Wednesday, November 30, 2005

And the first gaffe of the campaign belongs to...

Jason Kenney and the Conservatives! It's a doozy too! A laugh-out loud comedy hit! Five stars!

I know it's only Day 2 of the campaign here, but if the Conservatives keep going at it like this, I won't be surprised by a Liberal majority. This same-sex marriage business? Is there really anyone out there who, looking back on the two and a half years of endless debate over this issue, honestly thinks, "Man, I wish there had been more debate about same-sex marriage. I just couldn't get enough of it. Can I hear that dog-man marriage argument again? I just might be persuaded this time."

Okay, there are some but they're really in the minority:
After Bill C-38 passed the House of Commons in June 2005, a poll taken by Strategic Counsel asked "Do you think Bill C-38 should stand or be repealed by the next government?" 54% of respondents said "Bill C-38 should stand" while 39% said "Bill C-38 should be repealed."

In November 2005, a poll taken by Environics Research said 66% of Canadians considered the issue of same-sex marriage "settled and it's time to move on."
As I've written before, if it wasn't for this one issue, I'd actually be rooting for a Conservative victory. Instead, I'm rooting for aliens to destroy Parliament Hill -- which, alas, is not an option in James Bow's pool.

(Psst, Jason Kenney... I meant space aliens, not illegal ones.)
The Zerbisias Factor

Writes Azerb on her blog:
Somebody ought to tell Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he is the mainstream media!

That he can't have it both ways: both boasting about his ratings and pretending to be an alternative to the big guys.
Agreed. Now, as a corollary:
Somebody ought to tell [the Toronto Star's] [Antonia Zerbisias] that [s]he is the mainstream media!

That [s]he can't have it both ways: both boasting about [being part of the "most successful newspaper, circulation-wise, in the land"] and pretending to be an alternative to the big guys.
Belinda and Belinda

Conservative blogger MustControlFistOfDeath discovers a .gif of the Conservative Party logo still kicking around on Belinda Stronach's website. Just in case...
Nice ballot box!

I pity the fou who's going to have to translate all the inevitable erection-election puns on speechwriter Scott Feschuk's Liberal campaign blog into French.

Seriously though, as much fun as a Feschuk campaign blog will be, might this not backfire on the Liberals? Remember how Michaelle Jean's press dinner jokes angered certain Quebec separatists?
Le Box Office

Just a reminder of how different Quebec's film industry is compared to the ROC: Maurice Richard, the new Rocket biopic, opened in second place at the Quebec box office after Harry Potter this weekend, bringing in $584,785... and this is being covered as a disappointing opening.

Amusing footnotes:
- The name of the vice-president at Alliance Atlantis Vivafilms, Maurice Richard's distributor, who commented on this in La Presse's story? Patrick Roy.
- The name of the movie that came in third at the Quebec box office this week? Les Tiens, les miens et les nôtres.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The New Democracy: Polls and Pools

For those of you who are betting men and women (I'm looking at you Nicholas Campbell), James Bow has his election pool up, Revolutionary Moderation has his gaffe pool up, and CalgaryGrit has an off-beat pool up that he's really not to have fun scoring at the end of the election.

I, for one, am shocked. Shocked. Canadian democracy reduced to polls and pools on the blogosphere... If only someone would stand up for better democracy. Oh, good. Stephen Harper's got that covered.
Paul Martin is that embarrassing uncle of yours...

Before yesterday's confidence vote, "Paul Martin tried to get the reporters crammed into the Press Gallery to do the wave."

Really? Yep: "But [Martin] was anything but calm last night at the House of Commons, gesturing and encouraging reporters in the upper gallery of the chamber to start the wave before the vote."

Geez, Uncle Paulie. Could you not... Oh, come on. Sit down... Sit down! Don't do that... Everyone's looking at us! Stop! Gosh!

Anyway, happy election everyone!

UPDATE: In the comments, Paul Wells writes, "Actually Jim Munson was the first to do the wave thing last night, from the Senate gallery. Martin was just copying him. Don't know if that's exculpatory, or worse."

If Jim Munson jumped off a bridge, would we excuse Paul Martin for following afterwards? And then, what if Stephen Harper, Jack Layton and Gille Duceppe jumped next? And then, what if instead of a federal election, we had a circus election with cotton candy pamphlets and elephants as candidates?

Canadians want answers!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Kiss of Death

This is such a sad story: Christina Desforges, a 15-year-old girl died from the Saguenay, went into anaphylactic shock and died last Monday after kissing her boyfriend. He had eaten a peanut butter sandwich earlier in the day; she was deathly allergic.

I once had a close call in just such a situation when I was in university. My girlfriend at the time was about to make herself a peanut butter sandwich when she remembered that I was coming over. She stopped herself, but absent-mindedly ate the peanut at the top of the container. When I kissed her hello, my lips started to swell up and I knew immediately what was going on... I had only a mild reaction, thankfully. (I've only gone into real anaphylactic shock once that I can remember and an Epipen held me over until we got to the hospital.)

It's embarrassing to have to ask your girlfriend to go brush her teeth before you make out, or pull back from a kiss at a party to ask what the other person had for lunch -- especially when you're a teenager. Teens need to know that having a food allergy is nothing to be embarrassed about.

