Sunday, April 30, 2006


So that's that...we've now begun the process of ordering a Coton de Tulear. I did a one hour phone interview with the breeder this evening, which was a bit surreal. She's a very nice lady, quite informative and obviously cares more about the dogs than she does making a buck. Which is a great thing. I've just never gone through the experience of being interview to make sure I was good enough to own a dog.

Anyway, the contracts are signed and will be sent tomorrow. I just sent the deposit.

The puppy should be born around May 20. We'll be getting him around August 15. As soon as I get some pictures, I'll put them up on the blog.

We have decreed that, yes, Colette gets official Godbitch status and, should anything ever happen to us, is responsible for the spirtual upraising of our dog. Also thanks to Joe Gormn, who left a note on the blog saying he has a Coton and that I should give him a call. Further proving it's a small world, Joe lives about a 10 minute walk away from where I grew up in St. John's. My dad delivers his mail.

And now, at the risk of opening the Gates of Hell, begins the naming contest. Granted, any name you suggest might go right out the window once we meet him. Dogs sometimes just name themselves. But feel free to throw out names anyway. What we have right now is Dumbledore, Fezzik (yes, we appreciate the irony of naming this dog after Andre the Giant's character in The Princess Bride) and qigi (sp?), which I believe is the Inuktitut word for "come here."

That last one, just for the record, was Cathy's idea. The first two were mine

We're also looking at different words for snow in Inuktitut. However, since I have some reservations about The Living Dictionary, I think we will consult with various Inuit coworkers to make sure we have the right word. That last think we want is the think we have named the dog after a gentle snowfall and it turns out the word is actually an obscenity or something. Besides, there are so many dilects up here, naming a dog in Inuktitut has its risks.

By the way, while Living Dictionary comes back with almost 300 words when you type in "snow", the word that just seems to mean "snow" and not "soft snow" or "snow rod" or whatever, is "Aput". Which, I have to admit, doesn't grab me as great name.

And, as I've just discovered, that when you type in "come here" into Living Dictionary, you get "Uvunngapuq". So yeah, meaybe not an Inuktitut name.

Anyway, we shall see. I find myself looking forward to getting the dog, if for no other reason than Cathy has something else to pick on.

Currently Playing
Show Your Bone - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Young music

I forgot to mention that Neil Young's new record was released online Friday. Just go to his webpage and the record, "Living With War" immediately begins playing. The process and history behind the whole recording is interesting. It was done in a matter of days and recorded in his house. That it was done when someone suggested that they needed another Neil Young protest song in the vein of "Ohio" right now, more than ever.

I've only listened to the record a couple of times, but I'll likely be buying it when it becomes commercially available in a few weeks. God bless the Internet in that you can cut an album and have it out to the public in a matter of weeks.

I am a Young fan, but not a rabid one. One of the first things you realize is that he's very hit and miss. And while Young received a lot of praise for last year's "Prairie Wind" it didn't grab me. Perhaps a little too quiet and introspective. This record, however, has nice crunchy guitars with a 100 person choir. It's an odd working ensemble, but I like it. There's a nice raw, urgent feeling to all the songs. So much of music you hear on radio and whatnot is so polished. It's good to hear something that's passionate and not processed to within an inch of its life.

Of course, it's songs like "Let's Impeach the President" that's getting a lot of attention. And hell, it's a catchy little song, if I do say so myself. I'll be surprised if you ever hear it on radio, the days of commercial radio playing something politically charged are pretty much done and gone in this age of Clear Channel. There's a lot of good music on the record, such as "Looking for a leader" and "Shock and Awe."

Just as interesting as the recording is going to be the reaction to it. Guess what, Fox News doesn't like it. Others are accusing Young of hypocrisy since in the days after September 11 he was one of the first musicians to produce a song in favour of fighting terrorism with "Let's Roll". That he is, in the words of "Let's Impeach the President", doing a flip, flop.

And hell, even if we use the Newfoundland blog arguments of recent weeks, and that is that most celebrities are being taken advantage of by lobby groups (in this case, the anti-war movement and the Democrats) and frequently don't understand the complexities of the issues at hand. And really, you're not going to find too many subjects more complex than the Middle East. Just for the record, I'm not completely buying that argument with Young.

If Young were writing about the seal hunt with the same kinds of songs (and really, I'm astonished there hasn't been more anti-hunt songs at this point) then we would lynch him. On the other hand, some celebrities do good work. I know there is a segment out there who hates Bono and consider him a pompous git, but I've always admired the way he goes after politicians to get them to do what he wants. And that he's knowledgeable on the subjects he talks about.

Hmmm, this is a little more convoluted than I thought, considering it was just going to be a "hey, check out Neil Young's new record." I do that sometimes. It's either a strength of a weakness - I've never been sure which - that I all to frequently understand both sides of an argument so well that I find it difficult to pick which one I think is best. Sometimes there isn't a best side. To this day, I'm still a bit torn on the Iraq War. How it was handled was terrible, but Saddam was certainly as loathsome a human being who ever inhabited the planet.

sigh... I drive myself nuts with this stuff sometimes.

If you become an anti-war person simply because Neil Young recorded something that criticizing the President of the United States, well, I have my concerns. But if you listened to it and it snapped you out of your apathy and get you more involved in what's happening, well, that would be a good thing.

Currently Playing
What do you think?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Belated Photo Friday

I was just on my way to bed, resigned to the fact that I couldn't think of a thing to blog on today, when I realized that I normally do something on photos. Of course, it's now 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, so it's a bit late. But better late than never, I guess...

And now, for something cutesy...

This was taken during an Easter event at the Newfoundland Science Centre. They were inviting children down to take a look at new chicks hatching. It was a darkly amusing event as the eggs were being donated by Newfoundland Farm Products. In fact, the kids were given little Newfoundland Farm Products stickers to put on their coats when they were leaving. Many of the kids ooohed and ahhhed over the cute little chicks not realizing they would be encountering them again in a few months time, just in a slightly less recognizable form, when visiting at KFC with mom.

This is just a nice confluence of events in getting this shot. A cute kid looking at the baby chick. The baby chick looking towards the camera. Even the lighting (from the heat lamp to keep the chicks warm) works. If I had more time (or could bother this evening) I would probably tighten the crop and maybe sharpen it a bit. Alas, I can't remember the boys name.

I believe the photo originally ran in black and white. Simply, colour is expensive to use in newspapers. Also, many printing presses (at least in St. John's) only have so many machines that can do colour. So you have to measure out if you want to do colour. Odds are if you see a full colour photo in a paper, there is a full colour ad on that page. It's very unusual to splurge running a colour photo on a page without a full colour ad.

Photo taken with a Sony DSC-F717. Copyright The Express and Craig Welsh.

Currently Playing
Live It Out - Metric

Thursday, April 27, 2006


1. It appears we are taking baby steps towards getting one of the Cotons. We requested, and just received, a sample contract and information form from the breeder. Wow, this is tangly business, trying to get a puppy. Then again, I guess I should be glad that they are taking it seriously.

By the way, thanks to everyone for their advice and recommendations. They are appreciated. I am a little concerned about Colette's feverent desire to become a "Godbitch" for the dog. We'll certainly keep it in mind on the off-chance that we decide to baptize the dog into the Catholic church.

2. After hearing about The Express relaunching this week, I was curious to see what the new version would looking like. I've only had a chance to skim the pdf of the paper (however I will say putting a pdf of the paper online is a good idea and makes sense). Plus, I want to take a look at a few more papers to see what develops before commenting on it.

3. My friend Corey has graduated from Law School. I believe this makes him the last of my friends to graduate university, although I stand to be corrected by that. Corey has, at last count, 15 degrees (I exaggerate only slightly). I believe he actually has more degrees than the rest of my friends combined. Quite impressive really.

Hopefully he can use them to ward off SATANS. I'd almost forgotten about that little catch phrase I dreamed up during my late 20s when trying to avoid Student Aid people. SATANS stands for Student Aid Torture And Nuisance Squad. And really, those of us who have had to deal with them in the past know they are evil. Mercifully, I only dealt with them for about five years and managed to pay off the $10,000 loan fairly quickly.

