Tuesday, June 29, 2010


It kind of dawned on Cathy this evening that she's leaving tomorrow and won't be back until late August. She's been busy packing for all weather conditions - Ottawa, Rankin Inlet (she's spending 10 days there on a course) and Newfoundland. Plus there's all the sealift prep that's happening. So she looked at Boo this evening and it dawned on her that she's not going to see him again after tomorrow until nearly the end of August. She promptly picked him up, squeezed him and start making all kinds of noises about how much she was going to miss him.

I piped in.

"You know, it's going to be the better part of seven weeks until you see me again as well.

"Yeah, but I've got five more days with you. Besides, you're used to me taking off for the summer."

Which is true and all, but still. And besides, knowing Boo he's going to forget all about us 15 minutes after we leave to go to Ottawa. I love the dog, but it's not like he's fanatically loyal to one set of humans. Feed him some puppy crack and play with him for a bit, and he's all yours.

But yeah, along with the sealift we're also preparing for our annual summer apart. Since we've been married, which will be five years at the end of next month, we've spent our anniversary together twice - our first in San Francisco (and even then we spent several weeks apart) and our fourth in Australia. Because she is a teacher and gets two months off each summer, she tends to spend it elsewhere. This summer is a little worse because as I've just started a new job, I can't really ask for three weeks off to go somewhere. They tend to frown on that sort of thing.

So yeah, seven weeks apart. And if we're honest a couple of weeks will be nice, I'm sure. We'll do our own thing, I can hog the bed and snore if I want. Cathy can head back to St. John's and do pretty much whatever she wants without worrying about consulting with me on plans. It's nice for a bit. However, I strongly suspect by the end of July, if past history is any indication, it's going to start to suck. And by the time she gets back we're going to be missing each other something fierce.

So yes, I know she's going to miss me, and I'm going to miss her. However, it would be nice if she missed me as much as she's going to miss the dog...;)

Last Five
1. Friends like mine - The Donnas
2. Kodachrome - Paul Simon
3. Paradise by the dashboard light - Meatloaf*
4. Like yesterday - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
5. Invisible - Modest Mouse

Monday, June 28, 2010

First boat

When I'm not getting searches for "sexy eskimos" (Still. Really) I'm getting an awful lot of search engine requests for moving to Iqaluit. The last time I updated the FAQ (it's on the sidebar) was about a year ago. Most of the information is still valid, but could use some freshening up. I'll take care of after Nunavut Day. Between the sealift and work, the next 1o days of my life and promising to be quite frantic.

And really, sealift is on everyone's mind these days. We had one of our first signs of summer arrive this weekend - the first boat of the year. And, as always, she's the fuel boat.

Even I'm kind of astonished as to how quickly the ice gave up the ghost this year. As recently as two weeks ago Cathy's dad was marvelling that there were still ski-doos zipping around on the sea ice. And now it's just gone. I mean, yes, there's still some bits and pieces kicking around. I also suspect if the wind shifted we might see some ice pans floating back to this part of the bay. But for all intents and purposes, we're done with the ice for the year. Now it is time for boats.

Oh, and because this is sealift related and it just popped up on my Twitter feed. Thanks Jim for pointing this out. I realize I shouldn't mock any organization that is trying to bring in healthy food for people via sealift. I should be saying "good for you", but really, when you have categories such as "essential oils and hippy magic" and "hippy drinks" you're making the mocking hard to resist. Somewhere a certain reporter I know in town is either laughing his ass off or looking for a baseball bat.

Oh, and when I die and go to hell, I'm pretty sure the first drink the devil hands me won't be molten lava or a Bud Light, but "Org Unsweetened Hemp Beverage". Gah. But perhaps that's just me. I do wish them the best of luck with it, though. I just won't be ordering from them.

Last Five
1. For a dancer (live) - Jackson Browne
2. Waiting around - Drive
3. Trusted - Ben Folds
4. Redemption song - Bob Marley*
5. Rock 'n roll star - Oasis

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sealift is Go!

Alas, I failed to win the millions again on the weekend. This is bad news, if for no other reason than we now have to use actual hard earned money to pay for our sealift. I'm not saying we need $50 million or even $1 million to get everything we plan to get on our sealift, but I am saying it certainly wouldn't have hurt.

That's what part of this weekend was spent doing (well, when I wasn't watching three of the teams I was cheering for - South Korea, the US and England - go down to defeat in the World Cup. The Dutch should be worried), walking around the house and the sealift room trying to figure out what it is exactly we need. Even though we leave on Wednesday, we get in too late to do much shopping that day, Thursday is a holiday and we fly out early on Monday. That leaves us Friday, Saturday and a bit of Sunday.

That means a careful plan of attack is needed. For example, we need things at Costco and IKEA. Only the truly desperate and insane would try and tackle either of those stores on a Saturday. We would literally have to kill people to get our shopping done on time. Cathy, being the master planner that she is, pretty much has all of this laid out. And in a way that doesn't involve killing people.

So Friday involves a quick trip to TSC to make sure everything is set up. Then we head off to Costco and drop silly amounts of money. The nice thing about this is, having spoken to other people up here, we simply go in, tell management what we're doing and they become tremendously helpful. Probably has something to do with dropping $2,000 or so. We can actually leave everything we buy there and TSC will pick it up for us. Bonus.

Then we're off to IKEA where we have a list of things to buy. Fortunately, that list has become smaller as we no longer need coffee and end tables. Cathy's dad found a pair of end tables someone was tossing out. We found a coffee table at a house sale for $30. Which we carried down the street in the rain.

I was concerned we might be becoming white trash. Fortunately, after consulting with friends they determined we were simply alt-White Trash because of my fondness for alt-country musicians like Neko Case. Plus, we don't live in a trailer home. It's a load off my mind, I have to say.

After IKEA, then it's mostly odds and ends. We need to pick up some tiles from a Home Depot, some odds and ends groceries from Loblaws and Wal-Mart. We have made an extensive list, although I'm sure we're still going to forget things. Oh, and I need to convince Cathy of the necessity of buying a 46-in Samsung LED TV set. Samsung seems to be the best for the price, unless someone wants to tell me otherwise.

So yes, it will be quite the madcap, expensive and frantic few days. It's going to be a lot of money, but then again, we are buying a year's worth of supplies in a few days. It tends to be a shock to the system. Or the Visa.

Last Five
1. Box hat - Beck and Leopard-Skin Pill
2. Medley (live) - The Chieftains*
3. Sweet child o' mine - Guns 'n Roses
4. Fire door (live) - Ani DiFranco
5. Always tomorrow - Bob Mould

Friday, June 25, 2010

Over a barrel

Between what the previous owners left us and what magically managed to appear on our property over the winter, we've had quite a bit of garbage to deal with ever since the big melt began a few weeks ago. Most of the little stuff has been taken care of, although I suspect we'll be cleaning up cigarette butts from here until doomsday. I can't say I'm happy about that, but on the bright side at least they didn't smoke inside the house.

With the little stuff gone, we've moved onto the bigger stuff. It might not be an official basement, but the under side of our house managed to acquire destroyed hockey gear, bits of a porch, assorted paint and chemicals of dubious stability, and the shattered remains of a table saw of some kind that must have weighed about 50 pounds.

