Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pictures of recent days...

It's the last day before Cathy goes home and I don't get to see her for five weeks. You were expecting something wordy this evening?

Some random pictures of recent days.



Boo discovers the doggy joys of sticking his head out the window.




The sun was actually out for the first time in weeks today. So the light on this Inukshuk is actually quite nice.




Purple saxifrage is not all over the place and adds some much needed colour.




Sorry, forget what the name of this plant is called. I haven't seen much around, so it's obviously early in the season for it.




I was recently asked for a picture of the two of us and it dawned on me that the last one we have was taken is Disneyland last August. So here's our yearly update of us as a couple.

Friday, June 29, 2007

News of the day

A couple of actual interesting stories in the Globe and Mail today...

1. This one about Facebook and all of the new apps being added stuck a chord with me. Every day I’m being asked to ad some new app (I believe being asked to be turned into a zombie was the latest bombardment) and I already think my Facebook page is getting too crowded with junk. In fact, I suspect there will be a small purge after Cathy leaves this weekend. Honestly, who cares about horoscopes and fortune cookies? The movies one and perhaps one on what books or comics I’ve read might go there, but after that...

2. Cueing up for the “Jesus Phone” is pretty amusing and also gives some insight into the kind of people that would line up for days just to buy an, admittedly, pretty cool phone. Not many seem to want the actual phone so much as the attention or the opportunity or auction it off.

3. There’s this article about Newfoundland nationalism and how we should take it seriously. Yes, well, I’m a Newfoundlander and I take Newfoundland Nationalism about as serious as cotton candy. I’ll have more on this on July 1, when I’m sure there will be a healthy number of Newfoundland nationalist wankers flying flags at half mast or wearing black arm bands back home.

4. Speaking of not taking things seriously, and obviously it’s early yet, but the initial reviews for Transformers have been...positive. Almost a touch giddy, even. Given that this is a movie based on a popular toy line (and cartoon) and directed by Michael Bay, who has yet to direct a movie that hasn’t overwhelmed the senses, I was expected a horror show of reviews. And yet, no.

Transformers was never going to be the summer movie for me. I was a touch too old to appreciate them when they first came out (now if someone wants to do a Micronauts or Shogun Warriors movie, I’m so there). Sadly, I kind of suspect Spider-man 3 was the one I was really looking forward to, and that didn’t pan out well. Out of what’s left of the summer, I imagine Harry Potter (book and movie) will be it.

Still, it’s encouraging that it’s getting good reviews. Although I think I might wait until I get back to St. John’s to see it. I suspect the small screens of Iqaluit really aren’t going to do proper justice to that kind of spectacle.

5. The last episode of Studio 60 aired last night. In something approaching ironic, I think, the last four episodes have been among the best of the season. They were aired too late (the show was cancelled) and no one was watching (viewership was around five million people).

The one thing that I did like was that last episode they obviously knew they were doomed. So what did they do? Jordon’s baby is healthy and so is she after a health scare. Danny has proposed and agreed to adopt the baby. Matt has kicked the drugs, got back together with Harriet and appears to be revitalized creatively.

Jack discovers he’s not a bad person and admits he probably made a mistake firing Matt and Danny years ago. Tom gets his brother back alive. Everything is tied up nicely with a bow. Yeah, it’s perhaps a bit too much with the happy ending. But Aaron Sorkin didn’t go “fuck you” to everyone. He knew there were still fans of the show. He knew it wasn’t getting picked up. So why not tie up all the lose ends and leave the characters in a good place.

As a viewer, I appreciate it. I imagine Sorkin will be back on television again at some point. I hope he learns from the mistakes of Studio 60 (wildly uneven, too large a cast, unable to bring the funny when required) and make something I’ll enjoy just as much as West Wing.

He’s that good a writer, I simply refuse to believe he’s done. This was just a blip.

7. Finally, this story. I would have lasted two days. He lasted 30 and was doing just fine. This is why Inuit elders rock.

A drop in the Ocean

I've had this written for several days, but couldn't find the right time to post it. So I figured I'd toss it up this morning. And yes, I know, the movie opened weeks ago. But that's the way things work up here.


Some more of the big summer movies are beginning to make their way into town, although after Spider-Man 3 and Shrek 3 I was wondering if I wanted to brave the theatres again anytime soon.

However, last weekend saw Pirates 3 and Ocean’s 13 open. I would like to see a movie that doesn’t have digits at the end, but that’s going to have to wait until at least this weekend when I can finally get a bit “uppity”. As in Knocked Up and Surf’s Up start their run.

Still, Cathy was having a pretty crappy day on Monday so I thought some supper out and a movie might do the trick of cheering her up. So we took a chance and caught Ocean’s 13. Mercifully the crowd was smallish, older and well behaved. Not a screaming child, chatting teenager or buzzing cell phone to be found.

So how is the movie? We quite liked it. After the smarminess of Ocean’s 12, this was like a glass of cold water. I’m not saying there was great acting going on, but at least it didn’t feel like I was watching home videos of George, Brad and that gang’s great European vacation. However, it wasn’t up to Ocean’s 11 standards.

Now, perhaps that’s all but impossible anyway. Ocean’s 11 had the benefit of being cool seeing all of these people working together, getting to meet the characters and a pretty fun heist. Ocean’s 13 admittedly does have the pleasure of seeing all the actors work together again. And let’s face it, Clooney and Pitt work so well that you’ll pretty much want to see them in movies together all the time. Their scenes in Ocean’s 12 were pretty much the only bearable ones.

And they’re back in Vegas. And the heist is ludicrously over-the-top and kind of fun. At right around two hours, the movie doesn’t overstay its welcome.

I think my two main gripes with the movie were these. First, the heist didn’t fool anyone. Right from the start you knew what they were up to and how it was going to play out. There is fun in watching it and Al Pacino getting his just deserts. However, at least Ocean’s 11 and even Ocean’s 12 kept stuff from the audience. The pieces to how the heist was going to work was all there and if you were smart enough, you could figure it out before it all went down. If not, you could enjoy how it was all laid out there for you after the heist went down.

And then on the way home from the movie, you could begin noticing all the vast holes in the plot.

Anyway, that wasn’t in Ocean’s 13, which was disappointing. The payoff was a touch anti-climatic after all that work.

The second problem was that, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, Al Pacino was too restrained. He wasn’t villainous enough. Honestly, if you’re getting Pacino to be your heavy, you just let him go and chew up the scenery. He starts off nice and evil, but he seemed like he was sleepwalking through too much of the movie. Kind of disappointing, really.

Still, it’s fun enough and certainly the best of what I’ve seen of the summer movies.

One other interesting thing...while waiting to go and see the movie, I was checking some of the coming soon posters and saw this one.



Despite my aversion to the animal in question these days, I think it is a pretty goddamn cool looking movie poster. I loved the books and I really hope they managed to not horrifically screw up the movie. And at least they managed to make the bear look like a goddamn terrifying killing machine it is as opposed to something cute and cuddly that seven year olds want to play with.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

White Stripes follow-up

A couple of things to add since my rather quick post of this morning.

First, hello to the many people from a White Stripes message board that have been zipping through the blog today. I hope you liked the post, however I can't actually read the message board yet, so I have no idea. Still, thanks for the traffic. Oh, and welcome to Iqaluit.

