Monday, January 31, 2011

He's dead....or not

I meant to mention this last week, but it escaped my mind, but as a comic book collector I feel almost compelled to mention something about the "death" of the Human Torch, late of the Fantastic Four. More specifically, I feel compelled to try and figure out why there were literally thousands of articles appearing about this.

It isn't the first time in recent years that a comic book hero has gotten mainstream attention. Captain America died a few years ago, and yeah, I kinda got that. Marvel did a good job hiding what was coming and considering all the turmoil going on in the US, killing Captain America will get you some headlines. There's also the matter that it was a really well written story. Ed Brubaker spent two years building up to it and the death worked. Hell, he even did a good job on the stories for the next two years after the death. There was more than one comic fan who saw little reason for the original Captain to come back, that's how good Brubaker's stories were during that period.

Alas, Cap's resurrection was the worst part of the story arc. Pity.

We had Batman die a couple of years ago, which nobody believed for five seconds, but still got lots of play. The lead-up was also handled in a confusing way, so was his death and his resurrection was pretty bizarre. I haven't read it, but I also haven't read many good things about it either.

But as for the Human Torch, the publicity around it is just weird. The Human Torch isn't quite in the same league as Batman. Everyone knows he's going to be back soon (The 50th anniversary of Fantastic Four #1 is a year away. Hazard a guess when he's coming back) and it's not like the Fantastic Four is a stranger to death. Go to this site for a genuinely hilarious look at all the times members of the group have died over the years. Not to mention the death of Sue Storm's fashion sense in the 90s. Dear God...

Still, I'm looking forward to reading the story when it's collected. The Fantastic Four were the first super hero comics I ever read. Before that it tended to be comics based on toys (Godzilla, Micronauts, Shogun Warriors). I believe FF #188 was my first one. So yeah, I've loved the characters, even if they haven't been well treated over the years. I'd say over the past 30 years there's been about three really good runs on the series. Current writer Jonathan Hickman might be developing one of those classic runs.

I've been reading the collected books since he started on the title and I'm suitably impressed. He obviously has long term plans for the series, is one of those annoying writers who has so many good ideas that he can just casually toss around brilliant stuff and not worry about developing it further because he knows he has much cooler stuff in his bag of tricks.

We'll see how it all pans out. Apparently the issue is quite well written, despite the massive publicity machine around it. All you can do now is hope the next year or so is well written and so is the Torch's resurrection. And if it gets a few more people to read a good series, I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

But really, how desperate are you to fill copy if your a mainstream media outlet and you're covering this?

Last Five
1. Blowing bubbles - The Pursuit of Happiness
2. Murder city - Green Day
3. Love's grave - Amelia Curran
4. Working on a dream - Bruce Springsteen
5. Part one - Band of Horses

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stir crazy

Earlier this month I was marvelling at how bizarre the weather was. After all, we were getting temperatures around 0C when the seasonal norms at this time of  year were closer to -25C. It was freaky weather. But it was never freaky weather that was going to last forever. The fact it made it as far as January was bizarre. If it had lasted all winter I think we would have been looking at the end of the world.

You'll be happy to know the world is safe. Ever since mid-January the temperatures have been...brisk. At one point this weekend Environment Canada was predicting it would go down to -42C...without windchill. Fortunately it din't think that happened (because Environment Canada predictive abilities are crap), but it's been pretty steady around -30C, and with windchill it's hit as low as -53C in recent weeks.

I am not complaining, by the way. I'll take some cold over risking life and limb on all the ice that was kicking around a few weeks ago. It just means having to get back into your winter routines. Like going out and starting the car and making sure she has enough time to warm up. To remember that the right front tire loses air when it gets this cold so you have to swing by the gas station a couple of times a week to top it up. I have to constantly being touching non-metallic things to ground myself so that I don't A. Electrocute myself or B. Build up enough charge to fry the electronics I use at work, thereby incurring the wrath of the IT department.

Oh, and that break we were getting on our oil and electric bills? I suspect that's over and done with.

But the other thing we're dealing with is Boo. Because it's hovering around -30C that's the cut off point on when we'll let him outside. When you take a dog that's used to getting four walks a day and cut him off, well, let's just say we're dealing with an unhappy dog.

Yes, he's that good at looking pathetic. Every couple of days we take him outside, which gets him all excited until he's out for two minutes and tries to hover off the ground because his paws get too cold (and yes, we know about the dog booties. We have spent about $100 on them because the little bastard is Houdini when outside in his ability to lose them). Being a little dog with a small brain, this lesson lasts about 24 hours before he's either pathetic like he is above or, well, like this:

Which is to say, all that energy he normally burns off with his walks has to go somewhere. So when not in a "my masters hate me and beat me" type of sook, he's badgering us endlessly to throw his "fishy".

We've actually been talking again about getting another dog, to help keep him company. We are at work during the day and I do feel kind of guilty about leaving him alone so much. Plus, he's not the best around other dogs. I've always thought another dog might help with his socialization. We're considering a Labradoodle, but we'll see. There's already a fair amount on our plate already this summer, but we've been talking about another dog for awhile now. So we'll see.

But in the meantime it would be nice if it ticked up a a few degrees - just warm enough so that he can go out for a proper walk and burn off some of that energy. And also so he'll stop guilting us.

Last Five
1. The kids don't stand a chance - Vampire Weekend
2. Songbird - Oasis
3. Laughing with - Regina Spektor*
4. Numbers - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
5. Lazy religion - Young Galaxy

Friday, January 28, 2011

Double dipping

I'm a bit late getting to John Noseworthy, Newfoundland and Labrador's Auditor General, report. It came out on Wednesday. An auditor general's report is like Christmas for reporters because no government is perfect and there is always waste and mismanagement no matter how diligent the politicians and senior management are.

This report is no different and while there are certainly areas that annoy me, the one that really sets my fuse alight can be found at the top of this story (or you can go to The Telegram's story). The AG found that a lot of teachers who had retired were being rehired and were drawing double benefits. They were getting their pension on top of drawing a salary. And, just for a kicker, they got these positions even though there were qualified teachers applying for the job.

