Saturday, May 31, 2008

Send me up

I am not a gifted scientist, engineer or medical doctor. And yet if they were looking for meoderately talented writers or communications people, I would be all over this.

When I was young my grandparents gave me one of these books for keeping track of your school accomplishments. I still have it back in St. John's somewhere. You put a photo of yourself from that grade, your report card, who your teacher was, who your best freinds were and stuff like that. And the last thing they ask is "What do you want to be when you grow up?

I think in Grade 1 I decided Astronaut and was so sure that's what I wanted to be that I filled it out straight up until Grade 13 (the book was obviously made in Ontario during the 70s). And that was "Astronaut." And the strange thing was, by the time I hit Grade 12, that hadn't changed. I still did. But somewhere along the line that dream died the same way most dreams do from childhood to adulthood.

But let me be clear...if Space Agency or NASA offered me the chance to go up into space tomorrow, I would be all over it. It's the one thing I absolutely hope to do before I die.

So if the Space Agency would like to overlook the many talented doctors, engineers and scientists applying for the job and pick a slightly over-weight guy pushing 40 who would write really eloquently about how brilliant they are for the rest of my life to go up into space, I'd be good to go.

Last Five
1. Did you make a song with Otis - The Dandy Warhols
2. Rain street - The Pogues
3. Let's work - Mick Jagger
4. There must be an angel - Eurythmics
5. Stay - Jackson Browne

Friday, May 30, 2008

We already have's very nice

(You need to say the title with an outrageous French accent...)

Anytime a big movie comes out, you can probably dig around enough and find some tacky promotional items that go along with it. However, this has to be near the top of the list for me.

The fertility god pen holder, eh, maybe not so much.

Even the ark of the covenant business card holder doesn't do it for me, but maybe you get away with it.

But the Holy Grail paper clip holder....oh yeah, baby. That's the stuff.

The really sad thing is, I kind of want a Holy Grail paper clip holder. Might be careful to taking to the water fountain if I was thirsty. Just in case, you know. But that's honestly kind of tempting.

Of course, I've just had an idea. If I got the Grail before I went to Italy we could then get the pope to bless it when we were in Vatican City. Then we could go to one of the Cathedrals, dip it in the holy water they always have an the entrance to the church (I'm sure it has a name, but I can't recall it) and then take a swig.

Immortality? Maybe.

Then again, if Indiana Jones logic takes hold, it means I probably can never leave the Vatican, which would likely suck. Cathy, however, just pointed out a much more practical problem. Thousands of people a day dip their hands into the water. It might not be enough to melt me, but I suspect I would come down with one hell of a bug.

(h/t) Mike Sterling

Last Five
1. Three little indians - Mark Bragg
2. Breakin' up - Rilo Kiley
3. Little terror - Matthew Good
4. Pussy-whipped Satan (comedy) - Bill Hicks
5. Act naturally - The Beatles

A couple of crazies

Perhaps one of the sillier stories to come out of the tragedy of the earthquake in China is this story where Sharon Stone made some off-hand and silly comment about the disaster and loss of life being, essentially, karmic payback to China for how they deal with Tibet.

First off, she's an actress and really, who cares what they think about things like this. But if we are going to care, for whatever reason, it's also possibly useful to remember that Stone suffered some brain damage back in 2001. So that might have had some impact. Stone has always been a touch nuts, even by the historically high craziness level that many Hollywood actresses tend to possess, but I think she's been even loopier since that incident.

So really, who cares. And the fact that people in China are paying any attention to it is almost as crazy. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you guys have something more important to deal with right now?

No, if you want to read something that will genuinely offend you in the world of pop culture, have a taste of this. Yes, Michelle Malkin a Conservative commentator, successfully browbeat Dunkin Donuts into pulling a commerical because they didn't like the scarf that spokeswoman Rachael Ray was wearing. It was, no kidding, too Muslim for them.

I'm not actually mad at Malkin about this. She's off in the lunatic fringe of conservative commentators. And it's not like there isn't a method to her madness. If that's how you want to make money, by appealing to the absolute lowest and most xenophobic parts of our psyche, well, it's your soul. And to take from the wisdom of Ms. Stone, I imagine karmic payback is a bitch.

There's always going to be a small group of euqally adled-minded people who will flock to her (John Rogers theory on 27% of the American public being crazy holds very true here. Actually, there's hope since she represents the views of considerably less than that number). And I've gotten to the point where I consider it good practice to ignore the views of deeply crazy people. If you don't, well, there's certainly the risk of bumping up that 27% crazy figure by a few fractions of a percent.

No, my real ire is at Dunkin Donuts. Seriously, this woman and her lunatic fringer get upset over a scarf that your spokeswoman wears and instead of saying "Go fuck yourselves, you bunch of lunatic, racist assholes" they go "OK, sure. Please don't be mean to us."

So here's my boycott. Granted, I don't know if there are any Dunkin Donuts in Canada, but if you read this and occasionally go there, stop doing it. Write the company a letter and tell them that until they grow a fucking spine and start running the ad again, you won't be buying their products.

All of this and I find Rachael Ray deeply annoying. I'd be happy to see less of her on TV. But not like this. This is just idiotic.

Last Five
1. Castor and pollux - Bob Mould
2. Sometime soon - Matt Mays*
3. Dance dance dance (live) - Neil Young
4. Fire (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
5. Horse pills - The Dandy Warhols

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cargo blues

Seems I might have spoken a bit too soon last night when I said things were locked in and looking good for Italy. We had a hiccup this morning. It's fixed now, but it did give a few hours of stress and we're still not happy with the results.

And the sources of the stress? Air Canada.

How good of an airline is that? They can stress you out even when you go out of your way not to fly with them. Folks, mock them all you want, but that takes skill.

We're flying Continental Airlines on this trip. Why? Well, they had the shortest travel time: Ottawa to Newark, a 3 hour layover, then direct to Rome. One airline had us waiting in Germany for six hours. They were also the cheapest option. Yes, there were cheaper - but it would have involved flying Zoom Airlines or using Ryanair out of London. I am also paranoid about bargin airlines. Besides, most of them really aren't bargains by the time you add all the fees. So your trip is that much more uncomfortable and inconvienent just to save a $100 or so. No thanks.

The third reason we flew Continental? It wasn't Air Canada. Plus, we've used Continental for several trips now and have found them to be mostly reliable and easy to deal with.

But as for how Air Canada managed to make out life difficult....well, that would be because of Boo.

