Thursday, June 29, 2006

The poor bastards...

I've been thinking a bit lately about people being out in public for things they've been accused of, but haven't been found guilty of.

I appreciate this is nothing new, but there have been a few things happening lately that have brought my mind to the subject. It's something I had to deal with all the time when I was a journalist. You hear of a crime or something interesting (good or bad) happening and you want to know who was involved. Basic human nature.

However, and this is cynical on my part, I think basic human nature is to assume the worst. If somebody has been accused of something bad, then we assume they did it. Even if a correction happens soon afterwards, there's still this eye of suspicion on the person. And the thought going through most people's mind, I guarantee you, is "I wonder if they did it and just got away with it."

Yes, yes...maybe you don't do that. It's just me. I'm a cynical bastard. You're a saint. You're also probably lying because I guarantee you we've all done it at some point.

I imagine you're all thinking I'm talking about The Byrne Affair, SwagScam, BlingGate or however you want to phrase it (I'm partial to BlingGate myself). But what really got me thinking was this story. A teacher from Igloolik is being charged and accused of chatting with a minor online and with sexual interference and assault.

Aside from being a teacher in Nunavut, I imagine he's also a co-worker of some friends of ours in that community. They haven't said anything because they're out of the territory, plus they're getting married shortly. They have a few other things on their minds.

However, I did hear a story on CBC North and of course everyone in the community is talking about it. And all I could think is that if this turns out to have been a mistake or misunderstanding it doesn't matter. He can never teach in that community again. People won't trust him. They probably won't send their kids to school if he's supposed to teach them. His career as a teacher in Igloolik, and probably all of Nunavut, is effectively over.

Understand if he's guilty, then I have not much in the way of sympathy. He gets what he deserves. But if he's not, well, that's a hell of a price to pay for someone else's mistake

It's something these guys are all too familiar with.

Now as for Ed Byrne, Randy Collins, Wally Anderson, Jim Walsh and Billy Murray they're all in a world of trouble. It doesn't take much to convince the average person that a politician is up to something crooked. They might survive all of this if it's found to have been some kind of colossal error, but I doubt it. Ed Byrne career is effectively over, I don't care how well he has lawyered up. Again, if he's guilty then he deserves what he gets.

But understand it's going to be months, if not years, before this gets to courts or things become a lot clearer than they are now. And these poor bastards are just going to hang out there and be thought of as guilty. And I'm not entirely sure that's fair.

The timing of all of this is odd, but does make sense. The Auditor General doesn't normally issue a report until December - that way a government can bury bad news during Christmas, when everyone is too busy to pay attention. This comes out in the summer, again when everyone is hopefully too busy enjoying the nice weather people are apparently having back home. Also, it offers the benefit of distance. If this had come out at Christmas, it's entirely too close to the October 2007 general election. This buys the government an extra six months, no matter that the AG appears to be only in the beginning stages of his investigation.

So far all political parties are looking bad and Williams appears to be escaping criticism by being aggressive in his tactics. That might hold up, but I guess we'll see. I haven't commented much on this racket because this really is one of those stories where distance is an issue. I can't get the same feel for what's happening by reading the news online and bloggers. You really need to be there. It's vastly frustrating for me.

Then again, it could be worse...I could be roasted alive in the court of public opinion like the poor bastards above. They might all be guilty. They might deserve all of what they're going through and more. But until they're actually found guilty of something, well, it's hard not to feel a touch of sympathy for them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jobs, planes, Jennings and Snakes!

So barring any surprises from the RCMP, I'm now officially employed full-time for the next three years. Signed the contract today. I just need to go through the criminal record check, which I'm not anticipating any troubles with.

It certainly took a bit longer than I thought getting a job in Iqaluit. I'm probably not the only person to hit town and think they will have no problem getting a job, only to be smacked in the face by cold, hard reality (Reality, by the way, is extra cold in January). There are challenges to gaining employment here. There might have been a window at some point where you could walk off the plane and someone would hand you a job. And it is still possible if you have specialized skills or don't mind taking a job working at the North Mart or Arctic Ventures.

But for most federal and territorial government work, patience and persistence is absolutely necessary.

I'm just glad it's worked out. I can go on vacation at not worry about a job or how much money I'm spending. Not that we're going to go crazy with the spending, but it's not to know you don't have to obsess about every penny spent.

Which is a useful attitude to have, what with Cathy booking her flight home for Christmas this evening. So that's another couple of thousand on the card. It's slightly maddening that the flight from Ottawa to St. John's on CanJet is one-third the cost of flying from Iqaluit to Ottawa. Jesus, Mary and Joseph...

CanJet also allows pets in the cabin, which is a plus. That highly restrictive pet policy is going to bite Air Canada in the ass. Preventing people from being able to travel with their pets over Christmas is idiotic.

And now, two links for your entertainment pleasure...

1. Did you know that Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy fame has a blog? Ordinarily, perhaps not something to care about. However, he is informative, entertaining and pretty damn funny. I mean, I never envisioned Mormons with much of a sense of humour, but Jennings has a pretty good one. The bit where he makes fun of Tom Cruise is a near head exploding moment. There's something about a Mormon making fun of a Scientologist that feels odd. Funny as well, but really, really strange...

2. It's SNAKES ON A MOTHERF&@KING PLANE, dude! Or at least the first official trailer for it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

She made it

After weeks of wondering if she was going to go completely mad, Cathy has finally cleared the last major hurdle and had her last day with the kids. There were days I was wondering if she was going to make it. Teachers are wobbly creatures in June. You have to handle them delicately or they might just snap completely. I've learned this now. Every June, for the next 25 odd years, I'm going to have to deal with my lovely, rock solid wife going slightly binky in June.

She has one more day tomorrow to clean-up the classroom and whatnot. Then on July 3 she heads back to St. John's. So if you want to see her while she's in town, drop her a line or give her a call, I know she's going to be looking for things to do and people to hang out with.

She also found out today that a new teacher at her school in September is someone she knows and who actually contacted us via my blog. If I'm not mistaken, they have a blog as well (I'm not going to say which one because it's not really my place), so in a few months time there might be two Newfoundland/Iqaluit blogs operating up here.

I should mention this, just in case it's not obvious. I do get the occasional e-mail from people wanting to know stuff about Iqaluit, what it's like and job prospects. If people do have questions, by all means, drop me a line or ask away in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer. It's least I can do. I figure at the rate things are going, we'll have enough Newfoundlanders here to take over anyway in a few years.

This doesn't always mean I'll know what I'm talking about. When the above people asked about the teaching prospects in town, we were both a bit grim. Not because we didn't like them, but because we realistically thought that most of the hiring had already been done and that it was becoming next to impossible to get a teaching job in Iqaluit from down south.

Goes to show what we know.

Monday, June 26, 2006

New collection

Last year when we were thinking out gifts to give to our wedding guests we decided to go with a mixed CD of some our favourite songs, plus stuff we just generally liked. I mean, I wouldn't want people to read too much into "Hungry Like The Wolf" by Reel Big Fish. We just liked that version of the song an awful lot.

It seemed to go over pretty well. I think Colleen Power might have sold an extra 20 records just from people who fell in love with "Leavin' Song". And if nothing else, people seemed to appreciate having the CD to use as a fan. To say it has a bit hot during the meal would be an under-estimate. It was broiling during the reception.

So with the one year anniversary coming up we thought it might be an idea to do a follow-up. Now, we did a lot of copies last time and I have no plans of doing that again this year. It's probably just going to be 10-12 CDs for close friends and selected family members. So if you're either and reading this blog and you don't get a CD, don't take offence. It's just that I don't want to spend my summer making CDs.

Picking these songs is always a bit of a challenge. You don't want it to be all sappy love songs, but you also don't want songs that will make people wondering if divorce is imminent.

You know, picking Bruce Cockburn's "Coldest Night of the Year" might seem clever when you're in the arctic, but listening to the lyrics is another matter.