Fortunately, there was a bulk garbage pick-up this week so we dutifully dragged it all out to the curb to be picked up. Which they did. Well, all except one thing.

Sometime between when we did our last inspection of the house to a couple of days after we had moved in, this fuel barrel magically appeared behind our house. It annoyed me all winter, even the parts of it when I couldn't see the barrel because it was buried under snow. It was just sitting there, like a ticking time bomb. I've heard more horror stories about home fuel spills in Iqaluit than I'm comfortable with. I'm not too worried about the fuel tank we have on the side of our house because it was only installed last summer. So it's good. However, as you can tell, this bastard has a bit of rust on it. Plus, when we finally got around to taking a closer look at it, it was originally filled in 2002, so it's been kicking around awhile.

The good news is that it sounds like it's mostly empty. We were able to wrangle it from the back of the house and put it out front in the hopes the nice men from the city would take it away for us.

Obviously, not so much.

So now I have to figure out what to do with the bloody thing. I just want it gone. Even mostly empty, it feels like a bad thing waiting to happen. Plan A is to put a bunch of garbage bags in the back of the Tracker, take it out to the dump and hope they take it. Plan B is to take it to Uqsuq, the energy folks around here, and give it to them. Someone told me there might even be a refund for the stupid thing.

So that might be something for us to do this weekend, or possibly after I get back from Ottawa. Does anyone have any other suggestions? And by suggestions, I mean actually useful ones. I mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter last week and got YouTube links on how to take a fuel drum and convert it into A. a musical instrument and B. a barbecue. So those bases are covered, thanks.

Last Five
1. Playboy mommy - Tori Amos*
2. Come back - Josh Rouse
3. Broken toy - Keane
4. Do you want to - Franz Ferdinand
5. The end of medicine - The New Pornographers

Thursday, June 24, 2010


You know, it's not that I find these videos funny that disturbs me, it's that somewhere out there in the whole wide world there is a person with enough time, and knowledge of Star Trek (including the homoerotic Spock/Kirk interplay), to perfectly edit this thing together to this particular song. I mean, that's a particularly scary bit of skill and knowledge set lurking in one person. Rabid Star Trek fan and someone who likes Ke$ha...what's the odds of finding that mix in one person?

Still, this is pretty clever, I must say. Thank you, Gods of the Internet, for providing such amusing trash for me this evening.

Last Five
1. Drop dead gorgeous - Garbage
2. Come as you are - Nirvana*
3. Same - Snow Patrol
4. Summersong - The Decemberists
5. What do I have to do? - The Donnas

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Poor bastards

Even with all the high drama happening at the World Cup today, not to mention all the political drama in the US and a fairly wimpy little earthquake north of Ottawa, easily my favourite story of the day has to come from the marathon tennis match happening at Wimbledon. Because of a quirk in the way grand slam tennis is played (actually, it might be just at Wimbledon), you can't win the fifth set on a tiebreak. You clearly have to be up two games to win. So because of that these two poor doomed bastards have been trying to beat each other for 10 hours with no end in sight. It's 59-59 in the fifth set. When I first heard the match was going on, it was 46-46 and I thought it was a joke. The fifth set alone, at more than seven hours, is longer than the previous longest tennis match in history.

By all accounts it's not great tennis, but hell, there's something oddly compelling about this. I mean, neither one of them wants to be the answer to the trivia question "who lost the longest tennis match in history." I respect that. But man, neither one of them is going to want to crawl out of bed in the morning, knowing what's facing them.

However, my favourite part in all of this wasn't the match. It was the blog reporting of Xan Brooks of the Guardian. It starts off normal, as Brooks reports on the different matches happening that day with a bit of snarky flare. But as the drama between Isner and Mahut dragged on...and on....and on, it absorbed more of his time. And his sanity. Brooks seriously starts to lose it towards the end of this thing. In case you're wondering where he starts togo crazy, it's when he suggests both players have turned into zombies and have been snacking on spectators to keep their strength up. It's marvelously loony stuff.

I've been seeing more of this sports blog reporting lately. I don't know if it's a new thing or something that's been going on awhile and I'm only now noticing it. But it's big during the World Cup, with newspapers like the National Post, New York Times and The Telegraph and Guardian in England doing it for pretty much every game. I guess it's their way of helping people at work cheat - if you can't watch the game on TV or streaming video, you can follow the updates on the blogs. And as Brooks is illustrating, if you do it right, it can not only be brutally funny, but also keep you up-to-date as to what's happening.

I have to admit, I'm tempted to tune into Brooks tomorrow just to see what he does next, however I suspect I'll be too busy. But perhaps after work I'll swing back and see if he's still nuts...or if the game is still going on.

Last Five
1. City of lakes - Matt Mays*
2. Molly Ban - Alison Krauss
3. Epitaph - Hey Rosetta!
4. World War 24 - Ryan Adams
5. We got the beat - The Go-Gos

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A hex on you

I wish I could say I was surprised by Jonah Hex's dismal reviews (13 per cent positive on Rotten Tomatoes) or crappy box office ($5.4 million on its opening weekend classifies as a major bomb), but I'm not. The writing was on the wall pretty much when they cast Megan Fox and I started hearing some of the plot points and that there major reshoots happening. I was still thinking about catching it when we were in Ottawa next week, but I'm likely only going to have time to catch one movie while we're there. If it's a choice between Hex and say, oh, Toy Story 3, where there are apparently only three people on the face of the planet who didn't give it a good review, I know which one I'm going to.

So why mention this? Well, two reasons.

First, I really happen to like the Hex comics. A quick scan of my bookshelf show I own six of the trade paperbacks. It's a great western series featuring a truly interesting character. I'm hard pressed to figure out how they managed to screw it up quite so completely, but giving Hex supernatural powers is probably a good place to start. I also hear the president comes up to Hex at one point and goes "America needs a sheriff, Hex", which is such a screamingly bad line, and so totally out of character for Hex it makes me want to punch Hollywood.

Look, he's a bounty hunter who doesn't trust anyone because he's been betrayed so often. He has a touchy relationship with the Apache, is surly even to the people who are nice to him and absolutely lethal to the ones who aren't. If you want to pay him to kill someone or find someone, he's your man. Other than that, stay away from him. Plus he has a dry, vicious sense of humour. I'm not expecting Unforgiven or anything, but you have to work hard to make a mess out of that kind of potential.

But then again, it felt like everyone just kind of viewed this as a property and not as any kind of labour of love. The best comic book movies the directors and writers have had affection for the source material. Or at the very least were phenomenally talented. That was certainly the case with Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man and the first two X-Men movies. Obviously neither of that was present here.

Oh yes, and Megan Fox should hear the same very loud clock that is ticking off her acting career. She doesn't get too many more bombs, I should think.

The second thing is that there was a while there when most comic book based movies were pretty good. I think that golden age is pretty much gone. I'm back to being leery when I hear of a beloved property being made into a movie. Last fall's Whiteout was so depressingly bad I wanted to scream. A great graphic novel by Greg Rucka, which is well worth picking up. The movie was something else entirely. I've heard that Garth Ennis The Boys might be coming to the big screen, which scares the bejesus out of me, to be honest.

