Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pretty good day

I'm tired and heading to bed soon, but I had a pretty good day. It's always a good idea to note these things, perhaps as a reminder when you have really, spectacularly crappy days.

1. It appears I will soon be off the EI bandwagon. Perhaps not perminently, but at least for several weeks or months. The Department of Environment for the territorial government needs someone to handle communications work for them. They liked my resume and once the HR stuff gets cleared up in the next few days, I should be starting early next week.

Could it spin into something permanent? Perhaps. Government hiring can be a...tangly business. But along with saving my fragile sanity and giving me a nice paycheck, it's also a foot in the door. So this is good.

2. Cathy's parent's package arrived filled with Christmas gifts that we're not allowed to open for the next 3.5 weeks. Which will be torturous for Cathy, but it's nice that they're here. Christmas is going to be rough on her, as she's used to being around her rather large and occasionaly crazy (but really quite nice) family. So the gifts are a nice way of keeping her happy. That, and a really large phone bill on Christmas Day.

3. Our new TV set arrived. A 32" HD LCD Sharp. Nice picture, although since we're only using basic cable, it's not as sharp as it could be. Satellite would likely be better, but one battle at a time. Also adding to the good mood was that we got it on sale and shipping was only $30. I asked the guy at Canada Post how much it would normally cost to ship a 30 kg tv set Priority Post. He figured about $400.

So yeah, I'm wondering if The Source is going to be changing their shipping police to Nunavut anytime soon because of us.

4. The team I'm on won at curling. I realize it's only for fun (I keep chanting this to myself. I was an enfant terrible when I was a teen curling. It's one of the reasons I quit after high school. I disliked being an asshole when I played), but it was still nice. But the best part was, it was a close game, the teams were chatting with each other throughout and it came down to the last shot. Whether you're winning or losing 12-1, it's awfully dull. Winning or losing 7-6 is better. Although, you know, winning 7-6 is marginally better.

So a good day. Here's hoping they keep rolling.

Tomorrow, more snarkiness on the election. Because you can never get enough snarkiness on the election, right?

Last 5 on iPod
1. Atlantic blue - Ron Hynes (Cryer's Paradise)
2. Spitting games - Snow Patrol (Final Straw)
3. Rain please go away - Alison Krauss and Union Station (Lonely Runs Both Ways)
4. Nautical disaster - The Tragically Hip (Hipeponymous)
5. The old apartment - Barenaked Ladies (All Their Greatest Hits)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wimps

To anyone in Newfoundland reading this - the first politican that shows up at your door and makes a quip about how cold it is campaigning during a Christmas election, feel free to quote from this CBC storyabout the challenges of campaigning in the arctic, especially in Nunavut. Among those challenges include temperatures hitting -60, 24 hours of darkness and deadly blizzards.

I love how Cambridge Bay MLA Keith Peterson says that anyone who doesn't go door-to-door in this campaign should be considered a "wimp". Brilliant.

So the first person that shows up and says it's "some cold" when it's -5 or something, tell them they're a wimp and to stop complaining. No one put a gun to their head and told them to run. And that there are people who obviously must want the job more, because they're willing to put up with a lot worse.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Little trip to heaven - Tom Waits (Closing Time)
2. 16 military wives - The Decemberists (Picaresque)
3. Sleeps with butterflies - Tori Amos (The Beekeeper)
4. Next year - Foo Fighers (There is Nothing Left to Lose)
5. Tokyo - Bruce Cockburn (Anything, Anytime, Anywhere)

How low can you go?

This is for my geek brethern. This chart has been out there awhile, but just in case you haven't seen it before, or had forgotten it, well, here's a reminder.



I think I fare prety well. Didn't major in mythology or folklore. Not really into gaming. Have never written my own fanfic and I can't draw to save my life.

Where I do get nailed is in comics. Because I do read them, I read super hero comics, but I am proud to say not only those. In fact, my favourite series is probably Greg Rucka's spy series, Queen and Country. By the way, Greg needs to get going on producing more of those comics. The novels are nice, but I need a more regular fix.

I have been known to read the ocasional book based on a Sci-fi TV show (Star Trek, Babylon 5), but I don't read Heinlein or Piers Anthony, so I don't know what that makes me. And yeah, I am a Trekkie. Although, thank God, I don't speak Klingon.

As for the bottom of this chart, Furries, I would just like to say one thing. My all-time favourite episode of CSI is "Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas." I cracked up and still think that one show is among the funniest tv programs of the past 10 years. The only thing that could make it funnier was this - reading an article a few weeks after the episode aired where Furries felt mistreated by the episode and resolved to call for a boycott of the show.

Considering it's the #1 show in America and routinely gets nearly 30 million viewers a week, clearly the boycott is having a devestating effect.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Lonely song - Ron Hynes (Standing in Line in the Rain)
2. Precious things - Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes)
3. You're the reason I'm leaving - Franz Ferdinand (You Could Have It So Much Better With...)
4. ...Baby one more time - Bowling For Soup (Goes to the Movies)
5. Bastard - Ben Folds (Songs For Silverman)

Monday, November 28, 2005

No go...

So Jack Harris has decided against running in St. John's East in the upcoming federal election (As an aside, someone from CBC really needs to edit that story again. It was obviously done in a rush).

I've mixed feelings on that. On the one hand, I think it's a good decision for him personally. He obviously wants to spend more time with his family. He's done with politics and a federal commitment is going to cost as much, if not more, time.

On the other hand, I think would have made a good MP. And he would have given Norm Doyle a decent run in the riding. He would have finished at least second. Liberal Paul Antle is an unknown quantity and is going to have his work cut out for him beating Doyle.

As for Fabian Manning running in Avalon, why the hell not? He's obviously never getting back into caucus. Danny Williams is going to run some loyal lapdog in that district next election, making it difficult for Manning to get reelected. And he would have an excellent chance of winning Avalon should he run. Most of the southern Avalon is Conservative. And if he's really lucky the Liberals will pick Art Reid to run for them. It will be a gift from upon high.

Speaking of gifts, here's one for Fabian should he run and goes up against Reid. This should be a campaign poster/ad at some point during the election.

Set-up: A woman in her mid-30s, professional dressed, standing up in a kitchen with a fry pan, looking vaguely pissed off.

Caption: Art Reid belives this is where a woman belongs. We disagree.

(In small type, run the Hansard web address with Reid's comments)

Fabian Manning: Conservative.

Then you run it until Reid's eyes start to bleed and that temper he's so well known for goes off and his head explodes. Then pack your bags and move to Ottawa.

I've going to have fun the next six weeks, I can tell you that right now...

Last 5 on iPod
1. Brave Percy - Jenny Gear and the Whiskey Kittens (S/T)
2. The other man - Sloan (A-Sides Win)
3. Chickadee - Colleen Power (Lucky You Are)
4. Money worries - Bedouin Soundclash (Sounding a Mosiac)
5. Electioneering - Radiohead (OK Computer)

Pre-election warm-up

The fall of the Liberal minority government is just a few hours away. Which, if nothing else, gives me plenty of blogging material from now until mid-January. However, most of that time I'll probably feel like hitting my head off a wall because of the options I'll have available when it comes to selecting a new government.

Craig Westcott, who is one of the finest journalists I've had the pleasure to work with (and who also possesses the lowest bullshit tolerence level I've ever seen in a human being), nicely sums up what those of us without a political allegiance face in the next election in this column. Lord have mercy on us all...

Last 5 on iPod
1. Mood to burn bridges - Neko Case (Furnace Room Lullaby)
2. Angie - The Rolling Stones (40 Licks)
3. Radio free Europe - REM (Eponymous)
4. Try - Blue Rodeo (Greatest Hits)
5. Sun king - The Beatles (Abbey Road)

The weekend that was...

So once again, I failed to post anything new on the weekend. Sorry about that. I'll try not to make it a regular thing. So what were we up to?

1. I spent most of Saturday tending to a sick wife. She showed her gratitude by....making brownies and chocolate chip cookies on Sunday. This whole being married thing kind of rocks when you get brownies and cookies on top of all the other perks as well.

2. When not fighting the cold, we found time to go to the big event on the Iqaluit Christmas calander...The Christmas Craft Fair. It's so big, it took up two schools - the elementary and high school. Surprisingly, though, we didn't pick up that much. Too much of the stuff there was, to be honest, junk being sold by white people. Cathy was hoping to get a pair of locally made sealskin boots, but the cheapest we saw them for was $500, which was well out of our price range right now.

There was some nice stuff there, just not what we needed for gifts for family and friends, or even for ourselves.

3. I also managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done. As you can imagine, it's a bit of a challlenge. You have a limited selection up north, it tends to be pricey and then there is the additional expense of shipping it down south. You can shop online, but here is the one thing I've discovered about that. If you have an idea of what you're looking for, shopping online is fun. If you're like me and don''t have a clue what to buy and use your time in the malls and downtown to scout for gifts before buying, then online shopping is a bitch. Still, I managed to get mom and dad taken care of.