Then there's the differing musical tastes. We each have veto power. So while I love Garbage, the New Pornographers, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen, Cathy doesn't really care for any of them. She also likes some pop stuff that I'd sooner gouge my ears out than listen to. Bon Jovi, for example. Her musical re-education goes slowly, but I have decades to wear her down.

This has always been a minor problem with us...we have very different tastes in music. Cathy likes top 40 pop. I used to at one point until the folks at the Muse and CHMR thoroughly screwed up my musical sensibilities. Which is why I can listen to the above artists and then stuff like the Chieftains, Neko Case and other stuff that just baffles her.

Anyway, it can make putting together this kind of CD a bit of a challenge, but we have about 25 songs on the short list so far. And, it's fun. It's nice to hop through the music selection and finding stuff I haven't listened to in awhile.

And now if you excuse me, I have to go and hunt down a copy of "Sinnerman" by Nina Simone. I wouldn't read too much into that, though. Honestly.

Safe, I guess...

It's now a little more than a month until we fly off to San Francisco for a much needed break. We're both really looking forward to the vacation, which will be the first one we had since the week in the Dominican last Easter. It also marks the first time that I can think of that I won't be seriously worrying about money during a vacation. Even in the Dominican last year, with most of the expenses paid, there was still some worries about doing all the little things available at those resorts designed to get you to part with your money. We simply didn't have the money for jet-skiing or scuba diving.

This year is different, what with us both employed with good jobs. So while we won't be going crazy with money, we certainly will be enjoying ourselves. Hence, for example, the convertible Mustang we've rented for a week.

The one potential hiccup that I saw was the World Cup.

Yes, I know it's in Germany.

You see, during our time in San Francisco we'll be staying for five or six days with my good friend Jaap, who is, as you might be able to tell from the name, Dutch.

Now, the way the World Cup was shaping up, it looked like a real possibility that England (who I'm cheering for) and the Netherlands (who Jaap is rabid for) would meet in the quarterfinals. If this happened, there was going to be a lot of mocking, baiting and threats of myself and Cathy having to sleep on the street if England beat the Netherlands. Which, let's face it, was probably going to happen.

All that was needed was for England to beat Ecuador (which they barely did) and the Dutch to be Portugal.

Yeah, that last part didn't work out. Although I will say it was entertaining in a street brawl sort of way. I don't think there's been a dirtier match in the tournament so far. Both teams were guilty of it, although I think Portugal was worse and got away with it a bit more often.

So the bad news is that the Netherlands is out. The good news is, that the Netherlands kicked the holy crap out of Portugal meaning half their team is injured while the other half is either suspended or one yellow card away from it.

The best news is we don't have to worry about finding another place to sleep while we're in San Francisco. Although Jaap did say he wouldn't be happy if England failed to beat Portugal next week. So maybe there will be some added suspense to the game after all...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Music suggestions...

So I'm sending Cathy back home early next month...damaged goods and all...


Um, yeah, like I was saying, Cathy is heading home for a much needed break after putting up with the kids for the past 10 months. And for those of you wishing to point out that we've been together for nearly five years and has been putting up with me for longer than 10 months, she knows that.

Anyway, along with getting to see friends, eat at restaurants and visiting her folks, she'll be doing a resupply run. That can mean everything from clothes, pet supples, some food and whatnot. It can also mean music.

While I get a lot of my music online these days, it can be frustrating trying to get local music that way. I've made this vent before, but I wish it was easier to get local music online. Yes, there's myspace, but that isn't the be all and end all.

So here's the thing, for those living in Newfoundland, give me some music recommendations. Here's the conditions:
- Needs to have been released since August 1995.
- You don't need to suggest Sean Panting or Mark Bragg as I have them already.
- I also already plan to ask Cathy to pick up the Hey Rosetta! and Ron Hynes latest.

So any other ideas are welcome. I do miss Newfoundland music sometimes.

On an unrelated note, I just watched Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang with Robert Downey jr. and Val Kilmer. You need to go and rent this film. It's one big quote fest. It's weird, but noir funny weird. It's also the first movie Kilmer has been in in ages that I haven't wanted to hit him.

Best quote?

Harry: I swear to God, it's like somebody took America by the East Coast, and shook it, and all the normal girls managed to hang on.
Harmony: OK, everyone who hates Harry raise your hand!
[all the girls in the club raise their hands]
Perry: See that? Obedient little bitches too.
[Girl screams "Fuck you!" and throws a glass, which he dodges]

Friday, June 23, 2006

Rodents no more...

At the risk of having everyone in the great St. John's area suffer hearing damage from Colette's high pitched girlie squeals, I present to you to the latest pictures of the puppies. Also, my friend Seamus might want to get some insulin just in case a diabetic coma is imminent.

To my knowledge, the puppies are between four and five weeks old now. So we have serious cuteness happening.

Apparently they're becoming difficult to photography because they're becoming very "squirmy". We've also received the list of supplies we should buy from the breeder. It includes, as best I can figures, about $100 worth of combs and brushes. Which is a bit much, I should think.

Less than two months until we get the dog. Thank god...Cathy is driving me slowly mad. I'm starting to hear "Doggie!" in my sleep.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

How Ed Byrne must be feeling today

I should say in fairness that this isn't a recent picture. It was taken September 29, 2003 - the day the last provincial election was called. Ed was stuck on stage under the hot lights for a good 45 minutes waiting for Roger Grimes and the Liberals to stop talking so the Conservatives could announce their platform. Make them wait, and make them sweat. It's a dirty trick, but hardly a new or unexpected one. Everybody was warm and the room was sweltering, but for some reason Ed was just dying up on stage, as you can probably tell.

I imagine he's much the same way today. Especially with the realization that he could be in a lot of trouble.

I'm sure the whole story isn't out yet, but at least initially it doesn't look too good. And it would not surprise me if more MHAs get burned on this. I stand to be corrected, but isn't this the first time the Auditor General has been allowed to have a crack at constituency allowance claims? If it is, I imagine there is a small horror show of abuses about to come out.

Byrne might not be the only one looking like this before all is said and done.

(Photo Copyright Craig Welsh and The Express)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Idols away...

So in a decision that I knew going in meant wasting two hours of my life that I was never going to get back, I watched Canadian Idol last night.

I'm not a regular viewer of Canadian Idol. It's the first time I've watched it this season because I have no interest in the part of the show where it's just horrible singers embarrassing themselves. It's terrible to watch and I won't subject myself to it. I missed most of last season, what with weddings and a move. But I do like to catch it on occasion, just to see how the Newfoundlander is doing.

And there is always a Newfoundlander. I'm astonished the judges don't screen them all out. Because letting even one escape into the wild where the audience members can vote for them generally means they're going to go further than their talent. Because Newfoundlander will rally and vote for them until the bitter end.

And for those of you wondering how much of a difference a province with barely 500,000 people can make, consider the following points:
1. Just about everyone of those 500,000 are going to vote for the Newfoundlander, no matter what part of the province they're from. Other provinces don't rally around their contestants as rabidly. Someone from Calgary will get lots of votes from people in her home city, but the rest of the province might not give a damn.
2. There are more than 500,000 Newfoundlanders in Canada. A Reader's Digest story recently said there are 200,000 in exile in other parts of Canada. Personally, I think that's a low number. And it likely doesn't include any children they had out of province during the exile.
3. Newfoundlanders will zealously vote for anyone, regardless of the level of talent because they feel that if only this kid become Canadian Idol the rest of Canada will take us more seriously. It's a massive inferiority complex projected onto a karokee contest.

Of the three Idols so far, Jenny Gear had the most talent, but was such a mismatch with the show she was doomed. She's also did the poorest job of taking advantage of the opportunity. Great voice, wonderful stage presence, lousy business sense. Jason Greeley was always just a bit...creepy. Nice enough guy and certainly worked hard at taking advantage of the opportunity he was given. I doubt if he'll make it big, but he should do ok as a regional talent.