Teacher hiring practices in Newfoundland has long been one of those things that pops my blood pressure up a notch or two. Cathy's made her peace with it and shrugs her shoulders. But the sheer volume of cronyism that goes on with hiring teachers in the province is maddening and this AG's report is proof of that. Are there rare parts of the province where it is hard to get a teacher? I'm sure there. Positions in places like northern Labrador are notoriously difficult to fill. But I'm willing to bet of all of those double dipping positions that about 80 per cent of more of them had perfectly qualified people applying for them.

I remember when I was in town hearing horror stories of teachers with 20 years experience coming back from Alberta and scrounging for 1/8 time positions while someone fresh out of the education facility lands a full-time permanent job. Why? Because they're related to someone, or their parents are best friends with a principal.

It's not quite to the point where there's money exchanging hands, but by god if that actually happened, I would not be the least bit surprised. The system used to hire teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador is deeply broken. I have no idea how to fix it, but the first step ought to be pointing out that double dipping teachers is wrong and an insult to everyone out there working 1/8 positions or teaching in other parts of Canada because there's "no jobs available in Newfoundland." The next step ought to be to admit that favouritism happens way to often when teachers are hired.

I honestly don't think anyone can look at the teaching system in Newfoundland and say the best teachers get hired every time there's an opening. There are a lot of good teachers there, don't get me wrong. But how they're hired can be done better. And rather than the union and the government blaming each other or making excuses, perhaps they might undertake the radical notion of actually trying to fix it.

Last Five
1. Close call - Rilo Kiley
2. Lover's day - TV on the Radio
3. You got lucky - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. Ohio (Live) - Neil Young
5. Memories and dust - Josh Pyke*

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review - Republic of Doyle, Season 2, ep 3

The last five minutes of this week's Republic of Doyle were easily the funniest bits of the show. To get there, you had to struggle through some deeply uneven stuff.

The Doyle lads are called into investigate a stalker of JJ, a Newfoundland comedian of the now defunct Cad Fud who made it big 20 years ago when he went to the States. Someone wants him, if not dead, then at least pretty scared. Given how obnoxious he is, Jake appears to be more than a little tempted to help the stalker out.

Among the suspects, JJ's biggest fan, a blogger/reporter, a bitter former Cat Fud partner and another member of Cat Fud who is missing.

Meanwhile, Tinny is being stupid on multiple levels, Jake is trying to flirt with the hot crown attorney and bombing in a charmingly idiotic manner and Leslie is getting nervous about why the Mayor is keeping their relationship quiet. Her partner isn't too thrilled about the company she's keeping either.

The problem with the episode is that we're introduced to JJ who is not only an asshole, but not funny. At all.  Jake sees this, but everyone else seems to find him amusing. I was having a flashback, believe it or not, to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip in which everyone is suppose to be awesomely funny, except they aren't. At all. So I spent some time wondering if that was the case here, that they were writing him as being funny, but he really isn't. It was a bit weird.

It panned out later, but at the start, it's just awkward because the guys are supposed to be trying to help an arrogant, primadonna, unfunny asshole. Well, it's a bit hard to really get into a show with a character like that kicking around. So the first 20 minutes or so of the show drag something fierce. Once the mystery starts kicking in full force, it gets a little bit more interesting. However, there are still two more problems.

1. It's kind of obvious who the stalker is. It's the problem with shows like this and the economy of characters rule. You can burn through who is the likely suspect is pretty quick. Although the reasons why were a nice touch.

2. Unless I'm missing something, I think there was another significant plot hole this week. A big deal was made over the fact there was a video tape showing that JJ had robbed much of his material from one of his Cat Fud partners and used it to make it big in the States. Except it was never made clear - was the tape just of a rehearsal or was the material done in public? If the later, wouldn't he have been busted a long time ago for robbing material?

It's continuity errors like that which drive me nuts. It's just sloppy writing.

Having said that, the last five minutes are brutally, gloriously awkwardly funny. Plus a rare good usage of Nicki. Being invited to supper at your ex-wife's house. Awkward. Showing up with a date, extra awkward. Having the ex invite someone to fix you up with and having to sit between the two of them....that's a whole new stratosphere of awkward.

So yeah, that was funny. The scene outside with the cell phone, that was just icing. However, it's also what I mean by inconsistent. That whole scene was brutally funny, but it almost felt tacked on and rushed. There are plot holes and a few too many in-jokes. I really was hoping it would be a little more polished at this point. The show is getting by on charm and funny bits, but it really should be stepping up its game a bit more by this point.

Although, I will note, in a rarity, Jake doesn't get punched in the face or take his shirt off in this episode. Madness! One suspects he'll make up for it in coming weeks.

And now, the one liners:

"Nothin' says 80s like a Mount Pearl Curl, wha…" - Jake, speaking of in-jokes.

"Take your ball and go home, son. She's way out of your league." - Mal

"Those how to inspire your family tapes are really paying off." - Jake

(To the mayor after saving his life) "You can blow up Atlantic Place, we'll call it even." - Jake. (Funny, probably incomprehensible to anyone outside of Newfoundland)

"Call me Tin-Tin once more and you're gonna need more than a cup to protect you." - Tinny

"I have to take this. It's my husband." - Hot Crown Attorney. Ooops.

Next Week: The return of the long lost brother. You know, the one who up and vanished.

Last Five
1. Lay it down - Cowboy Junkies*
2. Since I've been loving you (Live) - Corinne Bailey Rae
3. Just the way you are - Billy Joel
4. Cold hands (warm heart) - Brendan Benson
5. Trip through your wires (Live) - U2

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


So funny thing, I seem to have won the Nunie for Best Blog again. I confess, it's a bit of a surprise. I'm not sure last year was my best ever year blogging and after the first day of voting, I'd been trailing most of the way, sometimes by quite a lot.

But then at lunch time, on a lark, I put up a quick note note on Facebook saying that voting was closing in a little more than four hours and if you wanted, I'd appreciate your vote. I was down by about a dozen votes at that point, so I wasn't particularly confident of a rally.