Now, I just need to take care of Cathy, where there is the double whammy of not only Christmas, but her birthday is Christmas Eve.

4. I also watched a lot of football on Sunday, where I saw the strangest thing I've seen in pro sports in awhile. Three teams that I'm cheering for all won when the teams they were playing against missing game winning, or tying, field goals. In the case of the Giants vs. Seahawks, the poor, doomed, soon to be unemployed field goal kicker missed three game winning attempts. The other two were the Chargers over the Redskins and Bears over the Bucs.

4 (a). Cathy also prayed that our new tv set arrives this week so she no longer has to watch football all day Sunday.

5. I realize I should have watched the Grey Cup, but I just couldn't get into the CFL this year. Pity, though. Looks like it was a great game. Double overtime. There's something you don't see in the Super Bowl.

6. Finall saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Sunday night. Good, but not as good as The Prisisoner of Azkaban. Granted, they had a lot to adapt and managed to get most of it in. And the things that were not there in the movie that I disliked weren't really in the books much either (than Ron and Hermonie practically disappear in the last half). I also thought the general cinematic look if Azkaban was better. Still, the special effects were top notch (I guess all that money was spent wisely) and, you know, the kids are really becoming quite good actors.

I'm actually looking forward to the next one - The Order of the Phoenix. My problem with this movie is that it is based on one of the best novels in the series and it's unfortunate some of the cuts were made (but had to be). Order of the Phoenix is widely regarded as the weakest of the books, partially because Rowling really should have cut about 100 pages and tightened things up. With so much obvious stuff to cut (a lot of Harry's teen angst can go), they might make a nice, tight movie out of the meandering mess that was the novel.

Last 5 on iPod
1. End over end - Foo Fighers (In Your Honor)
2. She kiss away - The Pursuit of Happiness (The Wonderful World of...)
3. Susie - The Wonderful Grand Band (Living in a Fog)
4. Holly waltz/Diggy diggy low - The Flash Girls (The Return of Pansy Smith and Violet Jones)
5. Streets of fire - The New Pornographers (iTunes Exclusive)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Too...much...geek

As my wife will tell you, I'm a large geek. She knows this, accepts this and probably even loves it a bit. It's baffling to her, the 10,000 comic books, the scary amount of sci-fi knowledge and my stadfast declaration that anyone who chooses to use a Windows computer over a Mac needs their head examined.

However, I like to think of myself and as high functioning geek. Yes, I know tons of useless information. However, I can carry on conversations with normal human beings, plus I bathe daily. And I think having a relatively normal wife should count for something as well.

But this is too much geek even for me. This is actually terrifying on the geek scale. It's the Ultimate Star Trek Collection.



Yes, it's every single Star Trek movie and television episode (with the exception of the animated series, which I don't think is out on DVD yet). I can't even add up how many hours that would involve sitting in from of the television. A month at least. Providing you didn't sleep. Or bathe.

While we own a fair number of tv shows on DVD, we don't own any of the Trek shows because they are A. Repeated to death on Space and B. Vastly overpriced. A typical season of Trek goes for more than $100. I can get West Wing for about $50.

You may notice that this is from Amazon in the U.S. and that there is no price. Fortunately, TV Shows on DVD, where I originally found the link, does have the price - $2,499 U.S..

Sure, I'll get the Ultimate Star Trek Collection and an XBox 360 for Christmas. We're made of money. Why not. By the way, to add to the chills, if you actually have $2,500 to blow on this you're saving money. To buy the sets on their own would likely spend $3,500.

And I thought the complete Sex in the City and the complete Buffy the Vampire Slayer was odd.

By the way, the Ultimate Trek is also sold out, which means that people have been snapping this up.

We live in weird times, my friends....

Last 5 on iPod
1. Three sunrises - U2 (Wide Awake in America)
2. Side of the road - Blue Rodeo (Greatest Hits)
3. Run away - Spamalot (Original Cast Recording)
4. In state - Kathleen Edwards (Back to Me)
5. Badlands - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Live: 1975-85

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving...

I've never been much of one for the Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving puzzles me even moreso. I mean, the travel and fuss are beyond me, especially since you have to do it all over again in a month's time. Why would you go through that much hassle twice in a year, let alone a month.

Then again, I've never been much of a Christmas person either, although that's changed since I started going out with Cathy. Her birthday is Christmas Eve. Today, in fact, makes it a mere one month until her birthday. She is celebrating this momentous occasion by being home sick. She's been fighting a cold for a week or more. She finally caved today. In fact, she's the last teacher at her school to take a sick day. That's pretty impressive, I think.

Anyway, for the few Americans who I know visit the site, or my friends in the U.S., I present to you some heartwarming joy from one of my favourite writers, that cruel English bastard, Warren Ellis.

"Are you Yankee dogs doing that Thanksgiving shit this weekend? I lose track of time.

Because if you are, that means it's time for English Thanksgiving, where we give thanks to our ancestors for throwing all the creepy religious types into boats and floating them off to a continent cursed by earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados.

What are you people doing for Gnawing On Turkey America Day? All pissing off away to be shrieked at by estranged family members, puked on by children you've never seen before and drunkenly pawed in the middle of the night by mom's new boyfriend, I trust?"

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all...

Last 5 on iPod
1. Fly me to the moon - Diana Krall (Live in Paris)
2. 50 ways to leave your lover - Paul Simon (Love Songs and Negotiations)
3. Rat race - The Specials (Best of the Specials)
4. Til kingdom come - Coldplay (X & Y)
5. Nothing compates 2 U - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies (Take A Break)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How much would you pay for one of these?

I got e-mail from my friend Karin on Tuesday asking if they were selling XBox 360s here in Iqaluit. I said I doubt it, because it normally takes awhile for those sorts of items to make their way up here.

She said that's too bad, because they were going for about $2,000 U.S. on eBay.

I seriously thought she was just messing with my mind. After all, who in their right mind would pay that much for a system that literally just came out. I mean, it was hours old when that bid went. Nobody is that crazy.



Today she sent me a posting from eBay for another winning bid on an XBox 360 - $12,100.

Are you fucking kidding me? Are there people that seriously mentally retarded to spend that much on a system that ordinarily goes for, what, $500?

I guess there must be. I just checked myself, kind of in shock. There are dozens of 360 listings that will close in the next couple of hours. I just watched one close at $1,000, so maybe things have calmed down. I'm assuming the rest of them will close at a similar level, but who knows. Maybe this guy got lucky and got a "deal."

I don't care how good a gaming system it is. To pay double, quadruple or whatever mutiple you want to assign to $12,100...you're nuts. For that much money, I'm assuming the system hops up from the TV set and blows you. It must. It's the only reason to pay that much.

Additional
Apparently I was right about the XBox blowing, just not in the way I though. Some sites are reporting that the 360 keeps crashing, no matter what game or setting. It's only early yet, but would anyone be really surprised to discover that Microsoft prematurely released a buggy piece of crap prone to crashing?

Last 5 on iPod
1. Secret World - Peter Gabriel (Secret World Live)
2. Horses - The Be Good Tanyas (Chinatown)
3. Brian Wilson - Barenaked Ladies (All Their Greatest Hits
4. Lighthouse - Ron Hynes (Face To The Gale)
5. Now that you're gone - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (Cold Roses)

Brilliant...

1. It has always baffled me why Newfoundland doesn't make vanity plates available. Charge the extra bucks to cover any extra costs and you should be able to make a bit of extra money for the depleted provincial coffers. Granted, with the financial problems the province has, I don't know if the extra couple thousand dollars every years this would make would make much of a difference, but it can't hurt.

Needless to say, vanity plates are right out here in Iqaluit. But if I could have one, this is the best I've seen so far. I laughed out loud when I found it online.



Found on Nerve's always entertaining Scanner section. I'm surprised this was allowed, actually. Most government's that allow for vanity plates screen for profanity. Which leads to some very creative attempts to get around it. This is pretty straight forward.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Breakthru - Queen (Platnuim Collection)
2. God's good medicine - Drive (Blink)
3. Seven nation army - The White Stripes (Elephant)
4. Tusk - Fleetwood Mac (The Very Best Of...)
5. The boy who wouldn't hoe corn - Allison Krauss and Union Station (Live)

Sign of the times

This is quite possibly my favourite story of recent weeks. With the War on Smoking all but won, at least in Canada, what could possibly be next? Why, The War on Brats, of course. I'd link to the story, but the Detroit News has sadly taken the story down from the site. There is an exerpt from the story here.

The gist of the story is this. The owner of a cafe in Chicago got tired of parents bringing their children and letting them run amok. They were getting in the way of customers, banging into things and screaming at the top of their lungs while the parents normally ignored them.

