Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Fifty Best Songs of the Decade...So Far #30 to #11

Happy Holiday Long Weekend!

To celebrate we continue our countdown of the 50 Best Songs of the far!

Today we do #30 through #11....for Songs 50-31 click here!

Any song from 2010-2015 is eligible...but not songs from this year. (My stupid rules)

So...without any further ado...

We start with a great song off a fantastic album...

#30 Dance Apocalyptic, Janelle Monae

A spot on tribute to the music of the 80's

#29 The Edge of Glory, Lady Gaga

 "May all your favorite bands stay together"...indeed!

 #28 All Your Favorite Bands, Dawes


#27 Shut Up, Savages

Very powerful video and song.

#26 A Better Tomorrow, Wu Tang Clan

This song is like an anxiety attack that just keeps getting worse. A stream of consciousness nightmare of brilliance!

#25 Pedestrian at Best, Courtney Barnett

#24 Strange Weather, Anna Calvi & David Byrne

Probably her greatest work...

#23 You and I, Lady Gaga

#22 Break the Cycle, You and Me

#21, Seasons (Waiting on You), Future Islands

This claustrophobic and disturbing song has only grown in my estimation.

And she is an emerging superstar.

#20  Here - Alessia Cara

An amazing Toronto artist who has not released a bad album to date!

#19 Infamous - Basia Bulat

What of the best singer/songwriters out there today...

#18 High Hopes, Glen Hansard

#17 Diane Young, Vampire Weekend

Great, great song and a great live song!

#16 Here Comes My Man, The Gaslight Anthem

An album and song that deserved to do much better than they did...

#15 Pyramids in the Sand, Maestro Fresh Wes

A reflection in part, apparently, on rave culture, it is also an intense piece of song writing and of almost existential self-criticism. "I set the deal straight".

#14, Brownlow, Lapsley

Unique and brilliant.

#13 National Anthem, Lana Del Rey

#12 Take Me to Church, Hozier

#11, The Reckoning, Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast

Stay tuned for the Top Ten tomorrow!

See also: The 50 Best Songs of the Decade...So Far #50 to #31

See also: 10 Best Songs of 2016...So Far!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The 50 Best Songs of the Decade...So Far #50 to #31

Happy Holiday Long Weekend!

To celebrate we countdown the  50 Best Songs of the far!

Today we do #50 through #31....

Any song from 2010-2015 is eligible...but not songs from this year. (My stupid rules)

So...without any further ado...

#50 Heaven, The Walkmen (2012)

From what I regard as the greatest album of the decade so far....with several songs that will be appearing....
#49 Unbelievers, Vampire Weekend

Pretentious? Yes....but still an amazing song,

#48 Sing, My Chemical Romance

An incredible song with a great first seemingly funny, but actually very sad.

It ages well....from 2012...

#47 Simple Song, The Shins

A little bit brilliant....a little bit demented...

#46 The Bells, Lowell

It may have been overplayed, but it remains a magnificent song, Powerful and moving.

#45 Someone Like You, Adele

Brandi Carlile....what can you say...

#44 The Things I Regret

What a great song.

#43 Hallelujah, Panic! At The Disco

Hated by many...wrongfully IMO....and this is one of her better songs.

#42 West Coast, Lana Del Rey

Intense brilliance...

#41 Grand Canyon, Timber Timbre

One of the seminal bands of the decade...

#40 Gimmie All Your Love, Alabama Shakes

You know...I fucking hate Coldplay...and yet this is a devastatingly great song

#39 The Scientist, Coldplay

Religion is a hard thing...

#38 Ya Hey, Vampire Weekend

Again...not a fan, but Timberlake's song Mirrors is fantastic and the video is cerebral and moving.

Great, great stuff!!!

#37 Mirrors, Justin Timberlake

Gloriously self-indulgent and sad.

Want to remember what it was like to be teenager...listen to this song.

#36 Youth, Daughter

I love these guys...but in the end this is their great song....

Wistful, sad, operatic.

#35 Miss Atomic Bomb, The Killers


#34 Make You Better - The Decemberists

#33 Countdown, Beyonce....

She was brilliant always.

I don't care what anyone says....I think he is a great host...and this is a great, great, great song...

#32 Fam Jam, Shad

Last one for now....Miguel is an exceptional talent, and this is a mesmerizingly wonderful song

#31 Coffee, Miguel

See also: 10 Best Songs of 2016...So Far

See also: 20 Best Songs of 2015! A Left Chapter Roundup

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cooking...With a Velvet Touch w. Clam Chowder, Pumpkin Pie & more -- Vintage Cookbook TBT

Vintage Cookbook: Cooking...With a Velvet Touch, Mary Blake (48 pages) 

Publication Details: Carnation Brands 1960

1960's Cooking...With a Velvet Touch is a cookbook that reflects many aspects of its era. It has recipes both timeless and hideous, period cookbook photography and lots of what were meant to be helpful cooking and life tips to stay organized and on top of things.

