Favourite Canadian Albums of 2012

on 5:01 pm

So after presenting songs from CanadiansinPortugal’s favourite Canadian albums of 2012 over on the CanadiansinPortugal facebook page over the last few weeks, here now are the albums, the artists and links to album streams (if you’re interested and hopefully you will be) in the order of 1 to 20, as well as the fav. compilation album of the year.

Before getting into it though, let just say that out of the three years of putting this list together, this was the hardest year as far as picking out an overall favourite. Whatever the case, here it is:

1. The Sheepdogs – The Sheepdogs http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/sheepdogs-sheepdogs_album_stream
2. Matt Mays – Coyote http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/matt_mays-coyote_album_stream  
3. Cuff the Duke – Union http://music.cbc.ca/#/blogs/2012/10/Cuff-the-Dukes-Union-full-album-stream  
4. The Tragically Hip – Now for Plan A http://www.thehip.com/  
5. Wintersleep – Hello Hum http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/new-music/album-stream/stream-wintersleep-hello-hum-110426 
6. Yukon Blonde – Tiger Talk http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/av/2012/03/album-stream-yukon-blonde-tiger-talk.html  
7. Rah Rah – The Poet's Dead http://totallyfuzzy.blogspot.pt/2012/10/rah-rah-poets-dead-album-stream.html 
8. A.C. Newman – Shut Down the Streets http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/c_newman-shut_down_streets_album_stream 
9. Skydiggers – Northern Shore http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/skydiggers-northern_shore_album_stream  
10. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Americana http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/album-premiere-neil-young-and-crazy-horse-americana-20120528 
11. The Mohawk Lodge – Damaged Goods http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/mohawk_lodge-damaged_goods_album_stream 
12. Boxer the Horse – Would You Please http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/boxer_horse-french_residency_album_stream 
13. Jason Collett – Reckon http://arts-crafts.ca/releases_spotlight.php?search=AC075&artist=Jason%20Collett 
14. Octoberman – Waiting in the Well http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/octoberman-waiting_in_well_album_stream 
15. Zeus – Busting Visions http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/exclusive-album-premiere-zeus-busting-visions-20120320  
16. The Wooden Sky – Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/wooden_sky-every_child_daughter_every_moon_sun_album_stream  
17. Islands – A Sleep and A Forgetting http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/islands-sleep_forgetting_album_stream 
18. Plants and Animals – The End of That http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/av/2012/02/album-stream-plants-and-animals---the-end-of-that.html 
19. Apollo Ghosts – Landmark http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/apollo_ghosts-landmark_album_stream 
20. Hot Panda – Go Outside http://www.vice.com/read/vice-exclusive-listen-to-hot-pandas-new-album-before-anyone-else 

Compilation: The Grapes of Wrath – Singles http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/The-Grapes-Of-Wrath  

So there you go, now feel free to share your insights all you want.


Remembering the Montreal Olympics of 76

on 9:42 pm

Do you remember the Montreal Olympics of 1976? I do. The Montreal Olympics were the first Olympics I remember, mind you I remember them in black and white - colour TV's weren't market fixtures yet at that time in Portugal and I was still 3 years away from emigrating to Canada.

Now if there's one legacy of the Montreal Games that still remains, it's a little something that became a BIG something (in more ways then one) known as Le Stade Olympique de Montréal. Here it is below:

Now what you may or may not know is that the 76 Olympics were a financial disaster for Montreal, with the city ending up with a debt that would take 30 years to pay off. The incompetency of the city, in fact, lead to the Quebec provincial government having to take over construction when it became evident, a year before the games were to begin, that work had fallen behind schedule. One week leading up to the opening ceremonies, construction was still under way, and the tower, that had been projected for the stadium at its inauguration, was not completed until 1987.

Nicknamed The Big O as a reference to both its name and doughtnut-shaped opening in its roof (that was meant to have a retractable roof but has never come to fruition), the stadium was not completely paid off until December, 2006. The final expenditure (including construction, repairs, renovations, interest and inflation) amounted to $1.61 billion (cdn). Ironically, one year before it was paid off, The Big One was left tenentless after its only tenent, the Montreal Expos, moved south of the border to Washington. 

