Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Zombies of Baffin

So I've been thinking about zombies a bit lately.

Yes, I'm odd.

I don't normally think too much about zombies. I think the last zombie movies I saw was Shaun of the Dead and maybe a few zombie comic books. But honestly, the comic book industry is pumping out so many of them lately that they're hard to avoid. The most infamous being Marvel Zombies in which some of your favourite super heroes become zombies and eat, well, pretty much everything.

But the zombie thought come from a book I finished reading a week or so ago - World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. I've already said I enjoyed the book. For one thing, it has a refreshingly international view. It's not just all about how America would deal with an outbreak. There's an international flavour to the story. There are characters from China, South Africa, Israel, India and many other countries. And Canada is mentioned several times. I laughed out loud when a character was rescued in India by a boat sent there for scrap. It was the former Canadian Coast Guard vessel Sir Wildfred Grenfell. How can you not love that kind of detail?

But there's a line towards the end of the book, purely a throwaway line. One character talks about someone who managed to finally clean out Baffin Island. And let's face it, when you live on Baffin Island, that kind of thing catches your eye.

I joked awhile back that Iqaluit would be safe from the zombie apocalypse because it would be too cold and there would be too many guns here. So I was kind of curious how a place that has sub-zero temperatures for at least seven months of the year could be infested with zombies. Especially since one of the main premises of the book is that zombies can't move when it goes below zero. That fact actually causes millions of deaths as people fled north to escape zombies, but weren't properly supplied to handle the cold for long periods. There's actually a subtly horrible scene of people walking through a frozen waste land of human bones - with the marrow sucked out. And not because of zombies.

Anyway, the thing that's occupied my brain a bit lately has been how did a frozen place like Baffin Island get infested with zombies? Yeah, it's a throw away line in a zombie book, but Brooks, the author, has done some fairly impressive research with the book. Really, just remove the word "zombies" and throw in "airbourne ebola" and a lot of the chaos that he writes about in the book still would have happened. So when he says there was a zombie infestation here, I know he's thought out why that would be the case.

The only thing that comes close to a reason why is Iceland. In the book he mentions it's still completely infested with zombies, 10 years after the end of the war. The reason was that so many refugees on boats thought an island that far north would be safe. So hundreds of thousands of people fled there, but some were already infected and brought the illness with them. And once it was there, there were few places to run.

Anyway, this is just some idle ramblings because this has actually been sticking in my brain since I finished reading the book and I figured if I put it up on the blog, maybe it will finally go away.. So what do you think. How does Baffin Island become infested with zombies?

Last Five
1. U.I.C. - The Wonderful Grand Band*
2. Six-fingered man - Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint
3. Stars and planets - Liz Phair
4. Nosferatu - Sean Panting
5. Christmas eve - Spirit of the West

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Out with the old, in the with the equally old

For the last eight or so years or so the Little Green Car has served Cathy well. She's served me well for the past three years since we moved up here. It's a Hyundai Accent and while I've had a negative view of Hyundai in past years, there's no doubt she's done a pretty good job in dealing with circumstances that a Little Green Car might not ordinarily expect to have to go through. Such as starting when it's -60C outside.

And yet she did, with only the occasional squealing noise as she warmed up.

Anyway, here she is.

If you would like to own this lovely vehicle, by all means drop me a line. We're letting her go at a pretty reasonable price. Living in Iqaluit would certainly help.

But now we have a new/used vehicle - a GM Tracker. She's about the same age as the Accent, but has about 20,000 fewer kilometres. And she's a truck. We just wanted something with a bit better traction. And really, this is pothole hell time in Iqaluit. It's nice to have something a bit higher up off the ground

I'm always a bit leery of buying a used vehicle. I keep wondering if something wrong that the previous owner didn't tell me about. But that's just me. I worry about shit like this. And this is my first used car so the paranoia level is ramped up that extra notch. But she handles well and aside from a small smack on the left front side, she looks fine. It would be easy enough to repair, but I think the only people who make more money fixing mechanical problems with cars are the ones who do body work.

Anyway, we have a vehicle. Here's hoping she last us a good few years and doesn't give us any problems.

Last Five
1. Gotta serve somebody - Bob Dylan
2. Tango 'til they're sore (live) - Tom Waits*
3. My other life - Lloyd Cole
4. Shine your light - Robbie Robertson
5. Ageless beauty - Stars

Monday, April 28, 2008


This is the single greatest photo you will see, well, at the very least today. But I suspect for a great many days. This photo answers a question that I'm sure has kept many philosophers up well past midnight. That being, what would 1,500 bottles of coke look like if they all similtaneously had Mentos mints dropped into them.

The answer?

Here's the link to the story. I tend to think most world records are kind of silly (like this one, for example). But this is, to reuse a word I've used a lot in recent weeks...awesome. This is a worthy world record. I look forward to seeing the attempt to break this one.

Anyone in Iqaluit want to try and organize the record breaking attempt? I wonder what it would look like if you tried to do that in January?

Last Five
1. Most of the time - Lloyd Cole
2. Secret world (live) - Peter Gabriel
3. Born in the USA (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
4. Medicine bow - The Waterboys
5. I will remember you - Sarah Mclachlan

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The money comes in, the money goes out

Been an odd last couple of days on the financial front. I appreciate that it's perhaps a touch inappropriate to talk finances, especially on a blog. But it's been kind of freaking me out.

The trip to New York was pretty much on budget. Which was good. It's pretty easy to blow a budget at one of those cons, but thanks to space and weight considerations, I managed to stay on target. So that was good.

But once I got back home there were a couple of other considerations. First, we were looking at getting a new vehicle. Well, new to us. The little green car is still running, but she is eight years old. And, we're bored of her. She's a good enough car, but we would like to have something that's a bit more appropriate for driving around town. Especially at the time of year when the potholes are large enough to eat our small car.

One of Cathy's co-workers is going out on maternity leave and is likely not coming back. So, they have to get rid of their truck - a GM Tracker. The price is right and she's in pretty good shape. A bit older than I would like, but she handled well on a test drive and the garage said there was no problems with her.

So now we needed money to buy it. We figured we'd pop into bank, get a line of credit and that would be that. And it was. Except our credit is apparently so good they offered us a much larger line of credit than we asked for with a better interest rate. No strings attached and the only risk is if we went crazy with the money. And despite what you're about to read in this blog post, we're normally pretty good with money. Still, that was kind of weird.

So we should have the sort of new truck within the next week.

Then today we booked the tickets to go to Italy. I've been reading stories about airlines and business in Europe concerned that because of the recession in the US, that travel might be down this summer and there will be fewer people going on vacation. And because of that, there might be more deals to be had to lure people over. All I can say to that is you would never guess it considering how much tickets are right now. And this is before we get our hostels/hotel rooms taken care of.