Some of my other friends, not so lucky. I remember sitting at the Ship a couple of years ago with a bunch of people and we were trying to figure out who had the biggest student loan debt and combined debt. One of them won with about $250,000 (granted, there was a house in there), but a nice chunk were the student loans of himself and his wife. As the winner, he had to buy the next round.

"Why do I have to buy the next round?"

"Because when you're that far in debt, really, what's another $40..."

He sadly agreed and bought the next round.

Anyway, enjoy your shiny new law degree Corey and may you be in heaven a half hour before Student Aid knows your dead. Oh hey, they're looking for lawyers here in Iqaluit...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

An assortment of links

1. It's a coincidence, I'm sure, but I find it interesting that two magazines - Maclean's and Rolling Stone - have done articles wondering just how bad George W. Bush is as a president in a historical context.

I've been wondering it a bit myself recently. Like most Canadians I don't like Bush and think he's been a terrible president for the United State. (As a side note, in case you were wondering exactly how much longer you have to put up with Bush, Peter David's Freedom Clock just counted down to less than 1,000 days. Whoopee). However, I guess my history degree makes me a little aware of how people will view someone once they're out of office for a few decades. With the Conservatives back in power, the rehabilitation of Brian Mulroney's character is beginning. Good luck with that. Yes, the GST, Free Trade and other things might have panned out. I still hate the smug bastard.

But I don't know about Bush. Domestically he's been a disaster, with deficits that should terrify all of us. Maybe his policy in the Middle East will pan out. However, the number of people who agree that it will are pretty rare.

Still, they're fairly intelligent articles and will at least have you nodding your head in agreement a lot if you hate Bush.

2. From what I've read of John Dvorak's columns regarding Apple, I thought he was talking out of his ass most times. But this column regarding Microsoft Explorer was interesting. First of all, an appalling number of you visit my blog using Explorer. If you can't use a Mac, at the very least switch to Firefox.

But Dvorak's argument is that Explorer has been a disaster. It has made no money for Microsoft and has, in fact, cost them millions. Not to mention all the time Microsoft has to spend fixing it rather than developing Vista or other OS. His solution? Microsoft should drop Explorer, give some money to develop Firefox and wash their hands of web browsers. Interesting idea. Won't happen, but interesting.

3, Wired magazine asks the question of when are Marvel and DC comics going to make their back catalog available either online or through DVDs. I actually haven't downloaded issues via bittorrent, although I've certainly seen the files. Part of it is the size of the files and the download limit per month I have up here and part of it is the small screen on my iBook.

But would I buy issues in a format ala iTunes? If they were at a reasonable price (no more than 99 cents), maybe. Would I buy a collection of "The Complete Batman" on DVD for a couple of hundred dollars? Quite probably. But I still like having the issues in my hands and I like looking at them on my bookshelf. But my days of buying issues because I think the issue is going to go up in value (called "being a Merc") are pretty much behind me. I just want to read the stories and admire the art.

By the way, the first paragraph in that story? That was totally me.

Currently Playing
A-Sides Win - Sloan

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dog quest continues

So the dog quest was continuing merrily along with it looking like the Chow was going to be the winner (The Water Dog, while lovely, requires too much attention and space). However, Colette entered the contest with her suggestion, which is a Coton de Tulear. Yes, it has a French name which immediately made me suspicious. It sounded like a very fruffy dog.

However, the description of the dog is quite appealing.

"Temperament is one of the main characteristics of the breed. They are happy, stable and sociable with humans as well as other dogs. It has been said that they are Labrador Retrievers in a small package."

They've also been described as "miniature sheepdogs" which, if you take a look at the picture, is pretty easy to see.

Yeah, it's a little smaller and cuter than I might have gone for. But I would have been perfectly happy with a retriever of some sort. But I just don't think that's a realistic breed to have here given the size of our accommodations, the weather and our lifestyles. I have met far too many well meaning dog owners that have terribly misbehaving or miserable dogs. Dad meets them all the time when he's delivering mail.

Get the dog you can handle and fits in with your lifestyle. Otherwise you and the dog are going to be pretty miserable. The Coton looks like it would be a good match for our lifestyle.

This is by no means a certainty yet. There is a breeder in Ottawa, which is encouraging. We're going to contact them to see if there is going to be a litter ready for around the middle of August. We also have to see about the price. They can be expensive, however since we have little interest in the papers and would likely be willing to have the dog fixed right away, hopefully that will curb some of the price.

We shall see. Cathy might end up popping into the SPCA when in Ottawa and getting a mutt, which will probably do just fine.

Here's hoping if we do get this kind of dog, the ravens don't carry him away some evening. They weight about 12 pounds. A bit heavy for one raven to make off with. Maybe two working together though...

Currently Playing
Collection - Tracy Chapman

Monday, April 24, 2006


I really am trying to get a good hate on for Tom Cruise. But it's hard when everyone else has already been there, done that. Half the time it's hard to mock him because you look at him, and whatever his latest stunt is, and just go "Jesus, that's retarded. I can't mock it because he's already achieved some higher form of Mocking Nirvana."

Naming the girl Suri Cruise. Weird name, sure. Say it fast. It sounds like Syracruse. She's a town in central New York. Brilliant.

I can't even make any Scientology jokes because most of them have already been made. And really, how can you beat most of the stuff Defamer has been coming up with. Including this choice juicy bit:

We're sure that Cruise's previous adoptions were both special in their own right, but inevitably lacked the emotional impact of the arrival of his first biological child. He'll never forget the moment when newborn Suri was placed in his arms by a birthing technician who gently asked, "Is this one OK? Because we've got an entire warehouse full of them, and I can have someone run another one up here within five minutes," to which the proud father quickly replied, "No, this one is perfect. Make sure the mother is properly disposed of."

Classic. Brilliant.

Fortunately, there is always something available to get my blood up, such as this story about Cruise showing up "unexpectedly" at a Rome media junket for Mission Impossible 3. This was the quote that set me off.

"My mission impossible was to be here today," the 43-year-old actor told reporters. "I didn't want to come. My daughter was just born and I didn't want to leave her and her mother."

Blow me. Right now, get on your knees and do it. Jesus H. Christ are you fucking kidding me? Is there anyone who believes this shit anymore? Is there anyone who doesn't believe that Katie Holmes was artificially inseminated to perfectly coincide with the opening of this movie? Is there anyone who doesn't believe that Cruise is so firmly heading down the same loony path that Michael Jackson did?

You didn't want to go, Tom? You're one of the richest, most powerful players in Hollywood. People might think you're a freak show, but they'll play along with it because, for right now, you make money. If you don't want to go because you're savoring time with your new born, swell. But to go "I really want to be with my child, but even though I'm fabulously rich and powerful, I'm going to come here and shill for my movie" makes me want to whack his head off something solid. Repeatedly. For many, many hours. Take a look at the animation of the side to get an idea. Except imagine the character is Cruise and my hand is behind his head.


I officially can't do it now. I was hemming and hawing about seeing MI:3. Because it might be a good action film. And I wanted to see what J.J. Abrams was going to do as the director. But I just can't give, no matter how small, that man any money. He was the worst thing about War of the Worlds and ruined the movie for me. Well, Spielberg did, if I'm honest. If only he had Cruise die by being eaten by one of the aliens.

That would have been okay. I probably would have paid to see it a second time and bought the DVD.


Sunday, April 23, 2006


Yesterday there was another craft fair in Iqaluit. Despite the abundance of talented artists in the city, there are remarkably few of these types of fairs. I honestly thought you would see them about once a month, but this is the first one we've been to since the Christmas Craft Fair. We were rather disappointed with that one, as most of the stuff for sale appeared to be the kind of thing you'd find at the Avalon Mall Flea Market. We had been hoping for something more along the lines of carvings, sealskin mittens, artwork and that kind of thing.

So we had our hopes a bit low for this one. Turns out we were wrong. And most people in town seem to know this was going to be the real deal. The crowds were huge. Seriously. I figure there are about 8,000 people in Iqaluit these days. I wouldn't be surprised if about half of them were at the fair yesterday.