We're taking bozo to Ottawa with us and then sending him back to St. John's to stay with Cathy's folks for the summer. Cathy's going home for a month after Italy, so she can escort him back. But in terms of getting him from Ottawa to St. John's, well, that required the use of Air Canada Cargo.

Because Cathy is that organized, a month ago she called to see if she could book him passage. A very nice man said that she would have to wait a month before he travels, but that it should be no problem, there was a flight leaving Ottawa at 8 pm and gets into St. John's at midnight. Reassured, Cathy marked the date in her dayplanner and we booked our Italy tickets knowing Boo could make it back to St. John's no problem.

This morning, Cathy calls Air Canada Cargo to book passage. Except there is no 8 pm flight. There's a 6:30 flight, but we have to get Boo there two hours before departure. Not possible since our flight doesn't arrive in Ottawa until 5 pm. Oh, and we're told there are no cargo flights that can take dogs that weekend.

Cathy does a small freakout. As anyone might. We resolve to try again later, just in case this guy was as clueless as the one Cathy spoke to a month ago.

Cathy tries calling again, gets another person and we get a third result. No, there's no way to get him on a flight that Friday. Although not because of the check-in time, but because there would be no one to take care of him when he arrives in St. John's at midnight. However, we can send him on Saturday morning. He leaves 7 am and arrives in St. John's at 5 pm. They will take him out of his cage to walk him and give him food and water, but that's the best they can do.

I'm tempted to call back a fourth time, just to see what will happen. I almost guarentee we will get a different answer.

By the way, we're paying about $200 to send Boo home, one way.

Remind me again why it was a good thing Air Canada survived bankruptcy about a decade ago? I'm having a hard time recalling.

Last Five
1. Honey pie - The Beatles
2. The grim trucker - Ron Sexsmith
3. Twisted logic - Coldplay
4. Erase/replace - Foo Fighters
5. Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie*

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Countdown to Italy

In a little less than a month we'll be on our way to Italy. Well, we'll be in Ottawa, doing a little resupply first. I need a new backpack before heading over. We've decided that rather than trying to drag luggage all over the place, we'll just stick to our backpacks. Since mine is now more than 10 years old and starting to fall apart, it's time for a trip to one of Cathy's favourite stores in Ottawa (right up there with IKEA), MEC. I could order the backpack and get it delivered up here now, but I'm going to be wearing this all over Italy, not to mention Australia next year. It would be nice to put it on and see how it feels first.

We have, however, ordered and received some travel clothing. We got some lightweight, wash and wear clothes. We're travelling as light as possible. So if we can take only a few outfits, wash them and keep reusing them throughout Italy, that will be fine. We won't be fashionable, but I can handle that. I've never been fashionable.

Everything else for Italy is in pretty good shape. We have the plane tickets bought. I thought they were ridiculously expensive when we bought them, but that was still before increases in fuel surcharges and when the airlines decided that luggage was one of those options we should have to pay for. It was expensive, but it could have been much, much worse.

We also have all of our accommodations taken care of. Several days of hitting dozens of websites managed to get us reasonably decent places to stay. Again, we're travelling to Italy during high season. We decided to not stay at hostels after hearing a few horror stories. We also didn't stay at monasteries, as tempting as that was. They were more expensive than a lot of the hotels and bed and breakfasts we were looking at. We're not staying in high end places, we're not staying at dives. I think the rooms could be be described as being perfectly serviceable.

Without checking the calendar, we're spending about 4 days in Rome, then 7 in Florence, then 4 days in Venice before ending things with 4 days in Cinque Terre. We'll probably do some day trips outside of Florence, maybe to Pisa or maybe around the Tuscan countryside. Hit a vineyard or something. Oh, and we also have a rail pass that's good for 5 days travel. So we're all good. We still have to decide a list of things we want to do when we're in some of these places, but we still have time for that.

We're excited, but not too excited yet. It's still a month away. If you get too wound up about these things too soon, time will just seem to crawl. If nothing else, I learned that about the New York trip. March and the first part of April just seemed to crawl.

I also get some amusement that we're not the only northern bloggers going to be in Europe this summer. Darcy is on his way to Hungary for the better part of the month, which is pretty cool. I don't think eastern Europe is our immediate travel plans, but I'll certainly be reading his posts and be looking forward to his photos. I think I could persuade Cathy to go there one day. Maybe in 2014. I think that's the next open travel year we have....

Last Five
1. Down to London - Joe Jackson*
2. The Complex - Blue Man Group
3. Precious angel - Bob Dylan
4. Stop bringing me down - Ian Foster Band
5. The house is haunted by the echo of you - Holly Cole

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

They come in multiples of three...

So far this month with the provincial government:

1. Continued damning testimony about the Eastern Health Board.
2. The premier and justice minister made an ill-advised and doomed attempt to try and cower the inquiry a bit before things got too humiliating.
3. The deputy premier quit in a snit about road funding.
4. Several cabinet minister were revealed to have a spine with the same consistancy of Jello by refusing to stand up to his "bullying", thereby making themselves and the government look like idiots.
5. The premier vocally "blacklisted" a senior CBC reporter in a media scrum.
6. A cabinet minister announced a lawsuit against Quebec and the federal government over the Upper Churchill.
7. The same cabinet minister, several hours later, had to walk back that statement saying she "misspoke" about the lawsuit.
8. We might have seen the beginning of the end of talk radio's influence on the public as people finally, finally begin to clue in just how much the government uses VOCM to spin their position with surrogates.

So yeah, that's a bad month. And hey, there's still time left yet. At the rate things are going, I'm waiting for a governmental sex scandal. We haven't had one of those yet (well, federally, kinda. But not locally). Lord knows there's one there ready to break at any time. Maybe this will be the month.

Now, as a former reporter, I enjoy a little government chaos. And this month must be the gift that kept on giving for local reporters. Even the blacklisting was good headlines. But the downside to all of this insanity is that it happened while the House of Assembly was sitting. Government's tend to get in more trouble when the House is sitting. Just the nature of the beast. It's why, as provincial government's have become more concious (or paranoid) of the media, they've slowly begun restricting the number of days the House is in session.

This was the first time the House was in session since the last provincial election, what with the premier decided to skip a fall session. So they were pushing nine months or more. And if this is the kind of craziness that the premier can look forward to every time the House opens, you get the feeling he isn't going to be in a big rush to reopen it anytime soon.

Seriously though, it's only the 27th. Surely something else can go spectacularly wrong in the next couple of days.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Conversations with Cathy

Yes, I know I said I would have a column-like piece every Monday and it's really not a good start when I bump that back on the first week. However, I have a bit of a headache and the thing I'm working on is not jelling the way I would like. So instead, I give you the return of a long lost feature here on the blog - Conversations with Cathy:

Me: Hey, did you hear about the big concert announcement back in St. John's?

