Thursday, March 31, 2005

The most riveting Internet saga in ages.

Laura K.'s attempt at plagiarism backfires, and bad... [via Optimus, Boing Boing]

(If this all turns out to be a hoax, well, at least I'm posting it when April Fool's is a few minutes away.)
Fin.

Terri Schiavo is dead. Perhaps it is only me who found it odd, but why was it that the most zealously religious folks -- people who definitely, without-a-doubt believe in some sort of afterlife -- were so appalled by the idea that Schiavo should die with dignity? And why is it that non-religious types -- people who focus on the here-and-now or believe that this imperfect life is all we get -- were generally-speaking uninterested in the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube and appalled by the right-to-lifers' protests?

Shouldn't one group be comforted by their belief that life is just a pitstop on the way to a higher plane, and shouldn't the other be arguing that life -- no matter how incapacitated or tenuously defined -- should be taken away under only the most severe and certain of circumstances?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Laureate Lennie?

There is a plot afoot to get Leonard Cohen nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, as was reported in the National Post today (by me)... CBC Radio's Paul Kennedy is launching the campaign on Saturday at Blue Metropolis, Montreal's fine bilingual literary festival:
During a panel discussion... the host of CBC Radio's Ideas will make the case that Cohen is worthy of the $1.7-million prize, backed up by writer George Elliott Clarke, playwright and poet Michel Garneau, college professor Edward Palumbo and jazz singer Karen Young.
"I hope this is a standing-room only, people-hanging-from-the-rafters event," says Kennedy, who also plans to dedicate his April 18 radio broadcast to the Cohen campaign. "There are a lot of people in Montreal who are very passionate about Leonard Cohen ... He's different from a celebrity; he's almost God."
Some folks in the blogosphere are weighing in here and here and here.
Me, I'm all in favour of Cohen winning it. There was a similar attempt to get Bob Dylan nominated a few years back, but the difference, I'd say, is that Dylan is a songwriter who is also a poet, while Cohen is a poet who happens to be a songwriter -- like, for instance, John Donne was. (What Cohen said on the matter was that Dylan was Picasso, while he was Matisse.)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

In other Parliament Press Release news...

I imagine certain Canadian bloggers with a better understanding of copyright issues will be poring over the upcoming amendments to the Copyright Act that will "implement the provisions of the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Treaties, clarify liability for Internet service providers, facilitate the use of the Internet for educational and research purposes, and harmonize the treatment of photographers with that of other creators."

Here's why bloggers should be concerned about WIPO and here's Will Pate's petition from November (clearly it didn't work) calling "upon the Government of Candada to ignore the recommendation of the standing committee on Canadian Heritage to ratify the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT)."

Further...

For fun, you can read some of 700 submissions the Departments of Industry and of Canadian Heritage received regarding possible amendments to the Copyright Act. There's Canadian science-fiction writer Cory Doctorow's submission and the Canadian Association of Research Library's influential submission and one from the Canadian Newspaper Association.

And then there's this one from, er, The Edifying Fellowship of Ook, who might have had more attention paid to their views if they hadn't tried to make their submission look and sound like an ancient scroll.
Meet Your New Senators!

Here are the nine new Senate appointees: Roméo Dallaire of Quebec, Jim Cowan of Nova Scotia, Art Eggleton of Ontario, Nancy Ruth of Ontario, Lillian Dyck of Saskatchewan, Robert Peterson of Saskatchewan, Grant Mitchell of Alberta, Elaine McCoy of Alberta and Claudette Tardif of Alberta. Of interest: Dyck is the first ever New Democrat to sit in the Senate; Ruth and McCoy are sitting as Progressive Conservatives, not Conservatives.

The Red Chamber seems almost too dirty a place for Lt. Gen. Dallaire, especially when he's appointed alongside former Minister of Defence Art Eggleton, Ol' Slippery Ethics. I must admit here, however, that the main reason I don't like Eggleton much is that he once butted into a buffet line at a play opening I was at. I knew then he was no democrat.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Movies

Whoa... When did I miss that That 70s Show's Laura Prepon will be playing Karla Homolka in an upcoming movie? (Here's a pic of her in costume with the actor playing Paul Bernardo.)

I suppose it's hypocritical of me to criticize such an endeavour, since I did go see Charlize Theron in Monster. But the promo copy isn't making this Deadly movie look very classy: "Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka’s psychological dance with death and depravity – faithfully recreated here in stunning performances by Misha Collins and Laura Prepon – will haunt you forever…because it’s true."

