Rick Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Rick Blue
is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Rick Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

He is also a columnist for Montreal's outstanding West Island Gazette..

His LCC columns are archived here

Posted 01.03.15


In the heart of winter, we seek to light up the night

MONTREAL | On the day of the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, the sun rose on the West Island at 7:30 a.m. and set at about 4:15 p.m. The day was approximately seven hours shorter than the day of the summer solstice. That's seven hours of daylight less than six months ago.

It is quite a difference. Almost 30-per-cent less light each day.

And because the Earth's rotation slows down each year because of the effects of the moon (Google it), each longest night of the solstice is a few millions of a second longer than the last.

So last year's longest night was the longest night ever. Ever!

I felt it begin a couple of months ago as I noticed the days getting shorter. I realized that I had to replace lightbulbs that had burned out in rooms that I normally only used during the day, now that the day was becoming more and more dark.

And lightbulb replacement isn't as easy as it used to be. There are so many different kinds and sizes of halogen bulbs that I had to go to Reno-Depot with the old bulb in my pocket. I felt like one of those stereotypes in an old lightbulb joke.

How many West Islanders does it take to change a lightbulb?

I also dutifully strung up some red Christmas lights outside our house. At first, I would turn them off when I went to bed. Then, after a while, I left them on all night. After all, they are meant to chase away the darkness, aren't they?

I had noticed that others were beginning to use outdoor lights before December even started. I held back until the first week of the month. I predict that one day there will be city ordinances regarding the dates and duration people can use their Christmas lights. After all, there are regulations covering just about everything else, and the natural tendency of any government is to eventually regulate and tax all human activity.

But I digress.

I notice that even now, as I drive around my Beaconsfield neighbourhood that there are some who do not observe the annual ritual of chasing away the darkness with outdoor lights that come all the way from China.

Have they embraced the darkness? Or, are they secular progressives who are too rational to engage in silly Eurocentric traditions? Perhaps they could be people of other religious persuasions bravely resisting the overwhelming social pressure to assimilate. Or, are they more likely just people whose kids have left home and have no grandchildren yet. Because Christmas is all about children, is it not?

Yes, but it is more than that. It is a deep relationship we have with light and darkness. And with the eternal annual cycle of nature. Even though we no longer believe in the idea of sympathetic magic, to let nature know what we want it to do, bring back the light, by lighting up the darkness ourselves, we still feel compelled to observe this touchingly sentimental ritual each year.

Sort of like the way we still knock on wood, although we do not really think it will protect us from evil. At least, we don't admit that we think that.

But imagine how darkness affected life in preindustrial times? A day that is two-thirds of the time too dark to do anything can be very long. They must have been ready to try anything to get the light back.

The only time we can really get an idea of what they experienced is when the hydro goes down and the electricity goes off. And that can be quite devastating, as we found out in 1998.

To read Rick Blue's complete column on the West Island Gazette, click here Rick Blue in the West Island Gazette
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