Oh here's a picture of the ticket. I put this up just because it's a ticket for a rock show with Inuktitut.



Kara, you have a very excellent excuse for not being at the show. A big congrats from myself and Cathy. Although I think Jack still would have been a good name.

There were other people reviewing the show. The Toronto Star sent an entertainment reporter who quite liked what he saw. So did Jane Stevenson of Sun Media. CBC had a write up of what the band was up to while they were in town. And I don't know if he means it all, but Jack White certainly knows all the right things to say to local media.

Speaking of local media, a new blogger in Iqaluit, also had her take on things, including mentioning opening act Lucie Idlout, something I failed to do in my write-up this morning.

I mostly agree with with her assessment on Idlout...there's some potential there, but she was awfully uneven. But the enthusiasm and "Holy fuck I'm opening for the White Stripes!" (she didn't say it, but she might as well have) attitude makes up for a lot. And hey, she tossed t-shirts into the crowd. I considered going for one, but I really didn't need to fight with the 6'4" giants that managed to pitch right in front of Cathy (she's a magnet for getting tall people to stand right in front of her) for a First Air shirt.

Myself and Kate differ a bit on her song "E5-770", which is about the name the federal government gave her mom. Yes, the practice of the feds in assigning Inuit numbers to keep track of them was appalling. And I did admire the passion Idlout threw into the song. She was obviously very touched to be able to sing the song to her mom in that setting. So there was some power in that.

However, the song was too long and Idlout tended to just chant the chorus. A bit more polish on the song and I think she'll have something really powerful there. Also, it was still her best song of the evening and the one she should have closed her set with.

Anyway, there's my additional thoughts on the show, along with those of others I've found so far. And once again, if you get a chance to see them, then you must go. I don't know if it will top the surreal atmosphere of seeing them in Iqaluit, but by God they do put off one hell of a show.

White Stripes in Iqaluit

Sorry to get all rock cliche here, folks, but dude, the concert fucking rocked!

Seriously. I had some reservations going in. I liked the White Stripes, but was hardly a massive fan of the band. The legitimate question could be asked that if I was in St. John's, would I have bought tickets? I'm not sure. I would have had to think about it. But here, no question.



I was also wondering, despite all the reviews, how good a two person band could be live.

Man, I've seen five man bands with not a tenth of the energy that Jack White had on stage last night. Even Meg, behind the drums most of the evening, had some kind of weird magnetic allure. Cathy was utterly baffled at the way she played drums and behaved, but you couldn't take your eyes off of her. Except for when Jack was running around the stage doing something even more captivating.



I frankly can't tell you the song list. Sorry. As I said, I wasn't a huge fan before. "Jolene" was played. So what "Hardest Button to Button." Meg scooted out to do "Cold, Cold Night" to much applause and then was back behind the drums before Jack could finish playing his solo.

As for Jack, well, I'm glad we got to see him early in the tour. I honestly wonder how that man''s voice is going to hold up the length of the tour with the way he was pounding it last night. He certainly wasn't holding much back.

It's also perhaps the first rock concert I've been to (remember, we don't see many good ones in Newfoundland) where I was genuinely in awe of the guitar playing. Even Cathy, who admits to not being an expert on such things and found the show "loud" was impressed. He went through three of four guitars and did several amazing solos not to mention just the normal playing in the course of the song. Astonishing stuff.



The show was a little more than 90 minutes long, and that included the encore. After asking for requests and hearing most of the audience scream for "Seven Nation Army", they played that song, although I think Jack would be the first to admit they botched it a bit.

And I certainly can't say I felt robbed. They were on stage promptly at 9 p.m. They ripped through their set with hardly a break. Jack only began chatting a bit with the audience in the encore, mentioning they met with Inuit elders the afternoon before the show and tried raw caribou for the first time, much to the approval of the audience.



Looking, it was a goddamn amazing show, made all the more amazing by where it was happening. The audience was going nuts the entire show and the band seemed to feed off of it.

I think towards the end of the show they said they might come back. It's hard to say for sure. The audio wasn't as bad as I feared, but understanding Jack when he was trying to talk wasn't the easiest. And you know, I honestly think they might. It was pretty cool of them to come here in the first place. Those of you waiting to see them later in the tour are in for a treat.



Oh, and as you can tell, the whole "no cameras allowed" thing was a joke. There was a sign all right. But there must have been dozens of digital cameras and cell phone cameras going off during the show.

Also a pity there was only 600 people allowed in. Fire regs, I understand, but there sure seemed like a lot of space left.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Story of the day

Best story I've read today. The story itself would be amusing, but it's the way Cecillia tells it that makes it hilarious.

Pre-show

So the long anticipated White Stripes show happens tomorrow evening. I'm not hearing much buzz about it in town, but let's be honest, I'm hardly in the loop of what the average person in town is thinking. And you know, I like it. For years I stressed about what people were thinking and talking about because that's part of your job as a reporter. "What are people talking about this week?" And from there, you might do a story or two.

Now, I could give a rat's ass. I am zen in my ambivalence. It's very relaxing.

Anyway, the show is tomorrow. I also pick up the tickets tomorrow, which would be alarming, but we've been assured that it won't be a problem. I don't know if I can bring the big camera or not so I'm debating whether or not I will. I'd kind of like to so I can get some nice pictures.

The one bit of amusing news we're hearing about the show is the stuff leaking out about the band's rider. You may have heard or these things, where a band tells the organizers what they must have in order to perform. Riders can get pretty retarded, as in I think some artists see how far they can push things and get away with it. Specific brands of booze or condoms. All the food has to be white. Thread count on sheets. That sort of thing.

And you can get away with that if you're in New York or London. But we're in Iqaluit. So requesting a limo, as the band apparently has, doesn't work when there's no limo in Iqaluit. The nearest limo is in Ottawa. I believe the compromise is a school bus. Or that the band requires a change room with specific dimensions and a mirror of a certain size, to which they were reportedly told they were more than welcome to use the hockey change rooms.

There were other requests that apparently were equally odd, but I haven't heard them. Oh, they also wanted blue Smarties. The organizers can get those.

Welcome to Iqaluit, guys. Here's hoping the shock doesn't kill you.

So far, things do appear promising though. Most of the reviews I've read for Icky Thump have been positive - Rolling Stone, Chart Attack, Billboard and Blender to name just a few.

For what it's worth, I like the record as well. It's not as good as "Elephant", but it's got enough catchy songs on it that I enjoy listening to it, although there's nothing as mind-blowing as "Seven Nation Army" on it. But it is "heavy" with lots of loud guitar. Which is fine for me, but not so much for Cathy, who has never been a fan of the angry guitar.

That ought to make tomorrow night's show interesting for her as I'm not expecting a subtle, quiet, thoughtful evening. Then again Cathy's going primarily for the surreal experience of seeing a major rock band in Iqaluit. And the t-shirt.

As for what kind of show to expect, it's hard to say. No one in town is holding out much hope for the acoustics at the Winter Games Complex. But reviews of their concerts so far have been high on the praise. Remember, it's just the two of them on stage. Yet the Globe and Mail, Rolling Stone and Chart Attack have all given positive reviews of their shows so far on this tour. So there's hope.