Alas, Cathy came away empty handed. She had been looking for a pair of seal skin mittens, but they were all too large or made of the wrong kind of fur.

(A quick aside. A pair of friends were in town last week and bought, among other things, a pair of beaver skin mittens while we were at supper. The mittens were very...furry, which prompted the line, inadvertant or otherwise, "This beaver is really bushy. We're going to have to shave it when we get home." The only reason I didn't curl in to a little ball and piss myself laughing was that we were in a public place.)

Cathy was also looking for kamiks, which look like this (normally without the tassles, though.) Alas, she couldn't find any of those that she liked either.

I, on the other hand, managed to find a really nice seal skin vest. And I hemmed and hawed over whether or not I needed one, Cathy talked me into it. I shan't say how much it cost, just that it was more than a toy lightsabre. Still, I like it. It's good quality and I don't think I look too bad in it, if I do say so myself.

In case you're wondering, it's made from ring seal, which is what most Inuit hunt around here for either meat or skin. I might try and get a jacket at some point. I've seen some really amazing ones up here, but they're not cheap. Might be a gift for another day.

Currently Playing
Secret World Live - Peter Gabriel

Saturday, April 22, 2006

New frontiers

So there is a story online about a new Star Trek movie in pre-production. J.J. Abrams, he of Alias, Lost and the forthcoming MI:3 is writing and directing. Supposedly. (Defamer has their own twisted, and hilarious, look at the story.)

It's not that I doubt the story. I'm sure he's been signed. I'm sure he's begun writing something and has ideas of what he wants to do. You just have to understand, at this point nothing is locked up. Until they have cast and started filming, I fully expect things to change or fall apart. The forthcoming Superman Returns went through about five directors before it got going.

And the reason I think this is likely to fall apart or change, much like Superman, is that the idea is kind of lame (Superman went through some truly horrific scripts over the years. Hunt them down if you don't believe me). And I don't think it's getting a big fan response.

The idea is basically Starfleet Academy with Kirk and Spock meeting each other and going on their first mission. And many think it's a lame thing to base a movie on. I agree.

This was one of my problems with Enterprise. It felt too much like canabalization. As if Star Trek had run out of new ideas and had nothing left but to go back, not forward, and fill in the gaps. And I honestly do not know who Enterprise was supposed to make happy. Hardcore fans were going to snipe at the continunity; new fans were going to quickly get lost and frustrated by the show and its references to stuff that they didn't know.

It's the same way I feel about this new movie. Who does this appeal to? Remember, it's been 40 years since the original Star Trek debuted. There hasn't been an original cast movie in, what, 15 years or so. The Trek most people love these days is Next Generation. And, by the way, this isn't an argument over which Trek is better or if you still watch the original. Odds are if you're willing to have that argument then odds are you're a geek or a Trekie.

I use Cathy as my basis for the average person. She likes Trek, She'll watch it and be entertained by it. But she has no tolerance for convoluted history and Picard is her captain. And that's who the producer need to appeal to. Is a continuity filling movie featuring a young Kirk and Spock going to do it for them? Nope.

I still believe in letting the franchise rest for a few years. But if you have to do a movie, pick whatever members of the recent shows willing to come back (pay Stewart a lot of money) and do something on a grand scale. An All-Star Trek. Do the Borg again if you must.

As for the new show, here are my two ideas. Which, as you might appreciate in these days of the Internet, are a dime a dozen.
1. Do something on Peter David's New Frontier novels. Which is basically a sector of space ruled by a secretive empire falls into turmoil when the ruling government collapses. Starfleet sends in a sole starship to provide aid and explore that sector of space. It's captained by a cowboy he tends to flaunt the rules, but gets away with it more often than not. Plus, the crew is eccentric with assorted secretive histories.

It's a lot of fun. David is good at this sort of thing and can write excellent characters with a solid mix of humour and drama. It would work. There are tons of stories there. They won't do it, but it would be fun.

2. Jump ahead 50 years. They did it with TNG and it worked. Do it again. You leave behind some of the continuinty baggage of the current Trek and can start again. Maybe the Federation has collapsed after years of struggling against the Borg and other adversaries and now it's up to a few planets, and starships, to rebuild the Federation.

But above all, regardless of the idea, get some new blood and talent in the pool. Ever since DS9 ended, Trek has been guilty of recycling the same ideas. Maybe Abram's can pull off this new movie. If nothing else, I'll have to do and see MI:3 now, which I hadn't planned on (I'm in a serious hate Tom Cruise space right now), just to see how he can do on the big screen.

There's still life in the franchise. But they've got to step up. They've got to step forward. And I don't think this is it. It feels more like trying to squeeze the last drops out of something before it's discarded.

Currently Playing
Greatest Hits: 1990-2000 - U2

Friday, April 21, 2006

Photo Friday

This actually isn't an Express photo. Instead, it's a picture of my friend Andrew. And why is there a photo of Andrew running on my blog? Because the crazy guy went and ran The Boston Marathon last Monday. And for a guy who only picked up running a few years ago, he did pretty good. He finished 5,358 out of 22,000 with a time of 3:27:14.

Which, needless to say, is a damn site faster than I could complete the race.

Anyway, the story behind the photo below.

This was taken January 1, 2004. Yeah, the date is right. While at our traditional New Year's party at our good friend Anne's, Andrew says he can't do any hardcore drinking and has to pass on the traditional haggis because he was running in the morning. Those at the party sober enough to process what he was saying (pretty much just myself, Andrew and Anne) roundly mocked him. There is generally enough pain in the morning of New Year's Day without inflicting more upon yourself.

But Andrew is an engineer whose brain is apparently wired differently than the rest of us. Even his wife had her doubts about his sanity.

Then again, maybe there is something wrong with myself and Cathy. Because on an ugly, sleeting morning when cozying up in bed would have been the far more sensible option, we went and waited with Karin (Andrew's wife) at the finish line to cheer on the fool.

It was a 5K race. I think he finished 8th, which wasn't last place. That means there were a couple of dozen maniacs out running in that foul slush New Year's morning when they should have been home sleeping off the previous night.

There is nothing spectacular about this shot, I'll admit that. But there are elements I like. It's cropped quite a bit to eliminate cars and other assorted clutter. But I like that Cathy and Karin are the two people in the background cheering him on. I like that his feet aren't touching the ground as he crossed the finish line. And I like the look on his face.

Oh, and congrats on finishing the marathon, Andrew...

Currently Playing
The Greatest - Cat Power

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Unnecessary toys

You understand that as a guy, and a geek, toys are always going to be tempting to me. Now, toys can take on many different meanings when you're a guy. A toy could be a new car. Or it could be a computer. Or even a girl, if you're that kind of guy. Cathy considers my iPod a toy.

But sometimes, I just literally mean a toy. Like the one pictured below.

You understand, I don't need this at all. I'm smart enough, and logical enough, to look at something like this and go "Well, clearly this is something of no practical use whatsoever. I mean, if the damn thing actually worked it might useful. I could carry it with me and should I ever get attacked by a snow creature on Hoth, errr, a polar bear outside of Iqaluit, well then clearly I have something I can use to defend myself with. Plus, it more elegent than a blaster....ummm, a rifle."

But it doesn't really work. It's a toy. A very, very cool toy. But really, how much use am I going to get out of it?

Very little. So it makes absolutely no sense to get one.

Having said that, I hope you're all reading between the lines and realizing how desperately I want one. The one that Darth Maul used, not the other lightsabres. Because there were only two good things about The Phantom Menace. One was the Pod Race (in a galaxy far, far away, there is NASCAR. It's kind of depressing when you think about it) and the lightsabre battle with Darth Maul.


There's something depressing about being a geek when you're grown up. You finally have the money to buy the cool stuff you would have wanted when you were a kid, but then you're kinda too grown to really be able to rationalizing spending $200 U.S. on a toy lightsabre.


You can find the rest of the lightsabres here.

Currently Playing
Make A Little Noise - Joel Plaskett Emergency

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bombs away

So as I mentioned yesterday that I belong to a secret society. Now, I appreciate that perhaps talking about a secret society on a blog is not the smartest thing in the world, but we're hardly the Freemasons or the mob. I'm not really worried about waking up in the morning with a horse's head in bed with me (getting up here would be expensive in shipping costs anyway).