I always tend to do small freak-outs about this sort of thing. A legacy of my father, I suppose. Dad would always like to say he's not cheap, he just hated to waste money. My family might argue the point, but I get what he was saying. Go ahead and spend money, just don't spend it on really stupid stuff you will regret later. And I don't regret getting another vehicle because a truck is more appropriate to have around town. And I don't regret New York because it was one of the best time in my life. And I'm sure Italy will be as well.

But still, it's always that minor "gah!" that happens when I see lots of money go out the door. Or whenever I go to a bank to do stuff other than deposit and withdrawal money. God help me when we deal with mortgages at some point. It's very grown-up stuff and I guess I still don't entirely feel that way. Then again, perhaps me spending a weekend at a comic book convention might have been a tip-off.

So, do people have any recommendations for Italy? Right now Rome and Venice are a lock. We're looking at Florence and maybe Cinque Terre. Given the amount of time we have in Italy (we arrive on June 30, leave on July 19), I figured four places is about all we have time to visit. We want to take our time there and not to a mad dash across Italy with a bunch of Death Marches.

Still, it ought to be lots of fun.

Last Five
1. Casino nation (live) - Jackson Browne
2. Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush
3. I will dare - The Replacements
4. Porchlight - Neko Case*
5. U-mass - Pixies

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flag waving

I know I said I would write something this evening other than the comic con or New York, but I finally managed to load up the rest of my New York photos this evening. And the one below is my favourite of the bunch. It was obviously taken in Yankee Stadium. During the 7th inning stretch they sing two songs. One is "Take me out to the ball game" and the other is "America the Beautiful." They only sing the last song during a ball game in Yankee Stadium. I recall there was some racket about it a few years ago when they started doing it after 9/11.

Anyway, they started singing the song and the guy in front of me takes out an American flag and begins to wave it during the song. Now really, how can you not take a photo of that?

Last Five
1. Jumpin' Jack - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy*
2. I am a rock - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
3. Me just purely - Brendan Benson
4. Mother - Tori Amos
5. Streets of fire (live) - The New Pornographers

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sketches, part 3

So this is the last bunch of sketches. Tomorrow, I promise, I'll talk about something other that comic con and New York. You know, it's funny, but I haven't started to read any of the comic books I bought there. I was saving them until I got back to Iqaluit. But on the way up here I started reading a book I bought from the Strand bookstore (which lives up to the hype) called "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War." And I thought it was going to be a hackneyed piece of trash. But it's surprisingly intelligent and it's a captivating bit of reading. I should be done with it tonight, which means I'll dive into the comic books tomorrow.

In the meantime, let's take a look at the last six sketches.

1. Mark Buckingham - The Snow Queen ("Fables")

Mark Buckingham was the start of an expensive last day at the con for me. Although he had his own table in Artist Alley, he also showed up at the Hero Initiative table to do sketches for an hour. Hero Initiative is a very cool organization designed to help creators, especially older ones, in need. While many successful creators do well today, ones who were around in the 40s, 50s and 60s often did not profit much from their creations.

I've liked Buckingham's work for years. And while I was in line I was trying to figure out what to ask him to draw. He even teased me a bit for not knowing what I wanted. Eventually I settled on a character from the excellent series "Fables", which he currently draws. I said I was torn between Snow White, Bigby Wolf or the Snow Queen. Buckingham got excited at the idea of drawing the Queen, so that was that. She's perhaps not as sinister as she is in the comic book, but it's still a nice sketch for a good cause.

2. Peter Laird - Raphael ("Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles")

Look, I'm not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. Never have been, really. But I'm strolling through Artist Alley and there's Laird, co-creator of the Turtles, set up at a table knocking back quick sketches of any one of the turtles you want for $20. And there's only about three people in line. So I figured, what the hell.

So I have a turtle. Granted, I'd be hard pressed to know which one, but hey, it's a turtle all the same.

3. David Finch - The Incredible Hulk

Finch is a very popular artist, thanks to his work on The Avengers and Moon Knight. All weekend long there had been huge line to get near him at his table. But on Sunday morning things were a bit slower. When I walked past his table I noticed there was still about 10 people in line. However, all but two of them just had comic books in their hands to get them signed. Because of his popularity, sketches can be a bit pricey.

Still, I took a chance, got in line which moved quickly as only a couple ahead of me were getting sketches. Again, in the line I debated what I was going to get Finch to draw. He's done pretty much every character in the Marvel Universe. But he has what I would consider to be a very muscular and aggressive style. And looking at some of his artwork, I thought the Hulk would be a good choice. And it was.

I chatted briefly with him, but spent most of my time chatting with his wife. Nice lady. Plus I got the feeling she dealt with the distraction, allowing David to concentrate on the drawing.

4. Jim Calafiore - Superman

Another free sketch. He was at the DC table and I was walking by with miraculous no large lines around. So I asked him for a Superman sketch. This is obviously a very quick one, it only took about two minutes. But there's something about it that I like. I like all of my sketches, of course. But there is still something very stylized and distinctive about it, even though there isn't much detail. I think the good artists can do that...still make you appreciate it even if there isn't a lot of detail to it.

5. Leonard Kirk - Supergirl

And now back to the Hero Initiative table, where Leonard was sketching. I managed to be the first in line and remembered he worked on the Supergirl series a few years back and that his artwork had been quite nice. And also, unlike some artists, drew nice female characters, and not anatomically distorted sex bombs. It's a nice sketch. Kara (Supergirl) looks beautiful, but powerful. And catching her in flight like that works. More money for the Hero Initiative, but well worth every cent.

6. Walter Simonson - Thor

And this is my pride and joy from the weekend. If I have to be honest, I was certainly happy to get the sketch from Leonard. But I was also hovering near the table because I knew Simonson would be sketching afterwards and I wanted to make sure I was in line to get one. I'd ask for a sketch from him the day before, but he was getting ready to leave and said no, which was cool. But I knew he would be at the Hero Initiative table and was determined to get a sketch from him.

Why? Because his run on Thor in the 80s is a classic. A story that dove head first into Norse mythology combined with Simonson's deceptively simple, yet powerful art style. He's also in my top 10 all-time favourite artists. Also, from chatting with a few people from around the con I learned that Simonson doesn't do many sketches these days, and when he does, it's normally only head shots. But this one has most of the torso. I was also worried that he might not do Thor. Some artists can get bored drawing the same characters over and over again, and lord knows he must have drawn Thor a million times over the years. Plus, as I mentioned before with Gross, it's not unheard of for people to get a sketch from Simonson, cut it out of their book and resell it on eBay. But he was gracious and I was the first one who asked him for a Thor sketch.

This was my most expensive sketch of the con by far. But I love it and and the money went to a good cause. So it works out well for me. And it's was a good way to wrap up the con. I asked one more person for a sketch, but he declined. And then I decided, was I really going to beat a Simonson sketch of Thor? Nope. So I called it a day.

