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MLB: Nats’ Star Looks Forward

The Washington Nationals had hoped to be involved in the National League’s 2013 post-season in Major League Baseball, but it was not to be. Things did look much better for the former Montreal Expos in spring training, especially for starting pitcher and rising star Stephen Strasburg. I wrote this article for News.SportsInteraction.com in February 2013 using the pen name “Dale Perth.” — Bo Sports Interaction blog- Nationals' Strasburg Optimistic As Spring Training Begins

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Hooky & Son Bring the Light

“You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.” — John Coltrane

A former boss, whom I hadn’t connected with in almost two years, sent me an email out of the blue one day last fall. “So … are you going to New Order tonight?”

Wait, what? New Order is in town?!

I was a HUGE fan of Joy Division, the highly influential Manchester post-punk band which preceded New Order. After JD’s troubled singer/songwriter Ian Curtis hanged himself in 1980, the others in the group decided to carry on. It took me a very long time to accept NO: it wasn’t until their 2001 album Get Ready that I really started to like them.

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Peter Hook’s distinctive bass playing remained a constant with both iterations, but divisions within the group caused Hooky to depart, seemingly permanently, in 2006. Now he fronts an outfit called Peter Hook and the Light, and that was who would play at the Venue in Vancouver on a Monday in September 2013. I pride myself on being aware of what’s going on, but somehow this flew under my radar.

After confirming the show and buying a ticket online, I posted a thread on Facebook about it because everyone must know each of your movements immediately. Another friend, whose opinion on music I respect, had this to say in the thread:

“As soon as I heard about this I wanted to go, but then I started watching some Youtube clips of Hooky performing the songs live. I love Joy Division, and Hook is one of the great post-punk bass players, but the man cannot sing and play at the same time.”

Upon reading this, I had a look at some of the videos my friend referred to. “Disappointment” didn’t quite describe it. Hooky certainly cannot sing well. Then it hit me: New Order guitarist and singer Bernard Sumner also will never be mistaken for Pavarotti. This may be heretical to say, but Ian Curtis was not known for his vocal prowess either: passion, energy, dark but compelling lyrics, even his St. Vitus dancing, yes … but his voice wavered more than a line of laundry flapping in the breeze.

In the end, it doesn’t matter that much. Live gigs contain many questions which demand answers: “How’s the sound? Is the song selection good? Do they look like they want to be here?” which all lead up to the only really important question: “Did I like it?”

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LOVED IT. The sound was absolutely spot-on, and you could tell they’ve been touring for a while. The songs were as promised: they played the first two NO albums — 1981’s Movement and 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies — in sequential order. They took to the stage at 10:10 (20 minutes earlier than stated in the write-up I saw on the website where I had bought my ticket), and they also took two breaks of 5 to 7 minutes, with the show ending at 12:22. Definitely value for money ($30 including extra fees) on that point alone. Plus, Blue Monday closed the show.

The only regret? Not Hooky’s voice — which stayed pretty much on key even though it doesn’t project very well — nor the rock-star poses he would strike on occasion. Even the two-bass arrangement, a target of my friend’s skepticism, worked out far better than expected: Hooky’s son Jack Bates played the bass parts while the old man sang, and did the low runs when the gaffer strummed his trademark high notes.

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Our issue is a sin of omission, and it cost us dearly. My friends and I have a habit of not seeing the opening band at shows: instead, we tend to show up for the main act (hopefully) just before they get on stage. That policy killed us on this night, because afterwards we found out the warmup act was actually Hooky and the band playing Joy Division songs. Aaargh!

Despite that miscalculation, the last-minute decision to go to the show proved to be one of the best I’ve made all year, and sparked by an unlikely source: my ex-boss. Thanks for the email, Rob … I owe you one.

— Bo Gembarsky

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Welcome

Hello. You have found the WordPress site of Bo10 Media and the blog of Bohdan (“Bo”) Gembarsky. Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, I am based in Vancouver, British Columbia. A writer and copy editor for more than two decades, I have worked for organizations such as the Winnipeg Free Press, the Vancouver Sun, the Georgia Straight and Maclean’s Magazine. Examples of my previous work will be posted here along with musings on subjects which capture my attention. When/if you leave a comment, please be constructive: as a writer, I bruise easily. Thanks.

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