This secret society was formed in the wake of a bunch of us leaving The Muse and graduating MUN in the mid-90s. Its core membership has increased a bit over the years, but has remained fairly constant. And it was possible mostly because of the Internet. Seriously, whatever gripes and complaints people might have about the Internet, it has allowed me to keep in touch with a group of people that might have otherwise drifted apart.

Instead of drifting, we formed out little group, put together a mailing list and over the past decade have conspired to take over the world (we'll let you know how that's going some other time). But mostly it's been about keeping in touch, talking about strange things and giving each other a hard time. For awhile we were stalking Muse staffers and telling them they were doing a terrible job compared to our brilliance, but we gave that up after awhile.

It's one of the truths about living in Newfoundland. Your best friends are rarely the ones you get to see every day. They're the ones who come home for a wedding during the summer, or to see people over Christmas. It's a year's worth of fun crammed into a precious few days. The internet helps, but it's not quite the same.

Anyway, I've been worried about out little list as of late. Some of us, and I'm guilty of this, have stuck out and have started writing blogs. For me, it's because I like to write and I don't have the outlet I once used to. Plus, I'm an egomaniac who likes having other people read my writing (all writers are egomaniacs). Some of the others I'm sure have their reasons.

But traffic on our little list has...declined a bit in the last six months or so. Now, it could just be a lull. These things happen. But between kids, distance, time and all the other things that can pull at friendships, I get worried at times. I loathe the thought of anything happening or things beginning to drift. There are friends you make for life and the ones I made at the Muse, and who are part of this list, are the best ones I've ever had. At some point I'm going to write and try to explain what the Muse means to me and how it literally changed my life.

I don't's late, I'm tired and I'm rambling a bit. I just wonder if even with the internet that 10 years is as long as you can hold things together before the pulls, stresses and strains begin to make it to hard to keep things together. Or at least make them as tight as they once were. I hope not. But, you know, I look at our little list and worry. Even the best secret societies can falter and fade....

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Blogging might be a little light this week. Cathy has some friends in from Rankin Inlet. They're here from a gymnastics tournament and we're doing some of that socializing thing we hear other people talk about so much.

But hopefully I'll bank up a few ideas. I already have something brewing on the craziness of Tom Cruise, summer movies, journalism awards and the alarming slow decline I'm witness in a secret society that I'm a part of.

Which is hopefully tantalizing enough to get you to keep coming back.

Monday, April 17, 2006


It has now been a little more than six months since we unloaded our sealift from the beach here in Iqaluit. At the time we honestly wondered where the hell we were going to put everything. This is, as I have lamented, a wee apartment. We ordered a lot of stuff: cases of crackers, cereal, popcorn, different kinds of soup, tins of fruit, puddings, fruit juice, bread mix, cookie and brownie mix, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towel, soft drinks and more. Basically if it is non-perishable, you order it. Somehow, we squeezed it all in, but there were days when it felt like the sealift was living in the apartment, not us.

As might be expected, all of this has disappeared at different rates. For example, the cereal was not exactly to our liking, so it's taking a long time to vanish. We probably have about another month or so supply of popcorn left. The last of the soft drinks vanished late last week.

I think we did ok considering it was our first go at this sort of thing. Trying to estimate how much supplies you're going to need for a year is a tricky business. I guess my forefathers did a better job of figuring out how much molasses and flour they were going to need for a year, but they had a bit more at stake than us.

As for why people sealift, the simple answer is cost. It's expensive to live up north. By buying items in bulk and having them shipped to Iqaluit, you can save a nice chunk of money. Of course, it also means spending a whole lot of money at once. It's one thing to go down to the store and drop $100 or $200 on stuff. It hurts, but you get used to it. But dropping $3,500, which is how much we spent last year, in one shot kind of makes you wince a bit.

So we've picked up a book of supply items last week. I think we're going with a different company this year. They're slightly cheaper than the company we dealt with last year, and will deliver the stuff straight to your house, which is nice. That was an additional expense last fall we hadn't counted on.

We're really hoping we don't have to spend as much as we did last year. Which I think will happen. Some of the more expensive items, such as cleaning supplies, shampoo and soap we have enough left over to get us through another year. We are going to have to up our order for soft drinks and juice, which we grossly underestimated. Maybe a bit more soup and popcorn. Those sorts of things.

It's not terribly exciting, but it's one of the rituals of living up north. We just have to figure out when we want it delivered. The boats start arriving in July, I believe, and stop in early October.

First addendum: The fire alarm went off at 4 a.m. last night. On the upside, at least fire department people and building maintenance people showed up this time. On the downside, it was still four in the morning. A wiring fault of some kind, I believe, is being given as the excuse. One more reason to get out of this place.

Second addendum: Thanks for the dog suggestions so far. One other thing to consider. Cathy is, and I know this sounds retarded, slightly allergic to dogs. She just doesn't care anymore. So heavy shedders, such as the corgi, are kind of right out. As are beagles, which can set her off in less than a minute.

But the Portuguese water dogs look nice. I think they might have made the short list.

Last 5 on iPod
1. All because of you - U2
2. Cold, cold ground - Tom Waits
3. Narc - Interpol
4. Oh girl - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
5. Lakeside park - Rush

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Little liberations

You know, I never wanted to be the guy who had to pound on doors and ask people to turn down their music. It felt too much like crossing a barrier into being an old man. I don't what being 36 is suppose to feel like, but one of the great surprises of adulthood is how often you don't feel all that much different than when you were a teenager. So I thought I was safe from that one.

That theory was proven wrong around 3:30 a.m. when two hours of tossing and turning in a desperate attempt to mentally block the sound of heavy metal music finally caused me to snap, get out of bed, get dressed and then pound on our neighbour's door and tell him to turn down the music. Some fresh-faced, mildly stunned, probably stoned 22-year-old guy answered the door, apologized and turned down the music.

So I am "that guy" now. At one point, I was the mildly stunned 22-year-old answering the door with the police saying they had received a complaint about the noise and could I keep it down (the complaint came from the people living in the basement apartment of my father's house. They will never know how close them came to be evicted for calling the cops on me.)

Anyway, chalk one more up in the "I am becoming old category." On the upside, if I hadn't of done it, Cathy was going to go over and "have a chat" which meant I would have spent most of my day online or on the phones soliciting bail money.

So two things have come from this. First, we are moving. No idea when, really, but that's that. We've put up with the noise for the better part of eight months. People living on other floors call ours "the party floor." So we're done. We were going to wait and see what happens with me on the job front. But since it could take months to get anywhere with a new apartment given the vacancy rates around here, we're not waiting the extra month. The sooner we can flee to some place a bit more quiet, the better.

Secondly, we're getting a dog. Which, I appreciate might be eliminating one kind of noise for another.

We can't have a dog in this apartment complex. Cathy has wanted one for years. And the next place is going to be two-bedroom that will allow dogs, she is beginning her quest for one. A couple of hours were spent online today checking out what kind of dog she wants. Because while I have no problem getting a dog, her dream dog, a Newfoundland, is not happening while we're up here. No way. And thankfully, she understands that.

So if anyone has a suggestion for a dog, feel free. The requirements include:
1. A thick enough coat so that we don't have to spend 20 minutes bundling it up to go and pee.
2. No so big that it takes up an entire apartment.
3. Not so small that there is a risk the ravens will swoop in and carry it off (you only think I'm kidding).
4. Quiet and a nice personality.
5. And able to handle time by itself alone in an apartment without feeling the compulsion to destroy the place as a cry for attention.

I'm honestly beginning to think that Yeti is more likely to exist than this mythic dog, but if people have suggestions, let me know. Cathy is leaning towards a Chow Chow right now.

Currently Playing
Blink The Brightest - Tracy Bonham

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Oh lord...

No good can come from this. mark my words. Seriously, no good can come from this.

I don't know every journalist in St. John's, but I know enough of them to realize that their vocal abilities are limited. And I know, for absolute certainity, that Steve is going to do this. If he's willing to humiliate himself every year to do the Celebrity Secrets show (including dressing up like a seal, appparently, this year) then doing this for a trip to Toronto is a given.