Shortly after I put that up, the damnest thing happened. My high school English Jim Moore teacher decided to rally to my cause, put the link on his own news feed and asked his considerable network of friends, family and former students to vote for me. So began a late rally and surge. If Jim had done that once, it would have been a cool thing, but he posted several times during the afternoon asking people to go to vote.

I have, in the past, said an unkind word or three about my high school alma mater, Booth Memorial. I should, in all fairness, mention there were good things about the place. Someone I spent virtually every day with in Grade 12 reappeared a few weeks ago and today sent a note wishing me luck. And Jim was one of a handful of teachers I had at Booth that I would consider to be among the very best kind - the ones who make you better when they're finished with you than you were before they got ahold of you. And not just from imparting whatever they had to teach from a text book, but all the stuff that happens in-between. Mr. Vincent and Mr. Green were two more who could pull off that particular trick.

I'm not saying I became a writer because of Jim, because I didn't. But I think it's fair to say I would be a worse writer if not for him.

So thanks to Jim for rallying last minute support. Also a thanks to an old blogging friend, Jen Eichenberg, who noted that at 4:40 pm that the blogging contest was tied with 20 minutes left (it was also causing Clare some stress. Two years ago I finished tied with Kate Nova and lost in a run-off. I think he was hoping for that to not happen again). She also managed to rally a few votes my way.

So there you have it, defending blog champion. I think after winning it twice in a row, I might have to retire from competition and go into the Hall of Fame or something. We'll see.

And now a bunch more thank you's. Thanks to everyone who voted in the category, all 286 of you which is a excellent total. Thanks to the other four excellent blogs who ran and who all got, I am thrilled to see, quite a few votes. And in particular thanks to The Arctic Post, an excellent blog out of Chesterfield Inlet who ran neck and neck for most of it. Congrats to M&T in Nunavut for winning Best New Blog and Babes and Bulldogs for winning Best Blog Post.

And finally, to Clare, who runs this thing each year and disqualifies himself when everyone knows he would win it in a cakewalk if he ever allowed his name to be entered. Cheers, my friend.

Last Five
1. Haiti - Arcade Fire
2. How can a poor man stand such times and live (Live) - Bruce Springsteen
3. Let's work - Mich Jagger
4. Sweet child o' mine - Guns 'n' Roses
5. Dance dance dance (Live) - Neil Young*

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blizzards and Nunies

God love Environment Canada and their mazing predictive abilities. What else could predict a blizzard as it was happening. Seriously, yesterday and for most of the morning they were calling for some snow, and some high winds. We weren't forecast to get a blizzard and yet, as I stare out the window, all I can see is a wall of swirling white.

Oh, and the winds are kicking up high enough that they nearly yanked the screen door on the side of our house off and send it flying off to Greenland. We've managed to fix it. Hopefully it holds. There really is nothing quite like high winds when you live in a house pitched on top of some metal poles.

As someone posted up on Facebook, there is nothing more wasted than a blizzard on a Sunday. Tomorrow's forecast is back to sunny and cold.

By the way, for those wondering about the state of the weather up here, other than the blizzard, its gotten colder over the last week or so, but I think we're still above seasonal norms. The inner bay is frozen enough that snowmobiles have been zipping back and forth on it. However, the floe edge is still within eye sight. It nearly the end of January so I'm imagining that edge isn't going to go too much further out on the bay. One of the potentially interesting consequences of that could be more polar bear sighting. Apparently there was one near Apex this week. Polar bears sometimes hang out around the floe edge trying to grab seals. They normally give Iqaluit a wide berth, but if there are seals near town, that may change. I guess we'll see.

One other thing of note - voting for the Nunies are currently under way. If you've already voted for me, my thanks. If you haven't, you have until 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 25 to cast your vote. I'm currently sitting in third place, so apparently assistance would be lovely. Also, and while I have a fondness for all the best new blog, I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you to take a look at A Deep Fried Slice of Awesome by my good friend, Nicole. As he blog title would indicate, she is awesome, although not deep fried the last time I checked.

And now I will do what any sensible guy would do on a stormy Sunday...go watch some football and hope the snow and wind don't screw up the satellite dish. So far, so good.

Last Five
1. Friends - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
2. Well-alright - Spoon
3. I'm not the one - The Black Keys
4. Too many angels (live) - Jackson Browne
5. Where or when - Diana Krall

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review - Republic of Doyle, Season 2, ep 2

So, your weekly Doyle review from frigid Iqaluit, where the temperature is around -30C but on the bright side, there is a lovely full moon.

So this week was have an actually quite a good Doyle, a big step up from last week. In fact, it might be one of the best since the show aired. And all it took was bringing back Beloved Canadian Icon, Gordon Pinsent.

Oh, and watching Alan Doyle get smacked in the face a few times worked for me as well. Not sure why that is. Probably best not to dwell on it too much.

So this week Jake gets sent inside Her Majesty’s Penitentary undercover by the police and the hot new Crown Attorney to have a chat with a brother who knows where a priceless stolen diamond necklace is stashed. And he has to get to him fast as his other brother who was in on the heist died of a heart attack. At 30. Which is not suspicious at all.

So yes, there are strange goings on at Her Majestry’s. Complicating things is the return of Pinsent’s Maurice Becker who harbours a bit of a grudge at being in jail because of Jake, his henchmen, played by Doyle, and a corrupt prison guard who is apparently a part time ninja and is also after the necklace.

Meanwhile, outside of jail, Rose’s batshit crazy con artist mom drops in unexpectedly (as in she told Mal she was dead) and Tinny and Dez have managed to stumble into the grow-op business.

The good news is that the main story was pretty funny and had me guessing up until the end. Granted, the end made little sense, but hey, let’s not pick nits to hard here shall we. (If the first brother was out and alive for days, why did he wait to go and get the necklace until the other brother got out? And why did they both wait for the other guy in love with the doctor, who they were going to kill anyway, to get out? And how did the guys at Caul's not know the difference in weight between a coffin with a body in it, and one without?) Doyle in prison works and was amusing. The opening scene was hilarious, although to be honest, wouldn’t you have been just as happy if the entire episode was about the bachelor party? Oh, excuse me, Engagement Party.