Scott Pilgrim, which is coming out in August, looks good. But I live in fear of that one as well. But I think the director got the book, which helps. And that's the key when you hear one of your favourite graphic novels or comic books being brought to the big screen. If it's from a director who loves comics and has been a fan of them since he was a kid, then there's hope.

If not, well, then you get what we got last weekend.

Last Five
1. Mystic eyes (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2. Fake plastic trees - Radiohead*
3. Where nobody knows - Kings of Leon
4. Keep your head - The Ting Tings
5. In state - Kathleen Edwards

Monday, June 21, 2010

Crazy like a...

I've been thinking "I ought to say something about the whole Sun TV/Fox News North" racket that's been going on the past few weeks. The problem is, pretty much everybody has already said their piece. Still, I'll offer up a few words on the matter.

In the deep dark part of my soul that still maintains some optimism and faith in humanity, I actually hope this turns into a legitimate new news channel that offers a different voice and coverage of Canadian issues and stories. As a rule, I have no problem with more news. I like news. It's a good thing. When all those newspapers were folding and dying during 2008 and 2009 it felt like little bits of my soul dying. Good news is hard, and you hate to see it just shrivel up and blow away like that.

Which is where my concern comes from with this new channel. Good news is really fucking hard. Starting a news channel, staffing it with good reporters, establishing offices over a wide geographic region and trying to put all of that together in basically six months...not the easiest thing to do. Plus, it costs a lot of money to pull that off. But maybe these guys have deep pockets and lord knows there are lots of hungry reporters out there anxious for a chance to prove themselves. So yeah, maybe they can pull it off.


See, this is where the dark, cynical part of my heart, which occupies a decent chunk of it, to be honest, kicks in. That the people trying to put this station together use words to describe the current state of news in Canada as boring. That the CBC and CTV are left-wing. That they are going to be "Controversially Canadian".

That's where things start to worry me. I'll still be curious to see what they look like when/if they launch. However, the CBC and CTV are not left-wing. It's one of those phrases that causes me concern because it feels very much like someone had the bright idea of saying "If we keep screaming that the CBC is left-wing then eventually people will accept it as being left-wing and it'll make it that much easier to tarnish it."

Except I've never viewed the CBC, or CTV for that matter, as left-wing. They're an equal opportunity pain-in-the-ass. The CBC actually has two problems, and they're pretty much insurmountable no matter what they do. First, they are one of three sacred Canadian cows that people love to hate. The other two being Air Canada and Canada Post. People love to vent about these three groups because the inevitably appear to be disappointing. Your mail is too slow, your luggage gets lost, CBC provide disappointing programs.

However, your mail makes it more often than not, you arrive safely at your destination the vast majority of the time and the CBC does provide good news and programming. Still, it's fun to vent about them. It's what we do. We're Canadian. Everyone thinks we're the most polite nation in the world. No. We're the most passive-aggressive nation in the world. It's just easy to confuse the two from time to time.

Secondly, the CBC gets the vast majority of it's money from the government. That means when they're doing stories ripping the government in power, those same politicians are sitting at home, watching Peter Mansbridge and his ilk rip them a new one and thinking "And we give these motherfuckers the money to do this?"

But if Canadians are masters of passive-aggressive, we've certainly got a least a BA in short-term memory. Because I'm pretty sure one of the reasons why the current government is in power is the lengthy and devastating stories the CBC did about the Liberals during the sponsorship scandal. I read an article where Rick Mercer commented on how much former Prime Minister Jean Chretien loathed the CBC, especially the French side of it.

So yeah, there's that. And then there's this, the phrase "talk is cheap" can also apply to people setting up a TV news network. You can get, literally, any asshole to go on air and vent and rant about the news of the day. Plus, they're reasonably cheap compared to the cost on an hourly basis when compared to having to hire a whole bunch of reporters to fill that hour with news stories.

Fox News in the US actually does have reporters. Some of what I've read and heard indicates they have some decent reporters. There's also been enough reports that some of those reporters really hate people like Glen Beck because he shatters their credibility. It makes it hard for them to be taken seriously and do real news because a certain segment of the US views Fox News as a channel of lunatics, rather than a serious news broadcaster.

Perhaps SUN TV can produce a channel filled with solid reporting. I hope so and I'm willing to give it the benefit of a doubt. However, given the language they're using, you can certainly understand a certain pessimism that they're going to take the bombast and lunatic aspects of Fox News and skip over the actual journalism part of that network. I can always use more news...I've had my fill of lunatics and bombast, though. That you can keep south of the border.

Last Five
1. The sick bed of Cuchulainn - The Pogues
2. Wicked ways - Garbage*
3. Little child - The Beatles
4. Well well well - Rocky Dawuni
5. Sail way to the sea - Once

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pissing down

I believe "pissing down rain" accurately describes the weather here this evening. Cathy's father quipped "I thought you guys lived in an arctic desert?" Well, yes, we do. But even deserts get rain. We just happen to be getting a lot of it this evening. Along with high winds.

I haven't even bothered to look to see how our satellite TV is holding up under this onslaught. I've no doubt it's not working. Which is why we have DVD players. I've been introducing the in-laws to the joys of "The Closer" and they've become deeply smitten with Brenda Lee. And really, how could you not love Brenda Lee? It's honestly one of those great little shows that I don't understand why more people aren't watching. Although it does remind me I have to look for Season 5 when we're in Ottawa in 10 days time.

I guess can't complain about the pouring rain too much. Our satellite internet is holding up quite well, under the circumstances. It didn't happen yesterday, when it would have deeply screwed-up the community clean-up, or even this morning during our yard sale adventures. The latest haul? An IKEA floor lamp for $20, a ladder for $10, some bread pans for $1 and some flour.

However, the one downside to the rain is that it is deeply freaking out the dog. Boo has these little psychotic breaks from doggie reality every now and then. Normally it's a strange noise of some sort. He's heard rain beating off the side of the house before, so I don't know why it's triggering him this evening, but it is. He spent about 30 minutes panting and shivering. Then he went into the bathroom, which is the quietest room in the house. So he's curled up on a rug in there and isn't coming out for love nor money. But at least he's stopped shivering.

There's more rain forecast for tomorrow. I'm assuming he's going to come out of the bathroom at some point, but we shall see.

Last Five
1. Lucy in the sky with diamonds - The Beatles
2. An honest gamble - Spirit of the West
3. Mack truck grill - Sean Panting
4. Another girl - The Beatles
5. Lawyers in love - Jackson Browne*

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cleaning up

Today was when Iqaluit got itself a good tidying up. It's still not perfect - there really is an obscene amount of litter in the city - but at least a nice dent was made into the mess.

This happens every year around this time. The federal government and the Government of Nunavut give employees part of the morning off and they're encouraged to go around and pick up garbage. Turnout often depends on the weather. Realistically if it's raining you're not getting a big turnout. For that matter, it snowed in town on Monday, so it's not like picking up litter in the snow is all that much more fun.

However, with the temperature around 12C (trust me, that's balmy) and the added incentive of a pair of plane tickets to Ottawa, the turnout was really good this year. I was chatting with organizers (I was on the committee, but others did the majority of the work) and they estimated close to 700 people entered their name for the tickets. And the only way you could do that was to go and pick up garbage. Throw in another 100 or so who just couldn't be bothered waiting in line to get entered into the draw (yes, there are people who will pass up a chance at free plane tickets) and I'd say that number is closer to 800.

