Mystery and Romance Still Exist

Music blogs have been talking about a man named Lewis. He is a Mystery, a Romantic. His songs are slow-tempo and synth-soaked. His singing voice is full of distressed feeling and non-naive hope.

What is known about the pseudonymous Lewis is not much. Some evidence suggests he’s from Canada, but that’s far from proven. Apparently, in 1983 a man who “stayed in the Beverley Hills Hotel, drove a white convertible Mercedes, and dated a girl who looked like a model” recorded an album titled L’Amour. He then disappeared. About 30 years later, a copy of L’Amour popped up in an Edmonton flea market. Lewis was reborn.

Earlier this month, someone found a second Lewis LP titled Romantic Times. On the cover, a man in a suit with cigar in hand stands before a private jet. An engineer credited for working on the 1985 album said that while he remembers little about the session, he does recall Lewis appearing to be “under the influence.” The one known copy of Romantic Times recently sold on eBay for $1,825.00.

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Can Hitchbot the Hitchhiking Robot Make It Across Canada?

This is an experiment to see not if humans can trust robots, but if robots can trust humans, says Hitchbot’s co-creator Frauke Zeller, an assistant professor at Ryerson University.

Hitchbot’s mission: to hitchhike from Halifax to Victoria, presumably while making new friends and having plenty of adventures along the way.

Hitchbot is programmed to converse about many things, but let’s hope for the mission’s sake Hitchbot steers clear of prodding discussions on politics and religion. Let’s also hope Hitchbot is programmed to be quiet when the occasion calls for silence. No one likes a needy passenger.

Judging by Hitchbot’s Twitter account, the little guy has already been promised a ride into Quebec, despite starting the journey just yesterday. Then again, homeless drifters of the human variety rarely get this level of positive press coverage.

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A Look Back at the Drive-Through

Maybe you’ve heard: Today is National Drive-Through Day. There’s a time to commemorate almost everything these days, it seems!

Anyway, to honour the occasion Canadian Business has assembled a short history of the stay-in-your-car convenience. Did you know, for example, that Canada’s first drive-through arrived in 1975 thanks to the good people at Wendy’s? Apparently so!

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Andrew Coyne on the State of Canadian Democracy: It’s Bad

This video is a few months old, but worth the watch. Even if you already have, you shouldn’t feel bad for watching it again. There are more pernicious ways to squander your time.

Clip summary: For nearly 40 minutes, Andrew Coyne talks into a microphone about all the bad things in Canadian politics today. Voting, lies, media, debates, lies, too much PM power, too little MP power — all topics are addressed. It’s a situation, Coyne argues, all parties have helped create.

A few good lines he delivers near the beginning: “We should be aware, of course, of falsely idealizing how politics used to be in this country. There never was any golden age. But we should equally steer clear of the lazy assumption that it’s always been this way. It hasn’t. It’s worse now.”

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An Eternal Tweet

A violent incident occurred in a home along Selkirk Avenue in the not-so-gentle City of Winnipeg. What happened exactly is not known. The article doesn’t reveal much beyond mention of two ambulances, two victims, and one knife. But is any act of violence ever fully known? It’s unlikely. Government authorities may put a person in prison for her or his transgression, but the motives, the desires, the minute-by-minute history of the world until the incident occurred — these are the timeless questions.

Early this morning, a similar event took place in Winnipeg’s North End. In a back lane near the 200 block of Salter Street, a few blocks away from Selkirk Avenue, police found a person with multiple stab wounds. This person is in critical condition.

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How to Fix Edmonton’s Image Problem

Alberta’s capital, if you didn’t know, has an image problem. Proof: when Oprah Winfrey came for a visit, someone gave her a pair of truck nuts. According to a recent study conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Edmonton is also one of the worst places in Canada for women. That’s pretty awful.

Now, the Make Something Edmonton initiative is trying to return the city to its former glory — or, at least, create a new form of glory. Do something that evokes glory.

Writer and Make Something Edmonton member Todd Babiak thinks that rebranding the city with a slogan that involves words such as dynamic, innovative, creative, sustainable, and diverse will do no good for anybody. So they got that going for them.

Maybe now is the time to get serious about erecting that Wolverine statue.

