Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy Canada Day!


Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Old Flag, The Old Policy, The Old Dutch.

I am once again pimping for a certain Western Canadian chip brand in the Post. This time as part of our Great Canadian Confection Election.

P.S. The Lord of the Rings musical chooses to announce it is closing on the day I'm on a train between Toronto and Montreal? Argh.

I have much to say about this. But will I?
Menage a Trois.

Five encores for Brad Mehldau's trio at the Montreal Jazz Fest tonight. Five!

In short, it was awesome, even thought Mehldau never plays his Radiohead covers when I'm in the audience...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

X to the Y.

The Star's new youth-y columnist Jen Gerson looked at the differences between Gen X and Y last week... Xs have CDs; Ys have MP3s. Seminal political moment for Xers: Fall of the Berlin Wall. Seminal political moment for Yers: 9/11. Yadda-yadda...

Anyway, the one that I thought was the best was this: Gen X had whining. Gen Y has blogs.

It's funny because it's true!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Toilet Politics.

The problem, of course, with equality is: equal to what exactly? If a theatre provides the same number of toilets to women and men, a numeric equality has been achieved, sure. But during intermission, I can stroll the loo, empty the ol' bladder, grab a drink and, if the mood so strikes me, take another little piddle before going back for Act II.

Ladies, on the other hand, are for the most part in a race against time, especially in the older theatres around town. The lines for the women's loo at the Canon Theatre, for instance. Forget buying Mentos. Pee or have fresh breath. You cannot have both.

It seems that I spend many intermissions just waiting around for my female playgoing companions to get back from the bathroom. Just as well, I suppose. I never have anything to say at intermission. My mind's still on the show, but I don't actually want to say anything about the show until it's over. Preferably until it's been over for half an hour and all publicists and family members of the cast are well out of earshot.

Anyway, in England, Michelle Barkley of the British Standards Institution is proclaiming that the number of women's bathrooms need to double. From the Guardian:
"The regulations as they stand amount to sexual discrimination," she said. At the moment, the minimum number of toilets required at a venue is based on an equal male/female split of the largest possible audience. [Ed note: I don't know about London, but here in Canada about 57% of the theatregoing audience is female -- so equal split doesn't make sense in the first place.] But women end up queuing interminably because they spend an average of 90 seconds in the john, while men are in and out in 35 seconds.

West End theatres are especially bad. Tucked away halfway up staircases or behind the bar somewhere, toilets tend to come in measly ones or twos, and can usually be identified by the throng of grumpy-looking women wishing they were slugging their gin and tonic rather than spending the 20-minute interval in a line.
Yes, though at least in England you can bring your drink back to your seat with you. I really don't understand why I ever bother drinking at intermission in Canada at all. I always have to down my Scotch or beer or whatever while the bell is dinging or the usher is ushering me back to my seat...

But that's a whole other rant.

Yes, I think we need more bathrooms for women in the theatres! I come firmly down off the fence to make this position clear! More potties!
Deet-deet, deet-deet! Theatre news!

Me report about:

- Stratford's new three-headed artistic director!
- The Dora Award winners!
- A musical called Menopause Out Loud!

Deet-deet, deet-deet!

Monday, June 26, 2006


Optimus Crime looks back at Layton and Chow's Pride parade fashion through the years. I disagree with Opti -- I think the orange cowboy hat year was the best.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Quebec's dentists will never go out of business.

SSJB president Jean Dorion was shocked -- just shocked! -- when an aboriginal dance troupe spoke in English during the Fête nationale festivities:
La présentation en anglais faite par un groupe de danseurs autochtones, qui en a choqué plusieurs, n'était pas prévue selon les organisateurs.

Même le président de la Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste a grincé des dents lorsque le chef cherokee s'est adressé à la foule dans la langue de Shakespeare.

«J'ai failli me retrouver chez le dentiste», dit M. Dorion.

«Les autochtones ont parlé en anglais sans réaliser que ça ne se faisait pas le jour de la Saint-Jean», explique-t-il.
I guess someone forgot to cc the Natives on that memo.

It's interesting to how the definition of the Fête nationale has expanded in some areas -- to include aboriginals, for instance -- but is still holding tight when it comes to language.
Bonne (belated) St. Jean!