Except, to that, you can add another 700 or so students around town who didn't take part in the official clean-up, but did go out and clean around their schools. So I think 1,500 people taking part in the clean-up is a reasonable estimate. It might even be higher. In a community of a little more than 7,000 people, that's a phenomenal turnout.

So I'm happy to see that. However, there are two things I'm not as happy about.

1. I really wish this level of clean-up wasn't necessary every year. Once the snow starts to melt all the garbage that had been buried throughout the winter makes a reappearance and the amounts are staggering. I cleaned up enough cigarette butts today that I vented online I was going to punch the next smoker I met in the mouth, just on general principle.

I don't know if Iqaluit is any dirtier than any other city after winter. I know St. John's is at its worse during spring, what with the rain, drizzle, fog, muck, potholes and litter. Perhaps in Iqaluit there is less grass and trees to hide the litter. I don't know. But god, there did seem to be an overwhelming amount of it today.

I also reserve the right to taser the first bastard I catch littering, just on general principle.

2. The other thing is, I don't understand littering. I really don't. Perhaps it was just beaten into me as a kid. Perhaps there were better programs directed at kids when I was growing up. I recall the St. John's Clean and Beautiful program that worked hard with kids to get them not to litter. I remember CBC running a program getting schools to adopt car wrecks so they could get them towed off to the dump that was phenomenally successful.

But that's just the way I've grown up. I can't conceive of taking a piece of garbage and throwing it on the ground. I'm the guy who takes an ice cream wrapper and stuff it in his pants pocket because there's no garbage can nearby. Or will chase a receipt that slipped out of my hand across a parking lot. That's just who I am.

So I don't get a person that can toss a plastic bag out of the car, or throw a chocolate bar wrapper on the ground or idly cast a pop can away after finishing it. It takes literally no extra effort to hold onto it a bit longer until you can put it away properly. It's a level of laziness, carelessness and thoughtlessness I am unable to conceive of. It's beyond baffling to me.

I know some litter is inevitable. Bags break, you drop stuff and don't notice it...things like that. But there's no way all the garbage picked up today made it to where it was by accident.

It's just one of those deeply frustrating things for me. I'm glad to see so many people out trying to clean up their community today. I just don't know why they were needed in the first place.

Last Five
1. Isolation - Snow Patrol
2. Dirty life and times - Warren Zevon*
3. Love of the common people (live) - Bruce Springsteen
4. I'm free - The Who
5. Travelling woman - Bat For Lashes

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Virginia Park

This story caught my eye because, well, it's my old elementary school. The first year it opened, back in 1976, I entered Grade 1. I graduated from there in 1982, thus proving I'm getting up there in age, apparently.

Virgina Park was never meant to last this long. It's been upgraded over the years, but at its heart it's a series of interconnected temporary buildings. I think the original shelf life on the school was about 10 years, at which point it was going to be replaced. You may note the school has now been opened 35 years. They also haven't been exactly been easy years. Virgina Park Elementary has been ridden pretty hard over the last 35 years. Yes, most schools do get a rough ride from the students, but Virgina Park can be a rough neighbourhood.

I know some people get all indignant over that assessment, but I moved there in 1975 and grew up there. Hell, I was living there as recently as 2005. My father delivered mail there most of his life. You can paint her up and get outraged when people insinuate there might be a hard crowd there, but the truth of it is there are rough areas. To be fair, there are also some very nice areas. Virginia Park is kind of weird like that.

Now, Peter's argument is the school board tried to sneak this through. It certainly looks like it and given what little I know about how school boards operate, it wouldn't surprise me all that much. However, the other argument is that Virginia Park was being discriminated against because it is a lower income area and the new location for the school would be located in a higher income area. There's also the matter of wanting more community schools, so kids don't have to travel so far.

So let's tackle some of these. And to be honest, I do have some fondness for Virginia Park. I had some good teachers there and I liked the place. I could walk home in a few minutes, which is clearly one of the major points parents are trying to push home. Plus, I don't yearn for its firey destruction like I do with Booth Memorial.

My first question is simply this...what are the demographics? There were certainly a lot of kids in Virginia Park when I was going there, even if some of there were shipped off to the Catholic school over in East Meadows (ah the senseless idiocy of the denominational school boards). But that's when I was growing up, where there were a lot more kids in Newfoundland and Virginia Park was a new subdivision.

However, there are a lot fewer students in Newfoundland and that number has been dipping all the time. Plus, there is the question of where those kids are living. Simply, if there are fewer children living in the Park now and that has been a steady downward trend, well, I'm not sure you can justify building a new school there.

Yes, community schools are nice, but talk to the parents in Southern Harbour who have to put their five year old kids on a bus to send them to Arnold's Cove in the middle of winter. People in rural Newfoundland have less than no sympathy when they read stories like this. To quote what I'm sure several of my friends out there would say, "suck it up, buttercup."

The fiscal reality is that community schools are not always going to be possible. Yes, it would be nice if all kids could walk back and forth to school. Some parents get to have that luxury. But not all of them do. There's just no way the provincial government can afford it.

If Virginia Park Elementary still has a growing school population and the demographic trends show the flow of students going to the school is going to remain stable or grow over the next decade or so, then yes, they absolutely have a legitimate argument for keeping the school in the area. But I didn't hear Peter make that point, so I wonder if those stats aren't backing him up.

If the demographic trend shows more kids in the Stavanger Drive area over the next decade, with Virginia Park decreasing, well, then that's a bitter pill, and I'm sorry to see my old school have to go. But that strikes me as being the fair thing to do. We all can't get what we want, sorry to say...

Last Five
1. Behind the house (live) - Neko Case
2. Snowblind - Rob Thomas
3. Many shades of black - The Raconteurs*
4. The night before - The Beatles
5. Won't get fooled again - The Who

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We haven't worn them out yet

So we've had our dose of excitement here at the mansion this evening with the RCMP's K-9 unit sniffing around our house (good thing I've already harvested this year's crop - I kid, I kid) and a bunch of other places on the street. They also brought along about a half dozen other officers. No idea what happened, but let's just say if you're a woman in Iqaluit this evening and you're wearing beige pants, you might want to reconsider your fashion choice. If not, well, you might have a very long evening ahead of you if one of the RCMP officers happens to run into you.

Not much else to report really, which is one of the reasons why the blog has been a bit quiet the last few days. I think we're finally wearing down the house elves. Then again, considering since they've been here our porch, hallway, living room, one bedroom and part of the kitchen has been painted, new drapes were put up, grouting was done in the bathroom, and enough food has been cooked to feed an army for the rest of the summer, I suspect they're allowed to start taking it easy. We've literally run out of things on our to do list for them. So I'm guessing they're allowed to start relaxing a bit now.

Plus, the weather is nice enough and the ice on the Sylvia Grennell is starting to break up enough that people are out there fishing. I suspect that's the game plan for tomorrow.

By the way, least people think we're working them to death or something, they keep looking for more thinks to do. Honest.

Other than that we're getting into prep mode for the sea lift. It's nice to chat with a few people to find out how they do it and plans of attack. We haven't really done our own sea lift since we first moved up here, so we're a touch rusty. But it's nice to know little tricks like just going into Costco and Loblaws and telling them we're doing our sea lift and they'll help us, with everything to giving us our own cashier, with packaging and holding stuff if we need a pick-up.

