Saturday, January 31, 2009

Slothful

Not a full day of sloth today, but as I'm sure Cathy will point out, a disproportionate part of it was spent conquering the world. Alas, not in a Pinky and the Brain sort of way, but in a Civilization IV sort of way. That game is my Kryptonite. I start playing for an hour or so, and next thing you know I simply can't quit until I finally destroy the Germans.

About the only other thing of note was dealing with Australia stuff. We had to call in our passport information to Air Canada for the tickets we have booked for this summer. Alas, as we suspected, there are going to be a few rackets. First of all, my passport looks like a follow the adventure book. You know the ones from when you were a kid...if you want the hero to jump off a cliff, go to page 14. If you want him to turn around and run, go to page 38. Well, what with it getting stolen, reissued from Rome, having it's expiry date extended and whatnot, I can tell there's going to be rackets. Thank God, we're not going through the US this time.

Air Canada seems fine with it for now, but we will see what happens when we start travelling with it.

Cathy's problem is that her passport expires next January. Which means she would be trying to enter Australia with less than six months left on it. Which is a no no. Australia won't let her enter the country. So even though the thing is barely four years old, she now has to apply for a new one. I'm sure we'll get it before July, but still, it's a bit of a nuisance.

That's assuming we can get new passport photos taken. I think they take passport pictures in town these days either at city hall or at motor vehicle registration.

The other bit of interesting news that came from calling Air Canada about the passport stuff was confirmation that we can change a leg of our flight if we want. We're getting back in Ottawa around August 11 and flying back to Iqaluit the next day. However, Cathy might change her trip back up and fly home for a few weeks.

Hell, I might be flying back to Newfoundland for a few weeks in August. All depends. I've said I don't talk about work, but I think I can mention that my contract is over in July. It might be extended, but I don't know yet.

Anyway, we can change that leg for $90 each, which is good to know. Granted, we'd still have to get seats on another flight up north, which could be a challenge. Plus, there's the cost of flying from Ottawa to St. John's. But one set of worries at a time.

In the meantime, back to sloth I think. And perhaps I might take another crack at those pesky Germans before I head to bed.

Last Five
1. Nobody but me - The Pursuit of Happiness
2. Crocodile rock - Elton John
3. Witness - Tori Amos
4. On the run - Sam Roberts
5. Let's work - Mick Jagger*

Friday, January 30, 2009

How can you not love comics?



From Strange Suspense Stories back in 1952. Go here if you want to read the complete story. H/T to the always entertaining Journalista for the link.

Last Five
1. Atlantic blue - Ron Hynes*
2. May queen - Liz Phair
3. Run away - Spamalot Original Cast Recording
4. Drive my car/The word/What you're doing - The Beatles
5. Roger and out - Neil Young

Perspective

First of all, a disclaimer. I'm putting up these two links not to invite debate on the actual issue of a local minister who said something that got him into hot water. I'm putting up these two links as a useful reminder to myself and to all people who like to comment on public issues.

So yes, a local cabinet minister said something last weekend and got himself in a bit of hot water. Here is what Nunatsiaq News had to say about it. Here is what a Barbara Kay, a columnist with the National Post, had to say about the issue.

Go ahead and read both.

Finished?

And so, what is the lesson we've learned in reading these two very different op-ed pieces?

Well, first of all, it's pretty apparent I could get a job as a columnist with the National Post if I wanted to, since intelligence in writing isn't much of a prerequisite. But I've pretty much always known that and a writer has to have standards.

No, as always, the lesson learned is that it really, really helps to be on the ground when you're commenting on these things. Jim speaks with intelligence and the knowledge gained from living up here for years and years. He adds some depth and nuance to an issue that is more complicated than it first appears. Barbara speaks with the voice of somebody who read a CP wire story and a press release.

Unfortunately, one is going to be read by a lot more people than the other. Then again, perhaps not. What is the Post's circulation these days? I mean, actual paid circulation, not all the papers they give away.

The lesson learned is one I have to remind myself of every time I want to plunge into Newfoundland political waters. The simple fact is, no matter if I read The Telegram, CBC, the Muse, the Scope, several community weeklies and read a half dozen pretty intelligent blogs commenting on Newfoundland matters, nothing replaces actually being there. I simply have a better grasp on the issues reading the paper at Hava Java then I do on my laptop in Nunavut.

I think I'm a good enough writer, and have enough connections, that if I really wanted to I could be writing op-eds for Newfoundland media. But that distance gives a very different perspective and I have to be careful. Prtending like I'm writing on the ground and in the know would make me just another hack screaming into the void.

Granted, that's apparently not stop the Barbara Kay's of the world, but anyway...

It's just that I have been ranting at Premier Williams a lot lately. And I think, from this distance, he deserves a good measure of it. Distance can be as good as being on the ground in some cases. It can give you a clarity of view that being right in the middle of it can't. But it's a fine edge between clarity of distance and ranting and raving about stuff you obviously know little about because you're missing all the little, important details.

Kay did that with her little column. And maybe I wouldn't have noticed or paid as much attention if Nunatsiaq hadn't produced such a compelling op-ed piece. It served as a nice wake-up and reminder; when you're commenting on these things, it helps if you know what you're talking about. It helps if you've done the research. It helps if you don't fly off the handle with the first drop of information when you don't have any perspective.

So thanks Barbara and Jim. Different lessons from both of you, but both appreciated and received.

Last Five
1. Good grief - Foo Fighters
2. What I did for love - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
3. Education - Modest Mouse
4. Did she mention my name? - Gordon Lightfoot
5. No sissies - Hawksley Workman*

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heading out

So we have our next jaunt out of the territory planned. We're heading out during Easter for about nine days. We're just not 100% locked into where. We're definitely heading to Ottawa, but there's still a chance we might go somewhere else.

Originally the hope was to go to the Caribbean for a week or so at an all-inclusive resort. However, that's looking fairy unlikely. Not so much the cost, but that we have an increasingly long list of things we need to get done when in Ottawa. We need to get our Cape Dorset print framed. We need to pick up a few things for Australia (money, footwear, etc). Thanks to the 100kg of cargo I won, Cathy is eying some quality time with the Ikea. We're contemplating seeing some family and friends when we're down south.

So if you try and do a seven day all-inclusive, taking into account you're going to lose Good Friday as everything will be closed, well, it's pretty much impossible.

But we still might be travelling somewhere. I got excited there for a minute when I heard Bruce Springsteen announce his tour schedule. There are only a handful of acts I desperately want to see at some point in my life, and Bruce is one of them. However, through cruel fate, he is only playing two shows while we are down south. One in Denver on the day we arrive in Ottawa, which is out, and the other is in Los Angeles.

I'd love to see a Bruce concert, but I simply can't justify flying to LA to see him play. Even crueler, he's playing in Boston two days after we fly back up. Damn it. The only hope is that he fills in some of those empty dates between now and then with some shows on the east coast. For example, he's not scheduled to play anything in New York City, so there is some hope.

Also, U2 has a new album coming out in March and with some luck they'll be touring in April. If that happens, maybe we can catch them somewhere.

Yes, I know, the hardship.

Anyway, we'll be in the Ottawa area with a vehicle and time. If you want to catch us, drop me a line and we'll start working things out.

Last Five
1. Quiet times - Dido
2. Mine's not a high horse - The Shins
3. 11 o'clock, tick tock (live) - U2
4. Where does the good go - Tegan and Sara*
5. You make lovin' fun - Fleetwood Mac

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Budget madness

I'm still trying to process the federal budget. On the small scale, it doesn't seem to impact either myself or Cathy all that much. There appears to be a tax break in there for us, maybe. However, this really isn't a budget designed to significantly impact people in our position. We're both employed (well, I am until July when my contract expires, then we see) and we're both compensated well for our jobs. Even if my contract isn't renewed, we'll still be fine. We just have to tighten the belts a bit, which is doable.

This is more a budget for people who are fucked or who are feeling on the edge of religious terror because it looks like they're about to be well and truly fucked by the current economy. As for how good the budget looks to the, that is on a much larger, broader scope, so I do not know yet. This is big issue stuff. Most economists are talking out of their ass when they comment on the effectiveness of budgets like this; a humble blogger in the arctic with no economics background is in over his head and there are sharks swimming nearby.

Does part of me wince at seeing massive deficits again? Yes. One of the things I've enjoyed a lot over the past decade and more is the notion that we, as a country, got our spending back in shape. I like social programs and helping people who need a hand. I like supporting the arts, building infrastructure and all of those things. But I believe you live within your means when at all possible.

And to quote the old cliche, you make hay when the sun in shining. When the economy was doing well, it was good to run up surpluses and pay some money down on the debt. However, we're back in the rain, and this is what happens during those times. Big deficits.

If I have a problem, it's that I don't really trust Harper and the Conservatives to pull this off. Spending this much money, supporting arts programs and extending EI is hurting some serious mental muscles with this crowd. I just don't know if they can pull this off in the long run. I'm not saying more money needs to be spent, or more tax cuts or anything like that. I just don't know if the intelligence, creativity and willingness to take some big risks a government needs to have in times likes these exists in our current government.

Oh, and because I can't let a post about the budget pass without commenting on the Newfoundland political reaction. Danny, shut the fuck up already. God, in a long history of whinny premiers who blame Ottawa for everything and never accept responsibility for their own short-comings as a leader, Williams surely must take the crown.

