Sunday, February 28, 2010

Good night, Olympics

Thank God the men's hockey team won gold today. However, I say this for purely selfish reasons. Back when Canada lost to the US during round robin play, I said I despaired for all the navel gazing, having to redefine our place in the world angst that was going to happen over the next few days. And God, was it ever tedious. Granted, I'm not the biggest hockey fan in the world, but still. Day after day of it. I was beginning to dread trying to find some actual news, because there was so much of this crap to slog through.

When they nearly lost to Slovenia I believe I made a quip about thank god they won, because mass suicides are so messy to clean up. And honestly, if they had lost that game to the US in overtime, I think I might have bought a ticket this evening and headed to the Caribbean for tomorrow. Anywhere warm where hockey was the last think on most people's minds. Because the next few weeks would have been absolutely unbearable.

However, the forces of good and right won, our national identity as the world's supreme hockey power has been reconfirmed so all is right in the universe. And hey, setting a record for gold medals is pretty nice as well. I'm glad to see that after all the angst of the first week when expectations weren't being met. I think 26 medals and 14 gold is a pretty successful Olympics. Congrats to everyone who took part.

Having said that, I'm obviously skipping the closing ceremonies this evening. I'm just...done. I was probably done a few days ago, but manage to find a second wind once the medals start rolling in.

However, I'm all Olympiced out now. For one thing, I want to watch my shows again. I want to see some new episodes of House, Castle, Chuck and, of course, Republic of Doyle. If nothing else, I miss the massive traffic spikes Doyle gives me every week. But yeah, I want to see some TV shows again. Shallow, but there you go.

Anyway, there were hiccups, but overall a pretty good Olympics. Now, all we need to do is cope with the massive patriotic hangover that's going to happen over the next few days and get back to reality. That's going to be some harsh medicine.

Still, we're Canadians. We'll deal.

Although someone just popped up on my Twitter feed, screaming that Nickelback is playing at the closing ceremonies. I don't have the heart to check to confirm that. Maybe it's a good thing things are over now. Once Nickelback is involved, you know the sucking has officially begun. Or, as someone else just said on Twitter, it's like playing crap music at the end of the night when the bar is closing to get everyone to go home.

And giant inflatable beavers? Christ, I need to turn off Twitter and get out of here. You know it's bad when hearing about what's happening on Twitter is scaring me. Good night all...

Last Five
1. Money city maniacs - Sloan
2. Reason for our love - Ron Sexsmith
3. Statues - Foo Fighters
4. Bones - The Killers
5. Miami - U2

Saturday, February 27, 2010

We're really going to begrudge them a beer?

So Melodie asked me in the comments section of the last post what I think of the minor controversy over the "behaviour" of the Canadian Women's Hockey team after winning the gold medal. An hour or so after the game was over, and after all the fans were cleared from the arena, the team decided to take their celebration back out on the ice, drinking beer and champagne and smoking a few cigars. Pictures were taken and circulated of them celebrating, including Marie-Philip Poulin, who is a 18, shown with a can of beer in her hands. This has, bizarrely, upset some people and the apologies have been flying fast and furious.

I have absolutely no idea why. The level of hypocrisy surrounding this story kind of floors my brain. If the men's hockey team does this on Sunday, nobody will say boo about it. Jon Montgomery produced what is one of my favourite moments of this Olympics so far, and Stephen Brunt agrees with me when after winning the gold medal in Skeleton he walked around drinking a pitcher of beer that someone had gave him. I laughed when I saw that. I don't really drink, but by God if I had just won and Olympic gold medal and someone handed me a pitcher of beer, I would drink it with joy.

For God's sake, they've just won an Olympic Gold Medal. Let them live. Let them celebrate. They've just accomplished something remarkable. They are living the first line of their obituary. And the last time I checked, they weren't skating around in a nun's habit with the Canadian flag pasted on it. "Oh my God, women are drinking and smoking! Horrors!" I know women who could drink men twice their size under the table. They among my best friends and some of the coolest people I know.

Give me a break. They're human. Do I care if they drink in the middle of a mostly empty hockey arena? I do not. Should anyone care if they do? They should not. And as for Poulin, she's legal to drink in Quebec where she lives, and in Alberta where she trains. So in her preparations to win a gold medal, and in her excitement over winning one, she forgot to check the drinking age in BC. And people are making a big deal of that. Wow.

Also, and I'm curious to see this. If you never had a drink before you reached the legal drinking age, post here. I don't expect I'm going to get many responses.

Will anyone, anywhere, care about this in a week's time or remember it in a few months time? They absolutely should not. And anyone who thinks that this diminishes them as role models is insane. If anything, this makes them better ones. Because not only did they work hard and accomplish something remarkable, they remembered to enjoy it and celebrate it, which is just as important. Should they have done it in the locker room instead of out in the arena? Who care. Nobody was supposed to be there. They didn't do it in front of thousands of fans. They didn't strip naked and run around the arena.

They celebrated. The day we have a problem with our athletes celebrating something remarkable after years of pains, sweat and sacrifice with something so simply as a beer and a cigar, then, I don't know. Perhaps removing the collective sticks from our asses might be a start.

Last Five
1. The mistress - Amelia Curran
2. The fly - U2
3. Bad kids - Black Lips
4. I can't be wrong - Sean Panting
5. Beautiful one - Sean Panting*

Friday, February 26, 2010


sigh....well, that was a choke, no two ways about it. You have a chance to win it in the 10th and a chance to win it in the 11th and you don't deliver. And both of them were very doable shots. Maybe not a walk in the park, but still quite makeable. It really is too bad. She had a great week and Sweden just looked beat in the 10th end. They were just playing out a string.


Pity. I was thinking of doing a lengthier post on a new word I discovered today courtesy of an ESPN columnist. Of course, I can't find the column or the story right now, but the word is Culgar, which is a combination on Curler and Cougar. The columnist was commenting on the number of attractive women in women's curling and seemed particularly smitten with Cheryl Bernard. Perhaps not quite so smitten now.

God, I'm supposed to go out tomorrow night and watch the men's final at a friend's house. I'm actually feeling a little emotionally drained after that final. I'll manage, but if Saturday's game is like this one I'm going to be a wreck on Sunday.


The only other thing I can think of today was my reaction to this story about Premier Danny Williams making an appearance at the Winter Olympics. He also made the following quip - “If I collapse up here, please drag me to Seattle – because the Canadian Medical Association won’t have anything to do with me.”

Now, I guess it depends on where you fall on the political spectrum and your sense of humour. Some certainly might find that funny. My initial reaction when reading that was, "Christ, what a dick."

Seriously, it was a dick thing to say. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of humour and I can appreciate trying to use a joke or a wisecrack to defuse an awkward situation, but that just tweaked me the wrong way. That was a huge, pointless shitstorm he's kicked up the past month and then to come out and make that quip?

Nah, I don't think so, Mr. Premier. I might not be looking for or expecting tears and rending of garments, but dickish jokes shouldn't be on the agenda either.

Last Five
1. Cloud on my tongue (live) - Tori Amos
2. Bang your drum - Wolf Parade
3. Baby you're a rich man - The Beatles
4. Dark river - Ron Hynes
5. Saturday nights - Kaiser Chiefs

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Off the deep end...again

Seriously guys, if you don't read Geoff Meeker's blog, then I just don't know what to do with you. He's also been on a serious roll the last few days and this post has been getting some national attention. Basically it's describing how Premier Williams and his staff are, once again, blackballing the CBC because a guest on a panel mentioned that the premier is divorced.

This is not exactly earth-shattering news in the province. Hell, I was going to do a blog post on it a couple of years ago, but ran the idea past a few friends of mine in the NL blogging community. Every one of them said it was a bad idea, that things were still too raw, that there was too much malicious gossip kicking around over what was happening and it was simply best to avoid those waters.

Remembering what happened with things started going weird in Brian Tobin's marriage, I heeded their advice and steered clear of the subject. I thought then it was fair game. He's a public figure. Just about anywhere else in the world the leader of a province/state/country divorcing from his wife is a story. In Newfoundland and Labrador? Not so much.

I don't understand what the big deal is, really. My parents are divorced. Best thing that ever happened to them. They're still great friends. I believe the stats saying something like 40 per cent of all Canadian marriages end in divorce. It sucks. It happens. However, this isn't the 1920s where it was scandalous. Every single one of us has multiple family and friends whose marriages have failed.

