Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the Townie Bastard

My first reaction after leaving the theatre after watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was "How the fuck did that get made?"

This isn't griping that it's a bad movie and how did it get that money like, oh, I don't know, Waterworld. It's that this is such a deeply weird movie that I have no idea how the pitch went at Universal Studios to get the reported $80 million this movie cost. Yes, I know Universal loves to throw money at movies, but still.

I assume the pitch went something like this:

"Hey, we have this hot comic book property. The hero has to fight his girlfriend's seven evil exes. But there's going to be lots of big action sequences and over the top action. Plus some quirky humour." - Producer.

"Ex-boyfriends, eh?" - Studio guy

"Well, exes. One of them is a girl. The heroine had an experimental phase." - Producer

"Do they kiss, make out or have a big cat fight? Guys love that sort of thing." - Studio guy

"They....could. I guess." - Producer

"Sold. Here's $80 million" - Studio guy

Somewhere in the pitch they forgot to mention the following:
- Beloved "indy" comic, not mainstream like Superman, Batman, etc.
- The comic is in black and white.
- It's set in Toronto
- None of the characters in the books are particularly likable. They're either pretty stupid, selfish or both.
- Oh yes, and they cast Michael Cera, the geek from SuperBad, as the lead action hero.

This movie is batshit insane, right from the concept to what you see on the screen. It's not a bad movie at all, by the way. Yes, I've never seen a movie that can make me cringe to laugh in the space of seconds, but it is a hell of a lot of fun if you simply leave your brain at the box office and do not, for one second, let the thought "but that doesn't make any sense" enter your mind. At no point does this movie really make any kind of sense.

But it's funny. It looks fantastic. There are great action sequences, the special effects are top notch. It's clever and, in a rarity for a comic book movie, actually displays clearly its pedigree on the screen. And there is a bit of heart in there as well.

But, and there are no other words for it, it is deeply fucked up. I'm not at all surprised it bombed at the box office. I heard people muttering when they walked out wondering what the hell that movie was about. If you haven't read the books before going into the theatre this is going to be a very odd experience. This is an $80 million cult indy film, which is not usually a series of words that work well together in a sentence.

I think it'll be big on video, assuming it's target audience still buys such things. I'll buy it when it comes out, just to have something to watch when I'm in the mood to see something deeply weird.

Last Five
1. A criminal mind - Gowan*
2. Book of love - Peter Gabriel
3. Seven wonders - Fleetwood Mac
4. Sure as shit - Kathleen Edwards
5. I am not safer than a bank - Matthew Good

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Chieftains

When Cathy was home the summer one of the things she decided to do was go into her parent's basement and find what stuff we still had in storage there and try to purge most of it.

Alas, the comic books are still there because we simply have no idea what to do with them. However, there were the books and CDs we had left there. The books fell into three categories - ones we no longer cared about, books we liked but could order online again rather than going through the hassle of trying to ship them up here and books we liked that were out of print. The later meant Cathy came up with a suitcase with a dozen or more books. Most of them, I confess, are mine.

Then there were the CDs. I sold most of my CDs before coming up here. I transferred most of the music to my iPod so why did I need to keep the CDs? Well, when the iPod crashed two days before moving here, wiping out about 4,000 songs, it certainly would have been useful to have still had the music, I must say.

The CDs I did keep were ones I didn't want to transfer to the iPod, but might want again one day. For example, I have a couple with radio plays of Neil Gaiman short stories that I quite like. And then there are the Chieftain CDs.

All 23 of them.

I simply couldn't put 23 Chieftains CDs on the iPod. It was only 20 gigs and that would have killed about 20 per cent of the space available. I love the band, but even that would be a bit too much Chieftains for me. So I copied some of my favourite songs and put the rest in storage. But now, they're back in my hands and I have to figure out what to do with them.

It's not every band you remember when you got hooked on them. I couldn't tell you when I got hooked on the Beatles or U2. But I remember when The Chieftains hooked me. I was at King's College in Halifax in '94. I popped over to the student union building at Dalhousie, where someone was selling CDs cheap. I saw the Chieftains "An Irish Evening" in the pile for $5.

At this point I was very much into Celtic hybrid bands. Acts like Figgy Duff, Spirit of the West and the Pogues...who clearly came from a Celtic music tradition. But for whatever reason I shied away from the more hardcore traditional Celtic bands. Too old fashion, I guess. I was envisioning the Irish Rovers or something.

However, I was flush with student loan money, it was only $5 so why not.

I was instantly hooked. I seriously must have driven my roommate insane because I listened to that CD so much. I've tried for a long time to figure out why The Chieftains hooked me so much. They are, no doubt, a world class band, the tops in their field. Plus, they weren't afraid to play with arrangements a bit and take modern musicians like Sting and fold them into their music. But it was Sting adapting to them, not the band adapting to Sting.

But what I think what did it was they were outside of my musical experience. Most of the music I grew up with were pop and rock. Country music was awful. Classical music, unless it was the instrumental theme to Star Wars, was boring. And Celtic music in its "pure form" was just...old. Old guys plunking away at the same old standards. The only time it worked, in my mind at that time, was when younger musicians played with the arrangement and injected modern sensibilities into it.

But The Chieftains never sounded old to me. They were alive and filled with more energy than bands half their age. The professional craftsmanship, the ability of a half dozen or more instruments to sound like an orchestra, their ability to interweave and go off on different tangents, but then all come together perfectly on cue.

It was magic, in the best sense of the world. The kind of magic you rarely hear in music.

So yes, hooked big time. And when you introduce a band with a 30-odd year history to a person who is a collector with a vicious need to be a completionist, well, you're going to start seeing a lot of money fly out the window. I managed to pick up a lot of the easy CDs, such as "The Long, Black Veil" and "The Bells of Dublin". But then I got all of their recent stuff and needed to get their old ones. The CDs were almost impossible to find in North America. And since this was the early days of the internet, it's not like I could pop on eBay and track down the gaps.

Let's just say I didn't blink at dropping $30 if I found an imported Chieftains CD I didn't have.

Like anything, the passion fades a bit over the years. By the time I met Cathy in 2001 the worst of that initial fire had burned out. I still loved the band, but I wasn't really spending a lot of time listening to The Chieftains' CD version of "The Irish Horse".

But now I have all the CDs and I haven't listened to most of them in more than five years. I'm quite curious to see how they're going to hold up and if I'm going to copy them to my iPod. I have the funny feeling Cathy might regret bringing them up over the next couple of weeks...

Last Five
1. Chinatown/For the record - Joel Plaskett Emergency
2. Power to the people = Black Eyed Peas
3. Brilliant mistake - Elvis Costello
4. Daughters of sorrow - The New Pornographers
5. The smidge - The Hold Steady

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Awesome blogs

I've been kind of lax on the blogging front this summer. Not just in the volume of posts, but also just keeping on top of things. I haven't been following other Nunavut blogs as much as I have in the past nor have I been keeping an eye out for new blogs. It's weird, because I've always been quite proud of Nunavut's blogging community, which is larger than you might think given the size of the place, and a pretty tight-knit bunch.