The entertainment industry doesn't aid the situation... Screenwriters almost always depict allergy sufferers (and asthmatics, for that matter) as unattractive, geeky weaklings who won't ever have to worry about kissing anyone. Recent movies have featured allergy attacks as cheap punch lines, which takes away from the seriousness of food allergies.

Hopefully, Christina's death won't be in vain and this tragedy will provide an entry point for parents and teens to talk about the not-so-obvious dangers of food allergies and the need to inform those around you about your allergies and what to do in case of a reaction.
Bible Story Time

Fans and ex-lovers of Jonathan Goldstein from CBC Radio's WireTap (I know you're out there) may want to check out this new Flash animation of the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colours he did with artist Gregor Ehrlich.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

French Horn + percussion + keyboards + noise = awesome.

These Torngat kids are great. If it'd weren't 3 in the morning, I'd say more about this Arcade Fire-cousin jazz trio that I saw tonight at The Boat. They're like if Erik Truffaz was an indie rock band. [Oh, I don't know how to write about music; here are some mp3s.]

Friday, November 25, 2005

Another Péquiste kisses off the PQ.

In a letter to La Presse, Pierre Marc Johnson -- René Lévesque's successor as Quebec premier and PQ leader -- has announced his support for Raymond Bachand, the PLQ's ex-Péquiste candidate for the Dec. 12 by-election in Outremont. He also pulled a Bouchard and announced that increasing productivity should be Quebec's number one priority, not a fourth referendum (counting Charlottetown).

It does seem like some major political shift brewing in Québec... If it wasn't for the perversion that was the Sponsorship Scandal, I really wonder what would be happening in the province?
Ban Folds Five.

You know, maybe Dan McTeague has a point. This fella with the albums and the biopic in the theatres has some pretty offensive lyrics:
Early one mornin' while makin' the rounds
I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down
I went right home and I went to bed I stuck that lovin' 44 beneath my head...
Shot her down because she made me sore
I thought I was her daddy but she had five more...
I can't forget the day I shot that bad bitch down...
And then, he has this other one where he shoots a man just to watch him die! In Reno, no less! Oh my god!
Oh, wait, that was Johnny Cash, not 50 Cent!

I'm sorry. That was so obvious I feel guilty even posting it.

Anyway, for fun, why not read The Globe and Mail's editorial about Fiddy today, which has some really cringeworthy moments of oldsterism. My favourite is their pronouncement on his lyrics: "Rodgers and Hart, it ain't."

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find a barrel full of poikilothermic water-dwelling vertebrates with gills and fire my pistol at them.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Vote or Die.

Hey, the 2005 Canadian Blog Awards are up and running. Last year, I silently boycotted the awards because they are run by My Blahg's Robert McClelland, a provocateur and a troll who embodies the things I like least about the blogosphere. McClelland's ridiculous and over the top hatred and taunting of the right-wing of the Canadian blogosphere robs the CBAs of any credibility as a non-partisan, friendly endeavour. The CBAs are just another way that this shameless self-promoter shamelessly self-promotes himself.

Anyway, this year I've reluctantly decided to take part. Why? Well, because I'm nominated. And if there's one thing that's stronger than my principles, it's my vanity. Plus, if I win, I can use my speech to excoriate My Blahg and urge all bloggers to engage in civil discourse. (There's a speech, right?)

So: If you have a few moments, go here and vote for On the Fence in Best Blog, Best Media Blog, and Best Blog Post. You can vote once a day.

Frankly, I don't think I have a chance in any of these categories, but it would be nice to get to the second round in one of them.

Thanks to whoever nominated me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Premier Entertainment.

Last week, the Quebec Liberals could hardly contain their glee that the young, charismatic André Boisclair had been elected as leader of the Parti Québecois. This had nothing to do with the fact that he is divisive figure in his own party, or that most commentators see him as all style, no substance. No, it was Boisclair’s admission that he used cocaine while he was a PQ Cabinet Minister in the 1990s that had the PLQ all in a schadenfrenzy.

“Could Mr. Boisclair be public security minister tomorrow morning?” mused Liberal minister of economic development Claude Béchard, whose party currently places third in the polls. “Could he be minister of justice in a government? I think the obvious answer is no, so at the end of the line, could he be premier? The answer is the same. We don't
think so.”

In fact, the obvious answer – if you look at precedents across the country – is yes. Canadians have been remarkably forgiving of Premiers who have broken the law or had substance abuse problems — and in some of the country’s most conservative provinces, not just in supposedly loosey-goosey Quebec.

Take B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell. In early 2003, the leader of the B.C. Liberals was charged with drunk driving in Hawaii, fined, and ordered to undergo a 14-hour substance-abuse program. To Canadians under thirty-five — or certainly those who grew up watching Degrassi — drunk driving is a more repugnant offence than doing a line of coke at a party, because you're not only endangering your own life, but recklessly endangering others.

So, how did the British Columbians react at the ballot box? They cared more about the policies Campbell enacted in office than the crimes he committed on vacation and, in May, he became the first premier of B.C. to win a second term in 22 years.