However, the premier has to make this a big deal. The CBC has dared, years after the event happened and that it's common knowledge in the province, to speak of it. And for that they get their access cut off to the premier.

For fuck's sake.

I'm pissed that this is something like the 100th time the premier had decided that he has been so massively publicly slammed that clearly he must thermo nuke a media outlet. For that matter I'm pissed that more local media don't stand up and tell him to, cordially, pretty please with sugar on top, go fuck yourself Mr. Premier.

Craig Westcott, as he so often is, hit one point right on the nose....Christ I miss Michael Harris. He would not have let this shit stand.

And yes, I'm cursing a bit in this post. And yes, I know this upsets some people, but the premier just frustrates the hell out of me sometimes. How he handled the issue with his heart and now this. For such a smart man his ability to just go crazy over silly crap is unsurpassed.

And yes, I said I would stop banging my head against the wall. But I guess the wall just looked to alluring this evening.

Last Five
1. The escapist - Coldplay
2. Strange love - Slim Harpo
3. Lost tonight - Liz Phair
4. This land is mine - Dido
5. We can work it out - The Beatles*

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The dangers of commenting

Weird, a little post written almost as an afterthought last night and I get eight comments, including some pissed with me for giving ice dance a hard time. Which is fine...I stand by my comments, but obviously I expect there is a healthy number of people out there who disagree with me. And hey, I'm not a complete idiot. I know many people have problems with curling.

However, one of the interesting comments came from Bruce, who rightly pointed out the growing disconnect happening between me and Newfoundland politics. I knew it was going to happen when I first moved up here and I suspect it's only going to continue over the coming years. It's not a bad thing, really. It's like I was banging my head against a wall for a couple of decades. Why do you do that? Because it feels so good when you stop. And really, having wanted to strangle every premier since Peckford with my bare hands at some point, it's probably a good thing to stop because there was always the risk I might actually try it at some point. Although I can't resist the urge to go back every now and then to hit my head a few more times, closet masochist that I am.

(This is the pause for a friend to come and point out that I am far from in the closet on that).

Anyway, Bruce suggested I tackle a few issues in Nunavut. You know, low key stuff like the environment, entrepreneurship, race relations and booze. Just as a change of pace to liven things up.

I do appreciate the suggestion but, um, no.

This isn't a spur of the moment decision. There is logic here. I have two very specific reasons why.

1. An interesting comment flashed across my Twitter feed the other day...and it basically said something like this: "I enjoy how living in the arctic for only a couple of years means you can now write the 'definite' book about the north."

Which is how I kind of feel about commenting on hot button issues of the north. I haven't been here five years yet and there are still a lot of things about Nunavut that I don't understand or that I can speak with intelligence on. And really, the world has enough opinionated assholes who don't know what they're talking about. I try very hard not to add to the mix, although I know I don't always succeed.

I just don't know about some of those issues...if Jim Bell wants to speak about them, hell, he has the right to. He's lived here for decades, has been immersed in local issues and can speak intelligently on them. I don't think at this point in my northern experience I can, so I'm very reluctant to do so.

2. It's also different discussing controversial issues up here. If you blog about something in Toronto, or even Newfoundland, then you can still do it and preserve a degree of anonymity. That's not really the case in Nunavut. You start heavily criticizing the way things are done in Nunavut, people will pay attention.

Which is fine, lovely and grand if you're a reporter. Or if you have a super understanding and supportive boss. Or if you're an MLA. However, if you're a government employee, or working for a company that does a lot of business with the government, well, then you might have some issues. I've written many times before that Nunavut bloggers have gotten in trouble with their bosses for things they've put on their blogs. I can think of at least four cases of that happening.

Is that right? Perhaps not. However, as I have no desire to become a martyr to this blog just to prove a point.

So, for now, the blog will stumble a little bit. This is the 1,600 post on the blog. This isn't the first dry spell I've had, nor will it be the last. But thanks for the suggestions. They are always welcome, even if I don't always heed the advice.

Last Five
1. Romeo and Juliet (live) - Dire Straits*
2. End of the innocence - Don Henley
3. Yesterday - The Beatles
4. Make it rain (live) - Tom Waits
5. Reason to believe (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Low on fuel

So yeah, the dry streak continues on the blogging parts. No idea why, really. Just finding getting motivated or finding sources of inspiration a touch challenging. And most of the stuff out there is kind of blah.

Could I get wrapped up in the ongoing insanity over Danny Williams heart, but honestly, that way lies madness and deeply, deeply batshit insane people. I honestly don't know how I feel about all of it, because the whole issue is so clouded with crazies.

Also, not a big surprise that he's sticking around. You don't announce you're quitting politics or setting a deadline for your retirement from a condo in Florida on the NTV Evening News.

I could say that I apparently don't know what gold medal winning ice dance routine looks like. And I'm all right with that because, as I've said before, it shouldn't be an Olympic sport. Good on Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for winning a gold and all. And hey, bonus points for cranky, poor loser Europeans griping about it.

Still though, not a sport. Kind of hard to get my "Go Canada Go" up for it.

And that's it. That's all that's caught my eye in the past 24 hours. Man, I'm going to be putting out a suggestion box pretty soon. Things are starting to get a bit desperate.

Anyway, tomorrow is a better day, hopefully.

Last Five
1. Only mama knows - Paul McCartney
2. Baby's in black - The Beatles
3. The fish and the bird - Mark Knopfler
4. Don't wake daddy (live) - The Tragically Hip
5. Heaven can wait - Meatloaf

Monday, February 22, 2010

Curling etiquette

So the grand controversy at the curling arena this week is the amount of noise happening in the place. At least one skip blamed the noise for distracting her when she was getting ready to make her shot, which she then proceeded to miss and cost her the game.

Curling is kind of like golf with that etiquette. Noise is good. However, noise when a player is making a shot, especially noise designed to deliberately screw up the player when they're trying to make the shot is frowned upon.

I've been going back and forth on this for a couple of days now, trying to figure out what I think of it all. The commentators for the curling basically said that the players should toughen up and deal with it. That most of them are thrilled with the crowd response, especially given the size of the crowds they normally curl in front of. Which is to say when the Olympics were in Italy back in 2006 they would be curling in front of dozens of people, as opposed to 6,000 crazed maniacs.

Still, I think there's a fine line between being enthusiastic and being obnoxious. Cheering for your team is one thing, deliberately making noise to try and screw up the other players is something else. And I'll forgive so much because there are a lot of people at the games who have never attended a curling game before, so they don't know the etiquette. And God knows I loved the singing of the national anthem during the Canada vs. Great Britain game the other night.

I don't know, I just wish we were a little better than that. You can rant and roar and cheer without being jackasses. There's a thin line between cheering for your team and just being obnoxious and I think we crossed that line a few too many times in the last few days. I don't mind the noise, but I do mind deliberately trying to distract players. That's just bad sportsmanship.

But, you know, other than that, it's been a fun week of curling. I still can't really find it in my heart to cheer for Kevin Martin, although I have to admit he's curling very well. I'm glad to see Norway doing so well. Those are magic pants, my friends. And it's always nice to see new people discover the sport. Of course, that also brings out the people who mock the sport a bit. Some of it is pretty harmless and meant in good fun, like the Simpsons episode the other week and Misery Loves Sherman, one of my favourite web comics.

Of course, there have also been some pretty negative comments as well, ones that have gotten me a touch annoyed. I had to resist the urge to start yelling at someone on a friend's Facebook page the other day. I'm very protective of my sport, apparently. I just resist the urge to be stupid about it. After all, I was the one mocking some people on Twitter and Facebook last night for losing their collective minds when Canada lost to the US in hockey.

At least the curling has been good. This has been a bit of a letdown of an Olympics. And I'm not talking just about the medal count. I honestly do try and not fixate on that too much. But this just feels like a disappointing Olympics. Between the weather problems, the security issues (both lax and overbearing, if possible). Even CTV's coverage hasn't been doing that much for me. I wish the CBC were doing it again.

I guess it's hard to live up to the months of hype, but I keep thinking it'll be nice next week when regular programing resumes. It's been fine and all, but I think I'm about done now.