Cathy: No. Who is playing?

Me: The Backstreet Boys.

Cathy: What? Really?

Me: Yup. With opening act Girlicious.

Cathy: Wow.

Me: I know.

Cathy: So, when do you think the Backstreet Boys became Trooper?

Last Five
1. What am I doing here? - Blue Rodeo
2. Jumpin' jive - Joe Jackson
3. Icicle (live) - Tori Amos
4. We are the champions - Queen
5. Runnin's down a dream - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Five pics from Saturday

Been another nice weekend of sloth, although we did go out walking for a couple of hours yesterday. We went out the Road to Nowhere and up into the new subdivision. It was a nice day and Boo certainly seemed to enjoy his time romping around the tundra.

And while I like showing pictures of Boo when he's pristine and cute, I'll also include a picture showing what a little white dog looks like when roaming in the muck for an afternoon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Why Waits?

I can't say for certain when I became a fan of Tom Waits. I remember being at a party at a friend of mine's house around '93 and he was drunkenly trying to explain to me why Swordfishtombone was not only the best Tom Waits' record, but one of the best records of all time. "Fuck the Beatles," I believe he said, "This is the real shit."

But I was into Tom before that. No doubt it was probably the way most people get into Tom Waits. You're attending university and someone plays Closing Time and you think this quite possibly might be one of the greatest things you've ever heard in your life. And why had it taken until you got to university to hear something this Goddamn brilliant.

Closing Time tends to be the alpha and omega for many people and Waits. It's not that his later stuff is bad. A lot of it, lyrically speaking, is much better. But the voice is what gets a lot of people. Waits voice gets progressively gruffer and more raw as he gets older. Now, I have no problem with that. I've always liked my male singers to sound like their vocal chords have been put through a meat grinder - Robbie Robertson, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, etc. No idea why, I just do. They're as far from pitch perfect as it gets, but they all have character. The voice tells the story almost as well as the lyrics they're singing.

So I like Waits a lot. Not all of his stuff is genius, but he hits more than most. One of my favourite recordings isn't even out as a proper CD as far as I know. He did a VH1 Unplugged special a few years ago. I found a copy of the audio online and it's magical. A lot of great Waits songs, done unplugged, obviously, but in-between songs he's telling all these great and strange stories. It's worth it if you can hunt it down.

So why am I mentioning Waits? Well, while I like him, Cathy really doesn't care much for him. She likes some of Closing Time and a smattering of other songs ("San Diego Serenade" comes to mind), but other than that, can't listen to him. She calls him "goat boy" because, well, his voice reminds her of a goat. Sacrileige, I know. But I guess I'll stay married to her.

(I kid, I kid)

One of her long standing theories is that she knows Waits is a great songwriter, but maybe his songs would work better for her if they were sung by someone else. I have to hunt down a copy of Holly Cole's Temptation at some point and see if she would like that. But on a whim, I thought perhaps Scarlett Johansson's new CD Anywhere I lay my head might be all right. I figured her voice would be about as far removed from Waits as possible, so perhaps that would make the music more palatable.

Dear God, I could not have been more wrong. What a hideous disaster. Waits' voice might be gruff, but by God it has character. You can sense the pain, longing, bemusement or anger when he sings. Johansson's voice is just empty. It's like listening to air try to sing. There is an absence of character and feeling when she sings these songs. It's like she doesn't understand, at all, what she's singing. Or simply doesn't posses the voice to be able to show those emotions.

It's a terrible record that will shortly be purged from my iPod.

Then again, I'm trying to think of how many artists have been able to successfully cover Waits. I'm open to suggestions, but I can't think of any. Cole's record, if I recall, was a noble failure. Natalie Merchant tried to cover "I hope I don't fall in love with you" and managed to miss the point of the song completely by trying to turn it into a pretty little pop song.

And I will personally hunt you down and harm you if you suggest Rod Stewart's "Downtown Train" as it as Abomination before God. Stewart will probably have a lot to answer for when he dies. Butchering this song will surely be high up on the list (his version of "People get ready" with Jeff Beck almost makes up for it. But not quite).

So there you go. Do not buy Johansson's album. I admire the guts. I really do. That doesn't mean I have to admire the album.

Top Five Current Favourite Tom Waits songs
1. Beautiful when you dream
2. Bottom of the world
3. San Diego Serenade
4. Hang down your head in sorrow (live)
5. I don't want to grow up

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Currency exchange

I think it’s no secret that I loved my trip to New York City. But if I had to pick the biggest frustration during my time in America, it was the God damned money.

I hate American currency. It’s all the same colour, feels cheap (I tore a couple of bills by accident) and it’s a pain in the ass when you’re in a hurry and want to pay quickly differentiating between the different dollar amounts. More than once I stood at a cash and must have looked like an idiot trying to figure out the difference between a $5 and a $20. Yes, I know, the numbers are on the bill. But we all know what I’m talking about. When you’re in a rush or feeling harried, it’s amazing how hard it is to find those numbers.

Canada is a little better. The money is at least different colours and the “paper” feels better. Still, it’s a long way behind Europe. We just got in some Euros in advance of our trip to Italy next month. Different colours and different sizes. My, how intelligent.

Having said all that, I still have it relatively easy. Calm down, take a deep breath and I’ll manage to figure out the US currency, despite how much it pisses me off. But I can only imagine how much it must infuriate blind people who have to deal with it every day. All US currency is the same size, same feel and there’s no Braille or anything ingrained on the money to allow them to tell the difference. So it’s often a crap shoot in trying to figure out what you have and if people are being honest when they make change.

Which is why a bunch of them sued the US government over the issue. And won. The ruling means the US government has to make changes to its current in either size or texture to allow blind people to differentiate between different bills.

This is such a stunningly obvious thing to do that I have no idea why the government opposed it for six years. And will likely appeal it so that it takes several more years before the issue gets dealt with.

Yes, I understand that this will cost money to redesign the money. Plus there’s the psychological impact. Americans are very proud and fussy about their money. There’s a debate about whether or not the penny should be eliminated. I imagine the racket over, say, getting rid of the dollar bill for a coin, and then creating different sized and colour bills might cause some heads to explode.

It’s the logical thing to do, but then again, so is the metric system. I’m half convinced that hasn’t happened in the US because people think it would fuck-up football.

Regardless, this is a good step. I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime in the next five years, but hopefully in the next decade or so, the US can finally get the currency fixed up so it’s not so generic and frustrating. Braille. Would putting some Braille on the currency really be such a terrible thing?