Rex Goudie was always a bit of a mystery. Decent enough voice, although it was failing badly on him towards the end of the show. But tons of looks and personality, which I guess shows how far you can go on that sort of thing. By the way, his first record isn't bad, but it's hardly genius. It'll be interesting to see how the second one goes, although to be honest I'm more looking forward to another Jenny Gear record, assuming she can get her act together.

As for the new kid, Craig Sharpe, ummmm, yeah. It's going to be interesting to see if the province rallies around him. He could do it, but he seems awfully....effemine, There was a point where he was singing a duet with a girl from Newfoundland and myself and Cathy said, at the same time, "Her voice is deeper than his..."

I don't know. There's something about him that freaks me out a bit. I guess we'll get to see more of him at least next week and get a better idea.

Oh, I figure at this point in the blog entry a few of you are wondering why I watch or care enough to write about it when I obviously have a healthy level of disdain for the show. I watch because about two years ago I wrote a column with The Express where I mocked the show, said Greeley wasn't good enough to win and that the fans on the Idol message boards displayed behavior that boarded on the psychotic.

I got lovely e-mail and comments on the message board. Finely, and not so finely, crafted missives of disdain and hate. It was lovely stuff. Having teenagers across the country express their hate and contempt for you is kind of addicting. It's a good enough reason to pop by and watch a crappy karokee show and bitch about it on a blog. Just in case they find me again.

Yes, I am a strange man.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Longest day of the year

So Summer Solstice hits officially at 8:26 a.m. EDT on June 21. So that makes either today or tomorrow the longest day/shortest night of the year in these parts. To give you an idea of what that means in Iqaluit, the sun rose at 2:11 a.m. today and sets at 11 p.m. Tomorrow might actually be the longest day of the year, but if it is, it's by seconds.

So what's it like when the sun goes down? You can't really tell the difference. It's like being outside around 8 p.m. in St. John's at this time of the year. I was going to go out and get a photograph around midnight tonight to give you and idea, but it's cloudy with drizzle today. Actually, it's going to be this way for the rest of the week. The weather is rather sucky. It's like spring in Newfoundland. Still, the amount of daylight isn't going to radically change in the next week or so. I'll try and get a photo when the weather clears.

Occasionally, and I guess this is partly due to the daylight, you start coming up with weird story ideas around the strange tricks of daylight. You can tell interesting stories - Insomnia is one about too much daylight. 30 Days of Night is a brilliant idea about vampires attacking a community in Alaska above the arctic circle, where it's dark for 30 days a year.

It was only the other day, when it was about as close to dark as it gets and when I saw a thin, translucent slice of moon in the sky that I thought, in typical geek fashion, "I wonder what happens to werewolves in the arctic during the summer? If you can't see the moon, or it isn't fully visible, what would happen?"

Which might sound like an interesting idea to explore until I thought of how it would end. Eventually, the poor bastard would turn into a werewolf, be promptly shot by an Inuit hunter, who would sell the pelt to someone down south to turn into a coat ("Genuine Werewolf!"...I wonder, would Heather McCartney get upset? And furthermore, how much would I pay to see her try to cuddle one?) and sell the bones to an artisan, who would promptly turn it into a carving that someone will try and sell to me at the Frobe on a Friday night. Best not to think about what would happen to the meat.

So yeah, maybe a short story.

Part of my problem in trying to write stories is I too often dip into genres that I'm familiar with, but have been done to death. I thought I had an idea for a vampire story a few months ago until I had the horrific realization that I was putting together a kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic except the story was being told by a townie version of Angel who runs into a baychick version of Buffy.

I think I sobbed when I realized.

It also made me appreciate this story idea all the more. A book editor snaps after reading one too many bad vampire manuscripts and becomes a serial killer who only hunts vampire authors. Now that's a clever idea. I got the feeling if my story had made it to her, I would have probably made her list.

Hmmmm, funny the places you can end up when talking about the lack of night....I wonder if there is a correlation?

Monday, June 19, 2006

New routine

I was chatting with dad last night when he dropped a small bombshell on me - he's changing delivery routes.

My dad, for those of you who don't know, is a mailman. Or a letter carrier. Or a postman. Or whatever you want to call him. For the better part of the past 35 years he's gotten up at 6:30 a.m., been into the office at 7 a.m. to sort mail and then on the streets by 8:30 a.m. He now has the most seniority of any postman in St. John's and says he's going to retire next March. Frankly, I'll believe it when I see it. He still loves the job. He likes the exercise. He likes meeting people along the route. And he loves not being in an office with a supervisor lurking around.

He does his thing and gets paid well for it.

For the past 25 odd years he's had the same route, which is in Virginia Park in the east end of St. John's. By pure coincidence (not really) his house happens to be on this route. It's been a real convenience for him. He gets to know all the neighbours, gets a ton of recognition and respect (people in the neighbourhood love my father and instantly recognize him) and can have lunch at home. He can also, which is one of those things that people in the neighbourhood love, take his dog along part of the route with him. He did it with Sera for her brief life (killed by a car over a weekend and the bitch of a driver sued my dad for damages to her car and won) and he's done it with Abby.

There's just something about the postman coming to your house with a big, bouncy Golden Retriever trailing behind that people think is cool.

It was cool enough that I successfully pitched an idea to CBC's Outfront about dad, Abby and delivering mail to the same neighbourhood. Sadly, it never got made because myself and the producer had a disagreement over the piece. She felt it lacked enough of a grab and wanted to work in how I felt about my parents divorce as I was preparing to get married myself. It was an area I had zero interest in telling. I wanted to produce something nice for my dad, like I had with Dups and his citizenship ceremony.

I should say that while I think it's cool now, growing up it kind of sucked, especially in university. If you had a bad semester you could try and grab the marks and hide them from your folks. No such luck with your dad delivers the marks, hands them to you and waits for you to open them in front of him. That rather sucks.

Anyway, I thought my dad would be on the route until he retired. It just seemed appropriate. But according to the conversation last night, he started a new route today. He no longer delivers in Virginia Park. He's moved to around the Stirling Crescent/Newfoundland Drive area. Apparently he wanted a bit of a change of pace. Also, the new route is a bit easier. The townhouses of Virginia Park can be a bitch to deliver to during the winter

(It apparently had nothing to do with his Father's Day gift - The Oxford Atlas of the World - which he apparently put on a scale and discovered weight about 17 pounds.)

I was just about bowled over. He's talked about it before, but I never thought he would do it. People in the neighbourhood are appalled and have apparently called Canada Post to protest, which is weird, touching and amusing all in one.

The fact that he did this makes me think that he might actually be serious about the whole retiring thing. I suspect that's going to be an interesting trauma for both of us. Him, adapting to life without work. Me, for having a dad who is old enough to be "retired."

By the way, on the off-chance any of his co-workers are reading this, go easy on the mocking, okay?


Decided to take a day off blogging yesterday. Partly because I don't think anyone was on the Internet yesterday, judging by my site stats. The other reason was that my back was killing me. Somehow I managed to wrench it on Friday. And while it wasn't bothering me much on Friday, it managed to get keep getting worse as the weekend progressed. So by the time Saturday night came along I wasn't much in the mood to do anything. Sunday was about the same.

So this was an exceptionally lazy weekend, spent doing little more than lying on the couch with a heating pad on my back, playing Civ IV and watching a lot of sports. I think I saw five of the six World Cup games, the Stanley Cup final and the Basketball championships. The only things I didn't watch was baseball (I loathe inter-league play) and the U.S. Open because I have resigned myself to never understanding golf.

It should just be noted that Cathy has infinite patience. Not for dealing with me and the aching back. For putting up with that much sports.

The back still hurts this morning, but I'm still going to try and go to work with it. If it's still bad by lunch time, I think I'm going to break and go buy some muscle relaxants.