Last Five
1. Good morning, good morning - The Beatles
2. I still haven't found what I'm looking for (live) - U2
3. Song with Rose - Elivs Costello and The Imposters
4. Hawmoon 269 - U2
5. Brimful of ashes - Fatboy Slim

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Slushie

Walked into one of the growing legion of North Mart like stores popping up around town to buy Cathy a coffee last night. At the same time as I'm pouring hot Colombian coffee for Cathy, two Inuit gentleman are also at the long row of beverage machines. They go up ahead of me carrying their drinks - a pair of large grape slushies. After paying they exited the store and walked across the parking lot, drinking away.

Temperature outside at that time? -19C, wind chill, -31C. Which is relatively balmy considering the temperatures last week were regularly hovering around -50C with wind chill. And I've seen kids walking outside with slushies in temperatures colder than -40C.

Still, it always amuses me. I'm not the biggest lover of hot beverages in the world. Even at the these temps, I rarely drink coffee or hot chocolate. But I would not be actively seeking iced beverages for my walk outside.

But different strokes for different folks...

Last Five
1. Silvio - Bob Dylan
2. Monkey gone to heaven - Pixies
3. Spark - Tori Amos*
4. Long time comin' (live) - Bruce Springsteen
5. Dirty knife - Neko Case

Monday, January 26, 2009

That kind of day

This was one of these days where I think I was simply better off not checking news feeds. About the only good thing I saw was Obama allowing individual states to create stricter car emissions standards if they want. In fact, Obama's first week in power has been one of the few news highlights of the past week.

What has the rest of the day, and the past week, given us.

1. The apparent collapse of Iceland as a functioning country. And the fact nobody really wants to step up to lead.

2. I don't why this site fascinates and depresses me, but it does - Magazine Death Watch. Thankfully, Esquire, Wired, Discover, Mental Floss, National Geographic and Mother Jones are nowhere to be found. So far.

3. A "muted" throne speech. Call me crazy, but I have no faith, at all, that tomorrow's budget is going to go anything to help Canada. The US might be well and truly fucked, but you get the notion that for the first time in eight years there are adults in charge. Up here I have no faith in the government and no faith in those lying in wait to become government.

4. Wow, that was a depressing rant, even by my standards.

5. GM slashes another 2,000 jobs. Sprint to lay-off 8,000 people. IMG sheds 7,000 jobs. Overall, companies worldwide cut 70,000 jobs today. Jesus wept. I'm just going to stay up here and be scared shitless for awhile, if nobody minds.

6. I guess all of this is why I find it so hard to get worked up over petty bullshit corruption like this. Burke appoints a huge campaign contributor to the Board at the College of the North Atlantic. The week before she punted another MUN Board of Regents member. I have no idea who Kathleen Roul is, other than the basic biographical information, but I bet it wouldn't take much digging to find a link to the Conservatives.

People think Burke is Williams' lapdog to mess around with education, that she does all of this with the express approval of the premier, which is how she can get away with being so sloppy and obvious with her corruption. I'm beginning to wonder if Burke has pictures of Williams being blown by a cheerleader or something. There are ways of rewarding your supporters more subtly than this. If Burke wound up and kicked me in the balls, it would be more subtle than what she's been doing in Education the past year.

Plus there was that foolishness last Friday. My curling buzz is already gone. Has anyone got anything cheerful to pass along?

Last Five
1. Here comes the sun/The inner light - The Beatles
2. Move away - The Killers
3. I guess that's why they call it the blues (live) - Elton John and Billy Joel
4. Sodomy - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
5. Like lovers do - Lloyd Cole

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A weekend on ice

So, on a more positive and uplifting note, I give you a curling update. Because it's been awhile and I know how some of you pine for these things.

We had our second bonspiel of the year at the club this weekend. Normally we would have had more by now, but the Mixed Nationals kind of through a bit of a crimp into our plans. But we're making up for lost time. There will be at least four more between now and the end of the season, plus regular league play.

In league play we're doing ok. The reformed Team Shattered Dreams from the 07-08 season is having a pretty good year. We're 5-2 and the two games we lost were to the same team, which also so happens to be insanely good. So barring catastrophic collapse, it looks like we're on our way to the play-offs. And Team Shattered Dreams won a mini-bonspiel just before Christmas. I procured Cathy a sandwich maker at that one.

(As Cathy is a curling widow during bonspiel weekends, most prizes won during such events are normally given to her as a way of saying thank you.)

This time Team Shattered Dreams was at partial strength. Brandon missed the game this afternoon as he is practicing fiddling on a roof. And Stephanie passed on playing this weekend because she wanted to go and hang out with a boy. Tsk.

So we had a few new players, but we managed the same result. We won all three games and came away with the win. Which makes me pretty happy. I'm not a bad skip, but it's always nice to have really good players in front of you who can make your job easier. And also a Third who can keep me calm when I want to start throttling things helps a lot.

It's still hard for me to relax during these games, even though they're meant as fun. I'm insanely competitive when it comes to curling and it brings out aspects that I'm not happy with. It was good that I had two players this weekend chilling me out and trying to get me not to curse as much. Well, on the last point they were marginally successful. But it was happy cursing. Honest. Well, mostly happy cursing.

So what did I win for all of this? Well, one of the prizes I can't talk about, because it works well with something I was planning on getting Cathy for Valentine's Day. But I did win a nice door prize. Alas, not one of the airline tickets. But I did win 100kg of cargo shipping with First Air.

Which is a very nice prize. We still have the Cape Dorset print we need framed. So we can get that done in Ottawa over Easter and ship it back. Cathy is also looking, God help us all, at what she could buy at Ikea and get shipped up.

So a good weekend on the ice. The next bonspiel is Buttons and Bulls, which is darts, curling and quite probably excessive amounts of drinking. As I don't care much for darts, nor am I much of a drinker, I might give it a pass. But we will see.

Last Five
1. Clap your hands - They Might Be Giants
2. Rental car - Beck
3. Girl on the wing - The Shins
4. Swearing song - Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellas*
5. Holiday - Green Day

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tattle-tail

This should have been a pretty celebratory week for the Nunavut blogging community. It was the conclusion of the Nunies, with lots of awards and prizes given away. If other bloggers follow their stats like I do, you've also probably seen a huge spike in your numbers. Lots of people have been swing by to visit.

It should be good times. I've said before and I've said again, I'm very proud of this community we've built up slowly over the last few years.

And then, you get stuff that makes me want to bash my head off something.

I mentioned earlier this week that someone took it upon themselves to try and get at least two northern bloggers in trouble by directly contacting their employer and letting them know what their employees were up to in their spare time. I'm pretty sure I know who that was and I'd damn sure it was a shitty thing to do.

And now I had another one last night.

Last night I received an anonymous comment. No, it wasn't from my usual stalker. This person took it upon themselves to absolutely trash talker another Nunavut blogger. The trash talk itself would be annoying enough, but to hide behind the cowardice of being anonymous popped by blood pressure up a notch or two.

Honestly, has this person ever read this blog? Does crappy, anonymous gossip seem like something I'm interested in hearing, let alone putting on this blog?

So, to sum up, a few closing points.
1. To the anonymous person, pray we never meet in real life. I will make your ears bleed with the verbal lashing you will get. And if you're the same person who ratted out this bloggers earlier the week, well, it really won't be pleasant.
2. Do me a favour, never come back to this blog. Seriously.
3. If you have something to say, sign your damn name to it. I don't mind the daily little anonymous comments that people put on the blog when I'm talking politics or music or something. But if you're going to say something that you damn well know is going to be controversial or say something mean about someone, sign your name to it or don't bother. Don't be a chicken-shit and hide behind this anonymous bullshit.

I'm really upset by this, in case you haven't figured this out already. As I said, it's a good community up here. However, this elementary school level, anonymous tattle-tailing or petty squabbling bullshit drives me nuts when it happens. Spare me, will you all. Please?

Anyway, onwards to happier things.

Last Five
1. Consolers of the lonely - The Raconteurs*
2. Flirting with time - Tom Petty
3. For no one - The Beatles
4. Jane - Barenaked Ladies
5. Black eyed boy - Texas

Friday, January 23, 2009

Congrats

Allow me a quick note to offer up an early Congratulations to Kate for winning the run-off for the Best Blog contest during the Nunies. Yes, it's not yet 5 p.m., which is when it ends, but at last count I'm down by 25 votes and there are only a few hours left. The only way I was able to close the gap so dramatically last time was by begging, borrowing and cajoling every vote I possibly could for that last minute surge.

That's not happening this time. Besides, I only have limited karma to burn and I can't use it all up on the Nunies. I have a curling bonspiel this weekend that I would like to win. Or if not win, then at least win the door prize, which is a return ticket to Ottawa on Canadian North. Townie needs a trip to the Caribbean this Easter, especially given the recent week of near -50 temperatures. I need a beach, with warm water and drinks with fruit in them. One free plane ticket to Ottawa helps off-set the costs quite nicely.

And I have to lose to somebody, I can think of no one better than Kate. She's a friend (even when she was calling me at work and making my life difficult), I always enjoy running into her in town and I love the writing, photography and music she puts up on her blog. The only criticism I would have of it is that I get grumbly when she dares to go and have a life for several days at a time and not update it.

