Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mix Equal Parts Day and Night 

The increasingly misnamed Quarterly Sextodecimo, Autumn 2012 Issue

With the arrival of the Autumnal Equinox, the air has chilled faster than a punctured CO2 cartridge, and I ought to know. In the last 28 days, I've had seven flat tires on three different bikes. It's difficult to imagine a more frustrating occasion of flaccidity than that of a blown tire but if you're going to ride, you're going to get flats. It's equally difficult to accept the changing of the season. I hope this playlist will be a salve to your fading summer sunburn.

Download it here (116 MB - as usual, if you're using iTunes, after importing the tracks, import the included XML file for the playlist to appear in order).

The Tunes

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Worlds 

Somehow missed this event by being in Ottawa enjoying the weekend but turns out Philippe Gilbert is your new World Champ.

The race is recapped on the great cycling blog //inrng: The Inner Ring ("inner ring" - that inside cog you switch to in order to get up hills, or if you're a puss like me, stay in all the time).

By the way, I highly recommend following @inrng on Twitter to keep up on all your pro-cycling news.


Goodnight Sam 

"Sam at Night" image via Top Left Pixel, the famous Sam the Record Man sign was removed as part of Ryerson University's expansion on Yonge, and despite original intentions to replace it, now looks to be gone forever.

The effusive and popular Toronto businessman, Sam Sniderman, owner and founder of the iconic Sam the Record Man, passed away this weekend at the age of 92. The sign and the shop were so well known and loved that nearly everyone in Toronto has a personal story about the place. When I first visited Toronto on my own it was one of those destinations you had to visit, probably even more so than the CN Tower. I remember my initial dismay at the ramshackle and cluttered interior and the feeling that it was just a bunch of old townhouses and rooms connected together to make one large labyrinthian store. My next reaction was that of being overwhelmed by how much could be found there. A real Big City experience.

Then came the inevitable demise and drawn out closure with each local news outlet sending someone to stand inside and deliver their own tale of riding to Sam's (which everyone called it) on their bike on a Saturday and picking up a pile of 45s. By their recollections, a Saturday at Sam's must of been jammed with teens on bikes. My thoughts were always about that striking difference between the exterior and the interior. From the outside, that massive animated neon sign was such a symbol of modernity and urbanity, yet inside it seemed so jumbled and colloquial as to feel local and intimate. Compare the exterior without the sign and you'll see what I mean.

Sam exposed – image via Spacing Magazine. The store front without the sign reveals a more pedestrian and typical Toronto row-house.

Whatever the memories and symbolism of a lost time, the city is a poorer place without Sam's and people like Sam Sniderman.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vulcan, God of Rubberized Tyres 

image via designspiration, source unknown

Dear Vulcan,
I know not how I angered thee, but I beseech yee, release me from thine curses upon my wheels. Within this fortnight I hath suffered not twice, nor thrice, but six punctured tyres. I am wearied at my labour and vexed by my misfortune. How have I forsaken thee? What crime have I committed against thee or thine house? Was it confidence? Did I strut too much like the fair feathered cock that thine fury have been wrought upon me? Did my braggadocio telling of many leagues travels upon my vessel of welded aluminum and rubber displease thee? Were my calves too finely carved? Did mine sinewy legs insult thine eyes? Did I forget to offer you the finest of sacrifices? I have given you my sweat and belly fat (the sweetest of the fats I am told). I have let mine skin darken and crispen until it peeled like rotting papyrus from my body. The wind has agéd mine cheeks. My palms have calloused and my feet ached upon steel pedals. But yet you punish me still. Staples of cheap tin, broken plastic shards, bits of wire and unseen detritus have all wrecked an unfair and unjust ravaging of mine wheels. Release me from this contract and I will always provide you with the most plump pigeons, shiny furred squirrels, or any other road offerings you desire. This plea I beg you to hear and you be so appeased that clean roads and smooth rollings will I find ahead of me. I know you are oft portrayed as a hulking angry master, but I know that thou thine countenance be fierce, thine heart be open and smiling and lovely to all that are loyal. Am I not loyal oh fiery bearded one? Am I to be tried again and again? Let it not be so and let me on my way go. It is all I ask.