Faithfully recreated? And then there's the cheezy horror movie tagline: "Until death do us partake."

Producer Michael D. Sellers' message to Canadians is here. He says one of the film's goals is Predator Awareness: "One of the most important messages that "Deadly" carries is that there are predators, even in the quietest, most unlikely places.  Enhancing public awareness of the dangers posed by people like Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka is a specific goal of the production."

To help, the film's website offers links to "websites that promote predator awareness". And also links to features about Prepon on AskMen.com and in Maxim Magazine, but I'm not sure if that's related.
Kyrgyzstan's Orange Revolution?

Just because it's more difficult to spell than Ukraine doesn't mean you shouldn't be paying attention to what's going on in Kyrgyzstan. This Central Asian country, sandwiched between China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, is the latest former Soviet republic to hold elections deemed faulty by OSCE observers and face a popular uprising. Currently the Southern half of the country is under control of opposition protestors... Here's Radio Free Europe's analysis.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Genies, Jutras. Jutras, Genies.

So I just arrived home from covering the Genies for the Post (here's CP's story on who won), and a good four of the main winners are the same from last month's Jutra Awards for Quebec cinema: Best actor (Roy Dupuis), Best actress (Pascale Bussieres), Best director (Francis Leclerc), Best Supporting actor (Jean Lapointe).

It was a funny show: Most of the presenters spoke English; most of the winners spoke French. The three most nominated films -- Ma vie en cinemascope, Memoires affectives, and Le Dernier Tunnel -- still haven't opened in English Canada, so pretty much nobody watching on Citytv, Star!, Bravo!, Access, A-Channel and ASN has even had the possibility of seeing these movies. Why on earth would they watch the ceremony? For Andrea Martin's banter?

Memoires affectives is opening with English subtitles in Toronto on one screen in April. Director Leclerc said backstage that he hoped the three Genies his film picked up will help him get the film on more screens in the ROC. But he wasn't too optimistic. He said he was amazed at how little money Don McKellar's lastest, Childstar, pulled in at the box office. Don't English Canadians want to see Canadian movies? he asked.

Bussieres -- who, I have to brag, had me pull down the back of her dress and look at the tag when a reporter asked who designed the classy number she was wearing -- said she hoped now Ma vie en cinemascope would be seen in English Canada. She brought up problems with distribution as the main reason why no one outside of Quebec watches Quebec films and no one watches English Canadian films at all... I mean, can't we ditch (at least part of) the tax break we give American productions that come up and film here and instead give tax breaks to multiplexes if they show Canadian movies? Or something? The movies are there; we just can't see them without going out of our ways...

Anyway, I don't mean to be a big downer on a party night. My favourite part of the ceremony was when Clark Johnson, a.k.a. Detective Meldrick Lewis from Homicide: Life on the Street, presented an award. Then, I ran into him on the escalator, dropped my journalist demeanor, turned into a fanboy and gushed, "I know you probably hear this all the time, but you were great on Homicide."

"Thanks, man," he said. "You know, I don't hear that enough."

And then he totally went and went on a call with Detective Crosetti like a good mur-der po-lease. Oh yeah.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Canadian Film-Flam

So, I thought I'd like to go see that comedy Phil the Alien this afternoon... But the only place it was playing anywhere near me had only a single showing at 9:45 pm. So I didn't go.

Maybe, if I'm lucky, it'll still be open next weekend. Sigh.

Speaking of, here's the list of nominees for the 2005 Genie Awards, which is "celebrating" its 25th anniversary this year. How many of these Canadian films have you seen in the past year? I've only seen five and it's kinda part of my job to watch movies...

Liam Lacey's got a fun history of the Genies here. Here, CP's John Mackay explains why Being Julia is nominated for Best Picture, but is ineligible for the acting or directing categories and doesn't explain why The Triplets of Belleville is nominated this year instead of last year when it was up for an Oscar. And here, Guy Dixon explains why neither the Oscar-nominated Hardwood and Naomi Klein's The Take are not up for Best Documentary.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Speaking of mythical moments in Montreal history...