Last Five
1. High and dry - Radiohead*
2. Set yourself on fire - Stars
3. Failsafe - The New Pornographers
4. Lilly Bolero/The white cockade - The Chieftains
5. Come on, teacher - Joel Plaskett Emergency

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sketches, part 2

For those of you thinking that the New York con is over and I should stop talking about it, well, it's not over for me. Or at least my feet. Three days after it's over and they still hurt. I'd say the pain will also be felt by my Visa, but really that's not the case. Surprisingly few vendors at the con took Visa, which meant some scrambling at bank machines. But it also means the worst of the damage is already done to my bank account, which is all right.

Anyway, on with the sketches.

1. Rodney Ramos - Spider Jerusalem ("Transmetropolitan")

There are so many artists at the con that I walked past tables where I knew I had heard of them, but I just couldn't place where. That was the case with Ramos, whose art looked familiar, but I didn't know from where. Fortunately, he has a sign up listing some of the books he had worked on. One of which was Transmetropolitan, which is one of my top 10 all time comic series. Ramos worked a couple of the specials and the covers.

This is what he gave me, which was a bit more than I asked for. He normally charged extra for colour, but threw in the colour on the glasses for no charge. I'm quite happy with it.

2. Khoi Pham - Batman

Again, I knew Khoi's work from somewhere, I just didn't know where. Having just looked at his home page, I might have asked for something different than a Batman. This one was a quick sketch at the Marvel booth and there was no charge. That's why it's a bit rougher than some of the other ones. But still, for something he did in less than five minutes, it's quite nice.

3. Art Baltazar - Raven ("Tiny Titans")

Art was doing free sketches at the DC booth. To be honest, this was one of those "it's an artist and there isn't a huge line and it's free!" moments. But Tiny Titans looks cute enough and I've always liked Raven as a character. It's a cute enough quick sketch.

4. Keith Geffen - Ambush Bug

Geffen is one of these guys who has been around the industry for ages. He kind of disappeared for a few years, but has been making a big comback in the last few years. Geffen has drawn just about everything other the sun at one point or another, so I was genuinely baffled at what to ask him to draw. Plus, he was at the DC booth and only doing quick sketches. So when I got to him I just said "draw whatever you like." He gave me Ambush Bug. I confess to not being the biggest Ambush Bug fan in the universe, but it was still nice to meet him and it's a fun little quick sketch.

5. Rafael Albuquerque - Green Lantern

And yet another free sketch (I was apparently in a cheap bastard phase). However, at least I knew where I had seen Rafael before. He's the artist of the latest Blue Beetle series. And it just so happened that I had picked up the latest Blue Beetle trade paperback a couple of hours before. So why did I get a Green Lantern instead of a Blue Beetle? Not really sure. I just didn't feel like it, and I recalled he drew a pretty nice Green Lantern in the series, so I went with that.

Never really got the chance to talk to him much. He gets pretty into his artwork. Also, I hope he has a good chiropractor, because man, he really twists himself up when drawing. Still, it's a nice sketch.

6. Nuno Plati - Rogue

Again, not an artist I was immediately familiar with, but I like the art he had out on his table. This was also his first con and I think he was kind of surprised by the reaction he was getting to his artwork, which was very positive. He had prints for sale of different characters, but I like the idea of him drawing something there at the con for me.

This is the only sketch that's not done in the book. He didn't know when he would get around to doing it and didn't want to take my book for several hours. So this is done on smaller sheet of paper that I will likely tape into my sketch book. As for why Rogue, I like some of the prints he had of her. It's almost a fashion model way of drawing the character, which is different. I'm happy that all of the female characters weren't drawn like sex bombs. Yes, this is stylized, but still quite attractive.

Tomorrow, the final six sketches, including my favourite of the bunch.

Last Five
1. Rain down on me - Blue Rodeo
2. What's wrong with this picture - Lloyd Cole
3. Whiskey lullaby - Allison Krauss
4. If I ever lose my faith in you - Sting*
5. Until the stars turn blue - The Corrs and Bono

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sketches, part 1

I'm going to be doing several posts regarding the sketches I acquired during the con. That means I'll be putting up the images and a bit of a story about each one. It's a chance to show-off what I have, plus it never hurts to write down the stories about how I got them. I have 17 sketches, so this is likely going to take about three posts to get through them all. I appreciate this is not everyone's cup of tea, but I really like these sketches, and most have nice stories about them.

1. Todd Nauck - Wonder Girl

After talking to a few people before the con, they always say find a good artist to do the first sketch in your book. Other artists will often take a look at what you have and compare. They want to try and do better than the others. Although I notice sometimes it makes them more depressed.

With Nauck, I've liked his art on "Young Justice", but it was more a moment of opportunity. I was cruising around artists alley. Most of the artists weren't set-up yet, but Nauck was and wasn't taking a list of names. Because of the demand, many artists will do a list. With Nauck, if you were willing to wait, he'd do a sketch. There was only one other person in front of me, so I decided to jump at the chance.

I had this big arctic theme planned, but while I was chatting with him decided to give up on it. Most artists don't have time at these events to do big themes. We batted around a few character names and when I suggested Wonder Girl, he seemed really keen to do a sketch of her. I think it's a pretty nice sketch for the first one in the book and well worth what I paid for it.

By the way, he was a hell of a nice guy. He was joking and carrying on the entire time I was there. I passed by his table several times during the weekend and he looked like he was still in a good mood.

2. Peter Gross - Death

I always like the work Gross did on Books of Magic. He was a little reluctant to sketch Death, and I understand why. It's not unheard of for someone to get a sketch at a con and that night go home, cut the sketch out of the book and then sell it on eBay. It can be annoying if the person paid for the sketch, even more so if it was free. And Death is a very popular character. Still, Gross gave me a nice price on this one, mainly because I think I was one of the first to ask for a Death sketch. I heard him quote a higher price for a similar sketch later in the weekend. Again, I like the job he did on it.

3. Kyle Baker - Anne (From "Why I Hate Saturn")

Baker is one of my all-time favourite cartoonists. I have a lot of his work already - "The Cowboy Wally Show", "King David", "I Die at Midnight" and a bunch of his books that he's done based on his family. But the first book I picked up was "Why I Hate Saturn", and I still love it. I still have my original copy, although it's beaten to shit.

I was chatting with Baker for about 20 minutes or more and it was great. I told him Anne was exactly the kind of person I probably would have chased after in university, to which he responded I was crazy (he's right. Anne is intelligent, but deeply crazy). And then when I was still geeking out about chatting with him, Joe Kubert swung by, told Kyle how much he liked his work, asked him to see a picture of his latest kid and chatted with Kyle's wife. And the whole time, Kyle is geeking out massively because Joe Kubert is hanging out at his table. "I'm working on a war book right now," he told me. "And I'm totally ripping off his stuff."

