Friday, March 31, 2006

Nothing today, alas

Sorry, nothing at length today. After picking up Cathy after work we did our traditional Friday meal out (consisting of Chinese buffet) and then relaxed at home for an hour before I headed off to the first game of the final curling bonspiel of the year in Iqaluit. I'm skipping a team

So it's now about 11:40 and I've only just got home. I'm tired and annoyed that we lost 9-8 when we were up 7-3 at one point. Just a horrific collapse in the 6th end when we gave up five. So I'm just a wee bit frustrated because we came this close to beating one of the best teams in the bonspiel. Should have beaten them, in fact.

And after the game, and now rereading this post, is reminding me why it's always dangerous for me to skip when curling. I get too emotionally involved and become a bit of an ass. It's pretty much why I stopped after high school. I had hoped I might have mellowed in my old age.

Apparently, not as much as I would have liked. Ah well. At least I didn't throw things (brooms, hats, players) like I used to in high school when I got frustrated.

We play againg at 3 p.m. tomorrow. We win, we're in the B final. We lose and that's it. There are prizes up for grabs, including a trip for two on Canadian North, so it would be nice to win.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Redefining exploitation

I was going to post something on this season of The Amazing Race, but I'm tired now and heading off to bed. So I'll toss that into the idea heap for another day, along with comments on the provincial budget, what it's like covering a budget if you're a reporter, why a CODCO DVD set is a mixed idea and a few other things.

Instead, I leave you with this. No, it's not as disturbing as the Britney Spears statue. And you can safely follow the link without worry that you might have to gouge your eyes out later.

Instead, it's proof that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is evil. I watched a couple of episodes when it first came out and the charm of the show quickly evaporated for me when it became a disease/tragedy of the week. After reading this story from The Smoking Gun, I'm really beginning to believe the show is evil and must be stopped.

Either that or we round up and shoot all TV executives who dream up memos like this. Perhaps in one of those fabulous refurbished homes that they do on the show. And they can do a very special torture chamber that Ty Pennington has personally worked on all week for the executions.

Creepy, creepy people...

Bad media month continues

It's not often you hear stories of two newspapers folding in the same month in Newfoundland, but that appears to be just what's happening. Along with the Humber Log, The Independent is apparently folding. I haven't seen the CBC story (because CBC bizarrely doesn't put up all their stories on the website), but both Ed and Sure B'y are talking about the story.

The Independent has been near death many times in its 2.5 years of existence and managed to find its way out, so that may happen again. And again, I haven't seen a hard copy of the paper since I got up here. Looking at a website is no way to judge the health of a paper. So I have no idea the number of ads, its circulation numbers and who is writing for it. Although it would be ironic if the Independent folded a week after editor Ryan Cleary took a shot at the projected future health of The Express.

If this is it for The Independent then I will mourn its passing, just as I mourn the departure of The Humber Log. Newspapers are valuable, important creations. Not just for getting news, but for also getting a sense of community. Both papers will leave a void in their passing. Having said that, I was working for a newspaper in competition with them. There were times I was annoyed with them and the paper was not without its flaws. But hell, it was a ballsy experiment. And sadly we're not going to see its like again anytime soon. Starting and running newspapers require a lot of money. I thought at one point in the mid-90s of trying to start up a paper similar to The Coast (site is down) in Halifax. This would have been before The Current got going in town.

The costs were huge. Staggering. And that was for something relatively small. The cost of launching and keeping The Independent going must have been ridiculous. You need years before you break even. I guess time ran out.

As for what this might mean for The Express, I honestly do not know. I have my ideas, but it is idle speculation at best, so I'll refrain from commenting. As for what it means for The Telegram, well, business as usual I suspect. I always hoped that if The Independent ever got a serious toehold and became a threat to the Telegram that the paper might step up, hire more reporters and improve its level and quality of coverage. Or at least get a better press than the piece of junk they currently have.

I'm not sure I see that happening now. Pity.

Currently Playing
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - The Arctic Monkeys


At some point today, the 10,000th visitor will arrive at my site. Alas, no balloons will pop out of your computer, nor is a new car or any kind of prize really an option.

But hey, thanks for coming. And if you happen to glance at the counter and see that you're number 10,000, leave a note letting me know who you are.

Again, I appreciate that there are blogs that might get that many hits in a day, but I'm still pretty pleased that many have come here so far.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Delayed gratification

I've said before then when you're living far away from home nothing is better than getting mail. Letters are nice, but big, fat packages are the best. That can be a dangerous thing because unless you've got family and friends sending you stuff, well, you're going to find a way to fill the void all on your own. When you live in the North and Chapters, Amazon and Future Shop offer up free shipping, only badness can result.

So myself and Cathy have done a bit of ordering in the past few weeks. But while getting the packages is lovely, waiting for them can be infuriating. We're a point. And that point is when we feel we should have gotten our stuff and it hasn't arrived yet. It takes about a week after we've ordered something for the frustration to begin to creep in from the edges. If it goes two weeks and there is still nothing, well, there are discussions about burning down the post office as retaliation against Canada Post for not getting our stuff to us in time. Yes, it's somewhat short sighted because if there is no post office, where is the mail going to go? But at that point we're starting to become a little crazed.

We don't even dwell on the six weeks in took for The Complete Calvin and Hobbes to reach us. It was a dark time.

The mail has become like a drug and we need a hit. Cracking open our mail box and finding bills or something just isn't going to cut it. We need the little white card saying we have a package.

But the worst, in many ways, is when the company we're ordering from sends a tracking number. That way, you can check on the Canada Post site to see where the package is. Sometimes several times a day, just on the off-chance the package has magically teleported between Montreal and Iqaluit in the last hour.

I had an order of graphic novels that managed to make it from Missasauga to Montreal in one day. It then took two weeks to make it from Montreal to Iqaluit via expedited mail. I was getting seriously cranky towards the end. Cathy was on her 8th or 9th reading of some Laurell K. Hamilton book waiting for an order from Chapters. It was getting desperate.

So proving it never rains but it pours, yesterday we got four packages in the mail. One from Amazon, two from Chapters and one from my mom. It was a very happy day at the Welsh household. And what did I get?

Graphic Novels
Serenity: Those Left Behind by Josh Weadon
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Fables: Homelands by Bill Willingham
New X-Men, Vol. 1 HC by Grant Morrison
Conan: The God in the Bowl and Other Stories by Kurt Busiek

Regular Books
A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester
The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery
Star Trek: New Frontier - Missing in Action by Peter David

So it was a tidy haul. That doesn't even include my mom's package.

Now, you have to understand this about my mother. I love my mom. Everyone loves my mom. Many of my friends love my mom more than they like me. This is a frequent comment regarding my mom: "Craig, your mom is really nice. And she is so cool. Are you sure you're not adopted?"

So my mom rocks. And the packages she sends are great.

However, my mother is a tad...eccentric. I mean that only in the nicest of ways, but there you go. So in the Easter package she sent up there was the usual candy (nothing with nuts this time, having finally learned that chocolate with nuts is great for me, but would put my lovely wife in the hospital or potentially the morgue.) And she puts some socks in there, which is fine. It's a mother thing to do.

The tins of tuna, however, are a little vexing.

I was talking to her about it and she put them in to "fill space in the envelope and tuna seemed like a good idea."

She added that while I probably wouldn't like it, she thought Cathy might.

Cathy is allergic to all seafood. I'm really certain I've mentioned this before.

Weirdness. Ah well, a package is still a good thing. Even if it contains tiny cans of death. In spring water.

Currently Playing
Devils and Dust - Bruce Springsteen

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's us, not you...

Another reason I didn't blog on Sunday is that myself and Cathy were actually, um, what's the word...socializing. Yes, we went out and interacted with other members of humanity that were not co-workers. In this case it was Ian and Jennifer from Igloolik. They write Nunablog and if you're looking for a blog about life in the North, you would probably do better going to their site than sticking around here, in all honesty.

Igloolik is a smaller community of about 1,000 people with the overwhelming majority of the population being Inuit. Whereas Iqaluit is around 9,000 and it's probably about 60 per cent Inuit. So they're getting a much different northern experience than we are. Plus, they're really nice people. We enjoyed the evening out with them. And as they're getting married this summer, we gave them some wedding advice.

Remember kids - weddings. You can bore family, friends and innocent strangers for months before and after the big day with details of the event.

Our evening out with Ian and Jennifer I think was the second time in 2006 that we've gone out and been social with other members of the human race. If you don't take into account work and curling, yeah, that sounds about right. We've also been horrifically negligent in calling friends.

When we first got up here we had good excuses. "Oh, we're busy getting our life in order" or "we're busy adapting to the new community" or, my personal favourite, "We're still in the honeymoon stage and being rude and ignoring people. We'll get over it."

Well, it will be eight months on Thursday since we got married. I don't know when the honeymoon stage ends, but I suspect we're pushing the outer edges of it.

We do feel bad about not calling our friends more often. It is shocking, really. But here are what I think are the two main reasons:

1. We're becoming homebodies. Seriously. It was always a worry when we were in St. John's, but it is much, much worse in Iqaluit. And it's fine with us. We love each other's company and are perfectly happy spending insane amounts of time with each other. I know other couples have to go off and do other things otherwise they'll kill each other. So far, that isn't us. Nor do I think it will be. We're kind of cozy doing our own thing, no matter how anti-social we might occasionally seem to the rest of the world.

