Saturday, September 29, 2007

For you blue

Obituary of John Lennon
*Editors comment: This is unfinished.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

It was Dec. 8, 1980. John Lennon, 40, and Yoko Ono were on their way back to their hotel from the recording studio where they were making Double Fantasy. It was to be Lennon’s comeback after retiring from music in 1975 to raise his son Sean.

As they were walking into the hotel lobby, a voice pierced the night air saying, “Mr. Lennon.” When Lennon turned around, the now infamous Mark David Chapman shot him five times. One bullet strayed and hit the hotel. Two others hit the left side of his back and two more struck his left shoulder. Lennon limped and crawled to the hotel steps where he collapsed. His last words were “I’ve been shot.” Lennon died later that evening from internal bleeding and a damaged aorta. The clearly deranged Chapman calmly walked to a nearby bench and sat down waiting for the police to arrest him. A hotel clerk ran out to him and shouted, “Do you know what you’ve done?” Chapman replied, “I just shot John Lennon.”

Lennon’s sudden death caused the world to shiver. One could compare the reaction to his demise to that of Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy. The outburst of grief was phenomenal. At 2 p.m. on Dec. 14, countless fans around the world partook in a ten-minute silent ceremony for him.

Lennon was Lennon. Some might remember him before his days with The Beatles as a musician for his skiffle group The Quarrymen. The vast majority of the earth’s population knew him as the first half of what is still considered by many the peak of songwriting partnership: Lennon & McCartney.

The amount of words you could write are limitless but it should be known he was much more than a Beatle. He was an idealist. Politically radical. A peace activist. A father and friend. An ordinary man who achieved immortality the night he was shot and murdered.

Lennon was born in Liverpool, England on October 9, 1940. He received his first guitar when he was 16 from his mother. Sadly, two years later, his mother was struck by a car and killed. This devastated him. Lennon’s father left home when he was young, only to re-appear later on when he became famous with The Beatles. Consequently, most of Lennon’s songs deal with abandonment.

But he was more than just a songwriter; he had a natural knack for melody and rhythm. He played rhythm guitar for arguably the best band to ever have existed, and also brought realism into The Beatles which alienated them from the other pop bands at the time.

(Still need to fill this part in. If anyone has suggestions on how to do it, I'd appreciate them)

Lennon’s first solo album Plastic Ono Band was released in December 1970. A vicious departure from his signature sound with The Beatles, this record stunned Beatles fans. At the time, Lennon was undergoing primal scream therapy from Dr. Arthur Janov. Lennon had to emotionally confront his troubled past to complete the therapy. The majority of the songs on Plastic Ono Band grew out of the controversial therapy; songs like Mother where Lennon writes about his parents abandoning him. In God, he sings about not believing in The Beatles, an obvious attempt to destroy his past.

Later in his career, he adjusted his tune and fully embraced peace and love as themes for his personal life. It came out in songs like Give Peace a Chance and the powerfully heartrending Love.

Ironically, during Beatlemania, Lennon once said, “We'll either go in a plane crash or we'll be popped off by some loony."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

February holiday needs to be thought of seriously

By Sean McMullen

If re-elected on Oct. 10, the provincial Liberal government vowed to create a statutory holiday on the third Monday in February dubbed Family Day, a day intended for Ontarian families to focus more on each other. Family Day would boost Ontario’s statutory holiday number to nine, making it even with Saskatchewan, British Colombia, Alberta and the Territories.

While the exciting promise of a day off in February is enticing, it is nothing more than a vote-garnering tactic for the Liberal party. This late in the election game, voters should not base their vote on one promise the Liberals may not even keep.
Finance Minister Greg Sorbara’s reasons for the potential holiday were because Ontarians work hard, their winters are lengthy and because they deserve it. Sorbara also said Ontario is economically viable enough to give the proletariat a day off with pay.

Broken promises to the Liberals are comparable to feeding a destructive crack-cocaine addiction: they just keep doing it, regardless of the consequences.

For instance, Dalton McGuinty promised in 2003 that he wouldn’t raise our taxes. In fact, personal income tax revenues have gone up by 32 per cent since they took power in 2003. But that’s only the tip of the dishonest iceberg, which ironically is the same iceberg the Liberals are now slipping off.

There is no doubt a long weekend in bitterly cold February is attractive so why didn’t the Liberal party promise this before they were elected in 2003 or at least enforce it while in power?

Family Day’s origins began 17 years ago in Alberta. Then-Premier Don Getty created the holiday in response to a family drug scandal involving his son. Getty told the public it was his son’s involvement with drugs that caused him re-evaluate his priorities and to focus more on his family.

Criticism of the new statutory holiday came from Alberta employers who felt the additional holiday was a monetary yoke and they weren’t willing to put it on their shoulders.

Most likely, critics of the holiday will be labeled anti-family, especially opposing political parties.

James Cowan, A National Post journalist asked Ingrid Thompson, a Conservative spokeswoman what her party’s stance was on the issue. She said, “It’s always nice to seem like you’re giving candy to the voter, but it needs to be considered and thought through in terms of what its impact might be before anything is firmly decided.”

The Liberals must also consider the effects a possible holiday might have on people without families or if their families are far away. How would they celebrate Family Day? Should they be considered to have the day off work? I mean, if they don’t have a family, why would they?

The Liberals are also backing Conservative MP John Tory into an unyielding corner if he doesn’t support their holiday plan. If Tory praises their idea (and how he could not), he will be supporting a party he directly opposes. On the other hand, if he doesn’t believe Ontario needs another long weekend, he could lose votes from his followers, provided they aren’t uneducated sheep and know when a candy promise is being made.