Hopefully with summer wrapping up, I'll get more on top of things. I'm going to try and get better and posting on a regular basis again. Perhaps not every day, like I've tried to do for years, but I'd like to be hitting at least five times a week.

Also, I've gone and ruthlessly used Clare's always excellent list of Nunavut blogs and updated my list on the side. If you're a Nunavut blogger and you're not there, by all means drop me a line and I'll add you to the list.

Although I feel the need to draw special attention to A Slice of Deep Fried Awesome, which is written by my friend Nicole. I've known Nicole for, Christ, a long time. Certainly a decade or more. Cathy's known for her since Kindergarten. Nicole moved up here three years ago, and being a shy, reserved thing promptly took over the city in something under three weeks. I'm looking forward to see what she does with the blog. If she cuts loose, look out. It'll be a hell of a lot of fun to read, if nothing else.

And now, because there was a strange burning orb in the sky today, we decided to go out to the park and take Boo with us. Many photos were taken, but this is by far my favourite. Enjoy.

Last Five
1. Shine on, shine on, shine on - Joel Plaskett
2. Adult education - Hall & Oates
3. Don't let the sun go down on me (live) - Elton John and Billy Joel
4. Three hopeful thoughts - Rilo Kiley
5. Don't crash the ambulance - Mark Knopfler

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weighing arguments

Keith Olbermann is one of those commentators I like, but I try to be guarded in my admiration. There's no doubt he's a hell of a writer and can put together a persuasive argument. And I probably lean closer to the progressive/liberal side of politics than I do to conservative/Tea Party. So what he says is certainly much more likely to appeal to me anyway.

However, I really do try and keep an open mind on things. I consider people like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh to be something just short of monsters. There is ample proof that they lie and distort facts in grotesque fashion to suit their own needs. And far too often I think they're own needs is not to improve the greater public good, but their own egos and bank accounts.

Yet there is no doubt that many Americans hang on their every word, who passionately believe in them and would pretty much follow them anywhere. I think it's simplistic to call those people idiots or naive, although lord knows its possible. Even at his most hated, former President Bush still managed to retain around 28 per cent of the popular vote.

No, the lesson I think I learn from people who are such devout followers of people like Beck, Limbaugh and Palin is to be careful about how big your blinders are. That you're unwilling to listen to the other side and that when people present information that counters what they're saying, it's dismissed as conspiracy.

That's why I'm wary of Olbermann. Yes, there is amble evidence that he's raging egomaniac and more than a bit of a dick. However, I want to make sure I'm not going around all smug, but with just as big a set of blinders as the ones who so blindly follow Beck as if he was speaking the gospel.

Having said all that, I still present this commentary "There is no Grand Zero Mosque", which I found to be an interesting take on the debate and one well worth listening to, if for no other reason than to bring up a fascinating point that I didn't know until Olbermann mentioned it - there's already an Islamic religious centre near the Ground Zero site, one that has been operating since before The World Trade Center opened.

It's a good argument. Now I just have to figure out if it's accurate or not.

And, if you can actually stomach it, here's Beck's response, which is essentially just six minutes of mocking and pointing out he has better ratings rather than refuting any of the points Olbermann makes.

Last Five
1. Brown eyes- Ron Hynes
2. Make you feel my love - Bob Dylan
3. The wrestler - Bruce Springsteen*
4. Born to run - Bruce Springsteen
5. Contrecoup - They Might Be Giants

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glorious Five Year Plan

I'm not sure the exact date we arrive in Iqaluit, which is a touch frustrating because I'm normally pretty good with dates. However, I think August 24 marks the fifth anniversary of our arrival in Iqaluit.

That makes it five years for me, but Cathy had the extra year in Rankin Inlet, so she's actually spent six years in Nunavut. However, moving it Iqaluit was the major shift in our life, so that's kind of the one we keep track of.

When we first decided to move to Nunavut we came up with a five year plan. That unless things went catastrophically bad, we would give Nunavut five years to see if this was the place where we wanted to stay. Towards the end of that five years we would make a decision - move on or re-up. Well, we bought a house last year so we're committed for another five years at least.

The last five years have worked pretty well for us. Yes, there were ups and downs, but there's no doubt that at the end of the five year plan we are much better off then when we arrived. When we left Newfoundland we were frustrated and broke. I was 35 and Cathy was 27 and it just felt like our lives were in stall mode. I wasn't happy with the Express and Cathy just wanted to teach on a regular basis. She was getting frustrated scrounging for substitute teaching and maternity replacement positions, and adding in some tutoring to help pay the bills.

We wanted to get on with our lives and we couldn't see how we could make that work in Newfoundland. At that point, I'd also spent most of my life in Newfoundland. A lot of my friends had moved on to try other things. I was beginning to feel like if I didn't get out soon and start to do something with my life, it was never going to happen. I was going to be a frustrated and bitter journalist. Which has a certain charm in your 20s, but I've seen what that looks like in people in their 40s and 50s and I assure you, it's not pleasant.

So yes, Nunavut. All Nunavut has given us are careers that have made us happy, introduced us to a new culture and way of life that we knew little about before. It's gotten me back into curling, which I had forgotten about how much I loved. It's enabled us to save enough money to travel to California, the Caribbean, Italy and Australia. It's allowed us to buy a home.

It's allowed us to feel like we have a home. That feeling of transience and being unsettled that haunted us our last few years in Newfoundland are no longer with us. We're home.

That last five years were very good. Here's to the next five years being even better.

Last Five
1. Stupid girl - Garbage
2. Tea - Brendan Benson
3. Foreground - Grizzly Bear
4. Black helicopters (live) - Matthew Good*
5. Supersonic - Pearl Jam

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Profanity and music

Funny how music works. Two of the catchier songs I've heard over the past couple of years will never be played on the radio, which is why I don't tend to listen to music on the radio anymore. God bless the internet, no matter what Stevie Nicks says.

Commercial radio in North American, for example, was never going to play this delightful bit of political profanity from Lily Allen. Profane, catchy as hell and making a point. Wonderful stuff. The music video, alas, is lame. But I guess you can't have everything.

And then we have the internet phenomenon released last week by Cee-Lo. Mainstream media are catching on to it a bit late, but they're getting there. Here's the thing though, "Fuck You" really is the best pop song I've heard this year. Easily. And I'm guaranteeing you I will never hear it on Raven Rock.

Here's hoping that still works. YouTube has been slapping versions of the song behind a wall, making people verify how old they are because of the song's lyrics. sigh...

They're both great songs, but the thing is, 20 years ago I probably never would have heard of them. Hell, I remember being shocked when I first heard Liz Phair's stunning "Exile From Guyville" from a friend who worked at the college radio station. As long as they're being clever with their use of profanity as Allen, Cee-Lo are and Phair was, I have no problem with it.

