Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a Good Friday

Like the limbs on the Irish, whose skin was never meant to touch the sun, the main road at the Irving Nature Park is now freckled as the white gives way to the earth below and I was enjoying the bright sun intermittently striking me as I ventured out for my first run of the year at this gem.  The park had plenty of other vermin both scurrying and sauntering across its body as other locals needed to be closer to this promise of warmth as winter finally succumbs to Spring's advances.

My day started at six with a nearly-full moon bright over the St. John River and a grey, frost covered landscape as I rose to take our beloved long-time customer and musically named canine for his morning romp.

Both occasions offered surprisingly few non-human creatures, only spotting another dog and the odd seagull in the morning and a mere crow near the half kilometer mark (working in reverse) of my noonday run.

The highlight of this Easter Friday came at the end of my run, as I walked the peninsula road to cool down.  Gaining on a senior couple walking their dog, the lady reached over, completely unaware of my presence, and grabbed the gentleman's ass.  They chuckled then looked behind whereupon I quickly averted any sort of acknowledgement of witnessing this lovely gesture.

I could not wait to get home to my Holly.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Autographs by Post

I collect autographs.  When you live in an east coast Canadian city like Saint John or Halifax, you have to be creative to obtain signatures from the stars.  So, years ago I began mailing requests to celebrities hoping for a response.

Recently, I found a few letters that were never mailed and I'd like to share them with you because I believe it is important to share some of the secrets that make make you a successful philographist.

Send a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) with your request.  Even though stars make lots of money dancing and such, they aren't going to pay for your stamp.  Add a stamp for a couple extra cents because it sometimes takes years for a busy celebrity to respond and you wouldn't want it returned to sender.  Don't forget about geography either.  That Canadian stamp won't work if the target is US based.

Send a hand-written note requesting their autograph.  Make it personal, but not too long (bloggers should excel at this).  If you have the capabilities, you may want to try one of my patented tricks - write it with your left hand (if you're right handed), it makes you appear younger and makes it more difficult for the person to refuse your request.

On a similar vein, it's not considered to be in good taste to lie to elicit sympathy.  Don't say you have a terminal disease when you don't, but it is certainly encouraged to identify with your particular luminary's struggles to form a bond.

Make certain you send the item you want autographed.  Be it a photo, a sport card or a plain index card, doing this will increase your chances for success and, if they happen to have an extra 8x10 laying around, you just may receive a little bonus.

Don't tell them that you pay their salary by supporting their work.  It doesn't work to get out of speeding or jaywalking tickets and it will ensure your letter ends up in the bottom of a waste basket or tossed out of the window of a speeding  limousine.

Be aware of autopens.  You may get your item back signed, but that doesn't necessarily mean they signed it.  Many who get  copious amounts of requests use this device and it is not considered a true autograph.  Some simply have their  secretaries  sign things.  Margaret Atwood's infamous LongPen puts things in a bit of a grey area, but definitely saves on travel costs for those draining book tours.

Next post will have those examples mentioned above, so be sure to check back to see how to properly word an autograph request to give you the highest probability of achieving your goal.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Different Blades of Grass

The many different shades of green - where is your money being spent?

We hear about the importance of supporting local business everywhere, but do we follow through?  Some of us avoid the large box stores unless we don't have a choice.  Some sing the praises of their favourite shops to friends and family.  Some read about local bloggers' sponsored visits to local stores, some stops even hit twice!  Some have even attended Cash Mobs.

According to statistics presented by The 3/50 Project, $68 of every $100 spent at an independent business stays in a community compared to $43 spent in a chain store.  Naturally, when you make an online purchase at, say, nothing is injected locally.

How does uptown Saint John fare when it comes to supporting local business?

Since Holly and I started Cash Mobs and, resulting from the positive energy we received from that endeavour, opened our own business, The New Artisan Studio, the following uptown businesses have closed their doors:

  • Robin's BeadWorks (our first Cash Mobs destination)
  • Rowena's Boutique
  • Appleby's Image Centre
  • Belly Beautiful Maternity and Baby (moved to Rothesay)
  • Bejamin's Books (not uptown, but needed to mention since this was a Cash Mobs Destination too)
And we hear of more to come soon.

 On a positive note, there are shops opening too.  Exchange on Germain,Classy Lassy and Harrison House Gallery come to mind.

Saint John born Canadian Icon Stompin' Tom Connors died last night and as I listened to an interview on CBC Radio with Jian Ghomeshi from a couple years ago, lamenting the fact that I didn't know as much of this man as I should have, Tom was asked about the changes he's seen in Canada over his life and this uber-loyal patriot expressed his regret that it once meant something to him to be able to say he knew each blade of grass in this country, but now each town has lost its individuality as mega-outlets like Walmart set up their box store replicas.

How many reading have been to the newest Walmart on the west side?

Let's make our lawns unique - support local independent business.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder is a fireplug ready to go off.  At her recent concert at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John, NB she delivered life like a gospel preacher before the rapture - no small feat in that venerable space - even getting some dancing in the aisles.

I first saw Serena in concert in Halifax at St. Matthew's Church in November of 2009 and have been extolling her abilities ever since.

Amid the apprehension of an impending storm, Holly and I sat down in the new Ta-Ke Sushi on King Street needing some respite from an unforgiving winter.

"Is she like Sarah Harmer or will she move on the stage?" dance-girl Holly inquired.

"It'll be fun," I smirked back.

Satiated with yam and avocado makimono, miso soup, and green tea, we started, after a quick stop at the studio, on the slippery incline toward the Imperial, found some over-priced chocolate for dessert and were ushered to our eighth row middle seats.

Montreal born Danielle Duval showed her fearlessness taking the stage with only a guitar and her camera as she opened the concert with some songs from her album Of the Valley and tossed in a brilliantly brave cover of Grease's "You're the One that I Want" that was featured on the soundtrack for Californication.

Ryder chose the certain-hit "What I Wouldn't Do" to open the show and showed off the stuff her newest album, Harmony, is made of.  With polished repartee and a few on-stage local guests, she charmed the audience from start to finish, disporting her abilities with various guitars and a small fortress of drums.

And then there's her most-treasured instrument - her voice.  Her self-proclaimed idols - Etta James (At Last) and Nina Simone (anything she wanted) - had nothing on Serena's modulations, despite her recent troubles with "losing" this gift.

Her performances sound so much like her recordings I found myself looking for cues that would signal to me that she wasn't pulling a Beyonce, it's that good and no, she definitely wasn't.

Serena delivers a real show - the band, lighting, technical effects all combine with her vocalizations, intrumentations and dramatic costumes to showcase the smart, tribal, sorceress she has become.

Holly and I left the sermon with renewed spirits and looked out upon King Square to find the ground we expected to be white and nasty was still mostly bare.  It was a March miracle.