Monday, August 29, 2005

"You've Got a Nice Box"

I have a confession: I use one of those shopping carts. You know, the black ones with the big wheels at the back and the small wheels at the front. You've seen many old people with them, some ferrying small lap dogs. Others carrying stashes of cat food, kitty litter, budgie food, or live crabs, bleeding chicken legs, or salted fish. There is that bag lady whose cart is full of bags and probably something dead.

The holes in the cart always caused me problems. I'd lose cans on the pavement, so I placed a box inside. One glorious day, I got an impressively large box from No Frills that fit perfectly. It made my shopping easier. Suddenly, I became the envy of the old people. I detected murmuring while shopping some time ago at No Fills. I felt a gaze of the hot and tired eyes upon me. I turned and found three old ladies looking at me. It was 100 degrees outside and they were all wearing floor-length winter coats. One said, perhaps too longingly, "you've got a nice box." I worried that they were about swarm me. I moved towards the potato chips, their eyes following me.

I remembered those days when I used to stand in line at banks. For some reason, a retired person always ended up in line behind me, breathing down my neck. Well, they were too short to really breath down my neck, but there were definitely breathing down my shorts. I felt mushy breasts pushing into my back. I gather they thought that pushing me would make the line move faster. I stood my ground and even pushed back, adjusted my back pack to put some space between them and me. I still felt pressure against my back. I turned around a few times and glared. That is why I was an early adopter of banking machines and internet banking. I needed my space.

I do have a nice box, thank you very much. And no, you can't have it.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Boring City

Sin City is boring, boring, boring. Even the gratuitous hyper-violence couldn't hold my attention. The acting is generally bad, especially on the part of Bruce Willis. The stories barely hold together. There is no suspense and little to keep me interested in watching, aside from the costumes.

There is way too much voice-over action going on. I figure that indicates a general failure in film-making. If you can't show what's happening in pictures or dialogue, without having to tell us what's going on at the same time, something is wrong.

Sin City is juvenile, pointless, and anti-social. That would be OK if the movie was well done, but it isn't. I give it 6 out of 10. And, god, I hope I never have to see it again.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Leonard Cohen is Broke and I am Bummed About it

You didn't hear it here first. Some of you know that Leonard Cohen is a personal hero of mine. He is probably the reason I wrote my first poem (which shall never see the light of day). He is also one of the reasons behind my interest in the guitar. I have a collection of Lenny paraphernalia (books in foreign languages, bootlegs, counterfeit CDs, promotional materials, and even an autograph).

My first Cohen album was an almost completely destroyed copy of Songs of Leonard Cohen. It was in such bad shape that, at certain points, the damage to the vinyl overwhelmed the music. The cover, littered with scribbling, was taped together. It had been in the collection of a radio station at one point.

My father gave me the most perplexing look when he came into my room and heard the singing of a man in pain or longing. Perhaps it was the line "and your thighs are a ruin." Or, maybe it was "Some girls wander by mistake into the mess that scalpels make." I am not sure, but he disapproved. That much is certain. Of course, he once said to me, "Who doesn't like Celine Dion?"

And now, Leonard is in the midst of a crazy lawsuit and countersuit. A recent Macleans article gives a good summary of the hell that he is going through. The short story is that his business manager allegedly embezzled millions from him, leaving him with a paltry amount and forcing him to mortgage is house in LA to pay his legal fees. Trouble is, even if he wins the suit, he has probably lost the money.

Which is why he is recording a new album and organizing a tour. He was planning to retire, but he has been forced to keep working. I am happy that he has deferred his retirement, but the circumstances stink. I hope to catch the tour. I have been lucky enough to see him twice: once it TO with K, and once in the audience of the Ralph Benmergui Show. I saw the sound check too.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

End Times - The Number of the Beast

Today, I noticed that I have a quarter for the year 2005 in my pocket. I have always liked the issuance of new money, but it is occurring to me more and more that we place too much reliance of worthless pieces of metal and paper. Lately, I have a feeling that I would much prefer the weight of gold, and I realize, in Canada that is a possibility, although the $5 coin seems to have been stalled. It is probably too much to ask that everyone carry around little sacks of gold everywhere, but I am somewhat concerned about digital money. It continues to surprise me that my bank account seems to be not much more that pixels.

