Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday night blatherings

Remember how a couple of weeks ago I said you have to write even when the grim abyss stares back at you from the computer screen? Welcome to one of those days. A jumble of things, certainly, but nothing coherent. Rather frustrating, but here it is on a Saturday night and if I don't get something down soon then nothing is going to come out at all. So a couple of things and if none of them seem particularly interesting, then my apologies. I'll reload and have a better go at it tomorrow.

1. If you blog long enough you become obsessed with your stats. Lord knows I'm no exception. This past September was, by a mile, the best month ever on the blog and I figured there's no way I'm topping that number for awhile.

And yet, as I look at my stats with a few hours to go in October I notice that I've crossed the 10,000 barrier for page loads, the first time I've ever done that in a month. Plus there was a record number of unique readers. I appreciate this is not the most exciting blog post ever, but thanks to everyone who swings by here. Why more people are choosing to come by now is a mystery, but I'm still happy you all are.

2. I found this story in the Globe and Mail amusing, but also true. I was at the curling club today for more than two hours shooting some rocks. In three weeks I head to Toronto for the Dominion. And I can feel it a bit this evening.

I heard someone say that one of the main differences at these kinds of events is not just the shot making, but now the stamina. You're playing a lot of games in a short period of time and if you're not in shape, by the fourth or fifth game you're toast. So clearly I need to step up the workout regime a bit. I don't know how much difference it will make this close to the event and I thought I was making some progress, but I guess not enough.

3. Oh, and if you only had one day to do some shopping in Toronto, where would you go? I figure I'll have a Sunday free and if I opt to not spent $100 on a Raptors ticket, I should go and do some Christmas shopping. Suggestions? I'm staying near the airport, which I know is a wasteland, but I'll certainly be making a pilgrimage to The Beguiling, which is on Markham.

4. I notice that once again we never got any trick or treaters, which is either the benefit, or the con, of living in a secure apartment building. No one bothers. That'll change next year when we're in the new house.

Oh, speaking of which, I think I might have sold my soul yesterday to the bank. Really, if I had known I was going to sell my soul to RBC one day, I might have just sold it back in university with my friend Chris offered me an X-Men comic for my soul. He used to do that sort of thing, go up to his friends and offer to buy their soul for bags of chips or a pack of smokes.

Since many of us were all good little atheists, we were happy to sign Chris's silly little piece of paper and get a free chocolate bar and whatnot. Although I recall one friend freaking so badly later that he bought his soul back and a greatly inflated rate (something like three packs of smokes as opposed to the one pack he sold it for).

My friend Dups put up a bunch of university photos on Facebook earlier today...I'm feeling a touch nostalgic.

And there you go. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you. Even when you have nothing, if you sit in front of the computer long enough and type whatever minor things enter your brain, you will soon have a blog post. Not a great one, but at least it gets your writing quota for the day over and done with.

Last Five
1. D is for dangerous - Arctic Monkeys
2. Trusted - Ben Folds
3. Here's looking at you, kid - The Gaslight Anthem
4. Hangin' on - Sherry Ryan
5. We're going to be friends - The White Stripes*

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cause for concern

Winter definitely arrived in Iqaluit this week. With windchill the temps have dived to under -20. The funny thing is, by next April that will be considered positively balmy. I'll be walking around in the BFC (Big Fucking Coat for those of you new to these parts) with the the front undone. It'll be warm.

However, right now the body is still trying to get used to those temperatures. So right now -25 is fucking cold. In a few weeks, not so much. I've been trying to hold out breaking out the BFC until at least the 1st of November, purely for psychological reasons. However, I had some running around to do today - I think the bank now officially owns our souls - and the Australian outback coat I've been using for the last few months might have just been retired for the season. We'll see, but certainly it's days are numbered.

The dip in temperature is not the cause for concern, however. It's completely to be expected that it would start getting very cold right about now. Welcome to the arctic. No, what concerns me a bit is this.

That is the last cargo vessel of the season. She's been floating out there for about two weeks or so. When she first arrived she was a beehive of activity and barges were running back and forth between her and the beach as often as was able. They had to move quick because the inner bay is starting to freeze.

Then there was ice in the bay, the barges stopped running, but the boat stayed out there. It was a touch confusing, but then a fuel ship arrived. "Ah ha," I thought, "they must be heading out together or something. They probably have an ice breaker further out the bay waiting for them."

Sounded logical. Completely wrong, though. The fuel ship left, the cargo vessel continued to mysteriously float in the bay.

Then, about 30 minutes ago, I saw this.

That means they're still trying to run cargo. It's -25C with wind chill, the inner bay is filled with ice and they're still trying to run barges back and forth. Which is craziness.

So why is that a concern? Because NorthMart hasn't contacted us yet about our sea lift. We weren't too worried because we assumed it was in already and we were going to ask them to hold off delivering it until December. No sense delivering it here and then having to move it when we go to the new house in December. However, if they're still running barges filled with cargo that means there's is the possibility our sea lift is still on that bloody boat and at risk of not making it in if the bay freezes shut, which could happen any day now.

Yup, this could be a whole lot of fun yet.

Last Five
1. Little Bones - The Tragically Hip
2. Poison oak - Bright Eyes
3. Gimmie sympathy - Metric
4. Unhappy song - Lloyd Cole
5. Walter Reed - Michael Penn*

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hire me, for the love of God

All right, I think it's time I abuse the limited power of my blog. I never know exactly how much power it has, but I know for certain that several people showed up at curling lessons this week because they read about it here. So clearly people do read, so why not take some advantage of this.

I need a job. Not exactly news to some, I suspect. I've been unemployed since July. However, between being on vacation in Australia and nothing much really happening until Labour Day, I didn't worry too much about it. But once Labour Day passed I began dropping off some resumes and checking around. I thought I had a few leads, but nothing has panned out.

It's been about two months since Labour Day passed and I still don't have anything. This would be discouraging, but not freak out territory as I have maximum EI and I'm good on that front until June or so. Plus, I'm aiming a bit high on my job standards. Not to disparage people who work at NorthMart, but I'd really like to not work retail at this point in my life.

But now I have this house I'm going to have to pay for. We're good, between Cathy's job and my EI. There's no freaking out or anything. There is, however, quite a bit of guilt. It would be nice to be able to contribute a bit more substantively towards paying off this insane mortgage.

So, if you're in Iqaluit and would like someone with pretty good writing skills, some communications and journalism experience, would probably fit in pretty nice in a policy shop, why not drop me a line? I'll even throw in some snazzy photography skills free of charge.

If this seems weird or desperate, well, maybe. However, I put something similar up on Twitter today and had two people contact me to give me either leads or suggest I drop them a line. I only have 60 people following me on Twitter and about 300 or so here, so I figure the odds are somewhat better.

Drop me a line at towniebastard (at) Gmail (dot) com if you would like to hire me.

If this actually works, I'm going to be so very impressed.

Last Five
1. Train song - Feist + Ben Gibbard
2. When you leave - The Trews
3. Drunk on the moon - Tom Waits
4. Goodnight goodnight - Maroon 5
5. Striptease - Hawksley Workman*

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No big deal

There's been lots of commentary (Ed is keeping track of a lot of it) about the Tories losing their first byelection under Danny Williams in The Straits-White Bay North. The premier downplays it, the opposition says this clearly means people are dissatisfied with the current government. Most Newfoundland and Labrador political bloggers are not, shall we say, in love with the current government. So there's plenty of picking at the tea leaves of this result to see if there are deeper, hidden meanings.

As for me, I remain on the fence. Yes, it's clearly a kick in the balls to the premier, who is not used to losing these things. And he can downplay and spin away until he starts to believe it, but clearly he wanted to win this or he wouldn't have thrown so many resources, and cabinet ministers, at the seat. I'm also not expecting a Saul on the Road to Damascus like conversion from the premier. I suspect the premier is going to keep governing the province in the exact same way, for better or worse.

On the other hand, if you think this is the beginning of the end for Williams, well, I think I'll pass on sharing that Kool-Aid you're drinking. It's one byelection where there was a highly contentious local issue and the government acted in a way that really pissed off some of the locals. And even then, it was still pretty damn close.

Tell you what, come back and talk to me if the Tories and Williams lose the Terra Nova byelection. Unless I missed something there is no major local issue pissing people's just to replace a whinny cabinet minister who got in way over his head. If the Tories lose that one - and yes I know it has a tradition of going Liberal - then you can talk to me about something starting to be stirred up.

Until then it's just a byelection loss. Let's try not to read into it a sudden surge of love for the Liberals and the great exodus from the Tories, shall we?

Last Five
1. Be there - Lloyd Cole
2. Girls on crutches - Hawksley Workman
3. This is how I know - Ron Sexsmith
4. A new name for everything - The Weakerthans
5. Fix me now - Garbage*

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book show

For some reason the past few years I've gotten out of the habit of reading prose novels. No idea why. I used to be a fairly voracious reader, going through a couple of novels a week. If I had to lay out a theory, it's that my internet reading has gone up a lot in the past few years, so by the time I'm finished online, I'm normally done with trying to read and want to do something else. People do a lot of things online - videos, games, Facebook or whatnot. I'm normally reading the news or different magazine articles.