The band really appears to have tapped into something by doing this kind of massive Canadian tour. There's almost a giddy national response that a major band is doing this kind of national tour and playing places like Iqaluit. Long after they might fade in the U.S. I think they will be able to sell out anywhere in Canada, just because of this tour.

Although if I see Trooper opening for the White Stripes in Bay Roberts 10 years from now, I think I might just have to shoot them as an act of mercy.

Anyway, we're looking forward to the show. I'll have a review either Wednesday or Thursday.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Resupply

The cupboards are far from bare at the Chateau, but given the time of the year, we’re certainly beginning to notice that some things are running out.

The weekend, for example, marked the consumption of the last can of soft drink that we had shipped up on the sealift. We ordered 19 cases each contained 24 cans. That works out to 456 cans of pop. We received out sea lift order in mid-September, so that lasted us roughly nine months or 270 days.

Yes, that sounds like a lot of soft drinks, but there are two of us and we each had one can of soft drink per day as a rule. And they were mostly diet soft drinks (I think we had three cases or Orange Crush). So I think we did all right in stretching that out.

Other items are also beginning to run out. We have about six boxes of spaghetti left. We have a couple of cans of pasta sauce. Our pesto sauce has long since vanished (and we discovered the brand we like we can’t get any longer as it’s being discontinued). Other items gone or getting down to bare numbers include granola bars, rice crispy cookies, toilet paper, paper towel, tissues, laundry detergent, chocolate bars and rice.

This is hardly unexpected. It’s the time of the year when you start to run low on things. And hell, some of these items (toilet paper and paper towel) we ordered so much of on our initial sealift back in 2005 that we’re only now starting to run low. It’s always a guessing game trying to figure out how much you need to last a year, versus how much room you have. With our small sealift room, we don’t have a lot of space to go crazy.

We kept that in mind when working on our latest order. It’s already been submitted to NorthMart and it’s the smallest of the three we’ve made so far. However, it still managed to come in around $3,000, which can always make you wince when you see that number slide across your Visa statement.

Still, it’s better than trying to buy many of these items in the north. If there was ever a definition for “short term pain, long term gain” the sealift is it. A safe estimate is that if we were to buy everything we ordered in the sealift in town, we would pay about 50 per cent more. I just bought a case of soft drink to make do for the next month (not that Cathy cares, she’s gone in less than 10 days) and it cost $20. And it was on sale.

So yeah, if you live here or are thinking about coming here, then get a sealift. One of the easiest is Sealift Express.

At the arts and craft show

Yes, I know, this is beginning to feel like a photo blog. I assure you, it'll change back to actual writing this week. However, I've just had things I wanted to take photos of and put up on the blog this weekend.

Aside from rivers overflowing, there's also the Alianait Arts Festivals happening until July 1. A lot of the events are musical in nature, but out at the old residence of the Arctic College the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association they've been doing a few things. They've had carvers outside working on pieces. Inside, people could take lessons on making different kinds of crafts, plus a nice display of the works of artists from other parts of Nunavut.

Each region, hell, each community tends to focus on different types of artwork. Some focus more on painting, others sculpture, other quilt-making or dolls.

So here are some of the pictures I took while spending a nice hour or two bumbling around the event.



This handsome fellow greets people when you walk through the door.




This carving is entirely too cute.




I liked the bright beadwork on this doll.




A caribou along with a couple of knives.




A fairly fearsome looking polar bear carved from a caribou antler.




Another polar bear, this one carved from marble.




One of the quilt's on display.




A carver working outside the event.




Another carver working on a piece.




And yet another carver.




So at the end of the day, this is what I came home with. I couldn't resist the walrus sculptures. And when I couldn't figure out which of three I wanted, I decided to buy the two less expensive ones. I've never seen anything like them around town. And they work nicely as a pair. I thought about giving one as a gift, but no. I'm keeping them both.

As for the bracelet, it's one Cathy bought a couple of weeks ago, but it was on display at the museum until the exhibit was over. It's a series of muskox made from silver. It's really quite nice.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Unjammed

No sooner do I write about how gummed up the Sylvia Grinnell River is than we go back out there today and the blockage is clear. Of course, when you have waters that high, and that much ice, there's going to be a little bit left behind when the river resumes its normal course.

I won't bore you too much, you four quick photos of the ice. The thing that amused me the most were the anglers, off in the distance, trying to catch fish. I wonder if they had much luck.











Saturday, June 23, 2007

Overflow

I mentioned the other day that the Sylvia Grinnell River had overflowed its banks the other day. I thought I'd show you all an idea of what I mean.

This was the river on June 11.










And this was the river on June 21.












No real damage done, still it's interesting to see how much the river has changed in just 10 days because of what appears to me to be a relatively small ice blockage. The water levels rose 15 feet in those 10 days. It's also a high tide this weekend, which might clear up the blockage, or making things worse. I guess we'll find out on Monday.

I've also learned that no matter what the lighting conditions, ice is a bitch to photograph.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Two things that amused me today

1. I appreciate every moment that John Rogers takes away from his staggeringly busy writing career (no, no, it’s not enough that he writes for TV and movies, nor that he now gets to write a comic book, they’re also allowing him to direct movies), to just do a blog post like this, which had me crying with laughter, while freaking out a bit at the same time. And then, annoyingly, right underneath it is a post nicely ripping apart the U.S. government about a recent annoying comment about Iraq. Just to show he can do funny and logical.

You try to learn from the good writers and not curse them for being infinitely more talented than you. Rogers is one of those that I wage a losing battle with on that theory.

For the record, I put in what my irrational fear is in the comments section.

2. I’m getting more traffic from the CBC lately. They’ve started attaching to their stories a little sidebar which says “blogs commenting on this story”. Which is lovely fine, but Technorati is unable to differentiate between the stories that appear in my sidebar, and the ones I’m actually commenting on.

But that’s all fine and good. It’s more (accidental) traffic and maybe a few of them might stick around. But today I did comment on the CBC’s Air Canada story. Which turns out to be the #1 most commented on story by bloggers, at least it was as of this afternoon.

For whatever reason in their blogging section, they like to run a quote from one of the bloggers commenting on the story. There could be 40 bloggers commenting, but they’ll run one comment, just to give people an idea of what people are saying. The Air Canada story is the #1 most commented on story and they use a quote from me. And this is what I saw when I followed the link this afternoon.

1 Air Canada adds pets to no-fly list
15 new links from 14 blogs. View All »
" cock suckers" — Townie Bastard

Which made me laugh, long and hard. I have no idea if the quote is automated or if someone picked it deliberately, but it’s hilarious. I can only hope someone from Air Canada’s senior management was checking out.

Actually, if I recall from the last time I commented on Air Canada, I got a lot of traffic from a media monitor that the airline hires to keep an eye on what people are saying about them. So I can only hope that perhaps my comments might make it past CEO Monty Brewer’s desk.

Air Canada sucks, part 457,996 in an ongoing series

As if you needed more of it, here’s additional proof on why Air Canada are cock suckers.

Magically, while the airline is screwing us, they’re managing to not screw us this summer. While the ban is coming into effect on July 15, barely three weeks notice as it turns out, it won’t impact those who already have made reservations.

