Saturday, August 27, 2016

Little Miss Milestones

A couple of momentous events transpired in the life of our eldest daughter back in June, in fairly rapid succession. The more significant of the two was her graduation from high school.

Despite an academically trying year, Fenya did manage to graduate with honors, something neither of her parents achieved.

A fairly big deal was made of the graduation itself, as is both typical and appropriate. Oma and Opa came up from High River, Nanny, and Auntie Tara and Uncle Jerry came up from Leduc, and Auntie Vera came all the way from Ontario. 

Eschewing a formal portrait session, Fenya asked her younger (we can no longer truthfully call her 'little') sister to take care of the photography. 

It was an overcast day, but we made the best of it, and Glory got some very decent shots in at Const. Ezio Faraone park by the High Level bridge. I mean, obviously it helps when your subject matter is gorgeous, but still.

Tara, bless her, brought some pizza and sodas since there would be no banquet at the Jubilee Auditorium's graduation ceremony.

After eating, Fenya got into her robe and mortarboard for a couple more shots.

Then it was off to the Jube, for a very well put-together presentation, which, come on, for an arts school, this should really be a foregone conclusion, right? I thought they pulled it off with aplomb, although the clowny bits left me a bit bewildered, and they hit a great balance between fun and sentimental.

There was a dance afterwards, so we left the Corolla keys with Fenya and headed home in the Flex. We got some good visiting in with the out-of-towners, but didn't go too late, since two days later we were heading up to Churchill, and one of us would not be coming back. (Dun dun DUNN!)

This would be the other milestone mentioned earlier.

You see, graduating at 17, Fenya had always intended on taking a 'gap' year before heading off to any post-secondary studies, and had toyed with the idea of working away from home. About a year ago we started talking with my cousin's wife, Belinda, about the possibility of Fenya working at their hotel and restaurant in Churchill, and she was all for it.

The original plan would have seen her working front desk, but Fenya's graduated license meant she could not be insured to drive the shuttle to the airport and train station. Belinda reassured her there was plenty of work to be had, if she didn't mind housekeeping and dishwashing, and perhaps even a little serving experience once she turned 18 in November.

I was frank with Fenya: "Look, I know this is not what you were expecting, and that is a heck of a long way to go for that sort of work, so if you are having second thoughts, let's talk about it." After thinking about it overnight, however, she was resolute in going, and I asked why.

"You know how Plan A is for me to live at home while going to school?"


 Well, if I end up going for my master's so I can go into counselling, do you realize I won't be moving out until I'm the same age you and Mum were when you got married?"

I blinked, astonished, as is so often the case, at the insight and perception she has at 17. "Have a great time in Churchill!" I told her.

And this is the manner in which we find ourselves, for a little while at least, one step closer to being empty nesters, the full effect of which is likely to be some time in coming.

And that's fine, really. Looking back over the years, I have come to realize that despite parenthood being a daunting responsibility, the burden is light. 

If you are lucky, as Audrey and I have been, it is a privilege to be in the company of such a delightful young lady, and this opinion has been validated by many of the wonderful people in our lives.

Sure, she has inherited a lot of risk aversion from her mum and dad, but she is not without a taste for adventure.

And somehow, against the odds, she and her younger (at one time littler) sister have become the closest of friends.

Very few of the obligatory first day of school pictures have a solo daughter in them once Glory began following Fenya to school.

But most of my fondest memories of Fenya all involve her tremendous sense of whimsy, the brightest way in which her spirit shines.

I'll level with you: there have been times it's been hard. It's one thing knowing that she is 1300 km and three degrees of latitude away, but the empty seat here prompts all manner of surprising little reminders. Cooking a dinner for four out of habit, setting out 4 sets of pieces for Ticket to Ride, instead of just 3, not having to sort out school supplies for her for the first time in 12 13 years, that sort of thing. Thankfully the place she is staying in has wifi, so we have been able to Skype with her from time to time, which has been exceptionally helpful.

She has also started a video blog, to commemorate her time up North, and to let her friends know what she is up to up there.

We are almost halfway through our Fenya-less time, and as trying as it may be, I couldn't be happier for her. She is learning to do things on her own, gaining experience and self reliance in one of the most fascinating places in Canada. Sure, those extra-large horseflies they call 'bulldogs' can be a little intimidating...

And the threat from polar bears, while not constant, is very real...

But we know she is in good hands up there, and even when Parker and Belinda were sidelined by tragedy, it gave Fenya an opportunity to really appreciate her independence, and the sadness and concern gives way to even more pride every day.

