Sunday, September 30, 2007

Downward spiral

I think I'm encountering something I haven't in years - I'm getting burnt out on writing. The main reason for that is the book, which currently stands around 64,000 words. I'm debating taking a break to try and recharge the batteries. However, I'm of two minds on it. One past is saying I need to keep slogging away and get it finished because if I stop for a couple of weeks, I might never get going again. And really, to write that many words and not finish would be tragic.

On the other hand, if I keep at it when I'm starting to feel burnt out, I'm risking the book going completely off the rails. We'll see. But the last 5,000 words or so have been a hard slough. I haven't been as certain where the characters are going or what's going to happen next.

Perhaps that also accounts for the lack of blogging. I've always blogged as a means of keeping myself sane. If I'm not writing constantly, then I get very contrary. However, the book is taking care of the writing urge.

Then there are other factors. There's not much happening around town right now to write about. I'm utterly disappointed with the provincial election. There's nothing I've seen or read so far that's really got me excited enough to comment.

So that's why things have been quiet. And it also appears to be the reason for the hit on my traffic numbers. September saw the lowest number of visitors to my blog in more than a year. Only 3,200 visitors, less than 4,000 page loads.

Anyway, I'll try and be more entertaining in October and get a few more people to swing by.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shut down

Bars in St. John's have gotten into trouble in the past for a variety of infractions. Anything from too many people which lead to fire code regulations, or perhaps admitting under aged patron. I think one or two might have gotten in trouble for serving booze to people who were way too impaired.

However, I've never heard of one being penalized like this. From the Nunatsiaq News, this little tidbit:

Liquor infractions shut Storehouse for weekend

Iqaluit's Storehouse Bar and Grill will be closed tonight and tomorrow after a hearing of the Nunavut Liquor Licensing Board.

The bar's owners admitted they let drunk people stay in the bar on three separate occasions in 2006 and 2007, and had too many people in the bar in April 2007.

In addition to the suspended licence, the Storehouse faces a $4,000 fine. Its employees must also undergo a liquor service training program as a condition of employment.

Despite the punishment, liquor board chair David Wilman said he was "impressed with the licencee's acknowledgement of its responsibility for these contraventions of the liquor legislation and its cooperation with liquor enforcement."

If the liquor board in Newfoundland did something like this - shut down a bar on a weekend as a penalty, you would hear the howls from one part of town to the other. There's no way they would accept it. And yet, the Storehouse went along with it. I can only imagine how much it's costing them to close for two nights on a weekend. Thousands of dollars in profit, certainly. Maybe even more.

I wonder where people looking for a drink will go this weekend. The Legion can only take so many. I imagine there will be a few house parties in town this weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

TV Reviews: Bionic Woman and Dirty Sexy Money

1. Bionic Woman

Oi, what a mess.

I’m not saying there isn’t potential. There’s tons of potential. Which is really the problem. The producers threw everything into this one hour pilot. There’s simply too much happening at once. And it’s not one of those “you need to be smart to keep up” sort of thing. It’s more like “the producers and director needed to be smarter in how they presented and paced all this information to make it more entertaining, easy to understand, and palatable.” I don’t mind working a bit for my entertainment. This was too much work, not enough entertainment.

Bionic Woman
is the latest in the perhaps ongoing 70s TV revival. Ever since Battlestar Galactica showed you could take a fairly cheesy, but cult-popular show from the 70s, and make it relevant in the present, it was only a matter of time before it was tried again. Especially since one of the guys behind Galactica is also behind Bionic Woman.

So we have Jamie Sommers (Michelle Ryan) leading a relatively normal mixed-up life. She’s smart, but dropped out of college. She works bar, has cool friends, a messed up sister and a drunk, dead beat dad. Oh, and a hot boyfriend. She’s also pregnant.

Then there’s a tragic accident. Fortunately, her boyfriend works for a secret organization. He has the technology. He can make her stronger...faster. And one ear, eye, arm and two legs later, we have a bionic woman (alas, no bionic fetus, though).

But not the first bionic woman. Turns out there’s another one that everyone thought was dead, but isn't. Oh, and she appears to be quite insane. Plus, there might be another super secret organization with a sinister agenda that has recruited Sommers hot boyfriend’s dad, who has a few secrets of his own. And does Jamie really want to be a secret agent woman?

I need a bionic brain to deal with all this shit. Too much, too soon. Not to mention most of the cast, and that includes Ryan, are fairly boring.

Most, but not all. God bless Katee Sackhoff (who also plays Starbuck on Galactica) who is Sarah Corvis, the first bionic woman. She’s completely nuts and you can’t take your eyes off her when she’s on the screen. The more interesting show would have been one focusing on her and how she was maybe driven completely insane by the process and following her adventures. But we don’t have that. We have this.

Hopefully it will get better. It’s worth another shot to see if they can fix the mess from the pilot. But apparently Sackhoff is only signed for seven episodes this season. Without her around to make things interesting, the show has its work cut out for it.

2. Dirty Sexy Money

We had a rule, back in my days with The Express. And it was, ‘If you can come up with the cool headline, you have to find the story the story to go along with it.” Good headline are much harder to come up with than good stories. So if you come up with one, you needed to find a story.

Now, let us consider some of the TV show titles this fall. Opposite this one is a show called Life. Wow. Chuck, which a good show, doesn’t exactly have a title that grabs you. Hell, I love House (and I seriously loved the first episode this season and what looks like an Apprentice style riff for the next few weeks), but it’s not exactly an attention grabbing title.

And now you have something like Dirty Sexy Money. You can just see the pitch meeting where they were trying to come up with something. “We need a show that sells. Something with sex and money and it’s really sleazy. It’s gotta have a dirty sexy money thing going on.”