But in the last few weeks, I've got two books down and I'm well into a third. So what am I reading?

The first one was Transition by Iain M. Banks. I've been a fan of Banks work for years. A friend of mine ran a book store downtown St. John's. She never had the biggest selection of books, but she always had an awesome selection and had the uncanny ability to know just the kind of book you were in the mood for. I miss her store. But she was the one who introduced me to Banks.

Banks writes two kinds of books. Under the name Iain Banks he write contemporary fiction, albeit weird contemporary fiction from time to time. Under the name Iain M. Banks he writes science fiction. I haven't liked every book he's written, but some of his novels, such as The Crow Road, Espedair Street and The Player of Games remain some of my favourite books.

Transition is odd in that it's contemporary science fiction. It's set in the present, but it's decidedly sci-fi. It's also not an easy read. At all. Banks is assuming you're going to stick with him longer than I think a younger author might try to pull off.

The first thing you read is that the narrator is unreliable. All right. Then you quickly learn that there are multiple narrators, all of whom could be unreliable. Then you discover that the story is not being told sequentially. It's nothing for the story to bounce back and forth over a 20 year period at random.

So, multiple, unreliable narrators telling a story non-sequentially. Got it.

Oh, did I mention the multiple earths? Oh yes. The title refers to the ability of some of the characters to "transition" from one earth to an earth in another dimension that is either a little, or quite a bit different than other earths. They accomplish this by possessing a person in the other dimension.

Complicated enough? Oh, one last thing...there's a secret organization involved in a massive conspiracy to alter events on these planets. By the time you look at all of that, plus the social commentary Banks is making involving he use of torture, religion and financial markets, and there's quite a bit to absorb.

Does he pull it off? I'm not sure if he does. I enjoy the world building and the ideas involved. But it can be confusing, difficult to follow and most of the characters do little for me. Plus, the ending is very weak. I guess the thing I like the most is that I've had the idea of a sci-fi time travel novel for awhile. It was interesting to see the structure of how Banks used his "transitioning" and the rules he set up.

But once you get past the technical, I'm not sure there was much heart there to get interested in. Pity, really. I always look forward to a good Banks novel. This one is just a bit of a miss.

The next book is Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked. This is back to more familiar ground for Hornby. His last novel, Slam, dealt with teen pregnancy. This one is about an obsessive music fan's fascination with an obscure 80s rock star and his long suffering girlfriend, who finally has enough. Oh, and the long forgotten rock star has been having a few issues himself.

Hornby isn't breaking new ground here. If you liked High Fidelity, then this is your cup of tea. Still, just because it's familiar, doesn't mean it's bad. Hornby has a lovely turn of phrase. You're not reading him to be surprised by where the story is taking you, you're reading for the quality of the writing. And Hornby's writing is always filled with bits of writing that makes me smile and wish I had thought of writing some like that.

So yeah, it's a good little book. Nothing revolutionary. Although one day Hornby is going to write a novel about an obsessive comic book fan and the quietly despairing wife who had to deal with him and I'm likely to kill myself after reading it. Or magically find myself divorced.

The third novel is The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hagan. I'm only about 80 pages in, but so far, so good. It has a Salem's Lot meets The Hot Zone feel so far, which works for me. Sadly, it's part one of three, so I'm not going to know how it ends until 2011. Something I suspect is going to frustrate me to no end.

Finally, I can't resist mentioning one graphic novel, although it is one based on a classic work of literature. Marvel Comics hired Eric Shanower and Skottie Young to do an adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and it is absolute stellar. If you have kids then you owe it to them and yourself to find a copy of this book.

Yes, Shanower does a pretty good job of adapting Baum's original story. And lord knows he's done enough stuff on Oz over the years. But the thing that ultimately sells it for me is Young's beautiful art. I think he might be my new favourite comic book artist. His designs for the characters are fantastic and just the way he illustrates the story is remarkable. There are several pages in here where I would kill to own the original artwork.

No kidding, this is something worth owning. It's not super heroes, just a classic story illustrated beautifully. Go buy it.

Last Five
1. Synchronicity - The Police*
2. My lucky day - Bruce Springsteen
3. Vince the lovable stoner - The Fratellis
4. Family man - Hall & Oates
5. Bodysnatchers - Radiohead

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lawyers and money, where are my guns?

I swear to God, this isn't going to become a house blog. But this is one of these events in your life that is pretty major - buying your first house. So I will be writing about it. For that matter, I suspect I will be soliciting advice from people who might be wiser on such things than I.

Today's theme song has been "Lawyers, guns and money" by the late genius, Warren Zevon. This lyric in particular - "Send lawyers, guns and money/The shit has hit the fan." - has been hard to get out of my head. We have the lawyer, we're consolidating the money. All I need now are the guns. I suspect by the end of all this, it might be best to keep those things away from me.

So yes, calling banks and financial institutions demanding our money. Dealing with my first lawyer on a professional basis. I have lots of friends who are lawyers, but I try not to impose on them whenever possible. I suspect they have enough friends and family asking advice and don't want to impose on them. So it's going to cost a couple of thousand dollars to get all of this dealt with.

Of course, I shouldn't complain too much as this is a private sale so there are no Realtor fees.

The other thing is that Cathy has already begun shopping for furniture. She's disappointed by what she's seeing on the Ikea website so far. The house might be a touch spartan until we get some furniture in it. The current occupants appear likely to be taking all of their stuff when they move. We really don't want to buy any of the furniture available here in town as it is insanely expensive and your options are very limited.

Now, there is the possibility that we could buy something from Costco online and they will ship it up to us. They do free shipping with mattresses, but I honestly can't see them doing with a sofa. But who knows, they may very well be that insane. It would be all kinds of awesome if they do.

Finally, Title Insurance. Any thoughts on the matter, dear readers? Especially since land surveyors and building inspectors are an endangered species up here.

Tomorrow, something non-house, non-curling related, I promise. I think a couple of book review.

Last Five
1. St. Valentine's Day - Drive*
2. An end has a start - The Editors
3. You don't make it easy babe - Josh Ritter
4. When I was a young girl - Feist
5. Capturing moods - Rilo Kiley

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday assortment

1. I went and fired the first rocks of the season on the ice. It's strange that makes me so happy, but after more than six months I'm looking forward to playing my first game next week. The ice also appears to be in good shape, no apparent weirdness, although it looks like the fucked up painting the rings a bit. Ah well, it's not the end of the world.

2. I notice that I got my 50th follower today on my blog. No idea who it is, but thanks for signing up. I can't believe I have 50 followers. I realize more than that actually follow the blog, but it's the notion that 50 people take the time to sign up to follow that makes it kind of cool.

3. Megan was the first to notice this, but the Canadian Blogging Awards have started up again. Follow the link and enter some of your favourite blogs into the different categories. There are some great ones in Nunavut that are worth considering nominating. If nothing else, when the long list of nominations come out next month there will be some great new blogs to take a look at.

4. Despite living in Iqaluit for more than four years, and taking lots and lots of pictures, the one thing I've never shot is the northern lights. It's odd, but I just haven't done it. It was either not having the right camera, or not having a good tripod, or it being too cold or one thing or another.

However, last night Cathy came back from walking Boo and said the Northern Lights were spectacular. She suggested we should go out and try and get some pictures. So I figured why not. Got the camera, the tripod and the remote for the camera and hopped in the car and headed up to the Road to Nowhere.

I screwed up several shots because the aperture was set incorrectly. And at that point I was getting cold and I had no idea how much life was left in the battery. However, I managed to get two nice shots, I think.

I'm pleased with my first real attempt at trying to do this. The one thing I will note is that the lights actually weren't that green. They were more whitish, I thought. But it still looks good. I'll try and get some more and dress a little more appropriately next time.

Last Five
1. Washing of the water (live) - Peter Gabriel
2. So cruel - U2
3. Got to be more careful - Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster
4. Honey don't - The Beatles
5. Six-fingered man - Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint*

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yay, curling!

So a good chunk of my afternoon was spent trying to get the curling club in shape. During the summer months the place is used as a skate board park. So now we had to clean up the place a bit. Then we had to work on the ice and curling rocks.

You wouldn't think this would be a massive undertaking, but we were still at it for more than three hours today. During the summer months we sent the rocks down south for "fine tuning". About every 10 years or so the stone need to be polished and the edges worked on. The rocks can go off with constant use over the years. So we had to drag 64 rocks weighing an average of 38 pounds each out of their crates and place them on the floor so they can adjust to the colder temperatures. If you take them out of the crate and put them straight on the ice, they can melt it because they're warmer. Oh, and we also had to screw the handles back on them.

Then we had to scrape the ice a couple of times. When they flood the area and it freezes, it doesn't always freeze level. Plus, the top layer tends to be dirty, so we had scrape that off and then clear off the dirty snow and ice.

So yeah, a lot of work for just the three of us. And we have to go back tomorrow for one more scrape, then pebble the ice and finally we'll get to throw some rocks.

