Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I think this is the first time I've gone two days, when having Internet access, where I haven't posted anything to the blog. However, between work, getting ready to come home and feeling a touch under the weather I haven't been feeling too motivated. My stomach has been wonky, something I hope clears up as I have big plans for restaurants when I get to town. Not sure which one we're hitting first, but I'm leaning towards Zapatas. I have a craving for some good Mexican.

Anyway, the next 10 days or so are promising to be insane, but I'm looking forward to it. I oculd use some time off and I'm curious about all the subtle changes that happen in a place when you've been away for awhile.

On the off-chance that there is anyone reading the blog that would like to see me when I'm in town then your best bets are the e-mail me as I will be checking that every few days. Also, friends can reach me by calling either Dan Meades or Rex Welsh (check the phone book). Those are the two places where I'll likely be staying most of the time.

As for the blog, it may or may not be updated over the next little while. I do have access to the Internet, but it will be slow. Plus I doubt I'll have much time. But you never know. Something might happen that compells me to blog right away.

So I hope all of you who read this have a good Christmas and I'll see you all in the New Year, if not sooner.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

The weekend that was

So today was clearly a Day of Sloth for me. Basically watched football and played Civilizations. Terribly unproductive and lazy. Then again, I was a bit busy the last few days. I had the staff Christmas party Friday night and a curling bonspiel Friday night and Saturday.

The curling went pretty well, actually. I know some of you could care less, but hey, the team I skipped won something. Which is a bit impressive seeing as how there were only three of us and I had to scrounge to pick up a fourth player for some of the games. And the other two player had limited experience. We won Friday night's game against a very good team, got blown out in the second game, but through some luck of the draw still managed to make it to the 'D' final. After being down 4-1 after two ends, we bounced back and won 7-5.

What was the prize? A $15 gift certificate. Which after spending $30 on entering the bonspiel, then buying a few beers for the team we beat in the final, well, let's just say I didn't make money off the win. But it was a pretty nice feeling.

Oh, Cathy and Boo have also made it home safely, but with a bit of drama. The flight was a bit late leaving Iqaluit, which meant she spent the rest of the day rushing to catch flights. She managed to make them, but the downside was that she wasn't able to get Boo out of his carry case for a bathroom break. That meant the dog displayed his displeasure by shredding the cage on the Toronto to St. John's part of the trip. That meant he had to sit on Cathy's lap for an hour or two.

By all accounts he was fine when he was sitting on her lap. And the flight crew was tremendously understanding. Still, a bit stressful.

Oh, and of course the luggage was lost. As of this typing, she still doesn't have it. On the upside, since the ticket was booked using Visa, she got $500 to cover buying anything she needed not in her luggage. Which was nice and all, but she would like to have her bags back now.

Anyway, that's where things stand now. Wife and dog safe and sound. Successful weekend of curling victory followed by sloth. All is right in the world.

Of course, tomorrow I have to start getting read to fly home on Wednesday.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

…and that’s good enough for me

So it’s been a little more than a year since I finally gained employment in Nunavut. And because I was new last year I kind of missed all the Christmas activities in the office. That includes the party, but also the cookie exchange. Now, you might think the Christmas party would be the big deal, but I’m not sure. The Express never really had what you would call a Christmas party. Instead the editor would take us out for supper and a few drinks.

The last real staff Christmas party I went to was the ones I had with the Packet. And for anybody with the paper who reads this blog, I still have the incriminating photos. Anyway, it's been awhile since I've done a staff Christmas party.

But the thing I missed last year that I regretted was the staff cookie exchange. Because it’s apparent that we have some very good bakers in the office, so trying to get in on that seems like a pretty good idea.

However, there are several catches to this scheme to get some high quality cookies. First and foremost being I can’t bake. Oh sure, I could get some of that ready-to-go stuff at the store, but that doesn’t count. It is, I suspect, frowned upon. No, cookies from scratch is the way to go.

So this meant going to my lovely wife and seeing if she could assist (i.e. Do most of the work) on the cookies. To which she shot me a look, but because she loves me, agreed to do.

Then came word that that in order for the exchange to work right, we would need to make 72 cookies. To which I got another look, a less favourable one I might add, and some grumbling. My position was not improved any when I told her the exchange would take place at 4 p.m. on Dec. 15, a scant three hours after she departed the north and headed home.

Let’s not even discuss the odds that most of the cookies in the exchange will likely have nuts in them, which she’s allergic to. Or that we’re going to start going to the gym in the New Year and that consuming lots of cookies is probably a bad idea. Best not to dwell.

Anyway, the final total went down to 54 as a few people dropped out. Still, it’s a lot of cookies. And I am under instructions to freeze the ones that can’t kill Cathy so that she has something to look forward to in the new year.

So the cookies were made which involved chocolate, cream cheese, marshmallows and coconut. My job was to put on the coconut. It was the most difficult part of the task. Really.


Right, so, the cookies have been exchanged and seem to have gone over well. The cookies I've received are now in the fridge waiting for Cathy's return. Except for the "Kill Cathy" varieties containing nuts. I'm such a good husband, willingly eating all those cookies that could kill her.

