Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Republic of Doyle, ep. 11

Naturally, after spending all season reviewing Republic of Doyle, and with the season finale next week, I'm not going to be around to see it. I'll be in Florida. I appreciate that's not exactly a hardship and I'll take being in Florida and missing Doyle as opposed to being in the Arctic and catching Doyle. Still, kind of annoying.

And yes, I know I can catch it online once I get back. I may even review it. However, if I have to depending on the CBC's deeply buggy media player, then I don't know if that's going to happen. I could buy it on iTunes, but we'll see. That's a big chunk of my monthly internet cap being nuked just to watch one TV show.

Anyway, this week on ROD we have Jake being smacked around. Well, only a couple of times physically. Most of it is spent dealing with being at a wedding...not the easiest thing in the world to do when you're just divorced, your ex-wife is sitting behind you in church with her divorce lawyer as her date, you have a history with the bride dating back to an incident in Bannerman Park back in '95 and, oh yes, your brother is back and being a massive dick.

This appears to be the week where everyone shits on Jake. Mal is giving him shit, Christian is being such a smug bastard that it's a wonder that Jake managed to make it all the way until the end of he episode before taking a swing at him.

Oh yes, and the groom has gone missing. And since this is ROD, it means it's nothing so simple as a groom getting cold feet. It's also a bad father-son relationship, kidnapping and a horse named Swiss Franc. Oh yes, and a scene involving Des shirtless and tweaking his nipples. Personally, I could have done without that, but judging by the squealing of glee over on Twitter, Des has his fans and they were all over that action.

My problem with this week's episode is that this is a rare clunker for the mystery of the week. Because unless I missed something, the whole mystery turns on a guy willing to commit not only kidnapping, but probably murder so he can get a horse for his daughter. Last time I was home and drove around the bay, I must have passed by a dozen or more horses. Grab the trailer, drive on out in the middle of the night, grab yourself a horse and you're all set. Granted, not descended from a line of champions, but hey, I doubt your daughter cares much.

Also, the daughter seems pretty all right, considering daddy ran over a man pointing a rifle at her demanding his son back.

So no, just dumb. I like the idea of them getting involved with a case that's more than just a runaway groom. However, they ventured into the land of "You've got to be fucking kidding me". Although it's always good to see more of Walter.

The show's redeeming points comes with the character interaction. It's nice to see Jake and Mal working on a case again. Also good to see that Sgt. Bennett is no one's fool. She could spot something odd about Christian and dealt with it before getting in too deep. She is, after all, a detective.

However, the focus is on Christian who went from being a smarmy, much more successful pain in the ass older brother to a total fuck up by the end of the episode. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think I like the idea of Jake having a successful big brother to rub things in from time to time. That would be interesting as well. Instead, Jake is the good son, but one Mal seems unable to appreciate. That's interesting and hopefully a topic for further exploration.

However, the writers did handle the gradual unwinding of Christian in a pretty good manner.

So yeah, I like the character bits, just not the story they plunked the characters in this week. I'm also not sure about Jake solving mysteries via his dreams. That just felt...odd. I'm not saying it was bad kind of odd, just a weird story device that I'm not entirely sure was necessary. Although, hey, always nice to see Gerry Rogers. And for that matter Aiden Flynn as the divorce lawyer. Plus they gave Sean Panting more than three lines this week, which was nice.

Not so much with the zingers this week, but still a few good ones worth mentioning.

"I loves a good weddin’.... So, this must be like returning to the scene of the crime for you." - Mal

"Would you like a clue?" "No, I'm good, thanks." - The bride (whose name is escaping me) and Jake.

"I’m pretty sure she’s one of our first cousins." "Not by marriage." - Jake and Christian

"You want a drink? I find it takes the edge right off the commitment." - Jake

"Good butcher. Decent liar." - Mal

"I was on the bad list?" "Yeah, you were after stealing wine from the church and before running over the neighbour's cat." - Jake and Walter, for the win.

"You lost your ring finger to pay for the wedding? Total Gift of the Magi." - Des, being an idiot.

No one spoil next week's show for me. I'll catch it after I get back.

Last Five
1. Who are you? - The Who
2. O girlfriend - Weezer
3. Mister Wrong - Lloyd Cole
4. Golden age of radio (live) - Josh Ritter
5. Chocolate Jesus (live) - Tom Waits*

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Messing with the internet

If there's one group most people in Iqaluit like to grumble about, it's NorthWesTel. I realize it's not the easiest job in the world to bring phone and internet to an isolated part of the world like Iqaluit. Hell, 10 years ago you were luck to get dial up and you'd take even if it meant waiting five minutes for a page to load sometimes.

But that was 10 yeas ago and access to the internet is considered a vital service now. Government depends on it to conduct its day to day affairs. Businesses depend on it to be able to operate. And the rest of us depend on it just as a lifeline to the outside world.

That's why people here tend to get so frustrated by NWTel's internet service. Look, we know it's not easy to get reliable, affordable high speed internet, but you've taken up the responsibility, so perhaps you ought to live up to it. And hell, I thought they were actually doing pretty good the last few months. A few drops in service the past few weeks, but I assumed that had to do with sun transits (during the spring and fall the sun interferes with satellites in the arctic). Yes, I was paying $100/month for internet that is still slower than what I would get in southern Canada. Yes, the 10gig cap is deeply annoying. And yes they did increase the amount from $80 to $100 last year. But overall, I was almost getting happy with NWTel. There was still room for improvement, but they were doing better than a year ago. .

Except today I got a note from a friend of mine asking if NWTel had contacted me because they were doing a phone survey. Apparently high speed "ultra" service is costing them too much, even with them charging $100/month and two cents a mb once you blow your cap. So they're presenting three options:

1. Increase the price of this package.
2. Reduce the monthly cap of this package.
3. Slow down the speed to allow more users on same bandwidth.

Well, allow me to offer a fourth option...If they honestly call and say these are the options, then I'll tell them I'm quitting NWTel and buying a satellite internet dish. Yes, the installation is close to $600. And yes, it's slightly more expensive per month to use. However, there is no cap. There is some regulating of speed depending on usage and time of day, but for the most part, it's reasonable according to people I've spoken with.

I'm not a huge downloader, not by any stretch. I like to download a few new records a month. I like to watch some YouTube videos and whatnot. But I'm mostly doing standard web surfing. I'd like to be doing more, but I'm aware of the cap, I'm aware of the fiscal pain that comes with blowing your cap badly, as I have several times.

So really, if NWTel is going to come and either A. make my service worse or B. charge me a lot more for what is, at best, very average service then I'm going with C. Taking my business somewhere else.

I just want a reasonable internet service. That's not too much to ask for, is it?

Last Five
1. Twistin' by the pool - Dire Straits
2. This is not America - David Bowie
3. Music in a foreign language - Lloyd Cole
4. Wonderwall - Ryan Adams*
5. Not too late - Norah Jones

Monday, March 29, 2010

Florida

For some reason, I have the Blue Rodeo song with that title stuck in my brain as I write. Kind of annoying, but anyway.

We're off in a few days for the vacation we didn't know was going to actually happen. We booked this trip, oh, I'm guessing last August. We booked it mostly on points and, at that time, you had to book well in advance when trying to fly out of Iqaluit on points. Especially if you were going to try and work the minor miracle of flying out around Easter, when everybody was going to be trying to get out for a break.

This was, of course, before we knew Air Canada was coming and that flying out of Iqaluit on points just got a whole lot easier. It was also when we optimistically thought I would have no problem getting that time off because I would have been working for months and months. Heh, yeah. Employment took much longer than I thought. Also, there's weirdness afoot on that I really can't talk about yet. Hopefully soon, but not right now.

However, despite being closed to having me cancel my ticket any number of times over the past few months (Cathy was always going to go), it seems barring any last minute disasters we're off to Florida in a few days. It's going to be weird. I was to Florida a few years ago, but that was more or less just killing a few days in Orlando before we went and did our real reason for hitting that weirdest of US states, to go on a cruise. The time before that would have been 1982.

This time, we're going to the Tampa area and crashing with Cathy's parents in their condo. The plan is to do...nothing. Seriously. When we went to Italy or Australia we had a ton of stuff planned. We have virtually nothing planned on this one. We've been invited to go see the Lightening play the Senators while we're there. But as A. I'm not a big hockey fan and B. Both teams are mediocre at best, I'm not sure that's going to happen. The Rays are playing the Yankees, though. That could be fun. But there's no Disney planned or Universal Studios. We might go to Busch Gardens. And I suspect there might be an outlet store or two. But other than that, nada.

But Florida is a weird state at the best of times. Plus I'm not sure I can do the sit on a beach all day and do nothing thing for days on end. I may go mad. But I guess we shall see.

