The Gathering - thanks for coming out

on 12:32 pm

Hello all,

Just a brief post to thank the folks who came to our Canadian get-together on Saturday. What we lacked in quantity we certainly made up for it in quality.
Perhaps in the new year we can do it again, maybe in Cascais (as some of you came out from that direction), perhaps else where.
Do keep in touch and don't forget to visit us on the blog as you are doing right now.
Thanks again and hope to see you all again soon.

Crunch-time, or, how has the global crisis affected you in Little Ol' Portugal?

on 10:14 pm

The excellent blog posts on Canadian music have made start re-listening to a few bands, particularly Rush (though unlike João, I've always been a true fan).

Their music reminds me of small towns in rural Canada slowly dying off and disappearing, with the “old” way of life fading away due to closing factories, children growing up and leaving with no one to replace them, attracted by the opportunities that the big cities provide.

Abandoned shopping mall in Wallaceburg

I grew up in a small industrial town, and I remember the so-called “golden days”, when work was plentiful, and the economy booming. But that didn’t last long. Factories moved first to the USA, and then to Mexico. In Wallaceburg, the loss of the Glass Factory was the biggest blow, and the town went downhill from there. I left in 1999, which was really the beginning of the end.

Picturesque Wallaceburg

I’ve visited my hometown a few times, the last being in 2006. It was a ghost town. No children on the streets, all the old stores boarded up, and the factories abandoned. Even remembering it now saddens me somewhat.

Unfortunately in Portugal the economy is also facing serious problems. Not the same decline as Canada faced, since Portugal was never very economically strong to begin with. However, the VAT is rising yet again. Income tax as well. Deductable expenses are going to be severely capped. The budget is under heavy discussion, and risks not being passed in parliament. The plentiful subsidies formerly given by the European Union have long dried up. Austerity measures are in full swing. Recession looms overhead.

The Euro won't stretch as far as it used to. Not only will goods and services be more expensive, but we'll be effectively earning less each month. For many it's going to be difficult to make ends meet.

How are you dealing with the current crisis? Cutting down on the ivory back-scratchers? Or is it life as usual?


Canadian music 2: Rush

on 12:27 am

Earlier this past week I watched the documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage directed by Toronto-based film-makers Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen. As heavy metal enthusiast (their previous films include: Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, Global Metal and Iron Maiden: Flight 666), in Beyond a Lighted Stage, Dunn and McFadyen look back at the 42-year history of what could arguably be considered Canada's all time biggest rock band - Rush.

Be it their progressive stylings of the 1970s or their more synth-heavy sounds of the 1980s, the truth I have never been a Rush fan. After watching Dunn and McFadyen's Beyond the Lighted Stage, however, I admit to possessing newly garnished respect for Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart (aka Rush). The film goes through the various musical life stages of the band using the commentary of fans as well as their fellow rock n'roll peers. It also delves into personal aspects of the band, with particular attention given to drummer Neil Peart's anti-rock star mannerisms and his family tragedies.

The film is flawless film-making, leaving no stone unturned on the life of Canada's biggest power-trio. Well worth a watch and listen.

Now while on the topic of documentary films, Lisbon's annual documentary film festival DocLisboa is currently running until October 24th. Here are a few Canadian themed / Canadian made movies you might want to check out:

Petropolis - Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands - as the title indicates, the film looks at the Alberta Tar Sands (the largest oil reserve in the world) from an overhead perspective;

Les Signes Vitaux (Vital Signs) - a film that questions perceptions of life and death by questioning what people really need during their last moments of life (the movie is set in Canada);

Le Souffle du Désert (Desert Wind) - during 15 days 13 men (including some from Quebec) go walking in the Tunisian desert with the aim of reflecting on their masculine identities.

The NHL season starts tomorrow

on 7:09 pm

In Canada a true sign that Winter has arrived is that of hockey season kicking off. That season starts tomorrow and for folks like Gabriel (Go Leafs!) and myself (Go Canucks!), it's that time of year when we are brought closer to that quintessential element that defines Canada more so then anything else - ice hockey.

As has been the case for the last number of seasons, the NHL once again gets underway right here in Europe, mind you nowhere close to Portugal. From tomorrow until Sunday (Oct. 7th -10th) the cities of Helsinki, Stockholm and Prague will host back-to-back games. This is the closest we'll probably ever get to having the NHL anywhere close to us, but hey, as long as we have ESPN America showing us games on a regular basis, we can be happy with that.

But anyway here's what we would like to do. We would like to get the people out there who drop by our blog from time to time to tell us how their team (if you have one) is going to pan out this year. Will Toronto make the playoffs? Will Montreal be a playoff surprise like last year? Will the Sedins drive the Canucks all the way to the Cup? Or maybe Edmonton will revisit the days of Gretzky. We can't forget Calgary and Ottawa, maybe they'll pull something off.

Let us know. Leave a comment.