Cathy's parents are very much like this, so it doesn't surprise me that something similar is happening to us.

2. While this doesn't apply to Cathy, it is very true of me.

I hate phones.

No really, I seriously hate them.

I can't explain where it came from. Perhaps lasting psychological damage from my adolescence trying to work up the nerve to pick up a phone and call a girl I liked. I don't know. But I have never enjoyed calling people. I disliked doing phone interviews when I was a reporter and always tried to do them in person when I could.

It is very rare I find chat with anyone on the phone for a long period of time. When Cathy was in Rankin last year we did, but that was extraordinary circumstances. But there have been few others. It's probably why I like my electronic gadgets, but can't stand cell phones.

So there you go. If you're a friend and want to chat, by all means, drop me a line. Hell, come up and visit if you want. But the odds of getting a call from us...not so great. Nothing personal, you understand. Just psychological issues.

Currently Playing
Somebody's Miracle - Liz Phair

Monday, March 27, 2006

Discipline, or lack there of

So I didn't write anything over the weekend and I'm feeling vaguely guilty about that. As I said in the previous post, I don't know if there was anyone coming to the blog and going "Where is that bastard? He hasn't posted anything this weekend and I need my fix." It was more being disappointed in the lapse of discipline. I used to read stories about J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5) who took two days off each year from writing - his birthday and Christmas Day.

And that was it. He wrote every other day of the year. Even when he didn't want to. Especially when he didn't want to. That was the discipline he set up for himself. Which worked. For three years he wrote every episode of Babylon 5. Twenty-two episodes a season. It might not seem a lot, but read a good television script sometime and realize the deadlines and pressures TV writers are under and you'll be in awe of the achievement. I don't think it's been done since.

You hear that about some writers. That they establish their disciplines and routines. Because it is really very easy to not write when you're a writer. It's dead simple not to write. You simply lie there, thinking you really ought to be writing something, but it's quite relaxing - and a whole lot less frustrating - doing the whole not writing thing. Yeah, there's guilt, but you can get over that easily enough.

I've done that before. I'm trying to break the habit.

I've said before that I think I'm working towards...something in this blog. I don't know if it's a short story or a book or what. But I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

So what's the discipline with the blog? At first it was just getting it started. I failed in my first attempt, getting about 10 posts in before giving up for the better part of six months. Then I got going again last September and was posting on a regular basis. The next step was to post something everyday. The next step was to not cheat and post quizzes or just links, but to actually write something.

I was doing pretty good with that until last weekend. So I've got to get on another roll.

So what are the next steps? Well, along with writing something everyday I'd like to write something good every day. Which of course is the real trick. I think my writing tends to be better when I'm trying to be funny. The sarcastic, humourous columns when I was with The Express and The Packet always got better feedback than the more serious ones. There are plenty of angry, serious columnists. People like the ones that can make you laugh or, better still, can take a current event and make you chuckle. It's why Mark Critch was so popular with The Express before he moved onto This Hour Has 22 Minutes. I know some of my colleagues can never understand while Paula Tessier with The Express is still there. It's because she's the paper's most popular columnist. People love her. Because she makes them laugh.

She's also likely doing lasting psychological damage to her kids, but that's another story.

I think the three best columns I ever wrote were:

1. The one where I used pseudo bible speak and compared Tobin, when he was running federally in 2000 and we had a horrible month of no sunshine during the election, to a false prophet promising even sunlight, if only people would vote for him. I won an award for that one.
2. The one where I listed off the seven roommates I had gone through since moving to Clarenville and how nearly every one of them was crazy.
3. The one where I complained about how miserable my dating life was and used the phrase "bunny boiler" to describe the kind of women I was meeting. It wasn't original, but by God the fine folks in Clarenville and area seem to think it was genius. Still didn't get any dates though.

I've written hundreds of columns. I can't remember lots of them. But I remember those. Because I knew they were good once I finished them. And the feedback bore that out. i want to get to that level on the blog. Where I can write something, and do it on a regular basis, that I know is good and that people will like.

You know, it occurs to me that this particular blog entry is neither humourous nor quippy. But I'm working on a thought process here. Humourous and sarcastic resumes tomorrow.

So once I can write everyday and write something that I like, then I guess I work on the next step: something fictional. To an extent I play with that now. If I'm talking about Cathy I'm just as like to twist things a bit. I just have to work on distorting them more, right into the realm of fiction.

All of this must surely seemed contrived, but I'm figuring this out as I go along. No one ever taught me to write. I just started. The best comment I ever got on my writing was from my old History thesis advisor from MUN - Valerie Burton. When critique a paper she said "I'm sorry to see the lamentable influence of The Muse in your writing." She said it with scorn, but right then and there I knew that I was done with History and was going to become a journalist. Because writing for the newspaper was infinitely more fun than writing history papers. And why write if you're not having fun?

I just need the discipline to write better and more often. Because I'll have more fun then, right? At least that's what I tell myself.

I'm sure there are easier ways, but I'll get to where I'm going eventually.

Hopefully sometimes before I retire would be nice, though...

Currently Playing
Anything, Anytime, Anywhere - Bruce Cockburn

Lesson learned

So apparently you can't spend as much time as I did this weekend saving the world (i.e. Playing Civ IV) and find the time to sit down and blog. So whatever streak I had going for more consecutive days in a row blogging is over and done with. Ah well. And if you came here the weekend looking for new wit and wisdom from me, well, you were probably more disappointed than you normally are. Sorry about that. Normal blogging will resume this evening.

I will say one thing, however. While I enjoyed last night's The West Wing, I did have a problem with the preview for next week. After seven years for foreplay between Josh and Donna, perhaps it might have been a thought to not give away the will they or won't they in a 15 second preview clip. Gits.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Everyone needs a Log!*

*Ren & Stimpy, in case you missed the reference.

Or, you know, not.

I wish I could say I was shocked when I heard The Humber Log had folded. I was certainly surprised when I read it, but it's not like I thought "Holy Cow, I never saw that coming!" It was more like, "Ah, now's when they've finally decided to pull the plug, eh."

I joined Robinson-Blackmore in 1998, the company that eventually became Optipress which was then bought by the Montreal based Transcontinental. RB ran pretty much all the community newspapers in Newfoundland and Labrador, which I think the number was 16. And even when I first joined, with The Packet, it was common knowledge that the Log was struggling financially.

It's not that it was a bad paper. On the contrary, it has had some great reporters and photographers over the years. During the annual Atlantic Canada Newspaper Association's awards, the three papers from Newfoundland that normally garnered the most plaques were The Packet, The Express and the Log. Even with the national awards, the CCNA (Canadian Community Newspaper Association), the Log used to do quite well in its circulation category.

The problem is that it was an awfully small circulation category. That combined with other factors such as low advertising sales, competing against the Western Star and a declining population base made it a real struggle for the paper. I think that had more of an impact than the Internet, as one former employee in the CBC story said.

So no, this isn't a 'Transcontinental is evil" post. Did they do all they could? I have no idea. I'm sure I could question some decisions. But did they inherit a paper that was struggling mightily when they bought Optipress? Yup.

So I pause a moment, raise a glass and mourn the passing of a newspaper, which is always a sad occasion in my book.

The think that concerns me is that the Log was, in some ways, a twin sister to The Express. Both are/were weeklies in major markets with a fight on their hands against larger media. When Transcontinental bought Optipress, The Express and The Log were the only papers in which they would be competing against existing Transcontinental papers - The Telegram and The Western Star.

The federal Competition Bureau, when it approved the Optipress buyout, put certain protections in place to make sure Transcon couldn't just walk in and fold The Express and Log. Obviously, that umbrella of protection is now gone, or at least diminished.

So yeah, I'm a bit worried about The Express. I spent the better part of four years there. I have friends who work there. She's a good paper trying to make the best out of what can be a hard market with strained and limited resources. And, you know, you hear things. My mother, God love her, says people keep coming into where she works (Shoppers Drug Mart on Torbay Road. Look for Daphne. Tell her you read my blog. It'll freak her out) and saying the paper hasn't been the same since I left.

Which is rubbish. Lovely for the ego and all, but I'm under no delusions that I was essential to the quality of the paper. Far from it. But things have changed at the paper quite a bit since I left, I believe. I haven't seen a hard copy of the paper since I left and the website is no real gauge of how the paper is doing right now in terms of quality of writing, photography, layout, advertising and circulation. But I hear things. And I worry.

It would be a tragedy if something happened to The Express. There is a good, if not long, history with the paper. It has served St. John's well over most of the past 20 years.

I just hope I never click onto the CBC site and find The Express has folded. Because that would be a very sad day indeed.

Currently Playing
All That You Can't Leave Behind - U2

Oh God!

I will never read Defamer again within the first hour of waking up. Oh my God!


Excuse me, I have to scour my brain with bleach before heading to work.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Why are you doing this?

I appreciate that the last thing the world needs is another Mac vs. Windows argument. But I honestly don't understand how you can read an article like this and not conclude that Windows is totally screwed.