Speaking of which, I think I'll go have a cookie right now...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Apparently, I am unhip

I like to think I’m relatively up-to-date on pop culture and music related things. After all, I did write a pop culture column with The Express. And lord knows I’ve talked enough about music on this blog. But I heard that Rolling Stone had released their 100 best songs of 2006 so I swung over to see what the list looked like, figuring I would nod in agreement with some disagree with others and there would be a few I simply wouldn’t recognize.

Of the Top 10, there are three songs I’ve heard. Three! I’ve heard “Steady as she goes” by The Reconteurs, “Thunder on the Mountain” by Bob Dylan and “Oh la la” by Goldfrapp. I can’t really count “Ridin” by Chamillionaire because I haven’t heard it, only the spoof “White and Nerdy” by Weird Al.

This is what happens when I stop listening to radio. I’m trying to console myself that this is Rolling Stone and of course they’re going to pick some weird and obscure indy stuff to show how cool and hip they are. But man, I would have thought I’d at least heard the #1 song. Or heard of some of the rest of the Top 10. And it only gets more depressing the further you go down the rest of the Top 100. All told there are 22 songs on that list I’ve heard this year. And some of them only in passing. I only know a handful pretty well.

Their top 50 albums is a little better. Of those I own, or have owned, 13 of them. So that’s 26 per cent instead of the 22 per cent for songs. Although two of those records – The Dixie Chick and Cat Power – have since been purged as I didn’t care for them.

I fear I am no longer hip and aware of what the kids are listening to these days. Perhaps on the advent of my 37th birthday, this is not a shock. But still, it’s a touch depressing.

Then again, I’ll need something to do this weekend once Cathy heads home. I suspect I’m going to go on a little downloading spree to see what some of these songs sound like. That way I can see if I’m just missing out or if Rolling Stone is on drugs. Probably a little of both, I suspect.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One week

As a side note to a previous message about weather, it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens when I get home in one weeks. I’ve known people who have moved to Newfoundland after living in the arctic and they swear they can handle the very cold, but very dry, temperatures up here better than what Newfoundland offers. St. John’s gives you just below 0, but with sharp winds filled with moisture that can slice through the best of winter gear. The damp gets into your bones and settles there.

Newfoundlanders also frequently tend to be, well, macho and stupid about how we dress for winter. “It’s only a bit of cold. What are you getting dressed up for?”

So if I were to wear my arctic clothing home – heavy coat rated to -70 and boots rated to -100 – I would be laughed out of town. Not to mention I don’t know how well they would handle the damp cold. Plus you tend to break out in a sweat wearing these things once the temperatures goes warmer than -20.

So for the return trip home I’ll be wearing the fall coat I got recently, a fleece underneath it and my hiking boots. I’ll bring a light pair of gloves, probably a stocking hat and maybe a scarf (Although I am considering buying one of these hats when I get home. Comments?). That should probably do. But I will be curious to see if in January I get home and find that -30 in Iqaluit is much more preferable to -5 in St. John’s.

There was some talk back a few months ago about Newfoundland bloggers getting together for a drink during the holidays. I appreciate that most Newfoundland bloggers can get together whenever they want, but the theory being that a few of us who are in exile will be home for the holidays and the gathering will be larger.

I think there was also some mention about ex-Expressers getting together for a drink as well. I should send out some e-mails. Or if you happen to be one reading the blog, drop me a line.

Anyway, the theory seemed to be that things might be less insane for people in the gap week between Christmas and New Years. The dates being rattled around are between Dec. 27 and 30. If people are still interested in getting together for a drink, let me know if those dates are good and where is preferable. I tend to always pick the Duke, but that’s me. If there is another place that preferable, feel free to suggest it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shadow dancing

It’s funny, I was watching TV Saturday night and The Shadow came on. I’ve always liked the character, but I’m hardly a devout fan. I nearly bought the complete radio series featuring Orson Wells a few years back. Kind of regret passing it up, actually. And I have a run of the series that DC did about 20 years ago when they went completely demented with the character. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, but the people who owned the copyright were horrified and the series end in the middle of a story arc when the rights were pulled.

If I recall, the newly resurrected Shadow was beginning to fight crime with his sons using a cyborg body. So yeah, a bit of straying from its pulp origins.

Anyway, I liked the Alec Baldwin movie, even though I understand why so many didn’t. Same reason I liked Constantine, but understand why so many didn’t. It’s fun on its own, but not exactly true to the character. Plus, there are some things that are

So the movie is fun enough. The special effects still hold pretty well, the bad guy is nice and villainous and, well, I had a pretty severe weakness for Penelope Ann Miller at that time that had nothing to do with her fairly limited acting ability. But I figured since the movie flopped at the time the odds of ever seeing the character back on screen, even in these days of almost anything comic related making it to the screen, were slim.

But lo and behold, I might be wrong. And hey, if you have to get someone involved with the project, Sam Raimi is not a bad guy to have, what with him having directed Spider-Man and all. Get a good enough script and I think this could be a fun film.

Some people keep wondering when the trend of comic books to movies is going to end. No time soon, I think. There’s so much wonderful source material out there. And yeah, you can only plunder Batman, Spider-Man and the X-Men for so long. But as long as you can keep making movies like Sin City, V For Vendetta, 300, or Hellboy and they make a profit, then the movies are going to keep coming (there was some talk of a direct to DVD sequel to V For Vendetta – I pray that is an evil, unfounded rumour).