Dare to dream, I guess.

Last Five
1. The Greenland disaster- Figgy Duff
2. Peyote healing - Robbie Robertson
3. She's the one - Bruce Springsteen
4. Attention - The Racounteurs
5. He can only hold her - Amy Winehouse*

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I don't think so

I smell bullshit, kids.

So let me see if I get this straight. Tom Rideout wanted $3.5 million for his district, instead of the $2.5 million he got, even though he feels his district really needs 10 times that amount of road work. So $25 million, but he’ll settle for $3.5 million. He browbeats the Transportation Minister for the money, the premier says, “nope, that’s not going to happen” so Rideout quits in a snit.


No way. I mean it, no fucking way is that the whole story. Yes, Rideout's been an embarassment for the government for awhile. He's been almost useless as a minister and the whole racket with rentals and allowances a few months back was enough to get him fired. But quitting over $1 million in roadwork? After everything that's happened? There's shenanigans afoot here somewhere.

I imagine the stream of stories and rumours about how unhappy the caucus is with Danny will start building up some steam now. It’s been coming out in dribs and drabs for awhile. But really, it’s hard to pick a fight with a man when he has an 80% approval rating. Politics might be a knife fight, but it’s normally a “stab your buddy in the back” kind of thing, as opposed to a “slit your own throat to spite yourself” type of event.

But Danny is taking a hit with the Eastern Health debacle. If the hit sticks, if the public starts to not just turn for the moment, but for the long haul, you’re going to see a lot more grumbling about the way Danny runs things in the future. And, one assumes, a lot more knife sharpening

So I’m sure Rideout is upset that he didn’t get his extra million. But come on. It’s an insult to the intelligence to believe that’s the reason he left. I just wish one of them, just one of them, had the balls to stand up and say the real reason why they left. Loyola Sullivan has been pretty quiet since he left. I bet he has some good horror stories.

I don’t know if this is one more step towards the end for Danny. I’ve had a few private conversations with people who certainly seem to think it is. He always said he was only going to be premier for two terms. He hemmed and hawed after the scope of his victory in the last election and the high approval numbers in polls. But now?

The reporters will get to the bottom of this. The leaks are going to start coming. I wonder if David Cochrane is still cut off, in lieu of this occasion. Yes, Danny answered questions in the scrum, but it would have looked bad if he refused to answer questions from him while the cameras were rolling. Whether or not he answers Dave’s emails and phone calls is something else.

But you get the feeling that me might need some friends in the media in the months to come. What Rideout is saying is bullshit, never doubt it for a second. But I don’t think he’s the last one to bail on the government. Not by a longshot.

Last Five
1. Galician Overture - The Chieftains*
2. Something's wrong - Sloan
3. I melt for you - Bowling For Soup
4. Sunny came home - Shawn Colvin
5. In my time of dying - The Be Good Tanyas

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Boo Day II

So today marks Boo's second birthday. His treat for today was an extra long walk, where he got to sniff at all the lovely stuff rotting alongside the road and bark at dogs much larger than him (including barking at a very large and playful Newfoundland dog) and an extra dose of puppy crack. Puppy crack is some kind of dried liver thing that he goes absolutely apeshit over.

We haven't had him for two years, of course. But it feels like he's been part of our lives for that long, if not more. We spent weeks doing the research on the breed. In case you're just wandered by for the first time, Boo is a Coton de Tulear. Then there was the weeks we spent waiting from the time he was born until we could finally get him.

He's been a good dog. I would fear for Cathy's sanity the past couple of years without him. And, by default, my sanity. Because while I like having Boo around, Cathy would have nothing to pick on and maul if he wasn't around except for me. And that likely would have driven me mad.

I've already put a lot of pictures of Boo up online, so I'll just keep to a couple today. The first one we ever received and one I took this evening. He's changed just a wee bit over the past two years.

A couple of hours old.

A couple of hours ago, perched on his throne by the window where he can look out and bark at every dog that walks by the apartment.

Last Five
1. Return - OK Go
2. Winter (live) - Tori Amos
3. Pope - Prince
4. The heart of Saturday night - Tom Waits
5. Closing the door and opening the window - Drive

Monday, May 19, 2008

Small changes

I said yesterday that I was looking at doing some tweaking of the blog. I find it reassuring that so many people oppose the idea of being doing any major changes to the blog. That's good, because I really wasn't planning on gutting and starting fresh. I was only talking about a couple of small things. So I'm sorry, Clare, but the mascot stays. You can't have him.

What made me start thinking about a few tweaks was the 100,000 visitor, but also something Peter Whittle made a reference in an earlier post about getting used to different traffic levels when it comes to readership. When I worked with the Express, the circulation of the paper was 40,000. Now granted, at least a quarter, if not a third, of those papers never made it to households for a variety of reasons (the primary one being carriers throwing them away rather than delivering them, the miserable little bastards), but obviously my readership is considerably higher then than it is now. Even with the Packet, I still had about 5,000 readers or more a week.

And writers have ego. We like to be read.

There are ways to fix this, of course. I could start joining more blog rolls, linking to more blogs, narrow down the focus of the blog from my usual ramblings….and I will likely try some of this in the future. I've just added Feedburner to the site. Currently it's saying 0, but hopefully that will change over the next few days.

But I think another one of the big difference is also the amount of craft and time I put into my blog posts. I suspect it’s no secret that these blog posts tend to get knocked out in a hurry, often while I’m sitting in front of the TV watching something else. And it’s not like I do a thorough edit on them either. This is the price you pay when trying to blog every day, but at the same time work at a paying job and want to spend time with your wife.

But when I did columns with the Packet and the Express I would spend a lot of time writing those beasts. I might hammer out a 1,000 word rough draft in about three hours and then spend another four or five hours, over a couple of days, playing with it, tweaking words and sentences here and there. I probably spent too much time working on them, but column writing was the most fun I had writing for either paper.

And I think I'm going to get back to that a bit. I'm still going to try and blog at least once a day. I still view it as a good writing exercise. That you have to write even on the days when you would rather not. But I also want to get back into the habit of crafting a piece. A longer article that might take hours to finish. One where I'll sit down and play with the language to make sure I get it just right.

For example, the piece I put out about Cochrane a couple of days ago was still cranked out pretty quick, but I did spend more time working on it than I have with other blog posts in recent months. And I liked the results. It was linked to by several blogs, I got email about it and there was a decent amount of feedback. That's the kind of thing I'm looking for.

