Barging into The Celtic Session scene in Toronto

Black Swan

I decided to finally give it a shot!

Since I could always remember I have always been fascinated with the world of Celtic music! Having recently finished university and being fed up with life in general, there was no other better time to finally bring in my Mandolin to a traditional Celtic Session at the Black Swan! And I must say I have been going religiously every Thursdays since.

The Session is a truly unique music tradition like no other. A welcoming circle of musicians in a pub reel out the Celtic tunes on a weekly on going basis and it has been going on in pubs around the world for years.


The folks at the Black Swan are really nice, especially the bartender. My first day they all learned my names and were eager to help out in anyway they could! I wasn’t exactly familiar with their repetoire so they didn’t hesitate to tell me the name of each tune after it had been played, and where I would be able to find recordings. The host even took the time to e-mail me a pdf of a list of their commonly played songs along with their scores !

I took some time and memorized a good 20 songs (err… I mean ‘tunes’ ) on the mandolin before coming again. And it was worth it, because there is no other joy than to be able to play these joyous tunes that have been passed down for hundreds of years. Playing with the musicians brings the music to life and I’ve been inspired to learn more and more.

Top 7 absolute favourite tunes so far:

1. A Trip to Pakistan

2. Arthur Darley’s

3. Drowsy Maggie

4. Over the Moore to Maggie

5. Star of Munster

6. Kesh Jig (can be heard on Flogging Molly’s “Salty Dog” track)

7. Silver Spear

There are tons of sessions that go on in Toronto, in fact there is one everyday… the ones I know for sure are

Thursday – Black Swan, Dora Keogh’s

Sunday – Dora Keogh’s

It’s best to call the pub beforehand to make sure as times and place can unexpectedly change!

Here are some helpful links that helped me get started: – This site provides a full listing of sessions around the world, the largest database of Celtic tunes with their scores. – Your guide to the Celtic music scene in Ontario- festivals, workshops, teachers, musicians, sessions, and more!

and of course for hosting the millions of videos so that you can hear the songs over and over!

Election Prediction From a Trusted Source

The news uses opinions and polls to forecast the winner, but I have a far better tool… it’s!

This website fills you in on the traffic rankings of all websites in the world wide web, and gives the option to compare rankings with other websites in a neat little graph. Traffic rankings don’t exactly equate to voters, but its a precise indicator of popularity.

So how does Hillary and McCain fare on April 3, 2008? Well Obama is clearly more than twice as popular as Hillary and has three times more hits on his site than McCain.

Reasonable Accomodations in Quebec – A Story of a New Canadian not Tolerated

When I heard about the whole controversy on Quebec’s reasonable accommodation forum, a story came to mind.
Many years ago in my French class, my teacher, who wore midriffs, told us to pick a very controversial topic and present the points of both sides. At first she gave us some topics to choose from, racism was one of them. “I don’t want to hear the points supporting racism!” said this one girl. And everyone agreed.
“Okay, fine you can chose your own topic”, she said.
Everyone tried to steer away from controversy, including myself. I chose to talk about censorship in music, a guy from Alberta talked about the NHL, but Song decided to talk about gay people. Song was new to Canada from Eastern Asia. He was quiet all year and had an awkward composure, but now he got up in front of his class to present his argument against the gays. According to him,  it wasn’t natural to be gay, that it was wrong.

Big mistake. Immediately everyone just shot at him. “what do you mean?” said one girl
“Oh my god, he did not just say that,” a girl beside me said. Everyone else continued to yell at him, in English.
The only person that I thought would have said something was the dyke, but she sat quietly. I must say it was a very awkward moment.
Song just left the class and never returned.

This is what kind of bothered me. Song, probably in his mid 30’s, had recently moved to Canada. He, like a lot of immigrants, was most likely raised with a traditional upbringing, and in a culture that rejects homosexuality. How could we expect Song to come here and right away erase his values and adopt ours? I don’t think Song will join a hate group, or beat up someone because he is gay. He seems pretty peaceful, but he just doesn’t think being gay is right. Are we going to shout at him so he can think otherwise? Are we going to cast him away until he agrees with everyone else?

Yelling, intimidating, and isolating someone isn’t the way to reason with their beliefs.
Instead of shouting at him that day, I wish we just reasoned with him. It was a rare opportunity to confront his beliefs and explain that its not up to us to decide what’s natural for others, and that this was a multi cultural society that accepts everyone despite differences.
Song was one of few newcomers who openly spoke up about his beliefs and he was not even tolerated, let alone being accommodated.

Anyway, Song never showed up to class again.

Socially irresponsible Malls.

I went to Scarborough Town Centre today, a local mega mall, to find out there were absolutely no recycling bins to be found.

This is particularly disturbing as reciepts are issued by the second, newspapers are being bought, and worst of all flyers are being distrubited all to end up in the garbage bins.

It came to my attention when I saw promoters aggressively handing out stacks of flyers and brochures to everybody. As he waved one in my face, I asked him, “Did you wonder where those flyers and brochures go after people are done with them?”

They end up in the garbage bins conveniently located every 10 yards.

It wasn’t the promoters fault for sure, but I implored him to please advise the management… something I took upon myself to do later on anyway.

Frontline guest services were eager to help relay my complaint. It didn’t came to their attention before it seemed.

How could it not have? Malls are demons when it comes to landfills!

Especially their food courts. Sure, luckily there are bins provided for cans and bottles, but this is as far as they go it seems. The reality is that so much left over food are thrown out into mounds along with their disposable cups, plates, and cultlery.

Why won’t more food-chains provide reusable cups and plates? Why can’t the food left over be composted? Do we really need our subway sandwhiches to be wrapped in an assortment of paper?

It’s not a one way street, people need to make some changes too. Why can’t people bring their own tupperware for food to be put in next time they buy it? (Maybe that’s a bit too far). Whats the harm in bringing reusable napkins?

Its small changes like these that are required to get closer to a cleaner and more sustainable society.

– I have yet to hear a response from Scarborough Town Centre’s Management.

Who are these people?

If you’ve been walking on the streets of Montreal lately, you may have noticed persistent Phillipino women with their unicef looking boxes demanding money in the guise of a good cause.

This salesman persistence, highly uncharacteristic of a charity, raised some suspicion in me. What exactly is this charity? Do you issue charity tax receipts? What is your charity number?
She had no answer to these questions, instead she kept on asking me if I would like to give money.

On the box there was some information about the company, their website and address, and a number. All of which I scribbled down.

The box provided an address, 2037 Billeron which is in the suburbs of NDG and is some IT company.

Their website however, provides contact information from the phillipines. It’s pretty vague, and doesn’t provide a public balance sheet, (which charities usually provide).

I looked this company up on the better business bureau, and nothing. They were not even in the database.

I even took the time to call Revenue Quebec, and they have no information on them, they weren’t even a registered charity. Odd. Though they asked me questions so they could further investigate.

Could this company possibly make money under the pretense of giving it to children stricken with poverty in the Phillipines?

If it is, I’ll be sure to grab that box and give it to the United Way.

Sure there are corruption in other charities… but we can only take every measure to ensure 100% transparency. Be sure to ask questions, and take the time to read up on the law.

We shouldn’t only rely on the government to put everything in order, we should also assume civic responsibility.