For the province of Quebec, the 76 Olympics thus left a financial legacy. For the world, however, the games left both political and some historical sports moments. In running some of these down they include:

- Taro Aso, a member of the Japanese shooting team, 32 years later would be elected as the prime minister of Japan.

- The daughter of the Queen of England, Princess Anne, competed in the games as part of the British equestrian riding team.
- 28 African nations boycotted the Games in response to the participation of New Zealand, a country whose national rugby team (the All Blacks) continued to play rugby with South Africa, a country that had been banned from the Olympic movement since 1964 due to its apartheid policies.
- The 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci who scored seven perfect 10.0 and won three gold medals, including the prestigious All-Around. Funny enough though, the score board could hold only 3 digits and the score was shown as 1.00 every time she pulled off a perfect 10.
- The Montreal Games would introduce the Bruce Jenner to the world, the decathlon gold medal winner in Montreal, today a facelift/plastic surgery lover.
Lets opt for a picture of Nadia Comăneci instead with her 1.00:
The Olympic flame also became "electronic" in 76, being transmitted via satellite from Athens to Ottawa by means of an electronic pulse derived from a acual burning flame. From Ottawa it then went by hand to Montreal. After a rainstorm doused out the flame a few days after the games opening ceremonies, an official relit the flame using his cigarette lighter. Organisers quickly doused it out again and relit it using a backup of the original flame.

The guy with the lighter then went up to the flame and lit a cigarette with the flame becoming the first to do such a thing. Ok this part I made up but it would've been something. And with the afros they had back then, you just know what the main thing going through the head of the guy in the above picture was, right? Lets keep that fire at a distance.

So in the end, the Soviet Union lead the medal count with a total of 125 medals, with the United States not even a close second with 94 medals. Canada pulled off 11 medals and Portugal two silvers. Wikipedia is wonderful ... as is the steeplechase!

Documentrary Film Screening: Fado and Canada

on 11:10 pm

We all know how the Portuguese are in Canada when it comes to community or communities - very tight, generally organised, although never free of all kinds of internal rift. Here in Portugal, Canadians are nowhere close to that. Why? Well we don't really have an organised community per say. We here at Canadians in Portugal, however, have been trying to change that, at least cyberly. Thinking that it would be nice to try to gather people, we have collaborated in putting together an event - the one below:   

Yes, on Tuesday, July 10th at 21:00 we are hosting the Documentary Film Screening Fado and Canada outdoors at the Quiosque do Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo smack dab in the middle of Avenida da Liberdade.

So what documentaries are these you ask? Well Os Três de Portugal (The Three of Portugal), a film by Vancouver-based filmmaker Jordan Paterson, tells the story of the fado trio going by the same name out of Vancouver. For 40 years Os Três de Portugal played and sang fado in BC's lower mainland. Quite the feat, there's no arguing that! The documentary sets out to reveal how these three Portuguese emigrant fadistas attempt to preserve the Portuguese national song in a new cultural context and to decipher what fado tradition mean for "The Three of Portugal" far from its land of origin.

Os Três de Portugal

The second documentary is one we've previously written about here on this blog. Regressa Urgente (Return Urgent) by João Sardinha (one of the two contributers of this blog) and António João Saraiva, captures the story of Marta Raposo, a Luso-Canadian fado singer who moved to Portugal in 2005 in the hopes of affirming herself as a fado singer in Portugal. Regressa Urgente catches up with Marta five years into her fado journey in Portugal, at a time when she was again preparing to return to Canada; a pivotal period that ended up triggering divided feelings of belonging, carrying with them doubts and regrets.

  Marta Raposo   

So these are our offerings. Hope to see some of you who follow this blog out on July 10th, and hey, in the end even if you don't like the docs., there'll always be the chocolate cake.  

Feeling the ethnic pride at EURO and World Cup time

on 3:58 pm

Hello all,

Well it's been awhile since I was last on here. The truth is I've had little to no time. Whatever the case, I'm back and there's a very important issue that we have to debate: that's right - EURO2012.