One milestone together, another apart; 2016 has been a big year for Fenya so far, and we are looking forward to hearing more stories from north of 58 when she returns in late November, once bear season wraps up.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sympathy for the Joker - Suicide Squad, Reviewed

Suicide Squad is not really a good movie, but it is a good time, at least for a comic fan like me.

Oh sure, it's a largely predictable, paint-by-numbers action-adventure movie drawing characters from DC's eponymous comics, and parts of the movie feel as though they were bolted on after the fact, probably after some studio execs saw Deadpool earlier in the year. Despite being lighter in tone than Batman V. Superman in places, Suicide Squad still feels darker and more cynical than a PG-13 movie based on a newsstand comic book really ought to be. And even for a movie centered around fights and setpieces, there isn't exactly a lot of plot cluttering up the scenery.

But for all its flaws, I wasn't completely disappointed with Suicide Squad. Part of that was because Glory and I only paid $7.46 each for our Tuesday tickets, but a bigger part of it was due to moderating our expectations. We'd heard the early reviews, seen the low Rotten Tomatoes score (26%!), but chanced it anyways. Why? Because like it or not, writer/director David Ayers got the greenlight to adapt a great comic, and right or wrong, his movie is the only way to see these characters move and speak on the big screen, at least, for a while.

And for another thing, I have to think that part of the scorn heaped on Suicide Squad is due to the fact that the bar on comic book movies has been raised to ridiculous heights by excellent films, beginning with Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins 11 years ago and continuing through the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We're spoiled.

If Suicide Squad had come out in, say, 2007 (between Batman Begins and Marvel's Iron Man), I think its reception would have been much warmer. This is not to excuse it, and the fact of the matter is that there are enough great superhero movies out there now, that we should demand better of the rest. But when one falls short of the mark like Suicide Squad does, that doesn't necessarily make it an entirely wasted effort.

So, from the perspective of a fan of the source material, what did Suicide Squad get right?

The Comic Esthetic - Without resorting to spandex, SS does a great job capturing the established look of many of the characters. Remember when comic movies did everything they could to avoid looking comic-booky? Suicide Squad, despite its gritty overtones, embraces its four-colour heritage instead.

Deadshot is probably the best example of this, with Will Smith wearing the iconic facemask and targeting eyepiece at various times, as well as the wrist guns I would have thought too improbable for a grounded military fan like Ayers.

Harley Quinn has enjoyed a lot of different looks since her introduction in the old Batman animated series in the '90s, but the facepaint, baseball bat and oversized six-shooter are all canonical. Is the baby-doll hot pants look maybe a bit more titillating than is needed for fighting an army of zombie-types? Probably, but that hasn't stopped a lot of the she-roes that preceded her, so, whatever.

Killer Croc is another triumphant portrayal. The original plan saw the team using King Shark, a, well, shark-man from the current comics lineup, but Ayers' aversion to CGI creatures prompted the change. Practical makeup and prosthetics turn Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Adebisi from Oz, Mr. Eko from Lost) into this fearsome sewer dweller. I only wish they had given him more lines.

Captain Boomerang has a look in the comic so ridiculous, other characters mocked it back in the '80s, so they homaged the colour and that was about all. Katana on the other hand looks quite a bit like her current incarnation.

A Lived-In Universe - Suicide Squad picks up where Batman V. Superman left off, with the world terrified about when another Kryptonian is going to go rank and decimate a major city or just take over the world. They show some of the Squad getting apprehended by the Flash, or Batman, and create Task Force X with the help of established DC character Amanda Waller.

Just a Shade Lighter - When they show Batman capturing him, he says, "It's over Deadshot. I don't want to do this in front of your daughter." That tiny bit of compassion went a long way towards warming me up to Ben Affleck's Batman, after his ridiculously enhanced recklessness and ruthlessness in BvS. Similarly, Boomerang's a ruthless dickhead, but he occasionally makes you chuckle with his antics, just like in the comics. And even when he's playing a ruthless assassin, you can count on Will Smith's impeccable comic timing.

The Lesser Knowns - Ayers said he wanted to make The Dirty Dozen with supervillains, so its inevitable that you would have a character like Pansy, uninterested in fighting. In this case it is El Diablo, former Latino gangster now haunted not only by his pyrokinesis but his deeds. Jay Hernandez does a great job making someone potentially irredeemable somewhat relatable, and maybe even likable.