So congrats to Kate, thanks to everyone who voted or swung by the blog to check me out over the past few weeks. I hope you stick around, not just on my particularly small piece of internet turf, but in the Arctic blogosphere. We're a pretty cool bunch once you get to know us.

(Yes, if you see me in person, you're allowed to smack me for that pun.)

Last Five
1. Hold on - KT Tunstall
2. Gleaming auction - Snow Patrol
3. Four seasons in one day (live) - Crowded House
4. Please call me, baby - Tom Waits
5. Come pick me up - Ryan Adams*

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Your pop culture dose of the day

Jesus, did I ever miss the mark on some of my Oscar picks. The complete list is here, but I think I got 20.5 out of 30 pics right. The reason I give myself half a point is that I got Kate Winslet right for Best Actress, but I picked her for Revolutionary Road, when her nomination was for The Reader.

My biggest upsets? The Dark Knight being completely screwed in the Best Picture and Best Director category. As The Dark Knight is widely regarded as kind of The Godfather of super hero movies, the odds of one from that genre ever getting a best picture nod are now officially slim. A comic book movie might get a nod, but it will be more along the lines of A History of Violence, Road To Perdition, that sort of thing.

Pity, really. I rewatched it on the weekend (in Blu-ray goodness) and it's lost none of it's power. It's a great movie and deserved to be in the top five. But as they say, deserve's got nothing to do with the Oscars.

Also figured Clint Eastwood would get a nod for Best Actor. Nobody thinks its his best performance. Then again, no one thought The Untouchables was Sean Connery's. They just knew the man deserved an acting Oscar. Same thing with Clint. He's 79. He's not going to be acting in too many more movies.

Also slighted with Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" in Best Original Song. It's a beautiful song. I haven't heard the two from Slumdog Billionaire, although "Down to Earth" by Peter Gabriel is a pretty song.

***
I believe I posted something a ways back talking about how Disney had dumped the Narnia movie franchise. For those of you who care about that sort of thing, this story might interest you. It's a behind the scenes on why Disney dumped a movie franchise that made $1.2 billion for them worldwide.

It also says the franchise is not dead (although it appears to be owned by crazy people) and that Fox will likely pick up and distribute the next movie.

***
The deeply cynical bastard in me wants to say that the 2010 Junos being held in St. John's will provide some lovely bread and circus at a time when Newfoundland's economy may well and truly be kicked deep into the crapper if some economists predictions pan out (and really, you should not trust economist, especially Wade Locke. In fact, the best use for economists may well be as firewood if your heating bill gets too large this winter. But I digress...).

And hey, $1.5 million in fed, provincial and municipal money being kicked in to bring it here. Nice.

But I do have to curb the cynicism a bit. I was a journalist in town when they were there in 2002 and it was a lot of fun. It was nice to have the media pass and be able to go to pretty much any event you wanted. The city lit up and everybody was so thrilled that something this big and cool was coming to town. Plus, it really did revitalize the Junos. Most people gave up caring or even attending when they were always held in Toronto.

So yeah, we'll see if the sequel is as good as the original.

***
And finally, because it's been emailed to me twice and I've already seen it up several times on Facebook, here's the video to Colleen Power's "New Townie Man". If you follow this blog at all you know that I'm a huge fan of Colleen's music and I remain completely baffled why she's not a big star. She's got a great voice, is one of the best song writers in Newfoundland and is absolutely charming when performing live. What the hell more do you want?

(I'd also say she's a hell of a good looking woman, which sadly does count in the music industry, but I'm married and not allowed to notice these things anymore.)

This video is...well, odd. Quirky. A touch demented. But it made me laugh. "New Townie Man" isn't my favourite Colleen song - that would be "Newfoundland Weather" - but it is, in many ways, the unofficial theme song to the Townie Bastard blog.

So watch it and enjoy a little slice of Newfoundland fun.



Last Five
1. My best friend - Hot Hot Heat
2. Because - The Beatles
3. Still crazy after all these years - Paul Simon
4. Born to run (live, but a different version than yesterday) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band*
5. Signal to noise - The Flash Girls

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And the winner is...

So after all the unseemly begging about the Nunies, how did they turn out?

Well, funny thing...

First, I did win the Best Blog Post category, which is quite nice. Darcy never relented and I thought for sure he was going to pull out a victory, but I managed to hold on for a three vote victory. So thank you to everyone who voted for me. I now get some nifty swag as well. Given the receding nature of my hairline, the knit hat will especially come in handy.

As for Best Blog, well, that's amusing. And surreal. As I said yesterday, I was down by 20 votes, in third place and all seemed lost. But a funny thing happened. Between the blog post, a small plea on Facebook and, this is the weird bit, Cathy calling her mom around 8 pm (who in turned called the secret fighting force known only as "the Aunties") I managed a desperate, late rally and tied Kate about a half hour before the poll closed.

So what now? Well, Kate and I were quite happy with the idea of the tie. We had a photo shoot planned and were going to wear crowns (Mr. and Ms. Nunavut Blogger. Just like prom. We would even make fun of other people's dresses). Alas, Clare believes there should be a run-off vote.

For the record, I disagree with the idea. I consider him a friend, respect him tremendously and think it's great he takes this award on each year.

However, I also think a tie is fine. There have been ties with the Oscars. And it's not like we're electing an MLA here (although I think there were more votes cast that in some ridings in the last Nunavut election). But it's Clare's show and if he wants a winner for Best Blog, then that's his call.

If people want to vote again, you can go here. I certainly won't be calling in the reserves to bail me out this time. Actually, I kind of hope it ends in a tie. I really want to wear crowns with Kate.

Last Five
1. Goodbye Earl - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
2. My music at work - The Tragically Hip
3. A million dollars - Joel Plaskett Emergency*
4. You were the last high - The Dandy Warhols
5. Born to run (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Oscar picks

The sheer volume of things I want to write about now is a touch overwhelming. I have to comment on the Nunies results (but I'm waiting a bit until I talk to Kate), there's two or three things happening back in Newfoundland I want to comment on, I have some comic books I want to review....

And on top of all that, I'm fighting a bugger of a cold and, yes, I'm going to be exactly that stupid and go to curling this evening feeling the way I do.

However, right now, I'm offering my Oscar predictions. I try to do this every year and the finalists will be announced tomorrow.

Keep in mind my guesses are based purely on speculation from reading entirely too many entertainment websites and seeing which ones are getting the most buzz. My guesses are for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.

I'm normally not bad at this. I miss a few, but I normally have an 80% plus success rate. So let's see how I do this year.

Best Picture
1. The Dark Knight
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. Frost/Nixon
5. The Wrestler

The last one is the one I'm not sure about. There's a couple that might sneak in ahead of it, including Milk, The Reader, Revolutionary Road and Doubt. And I'd love to see WALL-E get in instead. But those are my five.

Best Director
1. David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2. Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire
3. Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
4. Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight
5. Darren Aronofsky - The Wrestler

Not sure about Nolan and Aronofsky. Gus Van Zant or Sam Mendes could beat one of these two out.

Best Actor
1. Clint Eastwood - Gran Torino
2. Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
3. Sean Penn - Milk
4. Frank Lagella - Frost/Nixon
5. Leonardo DiCaprio - Revolutionary Road

DiCaprio is the one I'm taking a chance on. Brad Pitt could beat him out.

Best Actress
1. Meryl Streep - Doubt
2. Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
3. Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road
4. Angelina Jolie - Changeling
5. Kristin Scott-Thomas - I've Loved You So Long

I'm sure about the top three. Not certain about the bottom two so much.

Best Supporting Actor
1. Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
3. Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire
4. Josh Brolin - Milk
5. Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder

Fairly confident about the top three again. And I think Downey gets rewarded for an awfully good year. Not sure about Brolin, but we'll see.

Best Supporting Actress
1. Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler
2. Penelope Cruz - Vicky Christina Barcelona
3. Kate Winslet - The Reader
4. Amy Adams - Doubt
5. Viola Davis - Doubt

This category is always deeply weird, with stuff coming out of left field all the time. But I think I'm pretty solid with these five.

Anyway, we'll see how I do. Looking back, I'm not tremendously confident of these pics. Shockingly, I've only seen one of these movies - The Dark Knight. Although outside of Tropic Thunder, Changeling and Rachel Getting Married, I don't think any of the others have played in Iqaluit.

Last Five
1. Poor Paddy - The Pogues
2. Breakout - Foo Fighters
3. Swordfishtrombone - Tom Waits
4. Take a ride - The Replacements
5. Tusk - Fleetwood Mac*

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ah yes, poetry

I mentioned briefly, on Facebook, when watching the inauguration ceremonies that I almost felt sorry for Elizabeth Alexander, who got to read a poem during the inauguration ceremonies. I stand to be corrected, but I'm pretty sure that's the biggest audience that a poet has ever gotten for a live poetry reading, as these things normally consist of gatherings of no more than 30 or so, all drinking coffee and anxious to read their own poetry.

And hey, you're only following Aretha Franklin (and that funky hat) singing "My Country Tis of Thee", then violinist Itzhak Perlaman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Gabriela Montero, and clarinetist Anthony McGill performing a lovely original John Williams (Star Wars, among many other scores) composition called "Air and Simple Gifts", the history of Barack Obama get sworn in as the first black president and then his stirring and beautiful speech.

And now....poetry!