Now I know some of my tech people are coming to come by and explain the importance of Windows and how that, yes it has its flaws, but it's still the benchmark OS, and it does this really well, and Macs are not very popular, and blah, blah, blah.

Look, Microsoft hasn't released a new version of Windows in four years. This version is stripped down from what it was suppose to be and they still can't get it released before the end of 2006. But they can get six versions of out on the market. Which I guess proves that Bill Gates must have picked up a thing or two from the comic industry about variants.

And the brilliant thing about it is that we will be able to count in hours - not days, weeks or months - hours in which it will take Microsoft to issue its first patch to fix a flaw on the new software.

In the glacial era between Windows updates Mac has managed, what, four of them? Significant ones. For that matter, whatever Microsoft comes out with in a year's time will still likely be behind what Mac has out now. Rumour has it that Apple will come out with another OS upgrade this Fall. Windows new OS might catch up to it in 2010.

Windows is junk. People need to accept this and make the scary, but sensible leap towards Mac. And this year might be the one to do it. The new Macs released this year mean it is now possible to run both Windows and Mac OS on the same computer. There's a lot of trickery and technical know how needed right now, but give it six months. The geeks out there will have some code set up to make it relatively simple.

That means you go out and buy your shiny new Mac and then, if you feel so inclined, install Windows. You can alternate between the two Operating Systems until you become comfortable with using Mac. Then you ditch the buggy piece of crap that Windows is and bask is the glow of a virus-free, spyware-free, stable operating system. Ahhhh...

I have to use Windows at work. It drives me mad. It's like a breath of fresh air to come home and flip open my iBook. For those of you thinking about getting a new computer, I appreciate it's initially a bit of extra work, a bit more expensive and a bit scary at first, but make the leap. You'll be glad. If you're just doing basic computer stuff: internet, word processing, e-mail, a few shag around games, Mac just makes your life simpler.

I should note, by the way, that not everyone is thrilled about being able to run Windows on a Mac. Some purists are horrified. From The Joy of Tech.

Currently Playing
Back to Bedlam - James Blunt

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Time is short

Of course today is the day I think of all kinds of cool things to write about and have no time to do it. After getting home from work and getting supper I went to curling. Somehow, despite winning virtually no games since Christmas we won last week's semi-final (I was sick and couldn't play. It was one of those "you won and I wasn't there. Says something about my play, doesn't it?" moments). So the 'B' final was this evening. It was a good game, I shot well and my skip, who is a nice woman but has played shaky all season, played her best game all year and made the best shot I've ever seen her do - a tricky control weight take-out of a partially buried shot sitting on the button. It skimmed past two guards and hit dead centre.

So it appears I've won something. I joked about a trophy, but we actually do appear to win something. How odd. I shall have to find room for it in the same box that stores my junior and senior high curling trophies and journalism awards.

Anyway, after getting home late, getting a shower, chatting with Cathy before she went to bed and then doing the dishes (my turn), it leaves me about 30 minutes of blogging time. Bah.

Tomorrow, I shall endeavour to do better. I have an excellent rant about Windows vs. Mac brewing. Plus there will be a very special guest appearance by Cathy, who wishes to make a statement of her own regarding the great only child vs. multiples debate. However, she would like to say that she happens to agree with Lorie that she is, in fact, a saint.


Anyway, a few links to tide you over.

• I'm curious to see what Inside Man is like because the early reviews for it look quite good and I can't remember the last time I saw a movie in the theatre here (V For Vendetta hasn't opened yet and isn't in this weekend. Grrrr). But I really enjoyed this interview with Jodie Foster. I always got the feeling she was a class act, and this kind of supports it.

I especially enjoyed this paragraph:

"I do tend to play strong women," she tells the room. "I play different kinds of strong women. I've played dumb blondes, I've played morally bankrupt strong women, I've played good girls, I've played strait-laced straight arrows, I've played wild women, yet they're always strong, and I honestly sometimes feel that's my . . .," she pauses, as a few scribes crane their heads and call out quietly, "calling card?" "strength?," words she ignores and says instead, ". . . Achilles heel, as an actress. I don't really know how to play weak characters. I think if I played a weak character you wouldn't believe me. I think it's the thing I can't get rid of."

Not such a bad thing, really. There are plenty of bad, shallow actresses to fill those parts.

• I just thought that Jason might find this funny. Six Flags in the U.S. is looking for people to dress up like members of the Justice League. This alone would be funny, but some of the comments after the article are priceless (and depressing. A lot of people would love to have one of the jobs), including this gem of an exchange:

"oh i could so be robin if i shaved my goatee"

"You'd have to shave more than that. The dude playing Batman likes his boys clean."

• Esquire has an interesting Battle Royal to determine which song you think is the best one of this decade so far (have we actually decided what this decade is called yet? It's getting a little late for it to be unnamed). I ended up picking "American Idiot" by Green Day, but I was happy with my top four choices.

For the record, these were my four semi-finalists. The aforementioned Green Day and:
1. 'Take Me Out" - Franz Ferdinand. I'm not sure if this is a classic yet or if the band will hold up, so I didn't vote for it.
2. "Beautiful Day" - U2. It's a great song, but this isn't even one of their 10 best songs of all time, so...
3. "Hurt" - Johnny Cash. An amazing song. But what really make it great is the devestating video. It is perhaps the most emotionally powerful video I've ever scene (his wife and daughter reportedly wept when they saw it). I don't know if the song is as powerful without the video backing it.

And "American Idiot" is just a kick-ass song of a surprisingly great record. So there you go. Feel free to post what your final picks were.

Currently Playing
Live - Alison Krauss and Union Station

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

One is just fine, thanks...

One of the reasons I mentioned Cathy as being a super-cool chick and all (in the post after this), is that parts of this might fall under the "well, that seems a bit mean" category.

What got this particular hamster spinning in the wheel was something that Owen's Mom wrote the other day. Seems she's preparing to have the second spawn (a tip of the hat to Vicki's very funny "spawn" post of last week). The theory being that if you're going to have multiple kids they should be relatively close in age (OM's hubby has, in the past, expressed a desire to have six or seven children. If that still holds it means OM should get used to the fact that she's not having another good night's sleep this decade or the next. I'm not optimistic about the one after that, for that matter). OM, and others, believe that siblings grouped around the same age interact better with others, learn better social skills, share more and are generally mentally healthier.

Mentally healthier than what, you might ask? She doesn't say it in the post, but she has to me in the past. So has Cathy. Healthier than only children.

Only children are damaged goods. This has been said to me. Now, it's mostly in teasing and I laugh it off. If you're an only child, you've heard most of the jokes. "So they had you and decided not to risk anymore." That sort of thing (The rebuttal, by the way is "No, they had me and realized you can't do any better than perfection.")

I've met only children who have been the life of the party. Very sociable and outgoing and the theory is they're overcompensating for not having any brothers or sisters to play with. Then there are only children who are loners, and the theory is they're like that because they didn't have a brother or sister to play with and didn't develop social skills.

I don't know, honestly. I never gave it much thought. I didn't have any siblings and that was just fine with me. Too many of my friends growing up had siblings and couldn't stand them. I was considered "lucky" because it was just me. I wasn't spoiled. My parents certainly had no problem saying "no" to me if they felt I was being unreasonable. Do I tend to be slower making friends than others? Maybe. It can take me awhile to warm up to someone. Can I spend lots of time alone and not go insane? Absolutely. I enjoy time by myself.

But I think I dealt with this a lot in adulthood. You don't get to be a journalist and be shy. You won't last long in the business. Anti-social writers go by another name - authors.

Is this because I'm an only child? I have no earthly idea. And at the risk of getting loads and loads of responses from friends with anecdotal evidence to the contrary, I don't think I'm that screwed up. I'm an only child, and I'm just fine. Undamaged, as it were.

I mention all of this because Cathy has stated that IF...…

Note to family, friends and other pests: That's a big freakin' IF you're seeing there. There are no immediate plans to have children. The Five Year Plan is still firmly in effect. We work and live in Iqaluit, save lots of money, travel to cool places and then at the end of it, decide what we want to do next. Kids are not part of the Five Year Plan as they will hamper the trip to Australia. Travelling is much more important to us than kids right now.

Inquiries on if we are pregnant or thinking about it will be met with mocking and disdain.

…...anyway, if we decided to have children, then obviously we're going to have two of them. Because - see the above theory - only kids are damaged. Why she married me then, I do not know. Perhaps she wanted a fixer-upper...

I'd just as soon figure out if we (mostly me) can handle having one kid before leaping into the whole "more than one kid" thing. For all I know, two kids might just mean twice the fucking up on my part. Two kids can end up just as damaged as one if you don't have a clue as to what you're doing. Lord knows there's enough proof of that out in the world.

Then again, who knows, maybe I could do it. Some of my friends were drunks and boarderline criminals (as are most aspiring journalists, I hasten to add) when I met them 15 years or so ago. Now they are respectable parents. Anything is possible.

Currently Playing
Echoes - Pink Floyd

And now, a word about Cathy

It occurs to me, that with some of the increased traffic passing through this blog, that I occasionally might not portray Cathy in the best light. Friends and family read the blog and probably get a chuckle because they've watch her grow up, have met her or become friends with her, so they know what's going on when I write.