Which is why so much of commercial radio is so boring. I only listen to Raven Rock and Capital FM in Iqaluit when I'm going back and forth to work. And even then only because I'm too lazy to set up my iPod in the car. I want clever and that's so rarely present on those stations. Or any commercial station.

Although I will say this much about Iqaluit's newest radio station...it is deeply weird. It's build as a classic rock station, but it's not. Not really. It's an old rock station. Classic rock operates under the assumption these are the greatest hits of yesterday. So lots of The Beatles, Stones, The Who, etc. Which is fine if you're into that. I find a little goes a very long way for me.

Capital FM just plays weird old music I've never heard before. I like to think I have a decent amount of musical knowledge. I won't be writing for Pitchfork any time soon, but I'm not bad. And yet, it is nothing for Capital FM to play five songs in a row that not only have I never heard of before, but I've never heard of the artist before. Obviously they're old songs; you can tell just from listen to them. It's just that I have no idea when they were popular, if ever, and who they are sung by.

I'm not sure if you can have a new classic rock station, but Capital appears to be trying it. Still not sure I actually like any of the music they're playing, but at least it's....different.

Last Five
1. Sleazy bed track - The Bluetones*
2. Toast - Tori Amos
3. Spirit in the night (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
4. Casimir Puaski Day - Sufjan Stevens
5. When anger shows - The Editors

Monday, August 23, 2010

End of summer

So yes, sorry about the prolonged absence. Certainly not planned, but there you go. Friday I just had nothing to blog about. Saturday was when Cathy was supposed to come in, but a blanket of St. John's-level fog descended on Iqaluit meaning all flights into the town were cancelled, much to my frustration and Cathy's. She was stuck in Montreal for the day and, in something as rare as a lottery win, Cathy found an Air Canada employee who was helpful and made sure she had a hotel room and meal vouchers for her stay.

I spent Saturday watching Justice League Unlimited on DVD. You know, I'd never watched the whole 3rd season before. Aside from a few flops, there's a reasonably clever build up to the season finale. And the episode "This Little Piggy" put a big ol' smile on my face. Any episode that has Wonder Woman turned into a pig by an evil sorceress, an android wandering the streets calling "Suey", Zatanna, B'wanna Beast, three musical numbers including Batman singing "Am I Blue?" is going to be a hit with me. On a crappy day, it made me feel better.

Anyway, Cathy finally managed to make it on Sunday. Granted, the airport was chaos because of all the people coming in that day to make up for the delayed flights on Saturday, but we got her out of there eventually. And taking the wise advice from an anonymous commenter over the weekend, I opted to not blog yesterday.

Cathy's glad to be back home with her stuff. Although I found it amusing that she did pretty much what I knew she was going to do. I did clean the house before she arrived, but she spent part of yesterday and today and cleaning the house from my cleaning. Because I have one level of clean and Cathy has an entirely different level of clean that is more...thorough. I could choose other words, but thorough will do just lovely for right now.

We're settling into the end of summer phase, alas. Cathy is back to school this Friday even if it will be another week or so after that before she's back with the kids. The weather had been cooling off the past week or so. Hell, I have a meeting of the curling club executive this weekend to prepare for the upcoming season.

Yes, fall is in the air, even though it's still August. That was a quick summer. Then again, they tend to be that way up here...

Last Five
1. Shenandoah - Bruce Springsteen
2. The golden state - John Doe and Kathleen Edwards*
3. Weird divide - The Shins
4. Beautiful boy - John Harper
5. The diamond church street choir - The Gaslight Anthem

Thursday, August 19, 2010

All's fine on the Northern front

My long summer of pseudo-bachelorhood is coming to an end in a few days. Cathy and I parted ways in Ottawa back on July 5. Nearly seven weeks later we'll finally get to see each other again on Saturday.

I think there's nothing wrong with a few weeks apart from your spouse every now and then and I know Cathy feels the same way. It's not that we don't love each other, but there's nothing wrong with, hell, I don't know what you would call it...a small vacation from each other every now and then. And I know other friends feel the same way. Besides, if Cathy had spent the entire summer in Iqaluit without anything to do while I've been working (and I've been pulling some long hours the last few weeks) she would have gone mad and taken me along with her.

Still, this is a long stretch even for us. I think the last time we spent this much time apart was back in 2004-05 when she was teaching in Rankin Inlet and I was still back in St. John's. It's just the way this year has worked, what with me starting a new job and Cathy having lots of time off.

Still, to my minor amusement I have had to fend off a few polite, discreet inquiries if everything was all right between Cathy and I. I've mentioned to a couple of people around town that Cathy was back home this summer with her parents and got the "Oh, is everything all right?" look.

I think it was the combination of spending this much time apart and, well, I think around five years is when some marriages start to...wobble a bit. I think marriages can wobble at anytime from two weeks to 50 years, but around five to seven years is when people start looking becoming more observant about the state of marriages with family and friends.

So, for the record, we're just fine. Cathy is back on Saturday and I think we're both glad that the long summer of being apart from each other is over.

Now, whether she's ready to start going back to school next week is another matter all together...

Last Five
1. So distant - Matt Mays*
2. Bloody well right - Supertramp
3. Square one here I come - The Hives
4. All the young dudes - Mott the Hoople
5. Home - Foo Fighters

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Go forth and feel old

Yes, for the second night in a row my brain is deeply fuzzy. Just a lot of long hours lately, so coming home and trying to write even more just isn't going to happen, alas. Perhaps by the weekend the creative tap will be flowing again as opposed to wanting to curl up into a ball and die, which is where it is right now.

So for your reading pleasure, I give you a link to the annual Beloit College Mindset List. For those of you who have never heard of it before, the college puts out a list of how this year's freshman class's experience differ from those of us older than them. In previous years the list has always been good for a few moments of shudder inducing horror (The Simpsons have always been on TV is a classic from previous years).

I think the list has struggled a bit in recent years just because so many of these experiences could be stretched over a several year period. What applies for this class likely also applied for the class of 2009 and will also apply for 2011. So some of the things on the list stretch.

Although there are a few "oh fuck" moments. The two best being:
- Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
- Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

That last one, in particular, had some zip on it.

Anyway, enjoy. Regular blogging will resume once my brain remembers how to work properly again.

Last Five
1. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey - Paul McCartney
2. Wrecking ball - Amelia Curran
3. Always - Rilo Kiley*
4. What to do - OK Go
5. Gone to hell - Sean Panting

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Monday assortment

Well, it's been awhile since I've done an assortment post, so let's see what the Internets can provide for me for amusement and education this evening.

1. Why do I need to point out that 3-D IMAX porn is a bad idea? How is this not completely self-evident? Do I need to see breast implant surgical scars larger than life and in 3-D? I think not.

Also, how many IMAX porn theatres are there in the world? Yes, I can't wait until the next time I'm back in Ottawa and I can go to the Museum of Civilization so I can catch "3-D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy". I'm sure it will come right after the feature on the space station and before the one on dinosaurs.