Also not helping was the Rev. Lowery's slightly loopy, but utterly charming, benediction that followed Alexander and wrapped up things. Which helped snap people out of whatever coma the poetry reading might have put them in. And really, slipping into a coma when its 10F with windchill isn't good. Next thing you know you're in a hypothermic coma and you gone and died. From a poetry reading. Which is a pretty sad way to go.

I don't know Alexander or her writing. She is perhaps a very nice woman and a talented poet. And I understand it's quite an honour as only a handful of inaugural ceremonies have ever had a poetry reading. But I think when she saw that line-up and got a notion of the size of the audience she was reading to - after all, it wasn't just the two million there, an estimated 70% of Americans were watching the ceremony - she must have realized she was doomed.

Because I swear once Obama finished speaking you could see the crowds start to leave en mass, which is a sensible enough reaction when someone tells you that there's about to be a poetry reading. I myself listened to the first 30 seconds, could feel myself slipping into a coma and opted to get up from the couch and get some lunch. I've done some reading online; I'm not the only one who had that reaction.

It was an admirable thing he tried, with the poetry. But I fear this might be a bit of a harbinger of his presidency. A good idea on paper, but the execution left a little something to be desired.

Last Five
1. My Buick - Mark Bragg
2. If I had a rocket launcher - Bruce Cockburn*
3. Knew you well - Andrew LeDrew
4. Let's fall in love (live) - Diana Krall
5. Rich woman - Robert Plant and Allison Krauss

Gasping to the finish

Well, I've played the sick dog card, and I've played the "It's my birthday" card and now I'm down to my last one, the "I'm actually sick and fighting a cold" card, which I expect to work about as well as the other two have, which is to say not well at all.

Still, we're sprinting to the finish line in the Nunavut Blogging Awards and like a wheezing, first-time marathon runner, I'm just trying to reach the finish line. I had brief hopes of winning the Best Blog Award as, up until last night, I was in second place in voting and doggedly remaining within about eight votes of Jen. But then finding a burst of energy Kate just blew past all of us. She's leading me, as I write this, by about 20 votes and Jen by 12. And hell, Kennie isn't that far behind me either.

As for Jackie, well, she's in last, but is currently relaxing in a resort in Mexico. I'll let you figure out who is actually "losing" in this contest.

All in all, it's been a fun race. More than 200 people have voted, which is great to see. And the only other observation I will add to the Best Blog race is this...yesterday I had approximately 250 unique visitors with more than 120 returning visitors, according to Statcounter. Yet, I only have 46 votes. It means I have untapped reserves, just waiting to help carry me over the finish line, right?

Oh, and as for the Best Blog Post category, I though I had a bit of a lead, but Darcy is closing in quickly. So that's no certainty either.

You know, once this is over, I think that's it for me grovelling for votes for awhile. Oh wait, Iqaluit is having a municipal election later this year, isn't it? Hmmmm...

Last Five
1. Fortress around your heart - Sting*
2. Put your records on (live) - Corinne Bailey Rae
3. Skeleton song - Kate Nash
4. Hit me baby, one more time - Bowling For Soup
5. Baby, now that I've found you (live) - Allison Krauss and Union Station

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blue Monday

Yes, a rare three post day. But I have a lot of stuff I wanted to say today and some of it is time sensitive, so here's your third dose of me for the day.

So a funny thing happened today. I read this story which says today is Blue Monday. That according to some researchers, when you take into account factors such as cold, daylight, credit card bills, failed New Years Resolutions, etc... that January 19 is the most depressing day of this year.

(I try hard not to think of how close it is to my birthday, or what it means when I turn 80, I mean, 40 next year.)

So I sent this story around to some of my friends. Sort of a "Just in case your day is sucking, well, here's the reason why" sort of thing. And several of them got back to me and explained that they were, in fact, having a pretty good day. They were taking a vacation day and hanging out playing Wii with their kid. They were looking at office space for setting up their own law firm. One is in Washington DC to see Obama get sworn in. They were planning trips. One was stuck on a ride in Disney Land, which is bad, but there are worse places to be stuck.

And even with us, things aren't that bad. We have Boo back. The airlines have their "seat sales" on, so for only $1,280 each we can fly to Ottawa over Easter break. So we're beginning to do some plotting about going far south over Easter, simply because Jackie was making us deeply jealous today.

But if this is the suckiest day of the year, well, I'm perfectly all right with that.

Oh, and for those looking for a different take on the day, go to Warren Ellis' blog where people were encouraged to submit a picture of themselves and their own Blue Monday message. Some are funny, some are kind of sad, but there is some amusement there.

And how was your suckiest day of the year?

Last Five
1. Gift of skrews - Lindsay Buckingham
2. Jesus he knows me - Genesis
3. Sex on fire - Kings of Leon*
4. Home before dark - Neil Diamond
5. You don't see me - Keane

Worst...Commerical...Placement....EVER

I got this from Occasional Superheroine, as an example of what simply has to be the worst ad placement I've ever seen. It's absolutely stunningly bad. So bad it comes out the other end and becomes funny, assuming you can really appreciate black humour. And it's not just the visuals, but also the song. It all combines for one deeply surreal experience.

This is a clip from the episode of Battlestar Galactica that aired on Friday. There's a fairly massive spoiler in this clip, just in case you're a fan of the show and haven't seen it yet. And what happens in this scene is pretty disturbing. I remember yelling "What the fuck?!" at the screen last week. But once you get past that and see the commercial, well, you'll either laugh or be deeply horrified.

I laughed, but I'm a sick bastard, along with being a townie one....



Last Five
1. Hello goodbye - The Beatles
2. False alarm - KT Tunstall
3. Dead disco - Metric
4. No Kathleen - Ron Hynes
5. Nowhere with you - Joel Plaskett Emergency

Watch your blogging

There are some things that I'm honestly surprised I have to keep repeating. I really do need to revamp the sidebar, as several have suggested, and just put in some of the really obvious stuff. This Really Obvious Point is with regards to blogging. As I understand there's been an incident where a local blogger might be in some trouble because some thoughtful soul decided to let that person's employer know s/he was blogging. I don't know if there's a place in hell for foolish tattle-tales, but one can always dream.

Look, this is the most basic rule there is when it comes to blogging - don't talk about work. Unless you're amazing secure in your job, your employer knows you do it, you've had the chat and s/he doesn't care, then Do Not Talk About Work.

I have in excess of 1,200 posts on this blog. Several people around town know who I am and what I do because there are pictures of me up here and we've chatted over email. I guarantee you not a single, solitary one of them figured it out from stuff I've written on the blog. I do not talk about work. I don't talk about what's happening in the office. I don't talk about the subject matter that I deal with at work. Do you think I can not speak with intelligence and some degree of authority about the things I deal with at work? Of course I could. Do I think people would find it fascinating? I know they would. But I do not. Because it is like waving a red flag at a bull. Sooner or later, you're going to get gored.

I love Nunavut's blogging community. I want to see it grow and expand and have new voices from across the territory. I love reading you all. I love that people from down south are reading us and that some of them are choosing to come up here and share our experience solely based on what we write. I think it's marvelous.

But please be careful. There is a precedent for northern bloggers getting in trouble with their employers. I know of at least one who was fired and two who were threatened with dismissal. And now this. So just don't talk about work unless you're dead certain your boss is all right with it.

Last Five
1. A common disaster- Cowboy Junkies*
2. Bangs - They Might Be Giants
3. Fall - Editors
4. Trip through your wires (live) - U2
5. Sloop John B - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The worst comic ever?

I have, over the years, reviewed movies, tv shows, theatre and music, for both the muse and The Express. Reviewing things isn't quite the big deal now that it was when I started off back in 1990. These days anybody with a bit of effort can review stuff and post it online. When I started with the muse those reviewer passes were sacred things. You had to take reviewing things, especially movies and local theatre productions, really seriously. Otherwise you'd get in whole loads of trouble - from editors, from theatre owners and production companies.

But I took it serious as I liked reviewing. Not sure why, but there was something about viewing a movie and trying to explain what I liked and didn't like in such a way that was informative and entertaining. Not as easy as you might think.

But from that, I also gathered an appreciation of really well crafted reviews. It's much harder to write a well-written positive review than a negative one. But even with the negative ones, the bar is set so high. It's not enough to say "Wow, this movie blows" and just shit all over it. At the end of the review you should feel...something. Either laughing really hard or wanting to get a shower because just reading about it makes your skin crawl.

Which is why this is one of the better reviews I've read in awhile. First of all, the subject matter is horrible. It is of a comic I sadly have looked at, but have never bought. Why have I read it? Because when you're looking at a comic book stand and you see a cover with mostly naked women with absolutely massive, back-shattering breasts, you do take a moment to go "what the fuck is this?" despite your better angels.

So yes, this is a terrible comic series. many of the images in his review are likely to make you either want to A. gouge your eyeballs out or B. Find the artist and castrate him.

The artist in question, Jim Balent, is supposed to be a nice guy, by the way. And he makes a living producing this crap and appears to be happy. So I have pretty mixed feelings about the whole thing - you produce garbage, and you're happy - ummmm, yay?

But Chris Sims really knocks it out of the park with this review. Funny, horrified, embarrassed he's reading it and, at the end, you know what's happened, why the comic makes no sense and why it is, apparently, the worst comic book ever made!

