Monday, April 25, 2005

Mr. J. Kelly Nestruck has been eaten by the cats.

Gather 'round, friends. I have an announcement to make: On the Fence is going on hiatus. Possibly forever.

First of all, I should make it very clear that this has nothing to do with Brent Tyler or the Gomery Inquiry. I decided about a month ago that I would stop blogging on April 6, my birthday. And so, I am.

I'd rather go out with a bang –- my Gomery posts have brought a record number of visitors here this week -- than "post the cat" like the Shotgun anyway... (Zing!)

It's just a matter of wanting to work on other projects. I write all day at work and then generally spend about an hour or so a day writing on this blog either before work or after. I'd like to use that time to work on creative projects for a while. Or, as Rick Salutin advised me, use it to stay away from the computer and read some books.

I’d also like to start expanding some of the ideas I get into full-fledged articles, essays and stories, rather than prematurely ejaculating them onto my blog.

Also, I’d like to stop staying up until three a.m. blogging on work nights. And I’d like to –- just for a while –- not go on the Internet until I get to work in the morning.

Hey: blogging has been a lot of fun. Soooo much fun. And I miss it even as I write this.

But it's got tougher as my career as a reporter (note: most MSM bloggers are columnists rather than reporters, which makes a difference) has progressed. I keep having real-life encounters with the journalists that I’ve mocked here: I had to interview David Macfarlane for the Post the other week; I met the gal behind the infamous Middle School Oral Sex Epidemic story in the Globe at a party last month; after making fun of a certain theatre critic, I got an e-mail from his editor.

How can you have fun blogging when you lose your appetite for making fun of the MSM?

Don’t take this as a repudiation of the blogosphere. I continue to think blogs are awesome. And I’ll continue to be an avid blog reader.

And I will actually keep blogging about theatre over at Torontoist. And I’ll probably come crawling back next election…

Thanks to everyone who has supported this blog from the very beginning: My friends, my McGill Daily readers, the Fringe Festival folks… Thanks to Anders Yates and Sean Carrie for filling in on rare occasions… Thanks to Paul Wells and Colby Cosh, two bloggocolumnists who I admire very much, for sending people over here once in a while. Thanks to Warren Kinsella for giving me a hard time and readers. Thanks to those non-MSM bloggers who have been on my blogroll from the start.

And to my friends in other cities, who I sort of originally maintained this blog for when I moved to Toronto: We’re going to have to start e-mailing like in olden days.

Without further ado, here are my favourite On the Fence moments from the past two years and two months:

February 9, 2003: My very first post: "I know I'm kind of late jumping on this whole blog bandwagon..."

February 11, 2003: The self-correcting nature of the blogosphere is called into question, as Great-Uncle Jack and I debate whether the dude says "unto the breach" or "into the breach."

April 27, 2003: The time Robert Rabinovitch called me an "old fogey."

May 1, 2003: The time Phillip Crawley and John Honderich told me that Ken Whyte was fired on the day I was supposed to beginning working at the National Post.

May 29, 2003: The time I compared and contrasted the oeuvres of Eminem and W.S. Gilbert.

June 13, 2003: My very first blogged Fringe Festival.

July 11, 2003: The time Pedro Martinez found my cell phone, the story ran on the front of the National Post, and a guy called me "much worse than Eckler" on the (smearly-departed) Frank website.

November 23, 2003: My first time as a movie junket whore.

December 13, 2003: The first time I dreamt about Don Boudria.

January 17, 2004: A really high-concept post about Henry James and the motorcycle movie Torque.

February 9, 2004: The Middle School Oral Sex Epidemic explodes: "I remember one Grade 9 rumour that a certain girl had given head to a guy with herpes at a party. Perhaps The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and CBC could look into that..."

February 17, 2004: Kiki Benzon on colonic evacuation.

:February 24, 2004: The time I heard a “traditional” Irish band playing Gordon Lightfoot in a Dublin pub.

March 2, 2004: Ban peanuts at hockey games, I said!