But if you don't know us, you might read it and go "well, that's a bit mean." Cathy has expressed this worry to me, that people might "think I'm a bit of a bitch" and it's a fair concern. This is my blog, so it's my point of view. Cathy, and she will quickly admit this, isn't a writer and has no desire to post here or start her own blog. I'm the weird one with the urge to sit down every night and write whatever is on my mind.

I may occasionally tease or grumble, but I do love her madly. Never doubt that. And keep in mind that writers are notorious liars when it suits their needs. So if it's a choice between writing what was said verbatim, or perhaps subtly changing some of the language to make the story better, well, there's a reason why "bastard" is in the title of this blog. Read anything I write about the two of us with the notice that I'm potentially exaggerating points.

So be assured that this is the happiest I've ever been in my life and that Cathy truly is one the sweetest and kindest women you could hope to meet. When my friends swing by and cackle at something Cathy has said or did that might seem a bit mean, it's because they love Cathy to pieces and get to watch someone, in their mind, finally put me in my place. She does not put up, or let me get away with, some of the crap that I'm normally used to getting away with. And that, well, that's just the best thing ever.

So Cathy is a sweetheart. My friends, on the other hand, can be perfectly evil in their own right...

Currently Playing
Nirvana - Nirvana

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring has sprung, but not here...

When chatting with Cathy last night I mentioned that Monday was the first day of Spring.

"It might be for other people, babe. But it's not for us."

Which is a fair point. Although the weather gods saw fit to give us a balmy (for the North) day. The high was -5 and calm. Which was a nice break from the past week, which saw the temperatures in the -20s and lots of wind. So with the windchill, the temperature was normally around -50. So that is a bit on the brisk side.

Still, it's going to be a long time before we see "Spring" here. Odds are there will still be snow and ice around until well into May, maybe even June. Which doesn't make it all that much different from St. John's, I guess.

It's why I've never really cared much for Spring. I think I've only experienced it, at it's normal time, once in my life. Most of us know what Spring is like in Newfoundland. Hell, more than one of you have been out camping on May 24th weekend in the snow. At least in St. John's, the leaves on trees don't start coming out in earnest until June (and are promptly eaten by the span worm by the end of July). So the whole idea of "Ahhh, Spring..." is foreign to me.


In 1997 I was in South Korea teaching English. And right around March 21, Spring happened. The temperatures got warm, leaves came out on the trees and the cherry blossoms began to bloom. By the way, blooming cherry blossom trees are among the more beautiful things in Korea. I have mixed memories about Korea, but I wouldn't mind going back just to see the cherry blossoms again.

And I remember thinking how freaky it was that in some part of the world, Spring actually happened on time. Not months later. Not some mockery of Spring, with final blasts of blizzards, sleet, grey fog and small glaciers floating by. But actual mild temperatures and cherry blossoms.

It was nice. I liked it.

And now, nearly 10 years later, I'm in a place that's going to make Spring in Newfoundland look punctual.

Ah least there is more daylight. On the first day of Spring in Iqaluit the sun rose at 5:36 a.m. and set at 5:47 p.m. Which means we get 12 hours and 11 minutes of daylight, three minutes more than St. John's. (We get a lot more sunshine than home, but I can't speak for its warmth). So in that regard, at least the long darkness is officially behind us.

Of course, talk to me again in three months time when I'm losing my mind in the 24 hour sunshine...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

And they burn good too...

And now the list that never fails to pop my blood pressure every year - the American Library Association's list of most challenged books of the year. In 2005, they received 405 challenges, meaning written requests or demands that these books be removed. It doesn't say so in press release or story I read, but I think it's at least down this year. This was the top 10:

1. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris
2. Forever by Judy Blume
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
6. Detour for Emmy by Marilyn Reynolds
7. What My Mother DoesnÂ’t Know by Sonya Sones
8. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
9. Crazy Lady! by Jane Leslie Conly
10. It's So Amazing! by Robie H. Harris

Harris is there twice because both of his books are basically sex education books. Cather in the Rye for language (and because it's an old favourite). Forever has sexuality. The Chocolate War, as best I can figure from it's Amazon listing, questions authority. Whale Talk for no reason I can figure out (maybe violence or language). What My Mother Doesn't Know is there for sexuality. Crazy Lady apparently has language. And Captain Underpants disrespects parental authority.

Trying to boycott books for dangerous ideas is something that never fails to annoy. Apparently I'm on a anti-boycott rant this weekend. But the ALA's list is an annual source of rage for me. If you don't like the book and don't want your children to read it, fine. But, you know, other parents might have a different view and have no problem with their kid reading the books. So why not just leave them in the library.

This is a CBC story on the list.

Currently Playing
So Jealous - Tegan and Sara

Saturday, March 18, 2006

March madness continues...

When I first read Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette response to an American family saying they were boycotting a vacation to Canada because of the hunt, I had kind of mixed feelings. On the one hand, you know, good for her. She spoke her mind and she did so aggressively. We're often very polite in the defence of the seal hunt. Very Canadian. So maybe after one too many of these letters or criticisms over something so minor as the hunt, she lost it and snapped off a letter. A particularly cutting and nasty letter, but I guess if your patience is done, you go "to hell with the consequences, full speed ahead."

Which leads to all sorts of recriminations the day after. News Google has 37 stories as of this writing regarding Hervieux-Payette's letter and the reaction to it. Liberals are distancing themselves, the Conservatives are saying "that's not what's needed," there is fear that it might damage U.S.-Canada relations (oh whatever, we have oil, they'll put up with more crap than this) and, of course, the anti-hunt groups are outraged.

You know, it can't be good for the blood pressure...all that outrage. I at least hope those organizations set up good health plans for their employees from all their fundraising. What's the stroke and heart attack rate in these organizations anyway?

Should she have done it? I cheered when I read it, but in retrospect, probably not. It's perhaps one of those letters you write to blow off steam, walk away from the computer for 10 minutes and then hit delete.

Do I think the American family in particular are stunned? Sure. "We are outraged. Therefore, we are staying home. We hope that shows you."

My god, there are so many worse things going on in the world than the seal hunt. And you will be hard pressed to find a better neighbour, if you're Americans, than Canada. The family is entitled to their opinion; I just wish it was a particularly intelligent, well thought out and informed one. Not coming to Canada because of the hunt? OK. I'd advise you to never leave your house then, because there are much, much, much scarier, nastier and more repulsive things happening in the world, your country, your state and probably your city than the hunt. Wouldn't want to accidentally be seen to be supporting them.

And, oh yeah, I'd advise you to cut out the meat and chicken. Or just try really hard not to think about how they got to your supper table.

I've been involved with my share of boycotts. I was with The Muse and we would do this annual bullshit boycott list. Three or four hour arguments (sometimes they went over two days) saying who we would or would not accept advertising from. No pro-choice or pro-life groups, nothing from GM (I think they did crash tests on animals), nothing from Nestle (dumping powder formula into third world countries, I believe), nothing from cosmetic companies (animal testing again) and I think there were attempts to boycott beer companies (because they were sexist).

And so on, and so forth. I grew to hate boycott lists and tried to, well, boycott them. Because they were dumb. They had no impact. Most of the groups didn't even try to advertise with us. It just seemed foolish, ineffective and a waste of time. I'm convinced that 99.9% of all boycotts have zero impact.

Just like I'm convinced the seafood boycott organized by some animal rights groups is having zero impact (Newfoundland can screw up the fishery just fine without the help of outsiders) and really, who cares if the family cancelled their vacation. It's going to make no impact. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Canada will not go bankrupt because they didn't spend a week in Toronto.

I appreciate her rant, but all Hervieux-Payette did was at best pick on the ill-informed. And worst she lowered herself to the level of idiots who think boycotts and letters to Canadian Senators made a difference and gave fire to animal rights groups.

Yeah, she should have walked away for 10 minutes and then deleted the letter. Oh well...

Hmmm, that was longer than I thought. One last link for this evening. This poster has been making the rounds throughout Iqaluit in the past week or so. The local paper ran it on Friday. It's kind of cute.

Currently Playing
Very Best of... - Dire Straits

Friday, March 17, 2006

A goodbye to Dick

Two police stories of note today.

The first is involving the two people who were found dead from gunshots in the back of a pick-up near Avondale. Not to make light of a tragic situation, but I love VOCM's "story" ( I'm not sure I can count five sentences as a story) about what happened. But one of those five sentences is a doozy.

"Officially, RCMP are not saying whether it was a murder-suicide, but they don't believe anyone else was involved."

Then it was....? Aliens? Personally, I'm thinking seals. They're getting arrogant, the little buggers, after Paul McCartney's appearance on Larry King. If the bastards learn how to drive, then murder/car jacking is next.

Call it a murder-suicide or don't, but do not do this wishy-washy, half-assed thing that appears in this story. It looks ridiculous.

Secondly, the big news of the day, is that Richard Deering is no longer Chief of the RNC. Which seem to have caught everyone by surprise. However, while there is surprise he's gone, I'll be astonished if there is much in the way of tears. As I've said before, the media in town didn't like him, I've heard that a lot of the officers on the force didn't care for him (two lawsuits are at least partial proof of that). And I bet he was becoming a nuisance for the provincial government as well.