Meant to create brand loyalty it, to say the least, pushes the envelope of good taste in finding culinary uses for Carnation Evaporated Milk! In fact, we looked at one of the more heinous suggestions before on the blog. 

And there is nothing quite as appetizing as seeing evaporated milk poured from a can onto ground beef!

But it has lots of great recipes as well, especially for sauces and desserts, and is as charming as it is dated. It is also a quintessential example of the "brand name cookbook" genre that were immensely popular at one time and that are still around in examples like Campbell's Soup cookbooks.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Evaporated milk pouring onto ground beef says 'gourmet' to me!

Helpful hints for those who wish to be hyper-organized!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An American Horror Story -- Clinton vs Trump

Berta Cáceres - Murdered by Clinton backed coup
Oh the hyperbole!

One would think, reading and seeing  the endless stream of false and inane historical histrionics in articles, online posts, tweets and memes that Americans were in Germany in 1933.

Never mind that the historical political parallels between the here and now and the Germany or Italy of the 1930's are actually, in both Canada and the USA very, very weak.

There is no historical analogy of any merit between the USA now and Italy in 1922 or Germany in that fateful year. Or, for that matter, between the Republicans -- even under Trump -- and the Italian National Fascist Party or the German Nazis that hold up under any scrutiny based on the existing balance of forces at all.

It is really nothing new. We have heard it all before and in every election. Bush is a fascist, Harper is Hitler, etc. Until recently there were no end of leftists who would accuse Obama of crypto-fascism.

That this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what fascism is and what, much worse, Nazism represented should be obvious to any first year history major.

These conflations of minor similarities into equation are not based on reality.

Politicians can be incredibly dangerous, bigoted, racist and awful without having to try to make them out as representative of or indicative of historical mass movements that did not emerge out of an election cycle but that actually organized to overthrow and take power in an extra-constitutional and extra-judicial way within the state and that had this as their stated aim and that, in the case of the Nazis, were explicitly genocidal.

Both were also militarist in an expansionist as opposed to isolationist way. This was an essential component of fascism and Nazism that, if one wants to be an ahistorical reductionist, is actually more true of Obama and Clinton than Trump whose incoherent foreign policy to date seems to be "who fucking cares what happens anywhere else".

Fascism is a coherent ideology with specific objectives in a given historic context. It is not a bunch of bad stuff someone advocates for or does. In every case, for example, fascism as an ideology has overtly and explicitly sought to end democracy as a stated ideological goal.

Fascism, like Communism or Socialism is an ideological idea and we both lessen the danger of actual fascism and ironically the dangers of politicians like Trump by throwing the term around.

It is always tempting to compare those today with the worst history has to offer. Sometimes this may be warranted.

In almost all cases it is not.

Comparing Hitler and Trump and, more importantly, claiming the situation is similar, is deeply wrong and deeply disrespectful to the many millions of victims of the real thing.

But it is profoundly tempting for those seeking a reason -- any reason -- to justify voting for an unrepentant militarist and imperialist like Hillary Clinton in the wake of using almost identical arguments to support every Democratic presidential candidate in the last  40 years.

Liberals are nothing if not consistent in claiming it is a "choice" between them and the apocalypse even when the apocalypse has been now for quite some time and the liberals have been one of its major driving forces.

Yet what kind of "alternative" has this liberal alternative been?

The Obama "Peace Prize" machine killing more people with drones than Bush, intervening militarily in more countries than Bush, raining death on Libya, Yemen, Syria, still in Afghanistan, still waiting on Guantanamo, really didn't do much domestically, alternative?
The Secretary of State Clinton "alternative" that saw the killings via cell phone, the demand to stop an increase in the Haitian minimum wage to 61 cents an hour or the votes in support of the Republican colonialist austerity agenda for Puerto Rico?

Hear about Clinton's admitted role in a murderous coup with activist women victims: 

Or the Democratic and American media "alternative" Vice Presidential candidate Kaines being praised, without irony, for his "volunteer" work in Honduras -- a country whose democratic left-wing government was recently overthrown with the active support of his running mate, Hillary Clinton, a tremendous blow for human rights in that country where activists are still being regularly murdered.