2. I've been following with some mild curiosity the story of who was going to be cast in the role of Lisbeth Salander for the English language version of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". I rather liked the book and thought the Swedish movie adaptation was pretty good. I can take or leave the other two books, which could have used Leatherface and his chainsaw from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre to trim those things into something more readable.

They ended up picking a relative unknown Rooney Mara for the part. Now, I like the book, the Swedish version of the movie and this thing having David Fincher and Daniel Craig along for the American version is a promising start. I'll give Mara the benefit for the doubt for now.

But the funny thing about the process was that pretty much every starlet under the age of 25 was named at one point for being considered for this part. I was kind of cheering for Ellen Page because I think she's a phenomenal actress. However, the most disturbing name I read was Emma Watson, she of Harry Potter fame.

I think the rumour got started because right around the time all the Lisbeth Salander casting frenzy was going on Watson, gasp, cut her hair. Surely the clip heard around the world...well, at least since Keri Russell chopped her hair after the first season of Felicity.

But, I don't think I could have handled Watson in the Lisbeth role. Not because I don't think she's a good enough actress for the part, although I rather doubt she is. Look, the role of Lisbeth requires the lead actress to have tattoos, body piercings, appear naked, have lesbian sex and hetrosexual sex, plus curse and drink lots. Mentally, I don't know if I'm ready for Hermione to be doing sex scenes. Really, I noticed she had great legs earlier the year and I'm still recovering from the mental damage that caused. So I'm glad I don't have to deal with some of Lisbeth's more...dramatic...character quirks.

3. I still find myself curious about the debate that still rages about the mosque/community centre near the World Trade Center site. The problem is I find a lack of reasonable and intelligent debate from opponents, most of whom strike me as being a step removed from being raving lunatics. Far too many also strike me as simply being political opportunists (cough Palin cough). However, I will give some credit to Rex Murphy putting forward some interesting arguments questioning the mosque. Murphy might be a blowhard, but he does raise some reasonable points. I also agree with the point that if the mosque is built then a memorial of some kind inside the building to the victims of the attack would be very appropriate.

4. On the other hand, this is New York. The notion that there is "hallowed ground" anywhere in the city is a touch laughable. Daryl Lang points that out by showing all the other things that are near the WTC site. I confess the strip joint is blackly amusing. But really, if people want to get outraged about anything, it's those sons of bitches selling 9/11 memorial souvenirs. Feel free to focus your rage and loathing on them anytime you want. How you cannot be outraged at people making a buck off of dead people is beyond my grasp.

Last Five
1. Suburbia - Matthew Good Band
2. The band played waltzing Matilda - The Pogues
3. My rights versus yours - The New Pornographers
4. 12 Bellevue - Kathleen Edwards*
5. I'm in love (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The money isn't everthing

I've already touched on this in the Moving to Iqaluit FAQ, but I think I need to reiterate this in a bit more detail.

Even with the FAQ, I still get emails asking about moving to Nunavut. Which is fine, by the way. I enjoy getting the questions and try to answer all of them to the best of my ability. Because I wish I had someone to ask questions to five years ago when we were in the process of coming up.

But recently I've been getting some questions about the kind of money you can make in Nunavut and what kind of tax breaks there are. About coming to Nunavut for a year to try and make a dent on some debts.

Look, I speak from experience when I say the two following things:
1. I totally understand where you're coming from.
2. It's likely a very bad idea.

Back in 1996 I was out of university for more than a year and me and most of friends were flailing about. We were either not working or working jobs decidedly underneath the level of education we had. It's all right to work crap jobs when you're a teenager or going through university. It starts becoming slightly less acceptable after you're out of university for a year or two, still living at home and have student aid payments rolling in.

For previous generations of Newfoundlanders the solution was to move to Toronto or Vancouver or Calgary. But at that point there was a lure to the far east. Recruiters were hitting the province pretty hard trying to convince recent graduates to move to Japan or South Korea to teach English as a second language. The lure was pretty good. Pay was around $25,000 a year, your return airfare was paid for, your accommodations were paid for and South Korea had a very low personal income tax rate.

So yeah, I went. I had to do something and the money was good. Never mind I barely understood the country (the internet in 1996 was a little different than what you see now), couldn't speak the language and didn't know how to teach. Who cares. I needed the money and needed to do something with my life.

I wasn't alone in doing this...several of my friends also went over. We all had varying degrees of success. I have one friend who is only just now leaving South Korea after spending more than a decade working and living there.

So yes, it is possible to chase after the dollars and have a wonderful experience. However, a lot of the people who went to South Korea and Japan had horrific experiences. I was, well, I won't go so dramatic as to say it was horrific, but it wasn't enjoyable. There wasn't a day over there I wasn't stressed out of mind. I ran face first into a different culture with little preparation for the experience.

I like to think I would do things differently now. And if nothing else, my experience with South Korea taught me that when Cathy and I were moving to Nunavut we were doing it for the right reasons. The reasons certainly involved money. Let's not be completely naive or foolish here. However, we did as much research as we could about Nunavut and decided that, yes, this could be a place we'd like to live. That it will be a challenge, but also something we might love. And we do, despite moments of deep frustration (like the lack of fucking washing machine repair men).

This is a long-winded way of saying that coming to Nunavut chasing the dollars is not unlike what I did in Korea more than 10 years ago. I truly do understand being in the position where you need to make some money and you find yourself considering actions that you might not otherwise. But do be careful about making Nunavut the solution to your problem.

Not just because it might not be an experience you will like and one that will create more problems than it solved. No. One of the things I still remain....mortified over is that I went to Korea and essentially took advantage of a group of people eager....desperate to learn a new language. Because Koreans at that time - and they still might - believed learning English was vital. I went there not to help them with that, but to make money for myself. If they learned English, well, that was a pleasant side-effect because I didn't really have the skills or knowledge to do that properly. Never mind that my boss didn't care that I didn't possess these skills (calling him a scumbag would be insulting to scumbags everywhere) because he just wanted a white person in his school.

I really did try, but after a few months I saw the writing on the wall. I was miserable because I hated a job where I was in it just for the paycheck, but also didn't know what I was doing and felt like I wasn't helping the people I was supposed to help. So I walked. One of the hardest and scariest things I've ever done. I dislike quitting, but I was out of options.

Just be sure before you take the plunge up here. Don't get so glossy eyed at a salary of $100,000 a year that it makes you overlook other important factors, such as will you actually like living and working here. Will taking the money for a year and then running actually do damage to the people who live and are trying to build something here? I would hope you would care about these things.

I truly do understand the lure of the money. But be sure that this is the right thing to do. The money shouldn't be the first question you ask. It should be one of the last...

Last Five
All from "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire

Friday, August 13, 2010

Big Box of Comics Day

So yes, quite the grumpy little bastard the other day, wasn't I?

I think I'm allowed. I've had friends tell me I tend to be at my most entertaining when I'm foaming at the mouth about something. Apparently I was very entertaining during my post-university days when the combination of unemployment, living at home and no girlfriend made me a walking entertainment unit.