So we might see a Shadow movie in a few years. Who knows?

“The Shadow knows!” Ahahahahahahahahaha!

Cough. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Forest for the trees

Christmas trees are for sale right now around town. One of the ironies is that in a place this close to the North Pole and this cold is that there are no naturally growing trees (well, there’s that one guy in town that’s been growing a pine tree or something for the past 15 years and I’m still taller than it) which means if you want a real Christmas tree, they have to be flown in.

Perhaps it's because I’m from a place where you can still theoretically go into the woods and cut your own damn Christmas tree, but there is something about flying in trees from down south that strikes me as weird. Not that we would be buying one anyway for several very good reasons. First, we’re not going to be here. Cathy is on the Great Teacher Exodus Flight on Dec. 15. No kidding, classes end at noon on that Friday. There’s a First Air flight out at 1 p.m. If there is somebody on that plane who isn’t a teacher or related to one, it will be a miracle. They will likely all be hammered by the time they reach Ottawa three hours later.

Anyway, Cathy’s gone on the 15th, I’m gone on the 20th. We’re back on the 2nd (We’re in a secure building and have a housesitter in case you’re reading this and thinking about breaking in) So aside from some lights up in the window, there will be no sense in putting up much in the way of decorations. We’re not going to be here for most of the holidays.

Also, Cathy is allergic to trees. Yeah, one of those things. She loves real Christmas trees and each year threatens to tough it out anyway. But no.

Finally, I have no earthly idea where we would put it in the apartment. We would have to hang the couch out the window to make room for a tree in the living room. I’m not kidding when I say it’s a small apartment.

So yeah, no tree, no place to put up all those decorations we’ve acquired over the years. I would say there’s always next year, but we might be going to Costa Rica for Christmas in 2007. So we’ll see.

At any rate, if you want to buy a real, imported from the south Christmas tree in Iqaluit this year, providing you can find one since they go pretty fast, is about $85, Think about that the next time you head to mall parking lot in the next week or so and grumble at paying $30 for a tree.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Complaints department

Here’s one of the things about living in Iqaluit...I can’t complain about the little things that occasionally bug me about the north.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I can still bitch and moan like nobody’s business. I excel at it. But I am now part of a small, but nice, northern blogging community. I visit their blogs, some of them come here. It’s quite nice.

But I can’t complain about things. For example, it’s gotten cold this week in Iqaluit. Not that unusual, it’s December near the Arctic Circle. It should be cold. It’s about time it was cold. Hell, we’ve been warmer than Edmonton in recent weeks. But for awhile last week, it’s dropped down to around -25 with wind chill rattling things around -40 on a couple of occasions. It’s our first time dealing with temperatures this cold in about seven months. So a little “fuck it’s cold” would not be inappropriate, especially since the starter in our car froze last week (with an able assist from building management who have finally turned on the electricity for the car plug-in slots. They ignored me so my wife went to have a chat. Voila. Fixed in a few hours. She used the teacher voice. It always works).

People in Newfoundland read -40 and go “Holy shit, that’s cold.” Someone in Rankin Inlet is going to read that and laugh. “What are you bitching about? It was -40 this week before the wind chill.”

I could complain about the food prices and selection and people down south would agree. “$10 for a honeydew? Wow!” Except that Iqaluit has the best selection and prices in Nunavut. Someone in Igloolik would murder to have what we do in town. “I dream of being able to buy a honeydew.”

Same thing with the amount of daylight. The shortest day of the year is a scant 10 days away. At that point we have about 4.5 hours of direct sunlight (sunrise today is 9:09 am. Sunset is 1:45 pm) and probably six hours total of daylight. Again, harsh if you’re down south. Some people can’t handle that little daylight. Then again, in Arctic Bay, if they get an hour or so of the horizon lightening up, they’re happy. Only another six weeks or so until they see the sun again!

So yeah, it’s hard to complain. Kind of frustrating, really. I’ll just have to try harder to find things to complain about in the entertaining manner to which my friends have become accustomed to.

Oh, one last thing...I've discovered recently that when feeling the urge to bitch and moan, or a touch down, that what cheers me up is the new Me First and the Gimmie Gimmmies CD called "Loves their Country." Twenty-eight minutes of punk rock covers of country songs, especially "Eastbound and Down" the theme song from Smokey and the Bandit. Man, if that song doesn't put a smile on your face, there is no hope.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Avert your eyes

This post continues pictures of Boo. I recently grumbled about being subjected to pictures of new parents kids and people called me in on it, so this is your heads up that there will be pictures of the dog coming up as you scroll down the page. Feel free to flee this blog now.

Seriously, pictures are forthcoming. If you keep going down, you can't blame me for subjecting you to pictures of the dog.

Last warning...


Boo checking out the sunset. Just for the record, this was taken around 1 p.m.

Boo and his red coat. This helps to keep him warm. The temperature when the photo was taken was around -20, but with no wind. We're thinking about getting him a warmer coat when we're home. We also have to get him some boots as the ones we have are too slippery.

Cathy walking Boo. This is on the Road to Nowhere, which goes out from Iqaluit to, well, guess where...