Last Five
1. Let's work - Mick Jagger
2. Tell me why - The Beatles
3. Unionhouse branch (live) - Allison Krauss and Union Station
4. Backstreets - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
5. Next year - Foo Fighters

Sunday, March 28, 2010

one-tenth

Ever really sit down and look to see how small 1/10th of an inch is? Because that was the difference today between winning and losing. Two rocks on the edge of the eight foot in the eighth end of a back and forth final. And at the end, it's the two Thirds and a measuring stick trying to determine which team is going to the Dominion national championships this fall, and which team gets to realize they were 1/10th of an inch away from it.

Today, we were on the wrong side of the 1/10th.

It sucks, make no mistake about it. I've been trying very, very hard not to replay certain ends and shots. I very badly wanted to go back to this championship, not just because we had a great time at the last one, but because I would have liked my father to have been there for this one since it was in PEI.

However, we were just out-played. My hat's off to Team Kingdon. They played really well all weekend. They beat us yesterday afternoon, we beat them in the 1-2 game last night, they beat us this afternoon in the final. If that's not two evenly matched teams duking it out, I don't know what is. They're going to have a blast in PEI, I know they will.

And in the long run, it's good for the club. If one team is dominating all the time, then I'm not sure that encourages other curlers to step up and try and compete at these kinds of events. That's what we want people at the club to do.

So curling season is over, right? They've already turned off the plant and over the next couple of days they'll be scraping out the ice. If nothing else, for those of you bored with curling talk here can get a reprieve. I confess, after this afternoon's game I was just wiped. There was an offer to go out and have some food and drinks with my teammates and I just didn't have it in me. I just wanted to go home and be with Cathy. And, God love her, she was at the door waiting for me with a big hug. I mentioned I might get a bath, which I rarely do, and she went and poured one for me and threw in some Epsom salts because it's supposed to be good for sore muscles. And while I was soaking in the bath and listening to Patton Oswalt on the iPod (my cure for being down? A Patton Oswalt comedy album) she brought in freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

In case you haven't figured it out, Cathy is awesome.

Anyway, curling is over, but there's still work to be done. The exec need to do a post-mortem on the past year and see what we did right, what we did wrong and what we can do next year. I want to design a communications plan for getting word out about curling to the maximum number of people in town to grow the sport. Plus, we desperately need a website. And a bunch of other little things.

Also, I think I need to re-evaluate a bit what I want from curling. I didn't have as much fun as I would have thought this weekend. And it's not just because we lost. We were very tense on the ice and that's no fun. So if I'm not having the kind of fun I want, then what do I have to do to make that happen? And that's not on anyone else but me. I get too competitive sometimes, I know that. I've worked very hard to focus on the fun and less on the "I must win!" but sometimes it is a struggle.

Something to think about over the summer.

Last Five
1. Keep it dark - Genesis*
2. The crane's wife - The Decemberists
3. Cry together - Joel Plaskett Emergency
4. I feel fine - The Beatles
5. Handshake the gangster - Hey Rosetta!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dominion

This is the last weekend of intensive curling for me. On the upside, for those of you bored by curling posts, they turn the plant off at 8pm on Sunday night and so ends another curling season. However, until that happened, I have a lot of curling to get in. Anywhere from four to six games, depending on how things pan out.

For those who have never head me talk about the Dominion before, go here for more information. back in November I had the pleasure and honour of being on one of the two first curling teams (men and women) to represent Nunavut at a nation curling championship. It was an absolute blast and as I am a greedy son of a bitch, I want to go again. This year it's being held in Charlottetown. If we win, I've managed to convince my father to come and see me play, which will be nice. Of course, there is still that matter of having to win first. And as defending champion, the other teams are clearly gunning for us.

We got off to a good start this evening, although it was a tight game and still came down to the last rock. We won 10-4, but the score is absolutely not a representation of how close it actually was. We stole five in the last end, but it was going back and forth between the two teams right up until that last end.

If you're in Iqaluit and you want to see some pretty good curling, the club is open to the general public during the event and we'd love to some spectators show up. There was a good crowd there this evening and it would be nice to see that trend continue throughout the weekend. There are games on Saturday at 10am, 2pm and 5pm (correction 7pm). On Sunday, there is a semi-final at 10am and the final takes place at 2pm.

By the way, both the men's and women's finals are going on at the same time. So come on out and cheer us on. We'd love to see you there.

Last Five
1. Nautical disaster - The Tragically Hip*
2. In your honor - Foo Fighters
3. Runnin' down a dream - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. The unforgettable fire - U2
5. Dogs of L.A. - Liz Phair

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Curling and movie trailers

Not much in the tank for blogging this evening. I got back a short time ago from the Thursday night curling league finals. We started off well and jumped out to a nice lead, but just couldn't hold on. It also didn't help that I played crap. We lost, which is a touch disappointing. It would like to win one of those league finals one of these years. Plus, I'm losing Stephanie, my Third, this year. Which is sad because she's a great player and, more importantly, a lot of fun to have on the team. She's going to be very hard to replace next season. I really would have liked to have sent her on a winning not. Ah well. She had fun, so that's the main thing.

So in lieu of blogging, a couple more movie trailers. I know Iron Man 2 is the comic book movie everyone is focusing on this year, but there's a trio of other ones that look interesting. There's Kick-Ass, which I think I put a trailer up for earlier. Then there's Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, which is coming out in August. The trailer for it when live today.



I must say, I thought trying to film those comics would be pretty hard, but it looks like they've nailed the general awesomeness of the comics pretty well. Whether audiences are going to get this or if it's going to be too weird for them I don't know. But this does look like fun. It's a great little series of comics, by the way, especially if you're a fan of video games as it mixes the weirdness of comics, music, video games, dating and Toronto into once package.

Scott Pilgrim is an indy book from Oni Press. Then there's The Losers, which is a DC/Vertigo book and comes out next month, I believe. It's a strange comic to be made into a movie. The series last about 30 issues and was then wrapped up essentially before it could be cancelled. But again, the movie looks fun and captures what I remember from the series. Which is to say lots of explosions.



There you go, curling, comics and movie trailers. Not a bad night's work.

Last Five
1. Almost - Sarah Harmer*
2. Dangerous animals - Arctic Monkeys
3. Band on the run - Paul McCartney
4. The wreck of a life - Sam Roberts
5. Bill (live) - Allison Crowe

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Republic of Doyle, ep. 10

Look, I understand Garrison Steele is supposed to be a deeply annoying character that gets under Jake's skin. That's his whole purpose. The problem is an actor like Victor Garber is that he's a little too good at his job. Other than deeply annoying Jake, I don't really see why the rest of the characters like him. He's rude, arrogant and not nearly as charming as he thinks he is.

That's fine because we know that, Jake knows that, but a lot of very smart people around Jake can't spot that? And I guess that's my problem with this week's episode. Steele is a deeply annoying character. He's in the episode a lot, so it kind of makes it an annoying hour of television. There's a few good moments, and a couple of good lines. But mostly I was just wishing he would go away.

Plus there's no Mal. And there was a brutal tease of a Walter scene. He's there for, what, 20 seconds and gets about four lines of dialogue. This is the thing that baffles me about Walter. When they were doing the trailers for the show online, Walter was featured very prominently. So I figured he was actually be in the show a lot. But he hasn't been. Kind of weird.

Anyway, this week's episode sees Mal off on a secret mission of some sort up to Toronto. No one will tell Jake where he is or what he's up to. Rose and Tinny won't and Des doesn't know, because Mal wouldn't tell him, knowing he would crack. But as a parting gift, he's left Jake an author - Garrison Steele. He wants to follow a real PI in Newfoundland for his next book.

Jake hates him, but Garrison manages to find a way to stick with the case until the end. It involves a cheating wife, an oil find that may or may not be legit, goons and a dead body. So, just another average week in St. John's.

Oh, and the Sgt., formerly the Cst. sings. She's got quite the lovely voice on her, which makes Jake even more deeply smitten with her. She unleashes the pipes just as Nikki is rambling on drunkenly about something to Jake that made me momentarily hit mute. I've discovered the solution to my Nikki hatred and that's the instant she's about to become deeply aggrivating, hit the mute button. You might miss a rare good line or a plot point, but it's still better than throwing the remote at the TV.

This week's Nikki plot point is that she's still pretty crazy, still messed up over Jake and is possibly an alcoholic.

I suspect this is one of these episodes where it's an acquired taste. If you liked Victor Garber's Garrison Steele character, then this week's episode was a hoot for you. If you found him annoying, then this was a very off week. Although I will give props again for the story of the week. Oil scams, cheating wife and murder is a pretty nice mix. Granted, it would have worked much better with Mal there rather than Garrison. Hey, remember when the fun part of this show was watching Mal and Jake solve cases? It's been far too many weeks since we've had that.