How could not want to know a little bit about the worst comic ever made? I also enjoy his reason, in the comments section, on why he keeps reading the series.

"I asked a friend of mine why he read it, and he told me that it was legitimately the worst comic book coming out, and that he felt it was important to read the worst and the best so that you have a sense of Comics as a whole.

It made sense at the time."


Anyway, I love this review. I love this post. Even the comments section is priceless (there's one involving Darth Vader towards the end that had me laughing out loud). And because so many of you depend on me to provide you with at least a few minutes of entertainment a day, here you go. Be careful what you ask for.

Just have the eye bleach stand by the computer after reading the review. You know, just in case. And yeah, those 11 words? (you'll know them if you read it) they will, well, haunt me. Sadly.

Last Five
1. Alley cat song - Holly Cole
2. Better version of me - Fiona Apple*
3. Length of love - Interpol
4. Navy sheets - The Hold Steadys
5. Mine's not a high horse - The Shins

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another one down



So, the observant among you may note that there are nine candles on the cake. This accurately represents at least one of the two digits in my age that I celebrated today. This is kind of significant as it marks my final year in this particular decade in my life.

Which is a touch sad, I have to admit. While my 20s has their fun moments, the vast majority of it, particularly the later part of them, was spent meandering, trying to figure out what to do with my life and having a dating life that would best be described as horrific.

All my 30s have given me have been several really nice jobs, meeting my wonderful and lovely wife, and the opportunity to travel, which will be topped by a dream trip to Australia this summer.

I've enjoyed by 30s. I was kind of dreading them when I first hit, but they've turned out remarkably well. And hell, I still have a year left, so I might get more pleasant things happening. If one of those pleasant things was winning the $22 million on the 6-49 this evening, let's just say it would make a hell of a nice birthday gift and a good capper on my 30s.

But on the off-chance that doesn't happen, I guess it's time to start saving up for my mid-life crisis car. There's a proud history in my family of the men losing their shit when they turned 40 and buying silly cars. My dad bought a convertible Camero (which he still has, 20 years later). My uncle bought a convertible Corvette.

Alas, a convertible really won't work up here. Nor will the car I really want, a Mini Cooper. Fortunately, there is this, which might get launched later this year. A "Mini Crossover". And if they build that, well, I might be trying to persuade Cathy that clearly we need a new toy like this.

Anyway, here's to surviving another trip around the sun. Cheers...

Last Five
1. Captain Kidd - Great Big Sea
2. Whatshername - Green Day
3. See the world - Gomez*
4. Say what you want - Texas
5. Delirious - Prince

Friday, January 16, 2009

Back home



I'm back among my humans, and eating and drinking normally again, although I am still a little off, what with all the drama of the last week. But what would make me feel better is if you went and voted for one of the fine humans at the Nunies.


Well, hell, Jen is breaking out cute baby pictures, I got to fight back with what I've got. And cute doggie pictures is what I've got. Which probably won't help much, given the ass-kicking Jen is giving everyone in the Best Blog race. Although it's still neck and neck between myself and Darcy in the Best Blog Post race.

As for the little critter himself, he seems fine. He was glad to get back home and he has more energy than he did before going down. We've got meds and special food that we have to give him for several days. And, well, he looks a bit like hell. He needed a bath last weekend, but we didn't want to give him one and stress him out when he was sick. They didn't clean him at the vets. And we want to wait a couple of days until we know he's fine.

So, in the meantime, he's a pretty scruffy looking dog. But we're glad to have him home.

Last Five
1. Skinwalker - Robbie Robertson
2. 19th nervous breakdown - The Rolling Stones*
3. Love dog - TV on the Radio
4. Like a rolling stone - Bob Dylan
5. Something in me was dying - Keane

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Don't buy this comic

I actually have two or three comic book related things I want to write about in the coming days. Just to give you a heads-up.

But this story caught my eye. In a clever bit of timing, Marvel Comics has produced a story featuring Spider-Man teaming up with President-elect Obama to stop a super villain trying to disrupt the inauguration. There's a regular cover for the comic and a "limited" variant cover featuring Obama.

Newsarama, a comic book website, has this round-up of comic book stores across the United States selling out almost as soon as they opened their doors yesterday. In most parts of North America, Wednesday is New Comic Book Day. Which is their busy day, but not many times have there been line ups hours ahead of the store opening, or bouncers to make sure people behave themselves when trying to get a copy.

Naturally enough, copies ended up on eBay shortly after stores opened. Some by people who were hoping to turn a quick profit and others, no doubt, by retailers feeling there was more money to be made selling the comics online at a huge mark-up rather than selling them at cover in their stores. For the record, if you pay $100 for this comic, you're an idiot. And the guy selling it for that much and charging $20 in shipping is scum.

So, just on the off-chance that you're thinking to yourself "Hey, I want one of those comics!" allow me to offer you some advice. And who am I to offer advice? I've been collecting comics for more than 30 years. I've also seen literally dozens of these mad rushes by the general public to own a comic book because they think it's "hot". Whether it was Captain America #25 last year, where Cap died (a new Captain America rose from the ashes nine months later, although the "original" is still dead), Superman #75 where he died (he got better), X-Men #1, which sold around seven million copies or whatever, also had the general public losing their mind.

Oddly enough, Batman also "died" this week in the sixth issue of a comic called "Final Crisis". No one really seems to care and the story is being widely panned.

The point is, whenever the general public sees a "hot" comic and thinks there's a buck to be made from it, you're going to get hosed. Trust me, I used to be a comic book "merc" (mercenary) for years. My job was to buy comics cheap and resell them to the unwary at marked up prices. Oh God, the gouging I did on those copies of "The Archies visit Newfoundland" at the Avalon Mall Flea Market. The good deeds I will have to do for the rest of my life to earn back the karma I burned there....

There are only two reasons why you should buy this comic. One, you really like Spider-Man and collect the comic on a regular basis. Secondly, you love Obama and want to own this comic as a souvenir of his inauguration. In which case I would wait until next week when Marvel is coming out with a second printing.

And that's it. If you're trying to make money off of it, if you're looking at it as an investment, don't. It so rarely works, unless you're really knowledgeable about comics. If you think buying it now, at a marked up price, so you can resell it in a few months or years time and make a fortune, it doesn't work that way.

Marvel is likely printing hundreds of thousands of copies of this comic. To put it in perspective, the 10 best selling comics published monthly barely crack 100,000 copies.

So buy a copy if you think it's a cool, neat little souvenir. Don't worry about what printing you have. And for the love of God, don't try and make money off of it. And if it's any help, the comic is being panned.

Last Five
1. You're my thrill - Holly Cole
2. Twist my arm (live) - The Tragically Hip
3. Shout me out - TV on the Radio
4. Bigger hole to fill - The Hives
5. The hardest button to button - The White Stripes*

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Your second last Boo update

A friend of mine on Facebook joked that I have written a small novel updating the health status of our dog. Which is probably true. It would also probably make for a pretty boring novel, although that book Marely and Me seems to have netted the author a fair chunk of change. Perhaps I should scrap the current book and start working on one featuring the wacky adventures of a little white fluff ball in the arctic.

Anyway, until I get around to writing that, an update on his health. All appears to be well. Around 2 am last night he finally started to eat some food, which was pretty much the big moment we were waiting for. His energy was back already and he hadn't been sick. But he was still on an IV and wasn't eating, which was a bit of a concern.

But he's eating now, drinking and removed the IV himself. "He was apparently done with it," the vet said with some amusement. He's also entertaining the staff. When Cathy called this evening to make arrangements to get him sent back home, the night vet said he was just hanging around out back with them, having a good time.

So that's good. Glad he's in good spirits and keeping them amused. Maybe they'll give us a break on the bill.

No, probably not. This hasn't been a cheap jaunt down south, but it's been worth it because he'll be come back on Friday in much better shape than when he left.

Yeah, it'll be Friday before we can get him up here. He's fine now, but we couldn't make the arrangements in time to get him on Thursday. Plus, an extra down down south just to be on the safe side isn't a bad idea.

But he's good and we're looking forward to having him home soon. Your last update is when we finally get him back.

Last Five
1. I think I love you - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
2. Under the sea - Lindsay Buckingham*
3. Roll with it - Oasis
4. I'd like to (live) - Corinne Bailey Rae
5. Vultures - John Mayer

Nunies voting now opened

So I'm pleased to see I've been nominated again this year in the Best Blog category in the Nunavut Blogging Awards. Or, as I like to refer to them, the "Second Best Blog in Nunavut Award Because Clare Is Too Chicken-Shit To Put His Blog Up And Make It Official."

Hmmm, that's a bit wordy, but you get the point. Regardless, thank you to everyone who nominated me. I appreciate it.

I finished third in this last year, behind two of the people who are nominated again this year, Jen and Kate. New to the finals are Kennie and Jackie, trying to funnel her win last year as Best New Blog into a Best Blog win.

I couldn't help but notice something when looking at the nominees. And it's not that I enjoy all their blogs and have enjoyed chatting with them all (even the pesky reporter ones who harass me at work). It's that I'm the only male in this category.

This does not auger well for me, I think. Not that I think this is going to be any battle of the sexes (in which case, being outnumbered and merely male I would get my ass kicked) or that men will rush to my side and the women vote will be split. No, no, no, nothing silly like that at all.