But these lives don't seem to be relevant to liberals and progressives. These lives beyond their borders or circles of power or discourse simply are not part of the equation,

Frankly, shame on those willing to participate in this sick game with no sense of the magnitude of the crimes committed against women and children, activists and the innocent worldwide by this administration that she was an essential part of.

What of the last Democratic "alternative" before Obama, the last Clinton Presidency, that saw the dismantling of the welfare state and the institution of laws that led to record mass incarcerations of people-of-colour?

An administration that laid the groundwork for the kind of renewed and expanded legal systemic racism and inequality that now plagues the United States.

This happened under a Democrat, not a Republican.

Actual history that actually matters today. Not nonsense about over eighty years ago.

Of course liberals say there is no alternative to them but why would they not? It is a line that has prevented the emergence of a coherent American mass left political alternative for a very long time.

The reason there is "no alternative" to candidates like Clinton is directly because we keep being made to accept that there is no alternative to candidates like Clinton. It is entirely circular in cause and effect.

A convenient collective amnesia is required to believe in the false, absolutist narrative of liberal or "doom and fascism:".

To forget that this Wall St. liberalism with its acceptance of inequality and militarism has played a huge role in the creation of the conditions that have brought us to Trump is to ensure that Trump's ugliness wins either way.

To the liberal, every threat to their hegemony over "progressive" neo-liberal discourse is conflated to an existential threat to our very civilization. And all with the casual flippancy of a wealthy star like Sarah Silverman telling people they are being "ridiculous" for refusing to back Clinton when many of them are victims of the racism and poverty that Clinton will do little to nothing to combat.

It seems, to me, to be ridiculous to continue to pretend something otherwise in the face of all the historical record around Clinton and the Democratic Party.

A record that can now clearly be expanded to include a contemptuous disregard of even Democratic Party democracy by the party establishment that was rewarded by one of its architects being brought into a leadership position in the Clinton campaign.

The mind-boggling combination of arrogance and stupidity that would lead the Clinton campaign to place Wasserman Schultz in a prominent role the day she resigns in disgrace for helping to try to rig the nomination on Clinton's behalf will very likely come back to haunt.

Though this will no doubt be blamed on those it has alienated as opposed to those who were actually responsible.

This is an American horror story. A horror story brought to us by staggering inequality and systemic racism and the total inability of the "left" of the political spectrum to do anything about it. A horror story where the "left" has and will continue to enable it.

A horror story brought to us by an empty discourse of celebrity gossip and entertainment news and "reality" TV trash talking that allows folks like former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Donald Trump to make politics into a spectacle and to seem to be attacking social elites and power brokers.

A horror story that will not be solved by getting on board with one of its clearest scriptwriters, Hillary Clinton, but where one needs to reject the entire prefabricated script.

A horror story where the "alternatives" are false.

Like all horror stories, the only way out is to escape the basement of perpetual death and misery that you have been driven into by circumstances that are designed to seem beyond your control.

And this requires ending the stranglehold of the two parties of capitalist imperialism and not being fooled, again, by the fear-mongering emptiness of powerful and wealthy enablers of the very worst of our society under the pretend cloak of being "lesser evil" so-called progressives.

See also: There is no socialist case for supporting Hillary Clinton

See also: Rejecting the lesser evil -- Why you should not buy into mainstream narratives about voting

BBQ Corn in the Husk with Lime and Chili Pepper Flakes

One of the great treats of summer is BBQing fresh corn. Especially when done over charcoal it has a terrific smokey and sweet flavour with corn's signature crunch!

It is also really easy to do and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

There are a few ways to do corn over charcoal (and we may return with a second installment) but our family favourite produces a great combination of smokey kernels that will be slightly charred or browned in spots while also keeping the corn very moist.

To begin you need to buy fresh corn on the cob still in the husk.

Take your corn and peel away the first outer layer of the husk leaving the second layer still in place. It will be slightly open in parts.

Place the corn in water and let it soak for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your charcoal grill as usual. When ready, place your corn over the coals on the grill so that a some of the husk is between the corn and grill.

Cover with the flue open and BBQ for around 20 minutes. It is critical that you cover the BBQ or the corn husk will burn away too much.

Turn the corn at least a couple of times while it is BBQing, especially if you find some of the inner corn is charring more than you like, remembering to put the cover back on the BBQ after turning.

The outer husk will burn, which is totally expected and normal.

When the corn is done, simply pull back the burnt husk and serve on the cob or after cutting the kernels off.

This is most often served with butter, salt and pepper -- and that is delicious of course! But as an alternative we suggest serving the corn with lime wedges and red chili pepper flakes. You squirt the lime juice over the corn and sprinkle on some of the chili pepper flakes to taste (and salt to taste as well).