Ok, now we all remember EURO 2004, right? We all remember the sadness of the final. Greece won, Portugal lost, and life went on. Surely it was a sad ending to a wonderful ride. Still, how could we ever forget the flags hanging out of every window throughout the country and the spirit of nationalism that was created by the individual that lead the Portuguese National Team - yeah, a Brazilian, Luís Felipe Scolari.

Arguably it can be said that when it comes to Portuguese nationalism, it is felt to be stronger when outside the country. All of us who have lived as emigrants outside of Portugal know well how this is, especially in immigrant countries like Canada and the USA where we are surrounded by other nationalities on a daily basis and thus often feel the need to 'represent', if you will. Of course, we all know that there are certain times when this ethnic pride particularly makes itself known, usually every couple of years, a time that is once again just around the corner. EURO 2012 is a couple of weeks again, and eventhough the spirit of 2004 is not quit in the air, you just know that when kick-off takes place against Germany, on June 9th, that national pride is going to make itself noticed and we'll be seeing images such as these with Portuguese folks celebrating on the streets and in bars and association clubhouses across such countries as Switzerland, France, Germany, England, the US and Canada (in no specific order): 

Provide us with another wonderful ride!

Hot enough for ya? or, The eternal weather discussion...

on 10:19 pm

The weather.

I find that the weather was always a bit of an obsession in Canada, at least in my neck of the woods (south-western Ontario).

In the winter, if it snowed a lot or was very cold, it'd be front page news, in the summer, if it rained a lot or was hot, it’d be front page new.

At my parents’ house, we used to have The Weather Network on the TV for hours on end. In the kitchen it would be on as background noise whenever we were making dinner, as it was far more relaxing (some would argue informative as well) than CNN.

I always used to love the severe weather alerts that would come up once in a while, usually in the spring or summer at the height of the tornado season. We used to pride ourselves in being in the Tornado belt.

It'd give me a tingly sensation in my spine, like if we were close to the end of the world whenever the warning tone would sound and one of those blood red severe weather alerts would come up. You could almost feel the electricity in the air when a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning was announced.

And when the summer thundershowers would pass, as you'd step outside you would be greeted with clear skies and the sound of dripping water, with flashes of lightning and the low rumble of thunder in the distance. Later on you'd have a breathtaking sunset in hues of violet and red.

Though summer also brings allergy alerts and UV warnings.

In the winter, seeing the Arctic front coming down was always a bit depressing, that spelled cold snaps and wind chill warnings and having to plug in the block heater.

When I moved to Portugal, invariably any phone call with my parents would include a weather report, including local humidity and wind chill. They would, of course, expect the same from me.

Unfortunately, Portugal's weather isn't very temperamental (ha!). I can count on one hand the number of thunderstorms I've experienced here, and have only seen snow once, most of the year the weather is either sunny or rainy.

We may not talk about anything else, but we'd always talk about the weather.

The Québec Winter Carnival vs. the Portuguese Carnival

on 10:07 pm

Right from the get-go, when the French first colonised New France (what is now Quebec), they created a rowdy tradition of getting together just before Lent to eat, drink and be merry. The custom of celebrating sometime around mid-February has long been popular.

The first officially recognised large winter Carnival in Québec City, however, took place in 1894. Often faced with winter’s hardships, the city's population reinvented the popular tradition of carnival brought from France with a winter celebration that celebrates exactly that - winter. In 1954, in the context of the economic development of Québec City, a group of business people started to commercialise the festivities. That year, Bonhomme (to the right) was born and elected the event’s representative. The first official edition of the Québec Winter Carnival took place the following year, in 1955. Since then, the Carnival has snowballed into an undeniable manifestation for the entire Québec City population, having become an important vehicle for tourism and economical activity in the city. As well, from one winter to the next, the Carnival has enriched its activity program, having added a number of more popular activities that includes winter sports, snow sculptures, and activities based on the traditional Québec lifestyle, such as canoe races and dogsled races. Check out the Ice Palace put up every year below. Today the Québec Winter Carnival is the largest winter carnival in the world, and is third on the list of top carnivals worldwide, after the famous carnivals in Rio and New Orleans.