Note: I nearly forgot this. A cute little quiz via Mental Floss, one of my favourite magazines. Can you tell the difference between a curling term and a Quidditich term. By the way, not as easy as you might think. I only got nine out of 11 and I had to guess a few times. Feel free to post up your score in the comments section.

Note 2: Pay no mind to this...I've signed up for something and they need this code in a blog post to verify it's actually my blog. EAVB_QTPRUADCUJ

Last Five
1. Dance hall days - Wang Chung
2. Babooshka - Kate Bush
3. River blue - Oh Susanna*
4. Walk away - Tom Waits
5. Fel like myself - Brendan Benson

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pathological Lovers

Once again, I'm pilfering from a Newfoundland blog, but this might be something that fans of The Republic of Doyle might like. This is a music video for a Newfoundland band called the Pathological Lovers, featuring local music legend Jody Richardson. The song is called "Best Served."

Now, it's not a bad song at all. And I'll give full props to Jordan Canning, who put together one of the best looking, and most fun, local music videos I've seen in quite some time. So click on it and take a look.

But what's the Republic of Doyle connection? Well, you may notice that Krystin Pellerin has a role in the video. It's a bit different than her role as the Constable on the show, but it's still kind of fun.

Anyway, take a look at the video. Oh, and I just remembered, this is one of the CDs I bought over Christmas when I was in St. John's. I'm still listening to it, but it seems pretty good. Worth a listen, at the very least.

Last Five
1. Mutiny, I promise you - The New Pornographers
2. Under African skies - Paul Simon
3. Hello time bomb - Matthew Good Band*
4. Mad world, outlive me - Amelia Curran
5. The company store - Amelia Curran

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I'm not sure if these go into my all time sunset collection or not. However, I couldn't help but notice there was a pretty nice sunset developing today. That, combined with the fog lingering over the sea ice, made for some nice visuals. Alas, I couldn't get the right angles just from my living room, which meant going across the street and standing between a couple of houses to get the right shot.

It's not a big deal, I just got spoiled with the other place over all the astonishing sunset shots I could get from my window. On the other hand, at least I don't have as many bloody telephone wires in the way with these pictures.

And while I was getting pictures, I couldn't help but notice one of my neighbours had something interesting hanging out to dry off the side of his house.

Yeah, that's a polar bear hide. I'm tempted to go over and knock and ask how much he wants for it.

And just because, here's a picture again of the homestead. As you can tell, we have quite a bit of driveway to keep clean. The left side is for the water truck, the middle for our truck and the right side for the sewage truck. I know it doesn't seem like an epic level of snow, but it is a lot for us. Plus, we're deeply out of practice when it comes to shovelling.

Last Five
1. Get back - The Beatles
2. The groom's still waiting at the altar - Bob Dylan
3. Thousands are sailing - The Pogues
4. Firewalker - Liz Phair
5. Why do I keep counting - The Killers*

Friday, February 19, 2010


Environment Canada is telling me right now that it's -5C outside. Big fluffy snow flakes have been falling for the better part of two days, and there was a while there this afternoon, when trying to navigate through a thick fog that had descended down upon the city where I'm pretty sure I felt some light drizzle.

Now, if I was still living in St. John's, this weather in February would not be at all unusual. It's a maritime climate. It's a crap shoot most winters if you're going to get 400cm of snow or none at all. And that's all part of life in St. John's.

However, in Iqaluit, in February, this is not supposed to be happening. This is one of the deep freeze months. We're not supposed to get much in the way of snow and if the temperate is warmer than -30C you're having a pretty good day. So this is deeply, deeply weird time in town.

The kids seem to love it. The dog definitely loves it. And I guess as a new homeowner paying for oil, I guess I can handle it even though it means a lot more shovelling of snow. Still, it's weird. I've never seen this much snow around town. I also wonder what it means for the rest of the winter. It's been mild as often as it has been bitter cold. Does that mean spring and summer will come earlier this year? Will the ice in the bay break-up earlier? And, for that matter, what impact, if any, will this have on local hunters?

It's a strange winter so far, the strangest I've seen since we moved up here. It already almost feels like the worst of it is over. The forecast for the next several days are still well above normal, the days are staying brighter for longer and in less than a month we're back on daylight savings time.

I'm not saying there won't be harsh days still to come, but I really do think the coldest part is over, which is a strange thing to think in February. Trust me.

Last Five (four of those five songs are too awesome for me to pick just one. Sorry)
1. Steady, as she goes - The Raconteurs
2. Jesus he knows me - Genesis
3. Mohammed's radio - Warren Zevon
4. 99% of us are failure - Matthew Good
5. Set out running - Neko Case

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lightfoot and Ebert

So for awhile there this afternoon, Gordon Lightfoot was dead. Fortunately, he got better.

For the record, he was never dead, however the rumour managed to get going pretty hot and heavy on Twitter this afternoon. I like Twitter more than I thought I would, but lord knows it's entirely too easy for false information to spread like wildlife through the service. The Globe and Mail has a story about it here, and are taking quite the bit of glee at pointing out the newspapers who ran the rumour he was dead without, you know, actually confirming with someone who might know.

I think the best comment I heard on the whole thing was some media outlet saying that it was a malicious Twitter prank and someone responding, "is that code word for really sloppy reporting?" And really, it was pretty sloppy reporting. Hopefully some people learned a lesson today.

Still, I'm glad that Gordon isn't dead and is taking it with a good sense of humour. Oh, you can also go here where this guy is trying to trace where the rumour came from. Apparently that rumour pissed off a few people and they want a pint of blood for it. Not that I will feel sorry if they find out who did it. They're a dick, whoever they are.

Oh, and while this is only tangently related, please go and read Chris Jones touching and wonderful piece on Roger Ebert in this month's Esquire. Like many people I was shocked by just how much his physical appearance has changed in the last couple of years. I knew he'd lost his voice and that he lost his jaw, but still...

It's a great piece of profile writing about a man who means quite a bit to me. My love of Roger Ebert's writing is well known to anyone who has been a longtime reader of this blog. I was thinking today, when considering how best to put together this blog post, that Ebert was one of the first people I'd ever seen who loved his job. When I first saw Siskel and Ebert arguing over movie, I was fascinated by it. But it occurs to me that they were some of the first people I can ever think of that it was so obvious how much they loved their jobs. And they had cool jobs...they got to go to movies and write about how much they loved or hated them.

I still think it's one of the best jobs in the world.

Anyway, I was concerned by one part of Jones' piece, where he hinted that Ebert might not be long for the world. Fortunately, Ebert said that's not the case on his blog. I'm glad to hear that. A world where I can't go to Roger's website on a Friday morning and read his take on the latest movies will be a much sadder place for me.

Oh, and in the interest of fair disclosure, I was thinking about doing this piece the other day, but held off for some reason. So naturally John Gushue wrote something about it this morning. I should have known...John is a master at finding things happening online, not to mention all those great quotes. Still, I promise, I did have the idea for it a day or so ago. John just beat me to the punch. As usual.

Last Five
1. Don't let's start - They Might Be Giants
2. Fire door (live) - Ani DiFranco
3. Please just take these photos from my hands - Snow Patrol
4. Make you feel my love - Bob Dylan*
5. Mother's little helper - Rolling Stones

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No judging at the Olympics

I figure with the Winter Olympics on again it's worth bringing up a long standing point of mine. And it is this - if you require judges to tell if you've won, it's not a real Olympic sport.

I'm all right with referees. If you need them for sports like hockey, to help enforce the rules and make sure people don't cheat, then that's fine. But with sports like figure skating...I call shenanigans. I'm not saying what they do is easy or that I could hop on a pair of skates and then spin in mid-air four times. Of course I couldn't. It's hard, it requires skills and athleticism. However, at the end of the day, you still have a bunch of people telling you how you've done.

And no system is fool-proof. There's always room for human error or bias. So while I'm pleased and happy for Alexandre Bilodeau for winning Canada's first gold medal on home soil, moguls is still a flawed winter Olympic sport for me. If it was simply about getting down the hill as quickly as possible, I could be all about that. However, once you toss in the two jumps for judging, plus the whole "watching their knees to make sure they don't come apart" thing, then no. Sorry. Shouldn't be an Olympic sport.

