bogus christmas scene

Another holiday season almost over, thank Goddess

Yep, the wheel has completed yet another turn, having brought with it the usual complaints about how either 1) Christmas as a Christian holiday has been subverted by Political Correctness, or 2) Christmas sucks because it is a holiday only Christians are allowed to enjoy.

Both these assumptions are wrong, and for vastly different reasons.
As I have previously mentioned in this space, Christmas isn't a real "Christian" holiday, in the way that Easter or Michaelmas are (although both fall near the equinoxes, coincidentially).

Christmas, or Yuletide, as I like to call it, should be a time for *everyone* to try and enjoy, regardless of their beliefs. Most religions have some sort of holiday surrounding the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, probably to cheer themselves up.

Take a gander at the graphic surmounting this post. The fire, the tree, the evergreen decorations, the slumbering pooch, the presents themselves. They have fuck all to do with Christianity.

They are pagan vestiges of the far more interesting occasion of Yuletide.

When good people bad-mouth Christmas as a bogus Christian holiday, it unsettles me because they are missing the point. Christmas is as much about Christ as my big toe.

Except for nativity scenes, of course. But that is pure dogan stuff, and isn't representative of Christianity in the larger sense.

So buck up, Sarah Silverman. Santa will give you toys, if you ask, even if you aren't a gentile.

Give the Jew Girl Toys

Furthermore, the lengths certain fictional characters go to avoiding Christmas celebrations smack of desperation and can only result in psychic damage to the little ones, as this compilation of Seinfeld Festivus moments will attest:



A short rant on why streetcars SUCK

I have lived in Toronto for over a decade now, and I thought I had come to terms with the many negative aspects of streetcars:

Noise pollution.

The horrible noise they make, which I have named "Tortured Steel" in an attempt to put the feeling the noise gives me to words. (Nota Bene: no relation to "Blue Steel")

Less control than bumper cars.

Streetcar drivers have about the same level of control over their vehicles as the proles who ride on DisneyWorld's Tomorrowland® Indy Speedway, A.K.A. none.

On College or Dundas Street, in the narrow bits, it has been proven, scientifically, that a cyclist riding alongside a streetcar will be KILLED, 100% of the time, if a parked motorist decides to abruptly open his or her street-side door. Allahu akbar.

Those tracks.

I have flipped on them, biking, 3 or 4 times since I moved here. The first time was excusable (and SPECTACULAR, turning left onto College from northbound Spadina), because I DIDN'T KNOW! The other times were bad luck or bad decisions. I accept that.

The final straw.

Streetcars are undependable. Extremely undependable, to use the results of last weekend's storm as an example.

Whenever there is a big snow dump, snowbanks force parking vehicles to encroach into the streetcar lane, and often something as small time as an SUV's sideview mirror is enough to bring an entire streetcar line to a halt. There is nothing quite like the sight of 12 streetcars in a row, all motionless, to make you reassess the value of public transport.

Sure, streetcars are all environmental, or whatever, but I don't comprehend how they are worth such an involvement financially from the governments. Why not change some buses to those new hybrid engines and run them on the wires where they exist now, like Dundas and College streets?

I really, really, hate those streetcars.


Disturbing signals from my unconscious mind?

I sleepwalked twice during my stay in balmy Cuba last week. One minute, I am dreaming about walking around outside, the next minute I am walking around outside!

I never really believed that such a phenomenon as sleepwalking was actually true. I figured that the kind of people that claim they sleepwalk are the kind of people that believe horoscopes are true or the kind of people that forward accounts of angel sightings to lots of other angel-oriented people.

The only time I recall reading about it in the paper was when some guy got off a murder charge by successfully claiming that when he drove 30 miles and killed his parents-in-law, he was sleepwalking. I can't find a link for that particular case, but apparently the first time the sleepwalking defence was successfully used was in 1846!

Anyhoo, at least as far as the steady hands monitoring the human condition at SteadyHealth.com are concerned, sleepwalking is caused by

Cause of sleepwalking - stress

Several researches done in the past have showed that sleep problems frequently occur around periods of stress. It is not uncommon for a person's sleep to be disrupted following the death of a loved one or around the time of a major medical problem. This is why many sleep problems resolve once the stress is resolved or the medical condition subsides. However, some sleep disorders can begin with an acute problem and become a chronic sleep problem.

I refuse to accept this explanation. I was under less stress than I have been in a long, long time. The only remotely plausible alternative explanations I have come up with, thus far, include:

1. I was being mentally interfered with by the Castro government, perhaps in the form of orbital satellites, or zombie powder in the buffet food.

2. I was feeling guilty, unconsciously, that by attending this all-inclusive resort I was propping up the Communist government of Fidel Castro.

Either one is possible, although I have to favour the first option since, consciously at least, I quite delight in the thought of spitting in the eye of the Great Satan by vacationing in Cuba.


Andrew Coyne imagines the dialogue during that first hotel room meeting between Mulroney and Schreiber

THE SCENE: An airport hotel room. At left, seated in an armchair, KARLHEINZ SCHREIBER, stroking a cat. Before him stands MARTIN BRIAN MULRONEY, 18th PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA.

Well, golly, Mr. Schreiber, who by the way I have never had any dealings with. It was good of you to call me, since you were passing through town, to go for a cup of coffee. But why are we out here at Mirabel? Wouldn't the lobby bar of the Queen Elizabeth have been simpler?...

(Throws head back. Laughs, a long, slow, villainous laugh.)
Brian, Brian, Brian. I have something I want you to do for me.

Jeepers, Mr. Schreiber. What can that be? I'm just a simple ex-Prime Minister and former president of the Iron Ore Co. of Canada. How can I be of service to a sophisticated international businessmen such as yourself?

I can't exactly put it into words, or certainly not on paper. But it involves consulting me on a couple of projects in which you have particular expertise. The one is a simple matter of building German tanks in Cape Breton with federal money for export to Saudi Arabia. The other is a miracle pasta machine. And since we have never had any dealings with each other, or certainly nothing remotely related to Airbus, I am willing to pay you $100,000 a year, the first $100,000 in advance. I might even throw in another $200,000 in two subsequtent hotel room meetings within the next 16 months. Think of it as a retainer. Which by the way means you do not need to declare it on your income tax until years later. Or mention it in court under oath.