March 11, 2004: The "Boustan is the new Schwartz’s" meme begins.

March 22, 2004: The first Monday Schadenfreude, in which Sarah Polley tells a funny-sad story about Tony Robbins.

March 19, 2004: My mom asks me if Jessica Pare is a sex symbol.

April 4, 2004: Blung.

April 19, 2004: The time Errol Morris blew my mind and I started believing in truth.

April 30, 2004: My first correction.

May 28, 2004: A discussion of Prime Ministerial moustaches.

July 8, 2004: “No, no, no. No they do not, you fucking idiot.”

September 23, 2004: Who will love Maurizio Bevilacqua when I am gone?

September 30, 2004: "It’s a bummer that there’s no F sound in ASSHAT."

October 6, 2004: Blog eat blog.

November 9, 2004: Coming to terms with Bush.

November 30, 2004: The JFK Reloaded brouhaha begins.

December 3, 2004: The JFK Reloaded brouhaha, Part Deux.

December 20, 2004: “Posting the cat” is coined.

January 7, 2005: Scary Don Delillo!

January 17, 2005: Prince Harry, the anti-Fascist.

February 4, 2005: The time I dropped my camera phone in the toilet.

March 15, 2005: Be coal.

April 2, 2005: The Pope-o-metre turns purple!

Thanks everyone! See you all around the blogosphere…

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Boy! Since going on hiatus...

Originally uploaded by uncascrooge.
(Or permanent hiatus. Or whatever you want to call it. I've got to admit it's been hard quitting cold turkey. Particularly with Adscam breaking out like a teenage chocoholic. I've been grinding my teeth a lot. And eating more. And I caught a cold. Maybe not-blogging is making me sick. I did leave that "if there's an election, I might come back" loophole. There's always a loophole. Speaking of: If not blogging gives me that much extra time, how come I haven't filed my taxes yet?)

... I've had more time to read books.

Reading 2
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge.
(Or comic books, anyway -- Oh, come off of it. Chester Brown's "Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography" is a real book. -- Even though it only took you an hour to read it. If you're reading so much, why has Susan Faludi's "Stiffed" been lying next to your bed for a month with a bookmark at page 108. -- Whatever, I got her point. Why should I read anymore? -- That's what you said all through university and now you've got that bookshelf full of "read" books. Why do you cart those books from apartment to apartment when you haven't cracked any of them in years? -- Will this constant inner rambling stop if I start blogging again? -- No.)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Oh, just one more thing...

I'm going to Susur for dinner tonight. I'm sooo excited!
Correction and Clarification

Dear On the Fence Readers,

On June 1, 2004, in a blog post about lawyer Brent Tyler, I wrote: "I could have also mentioned the time he was convicted of assault after being 'involved in a physical confrontation with a pedestrian who smacked the side of his car.' Or the time he was charged with assaulting a McGill Law student. I think those fairly substantiate the 'aggressive' allegation I made."

In fact, Mr. Tyler has not been convicted of assault, as he informed me in an e-mail I received today (April 6, 2005): "I was not convicted of assault. I was given a conditional discharge. If you had read the article in The Mirror that is linked to your Site, you could have avoided making this inaccurate and libelous comment."

According to the 1997 Montreal Mirror article in question, Mr. Tyler was "found guilty of assault and was given a conditional discharge pending a $500 donation to charity." I did not understand the distinction between this and a conviction at the time and apologize to Mr. Brent for the error. I withdraw the comment.

In addition, though the blog post was accurate in June, the charges relating to the McGill Law student have since been withdrawn. Mr. Brent forwards along a Montreal Gazette article dated October 8, 2004:
Brent Tyler, a high-profile Montreal lawyer and past-president of Alliance Quebec, has been cleared of assaulting two young political opponents two years ago. Crown prosecutor Francis Paradis yesterday withdrew the charges before Municipal Court Judge Jean-Pierre Bessette. "We weren't surprised," defence lawyer Daniel Lighter said. "The evidence was weak." Lighter suggested Paradis realized "the political motivation behind the trial." The incident took place during an April 2002 meeting of Alliance Quebec, where the head of the English rights group's youth wing and his brother claim
they were assaulted by Tyler.
In addition to posting this "Correction and Clarification" today, I have added it to the original post in question.