I've been up here five years, but I don't pretend to know all the tricks yet.

Although I am noticing I'm getting more questions from people thinking about moving up here. If you haven't noticed it there's a link on the sidebar called "Moving to Iqaluit FAQ". I'll probably be updating it at some point in July with a bit more information. It's still by far the highest traffic part of my blog.

And that's it for this evening. I thought about doing something on the Fox News Canada channel, or whatever it's called, but I honestly haven't given it enough thought yet to form an opinion. Perhaps tomorrow.

But right now, I have to go. Cathy wants help hiding her beige pants for some reason...

Last Five
1. Spare parts II and closing (live) - Tom Waits
2. Miss you - Blink 182
3. Put your head towards the air - The Editors
4. Potion approaching - Arctic Monkeys
5. When I grow up - Garbage*

Monday, June 14, 2010

Finally home

About two and a half years after we bought it, my baby, our first Dorset print Owls in Moonlight by Ningeokuluk Teevee, is finally hanging on our walls.

They're bloody big buggers, aren't they? That's Grand Entrance by Kenojuak Ashevak on the close wall, in case you were wondering.

This all happened remarkably quick considering how many years we hemmed and hawed on getting it sent back to Iqaluit. At first we had no wall space. Then there was the concern about it getting damaged when it was shipped up. Then we were worried it would cost a fortune.

In the end, none of that turned out to be a problem. We took the advice of a few people who said to contact Spurrell Gallery and talked to them about boxing up the print. Well, the price they asked was not only insanely reasonable, Myra also did some checking for us and managed to get the print shipped from St. John's to Iqaluit via Air Canada Cargo/First Air. The total cost for packaging and air freight for the whole thing was around $250.

Considering I thought it would cost closer to $500 just for the shipping, I'm over the moon. Plus she did a fantastic job with the packaging. Lots of layers of cardboard and styrofoam. Plus she did criss-cross layers of tape across the glass to protect the print in case the glass broke. The only way that was going to break is if someone handling it went out of their way to harm it.

So if you need someone to package and ship a framed print from St. John's, I highly recommend Spurrell Gallery. They did a great job.

Now my print is finally hanging on the walls and looks great. It makes me happy in a way only that great art hanging on your wall can do. And the best part is that as big as it is, there's still enough room on the wall to get another one. So when do the 2010 Dorset prints go on sale, I wonder...

Last Five
1. Bad timing (live) - Blue Rodeo
2. People of the sky - Sloan
3. I will follow - U2*
4. 40 ft - Franz Ferdinand
5. Ana & Mia - The Trews

Sunday, June 13, 2010

House elves

I've never had house elves before. I must say, they're quite handy to have around. I would have thought I'd be uncomfortable with the concept...critters running around the house doing all the cooking, a spot of painting, fixing up broken things and whatnot. After all, I'm as susceptible to guilt as the next person. If other people are doing things I think I should be doing, well, yeah, there's some guilt.

But I'm managing to get over it pretty quick, I must say. I could get used to this sort of thing.

The house elves are, of course, Cathy's parents. They arrived here on Thursday and hit the ground running, what with her father putting up the new drapes he brought up with him (we did pay for them) and her mother promptly baking enough to feed a flock of people. Since then there has been more cooking, our porch, hallway and living room have been painted and there's been a host of other little repairs done around the house.

I've asked what I should be doing to help, and tend to get shooed away. This is just their thing...they're both so happy to be up here, love the house and love the community. Between the two of them they made several artists happy at the Frob last night, what with three carvings and a couple of wall hangings.

They're on their own tomorrow, though. Cathy and I are both going to be at work, which means they'll be home alone. I'm honestly a little concerned what the house is going to look like when we come back at the end of the day. They're already done a lot more painting than we've anticipated, so I can imagine coming home and finding they've done the other three bedrooms. Along with the balcony. And possibly paved the driveway. Along with finding enough food stuffed into our deep freeze to last us until next year.

Some guys might dread their in-laws coming to stay for 10 days. They're welcome to come back any time they want. They've been a blast to have around. And not just because they're fixing the house and cooking. Well, all right, that helps, but it's been nice to have the company around too...

Last Five
1. Heat dies down - Kaiser Chiefs*
2. The pilgrim - Sam Roberts
3. I think we're lost - Ron Sexsmith
4. Sympathy for the devil - Rolling Stones
5. Monkey with a drum - Josh Pyke

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Staying focussed

There are time I'm afraid the internet is destroying my brain. Cathy has expressed this concern before and I've kind of acknowledged it, but never really took it too seriously. However, I think the reason is that we have our difference in what we perceive as the threat from the internet. Cathy thinks I'm addicted to it...that it's difficult for me to go more than a few hours without being on the computer and doing something and that I ought to spend more time offline.

There is validity to that argument and I am trying to make a more conscious effort these days to make sure I don't get home, eat supper and then spend three hours online, which I have done in the past. It's a slow process and I'm going to slip up, but I think we'll get there.

My concern is that the damage is already done. That the internet has already irretrievably damaged my brain.

I've read two articles in the past week that gives me pause and concern. One, despite it being in Wired magazine, I can't link to because it's not online. But it is an excerpt from a book - In the Shallows by Nicholas Carr. The other story came from the New York Times called "Hooked on gadgets, and paying a mental price."

Essentially the gist of these articles is that the overwhelming flow of instantaneous information is rewiring the way we behave and the way our brains think. And that in theory we should be getting smarter because, hey, look at all this information we now have access to. Almost anything in the world I want to learn about, I can now find out about in very short order.

The problem is, people have shorter attention spans. That the need for instant information is what's driving people right now. If you believe the authors of these articles, may well be rewiring our brains. That it's shattering our ability to concentrate on specific tasks and that we become easily distracted.

When we go online, we enter and environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brains. - Nicholas Carr

This kind of arguments frightens me just a little bit because it really does match the way I behave sometimes. I was asked a couple of years ago if I could change one thing about me, what would it be. And I think I said that I wished I could concentrate better. Because I do feel like I get easily distracted and I do have issues concentrating on a single task. It's something that I have to remind myself about constantly. That guy in the Times story, who is on a tight deadline but just can't pass up on a story coming across on his Twitter feed...I've done that. I'm not as bad as he is, but boy, he's a little closer to my reality than I'm comfortable with.

I always thought that maybe it was just me, if that's just the way I was. But now I wonder....I use the internet a lot. I always have. I remember back in '95 when I was at King's College, I received a Golden Cobden (Megan might remember them) and one of them was for person online the most.

So was I always this way, or has 15 years or more of hardcore internet usage rewired my brain in ways I can't even imagine? For that matter, is it too late to change at this point?

I don't know. I still like using the internet quite a bit and I do believe it's been a mostly positive thing in my life, if for no other reason than the friendships I've not only made, but been able to maintain. But perhaps I haven't spent enough time considering the drawbacks and possibly the harm it's done.

I also wonder if there are ways to make my concentration better. I certainly could use more focus. I know there are drugs you can buy. I wouldn't buy them, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it.

Something for me to think about...assuming I can focus enough on it, of course.