I just came across this neat site dedicated to Expo 67: Man and his World, an event still talked about in reverent tones by Montrealers and former Montrealers. (Unlike the 1976 Olympics, which are talked about in angry-taxpayer tones.) My father, for instance, still puts on his resume that he was the youngest member of the official Expo 67 band.
Growing up in anglo Montreal in the 80s, I must admit I found the endless nostalgia for Montreal circa 1967 a little annoying. The implication was always that it was the beginning of the end, that Expo was the city's greatest moment and everything went downhill from there.
There's a huge generation gap between pre-Expo and post-Olympics Anglos. And as the latter have exerted themselves more and more over the past decade, Montreal has become a much more optimistic place to live... Nostalgia can be a real bummer.
Here's a picture of the highly-symbolic fire at the biosphere in 1976. Burn, baby, burn.
Biosphere on Fire

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today is, by far, the day I miss Montreal the most each year...

Aside from being St. Paddy's Day, today is also the fiftieth anniversary of the Rocket Richard riot. In La Presse today, they reprinted Maurice Richard's own account of the "emeute" that he wrote in 1995.
It's interesting to learn that Richard thought the unrest had very little to do with Quebec nationalism, which is the usual historical interpretation of events. "Je ne crois pas que le phénomène ait été de nature nationaliste, comme certains l'ont laissé entendre," he wrote. "Il y avait peut-être un peu de ça, mais surtout la colère des amateurs de hockey, exploitée par des réactionnaires."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

This may be on the exam.

Greetings students of UNI 221S - Culture and Media in Canada (Spring 2005). My name is J. Kelly Nestruck -- you can just call me Kelly -- and I'll be your guest lecturer today at about 3 o'clock.

This is the second time Rick Salutin has asked me to come speak about blogs in his UofT class. (You can read about my last experience here.)

Last year, I was rather surprised to find out that out of a class of about 120 communications students, less than a third had ever visited a blog and only one student actually had a blog of her own. This year, I imagine things will be different. Has anyone not heard about RatherGate at this point?

Here's a little data for you. In 2000, the word "blog" appeared only once in the 200 or so sources in the Infomart database, which is comprised of most Canadian papers (notable exception of the Globe and Mail), plus the New York Times and a few other American/European sources.

In 2001, the word "blog" appeared 25 times in the Infomart database.

In the first half of 2002, "blog" appeared 32 times. In the second half of 2002, it appeared 59 times.

From Jan 2003 on, there is a steady increase in articles containing the word blog.

Jan-Feb 2003: 32 references. July-August 2003: 84 references. November-December 2003: 108 references.

Then, we reach 2004, the "Year of the Blog"...
January-February 2004: 137 mentions of "blog."
March-April 2004: 172.
May-June 2004: 285.
July-August 2004: 404.
September-October 2004: 479.
November-December: 544.

And, most recently, January-February of 2005 saw an incredible 934 mentions of the word "blog" in the sources in the Infomart database. Still, in comparison, there were 21,999 mentions of the word "magazine" in Jan-Feb of 2005, so we know blogs have still not yet become mainstream by any means.

Nonetheless, I'm expecting that more of the class will know what a blog is this March than last March.

Here are some of the things I'll be talking about today:

-- Blogs and MSM: Enemies... or pals?
-- The Myth of the Democratization of the Media.
-- Blogs and the Flattening of Time!
-- Warren Kinsella!

Anyone directed here via their course outline, feel free to peruse through my archives. Older posts are more about theatre, recent ones are more about politics. And the most recent post is a strange, new foray into confusing my readership.

Oh, and the first person who asks me about "posting the cat" in class will get a prize. Really.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Excerpt: Be Coal

When I was a child, my unhappy father -- no doubt with the best intentions in the world -- would say to me:

When people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, here’s how you should answer them, Joe. You should say, “I want to grow up to be happy.” Because that’s all that matters. That’s all that matters to your mother and me. That you’re happy.

Well, I failed you there Dad. But you set me up for it.

What kind of a goal is happiness? How do you go about achieving it? There’s no straight line, no school, no apprenticeships, no goddamn job placement. Ask me to become a great shortstop -- sure. Ask me to get an A in Calculus -- fine. Ask me to get married and have children -- what the heck.

But ask me to be happy… It’s like asking me to not think of elephants.

There’s nothing tangible about happiness. Or lasting. Happiness – like sadness, anger, terror – is something that comes and goes. Medical school, though, is forever. Why didn’t you ask me to go to medical school?