Jiminy cricket, Mr. Schreiber. That's just the sort of business I'm interested in. You see, after nine years as prime minister, I have no money, or not enough to support my family in the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed. Not only that, but I've done nothing about this situation in the six months since I decided to step down as prime minister. In short, I'm flat broke, if you don't count my parliamentary pension or the multiple directorships and massive legal fees I'll be pulling down the minute I leave politics. So if you'll just make the cheque out to --

(Laughs that laugh again. At length.)
Brian, Brian, Brian. We don't need no stinking cheques! I deal in cash only.

Gosh, Mr. Schreiber. I don't know. Why would you want to do this in cash?

Because I'm a sophisticated international businessman, that's why, and like all sophisticated international businessmen, I always deal in cash.

But shouldn't we leave some sort of paper trail? There'll have to be invoices, contracts, bank statements. Because I have nothing to hide.

No! I said cash! K-A-S-H! Here, just take the envelope.

Gee whillikers, Mr. Schreiber. All right. You're the sophisticated international businessman. If you say it's okay, I guess it's all right by me. I just hope I'm not making a colossal mistake...

The full imagining of this hypothetical conversation can be viewed here.


An apropos reminder from John Barber

Quoting from his column in last Saturday's Globe and Mail:

Torontonians wondering why the Harper government insists on treating them contemptuously should remember the wise words of John Stuart Mill: "Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives."

(Yes, I am that far behind in my reading. Since there are no newspapers available except what I brought with me, I am reduced to reading every single article from the Saturday Globe, word by word.)



Having watched and learned from shows like Goodfellas and the Sopranos, I know what to expect when an authority figure tries to lure the victim into a deserted area, say an empty warehouse, or a parking garage, or in my case an empty eXcite centre... that way when things get ugly there will be no witnesses.

On Monday morning, I received an email from my manager to meet her at 10h00 sharp on the seventh floor of the building next door to our own (new, only been there a week) office.

Having been fired before, I knew the signs: Monday morning, an impenetrable email summons, a meeting in a place that I have never been before.

A classic corporate whack.

My boss met me at the glass doors at 10h00 sharp. Luckily, because, as I mentioned, the seventh floor was deserted and there was no one else to let me in if she wasn't there.

She activated the door, then escorted me past empty offices (empty except for the one where the man who would prove to be my 'outbound counselor' was busy unpacking his bags and assiduously avoiding any eye contact) to a meeting room where 3 eXcite desks had been arranged in a triangle formation.

One for me, one for my manager, and one for the heartbreakingly nervous HR representative. (I suspect this was her first firing. She was so nervous and cute!)

The upshot? A pretty good package, as far as I am concerned. I kept things classy (I had even packed up my belongings and took them with me to the meeting), so did they, so I think things worked out pretty well.

Off to Cuba for a week, starting tomorrow!


Dogan Update

I had the opportunity, last weekend, of asking my elderly polish-canadian catholic relatives if they were 'dogans' and the response was universal. 'Dogan' is a pejorative term for Irish Catholics, not Catholics in general. Polacks have their own 'nicknames', it seems.

Another linguistic conundrum solved!


An amusing reminiscence involving George Galloway

A couple of winters ago, just before he left for the Great Satan to proactively defend himself against various Greater Satanic governmental accusations, "Gorgeous" George Galloway gave a speech at a church on Bloor St.

I don't remember most of it (I had seen his performance before, and it hadn't changed much) but one part stuck in my mind as a classic example of what I now recognise as classic the Office-style comedy (ie. embarrassing, no laugh track).

GGG, in his fine scots tenor, was haranguing the packed house:

I have talked to leaders throughout the Middle East. I have listened to the students at religious schools and secular universities alike. People have called for the destruction of Israel...

And here he paused for a deep breath of air. Before he could finish his sentence

...which I reject ENTIRELY!

there was an enormous burst of applause from the audience. It was really awkward for a moment or two.

The sponsor of the event, an ancient lady with a jewish name, had been introduced to the audience just minutes before. At that time, we were congratulating ourselves on how tolerant we all were, Jews, activist Christians, Moslems, lefties, and freaks alike.

Then this perfect Office moment occurred!

GGG paused for a moment, then tactfully carried on with his schtick as if nothing had happened.

I bet he made sure that particular pause wouldn't occur the next place he took his tour to!

In a lot of ways, George reminds me of Don Cherry. The problem is that I despise Don Cherry but I kind of like George Galloway.

Huh... certainly something to think about...


Stephen Harper, pussy lover?

That is apparently what the smart-alecks that run the Prime Minister's homepage would have us believe.

Scroll down the page, and there is a graphic in the left column entitled "Foster Pet Programs". This is it in the context of the page:

Fair enough, one might think. Good cause and all that.

But take a closer look at the photo:

Here, one kitty is sound asleep nestled atop the comforting expanse of the PM's gut, while the PM pauses from reading a book (to it?).

Another very similar looking kitty appears uninterested in the story and is gazing fixedly into the middle distance (a popular motif in Prime Ministerial photos, it seems).

Now that I have stared at this (a photoshop creation, surely!) for a while, I have decided that the graphic designer is having a bit of fun.

You know, like having a politician famous for his lack of basic human qualities depicted reading a storybook to some little kitties.

Those kitties urgently needed some lovin', and the PM stepped up to the plate, be damned the consequences!

Cat hair all over his suit or an interruption to his busy schedule is unimportant when rogue, unadopted kitties might run wild.

Priceless. Enjoy it now, because I suspect it won't be around for long.


Targetting the fatso demographic?

First it was the Tim Horton's demographic, then the NASCAR demographic. Now this?

The last time I 'liberated' an outdoorsy photo off the PM's official website, it showed Stephen Harper standing in a bush somewhere while a skinny local guy pointed out a good location for some clear-cutting.

This time around, Harper's image people have placed him between 2 other fatsoes, perhaps in the hope that he will look less awkward and rotund in comparison.

Besides that, it is basically the same shot. This time, however, it is Harper who is pointing into the middle distance in an unconvincing manner.

