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Tag: Canada

In Flanders Fields

Friday, 11 November, 2016 0 Comments

During the Second Battle of Ypres, a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2 May 1915 by a German artillery shell that landed near his position. The Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae conducted the burial service and it is believed that he began to write the poem In Flanders Fields later that evening.

poppy Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November in many countries to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. Fighting formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”. Inspired by Major McCrae’s poem, the custom of wearing a remembrance poppy at the “eleventh hour” to commemorate military personnel who have died in all wars began. It continues to this day.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Major John McCrae (1872 – 1918)

Losses during the Second Battle of Ypres are estimated at 69,000 Allied troops, against 35,000 German, the difference in numbers being explained by the Germans’ innovative use of chlorine gas.


Putin: Sicilian mobster, European darling

Thursday, 22 October, 2015 0 Comments

Andrei Illarionow was an economics adviser to Vladimir Putin from 2000 to 2005. Today, he’s a senior fellow at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. In an interview with New Eastern Europe Illarionow explains why Putin has such an astonishing number of friends in Europe: from Marine Le Pen to Gerhard Schröder:

“Unlike communism, which was rather alien to European culture even if it had some roots in European history, Putin’s Sicilian way of rule is much more familiar to Europe and closer to the European heart. It is also a reason why it is so hard to fight it.

The Sicilian mafia has not yet been taken down. It is very much alive in Italy. We see very similar types of behaviour in many other European states like Greece, Bulgaria or Hungary. Even in the Baltic states there are elements of this attitude. This type of behaviour is associated not only Russians or the Russian psyche. Yes, some Russians behave this way, but it is not exclusively a Russian problem. Look at Croats or Serbs. It is in fact deeply rooted in European human nature.”

And what can we say so far about Putin’s operations in Syria? In the north of the country, Russia has fired rockets at four of the five areas controlled by anti-Assad rebels and avoided hitting the nearby positons of the Islamic State. This has allowed the Damascus regime and the Islamists to advance further towards Aleppo. In fact, what Russia is doing is equipping IS with an air force of its own. In this way, it is advancing the goals of Assad, whose planes are bombing the very places that are being attacked by IS terrorists. “Four-fifths of Russia’s Syria strikes don’t target Islamic State: Reuters analysis.”

Now is hardly the time for the West to kowtow to Putin or ease up on IS, but this is exactly what Justin Trudeau, the prime minister-designate of Canada, is doing. What an awful signal to send to those who have to endure the wrath of the new Sicilians.


Kerouac and Cohen in Paris

Saturday, 18 July, 2015 0 Comments

Dean Moriarty is the hero of On the Road by Jack Kerouac and Leonard Cohen enjoyed a few wild days and nights in the company of Kerouac during that mid-60s Chelsea Hotel phase in New York City. Fast forward a generation and we find Kerouac and Cohen providing inspiration for Moriarty, a musical collective of French, American, Swiss and Vietnamese artists living in France. Here, lead singer, Rosemary Moriarty, aka Rosemary Standley, joins forces with Dom La Nena, a Brazilian-born cellist and singer based in Paris. This is a special trans-Atlantic mix of Kerouac and Cohen, past and present.

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
He said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
She cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”


She bid me take life easy

Saturday, 13 June, 2015 0 Comments

The repertoire of the Canadian musician Loreena McKennitt is Celtic to its core. For the 150th birthday of the poet W.B. Yeats, her rendition of Down by the Salley Gardens, with its meditations on love, life and the passing of time is most appropriate.

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)


Mary Margaret O’Hara

Saturday, 6 June, 2015 0 Comments

The enigmatic Canadian singer-songwriter Mary Margaret O’Hara has made a sum total of two albums in a musical career that stretches back to the late 1970s. She’s best known for Miss America, which was released in 1988 and reissued in 2010. It appears regularly on those “top 100 albums of all time” lists and deservedly so as each song is a gem. With its echoes of Laurie Anderson, here is the superb Body’s in Trouble.


La Frontera

Saturday, 28 February, 2015 0 Comments

The late Lhasa de Sela was an American-born singer-songwriter who was raised in the United States and Mexico, and then divided her adult life between Canada and France. She died of cancer aged 37 on 1 January 2010.

When she was five months old, her hippie parents were reading a book about Tibet and the word Lhasa “just grabbed” them as the right name for the baby girl. The first decade in the life of Lhasa de Sela was spent criss-crossing the US and Mexico in a converted school bus with her family and La Frontera is autobiographical to the core.


Timber Timbre

Saturday, 3 May, 2014 0 Comments

There’s a dark thread of sleaze running through the songs of Timber Timbre on their latest album, Creep On Creepin’ On. The Canadians have sifted their way through the lode of blues, rock and folk and emerged with nuggets like “Hot Dreams”, “This Low Commotion” and “The New Tomorrow”. Vocalist Taylor Kirk sounds very like Nick Cave here.


Daniel Bejar and the other Daniel Bejar

Saturday, 26 April, 2014 0 Comments

“Informed by questions of memory, identity, and the histories found in the present-day, my practice looks to create ruptures within established narratives.” So states visual artist Daniel Bejar on his website. His “Statement” is a classic contender for inclusion in Pseuds Corner at Private Eye, but it gets better. In March 2011, The New Yorker published an article that uncovered Daniel Bejar’s elaborate schemes to impersonate Daniel Bejar, the Canadian musician, thereby muddling the media coverage of the two performers.

In his time, the musical Daniel Bejar has dipped into disco, folk, rock, new wave, pop and ambient electronica. On his tenth recording with the band Destroyer, which was released in 2011, he came as near to perfection as anyone who’s ever attempted to balance intricate song structures and cryptic lyrics with basic pop melodies.

Destroyer’s “Five Spanish Songs” EP was released last year and Daniel Bejar, the musician, had this to say: “It was 2013. The English language seemed spent, despicable, not easily singable. It felt over for English; good for business transactions, but that’s about it.” OMG! He’s beginning to sound like the other Daniel Bejar.


RIM has gone south and will go East

Monday, 28 January, 2013 0 Comments

On Wednesday, in New York City, Research in Motion (RIM) will present the first phones based on its all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system (OS). Given the company’s near-death experience in recent years, these devices will be RIM’s most important products since the first BlackBerry was released in 1999. Since then, 200 million of the devices have been shipped. So Wednesday is a now-or-never moment for “Canada’s signature technology company“, as The Globe and Mail calls it.

Those who know the mobile business say that RIM has left it too late. Its tragedy was the complete denial of the need for a new OS following the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Six years on, all is changed, “changed utterly“, as the poet said, and the real story now is about who’ll get which cut when the cooked Canadian goose is carved up.

“We are looking at all opportunities — RIM and many others,” Lenovo chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming told Bloomberg. “We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders.”

But maybe Samsung will pounce. The Koreans have shiploads of money and by buying RIM they’d acquire useful patents and, critically, a foot in the door of the enterprise market. However, if BlackBerry 10 turns out to be good, Sony, which makes excellent hardware, might be keen to get the kind of software that would allow it to become a serious player in the mobile business. RIM has gone south and the prediction here is that it will go East.