I am really curious to see who is going to win this contest. Not curious enough to actually want to listen to any of it, you understand. But curious none the less.

And to answer your question, if I was back home there is no way in hell I would enter. I am a man of many talents. Singing or playing any musical instrument is not among them. I can't even play a drum properly.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Photo Friday

Despite the fact that I know there are many, many better photographers out there, I've decided to put some photos up on the blog that I've taken over the years. Most of them are going to be from my time with The Express. Because while I have friends who are better photographers (Dups and Niall immediately come to mind), most of them haven't done photojournalism. Greg Locke, of course, does and is again much better than me.

Hmmm, this post is giving me a photo inferiority complex. Anyway...

The point is, photojournalism often has its own unique challenges. I also have some of these photos that I've always been proud of and have only run once in The Express. So every Friday I'm going to run some of these photos with a bit of an explanation behind the photo.

This one was taken at the first Busker Festival in August 2004. I remember it vividly because Cathy had left two days before to go and teach in Rankin Inlet for a year. I was lonely and threw myself into work that weekend to try and keep busy. Of all the photos I took that weekend - and there was a lot - this is my favourite.

There are just several elements I like. I love the fact that it looks like she is falling from the sky. And that she and the crowd are reflected in the mirrored glass. And the looks on their faces. I had to boss my way in front of a large crowd to get that angle, but if you're going to do photojournalism, you better get used to the surly looks people give you.

To be honest, I never liked how the photo ran in The Express. Because I had so many good pics from the busker festival, the decision was made to run some of the photos as cut outs...meaning that the girl's reflection in the glass, one of the most important features of the photo, was lost. It was just an image of her falling and the guy getting ready to catch her, with no context. I argued against the lay out, but lost. You can't win them all.

But here is the original.

Copyright Craig Welsh and The Express. Photo taken with a Sony DSC-F717.

Currently Playing
Lotus Land - Sean Panting

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I ought to shoot OM, because she's entirely too clever for her own good.

As for why, she ran this cartoon on her page today from the admittedly pretty funny Savage Chickens website. However, she didn't explain to people why it's funny, or at least traumatic, for me.

Now, I'm sure there are people wondering why I'm suffering trauma over a vegetable. Did my mother force me to eat lots of them when I was a child? Was I mugged by someone welding an arugula? Did I suffer a severe allergic reaction to one?

Nope. The truth is stranger. Arugulas beat me at Scrabble.

Allow me to explain.

About 10 years ago I was teaching English in South Korea. It did not go well and at one point, after fleeing my job, I crashed with two of my friends who were also teaching over there. They are Chris and Lisa and they graciously put up with me when I was not in a good mental place for far longer than they really needed to.

Still, they were good friends. And one of the ways we would kill some evenings (other than drinking and torturing me with hot, unavailable Scottish women. Another long story) was to play Scrabble. Now, I'm not bad at Scrabble. I'm good enough that Cathy won't even think about playing it with me (She also refuses to play Trivial Pursuit against me because "You have entirely too much useless shit in your brain." Which, you know, is true). But Chris and Lisa are really, really good. They're the kind of good that involves owning a Scrabble Dictionary and memorizing vast swaths of two letter words that you've never heard of or used in a sentence, but are legal to use in the game.

I never beat them. I could beat one of them, but never beat both of them at the same time.

However, there is one time when I was kicking their ass. I was getting all the right tiles, coming up with good words. I was beating them by about 100 points with it coming down to last tiles.

This is when Lisa has a small brainstorm, slaps down the tiles and screams "Arugulas!"

To which I respond "Arugulas!?"

And then there was much screaming of the word "Arugulas", both as an inquiry, a curse word and as an exclamation of joy. It was the only word said in the apartment for several minutes. The Korean neighbours undoubtedly thought the crazy white people had finally lost their minds.

Because not only did she get seven tiles out and the 50 point bonus, she got them out on some bizarre triple word score combination. She ended up with something like 200 points on "Arugulas." I nearly lost my mind.

I also nearly challenged it because I had never heard of "arugulas" before. And I was winning God damn it. Arugulas was cheating me of my victory.

I let it go and Lisa won. To this day I still curse on arugulas. God damn vegetable.

Cursed vegetable

Now, before any of you get the bright idea of screaming "Arugulas" the next time you see me, it won't work. What sets me off is the exact tone of voice both Chris and Lisa used. Their specific manic pitch and glee. Only close friends of theirs know it and can successfully replicate it.

To this day I have never eaten arugulas. I suspect I never will...

Currently Playing
Blink the Brightest - Tracy Bonham

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Twitchy times...

A relatively quiet last few days here at Chateau Welsh (if you saw the place, you'd get the joke) and I think burn out, exhaustion and maybe a touch of depression is sitting in. Nothing drastic, you understand. No need to call the counselors or anything.

As one of my co-workers pointed out, it's not that the winters in Iqaluit are cold. Of course they are, but plenty of other places further south of us have equally cold winters. We just have long winters. It's mid-April and it was -30 today. And just in case you think Environment Canada sucks and predicting the weather in Newfoundland from Halifax, try having weather on Baffin Island predicted by people in Edmonton.

We were suppose to have a blizzard today. They were very insistent that we were going to have a blizzard today. There was no blizzard today. It was, in fact, quite sunny.

No, I think the blahs are coming from several different places. First, yeah, we'd like for winter to start cuing up now, but there is another good month to six weeks left of it yet. But at least there is a few fun things coming up next week. It's Toonik Time in Iqaluit, which means all kinds of events. And it should be warm enough for me to take my camera out and it not start seizing up on me. When I took those photos of the big plane landing a few weeks back, the camera did not enjoy the -30 and let me know it. So hopefully you will all start to see a few more photos of the place during winter in the next couple of weeks.

Also, we just need a few extra days off. Cathy does get a bit more time off than me, but she's done now. It's at that point in the year where the kids are whacking away at the last few nerves, so a week off will do her the world of good. It'll give her enough energy to do the final two month sprint to the finish.

Except for the odd blizzard day, I haven't had a day off this year. So Easter is looking good. Especially since I found out that I not only get Good Friday, but also Easter Monday. A four day weekend. I nearly wept.

You have to understand, holidays are weird things for journalists (yeah, I really need to stop referring to myself as a journalist). I can't speak for all of them, but I rarely got statutory holidays. If it fell from Wednesday to Friday, I might take it. But most fall on Mondays. The deadline for copy for The Express was Tuesday. Taking Monday off was insane.

We'd get the holiday, but we'd normally bank them up. So once you got five stat holidays, you'd take a week off. Which is great, don't get me wrong. But sometimes you just want a long weekend. I so very rarely got them. Actually, Cathy will testify I rarely got a full weekend off. More than one Saturday saw me off interviewing someone not free during the week. And more than one Sunday evening saw me tucked away in the spare room behind my computer writing or transcribing notes.

Journalists can also be terrible for taking holidays. I had co-workers that had 10 weeks or more of holidays banked up.

So yeah, an extra long Easter weekend? Really looking forward to it.

And I think the last thing getting us down is that so many people are leaving to go on holidays. One of Cathy's kids is on her way to Hawaii. Other people around town are going to the Dominican, back to Newfoundland or wherever. We didn't book a trip because we figured San Francisco in August plus flying home for Christmas (someone should organize a blogger night at the Duke in December. I'd actually like to meet some of the people whose blogs I'm reading) would be a hard enough hit on the bank account.

But Cathy is regretting it a bit now. Serious cabin fever setting in. She'll be fine, but a few days in Ottawa would have done her the world of good. She needs a break. So do I.

Of course I'm being a bit careful for what I wish for. I'm a casual right now. My contract is up in about six weeks. They're advertising my job again and I can get it as a permanent position this time (the job description has been altered slightly). Then again, someone else could end up getting it. It's the way things work up here. I knew it going in so there is no sense complaining about it.

So, you know, slightly twitchy times abound. But I'm sure everything will work out for the best. They normally tend to.

Knock on wood...