But just so this isn't all whining, I give you some marginally useful information this morning. CBC announced this new fall line-up last week. Ordinarily, not that big of a piece of news. Honestly, other than the show Intelligence, there isn't much I'll be going out of way to check out. Then again, these are the days when I watch CBC for news and current affairs programming and not drama and sitcoms.

What was interesting was that the 1-2 stories I read didn't make any mention of Hatching, Matching and Dispatching. So I figured it was dead. The CBC has a new person in charge of programming. You bring a new person into that position and they tend to want to put their on stamp on things. That means killing projects that didn't begin with them. HMD was one of those marginal projects with the CBC. I didn't hear any ratings numbers for the show, but I figure it didn't set the Canadian airwaves on fire.

But no, it appears I was wrong. The show is "back in development". Which is certainly better than its sister show (they both survived that voting stunt the CBC pulled a few years ago) Getting Along Famously, which is gone.

No word on when it's coming back and how big the episode order will be. But it lives for another day.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Father's Day without the card

Tomorrow is Father's Day and I've managed to dodge the bullet for another year and give him something I think he'll actually like. It is always, to be honest, a pain in the ass to find something for my parents. Dad isn't quite as bad as mom, but he has his moments. Thankfully, he's acquired a travelling bug in the past five years. So travel books, equipment, clothing, etc have been a nice fallback the last few years.

I'm also trying to resist the urge to shower him with rocks (ie, some of the amazing, and astonishingly reasonably priced, sculpture you can buy here). Then again, his birthday is next month so there is always the possibility of more rocks. Another nice thing....I have money. It's the first time in my life I've really not had to worry about money. So I can actually buy my mother and father decent gifts. I like being able to spend on them and not worry a lot about it. Mom is still happy with what she got last year for her Christmas/birthday gift. I find that while buying for my mom is hard, gold normally puts a smile on her face.

And no, I'm not worried about him finding out. While my father is a good guy with many abilities and I owe him a lot, one of his talents and abilities doesn't include anything in the way of computer skills. So unless one of you rat me out, he'll never know.

Anyway, I do have a gripe about Father's Day. While dad got his gift on Wednesday (that was impressive speed on Chapters part, since I ordered it last Saturday) he won't be getting a card. I normally do try and buy cards for occasions like this. And I always try to buy funny ones because I'm sure no one actually reads the cards with poetic verses. At least I don't. So if you ever sent me one, thanks, but odds are it went unread. I just find them boring and a bit pretencious.

But a funny card...You know people are going to read it and hopefully get a chuckle out of it. It's the only way I can justify spending a ridiculous amount of money on something people will spend 30 seconds with.

The problem is, there are four kinds of cards that you can buy for your dad on Father's Day, his birthday, Christmas or whatever occasions. And these are the percentages of their availability.

1. A card with a fart joke involving your dad - 33%
2. A card with a golf joke involving your dad - 33%
3. A card about his inability/fixation with tools - 33%
4. Anything else - 1%

I consider fart jokes to be about one of the lowest forms of humour around, my dad doesn't golf and tools are just one of those things that exist and he uses if he has to. So this makes getting a decent card an annual challenge that I dread. This year, I just bailed. The card selection in Iqaluit is even more limited than what you would find in St. John's. So I'm using the distance as an excuse.

I'm sure he won't mind. And hopefully he'll like the gift.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A little spring cleaning...

To say that Iqaluit did not emerge from the spring thaw with grace and beauty would be an...understatement. All cities accumulate garbage as the snow falls. And once it disappears, well, I defy you to find many cities that look good in the first few weeks after the snow goes.

But the snow has been mostly gone in Iqaluit for a month, and even the ice is starting to disappear out in the bay (You can tell I'm acclimating because the last sentence did not make me sob). And yet, Iqaluit has not been pleasant on the eyes these last few weeks. I don't have any photos of how bad it was, but you can look at this story to get an idea.

You can ask questions about why it has gotten this bad, but I have no answers for you. However, it's nice that something got done today.

Basically, the city took the morning off (well, federal, territorial and municipal government employees along with others) and went around and cleaned the place up. It's actually astonishing the difference than a morning of hard work can make. The place is not perfect and I'm sad to note that I saw one or two pieces of garbage in spots at 5 p.m. that I know were clean at noon. And honestly, if I catch someone littering in the next few days I'm likely going to get arrested and to have to pay for that person's hospital bills after they have to surgically remove the garbage from where I will ram it.

But right now, the city looks nice. Iqaluit is always going to be a place that looks prettier in winter. Even on the roads, it's still cleaner than all the slush and brown snow you get in St. John's. It has a very pristine look. Iqaluit in summer is more brown and dusty. Once you get outside town, there is a real beauty to the place. But in town, in summer, well, it's tough love, I should think.

Still, it looks a lot better now. At least I can tell where the garbage dump ends and the city begins. And before today, I might have had some problems.

Flickr update

If there is one thing I've been shamefully negligent at since we arrived in Iqaluit it has been taking more pictures. I don't think I've updated Flicker since last fall. And yes, I should buy a membership, throw up all of the photos I have on my computer and better organize them. Maybe it's a project for July when Cathy is back in St. John's and I'm all alone here.

But that doesn't get around the point that I haven't taken many photos, especially with snow on the ground. Now, in my defence it gets awfully cold here during the winter and I don't know of many people who particularly feel like exposing their fingers to -40 or so to take some photos. And if my fingers don't like it, the camera isn't real fond of it either. Aside from the battery draining at rapid speed, I've also noticed a weird pixelization when I take photos if the camera has been outside for more than 15 minutes.

So that's the excuse, but next winter, I will try to do better. I keep think it would be nice to get one of the SLR Canon cameras. I've seen the pictures they take and they're so much better than my Sony. My camera does well, but I guess I'm suffering from photo envy, And I can't justify a new toy if I'm not using the old one enough.

Anyway, I've thrown about a dozen new photos taken last weekend up on Flickr. They're mostly of ice, but you do get some shots of Cathy and the city in there as well.

MUN update
1. Simon links to an excellent article from the New York Times about university rebranding.
2. Victoria Collins from MUN's administration was also on the Morning Show yesterday, but CBC hasn't updated the site. Check back later in the day and see if they fix that.
3. If you're still in a letter writing mood, why not drop a line to The MUN Gazette? The next issues comes out June 29, so to be on the safe side I would have letters to the editor in by June 22 at the absolute latest. Also, keep them to no more than 250-300 words or odds are they won't run them or will edit them for length.

Interesting how the only mention of the new logo and marketing scheme was four paragraph brief along with a weblink in the last issue. For something that MUN is clearly proud of and is planning on rolling out, I would have thought it have a larger presence in the paper.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ah, those Germans

Say what you will about Fark, they can occasionally come up with some clever headlines for their links. This is one of the better ones, talking about the World Cup game yesterday: "Germans smash through Polish defence. Again."

Granted, a 1-0 score with the winning goal coming in extra time is hardly smashing. And, a cynic might say that the Polish defence was a bit better than what the Germans faced in 1939, but that's besides the point really. The threat that I linked to, by the way, is a typical Fark thread. Meaning there's an equal chance you will laugh at something witty as you will want to go through the screen and throttle some immature idiot. So beware.

God help us if England plays Germany at any point. I know they've played before in the World Cup, but a game on German soil? Especially if it was in the final? Dear God....

And remember Don't Mention The War.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

You know what will happen, right?

Yes, I'm back whacking away at MUN, but I have three things to mention on it, so I figured it's as good enough reason to bring this up again.

1. I haven't seen this point raised yet, but if it has, then I apologize. But this occurred to me the other day. MUN has been saying to not worry, this is just marketing and the logo. The name of the university legally remains the same - Memorial University of Newfoundland.