But even when a premier’s substance-abuse problem affects their work, Canadians are likely to shrug it off. Take Ralph Klein, the premier of Alberta and an admitted alcoholic. (No, please – take him.) In 2001, Klein drunkenly sashayed into a homeless shelter and got into an argument with the residents in an incident that got play in the media around the world. How did Albertans react to this international embarrassment? Sixty-seven per cent of Albertans said they didn't think any less of him. Then Klein was elected to a fourth term last year.

Columnists and commentators have seen Boisclair’s PQ victory election as a symbol of the hedonism and frivolity of Quebec society. How silly. Does anyone think British Columbia is a province of drunk drivers because of Campbell’s actions? No, of course not. Everyone thinks they’re a province of potheads.

And does anyone argue that Alberta is a province full of drunks because of Klein? Well, yes. But it’s only because, to some Canadians, being an Albertan is the next worst thing to being a Quebec separatist, so they get away such spurious character assassination.

The PLQ will really blow it if they keep focusing on Boisclair’s past recreational cocaine use. It makes them look like bullies who have nothing else on Boisclair. As past provincial elections have shown, Canadians – not just the Quebecois – are forgiving, or at least ambivalent, about such moral failings.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ukraine's Orange Revolution, one year later...

Kyiv blogger Veronica Khokhlova, who became an international blogging star last November and December, attended the anniversary rally in Independence Square and offers up her thoughts on the bittersweet events of the past year:
Just returned from Maidan, for a snack and some hot tea: the weather's evil.

But - the atmosphere is lovely: everything's orange, lots of people there, and a lot more are coming. I was afraid it'd all be more like a Soviet November 7 celebration, when the guys up there order us to show up at the demonstration, so we do, and then pretend we're happy and are thinking of nothing but 1917... Thank God, today is different: there's lots of joy - and most of it is for real.

It's sad, of course, to watch the documentary about last year's events, to be reminded that it's been a year, and so many things have been fucked up. There is some bitterness. But overall, it's wonderful, despite the snow.
Khokhlova, by the way, is eight-and-a-half months pregnant...

On a somewhat related note, a couple of weeks ago, Khokhlova linked to a photo of Putin in an ugly green suit that has been making the rounds of the Russian blogosphere. I think it's a good sign that even Putin cannot stop the fug... When will Russia get its peaceful revolution?

Monday, November 21, 2005

With our very special guest blogger... Anders Yates!

My funny friend Anders Yates, from the Montreal improv troupe Uncalled For, doesn't have a blog, but I tagged him with the silly 23/5 meme anyway. So, Yates turned to the 23rd page in his writing notebook, took the fifth line on the page, and used it to write me a new piece. Here it is.

"How many chairs do you sit in in just three days?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"It’s for my math class. You know how there’s this theory that if you make a series of estimates on which to base your final answer, some estimates will be high and some low and they’ll balance out enough to get you a fairly accurate result. Like as an example our professor asked us how many professional piano tuners there are in the city of Montreal, and we had to solve it without looking anything up. So we did it by estimating the population of Montreal, then coming up with a figure for how many households that works out to, then how many of them are high-income enough and musically inclined enough to have pianos, and we also factored in how many churches, bars, theatre groups, schools and bands were likely to have pianos as well, then how often all those pianos need tuning, and from that we came up with how many piano tunings were likely to take place in the space of a year. Then we guessed at the average annual income of a piano tuner, at how much one might charge to tune a piano, and from that we determined how many professional piano tuners the market could support."

"That doesn’t sound like it would give you a good answer."

"Well, it did. We said there were probably six. The Yellow Pages has eight listings, but when we called around after the exercise to check our results out, two of them turned out to be mostly just piano rentals, so I guess we were pretty much bang on. So how many chairs would you say you sit on in an average three day period?"

"Jeez, I’m not really sure. What is this building toward?"

"Oh, I was just going to do a project about your lazy ass and I wanted to see if you limited yourself to that one spot on the couch or if you ever shook things up by sitting in other places, and if so, what the average number of people would be that would have to later encounter your putrid lingering odour."

"You’re going to your room right now young man. That’s no way to talk to your father!"

"If you were my father you would have come to my Mathletics tournament!"

"Why can’t you just go write a poem like a normal screwed up teenager?"

"See! You still don’t understand me OR anything I like!"

"That may be but it does not give you the right to disrespect your father!"

"I told you already! You’re not my father! If you put together the probability that each and every one of your noticeable genes, from eye colour to hairyness to lack of intelligence, are all recessive, and that somehow the genetic code for freckles popped up when neither you nor mom have them, the probability is far lower than the 4.5% likelihood, as reported in a recent study, that a father in North America is unknowingly raising another man’s child."

"Does… does math prove that? That your mother cheated on me?"

"Technically it’s statistics, paired with a half-decent sense of observation."

"I… I…"

"Hey, dad, I’m sorry. Let me write you a poem about it."
Warning: Your blood pressure may rise and your polls may drop if you read this post...