My old McGill Daily colleague Jonathan Montpetit reviews the crazy ride the separatist movement has been through in the past 12 months.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Theatre news!

a) My Name is Rachel Corrie will at last make it to New York next fall. Interesting sidenote: The original production that was cancelled/postponed was going to be put on at a non-profit off-Broadway theatre in NY; the new one is being produced at a commercial off-Broadway theatre. Time to question the assumption that public theatres exist to put on the "risky" material commerical producers won't touch...
Will certain propagandists please stop saying the show was "banned" in the United States now? Unlikely...

b) The Lord of the Rings musical-play will make it to London at last next spring. The West End gonna cost £25m, which is insane, and our Toronto Frodo, James Loye, is going to be snatched away to lead it.
Will certain propagandists please stop saying the show was an unmitigated disaster in Canada now? Unlikely...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's pretty out.

What are you doing reading blogs? What am I doing posting on one? And what is a "blog" anyway?

In other news, The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones has finally come around on Radiohead. On his blog, he notes a sentence disappeared from his reappraisal on its way to the magazine: "I, too, have become a little dotty for Radiohead." Well, good.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Making Sausage.

My coverage of the MuchMusic Video Awards is online here. Here's my lede for the Toronto edition:
It was fitting that Kardinal Offishall arrived in a fire truck at last night's MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto, because the rapper was putting out blazes all night long. First, the Toronto emcee extinguished his hot competition, picking up more awards than any other artist, notably best video and best director for his hit Everyday (Rudebwoy). Then, he turned his fire hose towards the most burning political issue of the day: homegrown terrorism.

"Canada's still the greatest place to be, despite these terrorist accusations and all that garbage," Offishall said after picking up the VideoFACT award, his first of the evening.
But, just to give you a glimpse into the FASCINATING world of on-the-spot reporting, here's how I started the article for my national edition, filed an hour and a half earlier than the Toronto one:
Rapper Kardinal Offishal may have arrived in a fire truck at last night's MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto, but he was starting fires all night rather than putting them out. The blazing-hot Toronto emcee picked up the most awards, including best video and best director for Everyday (Rudebwoy), and used his time on television to pass on a message about fear and terrorism.

"Canada's still the greatest place to be, despite these terrorist accusations and all that garbage," Mr. Offishal said after picking up the VideoFACT award, his first of the evening.
So what was it? Was he putting out fires or starting them? Make up your mind!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fringe Benefits.

I was interviewed for this Maisonneuve piece by (Dailyite!) Claire Crighton about Fringe festivals...
“Fringe is a good place for new play development,” says Nestruck. “It’s really interesting that shows that have recently had a life outside of Canada started at the Fringe Festival and not from the play creation of established theatres—The Drowsy Chaperone, Job: The Hip Hop Musical, Da Kink in My Hair; they were all produced in the US. I think it says something about the play creation of theatres, that they’re not in touch with what audiences want. The Fringe has more bad stuff than an established theatre but the audience decides what’s good. And artists love the work they’re doing—they really feel strongly about it, they’re putting their own money into it. They’re not trying to write a play that’s going to get produced, a serious play with Canadian content.”
I totally sound like some sort of advocate for a free-market theatre or something, don't I? The entrepreneurial spirit of Fringe festivals is only good to a point... What you need then is some sort of backing to take the shows to the next level -- which is what Theatre Passe Muraille and Mirvish did with Drowsy and Da Kink. More on all this when the Toronto Fringe opens in a couple of weeks... One of the reasons I'm so happy about The Drowsy Chaperone's success on Broadway is that I hope it makes more people take Canada's Fringe circuit more seriously.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Monarchists are lame.

Oh no! Michaëlle Jean skipped out on the Queen's 80th birthday "Service of Thanksgiving" and "walkabout" or whatever! Why? She was in Toronto at Lawrence Heights Middle School watching the premiere of An Ode to Madame G.G., a play inspired by her life.

Going to a middle school play instead of a senior citizen pageant? That's getting your priorities straight from my point of view.

Not according to the Post's editorial board, of course. They think sending a G-G they hate to a fancy dress party in England is a real important way to spend our tax dollars.

In conclusion, no one cares. Down with the monarchy and the post of the Governor General and may all monarchists realise that they are ridiculous! "Ooh! Look at me! I love the Queeeeeeen!" Blegh...
Is Jersey Boys the first jukebox musical to win a Tony?