Last Five
1. Don't wake daddy (live) - The Tragically Hip
2. Don't do me like that - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers*
3. McFearless - Kings of Leon
4. Alone and forsaken (live) - Neko Case
5. Montebello Park - The Trews

Thursday, June 10, 2010


So I got tagged in one of these random meme quizes that makes their rounds. Ordinarily I might be inclined to ignore it, but since it comes from the always charming Megan, how can I say no? So let us answer her questions and, in return, you get to learn a tiny bit more about me that you might not have figured out in the previous 1,600 odd blog posts.

1. What do your love interests have in common?

I'm going to assume here we're talking about my current (and only) love interest and perhaps what she might have in common with other women in my past. So pardon some of the weird tenses.

I think they were all more beautiful than they knew. I think they were all very smart and had issues dealing with their intelligence. Because they were picked on for being so smart, or singled out and made examples of because of their intelligence, or just never thought they were, even though they obviously are. And they were all a little...off, with their sense of humour. They were funny. Very funny. But their humour was perhaps not always appreciated.

2. What is your guilty pleasure?

I don't have any. Seriously. I love chocolate. I don't feel guilty about it. I love comic books. I really don't feel guilty about that. I love art and music and will buy them whenever I get the chance. I don't feel any guilt about those things. They give me pleasure and they're absolutely harmless. Why would I feel guilty about that?

3. What makes you angry?

Probably two things. The first is the inability of people to open their minds to counter arguments. It's one of the things that bugs me so much about politics - the inability to listen to a couple of different view points, debate them intelligently and have a willingness to change your mind if a good argument is made. I like to think I'm pretty open minded and willing to listen to different views. Those that can't stretch their minds that far frustrate me to varying degrees.

And secondly, the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world. The people are willing to say anything, spin any lie, sell out any ethics or sense of morality, even if it means damaging vast numbers of people, just so they can make money. Or, just as bad, just so they can have some attention paid to them. The world would be no poorer if they were not on it.

4. Who do you dislike?

I won't say there's nobody I dislike because that's insane. There's an editor from my time at the Muse who I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire and I haven't seen her in 17 years. But those are old, hard wired grudges from when I was younger, angrier and much more bitter. It's like asking me to stop liking chocolate. Sorry, that's not happening. These days, I try not to let people I dislike stay in my life long enough to matter much. Life is too short.

There was one betrayal lately which still stings. I haven't dealt with it properly and perhaps I will when the time is right. But that's the only one I can think of right now.

5. What was your first job?

I guess that depends. The first time I remember working was at my grandparent's convenience store. I was seven, and sold pop, chips, beer and individual cigarettes. Let's just say licensing laws were a little more lax back in the 70s. I also covered my best friend's paper route when she went away on vacation around that time.

But if you mean my first job where I really entered the work force, the job my parents judged me to take because my days of getting an allowance were drawing to an end, it was probably when I was around 15 or 16 and I started working as a storeroom clerk for Shoppers Drug Mart. I think I made a whopping $3.15 an hour. I make a little more these days, thank god.

And there you go. I won't pass the meme on, but if you want to answer these questions on your own blog, then feel free to do so.

Last Five
1. If it works - Tokyo Police Club
2. Fugitive - David Gray
3. Cry baby cry - The Beatles
4. Wake up dead man - U2
5. Emergency roadside assistance - Sean Panting*

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Preparing for arrival

So I seem to have survived the household cleansing purge that's been ongoing in the mansion since this weekend. Cathy does go on these anti-clutter jihads from time to time. We have differing views on what is dirty and what is cluttered and, to the absolute surprise of no one, my tolerance is considerably higher than hers.

However, the past few days have been different as her mom and dad are arriving for a 10 days stay in Iqaluit. I don't know if Air Canada is making any money on the Iqaluit-Ottawa run, but they surely are helping people get rid of all those extra Aeroplan miles they've been unable to properly use with First Air and Canadian North, I'll say that much.

Anyway, yes, her parents are coming for a visit. I'd gently tease her about her attempts to make the place spotless, which I consider to be a touch unnecessary, except I'm sure every woman friend I have would pop up and point out that if their mother was coming up to take a look at the very first home you've ever owned, they'd be busy scrubbing the floor in the attic.

So there has been no teasing, merely helping as much as possible. Besides, they're bringing a couple of deeply packed suitcases, and I doubt much of it contains any clothing for them, most of it is stuff for us including, incredibly, new curtains for the entire house.

Cathy and her mom are very, very good packers.

It'll be nice to have them up here for the next 10 days. I'm not 100% sure how we're going to entertain them for quite that long. They're insisting on helping with some painting around the house and putting up the curtains. Dan would like to do some fishing, but that depends on the state of the Sylvia Grennell River. And there will be some other things, I'm sure.

Oh, and Megan? I'll do your question meme tomorrow. I suspect there may be more cleaning in my future before I head to bed this evening...

Last Five
1. Into temptation (live) - Crowded House*
2. Old man - Neil Young
3. Because - The Beatles
4. Past imperfect - Lloyd Cole
5. Squeeze box - The Who

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

So much for self-defence

So much for self-defence. Chris Bishop was found guilty on all charges after the jury spent about eight hours in deliberations.

I've been following the case pretty close, probably more than I usually would simply because I nearly ended up on the jury for that trial. Well, nearly is a lose term. I was summoned for jury duty, but got an exemption. And as I've said before, it's kind of too bad. I've always been interested in serving on a jury.

Trying to get a proper read on the trial just from reading Nunatsiaq News and CBC is a challenge. Not that their coverage was bad, but obviously it's not the same as if I were actually sitting in the jury box and getting the information directly. Or even seeing how he was reacting in court. This is a link to the story about the lawyers closing arguments.

The question, of course, was never if he killed and wounded those people. He did. That was never in doubt. The question always was if it was murder or self-defence. Following the coverage, I tended to be on the fence on it. They did break into his house. They did threaten him. The police had not yet responded to his repeated phone calls for assistance.

On the other hand, he shot them using a gun with an illegal clip. He pumped a lot of ammo at the people who were breaking into the house, when a warning shot might have done. Even if he had shot one of them, it probably would have been enough to get people to believe a self-defence claim. But he shot five people, killing three and wounding two.

But I think the thing that damned him was that all the witnesses said he had a perfectly calm demeanor when he was doing this. Plus, he shot one of the men in the back as he was attempting to flee.

Self-defence gets you so far. I would have been inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on being caught up in the moment, scared and just pulling the trigger in the hopes of scaring people off. But shooting that last guy in the back, I think that was the tipping point for a lot of people.

There was obviously some bad blood between these people, although what it was over I never read, or I just missed, in the stories. I think that, combined with shooting one man in the back is what did it in for him.

I still have no idea why Bishop's lawyer didn't offer up any direct evidence or testimony. Bishop made a big deal about wanting to get his own lawyer because all the lawyers he dealt with through Legal Aid in Nunavut wanted him to plead guilty. I thought he might even put Bishop on the stand and let him have his say. Granted, these things tend to backfire, because the crown then has a shot at him, but who knows.

I suspect there's going to be an appeal of some sort. I doubt this is the last we'll hear of the case. He might argue that because of how tight-knit the community is in Nunavut that it was impossible for him to get a fair trial. Or there might be some legal loophole for him to exploit. Whatever it is, I doubt this is the last time we'll hear his name.

