Sunday, December 28, 2008

Not so wild about Harry

My (brief) review of Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon by Melissa Anelli in the Toronto Star.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Steel yourselves for the holidays

A poorly shot, badly lit, and all-too-brief clip of the best little steel band I am personally acquainted with:

Happy holidays, all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The one that didn't get away

MEXICO CITY - A U.S. anti-kidnapping expert was abducted by gunmen in northern Mexico last week, a sign of just how bold this nation's kidnapping gangs have become.

U.S. security consultant Felix Batista was in Saltillo in Coahuila state to offer advice on how to confront abductions for ransom when he himself was seized, local authorities said.
In other cheap irony news, a fitness instructor got fat, a cop got arrested, and a motivational speaker just couldn't get out of bed in the morning.

(This is all assuming that Batista will soon be released unharmed. If anything happens to him, then I am a heartless asshole.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One drink, just one more, and then another

When I was a kid, this was called "tuning up":

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

In Britain it's called "pre-loading," in the United States it's "pre-gaming," and here, with typical Canadian candour, it's "pre-drinking."


"It's certainly something that we see," said Superintendent Hugh Ferguson of 52 Division, who oversees Toronto's nightclub district.

"A lot of the kids are having several drinks before they come down, and they they're going to the clubs and they're one drink away from being at the limit."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Palin's Delight

Camille Paglia, knee-jerk contrarian, comes to the defense of Sarah Palin's syntax – surely a joke reaching "... not!" levels of obsolescence – against, um, Dick Cavett, whom I guess had some pithy things to say about the former VP candidate. Paglia thinks all this amusement with Palin's speech patterns is not just snobbery, it's downright unhip, baby:
In sonorous real life, Cavett's slow, measured, self-interrupting and clause-ridden syntax is 50 years out of date. Guess what: There has been a revolution in English – registered in the 1950s in the street slang, colloquial locutions and assertive rhythms of both Beat poetry and rock 'n' roll and now spread far and wide on the Web in the standard jazziness of blogspeak. Does Cavett really mean to offer himself as a linguistic gatekeeper for political achievers in this country?
Which suggests that, had the McCain/Palin ticket won, a reformed Sugarhill Gang would have been a sure bet for the inaugural:
I said a hip hop the hippie to the hippie
the hip hip hop, a you dont stop
the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
skiddlee beebop a we rock a scoobie doo
and guess what America we love you
cause ya rock and ya roll with so much soul
you could rock till you're a hundred and one years old
And yes – that's Camille Paglia defending Sarah Palin against Dick Cavett. Which is either the premise for the worst-ever Reality TV show or just a predictably strained riff by right-wing convert (and former "comedian") Dennis Miller.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The illest in Illinois

Illinois Governor Rod "Bleezy" Blagojevic, spittin' some hard rhymes for y'all:
I've got this thing and it's fucking golden,
And, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for fuckin' nothing.
I'm not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it.
For real.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

All the real men are cowards and/or Globe columnists

Christie Blatchford says, apropos of our currently prorogued parliament:
I have always thought that consensus-building in all its gentle, inclusive forms was vastly overrated.

I know it is the modern Canadian way, and that I am out of step with many in our delicate nation, but I can't help it: While I admire a graceful victor, the guy I love is the winner who knows he's won, and is ready to grab the spoils that are rightfully his. That doesn't seem churlish to me, but rather the point of competition, and of winning. No one expects the Stanley Cup champions to invite into the dressing room the losing squad, or, say, to drag the Toronto Maple Leafs off the golf courses of the planet and let them share in the champagne.

Boo yeah! Fuck 'em! LO-SERS! LO-SERS!

Except for the inconvenient fact that politics, though often treated and viewed as a sport, is not actually a sport – as you'd think a columnist at Canada's biggest daily would understand. Plus, asking the GG to prorogue parliament to avoid a certain non-confidence vote is not quite as balls-out butch as she seems to think. The proper hockey equivalent would be for one team to ask the ref to call the game just as the opposing team is about to score in overtime.

If she thinks this way about weedy little Harper, imagine what she thinks of a real grab-the-spoils dude like Mugabe or Putin. Mmm mm, tyranny is so delish!