So that's probably the big change you're going to see. It's not always going to be about Newfoundland politics, but it is going to be more like my old columns. I'd post an example, but sadly I only have a couple of my columns from the Packet and I've never been entirely happy with most of the entertainment ones from the Express. But once a week, starting next Monday, you'll start seeing a weekly "column." Hopefully it will work.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go and finish beating the first four chapters of my book into submission.

Last Five
1. The stone - The Chieftains
2. Long, long, long - The Beatles
3. Thrice all American - Neko Case
4. Five on the five - The Reconteurs
5. Rated X (live) - Neko Case

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Sometime today, well, sometimes in the next couple of hours, I will get my 100,000 unique visitor to the blog. I think that's supposed to be one of those significant blogging milestones. And it only took me two and half years to reach it. Actually, in a couple of weeks, I will also post my 1,000 post to the blog. So that's a couple of them in a short period of time.

I know there are more wildly read blogs out there, both nationally, in Nunavut and in Newfoundland. But still, it is kind of cool to think about all the people who have deliberately made the choice to seek me out in the big, wide blogosphere (what a terrible word) and the ever bigger, wider internet to see what I had to say on any given day.

So, thanks.

And with such an occasion upon me, I should really give some thought if there are any changes I want to make to the blog. Tomorrow I'll talk about that. Today, I'm going to get back to hacking away at the first four chapters of the novel. I'd like to have them in reasonably decent shape by the end of the day.

Last Five
1. Girl wedged under the front of a firebird - Matthew Good
2. Lay down beside me - Allison Krauss and John Waite
3. Bad fog of lonliness (live) - Neil Young
4. Back home weather - Matt Mays*
5. When rivers rise - Spirit of the West

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Well, that was dumb

Someone must have broken Ed Hollett's fingers for him not to be commenting on the latest media racket involving Premier Danny Williams. I know he's in self-imposed exile for right now, but my God, I thought for sure he would break on this one....

So I read this lovely column from Geoff Meeker about a dust-up between CBC reporter David Cochrane and Premier Danny Williams. Cochrane was asking a bunch of questions about the latest bonehead stunt former mayor Andy Wells pulled - a fundraising dinner to help cover off the legal costs from his idiotic and ultimately doomed lawsuit against Paul Sears a couple of years ago.

Now if Wells was just basking in retirement, that might be one thing. But since he's head of the Public Utilities Board, there is just a hint of a conflict of interest happening there. Sending out invitations to businesses asking them to donate money to the guy in charge of a fairly major and influential organization is doing to draw some attention. So it's fair game to ask the premier if Wells should be doing that sort of thing and what the premier thinks about it.

But it seems that Williams didn't like Cochrane's questions. And after a heated exchange, and in front of witnesses, Williams turned to his communications person and said to cut Dave off. Which, as many reporters in Newfoundland know, means that any phone calls, any access to Williams Dave might have had, just vanished with the premier's snit.

Dave joins an illustrious group that once included Ryan Cleary of the Independent, until he worked his way back into the premier's graces, and Craig Westcott of the Business Post and CBC, who is still cut off and one figures will be as long as the premier draws breath.

This is a doomed and idiotic strategy. I'm tempted to tell all of you to just read this post I wrote from 2006 about Prime Minister Steven Harper cutting off the Ottawa Press Gallery and tell you to insert Williams' name where I have Harper. Much of what I said then, applies to this situation. But let's just be clear on this.

This. Will. Not. Work. It's is a doomed strategy. And it will, in all probability, just make Williams life more difficult.

First of all, there is zero chance Dave and the CBC are going to take this lying down. I've known Dave for more than a decade. We're not what I'd call close friends, but I know him well enough to sit down and have a drink with when I'm in town. He's as tenacious a reporter as you're going to meet locally. Being outside of the Premier's good graces won't mean a damn thing. He's only going to work harder to get his stories. And he will likely put a big "the premier refused comment" with every story where he needs comments from Williams. Which always, always makes the person who refuses comment look terrible.

Second, I'm not saying the press gallery at Confederation Building is going to rally to Dave's defence. But he might be the straw that finally breaks things, especially since this was a very public blacklisting. Williams normally does this more stealthily, but I guess the last few weeks has addled in his brains a bit.

Too many reporters have been blacklisted by the premier on and off over the last few years. At some point that's going to piss them off enough that there's going to be consequences. What those are, I do not know. But I can't imagine the premier is going to be any happier with the press he's going to get in the next few months.

Also, and I can't believe I have to say this again....they're doing their jobs. It's not their job to make the government look good. In the absence of any kind of substantial opposition in the House of Assembly, it falls on the press, who have resources the opposition often doesn't, to dig around and see what's happening. They're doing their jobs, which involves asking hard and fair questions. If Williams doesn't like it, then he really doesn't have to be there. And honestly, he's had it mostly pretty easy since getting into power. This is the first time (well, maybe the public service strike) that he's been seriously under the gun. And given the stories that are coming out right now, he deserves it. It isn't the goddamn press or the inquiry that's going on right now into the massive clusterfuck that was Eastern Health that's going to "ruin health care", as Williams said earlier this week. They're only pointing out the really effective job the current government is doing in that field already.

If he thinks taking it out on Cochrane and the CBC is going to make things any better, that "that'll teach him a lesson" and make them contrite, then he's falling deeply out of touch with reality.

My advice? Call Cochrane, apologize and say that he lost his temper for a moment and that it was unprofessional of him to behave in that manner. I doubt he will do it, but my way shows that he's human and the story blows over quickly. If he sticks to his guns, then he can look forward to be tortured for many, many months to come.

Last Five
1. Wonderwall - Ryan Adams*
2. Everybody pays - Mark Knopfler
3. When anger shows - The Editors
4. The lucky ones (live) - Allison Krauss and Union Station
5. I would die 4 U - Prince

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Smart drugs

I don’t know why, but drugs have never held any interest for me. About the only ones that I’m addicted to are caffeine and whatever they put into Wendy’s hamburgers. But nicotine and alcohol have never done anything for me. The only time I’ve smoked in my life are a few cigars. And I probably haven’t smoked one of those in nearly a decade. I have an occasional drink, but again, nothing serious. I can probably count the number of drinks I have each year on one hand.

And trust me, that’s a huge leap. For most of my first three decades on this planet I could count the number of drinks I had in my life on one hand.

So it goes almost without saying that soft drugs like marijuana or hash and harder drugs are right out of the question. I’ve been in rooms where people have been smoking dope and tend to leave after a bit. I don’t like the smell and my tolerance for cigarette smoke in recent years has dropped to near zero. If there’s a person less likely to ever become a meth addict than me, I’d be hard pressed to find him.