Currently Playing
Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins (which is really good, by the way)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The asshole factor

I'm trying to recall if I've mentioned this before. I'm at 250+ posts on this blog. There are times when reality blurs a little bit for me and I can't recall if I've written about it before, especially if I'm espousing a longstanding theory of mine.

(As a side note, one of those theories - that white people can't dance while darker skin people clearly can - is under review having watched the video of Dups in a previous post. Not that the white guy was anything less than terrifying, but that Dups eerily resembled, as Colette pointed out, Michael Flatley).

Anyway, the Asshole Theory is quite simple: That it doesn't matter what your religion, sexuality, ethnicity, geography, etc you can be an asshole.

I came to this realization when I was hanging out with a group of people and there was this gay guy being a real, well, asshole. He was annoying the hell out of me, but I wasn't saying anything because I was wondering "Am I being discriminatory by thinking negative thoughts about this gay person?" And the answer, when I was talking to another friend later, who was also gay, was "Of course not. He is an asshole. Everyone knows it."

Which was one of those light bulb moments. It's perfectly reasonable to dislike someone who is gay or black or Christian or whatever. As long as you dislike them because they're an asshole who happens to be one of those things. The assholeness trumps the minority status.

I point this out because I read this story and nearly popped a small blood vessel.

For those not following the link, the gist of the story is this: A student at the Georgia Institute of Technology is suing the university because its anti-harassment policy prevents her from discriminating against homosexuals. As an evangelical Christian, who believes homosexuality is abhorrent, she believes the policy restricts her religious freedoms and her right to free speech. In this case, her right to espouse her hatred of homosexuals. She's also Chair of the campus' Republican Party.

I nearly did a Carolyn Parrish and start cursing on Americans, Republicans and Christians. Then I took a deep breath, walked away from the computer and remembered the Asshole factor.

Not all Americans are assholes. Far from it. Not all Christians are assholes. Again, far from it. And I'm sure I've met nice Republicans somewhere.

I just have to remind myself of this every time I read a story like this. And yes, just for the record, I can actually see small points in their arguments about freedom of religion and free speech. I really do. But using free speech and religion as reasons to hate is about as distasteful as it gets for me. It's dragging down into the mud concepts that should be prestine and treated with respect.

I swear, Cathy is going to find me keeled over my computer one of these days, with blood oozing out of my ears, and the web browser on a page with a story just like. America is going to be the death of me yet.

Currently Playing
The Animal Years - Josh Ritter

Conversations with Cathy, part 6

Me: I've finally figured it out.

Cathy (yawning): Finally figured out what, babe?

Me: All the times in the last couple of years when I've said dumb things or taken a long time to figure stuff out or had lapses in concentration. I finally know why.

Cathy: Because you're crazy?

Me: No because you're crazy. It's not early Alzheimer's. It's you.

Cathy: How on earth is your lack of concentration my fault.

Me: Because you do crazy things. Cute crazy things, I admit, but crazy all the same. And you're always impressed that I just take it in stride. I was always a bit puzzled how well I was taking it, figuring it ought to freak me out more. But now I know!

Cathy: Are you going to tell me, or can I just roll over and go to sleep?

Me: Because even while I, on the face of it, was handling the strangeness, some part of my brain was trying to process it, trying to figure it out. Trying to determine why you're acting that way, is there any way of predicting the wacky behaviour. That sort of thing. And the longer I've known you, the more of my brain space and power is now being diverted to trying to figure you out. It's there in the background of my brain. In the subconcious, merrily spinning away, growing larger.

Cathy: So you're saying I'm a computer virus?

Me: (having a sudden burst of brain activity and figuring out that calling my wife a virus may not be a good idea). Noooo....more like a cute and addicitive computer program that keeps taking up more and more of the available space.

Cathy: Nice save.

Me: Thanks.

Cathy: So, any fix to the solution of your malfunctioning brain?

Me: I'm not sure. I'll have to think on it some more.

Cathy: Good luck with that. (rolls over and goes to sleep)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Oh, for a brain...

Curses....foiled again. I would have bet good money against this, but science has proven me wrong. Dups actually does have a brain. Who would have guessed it?

Then again, if you want proof of how much of a workout that brain actually gets, you could try watching this video. Then again, it could be worse. He could be the white guy on the right.


Every single review I read of V For Vendetta tried to do some lame pun on the title. Which is to be expected, I suppose. Most entertainment writers are hacks (I'm not saying I was brilliant, but clearly most entertainment writers were never at the top of their creative writing classes), so when a movie with a title like V For Vendetta comes across your desk, well, their mind must short circuit with the possibility.

I finally got to see the movie last night. This isn't going to be a serious review of the movie. For one thing, this is its fourth weekend in release and it's begun its slow slide down the box office charts and on its way to DVD. If you're going to see it, odds are you have. If not, then odds are you're waiting to rent it or you're like some of the fine folks I encountered on Damian's site and are physically repulsed by the mere idea of the movie.

When I reviewed movies for The Express this was the type of movie I always found hardest to review, I've collected comic books for the better part of 30 years. I have blinders with these types of movies that are long and wide. Which means I can be more forgiving then I ought to about obviously deeply flaw movies (Constantine and Fantastic Four) because they were just good enough to make me want to see more and hope that they can work the kinks out for any sequel.

Then again, it means when you get something like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I become perhaps disproportionately enraged by how badly they managed to take a graphic novel I love and mangle it beyond on all recognition.

Plus, I always wonder if audiences are following various parts of the plot. I can, because I've already read it, know where they're going and have made the leaps where they've cut stuff out. But I'm wondering if the audience is confused by it.

As I said, they're hard to review for me.

So as I forewarning, I love V For Vendetta and consider it one of my top five favourite graphic novels of all time. Is it a good movie? Sure. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. Do I find some of the changes maddening? Oh my yes.

I can forgive directors for making changes to source material. It has to be done. What works on the page doesn't always work on the screen. And I understand some of the big changes from page to screen in V For Vendetta. Such as the changes made in the Leader. I never liked the character's near fetish love with his computer in the book. And I understand the power of having V there for his end, as oppose to sending a proxy in the book.

And yeah, a lot of the secondary government characters had to go. And making the movie more of a critique of elements of current U.S. policy (I saw the movie last night, and then read this story this morning. Talk about rude awakenings) is understandable.

But it's often the little changes that drove me nuts. Such as why Evey leaves V after her transformation. Why the whole population is shown wearing V mask in the finale (Nice visual, still looks silly). I also hated the playing up a love angle between Evey and V. The book has the more sensible angle that she believes V to be her father.

And there was nothing about what happens next. "We all remembered that day. The End." Kind of lame. Some sort of epilogue would be appropriate.

Again, this is also mild stuff and most people watching the movie would neither notice it or care. And I did like the movie overall. Hell, I'll likely be buying the DVD when it comes out. Which, at the rate they turn them over these days, will be sometime in June.

It's worthy seeing. There are good visuals, decent acting (V was a bit hammier, and less scary, than I would have liked) and interesting idea.

But really, buy the comic. It's a piece of brilliance and shows Alan Moore (who disavows the movie) and David Lloyd at the top of their game.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Rude awakenings

One of the catches with journalism has always been "how much do you report?" Because there are stories where it's a legitimate question. Some stories are so graphic or terrible you genuinely don't want to give all the details. They're terrible and will only harm those who are going through the tragedy. Of, if you're a good enough writer, you can convey the scope of the horror, without getting into all the messy details.

The Bernardo/Homolka case is probably the one that sticks out the most in my mind, although there certainly have been cases since then. Probably because it became the first test case, at least in Canada, of people trying to get around rules set down by a judge about how much information can be out in the public domain by using the Internet.

Reporters weren't allowed to convey the depth of the horror unleashed on the two girls. Just that it was extensive, traumatic and nearly everyone who read or heard the details immediately wished they didn't know. But there were those who felt the court ban was wrong and put the information online.

I was one of those people who read that information. It might have been the early days of the Internet revolution (pre-websites. I found the info on a newsgroup), but if you knew where to dig, you could find it. I don't know why I went looking; probably something to do with journalistic righteousness. I had the belief that the court was wrong and the public had a right to know all the details of the case, no matter how terrible.