However, it does remind me of a situation that happened about 10 years ago. I'd applied for a job with the RCMP as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst and, somehow, miraculous, made it past the screening of several hundred applicants and survived the three hour plus interview that took wiped out most of the 16 people who made it that far. All that was left now was a three hour exam and a 30 minute oral presentation. So I was feeling pretty good right up until the moment I walked in and noticed that the other three people who made it to the exam stage were all women.

And I thought, "Well, I'm good and truly fucked on getting this job."

I'm just saying, my reaction upon seeing the finalist for Best Blog was something similar.

It really is too bad about that other job, if I might dwell for a moment. It had a lot of things going for it.

1. It was located in St. John's and would have gotten me out of Clarenville. I'm a Townie, remember. Each moment away from the Holy Land diminishes my power.
2. My salary would have more than doubled. Granted, I was being paid a borderline poverty wage with The Packet, so anything involving more money short of being a male prostitute would have been good at that point.
3. I would have had a security clearance. I was still at an age where that sounded really cool.
4. It would have meant working in the "Palace on the Hill", ie. RCMP HQ in St. John's. If you've ever seen, or been inside, of the building you will know what I mean. It also has one of the best views in St. John's
5. "Criminal Intelligence Analyst" - with respect, I've never had a job title that cool in my life.

So anyway, yes. Much like I knew when I walked into that room I wasn't getting that job, I'm pretty sure I'm not winning this award, albeit for different reasons. This time, I'm simply outnumbered by high class blogs written by intelligent and funny women. So I'm doomed. But that's all right. Being doomed by intelligent and funny women....there are worse ways to go, really.

Oh, and least I obsess too much over Best Blog, there are two other categories for your consideration - Best Blog Post, where I have an entry based on my post regarding Levi Johnston, and Best New Blog. Swing over, read some of the best of what Nunavut has to offer and cast your vote.

Last Five
1. Teenage hustling - Tori Amos
2. Cold desert - Kings of Leon
3. The Mary Ellen Carter (live) - Stan Rogers*
4. Gunshy - Liz Phair
5. Out of range (live) - Ani DiFranco

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Being treated as dumb

For days I've been meaning to comment on the Singleton Affair, but have been slightly distracted. Of course, Ed has been knocking it out of the park and this post in particular is a grand slam. And The Telegram did a solid editorial as well. So I'm not sure how much more I can add to that.

However, I did want to say this. I've said for ages my great frustration with the Williams government is the massive void that lies between its potential and its reality. When Williams came in it was going to be open government and no patronage. And one of the reasons why there would be no patronage was due to Williams not owing anyone any favours. There was probably enough of us naive and optimistic to believe that.

That's obviously pure foolishness. This government is as reluctant to share information, if not more so, as any of its predecessors. And the racket with both Singletons during the past month - one gets appointed to the bench, the government bumps off a perfectly qualified Board of Regents members so Debbie can get a seat - pretty much puts to bed any lingering wisp of a notion this government was above patronage appointments.

Because, you know, it's not like Newfoundland has ever had any massive problems with its judicial system or anything. Clearly the provincial court is a place where you want to be putting an unremarkable and inexperience (by judicial terms) lawyer. What possible harm could it cause?

Anyway, here's the point that I'm trying to make. In case it's not really obvious to you...the Williams government thinks Newfoundlanders are moron. Yes, you. Are you living in Newfoundland? Then he thinks you're a moron. All of you. They think you're a complete idiot.

Why? Because they keep pulling the same shit over and over again. None of it is particularly bright. Some of it is, in fact, deeply insulting to anybody with a reasonable amount of intelligence. And yet, they keep doing it. Why? Because they think you're an idiot.

And since their poll numbers are still high, taxi drivers and open line callers are bragging about "our Danny" and any kind of opposition is often tagged with the label of being "unpatriotic", well, whose to say they're really all that wrong?

Last Five
1. 38 years old - The Tragically Hip
2. Let us down easy - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
3. Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen*
4. One man symphony - Andy Stochansky
5. Try to make it - Sloan

Boo update, part 1

So Boo is making progress according to the update from the vet this morning around 9:30 am. On the upside he woke up this morning and hadn't thrown-up or had any diarrhea. He appears a bit stronger and the IV drip seems to be helping with that. On the downside, he still has no interest in food, but the vet thinks it just might be too soon for food for him.

They still have him on antibiotics and are giving him something to coat his stomach in case it's still upset from all the vomiting (bragging points to you, Mr. Anonymous, on calling for some Pepto). They're still going to keep him for a few more days, at least until he starts eating normally again. No sense on rushing him back up here only for him to have more problems.

So, knock on wood, he seems to be doing all right and will hopefully be back by the end of the week. Which, now that I think about it, is pretty much all I want for my birthday this year. I always joked that Boo was Cathy's dog and one day I would get myself a nice Labrador Retriever or something.

But yeah, after the past two years or so, I've grown pretty attached to the bouncy white ball of fluff. It'll be good to have him home.

Last Five
1. No self control (live) - Peter Gabriel
2. Come pick me up - Ryan Adams*
3. Trouble sleeping - Corinne Bailey Rae
4. The old main drag - The Pogues
5. Away - Jenny Gear and the Whiskey Kittens

Monday, January 12, 2009

Boo update

So, first of all, thanks for all the well wishes and suggestions. We appreciate them all. So, what's up with Boo?

Well, he's residing at the Alta Vista animal hospital in Ottawa as I write. Many of the suggestions we got are good ones, but it came down to one simple fact - if your pet was as sick as Boo was yesterday, you would have taken him to the vet. Even after the saline infusion, he was still vomiting up bile. And his stool was very runny and there were drops of blood in it this morning.

So you don't take any chances on this, hoping it clears up or trying any of the thoughtfully suggested remedies. You get his ass to Ottawa as soon as possible. Yes, it will likely cost a few dollars. However, last time I checked, neither of our bank accounts are hurting all that much. Plus, logistically, it takes time to get him to Ottawa. We would have brought him to the vet Sunday night if we could; he didn't get there until Monday evening.

We did catch a break in that one of Cathy's co-workers was heading south to Ottawa today anyway (she became a grandmother over the weekend) and graciously agreed to help transport him to Ottawa, which was quicker and cheaper than sending him cargo. A courier picked him up at the airport and took him to the vet.

And the verdict? Well, we're still waiting on that. The vet has called and they're taking blood and stool for testing, plus doing x-rays. At a minimum he's going to be there until Thursday. Once I know more, I'll update the blog. But the vet says he's alert and not entirely happy about the sudden change in scenery in which his normal humans are nowhere in sight. All of which I take to be good signs.

In the meantime, thank you for all the emails, Facebook notes and near borderline obsessive rechecking of the blog to see if there's any news on his condition. As I said, we appreciate it all.

Update at 10 pm: Just heard from vet. Still not sure what the problem is, but there appears to perhaps be an infection in his bowels. They have him on antibiotics and an IV drip. The good news is there is no obstruction, so hopefully surgery won't be needed. We'll know more tomorrow, but so far, so good.

Last Five
1. Don't tear me up - Mick Jagger
2. Back in your head - Tegan and Sara
3. I will follow (live) - U2*
4. In the beginning - The Stills
5. We will rock you - Queen

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sick Boo

I've said before that there are inconveniences to living in this part of the north and that you simply had best get used to them if you want to not go insane. However, there are some that you simply can't get around. And in Iqaluit, the single thing that drives us insane is that vet services are...irregular.

There is no full-time vet clinic in town. There is a part-time vet and she makes house calls, but she can't do surgeries or handle serious illness or injuries to your pet. Plus, she's the only one in town doing it. So when you have an occasion, as we do now, when the vet is away on vacation until January 19 it can be highly stressful when your dog is sick. As Boo is right now.

We're not entirely sure what's the matter with him. He still has energy, but he's been throwing up a lot this weekend, both food and bile. Earlier today he threw up after drinking some water, which freaked out Cathy. Actually, deeply freaked out is nice way to sum up Cathy right now. She spent the afternoon while I was out reading websites on what to do when your dog is behaving like this. They all say to take him to a vet. Not that helpful when your nearest vet right now is a three hour plane flight away.

Now, before people start panicking, I don't think Boo's life is in jeopardy. In all likelihood, he got into something he wasn't supposed to and he has an upset belly. But if he's still not feeling better tomorrow and his energy starts to lag, well, we'll have some decisions to start to make, including the possibility of sending him to Ottawa. I hope it doesn't come to that. I'm pretty sure it won't, but if we have to we will. This is one of these things where money really isn't an object.

If anyone has any alternative suggestions on what to do with a sick dog in Iqaluit with no vet in sight, I'm open to hearing them.

Update: Well, we got a bit concerned when he threw up again and there was a pink tinge to it. So we took a chance and brought him to the hospital. Sometimes they will look at pets. If it was busy, there was no chance they were going to look at him.

But we caught a break and it was dead quiet. So they let us bring him into the garage area and gave him a saline drip. Which was fun, but the nurses were fantastic. This is not a cure all. He's still not well and has thrown up a few more times since we got home. So we're making arrangements to send him to Ottawa tomorrow and get a professional vet to look at him.

Still, a high level of stress, but we're hoping the saline drip will tide him over until we get him down south.