Your faithful servant.

PS. This may explain some of my calamity, but not all.

Also, not on a single occasion hath calming music played softly whilst I have repaired mine wheel.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Miss the Honky Tonks, Dairy Queens and 7-11s 

Road image via Top Left Pixel

Every road trip needs a playlist. These are not the songs we played from the dashboard of a car but ones that came to mind or we sang aloud as bugs flew into our smiles. Some are obvious and cliché. Some are obscure and fitting while others are simply the songs that bubbled to the surface when my spongy brain was squeezed of all its hydration.

You can download the tracks here (warning: it's a 150 mb file. Note: if using iTunes, import the files as you normally would, then import the playlist – that's the XML file – and the playlist should appear in the sidebar along with your other playlists). I'll make an embedded streaming version to play from this page when I have the time.

You can purchase the playlist in iTunes (will open in iTunes).
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Thursday, September 06, 2012


Not as reassuring as it should be.Pack ShotMr BrownGo Train to OshawaWaterfront TrailLakeshore Rd enroute to Brighton, ON
Picton ColaWaiting to board the Glenora FerryGlenora FerryGlenora FerryPhoto 3Ferry to Wolfe Island
KingstonFerryFerry to Wolfe Islandfrom the ferryFerry to Cape VincentPoint AlexandraFerry Schedule
Rosies Golden UnicornEntering Adirondack ParkSarnac Lake24 oz.Lake Placid FacadeRiver Valley

Over 800 kilometres of biking, 4 flat tires, 4 ferry crossings, at least 56 oz of steak, too many pints of beer and many, many bad puns. At some point my tongue was covered in blisters, my glands were swollen, my lips were sunburnt and the last indignity was a vicious charlie horse in the last 40 km headed to Montreal – our ultimo chilometro. I was la laterne rouge that day, no doubt, but it ended in a surreally shiny hotel where a valet stored our bikes as we took our dusty panniers to our room.

Best vacation in years. Bar none. Can't wait for the next one.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Seen in August

Bane confronts Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, image via

It's the dog days of summer and I've been spending more time on my (bike) tan and less time watching films. Though I've wanted to escape to a theater with A/C on full blast I just haven't had the time. Why do they start movies so late now? Who wants to get out of the cinema at 1 in the morning? And why are movies so damn long anyway? For those reasons and more I haven't seen much this month but here is what I saw.

The Dark Knight Rises
Batman got old and retired, then a new (old) bad guy showed up. The strange thing about this Batman series of films from Chris Nolan is the delicate suspension of disbelief he manages. Batman is just a well trained guy who seems impossibly strong and has expensive military grade prototype weapons that are straight out of a science fiction comic book. His opponents are equally physically impossible but in this movie the fear and chaos they create feels visceral and real. These villains behave much like modern terrorists. Their motives are idealistic and abstract, they attack the most vulnerable and they use our own weapons against ourselves. It's a world where the 99% are up against the 1% types like Bruce Wayne, whose own fortune has evaporated (like so many in recent years) though, just like a true 1-percenter, Bruce Wayne, like Batman still had one parachute saved up. This is great entertainment but the PG-13 rating is mild. Though there is no cussing or actual bloodshed, there's plenty of dark, malevolent violence that might be too much for some.

I can always count on old Woody Allen films for the sort of laugh I need. This story of Woody's alter ego accidentally becoming the dictator of a banana republic is campy fun and the scene where Howard Cossell calls a wedding night consummation like a championship bout is classic.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
These movies are always dependably and slickly entertaining though I watched this on television so a lot of the mojo was lost - broadcast television is dead to me. I was sort of confused why Davey Jones had the head of an octopus and pretty much hated the cliff hanger ending with the segue setup for the next movie but I should've known it was coming.

True Blood: Season Two
More weird violence and sexuality with only a tiny portion of winking humour. Now that I think of it, this series could use some winking humour. More strange beasties in Bon Temps, Louisiana than is actually believable but then again it is all about vampires so I guess that's not a good argument. I think the writing has improved but I can't say how other than I watched more back to back episodes so clearly I was enjoying something.

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