And the bit about why Jake was arrested? Priceless. Possibly the funniest bit in the show since we were introduced to Jigg’s Dinner last season (and isn't it about time Jigg's Dinner makes a return appearance?)

So yeah, the main story was mostly fun. Doesn’t give the best impression of Her Majesty’s, what with the corrupt cops, lax security, multiple jail escapes and riots, but oh well. It's not like most people have a happy view about the place anyway.

The bit with Rose’s mom was…fine, I guess. It wasn’t exactly riveting stuff. The jokes Jake was able to get off at Mal's expense were funnier than anything that really happened with the characters directly involved with that storyline. It’s nice to get a bit more of a back story about what a rogue Rose was before she met Mal, I just wish it was more entertaining than what it was.

I really should just stop writing and Dez and Tinny, it’ll save me time and space. Look, from now on, if I don’t mention them, can you just assume I thought I thought whatever it was they were doing was awful and a complete waste of valuable screen time? If they actually do something that isn’t completely annoying and stupid, I’ll be sure to mention it.

And now, the always popular best quotes of the week:

“So bitter, so young.” - Mal

"What a lame party! You should have gotten strippers!" - Rose

“On what charge?” - Mal
“Assaulting an officer (headbutt).” – Jake. Also, kudos to the look on Sean Panting’s face when he realizes what Jake’s done.

“I can’t hear you, your voice is all nasally.” - Jake

“I’m seeing double, which is good when I’m looking at you, not so good when I’m looking at him.” - Jake

“That there’s what you call a self cleaning oven. Turn on the heat and it takes care of itself.” – Maurice Becker

“B’yes are calling you One Smack Doyle. That’s better than Dick Smack Doyle, I s’pose.” – Alan Doyle (sorry, forget his character)

So yes, more of this please, although a tighter ending would be nice. But as long as it keeps being funny and entertaining, I’ll forgive the odd massive plot hole. And apparently Jake is now also required to take off his shirt and getting smacked in the face every episode. It should make the ladies happy, at least.

Last Five
1. Real love - David Gray
2. The boy come home - Matthew Good*
3. Road to somewhere - Goldfrapp
4. Teenage pregnancy - Cake
5. Learning to fly (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blue Monday

So today is apparently the most depressing day of the year. Thankfully Sarah Hampson smacks around the whole idea pretty thoroughly, which I'm grateful for.

After all, no one wants to read that their birthday is the most depressing day of the whole year.

Suggesting that my birthday is a cause for wanting to slit your wrists is, well, a touch depressing. And pseudo-science or not, as Hampson writes, my birthday has always been low key. The formulation may be junk science, but the reality is that people aren't in a party mood in the middle of January. Which is fine. My birthday always tends to be low key. But the most depressing day of the year? Well, that's a bit harsh.

But it wasn't a bad day for me. Work was low key and unstressful, Cathy took me out to supper and baked a lovely chocolate mint cake for me. I got gifts. I must have had 50 people wish me a happy birthday on Facebook. And most of them were even nice and the ones that weren't, well, I'll get the bastards later when they're not expecting it.

But if that's the most depressing day I'll have this year, then I'll take that in a heartbeat. I'd consult my horoscope about it, but apparently I'm now a Sagittarius, so who the hell knows what they coming year will bring.

Last Five
1. Runnin' out of fools - Neko Case
2. Bandages - Hot Hot Heat*
3. Camera - Editors
4. Run - Rex Goudie
5. Vamos - Pixies

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vacation plans

It's January, so naturally we're in vacation planning mode up here. Normally we'd be much deeper into it. Funny how when it's -50C and there's four hours of daylight you start hitting travel websites like a lunatic trying to find someplace to go and get warm. However, with it so mild this winter, the plans have not been quite so frantic. Still, with Easter closing it, we need to hop to it, as it were.

So, Vacation #1 is Florida over Easter. We went there last year with Cathy's parents and her family and it was a fun week. Warmth, beach and, to be completely capitalistic, really good shopping. Since the last time I was in Florida I've been working full time. Funny how that takes a toll on your wardrobe. So I need new clothes. Also, if the new iPad 2 is released by the time we get there, we may well splurge and buy one of those.

Also, I don't think I appreciated Florida as much last year. Oh, I appreciated the crazy people. They're entertaining to watch and observe in a strictly "all the lunatics just migrate south, don't they?" sort of way. But last year I'd been unemployed for a stretch so I really didn't need the mental recharge that badly. I was kind of restless, to be honest, which drove Cathy a bit batty.

However, it'll be pushing a year at that point since I've had a vacation, if you don't count the time off for Christmas. So I suspect I'll be ready to sit on a beach with a book and some music and do some serious vegging.

As for Vacation #2, we've pretty much settled on that as well. We knew we were going out around July 11 or so because we have tickets to see U2 in Toronto. This was the show they cancelled last year when Bono had back surgery. The tickets are still good and we've always wanted to see the band. The question was what to do with the rest of the time. We could kill a few days doing our sealift, which is hardly fun. Then I found a link to this website offering bus tours around Costa Rica.

We've been wanting to go to Costa Rica for years, but we wanted to make a serious trip out of it. Go for three weeks or so. However, we just don't have the time for that, so this is almost a scouting trip for when we do have time for the big Costa Rica vacation, whenever that might be. Plus, I think we're feeling a bit lazy this year and trying to do all the planning for a big trip around the country, ehhh. Caravan comes pretty highly recommended, they look like they're going to some interesting places, the hotels look good, so why not. Maybe every few years we can go on a vacation and not do massive logistical planning and let others do it for us.

So that's how our vacations are looking so far. I might try and get home later this year for a few days, just because it's been awhile since I've seen my family. And we're debating going somewhere next Christmas, although after the rolling travel horror show that we saw this past Christmas on the news while we were comfortable in our house kind of is killing that idea. But we shall see.

But yes, vacation. It's starting to become very appealing to me.

Last Five
1. You run away - Barenaked Ladies
2. Morning moon - The Tragically Hip
3. Here today (live) - Paul McCartney
4. The truth - Pursuit of Happiness
5. Amsterdam - Crowded House

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Of flags, banned songs and law school

I swear it's easier to find two or three things to talk about than one big thing. Hence, two things that caught my eye in a moment, but first, a bit of house keeping.