Clearly, there is some weirdness going on. New chief Joe Browne said he was surprised, so this appears to have come out of the blue. That's also backed up by Justice Minister Tom Marshall's reluctance to talk about why Deering is leaving. "Private reasons" is only going to cut it so far. It's a legitimate question to ask if he's going to keep getting paid for the next year. It's legitimate to wonder if the recent Auditor General criticisms had anything to do with it.

I suspect it will all come out eventually. Too many people disliked Deering. Someone on the force or in government is going to leak it sooner or later.

I'm glad to see he's gone. He did some good things, but he was too much of a distraction. I don't take glee out of this because "screw the pigs" or any such foolishness. It's one of those things as you get older, you tend to appreciate police a little more. I've changed my mind on them handling firearms, for example. I was against it initially, because I didn't think much of the professional ability of the police. I still have my concerns. But hey, if you're going to ask these guys to go and break up a domestic disturbance when one of them is out of his mind on Oxy and might have a weapon, then they least you can do is give them guns.

No, I take some small glee out of this because I always thought Deering was a jerk. I know some who liked him, and that's fine. But he always rubbed me the wrong way. Too quick tempered and petty for my liking. So I'm glad he's gone. Hopefully Browne can do a better job.

Currently Playing
Elevator - Hot Hot Heat

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Warren Ellis

"If you want to celebrate St Pat's today, eat a raw potato, build a house out of peat and get yourself
shot by an Englishman."

The rest of Ellis' St. Pat's day well wishes can be read here.

As for myself (not remotely Irish) and Cathy (clearly descended from the Irish) we plan a nice quiet evening at home and perhaps breaking open a bottle of Irish whiskey or something. And then we might call and harass Dups.

You say that you too would like to call Dups and leave him a drunken, or at least harassing, message? Excellent. Go here to get his number.

Currently Playing
Treeful of Starling - Hawksley Workman

Thursday, March 16, 2006

How big is your district?

With the Election Boundaries Commission having started up, I've been thinking for awhile doing something on it. I wrote a couple of stories back when I was with The Express on it, and it's a story I've been watching closely.

Then Liam posted something on it, mostly about how disappointed they won't be getting rid of more seats in the House of Assembly. Then Ed got involved and then things went normally the way a conversation goes with the two of them go at it.

So let's ignore the question of whether or not 48 is too many seats for Newfoundland. Let's instead look at where those seats are going to end up. Because that's where the racket is going to be.

Now, a caveat off the top here. I'm doing this from memory. I'm coming down with a flu this evening and I'm not in the mood to dig through government documents to verify every fact. So if I get something wrong, I apologize, but kindly don't beat it to death with a hammer.

My understanding is this: Each provincial district has to be within 10 per cent of each other when it comes to population. There are exceptions to this rule, and they're in Labrador. Because of the size of some of these districts, they allow up to 25 per cent difference in population. Besides, if they stuck to the hard and fast rules, Labrador would lose at least one, maybe two seats in the House through redistribution. Good luck being the party that wants to run that one through and ever win another seat in Labrador.

Where things get interesting is that rural Newfoundland has been decimated since the last time a boundary commission was formed. Some districts have lost a lot of their population. On the other hand, the St. John's metro area has, if not increased in population, certainly significantly increased in its proportion of the total population of Newfoundland. In 1993, when I think the last commission happened, St. John's made up 15 to 20 per cent of the province's population (a guess, I admit), the St. John's Metro area (the city, Mount Pearl, Paradise, CBS, Torbay, St. Phillips, etc) makes up, what 40 per cent of the population now?

So here's the question to ask: Do you give St. John's the proper number of seats, even if then gives it more political power (and doesn't it deserve that power, based on its size?). Or do you introduce the 25 per cent rule from Labrador to the island. Because aside from political power being concentrated in the city, most urban MHAs do dick all. However, the rural MHAs are normally going flat out trying to answer the concerns of their constituents.

I think the 25 per cent rule is coming to the island because giving too much power to St. John's is also political suicide. But it'll be interesting to see what happens.

Currently Playing
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood - Neko Case

Not alone

I still think MUN behaved terribly during the whole Chandra Affair and that they haven't been nearly contrite enough. However, it appears they're hardly the only Canadian university engaging in fraud.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) reports they gave more than $12 million to projects in which researchers have been found to be violating research ethics or integrity rules since 2003. Those schools include Dalhousie University, McGill University, McMaster University, Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, Universite de Montreal, and Universite de Sherbrooke.

This is my favourite section in the piece:

CIHR has also complained that its investigations are hampered by government secrecy and unco-operative universities. The documents released by CIHR reveal universities, in some cases, have let misconduct investigations drag on so long that researchers accused of faking results or unethical conduct had moved on to new jobs or left the country.

Sound familiar?

So MUN is in good company, apparently. I guess the only difference is that none of these schools, so far, have had hour long documentaries done on their fraud on national television. Still, you can't help but feel that the more this type of story comes out, the more diluted MUN's offence becomes. They weren't the only ones doing it; they were just the trailblazers.

Currently Playing
Failer - Kathleen Edwards

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


A reminder of...

Why I am not worthy - Mike Wallace is cutting back on his time at 60 Minutes at age 87. Dear Jesus. What drives a man to keep going that hard at that age?

Why I never really liked Annie Proux's work - It's a world class rant, I'll grant you that. But this article in the Guardian expressing her dismay that Brokeback Mountain lost to Crash redefines petty. I had been debating catching Brokeback before it left town. However, I think I'll pass. Supporters of that movie have been entirely too sookie since it lost. Grow the fuck up and deal with it already.

Why my former boss really needs a long vacation - Steve really is a good guy and a good editor, but I always knew running The Express was eventually going to cause him to lose his mind. The poor guy has to deal with more crap than any one person really should have to. Apparently, he might have finally lost it.

Why Donnie Power is the best sports writer in the province - You know, it's not even the writing in the story, which is good as always. It's asking the right question and getting the guy (or girl) to relax and open up. And Brad Gushue is obviously very relaxed in this story. The bit about having to move because there is no way he could live on Mark Nichols Place is classic.

Why I should really stay away from conservative blogs - It's not Damian's comments, which are well reasoned; he hasn't seen V For Vendetta yet, but he has his worries. It's the comments section that I should have known better about. Makes me wonder what I was thinking when I believed I could just pop by and quickly defend the book and express my hopes for the movie. Ah well, live and learn.

Currently Playing
Truthfully, Truthfully - The Joel Plaskett Emergency

Conversations with Cathy, part 5

Cathy: I'm becoming concerned that our lives are becoming nothing more than fodder for your blog.

Craig: I hardly think it's gotten that bad.

Cathy: It's getting there. The bit on the census and talking about how we met are just the recent examples. Admit it, I'm little more than blog fodder for you.

Craig: You know that's not true. I just have to occasionally dip into our lives. I said I was going to write something on the blog every day, and it can be hard sometimes. The blog is hungry, my dear. It needs new material.

Cathy: Whatever, I just're thinking about putting this conversation up on the blog, aren't you?

Craig: Well, it is kind of cute...

Cathy: Oh lord...

Currrently Playing
Down at the Kyber - The Joel Plaskett Emergency

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Stood up, been counted

So we get a knock on our door about 9:15 last night, which kind of started us. You have to understand, we live in a secure apartment building. Not only do you need an electronic pass key to get access to the lobby, but that pass key will only take you to your floor. Which means that people just don't "drop by."

And considering how much I've cursed on neighbours for either A. Smoking dope and not being smart enough to turn on a kitchen fan or B. Blasting music loud enough that when talking long distance to our parents back in St. John's they tell us to turn down the music because they're having problems hearing us, we're not all the chatty with them.

So yeah, knocking on the door that late at's a bit odd.

Turns out it was our friendly neighbourhood census taker, fresh up from down south somewhere. Seems they're having problems getting enough people in Iqaluit to do census taking, so they have to import them. And according to the guy, the only time they can get anyone home is between 6-10, so that's when they're doing most of their work.

That ought to make them popular.

Still, we did our part, although he must have thought we were retarded when trying to figure out how much we made last year (in fairness I had salary from The Express, EI and my new job) and then trying to work out how much we paid in federal tax.

The federal government are right bastards, by the way. There were one or two loaded questions there designed, I'm sure, to increase divorce rates. One of them was "how many hours a week do you spend doing unpaid housework activities such as cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc." And they asked each of us.

Now fortunately, I do my share because, you know, I'm not suicidal. But you can just imagine the rackets this might lead to in some households. "Sure I can tell you how much time each week he spends doing housework. Zero. The lazy bastard."

We did what he called "the big census" although I honestly recall in previous years they used to send out the mother of all census forms to something like one in 10 people, which would ask about religion, sexual preference and that sort of thing. The 2006 is the "smaller" census (the next big one is 2011), so maybe they eased back on the questions. Answering this only took about 15-20 minutes and we were chatting with him as we were going through it.