But Maelle Ricker's snowboard cross gold medal, sure. That was one competitor against three others. Speed skating, that's you against a competitor and the clock. I'm all for that. Luge, bobsled, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, curling, hockey and sports like that...they can be Olympic sports.

Half pipe? Not so much.

People tend to get upset when I make this argument, mentioning that no one really cares about things like bobsled except at the Winter Olympics, but they do care about figure skating every time it comes on. And I understand that. However, I see figure skating as fundamentally flawed. To many judging scandals for me to take it seriously. It's a step up from professional wrestling for me. However, you don't hear of many bobsled scandals.

I realize the notion of "purity" in the Winter Olympics is laughable, given the amount of drug enhancement that goes on, and that's before you get to the staggering volume of commercialization going on.

But it's one little thing I'd like to see. Never happen, of course. They'll never give up figure skating in a million years. But that's my take on it. Give me a sport where it's you against another person, team or a clock and you have my attention. Give me a sport where five anonymous people have to tell me who is best, and I'm flipping the channel.

Last Five
1. Last night on Earth - U2
2. Eleanor Rigby/Julia - The Beatles
3. Tell yer mama - Norah Jones
4. No stillness and no rain - Hawksley Workman
5. Live circus (live) - Tom Waits*

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday and I got nothing

Another quiet day here at the homestead. Honestly, I know the blog has been suffering a bit for lack of interesting subject matter, but these things happen. The blog goes through ups and downs as the year goes on and right now we're in a bit of a lull.

I mean, today was work, then supper (Cathy is catholic, so naturally we had pancakes today) I went to curling and then I came home to see Cathy watching the Westminister Dog Show. It makes Cathy very, very happy. I'd say it was like doggie porn, but really, that has certain negative conotations. Also, I'm now quite afraid of what kind of search engine results I'm going to get having put that phrase in the blog.

However, Cathy loves the show. It gives us a chance to look at a bunch of dogs and argue whether or not we would want to own one of those or not. Honestly, we'd own a half dozen dogs if we could. We may well at some point.

On an unrelated matter I find myself a touch torn at the curling at the Olympics. See, I know I'm supposed to cheer for Canada, but I hate Kevin Martin. So I actually found myself rooting for Norway a couple of times today when I checked in on the game. Besides, any team that would wear pants like the ones the Norwegian men's team were wearing today, well, you almost have to cheer for them a bit. Any team wearing those pants and thinking it was a good must be a bit touched in the heads.

By the way, cheering for them or not, I still don't think Martin is going to win. Call it a hunch. But we shall see.

Anyway, back tomorrow with hopefully a more coherent post

Last Five
1. The battle for straight times - A.C. Newman
2. Shine a light - Wolf Parade
3. Song for Myla Goldberg - The Decemberists
4. Witch's wand - Sloan
5. Superstition - Estelle

Monday, February 15, 2010

Review: "Battlefields"

So with of my favourite night of TV being all repeats because the Winter Olympics are on, I figured I'd sit down and do a quick graphic novel review this evening. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the Olympics quite a bit, however I think I might have reached a saturation point and need to take a step back.

So what's this evening's graphic novel? I'm going with "Battlefields", written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Russ Braun, Peter Snejbjerg and Carlos Ezquerra.

Why this one? Well, out of the lovely stack of books I just got, I recognize most of them would be of little interest to a non-graphic novel reader. The Iron Man book is fun, but if you haven't been following the series, well, you wouldn't know what was going on. And I like the idea of talking about some books that perhaps would interest people who ordinarily not pick up a graphic novel.

And I think "Battlefields" would be the type of book that would appeal to some non-traditional readers. It's a hardcover book that features three stories, all set in World War II.

There was a time when WWII stories were bigger than super hero comics. There were dozens of series following the adventures of GIs during the war. And this was even years after WWII was over, there were still a demand for those comics. However, over the years, those books faded away. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why and I'm not going to get into it now. Let's just say when Ennis writes these stories, he pretty much has the market to himself.

And Ennis has been fascinated by WWII stories. He's done others before this collection with DC Comics and he's done some pretty solid ones. This is a new publisher, but the quality of stories remains pretty high. Ennis has a real habit of digging out a good story and putting a very human feel on it. And unlike the old war comics, he doesn't glorify the war. He shows the horror, the tragedy, the black, black humour that comes with it.

So, the three stories are "The Night Witches." Dear Billy," and "Tankies."

"The Night Witches" is based on a real group of Russian women during the war who were bomber pilots. Women were pretty heavily during the defence of Russia by Germany. They were considered equals, after all. Just less equal than others. So while they were pilots and were expected to lead bombing raids against German positions, they were given much older aircraft. The German's could hear them coming because the planes were so loud, even at night.

So that meant coming up with a new strategy...cutting their engines miles out from the target and gliding in, dropping their bombs in the dark, then turning back on the engine and gunning it before the flack could kill them. If it sounds insane, it's only because you're not Russian.

So Ennis tells the story of a couple of these women pilots and what they have to go through to defend Russia. He also tells the story of a German solider trying to invade Russia and knowing its doomed and having to do terrible things, even though he's basically a good man.

It's as much a history lesson as it is a fascinating story. I never knew of the Night Witches before, so just the history is fascinating to me. But Ennis also tells a good human story as well. But there are times the history, because it is so fascinating, gets in the way of the characters.

The next story is "Dear Billy", which is the story of a nurse who survives Japan capturing Singapore, but not before it essentially destroys her. She lives physically, but mentally is damaged beyond repair by what happens to her. She eventually becomes a nurse in India, meets a British pilot, falls in love, but can't move on.

There is some history in this one, obviously. Japan did conquer Singapore and women were treated horrifically by the Japanese, with rape and murder being the usual consequences. However, this is more than just recounting horror. It really is beautifully written and, given the subject matter, that's no easy feat. You know things are not going to end well, but you still hold out hope. It's probably my favourite of the three, even though it is so sad.

Finally, there is "Tankies." This is a much more straightforward story. Not at all complex or anything. It follows a tank crew which is trying to catch up with its unit. Granted, the unit it's trying to catch up with was blown to hell by vastly superior German tanks and there is every chance the same thing could happen to them. This is as much a brief history of tank warfare in the weeks after D-Day with some interesting characters thrown in as anything else.

The other two stories had a much greater human element in them, which made them more interesting. This one is interesting and has some fun moments, but it's certainly not up to the level of the other two.

Oh, and at the end of the book Ennis gives some of the history and research he did when putting the stories together that's also certainly worth a read.

Garth Ennis really is one of my favourite authors. If I had to pick my favourite authors actively writing comics today (Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman write, but very infrequently), he's probably my second favourite behind Warren Ellis. He has an ability to veer from deeply touching, to moral outrage to completely over the top mentally insane. I like that. I like a guy who can write something that can make me laugh and then two pages later can give me pause. This is a guy who made The Punisher interesting, for God's sake. And that's a pretty simple character. This isn't top of his game stuff, but it's still better than most writers out there are capable of.

I haven't written much about the artists, but then again, I'm the kind of guy who focuses more on writing than art. I like Braun and Ezquerra's art on the first and third stories. They certainly do the job. They're probably a touch closer to realism than Snejbjerg, who has a slightly softer, almost romantic feel to it. Then again, Snejbjerg's softer fell makes the horror when it hits all the more disturbing.

Obviously this book still isn't for everyone. World War II graphic novels might not be everyone's idea of a light read. But I really liked this book. It's probably my favourite of the bunch I just picked up. If you see it, pick it up and give it a look. I think you'll be surprised by it.

Last Five
1. Flaming pie (live) - Paul McCartney
2. Lily of the west - Mark Knopfler and the Chieftains*
3. Gloryland - Blue Vipers of Brooklyn
4. Everybody knows - The Dukhs
5. Your long journey - Robert Plant and Allison Krauss

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Out of sorts

So, not dead, merely out of sorts. I've just had a past few days where there have been a few things going on and trying to sit down and write a coherent post has proved to be a challenge. I was all set to sit and write about the opening ceremonies and first few days or the Winter Olympics, but that really jell properly. I mean, how much more can you say about an Olympics that features a death, a malfunctioning centrepiece, no snow and douchebags rioting? Let's call it an inauspicious start and leave it at that.

