Archive for the ‘The Alder Fork Projects’ Category

Super Sunday Indeed

February 2, 2009

Bones sinking like stones, all of us are done for.


Don’t Panic

A trip down memory lane for me today as I returned to St. Jerome’s once again for the SJ Carnival. I was a little disappointed that the annual football game was scrapped to due a lack of faculty/staff/alumni attendance. But I did get some fun ball hockey in.  Being back at SJU reminded me of the above song.  Dave and I played it at many coffeehouses over our 4 years as students.

As I have been there all day, and the Super Bowl is tonight, this will be a short post.

When I was chatting with Emily during the last podcast I was chatting off-air with her about my connection to the world of design.  I came to appreciate the work of designers through an interest in sports uniforms.  I will probably do a larger post about some of my favourites in the future, but for the moment I want to mention a blog that I have followed for over a year. Uniwatch is the place to find information about uniforms and logos, from the past, present, and future.  Anything I know about graphic design probably comes from reading posts and comments on that blog. The site founder Paul Lukas has parlayed a love of sports aesthetics and his writing career into a job with ESPN as their uniform guru. If you like sports I’d recommend poking around a bit to see if you like the jersey as much as the action.

Just a reminder that the deadline for the Poetry Contest is nearly upon us. I will be accepting late entries this week as I am a generous guy. Details are here.

Exciting News, Be Heard

January 24, 2009


You are probably wondering what is being depicted in that picture. Those are the “CD cases” for the upcoming The Alder Fork EP. Those fabric sleeves were originally conceived as a promotional gimmick at the Festival of Peace and Tranquility in 2005. Crystal Kemkes did all the sewing while I cut out the fabric squares.  I am resurrecting the concept for the EP because it is fun, different, easy to do, and has a very down to earth feel.

As far as the EP itself goes, I have several tracks done, including some remixes and I am aiming for a release date at the end of February, maybe coinciding with the announcement of the winner of the poetry contest. Don’t forget to enter that by the way. What I need today is some more public input.Please vote on your favourite potential title for the EP from those in the poll.  This strategy worked well for picking the name The Alder Fork, and selecting the album song that will lead this EP. If you do please email me at and you could win a prize.

Thanks for your continued support of The Alder Fork in all it’s forms!

6 Things You Didn’t Know About The GTA

January 22, 2009

It is with great pleasure that I present our first guest writer here on The Alder Fork Blog. This is the second part of an ongoing series entitled 6 Things You Didn’t Know… Today the Greater Toronto Area is our topic, and Iwona Szkudlarek is our host on this amazing journey. She is a good friend of mine, a University of Toronto student, and a kindred spirit.  If you’d like to check out the first entry in the series you can find it here. If you want to learn about Alberta click here. Without further ado I bring you:

6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Greater Toronto Area

I love the area I live in.  I grew up in Oshawa and have called downtown Toronto home for the last few years. This makes  it really difficult to decide on only six things about the GTA that I consider to be interesting, important or little known. Despite that, I have agonized for days over it and here is my take on a few cool things about the area. 🙂

•    As we all probably know, diversity is the great pride of Canada and, to be honest, it is largely because of our metropolitan areas. With in mind, I  discovered that over 100+ languages are spoken in the GTA! Among these, Chinese, particularly Cantonese, is the most widely spoken in this area after English.  On a side note,  I attempted to find the number of languages spoken in the world for comparison but there doesn’t seem to be a definite statistics because of definition disputes (though I believe 6,000ish is a good guess). Regardless, 100+ is pretty awesome. Also, the  the region becomes even more diverse with each passing day, since a large portion of immigrants to Canada choose the GTA as their new home.  This definitely increases the diversity I encounter in my daily life, at the very least.

•    One quarter of Canada’s population lives within a 160 km radius of Toronto. This fact end up including more than just the GTA (I’m cheating a little) but it’s still significant. Being packed in like sardines seems to be the preference of many Canadians, if you consider how many live near the major city centres. Also, 3 GTA cities are in the top 20 most populated cities in Canada. Toronto is the most populated city in the nation, with Mississauga is 6th on the list and Oshawa as 15th.  All this probably comes to no surprise for GTAers,  especially those who have to commute through area during rush hour!