So he put up a very polite sign asking parents to control their kids and for them to please keep their kid's voices at a reasonable level. He also reminded children to use their "indoor voices".

The reaction was divided. A lot of the customers loved it. Others boycotted the cafe and threatened legal action, upset with insinuation that they were somehow bad parents.

There was a sidebar in the story that several restuarants in the U.S. are trying out non-children sections of restaurants. It is, however, meeting with resistence from parents upset at being marginalized.

Personally, I love the idea of putting up signs remind parents to please keep their children under control. I'm not saying all parents let their kids run wild in restaurants. And sometimes, despite best efforts, the child is going to act up and make noise.

But the parents who just sit and clamly sip coffee while their son or daughter runs like a mad person around the restaurant, they bug the hell out of me. I worked as a waiter for five years. Between that and all the restaurants and coffee shops I've been to, I've seen enough of this behaviour to last a life time. I don't know if myself and Cathy will ever have kids, but we would never let them run rampant through a restaurant. It's not teaching the child anything about restraint and behaving themselves.

So yeah, stick up the sign. Encourage the wait staff to have a word with parents if the kid is behaving really badly (but let's not be fascist about it. If there is a bit of fussing or crying and the parent is working hard to remedy the situation, leave them be). There's nothing wrong with a bit of polite encouragement asking parents and their children to be polite and respectful. If you can't do that, well, maybe you shouldn't be out in public. If you get upset about it, then maybe the truth that your kid is behaving like a brat hurts.

I think the signs will be good for the health of the country. Lord knows my blood pressure spikes when I see parents and kids like this.

Last 5 on iPod
1. This boy - Franz Ferdinand (You Could Have It So Much Better With...)
2. Goodbye rock and roll band - The Novaks (The Novaks)
3. Don't know why - Norah Jones (Come Away With Me)
4. Love is hell - Ryan Adams (Love is Hell, Part 1)
5. See you when you're 40 - Dido (Life For Rent)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Another firecracker



My friend Mellisa (the one the left), who is currently teaching at a university in South Korea, just announced she's pregnant. I kind of figured after the trio of weddings last summer (along with myself and Cathy, our friends Corey and Donna along with Chris and Lisa, also got married. All within an eight day span) that there would be a few announced pregnancies before Christmas. I didn't think it would be Melissa announcing first, though. Still, a big congratulations is in order for her and her boyfriend, Dong Jin. Another firecracker in the fold.

(During the weddings, someone suggested the next wave of children my friends are having should be called firecrackers. It's an in-joke, but a cute one).

This is the point, I guess, where my circle starts having kids. I'm in my mid-30s and most of my friends are the same age or a bit younger. It's not so much "Ah ha, the clock is ticking" as it is this is how long it's taken them to get their shit together. By the time most of them graduated university, went to grad school (I feel undereducated with only two Bachelor degrees), gave up trying to find work in Newfoundland, move away, try to meet the right person, get married, buy a house, start a career and other stuff, they're pretty much on course.

Besides, everyone knows that college educated people generally don't start families until their 30s. So I imagine the next few years is going to be very busy with the pitter patter of little feet.

It's still kind of surreal to watch it happpen. I imagine everyone goes through this when their friends start having kids, but I know these people really well. We went through MUN together. We survived The Muse, with its insane deadlines, cliques, inter-dating, alocholism and general mistrust from the rest of the student body. I don't drink that much, so I was normally the sober one when we went out and did stuff. I was a designated driver for about six years. I saw many strange things while sober.

I look at these people, becoming parents and think, "Wait a sec, you were arrest for attempted break and enter (aquitted, btw). You ran naked down city streets. You raced a sofa down an icy Downtown hill on New Years and nearly killed three people. You were once told you could 'drink an impressive amount for your body weight.' I held your hair back when you were puking. You once stayed awake 60 hours doing the paper and writing paper's and now you're having trouble staying awake because of the baby's crying. And hey, weren't you gay at one point?" (Yes, I know gay people can be parents. I'm making a point here.)

Weirdness.

(Disclaimer: All of the above actually happened, although not necessarily to the people in the picture above.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled they're having kids. Almost without exception my circle of friends are intelligent, compassionate and passionate about everything they do (hence, the boarderline alcoholism while at MUN. They were passionate drinkers). You couldn't ask for better people to be parents. These are the type of people you want to have children. It's funny, but kind of cool.

Of course, so far I've yet to be asked to be a godparent to any of these children. Clearly this needs to be remedied in the near future or in about 15 years time I'm going to start taking my friends' kids out for coffee and tell them stories about mommy and daddy when they were younger.

"Let me tell you about the time your dad was almost sued for being a racist in St. John's."
"But, dad's from Sri Lanka. He's brown. How could he be accused of being a racist in St. John's?"
"Well, my boy, there in lies a tale. Let me tell you about it...."

Last 5 on iPod
1. Even in the quietest moments - Supertramp (The Very Best Of...)
2. Weather Channel Music - Ben Folds (Songs For Goldfish)
3. Don't cry for me Argentina - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmes (Are A Drag)
4. All I want is you - U2 (Rattle and Hum)
5. Jackie - The New Pornographers (Mass Romantic)

Poll cancelled

Sorry about that, but I just spent an hour trying to get the poll code to work right and I can't, so I'm just scrapping it. I guess snappoll is crap. If anyone else knows a decent polling program I can use off this blog, by all means let me know and I'll start the poll again.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Goudie=Gaines

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Rex Goudie's appearance on last season's Canadian Idol didn't exactly wow me. I didn't get any hate mail, but any time I check my sitemeter for who is visiting my site, I'm constantly getting hits from search engines looking for information on Goudie. And judging by this story from VOCM things are starting to get crazy back home in the weeks leading up to the CD release.

Out of curiosity, I went and listened to his new single. It's a perfectly satisfactory little Top 40 radio friendly single. He "stays in in his range" as they say. I still think, in terms of pure talent, Jenny Gear was the best of the Newfoundland contingent on Idol, but she has done the least with the opportunity she was given.

However, I'm not sure I can take Goudie's new release seriously after reading this exchange between Amy Martin and her friend about Goudie and the cover art for his new CD. I have to agree, the similarities are eerie. Although I think Goudie looks wrong without that God damn baseball hat he wore all the time.

I will say that I think it's unfair that on Dec. 10 all the attention will be focused on Goudie when at roughly the same time one of the province's best singer/songwriter's will be releasing two CDs. I keep hyping him, but instead of Goudie, go and buy Sean Panting's 10 Songs and Victrola. I guarantee you they will be more clever, intelligent, funnier and catchier than what's on Goudie's release.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Elvis Presley and America - U2 (The Unforgetable Fire)
2. Boarderline - Allison Krauss and Union Station (Lonely Runs Both Ways)
3. Pony boy - Matthew Good (In A Coma)
4. One world - Dire Straits (Brothers in Arms: Best of...)
5. The holiday song - Pixies (Best of Pixies...)

Pick one

I was reading over at The Bond Papers Ed's take on some pre-election strategy when there was a little cheap shot at Loyloa Hearn.

I kind of like Hearn, in spite of myself. He's old-guard Tory, not exactly my favourite politcal creature on Earth, but he's still a pretty likeable person. He always answered my calls promptly, gave me his cell number to call him and always gave me good quotes when I was working on stories.

Furthermore, he recently helped Cathy's family when they were in a tight spot. Several of her aunts, uncles and cousins were in Cancun for a wedding (Cathy's cousin Jillian) and were trapped there after Hurricane Wilma hit. The family in Newfoundland and in Mexico were having problems getting them out and getting information, but Cathy's father put a call into Hearn and things moved quickly after that. Furthermore, Hearn called Cathy's dad ever few hours to give him updates as to what was happening.

That's what you want your MP to be doing when you're having a crisis. I don't think he played up his role in getting things moving back home, but Cathy's family will remember it for a long time.

Yeah, I'm not thrilled about the pension thing, but considering he's about to run in his fourth election in five years, I think there's something more going on than just love of money. Running in an election once every four years is grueling. To do in that many times in five? It strikes me as a person who has things he wants to accomplish.

Besides, politicians are all bad when it comes to pensions. I've honestly lost track how many Tobin is getting at this point. It was widely speculated that Grimes held off calling a provincial election to make sure he could get a premier's pension when he left office. If you stay in politics long enough, there will be sheninigans involving pensions eventually. That doesn't make it right, but it's what happens.

But it did make me think; who is the best federal politician in the province? Who is doing the best job of representing us in Ottawa and helping his constuients? I don't know if this poll will work, but what the hell, let's give it a try. And no, you don't get the easy out of saying "None of the Above." Pick one. Check the sidebar and cast your vote.