I’m not sure I’ll end up watching the show just because it’s following the time-honoured tradition of trashy nighttime soap opera, although it is a little better class than that. That's the type of show I normally have little interest in. Most of the characters that appear to be the focus of show are going to be too aggravating to follow for their eventually comeuppance. There are three saving graces that might persuade me to stick around. Number one is Donald Sutherland as the Tripp Darling (what a great fucking name) patriarch of the dysfunctional Darling family. How can you not like Sutherland? He was the only reason I made myself suffer through the hideous West Wing knock-off last year where he played the evil senator.

The second reason is Peter Krause as Nick George, the newly hired lawyer who has to deal with the Darling family. His estranged father used to be the family’s lawyer, until he died (or did he?) in a mysterious plane crash. He’s a nice moral centre among the chaos of the over-the-top craziness of the rest of the family.

And finally, there is enough humour there to make it intriguing. I don’t know if it will work. They might go completely insane with the show. But I did like the little touches, such as the secretary programming George’s cell phone with a distinct song for each Darling member. The crazed reverend gets a religious hymn. The Paris Hiltonessque daughter gets “Rich Girl” by Hall & Oates. And the daughter who George “deflowered” many years ago and who still wants him gets “Pretty Woman” much to his horror and his wife’s fury.

I don’t know if I can take it, but it’s worth seeing which way they decide to go with this. If it’s melodrama, then I’m gone. If they can have some genuine, non-cringing fun with it, then I might just stick around.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Parity games

Here's a fun thing to do to drive yourself nuts at work today. Go to First, weep at how vastly superior the US site is to the Canadian one in terms of items for sale. Then, punch in book or DVD that you might be interested in buying. Note the price. Then visit and search for the exact same item. Then fume in outrage over the price disparity now that you know the US and Canadian dollar are essentially worth the same.

I did this a couple of days ago quite by accident. Cathy and I picked up season 1 of Bones while home last month for something under $30. That's a ridiculously low price and the show was well worth the money. So we thought we might pick up season 2, which just came out. However, season 2 is going for about double what we paid for the first season. We decided too hold off, as it was a bit too pricey.

Then I did what I described above. Behold the difference:

Bones: Season 2 - $38.99

Bones: Season 2 - $57.96

Same company, same product, basically the same exchange rate and about a 35-40% difference in price. Maddening, eh? Welcome to the wonderful, wacky word of parity. Feel free to experiment and go mad on your own.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New shows: The War, Chuck, Big Bang Theory, Journeyman

So we have a new TV season under way. In a previous life I used to review television shows for The Express. I was hoping to one day convince some of the higher ups to send me to LA for the big previews showings they do each year, but alas, time ran out on that. Not that it was likely to ever happen, given how cheap they are, but one can always dream.

Still, each year I try and watch as many of the new shows as I can manage and do a little write up on them. Writing reviews of pilots are always a tricky bit of business. There are few cases where the pilot actually resemblance what the show will look like if it last more than a dozen episodes. In most cases either the producers tossed a ton of money at the pilot meaning that it looks so good that future episodes pale in comparison or they didn't have a clue what they were doing and figured it out after a few episodes and made a ton of changes.

Anyway, here are a few shows that I've seen so far. I'll update as I watch more shows.

1. The War - Ken Burns latest documentary, this time focusing on World War 2. The day before I watched the first episode of The War I caught the last part of Burns most famous documentary, The Civil War. I'm still blown away by the depth and power of that series. It really is a perfect historical documentary. It's almost easy to forget how groundbreaking it was when it first came out, with its use of voice actors reading letters, the photos and images selected and the ease in which Burns makes something so complicated not only easy to understand, but riveting.

The problem has been Burns has had problems recapturing that magic. I never really cared much for his docs on baseball or jazz music. And sadly the first part of this was a bit...dry. The format is similar to what Burns did with The Civil War, except this time he has video footage and people who actually lived through WW2 to interview.

But it doesn't quite work for me. And you would think it ought to, what with Burns ability to do these docs on the big, grand experience of dramatic events that impacted Americans. I think the problem is two-fold. First, he's following a style already well used in his previous docs. And after the third or fourth time around it's lost its impact.

The second reason is that WW2 has been covered from just about every angle imaginable. I'm not sure how much new ground there is to plow here. The first episode didn't show me anything I didn't know already. I only caught pieces of the second part, but it seemed to follow the same pattern as the first.

I might try and catch more later the week, but I'm certainly not rushing to see more.

2. Chuck - The premise sounds like a reject from the Space channel. An underachieving computer geek who works at a thinly-veiled version of Best Buy accidentally gets zapped with the collective databases of the NSA and CIA. Now while he's trying to figure out all of this, he's being watched by both agencies. One of the agents is a hot blonde ninja babe. The other is every bullying jock asshole you ever dealt with in high school (which is why Adam Baldwin is perfect for the role. He was Jane in Firefly for those of you who might have forgotten). They both need what's in his head to help safeguard America.

It should be lame. Mercifully, it doesn't take itself too seriously. Zach Levi, who plays Chuck, is a loveable goofball. The supporting cast works well and the banter between all the characters feels natural. And like I said, it's fun. Anytime you save the day by downloading a virus from a porn site to defuse a bomb, you're going to get a laugh from me. As long as they can keep it light and slightly off-the-wall, it should work just fine. I'll be tuning in again next week.

3. The Big Bang Theory - Two nerds (and they are nerds. They're well beyond geeks) can yammer on about anything nerd-like you can handle. But when a hot blonde ditz moves in next door, wacky hijinks ensue.