I suspect you could find any number of reasons for this. My parents did an effective job of putting the Fear of God into me when I was younger, which probably kept me away from drugs. However, I suspect the real reason might be due to control issues. Yes, some drugs might make you feel great or give you an altered sense of reality that can become addictive. However, as I’ve discovered, I hate not being in control of things. I don’t think I’m a control freak. I don’t try to control everyone around me. I just don’t like being out of control myself.

So drugs that would make me out of control hold little sway. I don’t even read many articles dealing with the latest drugs out in the market. I’m in good health, I have no mental problems (resist the urge, all of you) I don’t need any medication, so why would I pay attention to any of it?

However, I think I just read about my first drug that honestly would make me go “Can I get a crate of that? And can you send it Expresspost?”

(And no, it’s not Rogaine or Viagra)

The drug is called Progivil (Alertec in Canada) and I read it about it on this guy's blog. I understand it’s popular on some university campuses during exam crushes and I know it’s been around for years, but this is the first I’m hearing about it.. And no, it’s not an upper or anything. I’m still reading more about it, but according to Hari, all it does is improve memory, concentration and IQ.

"It’s not an amphetamine or stimulant, the article explained: it doesn’t make you high, or wired. It seems to work by restricting the parts of your brain that make you sluggish or sleepy. No significant negative effects have been discovered.”

So what are the drawbacks? It looks like there might be some insomnia involved. And, oh yeah, weight loss.

So let’s see, it’s a drug that makes me smarter, allows me to focus and, as a side effect, I can lose weight. I'm surprised I haven't started shopping at online pharmacies yet.

Granted, the consequences of long term exposure are not really known yet. An increased risk Alzheimer’s could be one of them for all I know. So a lot more research needs to be done before I would even seriously consider buying some. But if this shit is for real, then it is seriously tempting. A drug that would let me focus better at work? A drug that would improve my concentration so I can finally break the back of the book I’m working on and perhaps getting started on the next one?

Oh yeah, that’s deeply tempting stuff for a guy who has always had problems focusing and procrastinates like a son of a bitch. This merits more research. Well, more than what I'm finding on Wikipedia at any rate.

Anyone heard of this or used it?

Last Five
1. Rock 'n' roll star - Oasis
2. Save the best for last - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
3. I will follow you into the dark - Death Cab for Cutie
4. The whole of the moon - The Waterboys*
5. A legal matter - The Who

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I had a pretty spectacularly bad day (people who know me will be able to figure out why pretty quick) and Cathy had an even worse one, if possible. So I'm sure there's something I can blog about, but really, sometimes you just go, "fuck it, let's try again tomorrow."

And so I shall.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A few things

1. I don't know why this story about a 78-year-old man who is legally blind grabbed my interest so much, but it is kind of weird. And I imagine it produces a "well, that's kind of cool" reaction to people like me who don't bowl and perhaps a sense of despair in those who do bowl.

However, I don't really know anyone who bowls seriously. Well, I do kind of know one. Author Peter David takes his bowling quite seriously. However, other than meeting him for about 30 seconds during the New York Comic Con, I wouldn't say that I know him. Still, on a lark, I emailed the story to him. And much to my surprise, about 20 minutes later I got a response.

I won't print what he said, other than he had heard of the story and wasn't exactly feeling inspired. So I guess that's that mystery solved. And hey, Peter David responded to my email. That's kind of cool.

2. A fascinating story on NPR about Gender Identity Disorder. What happens if you have a young child who firmly believes they should be the opposite sex. Part one focusses on boys who believe they are girls. Two psychologists offer up radically different ways they believe is best to deal with the situation.

3. Once upon a time I used to review TV shows, but given the clusterfuck this season has been, I haven't bothered too much. My favourite show continues to be "House" and while the first couple of shows back after the strike were all right, I had pretty much resigned myself to having to wait until the fall to get the really good stuff again.

Except last night's episode was a home run. One of the best of the series. And yes, smarter people than myself probably could have figured out the twist at the end, but I never really bother with these things. The enjoyment for me in mysteries has never been about solving them ahead of everyone else, it's been about watching the pieces fall and see if they land in an entertaining manner.

They all fell into place seamlessly last night. Cathy clued in about 30 seconds ahead of me, but there was still that delightful "holy fuck!" moment at the end that nicely sets up the season finale next week.

Someone explain to me again how Hugh Laurie hasn't won the Emmy for best actor yet? Here's the recap, in case you missed it.

4. I've espoused many times how much I enjoy Colleen Power's music. I consider her to be one of the finest singer/songwriters in Newfoundland. And it's a pity I can't convince her to play up here because I haven't seen her perform since 2005 and I'd love to see her play again.

Fortunately, I will soon get to hear some new music from her. Colleen's new CD "Rejects" (the title comes from how many times she was rejected for grant funding to record the album) will be coming out next month. For those of you would like to get a real deal and a chance to sample Colleen's work, she has a special offer on the go right now. Pre-order her CD and you can get it for just $10 s/h included. I think that's a hell of a deal. Send a check or money order to:

Colleen Power
P.O. Box 5332, Station C
St. John's NL
A1C 5W2

If you're outside of Canada, you should probably email her first, just to be on the safe side - baygirlmusic AT

The CD will be put in the mail the day after the CD release party, which is June 13 at the Rose and Thistle, I believe. Go and buy it. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Last Five
1. Sacrifice - Oh Susanna
2. Jacksonville - Sufjan Stevens
3. Your bruise - Death Cab for Cutie
4. Diva's lament - Spamalot Broadway Cast Recording
5. Save me - The Donnas

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mercy rule

I spend more time reading American political pundits than Canadian ones these days. Which is a waste of time, really, but I'm kind of addicted. And all of them offer a take on what's going to happen in the Obama vs. McCain election (only the truly committed still thinks Clinton has a chance). How it's going to be close. And will Obama be able to overcome the smears. Is he the next promising Democrat who is going to get crushed in the fall. Is he a Carter, Mondale or Dukakis?

And I laugh. Because it's mostly (there are a few good ones) people talking out of their ass. Or people talking because they get paid to espouse an opinion, never mind that it's non-sensical. Just keep talking, that's the important thing. And sound like you know what you're talking about.

Barring something catastrophic, Obama is going to win this thing by a mile. On top of that, Obama's downticket appeal means the Democrats are going to open up a sizable majority in both the Senate and the House. I don't think we're talking what happened to the Tories in Canada in '93, but we could be looking at what happened to the Tories in England in '97.