Ok, now we know that this blog is all about Canadians in Portugal, where these two countries coexist as much as possible. That said ... the Portuguese Carnival. First off, it's worth pointing out that the Portuguese carnivals of yesteryear were not exactly like todays, as missing were the scantily clad dancing girls a la the Brazilian Carnival (we must not forget that at the time of the Carnival in Brazil, it's summer, not exactly the same here, brrrr...). Yes images like the one below are typical to Ovar, Torres Vedras, Loulé and many other carnival-loving Portuguese towns.

The traditional Portuguese Carnival is more about people getting dressed up, often with masks, and making fun of each other and playing tricks on each other. It's also all about mocking public figures like what you see on the left below. Yes that's Cavaco Silva, the Portuguese President of the Republic right up front and former Portuguese PM José Socretes in the back as well. Sometimes, however, public figures themselves show-up to even mock themselves. Yes that's Madeira's Alberto João Jardim below on the right. He's a regular at the Carnival in Funchal year in, year out.

Now this year we all know that Passos Coelho is cutting back on the Carnival. For that reason, this upcoming Tuesday will not be as lively as the rest of the carnival-loving world. So enjoy yourself Québec. Maybe we here in Portugal will join you again next year on a Tuesday, or that year after that, or the year after that, ...

Canadian encounters with wildlife

on 6:54 pm

Canada is full of wildlife, there's little arguing that. In fact, it is quite common for Canadians to encounter their forest friends in their yards, for example, or simply walking down the street. Surely the friendly deer in the front yard, like the one seen below, is always a pleasant and adorable surprise. Look how cute Bambi looks eating the flowers.

Still, not all encounters with the forest creatures are that way. Take, for example, this sort of encounter below. Not really sure if running inside to get some feed is the right thing to do.

Nor is this a good reaction either, as funny as it may look.

Of course this all depends on your relationship with these sorts of animals. I just recently watched the Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man about a fellow named Timothy Treadwell who used to live among the grizzlies in Alaska, until one day (I won't spoil the ending for you). But his story is not the only one. Charlie Vendergaw was been living among bears in Alaska for over 20 years and he says it's the bears that search him out (http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=5288312#.Tza-d1x7pbk). And then there's Montana native Casey Anderson and his pet grizzly and best buddy Brutus who Anderson raised since the bear was a baby. Here they are together:

Now those who don't know any better would look at Anderson and Brutus and think 'bears are just so cuddly and cute'. Not quite. Wildlife experts will tell you that bear attacks are rare; as long as we avoid them, they'll avoid us. Yes they may be rare, but every year you hear about somebody being mauled, especially so in Canada. Attacks are often for predatory, territorial or protective reasons, or in other words, they often happens due to human encroachment, with victims often being hikers, hunters, and campers, and other times those who take up residency in wilderness areas. In other words, some folks just don't try hard enough to avoid these creatures.

Being brought up in Canada, from an early age we are taught to hit the ground and pretend we are dead if we ever encounter a bear because if we do, this is what the bear's going to think:

If you are in Canada, however, and you do want to start up a relationship with wildlife, it's more then obvious that the moose is your best choice for a companion. If you need evidence, just have a look at these four:

One piece of advice, however, just don't take them hunting.

Historic cafés of Portugal and the great minds who love(d) them

on 12:51 am

There are places in Portugal that never go out of fashion and many of these places are coffee shops or cafés. The Portuguese love coffee, there’s little doubting that – they always have and something tells me they always will. There are cafés everywhere in Portugal – every suburb, every aldeia, by the sea, inland, underground, on top of the highest mountains … they are everywhere. On their daily routines, the folks of Portugal grab their cafés wherever they can and they do it fast. In some cafés, however, this is ill advised. Coffee has its history in Portugal as do many coffee shops. Every city and town possesses cafés that are very much a part of the local socio-cultural landscape to one degree or another. This is something Starbucks will never accomplish here (at least I hope).