Anyway, this week's best lines:

"Newfoundland: the seafood seems passable and you speak something... like... English." - Garrison

"The vehicle is parked up ahead, on his chest." Sgt. Bennett

"Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure he had life insurance." - Jake. I agree with what someone said on Twitter. All Jake needed for that line was to whip off a pair of sunglasses and have The Who kick in afterwords and it would have been perfect.

"They were drilling the same woman. Why not the same oil patch?" - Jake

"Old pubs that smell like urine also have a certain charm...speaking of which, where is my father? - Jake

"So dad, if you’re trying to get on my nerves, it’s working." - Jake

"And Steele came up behind him and pillowcased his head, Gitmo-style." - Des

"He's special...the hero."
"That right?"
"I mean he's special. Mentally retarded."
- Garrison and Jake, for the win. He might have been annoying, but that was expertly delivered.

I think there are only two episodes left in this season. Wow, that went quick. It's been a pretty good start to the show, really. A few hiccups, but it's a rare show that doesn't go through a lot of ups and down its first season. It'll be interested to see what changes they make for the second season.

Last Five
1. Last chance avenue - Ron Hynes*
2. Gimmie some truth - Jakob Dylan
3. White city - The Pogues
4. Falling down (live) - Tom Waits
5. Monkey gone to heaven - The Pixies

Costello and Sexsmith

Once again I rob from John Gushue, but I absolutely had no choice in the matter. If this isn't the song that has made me the happiest to listen to all this year, then I don't know what it is.



I keep missing Spectacle every time it comes on Bravo and I'm especially annoyed to have missed that one, as Ron Sexsmith and Neko Case are two of my favourite musicians. I certainly can't miss the two parter with Bruce Springsteen, though. That would be wrong.

But I've always loved "Everyday I write the book". It was my first introduction to Elvis Costello and it was also one of the earliest music videos I can remember seeing and liking. Hell, the video is still kind of fun, although in a different way now then when it was released, I imagine.



Last Five
1. First we take Manhattan (live) - Jill Porter
2. One look - Joel Plaskett
3. Nimrod's son - The Pixies*
4. Beautiful sorta - Ryan Adams
5. Cradlesong - Rob Thomas

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When not to pay attention

I'm trying to figure out if the University of Ottawa's academic vice-president Fran├žois Houle is the stupidest man in Canada right now. I think he may well be. I understand this varies from moment to moment, but he certainly strikes me as the man of the hour.

I don't understand much about what could possible make Ann Coulter tick or how she could possibly believe some of the things she does. But I do understand this much about her - she is a specialist at getting publicity and generating outrage so that she keeps herself in the spotlight, which in turn allows her to sell more of whatever it is she's shilling at that moment.

Do I think she has the right to go and speak at a university? Yes. I don't like her for any number of reasons, but universities ought to be a place where you can have different opinions and debate them. But honestly, sending her a letter reminding her to behave....are you really that stupid? Have you not done even the most basic research to realize what someone like Coulter does with that kind of material?

She generates controversy, portrays herself as the martyr and then goes and says horrible things...claiming it's all satire, of course. You play into her hands when you send letters threatening her with consequences if she doesn't play nice when the smartest, wisest strategy is to just ignore her.

I'm not saying you always ignore those espousing hate. Sometimes you have to stand up to them and say you're not taking this anymore. That they're wrong and you will fight them with every fibre of your being to make sure people like them don't thrive. However, someone like Coulter thrives and, more importantly, profits under that kind of fire. The best attack for someone like that is to show up and turn your back to them all night long. To not say a word. Or better still, don't show up. You can't reasonably argue with someone like Coulter because she's not reasonable. She's not in it to win arguments. She's in it to generate controversy and to make money from that controversy. And spread a little hate, just for the icing on the cake, you understand.

So yeah, thanks Houle. It had been months since I had last heard Coulter's name mentioned and then you have to give her a big heaping load of attention. Well done. Idiot.

Last Five
1. Murder in the Southlands - Mark Bragg*
2. Until the end - Norah Jones
3. I through a brick through a window - U2
4. Gone forever - The Raveonettes
5. Acid tongue - Jenny Lewis

Monday, March 22, 2010

Feeding frenzy

One of the things I forgot to mention because of curling was a feeding frenzy that happened up here on Friday. No, it wasn't sharks breaking through the ice out in Frobisher Bay and eating snowmobiles (but that would be awesome). It was a massive, one day seat sale.

I understand seat sales happen all the time, but not one like this. For one day you could buy airplane tickets Iqaluit-Ottawa return for a little under $700. Understand I've been here since 2005 and I can't recall ever seeing plane tickets that cheap, even if there were a ton of conditions on the tickets, such they had to be used by the end of August and good luck trying to switch dates without a ton of penalties.

They were $700 tickets. So the frenzy started slow, but escalated quickly. I can't speak for the level of productivity in all offices around Iqaluit, but I talked to a few people this weekend, and if they didn't spend some time trying to get the tickets, then they were managers of people coming into the office desperately trying to get time off this summer so they could take advantage of the tickets.

I can't be certain, but I think Canadian North started all of this in the morning, but First Air and Air Canada quickly joined in. I also heard a rumour this weekend that this was done because there's the possibility of WestJet coming to Iqaluit as well. Pure rumour, by the way. No basis in fact and I have no idea where on Earth they would go. There's so little space in Iqaluit's airport that Air Canada is actually using Canadian North's counter space for now.

So you may ask how many tickets Cathy and I bought during this feeding frenzy?

None.

I assure you, I was looking good and hard at them on Friday. However, we simply can't manage it. We already have two trips out between now and the end of August and the tickets are committed. We fly out in a little more than a week to go to Florida for Easter. Cathy's parents are renting a condo, so we're going to go and crash with them while we're there. We booked the tickets on points, so that's that.

We're also hoping to get out in early July to go and see U2 in Toronto, plus do our sea lift resupply. However, we have tickets for that as well. And I suppose we could have booked them and just popped out for one last weekend towards the end of summer. However, that's still $1400 for a weekend out and our finances are still not in such great shape after the house and extended unemployment that we can afford that.

So while the rest of Iqaluit was in the middle of the feeding frenzy we....did....nothing. Boy, that hurt. Right decision, but still pretty hard to pass up a deal like that.

Ah well, on the upside we'll be in Florida in less than two weeks. I still have to decide if I want to go and see Ottawa vs. Tampa Bay in hockey or Rays vs Yankees. I'm leaning towards the later. A hockey game between two mediocre teams or a chance to watch teams that have been in the world series the past two years. I think I know which way I lean.

Last Five
1. Undercover of the night - Rolling Stones
2. 60 feet tall - The Dead Weather
3. Maybe California - Tori Amos
4. Blue skies over bad lands (live) - Matthew Good
5. Handshake the gangster - Hey Rosetta!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not dead, merely curling

The absence the last couple of days haven't had anything to do with writer's block or boredom. I've simply been very busy trying to organize the Canadian North Bonspiel at the curling club. Liquor licences, picking up orders, getting the club ready, revising the schedule when last minute teams want to enter, or drop out, picking up food and all the other things that go into making a successful bonspiel.

I think it was a pretty successful one...and I'm not just saying that because the team I was on won, although that was pretty nice. I have once again provided for my family with my winnings. In this case, a $75 gift certificate for Baffin Gas. Hey, I never said I was going to become a professional curler any time soon.

Alas, I didn't win any of the five plane tickets. However, one of my teammates won two. He won the frozen foot draw - a fund raiser for the Iqaluit Food Bank where you had to get your rock closest to the button, all the while keeping your sliding food bare and on the ice - and one of the door prize tickets. No, there was not a lynching, but I think people considered it. It's also the second year in a row this has happened. Ye gods...

But I think people were happy with the way things went. They all the food, drank lots of booze and seemed to have lots of fun. We also raised more than $700 for the food bank, plus a lot of food donations. It was the last open club event for the season, so we had people coming up thanking us for all the work this season and the bonspiel. That was nice, actually. I'm glad to see people appreciate the work the small group of volunteers put into making the club successful.

Oh, and I got reelected the the executive of the curling club. I'm the vice president for another year.

So I've been sitting in the house today mostly spaced out just because it was a busy few days. The Brain is not working at anything approaching 100% capacity and there are a few aches and pains from the weekend. Normally I wouldn't complain (much), however this is just the beginning. On Thursday I have the league championship final. That ought to be fun. The team I'm playing against went undefeated and, oh yes, three-quarters of that team were the guys I curled with last night. The other quarter is the skip of the team we beat last night.

I am, to be blunt, fucked sideways. However, this is the last kick at glory for my team as I'm losing Stephanie, my third, at the end of the season. So I'd like to send her out on a high note.

And then next weekend I have the Dominion, which is going to be anywhere from five to six more games over three days. If we win that, then we're off to Charlottetown in November for the national championship.

I suspect I'm going to be very sore, very tired and very done with curling by the end of next weekend. Hell, the Women's World Championships are going on right now and I don't want to watch.