Anyway, when I'm in a bad mood like I was on Wednesday, I fall back on the surefire cure to put me in a better mood....comic books.

You may mock, but comics always make me happy. They have ever since I was a kid. It's the reason why I still read them nearly 35 years after I started. And hey, last week I got a Big Box of Comics from Chapters, which always makes me happy. Here's what I got.

It might seem like a lot, but my last order was two or three months ago. Once upon a time I used to go to Downtown Comics and drop $50 a week without batting an eye. So probably around $200 a month in comics. Now I drop that once every three months on graphic novels. I have more money, and I buy fewer comics. Funny how that works.

So let's say a few things about this batch, shall we?

Absolute Planetary, Vol II - I have been waiting, no kidding, more than five years for this book to come out. I stopped buying Planetary, the singles, in 2005 when I moved to Iqaluit. That, combined with the deeply erratic publishing schedule meant I had quite the wait to see how this series ends. And considering I view this as one of the best comics of the past 20 years, it's particularly torturous.

The volume isn't for most people. It's over-sized and expensive. But I do recommend picking up the trades for the series. John Cassady's artwork is stunning and Warren Ellis is having fun with this, getting to do his skewered version of everything from the Fantastic Four to the Lone Ranger. Plus, there are conspiracy theories and plenty of Mad Science. I like Mad Science in my comics. It makes me happy.

Amelia Rules: The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular - This is about as far away from Planetary as you're going to get. But writer/artist Jimmy Grownley manages a difficult feat here here; he's produced a book that will appeal to kids, but if you're an adult reading it, there's several gut bustingly hilarious scenes in the comic. Of all the books in the picture, Amelia Rules is the one that just about anybody can pick up and enjoy.

In this case, it's Amelia learning about popularity and the dangers of perhaps being a little too honest. It sounds like an after school special, but Grownley manages to find a way to get a message across without being preachy. Instead, he makes it funny, interesting and sometimes genuinely heartfelt. There's some surprisingly clever writing in here. I really can't recommend it highly enough.

Batwoman: Elegy - This is, all at the same time, a beautiful and mind-blowing frustrating book. First things first, artist J.H. Williams had produced one of the most stylish and beautiful comics I've ever seen. The art has been raved about from all quarters and the raves are justified.

On the other hand Greg Rucka, who is one of my favourite writers, has turned in a story that is at times beautiful, and at other times you want to smack your head against the way. The origin he crafts for the character is one of the best I've read in ages. It really is clever and poignant. However, the other parts of the story are deeply interwoven with years of obscure DC comics continuity. I've been following some of the threads for years, and even I had problems remembering everything.

It's too bad because it's the kind of comic you want to give to people. Kate Kane, the new Batwoman, is gay and is kicked out of the military because of it. She gains new purpose after seeing the Bat signal and see it as a calling to help others that she can no longer do in the military. But then we get into Crime Bible, werewolves and other things. I love the book, but there are times I wonder what Rucka was thinking.

Wednesday Comics - Is the weirdest and most beautifully packaged of the bunch. This is actually a nice comic for people who read comics as a kid, but haven't touched them since. The premise is this - back in the day there used to be one page, serialized strips of Batman, Superman and other characters. Last year, DC produced an over-sized series of anthology strips on newspaper format. This is the collection.

It's a big book, as you can tell. The artwork is mostly stunning and they do their best to play with the format a bit. The problem is that most of the stories are kind of flat. The best of the bunch is the Supergirl story, which is deeply fun. But most of them are kind of flat. Even Neil Gaiman's Metamorpho story didn't work, but then again, that might have to do with me never really caring for the character.

I'm glad I bought the book and I hope they try it again. But I just wish it had been a bit better.

Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour - I never enjoy Scott Pilgrim books the first time through. It normally takes me multiple reads over several months before I really get the swing of it. This book is going to be no different. I've read it twice and feel kind of eh about it. I am still looking forward to the movie, though.

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites - Again, one of these books that works if you're not a regular comic book reader. A group of dogs, and a cat, deal with supernatural mysteries in their neighbourhood, Burden Hill (that is a groan worthy title, I must say). It's scary, clever, funny and the sort of thing you smack yourself in the head of for not thinking about it yourself. It also helps that Jill Thompson's watercolours are stunning to look at. It's only $20 for this hardcover, which I would consider a steal at twice the price. Well worth tracking down.

The rest are pretty standard comic book fare. I picked up Power Girl because I love Amanda Connor's artwork, not for any great love of the character. The story is so-so, but Connor's artwork is fun in a cheesecake sort of way. Ultimate Iron Man: Iron Wars is Warren Ellis slumming for a paycheck. I love the man's writing and he has some fun bits, but this is for the hardcore completest of Ellis or Iron Man only.

Captain America: Reborn is another one only for the hardcore fans. Dealing with Captain American's inevitable resurrection, it involves time travel, weird science and giant robots. It's weird because writer Ed Brubaker had been doing a espionage version of the character for years, steering clear of overt superheroics. Yet this is laced with over the top weirdness, that's too silly for Brubaker's previous tone, and yet too straight for over-the-top camp. Pity.

Irredeemable, Vol. 3 is Mark Waid's attempt to do a story about what if Superman went nuts. This is the last volume I'm going to buy of it. It just feels like it's dragging its feet entirely too much and not going anywhere.

X-Men: SWORD is for hardcore X-Men fans only, but that doesn't mean it's a bad comic. It's good, silly sci-fi fun about an agency dealing with alien threats to Earth. It was supposed to be a regular series, but got canned after five issues. Pity, I'd like to read more of the characters. I also like the idea the SWORD agency is there to protect aliens from Earth as much as they are to protect humans. Earth is a dangerous place if you're an alien, after all.

And there you go...those comics will have to do until about October, I should think.

Last Five
1. Murder on the midnight wire - Bedouin Soundclash
2. General Taylor (live) - Great Big Sea
3. Headache - Liz Phair
4. So she's leaving - The Trews
5. Vittorio E - Spoon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh, we're having a day all right...

Today, quite independent of each other, Cathy and I managed to have our "I fucking hate Iqaluit" moment.

These things happen, by the way. You can try and be as serene and zen about the challenges of living in a place this isolated as you want. You can chuckle at the price of food or the cost of getting a plane ticket. You can get amusement from recent arrivals frustrations with the way things are up here. We've been here in Iqaluit for nearly five years now (Cathy recently celebrated her sixth year in Nunavut as she spent a year in Rankin) and we're pretty much used to the little frustrations Nunavut throws at you. You try to not let them get to you. "It's the North" becomes you're calming mantra.

That doesn't mean there aren't breaking points. Today was one of them.

Cathy appeared to hit hers first. We haven't seen the bill for the sea lift show up on our Visa yet. I'm perfectly happy not to spend several thousand dollars, but when it's not showing up there was causing concern. So she called, finally got someone who knew what they were talking about and found out all the supplies we bought back in early July haven't been crated yet. Why? Because the sealift boats are running horribly behind schedule, something I kind of feared as I haven't seen one in the bay in weeks. So yes, not even crated yet, let alone in Montreal or even on a boat.

