Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Disney and media weirdness

A few links for this evening.

1. I've commented before that the science that Disney uses for crowd control was both impressive and terrifying. Now read this article from the New York Times. If you can tell the difference between Disneyland and a James Bond villain's secret lair you're doing better than me. I was fascinated right up until I got to the part where they were talking about creating an arm band that would contain personal information, including your credit card number as a way of speeding up transactions in the park. That's when Disney reminded me that the Happiest Place on Earth can also be a Pretty Fucking Terrifying Place when it wants to be.

2. Much to Cathy's dismay, I'm a fan of the NFL. However, I am not normally a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles at the best of time. But with Michael Vick leading the team this year I've had my ability to even tolerate them tested. On the one hand, the man was convicted of killing dogs. On the other hand, he served a pretty harsh penalty, he's crawling out of bankruptcy and I do believe that people deserve a second chance.

So I'm not cheering for the Eagles and wouldn't want them to win the Super Bowl. But hey, I'd love to see the Eagles and Falcons play for the NFC championship. Vick going back to the home of his old team...that would make for a great game.

However, at no point have I wanted Vick dead...unlike this useless tool. I know I shouldn't rise to the bait of this. Ever since Jon Stewart destroyed any shred of credibility Carlson ever possessed years ago Carlson has flailed about, trying to find some hint of respectability. He's on Fox now, so that should tell your something. There's only two reasons why Carlson would say this: He either genuinely believes Vick should die and is an idiot or that he's saying it just for the attention, which makes him an idiot and and a media whore.

Normally I would ignore this because I think you give power to some thing when you pay attention to it. However, this is so stupid you should feel free to go, "Jesus, how big of a media whore tool is this man?" The answer being, he is quite a sizable one. It's probably been too long since people pointed and laughed at Carlson, so feel free to go and do so today.

3. Meanwhile, on the other end of the respectability and power spectrum, Jon Stewart is receiving so much praise for his action in helping get a bill through the U.S. senate to help first responders to the collapse of the World Trade Centre that the New York Times is comparing him to Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Which is, um, a little over the top. I imagine Stewart probably went "are you guys high or what?" when he read that.

There's going to be a lot of talk about Stewart and his role in getting this bill passed. I suspect he would probably just roll his eyes and note that the media needs something to fill all that air time and blowing up his importance is one way to kill time during the slow Christmas season.

Stewart hasn't change with this. He's a gifted satirist, possibly the best of this generation and at the exact right moment, with the exact right cause, he was able to effect change. He could try it again in a month's time and get absolutely nowhere. He probably wouldn't. But it takes a special kind of group of idiots to try and block a bill to help people made sick while trying to save lives during 9/11 right before Christmas. The Republicans were those special kind of idiots. If you weren't outraged by that, then you're not human.

So good on Stewart, but let's not make him a god quite yet.

Last Five
1. Warning sign - Coldplay
2. The laws have changed - The New Pornographers*
3. Tell it to me - Tom Waits
4. Spiders - Editors
5. Ghost of a chance - Ron Sexsmith

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

End of sloth days

Cathy is fearing for my sanity as I head back to work tomorrow. For the past four days we've essentially done nothing other than lounging around the house and watching movies. Today we started a Pixar marathon. It's the first time we've watched Finding Nemo since we came back from Australia, so that was fun and kind of weird. It's also interesting to see how well the movies hold up. Computer animation has come a long way in the past decade, but Toy Story and Monsters Inc. would still be state of the art if released today.

I'm sure we should have, and could have, done more the past few days. I feel mildly bad not having some people over. However, the thought occurs to me that I have not had four days in a row off to do nothing since April. It's just the way things have gone at work. I haven't taken any vacation time since I started my current job other than a day here or there. But even then it was to do things like our sea lift or to do some Christmas shopping in Ottawa.

So yeah, four days of sloth, I needed it more than I thought. It's been needed to recharge the batteries. Cathy's concern is that after four days of sleeping in until 10 am most mornings waking up at 7am tomorrow is going to be particularly brutal. She might be right. But I'm not sure I knew how much I needed some time off. So I'll take a rough morning tomorrow as payment for four days of just relaxing.

Oh, and the sharp-eyed among you may notice I've made a few changes to the blog lists on the sidebar. I killed a couple of dead and spamming blogs and added a few new ones. As always, take a moment to give the new blogs a gander. It's a good blogging community in Nunavut and it's always interesting to have a look at what other people think.