It makes you feel somewhat better when you're having a geek moment over a creator to watch them have their own over someone they admire. Of course, I was somewhat freaked out as well to be standing next to Kubert. But a geeking good time was had by all.

4. David Nakayama - Ms. Marvel

I didn't really know much about David before the con, but I liked the art I saw at his table when walking by. When I was about to ask about sketches, he told me he was heading over to the Marvel Comics booth to do some sketching and said I should meet him over there. There's a big difference between sketches at the comic booths and artist alley. In artist alley you normally had to pay for the sketches, but you'd get nicely detailed ones. At the Marvel or DC booth, the sketches would be free, but normally rougher.

David's was an exception, though. It's pretty nicely detailed and coloured, which as you will see, is a bit of a rarity. As for why Ms. Marvel, well, I batted around a couple of Marvel characters and he said one of the most distinctive was Ms. Marvel because of her mask. I think he did a lovely job. It got a lot of compliments around the con when I showed it to people.

5. Jimmy Gownley - Amelia ("Amelia Rules!")

Another significant geek out moment. "Amelia Rules" is one of my favourite comics and I'd been waiting forever for the fourth book to come out. And he had copies when I swung by his booth. Again, a hell of a nice man and I chatted with him for about 10-15 minutes. I not only bought the latest book (which he signed), but two Amelia t-shirts - one for me and one for Cathy. And since I was talking about how Cathy uses the books in the classroom, he signed a poster he had and gave it to me for free. Plus, he gave me a signed book for a daughter of a friend of mine named Amelia (we're putting it in the mail soonish, Karin). Oh yeah, and he did this free sketch.

Just a really nice guy. You worry about meeting some creators that they're going to be jerks. But he wasn't and seemed genuinely thrilled about how enthused I was about the books and that Cathy's kids were reading them.

That's the first five. Five more probably tomorrow evening.

Last Five
1. Sisters of mercy - Sting and the Chieftains
2. Weapon - Matthew Good
3. Dreamer - Supertramp
4. Carolina rain - Ryan Adams
5, Fully completely - Tragically Hip

Monday, April 21, 2008

Still alive

So anyway, sorry about disappearing like that. I promised updates from New York, but that proved more challenging than I thought. I stopped dragging the laptop around New York simply because i was already lugging around enough dead weight with all of my purchases. Adding another 4 pounds or so might not seem like a lot, until you have to drag it around with you for 16 hours a day. And while the convention centre did have a wifi, you had to pay for it. Which I wasn't about to do.

Throw on top of that I didn't get home until pushing 1 a.m. on Saturday night and didn't get settled into the hotel in Ottawa on Sunday evening until midnight and, well, you had someone too tired to coherently blog.

So how was the rest of the comic con? Sorry to use the word again, but it was awesome. One of the best times I've had in my life. There's something about being in a building with about 80,000 other people (that's a number I heard for the weekend attendance at the con) that all have the same interest as you. One that tends to get you teased a bit to the rest of the world, but in that building, people perfectly understood your excitement.

I went around to a couple of panels, saw some movie previews (Wanted and Hellboy II), did some shopping, hunted for sketches and chatted with lots of people, both professionals and otherwise. There tends to be lots of standing in lines at this type of event, especially if you're trying to get sketches. So you strike up conversations with people.

And this is the thing that I think surprised me the most....nearly everyone was exceptionally friendly. Almost unbelievably friendly. New York has a reputation, of course. But I asked people for directions, and was given friendly advice. People said "excuse me" if they bumped into me. The cabs were clean and the drivers efficient.

You also hear stories about cons. About how some are poorly run. How the talent can be real assholes. With only one or two exceptions, the New York Comic Con struck me as being very well run and a lot of fun. Only one artist was rude, and really, it was 3 p.m. on Sunday, the last day of the con. The poor bastard was just done. I don't blame him. There was also a small fiasco about getting tickets to a limited signing by Stan Lee (creator of most of the Marvel Universe) and Frank Miller (Sin City, 300). I thought I had a decent chance of getting tickets, give my VIP pass. But nope. Plus I heard later that Lee was only signing one book and Miller wasn't signing comic books at all, just posters for his upcoming adaptation of "The Spirit."

But these are minor, minor points. I chatted with lots of creators. When I asked a couple if they were doing sketches and they said they were booked and couldn't (Colleen Doran and Darwyn Cooke come to mind), but were very apologetic. When I said I understood, that they were only human and couldn't spend the whole con being drawing machines for fans, I honestly thought they were going to weep, they were so happy I understood. Cooke told me a fan chased him as he was leaving the con Friday evening, demanding just a quick sketch. Jesus.

I'm a fan, but some fans are real assholes. I was happy just to meet the guy. His "New Frontier" mini-series is one of the most beautiful comics you'll ever see. I bought two hard covers of his other works, went back later and was able to get him to sign them. Made me perfectly happy. Besides, I'll hopefully get a sketch next time.

Next time?

Oh hell yes. This was my first con, but I can't see it being my last. It was simply too much fun. I don't know when I'll get to another one. 2010 in San Diego is a possibility. We'll see. It wasn't just the cheap books, and looking at all the fun toys and video games (the Civilizations game for XBox is terrifying. If it comes out in Wii I'm screwed) or even people watching. It's just a great, fun atmosphere. I was in a great mood for three solid days. And anyone who knows me will tell you that's a rarity. Granted, it feels like the bottom of my feet have been beaten with bamboo rods by angry midgets with self-esteem problems, but that's a small price to pay.

Tomorrow I'm going to put up sketches I got at the con. I got 17-18 of them, which is pretty good, really. I would have been happy with 9-10. But for now, here are a few photos of things and people around the con. Sadly, there was no upper level so I could shoot down to give you an idea of how big the floor is. But trust me, it's huge.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I'm still on some freakish endorphin high or something. I've barely eaten today, it's after midnight, I still have an article to finish for Newsarama and I'm like the fucking Energizer Bunny.

First, the great news. I entered a contest on one of the comic sites and won a VIP pass for the show. Which brought with it all manner of cool prizes, including the VIP pass. That not only let me get onto the floor of the show before the doors opened, but gives me priority seating at all the panels. So while thousands were out in the very, very long line waiting to get in, I was chatting with a couple of artists and getting some sketches.

I was a happy, happy boy.

The entire con had that effect on me. I swear I spent most of the first few hours just wandering around in a daze. I chatted with Rick Leonardi, Collleen Doran, Peter Gross and Todd Nauck. By the way, Todd is a hell of a nice guy. Chatted with me while doing the sketch, thought it was very cool that I came so far for the con (everyone freaks out when they hear where I'm from. It's a dead easy conversation starter).