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Will Tornadoes of Fire Become Our Future?

“There was at times a wall of flame a couple of storeys high,” he says. “There were literally tornadoes of fire in the treetops and when they were crowning, they’d literally explode in front of us.”

This quote comes from a CBC story about large and larger forest fires in the Northwest Territories. The article’s scientist expert — Mike Flannigan, University of Alberta — says climate change is responsible.

If human-induced climate change is real — some say it is — the whole planet may adjust in a way that isn’t pleasant for people. While the lifeless water and rock of our planet might endure super floods, extreme cold, and tornadoes made of fire, civilization as we know it might not. Maybe some of the non-human animals will. Maybe they’ll go on to create a new society built upon love, trust, altruism, and kindness. They will host parties and admire art. They will breed in sustainable quantities. The future of Earth will be in their capable paws.

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Maclean’s Provides a List of 5 Films Every Canadian Must See

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Why Literacy Is More Than Just a Job Skill

Jian and Team Q explain.

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Conservative MP Asked if Being Raped Is a Form of Personal Expression

Prostitution is a complicated thing that happens in society. Different people advocate different approaches to making sure no one gets hurt.

What New Brunswick Conservative MP Robert Goguen recently learned, however, is that being raped is not an example of freedom of expression. He knows because he directed this line of questioning towards a woman who had been trafficked, raped, and worked as a sex worker. Goguen’s making a bigger point, presumably, but that happened.

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The Grid Is Done

After a few years of serving Toronto’s youth with interesting facts worth knowing about and winning a number of awards along the way, The Grid is finished. It couldn’t generate enough revenue — which is a not-unheard-of problem in today’s media reality. Too bad.

Does anybody know how to fix this? Can Twitter alone inform the public?

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The 50 Greatest Canadian Books of All Time

For years, Canadian literati have bemoaned a lack of global recognition for Canadian literature. Heck, even Australia has won the Nobel Prize for Literature — and more than once! This past fall, however, Alice Munro, Canada’s finest purveyor of short stories about females, became the first Canadian to win the prestigious award. Her victory in Sweden means that others are just now starting to take notice of the stuff we write and have written. As Canadians, though, we always knew our books didn’t suck.

With summer finally here and the cost of fuel making boating and jetskiing increasingly costly, it may be that more of us page through a book or two in the coming months. So here is a list of the best Canadian fiction and, for those who prefer to read things that are true as opposed to made-up, a list of the best Canadian non-fiction, as well. Enjoy!

The 25 Greatest Canadian Novels of All Time

25. The Stone Carvers (2001) — Jane Urquhart
24. Alias Grace (1996) — Margaret Atwood
23. Dance Me Outside (1977) — W.P. Kinsella
22. A Jest of God (1966) — Margaret Laurence
21. Such Is My Beloved (1934) — Morley Callaghan
20. Who Has Seen the Wind (1947) — W.O. Mitchell
19. Beautiful Losers (1966) — Leonard Cohen
18. The Stone Diaries (1993) — Carol Shields
17. Barney’s Version (1997) — Mordecai Richler
16. Generation X (1991) — Douglas Coupland
15. A Complicated Kindness (2004) — Miriam Toews
14. A Fine Balance (1995) — Rohinton Mistry
13. Kamouraska (1970) — Anne Hebert
12. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912) — Stephen Leacock
11. The Stone Angel (1964) — Margaret Laurence Continue Reading →

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The State of Toronto Hip Hop in 1994

Over at The Grid, Del F. Cowie wrote a short history about what Ghetto Concept and Saukrates were up to in 1994. Here’s an excerpt without any preceding context:

Kwajo recalls that the group was more surprised to win the Best Rap Recording Juno for “E-Z on the Motion” than the first time they won for “Certified” the year prior.

“I remember getting to my seat and not being even able to sit down and they called our name as the winners of the Best Rap Recording,” says Kwajo. “We were baffled. That was a big look. Again, we shocked the industry. The crazy thing is, after winning two back-to-back Junos, we could not get a major record deal. We had to continue independent. If an independent group in the States won two back-to-back Grammys, they would have been signed right away. That shows you how slow our industry was.”

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