The most interesting thing was when I said I was looking forward to finding out, when the census was compiled, on how many people there are in Iqaluit. It has always seemed to me that the oft quoted number of 6,500 is a bit low. The guy said that Statscan's estimate for the community currently stands around 9,000. It'll be interesting to see how close they are.

By the way, that is phenomenal growth. A little more than a decade ago, Iqaluit had 3,500 people. Now it's approaching 10,000. It's a booming place. No wonder a decent house starts at $350,000.

Currently Playing
Elevator - Hot Hot Heat

Monday, March 13, 2006

A blog on how we met...

I enjoyed how Mireille put up on her blog how her and her husband met. I knew most of the specifics, but there were still details in there that I had either forgotten or didn't know to begin with. (Like the short skirt on the bike... you're such a wench, my dear...;) )

Anyway, I thought it would be amusing to read how other people hooked up with their husband or wife. So feel free to pick up on this meme and spread it to your blog. In that spirit, I'll tell how myself and Cathy hooked up. Some of you already know the story. However, I seem to have a lot more traffic from people I don't know wandering by lately. So perhaps this will amuse you. And for those of you who know it, well then maybe there will be details that will surprise you.

By my recollection, I first heard of the existence of Cathy in 1999. It was having a conversation with my friend Suzy where I was lamenting my single status and was becoming quickly resigned to never finding a woman. This was not a unique conversation. I have had it many times, with so many of my friends that there were times they likely wanted to whack me with a hammer to shut me up.

This one, however, turned out to be memorable. This isn't a verbatim recollection, but the gist of it is there.

C. I will never find anyone at this rate. I'm 29 and have now reached the state where jetting out of provinces to meet women I chat with online is a good idea (Note: I've only done this twice and, oddly, one of them reads this blog).

S. You need to relax. I have someone perfect for you.

C. Who? Where? When can I meet her?

S. Well, you can't meet her right now; she's not ready yet.

C. What? She needs another 20 minutes at 350 degrees? Come on, Suzy. Who is she?

S. Her name is Cathy, but she's not ready yet. She still has to realize that her current boyfriend is an asshole and dump him.

C. (slightly depressed) Oh, that's all. Jesus, Suzy. That could take forever. Women have been known to go out with assholes for years before even realizing they're assholes. Then they have to try and fix them before they can even think about dumping them because they've invested too much time in them.

S. Patience, Craig. She'll figure it out. Even her mom calls the guy an asshole, to his face (True, by the way).

C. Yeah. Well, we'll see. And you'll pardon me if I don't wait around for her.

So, about two years pass and, unsurprisingly, I remained single. Cathy discovers that her boyfriend is, in fact, an asshole and things end between them. She does some travelling in Europe and teaches in Ontario for a year before heading home. I've moved back into St. John's after spending three years working in Clarenville. I had seen Cathy around a couple of times but she was always with some guy, so I just assumed they were going out (they weren't) and that Suzy was full of shit.

In early November, myself and Suzy head to see Monsters Inc. Just as we enter the Mall, Suzy goes "Oh yeah, forgot to mention, Erin (another friend) and Cathy are going to meet us at the theatre." Fortunately, I am too stunned to realize that this was an obvious set-up on Suzy and Erin's part.

All is going well and we're chatting amongst ourselves. Cathy manages, at some point, to spill popcorn on herself. Rather than just picking it up off her shirt using her hands, she begins eating the popcorn off her breasts (clad in a shirt, perverts), giggling away. And I, sadly, thought the following: "Well, clearly this is a woman I need to get to know a bit better."

After the movie, Suzy and Erin unsubtly dashed ahead leaving us alone. We chatted, discovered a mutual love of Harry Potter. Since the first Potter movie was going to open the following week, I asked her if she wanted to come along with us. A group of about a dozen people were going opening night. She agreed.

We went to the movie, made sure we sat together and shared a popcorn. She also joined us at the Duke for the after-movie analysis. And while, yes, she was there because she liked hanging out with everyone, she was also patiently sitting in the cigarette smoke for about three hours (she's allergic) waiting for me to ask her out.

As she was leaving, and picking up on the death glares of several of the women sitting at the table, I popped up and asked if she was busy Tuesday night because I had a pair of complimentary tickets to see Voices of Avalon (Anitia Best, Colleen Power, Vicki Hynes and Pamela Morgan) at the Arts and Culture Centre. She said yes, she'd like to go.

Which was great. I was in a good mood until I realized one little snafu.

I, in fact, had no tickets to the show. It was just the first thing I could think of to ask her to that didn't involve another movie.

So I was at the box office waiting for it to open the next day and, much to my relief, they had tickets.

The date went well. Other dates went well over the next couple of weeks. However, I had not kissed her yet. Which was perplexing the hell out of her and she was beginning to wonder if this was a "just friends" thing. So, after a coffee date she apparently got tired of waiting and kissed me to see what would happen.

She will cheerfully point out to everyone that she kissed me first. However, I did propose. I think that balances things out.

Things went quite well from there, obviously. There is one more thing worth mentioning. A few weeks after the first kiss, we did Scottish New Year's at our friend Anne's house. It was the first time Anne had seen us together since Harry Potter. She informed me during the evening that Cathy was the One and I was going to marry her.

Anne's kind of scary like that...

Currently Playing
The Hard and the Easy - Great Big Sea

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Should it stay, or should it go?

It's been a quiet few months on the music front for me. January or February are dead months in the music industry. Then again, if you believe the record companies it's a dead time of the year all the time now, what with them pesky music downloaders and everything.

Anyway, the point being I haven't picked up much in the way of new music the last couple of months. However, that's changed in the last week when I finally found some music that I wanted to give a chance. Those new albums include: My Flame Burns Blue by Elvis Costello, Let It Die by Feist (yes, I know it's been out awhile, but I only just tracked it down), Treeful of Starling by Hawksley Workman, Back to Bedlam by James Blunt, Little Willies by The Little Willies (Norah Jones and friends doing country covers) and Fox Confessor Brings The Flood by Neko Case.

I'm only just starting to play them so I don't really have a good feel yet as to whether or not I'm going to fall in love with them yet. I like some of the tracks on the Costello record and I have a deep, abiding love for his song "God give me strength" which he redoes here on this record, live, with a jazz/swing orchestra. Workman's album is quieter than previous releases, but still engaging.

And I can listen to Neko Case all day long. Case perplexes the hell our of Cathy. I really, truly hate most country music. Yet, there are exceptions. Allison Krauss is one; Case is another. Case is primarily a country musician (except for her work with the New Pornographers). But what can I say, I love the voice. It's probably my favourite voice in all of music. And Furnace Room Lullaby is one of my favourite records.

The problem with getting all of this new music is that my iPod is getting near the breaking point. There is now 885 mb left on it. Which is probably enough room for another 8-10 records. That means crunch time is coming. It means that along with listening to the new stuff, I'm also listening to other records which haven't been played a lot to determine if they're staying or being purged.

It's likely not a permanent purge. I have a back-up hard drive (the hard drive on my iBook is a sadly tiny 30 gigs) so some of it can stay there. But it's going to have to vanish from the iPod in short order.

So what's on the cutting block? The Arcade Fire by The Arcade Fire, Silent Alarm by The Bloc Party, Broken Social Scene by Broken Social Scene, Brushfire Fairytales and In-Between Dreams by Jack Johnson, Mind, Body and Soul by Joss Stone, Live at the Filmore by Lucinda Williams, I by The Magnetic Fields, Greatest Hits by Melissa Etheridge, Wildflower by Sheryl Crow, Best of The Specials and Apologies to the Queen Mary by The Wolf Parade.

It's not that they're bad albums. It's either they haven't grabbed me or I've listen to them enough now and are kind of bored with them. I have records that I will get bored with, but I know I will revisit. I'm a little bored with Matthew Good currently, but I know that will change in six months time and I'll going on a listening frenzy for his stuff. Same thing with Tom Waits. But, for example, I think I'm done with Lucinda Williams record.

I might also go through and trim some of the Greatest Hits collections. Not everything from Queen is worth listen to. The same can be said for REM. I'll likely leave the Beatles and U2 collections along, because I went through a lot of nuisance to get all those recordings.

So there you go. If you want to make a pitch to save one of these records from the digital scrap heap, by all means, leave a comment. Or if you have any suggestions, drop a line.

It's harder to find new music these days. Yes, some of it can be the usual grumblings from older people that music just isn't as good as when they were growing up (which is bullshit. I grew up in the 80s. The great bands sprang forth from that decade can be counted on two hands). Part of it is I used to get some new music from the radio, and that's not so much an option these days.

And part of it is I miss my friends. Back with the Muse I used to get carpet bombed with new music. I had friends with CHMR bringing new music into the office all the time. Record companies used to throw tapes at us (ah yes, I am that old now apparently. How very depressing). A lot of it was garbage, but you would find gems like Tori Amos or Nirvana. We'd all try to find new music to show off to each other. These days, even with greater ways of finding new music, it just seems harder to track down something I like.

Too much variety, it seems, means a lot more garbage making it that much harder to find the gems.

Currently Playing
In-Between Dreams - Jack Johnson

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Goddamn lawyers...

The saga of the Tim Hortons cup gets stranger. All of the people who responded to my previous post said the 10-year-old girl, or more specifically her parents, should get the prize.