Most artists are charging for sketches, which is fine. Can't really expect them to do detailed work that can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 90 minutes (Peter Gross's sketch of Death took about 90 minutes, but it's stunning). Besides, I've saved for this for three months. Aside from some graphic novels and the sketches, that's all I'm spending my money on. No single issues, toys or video games. I'll have a very nice souvenir when I'm done.

Tomorrow is going to be more craziness, but I can't wait. Unfortunately, you guys are going to have to wait until I get home to see pics. I took Cathy's little digital with me today and I don't have the chord for it. But you will get to see cool pics of people dressed like Mr. T, jedis, Princess Leia and strange people in anime costumes I don't recognize.

Anyway, off to finish the write up of Neil Gaiman's book reading. Which, again, was awesome.

Y'know, I think someone is going to have to taser me soon to get me to stop using that word.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two days in.

Yes, yes, I'm a terrible blogger. And more terrible still, no photos will be appearing in this blog post. Mainly because it's getting late and I want to get some sleep because the next three days promise to be insane. Good insane. But insane all the same.

So, let's see, the highlights so far.

1. Hit town and went to the Museum of American History, mainly because I wanted to see the Hayden Planetarium. Probably a mistake. When I got to town I was tired (about a week at that point since I had a full night's sleep) and the museum was wall-to-wall kids. Which is great....that's what museums are for. But I wasn't in the head space to enjoy it.

2. So from there, went to Central Park. That was a much better options. Spent about two hours wandering around, listening to musicians, lying on the grass, hugging a tree (long standing tradition when I come from the north. I hug a tree. I just do) and getting myself in a better head space.

3. The Yankees game was beyond awesome. It is the single greatest baseball game I ever attended....and I didn't even stay for the end. I was to exhausted and feeling ill to make it. But the game was at the 3.5 hour mark in the 8th inning and there was nothing left in the tank. What made the game awesome?
a. Red Sox fans in attendance actively mocking Yankees fans despite being horribly outnumbered by the vast drunken hordes screaming "Boston Sucks!"
b. Fights in the stands. Which is more dangerous than you might think, given how narrow the walkways are in the upper bleachers. It's very easy for someone to get hurt there. But no one did. It mostly taunting and yelling.
c. Lots and lots and lots of police.
d. Fans who were really into the game. I've been to Jays games and you couldn't tell who was winning from the sedate crowd noise. Yankees fans are into the game. They live and die with each pitch.
e. Insults - both at the players and the fans. "Ortiz you fat fuck!" Rameriez was called everything under the sun. And even Yankees were not exempt. When one player, who is hitting below .100 (and is a former steroid user) came up, people started screaming "come on Juice, get a fucking hit." Someone else drily commented that those number were good if you intended to retire this year.
f. But the best came when a foul ball came back our way. One guy made a grab for it and dropped it. Now, normally this gets you booed. But two guys razzed this poor bastard for the next two inning. "Jesus Christ, I hope your wife has got better hands than that." or "You suck. Your kid wants a new dad." Then, just when they're starting to let up on him, another pop foul comes into the area a few rows in front of where the last one landed. Except this guy catches the ball. He gets a cheer. The two guys start razzing the first guy again. "You see, that's how you fucking catch a baseball." Followed by the best line yet - "Your kid wants that guy to be his dad." I fucking lost it, I was laughing so hard.

4. Got to see Spamalot this evening, which was pretty good. Although it was a weird crowd. I'd figure there'd be plenty of Python fans in the audience, able to recite the dialogue almost word for word. And there were some. But there were lots of Clay Aiken fans (he plays Robin in the show). And they were clearly confused by some of the humour. But hey, it was amusing. And since Aiken's character is essentially a twat, the type-casting works for him.

5. And to the great sadness of some, I never got to see the Daily Show. The subway train I was on got stalled by the police (breaking up a fight) for 20 minutes. Then I got in the wrong line once I got there. I didn't know there was a VIP and a general admission line. I got in the VIP line by accident. So by the time I got to the end of the regular line, I was pretty well doomed. However, I'm now a VIP...they're people who tried to get in before and failed. So the next time I'm in New York (because that's happening again soon), I get priority admission. Bollocks.

Still, a good couple of days. And tomorrow begins con madness. I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Not dead yet

Well, so far, so good. I'm set-up in my not really too bad at all room in mildly terrifying North Bergen, New Jersey. It's not like it's a rough neighbourhood. It's just that as best as I can figure, North Bergen exists solely to drive through to get to Manhattan.

All things have been pretty smooth, so far. The trip to Ottawa not only left on time, but arrived a few minutes early. My room at the Southways was upgraded to a suite (which annoyed Cathy to no end. And me a bit as well. A jacuzzi by yourself is really not that much fun) and got most of the resupply done. The only downside was a particularly grumpy Russian cabbie at the airport. When I told him I wanted to go to the Southways (about a $10 fare) he grumbled "Ah, lucky me, I wait 3 hours to get such a big fare."

Which I might have found amusing under some circumstances, but it's not the first time myself and Cathy have run into surly cabbies who are pissed we're not going farther away. I relayed my story to the guy at the desk at the hotel. Coincidentally, two people who arrived after me just had the same experience. I thought the desk guy was going to run out after them, he was so pissed. He told us next time get their licence # and report them.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't bother. But then I remembered the time last year Cathy had to go through 8 cabbies before she could get one to take her to the Southways. They saw her with the kennel and knew it was going to be a cheap fare, so they refused.

I'll do more on the New York portion of the trip this evening. I'm heading off in a few minutes to catch the Yankees game. evening in the Bronx.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No! Not the return of....curling!

Yes, but only briefly. Two things of note:

1. There will be a meeting of people interested in volunteering for the Canadian Mixed Curling Championships, which will be held from Nov. 9-16 this year, on Wednesday, April 23. It starts at 7 p.m. at the Iqaluit Curling Club. If you'd like to help out, please attend.

2. It's not every curling team gets its own theme song, let alone one quite so cool. But Team Shattered Dreams, consisting of a bunch of local media and a teacher, decided that in celebration of their year of curling, the should have one. Along with a music video. And it is awesome.

Next year, my team is getting a theme song. It should blast out for speakers whenever we hit the ice to install fear into the opposing team. Or at least fits of laughter so severe it impairs their ability to curl properly for several ends.

Off to work for a few hours. My flight leaves around 2 p.m.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Not bright moments in recent history

So, you might recall on Saturday I was talking about these lovely pills that I was taking called Tylenol Ultras. Because I thought I was coming down with the flu and these magic pills were what was keeping me going.

Turns out I made two basic mistakes. First, I assumed I had the flu. I didn't. I managed to clue in about 4 a.m. last night that other than a low grade fever and tonsils that felt like they were the size of beach balls I didn't have any other flu or cold symptoms. That meant I had strep throat. It also meant that I could either tough it out the next few days - not something I really wanted to deal with while travelling. Or that I was going to have to brave the ER today to try and get penicillin.