I'm often baffled by the things a supposedly reputable magazine like the Western Standard will allow on its blog. Today, RightGirl wrote the following about the shocking funeral murder at Toronto West Seventh Day Adventist Church, in a post called "Natural Selection":
I can't help but giggle at the platitudes spewing forth from the media and the city officials. It's hilarious! A gang-banger gets gunned down. Other gang-bangers come to his funeral, to celebrate his fabulous lifestyle choices. One gang-banger shows up and starts killing the mourning gang-bangers. People, this is natural selection. If these are the choices you make within your family, your community, and your own life, then you have to live (and die) with the consequences. Black or white, young or old - if you live like an a**hole, you die like an a**hole. Don't go looking to the rest of us for pity.
"Hilarious"... I don't even know what to say. I see a lot of crap on the Internet, but I haven't been so disgusted in a long time.
Warren Kinsella is always warning the Conservative party that the Blogging Tories are going come back and bite them in the ass one of these elections. I wonder if Monte Solberg will regret blogging that the Western Standard blog (and others) are "the steel in the spine of the Canadian conservative blogosphere?"

(There are, of course, similarly embarrassing blogs on the Left. For instance, I am sure the NDP is displeased as punch that this troll is its most ardent online supporter...)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

We are amused.

Via Zoilus, I have discovered I am QBASIC. The explanation is completely off base, but I did once try to program a video game version of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency in QBASIC in Grade 8.

You are 'programming in QBASIC'. This programming
language (of which the acronym stands for
'Quick Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic
Instruction Code'), which is so primitive that
it cannot easily be used for any purpose
involving the Internet nor even sound, was
current more than a decade ago.

You are independent, in a good way. When something
which you need cannot be found, you make it
yourself. In writing and in talking with
people, you value clarity and precision; your
friends may not realize how important that is.
When necessary, you are prepared to be a
mediator in conflicts between your friends.
You are very rational, and you think of things
in terms of logic and common sense.
Unfortunately, your emotionally unstable
friends may be put off by your devotion to
logic; they may even accuse you of pedantry and
insensitivity. Your problem is that
programming in QBASIC has been obsolete for a
long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Gemini, Meg!

Is it petty to point to this CBC Arts Gemini story just because it misspells CBC's Ken Finkleman's name in the headline? Yes.
From "Ken Finkelman wins first award of Gemini gala."
Ken Finkelman of the CBC series The Newsroom launched the last night of the Gemini Awards by capturing the trophy for best writing in a comedy series.

"The good thing about winning for writing is that you don't have to thank anyone," said the acerbic Finkelman in his brief address to the audience on Saturday.

Finkelman's award kicked off a light evening, the third and last night of the 20th annual Geminis – the award given out to the best in Canadian English-language television.
How long until they fix it? I thought it'd be done by this morning. Now, it believe it might well stay that way until Monday. Anyone want to start a pool?

[Same mistake x 3 in this Sunday update.]

[Update: By Monday morning, the error has been fixed. But we won't forget. No, we will never forget.]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Toronto's Small Theatre Companies in Peril

I'm not a big fan of the word gentrification, because I think the good usually outweighs the bad when a neighbourhood gets an influx of people and capital. But in any change there are victims -- and when you leave the arts community totally at the mercy of market forces, market forces will almost always win out.

As property values in Toronto (and across Canada) continue to rise, small arts institutions are at the mercy of their landlords, who often have to to raise the rent as taxes go up or who are tempted to sell for a nice profit. In today's Post (subscribers, sorry), I take a look at the situation affecting Toronto's small theatre community.

Over the past year, the community has been hit again and again. Last Spring, the 105-seat Tim Sims Playhouse closed. (Taxes became too high to cover in a post-SARS market.) Then, during the summer, the 140-seat Poor Alex shut down. (It will reopen as a jazz and blues club.) Then, in October, Artword -- home to a 150-seat theatre and a 60-seat theatre -- was given notice to vacate of 75 Portland St. by March. (Property sold to condo developers.)

Next on the chopping block: The Theatre Centre at Dovercourt and Queen. The building it is in is up for sale. They have a lease until July 31, but what happens after is up in the air.

Already show have been cancelled, postponed, or are scrambling for space. The Fringe Festival has to find replacements for two of its best venues -- the Poor Alex and Artword. This facility crisis is only going to get worse.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but you can't blame landlords for wanting to make money (or not to lose money in some cases). There's little incentive for them not to sell and that's the City's fault. More on this later... I just wanted to put something up before I went off to cover the Geminis.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Nicholas Campbell has lost his pants!

Will the star of Da Vinci's City Hall find them before Saturday night's Geminis telecast? Read my article in today's Post to find out!
Il est né le divin enfant?

So far, I have been unenlightened by the English-language blogosphere's analysis of André Boisclair’s unsurprising victory in the PQ leadership race, most of which can be summarized as: "Ha, ha! Parti Cokeheadois!"
So I thought I’d cruise –- "Ha, ha! Parti Gaybecois!" -- through the French-language blogosphere to find out what the dorky French kids think of Boisclair.

-- Le Coin de L’Homme Fort expresses an elation like you’ll find on numerous other pro-Boisclair blogs. Quebec has a rendez-vous with destiny! he says, admitting to crying (for joy!) when he found out A.B. won.