Last Five
1. It's my fault for being famous - The White Stripes*
2. The hands that built America - U2
3. Cool on your island (live) - Tori Amos
4. Hospital food - David Gray
5. Oh, my love - Yellowcard

Saturday, January 10, 2009

No northern news

Cathy was saying the other days I should write more about northern things. But honestly, when you get days like today it's kind of hard to find much of anything interesting to write about. Today is a big old day of sloth. And I'm perfectly all right with that.

What did we do?

1. Slept in until 10
2. Sat on the couch and read (Cathy's reading "Dark Fever", I was reading "Doktor Sleepless").
3. Had lunch.
4. The real excitement of the day...the buzzer in our apartment went off (and so did the dog) and it was someone delivering from Fed Ex. Which, in and of itself, is a bit weird since I thought all Fed Ex packages were being routed through the post office. But no, there was a package. Which contained Eddie Bauer stuff.

The good news is that we have new clothes, including a pair of snazzy black high heel boots that we both like. The bad news? As I've learned, it's a bad idea to order from Eddie Bauer as they ship from the US and the customs and duty fees are vicious (as in, add an additional 15 per cent to the price you paid). So it's nice and all, but we won't be doing that again.

5. Watched the special features on Wall-E.
6. Cleaned up a bit around the apartment.
7. Played Wii Fit
8. Read some more (Cathy continued with her book, I switched to "Spider-Man loves Mary Jane").
9. Had supper
10. Played Lego Batman on Wii.

And now Cathy is poking around online and I'm doing this. And yes, tomorrow might be marginally more exciting what with brunch at the Frob, a thank you part for volunteers at the Mixed Nationals and, well, that's about it really.

Yes, maybe we should be doing more. But really, at the end of a long week, it's nice and quite relaxing to have nothing much to do. There will be weekends when we won't have that luxury. So I'm going to try and not feel too guilty about it.

But if you're ever wondering why sometimes I don't talk more about what it's like living in Iqaluit, well, odds are it might be because I'm relaxing on a couch reading a book with my wife.

Last Five
1. Somebody's baby (live) - Jackson Browne*
2. Luno - Bloc Party
3. Only the good die young - Billy Joel
4. You beauty must be rubbing off - Hawksley Workman
5. Head - Prince

Friday, January 09, 2009

Passwords, privacy, pinheads and geeks

You know, I swear I'm not going to do these quick link posts, and here I am, barely a week into the new year and I'm breaking that vow.

The problem is, I can find these things interesting, and I think others might find them interesting, but there's simply no way I can drag any kind of lengthy rant or ramble out of them.

Like this one for example. I'm pleased to say that having viewed this site on the most common passwords in use today that none of mine are included in the top 500. Although, really, there are some spectacularly stupid passwords in that list. Anyone who uses '123456' or 'password' deserves everything that's coming to them.

I'm not going to say what my passwords are, but I like to think they're a suitable mix of alpha-numeric, plus they're not anything obviously personal. I'm sure a hacker could, with a bit of effort, crack my passwords. However, thanks to my idiocy in Italy last summer, I now have deeply paranoid security measures on all my financial dealing, so good luck with that.

Anyway, the point being, if you see you see any of your passwords on that list, for the love of God, change them right away.

****

Next up is this woman, who is suing Blogger/Google. Why? Because some anonymous people said bad things about her on a blog. She wants Blogger to give up the personal information regarding the anonymous comments.

I have deep sympathy with anyone annoyed, offended or upset with people making offensive anonymous comments on blogs. As someone who has been subjected to harassing anonymous comments on my own blog, their cowardice annoys me, but I deal with it. If someone was talking lying shit about me on another blog (which may have happened and I simply don't know about it), then I would ask the blog moderator to take action.

But suing Blogger? Waste of time. The article rightly points out that even if Blogger did give over the information, there's no guarantee any of that information would be remotely useful. The person would be following a wild goose chase all over the internet.

It's just silly unless, as some suggestion, you're looking for attention by trying a big, publicity-seeking lawsuit against Google. In which case whatever sympathy I might have had goes right out the window.

***

Just in case the urge to throttle Sarah Palin has diminished any since the election, read this and feel it build once more. The sheer volume of things wrong with everything she says is mindblowing. Just for a start, Caroline Kennedy is being roasted alive by New York media as being deeply unfit to hold the open senate seat. But that would require her to read some of those, whatchamacallits, newspapers. I think they do get a few of them in Alaska. I know Kennedy is being roasted and I live in freakin' Nunavut.

God, what a twit.

***

And finally, some bright folks decided to mix the NCAA tournament, politics and spectacularly high levels of geekiness by creating a Secretary for Geek Affairs tournament. The theory being there is a position sadly lacking in President-elect Obama's new cabinet. Being a bit of a geek himself (massive Crackberry addict, loves comic books), clearly he needs a Secretary for Geek Affairs to keep his updated on important matters.

But who should it be? Well, now you can vote on it here. I think including fictional characters is a bit of a cheat (although the forthcoming Wil Wheaton vs. Wesley Crusher match-up is genius) and man, there were some brutal first round match-ups (Wheaton vs. Bruce Campbell, Penn and Teller vs. The Mythbusters, Stan Lee vs. Danica McKellar).

Who am I predicting as the winner? Well, assuming he can get past himself, literally, I think I'm going to go with Wheaton. He is a massive geek, and proud of it. Plus his blog is pretty entertaining. Although there is some pretty hardcore geek names in there. I mean, I'm a geek and I didn't recognize some of the names there, even after I read their bios.

More proof for Cathy that I'm not as big a geek as she thinks I am. Well, maybe as big as she thinks I am, but not as big as what exists out there.

Last Five
1. Meet James Ensor - They Might Be Giants
2. Somewhere over the rainbow - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
3. She's always a woman - Billy Joel
4. You broke my heart - Sherry Ryan
5. Atlantic Blue - Ron Hynes*

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I will never understand

Every now and then Cathy will look over from whatever she's reading or watching on TV and say, "I know this is a stupid question, but..."

And they're normally not stupid questions. She asks good questions and sometimes I have the answer and sometimes I do not. She asks because while I won't pretend to be smart about any one specific area, I maintain a healthy level of what I call "journalist knowledge". Which means I'm not a genius at many things, but knowledgeable about a lot of things.

An unkind way might be to say a mile wide and an inch deep, but that's not too far off the mark. I'm very good at Jeopardy and recently scared the hell out of Cathy by going more than two straight weeks of knowing the answer to final Jeopardy.

I say this because if Cathy turns to me the next few days and asks me what's going on with Israel, Hamas and Gaza, I'm just going to sit there with my mouth hanging open. Oh sure, I could mention something about the politics of the situation, ending of ceasefires, religion and more. I could get fancy and mention a West Wing quote about all the above might be true, but what it boils down to is that it's hot, dry and there's not enough water.

But then I see something like this and I realize I have no damn idea. By the way, no kidding, that link contains a strong image. Some of you might not be able to handle it, and I'm thinking especially of those of you with small kids.

But then, because that image isn't horrible enough, you get to read the words underneath and realize there's a pretty decent chance the body of a child was deliberately placed there by Hamas. As a prop, to make sure photographers get the right shot that will outrage people.

I swear to God, I read that, got up and walked away from the computer and tried very hard not to cry.

I will never understand the Middle East. Never. And there are days like today I'm deeply grateful for that.

Last Five
1. Not my idea - Garbage
2. World keeps turning - Tom Waits
3. Across the universe - Fiona Apple
4. The future is X-rated - Matthew Good Band*
5. Slow hands - Interpol

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Jumping the Bush

So I'm robbing this idea straight from Peter David who had this discussion last week. However, I thought it might be interesting to get an outsider view of the subject. There's now officially less than two weeks until the our long international nightmare is over and George W. Bush will no longer be president. If possibly pelting him with tomatoes as he leaves would be perfectly all right as well.

I'm a believer that you respect the office, if not the man. However, once he's no longer president, any tiny, itsy-bitsy bit of decorum and restraint I might have had regarding Bush goes right out the window.

Anyway, the discussion is "When did George W. Bush's presidency Jump the Shark?" That is to say when did his presidency become absurd and when did the American people finally clue into the fact this "show" was a lost cause?

Now, there are several ways of looking at this. First, when did his presidency Jump the Shark with you, personally. Secondly, when did he Jump the Shark with the American people? And finally, when did the international community lose faith in him. Because for me, there are three different answers to each of those questions.

When did he jump with me? I'm tempted to say during the 2000 election fiasco in Florida. However, realistically it was when it became absolutely clear that there were no weapons in Iraq and they were just making this shit up. And furthermore, they weren't even smart enough to make up fake evidence to cover their ass. There's all kinds of levels of ineptitude involved right there.

For Americans, I think it was Katrina. Remember, despite the complete colossal fuck-up in Iraq, they still re-elected him in 2004 by a comfortable majority. But once most of them say the incredible and disastrous response to Katrina, that was it for taking him seriously. America looked like a third world country at that moment and that was something many simply could not handle.

For the rest of the world, I think it was the start of the Iraq war. Hard as it is to remember, American had a tremendous amount of good will and international support following the September 11th attacks. And rushing to invade Iraq destroyed most of that. That was the beginning of the end of Bush's international reputation.

But those are my views. And really, there are so many disasters during these past long eight years. What's your Jump the Shark moment?