Which reminds me, Clare will be starting to run the Nunies in the next week or so. Check his blog to see the start of nominations and figure out who you might like to vote for. I'm defending champ as Best Blog, but given my output this past year I doubt I'm going to repeat. But you never know...

Last Five
1. The union forever - White Stripes
2. Ancestor's song - Robbie Robertson
3. Ah, me - Amelia Curran*
4. The luxury (live) - Tragically Hip
5. Flower - Liz Phair

Sunday, December 26, 2010


So we're coming out the other side of the Christmas season and I must say, it's one of the better ones we've had in some time. This is our first Christmas actually in the new house (last year we went back to Newfoundland), so we've been enjoying that. Plus, we're not back in Newfoundland. I say this not to insult family and friends who would probably like to see us. However, the reality is when we got back to Iqaluit last January we were dead on our feet. Completely wiped out.

This year, we've spent most of Christmas in our pjs. I am perfectly all right with this. Perhaps we should be out socializing and hitting parties, but I am happy lounging around the house, eating turkey, watching movies and scaring the dog with the toy helicopter that Cathy bought me as a gift.

So yeah, this is a good Christmas. It's getting a big thumbs up from me so far.

We probably also went a bit overboard with the gifts. Last year that wasn't really an option, between having just bought the house, being back in St. John's and me being in-between jobs. It was pretty austere. We kind of made up for things this year, as you can tell.

The only gift I gave Cathy that flopped was a pair of red rubber boots which do not fit. They were bought in Ottawa back in October, so I'm just going to have to eat those. Oh well. You would think I would know better than trying to buy shoes. However, my attempts at buying her clothes were a hit. I recommend Coldwater Creek. The shipping wasn't evil and as a man trying to buy clothes for his wife, they made it pretty painless.

We're still....struggling a bit with Cathy's main gift for me. She went and got me a Bose soundsystem to go with the new TV set. The problem is, it's not playing well with the TV. It's a new Samsung TV and I think the Bose system might be a little older. It works fine with the small TV in our spare room, so the problem isn't that. I think I might need a different cable, so I'm going to try the Source tomorrow, unless someone has a suggestion here that might help. I may even have to resort to trying to call Bose and ask for help. I really like their stuff, actually. We have an iPod dock from them and we each own headphones for our iPods. It's fantastic quality so it's a bit shocking this isn't working easily.

There was one other thing. I'm a big believer in that you should treat yourself to something nice for Christmas. A couple of months ago I contacted Jimmy Gownley of "Amelia Rules!" fame and asked if he had any original art he might be interested in selling. He did. And on Christmas Eve, it arrived. I've already had it framed.

To the right is the cover of the latest "Amelia Rules!" book and I now own the original art used for the cover. Which makes me very happy. I am slowly building a nice wall of comic book art in our den.

Although this article makes me wonder. With more artists switching to using a computer, original art is becoming scarcer.

Anyway, it's been a good Christmas so far, and I still have two days off to enjoy it more. Tomorrow I think we're doing a Pixar marathon. We own all of the movies except for "A Bug's Life". I think that, turkey and chocolate is a good way to spend the day. Better than facing hordes in a mall at a Boxing Day sale...

Last Five
From Surfer Blood's "Astro Coast" and Mumford and Sons "Sigh No More".

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fairy tale cover

I'm trying to go through the best of lists to see what albums I might have missed so to better prepare my own list, which I should have up in a week or so. Still, 2010 feels like a year where I missed obvious stuff. I mean, I'd heard of Mumford & Sons but for some reason just didn't feel like giving them a try. Until I did. And then started to kick myself for waiting so long.

Same things with Florence + The Machine. No idea how I missed out them for long, then gave them a try. Shortly after wards it was like they were everywhere. I'm not 100% sold on them yet, but damn, that woman has a hell of a voice.

I mention her specifically because I just saw this video on Facebook and felt like sharing it. It's Florence + The Machine with Billy Bragg covering "Fairy Tale of New York". Now, it's not nearly as good as the original, of course. This is too delicate and polite. It's missing the seething anger and sorrow dipped weariness and yearning the original has. But it's pretty enough experiment and worth a listen.

And hey, if nothing else, admire the balls of trying it. Christmas songs are designed to be covered. It's far easier to cover a classic this time of the year rather than create your own. However, few have tried to cover "Fairy Tale" just because it's a song as much about the voices and personalities as it is the lyrics.