-- This ‘The Charest Banger’ blogger makes an excellent point about how Boisclair’s path to the leadership of the PQ is eerily similar to how a certain Charest ended up at the helm of the PLQ: "He’s young! He’s not part of the old guard! Return the prodigal son from Ottawa/Harvard to save us all!"
I got all of his post except for: "On voulait du sang neuf, au risque d'élire une bombe à retardement sur deux pattes." Am I correct in translating this as, "We wanted new blood, even at the risk of electing a two-legged retard bomb"? I hope so.

-- Non merci, pas de Boisclair dans mon cours!, a PQ blogger who Google bombed Boisclair’s blog with the phrase "dangereux fumiste" throughout the campaign, making the candidate change the URL of his blog three times, has announced that he will not give up attacking his muse.
"Yay!" you may think, citing the decision in Enemy v. Enemy = Friend. But no, this dude’s one of these old school nationalists and he dislikes Boisclair because he's such a -- wait for the paradox! -- Trudeauvian separatist:

Personnellement, je ne digérerai jamais que, lors de l'un des sept ou huit débats formatés, [Boisclair] ait traité de « partisans du droit du sang », aussi bien dire de racistes, les opposants au nationalisme purement civique dont il se réclame. Là, on a bien vu ce qui dépassait : le jupon trudeauiste de celui qui a fait du porte-à-porte pour le NON en 1980. Mais ça ne m'a pas surpris du tout. Sa mentalité trudeauiste, on la connaissait déjà depuis longtemps. Il est de ceux qui rejettent non seulement la langue et la culture comme fondements de la nation, mais même l'histoire. Même l'histoire ! Or, si ce n'est pas l'histoire quatre fois séculaire de notre peuple qui fait du Québec une nation ayant droit à l'indépendance, alors quoi ?
And it’s because of folks like that that I’m kind of glad to see Boisclair win, even though I think he might very well have a better chance of achieving independence than Marois. It shows a lot about how the membership of the PQ has changed and become more open – and I don’t mean about drugs and sexuality. What amazes me is that the PQ elected as leader a fellow who left Quebec to spend some time at Harvard and who was considering taking a job at McKinsey & Company in Toronto. (Or, as the Péquistes used to call it, Torooooontoooo, the capital of On-scary-o.)
I appreciated that Boisclair took the time to say a few words in English in his acceptance speech and to emphasize that the Anglophones are "full members of the family as any other group of citizens in Quebec." He and BQ leader Gilles Duceppe –- who sometimes seems to say that he likes Canada more often than any of the other federal party leaders –- are decent fellows, the kind of opponents you almost look forward to having a reasonable debate with. (Almost.)

[In other two solitudinal news, why do most Québecois bloggers host their sites on crappy, ugly MSN Spaces?]

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Say it like you Meme it.

So, according to this game Tart Cider and Calgary Grit have tagged me with, I’m supposed to go to my 23rd blog post, find the fifth sentence ("I can’t help but feel like this work I’m doing is inconsequential and, dare I say it, selfish.") and, in T.C.’s version anyway, write a short piece o’ fiction beginning with that line.

Then, I’m supposed to tag five more bloggers. Those people are Sarah Marchildon, Sean at Said the Gramophone, Pample the Moose, Amy at BITNB, and Anders Yates, who, having no blog, will have to turn to the 23rd page in his writing notebook, take the fifth line, write a new piece and post it in the comments here.

All right, here goes:


I can’t help but feel like this work I’m doing is inconsequential and, dare I say it, selfish.
You know what? I do dare. I do dare say it. Shush yourself.
So. Here I am, sitting in the bushes as it were, night after night, waiting for you-know-who to sneak out. But a) I know she’s not going to leave the premises, and b) I know it doesn't matter a flying tree-o-saurus even if she did.
Listen: So what if this particular wife whose name shall not be spoken is screwing around with another man or not? The very fact that I'm here proves that the relationship is dead one way or another. My very contract is proof of a loss of trust. And once you lose that trust, well, that’s all there really is to lose. The rest is decoration, procreation, or the silent treatment.
I should really call him up.
No, I might. I might. "Hey, buddy, I’ve got such good evidence your relationship is in dire shape. Hold on, let me pass you over to someone. It’s your relationship on line 2. 'Quack, quack, ouch my leg!' Get it buddy? It's a lame duck, your relationship. Walka walka. Oh, wait, it can’t walk-a cuz it's lame. You got one gimpy marriage, my friend, and you’re the one who gimped it by hiring me."
No, no, I won’t actually call. Yet. I don’t want to lose money and you don’t want to lose money. I’ve got to feed my kids. Those goshdarn baby goats never stop eating! Stupid hobby farm. Why couldn’t I have collected stamps?
Yeah, you’re a bit of jerk too. That’s why we’re here in the proverbial bushes with our lens caps off, ain’t it partner?
I know it's serious. Okay, I'll keep it down.
You’re right, of course. It is mean to take his cash, hide in his hydrangeas and hibiscus, screw him over, and make fun of him. But you should talk.
Really, what other option did I have? If I said no, had turned down the job, he would have gone somewhere else. I know my competition: they’re pretty fierce. Joey T., for instance. There’s no adulterer or adulteree who has escaped his long-range lens and lightening-fast trigger finger. He might not have snapped my face, but he’d certainly get away with a picture of my ass or something and you just know that’s going to end up on the Internet and my mother’s going to find it.
Yeah, it was lucky rich Richard came to me first. Saved my ass, as it were. Ho, ho!
Look, Cathy. It’s been great. It's been a wonderful year. But you’ve got to make a move here. Fun as it is to spend night after night with you in your husband’s beautiful, expensive backyard conservatory, I’m beginning to worry that, you know, I might be throwing stones in a glass house. You know what I'm saying? I can’t help but feel like this work I’m doing is inconsequential and, yes, I do dare say it, selfish. If you don’t tell your husband that we’re sleeping together, I’m going to have to tell him myself. It's my professional duty as a P.I.
Yes, really.
Really. Okay?
Sure, I’ll get that for you. Where did – Ouch!
What the --? Ow! Put that fucking hoe down and –
Agh – Ca--
Grra --