Back in the day, I took money to the bank and heard the satisfying sound of coins on the counter and the noise of the machine printing my new balance (hey, I even remember tellers hand writing in my new balance and initialing it). I can transfer money from my bank account to merchants or charge it: in both cases, it's done by cabling and a magnetic stripe.

Perhaps it is from watching westerns, where money was made of gold, that makes me think that it was a better system. After all, gold had been used as currency for centuries. So, count me among those who advocate a new gold standard. Believe me, this does not make me a disciple of Objectivist philosophy or a Randroid, nor does it mean I support the libertarian right or the anti-government left. I just like the look and feel of gold as money. And beside, when we have a one world currency system, probably digital money, it will be the End of Times, right?

Coming soon, a post about Leonard Cohen.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Getting back into the Groove

Clearly, I am still adjusting to being back at work. More regular blogging will resume shortly, I hope.

Update: This was my 300th post. Sorry it was such a non-event.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Right Now

Things I Hate at the Moment: 1) Clowns 2) Mimes 3) SUVs (although I'll admit I like driving them) 4) my failing memory

Books I am Reading: 1) Cloud Atlas 2) The Game of Chess 3) The Golden Dream: Seekers of El Dorado. (I just finished Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition).

Things I'd do if I win $10 million: 1) quit my job 2) shop 3) relax 4) travel 5) hire a butler 6) give a few dollars to a select group of individuals 7) get a reality TV show and act like an idiot

CDs in Rotation: 1) Esmerine - Aurora 2) Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band - Horses in the Sky 3) Adrian Belew - Side One 4) Adrian Belew - Side Two 5) Et Sans - Par noussss touss les trous de vos cranes! 6) John Cale - Hobosapiens 7) Husker Du - Everything Falls Apart and More 8) Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Extra Width 9) Labradford - Fixed::Context 10) many more I can't remember ...

Things that are Cool: 1) Librarians 2) chocolate

Downloads I Have Been Listening to at Work: 1) Ian Nagoski - Warm Coursing Blood 2) Axiomatic Integration - Syntonic 3) Dan Buxbaum - Cloud One 4) Mogwai - All Tomorrow's Parties Festival 5) Edwin Morris - The Heart Bowed Down 6) Alex Pearson - Theories of Minimalism 7) Cisfinitum - Landschaft

TV: TV sucks in summer

Ridiculous Things I have Recently Done: Tonight, I cut a 7 foot sofa in two so that I could get it out of the basement. It was old and gross and dusty and probably dangerous to my health.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

100 Words About My Mother (inspired by MissMeliss, on her birthday).

On certain evenings, while my father snored on the couch, ignoring the raging TV, my mother unwrapped her razor blades and placed a tissue on the floor in front of her chair. A cigarette smoldered between her pursed lips and she slowly became shrouded in a smoky blue halo. She lifted her feet, one at a time, onto her knees where she sliced the calluses from her soles, building a pile of hard flesh on the tissue. Then, my mother smoothed the skin with a metal file, and I retreated to my room to avoid inhaling her dusty foot particles.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Surfing Mice: My Favourite News Story of the Day

A dude in Oz is training three mice, " Harry, Chopsticks and Bunsen, to surf small waves on tiny mouse-size surf boards at beaches on the country's Gold Coast." This pleases me immensely, but I have no idea why. Even better would be surfing kangaroos or koalas or any type of marsupial.