The tart citrus and bit of heat work wonderfully with fresh corn's sweetness.

A perfect summer side that pairs with just about anything else you are making that day!


See also: Trout in Corn Husks, Pickled Mushrooms & other 19th Century Recipes from Madame Benoit

See also: Lamb & Chicken BBQ Burgers

Sunday, July 24, 2016


The morning after
I am greeted by chamomile and vanilla bean
the faint fragrances of your hair

Running my hand tenderly down your side
so as not to disrupt the sublime movements of your sleep
but rather just incrementally induce that involuntary twitching of your body against mine

In the face of this personal peril
what is it that we have done?

Through the window
slightly open
sounds of a summer countryside as it slowly awakes
the gentle symphony of the lake springing to life

Thinking back on how Peter said it
Sunday night at Balfour's
the look of distressed comprehension creeping across his face

As the sun
newly brilliant
blazes now furiously
bathing the room in its daily ritual of renaissance
I feel you stir just so slightly

In these moments
these seconds
before thought translates into the catharsis of action
eternity lies

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Lamb & Chicken BBQ Burgers

Burgers on the BBQ are a perennial summer favourite but people often forget ground lamb or chicken when picking up the ground beef or beef and pork for their patties.

Which is a shame, because you can make delicious burgers with both.

Today we look at one recipe for each that can help you shake up your summer grilling a bit!

In both cases we used two pounds of ground meat.

To prep the lamb burgers, beat two eggs and add to the ground lamb in a large mixing bowl.

Then add the following ingredients:

1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
salt to taste (remember, feta is often quite salty)

Mix all together thoroughly. Generally for the best results I find you have to do this by hand. When blended, take handfuls of the mixture and form them into patties that are not too thick as you want to be able to cook them directly over the charcoal in a reasonable amount of time.

If when forming your first burger you are finding it hard to keep it all together you can add more breadcrumbs to the mixture as needed. The breadcrumbs act as the binding agent with the eggs.

For the chicken, again add two beaten eggs to the ground meat in a large mixing bowl.

For our burgers today we are going for a spicy kick! Add the following ingredients to the bowl as well:

1 cup fine breadcrumbs
1-2 tablespoons spicy jerk seasoning (taste a bit of the seasoning to determine how much you want to use before adding as some blends are more spicy than others)
1 small onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

Mix all together thoroughly and form your patties, again adjusting the breadcrumbs if needed.

When you have your patties ready to go, cook right over very hot coals for around 6-8 minutes a side, closing the lid for around half the cooking time on each side to regulate the flames and to help cook the burgers on the inside. (If you need a refresher on prepping a charcoal grill, we have posted about it in the past!) 

If in doubt lamb burgers are done when the internal temperature at the thickest point reads 160 degrees on meat thermometer, while the chicken burgers are done at 165. Burgers of all kinds should be fully cooked!

Serve on a good bun with the toppings you want. I found both these burgers worked great with just a slice of tomato and onion, but as always the sky is the limit and it is all a matter of taste.

Great with beer, backyards and friends!


See also: The Leviathan Sauerkraut & Horseradish Double Pork & Beef Burger!

See also: Beer Can Chicken with "French Fried" Asparagus on the BBQ!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Marie Curtis Park & Beach -- The Lakeside Parks of South Etobicoke IV

Marie Curtis Park lies right at the border of Mississauga on the banks of Etobicoke Creek.

It is an absolutely gorgeous park with  one of the best (and least known and used) beaches in the city. It has a very recently improved playground and splash pad and is a favourite destination for picnickers.

You will regularly see entire families celebrating birthdays and other occasions.

Bike paths and trails wind through it and a bridge connects it to a sister park on the Mississauga side.

It also has two waterfronts with the creek on the west and magnificent Lake Ontario on the south. The view of the lake from the park is fantastic and reminds one of just how huge it really is.

Lake Shore Blvd. borders it on the north side and it is literally just across the street from a Go Station and the Long Branch streetcar loop. There are plenty of nearby restaurants and cafes and, especially given that the beach will be half empty even on most summer weekend afternoons, it is well worth a trip out to spend an afternoon.

During summer days there are lifeguards on duty at both the beach and splash pad and the city monitors the water quality so you know if it is ok to go for a swim or a walk about in the lake.

Truly one of the best waterfront parks in Toronto.

(click on images to enlarge)

North End & Trail By Etobicoke Creek

Playground, Splash Pad and Middle of Park 

South End & Beach

Marie Curtis Park is located at Lake Shore Blvd. W. and 42nd St. It is at the very end of the 501 streetcar line, across and just down the street from the Long Branch Loop. It is also across the street from the Long Branch Go Station.