Just cuz something is repeated over and over doesn't mean it's true. In the lead-up to the Tony Awards, I kept hearing that if Jersey Boys won, it be the first jukebox musical to win Best Musical. As an example, here's the Denver Post:
Some are viewing a "Jersey Boys" victory as the latest sign of the Broadway apocalypse, which is laughable considering it just sold 12 million tickets and generated $861.6 million in revenue for the season, both records. But it would be the first "jukebox musical" - based on pre-existing pop music - to win.
You get the idea.

Anyway, I repeated this oft-repeated claim in my Tony reporting in the paper on Monday... And right next to my article was commentary from our critic, Robert Cushman, saying that it was untrue!

As per usual, he was right -- at least if you take the definition that a jukebox musical is a musical "based on pre-existing pop music."

In fact, there have been a number of musicals based on pre-existing popular music that have won the Tony, notably Ain't Misbehavin' with the music of Fats Waller. (Other Best Musical winners based on pre-existing music include Contact and Fosse.)

If you call those shows revues, musicals, or dance shows, however, perhaps it's true that Jersey Boys is the first "jukebox musical" to win... But what's in a genre, anyway?
Hurrah for the Oilers!

Way to not give up. Two more, I say.
Is the indie rock scene prudish?

Zoilus discusses and I comment (rant) at length!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In other news...

Afghanistan. You may have heard of this country.

What exactly are we dealing with there? Are we involved in a war? A war on terrorism? An occupation? I keep hearing different takes from different folks. I think everyone is clear that it isn't a traditional peace-keeping mission now...

In an article in the Toronto Star today, Seddiq Weera, an associate member of McMaster University's Centre for Peace Studies and an advisor to the education ministry in Afghanistan, makes a simple and compelling case that what we are involved in is not just a war against terrorism but also the suppression of civil war:
What would happen if international forces were to leave Afghanistan today? I have asked dozens of Afghans this question and the answer is always the same: The civil war would resume.

On the one hand, this is an argument in favour of keeping international forces in Afghanistan. On the other hand, it clearly shows that we are not dealing with a simple struggle against terrorism but also with a suppressed civil war, which the Bonn agreement of December 2001 did not address.
That makes sense to me. While I've been supportive of the Afghanistan mission to date, is fighting a civil war for the next twenty years what Canadians signed on for?

Here's what Weera suggests:
In my view, there is no military solution to this civil war and the sooner international forces recognize this the better it will be for everyone.
Combat operations with a search and destroy mission, in the absence of a national peace and reconciliation initiative, will make the Afghan security situation worse by producing more recruits, supporters and sympathizers for those actually committed to terrorism.
Why does Canada not take the lead in seeking a stable peace in Afghanistan?
The aim of such an initiative would be to include the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Mujahideen group, through peace negotiations, in the transition to a democratic Afghanistan.
Among other things, this would involve reaching a clear peace pact among those groups involved in the civil war prior to Sept. 11, 2001.
Does this seem pie-eyed? The idea of shaking hands and making up with folks like the Taliban and the Mujahideen may be hard to stomach, but if the objective is longterm peace perhaps it has to be done. Otherwise we have to kill or convert them all. We haven't managed to do so over the past four and half years, so something tells me were dealing with a group a little bigger than 17 dudes from Mississauga.

Would all parties get involved in a peace process, though? Weera says yes and has some anecdotal evidence -- I'd like to believe him.

Some final words from him:
I and my associates at McMaster University's Centre for Peace Studies are calling our proposal the Third Option, because it calls for neither the withdrawal of Canadian troops nor their participation in search and destroy missions, but asks that they be returned to a peacekeeping role while Canada supports a serious peace and reconciliation program in Afghanistan.
If there's anything I like, it's a Third Option! Note that Weera does not deny that we are fighting a war against terrorism -- he simply adds that we are also fighting a civil war. And the latter feeds the former.

It makes sense to me, but I must say I am not an expert on the situation. Would be happy to hear rebuttals.