Last 5 on iPod
1. The idiot - Stan Rogers (Home in Halifax)
2. Kiss and tell - Spirit of the West (Open Heart Symphony)
3. Nos da Cariad - David Gray (Life in Slow Motion)
4. Sick of myself - Bowling For Soup (Goes To The Movies)
5. This sad song - Allison Krauss and Union Station (Lonely Runs Both Ways)

All quiet on the northern front...

When I got back into blogging I said I was going to try and put up at least one post a day. And while I haven't done that, I don't think I've gone two days in a row before. And there have been many days where I've posted multiple items. So I think I'm doing pretty good.

I didn't post anything on the weekend because I was in a fairly bad mood. Granted, me being in a bad mood normally produces some of my best writing. I've joked with Cathy that I blame her, at least partially, for the hit in the quality of my writing the past few years. I write better when I'm angry. I haven't had a sustainably long burst of being angry (I was, in fact, bitter and angry most of the time between 1994 until 2001) since I've been with her. I was too happy.

Writing goes down the crappper, but I'm madly in love....eh, it's a fair cop.

Anyway, on Friday I got a PFO letter on a job that I thought I stood an excellent chance of getting, but I didn't even manage to get an interview for it. This Wednesday will mark three months since we moved to Iqaluit. So the combination of those factors left me in a pretty foul mood on Friday. It dissipated, slowly, over the weekend.

No one was predicting it was going to take this long for me to find a job. Cathy thought about 10 days. I thought about 2-3 weeks. And there are jobs here, but I'm either not qualified for them (construction) or vastly overqualified for them (cashier at NorthMart or Subway).

Even if I wanted to do those latter jobs, odds are I wouldn''t get them anyway. With my skills, they would view me as a waste of time to hire. By the time they trained me, I would be onto something that paid better. That was what was told me when I applied for the DJ position with Raven Rock.

With Christmas break rapidly closing in and the odds of getting a government job taking a hit (not impossible, but just less likely than I had hoped) it's looking like it might be sometime in late January before I get a job. Something might come up, you never know. And it's not like we're hurting for money. Between Cathy's salary and my EI, we're doing fine.

It's just frustrating when there are jobs that you know you can do and it looks like rules are preventing you from even getting a shot an an interview. Still, I have to refocus now. Send out more resumes. Be less dependent on hoping to land a government position and just start hitting Iqaluit with resumes in the hopes that something good pops up. This is the longest I've been unemployed since 1996. It was fun while it lasted and I didn't mind the break to recharge the batteries. But I'm ready to get going again.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Mothers of the disappeared - U2 (The Joshua Tree)
2. Red red red - Fiona Apple (Extraordinary Machine)
3. Throwing it alll away - Genesis (Platinum Collection)
4. Purple people - Tori Amos (To Venus and Back)
5. Bobby Jean - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Live: 1975-85)

Friday, November 18, 2005

One more black and white

I was going through some of the photos on my computer when I remembered I had this one. One more reason why I love black and white.



This was taken, I think, back on New Year's Eve 1998/99. It was when I was beginning to figure out how to use a SLR camera (the good old reliable Pentax K1000, which I later used on the biker photo below).

The gentleman in question is Mark Dyke, happily passed out with his really nice bottle of scotch at about three in the morning. The party in question was at Anne Martin's, where I've done New Year's ever year since 1998. This year will be the first year in ages where myself and Cathy won't be there and it really sucks.

Anyway, I was screwing around with the camera, trying to shoot stuff without using a flash. I lucked into this pic, which has become a favourite among our circle of friends.

Last 5 on iPod
1. War - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Live: 1975-85)
2. Sleeps with butterflies - Tori Amos (The Beekeeper)
3. 17 again - Eurthymics (Ultimate Collection)
4. Oh well - Fiona Apple (Extraordinary Machine)
5. Surrender - U2 (War)

Best photo

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that one of the best photos I had ever taken was of Joan Cleary's son after a mountain bike race. I wanted to include that photo with the post, but couldn't find it at the time. After some digging (i.e. asking Cathy were it was) I found it.



This really doesn't do it justice. Because I don't have a scanner I had to take a photo of a photo, which I don't think quite captures the power of the image. Still, I loved it enough to run a copy, frame it and take it up north with me. I won two awards for that photo. First place at the Atlantic Community Newspaper Awards for Best Sports Photo and a third place for Best Sports Photo at the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

It's common among journalist to downplay awards and their meaning. But I was always proud that I won the awards that I did. And especially of the awards for this photo. A year before, the editor of The Packet was roasting me, justifiably, over the quality of my photos. She kept at me enough that I spent the extra time and eventually took this photo.

I'm not pretending I'm a great photographer. But I think among the old Robinson-Blackmore newspaper chain of community weeklies, I was one of the better ones by the time I left The Express.

The story behind this photo: Cleary (I think his first name is Andrew, but I stand to be corrected) was competing in a mountain bike race in Come By Chance. He had already lost. About 50 metres from the finish line, both his legs siezed up - charlie horses. He had to hop the bike the last 50 metres, up hill, screaming in pain all the way.

I had photos of that, but I think this photo, taken after he had crossed the finish line, after he had collapsed and had the charlie horses worked out, where he's just staring at the bike, with pain, misery and hatred, just captures something. It's a very emotional photo. I also love the little details: that he's covered in mud, but one foot is clean becuase he had just taken off his sock. That the bike isn't completely in the photo. And I think it works better in black and white (which is what I shot it in) than it would have in colour.

The one regret I have with it are the people in the background. I wish they weren't there, but you can't always control what's in the background.

Oh, and just in case there are any issues with this, Copyright Craig Welsh and The Packet.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Cautious man - Bruce Springsteen (Tunnel of Love)
2. Bone of an idol - The New Pornographers (Live Session - iTunes Exclusive)
3. Godspeed - Ron Hynes (Face to the Gale)
4. The other side - David Grey (New Day At Midnight)
5. We're so heavy - Matthew Good (White Light Rock and Roll Review)

Return tease

If you've ever wondered how much difference music can make in a movie or, in this case, a trailer, go check out the new teaser trailer for Superman Returns.



I mean, honestly, there isn't much to look at. It's about a minute long and probably 15 seconds of that is to let you know all the companies that are involved with trying to finance this film. And most of the scenes are quick views. You're not going to pick up anything on the plot with this trailer.

But then the music starts to build. And Marlon Brando's voice (from the first Superman movie. I can't imagine what it would have done to this movie's budget to get Brando to do voicework from the Great Beyond) starts and the music swells. The combination of what he's saying, the building music and the images make it an unusually poweful teaser.



I was going to see the movie anyway, there was no question of that. But it's not like I was chomping at the bit to see it. The only comic book movie from next year that I was anxious to see was V For Vendetta. But I'm suddenly a lot more curious to see if director Bryan Singer can pull off in a full movie what he did in a 60 second teaser trailer. If he can, it should be a hell of a movie.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Medowlake street - Ryan Adams (Cold Roses)
2. Bad (Live) - U2 (Wide Awake in America)
3. Boys - The Beatles (Please Please Me)
4. London Calling - Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen (Live at the Grammies)
5. Now I'm 64 - Figgy Duff (Figgy Duff)

Clauscasting

I've never really been much into podcasting. Most of the stuff I've listened to has been pretty amateur hour. I think it's one of these things that gets hot online and will die off in short order. Remember, it's only been around for a year and already I think it's on about minute 12 of its fame.

I could be wrong and lord know predicting internet trends is not something for people who hate being wrong.



Still, I thought this might be cute. For those of you who have small kids and find they're already getting wired up for the big day, Santa has a podcast. It's updated daily, so your kids can find out what's happening with the big guy. Although hopefully not with this particular Santa.

(Link is from the always useful The Unofficial Apple Weblog.)

Then again, when I show this to Cathy, I might end up downloading it everyday. I live with a serious Christmas freak. And with the challenges we're going to be having this Christmas - her first away from her family, trying to find gifts for one another, dealing with the fact that everyone but us seems to be leaving Iqaluit for the holidays - I'm going to have to find something to cheer her up. This might be silly enough to do it.

Last 5 on iPod
1. 50 mission cap - The Tragically Hip (Hipeponymous)
2. Dinner bells - The Wolf Parade (Apologies to the Queen Mary)
3. The night is still young - Billy Joel (Greatest Hits)
4. Gone to hell - Sean Panting (Pop Disaster)
5. It's catching on - Joel Plaskett Emergency (Down at the Khyber)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nobody expects....

Apparently this is the day for these quizes. Honest to God, I must see a dozen or more of these each week. I'm not sure what's worse, that people take the time to create them, or that I take the time to answer them. However, I quite liked this one, for obvious reasons. However, I am, at some point going to have to declare a moratorium on posting them to my blog. Perhaps at the same time The Telegram puts a ban on Bowring Park ducks in their paper.

You are a cardinal! You love to try & get others into trouble, even if you have to make up lies...NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!
You are a cardinal! You love to try & get others
into trouble, even if you have to make up
lies...NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!