Fortunately, I had no problem getting up early to go to the ER as I hadn't slept Sunday night. Or Saturday night. And a decent chunk of Friday night. Now I've had strep before, and insomnia wasn't one of the symptoms. So about 30 minutes after I diagnosed myself with strep, I finally clued in as to what might have kept me awake the past few nights. I got up, went into the bathroom and checked out the Tylenol Ultras I've so cheerfully quaffing down since Friday.

You know, when I saw the word "Ultra" I just thought it was some marketing too. "Extra Strength" not enough for you in your Tylenol anymore? Well, we've got "Ultra"! Turns out there was an ingredient that I should have paid attention to before. Each red pill contains 65 mg of caffeine. To put this in some perspective, here's a list of American soft drinks and the amount of caffeine they contain. You can tell it's American because Mountain Dew has caffeine, whereas in Canada they don't.

So, as you can tell, there's quite a bit of caffeine in those pills. And from Friday to Sunday, I figured I took 20 pills (4 on Friday, 8 each on Saturday and Sunday). So that's the equivalent of 20 Jolt Colas in that period of time. Or perhaps 40 Diet Coke's.

On a normal day I might drink a single Diet Coke and have some chocolate. That's my caffeine intake. So I went just a wee bit over my daily intake. So yeah, I think I might have solved my insomnia problem. Jesus, it's a wonder I'm still not climbing the walls. Or that I haven't completely crashed and slipped into a coma.

So, this is a good way to get ready for the big trip tomorrow....recovering from strep throat and coming down from a massive caffeine surge over the weekend. Still, I'm looking forward to the trip. The weather looks good in both Ottawa and New York (24C on Friday in New York!). So here's hoping the next blog post is from either Ottawa or New York.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Alas, no comment

I've been noticing in the past 24 hours that I've been getting a lot of traffic coming through my blog courtesy of the CBC website. More specifically, for the story about the federal government seizing a Sea Shepherd vessel off of Cape Breton for allegedly interfering with sealers.

So just to make a couple of things clear. No, you haven't missed anything....I haven't written about the seal hunt. You may notice on the right hand side a link for CBC stories. For whatever reason, if the story appears there, the CBC's Technorati search engine decides that I have commented on it. You may notice that with many CBC stories they'll have a bar on the side that says what blogs are commenting on a story.

So don't blame me. I'm not screwing you around. Blame the CBC instead.

However, several other northern bloggers have commented on sealing issues. And I am a Newfoundlander. So, you may ask, why haven't I said anything, especially when you get news like the Canadian government grabbing an anti-hunt vessel. And that several of the protesters are now apparently going on a hunger strike until those imprisoned are released. This is all juicy blogger fodder.

Well, two reasons. I resolved a couple of years ago to stop commenting on the seal hunt. My days of arguing the merits of the hunt are over and done with, as much for health reasons as any thing else.

And secondly, there are aspects of my job that now run into the realm of the hunt. And as always on this blog, I never discuss issues that might touch on what I do for a living. That's just common sense.

But feel free to peruse some of the other northern and Newfoundland bloggers listed on the side. I'm sure they might have a thing or two to say about the latest events.

Last Five
1. The sun - Maroon 5
2. 4th of July, Asbury Park (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
3. The fall of Troy - Tom Waits
4. What are you waiting for? - Kathleen Edwards*
5. This heart's on fire - Wolf Parade

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Best laid of plans

So about the only thing keeping me going the past 24 hours has been a steady stream of Tylenol Ultras. Lovely pills. I feel like crap, take two of them and then about 45 minutes later feel something very nearly human. That last about 5-6 hours and then the crappiness starts to set in again. Take more pills. I've also been sucking on lozenges to keep my throat from shutting down completely. I'm really, really hoping this doesn't become and ear and throat thing, or get any worse before Tuesday.

So it hasn't made for a terribly exciting day. I haven't been the most sociable of people and Cathy has opted to give me a bit a of a wide berth. Well, as wide as you can when we live in an apartment this small. She's gone out this evening to play poker for a bit. And, I imagine, to get away from me for a few hours.

So today has been spent playing Civilizations and printing off some of the the things I'll need for New York, such as confirmation of my plane ticket, hotel and Jon Stewart ticket. I've also been jotting down address for places, like Strand Books and FAO Swartz.

I've also been playing with the schedule for the con. Stan Lee will be talking, that will be nice to see. There are writing panels. They're having advanced screenings for Hellboy II, Wall-E and The Spirit. There's signing for Lee, Frank Miller, Peter David and a bunch of other professional. So I'm trying to get it straight in my head where I want to be at specific times. I suspect it's hopeless. And there's no way I can do everything, so I might as well relax and enjoy things, no matter if I happen to miss a panel it won't be the end of the world.

Sadly, I'm going to miss the strangest panel of the con - "Girls who kick ass". Three of the panelists you've probably never heard of unless you're a comic book fan. But they're very talented writers and artists. Louise Simonson, who created one of the best kids comic books of the past 25 years, called Power Pack. Amanda Connor, who is a top notch artist (and someone I hope to get a sketch from that weekend) and Colleen Doran, whose series "A Distant Soil" is quite popular, although I've never been a fan of it. But I certainly respect the quality of her work. She also illustrated Warren Ellis's sci-fi graphic novel "Orbiter" a couple of years ago that I liked.

Also on this panel of esteemed female creators? Jenna Jamieson. Yeah, that Jenna Jamieson. Jamieson "created" a comic book a few months ago called "Shadow Hunters" and because of that she gets to sit on a panel with some of the elite female comic creators in the business. Retarded. The only thing sadder is that more people will go there to see her rather than Simonson, Doran and Connor.

I'd actually go to meet the other three women, but I have a ticket for a Neil Gaiman reading at the same time. Ah well.

I bet you guys wish I would start talking about curling again, don't you?

Last Five
1. Tonight, tonight - Smashing Pumpkins*
2. Universe and U - KT Turnstall
3. Tenth Avenue freeze out - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
4. Don't stop - Fleetwood Mac
5. Neighbourhood #4 - The Arcade Fire

Friday, April 11, 2008

My favourite cover

So since I'm in a comic book mood - not really a surprise - I thought I'd show you my all time favourite comic book cover. Now, I've been collecting comic books for 30 years. I've seen a lot of truly amazing covers during that period of time. Covers that have wowed me with their art and creativity. Most of the covers from Neil Gaiman's Sandman are staggeringly beautiful and eye-catching. Like the first issue, for example.

Or even a classic like this Captain America cover from the 60s.

You can never underestimated a good cover in grabbing someone who might be looking at literally dozens of comics. Too many take it for granted, but good covers can make or break a comic book series. It was the cover of that Godzilla comic I mentioned in my last post that caught my eye.