•    The Iroquois Shoreline is one of those facts that I’m never sure if people are aware of or what they may know about it. Well, it’s the shoreline of the glacial lake that existed where Lake Ontario is now.  The shoreline of this ancient lake extended inland 5km in Burlington and continued at various depths, east until the Scarborough Bluffs. It is really noticeable just south of St. Clair in Toronto, between Bathurst and the Don Valley. As a reminder of the last ice age, which happened 13,000 years ago, it was created when a giant chunk of ice blocked drainage from the lake and causing it to flood surrounding plains.  If you look really closely at the topography of the GTA, you can see ridges and valleys that mark areas that were once underwater.  This means that around 12,000 years ago, a good chunk of the Southern GTA was underwater. It’s amazing how much the area has changed since then! I recommend checking out the Scarborough bluffs and the ridge just south of St. Clair West, they both have beautiful views of the lake and the GTA.

•    Also on the edge of this shoreline, at Spadina and Davenport in Toronto, sits the only true castle in Canada.  I admit, I’m a history buff and living near Casa Loma absolutely feeds my love for castles, so this is a huge bias on my part.  Regardless, it’s a beautiful structure with an amazing view of the GTA from it’s turrets. Construction began in 1911, by Sir Henry Pellatt, a man who was clearly very wealthy. He never finished the project and eventually ended up bankrupt but the house landed in the hands of the Kiwanis Club of Toronto, who maintain the castle and land and run it’s tourist operations.  It is also a popular, if not expensive place, to hold a wedding. The Conservatory, with it’s gorgeous windows and fountains is regularly used for this purpose. It is also rented out for the purposes of film making and recently has been used for The Love Guru and X-Men. It is also might be used as a location of the up coming Scott Pilgrim movie, which is based on a  Toronto based comic series. All in all, it’s a pretty cool site!

•    Oshawa also has it’s own giant mansion, one that was home of the estate of R. S. McLaughlin. He was the founder of McLaughlin Carriages  (later McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited), which became the catalyst for bringing General Motors into Canada. While in this day and age, people might argue as to whether GM is something to be proud of (with the environmental movement locking horns with the auto industry on a daily basis), Mclaughlin was an important guy for Oshawa. Not only did he start McLaughlin Carriages, he became the major of Oshawa and was the first president of the YMCA in the area. His company, and later GM and it’s subsidiaries, have provided tens of thousands of jobs for people in the GTA.  Plus, McLaughlin’s mansion is really nice and has served as a set for movies like Billy Madison and X-Men.

•    After mentioning several filming sites in the GTA already, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the impact that film and television has on the area. The entertainment industry has a large stake in the GTA, particularly the movie industry.  Since there is such a diversity of locations, significant tax breaks and a large amount of professionals around, it’s a fairly lucrative business. A lot of people know that movies are filmed in Toronto but most people don’t realize that it is a big moneymaker for the cities and businesses involved, bringing millions, if not billions into the economy of the GTA. The area is home to massive number of professionals, from hair and makeup, extras, actors, and crew who help this business thrive (and endure crazy hours and interesting locations to bring you the entertainment you enjoy on your screens). Everything from The Hulk to the American Pie franchise movies (we’re up to six, if you can believe it) are filmed in the area. While it’s no Hollywood, it’s important to our economy and a good place to start if you’re looking for a career in film and/or television. If you look closely while you watch movies, you might recognize a place that you are very familiar with!

Any information I used to support my information came from personal experience and

Don’t Forget to Write

January 11, 2009

I met my old lover on the street last night, she seemed so glad to see me I just smiled, and we talked about some old times and we drank ourselves some beer, still crazy after all these years.