Which makes me happy. It's now one month until we head off until The Dominion and I'm anxious to get out on the ice and get some practice in. I need to get the rust off before heading to Toronto.

Although there was one amusing thing that came across my email this week from the Dominion. We have to sign an agreement to participate. Most of it is standard stuff agreeing to use our likeness for promotion and agreeing to be interviewed. But my favourite bit was that we had to be agreed to be miked while on the ice if they asked.

I've got to tell you, putting a microphone on me while on the ice will be an...educational experience for anyone listening in. I'm much better than what I used to be. For example, I'm pretty sure I got in some trouble during a bonspiel in junior high for calling my sweepers "useless cocksuckers".

But I'm much better now. I never yell at my players. I yell at myself sometimes, but never my players. Still, putting a mike on me...dangerous business.

Anyway, the point is, the club will be ready by tomorrow. We'll be giving curling lessons on Tuesday and Thursday night from 7-9 pm at the club. And they're free. So if you're in Iqaluit and would to learn how to curl, swing on by. If you still like it afterwards we'll sign you up and get you on a team. Regular league play starts on November 3.

So there you go. We hope to see you there.

Last Five
1. Ares - Bloc Party
2. Monday morning - Fleetwood Mac
3. Best thing - Bob Mould
4. Together - Blue Rodeo
5. Vultures - John Mayer

Friday, October 23, 2009

So, it seems we have a house

So I had a couple of different things I could have blogged about today. I had a couple of books I was thinking about reviewing. Plus I have actual curling news I need to talk about. But then around 3:45pm today we had one of those life changing events happen, so that kind of takes prescidence in the blogging today.

We bought a house.

Yes, the house I lamented about recently will be our new home very shortly. Cathy and I had lengthy talks about it. We both expressed our concerns and she, I think, had a better understanding of mine. So with all of that in mind, we gave them an opening offer last night. Much to my surprise, they made a very reasonable counter-offer. So after talking with Cathy about it over lunch we just decided to give them our final offer.

And, to my shock, they said yes. That they had already agreed that was going to be their lowest offer.

So there we go. It's not official yet. This is more or less a verbal offer (via email) in place. We'll start dealing with lawyers, banks and whatnot on Monday. So that's when things start to get seriously real. And scary. It's a lot of money. Yes, I understand all the things about good investments and better than throwing money away on rent. But it's still a lot of money.

Although I will note this one amusing thing. This is how our decade as gone so far when it has come to living in a place and moving.

Cathy - Moved from Newfoundland to Ireland, then Ireland to Ontario.
Craig - Stayed put in Clarenville.

Cathy - Moved from Ontario to St. John's.
Craig - Moved from Clarenville to St. John's.

Cathy - Moved from parents house to Boncloddy Street. Then moved to Bond Street.
Craig - Moved from father's house to one into the centre of town. Then moved to Bond Street.

No moving.

Cathy - Moved from Bond Street to Rankin Inlet
Craig - Moved from Bond Street back to father's house

Cathy - Moved from Rankin Inlet to Colville St., St. John's. Then from there to Iqaluit.
Craig - Moved from father's house to Colville St. Then from there to Iqaluit.

Craig + Cathy - moved from 6-story to current building.

No moving

Craig + Cathy - moved from 2nd floor apartment in current building to 3rd floor.

Craig + Cathy - moved from current building to new house in Iqaluit.

Let's just say I can't wait until 2010. We're not moving again for many, many years. Not if I can help it. I think I'm done.

Last Five
1. Wild horses (live) - Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams
2. Head - Prince
3. Mushaboom - Feist*
4. Up sister - Sam Roberts
5. Soul - Ian Foster Band

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Getting shot

So here's a statement that ought to bring my friendly neighbourhood nurse flying up the stairs with something large and blunt...I haven't decided if I'm going to go and get the flu shot.

Hark, I think I hear the sound of feet pounding up the stairs as I write.

I'm not entirely certain I can give you any kind of reason for it. Apparently that's just the mindset I'm in. Much like houses that lack a certain undefinable quality for me, I also don't really want to get the flu shot. It's not as if I'm subscribing to some of the more wackjob conspiracy theories that are kicking around out there. I don't think it's the government out to poison me or that this is actually designed to purge a portion of humanity. Or that through rushing and sheer incompetence this actually will make people sick.

It's just that I've never gotten the flu shot and I've done just fine without it so far. I rarely catch the flu. I get the occasional cold up here, but everyone does. I'm also not in one of the risk groups. Cathy also won't be getting the shot, but for very different reasons. The shot is cultured in egg, which she is allergic to. So unless they want to hospitalize her for a couple of days and keep her whacked out on drugs (not made from egg), she's going to pass.

I mention all of this because the government is getting ready to start a very large, very expensive push on this. And it feels almost like ingratitude not to go and get a shot with the government is clearly ready to spend a lot of money to make sure the swine flu doesn't spread out of control up here.

But I don't wanna. And no, it's not a fear of needles. I suspect, mostly, I just think it's a waste of time because I'm not going to get sick. Stupid, but there you go.

But I probably will go and get it. If for no other reason than I don't want certain nurses creeping into our apartment when I sleep and jabbing me with needles. Because that will give me nightmares for awhile.

Last Five
1. Mystified, heavy - Sam Roberts
2. Bullet the blue sky - U2
3. I am a scientist - The Dandy Warhols
4. I am not safer than a bank - Matthew Good
5. Strange days - Matthew Good Band*

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Housing problem

It's becoming morbidly fascinating observing how Cathy and I go about looking at houses. After being married for four years, and being together for nearly eight, it's kind of hard to get surprised by what your spouse will do, but we're managing to accomplish just that.

There is now another house we're looking at. This caught me a touch by surprise. After our last attempt, which ended in failure, I thought we would take it easy for awhile. Or if we were going to look at houses it would be just to get a better feel for what we're looking for in a place. That we were going to hold off until the spring when the timing would be better. There would likely be more houses available for sale, plus whatever we might need in the way of furniture and whatnot could be bought in July and sent up via sea lift.

But there we were last night, in a house going over their utilities costs and Cathy looking across the table expectantly at me waiting for me to make a bid on the place. Which was the point where I got us the heck out of there before I suddenly found myself even more deeply in over my head than I felt at that point.

Cathy wants a house. I understand that. I've been converted to the cause now and agree that owning a house would be better than continuing to pay rent. But for me this is a slow, methodical process. We look at lots of places, we get a feel for what we like in a place, we negotiate until we get the best deal, wait for the optimal timing and then go forward.

Cathy would like a place as soon as possible. Not just any old place, of course. She does want a nice place. However, I think the closing date on this place is horrific; Cathy sees it as only a minor obstacle. I'm not sure we can afford it without dipping into our RRSPs to make a down payment, something I oppose. Cathy's fine with it. Our maximum price is about $10,000 apart. Cathy can list things she likes about the place and things she's not 100 per cent fond of. All I can muster up is "It has no soul."

Which, I appreciate, is not helpful at all. I wish I could add something more constructive about the layout, the use of space and whatnot. But I feel nothing for this place. At all. It's like the devil visited the place and stole its soul or something.

Here's the heart of the difference, I think. I want my first house to be really cool. Some people look for the number of bedrooms, heating bills, view and whatnot. I tend to look for character and soul. The place I grew up in St. John's was a standard, boring, subdivision house. I always wanted to live downtown, because that's where the cool houses were. When we lived together on Bond Street it was a standard row house. But damn it, the place had personality. Our neighbour across the street, Anne, had an awesome house and I'm thrilled some of my friends bought it and going to go wonders to the place.

It doesn't have to be an awesome house like that. But I want it to have some kind of personality. Which is indefinable until you actually walk into a place. The first place we looked at had that. The condo we looked at (and rejected) didn't. And this place just feels soulless.

Cathy, on the other hand, doesn't mind so much. Or perhaps that's unfair. She just thinks there is a very limited number of those types of houses available in Iqaluit and when they do pop up, they'll be well out of our price range. So why not take a house that's solid, that we can do up whatever way we want and that we don't love. She also argues that you make the house into one you love. Which is fair enough.

Out of curiosity, I asked people on Facebook if you shouldn't love a house you're about to spend obscene amounts of money on. Unsurprisingly, the results were split, with some saying "absolutely" with others saying that such beasts are rare. One living in Fort Mac said I should be glad we're not paying half a million for a trailer home. It's all in the perspective, I guess.

I just wish I liked the house we might be spending the rest of our time in the north living in more than I do right now.

Any thoughts?

Last Five
1. Trust yourself (live) - Blue Rodeo
2. Sympathy for the devil - The Rolling Stones
3. Poets - The Tragically Hip
4. Broken arrow - Robbie Robertson*
5. Some unholy war - Amy Winehouse

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Betty and Veronica

There's been a lot of hoopla over the Archie marrying Veronica and then Archie marrying Betty comics that have come out and, if fact, will still be coming out over the next few months. There's been lots of hype about it, which is fine. I don't really care all that much one way or another. It's Archie comics. I think the last one I bought was one where Archie and the gang visit Newfoundland to help Mr. Lodge avoid his ragweed allergies, stop some archeology thieves and "ogle all the hot Newfoundland girls" (actual piece of dialogue).