So Cathy can fly home with Boo on July 2 no problem. I’m curious to see if there’s going to be a racket on August 19. Yes, they’re saying you can fly with pets. Let’s see if the staff on the ground can get that straight in their heads. I have my concerns.

So the options now are:
1. Don’t fly with your pets.
2. Stick them in Air Canada Cargo, which is more expensive. I don’t have the exact figures, but I imagine it’s $50 per flight vs. something in excess of $200 per flight. On top of that, Cargo is not going to be remotely close to convenient for many passengers. Like us, for example.
3. Fly WestJet. That’s something I’d actually prefer, to be honest. They’re a much nicer airline. They do have three drawbacks, however. Not as many flights going back and forth from Newfoundland, which can mean challenges. They’re more expensive. And we don’t get aeromiles from them.

Still, I imagine we’ll be flying WestJet from now on when we travel with Boo.

I also understand calling Air Canada a bunch of motherfuckers who seem damned and determined to make things as inconvenient and difficult as possible for their paying customers is a redundant point. It’s been made many, many times before.

I just love their excuse on this one. We need to get rid of pets because of the demands of passengers with increased amounts of luggage due to new security regulations. Really? First, has Air Canada ever passed up a chance to make an unpopular change that screws paying customers and not blame it on “new security regulations?”

Secondly, does this mean they’re increasing the amount of luggage we can carry or weight limits? I highly doubt it. I imagine they’ll still be overcharging the same spectacular amount as always if you’re so much as a kilogram over their limit.

I would just like to list, for the historical record, that this is just one more piece of evidence on just how much our national airline sucks. Open Skies can’t happen soon enough.

No go



Found on a barricade in Sylvia Grinnell Park. The river has blown its banks and flooded part of a trail.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Of arugulas and other horrors...

All writers will tell you that when they’re trying to write there are words they will studiously avoid. They just hate them. Loathe them, in fact. Sometimes it’s irrational, sometimes the writer will have very solid, logical reasons behind hating a word, or words.

I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing and King has many words he hates. All adverbs, for example. I’m sure he has many more. King has pretty good reasons for hating those words; they’re logical and well thought out. I have to admit, I’m now a lot more careful when it comes to using adverbs in my writing. What he says about them makes a lot of sense.

My magic word, my Shazam! for at least a decade has been “Pro-active”. Merely typing the word makes my skin crawl. I suspect it comes from many, many years of watching PR people beat it to death in government press releases or minister statements when I was a journalist. “Our department is being very pro-active in our approach.” (“Very” is another word high up on my hit list, although I confess to using that one too much.)

It’s just such a bloody redundant word. I think I called a PR person within the Newfoundland government and yelled at them one time because they used “pro-active” around six times in one press release. “Pick another goddamned word,” I said. “Your department can be just active. They can be aggressive! They can be determined! But for the love of God, can they not possibly be that pro-active!”

Undoubtedly the PR flack thought I was quite insane.

I’ve actually run into this at work a couple of times. I’ve written things and had one of my co-workers tell me “Can you put in ‘we’re being pro-active on this issue?’”

I’ve refused, much to their bafflement. Then I’ve done this rant; that it is a hideous word and I refuse to use it. I believe I’m now viewed as one of those quirky, eccentric writer-types with ego issues. We have compromised, however. I won’t write it, but what happens to my writing once it leaves my office is beyond my control, so if others want to add “pro-active” go crazy.

I also hate the word “arugula”, but that’s for purely irrational reasons, I admit. I lost a game of Scrabble many, many years ago (actually, 10 years ago this summer. Not that I’m stewing over it or anything) to “arugulas”, when the person putting out the tiles got something like 150 points, getting seven tiles out on a triple word score. Her and her (now) husband danced around the table screaming “Arugulas!” for five minutes.

The fact that they are not dead remains one of life’s great mysteries. I think I actually blanked out for a few moments, such was the level of my seething rage.

Today, I managed to find a new word to hate. Reading it made me want to peel a layer of skin off my body after reading the article containing the word and burning it, as an act of decontamination.

The word is...”manscaping.” And the article is this one.

This isn’t a rant against the practice of men trimming their body hair. I would never be so foolish to make that rant. I would be carpet bombed by women yelling at me for being such a wuss and describing in graphic details all the shaving, waxing, tearing, plucking and other forms of mutilation they endure to remove unwanted hair so stop being such a pussy and shut the fuck up.

Yes, I know these women. They are among my best friends. Which says something, I suspect.

No, it’s not the practice that makes me ill. There’s just something about the mental texture of the word. It feels so artificial and fake. It feels like mental vomit. I feel the urge to beat people who use it in articles. Or, God help me, in conversation.

That’s what a truly terrible word can do to you sometimes. It can make you physically ill just reading it.

So thanks for that Globe and Mail, and in particular, Patrick White. The pain you went through for the article is perhaps only comparable to the pain I went through in reading it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Death ray

In terms of new toys that I want, a high definition DVD player isn’t really on the immediate wish list. This MacBook Pro will be the next major purchase, probably around October of this year when Apple comes out with their latest operating system. Yes, I would like to have it now because I have the will power of a seven year old when it comes to new toys.

But buying a new computer now, knowing I’ll have to spend and extra $150 or so on a new operating system in four months time strikes me as being pretty silly. Besides, there’s always the hope that Apple will make the exchange rate a bit more even and that they might upgrade the laptop line one more time (they did it a few weeks ago) to go along with the operating system.

It’s a very pretty computer. And hell, if I’m going to buy a new laptop when I have money for once in my life, I’m going to make sure I get a good one that’s going to last several years.

Anyway, the point being, before I got sidetracked into my Apple fetish, is that a new high def player isn’t in the works anytime soon. The price is certainly a consideration, but the main factor is the ongoing format war. HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray.

There are literally hundreds of websites dedicated to which format is better and why you’re a schmuck if you don’t take their side in the great debate. However, I suspect as big a tech geek as I am, I’m like most people and don’t particularly give a shit. You’re talking fine, minute points that most people won’t notice or particularly care about.

I just wanted the blood in the water. Let the companies fight it out, let one of them beat the other or have some clever bastard create a cheap machine that can play either format successfully.

I had read earlier the year that LG, I believe, was coming out with such a combo player. I can’t find the article right now, but it certainly sounded like salvation. However, there were apparently problems, not the least of which it was made by LG. I worked in South Korea for nine months. I appreciate this hardly makes me an expert on Korean industry, and I know their products have improved in quality. Still, I have yet to encounter any product made by LG that I would enthusiastically put money down on.

So the wait continued.

However, there is a glimmer of hope in this article. Blockbuster, again not one of my favourite companies in the world, has come down on the side of Blu-ray. Since they hold an appalling 45 per cent of the rental market, it’s a fairly significant move.

I agree with the comments made in the story...I don’t think it’s a death blow. I still see such a player several years in our future, unless there are some radical shifts in the meantime. But hopefully this is the beginning of the end. I don’t really care if Blu-ray wins, I just want to make sure I don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a player and DVDs in a format that’s become obsolete.

Until then, my $75 DVD player will have to do.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Signs of spring

There's about three days left in Spring and it snowed briefly today. Yes, there's nothing quite like waking up in the morning, having breakfast and seeing snow fall out the window. I think Cathy cried briefly.