While John Baird (to starboard) is at least pretending to peer in the direction indicated by Spock's corpse-like sausage finger, the third (unidentified) member of this teletubby troika appears, shall we say, less enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Maybe he is afraid the dock is going to collapse, especially if John Baird decides to start jumping up and down?


Je me souviens

Another good one from GABLE.


Dogan? Dougan? Doghan?

Who knows how to spell this word, which I have never seen on paper, only heard spoken. And I have no idea where I picked it up. Childhood acquaintances? My dad or grandfather (northern Ontario Presbyterians)?

I think it means "Catholic", but it might mean "Irish Catholic".

I have tried it out in my multicultural corporate work environment and a couple of the small-town Ontario types looked up sharply, but that was it.

I asked them about it later (one a 25 year old girl, the other a grizzled 50-year old ex-paratrooper) and while neither could explain how they knew this 'epithet', they both professed to some surprise when this word from Ontario's cold, intolerant Orange past popped up in the middle of a meeting. (Or at least that was how I interpreted what they were saying.)

It is little social experiments like this that make corporate life bearable. The problem is I still can't find anything on the origins/usage of the word 'dogan'.

Enquiring minds need to know!

It occurs to me that this sort of thing has happened to me before, when, as a dinner guest, I referred to the pointy fat-and-gristle part at the rear-end of the roast chicken as "the Pope's Nose".

Doesn't everyone call it that?


Negroes need not apply

An interesting graphic appeared above the fold on the front page of the print edition of the Globe and Mail today, accompanying the article "Tories target specific ethnic voters".

Since the Globe is run by a bunch of cheapskates, no online version of the graphic (a photo of a slide lifted from a Conservative party campaign document entitled Building Bridges with Ethnic Communities and New Canadians) is available. So, instead, I have used my encyclopaedic knowledge of html to reproduce the slide as best I can:

A Sample Outreach Strategy - Thornhill

  • Total population - 116,640
  • Visible minorities - 33,675 (29 %)
    • Chinese 12,610
    • South Asian 6,595
    • Black 2,665
    • Filipino 2,530
    • West Asian 2,355
    • Korean 2,660

  • 79% of visible minorities are viewed as CPC accessible communities

Interesting, n'est-ce pas?

All the minorities listed in this breakdown were bolded, except the black community. They seem to be the only community that isn't viewed as 'CPC accessible communities'.

Good for them! My problem is with the other minorities. Will they understand that the CPC's grand old traditions of intolerance and xenophobia run deep, way back to their Reform roots, and that these 'accessible communities' are only being wooed on tactical grounds?

I have met John Tory, Mr. Harper, and you are no John Tory.

If the Conservative Party of Canada does achieve a majority in parliament, these accessible minorities will soon see the true colours of the flat-earthers they helped elect.

Allah help those accessible minorities then! (I see 'West Asians' are one of the targeted groups, presumably because of their reputed intolerance for homosexuals and other deviants.)


Harper of Afghanistan

By MacKAY, lampooning Lawrence of Arabia, perhaps the best movie of all time. Liberated from the website of this is just to say.

Note how MacKAY has caught Harper's undead-like complexion. It is almost waxy in its iridescence.


The NDP wins a seat in Quebec!

For the first time ever, as far as I know, the NDP has won a seat in Quebec.

Outremont, in the classy (meaning rich people of all races,creeds, and colours) part of Montreal, habitually votes Liberal.

This is good news from the perspective of a progressive person, and is well overdue. I have always wondered why the NDP didn't have a more significant presence in Quebec since Quebec's societal values (at least since the Quiet Revolution) seem more in tune with the NDP than the Liberals or Conservatives.

My thought is that the NDP is viewed in Quebec as an anglophone party, perhaps because of its prairie antecedents.

Admittedly, Outremont
isn't exactly a hotbed of frenchie separatists, but this is still a big win.

Unfortunately, there is a downside-- this will encourage weasels within the Liberal Party to start their backstabbing now.

That is WRONG. The time for the likes of Michael "Lurch" Ignatieff to start backstabbing is after the next election, if things go poorly.

If they start backstabbing now they are in danger of handing Stephen "Spock" Harper a majority in parliament.

And that, above all, cannot happen!


Highway of Heroes?

In an act of political bravery unmatched in modern times, Premier Dalton McGuinty has announced that a section of Highway 401 is to be renamed the "Highway of Heroes".

What is a hero, anyway? At dictionary.com, the top result for 'hero' is

a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

Ignoring the sexism explicit in the dictionary.com definition, I still have to wonder what courage, ability, deeds or qualities the fallen soldiers exhibited to warrant being referred to as heroes.

The act of showing up?

When I think of what a hero is, I think of someone who lost their job whistle-blowing government and/or corporate malfeasance, or someone who drowned jumping into a swollen river trying to save a kid, ie. someone who knowingly made a conscious decision to do the right thing, regardless of his or her own probable doom.

While they are all volunteers, news items (no links available) I have read seem to imply that Armed Forces members are eager to serve in Afghanistan because they can increase their income significantly.

Surely, that makes them fallen mercenaries, rather than fallen heroes?

Still, let's be charitable and assume that they weren't there for the cash, but were instead answering the eternal Call of Duty, where young men and women sacrifice their lives for the Greater Good.

To me, they would still seem victims, not heroes. Perhaps that is what heroes really are, not doers of brave deeds but useful PR instruments for recruiting future potential Heroes.

Anyhoo, here are a few suggestions for the renaming that I feel might be more appropriate:

Promenade of the Pawns

Civvie Street (the hard way)

No Life Like It Lane

Being a classy guy, I hesitate to submit:

Suckers' Street

McGuinty should be ashamed, and for all the right reasons...


Conrad Black goes down, but not in a sexual way

Well, not for now at least.

His lawyers will appeal, of course, but it looks like Conrad Black could spend the rest of his life in jail.

I should be experiencing some schadenfreude at this point but I am not. Instead I just feel sad for the pompous old coot.

Punishment-wise, I think it would be just, as well as entertaining (not to mention edifying), to see him horsewhipped through the streets, as this is something he once wished on Linda McQuaig, rather than jailing him.