Anyway, for those of you bored with curling posts, they'll be easing back soon enough. And I do have ideas for the next couple of days. So tune in tomorrow for something other than curling, I promise.

Last Five
1.Like a hitman, like a dancer - A.C. Newman
2. The devil's in the details (live) - Matthew Good
3. Seven nation army - The White Stripes*
4. Magical mystery tour - The Beatles
5. The island - The Decemberist

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why we stay

I'm trying to organize my first real curling bonspiel this weekend. I've helped with plenty of others, but this one is mostly me and one other person. It's good for me, getting practice organizing a big event. Still, the number of last minute changes and other things that are driving me insane. Trying to keep everyone happy and make sure they have a good time is proving to be a fool's quest, I suspect. Still, I hope things go well. For most people this is their last event of the season. Be nice to send them off on a high note.

Anyway, this post isn't just about curling. I actually had two posts in the comment section over the past few days that I wanted to address. The first came from an anonymous poster in the thread about the cost of groceries. And the question was: "So. Long time lurker, now looking for the reason you live there...."

I'm sure I've touched on this in the Moving to Iqaluit FAQ, but it's probably worth mentioning again. Seriously, you don't notice the cost of groceries up here after a month. There's that exquisite first time you walk into NorthMart or Arctic Ventures and nearly have a stroke. After that, you honestly don't notice. At least we haven't. Look, you have to eat, your options are limited. Food mail is a hit or miss notion at the best of times. And yes, you can stock up on food when you travel out and bring it back with you, but that only gets you so far.

You have to buy it, so deal and move on.

I can talk about the financial positives of living up here. That if you're married, and don't have kids, and you're not an idiot with your money you can live a great life. Certainly living here as opposed to being in St. John's has meant better opportunities for us. We would have never gotten to Australia, Italy, California and the Caribbean if not for our time in Nunavut. We might have bought a house in Newfoundland, but I think it would have been a much greater struggle.

But that's all very practical and almost...soulless. This is closer to the real reason we stay.





These were all taken within minutes from our house. I wake up in the morning, pull back the blinds in the living room and most days there is a brilliant sun lighting up the bay and hills. It's a brilliant white I've never managed to capture accurately on my digital camera.

It just zens me out like few places do. This has been a pretty stressful last six months or more for us. There have been more than a few rocky days. However, any day I feel that way, or Cathy does, all it takes is a few minutes in the living room, with the daylight streaming in and the view to look at and we chill out.

I think that's why we stay. We've been to a lot of cool places. But Iqaluit relaxes us. It's not for everybody, obviously. People can burn out quickly because of the isolation, the cold, the daylight or whatever. However, we've been here five years. If we didn't love the place, if it didn't appeal to some part of us, we would have been gone.

So there you go. Long winded, but it's why we stay.

Next up, why I'm so cautious talking about Iqaluit on the blog.

last Five
1. Icky thump - The White Stripes
2. Goodbye is all we have (live) - Allison Krauss and Union Station
3. Strange weather (live) - Tom Waits
4. Goodnight Saigon - Billy Joel*
5. Bandages - Hot Hot Heat

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Republic of Doyle, ep. 9

The key word for this week's Republic of Doyle would probably be "in-joke". Granted, ROD has always had its share of jokes that if you're not from Newfoundland would go straight over your head. But seeing Jody Richardson in this episode with one of the poker players telling him to "shut up, you red albino", probably got a laugh from a percentage of Newfoundlanders who remember the band The Thomas Trio and the Red Albino. At one point, they were going to be the next big thing out of Newfoundland until they imploded.

And yes, there is an actual Ziggy Peelgood chip truck in St. John's, who just got a ton of free advertising...assuming they don't have people breaking into their truck looking for drugs all the time now.

So this week's episode we have three stories going on. The first is the quest for the stolen Ziggy Peelgood truck and what, exactly, are Ziggy and Syd up to. Then we have Rose and Mal trying to deal with the increasingly creepy Martin. And then we have Nikki trying to give Jake back the wedding ring, which originally belonged to his mother.

Here's the shocker for you. Both Tinny and Nikki were good in this episode. Nikki was not too crazy. She wanted Jake to have his mother's wedding ring back. Jake wants nothing to do with it, saying it's cursed. However, Nikki feels bad keeping it. That's all actually kind of reasonable. Granted, she appears to be the only doctor working in St. John's, since any time there is a medical problem she's the one doing the treating. So maybe that would explain why she's been so crazy and cranky these last few months. Or perhaps she's upset about the premier yelling at her.

And Tinny, God help me for saying this, but Tinny actually has the two best lines of the evening. And yes, they are finally using her to good effect. Both for the creepy scene at the start with Martin (another in-joke, by the way, was the "Ode to Newfoundland" playing on the TV with the giant 'N' logo - that would be for NTV) and for using her when dealing with kids. She would have worked fine going along with Jake and Des. Except, of course, this episode was all about Des trying to become a detective and Jake showing him some respect. Did anybody not seriously believe we would see that bullet proof vest in action at some point?

I'm not sure we're all the way there yet, but it was still fun watching Des and Jake work off of each other. There wasn't as much Jake and Mal on-screen time in this episode, but that's all right. Jake works better when he has someone to play off of and Des was a surprisingly good match this time.

Meanwhile, over on the Martin-Rose-Mal front, Martin ups the creepy, although really, I think in the annals of scaring the shit out of people waking up in bed, the Godfather with its horse's head wins over Martin leaving a cooked duck. Still, he proved to be very effective at baiting Mal and being one step ahead of him.

And while I am glad it was ultimately Rose who solved her own problem with Martin, it did feel a touch anti-climatic. All that set up and Martin did cave kind of quickly. Although Rose did have him by the short and curlies.

Another thing I liked about the episode was seeing some of the other characters interact with each other. Rose and Nikki going out for a drink. Mal and the constable, well, Sergeant now, having a few discussions. It's nice to see the characters being around each other without Jake being the centre of attention. It shows the writers are getting more comfortable with the cast. It's a good thing to see.

Although, honestly, I never thought I would see a TV show dealing with St. John's rap scene. Fortunately, it was played for laughs. Having seen a gangsta rap act at the Rock House in St. John's a year or so ago, it should be if that's the quality of the acts.

So yeah, considering this was an episode dealing with gangsta rappers and a chip wagon, not too bad at all. A slight anti-climax on the Martin Poole storyline, but just Nikki and Tinny being not so aggravating I want to hurl things at the TV gives this one a huge bump.

And now, the ever popular, best lines of the night:

“You’re acting like the first time I dropped you off at school. Don’t cry this time.” - Mal

"Where’s this going? Two men, alone, in a chip truck in an isolated area..." - Des

"Give it to that guy who buys gold on TV." - Jake on Nikki trying to give him back his mother's wedding ring.

"Bunch of skeets from the Gut tryin’ to be gangsta." - Tinny, who has the second best line of the night.

"I'm Wiggs Dinner." - Wiggs Dinner. God help us all, but that's going to catch on.

"Plenty of perfectly good wives waiting for you back in the Pen." - Mal

"I bet you'd be scared of the bay girls locked up in juvie. Bet they got a healthy appetite for some Wiggs Dinner." - Tinny, for the win.

"Okay its official, I'm aroused." "Really? I don't see anything." - Martin and Rose

"Whaddaya at?" "Nuttin" - Ziggy and Syd, in the middle of a drug/hostage exchange.

"How was jail, fadder?" "Dandy. They’re thinking about naming a wing after you." - Jake and Mal.

"Who hired ya, the chip truck's jealous wife?" - The Sergeant, which, you know, just doesn't have the same ring as The Constable.

So yeah, we're rolling along. And next week we have Victor Garbor, so that could be fun. And certainly, I would think, one of the biggest guest stars they've had on the show so far.

Last Five
All from "Under Great White Northern Lights" by The White Stripes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lull

So I'm not dead, just feeling remarkably uninspired.

So I can do a long blog post, what was the word my friend used, ah yes, whinging about how I can't find anything to blog about, or I can do something about it.

In this case, what I'm doing is not forcing the issue. I said at the beginning of the year I might take more breaks from the blog rather than trying to keep up the one a day pace. Honestly, I've been doing it for years now and it can be a touch brutal at times. So today, at least, I was back working on the on again, mostly off-again novel. If I can't be writing the blog, then I should at least be doing some kind of writing.

So I'll try and get back into the regular blogging thing again, but don't be too shocked if the blog goes a bit more quiet, at least until I find some kind of rhythm again. And hey, any suggestions or questions appreciated, either in the comments section or in email. I'm not above robbing Megan's reader submitted question riff.

Anyway, we shall see what tomorrow brings...