You know, there's a difference between writing about characters who happen to be smart and actually writing smart characters. The jokes were telegraphed from a mile away, the humour made me cringe more than once and it became annoying to watch for more than a few minutes at a time. Chuck has a silly premise just like this show. Chuck just also happens to be about 10 times more amusing.

4. Journeyman - A journalist living in San Francisco suddenly discovers he can travel back in time. Once there, the choices he makes impact the future. He's also seeing the ex love of his life, who died in a plane crash. Meanwhile, in the present his family, friends and co-workers have problems with him disappearing for days at a time.

I oddly have this thing about time travel shows. Probably lingering burnout from how badly Star trek abused the premise over the years. And the start of the show didn't do much for me. I mean, I like looking at San Francisco, but I did get bored with a bit quickly. I was prepared to write it off, but a surprising thing happened - the show managed to pull it out in the last 10 minutes. I don't know if it will become a regular fixture for me on Monday nights, but I'll give it a whirl. There's some potential with the show if they play it out right. And a few ethical issues. For example, is it ok to sleep with your ex if you travel back to a time when you were going out with her even though you're now married in the present? (Cathy's behind me and giving a resounding "no.")

Besides, I need to find out how a newspaper reporter can afford a house like that in San Francisco.

If I have a choice between Journeyman or Caruso's "Shades of Justice" or The Bachelor, well, I think I'll chose Journeyman. Or bed. We'll see.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Books and more

Apparently it was a small gathering of Iqaluit bloggers at the library yesterday as I saw Kate, Bob and John all there. I spoke with John briefly because we know him and his wife though Cathy's work. Not so much Kate and Bob, which is kind of silly, I guess. But it is odd to go up to people and go "like your blog." (someone said they spotted me earlier the year at the airport and wanted to say the same thing to me. Now I know how they felt...)

There's enough of us kicking around town that we should all get together some evening. Perhaps the next time some other Nunavut blogger is passing through town. It's a thought, anyway.

My haul was not nearly as impressive and Kate and Bob's, but then again, we arrived five minutes after the place opened so who knows what fines we might have missed.

I got:
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
Toy Story 2 on DVD
A book on growing houseplants
Get Organized, Get Publish!
1,818 Ways to Write Better & Get Published
A large coffee table book filled with wildlife pictures that promptly went straight to Cathy's class.

Pretty disappointing, really. Last year I found "Thank You For Smoking" and "A Confederacy of Dunces." The selection wasn't really there. Then again, it was $5 for a bag of books an the money went to help the local library. So I shouldn't complain.

Besides, I'm pretty picky when it comes to second hand books. First, and this drives Cathy mental, I like new books. I hate books with the spine cracked or beaten up. Yes, they're "well loved". To me, they not been taken care of properly, which is disrespectful in my brain.

Although I am hopeful about the Vonnegut book. I've been meaning to give him another try for years. And I could use something good to read. The last few books have been bitterly disappointing. The last good one I read was "Crooked Little Vein" by Warren Ellis. That was followed by Greg Rucka's "Patriot Acts" which was a bitter disappointment from the previous books in the series. I then tried "The Book of Fate" by Brad Meltzer, which I gave up on after 100 pages as it was entirely too contrived. I'm now in a disappointing death trudge with William Gibson's "Spook Country". I keep hoping it will get better, but 70 pages in that hasn't happened yet.

I keep wondering if it has something to do with me trying to write my own book that's making me hate others right now. Could be, but I doubt it. And we'll see if the publishing books I bought help.

As for the book, I hit 50,000 words after writing for about 24 days. To put that in perspective, during National Novel Writing Month they want you to write that many words during November. So I'm on quite a roll.

Or well, I was. Since I hit 50,000 three days ago, I've written another 3,000 words. After finally beating into submission a section where the lead character finally hooks up with the woman who had been driving him nuts I'm now not entirely certain where to go next. A lot of the first 50,000 words were building to that point. I know where it has to go, I'm just not 100 per cent sure how to get there.

Ah well, no one said this was going to be easy. At 53,000 words I think I might be around half way done. But we will see...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Mireille asked for a picture of the walrus we bought on the weekend. And here he is...

We now have a shelf of sculptures and carvings. We've actually bought much more than this in our two years up here, but we often give them away as gifts. Our parents have done particularly well. Also, if we stay with friends when travelling we often give a carving as a way of saying thank you. So really, if you want a nice carving, put us up at your place or feed us.

Here's the shelf of carvings...

And this is a wall hanging we have that we're fond of.

Our next acquisition may be something from the Cape Dorset print exhibition showing next month in town. We've gone in previous years and have either not had the money or couldn't agree on a print. This year, miraculous, we have found two that we like. Go here if you want to see the prints that will be available, although we're obviously hoping those prices are for people down south and they will be a little lower here.

The first one we like is Owls Bouquet by Kenojuak Ashevak.

The other is Owls in Moonlight by Ningeokuluk Teevee. We apparently have a thing of owls this year.

Mireille is right...we're going to have quite the collection before we leave the north.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The last couple of days

A few things of note around town, and with us, that I haven’t gotten around to mentioning due to the boarderline mania I’m experiencing trying to write the book. I’m at 43,000 words, which is a retarded amount to have written in about three weeks, but there you go.

1. We finally got our sealift on Friday. It’s a smaller sealift than in the past two years because we have a smaller sealift room, plus there’s still lots of stuff left over from previous years. I think we might reevaluate our order next year. We like being able to order online using Northmart and we like that they deliver the stuff right to you door. On the other hand, they had our stuff in their warehouse for the better part of three weeks before they delivered it. Plus, we still haven’t got it all yet. Our soft drinks won’t arrive until early October at the earliest.

So yeah, we’ll see about next year. We might switch to someone else. It’d be nice to go to Ottawa and prepare our own sealift, but there’s just no way we have the time.