After all, he only did anything a typical rich Ayn Rand-style loudmouth would do, ie. screw his shareholders-- But hard-time in one of the Great Satan's medium security prisons? Unless he gets accepted into the Aryan Brotherhood, I don't like his chances...

(Maybe he will be able to buy off his potential assailants with gold kruggerands, like George Bluth Sr. did in Arrested Development?)

As much of a blowhard as Black is, I don't think he, or anyone for that matter, deserves that...

It is the difference between rehabilitation and punishment. If he is to be punished, then a good public whipping seems a lot more honest and straight-forward.


Conservative Party of Canada: intellectual property thieves?

Take a look at the logo on the bus photographed above and compare it to the logo on the NASCAR photo in my previous posting. Notice any thing peculiar? I did.

Whilst taking the air along the promenade at Queen's Quay yesterday, a couple of buses from Coach Canada whizzed by me.

At first glance, I thought that the knuckle-draggers were in town, so similar to Coach Canada's logo is the logo for the Conservative party. You be the judge. Are the Conservatives copyright infringers?

Coach Canada:

Conservative Party of Canada:

It seems to me that Coach Canada has the basis for legal action. Their logo has been around a lot longer than that of the CPC!

If I didn't know better, I would avoid Coach Canada and go elsewhere with my intra-city travel business, making the assumption that Coach Canada is some sort of 'Young Conservative' travel service.

Take a good look at that bus photo. Would *you* seriously approach it and ask the driver where he is headed, knowing the Conservative attitude to public transport? No.

I did chat with the driver of the photographed bus. He was very genial but stated that no one at work and the like, AFAHK, had noticed the similarities between the two logos.

The result of this shameless theft of intellectual property? Lost revenue. I am thinking of alerting their management to this threat to stockholder value, and I encourage others to do so as well.


The Conservatives burnish their Global Warming credentials

I am sure everyone remembers how, after the Liberals selected Dion as their leader, the Conservatives were all aflutter, claiming that 'green' issues have always been top priority for them.

How have they decided to keep this claim of green-friendliness fresh for the public? Sponsor a NASCAR team, of course.

From the Edmonton Journal:

First, they took aim at Canadians who can't live without their Tim Hortons "double-doubles."

Now the federal Conservatives are going after the segment of the population that loves the smell of burning rubber.

The Conservative party has shifted its advertising strategy into a new gear and slapped the party logo on a NASCAR stock-racing car.

The big blue Conservative "C" made its debut Sunday on the hood and front side panels of car 29 of the Canadian Tire NASCAR series, the Canadian offshoot of the popular U.S. stock-racing circuit.

"This is just part of the ongoing process of reaching out to potential Conservative voters," said a senior party official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ah yes, that elusive "moron" demographic. But I thought that the Conservatives had the moron vote already. Isn't it kind of like preaching to the choir?


"Get this fruit out of the sun!"

The above quote is from Ed "Al Bundy" O'Neill in John From Cincinnati, a new drama on HBO created by David Milch.

A tiny minority of us are familiar with Milch by way of his creation Deadwood, the best TV show ever in this or any other human-conceivable universe (or at least those human-conceivable universes that understand english).

It looks like Deadwood is not going to be given some sort of wrap-up, as HBO promised. Not even the pathetic three final episodes they had announced.

So why would anyone trust that HBO won't screw the fans of John From Cincinnati, just like they did the fans of Deadwood?

The answer is: there is no guarantee.

I guess if David Milch trusts HBO enough to go with them again, we should too.

All we can do, as loyal viewers (albeit non-paying loyal viewers) is enjoy the moment. (Which may, in fact, be the biggest philosophical message behind this new series...)

In the show, when he yells "Get this fruit out of the sun!", Al Bundy has just prevented Barry ("the fairy") from killing himself in the parking lot of a run-down motel, and is presumably requesting some help in removing Barry, sprawled and weepy, from the middle of the lot.

It was appalling, at the time, but today at work, thinking it over, connecting the previous bits of dialogue, I came to the conclusion that it was over-the-top hilarious.

But I had to work for it. Now that is comedy!

This episode, the pilot, basically, is viewable online at the HBO site. (UPDATE (07/06/14): the link to the entire show has been removed, and the only videos available now are the trailers. Boo! That's the HBO I know.)

Added bonus: "Johnny Appleseed" by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros appears to be the theme song for John From Cincinnati. When I started playing the episode, and "Johnny Appleseed" came on, I thought I had made a mistake and fired up my playlist since I had been listening to that very tune directly before!

After 7-11, I don't believe in coincidences. Therefore, I posit that SpaceGodJehovah2000 was giving me a message by making Milch choose that particular song for that particular TV show, so that I would hear it at the particular time I did.

This experience has made me call into question my atheism.

I can hardly wait til next week's episode! SpaceGodJehovah2000 might have more messages for me.


Is that a Flag lapel pin?

Why yes, yes it is.

What was 'Spock' thinking? Was he trying to make sure that Sarkozy remembered which country his visitor was from? If so, it was a very thoughtful gesture.

Still, I imagine Russell Smith would say something sartorially judgemental like: 'A well dressed man should avoid wearing lapel jewellery during the day unless, of course, he is dressed in formal military attire'.

I have not watched Question Period for a while, so I was unaware that Spock has taken to wearing Flag-inspired jewellery next to his heart, à la George W. Bush.

It is just another example of how this Prime Minister seems to be slavishly aping some of the most hilarious pretensions of the Bush administration. Other examples that I can think of, off the top of my head: hostility to the main stream media, no photos of coffins arriving from Afghanistan, no flags at half-mast, no off-the-cuff comments from Conservative MPs, requiring people to stand when the Great Leader enters a room, and the belief that a lie, told often enough, will be accepted as fact.

I really don't understand what the pin is supposed to accomplish, aside from making him look like a Republican ball-cupper. Is it an appeal to the "Tim Hortons demographic"?

I just don't get it.


Take a close look at Harper's left hand. Its sausage-fingered, clammy-looking, fishbelly-whiteness (no makeup there) makes me think that Harper might in fact be a revenant. Wouldn't that be a rich one!

And it would explain A LOT! Steven Harper, Prime Minister and one of the undead...