However, you realize that's not going to last, right? This isn't me doing conspiracy theories or being paranoid. It really only makes sense. If the logo stays and remains the way it is now then some bright person in administration is going to come along in five years or so and say the following: "Well, our new logo of Memorial University has been quite successful and people have accepted it. And since people now accept that the name is now Memorial University it only makes sense that we officially change the name of the university to reflect the logo."

And then they'll pass it through the Senate and the Board of Regents all nice and stealthy like (because when it comes to doing things so stealthy that it's practically too late to do anything about it, the fine folks at MUN are real pros at it.). Next thing we all know, there will be a motion on the floor of the House of Assembly asking for the name of the university to be legally changed. And by then it will probably be too late.

So for those who say it's just marketing and making things simpler and stop getting in a huff about it, perhaps. Rather doubt it, though.

2. And here was I thinking the anti-logo campaign was pretty much only online. Apparently not, there is a written letter protest going on as well. Here's something from the CBC Morning Show on it, by some of the people who fought MUN's original attempts at changing the name. Skylarkd is mentioned in passing.

3. After checking out my statcounter and chatting with other bloggers who have also been checking their statcounters, I've come to the conclusion that I want a job with University Relations. It seems like all they do is spend their days surfing the web reading bloggers writing about MUN. I mean, I work for a living, so this whole surfing the web and reading blogs for a living sounds pretty sweet. Do you get benefits with that?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Who we are, apparently...

I found this personality quiz and chart on Penny's blog. It's certainly no worse than some quizes I've come across and at least it was creative in the way it made you answer questions. And hey, at least it says I'm a Respectful Leader and not a complete asshole.

Although I am amused to discover I have low empathy. The low attention to style should come as no surprise to anyone.

This is what Cathy had when she did the test. She thinks it's pretty accurate and is amused and unsurprised by the style results.

I have no idea how a household with two leaders is going to work. Then again, I have a sneaking suspicion that an Advocating Leader might trump a respected one. Just a hunch, you understand.

Oh dear lord

Isn’t this a sign of the apocalypse?

“And lo the Seventh Seal was broken and dueling biographies by ‘Rexperts’ were unleashed upon the land. And the seas boiled and the locusts ate all the wheat and there was a great lamination by the people and the squealing of teenage girls was heard everywhere.

“Then, mercifully, the world blew up. The End.”

No? Hmmmm…must have been one of those suppressed parts of the Bible that I heard about while watching the Da Vinci Code.

The scary thing is I know both of the reporters working on the books, at least in passing. And one of them, Kim Kielley, has my old job with The Express. That makes me wonder if I had stayed if Creative (which is part of the same company as The Express) would have offered me the job of writing the Rexography. Probably not. Kim has written at least one book before. Still, it’s one of those things…

I appreciate I have friends and family saying I ought to write a book one of these days, but I’m pretty certain they would disown me if my first one was a biography of a Canadian Idol.

Then again, Neil Gaiman wrote a Duran Duran biography. We’ve all got to start somewhere.

Monday, June 12, 2006


It's been making the rounds with several other blogs, but it can't hurt to mention it here as well. There is a petition to protest the new logo that drops Newfoundland from Memorial University of Newfoundland. It has a little more than 50 signatures as I write this and has probably been up for about 24 hours. I imagine it will get the 1,000 signatures it's aiming for before all is said and done.

Feel free to go and sign it. Having said that, I should put in the following two statements about petitions:

1. The only thing more useless than a signed petition on a piece of paper, is a petition signed on the Internet. If a petition on sheets of paper easily flies into the garbage, just imagine how easy it is dispose of one on the Internet.

2. Having said that, I am baffled that about a dozen people signed, or rather didn't sign, the petition as Anonymous. Honest to God, why bother? It's completely retarded. And yes, I know, it could be people working at MUN who are worried about signing a petition because they're concerned about retaliation.

To that, I can only say, if the MUN retaliates against staff for signing an online petition, we all have bigger concerns.

So sign it or don't sign it. But do not sign in Anonymous. It's just ridiculous.

Also, drop a line to the people below to let them know you're not happy about the decision.,

Long day

I think the near perpetual daylight finally claimed us last night (or late last day, depending on you look at it.) According to Environment Canada the sun is now setting at 10:52 p.m. and rising again at 2:16 a.m. So while we're not getting 24 hours of sunshine, we are getting 24 hours of daylight Saturday night I looked out the window at around 1 a.m. and there was a beautiful red sky out there, just like you would find at sunset. That's about as dark as it gets.

There are ways to prevent yourself from going mad with insomnia. Sometimes you just get used to it because you've lived here long enough. I know that Claire, who has lived in the land of 24 hour sunshine for probably more than a month now, and probably has another six weeks to go, used to do shift work with the RCMP. That means he can sleep through just about anything.

We've tried to do little things. We declare night in our apartment around 9 a.m. by closing the curtains and turning on lights. Your body starts to wind down a bit. You make sure you stick to your sleep routine and try to block out as much light as you can in the bedroom. Some people take to putting tinfoil up on the windows to block the light. We haven't gone that far yet, but too many more nights like last night and we might.

We just slipped last night. We had company over, with Simon up from Newfoundland to do some work in town. And we were glad to have the company, even if Simon seems to be handling the daylight thing much worse than we are. But you get wired up when there is company in town. And we didn't close the curtains on time. And a few other non-related slip-ups.

That means we tossed and turned last night. Both of us. Which means we are the walking dead this morning. We likely won't be alone. Iqaluit can sometimes resemble a Romero movie at this time of the year, especially since there is no Tim Hortons for your fix to get you going (there are other coffee shops, but for some, it's not the same).

Cathy will have it worse than me, though. I have a cozy office to head towards. She has a classroom. As I was driving Simon home last night around 10:30 in the bright sunshine, I passed in front of her school. There were about 50 kids playing on the basketball court. Some of them were in her class. And they were there for many hours afterwards, I'm sure.

So if you think all the daylight screws up adults, imagine what it does to kids. And worse yet, imagine the sleep deprived adults that have to take care of the thoroughly messed up kids.

No wonder this place gets weird during the summer months.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Three things...

1. So Niall and Rebecca are moving from St. John's to Montreal. I kind of heard that they might. I'm sorry I missed the party and the recovery breakfast at Ann's. She always makes the best recovery breakfasts. I am sorry to hear they're moving to Montreal (although it means they're only one plane flight away if we want to visit). But it does make the pool of friends living in St. John's that much smaller. And it wasn't that large to begin with at this point.

2. I got a reminder watching a pair of World Cup games today why I love this tournament so much. Yes, it's the chance to see some truly amazing football. And I adore the fans and deeply wish I could be there, dressed like a lunatic, chanting along. The guy from Trinidad and Tobago, in a red costume with his face painted and wearing a cape, making the sign of the cross in the last minutes of that game was particularly winning.

But mostly I love the commentary. The British guy calling the games is fantastic. Such a breath of air after ages of stale baseball, football and hockey commentary. "Well, that wasn't very well thought out." "Oh, what an absolutely brilliant ball!" and comments along those lines. It's so much more clever, passionate and occasionally very dry.

My favourite line from today? "And Trinidad and Tobago, who have had their dreams written off more times than the Mexican national debt...." See, that's brilliant. That alone is a reason to watch the games. I tried watching some of the Blue Jays game this afternoon, and just couldn't do it. Such a dull let down after a World Cup game. I imagine the Stanley Cup final this evening will be much the same.

3. I got James Blunt's last record after reading positively gushing reviews for it in the British press. However, after listening to it several times, I think it's about to go in the dumper. Cathy like it, though, so I'll load it onto her iPod before purging it.

I am relieved to see that the song "I'm Beautiful" is not only bugging the hell out of me, but one other as well. A voice missing too often from the pop culture landscape. A voice needed to mock the bafflingly popular crap pop music of today. Weird Al, save us!

Puppies - Week 2.5

I have been getting nagged from the grandmother and the godbitch of the puppies about the lack of recent puppy photos on the blog. To this I can only respond that I received new photos only yesterday. As for the reason why they were not immediately put on the blog, attribute it to work, a really good game of Civilizations, World Cup Football and a simply amazingly warm and beautiful day in Iqaluit.