However, now we have lawyers involved, so there is this bit of surreality. DNA testing on the Goddamn cup to determine who owned it before the girl found it. If this isn't the stupidest non-political thing to happen in Canada this year (so far) I'm open to suggestions as to what else might be.

You know, I'm cursing out lawyers here, and I should probably apologize to my friends who are lawyers because they would likely tell the person he's an idiot and it's his own bloody fault and does he really want to be known as the guy that's going to take a 10-year-old girl to court.

So it's not lawyers (well, it's still a nice chunk of lawyers), but humans. Goddamn humans. Pesky bastards...

Currently Playing
Let It Die - Feist

Friday, March 10, 2006

How much?

So how much am I willing to pay to see a musical act in Iqaluit? That question came when I began seeing ads for The Navigators around town. The band is playing here next weekend which is, of course, St. Patrick's Day weekend. This is utterly without coincidence. It's common knowledge back home that many of the really good traditional bands don't stay in St. John's during St. Paddy's day because they can make so much more money playing somewhere else on the mainland.

Here's the thing though, I don't really think I can justify spending $50 a ticket to see the Navigators. There are several reasons for this. First, I don't think I've spent $50 to see any single band in my life. There are acts I will do this for, of course. That I would spend much more than $50. I would for U2. I would for Springsteen. But the Navigators? I just can't seem to make myself pull the trigger.

There's also Cathy's theory on how much you should pay for a band. She is perpetually rotted by how much Great Big Sea charges whenever they play in town. I mean, how much are tickets for their shows at the Arts and Culture Centre? $50 or $60, isn't it? (So much for the "we never charge more than $35 a ticket for our shows because we feel that's too much" that an official with the ACC once told me).

Anyway, Cathy saw the band when they were first starting out for about $5. I can remember seeing them opening for the Irish Descendents at the TSC and spending maybe $15. She believes that as someone who supported the band when they were starting out, and who still has the ticket stubs to prove it (I get mocked for my comics, but it is not dissimilar to the obsessiveness of people who scrapbook, but I digress) that she should get a discount. In fact, she should get a ticket for $5.

It doesn't quite work that way, but I do understand her line of thinking. I recall seeing the Barenaked Ladies at the TSC and spending $10 and the place was still half full. When they played Mile One a decade later and wanted $55 for the lousy seats well, I had problem pulling the trigger on buying tickets, even though I would have liked to have seen them.

This is a roundabout way of saying - I could see the Navigators for $5 on George Street on almost any given weekend and the place certainly wouldn't have been packed. And to quote a friend, they're also "Just Another Fucking Irish/Newfie" (JAFIN) band. So yes, a bit of home would be welcome. And yes, there is the cost of getting a band up here. And yes, it's St. Paddy's day.

But are we going to drop $100 to see them? Nope. we're not nearly that homesick.

The Clotheshanger state...

I was contemplating another rant against South Dakota, but then I discovered that Liam already has a pretty good, world class rant going. That includes the absolutely horrific quote from South Dakota state Senator Bill Napoli that makes assisted suicide look like a better option for the woman than an abortion since she would likely be 90% dead anyway. I'd read it before, on Warren Ellis site, but time has not made it any less revulsive.

So no, Liam has it pretty well down and I see no need to really repeat it. So instead, I give you this amusing graphic that I found on Frink Tank. It's an excellent blog, by the way. It pokes fun at different science stories. Or as the haiku on the side of the page reads:

Four media whores
Who love science, but think it
Could use more dick jokes.

Anyway, this amused me.

Currently Playing
Final Straw - Snow Patrol

Thursday, March 09, 2006

And now a word from our sponsors...

I read a lot of news. A frankly ridiculous amount of news. Just one of those things. Most days there isn't much to talk about, to be quite honest. The usual political stuff, which is sometimes interesting, but a lot of times isn't. But today, for whatever reason, these four stories caught my eye.

1. In the best news I've heard all week, Canadian Tire announced they are dropping the annoying bearded guy as their spokesman. "Ted" and "Gloria" (his "wife") have been the spokespersons for the chain for the past eight years. I love this line from the story: "internal research showed that they were starting to wear on consumers by late last year."

Late last year? They've been annoying me for many, many years. Good riddance. Next on the hit list...Jared from Subway.

2. Something that makes perfect sense really. If you recall you elementary school social studies, you may recall that the national motto for Canada, the one that's on our coat of arms is "A mari usque ad mare" which is "from sea to sea." The problem is, Canada is boardered by three seas. We're kind of leaving one out.

Which is why the NDP MP from the Northwest Territories is planning on bringing forward a motion to change the motto from sea to sea to sea or "A mari ad mare ad mare." Another phrase could be "A mari usque ad maria" - from sea to other seas.

You know, I live near the sea that is frequently ignored (Iqaluit actually boarders the very, very North Atlantic) so I think it's a grand idea. It's really a minor amount of work and would help make the North feel more included. So why the heck not...

3. I'm happy they've found liquid water on one of Saturn's moons and that it's leading to all kinds of speculation about the possibility of life, albeit microscopic, on that moon. I always love reading this stuff, although it gets a bit depressed at time. I've long resigned myself to the fact that, despite boyhood assertations, I will never be an astronaut. But I really did think I would get a chance to get into space. That we would have a real, honest to goodness space station in my life time and maybe even a moon base.

Now, doesn't look as likely. We're probably not even getting to Mars in my lifetime. So unless the critters living on Saturn's moon pop by for a visit and take me cruising, I'm stuck here. But taking me out for a spin? That would be ok.

4. I know at least three lawyers visit my blog, so this story is for them. Ten-year-old girl find a Tim Hortons cup in the garbage with the rim unrolled. Her little fingers can't roll it so she asks a nearby 12-year-old to do it. Voila, there's a brand new SUV under the rim.

The question is, who gets the SUV? The 10-year-old girls parents are saying its theirs. The other girl's parents are threatening to take it to court. And apparently the teacher who threw away the cup might also sue.

I'm leaning towards the 10-year-old girl and that if her parents wanted to, as a kind gesture, but by no means are they obligated to, could give the other girl 10 per cent of the money (the vehicle is worth about $28,000). Cathy agrees, and has used playground rules to defend her stance: "Whoever had it first, it's theirs. That's how we settle things."

Oh lawyerly-type people...what's your take?

Currently Playing
Underdogs - Matthew Good Band

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

So very wrong...

I know I shouldn't, I really do. But talking about comics and seals tripped this particular memory, buried deep in my brain. And this is one of my all-time favourite comic book covers from a quiet gem of a series. This particular story has a mad scientist killing all the creatures at an aqaurium and then using his special gas to resurrect them all. The characters on the cover have to go through zombie penguins, sharks, and yes, seals, in order to escape.

From there you have the classic "Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium." Stupid? Oh absolutely. Funny? Quite possibly one of the funniest comics I've ever read. Providing you can handle the violence, of course....

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


It's no surprise that I'm a Neil Gaiman fan. I have been since the late 80s when Geoff Seymour at Timemasters responded to my inquiry of "Got anything you recommend?" when I was bored one evening by thrusting the first three issues of Sandman into my hands. I was instantly hooked.

I confess I'm more fond of Gaiman's comic book work than his novels, like American Gods or Anansi Boys. They're fine, but they're no Sandman.

And they're also no StardustStardust, which is probably my second favourite Gaiman work.

There are two versions of Stardust. One is a straight prose novel; the other is a graphic novel featuring the lovely illustrations of Charles Vess. If you can find it (go to your local comic book store) I highly recommend the graphic novel version. Gaiman tells a wonderful story, but it really is missing something without the great Vess artwork.

I mention this because it's been announced that the movie is going to start filming later this month. Gaiman mentions it quickly and there is more information on the movie at Aint It Cool.

Why am I going on at length about this? As I said, I have a severe soft spot for the work. Also, the cast (Claire Danes, Robert DeNero and Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) is pretty damn impressive. Plus, one of the reasons I love the comic? It reminds me a lot of The Princess Bride, which is one of my top five favourite movies of all time. It's got that same fairy tale, adventure, humour and true love feel to it. If you liked the Princess Bride, you should like this.

The Aint It Cool article also mention something else: That Stardust undoubtedly got the green light because fantasy (see Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia) seems to be doing quite well these days. There's going to be a lot of fantasy movies in the coming years, many of them bad. And this is fantasy, a genre I normally have no time for, but I just like its heart. What can I say...

No idea of a release date. Probably won't be until next year, or this Christmas at the earliest. But I'll be there to see it. And so should you.

Currently Playing
Furnace Room Lullaby - Neko Case

How low can you go?

Or perhaps another way to look at it is, where is the Conservative ceiling? I mean, I would have thought there would be more than 20 per cent hardcore Liberal support in this province and the odds of the Conservatives ever cracking 70 per cent in popular support would be remote.

And yet, you look at Corporate Research Associates latest poll and there it is. The Conservatives have 69 per cent support. Danny Williams has 71 per cent support. And this was before the thing on Larry King, which is mostly getting positive comments from people back home. And before a budget that even Liberal leader Jim Bennett says will be good news.

I also enjoy the line about this being a "good base to build from." He's also said, which he has to, that the Liberals will win the next provincial election, in 18 months time.