But some people have hated these issues. Welcome to the world of comic book fandom, where someone can always find slight or offense over the most banal of things. So yes, there are people who objected Archie marrying Veronica in an "imaginary" story and then marrying Better in another.

But at least one person had a sense of humour about it.

This is obviously photoshopped to within an inch of its life, but it's still a lot of fun. That's a comic I'd actually buy. And one I suspect Laura would buy many, many copies of.

Last Five
1. Rise of the red tide - The Kremlin
2. Weather out the storm (live) - Figgy Duff*
3. I'll never get out of this world alive - Little Willies
4. Thanks to no one - Colleen Power
5. Left of the dial - The Replacements

Still trying to learn that lesson

So here's the thing...I'm not saying you should never read a national written/produced story about Nunavut. That's just silly. Yes, some of them are hilarious off the mark or have never met a cliche about the north that they haven't made mad, passionate cliche love to. But some of them are spot on. Some of them view more clearly at a distance than we can see right in front of our noses. Some put what we're going through up here into an interesting perspective. So it's always worthwhile to read and see what's being said.

However, and I've said this before, it is never worth the possibility of heart attack and stroke that comes with reading the comments section that inevitably goes with these stories.

Take today's offering from the Globe and Mail. I don't think there's really all that much new in there. If you live here at all you know about the report card and what it said. This is more to educate a national audience than it is to give new info to us.

Then you go to the comments section and get something like this. It's the first comment, by the way.
I think moving towards self-government was a mistake for the native communities. Claims of racism and blaming the 'white man' for their problems has always appeared to be a key strategy.

And that's right where I stopped reading. There's 20 other comments there, but I knew if I kept reading bad things would happen. You think I would know better by now, but every now and then I trust that the better angels of human nature might prevail. But wherever those better angels live, it's certainly not on the comment boards of newspapers. Or the CBC for that matter.

No, there only lies evil among those boards. Do yourself a favour and avoid them.

And now, a quick question for those in the know here in Nunavut. The difference separating the eighth place candidate, who is the last elected member of council, and ninth place is currently one vote. So Romeyn Stevenson this morning woke up to discover that 596 votes is one short of what was needed. Meanwhile David Alexander is sweating a bit waiting for the recount.

So here's my question. What happens if it's a tie? What happens if both of them end up with 597 votes, for example. How is the tie breaker decided? Because, if I may offer up a bit of advice that comes from having just observed the farce of a mayoral race in Paradise, Newfoundland, please do not use a recycling bin. It's just not good form.

Last Five
1. City of blinding lights - U2
2. On every street - Dire Straits*
3. Fair - Ben Folds Five
4. Crosseyed - Brendan Benson
5. One - Vampire Weekend

Monday, October 19, 2009

A late evening assortment

I'm cutting it close today in getting a blog post out today, but the original idea I had (one on how a recent report cited Canada as being very poor when it comes to the Internet) just didn't want to jell properly. It kept veering off track into a rant on the possibility of a federal election. Which, let's face it, is a pretty boring topic right now. Maybe it will come together tomorrow.

So, let's see what else we have today:

1. We went and looked at a condo today. Much to my relief, we immediately agreed that it wasn't the place for us. Simply too small, especially when it came to the bedrooms. I was beginning to worry that we were so wrapped up in house fever that it was over-riding our higher brain functions. But no, we can find a place that we don't want. Thank God.

2. It's after 11 p.m. as I type this and the final results for the Iqaluit City Council results still aren't in. The mayor results are in and Elisapee Sheutiapik won. Not really a surprise, but I think it was probably closer than some expected. However, the results from the councillor race still aren't in. I swear to God, I could be the only one there, drunk and only using an abacus and I could have the results in faster than this. This is just silly.

3. And for no particular reason, I throw in this quote from a Rolling Stone magazine I'm currently reading (It's the one with U2 on the cover. Oh, and Matt Taibbi's article on Wall Street should be mandatory reading). The quote I like actually comes from a little blurb on the band Gaslight Anthem, who has a new record coming out next year.

Now, I like the band. I thought The '59 Sound was a pretty good record, but how is this for an awesome quote from lead singer Brian Fallon when describing how the new record sounds. "The songs sound like Tom Waits' storytelling and the Clash playing as a band, but with some big Motown-style choruses in there."

Is that not the mostly awesomely full of shit rock band quote you've heard recently? I like the band. Hell, that even sounds a bit interesting. But still, really?

Anyway, more tomorrow.

Last Five
1. Peaceful valley - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
2. My city of ruins (live) - Bruce Springsteen*
3. Bang! - The Raveonettes
4. Ready, able - Grizzly Bear
5. Believe in me - Sloan

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Election night eve

The Iqaluit municipal election is tomorrow. And the great "come and use my blog to promote yourself" idea was pretty much a bomb, with only one candidate taking advantage of it. On the upside, I'm going to vote for him. At least he took some time to try and woo my vote, which is more than can be said of most of the candidates.

I guess I'm spoiled by the near bloodbath that happens with every municipal election, where between signs, fliers and people knocking on the door there's a near desperate mania to try and win your vote. Big surprise, up here things are a bit more laid back up here. Still, I can't help but feel there's a little something to be considered in how hard someone campaigns to be on council and how hard they're going to work once they get there. Hell, only 14 of them showed up a forum last week, although I understand it was so poorly organized some of the candidates heard about it for the first time when they heard the ad for it on the radio the day of the event.

So do I know who I'm going to vote for? Sure. I'm not going to say who they are, but three or four candidates come to mind. However, as I understand it, I can vote for seven. That's not going to happen. Simply put, of the 21 people running for councillor, there aren't seven I can find that I think campaigned hard enough or did enough to try and woo my vote. Just because I can vote for seven doesn't mean I have to vote for seven of them. At most four will be getting my vote.

As for the mayor's race, I thought that was pretty straight forward. Between Elisapee Sheutiapik and Jim Little I thought Sheutiapik was a lock. But Little has run a more aggressive campaign and has put out more information on what he would do as mayor. We'll see how it goes, but I think what was once going to be a blowout might be closer than some people think. Of course, as always with these things, it depends on voter turnout. Here's hoping it's not something pathetic like 30 per cent.

Polls are open on Monday from 10am to 7pm and people can vote at Cadet Hall and Abe Okpik Hall.

Last Five
1. You can't do that - The Beatles
2. Pine, pine, pine - Joel Plaskett
3. Good ship Venus - Loudon Wainwright III (the filthiest song ever, I might add)*
4. Why do they leave - Ryan Adams
5. Know your rights (live) - The Clash

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh well...

This whole going out and having to be sociable and doing things in public can be soooo exhausting. Thank God we don't do it very often.

(I kid, for those of you needing the extra hint).

We were going to start the day off hitting some yard sales, but apparently getting up and on the go for 9am was just too much to handle this morning, so that plan died a quick death. However, we did have an appointment to go and look at a house at 10am and we really couldn't blow off that one.

After we didn't get the last (and first ever) place we looked at, several very wise people told us that we had to go and look at a bunch of other houses, just so you can get an idea of what you get for the money being asked. That makes sense. What does a $400,000 house look like? What should you get for that place? You don't need to buy them or even be seriously looking, just go and get a feel for the places.

That makes sense. So we arranged to look at this house this morning and we're looking at a condo for sale on Monday. All part of the plan so that when we started doing a hard look for places next spring we would have a better idea of what we were in the market to buy.

Except we looked at a place today and Cathy really likes it so we're off to the races again.

I'm trying to be a bit more reserved. For one thing, I think it's significantly over-priced and at the very edge of what we can afford. It's also not on the Utilador in town, which gives me pause. But it's a nice house, looks pretty solid and does have a bit of a view of the bay, which I like.

I guess I would feel more comfortable with all of this if I had a job. Although there is some small progress on that front as I have an interview this week. Not sure how that's going to play out, but we shall see. Prayers and sacrificial goats/lambs/virgins, as always, will be appreciated.

Next up was the $5 book a bag sale at the library. We walked out with several bags of books, so we should be good on the Chapters front for several months. Well, at least until after Christmas. There was a good turnout, although I don't know how much of a dent they made in the books they were trying to get rid of. They had a lot to try and get clear of between their own remaindered books and the donations people had given them.

I suggested a bonfire in front of the building to clear out the leftover books. It was suggested that perhaps that might not be the best image for the library to be putting forward to the general public. Oh well.

And then we had the big Cape Dorset print sale. I was trying to convince Cathy that the caribou print from the previous blog post would make a fine addition to our walls, but she really wasn't going for it. There was a whale print she liked quite a bit, but we both agreed it was far too large. Moot point on both cases anyway. Her whale was the first one to go and my caribou was the fourth or fifth one to be selected.

The crowd was huge this year, compared to other years, but I don't think it was a complete sell out. There were still two or three prints that didn't go, including one of Kenojuak Ashevak's. Granted, it was huge and cost $1,400, but it was still a bit surprising.