But hey, good on Alexandre Bilodeau for winning Canada's first gold medal on home soil. I was living in fear that this was going to be an ongoing thing, so that all the coverage was going to be "when is this going to happen?" At least it's over and done with.

I thought about doing a Valentine's Day post, but really, Cathy's very anti-Valentine's Day. So she got a dozen Gerber daisies, but that was as much a "thank you" for putting up with me during my recent extended bout of unemployment as it was a Valentine's Day gift. Oh, and I baked her chocolate chip cookies Saturday night. Tada! Valentine's Day. We were hoping to buy a mutual gift for the day - Wii Rock Band Beatles - but apparently I would have to break into someone's house who already has it, murder them and then take it for my own. And really, I think I might feel some guilt playing "All you need is love" under those circumstances.

There may be a few posts in the coming days about a lovely stack of graphic novels that I got in the mail last week. Again, a treat for my newly found employed status, I finally broke my six month dry spell with Chapters and Amazon and went whole hog on cleaning out my wish lists. And I going to review all of them? No. Frankly, I suspect most of you will not care about "Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 3: World's Most Wanted, Part 2" (although that is the winner for most contrived title), but there are some of these books, like "Battlefields" and even "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade", that I think might be worth a few words.

So we'll see how it goes...I'm hoping to get back into sorts this week.

Last Five
1. End over end - Foo Fighters
2. Come back - Josh Rouse
3. Pilot - Ron Hynes*
4. Every time we say goodbye - Diana Krall
5. The beekeeper - Tori Amos

Friday, February 12, 2010

Retirement day

Barring any last minute weirdness, today was my father's last day at work. He turned 61 last year and has, for nearly my entire life, worked for Canada Post as a letter carrier, mailman, postman or whatever you want to call him. He's been doing it for 38 years. I'm now 40. So there literally isn't a period in my life where I can't remember him delivering mail.

He's been threatening to do this for years and always manages to find some reason or excuse to delay it. And that's fine. Honestly, he loves his job. For one brief summer around '88 I delivered mail during a postal dispute (he actually got me the job). And during the summer, at least, I can understand the appeal. You walk around, get sunshine, get in shape, meet and chat with people and it's not a stressful job. What's not to like about it.

Except, of course, that working during the summer is one thing, working during the winter months, when the snow drifts are piled up 10 feet high or more, or delivering during a blizzard or when the sleet is coming at your horizontally is another matter altogether.

So for 38 years my dad has done this....and loved it for the most part. I'm surprised he's retiring, to be honest. After so many false starts on retirement, I figured he would keep on going for another few years. He liked the work and, let us be candid a moment, has never turned down a chance of overtime if at all possible. There's a reason for that beyond the fact he likes work. He's been telling everybody he can still change his mind right up until the last day.

So I would not be at all surprised when I talk to him this evening (or the weekend, as I imagine he's out celebrating this evening) to hear that he's changed his mind again. I'm not saying he will. I don't think he will. But I won't be surprised if I find out he has.

I am glad he's retiring because although he hasn't been complaining to me about, I think he has been finding it a bit harder to keep up with the work. He's still probably in better shape than me, but I suspect it does take a bit of a toll. As Indy said, "it's not the years, it's the miles."

I wish he had a better plan on what to do with his retirement. Cathy's dad picked up picture framing and she has uncles who have retired who all have various hobbies or have gone back to work in other fields. Even my mom, if she ever retires, I know will be kept busy doing something. Mom never stops. Ever.

Dad has some vague ideas...he's going to go on vacation with some of the family in a few months time. He's talked about picking up jogging again. Dad was actually quite the runner there for a few years, finishing in the top 25 of the Telly 10, even though he was 50 years old. And he might do this, that or the other thing. I suggested he should take up dog breeding, since he loves dogs so much, however he's not really sold on that idea.

So we'll see what happens. He might be working with Fed Ex in a year's time for something to do for all I know.

But for right now, at 61 and having spent the past 38 years delivering mail in rain, sleet and snow, well, I figure he's do a break.

Happy Retirement, Dad.

Last Five
1. Your heart is an empty room - Death Cab For Cutie*
2. The exact feeling - The Tragically Hip
3. Warning signs - Mark Bragg
4. Soldier in a box - Hot Hot Heat
5. Demon days - Gorillaz

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Doyle follow-up

So, something that I thought of after posting up the review last night that I found interesting. Somewhere between episode five and six of the show Jake and the Constable hook up and have sex. And I couldn't help but think that if Republic of Doyle was an American network show, that never would have happened. Instead, they would have tortured out the sexual chemistry between the two of them, turning it into a "will they or won't they?" that would last a half dozen or more seasons.

It's one of the things that drives me nuts about American network shows. Some of my favourite programs have gone beyond all reason to make sure their two leads never hook up. Chuck has Sara and Chuck. House has Cuddy and House. The worse offended on air right now is probably between Bones and Booth on Bones. It's completely insane they haven't slept together yet.

I fear another of my favourites, Castle might do the same thing. I hope not. They're only 1.5 seasons into the show, so there's still hope.

The problem can all be traced back to a show in the 80s called Moonlighting. If you're under 35, you might not remember it. However, it had Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as co-owners of a detective agency. It was a great show, lots of fun and had great chemistry between the two leads.

The show eventually fell apart and was cancelled. And the reason why people thing it was canned was that in the third season the leads slept with each other. Shortly afterwords the show went off the rails, rating went into freefall and it was cancelled. So the lesson everyone picked up from that was "don't fuck with the sexual chemistry of the leads by having them actually, you know, fuck."

They kind of skip over the part where the writers couldn't produce a script on time to save their lives, thus it was months between shows sometimes. Or that Willis and Shepherd grew to hate each other. Or that Willis became more interested in his music and movie careers than the show. The fact the two leads hooked up in the show didn't destroy the was well on its way to self-destruction before then.

But no, instead we've lived through a generation of writers and show runners who live in fear of the hook-up, figuring they can just keep torturing the script into generating new contrivances to keep the leads apart, rather that doing the hard work of coming up with ideas of how to make the show work, and the chemistry continue, after they have come together.

All of this is a long winded way to say, good on Republic of Doyle and the writers for not doing that. I admire the courage to pick up the gauntlet, have Jake and the Constable sleep together, knowing this is going to make things more complicated and be a bigger writing challenge than just teasing the relationship forever. They still have to pull it off, but I have faith they will make it interesting at least.

Last Five
1. If you knew - Neko Case*
2. Merchants - The Idlers
3. You, me and the bottle makes three - Big Bad Voodoo Daddies
4. Stranger things have happened - Foo Fighters
5. Happiness is a warm gun - The Beatles

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: Republic of Doyle, Ep.6

So, let's get this out of the way right off the top. Easily the best Republic of Doyle so far. And hey, how about that, no Nikki and Tinny on the screen wasting time being annoying. How about that. Coincidence? Probably not.

Hopefully there is a lesson in this for the producers. "Hey, look, I think that was a really good episode. What did we do right in that one?" asks producer #1. "Well, there was good storyline, nice character development and some great quotes. Oh, yeah, and we didn't waste any time on annoying secondary characters. Hmmmmm."

Anyway, enough harping on that. Onwards to the story this week.

Our story open at the Duke where Jake, Walter and Malachy are well in the bag and arguing whether or not an airplane can take off if it's on a conveyor belt going at the same speed in the opposite direction. Because apparently they missed that episode of Mythbusters (it can, if you're wondering.) Then, from across the bar, Jake spots trouble in the form of an ex....Stacy Layton. The one who got away. Oh yes, and the song "Dreamweaver" is playing when we first see her, which might be a bit annoying except for a bit involving a jukebox that makes it funny.

Next thing we know, Stacy is back into Jake's life in a big way. She suspects her new husband Johnny is up to something, maybe even cheating on her. Despite a warning from Malachy to stay away from her ("Remember that time when you were 13 and she broke up with you and you burned down the Gould's Rec Centre?") Jake gets involved with finding out what Johnny is up to. Including meeting with a mysterious blond at a hotel in St. John's.

(Fun fact: That hotel, for years, had the reputation has being a place if you wanted to go and have a quickie during lunch).

