prime minister. The only problem is that question period would have to be changed into answer period.

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Also thinking back to that night of speeches by Harper and St├ęphane Dion, the most amazing thing to me about Dion's speech is something I've yet to hear noted in the media. Despite one of the main criticisms of the proposed coalition being its perceived rejection of western Canada, his only mention of western issues in the speech was a reference to the forest industry in British Columbia--made seemingly as an after-thought to mentions of the automobile industry in Ontario and the resource industry in Quebec. Would it have been that hard to mention British Columbia FIRST in that list instead of last?

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A voice that used to boom over British Columbia at night, as well as its origin in Washington state, was radio talk show host Mike Webb, once of KIRO-AM in Seattle. Webb was murdered in April 2007, but a portion of his influence lives on in the form of 104.7 the Queen. Webb was a fount of knowledge about popular music in the rock-and-roll era, and often drew upon this information in his radio shows to talk about the influence of one popular group on another. The expertise in one mind may be lost, but Webb's record collection containing all that music continues to be played on an Internet stream, interspersed with short, often political and quite humorous liners. The name, the Queen, is a play on both Webb's homosexual orientation and the fact that he lived on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. If you miss Mike Webb, listening to the Queen is at least a partial antidote.

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In his final years, Webb was beset with legal problems, but one person that wouldn't be expected to have legal problems is Batman. Yet, Batman, or more precisely the maker of Batman movies--Warner Brothers--is facing a lawsuit from the town of Batman, Turkey. According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, the town is considering suing the filmmaker over the use of the name Batman, never mind that the comic strip started in 1939 and the town was not incorporated until 1955. In the end, this seems to be all about tourism for Batman--too bad Greece doesn't have a town named Catwoman or Joker.

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