Mercifully, time has blunted most of the details. But I think there was a lesson learned there. And it was if you're an editor there are going to be times when you have to make the hard call – how much information are you going to report in public and what are the pros and cons in this decision.

The reason for this little ramble is that I happened upon one of those editorial dilemma stories today, quite by accident.

There was a murder a few weeks ago of a young girl in the community of Kugaaruk. That alone would be disturbing enough, but more details have been coming out. Her age, that it was first degree murder and that a man has been arrested for it.

More details came out today, from two sources: CBC and The Nunatsiaq News. The CBC played it vague. The horror was there, but played around the edges. Lots of legalize to mute the full scope of it. The Nunatsiaq News went straight to the heart of it.

I have a fairly strong disposition when it comes to reading terrible things. I think being a journalist you do build up a bit of a resistance. It's not often I physically repel myself away from a computer after reading a story. I did just that this morning.

For the record, I'm not linking to either story. If you want to read them, you can certainly find them with a minimum of effort. But I do urge caution, especially with the Nunatsiaq News story, and even moreso if you have young children.

Which story is better? I'm not 100 per cent sure. If I was the editor, I honestly think I would have played it vague on the details of the crime. I expect the paper is going to get some nasty letter in the next week. It was a shock when I read it, as I was expecting another bloodless crime story. By bloodless I mean crime reporting is often done poorly in journalism circles, with no power. For every Christie Blatchford there are hundreds not worthy of carrying her pens.

By the way, even calling the Nunatsiaq News piece a story is a tad generous. It was a brief – nine sentences. Even if there had been a warning or a separate link, it might not have been so shocking. But there it was sandwiched between two mining stories. I was expecting to read another news briefing on a crime and getting what is there…well, it threw me.

I know the argument goes that the story got me upset and it got me involved. I'll be keeping a cautious eye out for the story to make sure that if they have the right man, that he never gets out of jail again. And maybe that's a good thing about the story. It got me emotionally involved and outraged. And good journalism can do that.

But with the way this was reported and presented, I don't know. I question the judgment. And I imagine that the family of a dead little girl would prefer that some things remain hidden.

Currently Playing
House of Ill Fame - The Trews

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Of five year plans

I was puttering around online, checking out the rapidly growing Newfoundland blogosphere when I came across Laurie's blog and, in particular, her Five Year Plan.

I love these types of plans. I think they offer up fascinating insights into people. And pretty much everyone does them at some point. I have at various points in my life and I think they're often reflective of your mental state at the time. Especially since five year plans are often made when you're not very happy with the way things are going in your life.

(I don't know Laurie and I've only skimmed her blog, but she certainly seems less than content with her current life status.)

I had one when I was at MUN. While I forget the details, I believe they went something like this:
1. Try not to kill one of the editors of the Muse.
2. Graduate MUN.
3. Get into journalism school.
4. Get a journalism job.
5. Move out of father's house.
6. Get a girlfriend.

I had mixed results with that plan. I did manage to not kill one of the editors, I graduated MUN and got into journalism school. I moved out of dad's house, moved back in, moved out, moved back in...he really should have put a revolving door there.

It's best not to dwell on the whole girlfriend thing.

I believe the five year plan when I was 30 was something like this:
1. Get out of Clarenville at all costs.
2. Have sex again sometime before I die.
3. Stop making new "friends" with member of the opposite sex.
4. Get a job that paid more than $20,000 a year (Want to get rich? Don't be a journalist).
5. Get a girlfriend.

So the goals at 30 were more modest, but actually achieved. I did get out of Clarenville, I did have sex again, I did get a girlfriend, who became a fiance and then a wife. And I am now making more than $20,000 a year. So as a five year plan, that one went ok. I think it's important to set modest goals and be flexible with these plans. Aim too high, set too strict goals and problems arise. Plus, you normally don't have the flexibility to adapt when things inevitably go wrong.

Myself and Cathy are now into Year Two of the next Five Year Plan. The goals for this one were:
1. Survive being apart (she was in Rankin Inlet, I was in St. John's for the first five months of 2005. It sucked)
2. Survive the wedding.
3. Move to Iqaluit.
3. Get jobs for both of us in Iqaluit.
4. Make and save lots of money.
6. Travel extensively. Locations discussed include California, Costa Rica, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Greece, New Zealand and Australia.
7. Not get pregnant.
8. Get a dog.

So far, we're doing ok on the current plan. We're married and happily living in Iqaluit. Cathy is working full-time. I'm casual, but there is the possibility of that becoming permanent in the next few months. We're saving lots of money (the wedding and move up are already paid off) and going to California this summer (booking the tickets in a few weeks). And we're not pregnant.

No dog yet, though. I rather doubt that situation is going to last the whole five years.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

And now, a word from Cathy

This won't be a regular occurrence but after watching the first part of the Junos last Sunday, Cathy was a mite bit upset with Pamela Anderson. She wrote something out and asked if I would put it up on the blog. Which I said I would, and then promptly lost track of it under a small pile of papers on the table.

So my apologies about the timing; it's my fault.

Now, a message from my lovely wife:

I understand how some people feel about the seal hunt and appreciate their right to feel that way. But I thought some people might like to hear what my Grade 4/5 students in the North think about it.

"I eat the meat. My grandmother makes the best stew."
"We eat what we want and any extra goes to the dogs."
"My aunt made my seal skin hat."

Up here seal skin is used to make a lot of clothing such as boots, mits, parkas, etc. I personally want a pair of mits. There is nothing like it to keep you warm.

Some of my students love "land food." It might be the only meat they get.

Craig back here again. To that I will add this: Critics who say they are fine with the Inuit hunting seals, but are opposed to the gulf hunt miss an important point: The two hunts are linked and saying otherwise displays either ignorance or lack of respect to the Inuit. When the gulf hunt ended in the 80's, no region was more devastated than the North. Hunters who had killed seals and sold their pelts, a tradition that went on for centuries, suddenly found they were literally getting pennies for their efforts. There is ample evidence of the effect it had. Of increased suicide rates, alcoholism, abuse and a variety of other social problems.

If the hunt stops off Newfoundland, the same thing will like happen once again in the North. It will hurt Newfoundland, but people will survive. The consequences for Arctic communities doesn't bear thinking about.

One final thing. We both watched My Ancestors Were Rogues and Murderers Tuesday night and were suitably impressed. Anne Troake crafted a solid documentary. But the one thing that struck me was when she asked Jack Troake about the seal meat being wasted. His response made perfect sense, and yet I'm sure I've never heard it before: Of course it's not wasted. Whatever they don't take goes to the bottom of the ocean and other marine life eat it.

It's arrogance to assume that "no one eats seal" (hello Heather McCartney), just as it's a different kind of arrogance to assume that if humans don't use it, then it's wasted. Nature is awfully efficient at finding a use for most things. We just tend to forget it.

This, by the way, will be the last thing I write on the seal hunt for the foreseeable future. It's simply a topic that always upsets and occasionally enrages me. As it's a state I don't enjoy being in constantly, I think it's time for me to give it a rest.

Currently Playing
Show Your Bones - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

But is it the apocalypse?

I'm just curious that if this isn't an April Fool's Day joke, is it a sign of the apocalypse?

Oh, and scroll down a bit and there is a poll regarding the Junos you can rig by carpet bombing it with votes.

CODCO or not

I mentioned in passing last week that I thought the idea of CODCO DVDs was a mistake. The reason it came up at all was that I noticed on RJs blog he had mentioned it and there is a petition online to try and sway Alliance Atlantis to release them. So far, they've said no. And not to be cruel, but I just checked and there are 20 signatures on an online petition. I don't see Alliance Atlantis caving anytime soon.

Now, I'm all in favour of having more Newfoundland TV and movies come out on DVD. So far, there has been remarkably little of it. I wrote a column while with the Express saying that it is beyond me why CODCO and The Wonderful Grand Band TV shows, along with movies such as John and the Missus, Faustus Bidgood and, most importantly, Secret Nation are not out on DVD.

They are important parts of Newfoundland culture and I think there is a big enough niche market to support some of it. DVD production is cheaper these days than ever before and I thought there would be a demand for them. I would love to see a special version of Secret Nation. Imagine the movie, a making of feature, a short documentary on the 1948 referendum and Newfoundland nationalism, combined with a commentary track by Walsh, the Jones, Mercer and others. It would be fantastic.