"Cathy? What’s going on out here? Cathy?"
"There was a man, Richard! There was a man hiding behind the plants!"
"Oh my god."
"I just came out to get some aloe for this scratch and saw him in the shadows. And I just I picked up the hoe… and… and…"
"Oh my god, Cathy. Oh my god. That was... Oh my god."
"Call an ambulance, Richard. It's horrible..."
"Oh my god. Oh my god."
"Richard, call an ambulance! Why aren't you calling an ambulance Richard? What's going on, Richard?"

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Life on the Internet!

E-snow-tericism in Edmonton! UN Innumeracy-for-Oil Scam Exposed! Google Beer Maps for A Certain Puritanical Canadian City!

In other news, this Liberal "economic update" is exactly why we should go to the polls sooner rather than later. As soon as Gomery dropped his first report -- ie. the one that actually matters in terms of an election -- the campaigning began and any semblance of running the country ended. This parliament is totally quack-quack-ouch-my-leg.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Electoral Dysfunction.

This plan may be a little convoluted, but I was brought back down to earth the other day by a cab driver complaining about the prospect of a Christmas election. Turns out it's not just politicians and the journalists who cover them who don't want a holiday election.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

What the fuck is going on in France?

It's a question that I've been asking myself all week and the answers that I've found online from the left and the right have been a little lacking, shall we say.

Anyway, when I'm left cold by other coverage, I turn to Doug Saunders' Saturday column in The Globe and hope that he'll, at the very least, put things into context. He didn't disappoint today, reporting from the banlieues. [That link is subscriber only; you can bypass it by clicking through from this Google News search.]
The kids here are fully French, they speak the language perfectly and consider themselves fully French, but they have nothing of the nicer things of French life -- the cafés, the culture -- none of that is available to them," my guide, a former resident of the area, said as she introduced me to the hollow-eyed young men who spent long hours "holding up the wall," staring into the middle distance and taunting any authorities who happened by. "For recreation in the evening, all they have to do is burn cars."
What is surprising is that this conversation took place not this week but more than a year ago, in the summer of 2004. The car-burning was already well under way: On Bastille Day, 2002, more than 90 cars were burned here; at New Year's in both 2003 and 2004, hundreds were burned. On most weekend nights, at least one plume of smoke can be seen. In many respects, the people in les Cités, as the high-rise slums are known, have been rioting for years. This season, they finally got noticed.
The riots have done for France what Hurricane Katrina did for the United States: They have revealed the existence of a huge, frustrated and hopeless underclass. What is most shocking is that France's social divide is, in some ways, worse than the one in the U.S.
Saunders is usually the only reason I plunk down my $2.50 for the Globe on Saturday, so it was a pleasant surprise to find an excellent, comprehensive package on the French riots and what they mean to Canadians in the A section. (And not a single poll on the front page!)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thumb Kind of Wonderful.

I've posted a review of sorts of last night's Final Fantasy/Owen Pallett video release concert, with a focus on a Kalimba-playing singer-songwriter named Laura Barrett, over at Torontoist. (If you are unfamiliar with Final Fantasy, I urge you to obtain his album "Has a Good Home" by any means necessary.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Opium Dense.

Colby Cosh isn't going to buy or wear a poppy because it "is no longer a popular symbol of respect for the veteran, but a brand that somehow became the aggressively defended intellectual property of the Canadian Legion."

Meanwhile, Kelowna-based Social Studies teacher Clay McLeod isn't going to buy or wear a poppy because it "acts more as a rallying cry to support military solutions to the world's problems, instead of a heart-felt and genuine plea for an end to the suffering of war."

Look, I'll debate the weirdness of wearing a narcotic flower to symbolize remembrance if you like. And I'll tell you that, in my opinion, John McCrae's poem is inappropriate for Remembrance Day ceremonies. And I'll agree with you that trademarking the poppy is stupid.

But I have bought and am going to wear the poppy because my grandfather lost a leg to a German mine, because my grandmother carried around a DDT-soaked uniform in the bottom of her bag in case she was called upon to treat patients at a newly liberated concentration camp, and because my great-grandfather was mustard-gassed serving his new country as a Ukrainian-Canadian while others with his background were being interned back home.

The silly antics of the current leadership at the Canadian Legion do not change that. Nor does a heart-felt desire to end the suffering of war.
Keanu say whoa.