The supplies were supposed to arrive at the end of August. Our most optimistic estimate has it arriving in mid-September. Could even be towards the end of September. To call this frustrating is not even really quite close to cutting it.

My "fuck Iqaluit" moment came when I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new washer. It's been 10 days without one, most of that time spent trying to find someone to come and fix it. Except the guy who used to do it doesn't do it anymore. He said he might drop by, and then decided not to. Then there was the guy who might be able to do it, except everyone says he's a bit of a pain and probably wouldn't so there was no sense even trying.

I finally got found someone who would, except it took four days for him to get back to me, and when told what the problem was, pronounced it the motor, that it would cost more than $1,000 in parts and labour to fix, and take weeks. For that matter, he wasn't even sure he could fix it, because it really wasn't his field of expertise. So I was really just better off buying a new one.

Except there are only two washing machines for sale in town as best I can find. Northmart apparently doesn't have any in. Dryers, yes. Washers, no. So I went to Arctic Furnishings. They told me they had two when I checked on the weekend. However, when I swung by today, oooops, the guy had made a mistake. They only have one.

It's $1,600. Plus tax. Plus $50 for delivery. So $1,700. Frankly, if I'm going to spend $1,700 on just a washing machine, I'm expecting it to perform sexual acts when it's not cleaning clothes.

I can't do it. I can't spent that much money on a washing machine. I will go to Frobuild and buy a metre stick and start cleaning my clothes in the tub using the stick to stir it up. Or perhaps someone has a grandmother with an old scrubbing board kicking around that they can send me.

Oh yes, there is the laundromat. I nearly forgot. It's $10 a load. That's washing, drying and the soap, but still...

We will get over this. A broken washing machine isn't going to be the tipping point where we decide we're done with Iqaluit. Not by a long shot. We're just having one of those "Oh for fuck's sake..." kind of days. We don't expect things to be easy up here, but do they have to be completely arsed up, where something as simple as a broken washing machine has become a multi-week drama?

The one good thing in this annoyance is that we might be able to get Ishop4u people to buy a washing machine for us and get it put with our uncrated stuff in Ottawa. We won't get it for another month or so, but at least we'll get a washing machine that we want and hopefully won't break us. We'll see. I have one last lead to check tomorrow. If that bottoms out, then we have to either wait until a new batch of machines comes in on one of the delayed sealift boats or buy one in Ottawa and try to get it shipped up.

So yes, the joys of Iqaluit. It's been a day. Where's the scotch...

Last Five
1. Jump with my baby - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
2. Happiness is a warm gun - The Beatles*
3. Slips and tangles - The Weakerthans
4. Makin' sunshine - The Trews
5. When the night feels my song - Bedouin Soundclash

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Going out with a bang

I honestly thought there would only be one classic "fuck you I quit" story today. But this is apparently a day where the gifts keep on giving because we have two of them.

First up we have Steven Slater, who is now a god among lesser men. The manner in which he choose to quit is going to become the stuff of legend. He told off an unruly passenger, grabbed a beer and activated the emergency evacuation chute, jumped down it and then marched over to his car and drove home. Where the police promptly arrested him two hours later. Apparently they were marching him out of his house, he had a big smile on his face.

I think my favourite quote from the story came from his next door neighbour and a former flight attendant - “Enough is enough – good for him,” Bavasso said. “If he would have called me, I would have picked him up.”

There is just so much deeply wrong with air travel these days. Lord knows I've complained about the airlines and the way they treat customers and occasionally some awful service from staff. The one thing I forgot to mention in all of this is the increasing number of dicks who fly.

During our trip to Florida over Easter I was constantly looking at Cathy with a shocked look in my eye over the behaviour of passengers. They were being rude to each other, bringing in carry-on bags the size of cars, disobeying the instructions of the flight attendants (how many times do they need to say stay seated until the plane stops?) and just a level of obnoxiousness I found hard to believe.

Are people becoming more obnoxious or are the airlines making them that way with the nickel and diming? I don't know. And yes, there are some bad flight attendants, but I think most of them are just caught in between the airlines contempt for passengers and trying make a buck and the passengers contempt for airlines and being tired of being gouged. However, Slater, I think, finally got caught in the middle one too many times. It probably didn't help he was working for Jet Blue, a bargain basement airline.

Still, Slater is going to become very famous now because people love him and wish they could do something similar. I suspect he's going to become the patron saint of flight attendants. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if others snap in similar ways.

And just to give you an idea of how big he's going to be, I give you, no shit, the awesomeness that is The Ballad of Steven Slater. God, I love the Internet.

Still, the way this woman decided to leave work, while not as dramatic, does earn points for funny, clever and fucking over your boss. Sending a 33 slide photo presentation while holding a white board explaining why you're going, why your boss sucks and ratting out his bad internet habits all in one message does have a certain charm.

I guess if you have to go, there is something to be said for doing it in a dramatic and funny way.

Last Five
1. Down in the basement - Sloan
2. Give it away - Red Hot Chili Peppers
3. Silver lining - Rilo Kiley
4. Nineteen forever - Joe Jackson
5. Don't look back in anger (live) - Tori Amos*

Monday, August 09, 2010

Harder than it looks

I've had a few people ask me what I think of the Telegram's new website. I've been kind of reluctant to comment on in, at least in part because I can't think of too much more to add than what Geoff Meeker has already written. But I'll still add my two cents worth.

First of all, I don't understand the notion of "soft launch", which is what the Telegram is claiming this is. Yes, it's being done during the summer, when traffic is presumably a bit lower. Still, I'm assuming several thousand readers hit the site one morning and found it's completely changed and not working. If you're like me, well, you're going to be pissed and frustrated. I stopped going to the site for days, just because every time I did go, I wanted to punch the screen because so much wasn't working and it was too damn hard finding what I wanted. Of course this is just what you want in the volatile and shrinking market of newspapers, even online ones.

The notion that this is a "soft launch" isn't really going through your mind. I quipped on Facebook that this was a website designed to drive people back to the print edition of the paper. That's how bad it was the first week or more it was launched. Why not do what other sites do (I'm thinking Empire Avenue off the top of my head, but there are many others) and launch a closed beta and invite certain people to play with it (offer them a free subscription for a few months as a reward for their advice) to make sure it works before unleashing it into the wild?

"Soft launch" strikes me as code for "screwed the pooch" launch. Hell, I was still getting dead links from stories off the main page as recent as this weekend. Plus, if the rumours I've heard are true, and people have lost their jobs from the launch, well, that should give you some indication that things went very, very badly right from the get go on this.

Look, I honestly do have some empathy for the people involved in this. People who have never tried to work and design a website have no idea - none - what a motherfucking beast they can be. And yes, I am cursing because I've been involved in a couple of website redesigns and there were days I was asking co-workers if they had a gun. Not to kill them (tempting, but no), but to put myself out of my misery.