Last Five
1. Cloudbursting - Kate Bush*
2. Thieves in the temple - Prince
3. Oh lately it's so quiet - OK Go
4. Cruel - Tori Amos
5. U.R.A fever - The Kills

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Curling home stretch

Drat, Koe wins the Brier. I think I just have a natural aversion to teams from Alberta. Seriously, I don't think I've ever liked a team out of Alberta. I didn't like Pat Ryan back in the day. I loathed the Ferbey rink and feel pretty much the same way about Kevin Martin. There's just something about the way they curl that really annoys me.

Ah well, at least I don't have to worry about watching the world championships in a few weeks time. The combination of not like the Koe team (look, I know it's not rational, but there it is), the time zone difference (it's in Italy) and that Cathy's sanity is hanging on by a thread right now should do the trick. Cathy is done with curling. The fact that the next few weeks are going to be crazy busy with curling here in Iqaluit is certainly not helping matters.

So what do we have going on that will be taking up so much time? Well, we have the league play-offs which are starting this week. My team finished second, so we're in pretty good shape. I'm losing my Third, Stephanie, at the end of this season, so I'd like to send her off on a winning note.

Then next weekend (March 19 and 20) we have the Canadian North Bonspiel. I mention this one because if you live in Iqaluit you might want to think about entering it. Why? Because we have Five return plane tickets to Ottawa up for grabs. Four of the tickets are door prizes. So you can show up, play, drink lots and possibly go home with a plane ticket. Wins and losses do not matter.

The fifth ticket is actually kind of fun. It's the Frozen Foot Draw. Basically, it's closest shot to the button wins. What's the catch? Each shot costs $5, with all money going toward the Iqaluit Food Bank. Oh, and you have to put your sliding foot on the ice without a shoe or sock. Bare foot on the ice.

It's for a good cause and lots of fun. So seriously, if you're in Iqaluit and you're interested in playing, drop me a line or drop the club a line at iqaluitcurling (at) gmail (dot) com. Deadline for registering a team is 7pm on Wednesday, March 17. It's $30 per person, $40 per person if you're not a member of the club. We already have nine teams signed up and we can only take 16.

Then the last weekend of March we have the Dominion Curling Club Championship. The winner gets to represent Nunavut at the Dominion, which is held in Charlottetown in November. Barring last minute weirdness we have four men's teams and two women's teams competing. I would have liked more, but it's better than last year, and it's a start. I think because it's most of the best curlers in the club competing, it scares off some of the other, less experienced players. Pity.

Still, I'm psyched about it. I had a blast at the last one and I really, really want to go to this one. If for no other reason then perhaps I can guilt my father to taking some time out from his busy retirement to swing over and see the team play. Assuming we win, of course. The other three teams are good.

So a busy few weeks. Then again, it has to tide me over. Six long months without curling. Then again, I suspect some other members of the household will be glad for the break.

Last Five
1. Please Elsie - Eskimo Joe
2. The ghost of Dana Bradley - Ron Hynes
3. Intercourse (comedy) - Chris Rock
4. Forever at your feet - Oh Susanna
5. Murder in the Southlands - Mark Bragg*

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Grocery list

So this is part of an infrequent series. Think of it as an attempt to give you an idea of what life is like in the North. Or, think of it as a way for me to blog about something when I have no better ideas. Something even more dangerous these days now that I play on Empire Avenue. I didn't blog yesterday, my earnings and dividends dropped so my share value went down a half-dollar.

Clearly the pressure is on. If I don't blog now, I not only disappoint my regular readers, but also my shareholders. So instead of continuing my day of sloth and playing some Civilizations or rereading my Immortal Iron Fist collections, here I am, blogging.

Anyway, every now and then I like to give people an idea of how much things cost in Iqaluit. Prices in Iqaluit are scary to anybody who lives down south and so cheap they make people want to cry for those who live in the smaller communities of Nunavut. We dropped around $250 in groceries yesterday. This is what we got.

1 pkg Indian Butter Chick mix - $3.19
Garlic bread - $4.39
1 pkg of hamburger buns - $5.09
1 beef bone (for dog) - $1.99
1 rice crackers - $3.19
1 mixed crackers package - $5.79
2 bags of Tostitos - $6.59 ea
1 pkg of Pringles sticks - $5.09
3 pkgs of Welch's snacks - $3.49 ea
1 loaf of French bread - $3.69
5 poppyseed bagels - $5.99
1 pkg totillas - $5.99
2 pkgs of English muffins - $2.99 ea
0.365kg of apples - $2.41
1 pkg of strawberries - $4.69
1 box of clementines - $12.99
0.390 kg of Bartlett pears - $2.96
1 pkg green leaf lettuce - $5.99
1 pkg of mushrooms - $2.59
1 bag of onions - $4.39
1 bag of mixed peppers - $9.89
5 lb bag of red peppers - $7.99
0.210 hot house tomatoes - $1.71
1 Bolthouse fruit smoothie - $7.99
1 pkg Danone Activia Yogurt - $7.99
1 pkg Bea sour cream - $4.35
2 pkg of shredded cheese = $10.69 ea
1 Becel margarine - $10.89
1 Breyers ice cream - $13.79
1 lean cuisine diner - $5.99
1 McCain's pizza - $13.59
1 Delissio pizza - $14.99
1 Maple Leaf bacon - $8.99

There's no chicken or beef on this list because we topped up on them pretty heavily before coming up to Iqaluit over Christmas. Plus, I had a trip to Yellowknife in January and dropped a couple of hundred dollars at M&M Meat Shop. We'll probably do another top up when we're out (well Cathy will be, the jury is still out for me) over Easter.

Anyway, there you go. I honestly have no idea of how expensive that stuff is. You kind of lose perspective on groceries after you live up here long enough. But the rest of you can let me know if those numbers send chills down your spine.

Last Five
1. Nowhere with you - Joel Plaskett Emergency*
2. Undercover of the night - Rolling Stones
3. Hochie woman - Tori Amos
4. Half the truth - Kaiser Chiefs
5. All that you have is your soul - Tracy Chapman

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tumbling

This is a story Seamus is going to hate. He hates it every time I mention it, but I like it, so what the hell...

Back in our days with the Muse the staff was getting all hot and bothered over this new thing called The Internet. This would have been around 1992 or 1993. The staff was getting consumed with email and reading newsgroups. Some were getting involved in MUDs (Multi User Dungeons, a kind of D&D online) to the point where several staffers nearly flunked out.

Seamus, however, remained a skeptic. At one point when asked why he wasn't getting an email account like everyone else, he replied "Why bother. This internet is like the CB Radio of the 90s."

Seamus hates this story because he thinks I'm making fun of his precognitive abilities. I love this story because comparing the internet to CB radio is one of those awesome flairs of creativity that Seamus has all the time. He might have been about 20 when he made that quip, but I like to think it was a sign of things to come.

So why take this trip down memory lane? Because Seamus now has a Tumblr and it's worth taking a look at. It's pretty much whatever comes to mind, which lately has been English football, punk music, blondes and geekiness. He even gave me this piece of genius today - a link to a mash-up between one of my all time favourite music videos combined with one of my all-time favourite TV shows. It is Genius.



So yeah, there's all sorts of cool stuff I expect to see on his Tumblr every day. But there's also this reason to swing by, if my opinion caries any weight. And it is this; of all the people I know and consider a good friend, Seamus is my favourite writer. Granted, there are times I get so annoyed that I want to jam a tube into his brain and syphon out his talent, but most times I just like reading him. The day he finally gets a novel published, I'll be in line to buy it.

So take a whirl past his Tumblr. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Last Five
1. The future (live) - Leonard Cohen*
2. Hard bargin - Ron Sexsmith
3. Blind Willie McTell - Bob Dylan
4. Amputations - Death Cab For Cutie
5. Seeds (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: Republic of Doyle, ep. 8

If we can take one ray of sunshine out of this episode, it's that the writers are certainly putting the pieces in place to write Nikki out of the show. Please, please, please God don't get too clever with this and get Jake to have second thoughts or whatever. The characters isn't working, no one likes her so just do the merciful thing and write her off...both from the show and as a failed character experiment. It's a perfectly all right thing to do.

God, the less said about that scene in the bar the better. Gah.

Anyway, this week's special CODCO guest is Cathy Jones, playing a grieving widow who is a little pissed to discover that her recently deceased husband left a chunk of money to a strange woman she's never heard of. The brother of the deceased is kind of pissed off with him as well, since the dead brother has been skimming two grand a month off of him for years. The woman in questions claims to not know the man and is getting a little pissed off with everyone poking around into her business.

But never fear, Dez and Tinny are on the case.

I will say this for the show...the mysteries are generally pretty solid and they do a good job of veering away from the obvious - the dead husband was having an affair and is paying off the girlfriend - into something more interesting and, in this case, tragic.