What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


Thanks for the link, Liam.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Lose yourself - Eminem (8 Mile OST)
2. We've never met - Neko Case (Furnace Room Lullaby)
3. Security - Joss Stone (Mind, Body and Soul)
4. Carnival town - Norah Jones (Feels Like Home)
5. Greenland whale fisheries - The Pogues (Red Roses For Me)

As humanely possible...

In fact, I'm the kind of humanist who gets bored reading this kind of stuff and would rather bang my head against the wall for hours as opposed to debating philosophy, but my friend Corey posted this to a mailing list we're both on. So here's what I am

Handholder




You go out of your way to build bridges with people of different views and beliefs and have quite a few religious friends. You believe in the essential goodness of people , which means you’re always looking for common ground even if that entails compromises. You would defend Salman Rushdie’s right to criticise Islam but you’re sorry he attacked it so viciously, just as you feel uncomfortable with some of the more outspoken and unkind views of religion in the pages of this magazine.


You prefer the inclusive approach of writers like Zadie Smith or the radical Christian values of Edward Said. Don’t fall into the same trap as super–na├»ve Lib Dem MP Jenny Tonge who declared it was okay for clerics like Yusuf al–Qaradawi to justify their monstrous prejudices as a legitimate interpretation of the Koran: a perfect example of how the will to understand can mean the sacrifice of fundamental principles. Sometimes, you just have to hold out for what you know is right even if it hurts someone’s feelings.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Be right - Spirit of the West (Tripping Up The Stairs)
2. Hammer to fall - Queen (Platinuim Collection)
3. Field behind the plow - Stan Rogers (Home In Halifax)
4. Gimmie shelter - Rolling Stones (40 Licks)
5. So like Candy - Elvis Costello (Very Best Of...)

I can see Cleary now...

As a journalist I couldn't openly cheer for Joan Cleary in the last provincial election. But I was queitly cheering, for several reasons.

1.I had met her and her family a couple of times while covering the Isthmus for The Packet. She was a prominent nurse and, after I left the area, became mayor of Come By Chance. Her husband is a doctor in Arnold's Cove. And I ended up winning a couple of awards for a photo I took of her son after a mountain bike race. It is, to this day, I think the best photo I've ever taken. Alas, I can't find it right now, or I'd put it up on the site.

The family loved the picture after it ran in the paper and wanted a copy, which I gladly gave them. They were also thrilled with the awards attention that it got. So basically, nice and smart people. The kind you wouldn't mind seeing serve in government.

2. The other reason wasn't so much cheering for Cleary as against Percy Barrett, the incumbant Liberal MHA. I've had plenty of dealings with Barrett over the years. We're polite to each other, in that way journalists and politicians are (which means you say nice things to each other, but when the other is not around you likely mutter what a son of a bitch he is). The Packet has hammered Barrett over the years, justifiably. He was always a politician of dubious usefulness and an even more dubious cabinet minister. I think for awhile the people of Sunnyside had put a bounty on his head.

As far as I can tell, as a Member of the Opposition, his sole job in the House of Assembly is to yip like a little dog anytime a Tory cabinet minister stands up to speak. When people bitch about the level of decorum in the HOA, Barrett should be their poster child for everything that is wrong.

So yeah, I wouldn't have shed a tear if Barrett had lost. Alas, this is the Bellvue riding. The fact that Cleary only lost by 100 votes is a victory of sorts. There are ridings in this province still, where you could run a dog and it would win as long as it had the button of the right political party attached to its collar. Bellvue is one of those ridings.

Still, the news that she is now the head of the Bull Arm corporation makes me a little queezy. Yes, she's a heck of a smart person. Yes, she has experience dealing with Bull Arm before. And yes, as mayor of Come By Chance she is leader of one of the communities most directly impacted by the lack of activity at the site and that should be an important voice on the board.

But you can't honestly tell me she's the best qualified person for the job. You can't seriously tell me that there isn't someone out there with a ton of connections with the oil and construction industry. Because there has to be. And they would be better in this position. But Cleary is a good and loyal Tory. She nearly beat Barrett. She may well take another crack at him in the next election. Thus, she is rewarded.

I'm sure the Liberals are carping about this, but they were just as bad. Wasn't Art Reid the chairmen of the board at some point? Some prominent Liberal was. So apparently that's all that board is for now - patronage appointments. Shouldn't be surprising, but it is disappointing. You always hope that a new government won't engage in this crap. This isn't the first patronage job Williams has issued up. It certainly won't be the last. Perhaps that hope was higher with Premier Danny Williams since he didn't owe many favours to people. It's a silly, naive dream, I guess. Much like something other than a Liberal winning in Bellvue.

Dare to dream, though...

Last 5 on iPod
1. Foreign Affair - Tom Waits (Foreign Affair)
2. Sweet revenge - Sean Panting (Pop Disaster)
3. Haiti - The Arcade Fire (Funeral)
4. Easy Plateau - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (Cold Roses)
5. The one I love - David Grey (Life In Slow Motion)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ahhhh...Tuesdays

Since I left The Express I've managed to liberate Tuesdays from my list of hated days. Tuesdays are deadline day at the paper, which means you're normally running flat out from 8:30 in the morning until the paper hits the press around 7 p.m. That means writing stories, editing copy, proofing pages, taking last minute photos and lots of other things.

I usually did a lot on Tuesdays because, well, I'm an idiot. I seem to thrive off that extra focus you get when you have looming deadlines and a sobbing editor nearby. Steve was bald before he ever joined The Express, but if he hadn't been, I would have drove him there. I think my record for a Tuesday was four stories, a column and an editorial. Plus assorted editing, page proofing and I probably was press proofing that night as well.

If nothing else, Cathy is glad my Express days are behind me because I was useless when I got home. The andreline rush normally wore off on the way home from work, meaning my brain was mush by the time I got home.

But now, I can enjoy Tuesdays. I get up, check the iTunes store to see if there is any new music I want and poke around on a few new release sites to see what DVDs are coming out. Tuesdays have most of my favourite TV shows, such as House, My Name is Earl, NCIS and, once it gets back on track next season, The Amazing Race. I even go and grab a game of pick-up curling if I feel like it.

So yeah, I like Tuesdays now. It's a good day.

And for my former Express colleagues running mad today trying to get the paper out...hang in there. Or as Donnie would say "Now is a good time for a beer. Then again, any time is a good time for a beer."

Last 5 on iPod
1. Martha's foolish ginger - Tori Amos (The Beekeeper)
2. Back in the USSR - The Beatles (White Album)
3. All my loving - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies (Blow In The Wind)
4. Diamonds on the soles of my shoes - Paul Simon (Graceland)
5. Closing the door and opening the window - Drive (Jevohah's Witness Protection Program)

Monday, November 14, 2005

No Efford needed...

I realize the trendy thing to do is jump up and down on the political corpse that is John Efford. And make no mistake, it is the political undead we're talking about here. Efford's been dead since this time last year, when he sided with Ottawa instead of Newfoundland on the offshore royalities battle. But because this is John Efford - about as stubborn a son of a bitch as you'll ever meet - he just hasn't taken the hint and keeled over yet.

With the roasting I'm sure he's getting on the open line shows in Newfoundland, his assine comments to the CBC and editorials this weekend in The Telegram and The Globe and Mail he's pretty much cooked. He won't run in the next federal election. He's not that oblivious.



It's a sad end to a political career. I might not have always agreed with his politics, his decisions or his comments, but I always liked how approachable he was. If you were a journalist in Newfoundland, there was no one more accessible in government than Efford. At least until he went to Ottawa. I think he was always over his head in Ottawa.

I remember calling his office at 6 p.m. on a Friday and interviewing him for 30 minutes. I also remember him coming into the office in Clarenville on a holiday to chat with me about a story because he "was in the neighbourhood anyway, so why not do it in person rather than on the phone?" A colleague of mine called his office at 8 a.m. to leave a message for Efford's secretary. Efford picked up the phone (the secretary wasn't in yet) and they did the interview then.

Every journalist in the province has a story like this. About being able to reach him on his boat. About always being able to get a good quote out of him, even if it came back and bit him on the ass (the line about wanting every seal dead - not his smartest political hour). He's one of the the last of a particular breed of politician and we should mourn his passing.

So yeah, I do feel a bit bad for him, watching him go through this. A fine political animal, who is clearly sick and beyond his prime, is being brought low. It's not the way you would want him to go out. Some kind of blaze of glory would have been more appropriate. If he had stayed retired after losing the Liberal leadership, perhaps.

But yeah, he's got to go now. It's a mercy at this point. I don't think anyone would have begrudged him staying as MP for Avalon while trying to get his diabetes under control. As the Globe points out, several other MPs are battling serious health problems. There would have come a time when he would have to decide if he should stay or go. But as a MP, people would have given him the time and space.