What didn't work so well, even (or because) I'm a fanboy? For me, it came down to two characters.

Amanda Waller - In the comics, the head of Task Force X is a tough, tough lady, who makes some hard choices without a lot of support, because a) she works with people who would just as soon kill her as wipe their own noses, and b) she is a woman playing at a man's game, running covert ops with little oversight. She uses the Suicide Squad callously, but not cruelly.

In this movie though, she is so manipulative and ruthless, it is impossible to like her. In fact, I am kinding of hoping that Batman holds her to account at some point, but I doubt that is likely.

The Joker - Well, here is the rub of it. The Joker is one of the best larger-than-life villains of the last century, probably second only to Hannibal Lecter in terms of modern day boogeymen. A lot of weight was put on casting Jared Leto in this role, a gifted character actor, and much to-do was made of his method-actor on-set shenanigans (mailing live rats, a dead pig, and used condoms to his castmates).

But his Joker just didn't work for me. Here's why:

Every other live-action representation of the Joker, from Cesar Romero's greasepainted clowning, through Jack Nicholson's deadpan mugging, to Heath Ledger's scene stealing chaos, have all had one characteristic that Leto's Joker does not.

They were funny.

They were funny in different ways, to be sure. Romero's goofy Joker was there to be laughed at, in many ways, with his infectious, hooting laughter. Nicholson's version actually made some pretty good wisecracks ("Yes, he was a gangster, and a terrorist, but on the other hand, he had a tremendous singing voice..."), while Ledger's ghastly anarchist prompted the kind of nervous laughter you felt guilty about, like in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta shot Phil Lamarr in the face. ("I'm gonna make this pencil disappear...")

Maybe it's the writer, maybe it's the studio interference, I don't know. But watching interviews with Leto, it's plain to me that he just doesn't get the character. His Joker is all menace, and no charm; all chaos and no playfulness. He is brilliantly terrifying, but without any of the depth that 75 years of comics have provided him.

If we see the Joker again, I kind of hope it is with a different actor, but even if Leto gets to reprise the role, my fervent wish is that someone shows him this page from Neil Gaiman's comic, "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?"

Of course, I will also recommend viewing all Mark Hamill's performances as the animated Joker; still the gold standard as far as I'm concerned.

At any rate, if you are a fan of the Suicide Squad comics, or just the idea, or of comic books in general, don't let the bad reviews scare you away. Just be glad we live in an age where we actually have the option to be picky about our comic adaptations, and that so many of them have been done so well.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Folking Around- EFMF 2016

As someone who is generally pretty proud of the city he lives in, I am a bit embarrassed that I have never attended the Edmonton Folk Music Festival before this past weekend. As a first time attendee and volunteer, I was overwhelmed, astonished and impressed; I will be back, and am now even more ashamed that I didn’t come earlier.

In my defense, the festival has many qualities that I personally find objectionable, frankly. For one thing, it is outdoors, forcing me to contend with the sun, mortal enemy of basement dwelling bookworms the world over. If not the sun, it’s the rain, and if not the rain, it’s the mosquitoes, so there is that.

Also, the genre of music encompassed by the term ‘folk music’ has become increasingly diffuse over the years. This year’s lineup included performers more accurately labelled as blues, country, gospel, and even (gasp!) rock and/or roll music, and that’s just covering the North American contingent. Now, I’m not saying everything needs to be pigeonholed to an excessive degree (I’m looking at you, Scandinavian-melodic-death-metal fans!), but maybe they should just call it the Edmonton Music Festival, and (ahem) get the Folk out of there. Just sayin’.

A co-worker of mine approached me a few months back to see if I was interested in volunteering. Myrna’s team supervises the Greetings Team (otherwise known as the tarp lottery) for preferential seating. This incredibly civilized process not only prevents people lining up days in advance to the detriment of the neighbourhood they end up camping in, but also greatly reduces the impact on the first aid tent, as people have been known to wrench ankles and even break extremities careening down the ski hill in Gallagher park in order to stake out a prime location for viewing the main stage.

In addition to having an experienced and hand-picked crew that I was flattered to be nominated to, Myrna assured me that the EFMF kitchens prepared excellent food for their volunteers, and that our duties would be concluded before the first acts even hit the stage! The counterpoint was that the 0630 start time on Saturday and Sunday meant staying for the closing act would be a challenge, but I was intrigued enough to make a go of it.


In brief, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival gets it. They have been doing this for a while now, and their level of preparation and organization ensures that the event runs like the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace as performed by a combination of Bolshoi ballerinas and Shaolin monks.