I've made my peace with not getting the print I wanted. At first I was tempted to go and talk to the curator to see if he could get a copy of the print from another gallery if it didn't sell out or asking someone from Cape Dorset to get it for me when they do their print sale. But the fact is, Cathy didn't love it as much as I did and when it comes to major pieces of art that you hang on your walls, it's helpful if both people like it. I can perhaps get away with a couple of pieces of art that Cathy doesn't care much for, but you have to use those times (art credits, for lack of better phrasing) up very carefully, and I don't think this was a print worth blowing one of those credits on.

Besides, I'll be hitting the Emma Butler Gallery when I go back to St. John's to see if I can find a nice David Blackwood for myself. That's an artist worth blowing one of those art credits on (Cathy hates Blackwood).

And that's our busy and eventful day. One in which we did a fair bit and spent $10. We should be so lucky on most days. Of course, if we end up buying that house, I think this could have been perhaps the most expensive day of our lives. So we'll see how it all pans out.

Last Five
1. Photograph - Weezer*
2. Old enough - The Raconteurs
3. Dull life - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. Falling star - Jet
5. The prayer - Bloc Party

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dorset sale

So tomorrow is a day of much activity in Iqaluit. First and foremost the annual Cape Dorset print sale is happening. Nunatsiaq News has a story here about the sale and if you want to take a closer look at the prints, but can't make it down to the museum for some reason, then take a look at this.

Cathy has sworn up and down that we're not buying a print this year. We've already bought two prints in the past couple of years, so we really don't need another one. But every now and then she hedges her bets a bit and says we clearly can't get one of the huge ones. Or another one of an owl. That does leave a tiny window open.

What can I say, I love Dorset artwork. And what you see on the computer screen does not even begin to do justice to the quality of the artwork. Last year we hadn't really planned on buying one, but once we saw "Grand Entrance", well, we were smitten. So who knows what will happen once we walk through the doors.

So really, honestly, if you live in Iqaluit you're nuts if you pass up the chance to see this stuff. Plus, the draw to see who gets to buy a print is always amusing, although a little less so if you're trying to get one and your favourite is snapped up before you can get it. I also notice the National Art Gallery is having an exhibition, so that's something I recommend if you're in the Ottawa area.

The other big event is the library's book sale. Probably the best deal in Iqaluit, it's all the books you can stuff in a plastic bag for $5. And a reliable source informs me that there is a healthy purge of books going to be happening tomorrow. So we'll be heading down for that as well. It's hit and miss, of course. We've been down there some sales and walked out empty handed. Other times we've walked out with four bags worth of stuff.

So there you go, lots of rocking excitement in the city tomorrow. We can't wait.

Last Five
1. Brown sugar - The Rolling Stones
2. Don't dream it's over (live) - Crowded House*
3. Amphibian - Colleen Power
4. Lovers in a dangerous time - Barenaked Ladies
5. Canadian railroad trilogy - Gordan Lightfoot

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The origin of name

Jeez, between Jordan and Stephanie, plus Tara saying nice things about me, my ego is going to start getting too big. Fortunately I have people like Indigo to make sure things don't get out of control.

Although I noticed Tara expressed confusion over the title of the blog. Now, I'm pretty sure at some point I've mentioned where the title comes from. But I figured if I did it would have been during the first couple of dozen posts of the blog. But if it's there, I can't see it. Plus, there's about 1,500 posts on the blog at this point. I'm really not going to go through all those posts to find out if I've explained it already.

So instead, a retelling of the origin of the phrase "Townie Bastard". If you know this or have already read it on the blog, my apologies and feel free to skip this post. For those of you new to these parts, here we go.

Ten years ago I worked with The Packet, a community newspaper in Clarenville, Newfoundland. I've said many glowing things about my time there, in particular my former editor, and still good friend, Barbara Dean-Simmons. However, it was a work place where you had to keep on your toes. I was the only male on a staff of eight (six in Clarenville, two in Bonavista). Plus, I was the only person from St. John's.

For those of you not from Newfoundland, understand that among the many things that can be used to divide and segregate people from Newfoundland and Labrador, there is one very basic one. You are either from St. John's (ie. a Townie) or you're not (ie. a bayman). I've had people from Grand Falls, which is some distance from the nearest body of salt water express their displeasure at this, but that's just the way it goes.

So I was a male townie in an office filled with bay women. Clever bay women. Women who were not afraid to take the piss out of the resident townie. Plus, I was a male, so as far as they were concerned I was doubly disadvantaged. So there was a regular give and take in the office. Tea break, which was around 10:30 each morning, was frequently Torture the Townie. The only way to survive this was to give as good as I got.

I'm not saying any of this was mean spirited. It wasn't. It was just very advanced mocking and teasing. Not for beginners type stuff. If you couldn't take it and dish it back out, well, you weren't going to last long.

As I recall it's Bonnie Goodyear, who was a sale rep on staff, who coined the phrase. I had just come back to the office and went into the break room. I was venting about traffic. Clarenville has about 7,000 people only has two traffic lights, but the place can be silly trying to get around sometimes. So I was complaining that nobody in the goddamn town knew how to drive.

"I suppose now you're going to blame all the women drivers out there for making your day difficult," she said.

"No, actually I was going to complain about all the fucking baymen who don't know how to drive," I responded.

(This was like an addendum to an earlier discussion in the office about how driving in St. John's had gotten ridiculous because, as far as I was concerned, all the baymen coming into St. John's to do their shopping on the weekends didn't know how to handle things like traffic lights. It was a theory that did not make me popular.)

And I got her. It was just that little "oh, you little prick" moment that came when I knew I scored a clean blow. I think even Barb was laughing, knowing I'd scored a hit.

Bonnie's response? "Oh, you friggin' townie bastard."

So there you go. The origin of the phrase. And it works for me because I am a townie, and I love mocking people not from St. John's. I swear to you, there are times I have no idea how Cathy and I survived the first few months of dating given how many times I mocked Mount Pearl. Yes, those are the mad dating skillz I possess, where I try to woo a woman by mocking where she grew up.

I realize the name doesn't work in a northern sort of way (although lord know plenty of Nunavummiut hate Iqaluit). But as I pointed out yesterday, your blog has to be more than just a northern blog if you're going to survive.

Anyway, now you know.

Last Five
1. Work out fine - Joel Plaskett Emergency
2. Stick with me baby - Robert Plant and Allison Krauss
3. The ledge - Fleetwood Mac
4. Slow dancing in a burning room - John Mayer*
5. Somehow, someday - Ryan Adams

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Over my dead body

So if I hadn't have already seen Transformers 2 this past summer, Jennifer's Body would have been a lock for the worst movie of the year. Instead I have to live with the sad, sad knowledge that I have wasted perfectly good money on two extraordinarily shitty movies. I mean, truly vile.

Ordinarily I don't review movies often on the blog. By the time they reach Iqaluit they've normally been reviewed to death by others, so who cares what I think. But I like to think of this as a Public Service Announcement. Perhaps you're reading the blog and visiting Iqaluit and it's been a long time since you've seen a movie in a theatre. So you're thinking "Hey, let's go see Jennifer's Body. Well, it would be a shame to waste what might be your only cinematic experience in months on such crap. Or perhaps you're thinking it might be alright as a rental. But it's not. And so, I write this in the hopes of sparing you the loss of time and money I experienced last evening.

Now, you may notice a similarity between Jennifer's Body and Transformers 2 in that they both feature Megan Fox. These movies do not suck because of Fox, I should make that clear right up front. It may call into question her judgment, but I think anyone who has ever read an interview with her can pretty much figure that out on their own.

Transformers 2 sucked for a whole host of reasons. First of all, someone paid writers an obscene amount of money to turn in a script that is an affrontage to anyone who has ever used the English language. I would suggest finding them and beating them to the point that they suffered enough brain damage so they can't write anymore, but it's pretty clear someone did that to them after the first Transformers movie and they still paid them to write the script. And we all suffered for that. Awful dialogue, stupid plot point, idiotic and unlikeable characters, God, it's hard to find a single redeeming thing about the movie.

Then there's director Michael Bay, who if he wasn't taking large amounts of drugs when he was directing the movie, well, he should consider doing them for his next one. Choppy, quick edited action sequences featuring animated robots of which we don't know who or what 99% of them are. Horrible.

Plus the movie is too long. As one wag suggested, they could have easily clipped 20 minutes from the movie's length if only they had not done so many slow motion scenes of Megan Fox's tits bouncing up and down.

So, Transformers 2 written by the brain damaged, featuring a lunatic director and a sightly crazy actress. I think I know where most of the blame lies.

But with Jennifer's Body, there's actually some pedigree involved in the production. Diablo Cody wrote the script, and she wrote the tremendously fun Juno. Karyn Kusama directed and she did Girlfight a few years ago, which got lots of good reviews. But this is just....awful.

If you're going to do a high school movie about a demonic sacrifice gone wrong and turning a cheerleader into a succubus, then you better bring some of the following - genuine scares, lots of gore, humour, social commentary, black humour or just be so awful you come out the other side and land into the campy fun category.

I honestly don't know what Coady was trying to do here. It feels like after Juno she dug through some high school notebooks and threw them at the director and said, "here, make a movie out of this. Oh, and get Megan Fox. People will be too busy drooling over her to notice what a piece of shit this is."