2. Thanks to a story in News North, at least we now know what’s going on with The Snack. The takeout restaurant used to be located right next door to us until it burned down last winter. They had started construction, but then stopped. Apparently it was going to cost them about 50 per cent more than they had thought to rebuild and they’re now scrambling to find investors.

On the one hand, we’re sorry this is happening to them. It’s shitty they’ve already put so much time and money into rebuilding and are now hitting these snags. On the other hand, we’re both trying to lose weight and The Snack was a powerful temptation to cheat. Especially since they made kickass poutine and had the only half decent club sandwich in town.

3. Speaking of restaurants, we tried out the new one in town on Saturday called The Water’s Edge, which does steak and seafood. I thought about how to sum up the experience, but one of the waitresses who served us summed it up best at the end of the evening.

“I think we might have opened up a bit too early.”

Yup. The menu was pretty limited to begin with and then a third of the items on it were crossed off because they didn’t have it. That included a soup of the day. If you’re a restaurant and you can’t manage to whip up a soup of the day, I think you might have jumped the gun.

Cathy had a New York Striplon on “smashed” potatoes. I had the Tuscan chicken on risotto. Both meals can best be described as bland. I was kind of afraid of this. The people who ran Wizard’s Bistro are now running this place. My take on Wizard’s was always they did half decent lunches, really, really good deserts and perfectly mediocre entrees. Water’s Edge appears to be carrying that over.

I hope I’m wrong, it’s just new restaurant jitters and they have it all worked out in a few weeks. But I think we’ll give it until some time in November before we try it again.

4. On the upside, we did get a nice walrus sculpture, which we both quite like. About $220 in case you’re wondering. I think I'll post up in a few days our complete collection of local art we've acquired, along with some of the Cape Dorset prints we're looking at when they go on sale.

5. The snow continues to creep in around the edges in town. There was another dusting last night and it was still on the car when we woke up this morning. You could still see it in place around town at lunch time. It’s only a matter of time before it covers the ground and stays until next June.

6. Had the car in to get some work done on the brakes and a front wheel that had been making some noise. So that was $900. Only when I tried to leave work the car began to stall and she was even worse this evening. So clearly the guys did something when they had her in the shop. Which means back she goes tomorrow. If there's something wrong that they did and they try to charge me for it, there will be words. But hopefully it won't come to that.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Small battles

There was some conversation in my previous post about what seats, if any, the Liberals will hold. A couple were mentioned and by all means, if you have your picks, feel free to mention them.

However, here’s my take on why even traditional, rock solid Liberal seats are in play this time. WJM mentioned Cartwright. I would have said Bellevue. There may well be a few others. But I think all of those are at risk. And it’s not just because Williams is insanely popular province-wide. Provincial popularity doesn’t translate directly into provincial districts. If the local MHA is a good constituency person, is personally well liked in the area and the people there are happy at how quickly he or she returns their calls and gets things done for them, then that cuts down some of the premier’s personal popularity.

This election is going to be interesting in that it’s going to not so much be a province-wide campaign, but several local ones. Put it this way, it’s not war. The war is won. This is all about little local skirmishes. The Tories don’t need to worry about 75 per cent of the seats in the province. They are a lock. I would be surprised if Williams spends more than three days in St. John’s. The Tories will win them all (sorry Simon. I hope I’m wrong) with the possible exception of Lorraine Michaels.

Instead the Tories are going to be concentrating their firepower on the remaining Liberal seats in rural Newfoundland. Williams is going to visit Gerry Reid’s district more than he’s going to visit St. John’s. Because in case you haven’t noticed, our premier holds a grudge. Williams could win 47 seats and lose Reid’s riding and he would consider it a disappointing election. He wants to beat Reid.

Every Liberal incumbent still standing is going to be under tremendous pressure. Visit from the premier and cabinet. Intensive advertising campaigns in the local papers. The whole nine yards. The Liberals will fairly quickly have to give up the notion of a provincial campaign or even taking seats from the Tories and just keep heaping sandbags to hold off the flood in the districts they hold. We’re talking guerilla warfare in about six ridings. For the rest of the province, I suspect this is going to be a very quiet, fairly dull election.

Elections are normally windfalls for media with advertising. But I’ll be curious to see how much money is spent and where. For example, I think the Telegram is going to do poorly with advertising dollars. We’ll see, but I think the Tories, and especially the Liberals, are going to want to very specifically target where the money goes. Unless things have changed in recent years, very few people outside the Northeast Avalon read the Telegram. They read the local community papers for their news. Papers with major battles happening in them are going to make good money.

I think this election, when it’s all said and done, is going to remind me of the last few American election. Where most of the country is ignored because it’s a foregone conclusion which candidate is going to win there. The real battles are in a half dozen or so “swing states.” Whichever way they swing determines who wins the election. Except this time the half dozen or so “swing” districts are all Liberal, and which way they swing decides if Williams has to face an opposition on the other side of the house, or just more friendly faces he couldn’t squeeze in on his side.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Waiting for the hammer

Cathy asked me this evening what was going on since I hadn't blogged since Wednesday. I wasn't having a problem, more like there's only so much creativity I can tap into during the run of a day. Since Wednesday I've probably written about 8,000 to 10,000 words of my book. Which is quite a nice run, by my standards. I rather doubt that will continue, but I was on a roll. And you don't mess with creative streaks (I just finished watching Bull Durham, so I have the speech about streaks rattling around inside my head right now). When you get a burst where the words are flowing and you know exactly what each character is going to and say, you write until your fingers bleed.

Because you never could end at any moment and the next thing you know you're doing something like the little dude to the right of the page.