Believe it or not, this is not the latest in the year I've seen snow. I believe I've had the pleasure to experience snow in July one year in St. John's. There was mass sobbing over that one.

However, there are signs of spring now that it's about to end. We took Boo for a walk out the Road to Nowhere this evening, which has changed a lot since I was last up there about three weeks ago. Some pictures of the walk.




This river was frozen about three weeks ago. Now there's a group of kids next to lighting a fire and playing ball.




Look! Colour! It makes us so happy.




Arctic Cotton just getting ready to bloom.




The joys of a small white dog on a muddy tundra.




Yes, it's a lot of rocks. I just liked the angle and the sky.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Random Sunday ramblings

So I've had a relatively productive day. Chatted with dad for about an hour and got caught up with the news back home. Dad didn't get a Father's Day gift today, but will be receiving it when Cathy gets home in a couple of weeks. It's going to be a combination Father's Day/Birthday gift. Which might seem like a cop out, but dad doesn't mind. Plus, it's a pretty nice thing I managed to pick up for him.

I also broke with tradition and didn't get him a Father's Day card. As I lamented last year, trying to find decent cards is always a bitch. This year was no different and I just decided to give up. Which might make me a bad son, but again, dad didn't have any problem with it. I think he would prefer no card, than one with a fart joke.

Let's see, what else...ah yes, a brief Conversation with Cathy:

Cathy: Sorry I've been binky during June.

Me: Yes, June does seem to last longer and longer the last few years. June will be about 45 days long this year.

Cathy: 45 days, eh?

Me: Yes, I think I deserve a prize or something.

Cathy: I'm leaving for a month. How's that?

Me: Nah, it'll be good for a couple of days and then I'll miss you. How about cash?

Cathy: Nope. You'll just have to settle for me not being around to bug you.

By the way, the conversation was a lot more playful than it sounds. We really will miss each other, but honestly, a week or so apart might be all right. A month is going to suck though. And we're going to be apart on our wedding anniversary, which is also going to suck.

In preparation for the wedding anniversary, however, we are beginning to put together the Second Anniversary Wedding CD. It's a limited edition CD, only going out to a handful of people. But once we get the soundtrack list figured out, I'll post it online and you can feel free to create your very own version.

In preparation for the CD I've been going through the iPod. With about 5,600 songs, there's some that are not hitting the mark. So I purged about 300 songs this evening including The Who's latest, a CD by a band with the name Swans in it. It goes to show how good it was that I can't remember the full name of the band.

I also removed a lot of Tori Amos. I like Tori, but as I've discovered in the last few weeks, you really can have too much Tori.

And of course, I then went and added a couple of hundred new songs...stuff like Paul McCartney's latest, a live Bruce Springsteen and a few others. Oh, and the cast recording for Evil Dead: The Musical. That one should be interesting.

However, it's unlikely to make the anniversary CD.

Anyway, there's this evening's ramble. Tomorrow, something more coherent.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Summer writing schedule

No, I’m not going to give up the blog, just to kill the suspense right away. I’m still going to hack away at it for the foreseeable future. However, there might be some changes coming up over the summer.

First, with Cathy’s departure for the summer about two weeks away (I’m not counting down, she is. You’ve never seen someone more ready for school to be over with) I’m going to have a lot of spare time on my hands for the month of July. I’ve resolved to start another novel.

Yes, I still have that thing from last November. That’s going in a drawer somewhere until I can figure out what to do with it. Besides, the new one is whacking around inside my head, wanting to be written. Right now I’m mostly doing character sketches and trying to plot out the story arcs (there’s going to be flashbacks, so I’m trying to work on the timing). Once Cathy heads out, I’m going to start writing.

Unlike the last attempt, I won’t be putting chapters online. I’ll be running sections past one or two people, but it’s not going to be for public consumption.

So what does this mean for the blog? Several things. One, I might not be posting every day like I normally do. Last November during National Novel Writing Month I was trying to get my word limit in, write my blog, do a college course via correspondence and my job. I did not have a happy wife, what with me hunched in front of the computer so much. Plus, it was hard writing that much.

So if I go two or three days without posting to the blog, you’ll know why.

Secondly, some of the content might start getting a bit...odd. Well, odder than normal. Part of the book is going to be based on things I experienced when with The Muse and The Packet. There’s no sense in trying to disguise that, it’s going to be fairly apparent if it ever sees the light of day. So what you might start seeing here are my recollections of odd events and experiences from my time with those papers. It could be stories I covered, conversations I had, parties I went to, etc. (Note, names will be changed to protect the guilty).

I’ll be writing it down to jar things loose and to have a place where I can find things if I need to go look for them. Warren Ellis does something similar with his website.

I think I also might be putting more photos up on the blog. I have a lovely camera and the weather is finally warm enough that I can use it without worrying about the components freezing. Besides, I learned something when I was with The Packet...I often write best when I take long walks first. I can talk it out (it gets looks from people, yes) and playing with the structure and language. I used to do it all the time with my columns. I still think the columns I wrote with The Packet were better than the ones with The Express, and one of the reasons why were the walks. I walked everywhere in Clarenville. That stopped when I moved to St. John’s and got a car.

So I might go for a walk, take some pictures and try to figure some scenes out. And then put the pictures online.

It’s all a bit weird, but then again, at the rate my stats are going, nobody will be reading by then anyway. Although I do find it amusing after reading some of the comments in the last post about what people do and don't like to read. Everyone has their favourites, it seems. So I guess it's a good thing I mix things up in what I write. A little something for everybody, apparently. Except curling. No one likes the curling writing.

Anyway, it should be an interesting summer.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Blogging death

Kirsten posted this on her blog the other day, wondering if the time of blogs might be coming to an end. I’ve been wondering the same thing. Yes, I know blog traffic is cyclical. And I also know with the warm weather beginning, the next three months are going to see a reduction in blog traffic. People prefer to be out in the sun rather than hunched in front of their computer, reading my words of wisdom. Foolish mortals.

But after a spectacular first three months of the year for traffic, it’s been a steady downward spiral since early April. I can attribute it to any number of factors listed above. Hell, perhaps people are simply bored with this blog and are no longer visiting.

I’m also wondering if the reduction in the local blogging community is having some impact. I’m a member of two – Newfoundland and Nunavut. With due respect to my colleagues in the north, only a handful update regularly, as in at least once a week. As for the Newfoundland ones, a few notable ones have either shut down (Liam at Responsible Government League) or have gone quiet (where are you Vicki?). If there are fewer local blogs of interest, the community grows weaker and that leads to fewer people checking them out. (I was hearing rumours that Ed might be shutting his down, but mercifully that hasn’t happened).

But I honestly think it’s Facebook. Right around the time that my traffic stats began to dip was also right around the time I started getting all of these e-mails to join Facebook from friends. Most people only have so much time to spend online in the run of a day. And I think most of them are having more fun, and spending more time on Facebook than playing around on the blogs.

I now have 70+ friends on Facebook. And I’ve rejected requests from people I don’t really know (I can count on two hands the number of people I liked in high school. Just because we went to the same hellhole, does not mean I want to be your friend. Odds are you were a dick towards me). I would have sworn on bibles that I did not have that many friends, but there you go. And not all of my friends are there.