You may notice a new flag at the top of the blog. I've been getting a lot of positive feedback on it, although most of it is via Facebook. But I haven't given proper credit. The image is Bull Walrus by Ningeokuluk Teevee from The Cape Dorset Collection, specifically 2008. It's a great piece and I recall wanting it at the time. Cathy couldn't see having a giant walrus on our walls. Besides we went with Kenojuak Ashevak's Grand Entrance that year, which we certainly have no complaints about.

Anyway, if anyone from the Teevee family has a problem with the image being used on the blog, let me know and I'll remove it. But I hope not. It's the best flag I've had in awhile, through no skill of my own, of course.

And now, two other things.

1. You know, when I first read that the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council banned "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits because some idiot in Newfoundland complained about the word "faggot" in the song (I apologize on behalf of my province. There are idiots there, but not normally quite this big) I had a mind to write a lengthy screed saying this was absolutely the stupides thing I had heard in awhile.

Then I remember that I rarely listen to commercial radio anymore. Only when spending the five minutes or so driving back to work and mainly because I don't want to leave my iPod in the vehicle (I'd call the Tracker a truck, but the truck nazis will find and correct me). Once I realized that, I stopped giving a shit.  Ban all you want, it's not like many people listen to radio anymore anyway.

2. This story caught my eye just because I happen to have a few friends who are lawyers. Now, they're all doing pretty well, either as lawyers or having moved on into the civil service. But there are several notions in the story about lawyers in the United States that caught my eye. That there are now so many that there is hardly any work for them (I remember reading once years ago that there more lawyers in Los Angeles than in Japan).

Or that the lengths law schools will go to deceive people about their job prospects because law schools are cash cows for universities, even the crappy ones.  Or how important one ranking system is. People's careers and universities standing literally depend on how they finish in that ranking system.

I also don't know if I find it reassuring to terrifying that you can graduate from law school and still be a tremendous idiot, like one of the people interviewed for the story. $250,000 in debt with credit agencies baying for his blood, and he couldn't give a shit. I don't know if that's zen or too stupid for words.

It does make me glad I never became a lawyer, though. Thought about it briefly around '98 when the journalism thing was starting to look grim. I had a couple of friends plead with me not to do it, saying it wouldn't be a good fit for me. They were right.

I'm also not $250,000 in debt with a law degree and no job prospects. Jesus...

Last Five
1. Lua - Connor Oberst and Gillian Welch
2. I can't make you love me - Bonnie Raitt*
3. Is there a ghost - Band of Horses
4. Horchata - Vampire Weekend
5. Acid tongue - Jenny Lewis

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review - Republic of Doyle, Season 2, ep 1

When last we saw the fine folks at The Republic of Doyle, Mal was having a heart attack, Nicky was having another break from reality and threatening to move away, Dez and Tinny were being annoying, Sgt Bennett was conflicted and Jake was heading off to the Duke to have a pint and listen to Ron Hynes after helping his brother Christian escape from the police and a possible murder charge.

So where are we now?

Well, Mal is fine, maybe. Nicky sadly reneged on her promise to leave but seems marginally less crazy, Dez and Tinny are still annoying, Sgt Bennett is conflicted and Jake gets punched in the face twice and in the balls once all before the commercial break. Oh, and the punches to the face were at the Duke, while getting a pint.

So pretty much business as normal.

Christian? Who is this Christian you speak of?

It's six month later, but really, not much as changed. Which is fine and all. Frustratingly, the show also hasn't made the kind of leap I was hoping. The first season of any show, especially one with a shortened season like the one Doyle had, makes it hard to adjust when you see problems that need to be fixed. So I kind of hoped in the second season we might see some of those things....smoothed out. Less Nicky, Tinny and Dez (although I know Dez has his own bizarre cultish following). More Walter, and more of Jake and Mal interacting with each other. They are, as I constantly harped on last season, the best part of the show.

There's a two minute segment when they're breaking into a suspect's house that is about as perfect a couple of minutes as the show has done so far. Just note perfect on their whole relationship. Give me more of that every week and I'm a happy man.

The rest of the show was hit and miss. The mystery of the week was....odd. The whole kidnapping/video thrills thing was a bit weird and didn't work, although the bit with the gun at the end was amusing. Although I'm unsurprised to see the quality of guest actors remains the same. Thank god for Gordon Pinsent next week. The loan sharks thing was amusing, but went nowhere. I'm guessing it'll show up again over the next few weeks, but it was oddly handled.

And Jake in his undies....oh well, something for the ladies to dream about tonight I guess. I look forward to equal time with Sgt. Bennett in the coming weeks.

The show's raw potential is still there. The last 30 minutes were measurably better than the last 30 minutes. That Nicky is not listed in the credits gives me hope that they're reducing her role to be more like Walter's - that of a reoccurring supporting character. And she might work like that rather than trying to wedge a "Nicky is crazy and Jake doesn't know what to do" subplot into every episode. Although more Water would be a good thing. The bit with Jake, Walter and the....woman at the bar was pretty priceless.

This is a touch rambling, but this is what we can learn from the first episode - that the producers clearly looked at the first season and decided that not much needed to be changed. Based on the success of the show, I can see their point. It's a good show, but it could be better. As always, I hope it gets there.

Although give it credit, at least the one liners are still there.
"More pills, less salt beef."
"It'll be a nice change from chicken wings stuffed with ham."
"I don't want you to die. Sue me." "You should be writing greeting cards."
"I listen. I just have a problem with the obeying part."
"What happened to go trouting and having a few beers."

And a few others I forgot to jot down.

We'll see how it goes, I guess. Although I guess it would be hoping for too much for Tinny to go to London, Dez follow her, they have their own spin-off show that I can then not watch.

Last Five
1. Cemetery Jill - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
2. Drive my car (live) - Paul McCartney
3. Whatever's left - Snow Patrol
4. Traffic - Lloyd Cole
5. End of empire - Sam Roberts

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Tuesday assortment

So, an assortment this evening.