It's funny as I type this we're watching the highlights of the St. John's Santa Claus parade on NTV. Why? Because Cathy loves the parade. Every year she's in town she's in attendance. Anyway, Saturday was the Iqaluit Santa Claus parade and we got home from walking the dog just ahead of it. I don't have any pictures because it zipped by that fast (that and the camera was steamed up after taking photos outside). It went by our apartment in less than five minutes and had maybe two floats, several cars, lots of RCMP and fire trucks, Polar Man (more on him another time) and Santa Claus.

Then again, when it's -20 you don't exactly take you time walking in the Santa Claus parade.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Spartan goodness

I'll be damned if every single trailer for 300 hasn't looked better than the last. March 8 is circled on the calendar. Hopefully it makes it up here opening weekend.

Go here to see the latest trailer.

One heart attack, coming up.

My sense of humour has changed over time. Which is a fairly obvious statement, but one that I think is useful to remember. Or perhaps I've loosened up a bit. When I was in university, especially when with the Muse, anything vaguely sexist was not funny. It was to be quickly condemned, no matter what it was. I'm not sure if Hooters came into existence during my time with the paper, but if it did, I'm certain there were members of the staff that wanted to firebomb it. Or at least loudly protest.

But see, and I might get some flack on this, there are things which are obviously sexist but that I still get amusement out of. Let's take this story for example. Basically, a restaurant in Phoenix has decided to go with a medical theme for their restaurant that also happens to feature waitresses dressed as naughty "nurses". Real nurses in Arizona are upset and threatening legal action against the restaurant's owner, saying he's demeaning their profession. He's saying for God's sake, get a sense of humour.

For the most I'm siding with him. Sure I would have liked him to have come up with a better theme for a restaurant, but this is not the end of the world. Nor do I think people are now going to think less of nurses and the way they do their job because of some scantily-clad women in nurse outfits.

But then I visited The Heart Attack Grill website because I was curious after reading the story. If anything, people ought to be upset with American's continued determination to make certain each and everyone of them can have a heart attack, given what he has on his menu.

But hey, it's clever, funny stuff. The burgers are called either a single, double, triple or quadruple bypass. I mean, look at one of these damn things.

And the best part with the burger is that they offer wheelchair service to your car if you get the triple of quadruple bypass burgers. The "flatliner" fries are proudly cooked in lard. They advertise what cigarettes you can have with your meal. It's about as unhealthy a restaurant as I've seen in quite some time. But that seems to be a trend in America these days. "We're unhealthy. We're very proud of that. If you want food that's good for you, don't come here. We're trying to kill you. But you'll like the food as you croke."

And hell, it appears to be working.

So yeah, people aren't upset about a menu designed to make you fat, unhealthy and eventually kill you. They're upset about the sexy nurses. sigh

But hell, I still think it's funny.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bring on the cold

A unique Christmas tradition of sorts happens today in Iqaluit. Well, Christmas shopping tradition. Northmart is having its annual temperature drop sale. It works pretty simple – however cold it is out, that’s how much of a discount you get. They check every two hours and they don’t count wind chill. Last year, for example, I think we got 24 per cent off of some items. There are restrictions, of course, (I’m looking at the ad right now and trying to figure out what isn’t restricted, actually). So this is the one day of the year that people are really, really hoping for cold temperatures.

Forecase for today? Sunny, with a high of -15 and a low of -21. Not bad, but not great. A few deals to be had, perhaps. Not that we need much or, to be honest, could fit much more in this apartment.

You know, as an aside, I’m reading the “high of -15” and having a small flashback to a Newfoundland music award ceremony that Andrew Younghusband (he of “Canada’s Worst Driver” fame) hosted a few years back. Younghusband was talking about how he and his South African girlfriend had settled into Cavendish (a small community about an hour outside of St. John's, for those of you not in the know) and one winter morning he was awoken by his girlfriend screaming at the clock radio that had just gone off. I’m paraphrasing from memory here.

“There’s no such thing as a high of -2! Why don’t they just say it’s going to be a low of -2 and it’s going to get even fucking lower as the day progresses until we all freeze to death!”

So yeah, she wasn’t handling the cold well. Then again, I know the feeling. I check Environment Canada’s website some mornings and yell out “good news, honey. The high is -19 today” and I can hear the low groan coming from wherever Cathy is in the apartment.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Not Percy!

Alas, poor Percy. I knew him, Horatio. A man of infinite….well, bullshit it felt like most of the time. But I did cover him for the three years I was in Clarenville with The Packet. Others have covered or dealt with him for longer periods of time than I and know him better. But let’s just say that when the Auditor General outed him the other day, my first reaction was not to collapse to floor in shock.

(For those not in the know, Percy Barrett is a former Liberal cabinet minister, now in Opposition, from the district of Bellevue in Newfoundland. He's also been accused of claiming more than $100,000 in his constituency allowance than he was legally entitled to over a period of about five years)

I don’t know, maybe it’s something about Bellevue. I liked the area. It’s very scenic and the people were mostly friendly (except Southern Harbour, which was always a weird place to visit) whenever it emerges from the fog. But I doubt there are many people around Arnold’s Cove or Sunnyside going “Not Percy! Jesus, we never saw that one coming” today.