Chris Selley, nonallergic supremicist though he may be, nails it on the head with regards to the reaction in certain quarters to the terrorism arrests:
Indeed, this sudden interest in the root causes of terrorism fascinates me when it manifests itself in people who otherwise have no interest in root causes. When young men of Jamaican extraction kill each other and innocent bystanders, Canadian reactionaries instinctively know the solution: deterrent justice and fewer social programs. But in the case of people who want to blow up a building or behead the Prime Minister, it's not good enough to lock them up. Suddenly they're willing to dig deeper, or as deep as they need to dig to find Islam and multiculturalism anyway, at which point they catch their breath, smirk, and mash their keyboards appropriately. They'll try anything to discredit tolerance so as to justify their own lack of it. We shouldn't be altering the philosophical foundations of Canadian society on these terms.
I must say I find it very comforting that the arrests of the 17 accused terrorists have not changed a single Canadian's opinion on anything. Both the Right and the Left have seized upon the events as proof of what they believed before:
Right: Multiculturalism is creating enemies in our midst!
Left: The mission in Afghanistan is an imperialist adventure that is creating a worldwide Muslim resistance!
Right: Uh, we are engaged in a worldwide war on terror!
Left: Are not!
The volume has gone up, but nothing has changed.

Which means the terrorists have not won! Hurrah!

At the deli counter in Loblaw's at Bathurst and St. Clair. A man in a blazer wearing sunglasses is talking on his cellphone.

Man (covering his cellphone mouthpiece): Yeah, I'll take some of that. Yeah, 300 milligrams or grams or whatever, I don't know, whatever you measure in.

My reactions:

A) Good god.
B) Doesn't a man like this go out for lunch?
C) Actually, it's kinda touching that a man like this is packing his own lunch.
D) "Can I try some of this honey maple turkey?"
E) (Heh, heh... Little does the deli woman know that I already know what that tastes like. Free snack! Heh, heh...)
F) Man, the price of coldcuts are going up.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Andrew Coyne is a...

Home-grown fisker!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

And the winner is...

Jersey Boys. Not a big surprise. Drowsy Chaperone picked up five awards, though, including best book of a musical (Bob Martin and Don McKellar) and best original score (Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison). So good on them. It really is astounding how this play made its way from a stag party gift to the Toronto Fringe Festival to Theatre Passe Muraille to the Winter Garden produced by the Mirvishes to L.A. to Broadway to the Tony Awards.
Notes from the Montreal Fringe 2006.

Well, I didn’t get to as many shows as I would have liked. What a gross couple of days weather-wise. Here are my hastily scribbled thoughts on the shows I actually got to. You may want to take into account the fact that my feet were soggy during most of them and so I was a little grumpy.

Better Parts by Nicole Stamp. This is a one-woman monologue/song performed by Stamp, accompanied by Paul Clifford on an acoustic double-bass playing everything from Mozart to Lou Reed. Walking home from her job as an office temp, Stamp fantasizes about a perfect life.

I missed this when it was at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto and was glad to catch Stamp's escapist poetry here. Stamp is perfectly charming and when she sings, she knocks people off their seats. Literally in the case of the show I caught last night, when an entire row of chairs collapsed five minutes into the show. Clifford didn’t miss a plucked string and Stamp didn’t lose her cool.
Better Parts over in 25 minutes or so – but being left wanting more isn’t a crime, especially at the Fringe, where an hour can be an eternity.

Gaetan Charlebois gave the Parisian comedy duo Les Goubeens a rave in the Gazette yesterday, so I went to check them out. The story behind the troupe (I am told) is this: They arrived in Montreal from France a month or so ago, saw there was a sketch comedy festival going on, got a slot when another group backed out and then – when they realised the festival was an English one – translated their entire show in one night and killed a packed opening house. (A friend who was there that night recommended them strongly.)
I suspect these two goofs need an audience to feed off of because the sparse-attended show I saw last night was decidedly lacklustre, while the five-minute set they performed at the Fringe club later that night in front of a packed room was lively and entertaining.
Comedy’s such a subjective thing, though, and at no time was I blown away like I have been by such great Fringe double acts as Sabotage (The Pyjama Men) and Hoopal. Les Goubeens are undeniably tight, but their schtick -- a surreal talk show, jokey hip-hop, a musical based on The Three Little Pigs/Iraq -- mostly wasn’t working on me and my soggy feet.

Earlier in the evening, I saw Without Annette’s Radio Daze, an improvised radio show made up of a serialized drama, advertisements and news bulletins. It takes place in the dark, putting the emphasis on listening rather than watching. This a format that doesn’t really showcase this particular troupe’s strengths. The two women members are quite verbally dextrous, but a couple of the male members who do fine physical comedy are just not as funny when you can’t see their bodies and faces.
I don’t really get why Radio Daze took place in a black-out anyway – it’s an unnecessary handicap. Part of the fun of watching live radio shows is watching the sound effects be made and whatnot. (I have seen “blind Harold”, mind you, and it can be quite good.)