Hell, they even managed to pull off the small miracle of making Tinny not completely annoying. Actually, they might have finally found a use for Des and Tinny. It makes sense to use them when investigating the more youth oriented aspects of a case. Des is a mope, but at least he's got some computer skills. Tinny, despite being deeply annoying, does have a head on her shoulders. At least when she's being written properly.

As for the Rose and Martin subplot at least that finally moves forward in a smart direction. Malachy acts stupid, Rose acts stupid but at the end they realize they have a better chance of dealing with the Martin problem together rather than trying to keep secrets from one another. Certainly not a radically new story twist, but a nice one to finally see after watching Rose and Malachy both flail about the last couple of episodes. Although Rose was deeply stupid to go to that hotel room. I'm torn between believing the character was desperate or whether she was being badly written for plot convenience because I think she's normally far too smart to go and do something like that. It's a toss up.

While I mock the CODCO appearances, Cathy Jones wasn't too annoying. The cat fight was a bit over the top, but at least she didn't go to vast, twitchy levels of over-acting that Greg Malone inflicted on all of us.

Overall, another pretty solid episode. A step up from last week simply by the merit of not having as much Nikki in it and actually putting Tinny to some good use. Not as many great one liners in this episode, but still a couple worth mentioning.

"I am literally covered in another man." - Jake

"Crack that whip, constable." - Jake
"You’d like that, wouldn’t you?" - Cst. Bennett

"Don’t go talking about offin' yourself, Doyle. You’ll get a girl all excited." - Cst. Bennett. (For a character who was such a dud in the first episode, they really are feeding her all the best lines these days.)

"Whattya doin', playin' hopscotch?" - Jake
"Yeah, are ya stupid?" - Girl playing hopscotch

"I know a bunch of b'yes from the Goulds who would take care of this. Would probably pay me for the chance, actually." - Jake (Funny if you only know what the Goulds is like.)

"Well, it was still better than Jake's idea." - Malachy
"What? Goons for the Goulds?" - Rose
"Yeah, how’d you know?" - Malachy

Finally, remember producers of the show...less Nikki and more Walter. More Walter is always good. Although, honestly, Sean Panting must have laughed his ass off when he read the script for this one. Show up, do one scene lasting less than a minute, all the while two women are massaging him and working on his hands. Oh, and you can lie down the entire time. And yes, we will pay you to do this. Now that's a sweet gig. How can I get some of that.

Still. More Walter. Less Nikki. You've been told.

Last Five
All from Broken Bells S/T record

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

St. Paddy's Drunk dial '10

As I said last week, Dups is currently trying to take over the world with Empire Avenue. Which may well happen. Now, Dups has also been running the St. Patrick's Drunk Dial the past few years. The premise is very simple. Right around St. Patrick's Day, you write the toll-free number on the website down on a piece of paper and stick it in your wallet, program it into your Crackberry or what have you. Then, go and get very, very drunk. Once you are very drunk, then you remember you have this phone number, you call it and leave whatever drunk ramblings that come to mind.

If your drunken ramblings are particularly entertaining, then you may win a prize of some kind. It could be money. It could be alcohol. I believe Dups is looking at giving the winner this year credits of some kind on Empire Avenue or possibly something else.

Or you could do what I do, which is kind of cheat. Now, I love the contest, but I don't actually drink. I tend to view the Drunk Dial as a creative writing exercise. So the first year I entered I called as a vengeful St. Patrick looking for his kickback. I did this with an absolutely hideous Irish accent that I fully expect to be shot for one day.

Last year I won with the bright idea of trying to raise money so I could become the first professional white male throat singer. I never really publicized that much on the blog because I was worried someone might take offense. But honestly, I'm making fun of white people trying to master a difficult Inuit traditional art. I guess you can find offense with that if you really work at it, but I think I'm done worrying about it.

So now I'm trying to come up with this year's call. Once again, I will likely be sober, but you never know. I think I have a pretty decent idea, but we'll see. And I imagine the competition will be stiff to unseat me.

Regardless, I encourage all my readers to give this a try. It's a mostly harmless bit of fun. Besides, you'll be helping Dups evolve into a higher state of consciousness. Or at least I think that's what happens when you simply give up sleeping.

Last Five
1. Boston - Vampire Weekend
2. Oh! The breeches full of stiches - The Chieftains*
3. Imagine (live) - Allison Crowe
4. Bright smile - Josh Ritter
5. Handshake the gangster - Hey Rosetta!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Thud

Thud being the sound the Oscars made on Sunday night.

I suppose I could talk about the Oscars at length, but the problem is they were the most deeply boring I can think of in years and years. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin absolutely tanked as hosts and most of the presenters were boring (the exception being Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey). I was waiting for the Big Oscar Moment, the one that everyone talks about the next day...except there wasn't one. I was trying to Twitter stuff as the night went on, except I got pretty bored about an hour or so in. I hung around until the end, but I think that was more masochism on my part than any real interest.

Seriously, bring Neil Patrick Harris in to do the Oscars next year and it might interesting. He was one of the few good things about the broadcast last night.

Although, speaking of Downey, the new Iron Man 2 trailer debuted last night as well. And there was the sound of millions of geeks crying out as one. Which is a very disturbing sound, and it's probably best not to think about it.

I mocked one of my female friends for drooling over the trailer, figuring she just wanted Downey. Noooo....she wants a briefcase that turns into a suit or armor. So do I, for that matter. However, I'm not a lawyer in court all the time. Her wanting one of those is kind of disturbing, really.

The trailer, however, is filled with awesome. Can't wait to see the movie.



And finally, just because I found this amusing - what happens when you let a physicist experiment with coffee? I suspect you get something that several my friends will desperately be trying to order.

Last Five
1. Dance, dance, dance (live) - Neil Young*
2. Punch drink grinning soul - Flogging Molly
3. California - Josh Ritter
4. A new name for everything - The Weakerthans
5. Fountain of sorrow - Jackson Browne

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Around town

I suspect no one is going to be reading the blog this evening, what with the Oscars on. I thought briefly about live blogging the event, but it occurs to me that Twitter is generally a more effective way of doing that. So if you're interested twitter.com/towniebastard is where I'll be this evening, making a variety of snarky comments as the evening's festivities move along.

However, on the off-chance you're not going to bother with the Oscars, well, I did have a couple of requests for pictures. So with the temperatures once again reaching up into the deeply weird and balmy range yesterday (-11C in Iqaluit in March. It's as if someone opened the gates of hell nearby), we grabbed the camera and the dog and did some wandering around town.

They're....all right photos. I'm not deeply in love with most of them. However, there is one weird one right towards the end. You'll know it when you see it. And yes, that is what you think it is, and no, I did not stage it. I photographed it exactly as I found it.

Snowmobile trails near the Arctic Winter Games Arena, heading out to the sea ice.

Me up on the Plateau subdivision with the airport in the background.

Looking out over the sea ice from the Plateau subdivision.

A view of Iqaluit when walking back from the look-out at Sylvia Grennell park.

Yes, that is an ice cream cone, abandoned in the snow.

Just in case you had your doubts. I didn't plant it. Taken out near the breakwater with Iqaluit in the background.

I said it was unusually warm in Iqaluit. However, I didn't say it was actually warm, especially if you don't dress for it. Cathy's wearing sneakers in this picture. Then again, I can't say anything because so was I on Saturday.

Iqaluit, as seen from the other side of the bay.

Last Five
1. Octopus's garden/Sun king - The Beatles*
2. Day of reckoning (burn for you) - Robbie Robertson
3. My Oklahoma home (live) - Bruce Springsteen
4. Better off as we are (live) - Blue Rodeo
5. Blackout - Sloan

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Brier bound...eventually, maybe.

Since I got back into curling about five years ago, I've had the dream that just about anybody involved with the sport had had - to curl in a national championship. Now, I got to experience that pleasure last November when the team I was on made it to the Dominion Curling Club Championship. It was a fantastic experience, one I'm hoping to repeat when we defend our championship next month. However as I am a greedy man, I want more. And more means a Brier. Or hell, even a Mixed Curling championship.

Now, for years that's been a pipe dream. Nunavut does not curl at any of the big national curling events. Do I think that's right? No, I do not. However, number and politics have been against us for many years. Yes, there is supposed to be regional representation, but the total number of curlers in Nunavut is probably less than many clubs. Plus, there's a lot of money involved in curling at those national events. Letting Nunavut play means shaking up the status quo and possibly some of those dollars. So it's always been a struggle.

However, it really does feel like things are about to change. This story says the Canadian Curling Association is seriously looking at some changes when they meet in June. Talking with some of our curling people here in the territory, even they expect some shifting to happen. The exact nature of that shifting remains to be seen. Coming out of the meeting I expect one of four things to have happened.