The fact that Sarkozy is so (apparently) enthusiastically shaking Spock's other clammy, sweaty, corpse-like piece of meat is proof to me that Sarkozy has the makings of a truly effective politician.

Finally, Spock's ambivalent expression seems to express to me that he does not, in fact, like being touched. (But, then again, who really does when the sun is still "under the yardarm"?)



By the Jam.

When I first got on Napster, many years ago, one of the first songs I searched for was Ghosts (mp3, 5 MB), one of the Jam's un-noted classics, with no result.

"Jam" as a search term invariably turned up 1000+ hits for Pearl Jam, and "Ghosts" would generate hundreds of hits for that movie that was just out about Cube fighting aliens on Mars.

Don't even get me started on the 'opportunities' I was faced with when I tried to locate songs by "the the". Luckily, I was younger then, and stronger.

"Ghosts" is emblematic, for me, of my early university years. My room-mate was a musician, and this was one of the two songs (the other was drums for "Pretty Vacant") that I could play an acceptable accompaniment to (on bass).

Good times, good times.


The inestimable James Walcott

Another person who's scribblings I one day hope to approach in terms of "word stylishness":

In or out of mating season, John Bolton in full swollen umbrage is never an edifying spectacle... We Americans are now accustomed to the likes of Bolton in full coconut-heaving mode but the Brits have been less exposed to neoconservatism in the malignant raw, and Matthew Carr's review of Bolton's recent perf[ormance] on the Today show read like a report filed from behind a one-way mirror at a psychiatric clinic:

He almost approaches the literary level of a Russell Brand!

Aside from the quotes James ('James' is how I prefer to refer to him, in my own mind. It sounds classy!) provides, here is an exemplary zinger from the article he was writing about:
Only last week Bolton was interviewed by John Humphrys on the Today programme.
Listening to that conversation was a grim experience that was not unlike being trapped with the Kevin Spacey serial killer character from Seven.


Acknowledging one of the Great Satan's unsung heroes

Even though he has a boring nom de plume, unlike, say, myself, Jon Swift should be honoured for his contribution towards regularly cheering me up. Through Bloglines, I can track 'Jon Swift' (that is how I think of him) as he wrestles with the troubles of the world.

He is as 'dry' as they come. So dry that there is a bonus: after reading a dryly amusing post, one is drawn irresistibly to the post's comments, a significant proportion of which show that the commenters didn't 'get' that he is kidding.

Take his Canadians: the Other Illegal Immigrants post. The post that started it all, at least for me.

In part:
No one knows how many illegal immigrants from Canada currently reside in the United States. And it is extremely difficult to find out since Canadians, unlike Mexicans, look and speak just like normal Americans. The fact that they are able to blend in so easily makes them, in my mind, even more threatening to our way of life than immigrants from other countries. Some of you might not even realize that Canada is an entirely separate country. Some of your neighbors and co-workers may be Canadian and you might have no idea. Aside from overuse of the word "eh?" and excessive drinking of Molson, many Canadians (at least the English-speaking ones) seem just like us on the outside.

The effect of Canadians on our economy is devastating. Unlike Mexicans, Canadians take jobs from Americans that Americans actually want.

The comments range from acknowledging his wittiness to plaintive whinging about anti-Canadianism. A number of them make me embarrassed to be one!

As an unrepentant believer in Big Government, one of my fondest hopes has always been that Canada would start requiring exit permits for Canadians, rejecting the bigger idiots so they don't get out to embarrass us internationally.

However, with the advent of the internets, any drooling moron can disseminate his or her ravings to an international audience, rendering the concerns behind my proposed 'exit-visa' effectively obsolete.

Imagine my delight when I saw through bloglines that Jon Swift had 16 postings available. Usually, he does a post or two a week, mostly because he puts a lots of work into them, unlike the usual sort of 5-a-day bloggers who just quote another blogger, add a 'witty' remark, and post it.

It turns out Jon didn't have a mental breakdown (my first fear, given the tragic meltdown of Rev. Mykeru), he must have been polishing some of his old posts, which bloglines interprets as a new post, for some reason (blogger doesn't).

Anyhoo, some great old posts to read (alert: JS is very verbose, you have been warned):

The new old ones I hadn't read:
Guantanamo: Kafkaesque, in a Good Way
Ann Coulter Tackles the Menace of Widows and Grieving Mothers
50 More Conservative Rock Songs
My Battle With CFS
No Amnesty for Old People
Let's Not Nuke Iran-Yet
Jill Carroll vs. the Blogosphere
Everyone Hates the Christians

All of them are old, but they are all worth a read!

This brings up a point about blogger/blogspot: the archiving of content is very user unfriendly. Visitors should be able to browse archives by title, not just by date of publication.

I assume that is what they are aiming for with their recent addition of labels, but it is still far from being usable.


Ponce Alert!

I have tried to remain silent on this issue, but today's "Ask Mr. Smith" column by the Globe and Mail's resident bon viveur Russell Smith has finally forced me to comment.

From the Saturday edition, on the subject of fragrances for men:

A subtle scent on a well-dressed man is a sign, particularly to sensually aware women, that this guy is making an effort. It shows that he is trying to please. And it shows that he is sensually aware himself.

Personally, I love scents. I find them expressions of personality and of desire. I think anyone who's opposed to lovely smells is a little uptight.

Uptight, maybe, but all I know is that when I get on an elevator at 09h00 Monday morning, hung-over, the last thing I want to endure is inhaling the sensually enhanced manhood of anyone, let alone Russell Smith, Esq.

Who can take fashion advice seriously from a guy that has bangs? He hasn't updated his homepage, so you, the internet public, cannot experience Russell Smith's bangs.

Those bangs might be de rigeur on the Left Bank, but here in T.O. they make Russell look like a brain-damaged homosexual (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Which is odd, because Word on the Street is that he is a flagrant heterosexual.

Lock up your daughters! A funny-looking guy with bangs and an ascot is sensually querying them about cheese! And probably acting insouciant!

I am so strident on this point (the Bangs issue) that I am considering going to a Kinko's and scanning the Russell Smith byline photo from the Globe. So I can show you what I am talking about. I care that much!