Last Five
1. Dilly - Band of Horses
2. No reason - The Pursuit of Happiness
3. Secondary waltz - Mark Knopfler*
4. Get off - The Dandy Warhols
5. The grim trucker - Ron Sexsmith

Monday, June 07, 2010

World Cup

With the World Cup coming up this week, I thought I would share with you what's on my Despair calendar for this month. I specifically picked what images I wanted to go with what month. Knowing the World Cup was starting this month, I wanted this image to go with it. It seemed appropriate.

I'm cheering for England although I know that's a complete waste of time. If they get past the quarter finals it'll be a miracle. I have the Dutch as a fallback mainly because one of my good friends is a massive fan, and it would be nice to see him lose his mind if they actually won the bloody thing. Plus, I imagine he'll wear orange every single day for the next four years, causing his lovely wife to do something....drastic. See, it amusing all the way around for me if they win.

So, as it often happens with these kinds of sporting events, I find myself cheering against teams. A sort of "I don't care who wins as long as these teams lose" situation that most recently happened in the NHL play-offs. As long as the Canadiens lost, I really didn't care much beyond that.

So, the teams I desperately want to lose are:

France - because they fucking robbed Ireland of their spot in the World Cup and everyone on the planet knows it. So not only do I want them to go 0-3, I want them to be shut-out every single game because they're cheating bastards. And after that happens, the entire team should fly to Ireland and personally beg the forgiveness of every single person in Ireland for being cheating bastards. Then maybe I'll forgive them in time for the 2014 World Cup.

But I doubt it.

Italy - If there's a team filled with bigger whiners than Italy in the world, I don't know who they are. Spain comes close, but Italy is the kind of whiners. If you fart in their general direction, they're writhing around on the ground as if you just kicked them in the balls.

Germany - Because they're boring to watch. They're good, yes. But god are they boring.

Brazil - Because winning all the time is boring too.

I regret that I'm going to miss seeing so many of the games on TV between the time difference and being at work. I lamented - briefly and stupidly - that it's too bad I landed this new job because then I could have stayed home and watched the games. Honestly, it's statements like that that make me wonder how I still draw breath.

Still, I'm looking forward to it. I like sports, but nothing compares to the World Cup. The NHL and NBA championships might as well be the local rec league finals in comparison for passion and spectacle.

Last Five
1. Sundown - Gordon Lightfoot*
2. The frog prince - Keane
3. Alec Eiffel - The Pixies
4. Butterknife dull - Mo Berg
5. Dogs of L.A. - Liz Phair

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Sunday night assortment

So, a brief assortment for you this evening, as I spend the evening trying to figure out which LED TV set will be best for me, at a reasonable cost, and that I can get up here without destroying it or bankrupting myself. Which, as perhaps you can imagine, is proving to be a challenge. I'm not even getting into audio systems this evening. That will surely short circuit my brain.

1. I'll give the US Post Office credit, they do manage to put together interesting stamps. I'm not sure I need the complete collection of Sunday Funnies stamps, but really, who doesn't want a Calvin & Hobbes stamp? I'm tempted to give my friend down San Francisco way a shout and see if he can pick some of these up for me.

2. Mr. T has no time for your violent, death-filled, sexy A-Team movie, fool! I really do kind of expect this movie to suck. The trailers have been decidedly meh. Besides, I saw a perfectly good A-Team-style movie a few weeks ago with The Losers, which was a hell of a lot of fun.

3. Cathy mocked me for not being a good provider as I did not manage to win the $50 million Lotto Max draw Friday night. On the upside, I didn't cancel any winning tickets, like some poor bastard in the Goulds, in Newfoundland. However, I do have a problem with that information coming out. Yeah, it sucks for the poor bastard who had the tickets and cancelled, but I don't know that Atlantic Lottery should be releasing that information. Let's face it, they didn't release it because it was a cool story, they released it to A. Mock the poor bastard and B. To serve as a lesson to others that you should always keep your tickets, no matter what.

Which makes me a bit squeamish. I buy tickets infrequently, normally only when there's a big jackpot. What the hell, I probably only drop $100 a year on lottery tickets. Which is still a stupid amount of money, but I think you have to budget in so much money each year for stupid expenditures. We can't be smart with our money all the time. Still, I think that was an especially prickish movie on the Lottery corp.

However, I will throw out this little quiz for those of you interested in winning millions. Here are the 12 final questions from "Who wants to be a millionaire?" How many of them did you get right? I scored 7 out of 12.

Last Five
1. Purple toupee - They Might Be Giants
2. Listen like thieves - INXS
3. Trap doors - Broken Bells
4. Art house director - Broke Social Scene
5. The night inside me - Jackson Browne

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Packaging help

After some hemming and hawing, we've decided we're going to try and get our Dorset print that currently resides in St. John's back up here. We sent "Owls in Midnight" down nearly two years ago to get framed. For those of you who may have forgotten, this is what it looks like in its frame.

We fell deeply in love with the print, but it was clearly a case of heart overriding the higher brain functions. It's a bloody huge print. So large that no one in town could frame it. So we ended up mailing it to St. John's to get it framed. Then, once we got it there, we were faced with additional problems. It was so large we literally had no place to hang it in the small apartments we used to live in. Plus, how were we going to get it back up here?

Well, we own a house now, so we do have the wall space for it. The next issue was trying to get it sent up here. And really, there's just no way to get around it, we're going to have to spend some money getting it done. The plan right now is for Cathy's parents, who have been keeping the print for us, to put it on Air Canada Cargo and send it to Ottawa. We'll pick it up while we're there doing our sea lift and then transfer it over to First Air Cargo and fly it up from there.

I thought briefly about picking it up in Ottawa and then putting it on the sea lift, but every single person I've mention that to has reacted with pure horror. So no, that idea is dead.

However, what I am looking for right now is some help. I need someone to professionally box up the print and frame for travel. Cathy's parents, understandably, do not feel very comfortable doing that. It doesn't need to be a wooden crate. When we picked up a framed print in Ottawa, they used sturdy cardboard and lots of bubble wrap. The framed made it up here just fine. So that's what I'm looking to do. Plus, we're going to insure the picture and put "Fragile: Glass" on every visible inch we can manage.

So if anyone reading this has any suggestion, I would love to hear them. I already have one (thanks Megan), but I just want to get a few options before committing. Drop me a line if you know of anyone in St. John's or Mount Pearl who could professional package up the frame for transport. I'd appreciate it.

Last Five
1. Impossible girl - Lloyd Cole
2. Every night - Paul McCartney
3. Louisiana rain (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. Sweetness - The Trews
5. Sign of the rainbow - Robbie Robertson*

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Delays and increases

So, two things of interest today.

One, I went to go and get the mail and, once again, failed to fine my Chapters order, my Amazon order and, most importantly, my pay cheque. Not really going into the details, but the circumstances of my work mean that my cheque is mailed to me. They send it priority post and all, but this scarcely seems to matter. In fact, I went to the front counter to inquire. Sometimes they simply forget to put a card in my box letting me know I have a package.

So I go up and ask if they have it in the system or if the crowd in Montreal have managed to kick it under the toilet or something. This is when I'm informed it may well be in the Iqaluit office, however they are so short staffed that it might in the back of the post office, they simply haven't gotten around to processing it.