But in this weird nebulous realm of being a pseudo cabinet minister, still drawing more than $100,000 a year of ministerial salary. And vacationing in Florida when he hasn't been to Ottawa in six months? The prime John Efford never would have done that. If a Tory had of done that, Efford's blood pressure would have went through the roof. It looks like he's sticking around in his job just for the money. And it is a lot. But it's not something I ever thought Efford would do.

So John should go and perhaps he will in the coming weeks. The Prime Minister might want to name someone else as Newfoundland's minister, just to shore up their reelection chances. Although who that will be is beyond me. Part of the problem, part of the reason why Efford is still there, is there is no one else from the Liberals remotely qualified. Gerry Byrne was a wash during his last run in cabinet, Bill Matthews is a joke and Todd Russell and Scott Simms are still too green to assume the responsibility.

The best qualified MP would likely be Loyola Hearn. But I'm guessing Paul Martin won't be appointing a Tory to cabinet anytime soon.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Paradise by the "C" - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Live: 1975-85)
2. One step beyond - Madness (Divine Madness)
3. Everything else - Fur Packed Action (ECMA sampler)
4. Dreamer - Supertramp (Very Best Of...)
5. Summer in Siam - The Pogues (Very Best Of...)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Harry cometh...

Thank Christ Astro Theater is bringing in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on its opening weekend. I feared for my sanity if the movie wasn't going to get here until some time in December. I would have had a very cranky and sooky wife, who just finished rereading all the Potter books in preparation for the movie. We're also watching the first three movies on DVD to lay the appropriate groundwork for The Big Day.

Oddly enough, won't be on the 18th, which is opening day. We learned our lesson a few weeks back when we saw Serenity on its first night here. I nearly murdered a group of teenagers sitting behind me who did not shut up throughout the movie. Death glares, shhhing and even being yelled at by an older Inuit woman (normally enough to quiet most kids) didn't seem to phase them. Thus the lesson is learned - never see a movie on Fridays here.

I tease Cathy about the Harry fixation, but it does have a soft spot for me as well. One of the first times we went out (with a large group of people, but we made sure we sat next to each other) was for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, almost four years ago to the day Goblet of Fire is coming out. I asked her out on a proper date with just the two of us later that evening. The rest, as they say, is history.



Early reviews say it's the best of the Potter films so far, which I would hope for since it cost a staggering amount of money. A reported $310 million (not including marketing costs, which will probably be at least another $50 million). What's just as strange is that director Mike Newell apparently clashed with Warner Brothers because he felt they were being "cheap" and not giving him enough money to make the movie he wanted.

Dear God, what kind of movie did he want to make.

Oh, the $310 million? Still not the most expensive movie ever made. Reported the forthcoming King Kong,coming out next month, cost $325 million and Superman Returns, which is coming out next summer, is rumoured to have cost $350 million.

One of these three films will tank. I guarentee it.

Two other Potter things of interest. Even though the last book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, has sold 11 million copies in the U.S. alone, Scholastic has millions of copies left over and they're terrified book stores are going to start returning them.

Finally, there is a a downside to all the hype about the movies. Cathy teaches Grade 4/5 at her school. Of her class of 20 kids, only one has read any of the books. These kids are about 10 years old, so they're prime Potter age. Why aren't they reading the books? Because they watch the movies instead.

Kind of depressing when you think about it.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Starry-eyed surprise - Paul Oakenfold
2. Graceland - The New Pornographers (iTunes Exclusive)
3. Girl - Tori Amos (To Venus and Back)
4. Wouldn't be so bad - Allison Krauss and Union Station (Lonely Runs Both Ways)
5. The news - Jack Johnson (Brushfire Fairytales)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembering

This is, I think, the first time since 1997 where I haven't interviewed a veteran and done a story about Rememberance Day. Which is a bit weird. It's almost become a routine part of my life at this time of year. "Oh, it's late October. Time to find a veteran and do a Remembrance Day story."

Or something along those lines. You always try to find a new angle. Perhaps a Korean War vet this year. Maybe someone who has served overseas in a peacekeeping role.

I hate to make it sound blaise, but these are often difficult stories to write...or they were for me. The pool of veterans from WW II and the Korean War are sadly getting smaller each year. There are no vets left from WW I in Newfoundland. And you're asking people to recount horrific events. That's never easy. Most are amazingly gracious with their time and are patient while you ask the most idiotic of questions, or questions they've been asked dozens of times before.

I think it was one of the things I struggled with, as a writer, with Remembrance Day. A lot of these stories have been told many times before. And there is also a segment of the population that while the recognizing that, yeah, it's an important day, it's also a day off work. Which means they don't go to the ceremonies and they don't read the stories. And they're the ones you want to reach. You want to tell a really captivating story in the hopes you can grab some of those people and make them appreciate, once more, the importance of this day.

Which is one more reason why I always appreciated Danette Dooley at this time of the year. Danette's a freelance writer in St. John's who has done a lot of work for The Express and Link. She's an excellent freelance writer in that you can call her at any time and ask her if she has anything and she'll have 5 story ideas for you in a few minutes. She can also write fast and pretty good.

But her biggest asset is that she's amazing with people. She's never been interested in "hard" news. But if you need a human interest story done, fewer are better at it in the province than she is. And between Remembrance Day and Christmas she always manages to find just the right people to tell just the right story. I always felt she was underappreciated. She is, when she really zones in on the story, one of the better journalists in the province.

As for my remembering, I think of my great-grandfather who fought in WW I. He died a week before I was born so I never got to meet him. But he fought in the war. Was seriously injured and left for dead, but managed to survive, return home, raise a family and become an important man in his community. I always regretted never meeting him. I think he would have been a great man to talk to.

Special Remembrance Day iPod selection
1. The band played Waltzing Matilda - The Pogues (Rum, Sodomy and the Lash)
2. Goodnight Saigon - Bill Joel (Greatest Hits)
3. Devils and Dust - Bruce Springsteen (Devils and Dust)
4. Brothers in arms - Dire Straits (Brothers in Arms)
5. Arthur McBride - The Planks (The Planks)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Two blogger questions

1. Curious about some of the weird information I was looking at on Sitemeter I went digging back through some of my old posts and found them covered in spam. I must have deleted about 30 spam messages. Normally if I see spam in the recent messages, I'll delete, but this one asshole had been spamming a message from back in mid-September repeatedly.

I realize it might be just the price of having a blog and that, really, how many people are reading those old messages and how many actually click the link? But it still annoys me. Does anyone have a piece of code or something for blocking spam messages, short of having to screen every message before I allow it to be posted?

2. Also, does anyone know how to get a photo up in the corner where I describe myself? I've tried, but the program that blogger uses only works if I have a Windows based computer and I blog on my Mac (and shame on you those of you coming here using Explorer as your browser. At least go and get Firefox or something if you won't switch to Mac). Any suggestions, again, would be appreciated.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Light enough to travel - The Be Good Tanyas (Blue Horses)
2. The sun and the rain - Madness (Divine Madness)
3. Maxwell's silver hammer - The Beatles (Abbey Road)
4. Nightingale - Norah Jones (Come Away With Me)
5. Love you to - The Bealtes (Revolver)

Mail call

There is a ritual we have here that takes place about 3:15 everyday...I pop downstairs to check the mail. It is, in these days of hunting for employment, normally one of the highlights of my day. I don't know if this is the same thing for all Newfoundland ex-pats, but few things make you feel as good as mail.

I've been down this path before. When I was in South Korea back in '97, nothing made me happier after a miserable day at work than to return to the apartment and find mail from home. Back then, trying to e-mail was an adventure. It mean an hour-long trip into Busan, waiting for a computer at a busy internet cafe and spening $5 an hour for a slow connection to read e-mail. So letters were precious. I even wrote a ton of them, although my handwriting was so bad that I was required to translate several of them when I eventually made it back to Newfoundland.

I'll also mention I still have all the letters sent to me in Korea. There are days I think rereading those letters were the only thing that kept me sane,

When Cathy was in Rankin Inlet last year, mail was also one of the few things that kept her sane, like getting the odd care package from home. She had decent internet, but there's nothing like a care package to pick you up.

However, there is a problem when you crave a mail fix and there is none. You start manufacturing it. For example, both Amazon and Chapters have free shippping. Future Shop has a free shipping on some items. And places like Canadian Tire and The Source have reasonable shipping rates.

So, for example, the $300 in Chapters money we got as wedding gifts is gone. We've already ordered and had delivered some lamps from Canadian Tire. And we're actually looking at getting a new TV for Christmas. Once I get a job, I'm going to plow through Amazon's graphic novel section and drop a chunk of change.

So yeah, mail is good. Mail helps keep you sane. But the problem with ordering things so that you get mail is that it tends to generate other kinds of mail...like Visa bills. And as happy as we are to to crack open that little mail slot and see envelopes (or better still, the little card saying go to the post office because you have a package) we're not quite at the point where we're enthused to see Visa bills...