I suspect other parents fed their kids this "happy" crap too, or some variation on the theme. I see hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people like me in their twenties travelling the world looking for happiness. Maybe it’ll be in business, maybe it’ll be in art, maybe I’ll find it in Costa Rica, maybe it’s hidden in her or him or them…

Here’s another thing my father would say:

Joe, you’re blessed with smarts and good looks and if you put your mind to it, you can be anything you want to be. You're one of the lucky ones.

Now this, I’m not so forgiving about. This is a goddamn lie and he knew it. I mean, obviously there are certain tangible things that I cannot become. Like a woman. Or a six and a half foot tall man. Or the President of the United States. Or a red helium-filled balloon.

Or happy all the time.

But those are small quibbles. I know he was just trying to be encouraging. Trying to teach me to reach.

What I wish, though, what I wish he had told me was that having the ability to be anything you want to be – the ability to be just about anything you want to be -- isn’t always a blessing. Because there’s only one of me. And there’s so much anything. There's so much anything.

I wish he had said:

Joe, you’re blessed with smarts and good looks and if you put your mind to it, you can be anything you want to be. With a few exceptions. Like the President of the United States or a red helium-filled balloon.
But, Joe, you can’t be everything you want to be. You have to make choices. And every time you make a choice in your life, a thousand other possible yous die. That is the tragedy of living only once.


Now that would have been some good parental wisdom.

Because here I am, aged 26, and every choice that I make shoots millions of potential mes in the head. They fall and die in the gutter. Bang! Lawyer Joe. Pow! Rock star Joe. Slash! Carpenter Joe. Blam! Anaesthesiologist Joe… They just can’t all exist at once. This town ain't big enough.

So, I think the best thing to do is to stop choosing. Instead, I’m just going to continue what I’m doing now, smoke pot and play Xbox in my parent’s basement until I die. Continue being a big pile of wasted potential like a lump of coal that hasn’t been burned yet.

But at least I’ll never lose that potential, the potential to be anything. And at least I won’t pollute the skies or be used as fuel for a train carrying some poor suckers to the front.

No siree. I’m staying down here in the ground, black and coaly.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day...

A lime green puppy was born in Saskatoon. Awwww!

Hmmm...

I hope you don't think this means that I've gone and "posted the pup" -- an offense only slightly less severe than posting the cat...

I mean, there are plenty of serious things that I'd like to write about. For instance, I'm beginning to think we should let the private sector into our health care system a little bit. Really. Also, I'd like to try to understand why the Conservatives are criticizing the Liberals over the collapse of a crappy private company like Jetsgo.

Anyway, yeah, I'd be writing about these things but I've got a cold. Again. So all you get today is a lime green dog. Sigh.

Choose Your Own Monday Schadenfreude!

Oh, if you're into it, why not go check out the gleeful message boards over at Jetsgosucks.com. "Sorry you lost your shitty job at a shitty airline," writes Frank D.

If you are a former employee of Jetsgo or you are missing out on your vacation because your Jetsgo flight was cancelled or you are Michel Leblanc, however, you can get your recommended dose of Monday Schadenfreude by reading about how researchers have determined that ugly children are loved less than cute children.

[Monday Schadenfreude archives.]

Friday, March 11, 2005

Film Friday: Howell's scowl foul

I can't believe the Toronto Star's Peter Howell thought that Chris Rock's Oscar bit where he went to interview actual people in a multiplex about what movies they actually watched this year (ie. White Chicks, Alien vs. Predator) was racist. That was the funniest part of the Oscars, a welcome injection of reality into the fairy tale proceedings...
I'd say Howell was humourless, but he did include Team America in his end-of-year top ten, so I'll consider this a momentary lapse.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

More Hot Young Liberal Liplock! Well, sort of.

As previously noted here on On the Fence, the Young Liberal Biennial Booklet from this past weekend's Liberal convention in Ottawa had a picture of two men kissing on the front cover.

Well, I've tracked down a copy and posted it here and it certainly is an interesting contrast to the picture of lesbian liplock the YLC attached to its "It's the Charter, Stupid!" campaign website. Goodbye soft-lit models, hello actual men getting married.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Music is driving me Nuts!

In a good way, I mean! I'm really digging the new Kathleen Edwards album Back to Me, especially the title track (hear it here) which I first heard her play at a strange dancer.poet.songwriter event last year at Harbourfront Centre. I just love these citified Canadian country girls. They drive me Nuts! (Hey, I see she's just started a tour blog, too.)