I suppose with the election call coming up in Newfoundland I should be getting excited. But honestly, I'm trying to think of a less interesting, more anti-climatic election in recent Newfoundland history. And that's saying something. For all the bullshit you read about how interesting and complex Newfoundland politics can be, most elections are deadly predictable. The last one I can think of that was truly, majestically weird was in '89. Other than that, if you didn't know who was going to win the day the election was called, then you weren't paying attention. The only thing up in the air was how many seats the party in question was going to win.

Election '07 is going to be, if possible, even more boring. When elections are called, reporters normally start pools to guess who is going to win each seat. The person who gets the most seats right, wins. I wonder if there will be any pools this year? I almost doubt it.

Having seen the moves that Williams has pulled in the last couple of weeks - the Hebron deal, the energy plan, buying into White Rose and even releasing the MHA spending report which is managing to make the Liberals look worse than the Tories - I've come to a conclusion. I told it to a friend of mine back home last week and he agreed.

It's not that Williams is trying to win. It's a given pretty much that he will. It's not that he's trying to win every seat. I would have said that was impossible as recently as six months ago. Now, I'm not so sure.

No, I honestly think he's trying to eliminate the concept of opposition parties in Newfoundland and Labrador for the next decade. At least. It's quite possible he could destroy both parties (believe it or not, the Liberals are far more vulnerable. The NDP have a better chance of holding Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi than the Liberals do in holding any of their seats). Not only would that leave him unopposed in '07, it will make it almost impossible for those parties to rally any serious challenge to the Tories in '11, the next provincial election. They simply won't have the money, resources or profile that a party gets just from sitting in opposition.

It's funny. Nunavut doesn't have opposition parties either. Instead, it works using a consensus government. All the MLAs work together to make decisions. Individuals might oppose a decision, but there are no political parties that oppose the premier or the cabinet. So Newfoundland may well be just like Nunavut on October 10. Except the consensus will come from one man.

Hope you're all ready for the hammer to fall, folks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

27,000 and going

I'm not sure if there's a right way to write a book, but I'm pretty certain I'm not going about the right way. Then again, I have 27,000 words written essentially in a little more than two weeks, which isn't too bad at all. As to whether or not they're 27,000 well written, intelligent and captivating words, I'm not sure. Probably not, at this point. But that's why I keep reminding myself we have second drafts. And third drafts. And quite possibly drafts into the double digits.

The key is to keep writing. Which is what I'm doing. I even took a day to stop writing and start to plot out where I'm going. The first 20,000 or so words were pretty easy. But now I'm getting into the guts of the thing it helps to have a better plan. And oddly enough, I think I do.

I'm also doing the slightly weird thing of writing scenes out of sequence. There have been things I've thought of that I thought were funny and rather than wait until I get to that part of the book, I figured I should write them now rather than run the risk of forgetting about it.

Book writing also produces other unexpected side effects. I actually have a character talking in my head now, annoyed when it's been too long since I've written anything about her. I had a bizarre rush when I finally figured out how two of the main characters were going to meet. Cathy just thought I was insane. It's strange how much time is spent trying to work things out, even when I'm not in front of the computer. Fortunately, Cathy's been understanding of my more scatterbrained behaviour in recent weeks. "You're writing the book in your head again, aren't you?" has been said more than once.

So far only one person has seen what I've written and it's not Cathy, but another friend. And she's been a tremendous help. Along with pestering me for more, she's offered up both corrections and suggestions that have been useful. And hell, I'm enjoying myself, so what's the harm.

So what's the plan with this thing? Well, in my dreamworld, I'll have the book finished by the end of November. I figure it will be between 100,000-125,000 words. I'll completely ignore it until I come back from vacation in January. Then I'll print it off and gasp in horror at all the mistakes and faults and then begin the agonizing process of gutting the thing like a fish. I figure that'll take a month or so. Then the plan is to subject the book to several friends for feedback and commentary. Once they finish hacking it to pieces, well, then I'll see if I can find a publisher for it.

Dare to dream, I know. There are plenty of books that never get published and those that do often just fade away. But hey, I see at least two immediate benefits of getting published.

1. There's always the possibility the book becomes wildly successful and I can become a full-time author. Staying home and writing all day and getting paid for it is awfully appealing.
2. I would never have to listen to another person tell me "You should write a book." I can just take it out and show them.

The peace and quiet would be totally worth it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The day of...

It's a quiet September 11 this year, I think. I could be wrong about that, but I like to think I'm a reasonably astute media observer and the volume of stories doesn't feel as high. We were driving home from the gym last night and I told Cathy "tomorrow is September 11." And she looked shocked. It was like the date flew under the radar completely.

That's not to say the event is ignored. Of course it hasn't. I suspect if I had turned on the US news today there would be no shortage of coverage. But in previous years it was almost a week of mourning leading up to the day. It didn't feel that way this year.

(For that matter, the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina also felt pretty low key. Then again, considering what an embarrassment Katrina has been to the US, I can see why some might prefer to just forget it ever happened. And judging by the US government's response, it appears they are trying to do just that.)

It's only natural, of course. It's been six years and time tends to diminish the impact of these things somewhat. I suspect it will be quiet now until the 10th anniversary of the event, where there will be a great deal of looking back on what happened in the previous 10 years - what went right and what went wrong for the United States and their response to that tragedy.

I don't really have much more to add. I wrote about my reflections last year and I can't think of anything else to say. Other than I think when we look back on it decades from now the greater tragedy will be the response to the event than the event itself.

Monday, September 10, 2007

How is this out of shape?

Two entertainment things of note, although at wildly different ends of the spectrum.