Anyway, there is the instant gratification aspect of Facebook. It’s a lot less work to keep up with than blogging. A couple of words and you can let people know how you're doing. One minute and you can get a rough idea how dozens of your friends are doing that day. I can certainly see the appeal. Especially for people who aren't writers.

So what does this mean for this blog? Am I giving it up? Tune in tomorrow for part two of this ramble to find out.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Consuming

I mentioned in a previous post that I was such a consumer whore and Kara (who must be getting really near to exploding at this point) pointed out that my consumer knowledge was fairly helpful and should be used on the blog more often.

I always feel a touch guilty about my consumer ways. Consider it a lingering consequence of spending four years with a student newspaper. Plus I've read enough articles and spoken to enough people to realize that rampant consumerism isn't always the best thing for the world in general.

But I'm a weak man. I like the occasional nice thing. It's not out of control, by any stretch. I don't have a lot of useless things or buy things in some sort of insane contest to top my neighbours. I like my books. I like the odd cool electronic gadget. And I would like to own a Mini Cooper. But I don't need the best in clothes or food or furnishings. Not that I have any place to put them in our apartment anyway.

But Kara is right about something...I'd probably make a pretty decent consumer reporter. Before I buy anything big ticket I do just a retarded amount of research first. Furthermore, I kind of enjoy it.

The digital camera I got for my birthday had about two months of research prior to its purchase. I combed over a dozen review sites and Consumer Reports before deciding the Pentax was the right one for me. The TV set was about two months of the same thing. Back in 2001, when I had to buy a car for work, I spent about six months researching before settling on the Cavalier.

And I've done similar things for computers, iPods and other expensive items. I think I probably get it from my dad, who tends to do similar things when he's getting ready to buy things. The theory being spend the time and money and get it right, rather than doing something spontaneous and probably making a mistake.

Those kinds of purchases normally end up being trouble. Cathy has been astonished more than once to see me walk into a store and clearly want to buy something, but leave because I haven't done enough comparative shopping and research. You overpay or don't get the right features when you do a spontaneous purchase. And if you're going to spend all that money, be smart about it.

Dad likes to say he isn't cheap, he just hates to waste money. Take that as you will, but it's obviously something I've picked up from him.

Which is all well and good and I think is a useful trait to have. But the most expensive thing I've ever bought is a car and that just about drove me mad. I can only imagine what's going to happen when we try to buy a house. Cathy's going to have to have me committed. Or killed. One of the two.

But in the meantime, if you need advice on buying something like a camera or computer, just ask. Hell, even if it's something else and I don't know much about it, I can probably point you in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fun fact for this evening

If you type "Is Rebecca Eckler insane?" into a Google search, this blog is the #1 result.

Little things like that make me smile.

Mid-day news

1. It's not only comic books that are getting the short end of the stick with the rising Canadian dollar. Lots of items. Lots of things are not where they are supposed to be if using an accurate exchange rate. And it's also having an impact on the economy by driving up inflation.

So there you go, Marvel Comics is damaging the Canadian economy. Well, maybe not.

Although, as the story mentions, there are some good deals. Tim Hortons coffee, gas (maybe) and iTunes. You know, the important things in life. If you're a Canadian. I think there might be blood in the street if Tim's was cheaper in the US than Canada.

2. Apparently I'm right on the boarder when it comes to heart and diabetes risk. My current waist size is 40, which is actually good as it was 42. I'm hoping to get it down to 36 eventually.

However, the story is right in another regard...I didn't know that about waist size. Still, good to know.

3. Does Canada no longer suck at soccer? I lamented this when they were at 103rd back in March. I believe Iraq was ahead of us. And now we're 56th. Now that's pretty impressive leap in a short period of time. Apparently it's their good showing in the Gold Cup that's accounting for the sudden rise.

Of course, I'd be more impressed if they hadn't lost to Guadeloupe in the same tournament.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

iWant

I’ve never been a particularly big cell phone user in my life. I suspect primarily this come from my borderline pathological hatred of telephone to begin with. I don’t like having to deal with them when I’m home or in the office, but recognize their necessity. But having one when I’m out for a walk or enjoying supper with my wife? No thanks.

There have been only two times I’ve owned a cell phone. The first came about five months into my relationship with Cathy. We weren’t living together at that point, plus I was on the go a fair amount because of my work with The Express. I’m also not sure if she realized my hatred of phones at this point. So she bought me a cheap cell phone and the minutes came off her plan as an Easter gift.

I recall thinking it was a fairly thoughtful and nice gift and said as much at a gathering shortly afterwards. However, her friend Karl quickly made the logical leap that I had failed to notice. I believe the quip was, “Wow man, she didn’t waste anytime slapping the old electronic leash on you, did she?”

That caused me to do a slight double take at the phone. Cathy, for her part, shot Karl a look that should have killed him instantly. However, they’ve been friends since high school and I imagine that Karl has been on the receiving end of more than one of those looks over the years. I guess you can build up an immunity to a death glare after awhile.

The second phone came the summer we were getting married. Considering how much both of us were on the move and the general insanity of trying to plan a wedding, meet friends and prepare for a move, a cell phone was pretty much a must. But at the end of the summer, it was deactivated and is probably in a bin somewhere.

And yes, there are cell phones in Iqaluit. I see them all the time and confess to being a touch confused by the need to own one in a city of 7,000. But I guess if you’re on the go a lot and important then there is a need. Although I think I must be one of the very few people of my profession in all of Canada that does not have a cell phone, let alone a Blackberry.

Then again, I was one of the few reporters in St. John’s without one, so I’m used to being in the minority on this issue.

So why the long ramble on cell phones? Have I had a change of heart? Am I getting one? No.

What did happen is that I finally saw the iPhone commercials over the weekend. And yes, I really don’t know if I need a $500 “phone.” And yes, they’re not available in Canada yet. And yes, they would be complete overkill for what I would need it for up here.



But by God that is one snazzy looking gadget. If it actually works like it says it does in the commercials, they’re going to sell a billion of them. I want one and, in case you haven’t already figured it out, I hate cell phones.

Then again, I am a Mac whore. I try, occasionally to obnoxious lengths, to convince people that they need a Mac instead of whatever PC box they’re using. The IT guys at work must hate coming to my office as one of the first things I end up saying is, “You know, if I had Mac in this office instead of this Dell piece of shit, I wouldn’t be having these problems.”

I’ll be buying a new MacBook Pro in the fall. So it’s perhaps not completely surprising that I’d love this toy. But no, I won’t be getting one as long as I live here.

Still, if/when we move back down south, it’s on the list of gadgets I want. Right after the new home audio system for the new house and a Mini Cooper.

God, I’m such a consumer whore….

Monday, June 11, 2007

Melting the ice

With the temperatures going up, the ice that has been present in the harbour and outer bay is finally starting to take a bit of a hit.

When I came up here, the perception I had on the way ice must work up here was not in touch with the reality of it. In my lifetime, when ice happened around St. John’s, it was never formed there. The temperatures simply never got cold enough. Instead, ice was something that happened in the spring of the year. Ice packs would come down from the arctic, the wind and currents would blow it ashore and they would gum up the works until the wind would shift and the ice pack would blow off shore. And somewhere out in the middle of the Atlantic, all that ice would shift back to water.