What's really driving me NUTS though is this song "Please Please Please" by Toronto whiz kid Owen Pallett, a.k.a. Final Fantasy. Sean posted it over at Said the Gramophone last week upon his return from a long absence from mp3 blogging, but I only downloaded it a couple of days ago. I have now listened to it a good 20-odd times. NUTS! It's still up here for your listening pleasure...

Monday, March 07, 2005

Zap! U.S.-Canadian Relations are Frozen!

Prime Minister Paul Martin makes a shocking appearance over at the ever-popular Low Culture blog.
Reefer Madness Redux!

Colby Cosh has a variety of good blog posts and comments up about the media's fixation on the marijuana element of the tragic deaths of four Mounties last week.

But Vancouver potheads-cum-theatre-lovers need not worry about a new Marijuana McCarthyism descending on West Coast theatres... Actor Russell Bennett will go ahead with his play The Reefer Man later this month as scheduled despite the RCMP officers' deaths. I know this because a press release titled "The Show Must Go On" just dropped like it was hot in my inbox:
Russell Bennett, the creator of the hit show The Reefer Man still plans to go ahead with his March production at the Firehall Arts Centre in the face of recent RCMP slayings involving a grow-op bust.

Bennett, also a lawyer, portrays all twenty-one characters in this intelligent comedy that begins with the discovery of Charlie Kovac’s secret basement marijuana garden. The play looks at grow-ops from the point of view of a responsible citizen who grows flowers for the love of it, providing a service to his fellow Canadians. Charlie also examines the history and ineffectiveness of the marijuana prohibition in Canada. Although there is an arrest in this production, it is not meant to minimize the dangers that RCMP officers face or the sacrifices they make for Canadians every day.

"Now more than ever, it is essential to go ahead with this show," says Bennett. "It is tragic that these officers needlessly lost their lives. However, I don’t agree with how the media and government officials are demonizing marijuana grow-operations. In this recent case, the killer was a known dangerous offender. Growing pot is not dangerous. It is the enforcement of a needless prohibition that makes growing pot dangerous. I think that The Reefer Man will inspire people to see that not all marijuana growers are involved with organized crime and intent on protecting their property through aggressive means. I want the violence to end, and the only way for that to happen is to open an intelligent dialogue about the issues. I hope my play will stimulate such a dialogue, so that no more innocent lives are taken from us."
Way to use murder and mayhem to promote your show, dude! The gals of Chicago would be proud...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Dr. Axworthy, I presume?

June 2003 -- The Old Lloyd Axworthy on missile defence:
The pursuit of missile defence is likely to be detrimental to international peace and security. There are international agreements now that limit US freedom to test or deploy certain weapons, and these treaty regimes are likely to be undermined, with deleterious effects on arms control across the board. Canada has long promoted non-proliferation and multilateral regulation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The United States, on the other hand, has adopted a confrontational model based on counter-proliferation and pre-emption by overwhelming military force. With such an approach, missile defence deployment may provoke a spiral of offence-defence responses -- probably not reproducing the arms race of the Cold War, but nevertheless prompting other countries to develop "deterrence" capabilities and a proliferation of nuclear weapons.
March 2005 -- The New Lloyd Axworthy on missile defence:
Dear Condi, I'm glad you've decided to get over your fit of pique and venture north to visit your closest neighbour. It's a chance to learn a thing or two. Maybe more.
I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were carefully rigged to show results.
But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game.
Whoa, whoa, whoa... Lloyd, my friend, what has happened to you since becoming President of that bastion of radical politics called the University of Winnipeg? It's like you've stopped being a diplomat and become a... become a... become a... A newspaper columnist! Holee!
Defending No Missile Defence...

After a deluge of opinion pieces and editorials condemning Paul Martin's decision to opt out of BMD -- even the Toronto Star was eager for Canada to sign on to, uh, whatever it is we were being asked to sign on to -- the other side of argument is beginning to leak onto the op-ed pages of the nation.

The fact is that a majority of Canadians are opposed to joining BMD. It's a political no-brainer and none of the federal parties, not even the Conservatives, are ready to endorse ballistic missile defence right now, some because of worries about arm races and the weaponization of space, and others for the simple reason that we still don't know exactly what we are being asked to write a blank "political approval" cheque for...