While I didn't see the MTV Music Video Awards, I have read a couple of the stories about how the awards went. And without exception they've all mentioned how terrible Britney Spears was during the opening musical number. This is but one example.

Now, I'm about the last person on Earth to have any sympathy for Spears and the freefall her career has been in the last couple of years. And if she faded completely away from our collective pop culture awareness, I would be a perfectly happy person. I have no problem with people ripping her for lip-syncing badly to her song or that her dancing was horrible or that she seemed confused while on stage. If you're a performer, get used to people criticizing your performance on stage.

But how on Earth is this out of shape?

(credit: Kevin Mazur/

What kind of retarded pop culture world do we live in where a woman looks like that and is considered not just out of shape, but embarrassingly out of shape? Jesus Christ. I want to give her a sandwich.

Meanwhile, in an area about as far removed from anorexic, burnt out pop princesses as you can get, there's this surreal article about Lynn Johnston. Last week was notable for the For Better or For Worse strip in that Johnston began her long expected flashbacks in the strip. Rather than cancelling the strip or just repeating old ones, Johnston wants to mesh old strips she did 30 years ago with new material.

It was meant as a way of cutting back on how much work she was doing for health reasons and to spend more time with her husband.

Who, apparently, left her back in April to go and be with another woman.

Considering how long I've read the strip and considering it is semi-autobiographical, it's just strange to think what Johnston is going through. One of the risks of doing that kind of strip. Although now, perhaps just as weird, Johnston is saying she might mix more new material into the strip now that she has more time on her hands than she anticipated. And she's going to continue to write John Patterson in the strip and has no intention for the comic strip characters to divorce.

Well, if nothing else perhaps it will stop people from bitching at her that she brought Liz and Anthony together in the strip.

Nah, probably not...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

No iPod for you...

I'm a well-known Mac snob, but I haven't gotten around to talking about the new line of iPods that were announced last week. I had a few people ask if I was going to buy one of them.


Don't get me wrong, I'm surely they're lovely toys. But I bought a (then) top of the line iPod last year. It has about 80 gigs and it more than enough for me. I don't really use the video function to play movies or TV shows. I don't store my photos on it. All I want is something with enough memory to hold all of my music. I have about 30 gigs of music on my 80 gig iPod, so clearly I have a lot more room for music.

That means the Shuffle, Nano and the newly dubbed "Classic" would do nothing for me. Two of them don't have enough memory. The Classic is essentially what I own right now.

Which leaves the iPod Touch. Which is a lovely machine. I imagine it's going to be a big hit, especially in Canada, where the iPhone is not yet available. The Touch is essentially the iPhone without the phone.

But I'm not really interested in one of those either. At least not right now. Two reasons. Well, three. At $450 Canadian, it's expensive. Secondly, it only comes in 8 gig and 16 gig models. Not enough memory of what I need. And third, the wifi if completely useless for me here. There's only one free wifi in town, and it's that slow that e-mail is about all its good for.

Granted, there are several unsecure wireless networks in town (including one in my building, but I'm nice and don't take advantage of the person), but the main draw for that iPod is the wifi.

Granted, that might change in a few years time if we move down south. But for now, I'm quite content with what I have.

No, my next purchase will be a 15 inch MacBook Pro. The only question is do I buy it at the end of October when Apple comes out with its new OS, or do I wait until January, when Apple will likely upgrade their notebook line. Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A belated anniversary CD listing

I mentioned some time ago that I would put up the list of what songs went on our anniversary CD. I don't have all the discs out yet, but the laptop's disc burner is proving to be stubborn and not allowing me to burn the last few discs.

So just in case I can't get the last few discs burned or, for whatever reason, you want to make your very own 2nd Anniversary CD, here's the song list for this year and the reasons why we choose the songs.

As always, the usual caution. The songs on this CD are favourites of ours from the past year. Don't look for hidden subtext into the status of our relationship buried in the songs. Although along with the song list this year, we're including some of the reasons why a particular song is on the CD.

1. Signal Fire – Snow Patrol: I've liked Snow Patrol for about a year. Cathy was easy enough to lure in since one of their songs appeared on Grey's Anatomy. We like this song not just for the lyrics, or that it was on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack, but because it has just a wonderful music video.

2. The Sound of Settling – Death Cab For Cutie: Cathy was quite leery about trying the band, given their name. However, she's fallen for them as I have.

3. Like A Star – Corinne Bailey: When we were watching the ill-fated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, they had a musical performer on that we had never heard of before. But we were both wowed by her voice. She broke into the mainstream a couple of weeks later. It's still a beautiful song.

4. Mushaboom – Feist: Also known in our abode as "that song from that cologne commercial." And yet, oddly catchy and upbeat. Everything Cathy likes in a song and I will tolerate from time to time.

5. Me and Mr. Jones – Amy Winehouse: Another successful musical introduction as I became a fan and managed to convince Cathy to give her a try. I could have picked several songs. Cathy wanted this one for the opening lyric.

6. Torbay Road – Colleen Power: Because it wouldn't be one of these CDs if there wasn't a Colleen song on it. Hopefully she'll come out with a new record before we run out.

7. Goodbye Earl – Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies: It also wouldn't be an anniversary CD without some Gimmie Gimmies. I also swore this song wouldn't be played at our wedding, given that it's a song about killing your husband. However, I just can't resist a good cover by these guys.

8. The Internet is for Porn – Avenue Q: Of course it is…

9. Me and You and a Dog Named Boo – Lobo: This is, in fact, a terrible song. However, it kind of works seeing as how we got a dog named Boo in the past year.

10. Every Inambition – The Trews: This band puzzles me. Not that they're bad, because we both quite like them. It's just that Cathy doesn't like loud guitar in her songs, and yet, that's what this band is and she loves them. One more mystery in our marriage.