A handful of paid staff oversee a veritable army of volunteers and volunteer coordinators, over 2400 of them, all of whom receive good orientation, clear instructions, enviable support, a color-coded t-shirt for a uniform, free admission to the festival and the best mass-prepared meals I have ever had.

I approached my new volunteer orientation session with some trepidation, being not only a festival neophyte, but also middle-aged and insurmountably uncool. From the time I stepped in the door though, I was made to feel welcome, told where to go, what to do, and even why I was doing it. The information session itself was straightforward, clear, and mercifully brief.

Two weeks before the festival I met my team at a crew meeting, where we not only received our turquoise volunteer shirts, but Myrna and another coordinator  gave us customized sling bags to commemorate the 15th year of the Greetings Team. I was one of only three blokes on a team of eleven volunteers, only two of whom were older than me, but I was within a decade or so of three or four others, so I didn’t feel wholly out of place. Most importantly though, they were all easy going, friendly and immensely helpful as I sought to understand the whole process.


This is the way of it: about a kilometer away from the concessions gate, at the top of a reasonably steep hill, a perimeter of snow fence stands in a park next to Strathearn Drive. This is The Corral.  At 2:00 Thursday, about two and a half hours before the regular gates open, festival goers show their tickets to the Greeting Crew so they can enter The Corral. As they do so, they are given a coloured ticket with the name of a performer written on it.

Those attending the festival together try to get as many different colours as they can, so there is a period of trading which is somehow both intense and laid back. At 2:30, once everyone has filed in, we close the Corral and re-secure the snow fencing with zip-ties. The Crew Coordinator (Myrna) climbs on top of the picnic table that the Site Crew has provided for us (in past years she has brought along her own stepladder), unlimbers her megaphone, and the crowd, between 800 and 1350 people, all hush so they can hear which performer’s name is being called.

The corraled crowd eagerly awaits the name of the next group
Rather than draw the names live, they are done beforehand by festival organizers, with the 50 names all typed out on a list and provided to Myrna in a sealed envelope. When she reads the first name off the list, the people holding the tickets with the matching name all cheer, because they will be amongst the first 60 people (30 from the south gate and another 30 from the north) to be piped onto the field half an hour before the public gates even open. Since festival attendance can be upwards of 20,000 people a day, this is a fairly big deal, as you might imagine.

Once the lucky ones have all filed out and formed up in a line behind another volunteer, the next name is drawn, until all the ticket holders are lined up in a parade along Strathearn drive. Those in a party who have a representative further up the line usually leave and meet up with them at the tarp later on, but some stayed on so they can give away their mid-line tickets to others who might otherwise have to wait until the bitter end, which was extraordinarily nice of them.

Eventually the corral is emptied and massive line is then marched down the hill towards the concession gate, while another crew leads their contingent to the main gate. On a couple of occasions I stayed at the back of the line up to ensure no one joined the line by mistake, or ‘mistake’, as the case may be.

One gentleman somehow made it all the way to the gate before being told he was in the wrong lineup, and became quite upset. One of the longtime crew verified with me that he had not entered the end of the line, expressed sympathy, but told him he would need to line up with everyone else at the public gate. The latecomer tried to make his case that because no one had told him he was in the wrong place, he should be allowed on ahead of the other lineup, but our gatekeeper was having none of it.

"Look, I'm sorry you ended up in the wrong place," he said, "but you need to take some personal responsibility here. It's no different than if you got in a line on the grounds without asking, 'hey, is this the lineup for the food or the bathrooms?' All you had to do was ask anyone."

Eventually he stomped away in a storm of Eastern European invectives, while around 1,350 festival goers were led onto the field in a (largely) orderly fashion in less than 20 minutes, and that's just from one gate.

When pre-lottery madness was at its peak, some inventive types would attach bottles of water to their tarp corners, and then fling it downhill with a snap, the centrifugal force of the weighted corners opening the tarp like a Roman retiarius gladiator's fighting net. All in all, the tarp lottery feels like a far more civilized way to do things, and the attendees really seem to appreciate it.


There were no massive draws or enormously popular names in this year's festival lineup compared to previous editions, but that didn't stop the festival organizers from getting a lineup that was legendary in its own right. I expect to be hearing quite a bit more from some of these artists in the future. With my 6:30 am starts on the weekend and the airshow on Saturday, I didn't get to see quite as much as I might have liked, despite the fact that my volunteer obligations were over and done with an hour before the first performer took the stage. The ones I saw were all pretty excellent though.