Last 5 on iPod
1. Happy phantom - Tori Amos (Little Earthquakes)
2. Breaking the girl - Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Greatest Hits)
3. I want you - The Beatles (Abbey Road)
4. Cruel - Tori Amos (To Venus and Back)
5. Selfless, cold and composed - Ben Folds Five (Whatever and Ever, Amen)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mmmmm....cabinet shuffle

See, I miss being in town covering this stuff. I almost miss covering St. John's City Council.

Well....almost. Let's not get crazy here.

Anyway, a cabinet shuffle. CBC has the story. The big news is that Trevor Taylor is getting moved out of Fisheries and into Transportation. Tom Rideout is the new Fisheries Minister. Ed Hollett has some analysis on his blog about what the shuffle means for the province's view of the fishery.

I always thought that the Fishery portfolio was about the biggest no-win one there was in government. People always hate you. No matter what you do, you're wrong. You're a pawn of the manufacturers. You're ignoring the fiscal realities of the modern fishery. You're trying to destroy rural Newfoundland. And so on and so forth.

Honestly, name the last fisheries minister people liked and did a good job? I'll wait while you get back to me on that one.

I'm not sure Taylor is the biggest loser, however. Transportation is still a high profile post and lord knows with the demands of trying to fix the province's infrastructure it should keep him hoppping.

No, I would say the biggest loser is Paul Shelley. He had the cushiest job in government - Tourism Minister. He got to travel around the province and go to Mainland events. He opened The Rooms, hung out with musicians and artists and go to lots of fancy dinners. After the last budget - which threw money at the arts community - they had pretty much forgiven him for keeping The Rooms closed for an extra year. Now he was loved and toasted. It was a sweet job. I've heard him say as much. And he always looked happy whenever I saw him at an event. And why wouldn't he? He was Minister of Good Times.

Now he's minister in charge of job creation and the vastly overworked social services department. Bummer, man.

By the way, Tom Rideout is not the biggest winner. I don't care if he is deputy premier, Danny is still the one in charge. Even when he's away, Danny will be in charge. And I would aruge that Loyola Sullivan is still more important. The biggest winners? Joan Burke for the pretty solid work she did in Human Resources. I think she'll do fine in Education.

The other winner? Tom Hedderson. Party on, dude!

Last 5 on iPod
1. Jumpin' jive - Joe Jackson (Stepping Out - Greatest Hits)
2. Let's dance - David Bowie (Best of Bowie)
3. Get him back - Fiona Apple (Extraordinary Machine)
4. Where do broken hearts go? - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmes (Take A Break)
5. Falling for the first time - Barenaked Ladies (Greatest Hits)

Blunt warnings



I have no problem with Parks Canada putting up blunter warning signs around Cape Spear after two people have been swept off the rocks and drowned in the past two months. But really, that's about all you can do.

I don't think you can put up fencing...it would be too expensive, ugly and too easy to get around (Are you going to put barb wire on top? Electrify it?). More people wandering the grounds? You can't be everywhere or everytime someone goes to visit the park. There is nothing else to do. So by all means, put up signs with much stronger language. Put up the number of people who have died by going out on the rocks over the years. Put up a few more signs, just in case they missed the other 50 or so that say going out on the rocks is a tremendously bad idea.

At some point you've got to just say you've done all you can. You can only protect against human nature so much. I mean, you must figure that everyone going out to Cape Spear these days is hearing someone died by going out on the rocks recently and yet this last guy still did it. If people are determined to go out on the rocks, then all the signs in the world won't change that. And their family and friends will have to live with the consquence because odds are they won't. Frankly, I'm amazed more people don't die out there. I was surprised that it had been 10 years or more since there was a death up until the last two.

Last 5 on iPod
1. The long and winding road - The Beatles (Let It Be...Naked)
2. Push it - Garbage (Version 2.0)
3. Breaking us in two - Joe Jackson (Stepping Out - Greatest Hits)
4. Rebellion (lies) - The Arcade Fire (Funeral)
5. Firecracker - Ryan Adams (Gold)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

West Wing debate

I enjoyed The West Wing debate that happened on Sunday night. Live TV is always such a joy to watch. Not so much because you're waiting for them to screw up, but because there does seem to be more energy happening. Nothing like the fear of screwing up in front of millions of people to give you that extra edge.

If you go the West Wing site you can vote on who won the debate. By the last numbers I saw, Santos (Jimmy Smits) was winning over Vinnick (Alan Alda) 70-30. However, I think that's more respresentative of the demographics watching the show. Republicans don't watch because it's a "Democratic fantasy piece". So naturally if Democrats are going to watch, then they are going to vote for Santos.

But whether the show was designed that way or not, I thought Vinnick did the better job of getting his points across, of being more honest, talking more and looking less nervous than Santos. Again, hard to say how much of it was the actors (Santos looked nervous, but was he that way because of the change in debate format or because Smits was terrified of going on live TV?), but I thought Vinnick/Alda did a better job.

I'm not saying I agree with Vinnick's politics more. He's a little too much "free market can fix everything" for my liking. Although one of the interesting things was when they brought up current politics like Enron and not going to war for oil. Those are both shots at the current Bush presidency, however they would presumably have not happened during the Bartlett presidency of the past 8 years. So it's interesting, but why mention no war for oil when it probably hadn't happened for at least eight years or more? Ah well, let television have its drama.

But there were interesting arguments made. About foreign debt relieft. About ANWR. About Head Start. And even Cathy marvelled. "My God, how much dialogue did they have to memorize?" She's been annoyed with the show this season, complaining that they've been focussing too much on the election and political policy and not enough on the characters. If Donna hadn't shown up the week before last, I feared what she might have done to the TV set. Still, she liked this episode.

It's just a pity the show is getting murdered in its current timeslot. Moving it to Sundays was not good for the show. It's taken a 30% hit in ratings. It's routinely finishing in fourth place, behind The Simpsons (OK), Cold Case (does nothing for me, but it's not bad) and Extreme Home Makeover (Kill me now. This is crap).

Further proof the show is apparently on the outs...after a big publicity stunt like a live broadcast, they're pre-empting it for the rest of November sweeps. They're going to wait a month to follow up on the show. Exceptionally stupid. And pretty much a sure sign that NBC is giving up on the show.

A pity. While Commander-in-Chief is getting better ratings, West Wing is still by far the better show. I hope it continues. I fear it's dead at the end of the season.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Lost together - Blue Rodeo (Greatest Hits)
2. A good year for the roses - Elvis Costello (Very Best of...)
3. A villa in Portugal - The Pursuit of Happiness (The Downward Road)
4. No sissies - Hawksley Workman (For Him and the Girls)
5. Cigarette - Ben Folds Five (Whatever and Ever Amen)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Conversations with Cathy, part 2

"God, this version of Hallelujah is really terrible," Cathy said, sitting on the couch reading a book.

"You mean this version being sung by Leonard Cohen?" I replied.

"Yeah, it's awful. You have nicer versions of this song. Why do you have this one on your iPod?"

"Ummm, possibly because I wanted to have the original, which many people consider to be the best version."

"This is the original?" she said, kind of puzzled.

"Yup."

"Huh," she said, pasuing for a moment. "Still sucks though." And then she went back to her book.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Private investigations - Dire Straits (Very Best Of...)
2. Make or break harbour - Stan Rogers (Home in Halifax)
3. The old apartment - Barenaked Ladies (All Their Greatest Hits)
4. Better version of me - Fiona Apple (Extraordinary Machine)
5. Bastard - Ben Folds (Songs For Silverman)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Dinner and a show

Every Friday night myself and Cathy treat ourselves out to supper. Because of budget reasons, we tend to alternate - one week we go to one of the nice restaurants like restaurant at the Frobisher Inn or Wizard's Bistro. The other week we tend to go one of the cheaper places such as the Storehouse or The Snack.

Last night, it was expensive restaurant night so we went to the hotel restaurant. The food is pretty good and, all things considered, pretty reasonably priced. So a nice Chicken Parmasian and a Chicken Pesto, two Caesar Salads and two pop cost about $75, not including tip. Large portions and, like I said, it's good food.

You also get a floor show of sorts.

Because it's the hotel restaurant, you obviously get a lot of people eating there who are guests at the hotel. They could be tourists, there on business, conferences, etc. And the local native arts community knows this. So while you're sitting down, there is normally a steady stream of local artists walking through the place showing you their crafts. It varies as to what they will offer. Last night we had about a dozen people come to our table, showing us everything from coats, hats, mittens, pins, small sculptures and quite large sculptures.

One guy came by with a statue of a walrus that must have weighed about 20 pounds.

Cathy bought these two bears back in February when she was here for a conference. It's no problem finding work this good coming around to the table. I believe she paid about $300 altogether for them, which is a good deal considering the quality of stone, workmanship and time put into them.