It's not funny. There's the occasional sparkle that reminds you that Coady is supposed to be a good writer, but it's so rare and fleeting that it makes you mad when it shows up. I wondered why the rest of the writing wasn't up to that level. It's badly paced. It's not scary, sexy, gory, if there's social commentary about high school in there anywhere I can't find it. It's just a turgid lump. It's not even bad enough to be camp fun. It's just boring.

When I glanced at my watch and noticed only 45 minutes had passed, when I assumed it had been hours, I nearly did something I never do...I nearly got up and walked out.

Oh, and for the record, Megan Fox was fine. I'm not saying she's going to win an Oscar for this. Let's not be crazy. But she wasn't the problem in the movie. Only so much you can do when your writer and director hang you out to dry.

So yes, very bad. Avoid like plague. It's not empowering towards women or anything else. It's just bad. Anyone telling you differently probably thought Transformers 2 was a good time at the movies.

Last Five
1. Red hill mining town - U2
2. Weapon (live) - Matthew Good*
3. Hungry like the wolf - Reel Big Fish
4. Jacob's ladder - Bruce Springsteen
5. The levee's gonna break - Bob Dylan

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Toughing it out

So I'm noticing among some of my northern blogging brethren the lament that they have nothing to write about or are finding it hard to keep up with the updates now that they're here. When you are in the process of moving to Nunavut and when you first arrive here, there's no shortage of things to write about. Everything is new, exciting and, in some cases, deeply weird. It's not hard to write because its like picking the low fruit off a tree (as it were, as there are no trees here, but you get the point). Dead simple. Fire up the computer, open blogger and away you go.

But after a couple of months, it becomes "well, now what?" You've settled in. You might be in a small community and there's not much happening. Also, one of the potential things of concern when in a small community is the worry about talking too much about the place, especially in a negative light. Because people there might read your blog and you don't want to get a reputation as someone who complains a lot.

I understand, trust me. Blogging is not an easy thing to keep doing. Most blogs under the best of circumstances die a few months after starting anyway. The internet is littered with their corpses.

The thing is, writing about your northern experiences is just phase one of your blog. There are two ways of looking at this - do you have a northern blog, or do you have a blog located in the north? If this was just a northern blog, it would have died nearly four years ago after I ran out of cute observations about my new home.

But I can't do a one track blog. So, fortunately, I have other interests. Sadly for some of you, I love curling and will subject the unwary to it from time to time. I have a deep love of comic books and will occasionally mention that. I follow politics - Canadian, Newfoundland, American - and will write about that. I like movies and TV shows and write about that.

So when you find yourself running out of northern things to talk about every day, starting branching out. You are more than a person living in Nunavut. What else do you like? Write about it. I'm not saying never write about Nunavut again. I am saying that instead of every post being about Nunavut, maybe one in every seven posts is about it. Spread your wings a bit. Write about kids, dogs, knitting, music, whatever it is you want to write about.

Good. Now, that will buy you another six months to a year. And then you're going it hit a wall. It's going to be a big wall and very solid. You're going to open Blogger, stare at the ugly Goddamn white space and despair.

Cathy asks me many evenings what I'm going to blog about. I think once I said, "My obituary because I'm fucking dead. I have nothing."

Not everybody has to be a lunatic like I am try to write every single day. I do it because it's a disciple thing, where I make myself sit down and write every day because it's the only way I'll ever get better as a writer. I want to be a good writer one day (there's no need to write and stroke my ego and say I am one. I am a decent writer and painfully aware of my limits). The only way you do that is to write every day. Even on the days you don't want to. Especially on the days when you don't want to.

It might be crap. You might loathe looking at it, but sometimes that's the price you pay. You write. Even when it's crap, you write. Because the sooner you get the crap out of your system, the sooner you'll find that little nugget of someone good and interesting buried that you can dig out, shine up and post.

So hang in there, my northern brethren. Don't give up and let your blog fade away. It's a great community we have here and it would be a pity to lose even one voice. Tough it out. I promise, it gets better and easier.

Last Five
1. (Ready or not) Omaha, Nebraska - Bowling for Soup
2. The Mesopotamians - They Might Be Giants
3. The shadowlands - Ryan Adams*
4. Nobody but me - The Pursuit of Happiness
5. Addicted - Hawksley Workman

Monday, October 12, 2009


So thanks to a little heads-up from a friend of mine in town, we double checked the cost of flights out of here. Little known fact that teachers and NEU employees get special codes that allow them discounts on some flights. We thought we had checked that already and that it would only save us a couple of hundred dollars. But we must have done something wrong because when we punched in the codes this time we got much different numbers.

We also decided to fly Porter Airlines to St. John's from Ottawa. It's a slight inconvenience, what with having to overnight on our way home (we leave the 19th and don't get home until the 20th), but that's a sacrifice we're willing to make to save, no kidding, close to $1,000. So what was looking like a nearly $6,000 trip home for Christmas, is now closer to $3,800.

Don't get me wrong, that's still a silly amount of money to spend for a less than two weeks back home. Still, it's better than what it was 24 hours ago. So if you live in Newfoundland, we might see you during the absolute madness that is trying to do Christmas in Newfoundland.

And now, because I know some of my blogging comrades have been having problems with finding things to write about, I give you a poster from Despair, one of my favourite depressing websites, just to put things into perspective.

Remember guys, sometimes you have to write crap just to get through to the other side. Hang in there.

Last Five
1. Rule the world with love - Barenaked Ladies*
2. You'll be comin' down - Bruce Springsteen
3. Can't stop feeling - Franz Ferdinand
4. Bitches in Tokyo - Stars
5. Mangolia mountain - Ryan Adams

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Iqaluit City Council Election - Mat Knickelbein

Well I'll be damned, someone took me up on my offer. Mat sent me a copy of his poster along with a longer discussion on some of the things he wants to do. I'm posting both here. He also sent his picture, but which I can't get to post here. Mat, if you want to send me just the photo, not embedded in anything, I'll still put it up here.

For other candidates to Iqaluit's City Council, go here to read how you can get your campaign information put up on this blog.

Without further adieu, Mat Knickelbein on why you should vote for him.


Vote Mat Knickelbein for Iqaluit City Council

For those that might not know me, here is a little about myself.

I moved to Iqaluit over 20 years ago. I have, since then, been directly involved with Iqaluit's youth and education issues. After graduating from Inuksuk High School and working for a couple of years as classroom support at Joamie School, I went on to complete the Nunavut Teacher Education Program and earn a Bachelor of Education degree from McGill University. I am in my 11th year as a teacher here in Iqaluit and I care deeply about the future we are leaving for our children. I have also been actively involved with youth soccer programs for many years, coaching, fund-raising and travelling to various locations and tournaments. As an avid outdoors person, I spend most of any free time and holidays down at our family cabin about 20 miles south of Iqaluit. Hunting and fishing are year-round passions of mine.

I have two wonderful children; Malaya aged 7 & Simeonie aged 12. My wife Allasua and I recently got married this past summer out on the land at our cabin. We own a home in Apex and enjoy the peace, quiet and sense of community that Niaqunngu(Apex) offers.

A respect for those that came before:

We need to reflect and recognize those that founded and built this city. Those that have always lived here and those that have made a long-term commitment to making Iqaluit their home.

To accomplish this I propose the following:

1. Major upgrades to both the local Breakwater/Marina and the Causeway.
2. Improvements to all other smaller breakwaters and marine infrastructure – including Apex.
3. Expansion, improvement and respect of designated snowmachine trails to allow easy access to core areas of the city.
4. Maintenance of Hunter/Community access via traditional routes through town when planning future development.
5. Diligent efforts to re-involve and re-engage long-time/original Iqalummiut when planning for the future.

Recognition of those that are here now:

We must meet the needs of a varied and diverse current population. By working together as a community, I believe that we can make Iqaluit more inclusive, comfortable, and fair while retaining our strong northern values, traditions and culture.

To accomplish this I propose the following:

1. Working together, openly and creatively, to ease the inevitable growing pains that we will continue to face.
2. Providing healthy and varied recreational activities for all our citizens.
3. Creating a cleaner Iqaluit that values and encourages environmental stuardship.
4. Commitment and support for recycling and composting programs.
5. Action on creating a safer city for all.
6. Get the community involved with municipal decisions and direction. Televise and/or webcast council meetings. Create an updated and interactive municipal website that allows for participation via questions and/or comments/polls/eBulletins.
7. Create youth initiatives that get our children involved with the city. There are many volunteer/citizenship programs that engage youth and work towards empowering our young population.

A vision towards the future:

The decisions and direction the municipal council takes Iqaluit, eventually end up in the laps of our children. We need to ensure that we evolve in a sustainable and environmentally sound direction. We need to leave something that we can all be proud of, making Iqaluit a world-class example of a small city with global ideals.

To accomplish this I propose the following:

1. Continue to push towards the completion of a Deep Water Port.
2. Deal with our waste in an effective and sustainable manner.
3. Lead by example in matters concerning energy reduction and sustainable construction.
4. Support economic diversity.
5. Build and encourage healthy lifestyles for our population.
6. Land development with a respect for traditional use and culture.