I assumed I had a small stroke at that point, which is why I did not utter something along the lines of "Well, then, could someone pretty please, with sugar on top, hire some more fucking staff? I got a letter in the mail today that was sent from Edmonton 17 days ago. I had a friend pop up on Twitter and announce a t-shirt he ordered on May 3 finally arrived today. Come on guys. I know asking for competency from Canada Post can occasionally be like asking to feed thousands on a loaf of bread and a few fish, but it would be nice if it happened more often then once every two thousand years.


Oh, and I did receive another piece of mail, which brings us to point #2. As anticipated, NorthWesTel has decided to up their internet rates for Iqaluit as of July 1. Keep in mind this happened a year ago when they "upgraded" their service for Iqaluit. So what can people in town expect now for their internet?

1. Lite Package goes from $69.95 to $72.95. That's for 2 gigs of usage a month plus, I think, slower speeds.
2. Classic goes from $79.95 to to $84.95. That's for 5 gigs and "high speed".
3. This is where the real hit is, because this is what just about everybody uses. Ultra goes from $99.95 to $119.95. The cap is 10 gigs.

Oh, and they've also upped the overage fees from $20 for every gig you go over you cap, to $25.

All I can say is, I'm glad I bailed before the flood starts this summer to Xplorenet. A three year contract with them is the same as NWTel and there is no cap and the speeds are easily equal if not a touch faster. The downsides are the start-up costs ($600-700 for instillation) and rain tends to mess up the signal a bit.

I suspect The Source, which sells the kits, is going to be quite busy the next few weeks. But we shall see.

Last Five
1. Even in the quietest moments - Supertramp
2. Silvio - Bob Dylan
3. Untitled - Mark Bragg
4. You me and the weather - Hawksley Workman
5. A message - Coldplay

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Too much clutter in Iron Man 2

The problem with Iron Man 2 is that it reminded me too much of a 90s Marvel Comic...that being sure there was a good story in there, but there was too damn much clutter, junk and crap going on that the good story bits got overwhelmed.

Seriously, in the early to mid-90s, if a Marvel comic didn't have an 18-part crossover happening, a new character to spin-off into his own series, a foil cover, a hologram cover or some other piece of junk, then it simply wasn't trying. Small wonder Marvel managed to drive itself right into the ground, and very nearly oblivion, around 1997.

Iron Man, for the record, had some pretty shitty suits of armor during that period as well.

Anyway, the first Iron Man movie wasn't supposed to work. He was, at best, a B-tier character. Nobody had ever heard of him outside of the comic book world. If it broke even, it would be a miracle. Instead, it made a ton of money and people fell in love with, if not the character, then Robert Downey Jr.

There's a history of second movies doing well in super hero franchises. X-Men 2, The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2 were all better than the movies they followed. So there was some hope the second Iron Man movie would follow that trend.

Except this is Marvel. Oh sure, Spider-Man and the X-Men are Marvel as well, but other studios own the movie rights to those characters. Marvel is trying to make money, not just off of this character, but also to get people interested in the thousands of other characters they own. So why not do it in their most successful movie to date?

Which is why there are no less than six movies Iron Man 2 is saddled with trying to spin-off. It was like watching an X-Men comic from the 90s there for a few hours. In case you missed it, here's what they're trying to launch.
1. The third Iron Man movie, naturally.
2. The Avengers movie, coming 2012
3. Agent Colson's bizarre appearance for two scenes? Basically to help launch the Thor movie coming out next year. I think there was an easter egg after the credits promoting it as well.
4. A quick reference to the Captain America movie, coming in 2012.
5. They wouldn't mind launching Rhodey off into a War Machine movie.
6. And Scarlett Johanssen as the Black Widow. Then again, I have to admit, if there's more of Johanssen in that costume, I'm all for it. And I can say that, because Cathy was openly complaining there were not enough scenes featuring Downey with his shirt off. So we're good.

So yeah, there's a lot of extra parts piled onto this movie. Not to mention the Justin Hammer character fails pretty spectacularly as a bad guy. He's not scary or intimidating, just really stupid, petty and annoying.

Look, despite all the complaining, it's a fun movie when it works. I don't know how they failed to notice what works best is Tony and Pepper together. The funniest scene in the entire movie is the two of them yelling at each other when Pepper realizes Tony had been keeping his illness a secret from him. More of that, and less of Justin Hammer prancing around on stage, or having dinner, would have been nice.

Hopefully by the time Iron Man 3 comes out, which will probably be around 2013, they won't need to launch the entire Marvel universe in a single movie. Perhaps by then they can get back to basics and remember what made the first one so much fun. And maybe get back to the 10 Rings plot, unless they're using that for the Avengers movie.

Until then, Iron Man 2 was....fine. But considering how much fun the first one was, fine is kind of disappointing, really.

Last Five
1. Fields of gold - Sting
2. Parting of the sensory - Modest Mouse
3. Strange loop - Liz Phair
4. Great Expectation - The Gaslight Anthem*
5. I can't say - The Trews

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Your first hate

You never forget your first, I guess. I certainly remember mine. Those blue eyes, that chin, that eminently punchable face...

Oh no, not that first, I mean the first politician you ever really, truly hated.

This would have been the mid-80s, so lord knows there were plenty of candidates. I could have hated Regan, but he always seemed too senile to get a good hate on. I could have hated Thatcher, the mad woman of England. But she was kind of too distant. Plus, bonus, so many creative types loathed her they actually produced some decent music and comic books. Law of Unintentional Consequences, I guess.

There were politician earlier, like Trudeau, I could have hated. But I was still kind of too young. And there was local. I could have hated Brian Peckford. I'm not sure why I didn't at the time, really. I mean, I grew to hate him. Everyone in Newfoundland pretty much had their hate on when they realized how stupid he made everyone in the province look over the Sprung Greenhouse.

But no, it was Mulroney who provided my political awakening. I guess that he always seemed like he was such an arrogant prick. Or that his government seemed to reel from one scandal and corruption charge to another. Singing Irish songs with Regan didn't do much for me either.

I'm certainly not alone in this regard. When he left in '93 there was collective outrage that he quit before we could can his ass. If he had run in '93 and Hitler was running for the Liberals and Satan for the NDP, Mulroney still would have lost - he was that hated.

So look, the latest report saying he's basically a scumbag who took money that he shouldn't have and did his level, lying best to hide it...let's just say I'm not typing this from on the floor, where I lie in shock. Columnists are writing that this is a crippling stain on his legacy. Folks, the majority of Canadians are united by few things, but our hatred of Mulroney surely must be one of them.

It doesn't matter that he was probably right about free trade, that the GST worked out and that he took a stand against apartheid. It's overwhelmed by a visceral loathing of the man. I bet if you ask most Canadians why they hate him, they probably couldn't articulate all the reasons they do, they just do. It's bred in the bone at this point. Genetic, even.

So yes, he's a bad man. Yesterday's news, I'm afraid.

Last Five
1. My name is nobody - Ron Hynes
2. Williamson's garage (live) - Spirit of the West
3. Boogie Street (live) - Vicki Hynes
4. Sulk - Radiohead
5. The body says no - The New Pornographers*