People seem to think websites are leprechauns or something. Magical little beasts who will appear out of nowhere and perform tricks for you, no problem. There are thousands, thousands of ways for things to go catastrophically bad for you when trying to launch one of these bastards. If you want a good site, one that works and looks good, be prepared to shovel money at it and get the best people. Otherwise, well, you're asking for a world of pain.

I don't know what went wrong with launch of The Telegram's site. I'm sure they'll get it fixed eventually. I'm sure it'll be all right, even if nowhere near the gold standard for these things - The Globe and Mail's site. However, one day if someone starts doing a book, article or a website on how not to launch a new journalism website, someone is going to point to what The Telegram has been doing the last few weeks as an example of what not to do.

Last Five
1. The luckiest - Ben Folds
2. How's the world treating you? - Allison Krauss and James Taylor
3. Polyester bride - Liz Phair*
4. Slide away - Oasis
5. No Kathleen - Ron Hynes*

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Twin stories

Two things on the self-promotion front. It's not like it was planned, but there are two stories readers of this blog might find interesting which have come out in the last few days.

The first is courtesy of The Packet. About 10 years ago I used to write for them and Barbara, the paper's long-suffering editor (seriously, this is her 30th year with the paper, and her 20th as editor. I'm beginning to think shooting her would be a mercy), has a soft spot for me, for some reason. Lord only knows what as I made her life hell while I was there. Anyway, she runs a feature every summer called "Around the World" where people can write about places they've visited or lived in. It's basically a travel feature, but she tries to use people who either used to live or work in the paper's coverage area. It's a pretty clever idea. Plus, I've managed to write stories over the years about Iqaluit, California, Italy and now Australia.

This is part one. The second part runs this Thursday. I actually wrote this piece about a year ago and there are a few things I wish I had changed, but I think it holds up all right. Also, to my amusement, it's currently the most read article on The Packet's website. So by all means keep the traffic flowing there. If for no other reason then perhaps Barb will keep throwing me freelance articles.

The other piece is a bit...odder. And I don't mean that in a bad way. Kerry Breen of The Telegram contacted me wanting to do a story about Newfoundland bloggers. Now, I have only a tenuous connection to being a Newfoundland blogger. A fact noted by several friends when I lined to the story on Facebook. Yes, I am from Newfoundland, but over the past five years I might have spent six weeks there. Cathy's asked me when is the next time I plan on going back there and I honestly do not have an answer.

Anyway, I was born there and I still write about it from time to time, so I guess that counts. I mainly said yes to the article because Kerry is a former editor of the Muse, and I have a difficult time saying no to Musers, both past and present. I'm only briefly mentioned, although they did use the blog header with the story. I guess the walruses are photogenic (Yes, I know, I need to update the photo.)

So there you go, two mentions in a few days. I'm famous.....not really. But hey, I'm in the newspapers, which makes my mom proud.

Last Five
1. Sonnet in the dark - The Flash Girls*
2. Eventually - Brendan Benson
3. The first song - Band of Horses
4. Cirque du Soleil (commedy) - Patton Oswalt
5. Pride (in the name of love) (live) - U2

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Two more for ethics class

Today's ethics debate involves where do you draw your line on curbing personal freedoms. By the way, I don't think this is going to become a regular feature of the blog, it's just something that's grabbing my attention the past few days.

Today's two examples.

1. Kid's names have always been a touchy point with me. I've mentioned many times before on this blog the horror experience I had with Letters to Santa Claus while working with the Packet. Dear God, some of the things I've seen people call their kids. For that matter, I guarantee most blog readers have had a conversation at a bar about terrible kids names they've heard. The ever popular Crystal Shanda Lear, for example. Or Justin Case.

I'm not saying a full agency needs to be created for monitoring kids names. Names do need to be able to evolve and change over time. So yeah, there's always going to be some quirky names out there, but I think a little quirk is fine as long as we don't go into full bizarre.

What I am saying is that perhaps someone at records, when they get the birth certificates, should have the power to call someone at social services to swing by and have a chat with the parents. Perhaps suggest that God or Superman would not be appropriate.

Or, you know, Adolf Hitler. God help us all, he also has siblings - Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie and JoyceLynn Aryan Nation. I especially enjoy the quote from the father - "We have a right to have our kids named. A name's a name...Our kids are beautiful kids, they're not going to grow up to hate people, they're not going to grow up to hurt people."

Except there are also reports one of the parents has a swastika tattoo and the kids were physically abused, so...

Look, there are so, so, so many ways to screw up kids (Probably one of the reasons why I'm not certain about having kids. Pure fear of catastrophically screwing it up). To hopelessly damage them before they ever make so far as a classroom. So why not cut them a break and give them a decent name. And don't we, as a society, at least owe them that little break, so they're not faced with going to school with names like Hitler or Aryan? So yeah, curb that little bit of freedom, just so they don't go into malls with assault rifles 20 years from now.

But that's just my opinion. I'm open to others.

2. And here's your second one. I loathe pet stores that actually sell dogs and cats in them. I think if you want a pet, then you go to the shelter or do your damn research and find a decent breeder and buy one. But don't go to one of the giant chain pet stores and buy a dog.

I rarely go into stores that sell cats and dogs just because I'm so completely out of sorts for the rest of the day. I'm depressed, but with flashes of rage so profound that I'm afraid I'm going to run back into the store with an axe, start smashing cages to free them all. I refuse to buy any treats or toys for Boo from stores like this. Even smaller mom and pop stores, I hate when they do it.

So you think I would be all over an idea that a candidate for Toronto City Council has, which is to ban the sale of cats and dogs and pet stores.

And yet....I don't think I am. I think the guy's heart is in the right place, but there shouldn't need to be a law in place for this. I don't understand how any parent can go and think buying a cat or a dog from a pet store is a good idea. Yes, I know that kids and cute puppies and kittens are a lethal mix, but Jesus, you have to be able to say no to them on other things, I would hope, so why not on this thing. I think this is just a slow, ongoing educational process. Where you have to keep explaining where some of the pet stores are getting their animals and the kinds of conditions they're being raised in and the issues they have. That you take your business with your feet and don't support stores that sell cats and dogs. I don't know that a law is needed.

However, I admit I'm borderline on it and open to alternate views.

Tomorrow, something other than ethics, I promise.

Last Five
1. Got myself to blame - The Trews
2. Independent thief - Kathleen Edwards
3. The marble in your eye - Sarah Harmer
4. Why do I keep counting - The Killers*
5. Film noir - Gaslight Anthem

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Your ethical challenge of the day

I'm having one of those moments where someone has made a good argument on an issue, but the argument is deeply annoying me. Alas, I can't find the article that annoyed me, so you'll just have to take my word that it was there.

This all started when I read an article on the National Post's website over the controversy about building a mosque a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center. Ordinarily I'd be reluctant about reading the Post, but I figure it never hurts to get different perspectives with your news. The problem with reading the Post is that I sometimes make the mistake of reading the comments section.