But anyway, here are the puppies at 2.5 weeks old. And before the nagging begins again for more pictures, the breeder is out of town until the 20th of this month. Yes, she has someone to watch them. But don't expect new pictures until the 21st or so.

You may notice that the puppies are now distinctly less rat-like and have now developed eyes. There is also the inkling of scamp-like behaviour. I imagine they're going to be a lot more mischievous looking next time we see them. There is also the possibility of a video. If I can manage it, I'll put it up on the blog.

By the way, if you're deeply in love with these puppies, the breeder has two left from another litter born recently. Go to here if you want to see them.

Friday, June 09, 2006


I became aware of the effect that a rising or falling Canadian dollar could have on my life pretty young. Yes, there were a couple of trips to Florida which had parents grumbling about how they were getting murdered on the exchange rates. But I was mostly aware of it - surprise, surprise - through comic books.

One bright and sunny morning I went to the local corner store to see if there were any new comics in. It was there that I discovered that the prices had gone up...but only in Canada. It was still 50 cents US, but it now cost 60 cents to buy a comic in Canada, which I thought was pretty darn unfair. This was a trend that continued for years with the gap between the US price and the Canadian prices steadily increasing.

It pissed me off. It pissed off a lot of comic book collectors, especially since the companies seem to react awfully quick to jack up the prices in Canada when the exchange rate grew between the two countries, and awfully slow when the rate shrank.

I understand people in England have similar gripes.

It's why I found Link in the Toronto Star about the book expo this weekend interesting. Obvious a lot of Canadians are getting pretty damn upset about the difference in exchange rates, especially since the price differential is becoming grotesque. Book sellers are getting it full blast. Hopefully they're passing it on to the publishers.

I enjoy the excuses, by the way, that companies didn't see the soaring Canadian dollar a year ago. Maybe, but you certainly had an idea it was coming. It was still around 80 cents or more and the exchange rate they're charging is a damn bit more than that.

How bad is it? I took a look at three recent hardcovers I bought - Fall of Knight by Peter David, A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore and Jpod by Douglas Coupland. All retail for $24.95 US. Using a 10% exchange rate, they ought to cost about $27.50 Canadian. Hell, ever using a 20% exchange rate, they ought to cost about $30.

Fall of Knight and A Dirty Job both cost $32.95. Jpod is $34.95.

Yes, I get a discount through Chapters, which is the only reason I bought the books. If they were actually that much, I doubt I would have bought them. But still, there is a definite "we're getting gypped here" vibe. And again, funny how it takes a long time for the publishers to react when the exchange rate is shrinking than when it is falling.

Comic books, just for the record, are getting the same amount of flack. There was a recent interview with Marvel's Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada who said that price relief was coming "soon" for Canadian collectors. We'll see. I imagine it won't happen until the fall either, which is lull period in the comic industry after a busy summer.

Yes, it's business and I should get use to it. But that still doesn't mean I have to like it. Furthermore, it's only going ot change on new editions. I imagine the same outrageous price difference is going to remain on books published over the last year or so, but are still sitting on shelves. So the screwing is good for many more months to come.

And, you know I have a lot of stuff I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Might be time for me to take a bit of a break from buying new reading material for a couple of months. If we all did that, I wonder if the prices would magically drop a bit faster?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rock Star

Watching my friends get older (I have my doubts some will ever grow up) is occasionally an interesting and amusing experience. Some twists and turns are easy to see. Some are a surprise.

But watching Kirsten become a rock star is proving to be one of the most unexpected, amusing and genuinely cool twists in my circle.

Confession time here. Myself and Kirsten went out for two years back in the early 90s. However, we've been friends for far longer and actually talking about that part of our relationship feels mildly weird now. The fact that we stayed friends should come as a surprise to no one who knows me well at all, as I have a real God given ability to remains friends with women who either have no romantic interest in me or after we break up.

"I like you, but let's just be friends" can still give me cold sweats.

Anyway, that Kirsten is a computer genius doesn't surprise me. She was a whiz back at MUN, working on 8488's and other things that wouldn't power a calculator these days. She introduced me to e-mail, the internet and gave me the heads up that this really cool thing called mosaic (basically an early version of Netscape Navigator, I believe) was going to revolutionize the Internet. By the way, Cathy would like to have a few words with you about introducing me to all that Kirsten.

And she was always good with musical instruments and could sing. But she was shy. She came out of her shell the more time she spent at MUN, but I never thought she would ever get into performance.

Goes to show what I know. For those of you in Southern Ontario this weekend, or hitting a few shows at during the North by NorthEast (NXNE) event, catch Kirsten playing bass in the band Arctic. And hell, if you're out in Vancouver, track them down at some point.

I'd love to go. I know people who are musicians, but they were that way when I found them. It's different with Kirsten. She was a friend who later discovered she wanted to be a musician. She was willing to take that chance at a point where many people who have been chasing that dream for years have given up and are settling down.

I just find it quite cool and the best kind of surprise. Best of luck and knock them dead in Toronto.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bon voyage

Normally when I mention my very good friend Dups on this blog it's to mock him. I occasionally feel bad about this. I mean, I pick on the poor bastard an awful lot. But then again, a lot of people pick on him just a staggering amount. There's just something about the lad that brings out evil in us.

But in this case I come not to mock (well, maybe to mock a tiny bit), but to bid him farewell and safe journey. In a decision that most of his friends and co-workers consider to be quite mad, Dups is off on a two month journey starting tomorrow. That trip takes him to London, then across Europe on train to Moscow. From there he gets off and goes climbing a mountain (where they won't tell him how many people have died trying to climb it recently). After that, he gets back on the train, continues across Russia, into Siberia, down into Mongolia, before wrapping up the grand journey in Shanghai, China.

It's going to take about two months. I believe friends have taken to calling it the "Dead Dups Tour '06." There has been much chastising by lawyer friends that he doesn't have his will done up properly. He told me that one of his co-workers, a Russian guy, upon hearing what Dups was up to this summer, glanced at him and said "You're dead" and then turned back to his work.

Which you have to admit, might be a tad disconcerting if you were in Dups place.

Still, for all the mocking, I am a tad envious. It's a hell of a journey and part of me, despite the risks, wishes I could tag along. Cathy would kill me first, because why would someone else in Russia deprive her of the pleasure and it would save her months of potential worrying time. (Cathy says she wishes Dups all the best and to have a safe trip). One of these days I've really got to go along with one of Dups mad adventures. Assuming, you know, he survives this one.

I'll miss him while he's away, of course. And during his time on the road the 5th anniversary of his Canadian citizenship, which is July 1, will occur.

He became a Canadian citizen in Ottawa on Canada Day. I said at my wedding last year that this was the best day of my life. And as crazy and tiring as it was, it was the best day of my life. But that Canada Day, and the days leading up to it, is right up there. It's about as proud as I've ever been to be a Canadian. If you want an idea of what it was like, listen to this. It's a documentary I did for CBC's Outfront on the whole crazy affair.

Anyway, this is as sappy as I get, but safe journey my friend. And try not to come back with any Russian brides, okay?

More MUN, and then a break

Unless something new comes up, I'll likely give MUN ranting a rest for a few days. I actually have a backlog of other things I want to chat about, but I've been getting wrapped up in this MUN logo thing. So a few points...

1. Skylarkd is actually keeping track of blog entries and comments regarding MUN's new logo and the controversy over dropping Newfoundland. Worth taking a look at if you're interested on what others are saying.

2. One of those links is to The Muse. It's interesting to see that most of the racket on campus is on whether or not the logo is attractive rather than on the matter of dropping Newfoundland from it. Also worth noting that the advertising guys picked up on the Alberta reference apparently before Liam. I think that makes things worse, actually. The Muse also does an an editorial in which they're not enthralled by the logo, but really hate the new slogan - "Become."