However, there's more up with the blond that Jake knows about. But, that doesn't stop him from telling Stacy, or having her sleep over at his house (no sex, alas. Probably tired out from the romp with the Constable earlier, who was suspicious about him helping out an "old friend"). Johnny arrives and confronts Jake and Stacy about what they're up to. And of course, the constable chooses that moment to come and watch the blow-up happening. Johnny and Stacy storm off. And then Johnny apparently manages to kill himself by driving his car off the cliffs in Middle Cove in front of some very stupid and drunk (on a peach cooler) high school kids from PWC. If you're from St. John's, try very hard not to think about how they managed to make that trip or the number of places closer they could have went to drink.

Stacy is the prime suspect and despite being yelled at by the constable to turn her in once he sees her, he doesn't. However, she thoughtfully put a tracking device on Jake's car (does the RNC have the budget for that kind of thing?). So off she goes with the constable, who interrogates her as much about what she was doing with Jake as she does about possibly murdering her husband.

While the ladies are off having fun Stacy's husband shows up and punches Jake a few times (one suspect Jake is as stunned as he is because of post-concussion syndrome from all the blows to the head). Oh yeah, did we mention Stacy's already married to a guy named Frank already? Seems he's a bigshot in the Montreal mob, Johnny was his right hand man. The blond Johnny was meeting was a RCMP officer trying to turn Johnny into ratting out Frank, before he got all stupid and fell in love with Stacy and robbed the guy.

And Johnny is, of course, not really dead, merely faking, trying to throw Frank and the RCMP of his trail. With Johnny still alive, Stacy is set free.

This all leads to a lovely, fun, and completely non-sensical car chase thrown downtown St. John's (seriously, don't try to retrace that route) while Jake tries to help the lovebirds reunite while avoiding Frank and the police. He succeeds at one, not the other and the whole thing ends with Jake in jail facing a murder charge, plus helping a federal fugitive.

This is why reconnecting with ex's are a bad idea. Something Rose might want to keep in mind, when her husband Dominic DaVinci (alright, Nicholas Campbell) gets paroled early and in a quite intimidating fashion lets it be known that he wants his wife back. Seems, ooops, she never got divorced and kind of forgot to mention it to Malachy. He handles it about as well as you might suspect.

Really, a top notch episode. I do enjoy how things are never quite what the seem in terms of the mystery at the start of the show. "Is my husband cheating?" becomes something much more complicated, which is good. There are a few things to quibble with, such as the less-than-awesome special effects involved with having the car go into the ocean and the return of Greg Malone, even if it was only for a few moments. But they are minor things, the rest of episode was great.

I'd be more optimistic that the show was now gunning it in the right direction, but I notice Nikki is back next week, so I'm reserving judgment.

Especially noteworthy were all of the quotes. Holy cow but they knocked them out of the park this evening. I'm hard up to pick a favourite, but I'll put up my top one and Cathy's. See if you can guess who like which one.

"I will come down on you so hard, so fast, it will knock your clocks back a half-hour." - Sgt. Lang of the RCMP

"I brought you a coffee...I’m keepin' the muffin." - The Constable

Runner-up quotes:
"Now that was as good as a concert." - Malachy
"You watch it, Jake, or I'm gonna show you the physics behind a good boot to the arse." - Duke bartender
"Man, I loves a bit o' peach cooler." - Jake
"Back to huffing liquid paper are we?" - Malachy
"I make it a habit of never stealing a young lady's drinking money." - Jake
"Where the hell were you?" "I had to finish my pint." - Jake and Malachy
"For years I thought of you as this one who got away...and I liked it. So I’d like you to stay away." - Jake
"Remember that time when you were 13 and she broke up with you and you burned down the Gould's Rec Centre?" "That was faulty wiring." - Malachy and Jake
"You want to talk about it?" "Maybe when you get out of jail in 10 to 20 years time." - Jake and Malachy

So yeah, not too much to complain about this time. It was a good hour of television. More please...

Last Five
1. Guided by wire - Neko Case*
2. I'll go crazy (if I don't go crazy tonight) - U2
3. Pale slice of moon - Jenny Gear and the Whiskey Kittens
4. In God's country - U2
5. An American draft dodger in Thunder Bay - Sam Roberts

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Pre-Olympic overload

I have a friend in Vancouver whose hatred for the Winter Olympics is so thick and rich I could drizzle it on my pancakes (totally robbed that line from Patton Oswalt, by the way). And I can understand that. The Olympics coming to town is never a straightforward thing and a lot of people, with very just reasons, get very pissed off. Because, let's face it, the people on the Winter Olympics committee can redefine anal retentive. Little thing like banning protest signs or going after anyone using their logos incorrectly like God's own Spirit of Vengeance does tend to get people annoyed.

Not to mention the crowds, the traffic, the budget which has been completely tossed out the window and the general madness. There's going to be a lot of cool things come out of these games. Lots of great stories and hopefully a good legacy. But yeah, I can understand people wishing it would just hurry up and be over already.

I'm not quite that way, but then again, I have the benefit of being really, really far away from it. However, there is one thing I can't escape from and that's driving me nuts. And it's CTV's constant, never-ending barrage of Olympics commercials. And they're stupid commercials, for the most part. Yes, they're introducing a few of the athletes taking part, but they're not giving any times on when we can see them compete. Instead, it's all vague, partiotic "Believe" crap. And it's relentless. I was in a grumpy enough mood during the Super Bowl that I couldn't see the US commercials, but then CTV had not one, but usually two or three Winter Olympic ads during each break. My god, is there anyone in Canada who doesn't know the games are starting this Friday? Is there anyone not cheering for our athletes? Is this level of carpet bombing advertising really necessary.

And the less said about Donald Sutherland's appearance the better. I like Sutherland quite a bit, but man, there's something very creepy about his appearance in those ads. The voice overs are alright, but when see him at the end of the ads, trying to smile (and not succeeding overly well) it gives me a weird feeling. A friend of Facebook said he looked like a child molester. And yeah, that's the vibe. It's your creepy uncle inviting you to come over to his house to watch the Olympics with him. And hey, why don't you sit next to him. Not, not all the way over there, come closer. Yes, right there.

Gah. No thanks.

I don't even mind the companies shilling their stuff. If you've paid good money to be the official Olympic sponsor, and probably contributed money to help athletes, yeah, sure, let me know about. So I don't mind the McDonald's ads (although Cathy hates the one with the girl talking to the speed skater) or the that Coors is the official beer, or someone else is the official cell phone. Whatever.

But Jesus, CTV, cut me a bit of slack will you? Enough already, I get the point.

Last Five
1. Let us down - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals*
2. Lupe Brown - The Fratellis
3. Terrified - The Pursuit of Happiness
4. Boots or Hearts - The Tragically Hip
5. I want to hold your hand - The Beatles

Monday, February 08, 2010

Fixing Living Planet

So I've been feeling a touch unwell the past couple of days, hence the lack of blogging. Slowly starting to come out the other end of it, which is nice. However, it has prevented me from really concentrating on a blog post for this evening. Fortunately, I remembered something from my time back in St. John's that I meant to blog about, but it slipped off the radar.

This might be more appropriate for I Shop and Tell, although this is more about quality than customer service.

When we were home we went to visit one of our favourite shops - Living Planet. For years they've put out high quality t-shirts with great designs on them. The "Free Nfld", "Accordion Revolution", and "I (club) Baby Seals" shirts. We each have several of their shirts from years back and they hold up really well.

I even bought two shirts when I was back home. A "Godzilla vs. Puffin" and one with a map explaining how you navigate around Rawlin's Cross, one of the more evil intersections in St. John's.

So what's the problem? Well, there are three problems. One of them is a touch silly, the other two less so.

The silly one first. Guys, it's a t-shirt shop. It's a very nice t-shirt shop and I understand wanting to diversify a bit, but let's not get delusions of grandeur here. So perhaps at a t-shirt shop you shouldn't be selling $125 dress shirts. Just a thought there, but hey, if it works, what do I know.

The second problem? The shop has always sold their t-shirts for $25 each. A touch pricey, but they were all original designs, done by local artists printed on high quality shirts. So I had no problem paying the extra money. And like I said, I have several shirts that are five or more years old and the damn things are still ticking and I've put them through heavy use.