I can quote articles from people's whose opinions I respect and who seem to be talking sense. But I think the article that best sums up the Republican Apocalypse that is on the way is the one below. The one with the best headline I've read in ages, which was sent to me by my friend Corey.

Republicans Vote Against Moms; No Word Yet on Puppies, Kittens

In an election year, Republicans in Congress at first voted for a motion "Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother's Day" and then, after careful thought, reconsidered the idea. That's when 177 Republicans voted against this motion. Against moms. And they flipped-flopped on it. They were for moms, before they were against moms.

Sure I could point to the cluster-fuck that is the Iraq War. A foreign policy that looks like it was designed by Kindergarten bullies and an economic policy that appears to have been designed by someone who flunked Grade 5 math. But you will always get people who will argue the pros of each of these policies in such a way that, if you're not careful, you will almost believe the bullshit.

But the Republicans just voted against mothers right before Mother's Day. If you want a clearer sign of a group of people that need to go away now, who have lost touch with reality, I can't give it to you. The 177 Republicans that voted against moms should lose the next election just for being that fucking stupid. Yes, politicians can be idiots, but that is stupidity above and beyond, my friends. That's historic stupidity. Future historians will point to that vote and go, "That's quite possibly the stupidest group of people in the history of our country."

And this is what Obama, who even his adversaries will admit is as gifted a politician as they've seen in a generation or more, is going up against this fall. Someone who just defeated the combined might and cunning of the Clintons is going up against people who don't think a motion celebrating moms is a good idea.

If there isn't a mercy rule in politics, then they might want to consider legislating one after the November elections. It's going to be exactly that ugly.

Last Five
1. Not falling apart - Maroon 5
2. Silver road - Sarah Harmer*
3. Momsong (really!) - The Be Good Tanyas
4. Sweet love - Anita Baker
5. How do you keep love alive? - Ryan Adams

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Four things

1. Dear God but my blog stats are in free fall right now. I know this happens every year around this time, but it's always disheartening to see 250 unique visitors a day plummet to below 150, which is about where I am right now. The one thing that keeps me doing the blog is that a lot of people probably just subscribe to the blog using a feed of some kind. However, I have no way of tracking that. Does anyone have a feed tracker that would keep track of everyone subscribing here? I realize in the long run it probably doesn't matter, but I do like keep tracking of how many people visit the blog. Because really, those numbers help give me the boost on days where I really can't be bothered.

2. I've just acquired Scarlett Johansson's album of Tom Waits covers. Anyone care to lay wagers on how badly this album is going to suck?

3. Starting to put together a list of songs for the third anniversary CD. If you have any suggestions, feel free to pay them along. Although once again this year, we won't be together on our anniversary. I head back to Iqaluit on July 20 and she heads back to Newfoundland. Which kind of sucks. But next year that will change as we plan on being in Australia.

4. Finally saw "There will be blood last night", meaning I've now seen all the finalist for the best movie of the year for the Oscars. Ummmm....they were kind of a lacklustre bunch. "Juno" and "Michael Clayton" were all right. "Atonement" was blah and "No Country for Old Men was horrifically overrated. And aside from the amusement of watching Daniel Day Lewis (the "I drink your milkshake" is classic, I have to admit), it was kind of a blah film as well. Aside from "Juno", I don't really see a potential classic in the bunch.

And that's all from the Chateau from now. Something interesting tomorrow, I hope...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Quiet Saturday

Nothing much to report right now. I had a longer post written up saying fuck the junta ruling Burma, just put together a UN force, invade the country and disperse aid. And if Burmese troops start shooting or interfering, show them in force what a big fucking mistake that would be.

But really, it just felt like whining and a useless blowing off of steam. What's happening in Burma is horrible and once again the international community appears nearly impotent to try and do something. I guess when you see that sort of thing happening, the old reptilian brain kicks in says that force is probably the best way to solve this particular crisis. Just action of any sort, rather than sitting and staring helplessly at the TV while thousands die to this bastard regime.


In other news, I survived the last day of the trade show, despite the locust-like swarms of children that swept through the place on the last day, devouring every free item they could find on a table. One took an empty DVD case, so I hope he or she likes that. Still, it was better than I thought it was going to be, so that's something, I guess.

Oh, and the little green car is no more ours. In what has to be one of the easiest transactions in my life, the guy calls at 12:45, sees the car at 4:30, offers to buy it at 4:31 and is out the door, after a quick stop to the bank for cash, with the keys and registration by 5:05. Seriously. He offered to buy the car before I turned it on. I was explaining to him a couple of the little quirks of the car (she's noisy when first starting in the winter, duct tape on the front bumper), but he didn't care. So it was at that point I stopped talking and just let him buy the damn thing.

We were asking $4,000, we got $3,500. So we're pretty happy with that. Cathy's still a bit sad. She's owned the car for more than eight years. It was her first car, her first real "adult" purchase. And it's not like when you sell a car down south and you might not ever see it again. Since we sold it yesterday we've already seen it three or four times around town. So it's a bit weird. Gone, but not forgotten.

Last Five
1. Don't ask for water - Ryan Adams
2. Auntie Mary/Brother's Jig - Figgy Duff
3. Jungle love - Morris Day and the Time*
4. A knife for the girls - The Long Blondes
5. Sometimes you can't make it on your own - U2

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Deeply disturbing, brutally funny or honestly useful? You be the judge.

It's a book to help children deal with the fact that mommy just came back from the hospital after having some work done and now look a wee bit different than she did before. Here's the website.

I confess, I laughed for a solid minute or two. It's just so....American, for lack of a better word. Then again, I guess it could be useful for those times when kids really do freak out that mom's breasts seem to have magically enlarged.

(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bling and swag

So let's see...a few things.

1. Not exactly the best predictions in the world about the primaries last night. Obama did better than I thought, easily expanding on my 8% prediction in North Carolina and making things much closer in Indiana. Most people are now saying the Democratic primary is essentially done. It's just a matter of how and when Clinton bows out. Obama vs. McCain in the fall. Should be an interesting race.

2. Saw Iron Man last night. Figured that was a better idea than spending the evening watching returns on CNN. Besides, I've been wanting to see the movie in ages. We don't normally get movies on opening weekend up here, but we do for get some of the big releases. For example, the next Indiana Jones is opening on May 22. We'll be seeing that one opening week. Maybe not the weekend, as the crowds can be annoying.