So while I had been collecting Hitman for awhile, I still did a double take when I saw this one. Perhaps being from Newfoundland made me appreciate it more, but I remember picking it up and laughing at it for about 10 minutes. I still laugh whenever I see it. I'd buy the original artwork if I ever saw it for sale anywhere.

The actual content of the comic, believe it or not, is funnier than the cover. A mad scientist kills all the animals at the aquarium and then unleashes a gas that brings them all back as zombies. Zombie penguins, zombie dolphins (including the immortal line "Oh man, I just smoked Flipper."), zombie sharks and, of course, zombie seals. It's a completely retarded premise, but so much of Hitman was completely retarded premises mixed with a genuinely touching look at the friendships between some generally reprehensible people (the guy in the green coat is a hitman. He has his ethics and all, but he still kills people for money). The series also had perhaps the best Superman story (until the recent All-Star Superman series) of the past 20 years.

Garth Ennis, the writer of the series, is going to be at the comic con. I hope I get the chance to meet him. Although having read his bio and realized that he's only a day older than me and wrote what is considered to be one of the best John Constantine (Hellblazer) stories - "Dangerous Habits" -at 21 when I was fucking around at the Muse, makes me want to kill him right now.

There are a lot of great Hitman covers, really. I've included a couple of others below. I wish I could tell you it's no problem to pick up the collections, but DC bizarrely stopped collecting the series about half way through. I have all the original issue, but I wish DC would come out with a nice collection of the series.

Last Five
Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The first one

So I read this piece on the Entertainment Weekly site, where they asked some of the comic book industries biggest creators what was the book that got them hooked. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it before, but since I found this great site, which I could literally lose hours playing around with, I figured I might as well do something on it.

I can't remember my first comic book. I'm sure it was likely a funny book of some sort. There were no shortage of Archie and Richie Rich comics kicking around when I was growing up. But I can't remember much about them. Also, they were just there, especially when I went around the bay to visit my grandparents. I never asked my parents for money so I could buy them. That's simply how they kept me entertained.

I can also remember a bunch of these UFO comics. I liked astronomy and dinosaurs a lot as a kid. Which is why it makes sense that some of my first comic books were, well, space ships and dinosaurs. Although, really, my parents never read these comics before giving them to me. These were filled alien abductions and cattle being melted my alien death rays. I suspect if they knew what they were giving me, and that I was eagerly devouring, they might have changed their minds.

The first comic that I begged my parents for was this one. Given the dinosaur fixation, not really surprise that I went for the giant, radioactive T-Rex (Plus, my dad's name was Rex. Which, when you're seven, is a pretty cool thing that your dad and the scariest dinosaur ever had the same name).

When I was a kid I used to go to the old Capitol theatre every now and then to see Godzilla films. So that there was a comic book featuring Godzilla, well, that was something I clearly needed to own. Also, this story didn't end. The other comics were normally self-contained. But with this issue I realized I needed to beg my parents at some point in the next few weeks to get back to Trans Canada Drugs (at the Avalon Mall. Anyone remember it?) to get the next issue. It was oddly addictive, having to go to the comic rack every few weeks to see if I could find the next part of the story.

The next couple of series that I bought were toy based. Again, I'm seven or eight years old. Not really a surprise. I had the Micronaut toys and was over the moon when I went to a local store and saw them on the rack. I discovered a local store carried comics, meaning I no longer had to bed to go to the mall. I had yet to discover the Escape Hatch, which sold only comic books. Then I drove my parents insane.

Anyway, the Micronauts was a pretty good series as I recall. And the popularity of the comics outlasted the toys by years.

And then I found Shogun Warriors. It only lasted 20 issues, but it was giant robots fighting giant robots and monsters. Plus I had some of the toys. Sign me up for some of that.

And while I don't remember how I acquired it (I seem to think it was at a flea market at my elementary school), I do remember my first super hero comic. I can't tell you why I wanted it, but I did. And I've been a fan of the Fantastic Four ever since.

All of which is a pretty long winded way to say that Godzilla #4 was the one that hooked me. And it must have been a powerful hook, because 30 years later, even with my spotty memory, I can still remember grabbing that comic from the magazine rack, running up to my mom, and asking if I could have it.

I suspect if she knew what she was unleashing, she might have said no. But I've always been glad that she gave me the 35 cents to buy it.

Last Five
1. Today will be better, I swear - Stars
2. Something beautiful - Tracy Bonham
3. Xavier says - The Magnetic Fields
4. Move away - The Killers
5. My name is - Eminem*

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


A week from now I will be in New York. More specifically, I'll be at the Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees game. Sadly, I'm surrounded by baseball philistines, who have no appreciation for exactly how cool this is. So even after I finally got my ticket to the game in the mail last week and waved it around both at work and at home, exactly nobody cared. However, because this is the internet, I shall wave it around here and those who care can oooh and ahhh in the comments.

You will also notice my pass for the New York Comic Con there as well. So that's two of my big worries taken care of. I was concerned when I ordered both if they would make it here in time, given the occasional eccentricities with the mail. But they both made it with about two weeks to spare. Even a glitch with my ticket to see the Daily Show was taken care of in short order with a few polite emails.

And even though I'm going to be going flat out during my trip, I've still been looking at other things. I was hoping to catch a taping of Saturday Night Live, but it appears it's going to be a repeat. I always like trying to catch an IMAX whenever I go to a city that has a theatre. But the movie playing is Shine a Light - the Rolling Stone concert movie. That could be amusing, but it does beg an important question - do I really want to see Mick and Keith on an eight story screen? That could be quite terrifying.

So the only thing I'm worried about now is actually getting to New York. I've been worried about the Iqaluit to Ottawa section ever since I booked it. You wouldn't think we'd have to worry about blizzards in the middle of April, but you do. There was one in May a few years ago that actually killed a couple of people. So yeah, the plane being able to safely arrive and depart is something I'm worried about. Especially since Cathy has been rooting for a blizzard for a couple of weeks now so she can have a day off. Sometimes the fates give you what you want, just not when you want it.

So if there is a blizzard next Tuesday, Cathy won't be able to be near me, I'm going to be that crooked.

However, I now have another concern. The FAA in the US is finally cracking down on airlines for safety violations. For example, today American Airline grounded 1,000 flights causing exactly the amount of chaos you would think such a move would create. I'm flying Continental to Newark and so far they haven't been hit. Here's hoping that continues.

Anyway, if I make it as planned, I'll be taking my laptop and a camera, so I can give updates on my trip. Including pics from the con. That might sound boring, pictures of a comic con, but there will be fans dressing up, so there's plenty of opportunities for amusement, trust me.

