Had he not passed away yesterday, today would be the 92nd birthday of jazz legend Dave Brubeck (1920–2012). His groundbreaking 1959 album Time out was centred around the concept of unusual time signatures, and though unconventional, it soon became a huge bestseller, and arguably is one of the "gateway" albums through which newcomers to jazz approach the genre.
Brubeck was second only to Herbie Hancock on my hierarchy of jazz pianists, and the world is significantly less groovy today. By now you've probably heard more than your fair share of Brubeck clips on the news, but I hope you're not averse to one more take of "Take 5" in his honour:
So it turns out I'm exactly 50 years younger than Dave Brubeck. Well, that's something.
Also today is the 95th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion. On December 6, 1917, the Norwegian steamer Imo collided with the French cargo ship Mont-Blanc in Halifax Harbour. Mont-Blanc subsequently caught fire and then detonated, levelling much of Halifax and killing nearly 2,000 people. At three kilotons, it was the largest man-made explosion in history until the birth of the atomic bomb (by comparison, Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, was 16 kilotons). The shock wave from the blast was heard and felt hundreds of miles away; then-Prime Minister Robert Borden was in Charlottetown, PEI, and he heard it.
Third, this is the 23rd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, in which the deranged Marc Lepine armed himself, entered L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, and killed 14 women. Despite being a white, Christian male (who was also studying engineering at the time of the murders), I still stubbornly refuse to accept responsibility for Lepine's actions.
Finally, this is the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Myra who, in addition to being the prototype of Santa Claus, was notorious for beating Arius at the Council of Nicaea. Go celebrate the day by slapping out a heretic.