11. We Used to be Friends – Dandy Warhols: Theme song to the late, lamented Veronica Mars, our favourite show.

12. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand: Not just because it's one of the best rock songs in the last few years. Not just because it's catchy as hell. But because we played this song to death on Guitar Hero in the past year.

13. Flathead – The Fratellis: Also known as 'that song from the iTunes commercial." Sadly, really, the impact of commercial on our musical tastes. But it does stick in your head.

14. Alice Burns Down Oldford's Barn – Mark Bragg: We argued what Mark Bragg song would go on the CD. Cathy won with this choice. Any of them would have worked, however.

15. When the Night Feels My Song – Bedoiun Soundclash: Just a catchy little song we liked. No doubt it was played to death by Southern Canadian radio stations. But since we have a weird station in Iqaluit, we never heard it anyway.

16. Misery – Soul Asylum: We were watching Clerks II and once the final scene began unfolding, they played this song, from the first Clerks movie. And it just worked perfectly. And we both remembered how much we loved that song.

17. Walking with a Ghost – Tegan and Sara: Lesbian twin folk singers aren't normally our thing, but it's one damn lyrically clever song.

18. Shape of My Heart – Sting: Sure he can be an arrogant git. Sure he's apparently turning The Police into a jazz band on their tour. But the man can write a song.

19. Book of Love – Peter Gabriel: Unbelievably sappy, yet beautiful song. As soon as we heard it in a movie (Shall We Dance, I believe) we went to iTunes to download it.

20. In the Cold, Cold Night – White Stripes: One of the greatest rock shows we've ever seen, and it was in Iqaluit. Plus, you know, we get many cold, cold nights up here.

21. Can't Help Falling in Love – U2: It's a rough bootleg, so we're sorry about the sound quality. On any other CD it would be the last song. And the line "Good night, Dublin City" breaks Cathy's heart every time, as she missed seeing them play in Dublin by a week.

22. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band – The Beatles: One of our favourite records of the past 12 months is Love, the Beatles remix CD. This is probably our favourite...

23. All You Need is Love – The Beatles: ...although this is a close second. And really, it's hard to beat this to close a record.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Four letter words

So it snowed in Iqaluit today.

Snow, as the clever among you will note, is a four letter word. It wasn't the only one used by many residents around today. I mean, I came out of work at lunchtime and thought the rain was awfully solid feeling.

"Nah, it's way to early to have snow already."

And yet, while driving home it was clear that it was snow flurries landing on the windshild. I got to the apartment and snow was falling on my head as I stepped out of the car. I would have wept but I was too busy cursing at the sky that was producing snow. That might have been considered unusual, but I suspect a good chunk of the town was probably doing the same thing.

When I got upstairs Cathy was quietly sobbing in the corner.

We're just mentally prepared for the idea of snow this early. It didn't last any was gone almost as soon as it hit the ground. And there's the real possibility we'll have some on the ground permanently by Thanksgiving. But a few days after Labour Day? We're just not there yet.

If nothing else, I'm feeling better about the money we spent earlier this week. We had a deposit down on our cruise, but we hadn't booked the plane tickets to get us from here to Fort Lauderdale. We discovered that seats were disappearing quickly around Christmas and thought that we ought to book now rather than run into a racket later.

So about $3,200 later, we have two tickets to Florida. Anytime I spend that much money I always have a moment of buyer's remorse. But with snow today, I'm very glad to have spent the money.

This, by the way, is cheaper than flying home to St. John's because Canadian North has an interesting sale in which if you book a ticket to fly out of Canada within 24 hours of hitting Ottawa, they greatly reduce the cost of your ticket. As in right now it would be $1500 for a ticket to Ottawa. Because we're going to Florida afterwards, it's about $850.

Odd, but I don't care. Because if the snow we had today is any indication, by the time December comes along, I'm going to be very ready for a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Snow! For fuck's sake....

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Creationism in Ontario

Several months I went a little binky on Creationism. A couple of "museums" were opening up which featured alternatives to evolution by putting forward arguments in favour of creationism. I mocked it because it deserved to be mocked. I admit my tolerance for most religions is a touch on the weak side. It's something I've tried to be more understanding as I've gotten older.

But creationism just sets me off. Because it's trying to pass of ignorance and myth as something scientific and logical. Which is bullshit.

So when I read this story I was ready to have a small conniption. I was ready to proclaim loud and high that if you were in Ontario and voted for the Tories, then you were an idiot. Because any leader that would advocate teaching creationism anywhere in the school system, then you didn't deserve to be leader of a province. I'm not even getting into the funding of private religious schools, which I know is contentious in Ontario. But no premier should be advocate teaching ignorance in schools.

However, I calmed down a bit and I was curious if the original Globe story was perhaps misreporting things. It seemed a bit oddly written. I don't know if The Globe misreported Tory or if the Conservatives quickly scrambled to clarify things. But this CBC Story says creationism cold not be taught in any science class and have the school qualify for public funding. Which is a nice save, since I suspect it would have blown up on John Tory pretty damn quick.

I don't know much about Tory, as I don't care much about Ontario politics. Still, I think with comments like these, he bears closer watching.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Quiet night

Myself and Cathy have serious cases of the "don't wannas" in neither of us want to go back to work tomorrow. Granted, I can understand her point of view a little better. Although I can certainly understand her point of view as Tuesday will be her first day back with the kids. After the whole summer off, it's back at it full-time now. She loves teaching, but I can certainly understand why she was feeling a little morose today.

As for me, I have no idea why. Probably lingering residual from a long weekend that I would prefer not to end.