Please plan on getting out and voting on Monday October 19th, 2009! Every vote counts!

As for specifics... here we go.

1. Major upgrades and improvements to our small harbour infrastructure. Our boats/trailers/trucks are getting trashed because of poor maintenance and years of neglect.

2. Finally create and maintain proper skidoo trails around town... especially in the spring (ie: dropping off snow at major skidoo crossing points and at the gas station... making sure that when the road crew clear snow they do not destroy major, identified skidoo trails - causing unsafe conditions)

3. Through liaising with community organizations I plan on working diligently to re-engage long-time/original Iqalummiut to get involved with our municipal decision making process. I have heard many stories about how this section of our population feels as if they have been neglected and left out of the planning and growth directions our City has taken. I plan on trying to involve everyone.

4. I will support a comprehensive recycling and compost program for our city.

5. I support the idea of a new multi-use recreation centre... but I'm not sure if I, or the voters/ratepayers, have the confidence that the city, at this point, has the ability to pull off such a major project without is being a complete disaster/screw-up! There have been a series of major blunders that I feel has eroded the reputation of the City to pull off major projects (ie: sewage treatment plant, AWG arena, chip-seal road “experiment” gone wrong, administrative in-fighing, new cematery fiasco, local landfill and waste management short-sightedness, road side posts/rocks, streetlights/traffic problems, etc...) It is my belief that the new council should work towards regaining the confidence of our electorate by making some successful smaller decisions first.

6. I would be interested in looking into installing more lighting and even closed circuit television cameras around town to cut down on violence and vandalism.

7. A major endeavour of mine would be to get the municipality up to date with modern technology that would assist it in reaching and involving more Iqalummiut. The City of Iqaluit website is a joke. Redo it and include a discussion/bulletin board, include online polls to gain insight into common issues. Video stream all council chamber proceedings.

8. Years ago our municipality was indirectly involved with a program called The Duke of Edinburgh Awards... it engaged our youth (through a partnership with Inuksuk High School) to spend time volunteering, beautifying and improving our City. It is an international program that encourages volunteerism and healthy living. Youth, for school credit and program hours, painted/made garbage cans/did small project/maintained sports fields/etc... I plan on getting this off the ground again.

9. I believe in continuing the pursuit of a Deep Water Port for Iqaluit. Imagine the cost saving and business economic opportunities if large vessels could moor and offload cargo on a 24hour a day schedule, without waiting for tides.

10. Our waste needs to be separated/recycled/reclaimed to the greatest extend possible. I believe, once this has happened, that there exists the possibility of burning (through a proper, high-heat incinerator) most of our remaining non-toxic waste – and the by-product of HEAT be used for further municipal projects.

11. I would like to see the City be leaders in the use of green/renewable energy sources... there are many, diverse options that are currently available to us... but are not being used.

Well then, that about covers my main ideas/goals. Please feel free to message me your comments/questions/concerns. You may also be interested in visiting my Facebook “Group”... check it out. While it is correct that I have not been knocking on doors (yet), I have been quite actively campaigning. I have spent at least an hour each evening calling people, at random, from our phone book. This has led to some very excellent conversations. Apart from my facebook group, I also have a blog and “group” on I can be reached at Thanks for your time and I hope this helps to clairify my position on a few of our local concerns. No matter who it is you choose to support... on October 19th please make sure you get out and vote! Get involved! Your voice and opinion counts!


Mat Knickelbein

Of Turkey and Decision Days

So today is Turkey Day for us, or I guess Thanksgiving Day if you want to be more formal. I think most Canadians will agree that Thanksgiving isn't as big a deal up here as it is south of the border. One of the amusing things for me this year has been watching a very good American friend of mine, who recently moved to Newfoundland, trying to wrap her mind around the idea of Thanksgiving occurring now as opposed to towards the end of November. Apparently it isn't "fall" enough yet.

Another big difference? She's cooking for five today as opposed to the usual 30 she did when she lived in the US. I would think that's a bonus, but what do I know.

As for us, we're having the downstairs blogging neighbours up for some turkey (and more Nunavut blogging domination plotting) and a friend of mine in town for a couple of months for work, but stuck in a hotel. Being stuck in hotels for holidays always struck me as not being particularly fun, so he's coming over for turkey. And to play with Boo, because I know he misses his dogs something fierce.

Along with Turkey Day we're also approaching a D-Day of sorts. We haven't booked any tickets home for Christmas yet. There's a whole bunch of factors coming into play here. First of all, I still don't have a job. On the off-chance I land something in the next couple of weeks, asking for eight days off over Christmas, plus another 5.5 days off at the end of November to play in the Dominion Curling championships might be pushing my luck a bit, even if I offer to go without pay.

But the other thing is that neither Canadian North or First Air have put on any seat sales. It's unusual for both airlines to go so late in putting on Christmas seat sales. Normally they start in September, but so far there's been nothing. I have the sneaking suspicion because both airlines are in a seat sale war with Air Canada and WestJet over the Yellowknife to Edmonton route if we're not getting screwed over. They're losing money over there so they have to make it up somewhere else. Lucky us.

So a ticket from Iqaluit to Ottawa is currently hovering just below $2,000. Air Canada wants an outrageous $1,100 to fly from Ottawa to St. John's. WestJet is just weird because even if we wanted to fly with them, they have no flights out of St. John's from January 1-3. As Cathy has to be back to work by the 4th, that's a non-starter for us.

The airline we're considering is Porter. It's cheaper in that it's only $700 return to Ottawa. The downsides? We have to land in Halifax (not that big a deal), but we would also have to overnight in Ottawa.

Still, $6,000 to fly home for Christmas. Cathy wants to go because it's been a long time since she's seen her parents and I understand that. However, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been going back and forth a lot on this over the last few weeks. One way or another we'll decide either Tuesday or Wednesday. So if you're in St. John's you'll see one, and perhaps even both, of us over the holidays.

Last Five
1. Hold me tight - The Beatles
2. Becky, I keep singing this song - Hey Rosetta!
3. Things have changed - Bob Dylan*
4. The way you want it - Keane
5. Bruised - Ben Folds

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why I should vote for you

So here it is a mere nine days or so until Iqaluit holds its City Council elections. And you might ask, "Mr. Bastard, how many of the 21 candidates for councillor or the two candidates for mayor have come and knocked on your door, asking for your vote?"

The answer would be none. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Twenty-three people running for office and not a one of them as come a courting. During the last territorial election Elisapee and Paul were knocking on my door so much I might as well have started charging them rent. Yes, granted these people have to campaign in all of Iqaluit as opposed to just one-third of the place, like the territorial candidates had to. And yes, we live in a secure building, but the other two managed to find their way in, so I imagine if municipal candidates wanted to talk, they could figure out a way.

This is maddening because I have no idea who to vote for. Of all the councillor candidates I only know one personally - Brad Chambers who I curl with. The rest are unknown to me. Nor do I have much in the way of ideas what they want to do if they get elected to council. Unlike the recently wrapped up St. John's elections, there are no signs scattered all over the place letting you know who is running. Go here if you want to find the list of names.

Some do have posters stuck up in the usual spots - NorthMart, Arctic Ventures and the Post Office. Some do try to contain information about what they're running for, but call me crazy, but the porch of Arctic Ventures - with Bollywood music blasting to drive away loiters - is not the best place to gather information on municipal candidates. Besides, some of them are so maddeningly vague about what the person wants to do on council that the posters are completely useless.

So I've had a thought, which is always dangerous. I will open up this blog to any Iqaluit municipal candidate who wants to let people know why they're running for council. There are conditions, of course, but I am serious. If you're running, I want to know why I should vote for you.

So what are the rules?
1. Do not post on this thread. Email me at towniebastard (at) gmail (dot) com with your information. I will put up what you send me in a separate blog post.
2. I won't impose a word limit unless what I get is a silly length. If you send me the Illiad then expect to get a polite note back saying can you please trim this.
3. If you want to include a picture, I will run it, but please make it a sensible size. 200k is fine, it doesn't need to be 2 MB.
4. I want specifics in whatever you send. I don't want to read that you're awesome, a good listener and filled with spiffy ideas. Specifics. What do you want to do when you're there. What policies do you want to see brought in. What spending or cuts do you want? What's your opinion on a new swimming/rec facility for the town. That sort of thing.
5. I will not edit or correct spelling or grammar. Whatever you send me goes up as is. If I think something might be libelous, I will bounce it back to you and get you to make changes.
6. Things will go up on a first come basis. Also, I'm not hunting the candidates down. Feel free to tell them about this offer, but I'm not going looking for them for their platforms. So no one come whining to me that they didn't get a chance to put their views up here.
7. I don't believe blogger has the ability to post Inuktitut syllabics, although I stand to be corrected on that. So all posts have to be in English. Sorry about that.

And what are the rules for commenting? I have little patience with anonymous and abusive comments. Remember, I control what gets posted so if you try and put up an anonymous slag of a candidate that I feel is unfair, it will never see the light of day. So play nice. Ask questions and the candidates should feel free to respond. But if you're an asshole, you get cut off. Clear?