However, this wasn’t the first time Family Day was proposed for Ontario and it wasn’t from the Liberals.

Earlier this year, Conservative MPP John O’Toole attempted to introduce Family Day to Ontario and his reason was that family is “one of the great institutions of civilization.”

So it seems both parties are trying to boost their image as “family-orientated” by proposing this new holiday. Playing with the hearts and minds of voters through seemingly sincere promises has always been a prominent staple in politics.

The Ottawa Citizen reported two weeks ago that the Liberals party has already made over 71 promises, while the Conservatives have pledged 142 including the controversial religious school funding.

Hypothetically, if the Liberal party is re-elected and they don’t follow through on their promise (which will probably be the case), they will come under a lot of heat from people who voted based on that one promise. And another broken promise would be the final cannonball sized hole in the ship they’re sailing on, not to mention the already stormy sea of angry voters.

Judging from the time of the announcement, it was a smart move to promise a new holiday while on Labour Day. People would be at home enjoying their day off, sipping some lemonade on their deck, hear the news on their transistor radio and think, “Hey, I could use another day off just like this.

Perhaps the money-grabbing provincial landlords are geniuses after all. But they need to get one thing straight. Please don’t take away your proposed holiday in February because I really want to go visit my family that weekend, you know, to spend more time with them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

J-E-L-L-O!

This is a backgrounder about the jiggly substance.

Long after the reptilian dinosaurs roamed the planet earth and before the emergence of the two world wars, there was a substance created that was so gooey, so tasty and so sugary; it would forever change the way people eat their dessert. And its name would be called Jell-O.

A good friend of mine, Webster, states that Jell-O is “a brand of dessert made from a mixture of gelatin, sugar, and fruit flavoring, dissolved in hot water and chilled until firm.”

Since Webster doesn’t explain the difference between the tasty treat and the trademark name, I feel it is important to distinguish the two.

Jell-O is a brand name, which belongs to the company Kraft Foods.

There. That’s it. But there’s so much more. The history behind it is fascinating.

In 1845, inventor Peter Cooper was able to secure the first patent for the wiggly dessert although it looks nothing like it does today. Cooper would boil calf's hoofs for hours, then add water to powder to create the gelatin, finally leaving it in a cool area to sit and take shape.

According to the Jell-O history at Kraft Foods website, Cooper packaged the gelatin in neat little boxes. The prepared gelatin had to be clarified by boiling with egg whites and shells, and then dripped through a jelly bag before being turned into shimmering molds. It was a longer process compared to ours today.

In 1897, the first Jell-O product became available in stores but it quickly needed an image attract people. The Kraft Foods website said, “The first Jell-O advertisement ran in Ladies’ Home Journal featuring smiling, fashionably coifed women in white aprons proclaiming Jell-O gelatin “America’s Most Famous Dessert”. At this time, Jell-O was always prepared in a tin mold.”

Originally, there were four flavors: orange, strawberry, lemon and raspberry. Today, there are currently 20 different gelatin dessert flavors which include: apricot, berry blue, cherry, cranberry, grape, lemon, lime, margarita, mixed fruit, orange, peach, pina colada, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, strawberry-banana, strawberry daiquiri, strawberry-kiwi, watermelon and wild strawberry. What, no bubblegum?

The website also said in 1904, Jell-O’s first trademark the Jell-O Girl made her first appearance; a small child playing with Jell-O boxes in a nursery instead of her toys. Weird. Their catchphrase was “You can’t be a kid without it.”

It didn’t make its debut in Canada until 1905 in the small town of Bridgeburg. And in 1923, to appeal to a larger audience, the first sugar-free gelatin D-Zerta was introduced. There are to date 12 sugar-free giggly desserts.

Author Wendy Woloson wrote about how the advertising of Jell-O made it the popular treat it is today, mainly thanks to the help of famous celebrities.

“Jack Benny and Mary Livingston promoted it on radio, coming up with the catchy "J-E-L-L-O" tune. Kate Smith sang the praises of Jell-O in magazine advertisements during World War II. In the 1950s, such luminaries as Roy Rogers, Andy Griffith, and Ethel Barrymore became spokespeople. From the 1970s through the 1990s, beloved actor and comedian Bill Cosby was the chief spokesperson for Jell-O,” she wrote.

Before I finish this mesmerizing tale about the giggly jelly, I called the Jell-O company to learn how many packages are sold each year. I was surprised to learn that over one million pack of Jell-O are sold each day including 250 million sold in the United States every year. On a side note, the receptionist or whomever I was chatting with was reading the Kraft Foods website information on Jell-O to me after I had finished reading the entire thing and I told her this before the interview.

American traveling food writers Jane and Michael Stern have said that "More than any other food, Jell-O symbolizes how America really eats ... Jell-O is Americana in a mold."

In 2003, a writer from Chemical & Engineering News, Corinne A. Marasco, discovered “when Jell-O hooked up to an electroencephalograph machine (an instrument that records the electrical activity of the brain), Jell-O demonstrates movement virtually identical to the brain waves of a healthy adult man or woman.”

According to the Gelatin Manufacturers Institute of America, gelatin contains 84-90 per cent protein, one to two per cent mineral salts and eight to 15 percent water. I guess if I need a brain implant, I can make my own.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

the seeker

i'm still around.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

back to school!