Paul Simon

Still Crazy After All These Years

It’s hard to believe that Paul Simon is so old now.  He once sang about being 21 years old, and was still a young man when he wrote the song quoted above.  I have included it because it is a clue to the topic of Monday’s podcast. You’ll just have to listen to find out. Mr. Simon has always been a hero of mine. His songwriting is unsurpassed. I consider him the model for how to make great music. I don’t directly copy his style, but I look at his willingness to expand his musical vision and embrace other ideas to improve his own songwriting.  He is also capable of capturing a feeling, a mood, or a scene in his lyrics in an authentic and dynamic way.  Hearing a Paul Simon penned song means genuinely stepping into the experience of another person to live their life for a few moments.  He maintains a thread of wit and satire in many of his songs, from the social commentary of A Most Peculiar Man and Keep the Customer Satisfied to the pop culture critique of A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert Macnamara’d Into Submission) or the bitter You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies.  Although his career has waned in recent years he is a songwriter and performer who will continue to influence others as long as the radio keeps playing Sound of Silence and Cecilia.

With the snow falling again here in Hamilton, for perhaps the twentieth time this year, I am using this post to remind you of an important event. Namely the first ever The Alder Fork From Worst to First Poetry Contest. All the gory details can be found here. In the spirit of providing you with inspiration I am including the following poem. It is called Letters and tells the tale of two lovers separated by war.  It is from a collection of poems about life in Canada. Enjoy.


You begged me to stay here
To forget my heroic dreams
Because love was more important
But I didn’t believe you
I was a man
I had a mission
I had honour
I am proud and I believe
That I cannot fail
And now I have
Not only my nation
Not only my comrades
Not only my self
But most painfully you
As we stood alone
Counting the hours
While you cried and insisted
I promised
That I was a man
Who would return to you
Because I was wise
And I was strong
And my faith and my pride
Would carry me far
But it did not
And for that I am sorry

I begged you to stay
To give up on your dreams
For our love was important
Enough to forget pride
I was a girl
I had no secrets
I was innocent but not naïve
I did not suffer
And now I have
Not only for loss
Not only for love
Not only for me
But for you
I can see all your life
No longer before you
I once cried and insisted
I now sit alone
You didn’t come back to me
I was your life
But you followed your dream
You stayed with your faith
But it took all your strength
Stole it away from you
Left you with nothing
I should’ve tried harder
And for that I am sorry

Rolling Over

January 1, 2009

Welcome to 2009. Although this post will go up at 11:30pm on December 31st, it’s highly likely you are reading this on January 1st.  Since New Year’s Eve promises to be a busy day for me, I am preparing this post a day in advance.  I laid out some of the plans for The Alder Fork in it’s first full year in my Christmas post, so I will spare you that today.  I would like to point out that in just two months this blog, it’s adjoining podcast, and the other various projects have begun to carve out a niche for themselves. It’s all thanks to those of you who pop by from time to time!  I hope you have a great New Year, whatever you are doing, and if you are bored and/or hung over on New Year’s Day I highly recommend checking out The Lights I See You in Shadow it’ll cure what ails ya!

Take care of yourself.

‘Tis Once A Year

December 25, 2008

We’ll build our walls, aluminum, we’ll fill our mouths, with cinnamon

The Decemberists

Sons and Daughters

Merry Christmas folks.  Most blogs that I read have shut it down for the day on account of the holiday.  I am not most blogs! Since I doubt many people will read this (I hope you are spending today with family or friends) I won’t say too much.  I just want to let everyone know that 2009 promises to be an exciting year for The Alder Fork in all its forms. I am currently working on getting one or two other artists to join the music wing of things.  I am attempting to convince purveyors of Canadian music to give me access to their musicians for interviews and other things.  Plans are starting to formulate for the 2009 Mid-Summer Festival of Peace and Tranquility. The Alder Fork is working on two simultaneous musical projects, and the first single from The Lights I See You In Shadow complete with never before released B-sides is expected in January.  I also have a special project in the works that will further expand the scope of The Alder Fork Projects. All in all Christmas dawns with a bright future ahead. Tomorrow I will begin a new feature on the blog. It’s not that different from some other posts but it’s a new spin on an old gem.  Once again Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and have a safe time out there.

Good Morning World!

December 17, 2008

Just because I’m losing, doesn’t mean I’m lost



Just the one last Coldplay quote before I abandon them for awhile.  I mention them to today because Dave pointed me to a very cool contest the band held recently.  People submitted homemade videos for the song Lost? and the band judged them.  The top two are featured at this site.  I’d recommend checking them out, it’s amazing what people can create.  For that matter if you are an amateur filmmaker and would like to promote your work please contact me and I will link to it.