In other news, I am Worf. In truth, I am either George Costanza or Chandler Bing. But, this is a sci-fi/fantasy test and so I really should have been Data.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Well that went fast & a biking accident

I never imagined that 12 weeks could pass so quickly. But, here I am at my desk after 12 weeks of parental leave. It's not fair. But, there is a shiny new computer and a spanking new laser printer on my desk, so that is some sort of compensation. The bad news is that I had a bike mishap this morning.

I stepped onto my left pedal with my left foot, intending to swing my body over the bike. I have done this thousands of times since the age of six, when I learned how to ride a bike. The chain slipped, I think because the gears were in mid-shift when I had stopped. Everything collapsed onto the pavement, including me.

The embarrassment was far worse than the pain; I have a scraped knuckle, a red welt where a pedal dug into my abdomen, and a scrape under my chin from where I impaled my neck on my upturned handlebars. The fact that people saw me taking a solo wipe out was the worst thing. I hobbled away. Fortunately, no one came to render any assistance, and no one laughed at me.

The other time I hit the pavement was when a car almost took my out. He apologized, at least, but I still had to pick myself off the middle of a wet and dirty intersection.

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Dead Budgies

When Polly, our pet budgie, started looking a bit peaky, my dad intervened. He added a few drops of brandy to its water dish. For the next two or three days, it was very active, happy, and cheerful. Only later did it occur to me that the little green bird was probably quite drunk. Sometime later, we found it reclining feet up on the bottom of the cage. For years, I assumed it was dead, but someone later told me that it might have passed out. In any event, it was dead enough for the store to replace it without having to launch into any Monty Python skits about dead parrots.

I began to suspect that the replacement budgie, also called Polly, was an inferior bird when it was discovered that it could not fly. It plummeted straight to the floor. That was the only time in my life that I appreciated the bright orange shag. Otherwise, my memories of that carpet are of burns to various body parts - and I even have a friend who ended up with carpet burn on his face from that carpet. But, that happened in the teenage years, well after we gave up thinking that our family was capable of looking after birds or any sort of animal for that matter.

Budgie number 2 died within 10 days.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005


Sorry, I have been MIA for the past while. I'll try to do better, but I may be out of touch until Monday. Such is life.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I've Been Tagged

I guess it had to happen: G tagged me and I finally have answers (better late than never). But first, a preamble.

As a commenter on my blog once said (and I am paraphrasing), "you seem to live in a pop culture vacuum." It's true. There was a period of close to ten years when I had no TV. As a result, there are dozens of TV programs I have never seen. I missed tons of movies too. In some respects, I feel as though I had spent a long time in prison, but the kind of prison where there is no TV. But, on with the thing (even though it sort of gives away my approximate age).

Oh, I should also mention that I have a hard time even remembering what I have seen.


Most movies I saw as a kid where on TV, but I did get to the drive-in in later years. In fact, I saw Star Wars at the drive-in. No, it does not make my list.

Killdozer: an appallingly ridiculous movie from 1974 in which a bull dozer becomes a killer. No, it's not Stephen King, but it could have been. Gordie & I saw it many many times.

Honorable Mentions

Smokey and the Bandit: I've never seen my dad laugh so hard. I had to get him to turn up the speaker dangling over the car window so that I could hear it.

Logan's Run: I might even buy this one on DVD.

Teens (1980s)

Altered States: This movie got some unjustified bad reviews, in my opinion.

Honorable Mention

Blue Velvet: I am not sure why. It is kinda creepy.

Twenties (80s-90s)

Brazil: Simply fascinating.

Honorable Mention

Pulp Fiction: If only because it resurrected John Travolta's career. I think he should have to give Tarantino a cut of every paycheck he subsequently received.

Thirties (now)

Memento: Because I really feel like that guy. I think I have a preview of what Alzheimer's must be like.

Before My Time
Citizen Kane
Dr. Strangelove
2001 A Space Odyssey

I tag you. I am a little unsure about tagging people, especially since some people hate these things. So, if you want to do it, do it and let me know. It's that easy.