You think I exaggerate? I finally found one, not the masterpiece on display in the Globe, but it gives you an idea of what I am talking about.


LOST is ending?

No fear, LOST's due date might be past my own. According to the Malaysia Star,

ABC has confirmed that mystery drama Lost will be concluded in 2010, after three more 16-episode seasons.

So there you have it. ABC good, HBO bad.

HBO gave Deadwood, my favourite TV series ever, a measly six hour miniseries to finish its story, while ABC has given LOST, certainly entertaining (but inaccessible to new viewers), another 48 episodes (unheard of!) to fiddle around with, apparently regardless of LOST's ever diminishing ratings.

At this rate, by 2010, the only viewers LOST will still have will be me and my Mom (should we still be extant). And we don't watch it on TV, anyway. When we get together, we watch the show on the internets.

Maybe the writers will actually be able to wrap some things up! In the 48 episodes they have left, they had better come up with something.


Is it just me?

Or do French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy and Kevin McDonald from Kids in the Hall look almost identical?

When I see a photo of Sarkozy, I cannot picture the Kid in the Hall mentally at the same time. Hence, my photoshop effort gracing the top of this post. It's for the sake of my own sanity!

They have the same lined forehead, the same heavily-lidded, sad brown eyes, the same thin-lipped smirk of a mouth, the waggly eyebrows, a drooping nose, even the same low-set ears. The only difference I can see is that Sarkozy has a Widow's peak and McDonald doesn't.

If I was Kevin McDonald, I would start working on my Sarkozy impersonation. Those guys' terms are eight years or something, so there is no doubt work is going to become available.

FYI back in the 80s I used to have the same problem differentiating between Winnie Mandela and Rita Marley.

And possibly others. I am pretty sure there were others...


the Changing of the Story

From GABLE at the Globe and Mail: "The Changing of the Story"

Hah! Good one. I can't recall a greater example of federal shilly-shallying (but then again I have short-term memory 'issues'). Could the Conservatives (I refuse to refer to them as 'Tories') be handling this issue any more incompetently? It is hard to imagine how they could.

One thing, though, at least they are not stone-walling. They are doing the opposite: making up whatever pops into their silly heads at any given moment.

This is just the sort of entertaining keystone-kops style incompetence that I was anticipating when The Conservatives first formed their government.

It took a while, but now I feel I can finally just sit back and enjoy it.

This break will give Dion some time to work on his english elocution, and J-Lay some more time to hang around Toronto, glad-handing hapless passers-by.


Toronto FC
Toronto F.C. opens at home

to a sold out crowd!

Just as importantly, by being trounced by some team from the bloated belly of the Great Satan, they displayed a true awareness of local tradition and I, for one, appreciate their effortless ability to fit in with local 'sporting culture'.

Right now they are 0-4 in the league, with zero goals scored. Inquiring minds should note that this is the same record (and number of goals scored) Canada compiled in its one World Cup appearance, circa 1986.

BlogTO has a posting with a bunch of photos from what looks like a pretty enjoyable occasion. Except for Tall Boys™ of Carlsberg at $8.50 each. Ouch!

Elephant attacks!

I just keep on learning.

Even though I spent a couple of weeks in Kerala recently, I did not pick up on the fact that Keralites have a special veneration for elephants.

According to India Today, which I have no link to since India Today is an entirely meat-based entity (the Mcleans of India, so to speak), I am forced to summarise. In meat time!

So here it goes, the shorter version: elephants are going crazy at unprecedented levels because of the strains being placed upon them, especially when the male mating time (musht, or something like that, the mag isn't at hand) overlaps the Keralan festival cycle. New to the party bread-head owners are chemically dosing their elephants to repress their 'maleness' so that they can preform.

An example of an overly repressed bull elephant behaving badly during a Keralan religious ceremony (warning- probably too graphic for children. Time 8:17):

According to the article, traditional elephant owners treat their elephants like a member of the family and their beasts don't exhibit this sort of behaviour.

Unfortunately, there is so much money to be made during the Kerala February Festival Circuit that unscrupulous carpetbaggers have become a new force in the elephant-renting market. They don't care for the elephants they own, forcing the beasts to work, regardless of their condition (ie. horny or not).

For the people that are interested in this sort of thing, many more elephant attacks are available at youtube.


NDP intentions clarified!

Thanks to a responder from my last posting, I was directed to a weblog with some inside info on the negotiations that went on between the Liberals and the NDP prior to the Tuesday vote (a motion to curtail Canada's military participation in Afghanistan by 2009).

According to ceasefireinsider,

The Liberal motion was uncritical of the military mission and supported its continuance unchanged, yet called for the government to notify NATO that our troops would be withdrawn from the combat mission in Kandahar when the current commitment ends in February 2009.


In politics, the wording of a motion is important. When I first read the Liberal motion last week, I feared that it was D.O.A., or Dead-on-Arrival. The motion let the Conservative government off the hook by not expressing any concerns at all about the failing mission, did not call on the government to change the focus from war-fighting to peacebuilding, and missed what is becoming an obvious solution to the war: a diplomatic settlement.

We urged the Liberals to make a small amendment to their motion in order to win NDP support, and Former UN Ambassador for Disarmament Peggy Mason actually suggested specific changes to the language that would likely have been palatable to both Liberals and the NDP. We sent the suggestions to every Liberal and NDP Member of Parliament. The NDP even proposed an amendment during the debate, but the Liberals rejected it.


That is a relief. If this account is factual, though, it only increases my still relatively small fear that Dion is listening to the wrong people.

He must have some sort of workable strategy! I am even possibly prepared to accept some triangulation at this point.

Also, it lets me off the hook for my potential 'J-Lay' confrontation. As a Canadian, of course, I reflexively recoil from anything confrontational.
WTF is up with the NDP?

After lunch, on the way back to my cubicle I was informed by my main news provider, the Elevator News Network (ENN), that the Conservatives had defeated a Liberal motion that Canada withdraw from Afghanistan by 2009.

They accomplished this through the support of the NDP. What is that all about?

If the NDP is up to their old trick (infuriatingly obvious during the Harris years, here in Ontario) of supporting the Tories for short-term political advantage, I am going to have some sharp words to share with 'J-Lay' the next time I happen upon him relentlessly glad-handing hapless passers-by.