Just as long as the negatives for Anchor Zone are quietly decaying in a vault somewhere. I still have nightmares about that movie.

However, I have thought about this more and I now have my reservations about CODCO. The normal thing is for TV shows to be released as season sets - Season 1, Season 2 and so on.

But I just don't know if it would work with CODCO. I have the sneaking suspicion that rights for the show would be a pain and expensive. It hasn't been on the air in years. Plus, the show was very erratic. Even moreso after Andy Jones left the show and Tommy Sexton's health began to decline. And I wonder how well the show has aged. It's probably been seven years since I've seen an episode.

Rather than sets focusing on seasons, I think the way to go is a "Best of" disc, or even two discs (Similar to the CODCO Uncensored tape. But it makes you wonder how well that sold if they're not willing to put it out on DVD). And not shows, but just individual skits. I respect CODCO, but even its more ardent fans have to admit there was a lot of chaff to get to the wheat. I wouldn't buy a season of CODCO just to get the skits I wanted. But I likely would buy a Best of. Hell, I want to see 'Pleasant Irish Priests in Conversation" again. I want to see the skit about all the uses for Lucky Margrine ("He gave up using the Lucky after he found out what the priests were using it for." Classic.)

But I wouldn't pay $60 (probably more) to buy a season of stuff I mostly won't like just to get to the brilliant stuff. And hell, if the Best of disc does really well, then maybe there will be a demand to the season sets for the hardcore fans. Other shows such as Buffy, Star Trek and The X-Files have done this type of set along with season discs.

So I think that's the way to go.

However, I really, really want that Secret Nation disc. I loved that movie and it's maddening I don't have it.

Currently Playing
Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins

Monday, April 03, 2006

On Junos and West Wing...

A few random comments on our viewing habits of last evening...

On the Junos
1. Oh good, they booed. We'll never know exactly how bad because CTV's audio mix was terrible throughout the evening. But there was clearly vocal displeasure.
2. Anderson's reaction to the booing: "That's ok, I can take it." My reaction? "Yes honey, we've known that for years. Plus, we've seen the video."
3. Ok, cheap shot. But hey, it's a pretty clever one.
4. Ohhh, it's Nickleback. I wonder if there will be explosions? Yup, there they are.
5. Rex Goudie didn't say anything, but that might have been wishful thinking. Besides, he was too busy modeling the latest fashion - Scruffy Baymen Chic. It'll be sweeping the runways in Paris in Milan any day now.
6. Or perhaps not. Cathy's reaction: "Oh my God, he looks like a ripple on a bucket of shit."
7. Cathy was pretty funny all night, actually. After hearing Broken Social Scene finish their song with "Demand better music!" her response was "I should demand never hearing them again."
8. Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay tied for Best International Record? Considering the award is based on album sales I rather doubt they each sold the exact same number of records. I call shenanigans.
9. I actually have the urge now to go and download some Bryan Adams. I'm hoping another 12 hours will make it go away.

As for the last hour, I have no idea because mercifully at 8 p.m. West Wing comes on. As for that show:
1. Apparently getting Josh laid twice in about 12 hours still isn't enough to mellow him out. But it was a nice try by Donna.
2. "Have you come on board?" Cute.
3. Actually most of the stuff between Donna and Josh was fun. I was actively wincing several time with stuff Josh said. It's why I empathize with the character so much. I'm not as smart as he is, but I'm clearly as dumb as he is.
4. Look, it's Charlie! Oh wait I blinked and he's gone. Was he really there?
5. Nice quiet moment with CJ in the Oval Office.
6. Apparently Toby's bluff from last week worked.
7. The preview for next week gives up that Leo dies. Then again, that's not much of a spoiler, is it?
8. However, revealing that everyone knows he died before the polls closed in California is. Dumb.

And that's all for now, kids...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Anonymous or otherwise

I've long let anonymous comments go on this blog because for the most part they've been harmless. I'm sure in many cases they are people simply wanting to drop a line and don't have a blogger account or don't want to take several minutes to puzzle out how to leave a message without becoming a blogger member. So I've let it go, despite my...distaste for them.

I've worked in newspapers for about 15 years on and off and there has been one iron clad rule in the editorial department and that is "if you aren't willing to sign your name to the letter, we're not running it." The theory being that if you think it's important enough to be out in the public, then you ought to have the strength of conviction to put your name on the letter. If you aren't, even if you have perfectly valid worries (fear of reprisal from your employer, for example) then that is regrettable. But that's the price you have to pay.

I've seen some wonderful letters to the editor in my day that the authors didn't want their name attached to. I've called and pleaded with them to sign their name to it and we would happily run the letter. Some changed their mind; most didn't.

I know there are bloggers that post their opinions online and they remain anonymous. And that's fine. It's their blog, their rules. Ed doesn't even allow comments, which I thought was odd at first, but hey, it's his blog, his rules. If you don't like it then there are a few other blog out there on the Internet to read. But this is my blog and I have my rules. And while I allow anonymous comments I have a very, very thin threshold for them. Especially on controversal issues, such as the sealing.

I mention all of this because in my previous post, there is an anonymous comment. I'm pretty sure I know who it is, and I'm kind of baffled he/she hasn't put his/her name to the post (I'm hoping it was just a mistake in not signing it). I thought long and hard about deleting it, but it's relatively polite, so I'm letting it stand for now. But I'm not responding directly to the points because I don't who it is. And if they can't be bothered to sign a name, I frankly can't be bothered to respond.

But in case there are any doubts for the future, anonymous posts that use any kind of abusive or inciting language are gone. I will delete them as soon as I see them because they are no better than spam as far as I'm concerned. And if it gets to be a nuisance, I will simply block the ability of people to post anonymously.

So there's your only warning.

Currently Playing
Underdogs - Matthew Good Band

They better boo

Pamlea Anderson, who I have never understood the appeal of, is hosting the Junos this evening. Now, before you go "well, I would think the appeal of Ms. Anderson is readily apparent" it really isn't too me. I like an attractive woman as much as the next heterosexual guy, but Anderson has never done it for me. A friend of mine, back in the 90s, while watching one of Cher's mystifying comebacks looked at her and went "I'm honestly not sure if she's human anymore. I think she's had that much work done she's crossed-over and become a cyborg."

It's how I felt about Anderson. She was pretty once. But they years have not been kind and she's been scary looking for me for a very long time. I think it's a kind of arachnid reaction you have to something that is creepy and no longer quite human.

Anyway, VOCM is reporting that Anderson might bring up the seal hunt during this evening's Juno Awards. Now, I'm not going to say that an awards show celebrating music is not the place to bring this up, Musicians, actors, etc have brought up social causes at these types of events for decades. So it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

I'd admire the guts of going to Halifax to condemn the seal hunt, except that I've never seen much indication of brains in that surgically and chemically altered head of hers over the years, so I'm inclined to believe she's merely being stupid.

However, if this happens then two things need to happen:
1. This is in Halifax. The audience needs to boo. And boo loudly. They should boo her for the rest of the evening if she makes that statement.
2. I believe Rex Goudie is going to be presenting an award this evening. His label might be furious with him, but Goudie - or someone else - ought to wear a shirt saying "I support the hunters." And ought to rebut whatever Anderson says. She has reportedly called hunters "jerks". A nice, simply rebuttal is this: "I believe that men who work hard, under harsh conditions just to feed and clothe their family and put a roof over their head deserve more respect than to be called 'jerks' by Ms. Anderson. She should apologize."

If Goudie does that, he has my respect.

If nothing else, I might actually watch the Junos this evening. I hadn't planned on it, because few of the nominees are interesting to me (Jesus Christ, I never thought Nickelback would ever be that popular), but I might tune in after The West Wing to see if there are any fireworks.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Someone call Grissom

Warren Ellis has a much funnier headline for it, but still. Durham University is threatening to use DNA testing on people who clog up the shower through constant masturbation.

Apparently there must be no women at this university.

EDIT It seems the letter is a prank. Ah well...