Friday, September 30, 2016


Who would think that this year I would be writing my third post about the National Anthem

But this is a good thing. The anthem has been around for over one hundred years and during that time people really haven't thought much about it, beyond Oh crap they're playing that song and I have to put down my beer and stand up

Or: They're playing that song I will make my uniform secure and salute and remind myself why I serve

Some people want to update the anthem by changing the gender preferences in the lyrics. Some people wonder why a deity is mentioned, a very specific deity, a deity who's name was often invoked to justify the violation of the civil and human rights of the people who actually "founded" this country and people who are never mentioned in the anthem

No matter whether you agree or disagree with these sentiments it seems that for many people, this anthem is not just outdated, it may not be significant or representative or relevant

An anthem of a slightly less ponderous began with Canadian singer Nelly Furtado. At a sporting event, Nelly changed the anthem's arrangement, to suit her voice and to suit her singing style. And that style is more 21st century than 17th century. In essence she was trying to make the anthem relevant

Oh golly gee wiz I guess we can't have that. Nelly pissed off a lot of people "It's the anthem,  you can't change the anthem that's unpatriotic" Usually intoned by people who never gave much thought to the anthem, to what it means and what its intent may be

A knee jerk reaction: Someone taught these people that the anthem was something sacred, something inviolate, something that, well, we should worship

Tsk tsk. Whenever someone tells you to accept something without thinking about it, check your wallet and check your freedom

The other night at the World Cup of Hockey, Ontario band Walk Off the World stepped into Nelly's high heels and sang their own version of the anthem. It was a folksy, roots, acoustic version; leaving the lyrics intact but giving the funeral dirge a more organic, approachable singalong sort of vibe

In an earlier post I suggested this very thing. Canada has an inordinate number of skilled, talented, passionate musicians. Musicians. People who understand music, who understand its impact, who know how to use music to invoke emotions, who understand that music can make us think, cry, get horny or feel like hugging the person next to us .. in a totally nonhorny way. Usually

Moving on

I think this just makes total sense. If the anthem is the music of a country then it is indeed a thing, something obdurate and implacable and unchangeable. But that makes it something that becomes inaccessible by most of us, and yes something irrelevant

But if the anthem is our song, the song of the people, then let the people have a say in it. Let musicians interpret it, adapt it, transform it. Let these musicians do what they do, use music to invoke, move, bond. Music is something we all love to share. So let's share this piece of music, let's use it the way it should be used; not as a monument but as an actual song

We sing songs, we play them, we share them, we discuss them. That's how you make the anthem inclusive. By making it something organic and fluid and perhaps even something we learn to anticipate. "Hey did you hear, the anthem tonight is going to be played by Spit In Your Eye. I want to hear that and don't forget to bring a rain coat"

The lyrics are one thing and I'm not sure I actually care. But having musicians interpret the song, make it relevant and .. gasp .. make it something you'd actually want to sing? Count me in

Is Walter Ostenak still alive? I can't wait to hear his polka version

Sunday, September 18, 2016


"We don't go the Ex, there's really not much to do there"

An oft heard refrain. True, if you are ride monster you won't find much at the CNE to entertain you. You go to Wonderland. I enjoy rides but I need more than that so for me, Canada's Wonderland gets real old real fast

To each their own as long as my own gets done first. Sez I

But anyway ... Collette and I decided this year to take advantage as much as we could of all the things you can do at the Ex beyond the midway and eating deep fried marshmallow-cockroach-peanut butter-trout lungs

I've already posted about the Air Show and Konterschwung but as they say on late night TV .. Wait! We're not done yet!

The last time the CNE hosted a water ski show was four years ago and we were there. The premise was the same, water skit stunts based on a loose comedic script about "skiologists" who design wacky water apparatus

What was new this year was something that barely existed four years ago: The flyboard.

A skiologist would pop up and now again, clothed in a white lab coat showing us that their phDs should be called into question

There were many conventional thrills as well, male skiers whose motto seemed to be "ramp, what ramp" and ...

... and females who perfectly demonstrated the beauty of strength and the strength in beauty

From the water we went to the land, and to a group of young men who seemed to hate the land, they spent so much time trying to jump off to it. That would the extreme pogo demonstration

So the pogo guys thought they could fly and they used their little custom machines to achieve that. We saw a show that featured another group of people who think they can fly and to assist them, they use whatever is at hand in their environment. That's not a bad definition of parkour, or free running.

We saw this group last year when they did a show loosely based on some fictional scene, this year it was billed as a competition between teams of two but really, it was just an excuse to have forerunners do what forerunners do.

So yeh, not much to do at the Ex. And the video? Yeh, nothing much going on there either

Canadian National Exhibition Highlights from Victor Kellar on Vimeo

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Have you ever felt like Alice? Tumbling down that rabbit hole, at the end of it expecting a mundane comfy little dark chamber but instead, finding a world filled with unexpected marvels?

Well that happened to Collette and I at, of all places, the CNE

Our first day at the Ex we decided to catch some of the dozens of shows you can see included with your admission. We always came back for the three hour long Air Show but this day, we just wanted to catch some of the smaller shows provided

The sign on the hall read Konterschwung: Swiss Acrobats. OK we thought, that sound entertaining. We like gymnastics/cirque type shows and this one was inside; we'd been out in the sun for hours so it would be nice to get some shade and to sit down

As the music started men began to come off of the stage, all of them dressed identically; white coveralls and sunglasses. They say nothing but they sort of stalk around, observing the audience with an expression that is blank yet with a hint of derision

Some of the men brought a set of parallel bars up on the stage and I though OK, this is what I was expecting. But it wasn't, it really was not. As the men stood up on stage, the began to unzip their coveralls and I thought "Huh, Magic Mike comes to the Ex"

Out came the swim caps and the goggles and I knew we were definitely down that rabbit hole. The troupe did indeed use those bars but not in a way I've before seen. In competitions only one man uses the bar at one time. I guess where these guys train there's only one set of bars and they had to learn how to share.

Besides the impressive athletic skills on display, these guys infused everything with a family wacky sense of humour that belied their stoic expressions. Collette was laughing so hard she had difficulty taking pictures.

So I'll stop trying to explain this to you and just let you watch the video. Don't bump your head on your way down the hole

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