Last Five
1. Demons days - Gorillaz
2. Say hello to the angles - Interpol
3. Oh, my love - Jackson Browne
4. You can make him like you - The Hold Steady*
5. Adam's song - Blink 182

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cathy is the cheery Christmas person. She loves her Roger Whittaker because that's what she always listened to when she was growing up and preparing for the Christmas season. So there's cake and cookies and the tackier the Christmas lights and decorations then the happier she is.

I've adjusted over the years. It's not really the Christmas I grew up with, which was more sedate as I got older. Sure, when I was a kid it was Christmas at my grandparents house and all the madness that went along with that much family trying to cram into a small house. But when I hit my teens, all of that seemed to change. I can't put my finger on exactly when or why, but it feels like it did.

I don't know if it's because of that or if I'm a naturally morbid person, but I tend to get enjoyment out of the darker aspects of the season. If I were to pick my three favourite Christmas songs they would be "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues, "St. Stephen's Day Murders" by the Chieftains and Elvis Costello, with "The Holly and the Ivy" by Pamela Morgan and Anita Best finishing third. Only the last one would be considered cheerful.

Two of my favourite Christmas comic comic books both involve bounty hunters fulfilling contracts to whack Santa Claus ("Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special" and an issue of "Hitman"). I really don't have a favourite Christmas movie. Cathy and I watch "Love, Actually" and we both like it, but that's about as close to a Christmas as I come. "It's A Wonderful Life" bores the hell out of me.

I mention all of this to put into context the following little video. I've said here many times I'm not a fan of poetry because 99 per cent of it is crap. However, I've always had a fondness for "Nicholas Was..." by Neil Gaiman. He wrote it years ago as a Christmas card to friends and they loved it so much it was published. And actually became a set of Christmas cards, of which I still own a couple. And now some bright folks have made a video of it, which I love.

It's also 100 words long. I've counted.

Merry Christmas all...

39 Degrees North: Christmas Card 2010 from 39 Degrees North on Vimeo.

Last Five
1. Century city (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2. The next life (live) - Tom Cochrane and Red Rider
3. Star song - Bowling for Soup
4. Moment of surrender - U2
5. Night windows (live) - The Weakerthans

Sunday, December 19, 2010


So the Great Iqaluit Exodus (part of the larger Great Nunavut Exodus) is in full swing this weekend. By all reports the airport was madness the past few days, with people trying to get out of here. Most are heading south, but you'll also find some Inuit trying to get back to their home communities for the holidays. I heard the lines were especially bad on Saturday (all the teachers leaving for the holidays). And considering the flights heading south were a solid hour late leaving today, I suspect the lines were equally bad.

We're not going anywhere this Christmas and honestly, if I had the choice between Nunavut or Newfoundland for Christmas I'll take Nunavut any day of the week. Visiting Newfoundland is just madness. It feels like there's a massive checklist of things to do, places to go and friends and family to see. And if you don't complete that checklist, there's always someone pissed off with you. Yes, some of it is an awful lot of fun. For example, I really do wish I could be home for New Year's at the Smiths and their recently renovated Bond Street home. But that's about it.

I came back from Newfoundland last year absolutely exhausted. At the end of this Christmas season I suspect I'll be perfectly rested and not at all stressed. That'll last about a week if the schedule I have right now holds up, but I'd sooner face all that after a relaxing Christmas than what I would be facing if I were heading south now.

Cathy'll get home next summer. I'm hoping to get home next fall for a week or so. Trust me, it'll be a lot more fun and relaxing for both of us.

With us remaining in Iqaluit, we're settling in. The tree is decorated and the outside of the house is lit up. Here are a few photos. And to give credit where it is due, Cathy put up all the lights.

We are no where close to having the most lights on our house in Iqaluit. There are some truly insane houses around town. However, as we spend more years in town, I suspect we'll eventually reach truly ludicrous levels. Cathy loves Christmas and has the motto that lights should be as tacky as possible.

That's an ill omen, if ever there was one.

Most of our gifts have safely arrived here. I'm still waiting on one piece, but that's not directly Christmas related (well, it's a gift for me that I bought for myself). We'll probably have a few people over for the holidays, but we'll see (Jordan and Steph, for example, assuming his sanity is in tact after the Christmas rush at the post office). There's no real plan, other than relaxing and lounging around. Sounds like a good holidays to me. And with the temperatures remaining unnaturally warm - it's 0C today and forecast to get no colder than -13C between now and Christmas - it should be a pretty stress free few days.