Which, you have to admit, quite possibly sucks harder than the logo.

(As a sidenote, I'm going to rush the Muse office one of these days and beat the editorial staff blue until they finally goddamn realize that editorials do not have "I", "Me", "Mine", etc. That's what's known as a column, kids. It's isn't an editorial.)

3. My insane traffic rush has mutated from Liberals into MUN alumni, apparently. I'm still at about double normal levels.

And I was wondering when they were going to get here - a special "Hi!" to University Relations. David, drop me a line sometime and we can commiserate about life on the other side of the media fence.

4. This thought hit me today...the old MUN clothing line is going to be phased out this summer. Time to send Cathy onto campus when she goes home in a couple of weeks and get some MUN clothing while it lasts.

(Subliminal) Truth in advertising...

Liam joins the fray on the MUN logo fiasco and points out something really quite eerie....that being, have you noticed how much the red section of the logo looks exactly like a sideways map of Alberta?

Where was that marketing company from again? Looks suspicious to me...

"Come to Memorial University (of Newfoundland). We'll train you for exciting career opportunities in Alberta..."

Then again, maybe this is all just a precursor to renaming the campus - Memorial University of Alberta, St. John's campus.

I swear to God, there are times when I think that Lorraine Lush is secretly running that university...

(The above was irony and sarcasm, by the way.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ahhhhh! Liberals!

My blog is being over run with Liberals! They're everywhere! Jesus Christ, does anyone have a vaccine? A spray even? Some kind of zapper?

In all seriousness, though, that was a bizarre 24 hours. I've seen some weird spikes in my blog stats before. When Darren Barefoot linked to my series on pitching to entertainment writers (see the sidebar), my numbers shot up. When I discussed curling porn, my numbers (sadly) shot up. And when I was pissed off with MUN over Dr. Chandra back in February, my numbers spiked. Although to be honest, about a third of the page hits were coming from University Relations.

But then on Sunday night, Ed linked to an article about the press gallery I wrote last month. Which apparently also was posted on some blogrolling site that updates Liberal blogs. The next thing I know, my site stats triple in 24 hours. I'm covered in Liberals!

Actually, it's mildly depressing. Either the article was so amazing that Liberals everywhere felt compelled to swing by and take a look, or Ed just has some truly appalling traffic numbers on his blog. The kind that makes me weep with envy. I suspect the later.

Anyway, the crest seems to be over and the numbers are easing back down. Oh, and just for the record and for any lingering Liberals, I am not a Liberal. I hold not party affiliation and vote for whoever is making the most sense in an election combined with whether or not they've fielded a half-way competent candidate in my riding.

As I'm sure you can all appreciate that's a pretty rare confluence of events....

Monday, June 05, 2006

Embarrassed to be in Newfoundland

I've had my spats with Memorial University of Newfoundland over the years. When I was a student, and especially while a student journalist, I disagreed with policies of the university or the way they treated students. And that hasn't changed since I graduated. I disagreed with MUN on different things. For instance, I have never liked the way Alumni Affairs asks for money at Convocation. You have your degree for 30 seconds and there they are asking for a donation, normally of $100 or more. Even Student Aid gives you six months before they start hounding your for money.

Most recently I vigorously disagreed with their handling of the Dr. Chandra scandal. And then there's Wanda Young and other things as well...

And, of course, I disagree with any attempts to change the name of the place. I graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland, not Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. And certainly not from Memorial University.

So when MUN announced its new marketing plan, with Newfoundland conveniently absent, I was deeply annoyed. However, both Cove Blogger and Skylarkd wrote very nice pieces about it, so I was content to let it lie and just link to them.

But then I went and followed one of the links in Skylarkd's post (by the way, that is a seriously nice piece of writing. My compliments) which took me to the FAQ list that MUN has created about the new logo.

It's at that point, once I finished reading it, that I temporarily lost my mind.

Go ahead and read it. I'll wait.

Notice anything missing? How about the fact that the word "Newfoundland" does not appear anywhere in the FAQ (the logo on the top of the page doesn't count). Not even in the section where they explain the name change.

"This form also reflects our origins as a living war memorial and avoids the geographic reference which no longer matches that of the province." They can't even say Newfoundland or Newfoundland and Labrador. It's the province.

I swear to God, I think I'm the graduate of a university that's embarrassed it's in Newfoundland. "If only the university could be some place cool, like Quebec. But no, it's in Newfoundland (and Labrador). Oh well." Followed by a big, dramatic sigh.

This story from the CBC doesn't help much either, what with Victoria Collins saying (it's paraphrased in the story) that she expects some backlash, but a fresh look is needed.

You know, you don't need a genius in marketing, I'm sure, to create a "fresh" look that can put in "of Newfoundland" somewhere in the logo. Skylarkd manage to do it pretty easily.

I appreciate that saying the people running the university appear to be elitist snobs who have a bad tendency to look down their nose at others is much like saying the harbour smells a little funny, but My God. I don't care how much testing MUN did, there is no way the majority of students and alumni think this is a good idea. It almost feels like they're hoping prospective students won't notice where the university is located until they get off the plane in St. John's and discover that this is, in fact, not Florida. Or perhaps in the wake of the Dr. Chandra ethics scandal, they're hoping that people might get the two confused.

"Oh no, Dr. Chandra worked with Memorial University of Newfoundland. This is Memorial University. Different school altogether."

For the record, MUN has done a lot of good things over the years. But when they decide to do something idiotic, they don't do it by half measures, that's for sure. If you're disgusted by this, then please e-mail the university's marketing and communications group at, and the university president Axel Meisen at

If we're lucky, we can kill this before it gets much stupider...and more offensive.

The day before the end of the world...

I would quote REM's "It's the end of the world as we know it", but it clocks in at 4:05, which is neither as fun as 6:66 (well, I guess it would be 7 minutes and 6 seconds), nor does it make it under John Gushue's 3:30 meme.

Still, since we're on the Eve of Destruction (can't find the running time), I figure I would take a look and see how the impending end of the world is coming along, what with tomorrow being June 6, 2006 (666).

1. Who knew there was a word for fear of 666? Apparently there is.

2. It's nice to see that Hell is finding a way of turning a profit on its big day.

3. So far, so good in Australia. Although the thing I find the most amusing about this story is the reaction of witches and Satanist. "Witches across Australia are cheerfully regarding this whole 06/06/06 thing as a load of old cobblers." As it stands, I happen to be friends with a couple of witches, and I'm sure that's their reaction as well.

4. That movie reviewer are going to end up in Hell is pretty much a given (or at least the feverent wish of most people in the movie industry). But you have to wonder if there is a special place waiting for those who trash The Omen...

Sunday, June 04, 2006


No doubt most of you have read an article at some point in the past 10 years stating "Comics books aren't just for kids anymore." Sadly, there is normally a "Biff! Boom! Pow!" in front of the sentence, pretty much undermining the point that the writer is trying to make (Remember, in many daily newspapers, reporters don't write the headlines).

This has generally meant more grown-up storylines in the major super-hero comics and, more importantly, many series clearly designed for an adult audience. Maus, Persopolis, From Hell, V For Vendetta, Black Hole and Blankets are just a few that I can think off the top of my head. Which is good. I believe either Neil Gaiman or Warren Ellis made the analogy of how imagine that the only type of fiction you could read was nurse romance fiction. And while you might be a big fan of that genre, wouldn't it drive you nuts if that was all you could read?

Pretty much the same with comic books. I love super-heroes, but if it was all I read, I think I would have given up on comic books years ago.

I'm not saying the industry has completely grown-up. The media campaign around the new Batwoman struck me as a bit....icky. Not that I care about the character's sexuality. It's being described as a "lipstick lesbian" and marketing it before the character has barely made an appearance. She doesn't even have a series scheduled. It felt more like a "here's some wanking material for you, fanboys" rather than a "we're trying to diversify our characters" which I think is a worthwhile idea.