P.S. Yes, I have fallen behind in my blog reading. I hope to catch up soon.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

War Resisters Support Campaign

I personally know two men who moved to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft. I admire them for having made a difficult decision and for doing what they felt was the right thing to do. The War Resisters Support Campaign supports "U.S. soldiers seeking asylum in Canada because they refuse to fight in the illegal war in Iraq."

Naturally, there are those who will attack this group as promoting treason or some such idiotic thing. I am using the word idiotic because I was attacked for being idiotic twice over my last post:

"Your idiotic ideas are laughable. America is still the greatest country on the face of the earth." (from Paul).


"a post as idiotic and generally ignorant as yours" (from Art).

Oh, and Art, if you are still reading this, thanks for your last post. I really enjoyed it.

Don't worry. I am not considering taking up full time political blogging. And, just to clarify, when I said "I am happy that I am not an American" I meant it in a tax sense. I know that all governments squander money. I am just happy that my taxes aren't being wasted in Iraq. I have American friends and friends who have moved to the USA. And, I have visited often and really like the places I have seen and the people I have met.

Less political content will return soon.

Coming Soon

I have been tagged by G and I am still working out my answers.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

George W. Bush and the Decline of America

Because I haven't written an overtly political post in a long time, I present a rather long and meandering post or rant: you decide.

I have to say that I am happy that I am not an American and that I am not paying taxes to the American Government. If I was, I'd be royally pissed that my taxes were being squandered on an illegal an unjustified war. The cost of the war escalates to perverse levels while 45 million Americans have no health insurance and while untold numbers of Americans live in third world conditions. Why not invest that money in education or health care or even alternate forms of energy?

Everybody knows that the quick 'victory' in Iraq was followed by what we can really only call a quagmire. This could count as one of the most grievous of tactical errors in American history. His war against terror and the personal war against Saddam Hussein has led to unspeakable collateral damage, car bombs, civilian deaths, dead invading troops, dead Iraqi troops, and the spread of terrorist cells into Iraq. Clearly, Bush is a liar and the real objective was not weapons of mass destruction, but oil.

Bush has entrenched his troops in the midst of the second largest oil reserve in the world. Even 75% of the readers of Time believed that the invasion of Iraq was for the purpose of securing an oil supply. This is a reserve that will be depleted, eventually. To me, it is no coincidence that the USA choose to act (in the name of its Christian god) in the middle east, where there happens to be oil, while conveniently ignoring catastrophic human rights abuses in other parts of the world, parts where there is little oil and little geo-political value to the USA. It is no coincidence that Bush used the term 'crusade' when he launched his terrorism counter-offensive.

Was the military action in Afghanistan more successful? The opium trade continues in Afghanistan despite the obscene war on drugs raging in the Americas. Regional war lords are again reclaiming power in the post-invasion Afghanistan. The most powerful army in the world let Osama bin Laden pass through its fingertips. Other than putting Osama on the run, I am not sure that much has been solved. Clearly, Bush was too eager to move on to target number 2.

I am annoyed that Bush's ultra conservative religious right views have meant that contraception information has, largely, been removed from US government websites. It is no secret that he opposed to women's right to choose. When will the people of the United States elect a woman? (and I don't mean some Margaret Thatcher clone.).

I am happy that I live in Canada, one of the countries that stayed out of the war, although it should not be forgotten that Canada increased its troop compliment in Afghanistan, allowing US forces to join the invasion of Iraq. Only the NDP commented on that, largely to deaf ears. The Conservative Party leader, the ridiculous Stephen Harper, was eager to join the Bush & Blair show and send our troops on an illegal campaign in the middle east.

Under Bush, the United States government has lost credibility. At least, in the past, I felt that there was some reason to believe that the USA was acting in a humanitarian way, even when if it pursued its own interests. Maybe I was blind. With Bush, it is all so black and white and I find that very scary.

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