We just have to remember to do all of our laundry and dishes either by Thursday night or early Friday. There will be no water delivery on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Well, there is, but it's $250. I would prefer not to spend that much for water if I can help it.

Last Five
1. Leather (live) - Tori Amos*
2. Viva la Gloria - Green Day
3. Free in the harbour (live) - Stan Rogers
4. The glorious life - Joel Plaskett Emergency
5. All I'm thinkin' about - Bruce Springsteen

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bon Jovi continues to suck

As I type this, on December 15 it's 0C outside. Normal seasonal high is -19C. And it's going to be above 0 for the next couple of days. So all that stuff I was writing about the other day regarding Omega Blocks and should probably disregard it. I don't think anyone knows what the hell is going on anymore. And when climate scientists are essentially throwing their hands up and going "we have no bloody idea what's happening with you guys" then you should probably just resign yourself to the end of the world.

I'd make a will, but really, who would I leave my stuff to?

(By the way, this is the cue for one of the many lawyers I'm friends with to show up and yell at me that I don't have a will drawn up.)

On to other news. A few months ago I ranted about Bon Jovi being on the short list of acts up for admission to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which I considered  travesty and that anyone who would vote to put them in ahead of Tom Waits needed a swift boot to the head. Well today, my friends, cosmic justice prevailed as Waits was admitted to the Hall and Bon Jovi gets to continue to suck from the outside.

I don't even have a problem with Neil Diamond being admitted. This is a shocking thing to admit, but one of my favourite recordings of the past decade is his "12 Songs". I'll take that over any of his other, cheesier stuff from the 70s any day of the week. It's a fantastic recording and I strongly encourage you to listen to it. Anyone who can make something that fantastic towards the end of his career is all right in my books. Who knows, maybe Bon Jovi might produce something that doesn't suck one day and I'll have to reconsider.

However, I am not holding my breath.

And finally, in the "Yes, Iqaluit is that small" Cathy was out walking the dog this morning and rant into one of the new neighbours who are in the process of moving in just down the street from us. They chatted briefly, with Cathy welcoming him to the neighbourhood. He said thanks and then pointed out our house, saying something along the lines "You live there right? That's Townie Bastard's house."

At which point Cathy sighed and introduced herself as Mrs. Bastard.

You know, it's not every wife who would introduce herself in such a manner.

Anyway, the new arrivals are bloggers as well. So welcome to the neighbourhood, Aida. If you need a cup of sugar, don't hesitate to come on up and knock on the door.

Last Five
1. Sweet illusion - Ryan Adams
2. She's a rainbow - Rolling Stones
3. I make the money, you get the glory - Kathleen Edwards
4. Us of lesser gods - Flogging Molly
5. The naked ride home - Jackson Browne*

Sunday, December 12, 2010

That could have gone better

1. There are days when I'm poking around at the stories of the day that I come across something and I wince. And I wince at things that most other people are probably not thinking about. So when I read this story, about how the RCMP throughly blew the ending of the stand-off in Bay Bulls after managing it so well up to that point, my first thought after going "oh for Christ's sake", was to wonder about the poor comms person caught in this situation - who I'm betting either:

A. Didn't know all the details when putting together the release announcing the guy's capture.
B. Did know, objected stenuously that being vague on the details wasn't going to work and just fess up, but was overruled.
C. Or was told "How can we not look awful in this situation?" and this was the best that could be dreamed up on short notice.

Just brutal. I actually feel kind of bad for that person, whoever it is. It's a "there but for the grace of God..." type of thing.

2. As God as my witness, I thought Columbia House would have died the horrible death that nearly everybody who ever dealt with it at least once has wished on it at least 10 years ago. But no, apparently it only keeled over and died this past week. How it survived this past decade, what with iTunes and torrent sites destroying regular music retailers, I have no idea.

Like many teens of the 80s, who lusted after cheap music and were pretty stupid, I joined Columbia House. And promptly got burned several times. When I could finally escape from them I did so with the solemn vow I would never deal with them again. Yet, I had friends in university who signed up with them and repeatedly got burned.