I'm very serious about this. If you live in Iqaluit and know the candidates, pass this on to them. I got 7,000 unique visitors to the blog last month and a decent amount coming visiting from Iqaluit. So you never know who you might reach.

Tell me why I should vote for you. Go.

Last Five
1. Living in a fog - Wonderful Grand Band*
2. Black helicopters (live) - Matthew Good
3. Stinging velvet - Neko Case
4. Mister Wrong - Lloyd Cole
5. Last of the American girls - Green Day

Friday, October 09, 2009

Oh Marge...

Thank you, internet. I hadn't my moment of truly being disturbed today when you manned up and delivered.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Marge Simpson Playboy cover.

You're welcome.

Go here if you want to read more, including a disturbing "carpet matching drapes" line that I could have done with not reading today. This, coupled with the disturbing story my "friend" Sara sent me yesterday about Levi Johnston appearing nude (subject of one my all-time most popular posts on this blog) in Playgirl and I'm about ready to give up on the idea of nudity.

Last Five
1. Favourite (live) - Neko Case*
2. Hollis and Morris - The Trews
3. Hell and toe polka/Paddy's jig - Figgy Duff
4. Twilight omens - Franz Ferdinand
5. They never got you - Spoon

Noble effort

So when I groggily sat in front of my laptop this morning to check out what had happened in the world since I was last awake I got a shot of bracing cold water to the face by discovering President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I think my reaction was probably shared by many in the world when I went, "What the fuck?"

Don't get me wrong, I'm a tremendous admirer of the man and I think he's done remarkable work in adverse times and faced with an opposition that appears to have only the most tenuous grasp on sanity. And yes, he's done good work this year on the international front. The rest of the world is at least looking at the United States in a more positive way. But was he really deserving of the prize so early in his presidency?

Other than thinking the committee was clearly trying to kill Dick Chaney by giving him a stroke, it didn't make sense to me.

That's why Andrew Sullivan is indispensable when it comes to events like this. It's not just what he writes on "The Daily Dish", but also all the links he provides to what other people are thinking from all parts of the spectrum. And not just from the Left and the Right, but also from the Sane and those whose sanity has departed for areas unknown.

Yes, shock seems to be the common thread. The one comment I liked was that you don't put the Rookie of the Year in the Hall of Fame. And it's a valid point. It's a really good start, but he's been in office for nine months. There's a whole lot of time for the wheels to fall off this thing. Many people suggested he should refuse to accept the award.

I've always liked it when the award has gone to people I've never heard of before. It brings awareness to different causes and to the people who often work tirelessly and with little thanks for trying to change the world. I'd never heard of Muhammad Yunus and Bangladesh's Grameen Bank before, but when I read about their micro credit plans for helping people in poverty I was fascinated. Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines were other groups I liked seeing get more recognition.

But I think I get this, to some extent. Europeans often don't really seem to understand the United States the same way Canadians do. And certainly President Obama is beloved over there a lot more than he is in the US these days. So it's tempting to say they just don't get it and made a massive mistake. But even so, I think there is a method to the madness. The Peace Prize isn't just an award for good works. It's a political award. It's a weapon, ironically enough, of sorts. And this is recognizing what he's done is promising, but that he better live up to that promise.

There's pressure on President Obama now to fulfill the faith of the Nobel Committee, and all the people who have invested so much in him to make the world a better place. It's an interesting spot they've put him in. He's won the Nobel Peace Prize - now he has to earn it. Nothing like putting a little more pressure on the man.

Last Five
1. If I'd been the one - 38 Special*
2. Sit down by the fire - The Pogues
3. Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
4. Second hand news - Fleetwood Mac
5. Run devil run - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sexy Eskimo

So Cathy and I have been doing some Hallowe'en costume shopping. It falls on a Saturday this year, so it's not like Cathy will be wearing it to work, nor at this time do I have work to wear it to. However, it's possible that someone might invite us out to a Hallowe'en costume party (hint, hint) so it would be nice to have something to wear.

The site we've like the best so far, and will likely be ordering from, is Buy Costume (although the extra shipping fee for the North and customs fees made us seriously reconsider), even though they worry me by using UPS as their shipping agent. However, when Cathy was kicking around the site, and grumbling about the lack of non-slut costumes available, she noticed this gem. It's the "Eskimo Sexy Cutie Adult Costume." This is what it looks like.

It gets better. Here's the description:
She's a super hot Eskimo that will melt the snow that she walks on.

Your favorite igloo-dwelling ingénue makes cold winter nights a whole lot warmer in this zip front, brown, crushed velvet dress with white faux fur trim and pom pom ties. The Eskimo Cutie costume also includes white mittens, faux fur-trimmed boot tops, and a chocolate popsicle prop. When those first flakes begin to fall, find a frosty friend to cuddle up to and show them what "Eskimo Kisses" are all about.

Note the fake fudge stick. Oddly, it might be the most authentic thing about the costume, given the amount of ice cream eaten up here. Also, faux fur is very important for your environmentally and socially aware faux Eskimo.

Well, if not that one, then there's always the "Eskimo Kisses Adult Costume" which is much more subtle.

And again, the description:
Can you keep her warm during the cold nights?

All she's looking for are some big strong arms to keep her nights a little warmer this winter! The Eskimo Kisses Adult Costume includes a tan hooded fur-trimmed mini-dress with attached fur-trimmed hood and fur-trimmed tan boot tops.


I honestly don't know where to go with this. I am a rare loss for words. I knew I had to blog about it because as someone who lives up North, this kind of costume just kind of throws you for a minute. I'd actually love to see someone buy this costume and wear it just as it's shown in the pictures around Iqaluit, telling everyone what they're supposed to be, just to see the reaction. I think it would be priceless.

As for Cathy and I, well, we're going with something a bit....different than that. As for what, invite us to something and we'll see.

(Yes, I am the king of subtle. Sue me)

Last Five
1. Hundred - The Fray
2. Slip slidin' away - Paul Simon
3. Won't get fooled again - The Who
4. Hey Jude - The Beatles
5. Diamonds and pearls - Prince

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Psycho ex-provinces

I'm sure every province and territory thinks they have the most insane politicians or the most baffling political happenings. And who knows, they're probably right. I can't honestly say I've followed the politics of, say, Saskatchewan or the Yukon all that closely, so perhaps there's craziness happening there. And hell, what happens in Ottawa probably has them all beat.

But ah Newfoundland (and Labrador). There will always be a special place in my heart for you. You're like a psycho ex-girlfriend who keeps stalking me.

Yes, Trevor Taylor quitting a couple of weeks back was a touch on the strange side, but all right. Politicians quitting in the face of protest from constituents who also happen to be friends and family, not unheard of. Then we have municipal election in which a mayor in Paradise was decided by drawing a name out of a recycling bin. All right, that happens - well, perhaps not the recycling bin, but a tie that requires random chance. Oh, and I'm pleased to see Wiseman is remaining classy in victory.

Then we have Randy Simms, VOCM radio personality and mayor of Mount Pearl, who decided to console someone who has to deal with a town council filled mostly with women by making the following joke:
“There are two men and five women. Oh, my son you have my sympathy (laughter). You and Gary are not going to get your way on anything, you know that don’t you (laughter). It’s just going to be like being at home, buddy (laughter). We’re being nasty to your lady councillors aren’t we (laughter). No, you’re going to have a good crew out there.”

Yes, it's a joke. Yes, you need to a bit touched not to see that it was meant as a joke. But then again, you'd have to be a bit touched not to realize that was going to needlessly pop a few people's blood pressure by several points.

Then again, I'm the wrong one to comment on this, I suspect, because:
A. I hate VOCM.
B. I hate Open Line radio shows, but especially the ones on VOCM.
C. I think it's inappropriate for the mayor for a major "city" to have an open line radio show.

And finally, today saw Paul Oram depart from the Health portfolio with all the grace of a moose being hit by a transport truck in Terra Nova National Park. Health and family were the old fall backs, although as Ed noted, reporters call shenanigans on them being blamed. It's not like Williams and his caucus aren't real bastards when faced with public criticism, so don't expect to much sympathy from anyone over that one. There's also been past president for a minister to take leave if he's having health problems.

There is the strong whiff of bullshit around this one, absolutely.

Oh, and once again, the smartest person in Williams' caucus appears certain not to make cabinet again as Elizabeth Marshall remains mired in the backbenches, while the premier digs deeper and deeper into an ever dwindling talent pool to find a cabinet minister.

It just goes to show what a classy woman she is. Because honestly, anyone taking this much shit over speaking her mind and standing her ground, as she did back in '04, should either quit or walk across the floor. And no one, no one would blame her except for Williams and his psycho cult inner circle.

If Marshall took over the Liberal Party...I'm not saying she's the next premier or anything, but Williams doesn't win 44 seats in the next election. Not even close.

It took the Liberals about nine years to start smelling quite this bad last time they were in power. Nice to see the Conservatives are ahead of the curve.

Last Five
Songs from Vancouver by Matthew Good