On Friday, I went to see dis + graced: Medea/Josephine – a one-woman show about two famous women wronged by powerful men. The connections between the two characters, one fictional, one historical, are actually quite interesting... But watching this 20-minute extract from Medea followed by a 20-minute bio-play about Josephine (taken from her letters) was not. New Orleans actor Amy Woodruff cannot sustain her one-note Medea; her Josephine has more depth and range. (I might actually switch the two halves around -- how can you follow murdering your children?) The video projections, as is almost always the case with such things, were unneccesary and, in fact, undercut what was going on live.

The Chinese Clown Cabaret is delightful and disjointed. Clown Jane Chen is joined on stage by her real-life mom Tair, a former computer programmer who is a charmingly awkward performer. The two argue over how long Jane has to practice her ukulele before she can go out with her friends and perform a variety of songs, including one about a racehorse getting maced. Odd and unique, but too loose.

The 13th Hour –- the talk-show hosted by Anders and Dan from Uncalled For at 1a.m. every night -- is a lot of fun. But it’s a party, not a show. The 11-second dance parties are awesome. The beer gets better and better the more you drink. Highly recommended, I think.
Will The Drowsy Chaperone win the Tony for Best Musical tonight?

Beats me. The New York Times says it's going to Jersey Boys, but USA Today predicts Drowsy Chaperone. The New York Post's Michael Riedel says Drowsy all the way, but the L.A. Times Gold Derby says the Boys will win it. The Derby has the odds as 5 to 3 for J.B. and even odds for D.C.

If Drowsy Chaperone wins, it will be the first time a musical written and composed by Canadians wins. If Jersey Boys wins, it will be the first time a jukebox musical -- ie. musical based on pre-existing popular songs -- wins. That may actually be more significant.

The race recalls the close recent contests between Urinetown and Thoroughly Modern Millie (TMM won) and Avenue Q and Wicked (Wicked won).

If Drowsy loses, I'm going to blame Ben Brantley. That guy totally didn't get it. "Unfortunately the musical in "The Drowsy Chaperone" isn't as astute or amusing on its own as what the Man has to say about it." Well, duh!

(Imagine Brantley reviewing A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Unfortunately, the show put on by the mechanicals just doesn't stand up on its own and is only redeemed by the sly commentary from the wedding party.")

Anyway, if you want to watch the Tony ceremony it's from 8p.m. to 11p.m. on CBS. The cast of The Drowsy Chaperone will perform Show Off, which is definitely the musical's best number...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

It's raining in Montreal.

And that is making it hard for me to leave this coffee shop and check out shows at the Montreal Fringe. Also detering me: The complimentary umbrella I got at a certain PR event earlier this week has blown apart and gouged my right index finger. Also: La Presse puts out a pretty good paper on Saturday.

I have seen three shows so far, but none that I would recommend unreservedly. Well, I would recommend Uncalled For 4: For Forever, but I have reservations doing so because they're my friends... They're popular enough to end up on the front of the Hour this week, though, so clearly I'm not imagining that they do some hilarious improv.
Hot Lawyer on Lawyer Action!

On Tuesday, I was forwarded the now infamous office e-mail associate Joseph Briante sent to the entire law firm of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Vancouver. The self-professed Corporate Jesus and Office Buddha's allegations that he was being harrassed for being "too gay" and too fashionably dressed made it onto front page of the Vancouver Province on Thursday. Now here's his blog.

Sure, he should have followed his firm's formal policy for dealing with harrassment in the office -- but this has been much more fun!

UPDATE June 12: The blog is down, but you can still read his e-mail here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lord of the Ka-CHING!

Though most critics panned The Lord of the Rings musical, it picked up a leading 15 Dora nominations yesterday. Before the Hobbits cry "Vindication!" consider this: The Doras have several separate categories for musicals and, well, The Lord of the Rings didn't have much competition there this year. In the Outstanding New Musical category, for instance, the $27-million show is up against BoyGroove, a remount of a Fringe Festival show that had 1/180 the budget, and Snow White and the Group of Seven, a holiday panto. That's it for new musicals...

Still, The Lord of the Rings can now claim to be the most nominated show of the year -- which most folks won't know is fairly meaningless. (Brent Carver!?! Come on, everyone knows his Gandalf is a mistake.)

And that's not to diss the Lord of the Rings. I was one of the few critics who actually liked it. I must admit I'm kind of rooting for the BoyGroove crew, though.
Willy Mason.