Last Five
1. St. George's Lane - Matt Mays and El Torpedo
2. Redemption Song - The Chieftains with Ziggy Marley*
3. All sparks - The Editors
4. The old laughing lady (live) - Neil Young
5. Love is all around - Sloan

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Nunies

It's awards season and while some might get excited about the People's Choice Awards or the Golden Globes, the real action takes place (mostly) North of 60 as nominations for the second annual Nunies have now opened and will be wrap up on January 12. From there, the Top 5 in three categories - Best Blog, Best New Blog and Best Blog Post - will be voted on by the public.

I mention this not to try and solicit votes or nominations from you. I've already shed most of my dignity in recent months grovelling for votes in the Canadian Blogging Awards and my ill-fated run for Memorial University's Board of Regents. I point this out because there are many excellent Nunavut based blogs, most of which you can see in the sidebar. In the next few days I encourage you to visit a bunch of them and then drop Clare a line at - nunavutblogs AT yahoo DOT ca.

And I will, once again, protest that Clare is exempting his blog from nomination. A lot of people in the North found their way to the rest of us through his particular corner of the internet. And it's a daily stop for me. Plus, having met the man, he's a hell of a nice guy and a great writer. I also trust him to not rig the vote if he were to throw his hat into the ring.

Well, not too much anyway....

Last Five
1. Weakness - Dear Leader
2. Love's a competition - Kaiser Chiefs
3. Sunflower - Andrew LeDrew*
4. Clowns - Goldfrapp
5. Song for you - Andy Stochansky

Will Danny step down?

I'm not much one for predictions outside of my annual, completely futile, total shot in the dark guess regarding the Academy Awards. I have no psychic abilities, alas, and if I could predict things, then 6-49 numbers is about all I would want to be really good at.

So this isn't a prediction, but something I'm wondering about. Is this the year that Danny Williams announces he's stepping down as premier?

That might seem like madness to most of you. Williams remains the most popular politician by a mile in Newfoundland. Hell, you could argue he's the most popular politician in Canada if you go strictly by poll numbers (and yes, I know that Ed has done some analysis questioning whether those numbers are inflated). Why would you step down?

Well, this is my speculation as to why, by the end of the year, Williams might announce his departure.

First, when he took over the job as leader of the PCs lo those many moons ago, he said he was only staying for two terms. This October will mark the half way point of the second term. Most good leaders, when stepping down, want to leave enough leeway to call a leadership convention and then give their successor enough time to put their mark on running the government. And yes, I know, Williams wouldn't be the first politician in the history of anything to lie about how long he was going to serve.

So yeah, Williams takes "a walk in the blizzard" or sees pretty Christmas lights or something next December and announces he's going to step down as premier in May 2010. Plenty of time for the Conservatives to have a small leadership race and elect a new premier. Then they new person has a little more than a year to place his (likely Jerome Kennedy) or her (please God Elizabeth Marshall) stamp on running the government.

So yeah, there's that. But there's also this.

Anybody who runs for politics has a healthy ego. Anyone who believes they can do a better job of running a place like Newfoundland and Labrador than anybody else obviously has enough ego that he could donate vast chunks of it to those less confident than himself and still have plenty leftover to be a raving maniac.

There's the issue of wanting the power to do things, belief that you're the best person to do the job and a strong desire to be deeply liked and respected. I might be wrong about this, but Williams seems to have a more deeply situated desire to be liked (the more cynical would say worshipped) than any Newfoundland politician I can think of recently.

And I think 2009 is going to be a rough year for the province. Again, I hope I'm wrong. But there's too many closures, too many people coming back from Alberta and not going back after their 10 days or so off. Oil prices are low, the fishery remains struggling, the mining industry is facing deep troubles as well.

For years Newfoundland politicians have strived to develop the province along the lines of the "miracles" in Ireland and Iceland. Yet, those two countries are among the hardest hit in the western world by the economic downturn. So what happens if those "miracles" come to Newfoundland? And what happens when you're a premier who really likes to be liked? Do you stick around and try to right a ship when facing factors that are largely beyond your control, or do you go "Well, I've been doing this for enough years, time for someone else to take charge."

I don't know. I think it depends on how 2009 goes. And if it looks like it's going to get ugly. Williams might just go before people start to hate him and blame him for things. Then again, the huge ego and belief that only he can make things better might overwhelm that and he sticks around to right the ship, as it were.

Like I said, could be very wrong, but I think Williams steps down by the end of the year. But we will see...

Last Five
1. Here not there - Andy Stochansky*
2. You won't make a fool out of me - Flogging Molly
3. Anyone else but you - The Moldy Peaches
4. Sing for the submarine - REM
5. Tomato in the rain - Kaiser Chiefs

Monday, January 05, 2009

Knowing when to call it quits

There was a moment during an episode of the seventh season of The West Wing that I particularly like. It's the dramatic end to the election between Santos and Vinick and lawyers are flying all over the western US trying to make sure that the election is conducted fairly. Finally, it's come down to New Mexico and it's tight, but they finally do call it, and it goes to Santos.

Now the scene I'm thinking of is Vinick surrounded by his closest advisers and several of them are urging him to challenge the election results. That's it's too close and he needs to get the lawyers involved, drafting up challenges for the courts.

And Vinick goes no, that's not how we do things. That there's no way he's going to contest the results of a close election in a court. And that he's going to call Santos and concede defeat.

Now, you can link that to what happened in Florida in 2000 if you want, although the situation in Florida was infinitely more complex than what you're going to get even in a pretty smart drama like The West Wing, but it was still a nice moment and I liked it.

And that's what came to mind when I read this story about the mess that's happening in Minnesota over the senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. I honestly don't care who wins the race. But it was a very close race, there was a mandatory recount, which by all accounts was very thorough, closely monitored and pretty damn fair. And now, even though Coleman was ahead, it appears there were enough miscounts and what not to give Franken a minute edge of about 225 votes. Considering I think there was 1.8 million votes cast, that really is a tiny number.

Look, someone has to lose. It's going to suck for the loser because it was a hard-fought campaign with a lot of bad blood between the two men. Losing under the best of circumstances sucks, but losing by 200 votes to a guy you hate, well, that puts it at a whole new level.

But at some point you have to be a man and just admit you lost. The people voted and people, to the absolute best of their ability, went through close on two million votes to make sure things were done right and you came out the wrong end of it. Do you really want to be the man who went crying to the courts to try and get them to make you the winner?

I don't know why this interests me so much. It's a Minnesota senatorial election after all. I would be hard pressed to find something of less significance to me if I tried. But the closeness of the race, the passion involved with it while it was happening and one of the candidates threatening to go crying to mommy does draw me in.

I just hope Coleman does the hard, but honourable, thing and concedes. Then again, there was a reason why so many critics said The West Wing was a fantasy. In the real world, most politicians don't have the same sense of honour and decency that Vinick did in that show. More's the pity, really...

Last Five
1. M.I.A. - Foo Fighters
2. Bone machine - Pixies
3. Mr. Zebra (live) - Tori Amos
4. The Great Salt Lake - Band of Horses*
5. Requiem for a dying song - Flogging Molly

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Gifts

So I've been mildly grumbled at this week. My birthday is coming up in less than two weeks now and family down south would like to be able to send me things for the occasion. Here's the "issue" - there's nothing I need.

Look, life's been good to me the last few years. And after Christmas there is virtually nothing I need at this point. Hell, there was a video game I was looking at (Lego Batman) and thought "I didn't get that for Christmas, it would make a new birthday gift." I suggested it which lead to come confusion among Cathy's parents as they gave it to me already for Christmas. A frantic tear around the apartment found the video game (Hurrah!) along with two stocking stuffers that Cathy forgot to give me.

So on top of the ludicrous amount of gifts I got for Christmas, I got a little top up for New Year's. And all of this and I still have the quandary of what to ask for my birthday.

By the way, for those who say I might want to suggest charitable donations or something along those lines, I have suggested it already and it has met with a sound, "that's very kind of you, but we want to actually get you something". So that idea is pretty much out.

I always used to joke that having a birthday in the middle of January was worse than having one right next to Christmas. These days most family and friends are pretty sensitive about making sure your birthday is treated special along with Christmas. Cathy gets a birthday cake and her gift is wrapped in different paper than her Christmas gifts.

In the middle of January, people are done with shopping, just want to take a break from all the running around and have likely just received the Christmas Visa bill. So they want nothing to do with your birthday.

My birthday hasn't been a big deal in ages. And I'm all right with that, really. So if family and friends are reading this, the whole idea of charitable donations really is fine. So are Chapters gift cards.

By the way, having now had a bit of time to play with the gifts we received for Christmas, I've got to say, the one I'm enjoying the most are the digital picture frames. Both parents sent us frames, which was a bit of a mistake, but one that works out well. One picture frame shows horizontal photos, the other frame shows vertical ones.

And it's nice. I have something like 3,500 photos on my computer and most never see the light of day. So it's good to put a couple of hundred of them in these frames, put them on a one minute random rotation cycle, and just watch vacations, wedding, walks with the dog and everything else cycle by. I had my doubts about these gizmos, but I change my mind...they're very nice to have around.

Last Five
1. Hole in the rive (live) - Crowded House
2. Broken arrow - Robbie Robertson*
3. Rowdy blues - The Be Good Tanyas
4. Underneath days - Bob Mould
5. If I was a painter - Norah Jones