Last Five
1. Whatever it takes - Ron Sexsmith
2. The new - Interpol
3. The river driver (live) - Great Big Sea
4. Let's dance - David Bowie*
5. Closing time - Tom Waits

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Flight of the dead

Unreal. Even the dead get fucked over by Air Canada. After spending a small fortune (it was cheaper, and pardon the crudity, to have propped him up in seat and send him home than ship him cargo, which they had to do) to have a body shipped from Alberta to Deer Lake, it gets bumped from a flight and is 12 hours late arriving.

The airline didn't inform the family of the delay. It was only because the funeral director, who was at the airport to collect the body, called to let them know it got bumped that they found out. They even had to delay the funeral. The airline has also apparently not called to apologize for the massive screw-up.

You know, when the zombie Apocalypse happens I'll take solice in two things. First, that I'm relatively safe up here. And secondly, that most of the zombies are going to go straight for Air Canada employees and executives to settle some scores.

Although I imagine they will go hungry when the get to the airline execs. No brains, after all.

Seriously though, when is someone going to wake up, fire most of the AC execs and then do some corporate headhunting with airlines that know how to run properly (Singapore and Emerites airlines, I understand, are particularly well managed). Perhaps get a few people that know how to run an airline in a way so that most of your customers don't hate you and wish you dead.

Just a thought. Which is apparently more than we're seeing with Air Canada.

Last Five
1. Shoot the moon - Norah Jones
2. Southtown girls - The Hold Steady*
3. You know what they to do guys like us in prison - My Chemical Romance
4. Here not there - Andy Stochansky
5. I'm just happy to be here - The Pursuit of Happiness

Absolut silliness

Oh, this is my favourite stories of recent days. People are losing their collective shit over this ad.

Basically Absolut Vodka produces an ad just for the Mexico market (in English instead of Spanish, but whatever), showing the border of Mexico if the United States hadn't taken what Mexicans had rightfully taken from a bunch of native americans centuries earlier. Now I looked at it and had a small chuckle. But if you read some of the comments under the story you would have thought that Mexico and Absolut Vodka had just burned down an orphanage after raping everyone inside.

(Absolut Vodka also have a blog. Go and behold the joy and understanding this campaign is being greeted with.)

I read on another blog about how Absolut Vodka is blowing a chance here....that they should do marketing campaign based on the nationalist dreamings of other places. A campaign for Quebec with them taking over Labrador. An English campaign where they still owned the United States and most of the rest of the world. Or perhaps something for Mongolia.

Which sounds fun and all until you get someone suggesting one for Germany during World War II. That kind of takes the fun out of the campaign.

It's easy for me to mock Americans for freaking out over this utterly harmless ad. However, someone who does marketing with Absolut Vodka really does need a kick to the head. There's no such thing as launching an ad campaign in one country and no chance of it spilling into another. The days of Hollywood stars going to Japan and doing an ad for $3 million that no one will see outside the country are over, thanks to Youtube.

Under the best of circumstances an ad campaign that deals with boarder issues involving Mexico and the United States is not smart. But in an election year, where the sanity and a sense of humour for a lot of people is fragile, the company has had brighter ideas. This was completely predictable.

Last Five
1. Une annee sans lumiere - The Arcade Fire
2. Little earthquakes - Tori Amos*
3. Don't stop - The Rolling Stones
4. Life is beautiful - Ryan Adams
5. 19th nervous breakdown - The Rolling Stones

Monday, April 07, 2008

Alcatraz of Conception Bay

You got to love stories like this where Newfoundland communities are arguing where is the best place to build a new prison to replace the horribly old Her Majesty's Penitentiary.

"Oh no, our community would clearly be the best option to house hundreds of really bad people."

"No, no...our town is the best place for rapists, thieves and murders. It even says so on the sign coming into town."

"Pay no mind to them. When it comes to criminals, our town knows all about them."

I'm waiting for the town to argue that it would be beneficial for them to have the new prison because so many of their population ends up in jail anyway, it would be nice to have them close to home for their families.

For me, there was always only one place that made sense to me. And yes, I know people are going to expect me to say St. John's. But no, I don't.

I think Bell Island would be perfect.

First of all, it's close enough to St. John's where most of the courts are located and where most of the major trials take place. With due respect to Buchans, I don't think it makes much sense to be transporting prisoners from what is close to the middle of nowhere to St. John's.

Yes, I know trials happen in Gander and Corner Brook. What are the numbers of criminal trials held in those communities compared to St. John's? I may be wrong, but I doubt if the rest of the province combined has the same number of criminal trials that St. John's does.

The other think I like about Bell Island is that, well, it's an island. It's close to St. John's, but still off on another island. So on the off-chance that someone actually manages to escape from the prison, they still have to get off Bell Island. Consider it our own little Alcatraz out in the middle of Conception Bay.

Plus, as I understand it, if you want to give an economically depressed area a "boost" with a prison, Bell Island could certainly use a shot in the arm since few people seem to actually work there anymore. It makes sense to me....which naturally means there's no chance in hell of it happening. But I thought I would just throw out the idea.

Last Five
1. Immigrant workforce - Bedouin Soundclash
2. Separated by motorways - The Long Blondes
3. In our bedroom after the war - Stars
4. While we were hunting rabbits - Matthew Good*
5. Anyway, anyhow, anywhere - The Who

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Saturday photos on Sunday night

It was actually a pretty nice weekend around town. The temperatures were at unseasonable levels on Saturday. And by unseasonable I mean above 0C. I'm trying to remember the last time it was that warm in town. It might have been September or October. So the option of wandering around outside without the BFC (Big Fucking Coat) and just having on a fleece was really nice.

Boo was pretty happy as well, as for the first time in about six months he was able to run around outside without boots and a coat on. Of course, there were risks other than frostbite when we had him out. We went down by the edge of the ice in the bay and there were more skidoos zipping by than cars on the 401 at rush hour (I exaggerate, but not by much).

Anyway, a few pictures of our adventures out on a walk yesterday. Besides, I thought some of you might find it interesting to see how much the little bugger blends into the landscape when he doesn't have a bright red coat on.

See, he blends.

I fooled around a bit with this one and leached out most of the colour. But still, even close up you can see how much he tends to blend in.

I like this one. It almost looks like he's guarding his cave or something.

Boo desperately wanted to go over and see this dog, but we didn't think it would be safe. I always feel bad for dogs on a leash this short.

I just like the framing of this shot.

I'm beginning to seriously think that ravens are the hardest thing to photograph in Nunavut. It's like the lens slides right off of them. It's nearly impossible to get a shot of them that shows any detail.

After a long day of running through snow banks, across ice and then getting a bath, a dog can be pretty tired.

Last Five
1. Under the weather - KT Tunstall
2. Down on rodeo - Lindsey Buckingham
3. Yesterdays - Guns 'n Roses
4. Bad (live) - U2*
5. Greensleeves - John Coltrane