Yes, 18 per cent. Which I guess is better than zero, which is where the Liberals seem to be heading at the rate they're going over the past nine months. When was the last time the Liberals in Newfoundland were at 18 per cent?

Even Ed, bless his soul, realizes that things are looking desperate for the provincial Liberals. He also said that, "Heck, the numbers aren't even there that would lead me to believe the Liberals will win the same number of seats they currently have."

I think we might have to start asking the New Brunswick question. Everyone remember when Frank McKenna ran the table and won every seat in that Legislature? Can Williams do the same thing in 2007?

I don't think so, but boy is he going to do some damage to the opposition. First, With Jack Harris stepping down in Signal Hill, it means the Conservatives are likely to sweep St. John's. I suspect some Liberals might just take their pension and run, rather than face another four years in opposition getting hammered and looking weak. So kiss some of those seats good-bye.

A few hardcore Liberals, who are popular constituency men, and Labrador - which normally goes Liberal - might be the only hold outs. If in the next 18 months Williams lands successful deals for Hebron and the Lower Churchill - which is possible - and continues to mend bridges with the unions, you could see an opposition of five or few seats. I'll call my prediction now, which is insane with an election that far out, but here it goes: Conservatives - 43, Liberals - 4, NDP - 1.

By the way, if that happens I'll be horrified. I think Williams has done a mostly solid job as premier. Certainly better than Grimes, Tulk and Tobin. But you need a good opposition to keep you honest. One that small is a joke. I'd be seriously worried if it happens. It's pretty close for Williams to do carte blanche, which is never a good thing.

But unless Williams stumbles mightily, or Bennett is a bigger political genius than I'm detecting so far, it's looking awfully likely.

Currently Playing
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood - Neko Case

Timekiller of the day...

There's no need to thank's satisfaction enough knowing you will be horrified, yet playing this game regardless, while pretending to do work.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Curling with Puppies. (It's how Brad Gushue likes to relax. Honest. Except he uses real ones.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dead man travelling

I had an interesting conversation this past weekend with my friend Dups . If you know Dups, then you know the word “interesting” can frequently also mean “insane,” “crazy,” “ridiculous,” and “beyond retarded.”

If you don’t know Dups, read on and learn.

Dups has gleefully announced his vacation plans for this summer. He has managed to con work into giving him two months off. During that period he’s going to fly to London, England. From there he’s going to travel to Shanghi, China via train. With stops in parts of western Europe, Russia, Siberia and Mongolia. He’s also planning on climbing Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, along the way.

He’s inquired if anyone is interested in joining him. Considering many of his friends have, behind his back, called this “Dead Dups Tour – 2006”, there has been, oddly enough, no takers. We’ve been thinking about getting a website as a sort of clearing house of photos when Dups was still alive and to take odds of him surviving those two months.

Even Dups seems kind of blaise about his odds of survival, cheerfully recounting horror stories of visas, train tickets and getting permission to climb the mountain. “They won’t give me much information about it,” he relayed. “Apparently someone died trying to climb it in 2004 and they’ve been reluctant to give out information ever since because they’re afraid it’ll hurt tourism."

Which sounds like a perfectly Russian thing to do. And would cause most sane people pause for thought on the whole “climbing the mountain where they keep how many people die a secret” thing. Fortunately, “Dups” and “sane” are two words that rarely end up in the same sentence.

This past weekend I was told about how he had to get extra life insurance because his plan, should his corpse be dumped in the Siberian wastes after running afoul of the Russian mob, was that the money from the policy be used to fly all of his friends to St. John’s to watch his body be put in a dory off Logy Bay and then set on fire. Afterwards, everyone would go to the Duke and get drunk off whatever money is remaining.

I just hope they remove the liver before the bonfire. It should be studied thoroughly as a miracle of modern biology. Dups claims to have a Masters in History. He really has a Masters of Alcoholism.

Anyway, while chatting with me, he told me that he’s considering make me the sole beneficiary of one of the extra life insurance policies.

“What? Why me?” I inquired.

“It’s my last act of revenge,” he said. “You can only get the money after you finish completing my biography.” And then he cackled.

Guess who has the last laugh, my friend. Here’s the deal. If you die* and leave me enough money to take a year or two off work and be able to travel (I have to go and visit the people I need to interview), I will write your biography. A real, honest-to-goodness book. No problem. In fact, it will be my pleasure to do so.

Something for you to think on while you consider getting that extra insurance policy. Such as “why would I be so eager to do so?”

I can think of two reasons – the dead can’t edit. And I don’t believe in ghosts.

So Dups, show me the money….

*I don’t actually want him to die. He was best man at my wedding, so that means I do like him. Plus, it would make the wedding photos depressing to look at. "Oh him. That's Dups. He's dead now."

There I times when I say I do, but it’s generally a temporary infuriation thing, like when the idiot used to call me hammered at 3 a.m. He doesn’t do that anymore. Cathy had a “talk” with him. Oddly, I think that was about the time he started losing all that weight and gave up eating animals.

Currently Playing
Truthfully, Truthfully - Joel Plaskett Emergency

Break out the clotheshangers...

South Dakota passes law banning nearly all abortions. Even rape and incest are not acceptable reasons to have one. Anyone caught performing one can get up to five years in jail.

It's suppose to go into effect as of July 1, but court challenges will prevent that from happening. If it does succeed, many years from now, well, I imagine clinics in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are going to be busy.

You know, this is going to eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I think it would be funny, if all the rangling, protesting, hand-wringing and protests, if the court went and unanimously held up Roe v. Wade.

By the way, I'm pro-choice. Any comments calling me a murder, baby killer, etc are just going to be deleted, so don't even bother.

Poor John...

Judging by some of the comments I've read in other media, it seems John Stewart is going to be down there with Chris Rock and Dave Letterman in the annal of Oscar hosting history.

It's a pity, really. He seem to get his feet under him as the broadcast went on, but he looked nervous as hell during the opening monologue. And that's where hosts live and die. It started off well, with the video clip of all the other hosts saying "Hell, no", but then went down hill.

That was part of the problem. he had a few good zingers ("And now, a tribute to montages), but most of the time he was overwelmed by the video clips: a history of gay cowboys and the politcs of best actress were damn funny.

Also not helping? That right after Stewart's weak opening the first award was for best support actor and George Clooney goes up and gives a great speech, filled with charm. I'm hardly the only one who thought "Hey, I bet he'd make a good Oscar host."

The final nails in the coffin are the over night ratings. It's only the second time since 1987 the show drew less than 40 million people.

As for my picks, not too bad I guess. Once again, Best Supporting Actress lured me in and destroyed me. Just like a woman, I suppose. As for Crash winning, well, I guess my theory on there rarely being Oscar upsets went down in flames. I thought the stories about the movie making a late surge was just publicity to make the awards more interesting. Oooops. This is why I don't bet money on these things.

So now the 2005 movies are over and done with. Here's hoping 2006 will be better, although so far they've been awful. Here's hoping that changes on March 17 when V For Vendetta finally opens...

Currently Playing
A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar picks

Nothing like leaving this to the last minute. I guess it indicates my lack of interest in this year's Oscar's. Still, it's a long standing tradition that I make my best guess, and so here it goes:

Best Picture
Brokeback Mountain. Pay no heed to those saying Crash might be a surprise. Every year people try and promote a long shot that might pull an upset. In recent memory, it's only happened once, when Shakespeare in Love robbed Saving Private Ryan.

Best Director
Ang Lee. Spielberg already has two. People seem to like Capote more for the acting than the actual film and Clooney is getting nailed with vote splitting where he is nominated all over the place.

Best Actor
Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Pretty much a lock. I almost feel bad for Heath Ledger. I think Hoffman is going to be nominated again. You got to wonder how many times Ledger is going to get this much attention.

Best Actress
Reese Witherspoon. Let's hope she makes some better post-Oscar choices than some other recent winners of this award (Hello, Halle Berry).

Best Supporting Actor
George Clooney. There's been some talk of Paul Giamatti getting this because he was robbed of a nomination last year for Sideways. Maybe, but I think they want to reward Clooney, who had a heck of a year and backed some courageous movies. This is his best shot.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams. I haven't seen the movie or even heard that much about it. But the academy likes to do weird things in this category. I'm tempted to pick Rachael Weisz, but I saw The Constant Gardner and while I thought she did okay, it didn't grab me that much. Still, it's a toss up. This category is the Oscar predictor graveyard.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Brokeback Mountain. You're nominated that much, you've got to win a few.

Best Original Screenplay
Crash. Paul Haggis's movie isn't going to win that much this evening. He will get this one. Good Night, and Good Luck is also a strong possibility, but I'll stick with Crash

Best Animated Feature
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Pretty much a lock for this one, and well it should be.

As for the rest, it's total guesswork and honestly, no one cares. They really are better off casting some of these awards off into the technical awards ghetto. The number of people who care about Best Sound Mixing who are not relatives or involved in sound mixing can be counted on one hand. So I'm not even going to bother. The only awards I'm interested in, I've made my picks.

Now here's hoping that Jon Stewart doesn't stink up the place...

Currently Playing
Live It Out - Metric