Monday, December 08, 2008


On the Maisonneuve web site, Joel Hynes offers up a tender, subtle, delicate critique of/tribute to his native province. Here's a taste:
Fuck the pine marten. Fuck the Newfoundland wolf. Fuck the great auk. Fuck the cod stocks. Fuck the moratorium. Fuck the Grand Banks. Fuck Hibernia. Fuck the highest gas prices in the cunt-ry. Fuck the Lower Churchill. Fuck the Upper Churchill. Fuck Quebec. Fuck Come be Chance. Fuck rubber boots and chocolate bars. Fuck Codco. Fuck Uncle Val. Fuck Snook. Fuck the Grand Band. Fuck Sonny’s Dream. Fuck Ron Hynes and fuck his thousand songs. Fuck the Bard of Prescott Street. Fuck Prescott Street. Fuck Duckworth and fuck Gower. Fuck Hatching Matching. Fuck Dooley Gardens. Fuck Gullage’s. Fuck Gulliver’s. Fuck Jiffy. Fuck Pigeon Inlet. Fuck Uncle Mose. Fuck Skipper and Company. Fuck Lloyd and Brice. Fuck Coronation Street. Fuck The Bingo Robbers. Fuck The Rowdy Man. Fuck John and fuck the Missus. Fuck Annie Proulx. Fuck the Cape. Fuck Ned Andrews and fuck the Vincents. Fuck The Boys of St. Vincent’s. Fuck The Singer’s Broken Throat. Fuck The Housewife. Fuck Mount Cashel. Fuck the Catholic Church. Fuck that Nazi rat-faced Pope. Fuck this paper justice bullshit; lets have a good old fashioned public castration with a blunt fuckin pencil. Fuck The Breadmaker. Fuck your Rain, Drizzle, and Fog. Fuck Keith and fuck Natasha. Fuck Halifax. Fuck 22 Minutes. Fuck Marg Delahunty. Fuck the Fureys. Fuck Rabbittown. Fuck pilot season. Fuck Mercer. Fuck the Nickel. Fuck the Women’s Film Festival. Fuck Rare Birds. Fuck The Nine Planets. Fuck Ed Riche. Fuck Winterset. Fuck the so-called Breakwater Boys. Fuck Woody Point...
Etc, etc.

But then he kind of blows it by explaining it all in a Postscript. It's a little like explaining a joke. Actually, it's exactly like explaining a joke. He does say this about his fellow Newfoundlanders, though: "I also think that what cripples the vast majority of our culture and society here is the fact that we don't quite know what to be angry about. We never know where to throw the punch. And we get tired very easily. We get run down and throw in the towel without really exploring the limits of our own capabilities."

The difference between Nfld and the rest of the country is only that we here don't even know we were supposed to get angry and throw a punch. Why, the very idea!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Art vs opinion

What Roy said:
The thoughts and instincts of great artists are distilled in their works. If these works are more universal and accessible than their makers' ideas, it's because making art is like solving an equation: speaking very generally, you start with a problem, and have to make the thing "come out" so that it explains itself after you've walked away from it. That burns away a lot of dross – usually the stuff that you can better explain by merely talking.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The lesson of the day: too much red meat can kill

It is one of the first duties of all Canadian citizens to get all excited whenever anyone outside of our borders notices us, even for something unflattering, so I would be remiss if I did not note that many of the big American political blogs are picking up on the story of our federal political upheavals. And now The New York Times has it.

This past election was little better than low comedy, the kind of straight-to-video sequel whose only selling point is the continuing presence of one minor character from the original. (On that note, I once read that Eugene Levy had it in his contract to appear in American Pie sequels only if they never graced an actual movie screen – which, if true, is just sad.)

I have no illusions about the viability of a coalition formed between the grasping, direction-less Liberals (who no longer understand what it means to be on the opposition bench) and an NDP that swings back and forth between positioning itself as the Liberals' natural replacement (and thus ready for the levers of power) and a kind of federal equivalent of a consumer advocate. (When they tried to make a big issue out of ATM fees a while back, I knew they were not exactly on the verge of having anyone take them seriously.)


This whole thing has been a lot of fun to watch - especially the sight of the Tories arrogantly and blindly shoving their fat petards into the hoist. I've always given them credit for being savvy, but this move was just amateur. I mean, they'd won. Their opponents were vanquished. They simply didn't need to throw their base – the vast swath of unreflective AM talk-radio listeners – any more red meat. Had they gone full-bore for deficit-spending and industry bailouts, the usual tax-is-theft right wing think tanks would have howled and sent out snarky open letters to all the papers, but surely Harper can afford to piss those people off – where else are they going to go?

Harper is an expert in bluff-calling, but even he had to know that the opposition wasn't about to let him choke them off completely. They'll sit on their hands when the issue is war or human rights or poverty or whathaveyou, but threaten their funding, and oh boy...

    A very subtle and funny writer - one I've become obsessed with over the past year - in a decidedly Muriel Spark mood. Imagine The Pr...