3. I read story earlier the week explaining why Iqaluit was getting such unusually mild weather the past few months. Naturally, I can't find it now. However, I did find this link which explains what it was. It has the marvelous name of The Omega Block, which sounds like it ought to be a climate change disaster movie staring Charlton Heston. Basically, a big old high pressure system sat over Greenland for weeks on end, which is not unusual with this type of system.

Because of that, we got higher than normal temperatures and Europe got the other end of the stick, which was much colder than normal temperatures. Judging by the weather the past few days in Iqaluit I'm guess it's finally broken up. The temps have been back in the -20C range, which is normal for this time of the year. And a thin film of ice is beginning to show up on the bay. So we're back to normal. I've ever broken out the BFC (Big Fucking Coat). I normally break it out sometime in October. I made it to mid-December. That's something I never thought I'd see.

Last Five
1. Smoke baby - Hawksley Workman
2. Baby Fratelli - The Fratellis
3. 100 oceans - Tori Amos*
4. Our retired explorer (live) - The Weakerthans
5. Supernova - Liz Phair

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Harder than you think

A quote I'm sure I've used in this blog before is that a definition of insanity is to keep doing the exact same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I keep reminding myself of that every time I check the comments section of the CBC, especially when it comes to polar bear stories. And yet, there must be a hidden history of mental illness somewhere in my family because I catch myself doing it from time to time.

I don't talk about polar bears much because of a previous job, although friends certainly know that all it takes to get me to start hyper-ventilating is to mention our furry friends. I do have some distance from the previous job, so I'm a little more comfortable talking about it. However, I still tend to err on the side of caution.

The thing that drives me nuts about this story's comments section are all the posts going how terrible it was that they had to kill the polar bear and God, couldn't you have found a better way and how terrible people are for living in the bear's habitat.

It makes me want to smack people. A lot.

Polar bears are one of these issues that people think are simple - the climate is changing, polar bears depend on ice, therefore anything or anyone who harms the bears is evil and bad. But it's not that straightforward. Polar bears are complicated and protection of the species is a phenomenally complex issue. And anyone who tells you otherwise, or offers up simple opinions like some of the ones I mentioned above, needs to either educate themselves better or shut up.

That's the maddening thing about polar bears. People think they're experts. But unless you live in the north, unless you really familiarize yourself with all sides of the issue- with what scientists say and what people who live here say - then you probably don't have a clue.

When I worked with the Packet they used to do these fisheries hearings in rural Newfoundland. You'd have a bunch of scientists who would do presentations on their findings about the status of cod stocks. And then fishermen, some with no high school education, would come up and point out that these highly educated people had no clue what they were talking about, and would back that up with their own personal experience.

There was a give and take there. Fisheries science is a bitch of a thing and the knowledge of people who live the fisheries, day in and day out, in invaluable. But there is a tendency for people to discount it because they don't have alphabet soup after their names.

It's not a perfect analogy for what happens with polar bears and the north. I think scientists value local opinions. I just don't think the average person down south does. And that's a mistake. A mistake you can see every time you read the comments section of a CBC story on polar bears that runs down south.

Last Five
1. Pretty in pink - Psychedelic Furs*
2. Man of the hour - Norah Jones
3. So jealous - Tegan and Sara
4. Green grass (live) - Tom Waits
5. Feels so good - Van Halen

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Good-bye to the flea market

I see a long standing St. John's tradition is up and dying with this Christmas season - The Avalon Mall Flea Market. I'm surprised it's taken this long for the powers-that-be to finally kill it.

The flea market has operated out of the Avalon Mall since the late 80s. At first it was just a simple flea market, a place to sell junk during a Sunday afternoon when the mall was closed. But then things began to evolve and escalate. Sunday shopping was brought in so the hours the flea market operated switched from the mornings and afternoon to the evening. And then vendors began to get grumpy over the flea market. First it was the tables obviously selling stolen goods. The people who ran the market did their best to enforce things, but you could see people selling stuff they stole from some of the stores in the mall on a Saturday at the market on a Sunday.

Yeah, they were that brazen. I did a series of stories when I was with the Express about the amount of stolen merchandise running through local flea markets. Actually shut one down in Mount Pearl which was terrible for selling stuff robbed from drug stores (cologne, razor blades, deodorant) and DVDs. The Avalon Mall was never as bad as that one, but there was an element to it. And it got tarnished by association.

