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Life’s little disappointments

My school books showed illustrations like this one, of Halley’s Comet crossing the sky in 1881. It would return in 1986, so I would get to see it in my lifetime.

What we saw in 1986 was a puny disappointment, of course, so I wondered … had the newspaper illustrations of the day grossly exaggerated the comet’s actual appearance?

The accuracy of freshly published Illustrations by Leopold Trouvelot, depicting other celestial objects, convinces me that his Halley’s Comet depiction is correct. I really did miss out on a spectacle.

Poor Trouvelot is most remembered for accidentally introducing the gypsy moth into North America, causing apocalyptic damage to forests and crops. He was just following the American Dream, trying to figure out a way to get filthy rich by breeding super silk worms.

Trouvelot was probably a genius, but when his gypsy moths escaped, his place in history became an unenviable one.

Celebrating with Attila the Hun(garian)

A couple of months ago, when Danica treated me to a birthday dinner at Zante Bistro, Attila said he would be having his birthday party there, too. We noted the date and went to wish him many happy returns.

So glad we went. What a great circle of friends Attila has. They made us feel like part of the gang and we had a wonderful time.

Eva had made several creative gifts … colourful pop-up candy boxes and clever magnetic animal toys .. that she dispersed in a draw.

We met Istvan Fujkin, visual artist and another friend of Atilla, then got a sneak peak at the progress next door to Zante, where Attila is doing renovations. He is transforming the space into a coffee shop.

Coffee shop, soon to be. Right next door to Zante Bistro.

I first met Attila when he was renovating Zante Bistro and he let me in to see how that was coming along. Nice guy, easy to talk to, and he’s helping Beach Hill’s business strip become ever more inviting.

Godspeeding toward warm days

I am quite impressed with the space created in the front of the building, simply by setting the front wall back 10 feet.

This used to be a rather dreary-looking dollar store (and a Bargain Harold’s before that. Remember Bargain Harold’s?) It’s showing a lot more promise already, as it moves toward opening time for the Godspeed Brew Pub.

This is all one shot, taken in January. – Looking north on Coxwell, near Gerrard

Inside, a start has been made assembling shiny stainless steel tanks, pipes and whatnot. The plan is to be serving tasty snacks and Godspeed beer by May, I believe. Lots left to do, but I think it will happen as planned.

Shut up, Bill

Time to make up for my teasing about the way Lens Work signage didn’t quite line up with the space left for it by muralist Alex “Runt” Currie.

Left: Space left for signage                               Right: Not quite a fit

Professionalism has prevailed. The gap is so perfectly filled, you’d never know it had been there. The fix probably happened ages ago, but I only noticed today.

Wheezy rides again

This is the longest slide show (6 min.) but perhaps the most interesting since it goes through the Middle East shortly before everything hit the fan.

The slides move quickly, but you can always pause the movie. The trip started in 2008 … around the world in 2 years.

You’ll see the military escort trucks that Pakistan insisted on providing for the trip through that troubled country. No way the government was going to let a couple of Canadian tourists go through without armed guards. All they need is another hostage-taking.

Peter had nothing to do with arranging the escort. It was just laid on … new soldiers each day, for legs of the journey to the Indian border.

Sea Witch fish & chips

Other than Duckworth’s on the Danforth, I didn’t know of any good, surviving fish & chips places. Thanks to Brian Hickey, I do now. Sea Witch.

West of Bathurst, St. Clair Avenue regains a bit of soul and sunshine, thanks to older, lower profile buildings. At 636 St. Clair W., Brian, Peter and I ate halibut and chips ($17 each) that lived up to Brian’s praise. Slaw was tasty, too. Chips … real thing. Service, friendly and good.

There aren’t a lot of seats, but enough. Choices of fish included cod ($11), haddock ($12) and pickerel ($14), as well as the halibut. There were package deals, as well. [Menu page].

Poor St. Clair Avenue West

Lunch plans afforded me a walking opportunity on the west side today, from Yonge to Christie. I hoped for interesting pictures, but settled for what the street has to offer.

City planners(?) have been cruel to this avenue, at least the part I walked. High rise buildings were permitted to block sunlight for long stretches on both sides of the street. Uninspired, boxy and dull, meet cold and dark. Condos are still being added, as if all hope was lost anyway, so why not?

The justly maligned streetcar project, with its financial overruns, delays, mistakes and business-killing construction seems over … until the new streetcars arrive (if and when). Two barren concrete strips take the centre lanes, leaving one driving lane for cars and trucks each way, and lanes for on-street parking. Gridlock at intersections? You bet.

I sought comic relief in a commercial shingle, attached, oddly, to a residential apartment building’s sign. Not really funny, though, is it?

St. Clair Avenue has been through a lot, for what?

Rescue from Flash in progress

The Flash format is almost extinct, so I am converting Peter Sever’s Round The World Ride slides to a video format. The controls are missing, but at least it will remain viewable.


If you don’t know about the ride, it’s all documented on Wheezyrider.com. The trip started in 2008, when Peter would have been around 62 years old. His Black Bike is a Honda Goldwing.

Among other amazing aspects of the 2-year trip is that the Middle East collapsed behind Peter and his companion Thao. They rode through Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iran and Pakistan (armed escorts for that part) … not places you’d want to go at the moment. They saw Palmyra before ISIS made it a scene of butchery and destruction.

Do read the story, or some of it, anyway. My slide shows are still there (in Flash), so you can see what I am attempting to preserve. There are 6 shows, all short. I’ll post the videos here, as I complete them.

R.I.P. Chuck Berry

Clip from 1956 movie Rock, Rock, Rock. Berry performs You Can’t Catch Me

90 years old. Not bad for a rock ‘n’ roller, someone said. Not just any rock ‘n’ roller, either … one of the seminal forces who inspired many, many musicians and countless fans. According to John Lennon, if we had wanted to call rock and roll something else, we could have called it Chuck Berry.