1. Clare has fired up the start of annual Nunie Awards. You may notice on the sidebar that I am the winner of the 2009 award for Best Blog, which I do find kind of cool. You have until January 17 at 5 pm EST to nominate blogs in the Best Blog, Best Blog Post and Best New Blog categories.

I have, in the past, been shallow enough to lobby for the Best Blog category. This time I think I exhibit a bit more grace and merely point out the nominations are open and that there are many excellent Nunavut blogs out there you should consider nominating. This is a fun thing and a chance to go poke around and see and read more about this particular part of the north. Check out my sidebar or go to Clare's Nunavut Blogs page.

2. Because I know all of you are dying for more weather updates, it's been almost resembling normal here the last few days. Temperatures are back closer to seasonal norms and you can actually see the bay freezing in front of you during the day. Great steam clouds are hovering over the edge of the bay, which is kind of cool (you know what I mean). I don't know if the bay is going to freeze anything resembling normal, but I guess we'll see.

Among other weather related things, the cold snap has brought mixed blessings to people in town. The pro is the bay is freezing so people might finally get to use their snowmobiles out there in a few weeks. The con is that everything kind of flash froze after the mild spell last week. Iqaluit is skating rink. And now it's too cold for any kind of serious snow fall. Pro is that the sun is finally shining. During that mild spell sunshine was a rare beast. I have to admit, I'll take a bit of cold right now just to get some sunshine. I feel more alert.

One final thing about the recent weather. One of the benefits of this winter so far is that our heating bill is a fraction of what it was. It'll start taking a hit now, but we've spent virtually no money on heating oil and our electric bill is still reasonable. So it's the end of the world, but at least we won't be broke.

3. This is not north related and all, but I saw this story about The Great Gatsby movie maybe being shot in 3-D and had the very strong reaction of wanting to beat the crap out of Bas Luhrmann. And I'm not even that big a fan of the original novel. I remember reading it at MUN and thinking, as I often do of much classic literature, that I'm obviously missing a point here.

But it just seems like such a dumb idea. It would be like making "Pride and Prejudice" in 3-D (although "Pride, Prejudice and Zombies" does kind of cry out for 3-D). Then again, It's Luhrmann. For every interesting idea (bits and pieces of "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge") you get something like "Australia". Luhrmann should be made to walk to every home in Australia and apologize for making that piece of shit.

Anyway, even with Leonard DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, this feels like a disaster. But I guess we shall see. Still, 3-D.....what a dumb idea.

Last Five
1. Miscellany (live) - The Chieftains*
2. Giant (live) - Stan Rogers
3. Fat lip - Sum 41
4. Fallen angel - Robbie Robertson*
5. Through the dark - KT Tunstall

Monday, January 10, 2011

Just another weird day in Newfoundland politics

Even by the usually high standards of deep weirdness that Newfoundland politics often produces today was a special one. First we had Joe Hickey, who spent a good part of the weekend making noise that he was seriously considering running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives. He was going to make the big announcement Monday morning. Lo and behold, Monday morning comes and he's....not running.

Now, you don't need to be of the tinfoil hat, JFK was actually murdered by aliens escaped from Area 51 brigade to come to the conclusion that someone had a chat with Mr. Hickey. Perhaps there was a horse head left in his bed Monday morning before heading out to CBC Radio, perhaps not. Regardless, there was a moment of clarity for Mr. Hickey and he opted not to run.

Except now Brad Cabana has decided to run. He's got the money, he's got the signatures and by God he's in it to win. For those of you outside of the province and may not be familiar with Mr. Cabana, no worries, you're in good company as no one in the province really knows who he is. He only came to my attention a few weeks ago when he linked to my blog.

(Incidentally, Mr. Cabana linking to my blog has produced a lovely traffic spike for me today, as I assume people rushed to his site to figure out who he was. And then followed some of the links. I also assuming having a post with the words "t-shirt" and "Doyle" might have drawn people here thinking I had some Doyle t-shirts. I do not, alas. Sorry if you came here looking for them.)

The latest part of the story is that the PC's might not allow his candidacy as not all of the signatures are valid or some such thing. Cabana is apparently ready to sue to be allowed in. I'm not saying this up there in stupid like, oh, I don't know, saying those weren't gunsights over Congresswoman Giffords district, they were surveyor symbol as Rebecca Mansour, an aide to Sarah Palin, said this weekend. But actively working to try and disqualify someone from running in an election because it's inconvenient isn't all that bright.

That sound, by the way, is Ed Hollett laughing his ass off over all of this.

Look, unless the right hand of God (i.e. Danny Williams) puts it on Mr. Cabana's shoulder and says "this is your guy to lead you" Mr. Cabana has virtually no chance of winning the PC leadership. But if this is legit, then he has the right to try, no matter how inconvenient it might be for the PCs in caucus and Premier Dunderdale.

A guy I know on Facebook said the Tories should view it as an opportunity, a nice big publicity push right before an election. And maybe it is. Or maybe it's a distraction. I guess it depends on which way you swing. But here's my question: What does Premier Dunderdale stand for?

I know she stands for, you know, not screwing up an almost certain election victory in October that Williams has handed to her. But seriously, what's her philosophy? What's her vision for Newfoundland and Labrador? Standing in Williams' shadow for so long it's not like she had to articulate a vison of the province. It was probably actively discouraged. Seriously, I want to know what she stands for and her vision.

And Ed? You're disqualified from this.

If someone can tell me, or point it out to me, and it's a clear vision, awesome. If not, then perhaps she should view this as an opportunity rather than an annoyance who needs to be crushed. Just a thought.

Last Five
1. My beat - Bruce Cockburn
2. If not for you - Bob Dylan
3. She loves you - Gaslight Anthem
4. Love escalator - Bob Mould
5. I hope I don't fall in love with you - Tom Waits*

Sunday, January 09, 2011

T-shirts and Doyle

So we're in the middle of a bit of early spring cleaning around in going through what clothing fits or is worn out and in need of replacing. Granted, most of it won't be replaced until we get to Florida in a few months time. We are not too shallow to brave the hordes and hit an outlet mall near St. Pete's.