I think the final death blow came from stores operating in the mall growing weary of having people come in and compete with them for business and paying a few bucks for a table while they were paying thousands in rent. I imagine HMV and the other movie store were never happy to see tables selling recently released DVDs at 50% what they were selling them for. I know that the framing business in the mall forced Cathy's parents out a couple of years ago (although if you get your framing done from a store in the mall, you're mad. The mark-up is insane).

I suspect that's it for a flea market of this scope. Some mentioned the Village, but I understand they've already rejected it. Besides, part of the appeal of this flea market was the ability to wander around a bit before or after catching a movie. Where ever they go next won't have that. It's too bad, really. It was a nice little community, it was mostly harmless and you could occasionally find some fun things buried in there among the rubble. That's the fun of a good flea market.

I have my own memories of the flea market. For a few years after I left MUN, but before I moved to Clarenville I was a semi-regular at the flea market. It's been noted that I have quite a decent comic book collection. I used to take bit and pieces of it into the mall to sell. Let's just say the post-university years were a bit hard on the pockebook and I needed to make money any way I could.

Also, I was a bit of a merc. It's a term that a few of us who sold comics at the mall used. Because we were hardcore collectors we knew immediately if a comic was worth something or was junk. But not everybody has that skill. It wasn't so much that we took advantage of people who brought their comics into the mall to sell to us...we took advantage of local used bookstores. Several around town sold used comics that they'd dump on shelves or bins. People would come in and sell them to the bookstore for a dime, they would sell them for 50 cents.

So me a few others would hit these stores, often daily, waiting to see if someone was dumb enough to dump something valuable in there. You'd be astonished how often it happened. For the bookstores, they were quite happy to make five times profit off a comic. However, I routinely grabbed comics on a Thursday for 50 cents and sold them at the flea market for $10. I know I sold books there for $50 or more that I bought for a couple of quarters.

On a good day at the flea market I could walk home with $300-$400. And back then, it was money I desperately needed. It kept me going until I could figure out the next step in my life.

So I'll miss the Avalon Mall Flea Market. It was an institution in St. John's for many years and it did all right by me.

Last Five
1. I'll be back - The Beatles
2. Last chance - Maroon 5
3. Wait for love - Josh Ritter
4. First night - The Hold Steady*
5. Magpie to the morning - Neko Case

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Preparing for the bloodbath

I swear the intent of last night's post was not to get people begging me to stay or to get my ego stroked. I was sitting at the computer trying to think of something to blog when Cathy wondered why I was still doing it since I wasn't posting as much and the passion I had for the blog seems to have ebbed. And since I was sitting at the computer, I figured why not toss that out there and see what happens.

The reaction is gratifying. Thank you all of the reaction. My writing has changed over the years, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I think it's probably a bit more polished, but I think that burning passion has ebbed away a bit. I'm sure Barb can recall times when I was with the Packet and I was working on one of my "So Anyway..." columns that she could hear the keys on the computer being beaten into submission when I was in a particular mood. I do miss the searing contempt I had for politicians back then and knowing I had the platform and ability to make them bleed if I really wanted to.

It's not there these days, or at least it slumbers. Although oddly the notion of the PC leadership campaign is making something stir. There is nothing in politics that can beat an old fashion, cut them until they bleed to death, leadership battle. The battle for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 between Obama and Clinton was far more interesting than John McCain's doomed attempt to win the presidency months later.

The bloodbath between John Efford and Roger Grimes for the Liberal leadership in 2001 was epic, far better than the 2003 provincial election.

And now, oh yes, we have the makings of another bloodbath. Now that it appears that the 800 pound gorilla that is Gen. Rick Hillier is likely to stay off stage (if he ran, I'm pretty sure everyone would duck and run for cover) we're going to have ourselves a real knockdown, drag out the likes of which we haven't seen in Newfoundland and Labrador in a decade.

The best thing about leadership battles is that they are much more...Shakespearean. Standard elections are all noise and yelling about left and right and the other person is clearly Satan's representative on Earth. Leadership battles have to walk the line of being passionate all the while trying to find to kill your opponent without destroying your political party. It's about slipping poison into a drink rather than Shock and Awe bombings. It's a fine skill and watching the truly gifted work their craft is always a pleasure.

You can already see the early stages of it happening. Take this CBC story. In and of itself, it's pretty unremarkable. However, in a rarity, the comments section is actually fascinating. One of the candidates being mentioned as a premier-in-waiting is Steve Kent.