You don't have to go to dinner either, of course. You can just go up to the front desk. There are normally a few guys hanging around with sculptures. It's almost funny. It's like drug dealing, except it's in native art.

The thing that surprises me the most is that people are not bothered by the interuption. We kind of like it. You have a nice meal and people will come by and, very politely, show you their art and answer any questions you have about it. And they're never pushy. We normally compliment them on the quality of the work, but politely decline. It's reasonably priced, but we're on a budget until I get a job.

But I'm surprised there aren't some people annoyed or rude. Perhaps they are, I just haven't seen it yet. Then again, when people are showing you beautiful artwork, you must be a bit of a git to get annoyed by it.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Ol' 55 - Tom Waits (Closing Time)
2. I've got to see you again - Norah Jones (Come Away With Me)
3. Sunday bloody Sunday - U2 (War)
4. The body says no - New Pornographers (Mass Romantic)
5. Dublin in Vigo - The Chieftains (Santiago)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mixed links

A few things I've put aside that I've meaning to post on, but kept forgetting to...

1. John Gushue beat me to the punch by posting this exerpt on the rush to provide content for the new iPod. Pornographic content, of course. There is also these articles talking about similar things.

It does make me consider three things. First, what is the legality of looking at explicit pronorgraphic material in public? Granted, it's on a wee screen and you would have to be seriously looking over someone's shoulder, but stil. Secondly, why would you want to look at porn in public? Wouldn't that make things...uncomfortable.

And third, care to place a bet how long it takes before someone gets busted looking at child porn on one of these things? I say less than a year.

The article says being able to hunt for iPorn might not have been what Steve Jobs (Apple's CEO) had in mind when he launched it. I say he knew it was going to happen. He's too smart not to know. These days, anytime a new technology emergences the first question that is asked it, "Are there any porn applications possible with this device."

2. Alas, the possibility of seeing any more of Serenity movies or TV doesn't look good. Which is a pity because I really liked it. So did Cathy, although she would like to have a few words with Mr. Whedon about some of the deaths that occur in the movie. Despite lots of critical praise, the movie looks to lose money. Worldwide it's made $5 million less than it cost. But remember, studios get about 55% of the box office, theatres the rest. So, worldwide the movie has made the studio about $20 million. It's still possible, with DVD sales, etc, that it might make money, but it's doubtful.

Maybe that's why the movie is coming out on DVD before Christmas.

3. I know people that would love this, providing it tastes good. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Coffee Beer.

4. This article is also for one of my friends who would like Coffee Beer quite a bit. He also likes trebuchets and has talked openly of building one sometime soon. I really shouldn't have to say that he, and some of my other friends (you know who you are) shouldn't do what this sure-to-be Darwin Award Winner did. But oddly, I do feel the need to say For the love of Christ, don't do this!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Novel writing sucks

For those blissfully unaware of it, November is National Novel Writing Month. The premise is fairly straight forward...people always says they want to write a book. How hard can it be? But they can never find the time or some other excuse. The site's goal is to get you to write 50,000 words for the month. That's about 1,600 words a day. It won't give you a long novel by any stretch, but it would be a start.

They also don't care if it's good. You're not suppose to go back and fix it and make it better. Just crank out the 50,000 words to show you can do it.

The site came to my attention last year when a friend of mine dared me to do the challenge with her. We both failed. For my part, I blame being a working journalist at the time and that at the end of the day I didn't feel like going home and spending an hour or two writing a book.

It baffles me why so many people think I should write a book. I think I'm a not bad writer. I always enjoyed writing my columns with either The Express or The Packet. And I am a superior ranter when the blood gets going.

But none of this is the same as writing a book. Writing a novel means coming up with a plot, developing characters, establishing setting, themes, building suspense and a hundred other things all of while telling it with an engaging writing style. It's not just flexing different mental muscles...it's flexing mental muscles I don't know that I have.

Still, the badgering continues, mostly from three sources. So I was going to try again this year. Really. Honestly. But apparently the prolonged unemployment is turning my brain to mush (Cathy has said as much). Plus, y'know, the Sentinels have been attacking New York in X-Men: Legends (great game, by the way) so that's been taking up time.

But I am going to try again today. I have an idea. I scrapped the story about a townie journalist moving to rural Newfoundland and having weird adventures because it wasn't jelling right. Instead, it's the funny story of a Newfoundland vampire which asks the question, if you're a true Newfoundlander who also happens to be undead, shouldn't you do the right thing and stop feasting on the diminishing stock of young Newfoundlanders and move to Mainland instead?

Why? Because vampires kill people. And while I can't kill the three nuisances who badger me on writing a book because it is A Bad Thing, I can kill them in my book. Gruesomely.

So yeah, there are a few perks to being a writer.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Bates milk bar - Mo Berg (Summer's over)
2. Find somebody to love - Queen (Great Hits)
3. Dreams - Fleetwood Mac (Greatest Hits)
4. The sweetest thing - U2 (Greatest Hits:1990-2000)
5. Space dog - Tori Amos (To Venus and Back)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bruuuuuceeee

One of the downers of when my iPod crashed back in August was that I lost Bruce Springsteen's Live in New York recording and I haven't been able to get it back as yet. Which is annoying because there were some great tracks, especially 41 Shots. The upside is I managed to track down a copy of Springsteen: Live 1975-85. It had been years since I listened to those recordings and I had forgotten just how amazing they were. Springsteen is one of the few musical acts from my early-mid teens that I'm not embarassed by (Yes, I was a teenaged Hall & Oates fan. Kill me now).

Still, I kind of agree with this writer from Chart Attack that this might be a wee bit too much...an all Springsteen station.

I imagine there must be a market for it. I honestly wonder how much life commercial radio has left in it at this point. Five years? I would say maybe a bit more. A lot of people are switching over to satellite radio. No commericals. Very specific formats....

It's not for me, I don't think. Not as long as I can own my own music. But it might be intersting to try one day.

Last 5 on iPod
1. 4-stop jiggs - Figgy Duff (Figgy Duff)
2. The Reason - Hoobastank (The Reason)
3. I want it all - Queen (Greatest Hits)
4. Cold, cold ground - Tom Waits (Beautiful Malodies)
5. You to thank - Ben Folds (Songs For Goldfish)

An assortment of things...

1. Grrr....neither The Packet nor The Express have updated their sites. I need my news, damn it.

2. While I appreciate this link is only good for today, but I found the the front page of The Telegram funny today. First, it's the day after Halloween and the best picture you got is a kid feeding ducks in Bowring Park? Secondly, during my brief summer replacement stint with the paper about 10 years ago, I recall the editor coming into a story meeting, throwing the paper of the day on the table and saying "That's it. There is an official moratorium on photos of icebergs and birds at Bowring Park." I guess the ban on birds is off.

3. On the off-chance that any of you were planning on listening to me on Raven Rock today, that won't be happening. The guy training me in on the board had to fly to Ottawa for an emergency meeting with officials. Apparently a just fired volunteer DJ said some things on air he shouldn't have. I wasn't told what they were, only that "you'll probably be reading about it in the paper later this week." Oooops.

4. I think I'm also going to skip curling this evening. Tuesdays are generally pick-up games. Wednesday is when the mixed league plays. And I was that battered after last Tuesday's game that I couldn't curl the next day. I realize people think that curling can't be that physically hard to play, and it isn't if you're a skip. You can look like Ed Werenich back in the day (in case you don't know who he is, think over-weight middle aged white guy. Great curler, not in great shape) and get away with it. If you shoot lead or second stones and you're out of shape (which I am) you will be punished for it. You have to sweep 6 stones an end, which is harder than it looks. Plus, I don't have the right shoes, which also makes things hard.

5. Oh, and this story was in today's Globe and Mail. Just in case you want to know what an attractive curler looks like and would like to have pictures of them hanging on your wall.

6. House returns to tv tonight, now that the break forced by the baseball playoffs are over. It is my current favourite show on tv, although the revamped The West Wing is a reasonable second. I've always had a weakness for arrogant bastard characters, especially ones who are smart enough to back it up. Which is why I like the show. It's very intelligent. And it makes me laugh more than most sitcoms. I also like that the House site includes the music used in an episode. I've got to hunt down that version of Beautiful by Elvis Costello.

Buy the first season DVD if you get the chance. It also contains the best single hour of television in the 2004-05 season, Three Stories. When you realize what the episode is really about, 40 minutes in, it becomes that much more powerful.

Last 5 on iPod
1. Mother revolution - Tori Amos (The Beekeeper)
2. I like you - The Pursuit of Happiness (The Wonderful World of...)
3. False hearted love - Ron Hynes (Cryer's Paraside)
4. Why don't you come over? - Garbage (Bleed Like Me)
5. Miss teen wordpower - The New Pornographers (Electric Version)