The Barr Brothers - Two Boston area guitarists,with a dominant rock/blues feel, joined by a harpist from Montreal for a sound that is both ethereal and energetic. I waited too long to buy their album and it sold out, but I subsequently ordered it from Amazon.

Kaleo - A band from Iceland by way of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta, these blues/folk/rockers closed out the show on Thursday with an amazing set. If you are curious, this video shows them playing "Way Down We Go" in a live volcano.

World Spinning - A 'workshop' set, which was essentially a jam session between the Barr Brothers, Franco-Malian guitarist/vocalist Fatoumata Diawara and Senegalese kora player Amadou Falls and his trio. When one of the Barrs pulled out his bottleneck slide, accompanied by talented African musicians and his regular harpist, I should have been bored when one song ran to 17 minutes. But instead, I was completely entranced. The small stages have a lot to offer!

Black Umfolosi on Stage 3 Sunday morning

Black Umfolosi - An acapella group from Zimbabwe, who share the same Zulu roots as Ladysmith Black Mambazo (who most of us will remember from Paul Simon's Graceland album in the '80s). Black Umfolosi not only sound brilliant and bring awesome amounts of spirit and gratitude to their singing, but are also talented dancers and engaged well with the Sunday morning crowd. Their lead singer won us over by relating how, after arriving at Pearson airport, gained significant credibility with their newest member by telling him, "Welcome to T'ronno" just like a native Canadian.

The Spirit Sings - Myrna said she loves to include this spiritual session in her Festival Sunday. Linda Tillery and her Cultural Heritage Choir sang classic African-American gospel, including a number of reclaimed spirituals. Guitarist and singer Mike Farris talked about how these songs in particular resonated with him as the honest and uplifting songs of a people in bondage, particularly when he felt he was in bondage to himself through alcohol and drugs. When he played Wade In The Water while backed up by Tillery's choir and The Sojourners, it truly sounded like the Gospel according to John...Lee Hooker. Afterwards we all agreed with Linda when she emphatically stated, "Mm hmmm, that is the TRUTH. That is the real shit right there," the earthy honesty of which got a great response from the crowd,

Calexico - I had heard of this band and their country-blues blend of Tex-Mex sounds, but was only familiar with their track "Guero Canelo" from the Collateral soundtrack (a great movie with a soundtrack that is just as good). I was tickled pink when they not only played that song, but closed out their set with it for over ten minutes.

LP on the main stage Sunday night

LP - Laura Pergolizza is already a respected songwriter, having her works performed by Rihanna and Christina Aguillera, but is also a dynamic performer in her own right. A tiny lady whose ukelele looks almost like a full-sized guitar in her arms, she has an intense and powerful voice, and was grateful for the receptive and energetic main stage crowd.

It was a tremendous experience over all, and makes me regret even more that I waited so long to attend such an enormous and internationally respected event in my own backyard. And yes, the food was amazing, considering the temporary kitchen in an enormous tent was feeding upwards of 2000 people per meal. Between the meals, admission to the festival, shuttle service to and from the site and the legendary appreciation parties I was too fatigued to attend, it is fair to say that in the past, at conferences or even on vacations, I have paid good money to be treated far, far worse as a paying customer than I was as a Folk Fest volunteer.

I am tremendously grateful to Myrna for having suggested I get on board, and have every reason to believe I will be back next year as well. Next time though, I will have the sense to book off the following Monday from work; it was a pretty exhausting weekend, but in the best possible way!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Just Plane Fun - Edmonton Airshow 2016

To be fair, it didn't exactly take a lot of pushing from Glory to convince me to go the second Edmonton Airshow today, despite having gotten up at 5:00 am for my third day of volunteering at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. There are darned few opportunities to see aerobatics in these parts, and the lineup was significantly more diverse than last year's which wasn't half bad itself.

In fact, hearing there were some vintage aircraft in the lineup was enough to convince Audrey to come as well, so once I was off-shift, we made our way out to Villeneuve Airport, arriving a little before noon.

Once we got our chairs set up, we made out way over to the static displays, with my favourite WWII aircraft beckoning me like a siren of yore: the F-4U Corsair. 

[Please note: all photographs are courtesy of Miss Glory!]

