May 29th, 2006

Fishy Circumstances

You can't get there from here

I didn't go to the Learneds today after all. The public transit system, the TTC, was on unexpected* strike as of first thing this morning, so there was no obvious way to get there. The system is gradually coming back together, but occasionally in odd ways. The Bloor-Danforth subway is running, but not Yonge-University. Because the hub stations have no way of blocking off one set of tracks from the other, this means the major hub stations are all closed down still.

Instead, among other things, I drooped in the sweltering summer smog in the good company of pittenweem, and saffronjan fed me avocado salad for dinner. The night before, safely in air conditioning, I feasted and chattered the evening away with double0hilly; more about that meal anon.

Toronto changes slowly. The ROM extension is starting to become interesting. The Grand and Toy which closed at Avenue and University reopened across the street. The south end of Spadina is gradually being reinvigorated. More and more of the waterside condos are now finished structures. The U of T owned sports field at Devonshire and Bloor is being redeveloped after years of controversy - but into what?

Note for Pie Afficionados: The white chocolate apply pie bar which C. entered in the pie contest tasted much more like the real thing than Baskin-Robbins pear tart ice cream does.

Note for Potato Fans: A German potato battles for the right to continue to exist.

* It was an illegal strike. What would make a strike legal?
Fishy Circumstances

Kotoko/Eurovision

Trite pop music sounds better in foreign tongues. Even if when sung in a language I've studied, song lyrics require that much extra thinking. It's easier to pay less attention to the words, to permit the sound and tune to comprise the music's sum, without the distraction of lyric superficiality. This is why I've long been attracted to foreign pop music.

Most of the time, I could justify the purchase of an album - I was studying the language, it was a way to practice, to listen, to sing along to easy melodies, until turns of phrase became comfortable to me - not that they were usually phrases I needed to know. But still, it was language practice. I have pop albums in Italian, French, Japanese, Aboriginal Australian. No, I haven't studied all of those.

So when I first met Eurovision, I took to its multi-national language and culture fusion naturally. Sure, most of the songs are in English or French. But not all. Bosnia scored high marks with the lament Lejla this year in Bosnian. Alvedansen, by Norway in Norwegian, was an ethereal piece of elegance, but better suited to a movie soundtrack than the contest. Croatia had a fidgety Croatian entry. Bloody Mary was Spain's exceedingly bored entry by Las Ketchup. Romania's compelling dance beat Tornero (with an irritating video) has verses in English and an Italian refrain.

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You can still watch the videos for all of the entries here.




The second Saturday in a row found me listening to songs sung in another language - only this time, it was live! For the first time, Anime North imported a j-rock band as one of its guests of honor. Kotoko, the name of the lead singer, recorded theme songs for series including Please, Teacher, the only one I'd heard of, Tweeny Witches, Kannazuki no Miko, and Starship Operators. Anime North was the first stop on her first "world tour", starting in Toronto, going to A-kon in Texas, and then back to Japan for a more extensive tour there.

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