Also, today is my 24th birthday! That it coincides with my first formal demand to remove something from my blog is just a happy bit of synchronicity…

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Bad day for Canadian-born American icons...

First, Peter Jennings is diagnosed with lung cancer. Then, Saul Bellow dies.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Math problem

Okay, let's say about 100 people arrived at On the Fence today after searching for "Gomery blogg" on Google. (This is approximately true.) If that many people mispelled the word "blog" in that particular way while searching for the American blog with Brault's testimony (see below), then how many people do you think have fired up Google to find out about Brault's banned testimony today in total?

10,000? 50,000? 100,000? 500,000?

It may be in Brault's best interest to have the publication ban lifted, so at least we'll be able to find out what he actually testified, rather than just this third-hand blog account...
Internet Im-Brault-Glio

Well, this seems like uncharted territory... We know a certain American blog hasn't broken the publication ban on Jean Brault's Gomery testimony because American media are exempt from it, but are Canadian bloggers linking to his blog really in breach of the ban?

What about linking to a blog that links to the blog in question? I think that's safe. (If not, well, how about linking to Google and whispering the words "Brault" and "Testimony"?)

Anyway, all of you folks screaming about freedom of speech yadda-yadda (and that includes you, oh Mighty Instapundit), take a chill pill: You've got to understand that the Gomery publication ban doesn't mean that Canucks will never be allowed to know what Chuck Guite, Paul Coffin, and Jean Brault say/said in front of the Sponsorship Inquiry. The information can be published once the juries in their criminal trials are sequestered. That's just a couple of months away.

Perhaps it could be be argued that the public's right to know what happens at an important public inquiry trumps that of an individual to a fair trial.... But the public's right to know right now certainly doesn't.

Whatever happened to Patience is a Virtue? Oh, right: The InterWeb happened.

And here's a question for y'all: Would Brault have given the testimony he did if he knew that bloggers would make it all public knowledge before his criminal trial?

But, really, what kind of role models do bloggers have, when the MSM has been publishing columns about how damning Brault's testimony is supposed to be since Friday, networks and newspapers have been directing people to the American blogger and interviewing the blogger in question, and Peter Mackay is going around saying that "the sole purpose of having the ban in place has just evaporated. There is no point"?

Anyway, this whole mess has made me trust Judge Gomery a little more. Now that's he's being accused of bias and/or cover-up by both the left and the right, I know he's doing a good job...

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Optimus C. clues us into the must-have Scrabble-related accessory of the year. I know my birthday is on Wednesday, but surely they have next-day delivery... ('J' and 'K' please.)

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hey Montrealers...

Has the cross on Mount Royal turned purple yet? Any idea where I can see a picture? I'm coming home next weekend to see the cross in full mauveness...

For those of you unaware of the tradition, the Montreal landmark turns purple from the time the Pope dies until the time that a new Pope is selected. Yesterday, Ville de Montreal officials were waiting to get confirmation from Cardinal Turcotte's office that the Pope was dead, whereupon they were going to activate the colour-changing crew. It takes about three hours to place purple filters in front of the fibre-optic cross's 32 light projectors.

The cross has not been purple since 1978 and, back then, the cross's 250 lightbulbs had to be changed by hand. The last time it changed colour was in the mid-80s, when it was turned red for a massive AIDS march. (The lightbulbs were replaced with fibre-optic "half-spheres" that look like lightbulbs from a distance in 1992 at a cost of $300,000. According to Kristian Gravenor, the change reduced the cross's lightbulb expenses from $34,000 to $2,000 per year)

Certain friends of mine refer to the cross as the Pope-o-Metre (pronounced Po-pom-eter), because from many apartments in the Plateau you can just look out window and instantly know the pontiff's health. ("How the Pope doin' tonight, Anders?" "Let me check... Still livin'!")