Today, Grant McCracken eulogizes Cultural Studies (sorry Zach, sorry Amy) and then posits that hip-hop culture has contributed to the drop in urban violent crime. All in a day's work at his anthropology and economics blog.
Second City Canadian national touring company shuts down after 20 years...

Or at least that was how I wrote the story for the Post today (free link) after running into some disgruntled comedians over the weekend. But when CBC Arts picked up on my story this afternoon, it morphed into "Second City seeks new act for touring troupe." Rather different...

I'm usually in the CBC Arts boat here, following up on a story from somewhere else, so it's interesting to watch the cycle and spin from the other side...

[For fun, check out the paragraph where I list famous Second City Toronto alumni and the one where CBC does. Note a) how it's the same list in the same order, and b) how Mike Myers is the only one out of alphabetic order in both. Heh, heh.]

Some blogosphere reaction: "Sorry, Touring Company guys, you just sucked. It was THAT bad," writes disillusioned Second City trainee Rufus.

Sometime Second City-er Andrew Currie reacts to the news of the firing of stage manager Peter Sherk: "If Second City is foolish enough to let this guy go, then as far as I’m concerned they don’t deserve to have him."

Just discovered TourCo company member Mike "Nug" Nahrgang's blog. (Wish I had seen it before I wrote the article.) Here he reacts to the dissolution of TourCo last week: "We had a great summer and now we have nothing. There are ideas and 'things in the works', but nothing will take the place of working for Second City in an official capacity. Understudies are down to one for each of the sexes on mainstage, and I can't crawl like a lizard, so I'm shit out of luck. I'm glad I busted my ass to get to Chicago in February to show SC how much I wanted to work there, only to get the axe after an amazing summer. Hooray!"

Another TourCo member reacts here.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Online polling with a purpose.

Online polls are generally useless. Their real purpose is to give surfers the feeling they are "interacting" with the sites they visit, but the information they gather is meaningless - especially when they appear on partisan sites.

Previous NDP online polls and they way they have been run have made the party look really silly. But in their most recent, they've been much cleverer. [via Cg] Question 3:
Being ‘blameless’ because he was ‘clueless’ is a reasonable explanation for Paul Martin, considering that during the scandal he was:
- only the Finance Minister
- only the Vice-Chair of Treasury Board
- only a Senior Cabinet Minister from Quebec
- sent only one letter from a senior Liberal Party official sounding the alarm about sponsorship three months before the Auditor General’s report
- systematically taking over the entire Liberal Party apparatus including the Quebec wing.
What, no 'all of the above'?
Now, Jack, drop the writ or get off the pot!

(P.S. I know the NDP would love to avoid an election framed by the issue of Liberal corruption, but tough nails -- it's unavoidable. PM PM promised to call an election 30 days after Gomery so voters could decide if its revelations were worth bringing down the government. It's now or later, folks -- if Gomery's going to be the main issue, it's going to be the main issue, and more dilly-dallying will only hurt you.)
"Il faut bloquer Boisclair."

The PQ leadership race heats up.

Speaking of, Pauline Marois compares her sovereignty "plan de match" with André Boisclair's "démarche claire vers la souveraineté" on her website. [via Verstehen.]

(A question: How are both candidates getting away with using the anglicisme "leadership" in outlining their road maps to independence? Back in the day, that was a cardinal sin with les pures et dures -- the only ones who are actually breathlessly waiting to read these documents....)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Drop the Writ or Get Off the Pot, Layton: Part II

In the comments to my previous post, everyone's favourite troll asks: "Why do you think Layton should do what the conservatives want him to do instead of what the people who voted for him want him to do?"

Sigh. This is obviously a rigged question, but let me point out that a) my position is that it's more important that Layton make a choice, any choice, than continue with his coy if-then posture, and b) the people who voted for the NDP are not all pleased with Jack's strategy at the moment. Check out the debate on this "Layton's gotta pick a side" thread. Here are some excerpts that I think are pretty spot on:

"Layton really needs to take a side, its going to play really badly if he flips flops for a few days, and then reluctantly pick a side."

"We must have an election now. To wait until the Spring is to play into Liberal hands. If the Liberals win a majority this April, watch our progressive agenda get torn to shreads."

"Really the NDP should let the Liberal's drop. Supporting them after the election was right, and it was what Canadians wanted, but at that time the Martin promised an elections around now, and they heard that. The NDP would gain credibility if it made this point, and came of looking consciencious."

"I'm just saying that, in my opinion, picking a side, and being on that side is the best way. Rather then trying to have your cake and eat it too."

"I am quickly losing all faith in the NDP and Jack Layton. Either the the Liberals are responsible, as per Layton's statements, or they are not.
The morality of the sponsorship scandal is not contingent on a better deal for Health Care. Its insulting to 50 years of NDP credibility and princpled stands and people to say otherwise. I voted for Layton during his leadership campaign, and I voted for my local NDP candidate in the last Fed election, but if Layton doesn't take a stand on principle he will and should be completely eviscerated in both the media and within the party. If the NDP now throws away 50 years of principled action over this the party is completely dead. If the NDP can no longe claim to be a party of principles what's left?"