And for whatever bizarre reason I assumed the same mechanics must work up here as well. It was a bit of a shock my first winter up here when the mysterious pack ice didn’t blow into town and stay, the bay simply froze solid. Ta da! And it stayed that way for the better part of six or seven months when the bay simply melted. Ta da!

No winds or mystery currents needed. The bay freezes. The bay thaws. I’m sure some of the ice gets blown out to sea and makes it’s way south, but around town, not so much.

Anyway, we’re in bay thawing mode right now. The ocean beneath is starting to warm up. The air temperature is above zero and we had a fair bit of rain on the weekend. So we’re starting to see small lakes forming out on the ice. It’s also a very nice shade of blue. I know that’s an odd thing to say, but it is. It’s a shade of blue I haven’t seen in awhile. It just catches my eye.

If I had written this blog on Saturday, I would have said the ice is also getting to the point where it’s getting too dangerous to go out on it in snowmobiles and the like. I hadn’t seen one zipping across the bay in days at that point. And yet, Sunday evening Cathy called out to me and pointed to a snowmobile towing a kamitik. He was close to shore, but still. So the ice is apparently still thick enough, but I’ve got to think that’s not going to last much longer.

Anyway, on a lark I grabbed the camera and drove to a couple of different spots around town last night to get some shots of the bay. And tonight we took Boo for a walk at Sylvia Grenell, a park just outside of town. I’m not sure it really conveys the colour out there all that well. The sun was a bit hit and miss the last two nights. But here are a few shots.






















Sunday, June 10, 2007

Things that go Boo in the night

So we're having a few more challenges with Boo. I imagine at some point we'll get everything straighted out with him, but for right now he can still manage to throw a surprise or three our way.

Some might recall that earlier the year we had problems with him barking in the middle of the night and waking us up if he heard a noise in the corridor. For the most part, that's a habit he's broken. There's the odd flare-up, but until recently unless there was an ungodly racket, he was sleeping through the night.

In the last month or so, however, he's introduced two new variants on this.

The first came as the amount of daylight began to increase. Typically, Boo would begin to crash for the evening as it got dark and the drapes were closed. However, with the increase in daylight, he wasn't going to sleep as early. So even when I was getting ready to head to bed around 11:30, Boo was deciding now would be a good time to fetch his squeaky toy and insist on playing.

So that was a week or two of him whining at midnight looking for attention and us trying to persuade him that he needed to go to sleep now. He's getting the point, but he does have more vim later in the evening than he did before.

Then again, the increased daylight tends to mess with everyone at this year, so why not a dog that doesn't really know any better.

But the latest trick came Friday night. With temperature finally staying above 0C on a regular basis now, we need to open the windows to the apartment or it gets unbearable stuffy.

Yes, those of you getting temperatures in the mid-20s are probably perplexed on why 3C merits opening the windows. I've said it before, but just as a refresher, most of the new building are super-insulated. That makes sense, when for about eight months of the year you're dealing with sub-zero temperatures. But during the summer it can make them awfully warm.

Those stories about how people now need fans and air conditioning in the arctic because it's now so warm...partially true. The other half is just better building construction.

Anyway, so we have the windows opening during the day so the place isn't a sauna when we get home. However, on Friday night we experimented with leaving the windows open at "night." Remember, 24 hours of daylight now. It's doesn't cool down much at midnight.

Nor are people more likely to be sleeping. They are likely to be out wandering, placing soccer, drinking, cursing and do whatever you feel like doing at this weird time of the year.

Which is, of course, severely throwing off Boo. Several times Friday and Saturday night Boo awoke barking loudly, and jolting us awake, barking at some affront taking place outside our apartment. It then takes about 15 minutes to get him calmed down and convince him that our lives are not in peril and that he should shut the fuck up.

The weirdest one came at 4:07 a.m. Sunday morning. The times Boo woke us up Saturday morning were from drunks cursing outside the apartment. This place is quieter than the 6-story, but it is still perched on one of the main intersections in town. There is traffic, of the vehicular and human variety.

But last night he woke us when four girls were outside throat singing.

Which, in his defence, is a bit of a weird thing to wake up to and does, in a semi-conscious, sound a bit like dogs barking. Still, it's something new to have work on. He' either going to have to get used to the noise outside or we're going to have to close the windows and hope that a fan is enough to prevent us from melting during the night.

Ahhh, the joys of dog ownership...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Enjoying the fall

1. You know, I try to ignore this crap, I really do. I think it's not unlike when I was growing up and I'd go to my parents and complain that some kid was picking on me or being annoying. And my folks, like I suspect many of yours, probably gave the same advice. "Look, if you just ignore them and don't give them the attention they crave, they'll just get bored and go away."

Which was solid enough advice, I suppose. But I imagine many of you had the same problem. That the nuisance wouldn't go away. That you could try and ignore them, but they only became a bigger nuisance in their attempts to get a reaction from you.

At that point, there isn't much you can do, except wait and hope for the inevitable horrific downfall happens before you snap and lose it. And yes, your parents probably said you shouldn't gloat over other people's misfortune. But really, when they've been that big of a pain in the ass, there's only so much saintly behaviour you can engage in.

So I tried to ignore Hilton. I really, really did. But she just wouldn't go away. And now, she's having the inevitable spectacular, pathetic downfall.

And you know what I've discovered? That I really haven't grown up that much over the past 30 years. Because I loved it back then, and I still love it today.

Does that make me a bad person, I wonder? Or just human.

2. A few more Eckler things. Corey sent me this link from Dennis McGrath, who nicely sums up more logically than I probably did, on why Eckler's case is probably doomed.

Apatow points out that his movie and Eclker's book have nothing in common. He also kindly fails to mention that his movie is a commercial success, beloved by critics (a 90 per cent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and is being called one of the funniest movies of the decade. Whereas nobody is calling Eckler's book any of these things.

3. Sadly, I have suffered from this. I actually had to give up playing the Wii for about a week or so, just so my shoulder and elbow would stop hurting so much. Kind of sad, really.

On the other hand, I'm at 1900+ when playing tennis.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Exchange rate

So that was interesting. The other day one of the more prominent comic book websites, Newsarama (or, more specifically the blogging section of their site) linked to my post about how Marvel Comics appears to be gouging Canadian comic book fans with the exchange rate. Which, in turn, produced a lovely surge in traffic and probably had more than one person wondering, “Where the hell is Nunavut and why can’t this guy get to a comic book store more often?”

I can’t get to a Wal-Mart, guys. A comic book store is a dream at this point.

But it was interesting to read some of the debate on the thread that linked to my post. First, apparently Ottawa sucks for comic book stores. Now, I did find a couple of nice ones. But upon reviewing receipts, they did charge me full Canadian price for the comics. Something I thought little of at the time, as I was in my glee at getting to my first comic book stores in about four months.

But the curious thing is the number of people who responded that in Toronto, most of the stores simply charge customers US prices and completely ignore the Canadian price. If they don’t do that, then the stores work out what the actual exchange rate is and charge them that.