However, I have discovered something disturbing. My t-shirt collection currently sucks.

I've always prided myself on having a decent t-shirt collection. You know, something with a bit of humour or a bit of history to it. I have a beloved Guinness shirt that has been around since the early 90s. Alas, it recently got some paint on the sleeve, so we'll have to see. It might be in need of replacing. It's not like I drink Guinness, but I still like the shirt.

But the rest of my fun shirts have worn out. Or they weren't as fun as I thought they were going to be because the sizing was wrong or the material was crap. Regardless, I am in need of new t-shirts.

Now, there's no shortage of t-shirt websites out there, but I figured since I have a readership out there, I'd check and see what sites people like. And it's not enough to have fun designs or be cheap. I'm done with cheap t-shirts. So, for example, if the site is using American Apparel then forget about it. Ever since Living Planet switched over to them I won't buy from them anymore. I've been burned by one too many fun t-shirts with cheap material from them.

So yeah, if readers have a site they would recommend for fun, good quality shirts, pass it along. I'm in dire need of an upgrade.

Oh, one other things, more of a housekeeping note, Republic of Doyle's new season begins this Wednesday. As I seemed to be the only person reviewing individual episodes online (well, The Scope had a snarky Twitter feed) I think I'll keep doing it again this year. Of course, the massive traffic boost the blog gets whenever I do one of these reviews has nothing to do with it at all.

So stay tuned Wednesday evening for the return of the Doyle Reviews.

Last Five
1. This river is wild - The Killers
2. Intimate secretary - The Raconteurs
3. Carrying Cathy - Ben Folds
4. I tried to leave you (live) - Leonard Cohen*
5. That's entertainment - The Jam

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Wonder Woman (yes, really)

So, to properly trace the origins of this blog post this evening, Sheena Goodyear popped up on Twitter earlier today and linked to this which is about Mad men actress Christina Hedricks desire to play Wonder Woman in a movie.

Now, I'd post a photo of Hedricks here on the blog for discussion about whether or not she would be a good match, but I doubt Cathy would appreciate me sticking pictures of well-endowed redheads on the blog.

Now, as much as I might like to watch Hedricks tempt the laws of physics for a couple of hours in Wonder Woman's bustier, I don't think she'd be a good match for the role. And it's not the red hair either. She's just not...right.

(Bear with me, folks. This is a geeky comic book post. They leak out sometimes.)

I'm not a diehard Wonder Woman fan simply because she's been so badly written over the years. And the fact that DC Comics does not have an all ages Wonder Woman comic out every month is surely one of the most idiotic publishing decisions of the past couple of decades. But I do have a fondness for the character. I have a lovely sketch of her done by Colleen Coover hanging on my wall that I'm looking at right now.

Hendricks simply doesn't match how the character looks from my favourite two runs of the series. The first came from the 1980s and was written and drawn by George Perez. Perez is a legend in the industry; a very good writer and probably one of the 10 best modern comic book artists around. He did both writing and drawing duties on the first 24 issues when the series was relaunched in the mid-80s. And it was wonderful stuff. Diana was drawn and written as a young woman, probably around 19, first arriving in "Man's World" and learning about a new world. Oh, and she saves the world, beats up gods and that sort of thing.

She's smart, brave, curious and not drawn all tits and hips because Perez knows how to draw.

So that's how I've seen Wonder Woman in the movie. Young, probably around 20 or so. Hendricks is in her 30s, I believe.

My next favourite run of the series was about 20 years later (as I said, a lot of bad stuff over the years). This Diana is older. She writes books and encourages young women to start clubs dedicated to her ideals about peace. She's set up embassies to represent Themyscira to the rest of the world. She addresses the United Nations. She has a mission, and it's not about beating up super villains.

As much as I like that, and you could use that in future movies, the thing I liked the best in that run is that Rucka insisted that she be drawn like a Greek woman. So she's not caucasion with blue eyes. She has a darker complexion and is drawn in a more, I loathe the term ethnic, but drawn differently than before.

Wonder Woman should look exotic. Which is a problem given how very...homogenized Hollywood looks. So basically you need an exotic young woman with some curves (Wonder Woman isn't a stick) who can act. For years the perfect person for it was Morena Baccarin (Yes, I know she's Brazilian), but she's 30 now, which is hardly old, but not the right age for the character as I see her.

Oh yeah, and a good script that's open enough so that new viewers can get into things without a ton of back story, but is still respectful to the character. The first Iron Man movie is the gold standard for introducing a character without it feeling like an origin story.

So yeah, it's never going to happen. They can barely get the comic right most months, let alone a movie. But dare to dream.

Anyway, a comic book post for you all. At least it's not curling, though.

Btw, I recommend the following graphic novels if you can find them. Some might be out of print. Perez - Gods and Mortals, Challenge of the Gods, Beauty and the Beasts, Destiny Calling.
Rucka - Down to Earth, Bitter Rivals, Land of the Dead, Mission's End, The Hiketeia.

Last Five
1. Honky tonk woman - The Rolling Stones
2. Bryn - Vampire Weekend
3. Basement scene - Deerhunter
4. Unforgiven - Metallica
5. Mysterious ways - U2*

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Icy conditions

The temperature is getting ready to start slowing crawling back down again, although it was above zero again today. The city essentially shut down for the morning as crews tried to clear off the amount of ice on the roads. That meant schools, and both the territorial and federal government offices closed.

Iqaluit, where everything stays open when it's -55C, but closes when it's +2C. We had the windows in our house open today because it was so stuffy inside.

As well, we haven't closed because of a blizzard yet this year. We've closed for icy roads. We've closed from smoke from a dump fire. But not for a blizzard. I'm trying to remember the last serious blizzard we've had in town. Obviously nothing in 2010/11 winter so far. And there wasn't one during the winter of 2009/10.

Funny thing about this part of the north, we don't get that many blizzards or big storms. Places down south tend to get a lot more blizzards than us. Having said that, watch as we get 10 in the next month. If things remain this mild you've got to figure we'll get nailed at some point.