Anyway, the movie lives up to the hype. It works if you're a comic book geek like myself and it works if you're not one like Cathy. Of course, I was admiring the acting and the pretty cool special effects. So was Cathy, but she was also taking special notice of the "yummy good-looking man" that was Robert Downey Jr. So there's plenty of eye candy, depending on what your definition of eye-candy is.

And we were both impressed with Gwyneth Paltrow's ability to not only walk, but actually run in 6 inch heels.

I would call it one of the top 5 super hero related movies so far (Batman Begins, X-Men 2, Spider-Man 2 and Superman II being the other ones). It's really excellent and I highly recommend it.

3. Today was trade show day in town. I'm involved with one of the tables which meant helping giving out information and, well, swag. Swag is the promotional items that pretty much everyone brings to these type of events. People go around from table to table, chat, make connections and check out the swag. If you want pens, you can stock up on them for the next year. I'm not sure what the strangest item was, there were some strong contenders. Although the keychain lava lamb was up there.

However, today was closed to the general public. Tomorrow is the madness that is open day. That's when the general public swarms through to take a look. And grab as much free stuff as they can. It will be nuts.

I didn't actually grab much in the way of swag. I did, however, get something. I passed by one of the tables and saw one of the local jewelry makers displaying his wares. And Matthew does really, really nice stuff. I couldn't resist this piece. I really don't know if I can pull it off. I'm not a jewelry person at all. I wear a watch and a wedding ring and that's all.

But hey, this is nice.

In case, you're wondering, it's made of silver. The claw is from a polar bear. Even Cathy seems to think I might be able to pull it off. But time will tell.

Last Five
1. Rocket man - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
2. See your sunshine - Paul McCartney
3. Monster ballads - Josh Ritter
4. Wake up - The Arcade Fire*
5. Offend in every way - White Stripes

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Fearless primary prediction

Because I haven't done one of these in a while...

North Carolina
Obama - 54%
Clinton - 46%

Clinton - 52%
Obama - 48%

That essentially means another tie between the two candidates. However, I think the difference is that super delegates are officially getting skittish now. It was all right to let the race continue for the extra few months. It was drumming up the base, getting new people involved with the party and essentially shutting McCain out the news cycle almost completely. And no matter what the two candidates did to each other, McCain still wasn't gaining any kind of edge in national polls.

But after this evening 93% of delegates will have voted. While it is possible for Clinton to still get more delegates than Obama, she would have to win something in excess of 70% of the ones left. And since she has been practically incapable of winning by double digits, I don't see that happening. So the other fearless prediction is that the steady trickle of super delegates who have been siding with Obama opens up into something a bit larger after this evening. I don't think it's over by the end of the week. But I think it will be over by June 3, if not sooner. And Obama will be the candidate.

Last Five
1. Marching bands of Manhattan - Death Cab for Cutie*
2. Redneck friend (live) - Jackson Browne
3. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
4. Desparados under the eaves - Warren Zevon
5. Halloweenhead - Ryan Adams

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hotel hunting

Currently watching a ski-doo skirt from snow patch to snow patch until it can make it to the sea ice. I'm trying to recall, but I think it's gotten a lot warmer, a lot quicker this year. It's funny, it feels like we went from -30 to 0 with very little time spent on temperatures in-between. The result has been the snow taking quite the beating, at least down where we live. We live in a low lying part of town, which tends to be a few degrees warmer than some of the higher areas. It means the snow disappears here quicker than other places. Although I have to say, there's no danger of the sea ice breaking up anytime in the next couple of weeks. It's still pretty solid looking and there's no lack of people going out. It's also no problem to spot the people around town who have been out on the land a lot....they're the ones who are very, very tanned.

Cathy's off to scrap booking shortly, so I might grab my camera and the truck and take a zip around town. Assuming giant potholes don't eat me.

As for the slight gap in blogging, most of the time has been spent scouring the Internet looking for places to stay in Italy. We're got two travel guides, plus we've been using Lonely Planet's online guide to hotels along with Wikitravel. It's nearly two months until we go there, but we're already hitting a lot of places that are booked.

Cathy's wondering how you do this sort of thing before the Internet. Travel agents, I'm assuming. On the one hand, it does make life a lot easier. On the other hand, you can go quite mad hitting site after site trying to find just the right place. You know, not too expensive, but not a hole. It doesn't have to be in the centre of things, but not in the boonies. And because it's Italy in summer, air conditioning is kind of mandatory. We're also staying away from hostels, after being warned by several people we might want to give them a miss in Italy.

We've got a place booked in Rome and a line on a place in Venice. And there are a couple of places we're looking at in Florence. We've yet to decide on the fourth place we're going to visit, but we should know in the next 24 hours. I'm trying very hard not to think about the money. It's probably best that way.

The only other news is that since the temperature is hovering near 0, and that's as good as spring around here, we did some spring cleaning yesterday. It's amazing we can clean out so much garbage or have so many items to donate to local groups and the place is still cluttered. Ah well, it's a small apartment, but we still love it. Even if the warm temperatures are bringing out the noisy people yelling and, no kidding, yodeling, outside our window at late hours.

Last Five
1. Extraordinary - Joel Plaskett Emergency*
2. Sleep - The Dandy Warhols
3. Disappearing world - David Gray
4. Letter to God - Sheryl Crow
5. Blush - The Raveonettes

Friday, May 02, 2008

Thought for the morning

There are some potholes that, even with a new 4 by 4 truck, it doesn't matter a tinker's damn. They aren't small potholes where one of your wheels dive into and jar you and you curse. Although lord knows there's enough of them around town right now. No, these are monstrosities. These are potholes so large that when you edge the truck into them you genuinely wonder how far down they go because the water on top gives you no clue as to how deep it goes.

I went into one yesterday and had the brief thought that this pothole might be so large, so deep that the Tracker would just keep on going down and down and down. And eventually, maybe it would hook up with one of the huge potholes in St. John's. Because maybe that's how potholes work. That they become so large if left unattended that they form a secret network connecting cities. And that if I could only find the right connections the Tracker might come up and find itself on Duckworth Street. Which would be lovely. I need to get home again at some point and this certainly would be a cheap way to go about it.

All of this flashed briefly through my mind as the truck kept going down into what some might call a pothole, but was really a temporary pond that had formed in the middle of the road. Then, I hit bottom. The water only coming up as high as the bottom of the door. I leveled out, rose up and continued on my way. Until the next giant pothole. Maybe that one has the secret portal.

Last Five
1. The sun also sets - Ryan Adams
2. Mushaboom - Feist*
3. Sally MacLennane - The Pogues
4. Here to stay - Christina Aguilera
5. Nothing more to say - Joel Plaskett Emergency