Before It Disappears Altogether, “Merry Christmas”

  The other day, a friend told me of a cartoon she saw recently which showed a man standing in front of his house with another guy, pointing at all the Christmas lights and other decorations he'd put up. In the middle of these was the lit-up message "Have A Nice Day". The caption read, "I didn't want to offend anybody". And this from another friend, in an email response to an impromptu Christmas gathering of musicians last week: "It was wonderful to see you all. Thanks Mike. I guess you didn't know you were throwing a party but don't all of the best parties happen that way, when you least expect them. Merry Christmas everyone, and as Tiny Tim would say, 'God bless us, everyone!' Or, if you prefer not to keep Christmas, or celebrate anything for that matter, because you wouldn't want to exclude anyone, or if Christmas is just too fucking cheerful for you .... Then ... um ... well, just be." These are both examples of a push-back I've noticed this year against the banishment of the phrase "Merry Christmas" in favour of the safer "Season's Greetings", "Happy Holidays" or whatever. And other signs of the general whitewashing (no pun intended) of Christmas in the interests of being politically correct. I must confess it's been driving me crazy this year, because the mealy-mouthed phrases have been spinning off into other mind-numbing ones. To wit, companies now have "Festive Winter Socials" instead of Christmas parties. People now gather to sing "seasonal favourites", more [...]

Blogus Disappearus & The Cyber Attack Jim-Jams

More than once I've observed that in our post-9/11 digital age, paranoia is no longer a mental disorder so much as a normal condition of everyday life. A lot of this has to do with a loss of privacy, both voluntary (with our computers) and involuntary (with sweeping new laws.) The tragic events of 9/11 themselves induced an understandably palpable fear and paranoia, worsened by increased surveillance in the interests of heightened security. Some welcome the resulting loss of privacy as the price of safety, others do not, but, either way, this loss is real and here to stay for the foreseeable future. The increasing interconnectivity of the internet and social media has also contributed to this; the more connected everything is, the easier it becomes for someone to watch us, to "get us". We've all likely seen people take a big fall because something they did or said with the presumption of privacy was captured by some form of digital technology and blown up, spreading like wildfire along "the grid". The old gag that "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you" has taken on a new and less funny edge. I mention all this because just the other day my paranoia du jour rocketed from the glancing-over-the-shoulder, garden variety level to a full-frontal, conspiracy-theory red- alert, precipitated by the following: On December 23rd, I posted a blog titled Before It Disappears Altogether, "Merry Christmas" and those who subscribe received it. It dealt more [...]

Blogus Interruptus

Hello all - some of you may be wondering why there have been no posts from me for such a long while - has Wallace lost it, gotten lazy, is he suffering from writer's block? It was actually none of these. Just before the World Series finished I came down with a nasty cough and chest infection which I walked around functioning with like an idiot before it got really bad and turned into what my newly-appointed respirologist called a "rip-roaring case of double pneumonia". If you've never had pneumonia before, well, take it from me, it's like having a sandbag dropped on you from a height. The congestion and resulting cough don't really hurt or anything, they just leave you really short of breath, so fatigued and weakened that little things you always took for granted, like moving around, talking, eating or walking up a flight of stairs become monumental, dizzying challenges. Things get fuzzy and pretty much all you want to do is sleep; more ambitious activities like playing the bass or writing a blog go straight to the back burner. When all this started, I had several pieces half-written which will probably remain unfinished because they were time-sensitive and the iron is no longer hot, so to speak. Breathing & the Bass. The bass is not a wind instrument, so the importance of breathing in playing it tends to be overlooked. I realized this early on when I heard the following: A classic Swing-to-Bop session by the Coleman Hawkins quartet, recorded in New York more [...]