1. Nothing. The retain the status quo for at least another year while they do more study.
2. They allow for 14 teams to compete at the Brier/Scott. That would be 10 provinces, three territories along with either Northern Ontario or Team Canada. They would then create two pools of seven teams.
3. A 10 team format for the Brier. The bottom two teams would then get dropped into a qualifying round-robin with the four teams who didn't make the Brier. Each province and territory gets a team, along with either Northern Ontario or Team Canada.
4. Status quo, but Nunavut is allowed to start sending teams to territorial playdowns. So instead of a NWT/Yukon team, the team would simply be known as the Territories, representing NWT/Yukon/Nunavut.

So which option would I prefer? Well, I'd be perfectly happy with either three or four. I think #4 is more likely to happen, simply because it's the least controversial and least likely to really upset traditionalists. Option #2 means some of the provinces might not play each other and there are certain rivalaries people want to see. And while option #3 seems not bad, there's always the chance that Alberta or Saskatchewan put up a stinker and get dropped to the qualifying pool, much to the horror of people in their provinces.

But yeah, I could curl at the Brier one day. It's a longshot, sure. But the odds get better if the CCA makes the right call in June. If they give me, and other Nunavut curlers, a shot, well, that's all we can ask for. The rest of it is up to us.

And I've got to say, if someone tells me I have a chance to represent Nunavut at the Brier, that's something I'm going to work very, very hard at. I want to be there.

Anyway, here's hoping you'll get to see me there at some point in the next few years. A long shot, but what the hell. And hey, it'll give Cathy an excuse to watch the Brier, instead of getting burned out by curling, which is where she is right now.

Last Five
1. No need to cry - Neko Case
2. Burned out the flesh - Andrew LeDrew
3. The first time - U2
4. Stadium love - Metric*
5. Racing in the streets (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Friday, March 05, 2010

My predictions for the winners

So, the Oscars are Sunday and, as promised, I'm offering up my predictions for the Oscars on Sunday. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin host. You know, it could be good. They're not as culturally "hip" as a Jon Stewart, but they do have a certainly Hollywood charm that could work.

And I know they don't do dance numbers for the best picture nominees anymore, but I hope they do this year, just because I think the dance number for District 9 would be awesome.

Anyway, let's see for the prediction for the winners. I got 83 per cent of the nominations right. Can I do better in guessing the winners?

Best Movie
The Hurt Locker had this pretty well sewn up. However, it's kind of stumbling to the finish. And these awards are as much about politics and campaigns as they are about quality movies. And honestly, I just finished watching The Hurt Locker and I think I'm kind of missing something that others love. Because it's a fine film and all, but the best of the year? Ummm....

The only other movies with a chance are Avatar and Up in the Air. I'm very tempted to go with Avatar, but I'm not sure the Academy members can handle James Cameron up on stage doing his "I'm the King of the World!" thing again. So stumbles and all, I think The Hurt Locker will pull it off.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) appears to be a lock again. Although, I have to say, just for being able to pull off what he did in Avatar, it ought to go to James Cameron. You can not like the movie, and many people really do hate it. But my God, how many people on Earth could have directed a movie like that? Most would have just put a gun to their heads instead of trying something of that scope.

Bigelow wins, but I wouldn't be disappointed if Cameron pulled off an upset.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges is pretty much viewed as a lock. And hell, I enjoyed Clooney in Up in the Air, but he wasn't exactly pushing the boundaries of his acting abilities in that role.

Best Actress
It's a sad, sad day, my friends, when Sandra Bullock beats out Meryl Streep in an actress category. In fact, I just don't think I can do it. I'm going to go and hope the Academy's better angels prevail and they give it to Streep. I'm not saying Julie & Julia was one of her best works, but God, she was so much fun to watch on screen.

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) has this so sown up I don't know why the other nominees are going to bother to show up. As close to a sure thing as you're going to get at the Oscars.

Best Supporting Actress
On the one hand, Mo'Nique (Precious) is considered the favourite. On the other hand, this category is always a deeply weird one, where the favourite actually rarely wins. So I'm going to go out on a limb and pick Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), just because it's weird. And she's cute.

Best Original Screenplay
The Hurt Locker might be rolling Sunday night, but I think this is where they throw Quentin Tarantino a bone for Inglorious Basterds.

Best Adapted Screenplay
I think it's a toss up between Precious and Up in the Air. This award is going to be the consolation prize for a very long and winless night for one of these movies. I think they give it to Up in the Air.

Best Animated Movie
If they don't give this to Up, I will hunt people down and harm them. For that matter, they should give it to Up for Best Movie.

Or to quote Jack Black from a few years ago. "People wonder how I make money. Well, I do voice overs for Dream Works cartoons and then I take all of that money and bet it on Pixar to win the Best Animated Movie award." Sounds like a plan to me.

Last Five
1. Bend and break - Keane
2. You can have it all - Kaiser Chiefs
3. Jacksonville - Sufjan Stevens
4. Fake tales of San Francisco - Arctic Monkeys*
5. Hunting for witches - Bloc Party

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Empire

So I've been making jokes for years at my friend Dups' expense about his grand plans of world domination. This has been a running joke for years among my circle of friends...all of grand plans for world domination. Dups had bigger plans than most, which means we gave him a harder time. After all world domination is not as easy as it looks.

However, a little while ago, Dups started taking his plans for world domination to the next phase. In the middle of the most horrific economy any of us have likely ever experienced, he up and quit his job and decided it was time to work for himself and create his own start-up. I thought he was crazy. However, it was also Dups, so I wasn't about to rule out the "crazy like a fox" aspect of this decision as well.

Well, the results of Dups' madness are now online, albeit in Beta form. He and his partners have created Empire Avenue. And what is it? Essentially, and Dups can correct me, he's created a stock market for social media.

You sign up, and get so many credits. You earn more credits by how active you are on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook or blogging. You can use those credits then to "buy" other people and companies. You can buy them because you're friends with them (I own several friends) or because you've checked out their profile and like the rate of return from their social media activity. After all, you get credits for your activity, but your shareholders also get dividends, the reward for investing in you.

If people buy shares in you, your value goes up. If they sell you, your value goes down.

Now, this is all fun and games on its own. There are sites somewhat similar to this. I used to get hits on my blog from someone running a blog stock market. And, of course, there's a famous one where you can buy and sell shares on how successful you think a movie will be.

All of which would be fun on its own...I mean, I'm having fun buying friends and giving them crap for under-performing. Dups has bigger plans for this. That businesses can eventually see which people or businesses are highly valued for their social media activity and choose where they would like to advertise based on that. Plus, I think he's also turning the ad rates around, with the individuals getting most of the money from ads, rather than Empire Avenue. Kind of the reverse of the Google model, where they take all the money and the blogs and websites get very little of the ad revenue.

I have to admit, I'm intrigued by that. I've never bothered with Google ads before because I would literally be making pennies each month doing it. So why clutter up my beautiful blog with ads for that? But with the Empire Avenue model....I might give it a try. We'll have to see.

I hope this works, I really do. It's a dead clever idea and the site is running remarkably well for a Beta. Plus, it really is fun. I was telling him today that I actually know little about how stock markets work, so if nothing else, the site is a fun introduction to stock markets.

Feel free to go and check it out. I'm not sure if they're letting more people into the Beta at this point, but when it goes live and open to everyone, I'll let you all know. Also, if you want to see a story about it, try this. It's from Breakfast TV in Calgary. The video is a bit choppy, but it's a nice intro to the site.

Oh, and if I've got any of that wrong, it's totally my fault.

Last Five
1. Faraway land (live) - Allison Krauss and Union Station
2. Open arms - Hey Rosetta!
3. Turkish revelry - Loudon Wainwright III
4. Pink cashmere - Prince
5. Dirty life and times - Warren Zevon*

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Review: Republic of Doyle, Ep.7

So I'm trying out a new thing....Republic of Doyle fans should be called "Doylies". What do you think? And hey, as one person pointed out to me on Twitter, it's still better than being called Republicans.

Before we get going, congrats on the show for getting picked up for a second season. That is good news. Although I haven't read anywhere how many episodes are in that second season. I think it'll probably be a dozen, but it would be nice to get that confirmed.

Oh, and one more housekeeping matter....look, I have no photos of Allan Hawco shirtless on this blog. So to all the people who keep coming here looking for that, well, sorry. But good luck in your search and all.

So when last we left Jake, just before the Olympics started, things were looking dire. He was going to jail facing murder and obstruction of justice charges, there were two female police officers very pissed off with him, one of whom he happened to be sleeping with.

So naturally, he's sprung before the first commercial break. You know, there are six episodes left in this season. I'm not saying all of them have to be the Trial of Jake Doyle or anything, but I do think one episode with Jake on the inside of Her Majesty's and trying to solve a case would have been entertaining. Watching how he would interact with people he might have helped put in jail, that would be fun. Hell, the two minute negotiation for control of Airport Heights was amusing.

Anyway, after getting out, Jake literally stumbles upon a case in a graveyard as a woman claiming to have amnesia. All of this after Malachy admonishes Jake to stay away from women. Ooops.