My interview with the young singer-songwriter from Martha's Vineyard is online gratis. I'm going to go see him tomorrow night. He's opening for some band called Radiohead.
Céline Dion: They love her in Iraq.

The Middle East Media Research Institute has an fascinating article by Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli on the subject of the Revival of Cultural Life in Iraq:
The fall of the Saddam regime in April 2003 has brought with it unprecedented cultural vitality, despite an environment affected by constant acts of violence and terrorism, often directed against those who want to lead Iraq out of the dark tunnel of the past. Indeed, and ironically, it is partially the chaotic climate associated with weak or absent state institutions that has permitted the unprecedented freedom of cultural and artistic creativity. Although many writers, thinkers, novelists, artists and intellectuals fled or were forced into exile during the Saddam regime, many remained. Now, after years of being kept silent, the varied political, nationalist, and ethnic groups, are able, finally, to express themselves without restrictions or censorship but, regrettably, not entirely without fear.
The Wrecking Ball sums up the report's info about theatre in Iraq, but it's all pretty interesting -- even taking into account MEMRI's alleged spin. (Céline even makes an appearance in a literary journal.) At the very least, the report is a reminder of how lucky we are to be able to put on plays without fear of being shot to death, like the actors Fu'ad Radhi and Haidar Jawad were this Spring.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Terrorist sell.

Judging from the comments, I wasn't really expressing myself very well in my last post. Here's what Joe Brean posted in rebuttal to it:
Kelly, you sound like a faith healer. Terrorism is not "in the mind," and we cannot wish it away. It is not "just theatre," and its purpose is not just to create fear.
To al-Qaeda sympathizers, blowing up the CN Tower would have accomplished a whole lot more than buying a truckload of baking soda from the Mounties.
Fear is a subjective emotion. Terror, as in terrorism, is an objective, goal-directed process. Fear is felt, terror is dealt. Fear can be beaten by delusion. Terror can't. You can be afraid of something that doesn't exist, but you cannot be falsely terrorized.
So even if Torontonians are scared, "terrified" even, there has not yet been an act of terrorism.
Terrorism may be famously hard to define, but I think we know it for sure when we see it.
Let me attempt to clarify what I meant. I certainly did not mean to say that terrorist attacks do not have concrete, horrific effects, or that we can "wish away" the all-too-real problem of political and religious terrorism. I do think we can "wish away" terrorism's power, though.

When I use the word terrorism, I'm thinking of something along the lines of the United States Department of Defense's definition of the term: "the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."

By this definition, a threat of violence is as much an act of terrorism as violence itself. One is more horrible than the other, obviously, but they both terrorize.

While we might not be able to help being scared, we can stop ourselves from being coerced or intimidated in doing something we wouldn't normally by that fear.

Let's return then to my question in the last post: If a terrorist cell is caught before it launches an attack, but people get scared when they learn of the thwarted plans, did an act of terror occur nonetheless?

The answer to the question, upon further consideration, is no -- an act of terror did not literally occur. But, in the case of the Canadian "homegrown terror" plot, if we change our political direction because we are scared by the revelation of the thwarted plan, then I would argue that we are essentially furthering the agenda of the alleged terrorists.

I don't mean that we shouldn't discuss, debate and be influenced by the news. Just that making political decisions out of fear, instead of rationally, is a bad idea and essentially what the terrorists intended.

CSIS and the RCMP can track down terror cells and prevent terrorist attacks. All we can do to join the fight as a private citizen is to say: I will not make decisions out of fear.

If we all said something similar, we would disarm the terrorists. They may still try to blow up buildings and kill innocents. They may even succeed. But as long as we refuse to be guided by fear, it will be in vain.

Warren Kinsella has an idea that we should demonstrate that we won't be scared into keeping from doing what we would normally by going to a Jays game at the base of the CN Tower. But if I went to a Jays game, then I'd be changing my routine and the terrorists will have won!

Instead, I will go check out a show at Second City in the same area. Their new revue opens on Thursday and is called Bird Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It should be a good chance to laugh at some things that are frightening.
Margin of Terror.

Given recent events, here's a question: If a terrorist cell is caught before it launches an attack, but people get scared when they learn of the thwarted plans, did an act of terror occur nonetheless?

Terrorism is just theatre, after all. Blowing up the CN Tower doesn't actually accomplish anything concrete, nor does killing innocents on the way to work ... It's the fear sowed that is the aim. And you can sometimes scare people just as much by not doing something as doing it.