But here's the other thing about comic books these days. As I've grown older, the average age of the comic book reader has stayed pretty close to my age. I was seven when I started and I'm 36 now. When I was seven I had to beg, borrow and steal (I didn't mom and dad, honestly) to get money for comics. And this was when comics were 35 cents (the first comic I bought had "Still only 30 cents!" on the cover). In terms of the industry, that's pretty much all the produced were single comics. Since most of their readers were under 10 and had to beg for pennies, trying to get money for expensive collections likely wasn't going to fly.

As I've gotten older, obviously the amount of disposable income has increased. Granted, comics go for about $3 each and my days of collecting more than 30 titles a month (I was up to about 40 at one point in the early 90s when I was heavily flushed with cash) are over and done with.

But I do have the income to buy the very nice and expensive items that comic book companies come out with. The exclusive hard covers with top notch paper, oversize pages and are, in geek speak, "very pretty."

I already own several of these, including Absolute Authority (Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch) and Absolute Planetary (Warren Ellis and John Cassidy). They are very nice books, and I have no problems with the $50 each I paid for them. I don't do it often, but certainly the seven year old in me, the one that wasn't allowed to go to The Escape Hatch (this was before it became a porn store and burned down) and buy all those back issues I wanted, relishes being able to do this kind of thing.

But now there is a new pretty coming up - Absolute Sandman, Volume 1 - which collects teh first 20 issues, or about three trade paperbacks. There will be four over all, and they will reprint the 75 issues run (and probably collect a few odds and ends as well) and I will absolutely be buying these. I have all the original issues, but never bothered buy the various trade paperbacks over the years. No idea why. Probably didn't see the need since I already had the originals.

But I will be buying the four of these. Why? Because there were numerous little errors in the original run. Colour schemes that were off, typos, dropped word balloons, etc. Also, most of the series was printed on cheap paper. Want to get an idea of how much of a difference it will make? Take a look at these two pages. The first is from the original comic.

The one below is corrected and will run in the new hardcover on much better paper.

Just a little bit of a difference. It's almost going to be like reading a new series. Throw in some sketches, some of Gaiman's scripts (I love reading comic book scripts. I find them very educational) and other goodies, and I will definitely be getting this.

I know some of the people who come here like Gaiman and enjoy Sandman. I should warn that this is going to be an exceptionally expensive little addition to my collection. Amazon has it listed, at a discount, of $87.78. So yeah, not a cheap little addition to your collection. And really, it's probably only people like me that will enjoy this. Most fans of Gaiman's writing can get away with the regular trade paperbacks.

But for me, it's way too pretty to resist. Thankfully, it comes out at Christmas. Ohhhh, Cathy...

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I like this meme that John Gushue is apparently getting going. That being "what songs on your computer click in at three minutes and 30 seconds?"

Surprisingly, I have few, but a lot that come in at 3:29 or 3:31. I noticed that one person responded that he had Atlantic Blue by Ron Hynes coming in at 3:30 whereas on my computer, I have it at 3:28.

I don't really think I'm missing that much, those absent two seconds. Just one of those quirks about copying music to computers. Sometimes you get an extra second or two of dead air, sometimes you don't.

So for the sake of margin of error, I'm going to list all the songs that come in at 3:29 and 3:30 (If I include 3:31 I'll be here all day). Why? Because it's weird and amusing. Because I haven't posted much in the way of what music is being played on my iPod lately. And because it's a weekend and I feel like relaxing, rather than posting a long and in-depth post that, judging by the traffic stats I just checked, no one is going to be reading today anyway. It must be a nice day back in St. John's.

Anyway, here's the list. Nothing to embarassing, I think. Although it is interesting how artists such as Beck, Tom Waits and Sean Panting show up here a lot. But nothing by the Beatles, which is odd...
1. Momma's Boy - Colleen Power
2. Dandelion WIne - Ron Sexsmith
3. London's Calling - The Clash
4. Better Off As We Are - Blue Rodeo
5. Lost Souls - Matt Mays
6. Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm
7. Starvin Heart - Colleen Power
8. Que Onda Guero - Beck
9. Semi Suite - Tom Waits
10. Big Fat Lie - Drive
11. She's Hearing Voices - Bloc Party
12. One More Mouth - Josh Ritter
13. Just The Way You Are - Billy Joel and Elton John
14. Jazz at the Bookstore - Ron Sexsmith
15. Blood - Editors
16. Monster Hospital - Metric
17. Golden Years - David Bowie
18. These are the Fables - New Pornographers
19. Mystery and Crime - Joel Plaskett Emergency
20. You're so Sober - The Trews
21. Tusk - Fleetwood Mac
22. Love Theme from TPOH - The Pursuit of Happiness
23. Empty Road - Matthew Good
24. Girl - Beck
25. So Hard Done By - The Tragically Hip
26. Let's Not Play - The Pursuit of Happiness
27. The One I Love - David Grey
28. Clash City Rockers - The Clash
29. Down in the Ground where the Dead Men Go - The Pogues
30. What You're Missing - Sean Panting
31. What am I to you - Norah Jones
32. San Diego Serenade - Tom Waits
33. All Alone - Gorillaz
34. Details of the War - Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah!
35. No Kathleen - Ron Hynes
36. Gardening at Night - REM
37. ...Baby One More Time - Bowling For Soup
38. Lightness - Death Cab For Cutie
39. Kodachrome - Paul Simon
40. The Sun and the Rain - Madness
41. In Love with a Bad Idea - Matthew Good
42. Born to be a Dancer - Kaiser Chiefs
43. It's all over now - Rolling Stones
44. Back to me - Kathleen Edwards
45. ...Baby One More Time - Travis
46. What You're Missing - Sean Panting
47. Night Boat to Cairo - Madness
48. Gulf Coast Highway - Nanci Griffith
49. It's not a fashion statement, it's a death wish - My Chemical Romance
50. Into the Fire - Sarah McLachlan
51. Revolver - The Donnas

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Duh Vinci Code

So I finally saw the Da Vinci Code tonight. It was cheap night, so I can be glad that I only spent $5 on it.

It's not that it was a terrible movie, it was just more like "Ehh, this is it? This is what the hype was about?"

Lord knows I'm aware of the difficulties of living up to hype. I've had more than one movie going experience ruined for me because I got to caught up in the hype, or was looking to forward to the movie. But I really had none of those kind of expectations going in. If anything, I had low expectations, because the movie has gotten mostly poor reviews.

Sadly, the movie lived down to them.

And I'll forgive so much. The really, awfully clunky dialogue that is used to explain lengthy plot point. The grand religious conspiracy theories, the very long running time. I'll forgive it because the movie certainly looks pretty. And because Ian McKellan eats up the scenery in a most entertaining fashion.

What I can't forgive is that Tom Hanks looked bored out of his trees the entire movie

Seriously, I like Tom Hanks a lot. Even in roles that I didn't care much for, like Philadelphia, I still respected the fact that he was working hard and giving his best for the part. My favourite part was in Saving Private Ryan. It really is an exceptional piece of acting. Not as showy as Forrest Gump, Philadelphia or Castaway, but there was subtlety and it was heartfelt. I never doubted his passion for the part.

In this, my God, it's the worst thing I've seen him do since the 80s. It's punching the clock acting. It's big paycheck acting. It's not something I ever thought I would see Hanks do again. The only time he woke up were a few of the scenes he had with McKellan.

That was the most disappointing thing about the movie. I don't know where his head was at, but it wasn't in Europe.

Cathy apologized afterwards and tried to explain that the book was much better and they cut tons out. Too much, she felt. "They cut out lots of Lord of the Rings," she said "But I understood why and it was mostly ok. They still managed to leave the heart in the movie. Somewhere in all the cuts they made here, they took out the heart.'

Kind of hard to disagree with that assessment either.