"I'm wondering about how permanent a better deal on health care would be. As far as I could tell, the next goverment (either Liberal or Con) would simply say they're a new government, and make up a new health care plan allowing privatisation upon election unless they needed NDP support. The NDP has to be careful to read the electorate on this - how will supporting the Liberals be interpreted. If its interpreted as supporting corruption (and I agree its not, I'm talking about perception) then the NDP might well be risking losing support for a health care deal that will have a halflife of a few months."

"If water cooler talk is any indication I would say Jack is losing the PR war.
Jack needs to be much, much stronger... Jack has gained the moral authority to say -no this corruption runs too deep. We can no longer give them the benefit of the doubt. It would be a shame to squander all of the gains in leadership he has garnered since the spring."

"In the middle of the road, you get hit from BOTH directions."

Friday, November 04, 2005

10 years after the referendum...

Pample the Moose makes some astute comments.
Memo to Layton: Drop the Writ or Get Off the Pot

Hey Jack. How's it going? I hear you've got a head cold. So do I! It's made thinking and writing more laborious than usual. I've spent a lot of time at home this week hugging my pillow and cursing various inanimate objects around the room.

Anyway, I wonder if being stuffed up has affected your brain as it has mine. Usually you're quite politically astute -- you've been making a lot of right moves, getting good press, and I've been rather surprised to the NDP stuck below 20%. I think the notion that the Conservatives are "scary" has hurt you guys perhaps more than the Conservatives. But that's a topic for another time...

What doesn't make sense is your current position. Either the revelations of the first Gomery report are so grievous that an election should be called immediately, or they're not. Whether or not the Liberals agree to your health care demands, that will not change. Your if-then proposition makes it look like you are saying, "The Liberals do deserve to be brought down, but for a little policy we’ll prop them up until they can reframe the election in their own terms."

Back in the Spring, you made more sense. It was prudent to wait for Gomery's report, rather than call an election based on testimony. Canadians appreciated not wasting time on an election that would have probably returned about the same parliament, only to have yet another election after Gomery issued his report.

It also made sense to stave off an election then, because parliament can accomplish a lot in a year. But when now you say, "The issue right now is: can this Parliament produce anything that is important to Canadians in the next number of weeks?" I have to laugh. Any promises you secure now aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Obviously, you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. You're either playing into the Conservatives and the Bloc's hands, or you're playing into the Liberals' hands. But while your current if-then position gives you a lot of airtime, I don't think it's helping your party or your platform.

It’s time to drop the writ or get off the pot. Your first option is to say: "Gomery's second report details his recommendations. Those can apply and should be adopted by any government. We now know 'Who is responsible?' The corrupt Liberals. If we're going to have an election over that issue -- and Paul Martin has promised that we will -- we should do it now, not when it is most convenient for the Liberals. Parliament is stalemated mess without a mandate. We're just spinning our wheels now, wasting everyone's time. Let’s go."

Or, alternately, you could say, "Look. We said we would wait for Gomery to report and there is still a report to come. We are in the middle of working on a number of projects important to Canadians and we don't see the point in dropping it all to call an election right now just so the Conservatives and the Bloc can capitalize on a dip in the polls. An election is coming."

I would suggest the first option, because this second Gomery report business seems like a bit of a sham and I really think whatever work you get done now will be moot. Joining with the Conservatives and the Bloc to topple the government will also will make you look tough on corruption and waste, which, let's face it, is not what people think of when they think of the NDP -- fair or unfair as that perception may be.

Either way, you've got to drop this if-then posture. It's hurting you outside of your base and making you look like Dithers Jr.



[What will Jack Layton do? Tune in to a television at 12:45 to find out. I'm going to guess more waffling.]

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Slowly Digesting Gomery...

There's a lot to sift through and consider here and others not battling a cold are doing a far better job. Calgary Grit had a nice round-up of blogoreaction yesterday.

In English Canada, there's too much blathering about what Gomery's report (part one -- what is there left to say?) means in terms of the next election. "Will Gomery help the Conservatives win?" Blah, blah... If you're just looking at it from that perspective, then, sure, AdScam is "not worth wasting time over."

But if you see Canadian politics as something other than a horse race, there is plenty to waste your time on here. What I'm most concerned about is the reaction in Quebec -- where hundreds of thousands of federal tax dollars were kicked back to the Liberal party's provincial wing, which then used the cash to win elections. I note that Gomery is still the top story on Google News Canada in French, while it has already slipped "below the fold" on Google News Canada in English.

Something's got to be done to restore the Liberals in Quebec -- beyond banning 10 people from the party, 7 of whom aren't actually currently members -- or another party has to step up as a viable federalist option. Preferably both.

Who knows, though? Maybe Quebecers got over the fact that democracy was subverted in their province last winter. Or maybe they are distracted by the fact that the Canadiens are leading the Eastern Conference. If so, the Liberals had better thank their lucky stars for Steve Begin.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Memories of Halloween.

Dr Broom
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge.
Hi everybody! I'm Dr. Broom! Things you can't see in this photo: the end of the straw broom attached to the top of my hat; a Fisher Price doctor's set; and a little brown paint on the end of the broom stick.
And you thought House was a hard ass.