Now how important are the cafés of Portugal to the country? Well, lets just say that some are as important as Portuguese culture itself, for many have served to inspire the essence of Portuguese culture itself. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of Portuguese literary history, for Portugal possesses a number of historical cafés that have served as a major source of inspiration for poets and writers, this beyond having been starting points for political, social and cultural rights movements. So if in Portugal and you’re hankering for some history (literary at that) let me recommend a number of cafés for you.

In northern Portugal, in the city of Braga, Café Vianna was a regular stopping ground for Eca de Queiros and Camilo Castelo Branco. Smack-dab in the middle of the city, Café Vianna has been under the famous arcades at Praça da Republica for 141 years.

Leaving Braga and heading south-west towards the city of Porto, here two cafés are particularly worth highlighting: The Majestic and Café d’Ouro.

A stroll down Rua de Santa Catarina will take you past The Majestic. More than just a café, The Majestic is a throwback to 1920s Porto, to the city’s ‘Belle Epoche’. The Majestic quickly became a hangout for the local intellectual bourgeoisie and for writers and artists as well. The café was abandoned for a 16 year period, from 1964 to 1980, restored during a 14 year period and reopened with all its splendor in 1994, becoming Cultural Patrimony of the city of Porto.

Located at Praça de Parada Leitão, the Café Âncora d'Ouro, also known as O Piolho (Lice, in English), has been around since 1909 and is known as the academics café. Here great minds of the city have come to study and to debate and to inspire. Interestingly, O Piolho was the first café in the city to have electricity (in 1957), the first to hook up a television and the first to get the famous Italian coffee machine "La Cimbali" which lead to the name given by the residence of Porto to expresso coffee or ‘uma bica’, that of ‘cimbalino’, name that has stack until this day.

Now if in the University City of Coimbra, a visit to the Café Santa Cruz and all its Manuelino architectural elegance, is a must. Located at Praça 8 de Maio, Café Santa Cruz has been a symbol of the city by the Mondego River since 1923. Much was the controversy when the decision was made to allow the café to exist wall-to-wall with the Santa Cruz Church, but today and through its history, this café has been a home away from home for intellectuals, writers, artists, academics, fadistas, rubbing shoulders with the working class, the wealthy and most recently, tourists.

Further south but still in the centre of Portugal, we reach the City of the Knights Templar – Tomar. Here we can visit the centenary walls of Café Paraíso located at Rua Serpa Pinto, Tomar’s major pedestrian street. Contemporary writer António Lobo Antunes did his military service in Tomar and has had his name tied to Café Paraíso, for example.

Our last stop is Lisbon. Here, three cafés are worth discussing. First, A Brasileira, located at Chiado Square, has been around since 1905. Although known through history as a place frequented by Lisbon’s top literary, artistic and intellectual figures, among these personalities, one frequent client stands out: Fernando Pessoa. In fact, the presence of Fernando Pessoa at A Brasileira was so common that, in order to recognise the poets’ link to this café, a bronze statue of Pessoa sitting at a table was installed in front of A Brasileira.

Our second Lisbon stop is Café Nicola at Rossio Square, once upon a time the favourite haunt of the much celebrated poet from Setúbal, Bocage. The art deco facade and the sidewalk sitting is today a touristic must, thus the reason why when one walks by it is mostly tourists that occupy the tables.

Our last stop is under the arcades on the right hand side of Praça do Comercio (if you’ve got your back to the river). Café Martinho da Arcada has been around since 1778, originally as a liquor trade house, and in 1829 as the café that still stands today. If any café in Portugal is inevitably tied to the history of Portuguese arts and literature it’s Café Martinho da Arcada. Writers such as Cesário Verde, António Botto and Almada Negreiros were regulars in their day. Fernando Pessoa also has a table permanently reserved for him here. He certainly loved his coffee shops. More recently, Martinho de Arcada also has a table permanently reserved for Noble winner José Saramago.

So if you’re in Portugal and you think coffee is just coffee and a café is just a café ... think again. From north to south, if you’re searching out literary inspiration these ‘temples of culture’ are sure to provide you with some, and do take your time to enjoy our coffee.