This latest crop of shirts are, well, really cheap. The switched labels and if these shirts last two years, it'll be a miracle. The price? Still $25. So I'm paying the same amount of money for a significantly inferior product, which is not impressive. At all.

But the third point is the one that really drives us nuts. Cathy loves these shirts as much as I do, if not more. She has several that are starting to get a little long in the tooth so she was looking forward to picking up some new ones over Christmas. Except she can't buy any. Because Living Planet changed labels and the new one radically altered the size of their women's t-shirts.

Cathy is not, as she likes to refer to herself, a "skinny-minnie". She has curves, and thank God for it. But she used to be able to find shirts that could fit her, no problem. Now? Not even close. For that matter, I was talking to girls behind the counter and they were saying they wear extra larges. And folks, those were not large women. I would call them quite thin. And they're taking extra larges.

I have no idea why Living Planet would go and piss off so much of their client base. I'm sure Cathy is not alone in being frustrated by the sizing issue. It's actually quite insulting. And buying a men's size doesn't work. I tried and we returned it simply because the shirt didn't fit right on her. The shoulders were landing half way down her arms.

So, some suggestions for a t-shirt company that seems to have lost a bit of direction.
1. Drop the designer boutique crap and focus on what you do well....produce really cool, local t-shirts and hoodies.
2. Don't screw around with quality. It pisses off clients and will bite you on the ass eventually.
3. Do you really want to piss off women, especially the ones who aren't skinny little rakes, also known as most women? If so, keep it up with the crappy undersized t-shirts.

I like Living Planet. I remember when they first opened in the basement of a building, where you had to wander down a corridor and you could see them making the shirts behind the counter. I just think they're getting off-track right now and if they're not careful a really cool store is going to end up just another vacant space waiting to be filled by another fucking shoe store or coffee shop on Water Street.

Last Five
1. The prince - Madness
2. Back where you belong - .38 Special
3. Consequences - Grapes of Wrath
4. Ocean's end - The Trews
5. Jingle jangle - Hot Hot Heat*

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Batman is taking none of your shit

Because I'm feeling naughty this evening. If you want something more in-depth to read on the premier's heart surgery, I suggest heading over to Ed's blog and reading his fascinating analysis and conjecture about what really might have been going on this week.

As for me, I'm going with something cheap and funny. H/t to John for the link. And go here if you want to do your own comic.

Last Five
1. Red light indicates doors are secured - Arctic Monkeys
2. The best baby in the world (comedy) - Patton Oswalt*
3. Courage - The Tragically Hip
4. Musical key - The Cowboy Junkies
5. Happy Jack - The Who

Friday, February 05, 2010

Sketchy Jerome

I'm mildly googly-eyed from staring at computer screens for so long today, so no big blog update. About the only thing I have planned for this evening is watching the director's cut of Watchmen to see if it's any better the second time through (so far, not really) and eat some popcorn.

So in lieu of serious blogging, I give you Colleen Power's latest music video - Sketchy Jerome. I have a deep love of Colleen's music, even if "Rejects" isn't one of her best albums, it's at least produced some fun music videos. Of course, having a husband who is a pretty good director also helps quite a bit.

And on the off-chance Colleen swings past the blog, you are going to put out an album of new songs soon, right?

Back tomorrow with some resembling a normal blog post.

Last Five
1. Back in the USSR - The Beatles
2. Flames - Dear Leader*
3. Guns of Brixton (live) - The Clash
4. Tangled - Maroon 5
5. Lady - Regina Spektor

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Into the fire

So yeah, Premier Williams.

I was advised by a good friend of mine, when the news first started to break, that I should avoid the subject like the plague. Because this was going to get nasty. I'm not on the ground in Newfoundland and Labrador, but I can only imagine the kind of debate going on (or the kind of horror show happening on VOCM). Some of the best commentary I've read so far, unsurprisingly, comes from Geoff Meeker. He also has links to The Telegram and the Globe and Mail editorials on the issue.

I'm not sure how much I can really add to the matter, but here's my couple of cents worth. People of wealth and means have always travelled to the United States or other parts of the world to seek medical treatment. It's certainly Williams option. Yes, the optics are terrible, however Williams is wealthy enough and beloved enough in the province that he can get away with doing it. It's going to piss some people off in the province, make no doubt about that. However, if his political career so far is any indication, he'll come though this just fine.

Having said that, it's shockingly poor communication on the matter. Yes, a person's medical care should be a private matter. However, when you're premier of a province and one as powerful as Williams is, then you should give serious thought to reassuring the people about what is going on. People love Williams. The rest of the crowd, well....And surely God the premier is a smart enough person to realize that. The people could use a bit of a reassurance given the quality of the rest of the cabinet.

So yeah, a simple, "this is what's wrong and for these reasons I'm going to travel to the United States for treatment. I understand this might be controversial and some people will be upset with this decision, however, I have made this decision and I'm prepared to live with the fallout" might have done wonders for taking the wind out of the sails of this thing.

But he didn't do that. Now, he'll have to live with a likely much harsher fallout.

But there's one thing I'm wondering about. The premier has made it clear he plans to run again in 2011. I think it's a mistake simply because there's not been a good history involving Newfoundland premiers and third terms. Newfoundland premiers tend to start seriously cracking up after spending that long in office.

However, he's had heart surgery. Being premier is a stressful job and while I've had my concerns about Premier Williams decisions in the past, I've never doubted that he works hard at the job. So I wonder if during his recovery if he reevaluates his decision to run again, or if his family will put pressure on him to not run again.

That's what I'm kind of curious about. I think he probably still will run, but I won't be surprised if this makes him change his mind.

Last Five
1. St. George's lane - Matt Mays and El Torpedo
2. Constant craving - k.d. lang
3. Into temptation (live) - Crowded House*
4. Right by my side - Eurthymics
5. Addicted - Hawksley Workman

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Review: Republic of Doyle, Ep.5

Eat that scenery, Gordon Pinsent, you glorious bastard. Chew it and then wash it down with some of that bootlegged rum.

Seriously, that scene in the bar with Pinsent chewing away and banging the table with the gun on it, I suspect Hawco and McGinley weren't exactly acting too hard when they had the looks of both terror and astonishment happening at the same time. Sure the Doyles were supposed to be scared of Maurice Becker, but I think the two actors were just kind of laying back a bit and seeing what the hell Pinsent was going to do next. I honestly wonder how much of that was written, and how much was Pinsent improvising.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'll pay good money to watch Gordon Pinsent read the phone book. To see him go completely over the top like this....awesomeness. My only regret was that he wasn't in the episode more. Hopefully they'll bring him back soon.

Ah, but I get ahead of myself. What else was happening with the show?

After a cold open showing off a sizable amount of tits and ass at a strip club, we move to the main plot. There's trouble afoot at the Bishop Cab company. The wife suspects her husband is up to nothing good, believing he might be cheating on her. Jake has his doubts because she's hot. I think the entire scene with them meeting here out by the Marine Lab and target shooting was so that Malachy could get a line in about skeets. But hey, whatever the set-up, it got a laugh.

Jake decides to go undercover at the cab company to see if he can figure out what's going on. And sure enough, there is weirdness. Ned Bishop (played by Mark Critch) is behaving oddly and getting beaten up. Then they photograph him with a hot babe handing over a suspicious package to him.

After a confrontation and a lot of yelling and poking around, it seems dear Ned is engaging in one of St. John's fine, long-standing traditions among its cabbies....selling rum from St. Pierre under the table. Or the back of the cab, as it were. Ned's not terribly bright, however. He's robbed one shipment of rum, plus he stabbed his normal dealer in the back and is dealing with his rival. That's getting Ned a beating, and so are a bunch of his drivers. They can't go to the police about it, so they're in a bit of a bind.

That means a road trip to St. Pierre (after a quick explanation about where and what St. Pierre is) to try and resolve the situation. It's also where they meet Becker, the infamous rum runner, marvelously played by Pinsent. We have a few betrayals and whatnot and Becker ends up the last place he wants to be and the rum continues to safely flow.

As for our other plots, this week it's time for Jake to act insane around Nikki, Des and Tinny do some detective work...badly, while the chemistry tries to spark, Rose gets an ominous postcard and the constable gets a bit pissed with Jake pumping her for information, but not in other ways.