The scary thing is, if Percy runs in the next election, I honestly think he might get elected. It’s not so much his brilliance as a MHA, but more to do with the fact that Bellevue is one of those last, lingering districts where the quality of the candidate or which party has the best chance of forming the government.

“Bellevue would vote for a dog if it wore a Liberal button” a wise friend once told me.

Percy is denying any wrong doing, of course. And he may be right. It’s the one thing about these allegations that is almost making me feel sorry for those involved. They’ve be hung out to dry for months and months with everyone basically believing they cheated taxpayers out of more than a million dollars and the only defence they can offer, because I think they’ve all lawyered up, is “I didn’t do it.” It is a touch unfair.

Having said that, I am pissed off with Ed Byrne. I’ve said before I don’t like by-elections. Most of them are held for what I consider to be unnecessary reasons. Such as running in a federal election or wanting to spend more time with the family. Whatever. You were elected, tough it out.

I’m sorry it’s hard for Ed. He’s been hit the hardest in this scandal and maybe it’s unfair. But he’s not been found guilty of anything yet. Plus, the next provincial election is less than a year away. I know why he’s quitting now – to try and give the party a chance to win the seat in a by-election rather than have to deal with it during the provincial election. Still, it’s a waste of taxpayers money on ego and political strategy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A by-election costs around $75,000. Unless it’s for death or a medical emergency, then the party abdicating the seat ought to pay for a portion of the costs. It’s too bad that Ed can’t tough it out. That doesn’t mean we should have spend unnecessary money on a politician. Again.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bottom feeders

I mentioned the surreality of story on George Clooney’s pig the other day.this story also amuses me for some reasons. Basically a company that sells the photos that paparazzi take is suing a gossip website for copyright infringement. I’ll let those far wiser in the ways of copyright law say whether or not the gossip site has a change in hell of defending itself because I don’t see one. It looks like they have him pretty well dead to rights.

But still, a paparazzi company suing a gossip site. It’s like watching bottom feeders trying to eat each other. You almost wish the two would eat each other. It would probably make the world a better place.

Fine idea, but...

Figures, now that I’m not trying to crank out 2,000 words a day on the novel I now have an abundance of blog ideas. I will get back to the book, I promise. But the feeling I have right now when not writing it is similar to the one I have when I’m not banging my head against a concrete wall.

Anyway, this CBC story on impending legislation regulating flea markets caught my eye. I did a series of stories a couple of years ago about flea markets in the St. John’s area Many were selling junk, but many were also places for stolen goods to be sold. The Avalon Mall flea market was notorious for it years ago. However, they cleaned up their act when the mall threatened to close them down. It’s now run with a much tighter fist. I’m not saying there are no stolen items there, but it’s certainly not blatantly obvious like it was years ago.

I’m obviously a bit out of touch, so I don’t know where all the flea markets are these days. There was one that operated in Mount Pearl that shut down shortly after I did a story about it. It wasn’t exactly a crack piece of journalism. All that was required was to ask how vendors could be selling a dozen copies of a DVD that had just come out that week for about 50 per cent what they were being sold for at Wal-Mart. Same thing with cologne, razor blades and other toiletries. The people running the market shut it down rather than go through the hassle of trying to enforce things.

I also know there was one in CBS, but that operated only during the summer months since it was outdoors. But there was certainly no shortage of suspicious items there either.

Which is the problem. And which is going to be the problem, I suspect, even after this new legislation is passed. How can you tell something is stolen? Sure it might look awfully suspicious, but you can’t know for sure. And asking for receipts might be a slight deterrence, but that’s it. Because very few people keep receipts.

If I went to the flea market to sell my comics and a cop asked me to see receipts for all of them, I would break out laughing. Same thing with DVDs. I might hold onto them for a month, just in case there is a problem and the item needs to go back, but that’s it. It would be almost impossible in a court of law to prove that the items on a flea market table were stolen unless the people were very stupid.

Which is possible, but not likely. They’re not the brightest tools in the shed, but there’s no denying most of them are fairly cunning and brazen. I pity in-store security these days. I did some of it years ago when I worked retail. The rule was if you lost sight of them for a second, you couldn’t hold them because in that second they might have ditched it. And trust me, most of the shoplifting rings know the rules. The leave town when things get too hot and head out to Clarenville or Gander for a spree.

They know what to take, how to avoid being caught, how to distract people and what places to hit.

My mom works as a cosmetician at Shopper’ Drug Mart. Despite security cameras, extra staff, locking up the expensive colognes and other measures, they still lose thousands at this time of the year in shoplifting. I’m convinced that either she or the store manager is going to snap and kill one of them one of these days.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on enforcement for flea markets. The police do not care. Low priority because of the resources they have.

So the legislation is a good idea, but I don’t know if it will work. And like all things, if there is no money to put some teeth into it, then it’s just more paper collecting dust.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's a slow news day

It's a slow news day, folks. How do I know? Because one of the headlines on CNN is that George Clooney's pet potbelly pig, Max, has died. "Natural causes" was listed as the reason the pig died.

Oh look, a picture of George and Max in happier times.