It takes an American commentator, however, to point out not even the Republicans are willing to give Bush free rein on this. Check out Michael O'Hanlon, author of 'Defending America: The Case for Limited Ballistic Missile Defense' and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, defending Canada in the Christian Science Monitor today:
What Bush administration officials need to remember is that they almost surely could not get blanket endorsement for all of the above missile defense systems even in the US. Congress has provided funding just for deployment of a limited land-based system and for research and development of other possible concepts. It has not bought into a grandiose architecture of the type that many Pentagon planners still envision. Nor is Bush unwise enough to request such an open-ended endorsement from Congress.

Indeed, his budget request for 2006 cuts missile defense, in recognition of the facts that the relevant technologies are proving slow to develop and that other, nonmissile threats seem more pressing. Yet it was at this moment the president asked Canada for something he probably could not get from the Republican-controlled legislature in his own country.

If Bush had wanted help with a specific missile defense test, further cooperation at NORAD, the right for a US ship hosting a missile defense radar to call at Canadian ports, or something else specific and finite, he probably could have gotten it. But instead, he asked for the moon, and was surprised when the answer was "no."

It is time to walk this subject back. For now, Canada doesn't want to support the US further on missile defense. That's fine, because there's nothing more the US needs to ask Ottawa to do at the moment. Let the issue cool, proceed with other business such as trade, cooperation against terrorist threats, and NATO operations in Afghanistan (where Canada has contributed enormously) - and revisit this subject when there is something finite and reasonable to request.
Now, the way Martin and, particularly, McKenna mangled and continue to mangle the diplomacy on this... Well, that's a whole other kettle of beef. (Time to go back to International Relations 201, perhaps?)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Lipstick Liberals Update!

For those of you who worried that the Young Liberals of Canada only support same-sex marriage for lipstick lesbians (see here): Do not fret. I am informed that the Young Liberals of Canada biennial booklet -- to be distributed at the Lib love-in that begins tomorrow -- will have a picture of two men kissing on the cover.

No word yet as to whether the two male models will be hot or not.
My Hardscrabble Life

I recently tried out Super Scrabble with a bunch of co-workers for an article games editor Malcolm Kelly wrote about the board game, which appears today in the National Post and is free online. Super Scrabble is like your run-of-the-mill Scrabble but...
The Super hybrid has 216 more squares than the original, which has a mere 225. There are four quadruple-word score corners and eight quadruple-letter score squares. There are twice as many letter tiles (the original has 100), and some subtle changes in letter distribution including four more Is, three more Us, 10 Ss (as opposed to four in the original) and two each of the high-scoring J, Q, X and Z.
I wasn't terribly impressed by the bigger, brawnier version, though it could be fun to play with your long-time Scrabble partner to keep things interesting now that the passion is gone. Here's what I e-mailed Malcolm about the super-sized word game:
-- With twice the tiles, the game is longer. If you are playing with faster players, this isn't so bad, but with ditherers (I am sometimes classified thusly) it becomes a little too much. With four players, it moves along at a lively enough pace because you have time to think, but with two players it could take forever...
-- Because there is a bigger playing area, 7-letter words -- what some people insist on calling "bingos" -- are much, much easier to play. Perhaps too easy. It takes away some of the joy of that moment. When every day's a celebration, no day is.
-- On this note: the longer game and increased opportunity for high scoring makes the gap between the good players and the average players more pronounced. Winning by 500 points rather than by 50 points is not as pleasant in my socialist-Scrabble opinion. Even an inexperienced Scrabble player can occasionally beat a good Scrabble player with normal Scrabble thanks to the randomness of the draw... But with Super Scrabble, more tiles and plays means less probability that you'll get a series of bad racks. Half-way through the game, it's obvious who's going to win or lose... no suspense, no nail-biting, no real "game."
-- Quadruple letter/word scores are not terribly exciting or enticing. Maybe if you're playing more competitively...
-- It was fun to try it out, but ultimately it's not my cup of tea. Scrabble vs. Super Scrabble is like CFL vs. NFL.. I'm a CFL guy: I like my games shorter in length, less ridiculously "big", more rigid in rules, "friendlier", less permissive, less hype. Moving on to another sports metaphor: As soccer fans know, higher scores don't necessarily mean better games.
Post-script

In other, non-Scrabble-related news, my interview with Hong Kong superstar Maggie Cheung is also online for free.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Blog on Blog

Norman Spector and Kate from Small Dead Animals -- with special guest star "ET" (anyone know who that is?) -- are continuing their old versus new media fight in the comments of this fiery post at the Western Standard Shotgun. I play a small role as "the 'self-correcting' action on the blogosphere" in this latest installment of a long-running feud that made Ezra Levant draft rules about personal attacks for his conservative magazine's spin-off blog...