Which is why FDR was right: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. An act of terror is in the mind and it is now entirely up to us to decide whether to let this one happen or not.

The war on terror is over, if you want it.

P.S. Thanks to the RCMP and CSIS for their hard work.

Friday, June 02, 2006

My new hero.

Actor Richard Griffiths. Here's why:
When mobile phone calls disrupted Wednesday's matinee of The History Boys for the third time, the actor known for his roles in the films Harry Potter and Withnail and I threatened to quit the stage.

He warned that if such bad behaviour continued, he and his co-star Clive Merrison, who plays the ambitious headmaster to Griffiths' maverick teacher in Alan Bennett's award-winning play, would not continue.

"You should be ashamed of yourselves," he told the audience. "I am not going to compete with these electronic devices. You were told to turn them off by the stage manager, you were told it was against the law." He is reported to have added: "We're going to start this scene again. If we hear one more phone go off, we'll... quit this afternoon's performance. You have been warned."
How many words do Nunavimmiut have for pot?

This story is kinda bonkers.... Dépanneur RYK in N.D.G. has been selling marijuana over the counter fairly openly for a long time... The cops have known about it for years, but they only arrested the Montreal corner store's owner for trafficking on May 16. Why? Because of complaints coming from Nunavik in Quebec's North.

Patients and their escorts at nearby Nunavik House, which has a no drugs policy, had been purchasing the marijuana and somehow it was making its way up North and having repercussions there. The Nunatsiaq News reports:
Since 2004, Montreal police had been receiving information about the store’s drug-trafficking sideline.

However, the case was put aside because it wasn’t as urgent as many other life-threatening situations.

Then, Montreal police learned that the corner store’s trafficking was having an impact in Nunavik from the joint aboriginal unit’s Giovanna Taddeo, who is on loan to the unit from the Kativik Regional Police Force.

“Here, we don’t know what’s going on in the North, but we know now it has a large impact there. We let the owner know that the reason he was arrested is that he is selling to Inuit. He said he doesn’t want their business any more,” [Montreal Urban Police officer Russell] St-Germain said.
So that's the message to Montreal pot dealers: The police have bigger fish to fry, but don't sell to Inuit!
Adventures in the Quebec-Windsor Corridor.

I like taking the train between Montreal and Toronto. I prefer it to driving or taking the bus or flying. But VIA often drives me to distraction...

Here's the thing: I'm on my way to Montreal for the weekend so I can take part in the Tour de L'Ile, a mass bicycle ride that I've only missed once in the past 13 years. I was planning on taking the 5 p.m. train today, but when I called to book with VIA found out that the ONLY train that I could bring my bicycle on was the 11:30 a.m. train. And I'd have to buy a $16.05 ticket for it.

Okay, fine. But I have a little thing called a job, so taking a day off work just to take the train with my bicycle was not really what I wanted to do.

And yet, I thought, thinking I was smart, the last three times I've taken the train there was wireless in "comfort" a.k.a coach. VIA's in the middle of installing wireless in all their trains; the process won't be complete until December 2006, so at the moment only certain trains are equipped.

So, here's the thing: I didn't mind taking the 11:30 a.m. train as long as there was wireless, which would allow me to work on my journey. So, I asked, is there wireless in "comfort" class on the 11:30 train?

"There's only wireless in VIA One," a helpful customer agent told me.

Uh, no. The last three times I've been in "comfort" class, there has been wireless.

"You have to have a corporate account," the helpful custumer agent said after checking her computer.

Uh, no again. Five minute wait as she checks with her superiors.

"There is wireless in comfort on certain trains."

Great, now we're on the same page. But my question, Ms. Helpful, is will there be wireless on the 11:30 train on June 2 from Toronto to Montreal?

"I don't know."

Can you find out?


Why are you unable to find this out?

"That's operations."

Can you call operations to find out?


Can I call operations to find out?



"Blah, blah, blah, meaningless babble."

Great. Anyway, I took my chances and got on the train and -- lo and behold -- no wireless in comfort. Thanks luck.

So, whatever, I upgraded to VIA One, which always has wireless and from where I am blogging AT THIS VERY MOMENT.

And guess what? The train has now broken down somewhere just past Belleville. We gotta wait for a new engine.

But, you know what, I'm done complaining. UNLIMITED BOOZE BABY! Woooo!