If the bill had gone through, it would quite possibly have made our part in the occupation of Afghanistan the big issue in the next election.

And what sort of "progressive" entity wouldn't want that? The mind boggles...

The NDP, apparently.


Insurgents rain on Harper's parade

Afghani insurgents killed six Canadian sepoys on Sunday, stealing the limelight from Steven Harper's Vimy Ridge photo op.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had invoked the Afghan campaign in a speech to veterans Sunday by drawing direct parallels between Kandahar and Flanders Fields, was careful yesterday to avoid any mention of the latest losses in his address to the crowd before the memorial.

My first thought when I heard the news about the deaths was: how could this possibly happen? Who could possibly conceive that Canadians would continue to be killed in this pointless exercise in national chest-thumping?

My second thought was that this news would mean less chance of a spring election since it reminds the Canadian public (a majority of whom oppose extending our involvement in the Afghanistan debacle) of the costs involved.

Then I had a third thought, which directly contradicted my second thought: this latest incident will make a spring election more likely, not less.

Pretty soon, it is going to be the 22e Regiment (based in Val Cartier, QC) that will be taking over duties in Afghanistan. Harper would be wise to have an election before this happens because once francophones start dying (N.B. none have yet), his popularity in Québec will drop like a stone. Goodbye majority!

In related news, it is good to see that the pro-war Canadians out there have a good grasp of why we are in Afghanistan. Crooked in Canada, for example, seems solidly non-ironic when he or she wrote:

I think its time to do in Afghanistan what should have been done a long time ago, bomb the hell out of it until the Taliban have nowhere left to run or hide. I think people have had enough time to flee the war torn country by now, and I see no reason as to why the war in Afghanistan shouldn't be stepped up a helluva lot more now.

As you can see, Crooked in Canada has really thought things through. The civilian population has had more than enough time to flee the country by now, so the odds are that everyone remaining hates us for our freedoms, and deserves to die.

That being said, I don't mind blowing the f*** out of country to keep the bad guys from getting in and out of the country. Afghanistan needs to be cut off from the rest of the world in order for the war against terrorism, and the Taliban to be won. That's what I think anyway.

Apparently, Crooked in Canada lacks even a basic understanding of what creates insurgents. The use of military force against civilian populations only creates more insurgents. I could look for a link buttressing this last statement but I am too bored.

Luckily, the Canadian public is less obtuse (shoutout to WKRP!) than Crooked in Canada. A CTV poll shows

When asked about the likelihood of Canada being a terror target because of its military presence in Afghanistan, 56 per cent said we are more likely to be attacked.

This represents an increase of 18 per cent compared to one year ago. Thirty-four per cent say the military presence has no bearing; while five per cent say having soldiers in Afghanistan make us less susceptible to an attack.

Yes, if I was Harper I would definitely call an election sooner, rather than later. Before le merde hits le fan in Québec!



I admire the creativity of the mind or minds behind Family Guy, and one of my personal favourites has always been Stewie singing "Rocket Man", lounge-style (time 1:38):

Unbelievably, years later, I have come across a startlingly similar
clip where Shatner(?!?) does the same schtick that Stewie does, but back in the mid '70s.

Is Shatner an honest-to-goodness time traveller? That is the only plausible explanation that I can conceive of... (time 5:02)

P.S. If anyone could tell me how to make blogspot treat embedded youtubes as embedded, rather than opening a new window, I would be in your debt. Addendum: Now, for some reason, the first video is opening on the page, but the second is not. WTF?


Russell Brand: wanker? Part Deux

Previously, in this space, I cast some aspersions on the funniness of Russell Brand, based on his Big Brother's Big Mouth preformances available on youtube.

Recently, an anonymous commenter to the archived post has taken me to task for my critique, and directed me to one of Russell's standup routines, also available via youtube.

I now admit that I was wrong, and was in fact being a bit of a 'tit' (as the commenter cheerfully pointed out).

Russell Brand is funny, after all.

Judge for yourselves! The whole show is segmented into 8 10 minute parts and if you can make it past the first 5 or so minutes, I bet you will be hooked!


"Canada's New Government"

I recently read an article in Harper's Magazine, titled Our Home and Native Brand. It makes public

... a September email exchange between representatives of Natural Resources Canada and Andrew Okulitch, a scientist working at the Geological Survey of Canada in an emeritus capacity. Irwin Itzkovitch is an assistant deputy minister under Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn. Vanessa Nelson is an executive adviser. Okulitch was fired but reappointed two weeks later.

It was very interesting, in that I hadn't realized that Canada had been rebranded.

The jist of it: apparently, early last fall the Harper government mandated that in all government press releases, etc. the term "Canada's New Government" would be used instead of "the Government of Canada".

Of course, the top hit for "Canada's New Government" in google is Steven Harper's homepage (mercifully it wasn't a 'sponsored' link), the Government of Canada. The banner graphic proclaims "Canada's New Government", with a subtitle of (in caps, I am not making this up "GETTING THINGS DONE--FOR ALL OF US")

Currently,the homepage shows a beer-bellied Harper pretending to pay attention as some hired stooge points to a tree or something. Perhaps the next place for some timber extraction?

The message is supposed to be that "Spock" cares about the environment, just like the rest of us.

At least until he wins a majority.

Then, I suspect, we will all be well and truly in trouble.


Have I lost my mojo?

It has been well over a month since my last posting and I have no doubt that I have disappointed my dozens of regular readers. I know this because several (well, two) of my colleagues have made mention of their disappointment in this matter. One colleague even made so bold as to question whether I was still drinking or not!

Well, I am still boozing, but being forced to remain 'dry' on several occasions for several days during my recent vacation certainly clarified for me some of the principal issues (or in the latest corpSpeak, 'opportunities') in my life.

Rather than collapsing into bed and instantly falling asleep, as is my wont, I was granted the rare privilege of going to bed early, then lying awake into the early hours, analysing my life and its meaning (short answer: 42).

Aside from laziness (and I find it very difficult to write these logs, especially the longer the time span between each one), I notice a change in myself, at least temporarily, regarding my world view.