In the time it took us to explore the rest of the line (and the tremendous assortment of food trucks), another plane from the Pacific theatre had made an appearance: the P-38 Lightning, one of the most uniquely shaped aircraft of the conflict (and damned effective too; I'd had no idea this 'Fork-tailed Devil' had accounted for more Japanese aircraft kills than any other!).

Land-based speed was represented too, including this vintage Pontiac racer, done up in classic RCMP livery! (If you get a chance, be sure to ask Audrey what it's like to drive one of the regular cruisers..)

The show opened with a 737 taking off while we were checking out the static line displays, but we almost missed the military component kicking off with a massive parachute drop out of a C-130 Hercules, courtesy of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

After that, we hustled back to our seats to enjoy the aerobatic displays beginning with Brent Handy in his Pitts Special. A great way to start things off, this ex-Hornet jockey put his little biplane through a grueling routine, displaying almost preternatural precision.

Brent was followed by Anna Serbinenko, whose plane boasted a little less horsepower and speed, but more than made up for it with grace and poise.

After Anna, is was time for airshow legend Bud Granley to take to the air in his Russian Yak-55, joined by his son Ross in a Yak-18T. Beginning with an opposed take-off, with both planes taking to the air within meters of each other, they displayed some incredible close formation flying, as well as some impressively aggressive aerobatics individually.

The next performer was a new one for me; I'd never seen an aircraft from the People's Liberation Army Air Force before, but Geoff Latter from B.C. and his Nancheng CJ-6A "Nancy" from China put on another impressive display.

The Harvard demonstration team Yellow Thunder bring a lot to the table, both in terms of their history with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) and the impressive roars of their 600hp Pratt & Whitney radial engines. The Watson brothers are no slouches in the pilot's seat either, and their bright yellow paint jobs are a joyful sight in a clear blue sky.

One of the most common criticisms of last year's Edmonton Airshow was the lack of jet, with no modern fighters in attendance. This year made up for this in spades, first with the F-16 Viper demo team from the USAF.

I will always have a soft spot for the Fighting Falcon, as it was the star of the first serious flight simulator I ever played on my Commodore Amiga. Despite my dated but extensive familiarity with the jet, I had never seen one flown until now, and no computer speaker could do justice to the deafening roar of 30,000 pounds of thrust when the throttle gets pushed to 'full military'.

Pilot Craig "Rocket" Baker put his ship through its paces admirably, taking high-g turns that left contrails peeling off the fuselage.

Better still, the Viper was joined by a beautiful P-51 Mustang ("Cadillac of the skies!") for a series of Heritage Flight passes.

Despite returning to propellers for the next act, things didn't slow down much, as Gary Ward's MX2 stuntplane boasts an all carbon-fibre body and an engine pumped up by the manufacturer, Lycoming. The high thrust to weight ratio made this plane capable of doing some astonishing things in the hands of an expert pilot.

Then it was time for another Pitts Special flown by local pilot Bill Carter, who we had seen last year as well, who repeated his trick of cutting a ribbon perhaps 5 meters off the ground, while inverted, with his tail.

I was delighted to discover that the P-38 Lightning was going to leave the static line in order to demonstrate its speed and power! It probably had the smoothest sounding engine of the warbirds we heard that day, and cast an impressive silhouette with its unusually shaped design.

I am jealous of tomorrow's audience, however, as they will get to see (and hear!) the Corsair instead of the Lightning.

The penultimate act was another impressive display of not only speed, but a series of 10-G turns, this time from a modern air racer sponsored by Red Bull, and its pilot, Canadian Pete McLeod.

They wrapped up the show brilliantly with Canada's own CF-18 Hornet Demo Team, out of Bagotville, Quebec.. In addition to being a powerful, twin engine combat jet that is currently in service, this Hornet was also painted in a yellow scheme with blue accents, in honour of the BCATP.

And best of all, the pilot caught everyone unawares by announcing over the speakers that he was perhaps ten minutes out, then came screaming in from behind the crowd two minutes later, at just below the speed of sound and perhaps 200 feet off the deck. One of my favourite air show gags, even if a lot of the smaller children found it somewhat unsettling.

The icing on the cake was another Heritage Flight, this one quintessentially Canadian in nature. The yellow-liveried Hornet, callsign Hawk 1, was joined by a Harvard Mk. II trainer, Hawk 2. This monoplane was painted to match the plane piloted by John Gillespie Magee Jr., an RCAF pilot who died in a mid-air collision in 1941 in England, but is perhaps best remembered for his poem High Flight:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

A truly touching way to end a memorable airshow; I'm already anticipating next year's version!