The comments section for any media outlet - the CBC, the Globe and Mail - are all pretty annoying and often frequented by people I'd like to smack repeatedly. But the Post's comment section is like being dipped into Liquid Crazy. Liquid Crazy is like being covered in filth or something. It makes me want to get in the shower for 12 hours or something.

You can just imagine what the comments section on an op-ed piece saying the mosque should not be built near the site. It was like Concentrated Liquid Crazy. It made my skin feel like I'd fallen asleep on a beach without sunscreen for 14 hours.

So yes, deep badness. The kind of badness that makes think things like, "I know forced sterilization is bad and violates any number of basic human rights, but really, this guy here saying the mosque is the beginning of the Islamo-fascist takeover of the United States, would it really be such a terrible thing if his genetic line died with him?"

Anyway, amidst all of this, the columnist in question made one of those points that aggravates me because I disagree with most of the rest of what they're saying. My view on the mosque was basically, why the hell not? The awesome thing about New Yorkers was that most of them simply didn't give a shit about the mosque going up. They didn't view it as outrageous. They didn't view it as a heroic New York thing. It was simply, this is New York. You want to build a mosque there? OK, sure. Fine. Whatever.

It's probably the most multicultural city on Earth. Why wouldn't you have a mosque there? What exactly is the acceptable distance for the World Trade Center site? Four blocks? Ten blocks? The entire island of Manhattan? It just stuck me as absurd. It wouldn't even be news if not for the human starting pistol of stupid, semi-literate self-promoting controversies (Hellooooo, Sarah Palin) hadn't gotten involved.

So what was the annoying point this columnist made? What if a gun club or target range wanted to open up right next to École Polytechnique, where 14 women were murdered by a lunatic with a gun. I'm pretty sure there were be no shortage of groups and organizations horrified by this and arguing that these people were being deeply insensitive to the horror that had happened at the school. I guarantee you women's groups would go ballistic.

This is where it gets dicey. You look at the mosque and say that 99.9 per cent of American Muslims were deeply horrified by 9/11. They would never do something like that. The people who carried out the act were not representative of Islam. That they were lunatics, monsters and fascists using Islam as their excuse for the horror they enacted.

Except, of course, 99.9 per cent of gun owners are law abiding citizens who were deeply horrified by the action that madman took at École Polytechnique that day. They would never do something like that. That man was a deeply disturbed individual who bears no resemblance to most gun owners.

So what's the difference between the two situations? Because honestly, I can't see it. I have a visceral reaction that the shooting range near the university would be bad, but have no problem with the mosque being near the WTC site. But logically, there's little difference between the two.

Seriously, I'm open to holes in my logic on this, because I can't see any. I'm fully open to the idea I'm missing something really obvious. Otherwise, I'm forced to concede the point...that as much as I dislike the idea of a gun club near the university, logically there's no difference between that and building a mosque near the WTC. I'd have to support both ideas or neither.

It's really annoying when someone whose opinions I suspect I wouldn't care for very much actually makes a good point.

Last Five
1. All the old showstoppers - The New Pornographers
2. Spare parts II and closing (live) - Tom Waits
3. Numb - U2
4. Pay me my money down (live) - Bruce Springsteen*
5. I tried to leave you (live) - Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Washer issues

I'm running into one of those small domestic joys that happens with home ownership. No, the furnace hasn't blown up (although I really hope Narwhal call back shortly so I can get the damn thing inspected) nor has any pipes burst or the fusebox exploded.

However, the washer appears to have up and died on me. I mean, a resurrection may well be possible, but those were some unfortunate grinding noises it was producing the other night right before it stopped working. As I'm not at all mechanically inclined, I'm leaving it alone for right now until a solution can be found.

Now, I'm getting to have one of those lovely northern experiences that everyone raves about so much. If your clothes washer stopped working down south, you have a couple of options. You crack up the Yellow Pages and find a repair man who will come by and take care of the problem for you. Or, barring that, perhaps you run out to Future Shop or Sears and do some shopping around. Perhaps you go and buy one of those snazzy, super energy efficient washers and a dryer.

Alas, I live in Iqaluit, so this is proving to me more...problematic. I'm into day three of my search and I still haven't really found anyone who can fix the bloody thing. Oh, there's one person, if you catch him in the right mood, who might. Haven't been able to get a hold of him. There's another, but he doesn't do these kinds of things anymore, but he might be able to swing by and take a look, if he gets a moment. Which so far hasn't happened.

I haven't had the heart to go and look at new washers yet. I know it's going to be more than a $1,000 and after the hit we took on this year's sealift, I'm really hoping that doesn't happen.

So, if any of my kind readers out there happen to know of anyone in Iqaluit who might be able to fix such beasts, kindly drop me a line. I could use all the help I can get on this. And think of it as community service. Because at some point I'm going to run out of clean laundry, and that's just good for no one, let me assure you.

Last Five
1. I can learn - The White Stripes
2. Oh, maker - Janelle Monae*
3. God, Pt. 2 - U2
4. Changes - David Bowie
5. Two sides/Monsieur Valentine - Spoon

Monday, August 02, 2010

Movie festival

Not much posting around these parts the last few days. As this is a long weekend in most parts of Canada (not St. John's and the Yukon) I have been very, very busy doing absolutely nothing. We're talking some deep and serious sloth. I even slept in until 10 am a few mornings, something I rarely do these days. Apparently I really needed to do very little this weekend. Which is fine, I think you need weekends like that to recharge he batteries. Plus, if the next month goes the way I think it will sleep and rest are going to be precious commodities.

I can recall a time when August was a slow month. Not so much for me right now.

So yes, part of this weekend was spent watching movies that Cathy hates. No couples agree on all movies, but when we sit down to watch a movie together, we do kind of have to agree on it. Otherwise Cathy starts cross-stitching or doing her sudoko and I just get insanely restless and twitchy. Or start making snarky comments about the movie. We very nearly broke up early in our relationship after I killed her buzz after the chick flick Kate and Leopold ("You realize given the logic of this movie when we first met Kate she'd been having sex with her great, great grandson for years. That's kind of creepy.")

So yes, if we don't both like it, no sense in torturing the other. And with Cathy back in Newfoundland, now is an excellent time to get caught up and things that she doesn't want to watch. I finished the Babylon 5 marathon on the weekend, so that's out of the way. I've also watched Henry V, Hamlet, Alien and Aliens and have a few more scheduled before she comes back in less than three weeks. This evening's feature will be Hardboiled, because I can't think of anything more Cathy unfriendly than a subtitled Hong Kong action flick where they kill half the people on the island at least once, and other half several times.

And that's it, really. The relaxation comes to an end tomorrow and the time between now and Labour Day is going to be one long sprint. But at least for this evening I can enjoy watching lots of people go boom in entertaining and cinematic ways.

Last Five
1. Whole lotta losin' - Monsters of Folk
2. Come pick me up - Ryan Adams*
3. Rude boy don't cry - Bedouin Soundclash
4. Requiem for a dying song - Flogging Molly
5. Yesterday (live) - Paul McCartney