When I first got back from vacation, I had a draft on 'the evils of tourism' already written in my head. As days turned to weeks, however, my indignation faded away.

Now, I am not irritated enough by anything to actually be driven to write. I have a warm apartment, as much cold potable water as I care to drink, and as much acceptable red wine as I care to swill.

I am sure that if I had remained in Canada, and had witnessed the grotesquerie of the Harper attack ads on Stephane Dion, I would have been outraged enough to at least post something.

But I wasn't here for that, and I still haven't watched them. I am saving them for when I enter 'warpath' mode, probably sometime soon, according to the forecasters.

Another election this spring? I would welcome that. I would feel energized again! I don't care how well the Conservatives are polling in Ontario, I know they are weak. And their leader? Especially weak.

Bring it on, to quote Steve's best buddy.

May the least whorish candidate win!


The whole "liquids on planes" scam

I had very much hoped that by the time I was on a plane again, the international airline industry would have backed off from this "no liquids or gels on planes" bullshit.

I mean, wasn't the whole thing disproven as being hysteria stirred to a fever-pitch by those clowns on Fleet Street, and aided and abetted by toffee-nosed war criminal Tony Blair (and his ilk) because such hysteria serves their own purposes?

I can accept, maybe, having to down nearly a litre of water before being allowed into the secure zone at Pearson international airport. What I can't accept is being forced to dump my water bottle AGAIN after disembarking at Malpensa ("Bad Thinking" in Italian?) airport in Milan even though I was still in transit!

The upshot? There I was, no water, no Euros and about to take off for Mumbai international airport, arriving at 1h30 on a Sunday morning, a place and time where I was really, really afraid of being without water.

What does a rational person do in an irrational situation like this? I am, after all, a "perspirer". (I burst into a sweat if I turn the pages of a book too quickly! And being hung-over definitely doesn't help matters.)

I did the only thing I could think of: engage in the act of shoplifting.

I nonchalantly grabbed a couple of 7.5 cl bottled waters off the shelf in a self-serve cafeteria, jammed them in my carry-on bag, and strolled over to my departure gate.

Some people might blame my behaviour on my lack of morals, but I know better. I blame the Man.


The Kerala Model

In anticipation of my upcoming vacation, I have been doing a lot of reading about India's history, politics, cultures, and the like.
One of the more interesting items I have come across is a continuing debate over the so-called "Kerala Model".

What is the Kerala Model? According to the most important information source in the universe, it is:

a set of economic practices developed in India's state of Kerala. These practices have resulted in the state attaining a high level of standards in human development, while compromising on its industrial development. This anomaly of high social development despite economic backwardness, is variously known as the Kerala model, or the Kerala phenomenon.

I think we all can agree that this description is dry, to say the least. What it all boils down to is, why does the most literate, healthy, and egalitarian state in India also have the lowest per capita income?

The modern theory is that investing in health and education for all citizens will result in a growth in production, yet Kerala is not following this pattern.

(Personally, I suspect that if the people that measure this sort of thing used the 'median', rather than the 'mean' average, Kerala would be rated substantially higher.)

Putting Economics aside for now, I intent to start my vacation in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, for two reasons:

1. There is a well known university there, and I hope to plunder their bookshop for books on pre-Raj Indian history. (Weirdly enough, all the Indian histories I have read, inevitably written by Britons, seem to devote approx. 6 pages to India before the Europeans, and the rest of the book to the Raj.)

2. 'Thiruvananthapuram'. This city used to be called Trivandrum, but relatively recently they changed it to Thiruvananthapuram which translates as, more or less, 'City of the Sacred Serpent' (whose name is Anantha, BTW).

I don't know how you, gentle reader, make your vacation choices, but for me this makes Thiruvananthapuram a must-visit place on my 'adventure holiday' itinerary, just because of the cool name.

(Addendum: For some reason 'City of the Sacred Serpent' reminds me of the "Conan the Barbarian" movie. I can't explain why this would be. Inquiring minds need to know!)


Reviewing Left Behind

While on the subject of Christianity, I thought I would muse aloud on the block-buster phenomenon of Left Behind.

The series, which runs 12 books, concerns the trials and tribulations of those "left behind" after all the Christians are raptured and the Book of Revelation stuff kicks in, Schwarzeneggerian Final Days-style.

First off, I should mention that I only read the first book in the series, and by 'read', I mean that I read the first twenty or so pages, mulled things over, and decided that cleaning the tub might not be such a chore after all.

I didn't need to read any more to know how much it sucked. (I didn't bother to analyze why I thought it sucked until I read Blogging Left Behind, but more on that later.)

When I was in grade 8, I thought The Shining was a great novel, and Stephen King worthy of his garlands.

A couple of years ago, I saw a paperback Stephen King novel that I hadn't read. I took it home, started reading, and was appalled at how bad a writer he is! Yet as a fourteen year-old I had found The Shining and Salem's Lot captivating!

Compared to the writers of Left Behind, Stephen King is Marcel Proust.

If you go to slacktavist's Blogging Left Behind, you can read the page by page analysis of the first novel (along with a lot of great links to other sources for Christian criticism, theological analysis, etc.) faithfully posted over a period of some time (his first post was in Sep 24, 2003, right now, Jan 7 2007, he is on page 241).

I guess slacktavist is savouring every drop!

A quote from his entry of Oct 18, 2003 (fourth up from the bottom of the page, the entries are in reverse chronological order):

The first words of Left Behind are "Rayford Steele," the protagonist's name.

It sounds like a porn star's name -- and in a sense it is. The Left Behind series is dispensational porno, but it's more than that. One of the most disturbing things about this book is the way LaHaye and Jenkins portray men, women and the relationships between them.


The character Rayford Steele is, like the authors, no longer a young man. Younger authors might not have been compelled to give their protagonists names -- "Steele" and "Buck" -- that seem such a blatant assertion of male virility. Bev is apparently not the only LaHaye who seems oblivious to phallic imagery.

I like this blogger (he is slowly working his thoughtful, sardonic way through the book) because he is a Christian and has a sense of humour. I know some Christians have a lively sense of humour, I am related to a good few of them.

Christians with a Sense of Humour should get some exposure too!