For those of you not of Newfoundland and Labrador, Kent is a former boy wonder. Was big into volunteering and Scouting, I think he became the youngest mayor in the province's history and then made the leap into provincial politics where he has, well, done virtually nothing. And let's say his leap from municipal politics into provincial was not done smoothly. It's viewed by many that he's Conservative only because he could ride Williams coattails more easily into victory. If Williams were a Liberal, so would Kent. Actually, that's probably true of 90% of the current PC caucus.

The comments section in the CBC story is particularly vicious, with most people raking Kent over the coals and laughing at the notion that he's ready to be premier. Now, there's one of two options being played out here. Either people are genuinely horrified at the notion of Kent being premier and are venting their spleen or agents of the other candidates are already launching their attacks before the campaign even begins.

I think it's the former. For one, the idea that he's a strong enough candidate to warrant this kind of blitz is silly. Secondly, the notion of Premier Kent at this stage is perfectly horrifying. I wouldn't mind seeing him run just to watch him get the crap kicked out of him (there's always been something about Kent that fundamentally annoyed me and I don't know why). But I guess we'll see what happens after he takes his walk through the Christmas lights of Mount Pearl and makes a decision.

The next few months are going to be epic fun. Just don't think too hard that one of these clowns is going to be in charge at the end of all of it. That ruins the fun.

Last Five
1. Refugee - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2. Blue lips - Regina Spektor
3. Silver and gold (live) - U2
4. Love me do - The Beatles
5. Your bright baby blues (live) - Jackson Browne

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A post for a stormy night

An assortment for a blustery evening outside. I was debating catching a movie, but with the wind and the snow, I think I'm going to stick close to the house this evening. It's warm and cozy in here. Let's just say Boo isn't getting his 9 pm walk this evening.

1. Cathy is arguing that if I'm only posting one or twice a week that I ought to give up the blog and shut it down, that I should be blogging at least every two days. Thoughts?

2. A story for Ed that might amuse/annoy him - Ketchum Public Relations has added Danny Williams to their Hall of Fame of "Canada’s newsmakers and ranked their communications efforts in terms of skill, colorfulness and effectiveness." They gave him particular praise for how he handled his health issue earlier the year and for his good-bye speech.

3. Speaking of Ed, he handicaps the potential PC leadership contenders. All I can say to that is god help us all with Joan Burke, who did such a disastrous job with the MUN presidential search that if you're an alumni of the university you should want nothing to do with her as premier of the province. I know a lot of smart people who truly loathe Jerome Kennedy. And the notion of Premier Steve Kent, at this stage of the game, is hilarious.

I keep hoping he's wrong about Beth Marshall, about the only one of the candidates listed there who would have a prayer of actually doing a good job of running the province. The rest all have the feel of lambs being fattened for the slaughter when the province's political/cult of personality cycle kicks in and the Liberals take their turn in power in 2015.

4. Completely unrelated to the rest, but I have my new "I hate this commercial, hit mute and will never buy the product and, in fact, if I ever find the ad guy who created it I will do terrible, terrible things to him." It's the Merci chocolates ads. They just rub my last nerve raw.

Last Five
1. You make my dreams - Hall & Oates
2. Jodi Rae - Colleen Power*
3. You got me rocking - Rolling Stones
4. Classic cars - Bright eyes
5. U.S. 41 - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Christmas parade

If you wanted one picture to sum up the week that was in Iqaluit, this is probably it.

Yes, it's a man waiting for the start of Iqaluit's Santa Claus Parade in shorts while drinking a Tim Horton's coffee. Any other year, this man would clearly have been a lunatic from down south somewhere, just off the plane, who didn't know any better. This year, for all I know, he's lived up here 10 years.

By the way, the forecast for the next three days - -1C, 0C, -1C.

So yes, the parade yesterday. The Santa Claus Parade in Iqaluit tends to be a brief affair and the floats aren't necessarily flashy. But it's fun and noisy and there's Santa, so it's a good thing. A few pictures from the event.

(Yes, even Polar Man was there)

Last Five
1. 38 years old - The Tragically Hip
2. Get behind the mule (live) - Tom Waits
3. The promise - Tracy Chapman
4. Them and me - Brendan Benson
5. Private investigations (live) - Dire Straits

Friday, December 03, 2010


Just to give you your update on the apocalypse, the temperature went up to +2C today, and was as high as +3.5C yesterday. To put that in comparison, the normal seasonal high for this time of the year is -16C. Now, if this was a blip, a one or two day thing, you could just write it off as a freak occurrence. Because this kind of thing happens from time to time. A couple of years ago it rained on February 28. Freaky little weather bombs happen.