I honestly don't know why I'm doing a blog on this, but there is just something completely mentally retarded that CNN, along with dozens of other entertainment media are reporting the death of Goerge Clooney's pet pig. Certainly one for the clip files if you're an entertainment reporter. "Well, I did this moving piece on the death of George Clooney's pig..."

Actually, now that I think on it, most major media outlets routinely have obits ready in case someone famous dies suddenly, so they can release them quickly. Do you think some poor bastard had to have one ready for Max? And exactly how far down the totem pole are you in a media agency if you're reporting on the death of a celebrity pig?

Yes, I'm losing my mind. I'm also testing to see whether or not Google docs works in posting something to blogger.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Did somebody say crazy?

I have a ritual when I get up in the morning. I stagger into the shower, get cleansed, get dressed, grab some breakfast and then plunk myself down in front of the computer. The first site I check is the local weather to see exactly how freezing ass cold it is outside.

The second is For Better Or For Worse. There are many comic strips that I like and that I try to catch. But this is part of the morning ritual now. And I've read the strip for years and years. It's like a soap opera now, which makes it hard to give up.

Anyway, I imagine there were plenty of people like me that read the strip every morning and care about the characters. But I did something I rarely do....I underestimated the level of craziness in the fan base.

Understand, I read comic books and I like science fiction. We're talking about two highly demented sections of fandom. To give you an example, a guy by the name of Steve Wacker left DC comics and moved to Marvel. Fandom went batshit for weeks, calling him a traitor and everything under the sun.

And what does Mr. Wacker do? Is he a writer? An artist?

No, he's an editor. Venom and bile and massive freaking the fuck out over an editor switching companies.

That's fandom. It's fun and all, but let us realize we are frequently dealing with the marginally sane. But For Better or For Worse is such a...mild comic strip. I like it, it's fun. But I never expected nutjobs and fanatics because it is so harmless.

Boy did I learn. First, I read this comic book gossip column and learned there was something weird going on. Then I reread the strip in question. Pretty much what I recalled - that Lynn Johnston was setting up Liz to end up with Anthony before the strip ends in the next year or two. No big deal, I thought.

Now, go and read this. Not all of it. You might go mad. The first page will do. Then come on back. I'll still be here.


Right, so, if you're looking for a group of escaped mental patients, there you go. All in one convenient spot for the guys carrying the fitted white jackets. I think I can safely say that might be the most concentrated dose of fan craziness I've seen this year. Which is a fairly impressive statement.

I only hope to God that Lynn is the Fan Protection Program or something. Because some of these people might be coming for her.

New leader

So I'm not exactly quick off the mark on this one and I'm sure half the bloggers in Canada have probably already commented, but I like the choice of Stephane Dion as the next Liberal leader. Although it was hardly a shocker. You could see him coming from a mile away.

I find him an interesting choice, but not for the reasons I heard many people talking about on CBC. It isn't over his strong federalist beliefs and how they will play in Quebec. And it isn't over the quality of his English, which after 10 years of Chretien is an idiotic argument.

No, the thing that interests me most is that out of the four men (and really, all four were very qualified to take over the leadership. The worst that can be said about the race is that it's a pity there wasn't a woman who had a better shot.) he was the one who was obviously the most pro-environment. And that the Liberals perhaps sensed something that I have for awhile now. That Canadians are ready to make the environment one of their top concerns.

The environment has never been a real issue in an election. Always a minor issue behind more important ones such as the economy, education and health care. But I guess it says something when most Canadians appear to be pretty happy with those three issues right now. They're hardly fixed and perfect, but they're not screaming for attention either.

But what does appear broken is how environmental issues are being handled. You know they are if they're giving a fringe party like the Greens a serious look. Coming in at six per cent in the last poll I saw. Ironically, I suspect those in the environmental movement probably owe some thanks to the Conservatives for that. The Liberals for years have muddled environmental issues. Putting some money and talking some talk, but nothing seemed to get done.

Now that Conservatives have come in and cleared things up. They've introduced a plan that is almost universally hated. Canada's environmental stand is being ridiculed internationally. And if there is one thing that Canadians tend to dislike, it is being mocked on the international stage. Plus I think there is a feeling that something needs to be done now. There is a sense of urgency, which has never really been there before.

So right now there is this moment...and it it might be gone before an election can be held next Spring...where Canadians clearly want leadership and ideas on environmental issues. They are also probably more willing to accept new legislation and ideas to protect the environment than they have ever been. They just want someone competent and not scary (which the Greens can be sometimes) to lead them there.

Which is one of the big reasons why Dion won. Of all the leadership contenders, Dion was seen as the one who would actually do something on the environment.

That's not to say that Dion is a lock to get elected. After spending most of 2006 in a shadow war, the real thing will get going in the new year. It'll be interesting to see how Prime Minister Harper and Dion match up. And I guess we'll see soon enough how serious Canadians are about the environment as well.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cathy's list

And now, Cathy's list from 1995. You may notice the following things: she hated less than I did, liked more than I did and we both couldn't remember vast swaths of the bands that released singles that year.

1. Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio
2. Waterfalls, TLC
3. Creep, TLC
4. Kiss From A Rose, Seal
5. On Bended Knee, Boyz II Men
6. Another Night, Real McCoy
7. Fantasy, Mariah Carey
8. Take A Bow, Madonna
9. Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days), Monica
10. This Is How We Do It, Montell Jordan
11. I Know, Dionne Farris
12. Water Runs Dry, Boyz II Men
13. Freak Like Me, Adina Howard
14. Run-Around, Blues Traveler
15. I Can Love You Like That, All-4-One
16. Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?, Bryan Adams
17. Always, Bon Jovi
18. Boombastic / In The Summertime, Shaggy
19. Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Nicki French
20. You Gotta Be, Des'ree
21. You Are Not Alone, Michael Jackson
22. Hold My Hand, Hootie and The Blowfish
23. One More Chance-Stay With Me, Notorious B.I.G.
24. Here Comes The Hotstepper, Ini Kamoze
25. Candy Rain, Soul For Real
26. Let Her, w Hootie and The Blowfish
27. I Believe, Blessid Union Of Souls
28. Red Light Special, TLC
29. Runaway, Janet Jackson
30. Strong Enough, Sheryl Crow
31. Colors Of The Wind, Vanessa Williams
32. Someone To Love, Jon B.
33. Only Wanna Be With You, Hootie and The Blowfish
34. If You Love Me, Brownstone
35. In The House Of Stone And Light, Martin Page
36. I Got 5 On It, Luniz
37. Baby, Brandy
38. Run Away, Real McCoy
39. As I Lay Me Down, Sophie B. Hawkins
40. He's Mine, Mokenstef
41. December, Collective Soul
42. I'll Be There For You-You're All I Need To Get By, Method Man-Mary J. Blige
43. Shy Guy, Diana King
44. I'm The Only One, Melissa Etheridge
45. Every Little Thing I Do, Soul For Real
46. Before I Let You Go, BLACKstreet
47. Big Poppa / Warning, Notorious B.I.G.
48. Sukiyaki, 4 P.M.
49. I Wanna Be Down, Brandy
50. I'll Make Love To You, Boyz II Men
51. Dear Mama / Old School, 2Pac
52. Hold On, Jamie Walters
53. Keep Their Heads Ringin', Dr. Dre
54. The Rhythm Of The Night, Corona
55. Roll To Me, Del Amitri
56. Scream / Childhood, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson
57. Freek'n You, Jodeci
58. I Wish, Skee-lo
59. Believe, Elton John
60. Carnival, Natalie Merchant
61. You Don't Know How It Feels, Tom Petty
62. Back For Good, Take That
63. Tootsee Roll, 69 Boyz
64. You Want This-70's Love Groove, Janet Jackson
65. Tell Me, Groove Theory
66. Can't You See, Total
67. All I Wanna Do, Sheryl Crow
68. This Lil' Game We Play, Subway
69. Come And Get Your Love, Real McCoy
70. This Ain't A Love Song, Bon Jovi
71. Secret, Madonna
72. Player's Anthem, Junior M.A.F.I.A.
73. Feel Me Flow, Naughty By Nature
74. Every Day Of The Week, Jade
75. The Sweetest Days, Vanessa Williams
76. Short Dick Man, 20 Fingers Featuring Gillette
77. Brokenhearted, Brandy
78. No More "I Love You's", Annie Lennox
79. You Used To Love Me, Faith Evans
80. Constantly, Immature
81. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, U2
82. 100% Pure Love, Crystal Waters
83. Ask Of You, Raphael Saadiq
84. Sugar Hill, Az
85. Good, Better Than Ezra
86. Brown Sugar, D'angelo
87. Turn The Beat Around, Gloria Estefan
88. 'Til You Do Me Right, After 7
89. 1st Of Tha Month, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
90. Like The Way I Do If I Wanted To, Melissa Etheridge
91. I Live My Life For You, Firehouse
92. Dream About You-Funky Melody, Stevie B
93. Cotton Eye Joe, Rednex
94. Thank You, Boyz II Men
95. I'll Stand By You, Pretenders
96. I Miss You, N II U
97. Give It 2 You, Da Brat
98. Best Friend, Brandy
99. Misery, Soul Asylum
100. Can't Stop Lovin' You, Van Halen

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A grim year

I read this post over on Skylard's blog and knew that when I checked out the year I graduated from high school the results were going to be horrific. And I certainly wasn't disappointed. What a dismal year - George Michael, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Rick Astley and Whitney Houston to name just a few. Oddly, that year appears to have also been the high water mark in all their careers. It was a horrific freefall for all of them after '88.

The premise of this meme is simple. Take a look at the Top 100 songs of the year you graduated high school. Bold the songs you liked, or like now, and put a stroke through the ones you hate. If you're couldn't care less or can't even remember the song, then leave it alone. Go here if you want to track down your year was like.

You may notice the abundance of hate in my list. There are songs there that I still like, but only one that I still deeply love - #76 in case you're wondering. Oh, and for those of you curious, we'll up the list from the year Cathy graduated tomorrow.