Nothing much else to report this evening. I was going to comment about the World Junior Hockey final, but Cathy advises me that it would be cruel and bastard-like. I just don't like hockey very much. And, for that matter, I don't like how Canadians behave during big hockey games. It's like everyone's IQ takes a collective 40 point hit or something.

I'm not saying I'm glad Canada lost; I am saying I'm glad the World Juniors is over with. Oh, and I can curse TSN just a little bit for blowing what should be a fairly minor hockey tournament completely out of proportion to reality. Jesus, you'd think it was the Olympics or something.

Huh, it seems I did talk about a bit after all. But at least I wasn't a smug bastard about it or anything.

Last Five
1. Nobody does it better - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies*
2. World sick - Broken Social Scene
3. I see monsters - Ryan Adams
4. All in good time - Ron Sexsmith
5. What's wrong with this picture - Lloyd Cole

Monday, January 03, 2011

A delay in lists

For those wondering how the apocolypse is faring, it still remains pretty mild. It's 1C right now. The pouring rain has stopped (seriously pouring. It was disrupting satellite signals earlier which was probably driving people nuts trying to watch the Canada vs. US game. However, as I don't like hockey, I'm pretty zen) and now a pea soup fog familiar to anyone who has ever lived in downtown St. John's has settled in on Iqaluit. The end of the world is damp. And mucky. Should the world not end in the next few days, then it's going to be icy as hell up here.

And yes, you may have noticed I have posted for the first three days of 2011. It's a miracle! I wouldn't get used to this trend continuing, however.

One thing I normally do at the end of the year or the beginning of the new year is to do some of my Top 10 lists. I noticed Clare popped up his Top 10 records of the year. In my defence, I have good reasons for the lack of Top 10 lists.

First, I don't watch 10 tv shows. I watched eight series in the past year - Chuck, House, Castle, Republic of Doyle, Bones, Fringe, Amazing Race and The Closer. If I had to pick a favourite it would be Fringe. And if I had to pick a favourite episode it would have been "White Tulip" from Fringe, perhaps the single greatest time travel episode I've ever seen. And I include "Yesterday's Enterprise" and the Trek episode where they blew up the Enterprise about a dozen times (It's "Cause and Effect" and it was four times, before someone corrects me.)

As for movies, I haven't seen all the 2010 movies yet. While I'm reasonably sure Tron: Legacy isn't going to make the final cut, I am curious about Black Swan, The King's Speech and True Grit. So I don't feel like making a decision on that list yet either.

As for music, well, I've hit a hitch there. I've been going through so many end of the year lists I've been gathering a ton of new music to listen to. So I'm trying to go through about 20 new records I've downloaded in the past couple of weeks. I'll produce a list....eventually.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my friend Jaap posted his Top 10 records of the year today, and I have to download a bunch of them. Jaap normally has pretty good taste in music. Except for Kayne. I've got nothing there...

Last Five
1. Strawberry fields forever - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
2. In the morning - Norah Jones
3. England - The National*
4. Stella was a diver - Interpol
5. I'm only sleeping - The Beatles

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2011 is continuing with the weird

Towards the end of the year I saw a list of the Top 10 Weather Stories. Pretty much everyone picked it up, but in case you didn't, here's a link to one of the stories. Nunavut is kind of sort of mentioned there at #8 - "Winter 2010 was for most of Canada at least 2 C above normal, with some areas of the Arctic and northern Quebec more than 6 C above normal. A snow drought prevailed from British Columbia to Quebec."

Which is amusing. It hasn't been six degrees above normal for most of normal in Iqaluit throughout November and December. If it was only six degrees above normal then that was a pretty good day. Most days it was 10 to 15 degrees above normal. Let's take today, for example. The seasonal high for January 2 is -21C with the low around -30C. Today it got up to around 0C. As I write this it's -1C. Tomorrow it's supposed to go up to +2C and that's going to last for a few days.

We've had times where we would get a couple of days of super mild temperatures and then it would bomb back down to where it should be in the -30C range. But we've barely had any days colder than -20C. I'd wonder how this isn't a bigger story down south, but really, that would require people down south paying attention.

The bay in Iqaluit still isn't frozen, which means it's running on close to two months behind schedule. There are stories like this about it being brighter in the high arctic because all the warmer thermal layers are messing with the light.

I don't know what's going on. Most people up here don't know what's going on. It is beyond weird. And slipping this into #8 and saying "oh yes, it's a little warmer in the arctic and it's probably el nino or something" is not quite doing it justice.

Who knew the end of the world would be....mild.

Last Five
1. 5:15 a.m. - Mark Knopfler
2. The fix is in - OK Go
3. Gravity - Allison Krauss and Union Station*
4. Hammering in my head - garbage
5. Jealous of your cigarette - Hawksley Workman*

Saturday, January 01, 2011

For the new year

So that's it for 2010. Judging by the amount of venting I saw on Facebook among my friends, more than one of them was glad to see the arse end of the year go out the door. For me, 2010 was an odd year, but certainly nothing as deeply weird as 2009. That year saw me essentially get laid off (downer), go to Australia (upper), have unemployment continue longer than I thought (downer), buy a house (upper now, pretty stressful at the time) and take part in a national curling championship (upper).

This year started off hopeful with the promise of a new job, went dramatically downhill when that new job turned out to be a very poor match for me, that job ending and then another one beginning. But after that rocky start things settled in nicely. The new job is one that fits really quite well. After reluctance in buying the house I am now glad that we did. Having our own home without having to worry about being too noisy for the neighbours, or cigarette smoking sneaking in through a ventilation system.

There was no epic vacation like Australia or Italy, but we did go to Florida.

So what's the grand plan for 2011? I think I'm going to stick to vague rather than specifics. Those resolutions trip you up and end up making you feel bad about yourself with they almost inevitably fail. So my resolution? Do better than you did in 2010.

And I shall do my best.

As for the rest of you, I shall borrow from a much better writer than myself, and quote Neil Gaiman's New Year's benediction.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Cheers to 2011, my friends. Wherever in the world you may be...

Last Five
1. All I want is you - U2*
2. Pride (In the name of love) - U2
3. Shame on you - Hot Hot Heat
4. The frown song - Ben Folds
5. Somewhere else - Kathleen Edwards