But we've been going through this for about two months now. Where everyone is waiting for the temperature to bottom out and it hasn't happened. It's gone from amusement to genuine "what the hell is going on?" I don't want to say this has never happened before, but I've yet to encounter anyone in Iqaluit who has any memory of this sort of thing happening.

We're in some of the darkest days of the year right now...we're getting a little more than four hours of direct sunshine and probably around six or so when you throw in civil twilight. For it still to be mild out is....odd. It's also turned Iqaluit into a skating rink. My driveway is essentially a sheet of ice right now. I'm tempted to put on my curling shoes to get to the truck.

Environment Canada is showing the temperatures might snap back to something resembling seasonal norms next week, but we'll see. I also wonder how much damage has been done for this year. The sea ice is already five weeks late in starting to form. Even with a proper cold snap it's going to be six-eight weeks late and may never really form properly.

I understand the Tim Hortons opening in town this week was a big deal and all, but I really think this is a bit of a big deal. You can talk to elders in town who can recall the bay being frozen solid by mid-October and going out on ski-doo or dog teams. Now people are wondering if they're going to have to boat to get to their cabins for Christmas holidays.

Anyway, I'll try and stop harping on it, but is genuinely freaky to me. And pretty much the biggest deal in town right now.

However, if you want some recommended reading, I say give this story a try. It's written by my friend Chris Windeyer and features one of the true characters of Iqaluit - Bryan Pearson. He's been up here forever and has done pretty much everything, although I know him primarily as the guy who runs the cinema. He's much more than that.

He's about as blunt a person as you'll ever meet and Chris does a nice job profiling him. And thank god Up Here gave Chris some leeway with the language he uses in the piece. It wouldn't have been as entertaining if Chris had to clean up what Pearson says and the way he portrays him.

It's a good story...go read it.

Last Five
1. The hunter, the hunted - Matt Mays and El Torpedo
2. Shotgun wedding - Andrew LeDrew
3. Should I stay or should I go (live) - The Clash*
4. Jim Rombolt's tune - Figgy Duff
5. Red is the rose (live) - Nanci Griffith and the Chieftains

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Our House

So now we pause to let Cathy have her "I told you so" moment.

Astonishingly, one year has passed since we moved into our house. For the 10 or so still regular readers of the blog left, you may recall I was not exactly a big fan of the idea of buying a house, this house in particular. I had any number of reasons and, even in retrospect, they were not irrational ones. My concerns, in no particular order, were that I wasn't in love with the house because it didn't have the kind of indefinable "character" I was hoping for, that I wasn't sure we had the money for it, that I was unemployed and it seemed like an insane risk to take while that state of affairs was going on and that we didn't have enough furniture and feared living in a half empty house for months.

Cathy managed to refute those arguments with: You give the house the character you want, we clearly had enough money saved up to make a 20% down payment, I would get a job soon enough, and given out mild packrat ways, we'll fill the house up soon enough.

And she was right on all counts. Granted, I still think it was a huge risk. I had irons in the fire on the job front, but it still months for the right iron to heat up. There was more than a little bit of stress in our lives those first few months. I'm not a big fan of stress and while it's easy to look back now and chuckle at it, I think we would both agree it wasn't the happiest time in our marriage.

However, I guess a little stress (all right, spiking to medium-high stress from time to time) can work out. I'm very happy in our house. After years of apartment living, and hearing that our old apartment building has gone down hill in the last year (noisy dogs, insane tenants, cigarette smoke drifting through the building), I'm doubly glad. Yes, the house still gives me fits and starts. The washing machine breaking was an unwelcome surprise, but I suspect that's just the first of many to come with home ownership.

But we've made the house our own. A spare bedroom has become the library/den that I've always wanted. We have our pictures hanging on the walls. We can look out the window and across the bay. We can drive the dog batshit crazy and let him bark and play without worrying about the neighbours. We have space and can buy things we like if we want without ever having to worry about where on earth we're going to put it.

It's our home; we're happy in it. And in a mere 21 years it will be all ours.

Oh Christ....

Last Five
1. Shatter - Liz Phair
2. Goin' out west (Live) - Tom Waits*
3. Ion Square - Bloc Party
4. Change is good - Pathological Liars
5. Brackett, WI - Bon Iver