Not much more to report with this blog post, I'm afraid. I finally have some blood pumping through the book and about 11,000 words done. I'm not getting cocky, but it feels right so far. So if there is the odd day of me not posting here, then I'm slogging away at the book.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fall music

So I read this story about music releases coming out this fall. There's a surprising number of releases that I might actually consider getting. I really didn't have high hopes for the fall and Christmas, but there's a few here I'm going to get.

Here are the highlights. And, well, some stuff I feel like mocking.

Sept 11
Hot Hot Heat -- Happiness Ltd. : I loved their last record Elevator. Give me more high energy, insanely catchy pop and I'm there.

The Proclaimers -- Life With You : I'm curious, that's all.

Sept 18
James Blunt -- All the Lost Souls : Because we can always use more whiny British pop music.

The Donnas -- Bitchin : Their last record, Gold Medal, was a kick-ass rock album. I'm hoping they can keep it up.

Dropkick Murphys -- The Meanest of Times : I'm hit and miss on these guys. But the song they had in The Departed was a highlight of the movie.

Mark Knopfler -- Kill to Get Crimson : Knopfler's solo stuff has been very hit and miss. So here's wondering.

KT Tunstall -- Drastic Fantastic : I cam late to her first record, but kind of like it. I'll give her follow-up a try.

Sept 25
Tony Bennett -- Ultimate American Songbook : Tony's always worth a listen. I'm curious as to what this will be like.

Blue Rodeo -- Small Miracles : Their last record didn't do much for me. I'm hoping for a change of pace.

The Doors -- The Very Best of : Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't there already a 100 Greatest Hits CDs of The Doors out there already?

Foo Fighters -- Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace : The first single is one of the better things I've heard from them in years. I'll give it a whirl.

Frank Sinatra -- A Voice in Time (1939 - 1952) (Box) : This might be waaaay more Sinatra than I need, but I might look up the song list to see what's on it.

Stars -- In Our Bedroom After the War : Thanks the the miracle of releasing albums on the internet before they come out on CD, I already have this. Not bad, not as good as their last one.

Oct. 2
The Beatles -- Unseen Beatles (DVD) : Because it wouldn't be a fall without a Beatles release. I also given good money that the band's catelogue comes out on iTunes as well.

Celine Dion -- These are Special Times (Collector's Edition) : On the upside I know what to get my mom for Christmas. On the downside, the gates of hell are opening once more.

Mick Jagger -- The Very Best of : Has Jagger released any solo stuff that anyone has enjoyed, let alone enough for a greatest hits?

Annie Lennox -- Songs of Mass Destruction : I don't think I need the album, but it has the fall's best title.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Magic : Duh...

Oct. 9
Jennifer Lopez -- Brave : Once again, somewhere in New York, there is a studio musician getting paid good money to pretend to be Lopez.

Oct. 16
Toby Keith -- A Classic Christmas : Would prefer to band my head on a wall for an hour instead.

Neil Young -- Chrome Dreams II : Neil Young automatically gets a try with me.

Oct. 23
Robert Plant + Alison Krauss -- Raising Sand : Surely God, this fall's strangest release. And yet, I'm insanely curious about it. And in a twist, I'm a much bigger fan of Krauss than Plant.

Oct. 30
Backstreet Boys -- Unbreakable : Just die already. Where's my stake, silver and garlic?

The Eagles -- Long Road Out of Eden : And now I know what to get my dad for Christmas.

Nov. 6
Garth Brooks -- The Ultimate Hits : Has Brooks actually put out a record since his last greatest hits collection? I don't think that should be allowed.

Duran Duran -- Red Carpet Massacre : One could only hope they're the ones being massacred on the red carpet.

Spice Girls -- Greatest Hits : This is being released the day after Guy Fawkes night, but I have no problem giving a penny to burn the band. Or at least all copies of the record.

Nov. 13
Celine Dion -- The Woman in Me : Twice in a matter of months? Now that's evil.

And that's far. I'm sure there will be a few surprises. Hopefully good ones, unlike two Celine Dion records. That's just mean.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

New Bonds...

The papers have been finally signed and even though it was becoming common knowledge when I was home last month, I didn't feel comfortable talking about this until now.

Way back in January I wrote this post lamenting that my friend Anne was going to have to sell her wonderful house on Bond Street. It was simply too much house just for her and the costs were getting too high to maintain. I was quite sad because of how much that house means to me and my circle of friends. More than one of us checked our finances to see if we could scrape together the funds to buy it. We couldn't and I assumed that no one else would be able to either.

And yet, a funny thing happened along the way...

My good friends Andrew and Karin live in Nebraska. Andrew's been wanting to come home for awhile and Karin, even though she's from Nebraska, has fallen deeply in love with Canada, and especially Newfoundland. They'd been thinking about moving home at some point in the next couple of years.

So Karin is reading my blog one day and discovers that Anne's house is for sale. She tells Andrew and comes up with a singularly genius notion - "We should buy Anne's house!"

And lo and behold, as of today, they have. 117/119 Bond Street now belongs to them. I couldn't be happier because it couldn't belong to nicer people.

It's also a relief because I can finally talk about it. I've known this plan was in motion since the end of January when they began talking to Anne about buying the place. I've had long conversations with both of them as the alternated between asking questions about the place and cursing me for putting the notion in their heads to begin with.

As Karin has told me many times, "This is all your fault!"

For which I will happily accept all responsibility, up to, but not including, accepting any of the costs they are now about to incur.

They have grand plans for the place, while will likely take several years to develop. Still, I can't wait to see what they'll do to the place. I have no doubt the place will look spectacular. I'm just happy the house is staying "in the family." Karin has even offered to keep the ongoing New Year's tradition going.

Which means she's going to have to learn to cook haggis. Oh dear...