UPDATE: Spector's totally wiping out. First he brought up his graduate degree and now he's frothing about "the miasma of ignorance that is the blogosphere." He'd best go back to jousting on the Globe editorial page and stay out of street fights.
More Lipstick Liberals!
Lipstick Liberal Lesbians...
The Young Liberals of Canada are at it again! (Actual Liberals not pictured.)
You may recall the "controversial" Young Liberals of Canada's Quebec wing's christmas card -- which featured a couple of hot young ladies making out as Santa gave the thumbs up and wished everyone a "gay holiday season."
Well now the Young Liberals of Canada are launching a "charter campaign" supporting same-sex marriage on Thursday with this fine picture accompanying their press release...

Examining this photo closely, I question whether these two young women are really ready to commit to that life-long partnership we call marriage. But what the heck, let's give 'em a chance.

The sad thing is that the defendmarriage.ca webpage that led me to the Young Liberals of Canada warned, "beware of content". Sigh... Does that betray the mindset of most of the anti-same-sex marriage crowd or what? We just want to defend freedom of religion and the traditional definition of marriage... oh, and girls kissing is gross. Beware!

[I wonder whether a certain McGill Daily sex columnist who happens to be on the YLC executive has anything to do with these pictures?]

UPDATE: Hey kids and/or Young Liberals! Check out the comments, where I am outwitted by bloggers Matthew Hayday and Paul Wells.
Maurizio Bevilacqua's Greatest Quotations, Vol. VII

"E-business is key to competing in today’s economy... Our government is proud to be working with Canada’s banking industry to help small businesses build their e-confidence through a better understanding of security and privacy issues."
- Acquaman in Canadian Banker Magazine.

[Who is Maurizio Bevilacqua?]
Municipal Madness!

Feeling a little under the weather tonight, I caught up on my civic duty by watching two hours of Toronto city council working on the budget on television. It was riveting. Riveting.
I was particularly enthralled by the antics of Councillor for Etobicoke North (Ward II) Rob Ford. This dude, claiming to represent the taxpayers, wasted a good hour of council’s time arguing over tiny, miniscule things in the new budget.
Time and time again, council voted against his motions, which were just a bunch of grandstanding about this or that two-page inter-office newsletter that he thought should be cut. He spent a good long time arguing against the Toronto Zoo giving out VIP passes to councillors. "We do not deserve to get into the zoo for free!" he shouted, claiming that this free passes cost the citizens of Toronto “thousands and thousands” of dollars.
This, of course, is the kind of perk that doesn’t actually cost taxpayers anything, except for, theoretically, in lost zoo revenue. According to one member of council, a mere 5 to 10 councillors used their VIP passes to take their families to the zoo last year.
Ford, whose resemblance to Chris Farley is remarked upon often, is clearly a dick. The guy was all fuss and bluster and must have wasted a good hour and a half of council’s time and money tonight. Just let the chair chair, buddy! Out of order! Who has the floor anyway? Woo!!!!
Sorry.
Here are a couple of Ford’s bon mots from this evening:
After having one of his long-winded motions voted down again: "That’s the democratic process -- I don’t agree with it."
After making a sarcastic aside: "I have to be sarcastic sometimes, because I’m passionate about this job."

Other notes on city council:

- I now have a big municipal crush on Karen Stintz from Ward 16. Stintz, your impassioned talk about the TTC totally makes me want to move to Eglinton Lawrence. Knowing that you sit on the boards of the National Ballet, Harbourfront Centre and Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People seals the deal.
- Uh, John Filion? How long have you been on council now? 21 years? Well, how come you haven’t figured out how to use the voting buttons yet? Do the clerks have to remind you to vote every single friggin’ time? Pay attention!
- Oh, Gay Cowbourne… How am I supposed to take you seriously when your name is Gay Cowbourne? That you managed to get elected at all with that name must mean that you’re pretty damn good at your job.