Now, some of it is simply competition. There are a lot of stores in Toronto, and if one store starts charging the US cover price, then most are going to follow suit so they don’t lose business. But interestingly and employee (owner?) of the Beguiling (a very good Toronto comic book store specializing in smaller, indy titles) showed up and while lamenting selling at US cover a bit, believed that anyone selling at full Canadian cover was ripping off their customers.

And then, even more bizarrely, one of the guys who runs Oni Publishing (a decent sized “independent” publisher. Not Marvel or DC level, but they do respectable sales and have published some good series, such as Blue Monday, Whiteout, Queen and Country and others) said they no longer charge a unique Canadian price. Furthermore, he questioned exactly who is making the extra money off the high exchange rate.

I know many of the regular readers of the blog probably aren’t that interested in this, but to me it’s fascinating stuff. I’m old enough to recall buying comics when there was only one price. “Still, only 35 cents!” as the tag on the old Marvel Comics used to read. And I can recall the shock of picking up a comic and discovering that while the US price remained the same, I was now paying more because I lived in Canada, something I thought was very unfair at the time.

Then again, I guess it sort of balances out. Back in 2003 when I was selling some of my comics to buy Cathy’s engagement ring, I recall briefly cursing because I was taking a bath by selling the comics when the exchange rate was pegged around 72 cents. A year or so earlier it has been in the mid-60s and I felt I was losing money by selling at that high exchange rate.

Goes to show what I know. If the dollar remains where it is, my next sale is going to be a bloodbath compared to that.

I’m not na├»ve enough to think that one blog post is going to change things. But it was nice to see people chat about it and have an opinion. And that other blogs picked up on what I was saying and agreeing. Hopefully something good spins out of people discussing, and being generally pissed off, over the exchange rate.

I know a higher Canadian dollar means for many people cheaper vacations in the US or being able to buy clothing or electronics at lower prices. But for me, the day I can look at a book, magazine and comic and only see one price on the cover, it will be a very happy day for me.

A t-shirt for John

I know John Gushue has a thing for t-shirts. And his regular t-shirt feature section on his blog is a lot of fun. So I thought he might get a kick out of this one. Although you might not want to look at it too closely... it does contain spoilers.

Oh yes, and one of them is wrong...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rain and weight

I woke up this morning to the oddest noise and it took me a minute to place it. It was the sound of rain hitting the window of our apartment. A common enough noise down south, but I’m trying to recall the last time I woke up and heard that sound. Perhaps when we were in Ottawa back in April, but I don’t think so. Or it could have been when we were in St. John’s over Christmas. But it was certainly October or November since I heard it up here. How odd to go that long without the sound of rain.

Anyway, it was a strange and not entirely unpleasant noise to wake to. It’s kind of soothing. And at least a positive sign that spring is finally happening up here. I’m about ready for some regular temperatures above 0 and to see the last of the snow and ice.

***

I was chatting briefly on Facebook with an old work colleague last night who mentioned he had just finished working out. I wasn’t back from the gym a long time either, and I guess the workout discussion triggered the fact that I haven’t put my weight up on the blog in a couple of weeks.

Perhaps the reason why is there has been no change. I stepped on the scales this morning and my weight is 230.4 pounds. My weight, give or take a few pounds, has remained constant for more than two months. Which is a touch annoying. For awhile I was ahead of schedule on the whole “lose 50 pounds in a year” plan. Now I’m behind schedule and suddenly the notion of being under 200 pounds by Christmas is not looking likely.

There are still tweaks to be made. I could still be eating healthier, even if I’m not eating as much. And I’m hitting the gym 2-3 times a week, when it should be three or four, if not five, times a week. So I guess it’s a matter of finding the next gear and getting to it.

On the upside, I have had three people at work tell me I look thinner, I am down from a 42 waist to a 40. And I do have more energy, but whether that’s from weight loss or the extra sunshine I do not know.

And yes, I know, fat is replaced by muscle, which is denser and can slow down weight loss.

Anyway, there’s your update. At least I’m not getting any fatter.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cry me a river, Eckler...

Rebecca Eckler is someone I’ve tried to avoid reading for the most part. I forget when I first read her column, but I was seeing Cathy at the time. I read it and then threw the paper across the room in disgust. Cathy, obviously, was a touch in shock as I can read some pretty horrific things and not toss a paper.

However, Eckler’s column was that bad, that vapid and inane, that the only sane reaction was to remove the paper from my proximity as quickly as possible.

I remember having a conversation with someone who wanted to know how to be a columnist in a newspaper. And I tried to explain to them they need writing ability, a good, distinctive “voice” and an ability to generate a lot of interesting material that will get people talking. That while many people think they could write a column, not everyone is cut out for it.

“Why do you want to be a columnist?” I asked him.

“Well, I figured if Rebecca Eckler could write that crap in the Post every week and get paid, how hard could it be?”

So there you go – Rebecca Eckler, setting back the credibility and respect of journalists and columnists across Canada. And I don’t hate her because I disagree with her writing or perspective. There are plenty of columnists who I don’t always, or rarely, agree with. But I still respect the argument and the craft they put into their writing. Eckler is just vain and narcissistic. And, this is coming from a blogger. Oh, and she’s also a terrible writer.

Eckler is just a mystery and proof that occasionally crap can float to the top.

So why the rant on Eckler and her mere existence? Well, I got to read one of those rare stories that makes me actually talk to the computer yesterday. And what I said to the computer, and for the record it agreed with me, was “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Eckler is suing Judd Apatow, the director of the recently released Knocked Up, which by staggering coincidence, is the exact same title of Eckler’s first book. It’s also a phrase that’s been in use, according to some reports I’ve read online, since the early 1800s. Eckler believes there are enough similarities in her book that makes it obvious that Apatow clearly robbed it from her and created a now very popular, very critically acclaimed movie. How are they alike? They are both about a woman who gets pregnant after having sex. Wow.

Yes, there are other supposed similarities, but they are honestly some of the weakest similarities I’ve ever heard. It’s insane to think this lawsuit has a chance in hell of succeeding. On the surface, if I were Apatow, I’d counter-sue for her being a nuisance and a god damn poor writer that has wasted people’s money and precious minutes in their life when they’re read her stuff.

Actually, if he wants to start a class action lawsuit on that last point, I’ll sign up.

Less generous souls than me on blogs and message boards have also noted a couple of things - that Eckler’s two books have been critically savaged and have not sold all that well. So this is quite possibly a desperate attempt to generate some book sales by stirring up controversy in the wake of a popular movie.

“Wow, they ripped off her book? Well, I’ve seen the movie and liked it, maybe I ought to pick up her book and see if they did.”

I haven’t seen the movie (hasn’t opened in Iqaluit yet) nor have I read her book (not an idiot) so perhaps I’m not the best to comment. But I have read her column writing, so for those unfortunate souls contemplating a purchase, I’d strongly advice you not to.

After all, books tend to have a bit more weight when you’re tossing them across the room in disgust than a newspaper. The likelihood of damaging something you care about or value is much higher.

Just once when a director is sued in one of these ways where it is fairly obviously an attempt to boost book sales on the back of your hard work, I wish they would counter sue for the profits the book made after the lawsuit gained all that lovely media attention that’s so good for sales.