1. Faith, George Michael
2. Need You Tonight, INXS
3. Got My Mind Set On You, George Harrison
4. Never Gonna Give You Up, Rick Astley
5. Sweet Child O' Mine, Guns N' Roses
6. So Emotional, Whitney Houston
7. Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Belinda Carlisle
8. Could've Been, Tiffany
9. Hands To Heaven, Breathe
10. Roll With It, Steve Winwood
11. One More Try, George Michael
12. Wishing Well, Terence Trent d'Arby
13. Anything For You, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
14. The Flame, Cheap Trick
15. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car, Billy Ocean
16. Seasons Change, Expose
17. Is This Love, Whitesnake
18. Wild, Wild West, Escape Club
19. Pour Some Sugar On Me, Def Leppard
20. I'll Always Love You, Taylor Dayne
21. Man In The Mirror, Michael Jackson
22. Shake Your Love, Debbie Gibson
23. Simply Irresistible, Robert Palmer
24. Hold On To The Nights, Richard Marx
25. Hungry Eyes, Eric Carnen
26. Shattered Dreams, Johnny Hates Jazz
27. Father Figure, George Michael
28. Naught Girls (Need Love Too), Samantha Fox
29. A Groovy Kind Of Love, Phil Collins
30. Love Bites, Def Leppard
31. Endless Summer Nights, Richard Marx
32. Foolish Beat, Debbie Gibson
33. Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Whitney Houston
34. Angel, Aerosmith
35. Hazy Shade Of Winter, Bangles
36. The Way You Make Me Feel, Michael Jackson
37. Don't Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin
38. Make Me Lose Control, Eric Carnen
39. Red Red Wine, UB40
40. She's Like The Wind, Patric Swayze
41. Bad Medicine, Bon Jovi
42. Kokomo, Beach Boys
43. I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That, Elton John
44. Together Forever, Rick Astley
45. Monkey, George Michael
46. Devil Inside, INXS
47. Should've Known Better, Richard Marx
48. I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love, Chicago
49. The Loco-Motion, Kylie Minogue
50. What Have I Done To Deserve This?, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield
51. Make It Real, Jets
52. What's On Your Mind, Information Society
53. Tell It To My Heart, Taylor Dayne
54. Out Of The Blue, Debbie Gibson
55. Don't You Want Me, Jody Watley
56. Desire, U2
57. I Get Weak, Belinda Carlisle
58. Sign Your Name, Terence Trent d'Arby
59. I Want To Be Your Man, Roger
60. Girlfriend, Pebbles
61. Dirty Diana, Michael Jackson
62. 1-2-3, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
63. Mercedes Boy, Pebbles
64. Perfect World, Huey Lewis and the News
65. New Sensation, INXS
66. Catch Me (I'm Falling), Pretty Poison
67. If It Isn't Love, New Edition
68. Rocket 2 U, Jets
69. One Good Woman, Peter Cetera
70. Don't Be Cruel, Cheap Trick
71. Candle In The Wind, Elton John
72. Everything Your Heart Desires, Daryl Hall and John Oates
73. Say You Will , Foreigner
74. I Want Her, Keith Sweat
75. Pink Cadillac, Natalie Cole
76. Fast Car, Tracy Chapman
77. Electric Blue, Icehouse
78. The Valley Road, Bruce Hornsby and The Range
79. Don't Be Cruel, Bobby Brown
80. Always On My Mind, Pet Shop Boys
81. Piano In The Dark, Brenda Russell Featuring Joe Esposito
82. When It's Love, Van Halen
83. Don't Shed A Tear, Paul Carrack
84. We'll Be Together, Sting
85. I Hate Myself For Loving You, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
86. I Don't Want To Live Without You, Foreigner
87. Nite And Day, Al B. Sure
88. Don't You Know What The Night Can Do, Steve Winwood
89. One Moment In Time, Whitney Houston
90. Can't Stay Away From You, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
91. Kissing A Fool, George Michael
92. Cherry Bomb, John Cougar Mellancamp
93. I Still Believe, Brenda K. Starr
94. I Found Someone, Cher
95. Never Tear Us Apart, INXS
96. Valerie, Steve Windwood
97. Just Like Paradise, David Lee Roth
98. Nothin' But A Good Time, Poison
99. Wait, White Lion
100. Prove Your Love, Taylor Dayne

Friday, December 01, 2006


So I went over the top last night. In a fashion that will surprise no one who has ever been my editor, I was well ahead on the project (at one point I was more than two days ahead of where I needed to be), but ended up getting the final section I needed to crack 50,000 finished and posted at 10:30 last night, a mere 90 minutes before deadline.

As I said, that's not the end of the story. There's still more to come, including that ending I don't really have worked out yet. But a surprising amount of the story came to me while I was sitting in front of the computer. So who knows, maybe the ending will come to me in a similar fashion. And yeah, I'll probably keep posting sections up on the blog for the three of you actually reading it. Just don't expect it every day. I have an assignment due in a week in my online course.

By the way, thanks to everyone who participated, specifically Dups and OM. I know how hectic their lives are so the fact they even attempted this was brave on their parts. They hey didn't hit 50,000, but they got started. Next year, who knows. And regardless, they always kept me motivated, just on the off-chance one of them would show up and plunk down 20,000 words in one shot. So thanks for the motivation guys.

And for those who expressed interest, but didn't get anywhere, well, I'll try and be better organized next year. And don't worry, this was at least my fourth try and the first time I got more than 3,000 words written.

Oh yeah, next time. I think I might have another go at this next year (that sound is Cathy banging her head off a wall). It