So this week's episode is essentially does our mystery client - Annabelle - have amnesia or is she playing at something? She seems to be doing all right for herself, as the clues slowly fall into place. Jake has his suspicions, but as been pretty evident from the start of the series, a pretty face can override his higher brain functions....or what it is he uses to do his thinking.

Meanwhile, Malachy tries to deal with the fact that Rose has a past, and a husband, and handles it about as well as you might think. Rose isn't doing too well with it either, because she's obvious still attracted to the ex, plus she accidentally nearly kills Tinny (oh well, better luck next time).

And, oh yes, there is Nikki being Nikki. Which is to say crazy and yet, deeply boring all at the same time. It was an effort in will not to hit the mute during her scenes.

So yeah, after episode six being so good, this one is about a 30% step down. Why? Well, you knock off 5 points for Tinny being back (she wasn't as annoying and she almost died, so that's good), 20 points for Nikki being there and being completely annoying and a waste of screen time. And then another five points for taking away one of the strong points of the show....the interaction between Jake and Malachy. You had a bit with them at the beginning and a bit at the end. They were very nice scenes, but that was it.

Also, I had two fundamental problems with the main story. The whole "is she amnesiac or playing a game" thing was handled mostly fine. But to get to that set-up there are just two things I don't buy. First, what was Annabelle's plan if there weren't a couple of private detectives who just so happened to stumble upon her at the graveyard at that exact minute?

And secondly, after so forcefully admonishing Jake and his behaviour around beautiful women, is Malachy really going to let Jake going running off with a beautiful amnesiac, especially when they both have their suspicions about what's going on? Even the whole mystery surrounding her felt kind of flat, and I suspect that's because it was just Jake and Annabelle most of the time. No real interaction with Malachy and the Constable is in the background most of the time, although she does get the line of the night.

Although the subplot with Rose is percolating nicely. I've got to say, Nicholas Campbell does make for a charming, yet threatening scumbag. He's no Gordan Pinsent, but there is certainly an air around him that's enjoyable.

And hey, Rose and Malachy almost have sex on screen. I wonder what the people who are griping there's too much sex on the show think of that?

And as for Nikki....honestly, do the producers look at this afterwards, in the editing suite and go "Yes, clearly this is a clever subplot and well worth the precious minutes of air time we have each week to continue with her character." Gah. Just because the show is coming back for a second season, doesn't mean she has to. This stuff is just awful guys. And yes, I'm going to keep ragging on this because hopefully someone will listen to me at some point.

Not as many great quotes as there were a few weeks ago, but we still have a few choice ones.
"How do you know all of this?" "From watching soaps with my nan." - Jake and Des

"Don't mind Des, he's nine-tenths retarded." - Jake

"Nuts? Are you trying to kill me?!" - Tinny (Yes! scream thousands in reply)

"And I'm sorry I almost killed you there." - Rose (making one person, I guess)

"So what brings you to St. John's?" "The cod tongues." - Malachy and Martin

"I got all mixed around in your pretty little streets here." - Jake

"What are you, Spider-Man now?" - Cst. Bennett

So yeah, a bit flat, a few too many plot holes. Not a bad episode, just not up to the lofty heights of episode six, which fired on all cylinders. This one missed gears a few too many times for it to be a truly fun one.

Last Five
1. Smoke baby - Hawksley Workman*
2. Aluminum - The White Stripes
3. The ocean - U2
4. Lovers in Japan - Coldplay
5. Allemande - Keane

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A profanity free post

So, I'm glad to see that most people don't think I curse too much on the blog and, even if I do let the occasional drop of profanity slide in there, it's not really upsetting anyone.

Actually, the one comment that was telling to me was Vicki's, noting that I have a tendency to overuse certain words. That's actually far more worrying to me than the use of profanity. There's a simple enough remedy to that, and it's to do a better job of editing the blog. Then again, I've been saying that for nearly five years and it hasn't happened yet. Other than a basic skim for spelling and anything really obvious, that's as far as it goes. I'm sure there's any number of horrific spelling and grammatical errors in most blog posts. Fortunately, most of you are kind enough to let it slide.

Anyway, I don't imagine you're going to see an uptick in cursing around these parts. I suspect the only time you'll see it happening is if I get particularly worked up, annoyed or really, really pissed off about something. And really, who knows what's going to set me off on any given day.

I did get something nice today, though. As you may have noticed on the sidebar, I won the Nunie for Best Blog. Clare was good enough to provide a prize, which I finally got today. The joys of ordering stuff up here through courier companies. FedEx dropped it off to First Air in Ottawa on February 3rd, which was then promptly picked up by J&N Moving in Iqaluit and where it promptly....did nothing. For nearly a month. It wasn't until Clare asked the other day if we got it that I went "oh yeah".

Oddly enough, Apple told him it was returned as undeliverable. I happened to be out on Federal Road today, popped in and there it was, sitting on a table by the door. I actually could have walked in, picked it up (along with a bout $1,000 or more worth of Apple products) and I honestly don't think anyone one would have noticed.

I know we're a low priority destination for companies like FedEx or shudder UPS, but one of these days they really are going to have to learn to crack the whip on the local guys.

Huh, look at that. A little rant snuck right in there. No profanity, though, so I must not be too upset.

Anyway, I finally got the book and it is absolutely lovely. Very professional looking and the photography is astonishing. Clare should be very proud of this book. For that matter, you should go and bug him and get a copy for yourself. I tip my hat to you, Sir.

Having said that, I'm also going to rob a YouTube link he put up. Most Nunavut blog readers have probably seen it already, but if you've come from elsewhere, then this is a treat. I love music videos like this. I also shudder to think of how long it took to set up and how many takes that must have had to do.

But it is undeniably a blast to watch. Oh yeah, and the song isn't bad either.



Last Five
1. 99% of us is failure (live) - Matthew Good*
2. My life/Your world (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
3. Loretta (live) - Neko Case
4. Light years - Sloan
5. Green eyes - Coldplay

Monday, March 01, 2010

Freezing and cursing

So a small bullet dodged this weekend. We'd gotten a bit lazy about plugging in the truck the last few weeks. The temperatures have been so mild....well, mild for up here, that there's been no need to plug her in. So I got lazy when I came home Saturday night and didn't plug her in, forgetting that the forecast called for the temperatures to drop by quite a bit.

So Sunday when we went out to start the car, nothing happened. So there was considerable cursing, figuring the cold had killed the battery. I called up a friend who brought down a battery charger and figured a couple of hours on that should do the trick.

Except it didn't. Six hours on the charger, when the digital readout showing the battery strength at 100 per cent, and the truck still won't start.

So now we're having an "oh fuck" moment. Because when things break in vehicles up here, it's never a cheap fix. The last time something serious broke on one of our vehicles it was the transmission on our old Accent. And that was a $3,000 fix. Now, a couple of years ago that hurt, but was still manageable. The worst that happened was that we no longer went to the Caribbean for our Easter break.

However, this time we're not exactly in the position to take a $3,000 hit, so there was a bit of praying going on today when I had to call the garage to get the truck towed. I was worried that it was going to be the starting motor or something equally horrific.

Fortunately, it appears the truck was simply frozen up. A couple of weeks of the mild temperature and then a sudden cold snap and the truck just froze solid. I also manage to flood it on top of that somehow. So they towed her to the garage, put her in there and let it thaw out. So seven hours later the truck thawed and the engine started, so all is good. I still don't know the damage, but we're hoping it's only a couple of hundred dollars. Not fun, but certainly doable.

Although I am once again thinking if it is at all financially doable, a new truck this summer would be nice. But that's thinking for another post.

Now, in a slightly unrelated matter. Call this an informal poll of sorts. One of things I get from time to time when people meet me is the comment that I sound just like my writing. Or that when they read my blog, or when I used to write columns, they could hear my voice. I write like I talk, apparently. For good or ill.

So my friend Sara has mentioned to me, several times, the amount of profanity that pops up in the blog. Now, my profanity usage has dipped a considerable amount in the past decade. However, it still happens. I don't think I put it in the blog for shock value or to emphasize a point. I'm not like some comedians who will throw in "fuck" or something because they think it gets them an extra titter or something. I write like I talk and, from time to time, profanity sneaks in there.

So the questions are:
1. Does profanity on this blog bother anyone?
2. Considering this is a blog, should profanity be here in the first place?
3. Is it poor writing for it to be in there in the first place?
4. Or would you prefer more profanity? Would it feel more personal and real if I was cursing more?

By all means, toss in your two cents in the comments section. I'm kind of curious.

Last Five
1. Running for home - Matthew Good Band*
2. The fire inside - Bob Seger
3. Teddy picker - Arctic Monkeys
4. Suzanne (live) - Brian Hennesey
5. Pay me my money down (live) - Bruce Springsteen