The main story about the rum running wasn't bad, especially when it moved to St. Pierre and we could enjoy Pinsent. But it's also a nice St. John's type of mystery. Rum is smuggled over from St. Pierre all the time and cabbies in town have had the reputation for having a few bottles in the trunk for years. So yeah, that's fun enough. I think it could have been a bit tighter story wise and really, more Gordon Pinsent is always good.

But look, I'm going to keep harping on this, the Jake/Nikki thing isn't working. At all. Not even a little bit. An unfortunate chunk of that show got eaten by that garbage. More of Rose, a scene with Walter, a bit more with the constable, anything would be better. Please tell me the guys have noticed it's not working. There is some hope, at least, at the end of the episode that perhaps they're finally going to move on to other things and maybe give the Jake/Nikki angle a break.

Also, I'm intrigued by the postcard Rose received. It would be nice to see her get some more screen time other than being the magic internet plot device oracle. And hey, she verbally slapped around Tinny this episode, so that was nice.

No Walter (Sean Panting) this episode. I thought for sure we'd see him at the strip club, but oh well.

Again, not a bad episode. And the seven minutes or so of Gordon Pinsent make up for the seven minutes or so of terrible Jake and Nikki scenes. But really, you're not going to have Pinsent every week (sadly), so try not to inflict to much more Jake and Nikki on us, all right?

Best lines of the night:
"What's wrong with him? Nothin'. He's from Gander." (Probably incomprehensible to people not from Newfoundland, funny has hell for the rest of us.)

"Cocky shaggers." (However, you have to say it like Pinsent)

"Hit 'im, don't hold it in -- you'll get ulcers." (the little joke about Jake not being able to go a couple of days without getting punched in the face was fun.)

Last Five
1. Drivin' down to Georgia (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2. Chocolate (live) - Snow Patrol
3. The forty - Mark Bragg*
4. Harder - David Gray
5. Sleep - The Dandy Warhols

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Success rate

So I did all right on my Oscar guesses. I think this was the best one I've had in years, which is nice. Let's take a look at how I did.

Best Movie - 8/10. The two I got wrong were Crazy Heart and Invictus. Instead, The Broad Side and A Serious Man got in. I probably could have guessed one of those two, but I am surprised Invictus didn't get in. On the other hand, I got District 9 right, which is awesome. I was debating one out of left field pick, like The Hangover or Star Trek, but went with District 9.

Of course, ten nominations is still a waste of time. There are only three movies in competition - The Hurt Locker, Avatar and Up in the Air. And that last one, an easrly favourite, seems to be dropping off of some lists.

Best Directo
Nailed all five. Am I good or what?

Best Actor
4/5 The only one I got wrong was picking Mortensen over Colin Firth. And I kind of knew that, but I figured I might go with a slight longshot. Man, the Academy really didn't like The Road very much. Then again, given the box office, no one but critics really seemed to like it very much.

Best Actress
4/5 It seems I owe the Academy an apology as they went for talent with Helen Mirren rather than sexy with Penelope Cruz.

Best Supporting Actor
4.5/5 Well, I got all five actors right, I just got Tucci for the wrong role. I had him for Julie and Julia, but they gave it to him for The Lovely Bones. Ah well. By the way, that's another movie the Academy didn't care much for, despite all the hype last year.

Best Supporting Actress
3/5 I'm actually pleased with that, given the long history of this category of picking weird nominees and even stranger winners. I missed Vera Farminga and, oh, Penelope Cruz. Considering no one liked Nine very much, I guess they do want her for the tight dresses after all. Although I am glad that my longshot pick of Maggie Gyllenhaal made it in.

Best Original Screenplay
3/5 I got the three I knew were a lock and the other two, well, not so much. A Serious Man and The Messenger got it instead. I should really check into those two movies, as they got a few more nods than I expected.

Best Adapted Screenplay
3/5 Again, the three I was sure about got in. I've never heard of In The Loop before, so I don't feel bad about missing it. I don't think it was on too many other short lists either, for that matter.

Best Animated Movie
4/5 Ponyo didn't get in, much to my shock and something called The Secret of Kells did. Never heard of that one either so, again, don't feel too bad about missing it.

So I hit 83.3 per cent of my picks. Not to shabby whatsoever. I'll take it. Once we get closer to the actual awards, I'll make my picks for the actual winners.

Last Five
1. Bitter tears - INXS
2. Golden age of radio (live) - Josh Ritter
3. The supreme being teaches Spider-Man how to be in love - The Flaming Lips
4. To wild homes - The New Pornographers*
5. Working on a dream - Bruce Springsteen

Monday, February 01, 2010

Oscar predictions '10

If I'm not mistaken the Oscar nominations come out tomorrow. As semi-regular tradition around these parts is to offer up my predictions. This isn't based on which things I think deserve to get a nod. For that matter, several of the movies I'm about to mention I haven't even seen yet, although I clearly need to go out and rent The Hurt Locker. It not only sounds fantastic, but the reviews for it are nearly all raves.

I tend to hit about 70 per cent on my predictions, just because the Academy is weird and like to throw in the occasional screwbay just to keep people on their toes. I also don't do all the categories, simply because I have no idea who is going to be nominated for best costuming or make-up. Although if I might throw out a small plea for the score from Sherlock Holmes to get a nod, as it was one of the most distinctive, and fun, of the year.

Anyway, here are my picks for the categories of best movie, director, actor, actress, supporting actor, support actress, original screenplay and adapted screenplay. Oh, and Best Animated Movie, just for the hell of it.

Best Movie
1. Up in the Air
2. Avatar
3. The Hurt Locker
4. Inglorious Basterds
5. Precious
6. Up
7. An Education
8. Invictus
9. Crazy Heart
10. District 9

The first five I'm pretty damn sure about. The bottom five I'm not as certain about, although six through eight I'm pretty sure about. Nine and ten are me picking a few out there movies because I think there's going to be a few weird choices. I won't be surprised if something like The Hangover and Star Trek makes the final cut. Having ten best picture movies, just for the record, is really stupid.

Best Director
1. Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
2. Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
3. James Cameron (Avatar)
4. Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds)
5. Lee Daniels (Precious)

Pretty sure about the top four. Not sure about Daniels, but I think he has a pretty good chance.

Best Actor
1. Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
2. George Clooney (Up in the Air)
3. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
4. Vigo Mortensen (The Road)
5. Morgan Freeman (Invictus)

Dead certain about the first two, pretty sure about number three. The other two spots are a bit of guess work.

Best Actress
1. Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
2. Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)
3. Gabourey Sidibe (Previous)
4. Carey Mulligan (An Education)
5. Penelope Cruz (Broken Embrace)

Dead certain about the first three, and I'm pretty certain about Mulligan. I'm picking Cruz just because the Academy seems to like having her at these shows in tight dresses.

Best Supporting Actor
1. Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)
2. Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)
3. Matt Damon (Invictus)
4. Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
5. Stan Tucci (Julie and Julia)

I'm certain about the first pick. After that, eh....

Best Supporting Actress
1. Mo'Nique (Precious)
2. Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)
3. Samantha Morton (The Messenger)
4. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
5. Sigourney Weaver (Avatar)

Again, I'm sure about the first one. And I'm picking Weaver just because I think the Academy might make some history by picking an actor whose performance was at least partially animated.

Best Original Screenplay
1. Inglorious Basterds
2. Up
3. The Hurt Locker
4. (500) Days of Summer
5. Avatar

I'm dead certain about the first three, not so certain about #4, but a lot of people seem to like it. And I'm picking Avatar just because I know how many people will be pissed off if that movies gets a writing nod.

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. An Education
2. Up in the Air
3. Precious
4. Crazy Heart
5. A Single Man

Dead certain about the first three. As for numbers four and five, who knows.

Best Animated Movie
1. Up
2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
3. Coraline
4. Ponyo
5. The Princess and the Frog

Pretty damn sure about the first three, the Academy loves Hayao Miyazaki, so I'm pretty certain about that one. Not sure about the last one, so we'll see.

And there you have it. We'll see how right I am in about 12 hours.

Last Five
1. Lies (live) - Stan Rogers
2. Chips ahoy - The Hold Steady
3. Lust - The Raveonettes
4. First we take Manhattan (live) - Leonard Cohen*
5. Dick-all - Colleen Power