I often wonder when people come to read the blog. I know you do because I see the stats, but they don’t tell me what time of day you wander by.  Is this a before bed activity? How about right after dinner? Maybe in the morning at work? Who knows? You do!

The title of my blog quotes the name of a favourite show of mine, Good Morning World. You can find it online or on Friday nights at 9:30. It turns out my friend Iwona is friends of a friend of one of the stars. Small world! The show is an improvised morning show that is flat out hilarious! It’s a Canadian production that pretends to be American, so you know it needs some attention.

One last item for you today. For those of you who have heard the album, The Lights I See You In Shadow, or have heard the songs on the blog, I’d like you to vote on a “single” track. I am going to do some special things with the one you pick. The track should be a standout song for you. Consider which one would have wide appeal. Vote below!

Look for a review of a newish album tomorrow!

One Night Only!!!

December 9, 2008

If you’re going to San Fransico…Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

Scott Mckenzie (really John Phillips)

San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair

I have to admit that I sat down at the computer today without a clue what I was going to write about.  This is the first time in 40 days that I haven’t had an idea stuck in the front of my brain.  But thankfully the world is full of inspiration.  I quoted the hippie anthem above because I thought I would take a minute to write about the Mid-Summer Festival of Peace and Tranquility.  It began in Grade 11 as an excuse to play an outdoor concert in my backyard.  The first year we had a BBQ and played a nice set of cover songs for an appreciative group of friends and relatives.  The second year Caillin Kowalczyk of Lovesick Designs (see the link) fame created a brilliant butterfly sign that I hope he still has.  The police came that year because we were too loud, but I wasn’t worried about it, and we have never seen them in the years since.

The basic concept behind the festival was that it would always have a ridiculous name and would continuously involve more acts. It has rarely occured in the “mid-summer”, in fact it was once in Spring.  I also made it extra long as a joke, because I think giving something an extra long name is funny.  So the name has never been that serious.

We have managed to involve more and more acts in the years since it was founded. This past summer we had 4 out at Parkview Church on a nice Saturday evening.

So what is the point of this post, besides telling some boring stories. Well for one there will be another Mid-Summer Festival of Peace and Tranquility in the new year.  I have already started brainstorming ideas for it and considering which acts I’m going to invite along for the ride.  I think it will once again occur during the actual summer, and in an outdoor location. More importantly, I will once again use the event to showcase a local charitable organization and maybe do a little fundraising. It won’t be on par with the money we made for Heart Cry Restoration Ministries (see the link) but it will be something. I will also be able to record this years show and make a very special podcast episode out of it.  Most likely the number of acts will increase again.

If anyone is interested in being involved with this years festival please contact me.

Now Watch Out, Sister of Mine

December 8, 2008

My lady mother, when I do less or more than what you require of me I beg you to beat me as much as you will so that I may be careful another time

Catherine Benincasa

quoted by Rudolph Bell in Holy Anorexia

I mentioned the other day that I was looking for musicians to be part of my latest project.  You might be wondering “What is this new project?” First, some background.  I have recently completed an MA.  My thesis concerned the relationship between spiritual/religious belief and anorexia.  I can confidently say that they interact in an apparent and complex manner.  There have been several books and articles written on the topic, and if you really want to know about it I can send you my summary chapter on the research. Why is this important? Well as part of my research for the thesis I read Holy Anorexia by Rudolph Bell. It is an examination of the lives of hundreds of medieval Italian ascetics who died from starving themselves. The book itself focuses on a few specific cases in detail.  Although it is written in a scholarly fashion it is remarkably moving.  Thus I have decided to take the stories of the 6 women mentioned in the book and turn them into an album.  Now I rarely write songs on a particular topic never mind an entire album, so a great deal of research and work will go into writing the songs in the first place.

I am hoping that a female vocalist will step forward to be the voice of the project.  I don’t want to be the one telling these women’s stories. I don’t think I should be.  If you want to take part in this adventure please leave a comment or email me. I promise it will be lots of fun.

Just a reminder you can get The Lights I See You In Shadow by The Alder Fork by clicking on “Get the Album” over there –>. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to listen and comment.